Winter white drop waist dress: AKA Chanel knock off


This dress falls squarely into the ‘what was I thinking’ category. It is pure white, dry-clean only, Ralph Lauren wool suiting, made up in a dress for a mother of three. Go on, tell me that isn’t just a little bit crazy. However, in my defence, the fabric was already in my stash, and nothing was ever going to make it more wearable, no matter how long I left it there. I’m going to chalk this purchase up to jet lag.


Obviously, it’s another drop waist dress. The pattern is my own. You’ve seen it before on more occasions than you’d care to remember. This time, I switched the zipper to the back, added sleeves and some little front pockets. I drafted a new set of facings and lined the bodice with silk jersey.

Yep,  those are darts you see facing inside out. I’m not quite sure how I managed that one. Thankfully I got the back lining right.
My inspiration for this dress came from a picture I found on Pinterest. The link took me to an Asian website, so using my great powers of deduction, I’m going to have a stab at guessing that this is either a Chanel dress or one that is inspired by the great fashion house. It was the only picture of this dress I could find online. Aside from the gathers in the sleeve caps, I fell in love with everything about it.
It was one of those rare occasions that I had the pattern (drop waist, hello!), I had the perfect fabric, and I had a pretty keen desire to put some impractical stash to good use. I would rarely copy my source of inspiration outright (she says as she gathers fabric for her Dior coat knock off), but guys, this is Chanel!
Should I open up a can of worms here and ask what you guys think about copying designers? My personal feelings are that if you are giving credit where credit is due and not mass producing the items for sale, then it’s no big deal. I’ll always reference my point of inspiration, and since there was no chance of me ever purchasing the item in the first place, I’m hardly affecting anyone’s bottom line. I do still feel like a bit of a cheat though.



Cynthia Rowley vs neoprene

The problem with sewing things out of season is that by the time the appropriate season swings around, I’m no longer enamoured with the idea of the thing I sewed. This is the story of my Tokyo jacket. I still love the neoprene but have bigger and better ideas for a winter jacket.

I was able to cut around the faux leather neckline of the original jacket to preserve most of the neoprene. I had the perfect amount left to use for my Simplicity 1366 top. I’ve sewn this top before in Nani Iro. I’m a little bit besotted with this Cynthia Rowley pattern right now. It’s so simple but so perfectly shaped. I love those extended shoulder seams.

I’m smiling extra brightly so you don’t notice that I didn’t ‘hang’ my circle skirt before I hemmed it. Duh!

For the back of the top, I used a little bit of leftover printed corduroy (seen earlier here). I used the same corduroy for the sleeve caps. The only other change I made to the pattern was in using ribbed jersey to finish the neckline, sleeves and bottom hem.

I really love how this top turned out. The structured look of neoprene fits this pattern so well. I paired it with my much loved wool circle skirt for the photos, but I know I can also layer it for winter and wear it with jeans.

Miss Two just did her All the Single Ladies routine. I always have an audience.

Hide and Seek dresses for Scraptember

The Hide and Seek dress pattern by Oliver + S is a fabulous dress for scrap-busting. Let’s forget for a second that it is a beautifully designed play dress and look instead at all those fabulous panels that can allow for so much fabric mixing creativity.

I’ve made Hide and Seek dresses for both of my older girls recently (here and here). This time round, I used up the last of my Nani Iro and double-faced wool on the dress for Miss Six. The lining of the back bodice is wool as well, which should keep this little peep warm in Fall. The back skirt is leftover from here and the pretty dotted chambray is a small remnant I picked up from Tessuti Fabrics many, many moons ago.




Miss Four got a more summery version of this dress because her current summer wardrobe is in a pretty sorry state.


With our move to Kansas, we’ve had two back to back summers and some of her clothes have been in constant rotation since September 2013! I used an old linen pillowcase for the front and back of her skirt. The pillowcase lace makes for a very pretty back hem. Unbelievably, I picked it up at a garage sale for only $1.50.






