Category Archives: top

Neoprene and faux leather mini skirt: two ways

 

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.

 
 
 
 

Oliver + S Box Lunchbox Tee

I absolutely love the look of the Lunch Box Tee on the packet cover. It is such a great kiddie interpretation of the drop shoulder, boxy top trend that I’m loving for myself right now. As you can imagine, I was very keen to make it up for one of my girls.


My intention was to make this top for Miss Six, but it may very well be that Miss nearly-Five pinches it for herself. Without the recommended types of knit fabric on hand, I chose to use some small remnants of stretch wool suiting. It’s the same fabric I used for my Chanel drop waist, and later dyed purple for my joggers so I knew very well how it would handle, wash and wear. It has a tiny bit of stretch, but probably no more than 3%. To make my life easy, I did use a ribbed knit for the neckband and the back panel too, since I was short of my purple wool.

 

I made the top up in a size 7 with no modifications other than to fold over the back ribbing instead of hemming it, and to sew a smaller hem than recommended. I only did this to compensate for the fact that I was too lazy to lengthen the pattern pieces for my long limbed girl. The top fits my very tall, nearly-five year old beautifully. I usually find that the sizing on Oliver + S patterns correlate directly with my girls’ ages (with a little room to move), so I wasn’t expecting this to sew up so small. I suspect the main reason it did is because I used a woven instead of a knit. But I think I prefer it this way and I would definitely use a woven again next time. If you plan to do the same, I’d recommend sizing up by 1-2 sizes.

I’d still like to see how it fits Miss Six so it will still be wrapped up and put under the Christmas tree for her. Little sister would love it for herself though, especially with those neat little front pockets. There might be a little bit of wardrobe swapping going on after Christmas.

On another note, I’m hanging out for the release of the mini-Hudson pants by True Bias. A few weeks ago, this little peep suddenly decided that she couldn’t handle wearing tights or leggings, and would only wear looser fitting pants, like the ones above from Target. I get this. Tights can be itchy on dry skin, but it left me pretty unprepared for her sudden wardrobe overhaul. Target came to my rescue on this occasion, but next time I’d prefer to sew them myself. The shape of these pants remind me a lot of Hudson pants. The challenge I always seem to have though, is in finding a nice range of snuggly knits in pure cotton. I despise the pill-ability of poly blends. Any advice out there on where to find such elusive trackie dack fabric?

Oliver + S denim culottes for Miss Six

It’s not often I’ll race out and buy a pattern as soon as it’s been released. I’ve only ever done it twice, and both times they’ve been Oliver + S patterns. The minute I saw this pattern I knew I had to have it. Do I need to tell you why?

They’re culottes!

I fell in love at first sight with this pattern, but I also knew that I would have a bit of trouble convincing my skirt wearing six year old that she needed a pair for herself. Part of my sales strategy was to show her my denim pair of culottes and to offer to make her the same. She loved the idea. And I loved the idea that I wasn’t going to have to use pink, or sparkles, or big flowers.


I cut a size six in the pattern but I made a few changes: 

  • I like a sleeker look to culottes so I combined the two front pleats into a single centre pleat. This also gave me more room to add my pocket details.
  • The contrast waistband and pocket was attached externally, so I ditched the inseam pockets. The pocket style is very similar to the ones I made for my denim culottes.
  • I lengthened them by 1″ for my taller than average 6.5 yr old

The denim I used for these culottes is quite heavy. It’s probably a lot heavier than was intended for this pattern, but I quite like the volume it gives the pants, and I know they will  be great to layer with wool tights to keep Miss Six warm in sub-zero temperatures. I made sure the back elastic in the waistband was fixed quite tight to keep the pants up.
 
I really like the waistband design of these culottes. It’s the same as the Oliver + S skort pattern, but this time it also includes instructions to interface the front section, which I think is a smart addition to the pattern. The front of the waistband is kept smooth because the elastic is only threaded along the back, stopping at each side seam. It’s a great design feature but it also means that you need to get the waist sizing close to perfect when selecting the size you cut. If you make the culottes too large in the first place, it’s difficult to pull (the half waist-length) elastic tight enough to keep the pants tight on a little waist. Skirts and pants that fall down while they play are a personal pet peeve of my girls. 


The boxy, drop shouldered top is one of mine that I refashioned specifically for Miss Six. It was originally cropped on me so I didn’t have to alter the length at all. I simply unpicked the side seams to remove the bust darts and re-stitched them narrower to suit her. I also added two pleats to bring the neckline in a bit. The sleeves are long on her, but I think they look great rolled up. She’s pretty happy with her new outfit. I think that smile says it all.



