Well, July went past in a bit of a blur! I’d had grand plans to whip up garments for #SewJapaneseInJuly, post some work in progress updates and show off the Burda trousers I finally made – but I did none of that! At this point I think I’ll not worry with the work in progress, but I’d love to show you the Burda trousers as they were a pattern I loved when I saw them in the magazine, but knew they’d need pockets and a zip transfer!
Anyway – it’s August now and I have new plans. First off… I have enough summer goodies in my wardrobe, so I’m not making anything more for me – unless it’s something that really grabs me and I have fabric!! I’ve dusted off my pattern cutting equipment and books and have started with drafting a trouser block for the other half. Why? He needs new shorts and doesn’t like anything in the shops and none of the patterns I have fit his requirements either. I tried with the Jedadiah shorts, but nope.
As far as making for the other half goes, things haven’t been all that successful. I made a coat block 3-4 years ago and drafted a beautiful coat pattern, bought shell fabric and buttons, but I’m still looking for the “perfect” lining fabric, so that project is still on hold! I am hoping making shorts will be easier, I mean, chino fabric is not that hard to find, right? And it doesn’t need lining, thank goodness!!! The block toile fitted much better than I expected! I just needed to shorten the crotch depth by about 2cm and reduce the waist by 2cm too. I distributed that between the front side seam and back darts and it’s all good! I hontstly expected much more faff, so this is a relief!
Once the shorts are done, I want to make patterns for office trousers too, he lives in his jeans and one pair of black wool pants that have to suffice for meetings. Why only one pair? Because he’s a fussy begger who doesn’t like what’s in the shops so drags this one pair of pants out for every meeting. So I definitely want to make pants to his particular requirements. Then I guess it’ll have to be shirts and a jacket or two! But jackets mean lining and if the coat saga is anything to go by, jacket making could take a while! If you’re interested, the book I’m using is Patternmaking for Menswear, I bought this a long time ago now on one of my London trips, a chain bookstore there had loads of books I couldn’t get hold of in sleepy Warwickshire. Sadly it’s closed down now and I cannot remember the name!!
I’m quite looking forward to pattern cutting again – get those dusty brain cells up and running! Of course, making garments will always depend on finding the right fabric, so now I’m on the hunt for suppliers of good shirting fabrics. I’m sure my usual fabric suppliers will do good on the wool suiting and cotton twill for pants and shorts. Tomorrow I’m taking my machine in for a sercive and then I’m off to a tailoring supplier in Kenilworth, it’ll be good to see his stock in person rather than online. There’s also a little fabric shop on the high street that’s come up trumps for good wool in the past.
So – apart from the odd request from the girls, I’ll be making stuff for the other half this month! Oh – and toiling a pattern for a winter coat and raincoat for me. Just because my summer wardrobe is full doesn’t mean I don’t have room available in the winter one! And I need to use up scraps, so I’ve decided to make some pouches and little bags that I’ll sell later in the year as a fundraiser for an environmental charity. Them’s the plans!
My terracotta journey continues! The guys at Rainbow Fabrics must have thought I was going mad last year when my order consisted of terracotta coloured everything: linen, brushed cotton twill, viscose woven and viscose jersey! They’re all slightly different shades, but essentially will fulfill my desire for a neutral with pop. On ordering the viscose jersey, I already knew exactly what I would be making – and that’s the only piece of fabric that had a definite plan!
A few years ago, probably more than I’d like to think, I made a pattern for a cowl drape tee, from my own tee block. Unfortunately I have none of the original notes or experiment pattern pieces, but I did find that the instructions that yeilded the best pattern actually came from a menswear pattern drafting book! Now, I’ve never seen a guy wearing a cowl drape tee, and I’m not sure it’s an image that sits gently on the mind…. Although maybe if it’s a high cowl – but not as deep as mine! (apparently, men’s cowl neck tees are a thing!!)