Little blue tunic

I’m not always in love with the clothes I make for my girls, but on this particular occasion, I feel like I’ve struck gold. I would wear this! Usually, I’m trying to blend sewing what I want to sew for them with what I know they will like, and therefore, actually wear (read ruffles, fairies, and gathered skirts). It’s a delicate balance. I also try to use up a lot of my fabric leftovers for their clothes, rather than spend money specifically on kid fabric. 

Now, if you saw my last post on the winter coat I made for myself, you will be familiar with this gorgeous double faced wool. It was a big birthday splurge but so worth it. I ordered a little more than I thought I would need, just to be certain that I would have enough for a long coat. I also had this little tunic in mind on the off chance that I had any leftover. Luck was on my side. I had just enough for both makes, plus a few extra squares that will soon be patch-worked into another little dress.


I love the oversized look of this tunic. I drafted the pattern myself but I used the placket piece from Thread Theory’s Henley top, reminding me in turn that it’s been a while since any clothes for hubby have been on my job list. He keeps suggesting that I put up a chalkboard in the basement my sewing room, so that he can add what he wants to it. I covered the buttons with a few scraps of Japanese cotton.

The pattern itself isn’t rocket science. It’s just two pieces, with pockets and a placket. I made it large enough for my biggest girl (to be on the safe side and to guarantee maximum hand-me-down potential). I planned to give it to the peep it fit best. It fits them all but Miss Four fell in love with it first.


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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.

Knitting not to be

So for the sake of full disclosure, I really feel that I should share my knitting progress. It started off with a bang. And I really, REALLY want to love knitting, especially with all the amazing inspiration coming through on my blog roll. But I suspect my patchy knit-work is going to be limited to road trips.

But I did manage to complete a few little projects. Check out the beanies and scarfs on this lot (note: a yellow beanie and unfinished scarf is missing from this photo). I should also mention that this photo was taken about a month ago on the first day we arrived in Kansas, to mountains of snow and below zero temperatures. And yes, my stubborn children are not wearing shoes or gloves…or coats!

After my delirious success at finishing a beanie, I decided to start out on a more ambitious road, but perhaps it was a little above my skill set. I downloaded a design off Ravelry to make a little dress for my littlest one, the Maxi Top by Elena Nodel It started well…

But it is a bit of a mess. Just look at all the holes in it. The underarm section is pretty messy too. I just couldn’t work out how to do some of the stitches in the pattern. The striped scarf was much more fun. I was freestyling stripes, having just figured out how to change colours without tying knots in the yarn. But I have to admit that this one is unfinished because I just got bored. I
n any case, since my sewing table is now back in action, the knitting has lain delightfully dormant for the past few weeks. But I won’t throw it away yet. I plan to salvage both articles in a few weeks when we head off skiing for the Easter weekend. I’m wondering if I can stitch those holes closed or maybe sew some beads/sequins/buttons over them…I love a good challenge! 

Knitting pink

I think I already knew this, but I’m pretty sure I will never be a serious knitter. I know it’s early days yet, but I just don’t think I have the patience. 

But I am pleased with my progress so far. My knitting ambitions were never very high. I learnt how to cast on and do a basic garter stitch when I was a child. So my knitting history to date is several unfinished scarfs of various lengths and widths; unfinished because I lacked the knitting drive, and unfinished because I never learnt how to cast off.

So at the moment, I am actually quite pleased with myself, despite the simplicity of my goals. I now know how to purl, to knit ribbing (after a few false starts), and to do a sockinette stitch. I’ve also managed to master the cast off. I have started my very first scarf that I intend to actually finish. And then I have some simple beanies in mind for my next knitting project.

This super simple project has been a good way for me to try out different stitches and stitch patterns. Miss Four is not very discerning. The scarf will be pink, so therefore it already ticks all the boxes for her. I’m sure she won’t mind my practice knitting segments in it!

But before I go, I have to tell you the funniest and best thing about this knitting experience. My three little girls have never seen me knit before, so as I pulled out the needles and began to cast on, I heard Miss Five exclaim at the top of her voice, “Quick everybody, Mummy’s knitting! I’m going to watch!”. And then all three girls hurriedly dragged chairs around me to watch. Knit, knit, knit, knit….”It’s taking a long time Mummy!”…

Leftovers for Miss Two in New Look 6016

If it seems like I only own two patterns at the moment, well that is probably not far from the truth. Even my mannequin, Alice, is wrapped in plastic and ready to take her (rather undignified) place amongst the boxes we have chosen to store while we are away.

