Refashioned slightly for wearability

I quite liked the idea of a long, graduated hem for this coat when I first made it (even if the husband was quick to tell me that the shape reminded him of the wings of a cockroach). Even so, after wearing it a few times, I started to find the length in the back annoying, particularly as I could feel it against my legs as I walked. 

 
 


I’m also quite excited about the piece of fabric that I chopped off. I think it might be the perfect shape to turn into a capelet or bonnet for one of my little peeps.

Japanese pattern bubble dress in Nani Iro

So this little dress was actually intended as a birthday dress for Miss nearly-Five. Miss Six-and-a half is wearing it in the photos. The fabric is a Nani Iro border print in double gauze cotton, which is beautifully soft and pretty. It is also fully lined in a combination of silk habutai and silk jersey (scraps from my previous projects). The combination of fabrics make this the most deliciously cool and swishy Summer frock. Try to ignore the sewing threads and cuttings on the floor behind the pretty cherub.

 
I used a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books. I adore my Japanese pattern books but I do find it tricky to get the sizing right at times. Sizing is by height of the child, as far as I can understand.This works reasonably well most of the time, but sometimes I miss the target in trying to negotiate for my very tall girls. I got it wrong this time. I knew the dress would be big, but not quite so swimmingly big that it is.  
 

 
 

On Miss Six, the dress is roomy, but it still fits reasonably well. Thankfully, the middle sister hasn’t seen the dress yet, so I can still replace it with a better fitting one. In the meantime, Miss Six LOVES her new little bubble dress, especially the little side pockets for her treasures. I love the pretty little faux pearl buttons that fasten up the back. And we both agreed that we would wrap up the dress, place it under the Christmas tree and ‘forget’ about it until the big day.
 
 

TBT: Japanese pattern book wool cardi coat

Let’s talk about fabric shall we. Now I am definitely not an expert in textiles. Everything I’ve learnt has come from my experience with sewing. When my youngest was just a baby, and I was just learning to sew, we were living in Sydney, and not too far from what is historically known as the garment district. Anybody who has a small baby knows that mums need to get out of the house. Once I moved beyond foraging at Spotlight (the equivalent to Jo-Ann here), my favourite weekly outing with bubs became a trip to Tessuti Fabrics. Every now and then, I threw in a trip to the Fabric Store for good measure, but my regular haunt was Tessuti’s, and not just for the fabric, but also for the great staff, and of course, their most fabulous of fabulous remnants table.

I didn’t always walk away with a purchase, but I would walk up and down those walls of fabric, dreaming, feeling and learning about amazing textiles. I also spent a fair bit of time rummaging through their remnant table to find fabric gems that are were discounted by 40-50%. I picked up LOADS of amazing remnants during my time in Sydney; the softest wool jerseys, silks, printed linen, and lots of ponte knits. I also picked up this heavy-weight, striped, pure wool knit that I turned into a coat for Miss Six. 

 


 
 
 

I made this coat more than 18 months ago, well before I started blogging. I took these pictures a few days ago. Past Debbie didn’t know much about interfacing or turn of cloth so the collar could certainly be improved. But even so, the jacket has withstood the test of time. I used a pattern from one of my Japanese Pattern Books (Neat and lovely girl’s dresses by Yuki Araki). It is such a lovely design and Miss Six simply adores it. It’s probably the absolute favourite thing that I’ve ever made for her. She wears it every day in cool weather. If it weren’t so cute, I’d be sick of the sight of it by now. 

I wash it on a gentle machine cycle, as infrequently as possible, and it still looks and feels as good as new. The fabric wasn’t cheap but it is clearly robust enough to withstand the activities of a school kid. It hasn’t pilled like a poly blend wool. It hasn’t faded, felted, shrunk or stretched out of shape. It’s in such great shape that it will likely be passed down to my middle girl next. At nearly $60 a pop (or should I say metre) the price of this wool fabric will make some people cringe. I was lucky enough to pick it up for about half this, but it would have been worth every penny at full price too.

 

So thinking about this coat had me thinking about how I evaluate the cost of fabric. I’m going to disregard quilting cottons for a minute, because they are always going to be fabulous value for wear. I’ve also experienced some great longevity out of budget corduroy. But when it comes to knits and wool fabrics, there is something to be said for purchasing quality, natural fibers. Yes, they cost more, but in my experience, they are a lot more comfortable, they look better for longer, and they are often well and truly worth the amount spent. 

I’m still seduced by cheap synthetic blend fabrics on occasion and I probably always will be, but I mostly live to regret it. Sure, I might get a few wears out of the item, but within weeks it’s often terribly pilled or felted, and ready for an early retirement (in our house, this means they get sent to the dress up box, my clothes included). I can’t stand pilled clothes. I did a little stocktake recently and sadly, these dresses are already out of commission.

