Author Archives: Debbie Iles

About Debbie Iles

I sew!

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.

Vogue 9186 in a Mini Big Cat print

A short while ago, I made a long, linen dress using V9186. I love it a lot. I especially like the shape of the sleeves and collar. I like it so much that I decided to have a go turning it into a little top.

I had to modify the pattern a bit. The original pattern is asymmetrical in design so the pattern pieces are all cut flat. I simply traced one side of the pattern front and back and used those pieces to cut on the fold. I cut it to a top length and left everything else pretty much the same. The top is slightly flared and there’s plenty of ease so no bust darts were required.

It’s a very simple, cotton top. The fabric is a Mini Big Cat printed cotton from The Fabric Store. It’s a lovely lightweight cotton and easy to work with. I’ve got a little extra left over which I hope to make into a Summer frock for Miss Eight. I’m just hesitant to cut into it quite yet, given Miss Eight’s tendency to grow like a weed. I can’t find my particular print on their site anymore, but I think this option would also make a super cute top.

I like this top with jeans. It’s a simple, fresh look that I love. However, I have bigger plans for the top and you will be updated soon (unless you follow me on IG of course!).

Fall and Rise Turtleneck for Fall

Sometimes I get my hands on a fabric that is just so gorgeous that I want to make a dozen things from it. Sometimes (but not very often at all) I’ll go back for seconds, and I’ll add that exact same fabric to my cart more than once. Let me introduce this organic cotton knit to you. It’s from The Fabric Store. It comes in two colourways. Sadly, the navy option is sold out, but I can tell you from experience, that the white option is just as beautiful. I love it because it is quite thick, stable, and ever so snuggly to wear.

I have the white colourway on my sewing table as we speak. Yes, I went back for seconds but I wasn’t quick enough to get more of the navy. I desperately want some to make myself some pyjamas with it. However, I can’t stop second guessing myself, that perhaps I should make something to wear out of the house instead… Stay tuned.

The pattern I used is the Rise and Fall Turtleneck by Papercut Patterns. I made the Fall version of this pattern, for Fall of course. Well, I was actually lured in by the nice dropped shoulder shape of the top. I shortened the turtleneck a bit and I wear it folded down. I also added a bit of length to the shoulder seams (broad shoulder adjustment). I think I may have lengthened the top a smidgen too.

Obviously, the biggest change I made is to the sleeves. I very nearly sewed the top exactly as per the pattern, but I chickened out at the last minute and added myself some big old flounces. It’s not a difficult modification. I basically just measured the armscye, copied that measurement to some pattern paper and drew a big circle flounce around it (think circle skirt shape). I graduated the length of the sleeve to be a little longer in the back. So I look like I have wings…

I’ve already worn this top quite a bit. It’s warm and cozy. It’s fun to wear with jeans. It’s also easy to layer when the weather gets colder.

Megan longline cardi in striped merino jersey

I’ve made the Megan longline cardigan before. It’s a super easy make that is also an extremely practical addition to a transeasonal wardrobe.

For this version, I used a beautiful, striped merino jersey from The Fabric Store. It looks like my stripes might be sold out but there are other options that are equally as beautiful. It’s a lovely weight fabric for layering, or for wearing alone in Fall. I love merino jersey because it is soft and comfy to wear. It’s warm! And very importantly, it launders well.

With a few exceptions (coating fabrics, dry clean only plans), I wash all my fabric hard (on hot) and put them in the dryer (on hot) before sewing with them. I do this to make sure there’s no chance of future shrinkage or change when my finished garments accidentally get thrown in the dryer in the future. I’ll usually still try to gently wash my “nice” finished garments, but I know at some point they’ll all end up in the dryer, accidentally or not. I’ve learnt from experience that life gets in the way of garment care in my house. I’ve also found that if I choose quality fabrics, they are usually tougher than you imagine. I sew day-to-day clothes using plenty of silk, linen, wool, and cotton. I haven’t (nor have my washing helpers) destroyed a single fabric yet!

But back to this great cardi. I made very few modifications. I lengthened it by a few inches (3-4 inches for the hem and 1-2 inches for the sleeves). I also cut the back piece as one, and widened the shoulder seams to accommodate my swimmer shoulders. My binding is a little wider than the pattern suggests. I just went with the width that I thought would look better for this striped pattern.

I know I will get a lot of wear out of this great cardi. Merino knit is probably one of my favourite fabrics to wear in Winter and Fall.

Vogue 9186 in linen stripes

My second Fall project for 2018 is this linen dress. I love the oversized style of it!

I used Vogue pattern 9186 and a beautiful medium weight linen (Hampton Stripe) from Pitt Trading Fabrics in Australia (obviously they ship internationally ;-)). The fabric is truly beautiful. I think they may have sold out of this now, but I imagine it would have made a great pair of trousers or a blazer too. No lining required.

I altered this pattern a little. I did my usual broad shoulder adjustment at the shoulder seams. I took a photo this time too!

I also lengthened the hem by about 14 inches. This turned out to be a little too much on one side because of the asymmetrical nature of the dress. I ended up chopping off a corner and piecing the hem a little to create a more even hem, whilst still maintaining a good length.

I really LOVE the sleeves and placket and the fit and shape of the dress. I’m not so sure about the elastic casing at the waist. I loved the dress without, but there is excess fabric on one side of the dress to allow for the ruching. I sewed the elastic casing in and then unpicked most of it because I didn’t like the look. I don’t mind keeping just a little section on one side. I will sew this pattern again, but I’ll probably cut the front and back on the fold and ditch the elastic casing and extra fabric on the other side.