Death by dryer: to mini Rigel Bomber

Remember this awesome Rigel Bomber? I made it a long time ago, but it’s had an awful lot of wear since then. The outer cotton fabric is heavy and durable. My mistake was in lining the jacket with a slippery viscose. I don’t regret it though. That viscose remnant I used was totally luxurious and something I noticed every time I slipped that jacket on.

Unfortunately, viscose can be a little more delicate than other fabrics when it comes to laundering. I made sure I prewashed everything first, but it didn’t occur to me to dry the fabrics in the dryer. I rarely used my dryer in Australia. Even in Winter, with three kids, I could efficiently line dry all of my washing. This is starkly different to where I live now, where most people almost exclusively use their dryer. I initially fought this practice, but when your neighbourhood has a no clothesline policy, it’s hard not to succumb to the convenience.

So to cut this rather long story short, my bomber found it’s way into the dryer (I do my laundry on autopilot and sometimes there are casualties). The outer fabric was still perfect, but the viscose lining shrunk significantly. Death by dryer.

I wasn’t going to waste my precious fabric-of-the-year though and decided to have a shot at modifying it into a mini-bomber. It worked pretty well. I was a bit scissor happy on the sleeves, because I had to guess the length while the recipient slept. It seems this child is longer than I think. The sleeves are just long enough. The proportions of the whole jacket are also a little off because I wanted to preserve the ribbing and pockets, and I could have slimmed the sleeves and torso down a little more, but otherwise it’s not too bad.

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So what did I do:

1) I cut off the wrist cuffs and the bottom ribbing

2) I unpicked the centre back neckline and took about 2″ out of the back (and the ribbing) by sewing a CB seam. I added a bigger pleat to the lining but otherwise left it alone.

3) I unpicked the zipper, reattached the lining to the front fabric, and then simply overlapped it to fasten with buttons. Overlapping it at the front also helped balance the fact that I took a chunk out of the CB.

4) I brought the side seams in on the outer fabric by about 1″ (but could taken more out). I made most of the modifications to the outer fabric only. That way, if the viscose decides to shrink more, it won’t matter.

5) Lastly, I reattached all the ribbing, did some buttonholes down the front, and sewed on buttons.

Miss Seven is absolutely in love with this jacket. I think this is because she remembers me wearing my version so much. From my perspective, it’s delightfully weird to see her wearing one of my favourite jackets in a mini-size. But at the end of the day, she was desperately in need of a Spring weight jacket, so I’m glad that this is the one to fill that spot.

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A playsuit for Miss Five

Miss Five has had her heart set on a cheetah print playsuit for a while now. She fell in love with a silk swatch I ordered a while back and I convinced her that it would suit a little playsuit. The idea of her in cheetah print kind of appeals to me. But because I was drafting this pattern myself, I thought I’d test it out with scraps first.


The bodice is made using some beautiful Art Gallery scraps from my Carolyn Pyjamas and wrap pants. I had such a small amount of this left that both the front and back bodice pieces have centre seams. It’s not ideal, but you can hardly notice with the busy print.

 

 
 
 

The pants are refashioned from my long yellow kimono jacket. When cutting the pattern pieces, I positioned them along the side seams to preserve the pockets for the playsuit pants. The kimono rayon is heavy and drapey, but those pants would work just as well in another type of knit or even a woven fabric.


Gaucho pants and culottes are so hot right now and I love being able to translate this trend into some cool kiddie clothes. Miss Five fell instantly in love with this little playsuit and I can see her getting loads of wear out of it in summer. It’s comfortable, cute, and most importantly, she can get it on and off without too much bother.

Last stop on the Pinwheel Slip dress brigade

Remember this maxi skirt that I made last Summer. It was a part of a two-piece set-acular. I still have the top. The skirt has been really great to me. The fabric is beautiful and I’ve worn it a lot. I haven’t stopped liking it but I’ve have recently replaced it with a maxi skirt that I like so much more. I’m a realist when it comes to knowing what I actually will wear and what I won’t and there’s only room for one winner in my wardrobe. Let’s just call it a leadership spill in the case of the maxi skirts.

The thing I love about maxi skirts is the huge amount of uncut fabric that goes into making them. In my eyes, this basically gives them two lives (if the fabric is up to scratch). This fabric was. It is a stunning voile that is heavier than your standard voile, but much lighter than a quilting weight cotton, and it has a pretty, slightly satiny finish. It still looks brand new, despite numerous washes and wears.

 

I was able to sneak two Oliver + S Pinwheel slip dresses out of it. I’ll call that a win. I cut one in a size 12, which is currently in transit to it’s recipient in Australia. The other was made up in a size 3 for my littlest peep. Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what size I cut for this little peep. I suspect I made a mistake during some late night tracing because the skirt front didn’t match the bodice and I had to take a little bit out of the sideseams to fix it on the fly. It’s no big deal though. Little peep still loves her new dress. And she’s got this modelling thing down pat. Queue side pose with robot arms. And that FACE!

And now, are you ready for the grand finale of model poses.
 

Just for the camera, here is her best head tilt and phoniest smile. 




Butterick 6900: A leather blocked, drop shoulder coat

I’d like to share with you a pretty typical conversation that ensues each time I break out something new that I’ve made for myself.

Me: What do you think of my new coat? (pre-empting some inevitable design confusion) It’s a drop shoulder design. It’s supposed to be unfitted. 

