A very special Oliver + S School Photo dress

Since Christmas, Miss Six has been wearing her corduroy School Photo dress every other day. She layers it with tights and a long sleeve top to wear to school. It has become her absolute favourite dress. But even better than this is the fact that I also love the look of it. It’s a very smart looking little dress. It’s also clearly very comfortable and warm, given that it is fully lined. 

Now, I don’t often sew clothes for people outside of my immediate family, but the idea of sewing this particular dress for my niece just seemed like the most perfect idea. My niece was born only a week apart from my Miss six, so I was confident with the sizing, as well as the style. It has been such a winner of a dress with my daughter that I hope it will be loved as much by her cousin. 

 
 
For my niece’s version, I used up my last little bits of leftover wool and cashmere scraps. I barely had enough to make this dress, and in fact, I still had to make a few concessions to stretch it far enough. The dress hem is only 1cm. I had to substitute a decent hem to get enough length in the cashmere panel. I also would have liked slightly longer ruffles on the sleeves. But these are only small things in the whole scheme of things.
 
 
 
My only modification to the pattern was in turning the sleeve panels into ruffles. I cut these on the bias which seems to make them curve around and under and hold a beautiful bell shape. This is very much what I wanted them to do, so I think I’m going to store up this idea of sleeve ruffles on the bias for next time.
 

 

I took my time making this dress. The hem was blind stitched by hand and the zipper was hand-stitched to the silk lining scraps, as was deserving of the beautiful fabric I was using. I’m also pretty pleased with my precision seam matching. I shared my newfound trick on how to achieve this on my Instagram account.  


All in all, the dress turned out beautifully. I’m super excited about sending it off to her cousin in Australia. It will arrive a few months before her birthday, but that’s how I roll with presents. My best gifts always miss the target date! And besides, I want her to be able to wear it while it will still fit perfectly, and on the odd chance that Melbourne gets a Wintery day or two before the end of Summer.

Playing dress ups with my two-piece set-actular


I know you’ve seen my fancy pants before. I blogged about my Rigel bomber hack recently too. And if you follow me on Instagram, I shared these pictures yesterday, so please feel free to tune out now if you already have pink-overload. Some would say that this is the mother of all two-piece set-aculars. Or, according to my husband, I’m tracksuiting it up for you. Because I can.
 


 
 

 

My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary in a few weeks and I’m thinking this outfit might be perfect for that occasion. I keep warning him that one day, I am going to be that old lady with purple hair, red lipstick and rhinestones on her walking cane. My gift to you dear husband, is the perfect glimpse into your future….bwahaha!  

 

 


A Rigel bomber jacket for January, slightly modified of course!

When I heard Ginger was planning Rigel bomber jacket January, I vaguely considered the idea, but pretty much dismissed it. I did have a quick look through my stash to see if I could inspire myself, but the idea of another bomber just didn’t excite me. This is possibly because I already have a particularly fabulous one that I wear year round.

But then I laid my eyes on a pile of gorgeous cashmere and fuschia double faced crepe wool scraps left over from my recent Dior jacket and wide leg fancy pants. Combined, I had the perfect amount for a bomber, but more importantly, a seed of inspiration had planted itself in my brain.  

I’ve made a Rigel bomber before, so I was confident with it’s construction and how it would fit me. It’s a great pattern. I love the shape, the fit, the cute welt pockets and the original neckline. I do believe it needs a lining though, but this is easy enough to do. I was lazy and just re-cut the pattern pieces in some leftover Caroline Herrera silk twill. If I was feeling more energetic, I would have drafted the lining to incorporate the existing self-fabric facing. The latter would have looked more professional, but both ways work.



This time round, I wanted to move slightly away from the traditional bomber shape. My changes to the original pattern weren’t huge, but they have had a major effect on both the look and the silhouette of the jacket.

So what did I do:

  • I raised the neckline and drafted an overlapping mandarin style collar. I used a leather buckle to fasten the collar, but most likely it will be left undone when I wear it.

  • I also widened the sleeves by A LOT, shortened them, and added sleeve cuffs. I slashed and pieced the original sleeves, using my blue wool coat as a guide because that was the kimono-like shape I was after.
  • I added a contrast panel to the back piece and matching cuffs for the sleeves.
  • I ditched the idea of using ribbing because a colour match with my amazingly vibrant wool or cashmere contrast would have been near impossible. Instead, I lengthened the hem pattern piece and used more contrast fabric. The contrast is cashmere so without the stretch, it has given my bomber a boxier look. I like this. 

I’m pretty happy with this make. I know I will get heaps of wear out of it, because I know how much I already wear my other Rigel bomber. This one will be warmer though, and the colours make it a little more special.



Wide leg fancy pants

I had in my mind that I wanted to make a heavy, wool, maxi skirt or a pair of wide leg pants. The wide leg pants won out in the end, mainly because I feared the weight of the double faced wool crepe would just be too much in a floor length skirt. This is the problem with buying exclusively online. Sometimes I have to compromise.


The fabric is gorgeous though and the weight makes for a beautifully warm and smooth structured look to the pants. The originating pattern was my Esther shorts pattern, although I actually used my Japanese corduroy culottes as a base. I narrowed the culotte legs a little from the back, lengthened them, and drafted side pockets and a contrast yoke. I used some leftover cashmere from my Dior coat as the contrast.

 

 
 

As usual, I chose to bind the inside of the waistband. After the photos were taken, I also decided to lose the hook and bar fastener in the waistband and I made a buttonhole for a single glass button instead. Because of the thickness of the fabric, this made for a neater and more secure finish.

