Author Archives: Debbie Iles

About Debbie Iles

I sew!

Mito Cami Scrapbust

I’ve had this lovely Lisa Ho silk/cotton (from The Fabric Store) sitting in my stash for more than five years. There was only a little bit left, but I finally found the perfect project for it.

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I paired it with a remnant of silk satin to make the prettiest Mito Cami ever! The pattern is by Papercut Patterns. It’s a lovely, easy fitting cami and dress design. I can picture myself making up the dress version to slip over a swimsuit in Summer.

 

I didn’t have the strap hardware on hand to make my straps adjustable so I simply cut and stitched the desired length in place to suit me. I sewed  up a size Small, which reflected my bust measurement pretty much spot on. I didn’t have to deal with my shoulders because of the strappy design.

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Japanese Pattern Book makes and a bit of scrapbusting

I’m on a bit of a scrapbusting mission right now. My fabric stash only consists of two storage containers, but I’d really love to get it down to one. I don’t hoard many fabrics. I generally only purchase fabrics with a project in mind. However, my fabric purchasing discipline is very possibly skewed by the fact that I don’t live near a bricks and mortar fabric store. I probably shouldn’t be too smug…

I have a few precious fabrics that I’m happy to save. I also have a bunch of remnants that I’ve carted across the globe with me. I recently pulled out all those small lengths and made little piles around my cutting table, hopefully to inspire me to use them up! Five years in stash is way too long. I’m hoping that if I keep them in sight, I’ll find projects for them over the next five months.

My first project was a quick, little jersey top for Miss Ten. I used a little leftover organic, cotton jersey from The Fabric Store and combined it with a little silver knit from Pitt Trading. I used a vintage pattern but had to modify it a bit.

Miss Nine had her eye on a few fabrics I’d sewn up for myself recently. She desperately wanted me to use some of my leftover leopard print jaquard to make something for her.

I didn’t have enough left for the entire pinafore, but I was able to mix and match with a bit of cotton sateen. The Mini Big Cat cotton and leopard print jacquard is from The Fabric Store. This is something similar to the jacquard. The green, cotton sateen is a very old remnant from my stash.

I used the same Japanese Pattern Book for her pinafore as I did for her Mini Big Cat top. The book is called A Sunny Spot from the Heart Warming Life Series. I sewed the pinafore one size smaller than the top. I made the top first so I had a better idea on fit for the pinafore. The fit of the top is acceptable. The pinafore fits her perfectly. She’s chuffed with the whole look. Now we just need these snow days to end so the kiddos can go back to school and I can get some more work done!

Japanese Pattern Book Top in Striped Linen

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a pattern from a Japanese Pattern Book. I used to love using Japanese patterns many years ago, especially when my girls were tiny.

I made this top using the cover photo of this book. It doesn’t have an English title but I can give you ISBN978-4-579-11649-2.

I made my top up in the largest size available in the book. My chest measurement is 37 inches. I figured, since I couldn’t make heads or tails of any measurements chart, I couldn’t do too badly by choosing the largest size. This top is supposed to be roomy and oversized. It’s hard to say if mine is a little “extra” through the body in this respect. I feel like the shoulders fit where they should.

The design is pretty simple. It’s a raglan style with wide sleeves and a gathered neckline. I was drawn to this top because of the pretty collar. The neckline incorporates a drawstring to gather the neck area. It can be gathered as loose or tight as you wish. The bow can also be sewn so that it is tied at the back if preferred.

The style of this top works beautifully in linen. I feel like all of the patterns in this book would suit linen. My linen is from The Fabric Store. I used a pinstriped green linen for the bulk of the top and topped up the sleeves with a little duck egg blue. The stripes I used aren’t available online anymore, but I think this option would be also amazing.

I know it isn’t really the right season to be making a top like this, but I still love it. It’s the kind of top I can see myself wearing every day in Summer.

A Yuki Dress in Rayon Crepe

Sometimes I want to wear an easy dress in Winter. I have a bunch of fitted dresses that I can layer for cool weather. And I do. I wear turtlenecks and tights under many of my classic, fit and flare dresses. However, I love loose, floaty dresses too. I have several simple, shift-style dresses that I love to wear in Summer, but none for Winter. The Yuki Dress fit this wardrobe gap perfectly for me.