Kwik Sew 1034: a pullover in cotton velour

It’s all style here in the House of Iles. We’ve moved into the domain of velour tracksuits and we’re loving it. I found this cute little pattern a little while ago, Kwik Sew 1034. My pattern only started at a size 7 so I knew it would be a little large for Miss Four. But I also knew that she wouldn’t mind.

 

I’m quite fond of Kwik Sew patterns. This one was designed by Kerstin Martensson. I can’t fault the fit or the design, even though it swims on my daughter. It would probably fit her older sister better, but everybody agreed that this top was made for Miss Four. The fabric I used for the banding and the trim wasn’t the best suited for the job but my choice was based on what I had in my stash. The white is a lightweight, fleece-lined sweater knit of unknown composition. It feels lovely and soft but it doesn’t have the easy stretch and recovery of a ribbing.

 

The only modification I made to View C was to add the contrast shoulder panel. This was purely because I didn’t have enough velour left for full sleeves. I really like the look of sleeves when you piece the shoulders with a bit of contrast. It’s simple to do but it really changes the look of the top. Miss Four loves her new Two-Piece Set-Acular, but I think we will be rolling those long sleeves up for a while yet.


M6633 and Simplicity 1435: floral velour for my girls

As much as I’d like to sew myself fabulous, fashion pieces every day, other duties have been calling around these parts. I’ve been hard at work topping up wardrobe essentials, darning holes in woollens, and making Christmas gifts. It’s not the most exciting kind of sewing, but in doing so, I’ve been making use of a couple of TNT patterns for kids that have been worth their weight in gold.



Miss Four desperately needed some easy, comfy pants to wear over her gym leotard and home from the pool. Tights just don’t work well for this job. Now Miss Four doesn’t do pants, unless they are covered with a skirt. But she does apparently do cotton, floral velour. I would too. It’s the snuggliest, softest cotton and it should keep her little legs nice and warm.

The pattern I used was M6633, the same pattern I used a while back to make Christmas pyjamas for my girls. I made them up in a size 5 for my exceptionally tall 4.5yo. The pants are very long. I shortened the bottom panel by about an inch but Miss Four still has to hike them up past her belly button to prevent them dragging on the ground. I added a little bit of leftover lace scraps to the hem and a false fly, partly as an attempt to lose the pyjama look. They still look like pyjamas to me, but I can’t argue with the little lady who has taken a liking to them. I’ll call it a score for me though since I managed to get her into pants.

 

Miss very-nearly-three is a similar kettle of fish. She insists on wearing sleeveless ballerina leotards and summer frocks in all kinds of weather (most often the dresses don’t even belong to her, having been raided from her sisters’ wardrobes). I layer her up and within a blink, she’s stripped down to the bare essentials again. She was short of long sleeve tops, so I thought I’d make her something pink and flowery that she might be inclined to keep on her little body. I’m afraid to say that I’m still having trouble keeping her fully clothed. I think she may be part Inuit.

I used Simplicity 1435 for this top. It’s the fourth time I’ve used this pattern now. For this version, I used the same long sleeves that I’d modified earlier. I also lengthened the bodice by an inch and added contrast ribbing bands for the hem, neck and sleeve cuffs. Size 3 is a perfect fit for my perfectly average-sized and scruffy haired very-nearly-three year old.

 



Winter white or brights?

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?

 

Refashioned: butterfly kimono jacket

I’ve made more than my fair share of kimono style jackets this year (here, here, and here). The style is just so versatile, especially at this time of year when I’m trying to prolong the wear of my Summer gear by layering them upon everything.

 
 
 
 
 

Once again I used B5409 and modified it in the same way as earlier versions. My butterfly silk CDC lived an earlier life as a floaty maxi dress. It was lovely. I loved it, but then I moved on, and there was just too much beautiful fabric in that dress to lay dormant in my cupboard.

 
 

This time round, I used goose biot feathers to fringe the kimono for a fancy, ‘festival’ look.  Google defines fringed kimonos as festival. Who am I to argue with Google. I’ve paired it with my leather shorts and floral bustier for the photos. And if I was headed into Summer, I might have even taken this outfit out for a spin. In real life, we are headed into cooler days, so I want this kimono jacket to wear over my matching, Chanel-inspired dress and pants. I’ll be unpicking those glorious feathers because I don’t think they will fare so well on the school run. But you know me. I’ll use them again for something else.