According to the notes on the front piece of my pattern, this is version 3. I seem to remember trying out different cowl depths to get it just right, but that was for the stable knit I was going to be using, this is going to be different! The original tee is made from a stable knit and has three quarter length sleeves. This time I wanted long sleeves, that’s an easy adjustment. I knew the fibre content of the jersey would have a big impact on the look of the drape, and I was quite excited to get on and make and wear it!
I am completely in love with the result! The colour is better than I’d imagined, even with similarly coloured hair! I’d always avoided the “autumn” colour pallette, because I can’t couldn’t stand orange (or any of the other warm shades). But I have to admit, this works, although you won’t see me embracing orange-orange just yet! (or yellow…) Mind officially blown guys. The jersey is just devine, it fells like silk! Knowing how drapey viscose jersey is, I reinforced the shoulder seams with vilene bias tape, and extended that courtesy to the back neckline too. It was made on the overlocker, using the twin needle on the sewing machine for hems.
Now I’m off to wear my new tee with everything, I just hope it’s not a pain to iron….
Last month I finally got the chance to reuse a pattern I’d drafted 4 years ago. At the time I had wanted to make another, but I had the usual story of too many other patterns and projects jumping the queue. I bought this black and white viscose with a 60s inspired print from Minerva Crafts that I decided would be just right for giving that pattern a second chance.
I left out a couple of details this time round. Because of the print I didn’t include any of the tucks that were on the first blouse, & I didn’t use the concealed buttonstand. I used French seams thoughout, so it’s all nice and neat on the inside. A post of the construction details can be read here. The buttons are vintage, black faceted glass balls. They are maybe a little heavy for the fabric, but I like the way they catch the light!
The viscose is light and drapey, and it’s just what this pattern requires. I wanted something that would flow and be comfortable to wear now in the winter, and again in the summer with linen trousers. I like how it works with the jeans and trousers in my wardrobe now & am looking forward to wearing it in the summer.
I can’t quite believe it’s Christmas in just over a week, and there are still so many projects that I’ve not blogged yet! Time to pull my socks up!
Today I had planned a sewing day, nothing else to interrupt me… Hmm. Unfortunately, due to my over-running admin duties the housework had suffered a bit of neglect, so what I had hope to get done today will have to wait a bit. Last night I picked a length of viscose from my stash and paired it with a self drafted pattern that I last (first) used in 2014.
I’d always intended to make more than just that first blouse from the pattern, but somehow there was always something else to make first/instead. The original top had tucks on the front yoke and down the buttonband. I decided to skip those on the viscose. The pattern on the fabric is just too busy and the tucks would be lost. I think on a bigger pattern they would look better. I also decided to forgo the hidden buttonband. I have some rather nice vintage black buttons in the button stash, and it would be a shame to cover them up!
I’m French seaming the inside and burrito’ed the yokes. I did have a little “what do I do here” moment, trying to remember how I’d put it all together the last time. In the end, this was the order of work I went with:
Sew the darts
gather front and back and sew into yokes
sew shoulder seams on blouse and inner yokes
sew inner yoke to blouse
interface upper collar & sew to under collar
sew collar to blouse
trim collar seam to 5mm
sew 2.5cm bias strip to trimmed seam with 5mm allowance
fold strip over and press down, stitch through all layers
sew side seams
attach buttonbands to fronts
sew buttonholes and attach buttons.
I’ve just got the buttonholes and buttons to go, that I’ll do tomorrow morning, before the next batch of admin hits! In fact, I think I’ll wait to start the computer up and check the email until the sewing is done! I’m really looking forward to wearing this with the trousers I made last week, as well as my range of Birkin Flares. I have more pieces of viscose in the stash that have been waiting rather patiently for me to get round to them. I think I need to pay them attention, I do like wearing visose!
So much has been going on this week! I finished my coat on Sunday, I have some photos to edit and the post to finish before you can see it all, but it’s so nice and warm! It’s just what I needed.