Husband: It’s interesting. I like it. (moving closer to inspect my stitching and style lines better) It’s really good. But it’s a bit big for you. Look at the shoulders.

Me: It’s the design. That’s why they’re called drop shoulders.

Husband: It’s a bit big at the back too. It looks a bit masculine.

Me: Yeeeeeesss (my speech slows and perhaps my eyes begin to roll a little). It’s the design. It’s a boxy, oversize, drop shoulder style of coat.

Husband: You know, it would look great if you cinched in the waist with a really wide belt.

Me: Yes. It. Would.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the original coat that caught my eye and that ended up becoming my design inspiration. I also shared a few sketches of my own coat in the early planning stages. I’m pretty useless at drawing, but Fashionary is a great way for me to get my ideas down on paper, so that I can solidify a design in my head, and then have something to refer back to when I’m playing around with the actual pattern pieces. 

For this coat, I started with Butterick 6900, but I made a lot of modifications:

  • Lengthened the shoulder seams and dropped the armscye to achieve the oversized, drop shoulder look, rather than a coat that just looks too big (Husband you know nothing!)
  • Sharpened the collar to a point
  • drafted a lining to include the existing facing pieces
  • shortened View B by 4″
  • changed the position of the welt pockets and slimmed them down
  • lengthened the sleeves
  • added a front and back yoke to accommodate and suit the size of leather I had to work with
  • added shaped panels to the sleeves in contrast wool and lambskin
  • top-stitched some contrast lambskin and cowhide to the bottom of the coat 
 

 
 
 

The cowhide I used, as you know, was upcycled from my leather skirt. The grey fabric is a beautiful, medium/heavyweight, double faced wool. One side is grey and the other is a pretty plaid. Both sides are invisibly stitched together very securely. The edge of the swatch in my photo is separated because I actively removed the stitches to pull both fabrics apart.


Even though I didn’t make the most of both sides of this great fabric, I still found it useful in reducing the bulk in my coat. I only used one layer of the wool fabric for the collar underside since the leather was so bulky. I also carefully separated and cut away the grey seam allowance when preparing the facing to attach to the bulky leather at the front of the coat.

I preferred the plain grey for the outer of this particular coat and I only used the plaid for the front facing, but if I had a limitless budget, I would definitely buy more of this great double faced wool and make it up quite simply and unmodified in and unlined coat like Vogue 8930.

In terms of construction, I underlined both the front and back leather yokes with hair canvas.
The lining I used for my coat was a sleek Ralph Lauren polka dot silk CDC. I also used a bit of blue lambskin for the contrast panels and pocket welts.

I am so pleased with how this coat turned out. It isn’t perfect. I had a lot of trouble top-stitching through the thickness of the cowhide in many places. However, with a little handstitching and compromise, I don’t think that this is too noticeable. I also haven’t decided on front closures. I quite like the clean, no-closure look. I could have used magnets, but the coat keeps closed well enough on it’s own because of it’s roomy nature. I’m also considering buttonholes, via an embroidery house or by hand. I love my Pfaff, but I think coat buttonholes need a bit of extra special treatment to look professional. I’ve also thought about leather buckle/toggles, but I’m quite happy with the coat as it is right now.

Kwik Sew 1034: Refashioning Daddy’s Ralph Lauren sweater

This great little sweater actually started out as one of Daddy’s big Ralph Lauren sweaters. There wasn’t much wrong with it in the first place, but he kept wearing holes in one of the elbows. I darned it a few times, but on the last occasion, it was either an elbow patch or a complete refashion.

 

 


I used Kwik Sew 1035 to make a sweater out of it for Miss Six. It was an incredibly quick and easy sew because I utilised the existing knit waistband and arm cuffs instead of sewing my own. I cut away the holey parts of the sleeves and added contrast bands of a different wool knit. I was even able to conserve the little Ralph Lauren Polo horse in cutting the front bodice, but only just!

 
 
 
 
The skirt she’s wearing is the bottom half of an Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress that I made a while back. The dress accidentally snuck into a hot wash with towels and the wool portions of the sleeves and bodice shrunk. All I did was to cut off the bodice and add an elastic encased waistband. The change turned it into a simple A-line skirt with fabulous side welt pockets. It’s actually become one of her all time favourite pieces (as you can probably see from the wash fade and wrinkles). I will purposefully make this modification of the pattern again in the future now.

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.



Simplicity 1366: oversized hack in white denim with a shoulder seam zipper

I just can’t stop with this Cynthia Rowley pattern, Simplicity 1366. It is seriously the most perfect blank canvas. My other makes of this pattern are here, here, here, and here.

For this version, I made the following changes:

  • dropped the shoulder seam by a further inch
  • added an extra inch to the neckline side of the shoulder seam
  • dropped the bottom of the armscye by about 1.5″
  • added a feature zip to a shoulder seam
  • made some wide bias binding for the neckline, folded it over, stretched it slightly and attached it like I would a knit neck band
  • lengthened the arms to extra, extra long. I wanted to roll these sleeves up.
  • lengthened the back bodice piece but kept the front piece short. I added extensions to the bottom of each side seam so I could hem little slits in each side.


Here is the top photographed untucked and with the sleeves left long to help you get a better visual of the modifications I made and how these relate to the top’s actual shape. I won’t be wearing it this way in real life, but I needed the length in those arms to create the bulky, rolled up look you see in the earlier photos. I paired the top with my favourite leather skirt.