Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Jeans Making 101

My big sewing goal for the year was to learn how to make jeans, both for myself and for my husband, A. He is a tall, slim guy with a small butt, and RTW jeans have a tendency to slide down at the top and still be too short at the ankles. I found this free pattern for men's jeans via Katharina of Froebelina. The pattern, 101 Le Droit, is from a French company, 1083, and is available on their website for download (scroll down to the bottom under "Kit Zero Kilometers").

The pattern: I printed this on letter paper, glued it together (this was a bit tricky--the margins didn't come out properly, maybe since I used letter paper, and it was a puzzle to figure out which piece went where), and initially traced a size 30 W/34 L based on the provided measurements, making sure to add a seam allowance before cutting. The front piece is provided twice as a mirror image; I only traced one copy. It took me a while to figure out what each piece was. 

Instructions: There are some brief instructions written in French on the pattern, but (1) I do not read French, and (2) I needed a lot more hand holding for my first pair of jeans, so I relied on Closet Case Patterns/Heather Lou's Sewing Your Own Jeans ebook. The 101 jeans have a button fly front, which isn't covered in the ebook, so I used Heather Lou's online tutorial, "How to Install a Button Fly." These sources were both excellent!

Fitting: The first muslin ended up being much too large, so I retraced a size 26 W/34 L instead and recut the muslin. The fit was better in the waist, but much too baggy in the butt. I made a small butt adjustment and a thin thigh adjustment, taking out more from the back legs than from the front and transferring these changes to my paper pattern as well. I tried not to overfit, based on A's preference for more ease.

Sewing: I used a 14 (?) oz non-stretch dark wash denim from a going out of business sale a few months ago. (I honestly can't remember which site, but they had very nice quality fabric. Of course I just discovered them when they were going out of business!) I used a denim needle, switching out the upper thread for topstitching thread when needed and keeping the same standard polyester thread in the bobbin. The inside seams were finished with navy overlocking. The pocket bags were made from fabric rescued from a cotton button-up shirt that A never wore.

Final thoughts: A is pleased. So am I. I have enough of the same denim to make him another pair in the fall. I still think the butt needs more work in future versions, but he finds them comfortable to wear, they don't fall down (even without a belt), and they are long enough, so a lot of wins compared to RTW!

Why is he looking up? No one knows.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mid-Year's Resolutions

The year keeps racing by! I've been busy at work, at home, in the yard, and in the sewing room, but not so busy on the blog. I'm having the usual mid-year crisis--the days are getting shorter and winter is coming. How will I have time to make all the things, let along blog about them?

Clearly the answer is not to make all the things, at least not all at once. I keep on pursuing balance, in work and in life in general. To me this implies some kind of contentment with each area of responsibility or enjoyment--I may not be the best, but I can be good enough to satisfy myself (usually easier said than done).

Acknowledging the need to set reasonable expectations given the limitations on my time, should I continue to blog? I'm not the only person in sewing blog-land to ask this question. I think the answer depends on why I'm blogging. To impress others? To be part of the sewing community? To document my work as a sewist?

If my goal is impressing others, I certainly need to work on widening my readership--I'm not impressing very many folks based on my Blogger statistics. 😉 I'm not here to compete or one-up other sewists. There will always be more accomplished and/or more prolific bloggers, most with way better pictures. As far as being part of the sewing community, that's part of it, though Instagram is probably a more realistic way to accomplish this goal. Photographic documentation of my sewing and a chance to reflect on what I've learned is the main reason I started this blog.

So, here's what I've sewn so far this year (for me unless otherwise noted). I will try to write a quick blog post about each item (or group of items) and add a hyperlink when it's completed.

  • Black floral polyester crepe tiered midi skirt (Simplicity 8305)
  • Black floral polyester crepe bias cut sleeveless top (Simplicity 2614)
  • Burgundy faux suede waistcoat (BurdaStyle 02/2017 #101)
  • Gray and red floral silk blouse (Itch to Stitch Zamora)
  • Burgundy crepe de chine long-sleeved top (BurdaStyle 10/2017 #116)
  • Navy floral pleated skirt (self-drafted)
  • Navy floral button-up shirt (McCall's 4992 heavily modified)
  • Tie-dye T shirts for my boys (Burda 9439)
  • Boot cut jeans for my husband (1083 101 Le Droit)
  • Boho Style knit polyester crepe skirt (Sewaholic Hollyburn)
  • Boho Style knit polyester crepe tank top (Itch to Stitch Lago)
  • Navy rib knit long sleeve pullover (Seamwork Astoria)
  • Coral rib knit 3/4 sleeve pullover (Seamwork Astoria)
  • Coral rib knit sleeveless dress (Itch to Stitch Lago hack)
  • Black wool suiting cigarette pants (BurdaStyle 10/2017 #113)
  • Taupe wide-leg cropped pants (Butterick 6183)
  • Navy and white striped Breton top (Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee)
  • Navy and white striped Breton top for my mom (Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee)
  • Blue/teal/coral printed cotton gauze sundress (Sew Sew Def Jessica)
Along the lines of goal-setting for the year, here's my #2018makenine (chosen in January; documented now for the first time):