 
I’m guessing there’s at least $60 worth of fabric in all those dresses combined. If it weren’t for the enjoyment the dress up box brings and the fact that I enjoy sewing, I’d be thinking that this time and money could have been better spent. 

Leather and double faced wool, for ‘winter is coming’

I saw this amazing double faced wool when it first showed up at Tessuti Fabrics, probably at the end of last year. It is pale blue on one side and charcoal on the other, and the perfect weight for making a snuggly winter jacket. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the market for winter gear back then, so I had to walk away empty handed. But a few months ago I was lucky enough to recieve a gift card from my Mum (best gift ever!) and I spent it happily on this beautiful wool.

 


 

I made the coat using a Japanese pattern that I’ve used before (in my pre-blogging days). I purchased it, and all the other Japanese pattern books I own, from a very reliable Ebay seller, Pomadour24. I cut a size L and made several modifications. In the photos below, I’ve placed the original pattern pieces on top of my re-drafted pieces to better explain my changes.

  • I widened the sleeves a LOT. To do this, I slashed through the centre and created a wedge. I also shortened the sleeves so I could add cuffs, yet still achieve a shorter length.
Sleeves
  • I added cuffs with leather inserts. The leather I used in this coat was leftover from my leather shorts and leggings. Because I was working with scraps, I had to be creative with how I used it. The total length of my cuffs (including the leather insert) is 3.375″. The cuffs are folded over before attaching, minus a 5/8″ seam allowance.
Cuffs
  • The coat is a raglan cut. I lengthened the front piece by 28″ on the side seam and by about 16″ on the front. I should have extended the facing a little longer at the edge since this folds over. I need to adjust the pattern for this next time.
Front piece with self-facing

  • I lengthened the back by 32″. The photos show how I changed the hem shape.
Back piece
  • I sharpened the corners of the collar. This is a very subtle change to the original pattern but it actually impacts the look quite significantly. Notice the very comprehensive details I write on my own pattern pieces (I jest!). I really need to work on this!
Collar
  • I ditched the original pockets. They were actually quite useless in the first version. They looked good but they were placed too high on the side seams, making it awkward and fiddly to use them in real life. I drafted my own welt pockets and stuck them on the diagonal, using leftover leather as a contrast. I also ditched the buttons and used some little leather fasteners instead.
 
I’m pretty sure I’m going to love this jacket. It is super comfortable. It’s not too heavy and it looks fab with my leather blocked leggings. I can also pair my leather armbands (blogged here) with it if I don’t fancy wearing a long sleeved top on cold days.
 


Japanese pattern book shorts and another MOOCHi

So, as I was rummaging through my stash looking for red, white, and blue, I happened across a couple of tiny remnants I picked up from Tessuti last year. One was a lovely red cotton sateen and the other, a skerrick of Japanese cotton. Both pieces were too small for anything other than toddler-wear. I always try to label my stash fabric so I know where it was from,  how much I paid, and if possible the length. This way, I can justify (in my own warped world of fabric justification) using certain fabrics for my girls.

 


The top doesn’t need any explanation. It is simply a cropped version of the MOOCHi zip back version, cut shorter to make a top. I love this style of top on little girls and it seems to have the dress/swish factor that ensures it is actually worn, when other singlet tops are not (in my house anyway!). The MOOCHi pattern is free for anyone who wants it. You can see other versions here, and here.

But what I really wanted to mention about this top is the fabric. Does anyone else out there have trouble discerning right sides from wrong? Sometimes I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out which fabric side to use! I’m pretty sure I chose the wrong side with this Japanese cotton, but it was the side I liked most. It has white embroidered flowers running through the print, but these are printed over on what I think is the right side, so you can only feel them rather than see them. On the side I chose, the print is less vibrant and has that underside look about it, but the white embroidery can be seen (and doesn’t actually look like wrong side embroidery), so that is the side I chose to use. Anyway, it caused me an evening of musing!

wrong side?

right side?

The shorts were made using another Japanese craft book pattern. It came from the same book as this dress I made for my eldest daughter last year. In fact, the same cotton sateen was used in her waistband and sash so they can match each other now.


It was a super easy pattern and the little peep loves the pockets. I’m pretty happy with her red, white, and blue outfit for our Fourth of July street party. It’s missing the white factor but at least it isn’t an Elsa dress!


Festive fever

I made this little dress a few months ago, just before I started blogging. It was only recently unwrapped on Christmas day and I am happy to say that it was met with a big smile. Miss Five did comment on the fact that Santa must have pinched some of my fabric, but for some reason, this all seemed within the realm of normal to her. I think dresses will have to be a gift from Mummy rather than Santa next year if I am to keep this Christmas dream alive for as long as possible.