I used the Yuki pattern from Tessuti Fabrics. I made it up directly from the envelope. My body traverses three sizes in their patterns but because of the style of dress, (and to keep things simple), I chose the largest part of my body (bust) and selected my size in accordance with that. The dress is quite roomy through the body. I will probably grade the sides down a little next time.

I toyed with lengthening the dress. I normally lengthen everything I make (I’m 5″10). However, the pattern pieces seemed long to me when I was laying them out, and I wouldn’t have minded this style of dress being a little shorter. It did turn out quite long. It may be a little longer due to my choice of hem. I did a narrow hem on my dress, but I couldn’t tell you what the instructions ask for in this respect.

The fabric I used was a lovely rayon crepe in navy from The Fabric Store. It’s a gorgeous colour in real life, but like black, so hard to photograph to show details. I had to overexpose the above photo which makes the fabric look sheerer than it really is. I would love to make this dress up again in a wool crepe, a heavyweight cream linen, or perhaps a heavy silk satin. It’s a lovely pattern.

I’ve already worn this dress quite a bit. It’s a stylish, yet easy to wear piece that I can easily wear to work with a turtleneck and tights. I’m looking forward to sewing this one again one day!

Just another merino turtleneck

This turtleneck is the same as the last one I made. I loved that Ballet Pink version so much that I knew I needed another to get me through Winter. Check out my last blog post for all the details.

The fabric is a lovely striped merino knit from The Fabric Store.

Asaka Kimono in Peach Silk

I made my first Asaka Kimono years ago. I wear it daily in Summer as a morning robe. I LOVE it more than words can say, and for years, I’ve also been meaning to make a more “dressy” version of it.

When I saw this lovely double georgette silk from Pitt Trading, I knew immediately what I would make with it. 

The fabric is a beautiful weight, with a dry hand and lovely drape. It’s not exactly sheer, but it isn’t totally opaque either. I actually photographed most of these pictures without the slip. And if I was to wear this dress out in the evening, I could probably get away without the slip. However, if I was off to a daytime wedding, I’d definitely wear a nude slip.

I used to avoid sewing with sheer fabrics because I couldn’t figure out how to line them or what with. I’ve discovered that I much prefer to sew up sheer dresses and tops without a lining because it gives me more freedom to mix up the look of the final garment. I just pop a slip underneath it. Slips also get me out of trouble if I decide a linen I’ve sewn with is too sheer in the sunlight, or a skirt could do with a lining (post construction). I own three different types of slips, in nude, white, and black. I generally start with long dress slips and trim them down as required. If they get too short, I keep the short one and start on another long one. 

The Asaka Kimono pattern is a great pattern. It’s a little bit of a fabric hog and always takes me longer than I expect to sew. However, perhaps that’s because I’ve always tried to take a little extra care when I’ve sewn this pattern. French seams are a deserving feature when using a lovely fabric like this.

I’m super happy with how my new Asaka Kimono turned out. I can’t decide if I’ll wear it out first on a date night, or try layering it with black tights and a turtleneck to wear to work this weekend…

 

The All-Year-Round Dress

As soon as I saw this amazing fabric, I just knew I had to have it. It is a silk/cotton satin from The Fabric Store. The colours are bold, beautiful, and totally amazing. It handles a lot like a quilting cotton, with a similar, crisp hand, but with a beautiful, satin, surface sheen.

Obviously, I made a dress. However, I think it would also make a divine blazer or skirt. My dress is a self-drafted iteration of this one and this one. Over the years, I’ve managed to tweak a princess bodice design into a fit that is perfect for me. It’s easy enough for me to switch that base design up with different straps and skirts. I probably revisit that same pattern once or twice a year.

When I ordered this fabric online, I had two dress styles in mind. I just needed to get my hot little hands on the fabric first, to see which design would suit the drape of the fabric better. I also planned on making a turtleneck to wear under the dress in Winter. You’ve seen my turtleneck already. Funny how that shade of Ballet Pink perfectly complements this dress!

I love this dress a lot. The length is great. The pockets are fab. And the fabric is out of this world. It makes me smile every time I see it. I can’t wait to wear it layered in Winter, and on it’s own in Summer.