  1. 1083 101 Le Droit men's bootleg jeans
  2. BurdaStyle 10/2017 #113 cigarette pants
  3. Butterick 6183 wide-leg pants
  4. Closet Case Ginger Jeans
  5. True Bias Lander Pants
  6. Butterick 5526 button-up shirt
  7. Itch to Stitch Lago Tank
  8. Seamwork Astoria Pullover
  9. Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee
I'm using these 9 patterns as a core group to solidify my me-make wardrobe. As you can see, there are no skirts or dresses in the line-up. I'm trying to add pants and versatile, neutral-ish tops to my closet. This choice was vindicated during MeMadeMay, when I participated (unofficially) by wearing only me-mades on the bottom half for work. At the beginning of the month, I had only 1 pair of pants, and often needed to pair my fun me-made skirts with RTW shirts, many of which are getting worn out. I'm hoping to slowly phase RTW out of my wardrobe (after I get all the use I can out of each item of clothing--I don't want to throw out/donate pieces that are working perfectly well for me). 6/9 patterns are done already, and the year is just half over, so I am well on track!

What about you? Are you someone who enjoys making sewing plans, or do you find a list of goals too overwhelming or too constraining?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Silver Stripes

The Sewcialists February theme is stripes! I pulled this silk fabric from my hoard stash collection and paired it with the Itch to Stitch Zamora blouse. This make has been on my to do list for a long time; I was glad for the Sewcialists' inspiration to get it done.

The silk fabric came from the Minneapolis Textile Center Garage Sale. It's a striped opaque fabric (a little grayer than it looks in these pictures) with bunches of blossoms all over. The fabric was pretty slippery, so I sprayed it with a ton of starch before cutting (using a rotary cutter, as usual for me). It mostly behaved.

The only alterations I made were to lengthen the pattern by 1", add 1" to each shoulder (for a broad shoulder adjustment, which I have realized that I need on everything in my closet), and left out the front darts on the final version. They made the front hang a bit funny, but I think it was more due to the fabric than the darts--they looked a fine on the muslin that I made. The different strips have different weights, which makes the fabric hang in a ripple, as you can see at the back hem below.

I used French seams throughout. The bow and the cuffs were finished by hand. I like the pattern, especially the front tucks, but it will probably be a while before I make it again. It's a very distinctive look, and I have a lot of other shirt patterns I want to try!

In these photos I'm wearing the shirt with my 2018 Refashioners skirt (refashioned from gray pinstripe suit pants) to keep the stripe theme going! I was able to fix the lining issue on the skirt so that it hangs nicely now in the back. I love the deep deep pockets!

I've just finished another top that I'm excited to post about. My sewing goal for March is to sew my husband a pair of jeans! We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 12, 2018

2018 Match Your Shoes

I sewed some clothes to match some shoes! This was for my first PatternReview contest. The shoes are Dansko clogs in a yellow crocodile texture with a floral print. I got them on Ebay, my favorite source for unique, affordable clogs! The fabric is from Papua New Guinea--a lap lap that I got when I was there in 2009. A lap lap is a 2 yard x 44 inch length of cloth that is used for many purposes, but most traditional as a wrap skirt by both women, and, especially on the islands, by men. I can't believe I was able to squeeze a skirt and a shirt out of it! There was some creative cutting, and most pattern matching was out the window.

The skirt
For the skirt, I used the waistband from the Colette Ginger skirt pattern, since I knew that fit me well. The pleated skirt was self-draped. I make pockets and lined the waistband using fabric from an old maternity shirt. The lapped zipper was my first! The zipper and the rayon lining were rescued from a cheap skirt bought at Savers.

