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.

A fitted tunic for my wide leg fancy pants: Rosie Assoulin inspired

This is the top that I had in mind for my wide leg fancy pants. I took my inspiration Rosie Assoulin. I love just about every shape and style she puts her name to.


The fabric I used is a nice crisp cotton sateen by Theory. The pattern is my own. I spent a lot of time, draping, muslinning and pondering the lines of this one. It’s hard to see the details of the top without specifically pointing them out, so I’ve taken a few extra photos to highlight them.


The front of the tunic has a concealed tummy bearing split between the bodice and the skirt. I’ve seen Rosie Assoulin tops with this feature, partially covering the tummy with a large bow.

I wanted some more coverage for Winter though, so I added a kangaroo pocket pouch to layer over the gap, yet still be covered by the bow. I like the layering effect of this. I also like that I still have the option of making a pouch-free version in the future, perhaps in Summer when I’m happy to bare a little bit more skin.

The bodice has slightly dropped shoulders. These look good without a sleeve too, so I’m looking forward to lengthening the skirt and ditching the sleeves to make a pretty frock when the weather warms. If I want, I can tie the bow around the back or side, but I really like the way it looks in the front. All in all, I’m super happy with how this one turned out.

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.

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?


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.

Oliver + S Box Lunchbox Tee

I absolutely love the look of the Lunch Box Tee on the packet cover. It is such a great kiddie interpretation of the drop shoulder, boxy top trend that I’m loving for myself right now. As you can imagine, I was very keen to make it up for one of my girls.

My intention was to make this top for Miss Six, but it may very well be that Miss nearly-Five pinches it for herself. Without the recommended types of knit fabric on hand, I chose to use some small remnants of stretch wool suiting. It’s the same fabric I used for my Chanel drop waist, and later dyed purple for my joggers so I knew very well how it would handle, wash and wear. It has a tiny bit of stretch, but probably no more than 3%. To make my life easy, I did use a ribbed knit for the neckband and the back panel too, since I was short of my purple wool.


I made the top up in a size 7 with no modifications other than to fold over the back ribbing instead of hemming it, and to sew a smaller hem than recommended. I only did this to compensate for the fact that I was too lazy to lengthen the pattern pieces for my long limbed girl. The top fits my very tall, nearly-five year old beautifully. I usually find that the sizing on Oliver + S patterns correlate directly with my girls’ ages (with a little room to move), so I wasn’t expecting this to sew up so small. I suspect the main reason it did is because I used a woven instead of a knit. But I think I prefer it this way and I would definitely use a woven again next time. If you plan to do the same, I’d recommend sizing up by 1-2 sizes.

I’d still like to see how it fits Miss Six so it will still be wrapped up and put under the Christmas tree for her. Little sister would love it for herself though, especially with those neat little front pockets. There might be a little bit of wardrobe swapping going on after Christmas.

On another note, I’m hanging out for the release of the mini-Hudson pants by True Bias. A few weeks ago, this little peep suddenly decided that she couldn’t handle wearing tights or leggings, and would only wear looser fitting pants, like the ones above from Target. I get this. Tights can be itchy on dry skin, but it left me pretty unprepared for her sudden wardrobe overhaul. Target came to my rescue on this occasion, but next time I’d prefer to sew them myself. The shape of these pants remind me a lot of Hudson pants. The challenge I always seem to have though, is in finding a nice range of snuggly knits in pure cotton. I despise the pill-ability of poly blends. Any advice out there on where to find such elusive trackie dack fabric?

Happy birthday little Miss Three

I can’t believe how fast this little mischief has grown. She may have just turned big (that would be three to the rest of us), but she will forever be my baby.

As is my custom, I made her a little birthday dress, Simplicity 1435. This year I had my practical hat on and I made her a little Winter dress. The pattern is a TNT for her now. I’ve made it for her twice before (here and here). She seems to love this style a lot. 

For her Winter version of this dress I used wool jersey. I purchased it online without a swatch, and I’m pretty disappointed in the quality. The colours are vibrant, but it’s too rough to sit against the skin. My solution was to line the bodice and sleeves completely with soft modal. The soft lining makes it wearable, and the outer wool makes it snuggly warm. I think the combination of colours gives the dress a real vintage feel.


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.

Winter white or brights?

I know Winter white is a bit of a trend this season, but I think I took the Summer White trend to the max, and quite frankly, I’m a little bit over white right now. In fact, I’ve been lusting after all shades of purple and deep pinks so when I saw my white wool trackie pants hanging in the wardrobe the other day, I knew they were destined for a dye job. I also wanted to update their style a little.


Despite being (dry-clean only!) wool suiting, reckless-Debbie had still prewashed the pants fabric prior to sewing. The prewashing changed the texture of the fabric slightly. It also meant that I could happily launder them or dye them, to my heart’s content. My first attempt at dying them didn’t work, but only because cautious-Debbie was trying to be gentle with the fabric by keeping the water cold. The dye just didn’t take. So I let reckless-Debbie back in the house. She threw caution to the wind, bumped up the temperature to scalding, added vinegar with the salt, and the wool dyed beautifully. The fabric did not shrink or change at all.  

I also refashioned the pants a little by:

  • cutting away the silk lining, because this took up the dye too strongly and it was dark beneath the pants
  • unpicking the outside leg seam to widen the legs as much as possible for a more trouser-like look. Wide leg and flared pants are very hot right now.
  • cutting off the elastic cuffs. I sewed in some new cuffs to lengthen the pants a little, but these were dyed in a separate batch (as an afterthought) which accounts for the different shade. I might still shorten the cuffs a little because these pants are meant for flats.  

I’m super happy with these pants. I love the way they look layered with my Nani Iro top. It’s such a snuggly, comfy outfit and it makes me especially happy to know that I can now wear my Nani Iro beyond Summer. I feel like I’ve done my dash with white at the moment. What colours do you have on your sewing table right now?


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.