For the love of clothes

Not everything I make turns out great. This top was my latest disappointment. However, not all is lost. I usually try to find a way to repurpose my disasters or if they are made in the right type of comfy fabric, relegate them to the pyjama drawer. Needless to say, night time in the Iles household can often be a very colourful and eclectic affair.

I actually had Miss Five in mind when making this Little Truck Stop Top. It was never destined for greatness but I had hoped it would turn out a little better. The top was a mash up of scraps…a little bit of Daddy’s last business shirt, a scrap of Marc Jacobs, and a square of cotton from a baby dress I made last season. The little Truck Stop Top only starts at a size 7, so I brought in the sides, lifted the neckline and sheared a few inches off the hem to create a much smaller size that would fit my eldest daughter. It worked out well enough, although I am not sold on the colours and patterns. The fit needs a little tweaking too.

Miss Five, with her more minimalist taste turned this top down flat. I can understand why. Miss Four gave the top a shot, pairing it with her older sister’s baggy black leggings and a little something for her hair.


But the very next day, little Miss Two emerged from the bedroom after her bath wearing the top. It had clearly been passed down to the lowest common denominator (not in my opinion of course, but I know how negotiations work with those older and highly persuasive sisters).


Does anyone else notice the crazy happenings in my street?! And the dribble patch…


Some little winter warmers

Yes, despite the soaring temperatures here, I am neck high in wool. Well not quite, but I have raided my stash of all my remaining wool remnants and have been stitching up a storm of winter warmers (before my sewing machine is off for a service and then packed away).

It all started with New Look 6016. This is a fabulous little pattern. I first stitched up the little pinafore about three years ago. It was one of the first dresses I’d ever sewn. More recently I’ve made the leggings and the top. They make great wardrobe staples. Although I do find the sleeve and leg length a little short for my girls, and the sizing (width) is quite large.


Miss Four needed warm tops more than anyone else in the house. And yet all I had was a little bit of black merino ponte and a slightly larger remnant of a beautiful grey wool/spandex blend. Both fabrics are beautiful (picked up from Tessuti Fabrics nearly a year ago), but I knew the colours would not make the grade. Miss Four is by far my most difficult customer. I know that when I sew for her, I have to add details that I wouldn’t otherwise do.

Now, the grey fabric is actually very lovely on it’s own and I would have preferred the top to remain very simple. But in order to keep this little princess happy, I rummaged through my stash until I found a tiny piece of glittery French lace. Quite unbelievably, this little length was in the free bin at Tessutis a very long time ago. I think it may have been a flawed piece but I can’t find the flaw, other than the fact that it sheds glitter every where it goes. In fact, this was the main reason I wanted it out of my stash.

I’m afraid that I wasn’t very imaginative with it’s use. All I did was to overlay the top sleeve portion in this top. The other change I made to this pattern was in lengthening the arms by 1.5 inches. It should come as no surprise that the sight of that glittery lace suddenly made the top very appealing to Miss Four. And I am pleased to announce that there will be one less battle in getting her to wear a (relatively) simple long sleeve wool top when we move to Kansas.

The second top dress I made was originally for her too, but lucky Miss Five happened upon it first. I used the same fabric and the same top pattern, also in the largest size. But by this stage, I was running a little short of my glorious grey so I had to be creative. Instead of lengthening the sleeves on this one, I cut two wee cuffs and stitched them on instead (the sleeves would have looked longer on the intended recipient).

Now as it happened, on my sewing table was a lovely black jersey dress that I was in the process of turning into a top. I decided to use the bottom band of this dress (with intact hem…so easy!) to gather and add as a very slightly ruffled skirt. I would have preferred a slightly fuller skirt but the fabric just wasn’t that long. But I quite like how this little winter dress turned out, and so does Miss Five! Although to be perfectly honest, I am starting to think that my girls simply just like new clothes.


  


Happy birthday has finally arrived

And it’s a high five for me, who has scored a perfect ten on fit. Yes, birthdays are all about me and seeing my creations finally being worn. If you can remember, I made hubby some Lisa Ho boxers and a gorgeous modal Henley a few months ago. I am ever so proud of myself for refraining from gifting them before today.

My reluctant model permitted me to take a few photos (even though it was barely 6am and he had only just woken up). And yes, he did comment on the gorgeous fabrics. I will definitely be making these for him again. The modal works pretty well in this size for the Henley, but if I use a sturdier or less stretchy fabric, I think I will have to go up a size, particularly in the arm width (yes hubby, to accommodate those massive guns).