The back
The shirt is from a vintage pattern, McCall's 4992, heavily modified. Contrary to the fashion illustration, there was a large amount of ease in the size I chose based on my measurements. In addition to sizing down significantly for a closer fit, I shortened the bodice and the sleeve and removed the gathers from the back to save on fabric. The collar shape was altered to be less 1976. The facings, under collar, and yoke lining are but from the same old maternity shirt (pieced in places!). I wanted to use bias binding on the sleeve hems, but ran out of both fabrics, so ended up serging these. I may go back and use a matching bias binding if I can find one--I don't like the way the serged edge peaks out.

Outside finishes

Inside finishes
Overall, I'm very pleased with how this turned out. So is Loki the cat:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Suits Me: The Refashioners 2017

Suits Me: The entire ensemble

Portia's #therefashioners2017 challenge of #suitsyou was right up my alley! My work wardrobe is based on business casual, with a strong bohemian influence and a little bit of chic mixed in. I felt that a suit refashion was the perfect opportunity to make some work attire while adding my own twist!
I used a 2-piece suit found on eBay for this refashion. It was a Haggar men's 2-piece gray pinstripe suit with a single-breasted 2-button 42 long jacket and a 36x34 trousers. (I found another pinstripe suit in a lighter gray with a vest that I will also be refashioning at some point.)

I started by making a sleeveless suit dress from the jacket. Using the jacket sleeves and adding ProWeft Supreme Light interfacing, I was able to insert a wide waistband to make the dress a work-appropriate length while maintaining the original back vent. I used my dress form, Astrid, to pin fit the suit, generally along the original style lines. I was able to use the original lining, so this was almost a zero waste refashion! I didn't reuse the shoulder pads, instead pinning and repinning the armscye until I was happy with the style line. The only other supply I used (besides thread) were some buttons from Joann. The fiddliest bit was sewing the lining to the suit at the armscye. A lot of hand sewing went into this! My favorite thing about the make is the deep pockets. The back vent needs a bit of a rework to lie a bit more smoothly. 




I will probably layer it over a long sleeved shirt and tights for the winter. It also looks great over the skirt as a long waistcoat!

The back -- the vent is a bit wonky

The trousers were wide enough that I was able to squeeze my TNT pencil skirt pattern out of it by adding a center front seam, retaining the original front and back pockets (hooray for pockets!). The skirt is a bit more pegged in than previous makes due to fabric width. I used the skirt from Simplicity 2154 and added a lining using Bemberg rayon from fabric.com. The lining isn't in the original pattern, so I made my own pattern adding additional ease at the hips and a bit of extra length at the back vent so it doesn't pull. I also used pleats instead of darts at the waist. To sew in the lining at the vent, I used this nice tutorial from sew2pro. I used the original waistband and put in a center back zipper all the to the top, first interfacing the fabric, then adding a button and fabric loop inside à la Tany.



Back -- needs a pressing after being packed for a long car ride to Missouri!

I'm quite pleased with both pieces, which can be worn separately or together, making lots of different winter layering options! Taking an all-business suit and stamping it with my own personality was very satisfying. Thanks for the challenge, Portia! I'm looking forward to next year. In the meantime, I can refashion that other suit...

Monday, October 16, 2017

2017 Frocktober #1

I was inspired to make this sixties style dress by BurdaStyle's Member Model Challenge. Due to the combination of a newborn and choosing a fabric too late, it was not completed in time for the deadline. I took my time finishing it instead, and I'm much happier with the result than I would be had I rushed! Since most of the construction was done in October, it qualifies for Petite Passions #wardrobebuilder October challenge of "Vintage."

Wrinkles due to stance, not the need for a swayback adjustment!

The fabric is Telio Double Weave Stretch Suiting in Emerald from fabric.com (not an affiliate link) and is 68% polyester/24% rayon with 5% four-way stretch. I washed and dried it on a gentle setting. It did not press easily (I had to use my clapper), but the benefit of that is excellent wrinkle resistance! I only used 1.5 yards (not the suggested 2.2 meters/2.4 yards). The fabric feels lovely and soft, and I think the solid color displays the design lines to best advantage.  

BurdaStyle 09/2006 #193

The pattern is BurdaStyle 09/2006 #193, and I cut a size 38. The fitting gave me some trouble due to my small bust. I usually have no trouble with a small bust adjustment, but the unique gathers at the top of the bust made a bust adjustment beyond my drafting skills. Instead I changed the waist darts to deep pleats. My hope is that the excess fabric over the bust looks like a "design feature"! What do you think? Am I deluding myself? Any suggestions for a method of adjusting the bust in this situation for the future?