Of course, I actually have two large boxes crammed to the brim with sewing patterns, but half of them have already made it to Kansas and the other half are boxed up for storage. Choosing which ones to take and which ones to leave behind was quite a big task. I dread the thought of carting around unused baggage for the next few years, nearly as much as I dread missing that painstakingly custom modified pattern that I unfortunately decided not to take with me.

I currently only have a small selection on hand (that will also come to Kansas with me later). New Look 6016 is one of them. I have lost track of how many times I have used this pattern. Most recently, I am finding it exceedingly useful in making simple knit tops, dresses and tights for ALL of my daughters even though it only goes up to a size 4. But I do find the sizing to be extremely large, something I am still muddling my way through in terms of fit. The problem with children, well my girls at least, is that apart from the standard chest and height measurements, any other fitting efforts are near impossible. It is like pinning a dress to a live eel! So I pretty much rely on my best guesses as to whether I should lengthen, shorten or slim down any parts of the pattern.

I think this dress worked out reasonably well. The wool will keep her warn and it looks like it will allow a little room for movement and growth. It is basically a modified version of the long sleeve top in the pattern. I used up all the scraps from my recent makes (here and here), as well as my last little bit of Lodden Blue Liberty. For the neckline, I found a band of black bamboo ribbing in my stash (If I ever have any little sraps of ribbing/stretch knit, I always cut a few neckband/cuff width strips and store it away like this for convenience. One of these bands came in useful for this dress because I simply didn’t have enough fabric for a matching neckband.) 

I started out with a size 2 and made the following modifications:

  • created a mid panel, purely because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the entire bodice as one. The top panel is a heavier wool ponte and the mid panel is a lighter weight wool jersey. I used the lengthen/shorten line as a seamline
  • lengthened the arms by 2cm and added the curved panels at the end of the sleeves
  • lengthened the entire top to the Size 4 guide
  • Added the Liberty of London ruffle to the bottom hem

And here is a still shot of the dress from the back. The front had too many dribble patches on it from our brief photo shoot!

I think it will look better with tights but I couldn’t subject Miss Two to long pants in our summer heat. I’m actually surprised I got any decent photos today. Most of them were like this, but blurry. She’s only little but she sure can move.

My winter Malvarosa

And so my drop waist obsession continues. As happy as I am with my self-drafted drop waists, I feel it just wouldn’t be fair of me to pass through this phase without exploring some of the other like-minded patterns out there. I would like to introduce you to my Malvarosa, by Pauline Alice. It was made using grey merino wool ponte from Tessuti Fabrics.


The design is very clever and yet so simple to construct. I love the seamlines of the drop shoulder and the pockets are genius. I chose to sew the dress in a knit so I topstitched most of the seamlines to help the sleeve cap sit flatter. At first, I didn’t really like the shape of this dress (mainly the boxy shoulders and wide boat neck), but 24hrs later, I think I am falling in love, especially with the cropped sleeves rolled or scrunched. I chose not to sew the pockets into this dress, purely because I wasn’t sure how stable they would be with the knit fabric.

I did find the sizing to be extremely large. I know the dress is supposed to be loose fitting, but you may find you could go down a size. The great thing about this pattern is that it also includes the finished size of the dress which I would definitely recommend paying close attention to. I knew I would need to size down because of my fabric choice. I sized all the way down to a 36 (33″ bust) when in most patterns, I would choose a 34″ bust measurement in a knit or loose style. I could have gone smaller.

Did I make any other modifications to my Malvarosa? Not really. In adjusting for my rather long length, I added 2cm to both the arms and bottom hem. I also interfaced the neck facing pieces before stitching them down with the twin needle. After I trimmed of the (significant) excess, the result is a very stable bound neck which looks lovely and neat.

My finished dress is very comfortable and beautifully warm. I quite like it paired with my new leather arm warmers and maybe even a scarf (although I didn’t get them out for the photoshoot). And my feet, you ask? Yes, still without decent shoes.

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.