Author Archives: Debbie Iles

About Debbie Iles

I sew!

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.

Cynthia Rowley vs Nani Iro

Oh Nani Iro! I have Novita to thank for drawing my attention to this amazing fabric. As soon as I saw this print, I just had to have it. It is a super soft, double gauze cotton that just cries out to be snuggled. I purchased mine online from Miss Matatabi, but I know Tessuti Fabrics have also recently stocked up on some unique prints.

The print I chose is just so beautiful and vibrant that only the simplest of styles was going to do. I used a Cynthia Rowley pattern, Simplicity 1366. I cut the top in a size 12 and made some pretty standard modifications (for me):

  • 5/8″ broad back adjustment
  • added 1″ bodice length
  • added 1″ arm length

I actually think this top would look amazing in silk as the pattern suggests, but it works pretty well in soft cotton too. As I said before, I am absolutely smitten with this Nani Iro print. I’m also pretty impressed with the sleek design of the pattern. The length of the top is just perfect. It looks great worn out and it is long enough to tuck in without causing any bulk under my pants. In fact, I had so much trouble deciding which look I liked best that I had my twin help me out with the photos.


I always find it amusing to watch the response of my family when they see my new makes. My girls are predictable. They see bright colours or anything floor length and they gasp in awe. I don’t consider them a challenge, but I do hope that seeing my experiments will open their eyes to different styles and get them thinking. 

My husband is way more interesting. He likes classic styles, clean lines, quality fabrics and shapes that flatter a female form. But he also has a weakness for the unconventional, which means he can surprise me at times with the clothes he likes or chooses. I know he finds some many of my makes a little unusual, particularly when I experiment with asymmetry, atypical hem shapes or boxy silhouettes.

Hubby loved this top immediately. He thought the fabric was unusual, but striking. The clean, simple lines of the top also met with his approval. However, he can’t say the same about the wool coat that I’ve recently finished. It may be the ultra wide sleeves or cocoon shape that is tripping him up. But I can pretty much guarantee he has been looking inside it and turning it over to see how I’ve made it. I love that he finds what I do interesting, even if he happily agrees that he is often baffled by my choice of shapes and styles.


Oliver + S School Photo dress

This little dress is soon to be wrapped up and hidden for Christmas. Santa will deliver it to Miss Six. It should be perfectly snuggly and warm for winter school days. Miss Four agreed to model the dress. It’s a size 7 so it is understandably way too big for her. Seeing it on her gives me confidence that it will fit Miss Six well in a few months time.

I picked up the fabric from Tessuti several months ago. It was one of my last purchases before I left Sydney. It is a beautifully soft, brushed corduroy with just a little bit of stretch. I was actually planning to make my girls some trousers in it, but since they flatly refuse to wear jeans and long pants, I can’t see the point. So here’s to a little dress instead.

I know the print is a little unusual for a child’s outfit. Perhaps that is why I like it so much. I can see my eldest daughter looking very smart in this dress, paired with grey woollen stockings and some little winter boots.

As always, this Oliver + S pattern did not fail to impress. The instructions are fabulous and I love the little details. The front pocket is a winner (although I forgot to take a picture with it in use), and I love the look of that collar, even though it does look a little restrictive on Miss Four. I haven’t secured with the collar in the back with a hook and eye as the pattern suggests. I’m going to wait to see how it fits the true recipient before I do this.

I will definitely make this dress again, although for comfort and practicality, I may try making it without a collar next time. A wool or flannel version would be lovely for winter!

Last stop on the Two-Piece Set-Acular

And here it is, my last stop on the Two-Piece Set-Acular train.

It’s not that I don’t want to make any more, but I just don’t need any more two pieces. I’ve made a few this season already.

But what’s one more between friends?


This glorious maxi skirt was only intended as a separate. My plan was to wear it tran-seasonally, paired with my oversized wool jersey top and possibly some tights underneath.

The skirt is a simple, self-drafted number. It’s hard to make a mistake with something so simple, but I did forget to put in pockets. Side pockets would have made this skirt perfect. Of course, being floor length, my girls swooned at the sight of it. Miss Four put in her order for an identical copy. I had just enough left over to do this.

The little mischief is wearing her hand-me-down Liberty playsuit in these photos. She was perfectly mirroring all my poses behind the tripod so I said she could jump in and join me for the last few. Her one goal in life right now is to be inside the TV.