 

 
Thanks Nick for the photos. You are a natural! x
 

A beaded linen Hannah top

What does one do when on holidays? Why they practice their beading of course! I am the kind of person who finds it very difficult to be idle. I can’t simply sit and watch a movie (to the despair of my ever tolerant husband). If one does find me ‘watching’ a movie, I will most likely also be cutting fabric on the floor, stitching on buttons, or have a book of some description in my lap. I NEED to be doing things, plural. So in the absence of my beloved sewing machines, I packed up some precut pattern pieces, beads, sequins, and loaded my Kindle with Beading Basics by Carlita DelCorso and happily set off on holidays with my three little shadows in tow.

I did discover that my five year old shadow is somewhat of a thrill seeker, as she braved her first rollercoaster rides and ghost trains at Movie World on the Gold Coast. But that it another story entirely. Big rides are not my cup of tea. Give me a needle and thread any day. And even better if it comes with sequins!


This is my second Hannah top. My first one worked out beautifully in some silk crepe de chine. I made this Hannah up in a remnant of simple grey linen that I picked up from Tessuti Fabrics many moons ago. I interfaced the entire front piece, knowing that I was planning to bead it while I was away, but not knowing exactly what I had planned. I also nipped the sides in a fraction and decreased the bust dart a tiny bit. I used a lovely vintage button to fasten the back, from All Buttons.

 

My beading and sequin application was intended to be quite random. I wanted it to look like someone had splattered the front of my top with sparkles and it was just dripping down. Well this was the idea. I actually had no idea just how many beads and sequins such a vision would require, so this was a fabulous learning experiment for me. What you can see on my top is about 8hrs of sewing, half a small packet of sequins and 12.5g of seed beads. It really isn’t a lot. I would have kept going down the top with the gorgeous little seed beads but I finished the tube while I was away and by the time I got home, I was just keen to get sewing.


I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I feel very glam in my sparkly new top and I love how the big gold sequins contrast with the natural crinkliness of the grey linen. I also learnt a lot just by getting in there and sewing on beads, as well as by reading Beading Basics along the way. The book, by the way, is a great simple introduction into sewing beads on fabric. The pictures were a bit average on my Kindle but the content was still good. I would recommend this for anyone, sewers and non-sewers, who might like to embellish clothes in their own wardrobe, or pretty up some of the fabrics they already sew.

Now that I have all my sparkles ready for the festive season, roll on those Christmas parties! Well, roll on the carol nights and sticky picnic fingers at the very least…


The Little Truck Stop Top Dress

Did I mention that I purchased 3m of that Marc Jacobs cotton knit fabric?! It would have been a good amount if not for the leg placement disaster of my own playsuit. But as it happened, I had enough for one more little top dress.


I had been eyeballing the Little Truck Stop Top for months but finally decided to get out there and purchase it, even though I knew it was still going to be a few sizes too big for my littlest girl.

As I’ve already mentioned, this little project was to use up the last bits of my Marc Jacobs knit. I also pieced together about six tiny lengths of some Liberty leftovers to make a beautiful bottom ruffle. I am a little obsessed with Liberty of London cotton right now so it might feature again pretty soon.

I cut the pattern to a size 7. It is way too big but it doesn’t gape immodestly. Miss Coco has not yet decided whether she will wear it as a dress or a nightie to rival her swishing sister.

And by the way, I managed to ‘roll’ the neck binding beautifully this time. I was so pleased with how it turned out after my earlier efforts, that I decided to push on and bind the sleeves before I went to bed. Wrong! I was obviously sleep-sewing. As you can see, I bound them the wrong way again so this is why there is no lovely ‘roll’ on the armscye. 

I’ve gone all Zsa Zsa

I’m not usually one for animal print, but I have seen a bit of it around at my favourite haunt this season. I resisted temptation several months ago when there was some gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana printed silk crepe de chine on display at Tessuti Fabrics. Unfortunately it sold out before I could make up my mind. So when I saw a remnant of similar print in silk chiffon, I simply had to take it.

I used my Satsuki pattern from Victory Patterns. I’ve made a lovely top in the past using this pattern (as a gift for a very good friend), so I was confident it would turn out well. The only modification I needed to make was in lowering the neckline by about 1.5cm. It’s a very simple pattern to follow with only two main pattern pieces, but the element of difficulty was increased by my choice of fabric. I used French seams to keep the insides tidy and machine stitched a narrow hem on the bottom and sleeves. The neckline is finished with facing only.