The Tessuti Fabric ribbons that always wrap my online fabric parcels make lovely little hanging ties for the coathangers to clip onto instead of my crushable fabric.  

I’m a little on the fence with this make. I love the colour and the shape of the pants, but I’m not so sure I like it together. These pants are loud! But they do fit very well and are beautifully luxurious and warm to wear. The length is also great. I’m wearing my flat gold sneakers in the photos but I actually made them long enough to accomodate a small heel.

The neoprene and cord top  that I’m wearing in these photos is not the top I’m intending to wear with these pants, but it does allow me to show off the yokes, pockets and full style of the pant better. I’m also not finished making the intended top, which is an epic, self-drafted, Rosie Assoulin inspired number. It’s been a lot of work, and there’s still a chance it could be a major disaster, but it will definitely deserve it’s own post when it’s finally finished. 

Do you have any last major projects on the go before Christmas?

 
 

Dior knock-off coat

This coat has been a little while in the making, but it is finally finished. It’s not perfect, but I’m still really pleased with the result. It’s my first tailored coat. I realise that I probably set the bar a little too high for myself, by cutting my tailoring teeth on a self-drafted, Dior knock-off. Surely it would have been easier to stick with a more conventially cut, tried and true blazer for my first attempt? That would have made sense. But there isn’t always a lot of sense in the House of Iles.

A couple of months ago, I spotted an amazing, wine-coloured coat on Pinterest. A little bit of research lead me to the discovery that it was Pre-Fall 2012 Dior. But that was as much as I could find on it. I love the dropped shoulder style and those shoulder seam pleats. I love that it has the structure and style of a coat, but could also pass for a dress.


My first challenge was in finding a suitable pattern. I failed. In the end, I realised that I would be hacking so hard at any pattern I found, that I would be better off drafting the whole thing myself. I’m reasonably happy with how the bodice turned out. I think the armscye and sleeves could both be larger for the more oversized, unfitted look that you see on the model above. I’m also not entirely happy with the skirt. It just needs a bit more fabric to fill it out more. I did two muslins before I was happy to proceed with my special fabric and took photos along the way. But nothing compares to analysing photos of a properly finished item and comparing it side by side to the picture of inspiration, as I’m doing right now. Perhaps I’m a bit of a perfectionist too.

 


I had a lot of trouble finding the perfect fabric for this coat. I searched extensively online and had no luck in finding a decent wool coating in wine. Eventually, I found a wool and cashmere blend from Fabrics & Fabrics, a new to me store in NY. Their service was wonderful and I think the price was very competitive too. The fabric is gorgeous as you would expect from a cashmere blend. It has a lovely, luxurious surface and the most vibrant colour.

My cashmere wasn’t that heavy for a coating, so I decided to block fuse it all (except the sleeves) for a little extra weight and structure. I used ProWEFT Supreme Medium fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. It’s an interfacing specifically made for tailoring and is said to mimic the softness of hand-stitching. I’m sold! It is a beautiful interfacing with a lovely soft hand, and it gave the innards of my coat the perfect structure to display those outer pleats as I liked. I took care to cut my interfacing a little smaller than the pattern pieces to avoid having it cover the seam allowances. I have Cashmerette to thank for this. I was following along with her coat-making posts just as I was getting ready to sew mine. If it weren’t for her brainstorming the problem of her princess seam ripples, I probably would have gone through all that heartache myself. So I kept the seam allowances interfacing free, and there were no ripples in my coat.

 

I was also planning on fusing hair canvas (yeah, fusible hair canvas!) to parts of the bodice, on top of my block fusing, for extra structure. Well, the truth is that I did actually cut and fuse my precious hair canvas, but it gave the coat far too stiff a look and the pleats didn’t fall nicely. I hyperventilated a little and then decided to peel it all off. To deal with the rough and sticky residue left behind from the hair canvas, I decided to cover the original interfacing with some extra lightweight interfacing that I would normally use for knits and sheers. This added the perfect little bit of extra support to the bodice and it also covered the residue from the hair canvas disaster. It meant I could now attach my beautiful Caroline Herrera silk twill lining. Do you want the demure peak at my lining?

 
Or the big flash? It just so happened that my leather trimmed tunic was the perfect dress to fit beneath this coat.
 
 

I attached the body of the lining as one and the sleeves separately. I then hand-stitched the sleeve linings at the sleeve-cap. Because the design of this coat wasn’t of a traditional coat shape, I found myself with decisions to make at so many steps along the way. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure about the way the sleeves were hanging, so I added a soft sleeve head to each of the sleeve caps. I also toyed with shoulder pads, but decided against them in the end.

 

To keep the coat fastened, I used high-energy magnets that I encased in fabric before hand-stitching them to the inside of the coat facings. I placed one at the top of the bodice and one at the bottom. 


My intention has always been to cinch in this coat with a black belt, albeit a thicker one than what I had available for the photos. I can overlap the front of the coat left side over right, or the other way around. This is probably to my detriment though, since I somehow manage to always fasten it up the wrong way. Maybe I was left-handed in another life. This is how the coat looks without a belt.


 
 

I learnt a lot through making this coat, which in my books is a big win, no matter how the coat turned out in the end. I’m pretty happy with the end result. My only regret is that this has now filled my coat needs for the season and I simply can’t justify making any more. I’m just going to have to Pin and dream away the rest of the Winter.