A silk button up and DIY distressed jeans

Once upon a time, this shirt pattern was an Archer. I’ve adjusted it quite a bit to fit, as well as switched out the cuff plackets for a more polished look. I also removed the back pleat. In this version, I introduced a covered front placket, lengthened the back hem, and left off the collar.

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The fabric is silk crepe de chine. I was immediately drawn to the colour of it. I love silk CDC. It’s not difficult to sew, but it does take time and patience, especially when you start adding extra design features like cuffs, plackets and collars. I couldn’t use my standard shirt interfacings on a silk shirt like this, which was lightweight and slightly translucent. I needed an interfacing that wouldn’t be too stiff or visible through the fabric. I used beige silk organza (hand-basted in place) to interface the placket, cuffs, and collar band and it worked beautifully.

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The white jeans were thrifted from an estate sale. They were too big around the waist but fit fine on the derriere (my standard issue with RTW jeans). The legs were also a looser, straight leg style, which unless I wanted to dive headfirst into a BH90210 episode, needed to be corrected immediately. I narrowed the waistband and the leg inseams. I also shortened the crotch a smidgen. I didn’t touch the outer leg seam because that would have twisted it around too far towards the front (and I was being lazy by skipping seam-ripping with this seam).

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Lastly, I attacked the knees with a cheese grater. I went conservative on the DIY distressing because I’ve learnt from past experience that dressing quickly (which one always does if they have kids under eight) results in one’s feet being pushed through the distressed sections of jeans. These jeans will no doubt become more distressed as time progresses, which is kind of what I want anyway.

 

 

Tie back boots by Big Little // pattern tested

I pattern tested for Lisa Spearman of Big Little recently. You might have already seen the first sneaky peek of my test version on Instagram. It’s exciting to report that the pattern is now ready to go and it’s available in the Big Little Etsy shop until Sunday with a discount if you use the code: BOOTS.

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It was an utterly out of season make for me (38 degrees Celcius days are the norm for us right now) but I still jumped at the chance to be a tester for these. All I could think of was my stash of glorious little wool and cashmere scraps that are too small to do anything useful with, but far too good to throw away. These little slippers make the perfect scrapbust for those particular fabrics.

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My test version was made using Italian wool coating (used here) and pink wool double crepe (seen here, and here, and here). I used denim for the soles and lined them with cashmere (remnants from my Dior coat) for the inner sole and beautiful Italian brushed cotton shirting (leftover from here). I felted all my wool and cashmere in the washing machine and dryer first. Lisa advises on how to do this but it is pretty common sense. Just think hot, hot, hot, until the fabric fibres are so tight and thick that the fabric won’t stretch anymore.

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I had to hide these boots from Miss Three. She was trying to wear them everywhere and I was feeling hot just looking at her. I’ll definitely be making these boots for Miss Five and Miss Seven next. In fact, I think they would make the perfect (and seasonally appropriate) Christmas stocking fillers for those of us in the Northern hemisphere.

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A blue cotton top

I’m putting this top to bed. I like it from some angles and not from others. I might still wear it, or I might cut it up and modify it, but I don’t think I want to make another.

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The fabric that I’ve used does it no favours. It’s a denim-look cotton shirting with just enough stretch to keep the bound armscye and neckline permanently wrinkled, despite a good pressing.

Perhaps I could lower the neckline and change the shape of the front armscye, or add darts, but I’m just not loving it either way. And I need to love it if I’m going to spend any more time on it. Sometimes you just have to let things go.

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NEW PATTERN ALERT: The Sea Change top + discount code

I’m so excited to announce a that a new pattern is available in my shop today. It’s the Sea Change top, an easy fitting, kimono style top that is just perfect for high waist jeans and skirts. And in honour of this exciting day, I’m also discounting the pattern (and everything else in my shop, including the Twirl to Me dress pattern) for the next seven days. Use code: SEACHANGE15

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I’ve already been getting a lot of wear out of my versions, and I have a few more planned for Summer.  It’s such an easy and versatile top. Check out the pattern yourself here.

