Republique du Chiffon Mini Bernadette hack

Republique du Chiffon Mini Bernadette hack

The last time (the only time) we posted pictures of these two small people of mine, they were wearing matching Mini Sutton tops in different Nani Iro fabrics. And here we are again, months down the track, with those same sisters in matching Mini Bernadette jackets – in different Nani Iro fabrics. When we were planning these photos, we agreed Klarissa should take them separately this time – or I’d start to look like one of ‘those mums’ who matchy-match their kids.

Truth is, when it comes to sewing the more special stuff for my kids I do often double up. For a number of reasons: to prevent squabbles about who got the better deal; to make the most of kid patterns before the sizes are too small (or the kids are too big); because it’s quicker and easier to roll off two of the same. And quietly, because I may have a slight thing for siblings in matching sets. There. I said it.




I should know better, as I carry significant trauma in this area from my own childhood. My mum had a thing in the 80s for colour-coding her kids – I was light blue, my older brother was green and my little brother was red. This wasn’t really something I questioned until we took a trip to Europe to stay with family and the whole colour thing went into overdrive. Our capsule travel wardrobes consisted of matching knitted navy jumpers with ‘our’ colour as a stripe, which were paired with colour-coded skivees underneath (the Wiggles owe me), and matching navy trackies. We wore these outfits almost every day, along with other coordinates in our assigned colour, because my mum thought it would make us less likely to get lost or be kidnapped. The situation hit peak ridiculousness while we were staying in my dad’s Eastern Bloc village and a trip to the local barber resulted in three matching bowl haircuts. All these years later I still can’t look at the photos – we look like members of a cult.


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


You may well ask, given my past, how can I risk passing the damage down another generation? Blame Instagram. And Pinterest. I’m a total sucker for those inspo accounts with perfect mums wrangling adorable, clean children in matching beautiful French linen smock dresses as they wander around farmers markets with woven baskets eating whimsical ice-creams. I can’t help it – I know it’s not real (how do they keep the ice-cream off the linen?) but it all looks so lovely – and the matchy kids are so darn cute. Somewhere along the line, desensitised by all this ‘parenting porn’, I’ve decided that dressing your children in the same outfits is a good thing… as long as the outfits are gorgeous.


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


And so I made these matching jackets – both at the same time, in a mini production line at a recent craft camp. The fabrics are treasured pre-quilted Nani Iro double gauze that I bought at Tomato in Tokyo Fabric Town last year. I chose quite a different print for each kid (see – not really matching at all) and luckily they both approved of my selections.

The pattern is Republique de Chiffon’s Mini Bernadette jacket, (Klarissa made one a while back here) with many small hacks. I lengthened the body of both sizes (8 and 10) by 4cm, and curved both of the lapel pieces. I also replaced the zipper with single wooden buttons from Buttonmania, and finished all edges with visible bias binding. I wanted a good colour match for the binding and searched a few shops before finding both colours sitting obediently beside each other at The Fabric Store, in perfect lightweight cotton. What luck. The Mini Bernadette pattern is lined, but I left this step out as the quilted fabric meant it wasn’t needed.

Nani Iro / Mini bernadette Jacket


The jackets would have come together in no time – the pattern is very straightforward and simple to sew (even when translating from French) – but I complicated things by finishing all of the internal seams with Hong Kong binding, which took forever. I wanted to do justice to the precious fabric by finishing it neatly, and I’ve always loved how clean and professional Hong Kong binding looks. Or should I say ‘looked’. Because I managed to so badly mangle sections of my binding that ‘professional’ doesn’t really apply. The layers of fabric and quilting proved quite challenging to evenly bind, and I got impatient and careless.

I took more care with the visible binding on the outside edges of the jackets: for the small jacket I machine stitched the binding to the top side then hand-stitched it under; for the bigger jacket I made 8cm-wide binding, folded it in two, machine sewed the raw edge of the folded binding to the inside seam, then folded it over to the front seam and machine stitched close to the edge. I’m not sure if that description makes any sense, but it’s a great binding trick I picked up on craft camp (thanks Karen!).


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


Luckily small people are quite forgiving of internal binding imperfections, and these girls have been delighted to get their paws on their new jackets. I think this will be my last matching make – even I accept they’re getting too old to be treated like their mum’s dolls – so I’m glad I’m going out on a high note. In fact I like these jackets so much I’ve had a few fleeting thoughts of making one for myself. Because matching mother and daughters is totally fine…right?


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


Nani Iro / mini bernadette jacket


Nani Iro - Fabric town - Tokyo

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  • They’re both lovely! I wouldn’t blame you for making your own version…

    • Thanks Bella, I’m having jacket envy every time my girls put them on so I think I’m going to have to make my own. It may be time for a Tamarack…

  • Just discovered your blog via Flickr – greetings from a fellow Melbourne sewist! Both jackets are DIVINE, and those are two of my very favourite Nani Iro prints. Your inside seam finishes look lovely, too. Not too matchy at all given how different the fabrics are. Go ahead and make one for yourself 🙂

    • Hello Marisa, thank you for your lovely comment, it’s nice to meet another Melbourne sewist! If you see a strange woman and her two daughters wearing matching jackets somewhere, you’ll know I’ve taken your advice! Kate

  • Lucky girls. These are fab. Hooray for craft camps!

    • Thanks Anna – lucky for me they both love the jackets, think I would have wept if that Nani Iro wasn’t appreciated. And yes – hooray for craft camps, sounds like you’re going to be busy on the teaching side this year!

  • These are lovely and not at all too matchy matchy. But oh how I wish I could see the colour coded siblings with their bowl cuts…. You made me cackle out loud (not least because I too received a bowl cut in the early 80’s. Child cruelty I say!).

    • Thank you Sarah. I was tempted to include a photo of the matching bowl haircuts on the blog, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it! I would have thought you’d be too young to have endured the whole bowl thing – but it seems to have crossed into a few decades! There must be a support group out there somewhere….

  • Both jackets are gorgeous like your two little girls ! Your fabrics choice is just perfect ! I wish my daughter would still accept to wear handmade clothes but at 15, it’s not the case anymore…So at your place I would keep on sewing for them before they are too big 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely message – I totally sympathise regarding your teenage daughter not wanting to wear handmade clothes (breaking her mother’s heart!). My older girl is starting to get very fussy so I figure my sewing days with her are numbered…!