The top is a design you’ve seen before. It’s made up to the same pattern as my white version (here). I just skipped the peplum. I really love this little top. It’s so cool and comfortable, and just the right cropped length for me to feel comfortably covered. I can see myself wearing it a lot with jeans.

Getting started early

I’ve been checking a few items off Santa’s list lately. I know, I know, it’s still stinking hot and we are nearly four months away from the big day, but I’ve got a good reason to start so early. The House of Iles has three birthdays plus Christmas to celebrate in the space of two months. It will also be our first Christmas in our new country, so we have absolutely no Christmas gear whatsoever.

Adding to the excitement of a possible white Christmas, is the fact that we have a proper fireplace. It was also brought to my attention that there were already four little hooks above it. Naturally, Mrs Santa had to set about creating some little Christmas stockings. I chose a small selection of Christmas prints at Jo-Ann and let the girls choose the combinations that they liked best. The rest of the construction was done in secret. They will be packed away now until Christmas Eve. 

I appliqued the first letter of their names on the stockings so there would be no mind changing or arguments down the track. Miss Six will no doubt want to know how Santa knows which stocking is whose. I had just enough fabric to make an extra stocking for Daddy too.

I also put on my sensible shoes and made the girls some flannelette PJ pants for Christmas. This was a seriously easy production line whiz bang bam on the serger. I used M6633 and made up a size 3, 5, and 6. I measured my girl’s waists to customise the elastic length. I know the pants will fit, but they still look quite large to me. I’m not too worried though. They will still be soft and warm. I have to admit that it was quite fun choosing a pretty print specifically to suit each girl’s taste. They are all so very different.

Hands up anyone else who is thinking about getting their Christmas skates on. Surely I’m not the only crazy lady out there!

Upcycling: Leather blocked ponte leggings

These leather blocked leggings actually started out as a leather skirt. I purchased the skirt on Ebay for $13. I found a skirt in the largest size I could find, the longer the better. Luckily, leather midi and maxi skirts seem to be in very low demand on Ebay, with most going for a steal, if they even sell at all.

The quality of leather of the skirt was nothing like the gorgeously soft and glossy lambskin that I’ve used before, but it was perfectly fine for this project. The skirt was listed as ‘new’, but the leather actually looked as though it had been washed. I’ll give it a bit of TLC with leather cream and I’m sure it will come up better. 

For the making of these pants, I kept all the seams of the skirt intact, but I did cut off the hem and buttons so that I could lay it flat as a single layer on my cutting mat. You can see some of these seams on my legging panels. I think the random seams add to the interest factor.



I used a beautiful black ponte knit for the back of the leggings as well as for the front knees. Breaking up the leather on the front of the leggings was necessary due to the amount of leather I had on hand. But placing the ponte at the knees also meant that these pants do not restrict my leg movement at all. They are super comfy!

The pattern I used was Vogue 8859, a Marcy Tilton pant. I’ve used this pattern before in my pre-blogging days. I’m completely useless at making notes on pattern pieces (although I am trying to work on this). One thing that I love about blogging is that I have pictures and pattern modifications documented in a way that I can easily go back and look up again. Anyway, I remembered these pants fitting really well the last time, except for being a little too high in the waist. These are the only photos I have of my last version.

Isn’t this the most fabulous ponte knit ever! I think the print was called Dragonfly Fantasia.

In my first version, I ended up hacking off the waistband after I’d sewn it, before restitching the elastic back on, a little lower down. This was a messy modification, but perhaps even messier, was my 2012-self attempt at recording this change by simply putting the hacked off portion back in the pattern packet!

So to summarise my modifications in this pattern:

  • removed 1.5″ of length through the crotch
  • removed the yoke
  • narrowed the waist through the back crotch seam by 1.5″
  • drew up a waistband to stitch to the top. I inserted my elastic through the waistband instead of directly to the pant as specified in the instructions.
  • skipped the pocket
  • added 1″ in leg length

This was an incredibly simple make. I think the panels of leather have turned a very basic, everyday pant into something a little more special. I know I will get heaps of wear out of them during winter. I also quite like the look of them dressed up with my trusty ‘white’ make from back in May.

Oliver + S Ice Cream dress for Miss Four

This dress is an exact replica of Miss Six’s version, but in a size 5. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. It is such a simple make, but so cute and comfortable and just perfect for preschool.

The fabric is covered in lots of little pink fairies. It’s not my cup of tea, but I purchased it especially for this little middle peep. I must have chosen well. She is making a heart for me with her hands (upside down of course!).


And that’s all there is to it. I guarantee you will be seeing more of these over the next few years.