 
Isn’t it positively festive?! I used a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books. The same dress is actually pictured on the front cover. However, I did raise the front neckline by a few cm.


The fabric I used is a gorgeous printed linen from Tessuti Fabrics. I fell in love with this fabric the moment I saw it and probably purchased a little more than I needed. I have made it into a fabulous pair of pyjama pants for myself (V1347 Chado Ralph Rucci), a skirt for Miss Two, and a dodgy lampshade (that we won’t speak too much of).


Hubby doesn’t particularly like the fabric base colour. He calls it ‘wholemeal’. I can see his point, but I still love it.

And so does my pretty little butterfly. But keeping her still for these photos on Christmas day was no mean feat!
 
 
 


Little Midgie Christmas pants

These were a very last minute Christmas gift that I whipped together the night before. They were made using the remnants from my leather pyjama pants. The chambray fabric is pretty boring but ever so soft and comfortable. She had just torn her very last pair of long summer pants, which were just so practical (as well as protective for those little knees which keep hitting the pavement). I used a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books that I had sewn before. But instead of using elasticised cuffs, I shortened them and added ruffles.

 


Her Christmas shoes are at least a size too big but she insisted on wearing them and who am I to argue with a two year old. She especially loves the pockets in her new pants.

 

Summer sunshine skirts

I mostly only buy remnants, partly because of the frequency at which I shop for fabrics, and also because most of the fabrics that I covet are a little out of my budget. But every now and then I walk past a particular fabric that I just have to have, love at first sight if you will. This happened a few months ago when I saw this summery yellow and silver polyester mix at Tessuti Fabrics


I turned most of it into a skirt for myself, a lovely knee length skirt with a few pleats and big pockets. A little later, I shortened it into a mini version. I’ve worn it so much that it isn’t really in the same condition as it was made, but the fabric has worn very well for a poly and the silver is still as silver as ever.

There was only a little bit of this lovely fabric leftover after making my skirt, just enough for a couple of little skirts (as long as I got creative with piecing all the small bits of fabric together). I added some divine ivory circle poly for one skirt (a lucky remnant from Tessuti Fabrics) and a some vintage floral I am trying to use up for the other.

I used a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books that I have used many times before, so I was assured the skirts would turn out fabulously (albeit a little large for Miss nearly-four).

As usual, it was super easy to get some great shots of Miss Five in her new skirt.


But next to impossible getting a decent photo of the ever moving, ever wriggling Miss nearly-four.

 
I think she may have been twerking…

Summer ruffles for me

There are a few reasons why I love these Japanese pattern books. The designs are usually really simple and what you see is EXACTLY what you get.

If I could read Japanese, I could tell you the title of this book. But I can’t, so here is the front cover instead. There are heaps of great ideas in this book. I have already made the dress she is wearing on the front cover, in similar colours too. It worked out exactly as you see it. I wore it once or twice to work, but the novelty wore off this unfitted style and I ended up giving it away.



But in need of a few summer tops, I decided to make this cute number below. The book said it would look like this:
 

 
Well mine looked like this:
 
 
Not too bad, even if I say so myself! The back doesn’t look too shabby either, especially considering I was short of my main fabric and had to make do with some lovely silk/cotton voile as a contrast instead. 
 
 
If only I had some decent pants to wear with it…well I would have if I’d stuck to my guns and purchased the sensible black linen instead of my fabric splurge the other day! I’m thinking some Chloe pants might jump onto my job sheet soon, well after my next pay day perhaps! I had such a great result sewing these Suzy pants a few months ago, that I am keen to try a few more Tessuti patterns. And before I forget, I must say a big thank you to Miss 5 for taking the photos, especially in the face of quite significant adversity.
 
 
 
 
 

Christmas playsuit for Coco

It’s called the ‘Christmas playsuit’ because I used the last of my lovely reindeer print jersey to make it. I used a pattern from this Japanese pattern book.


Yes, it is written entirely in Japanese, but there are excellent pictures to guide you in the construction of the clothes. I absolutely LOVE these Japanese pattern books. There are so many books to choose from, all with relatively simple designs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to beginners, but once you get a bit of practice and knowledge in garment construction, then the pictures are more than adequate to guide you.


 This is Coco in her Christmas playsuit. The main modification I  made was to add a little bit of thin elastic around the leg openings rather than let them hang like shorts. I did this because my fabric is so soft and drapey but had I chosen a linen or cotton, I probably would have left the pattern as normal.


 
I am told the outfit is no good to stand still in, but is fabulous for tree climbing!