Just another jersey top

With the recent rainy weather, I realised I was a bit low on trans-seasonal tops. Lucky for me, I had some gorgeous soft jersey from a recent trip to Tessuti Fabrics. I am a bit fussy about what prints I like on jersey fabrics, but this one managed to catch my eye. Unfortunately, I only purchased one metre of it so I had to top it up with my stash of super soft modal/silk in order to complete the top. I think I quite like the colour blocking after all. And the end result is a top so soft and comfy, that I’m not totally sure I won’t be wearing it 24/7.

Hand dyed Hannah

Remember my first fabric dyeing foray here? Well, I finally found a use for the smaller remnant. I always had a top in mind for it, but it took me a while to decide on exactly what to sew. But the other day I stumbled across Salme Sewing Patterns and the lovely Hannah top. Immediately I was smitten.

My fabric was silk crepe de chine from Tessuti Fabrics, which worked beautifully with the design. This particular top was also a muslin of sorts for me since I wasn’t ‘in love’ with my dye job and figured near enough would be good enough with this loose fitting style. However, now that it has been put together, I really like the pattern, especially the way it comes together on the back. 

My Hannah is a fraction too big for me (just in that little area between my bust and armpits) but nothing I can’t get away with, especially if I stand up tall and stick out my bust! I will definitely sew this top again (maybe with the last little bit of my fabric splurge!) but I am not sure if I should do a small bust adjustment or perhaps nip in each side seam by about 1/5 cm each. Doing this might lift the armscyes a little too which wouldn’t hurt. What would you do?

Vintage floral

We are having a great lazy start to the weekend here. For a pleasant change, all I can hear are little voices excitedly pretending to be fairies, teachers, campers and whatever else their little minds are thinking up on the spur of the moment. I can never keep up with the rules of their games. But at least there is a lot of love in the air today.


My girls are lucky enough to live in a quiet street, with some great neighbourhood kids to play with. They have a lovely time scooting up and down the pathway in front of our house, and generally spend their days running amok. 


Today Miss 5 was out racing around in her new top. A lovely little number made using some cute vintage cotton. Miss 3 is wearing her little Ralphy dress (made with a Tessuti fabric) with some gorgeous green vintage buttons we handpicked together from All Buttons in Newtown.


This is the pattern I used for Coco (View 2), but I scaled it down a bit to fit my size 5 girl.


I’d started out making it for my seven year old neighbour but when it looked like being way too small, I ditched this plan, slimmed the side seams a little and shortened it a smidge for my daughter. But the best thing about it has to be my zipper insertion. I am rarely excited by the way my zips turn out, but I think perhaps I may finally be getting better at them. God knows I’ve inserted enough into all my dresses and tops over the last two years for the sake of my little Midgie.




My finished Henley

Yes, I do realise I shouldn’t be calling it ‘my’ finished Henley because it isn’t meant for me. But the fabric I made it with is just so soft and delicious that I won’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t fit hubby and I am forced to claim it as my own!

I used the pattern below by Thread Theory and my fabric of choice was a charcoal modal from Tessuti Fabrics. Modal is a gloriously soft type of rayon fabric, made from trees (usually Beech). It is divine to wear, but it does pill a little over time. I find it holds it’s shape well, and if I am making a top for myself in modal, I wouldn’t usually finish short sleeves as it rolls prettily and doesn’t fray (although that’s hardly what I want for this very manly shirt I am making).


I enjoyed following this pattern, but I did find it a little fiddly making perfect buttonholes and plackets with modal. My bottom buttonhole was a disaster, but thankfully it isn’t too obvious with the button in place. Even though I interfaced the placket (in little strips under the fabric but not the facing fabric), it still moved all over the place when I was stitching. I think I will fuse lighter weight interfacing to the entire placket piece next time before putting it together.  

I love the modern, slimline shape of this top. I find it hard to find great menswear designs, so I must thank Andrea from Four Square Walls who introduced me to Thread Designs in the first place. Her review of this pattern is here.

I chose to make the Large size for hubby and lengthened the arms a little. I lined up another similar top he owned to check the pattern pieces for sizing. I am a bit worried the top will be too long, but this is easy enough to change at a later date.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how my Henley turned out and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it fits. I’m a little bit out of season here, but I think it will make the perfect top for layering in Autumn and winter.