Bust close-up on the dressform

The inside seams were serged and pressed open. The gathered elements at the neckline were tricky and a bit time consuming (I sewed them by hand). They looked pretty messy inside when done, so I backed them with scraps of lining fabric from my stash. Sorry I forgot to take a before picture! The neckline and armholes were finished with bias binding catch-stitched down on the inside.

Inside the bodice

The bottom hem was finished with seam tape and a 2 inch wide handstitched hem. I didn't need to adjust the length at all, either in the bodice or the skirt. The invisible zipper insertion on the left went in beautifully! Then I had to unpick half of it for a fitting adjustment at the hips. :( Luckily it still looks pretty good.

I am very pleased with the finished product! It's a fun dress. I wore it to a retirement party with a shawl for warmth:

I probably won't make it again. Its a very specific style, and I don't need more than one in my wardrobe! I will definitely consider using the fabric again, though, particularly if it wears well (perhaps some navy trousers?). It's quite comfortable with that small amount of stretch, but thick enough to use as bottomweight. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Summer Sleepwear

Summer pajamas

This pajama set was sewn for August's Wardrobe Builder sleepwear challenge (from Laura at The Petite Passions). I was inspired by Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pajamas, but rather than buying another pattern to add to my already too big collection, I decided to use 2 patterns already in my stash: BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 (free on the BurdaStyle website) and McCall's 2101 (OOP but a copy is available on Amazon).

BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 Pajama Top

McCall's 2101 Drawstring Pants

BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 is a drop shoulder button up pajama shirt with a deep back pleat. I cut a size 38, but narrowed the front and back by 1 inch (I was concerned there would be too much wearing ease for my taste). I drafted separate front facings, a pocket facing, and separate cuffs for piping insertion and also added piping to the collar. I left out the bottom pockets and changed the straight hem to a shirttail hem. Based on fit in the shoulders, I will add back the ease I removed for my next version! I think I also need to lengthen the top.

McCall's 2101 is a pattern for drawstring pants. I sewed view E (the shorts), size medium with about 1.5 inches of ease taken out of the hips (I will add a bit back for the next version). I adjusted the crotch to fit my pants sloper a bit more closely while still maintaining a relaxed fit. I drafted separate cuffs to allow piping insertion and added seamed pockets and a faux fly.

The fabric came from a set of old sheets. I didn't realize the fabric was directional with a different shade depending on which way is up until my husband pointed out that the top and bottom of the set are different colors! Oops. Good thing they're just pajamas!

Piping detail. Buttons from my stash. 

I used a soft cotton fabric from my stash to make the bias binding for the piping. There was enough of this fabric left to make a camisole as well! 

I have  been wanting to find a TNT cami pattern, so I made the Diana cami from Spit Up and Stilettos/Sew Loft (free pattern hosted at Hoopes Parks Studio), size S at the bust graded to M at the waist in the soft pink cotton. I compared this to the Ogden cami from True Bias (size 2) in a pink and purple quilting cotton (also from my stash). The Odgen is one of my #2017makenine, so it feels good to check that off! Neither pattern has any darts to worry about. The Diana is finished at the top with bias binding and has an interesting back strap style; the Ogden is finished with a facing and is definitely a faster sew!

Here's the Diana:

Back detail without hair in the way!
And the Ogden:

(Right strap is sewn in properly -- just twisted in the photo!)

I prefer the way the Ogden fits me, though I will probably use the Diana back detail again at some point. I love that the Ogden takes less than 1 yard of fabric and that it's such a quick sew! Unlike the Diana, it's not free, but it's very well drafted and is a nice basis for hacks (see True BiasThreadbear Garmentstrine.schroeder, lindsayinstitches, and Sew Busy Lizzy). There's a reason it's so popular in the sewing blogosphere! I will be sewing up several more for winter layering in a drapier fabric than quilting cotton. 😉 I also plan on making the pajama set again for winter in a pink and purple striped cotton flannel. I will make the pants long, but keep the top short sleeved.

This last summer I also made a robe, so my summer loungewear is complete! I used the free kimono Robe pattern from Connecting Threads. The dark purple fabric was a sheet rescued from the thrift store and the lining fabric is more of the lavender sheets the pajamas are made from. I used the patterned portions of the sheet for the back, cuffs, and collar and added ribbon belt loops for the tie. At the moment it's the perfect weight, though I may want to make a heavier robe for the dead of winter!

Do you have a TNT camisole pattern that you prefer? November is TNT month at the Sewcialists--the perfect chance to find one and make a few camisoles!