The Sea Change top is tester ready!

This is the kind of easy fitting top that works well in both a knit or a woven. My striped version was made up in a knit, so I thought I’d trial this one in a woven. My fabric of choice is a special length of silk CDC from Tessuti Fabrics. I don’t buy much fabric on whim anymore, but this one just jumped in my shopping cart without any project in mind. I’m glad it did.

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I’m very pleased with the way this top turned out. I love the contrast panels and I especially love the opportunity they provide for mixing fabrics and prints for different looks on the same simple top.

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My blog has been a bit unpredictable over the past week while I’ve been getting it set up properly, so I started my call out for testers on Instagram for this pattern. I’ve had an overwhelming response for some sizes, but I’m still looking for testers in the following sizes: L (14-16) and XXL (20). If you think this might be you and you have the time and energy to trial this very simple top, please let me know. Once again, I have no interest if you blog or shout out to the masses through social media (although if you do, that’s fine by me too). I’m simply interested in your honest feedback.

Sign up form.

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A different kind of maxi skirt

So this skirt is the final chapter of my denim on denim story. My denim shirt is blogged about here. The skirt itself, is a very simple, self-drafted number. I used my pencil skirt block (seen here as a neoprene and faux leather mini) and simply shaped the bottom hemline to be high at the front and low at the back. I then gathered a large rectangle of beautiful
Tessuti linen into a skirt. The effect is a drop waist in a skirt. I love the subtle hi-lo hem, and my love of a good drop waist needs no further explanation.

 

McCalls 8082: a denim shirt

So, this shirt is another version of the oversized white man-shirt I made last year. I made it in an attempt to replace my beloved Anna Sui Chambray shirt, that has now been retired, but it opened my eyes to the fact that chambray and denim literally goes with everything.
 

I’ve been loving the look of oversized, drop shoulder shirts this season. I’ve also been craving the look of denim on denim. Since my complete denim on denim outfit is still in the design stages, I had to content with my much loved leather trousers for these photos. 

 
The fabric I used for this shirt is a very soft and lightweight denim. It is blue, but so very dark that it almost looks black. I was hoping for a paler denim colour when I purchased it online, but I’ve grown to love the darker hue.

The pattern I used was McCalls 8082, with just one modification. I took a small step away from the very 80’s look of this pattern by narrowing the top of the sleeves and raising the armscye each by just over an inch. This helps to slim down some of the excess fabric under the arm and through the bust for me.



I love how this shirt turned out. Denim really does go with everything, so you’ll probably also see me pairing it with my maxi skirt when the weather warms.
 
 

 
 


Oliver + S Carousel dress

While I love to play around with drafting and hacking patterns for myself, I like to switch off completely when I sew stuff for my girls. Kid sewing is my cotton candy. It’s my sewing crack. It’s me sipping a big glass of Chianti Classico in front of the TV.

I love Oliver + S patterns because they are perfect just the way they are. I feel no need to adjust, modify, or add ruffles. I’ve sewn enough of them now to know how the sizing fits my girls. And I haven’t been disappointed yet.

 

The Carousel dress is one of their new patterns. After some futile resistance, I ended up purchasing this pattern in the small size range, somewhat encouraged by the recent sale. I generally only buy their patterns in the size 5-12 packet because that’s undoubtedly the best value for me. My eldest two girls just slip into that size range, but little Miss Three (formerly known as Midget) always misses out. This time I splurged on her and it was worth it.


It’s a festive little dress. I used a small remnant of red floral cord (of unknown origin) and some denim remnants leftover from my recent denim skirt and culottes. The back is fastened with a little handworked loop and a Liberty of London covered button from my stash. I chose the ruffle skirt option, because Miss Two loves her ruffles. Oh, and the dress has pockets. I know I’ve said it before, but every dress needs pockets!




 

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.