I made a few mistakes when I was a beginner at sewing. I was sucked in by every pretty quilting cotton, which of course I was never going to use. I also snatched up Liberty of London remnants when I saw them. Why? Liberty looks cute on other bloggers, but have you ever seen me wear Liberty of London?
Another thing I used to do was buy completely inappropriate amounts of fabric for a project. I lived pretty close to my favourite bricks and mortar stores in Sydney, and yet I still harboured a morbid fear of winding up short on a make. Remember this dress? Now, please note the very small amount of lace I used for the back insets. Past-Debbie purchased a good 2.5m of that lace, just to make sure she had enough… The remnants had been in my stash since 2012.
It was nice to finally put this great fabric to good use. I used Simplicity 1366 with a few modifications.
I extended the inside shoulder seams to create a closely fitted neckline. I worked out the gradient of the extended shoulder seam very scientifically. I put on an existing Simplicity 1366 top and eyeballed the shape and length of the new shoulder seam. I think I got it pretty spot on.
I also added a high collar. This was super easy, since the lace had perfectly shaped rick rack panels.
Because of the high collar, I added three buttons and a keyhole/slit back for back fastenings.
I lengthened the sleeves and added jersey cuffs.
I lengthened the body a smidgen and added a jersey cuff.
I love my new top. It’s a great addition to my Fall wardrobe and I love that it works equally well with jeans and trousers.
This simple, high-waisted, pencil skirt is made up in neoprene, with a panel of fleece lined faux leather for the hem band. I added a little square of faux leather to the waistband and turned the back zipper into a design feature. The pattern I used is my own design, but I did a quick online search and you could just as easily modify M3830 to make this for yourself.
This is about as mini as a skirt gets for me. I’m still liking the high waist look but I’m also starting to feel more of an inclination towards dropped waistbands. Perhaps these mixed feelings are why I like this little skirt so much. I’ll most likely wear it with one of my favourite Simplicity 1366 makes as soon as the weather warms. For now, I will be layering it with a turtleneck skivvy and making the most of that high waist style.
I liked my last version of Simplicity 1366 so much that I made another. This time I wanted a snuggly, casual top to wear to the gym or throw on with jeans. I kept the shape the same as the last time when I made it up in white denim. I just added a wide, slightly stand-up neckband and shortened the sleeves a smidgen.
The fabric is a soft, fleece-lined, semi-stable knit. My leather shorts were blogged about several months ago. They’ve been a surprisingly favourite make for me. Knowing how hot leather is, I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually want to wear them in a sweltering Kansas Summer. They are loose enough to be cool on my legs and they go with so many different styles of tops. They’ve actually filled the blind spot in my wardrobe that sits somewhere between too dressy, and not dressy enough. Elastic waist shorts and a T-shirt for smart casual, yes!
I just can’t stop with this Cynthia Rowley pattern, Simplicity 1366. It is seriously the most perfect blank canvas. My other makes of this pattern are here, here, here, and here.
For this version, I made the following changes:
dropped the shoulder seam by a further inch
added an extra inch to the neckline side of the shoulder seam
dropped the bottom of the armscye by about 1.5″
added a feature zip to a shoulder seam
made some wide bias binding for the neckline, folded it over, stretched it slightly and attached it like I would a knit neck band
lengthened the arms to extra, extra long. I wanted to roll these sleeves up.
lengthened the back bodice piece but kept the front piece short. I added extensions to the bottom of each side seam so I could hem little slits in each side.
Here is the top photographed untucked and with the sleeves left long to help you get a better visual of the modifications I made and how these relate to the top’s actual shape. I won’t be wearing it this way in real life, but I needed the length in those arms to create the bulky, rolled up look you see in the earlier photos. I paired the top with my favourite leather skirt.
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?
Did you really want to see another drop waist dress? Well to be completely honest, I thought I’d moved on from them myself. I’m really fickle with fashion. I love something intensely for a brief period, but if it remains in my field of vision for too long I get bored and start looking elsewhere for the next sparkly trend. My problem with the drop waist is that they are just so comfortable that I wear them every other day, to the extent that I get sick of the sight of myself. I have drop waist overload. Can you see my point?
And let’s not forget the one that started this whole obsession…
So now I feel like I should show you how I ended up sewing yet another drop waist. Firstly, I spotted this amazing dress on Pinterest, as worn by Olivia Palermo in the picture below. There’s something about those widely spaced gridlines and the unexpected seamlines that make my heart beat a little faster. If I could get my hands on that fabric, there’d be a knock-off in my wardrobe as we speak.
Soon after, Rachel from House of Pinheiro showed off her amazing Parisian dress. This was all the confirmation I needed. The fabric I used was already in my stash and part of it was upcycled from a long, shirt dress that I made some time ago. Reckless past-Debbie didn’t pre-wash the fabric and the shirt dress shrank a little too much for comfort. Needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson on that front.
The pattern I used was Simplicity 1366 again, a Cynthia Rowley pattern. I simply lengthened it and matched the side width with my self-drafted, drop waist pattern. The skirt is part circle and part haphazard wedge. It’s quite obvious that I paid little regard to line matching. I tried to place the skirt seams in a symmetrical fashion and match the side and arm seams where I could, but I had such a small amount of fabric to work with that I just had to place the pieces where I could. I don’t think they look too bad.
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.
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.