Enigma Splash jacket with silk organza sleeve panels

I’m not quite sure where to start in talking about this jacket, so I’ll start with the fabric. It’s an amazing cotton sateen from Tessuti, with the most glorious satiny finish and really not at all suited for making a structured jacket. This was my first challenge; to successfully modify the fabric’s weight and drape so that it would create the type of jacket that I wanted to make.


Basically, I just interfaced it beyond recognition. The whole jacket was block fused with Pro-Weft supreme medium weight fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. It’s the same fusible that I used for my Dior knock-off and it gave the fabric a heavier feel but with the same soft drape. I also reshaped the fusible hair canvas that I tore off my Dior coat and reattached it to this jacket. Hair canvas is very precious so I was happy to be able to re-use this, although having already been fused once, it didn’t glue quite as well the second time, but it did work near enough to be passable.  


Initially, I only fused the hair canvas to the top half of the front and back jacket pieces and because I’d cut it on the bias, it didn’t provide enough structure for what I wanted. I also didn’t like the way the side seams continued to fall inwards towards themselves and the back, towards my body. I really wanted the fabric to stick out. Since I only had scrappy pieces of hair canvas remaining (leftover from my Dior coat), my first fix was to cut triangle wedges and to fuse them directly over the side seams. This worked really well, but then I noticed the back was still falling inwards too much. I cut up more hair canvas and ended up fusing it (in jigsaw like puzzle pieces) over the rest of the exposed Pro-Weft interfacing.

The end result is two complete layers of interfacing on the cotton sateen, one of Pro-Weft fusible and another of hair canvas. I am so pleased with the way it has completely changed the fabric. It’s not the perfect situation, because the hair canvas really should have been block fused in entire pieces rather than pieced, but it still works. The jacket has a beautiful, weighty, coat like feel to it, with the smooth, satiny surface of cotton sateen. And because I’m opting to dry-clean only (as you can imagine with all that interfacing!) the satiny surface of the cotton sateen should remain bright and shiny. 

The inside of this jacket is fully lined in silk jersey, because this was the only remotely suitable lining that I had in my stash. It isn’t a very stretchy silk jersey, but it works really well for the purpose. I think the slight stretch of this jersey has made for a very comfortable and forgiving lining. I would definitely use it again in this manner.


I also used silk organza to add panels to the sleeves for a bit of interest. This meant I had to get a little creative with the construction. There was a bit of handstitching involved. There was more hand-stitching involved with the bound buttonholes. I toyed with using magnets for invisible closures, and I still think this look would have been great for such a bold print. However, I had it in my head that I wanted to sew bound buttonholes, no matter what. So I found myself some lovely, shiny glass buttons to make this work.

The pattern matching took me forever and it certainly isn’t perfect, particularly on the side seams. The fabric was slightly off grain and I just couldn’t get it straight, no matter how much I stretched and ironed it. I gave up in the end and resigned myself to working with it as best I could. This meant cutting pieces that were obviously not quite symmetrical. Although I’m happy to say that the small differences that I was being finicky over aren’t even noticeable in the finished product. The beauty of retrospect (and finished photos) also means that I can now see a way that I could have lined those side seams up better.


Such a boldly printed jacket demands simple separates to offset the glare. My leather blocked leggings have come in handy yet again! I quite like the look of the jacket buttoned up but I especially love it’s shape and volume from the back when it is unbuttoned. This shot also shows a diagonal crease/edge from the hair canvas I pieced over the side seams. I couldn’t do anything to get rid of this, but thankfully it’s not too noticeable all the time. Next time I’ll know to block fuse at the get-go to avoid such an unsightly line.

Simpicity 6138 and fabric envy

I’ve made this shirt so many times now that it’s getting ridiculous. I love that I’ve got a TNT business shirt pattern for husband. It certainly makes birthdays and Christmas easy. The fit is very good on him, even if he looks quite rumpled and uncomfortable in the photos. I did try to straighten him up a bit, but I have to call it a plus if I can simply get him in front of the camera.

Like in my last versions, my only modification was to add back darts. I still need to press them better, but somebody hastily donned his new shirt, literally before I could finish it. 

This was the fabric I’d originally chosen for his shirt, but it sold out in lightning speed. I might have been a day too late but my disappointment didn’t last long because because I discovered an equally gorgeous and unique shirt fabric that I think I like even more now. It’s call Blue Striped Unknown from Tessuti Fabrics. I’m wondering if I should get myself some more before it sells out. Or I could just steal the shirt for myself.

Just another twirly skirt

There’s not much to say about this skirt. It’s simply made by layering panels of gathered polyester chiffon to a waistband. The fabric was chosen by one of my girls when we were shopping at Jo-Ann, although I’m still not sure what possessed me to purchase it…perhaps my daughter’s big blue eyes, or maybe it was the $3/yard price tag.



I’m pleasantly surprised by how this skirt turned out. I can make my girls the coolest culottes and tops, but the thing that lights up their faces the most is, without fail, the simplest of gathered skirts.  


A denim midi skirt

Here’s a little self-drafted number that I’ve been working on for a few weeks now. You might have seen some of my sketches on Instagram as a part of Bimble and Pimble’s #bpsewvember, which by the way, is the best idea ever. I’m really loving everybody’s sewing pictures.

In addition to taking part in Sewvember, I’ve also been trying to challenge myself a bit more with my sewing. To me, this means planning, drafting and draping more of my own designs, and reading up more on construction and design. I’ve made it my goal to slowly work my way though a pattern-making textbook I own. However, I’m not moving very fast because I keep getting distracted with makes like this instead of learning the fundamentals! But I’m still discovering new tricks and flexing my brain, so I’ll let myself off the hook.