The perfect merino turtleneck

As I know I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest fitting issues is my broad “swimmer’s” shoulders. I usually just lengthen the shoulder seams by slashing a wedge between the shoulder and the armscye. Sometimes I move the wedge medially to broaden the back a bit too. I use a little bit of intuition when I see the flat pattern in front of me. Over time, it’s easier to look at pattern shapes and have a bit of an idea what should be done to fit your body better. It’s much the same way that I can look at a pair of RTW jeans and tell you straight away if they will fit my shape or not. It’s just experience.

I’ve digressed a little though, because I actually just want to talk about this turtleneck. It’s a pretty simple staple, but I really, REALLY love the way it fits. The pattern is the perfect blend of two patterns. I combined Thread Theory’s Strathcona Henley and Papercut Pattern’s Rise and Fall Turtleneck. The fabric is a divine Ballet Pink merino knit from The Fabric Store.

I made a slightly modified version of the Fall Turtleneck a few weeks ago and loved it. I was keen to sew it again, but I knew I would need to modify those shoulders a smidgen more. I also knew that I’d been wearing my husband’s old Strathcona’s to bed for a few years and it was a fit I could see potential in if I sized down. I tested this theory with my last make.

I basically just merged those two patterns together by laying them over each other and taking the bits that would fit my body the best. It worked out great. The wider “male” shoulder design suits me to a tee. But I also got to keep the body shape and cool turtleneck from the Papercut design.

If you follow me on IG, you’ve already seen how I intend to wear this particular turtleneck. If not, you will soon!

Dream Winter pyjamas

You should all know by know that I’m not super fond of sewing practical pieces. I’d much rather go buy things like leggings, pyjamas, activewear, tees, and the likes. I just don’t find it that much fun to sew staples.

A few months ago I happened across this gorgeous cotton knit from The Fabric Store. I thought the dotty print was pretty cute so I ordered myself some and made a fun little top. But I knew as soon as I felt it, that I’d much rather be covered head to toe in it as sleepwear. I put those pyjama plans off a little though, because…staples sewing.

I’m very glad I got around to it. I LOVE my new pyjamas. The fabric is a very stable cotton knit, and it actually feels a lot like flannelette after a few washings. It is so soft, thick, and cozy.

I used an old Vogue pattern for the pants. I’ve made up the wide leg pants of V1347 several times in the past for pyjamas, albeit in linen. They worked very well in a stable knit.

The top was a Thread Theory Strathcona Henley. I’ve been wearing my husband’s old Strathcona’s as pyjama tops for a few years now, so I really wanted to see how the top would work sized down once for me. It turns out that the Strathcona Henley is a dream design for strong women with broad shoulders and small busts. It fits perfectly without any shoulder alterations. I omitted the front placket for some simple binding. I feel like I also may have lengthened the arms or cuffs in the past, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember.

Anyways, we just had the first real snow/blizzard in Kansas City for the past four years. Five or six inches of snow and the whole city stops. I’ve enjoyed the snow day with my girls, but now I’m off to snuggle up in my new PJ’s!

A floor length skirt in leopard print

This a wardrobe staple. Everybody needs a floor length, leopard print skirt, right?!

The fabric is a luxe, cotton jacquard from The Fabric Store. I say luxe, because the print is so beautiful. The fabric though, is actually perfect for daywear. It is a lovely, heavyweight cotton blend that is easy to wash and care for. It does fray a little though, so I’d recommend serging the edges before prewashing. Otherwise, it was a dream to work with.

I decided on a skirt, but I think this fabric would also be amazing made up into a blazer or jacket. And if you are looking for something similar but for a more formal occasion, you need to check out this animal print jacquard!

I didn’t use a pattern to make this skirt. It was freestyle sewing all the way. The design is pretty simple. The top edge is turned over in a very deep “hem” which rises above the natural waist to create that high-waisted, “paper-bag” waist look. There is only one seam at the back of the dress, an invisible zipper which extends all the way to the top. It is basically one big rectangle (aside from the slight hi-lo shape at the bottom hem, which I cut away at the end).

I finished the top of the skirt and sewed the zipper in first. Then I pinned it to my body to create the perfect sized pleats at the waist. There are two big pleats at the front and two at the back. It was a very back to front way of sewing a skirt but it worked out perfectly! It fits perfectly with, or without a belt. However, I prefer the look of the skirt with a little skinny belt worn at the waist.