This is the midi skirt in denim that I’ve been dreaming about lately. I’m really proud of the way it turned out. The side pockets with the white denim and faux leather detail are small but still functional. I like the way they are shaped down the side of the body. I used a white zipper to match the panels and recycled an old brass belt buckle to make the waistband fastener out of faux leather.

There are two small box pleats in the front of the skirt and two larger pleats in the back. I wanted a pencil-ish shape to the skirt, but with enough ease and volume to look casual and feel comfortable. The hem is asymmetrical and the addition of the front white panel was last minute. Sometimes I need to visualise how garments are turning out (when they are half made already) to figure out what extra little touches are needed. I block fused the front panel of white denim with some lightweight woven interfacing to give it a bit more body. The white denim isn’t as heavy as the blue denim and I wanted it’s drape to match the rest of the skirt. I’ve been discovering the almost limitless potential of good quality interfacing recently which I’ll probably be talking about more in a coming post.



Oliver + S denim culottes for Miss Six

It’s not often I’ll race out and buy a pattern as soon as it’s been released. I’ve only ever done it twice, and both times they’ve been Oliver + S patterns. The minute I saw this pattern I knew I had to have it. Do I need to tell you why?

They’re culottes!

I fell in love at first sight with this pattern, but I also knew that I would have a bit of trouble convincing my skirt wearing six year old that she needed a pair for herself. Part of my sales strategy was to show her my denim pair of culottes and to offer to make her the same. She loved the idea. And I loved the idea that I wasn’t going to have to use pink, or sparkles, or big flowers.

I cut a size six in the pattern but I made a few changes: 

  • I like a sleeker look to culottes so I combined the two front pleats into a single centre pleat. This also gave me more room to add my pocket details.
  • The contrast waistband and pocket was attached externally, so I ditched the inseam pockets. The pocket style is very similar to the ones I made for my denim culottes.
  • I lengthened them by 1″ for my taller than average 6.5 yr old

The denim I used for these culottes is quite heavy. It’s probably a lot heavier than was intended for this pattern, but I quite like the volume it gives the pants, and I know they will  be great to layer with wool tights to keep Miss Six warm in sub-zero temperatures. I made sure the back elastic in the waistband was fixed quite tight to keep the pants up.
I really like the waistband design of these culottes. It’s the same as the Oliver + S skort pattern, but this time it also includes instructions to interface the front section, which I think is a smart addition to the pattern. The front of the waistband is kept smooth because the elastic is only threaded along the back, stopping at each side seam. It’s a great design feature but it also means that you need to get the waist sizing close to perfect when selecting the size you cut. If you make the culottes too large in the first place, it’s difficult to pull (the half waist-length) elastic tight enough to keep the pants tight on a little waist. Skirts and pants that fall down while they play are a personal pet peeve of my girls. 

The boxy, drop shouldered top is one of mine that I refashioned specifically for Miss Six. It was originally cropped on me so I didn’t have to alter the length at all. I simply unpicked the side seams to remove the bust darts and re-stitched them narrower to suit her. I also added two pleats to bring the neckline in a bit. The sleeves are long on her, but I think they look great rolled up. She’s pretty happy with her new outfit. I think that smile says it all.

Kwik Sew 1034: a pullover in cotton velour

It’s all style here in the House of Iles. We’ve moved into the domain of velour tracksuits and we’re loving it. I found this cute little pattern a little while ago, Kwik Sew 1034. My pattern only started at a size 7 so I knew it would be a little large for Miss Four. But I also knew that she wouldn’t mind.


I’m quite fond of Kwik Sew patterns. This one was designed by Kerstin Martensson. I can’t fault the fit or the design, even though it swims on my daughter. It would probably fit her older sister better, but everybody agreed that this top was made for Miss Four. The fabric I used for the banding and the trim wasn’t the best suited for the job but my choice was based on what I had in my stash. The white is a lightweight, fleece-lined sweater knit of unknown composition. It feels lovely and soft but it doesn’t have the easy stretch and recovery of a ribbing.


The only modification I made to View C was to add the contrast shoulder panel. This was purely because I didn’t have enough velour left for full sleeves. I really like the look of sleeves when you piece the shoulders with a bit of contrast. It’s simple to do but it really changes the look of the top. Miss Four loves her new Two-Piece Set-Acular, but I think we will be rolling those long sleeves up for a while yet.

Simplicity 1366 in a sweater knit

I liked my last version of Simplicity 1366 so much that I made another. This time I wanted a snuggly, casual top to wear to the gym or throw on with jeans. I kept the shape the same as the last time when I made it up in white denim. I just added a wide, slightly stand-up neckband and shortened the sleeves a smidgen.


The fabric is a soft, fleece-lined, semi-stable knit. My leather shorts were blogged about several months ago. They’ve been a surprisingly favourite make for me. Knowing how hot leather is, I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually want to wear them in a sweltering Kansas Summer. They are loose enough to be cool on my legs and they go with so many different styles of tops. They’ve actually filled the blind spot in my wardrobe that sits somewhere between too dressy, and not dressy enough. Elastic waist shorts and a T-shirt for smart casual, yes!





Happy birthday little Miss Three

I can’t believe how fast this little mischief has grown. She may have just turned big (that would be three to the rest of us), but she will forever be my baby.

As is my custom, I made her a little birthday dress, Simplicity 1435. This year I had my practical hat on and I made her a little Winter dress. The pattern is a TNT for her now. I’ve made it for her twice before (here and here). She seems to love this style a lot. 

For her Winter version of this dress I used wool jersey. I purchased it online without a swatch, and I’m pretty disappointed in the quality. The colours are vibrant, but it’s too rough to sit against the skin. My solution was to line the bodice and sleeves completely with soft modal. The soft lining makes it wearable, and the outer wool makes it snuggly warm. I think the combination of colours gives the dress a real vintage feel.