One of the projects I really want to finish this month is Hubby’s coat. The main pattern pieces were drafted last November, adjustments made and pattern altered. But we were no nearer finding the right sort of lining, so the whole thing stalled. I think I have finally persuaded the other half to accept a plain lining, with a patterned piping strip and other internal details for this version. I can make another coat, or even a jacket (one day) when we find and buy that elusive “perfect lining”.
The pieces of pattern that still needed to be sorted were the linings, front and back facings and pocket pieces for both the internal pocket and the welt pocket at the waist. Somehow I’d only drawn up the pieces for the chest welt pocket. So now everything is ready, no excuses! Except that we still have no lining…
For now. I have ordered samples of The Lining Company’s shot twill lining that have already arrived (one day service, I love it!). The linings are plain as in they have no pattern, but at least with the two tone colours there’s interest. I found some leftover silk in the silk box that would work perfectly for the contrast piping and other bits on the inside of the coat, and will work with 4 of the 5 samples I’ve ordered. I also ordered a stripe lining sample from Fabric Godmother that’s still to arrive. It should also work with 4 of the linings, if not all, should Hubby decide he doesn’t like the silk I’ve looked out.
I’m reluctant to cut the wool until I know I have everything I need, so while I wait for that last sample and we agree on colours and patterns, I have time to make something else! Not one to sit on my laurels, I decided I’d run up a toile of The Assembly Line’s new pattern, the V-Neck Dress. I liked the look of the dress the minute I saw it on IG at the launch.
I thought it would be perfect for Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch. It hadn’t arrived in time for me to make for Week 1, dresses, but I figured I’d be able to squeeze it in by the time Week 3 came around. This week is “Around the World”,which means you have to make a pattern form a designer from a different country to that in which you live. The Assembly Line are Swedish, so that’s perfect!
The pattern is multi-sized and I decided to go with the Large, based on measurements and finished garment measurements. Technically I should have done an FBA, on that size, but the measurements gave me enough width/ease to be comfortable. I didn’t want it too big. The toile went perfectly, I only did the main pieces. I realised the skirt was a little too long, so I took 4cm out of the length. The depth of the V bothered me a bit, I don’t usually go for something this low, but I told myself I was being a fuddy duddy – get on with it!! And the bust seemed fine, there were no drag lines and there was definitely enough ease. Done!!
The dress is actually made now, but I’m not going to give it away just yet, I am going to enter that competition now! See you on the other side!
My first little foray into making clothes with a Japanese inspiration went well, I’ve worn the gingham linen top a lot in the past few weeks and I really love it as much as the first one I made in January. I now have all three of the Japanese books I ordered, Clean and Natural and Kana’s Standard I & II. My first project is inspired by the Flared Top in the Clean & Natural book, and is based on a Burdastyle pattern I made 3 versions of last year.
Why use a Burda pattern instead of the pattern in the book? Because the book has patterns for Japanese sized and shaped ladies, which is not me. So I was always going to have to draft or alter something to make it work. You can put large, baggy clothing on slim people and they still look great, but those same proportions on someone a “little” larger don’t work. I certainly feel like I’m wearing a tent, which is precisely why I don’t use the plus sizes in the Burda patterns!! Too long and too wide!
So, here’s what I did to get my own version of the Flared Top. The original pattern has a yoke front and back that starts under the arm and scoops up and over the bustline, the sleeves are grown-on. The length of the top is 55cm, which is not too long. The flare though, is substantial. Lovely on a “skinny minny”. That yoke line and flare over the bust is not flatterning on someone with a larger bust. The yoke would have to sit much lower. I decided on using #124 05/2015 because (a) I’ve made three others, so it’ll be quick, (b) the fit was already good, (c) it had a yoke in a good position, and (d) I’d be able to add flare to just the lower front and back pieces quickly and easily, after straightening out the curved hem.
I added 2cm of flare to the hem on the front and back side seams of the lower pieces and divided the front and back into thirds. The first third from the centres became the line where more flare was added. I slashed and spread, adding 5cm at the hemline. This meant the front and back pieces were 12 cm wider than the original pieces. I figured this would be enough flare for me.
I did not toile…. I went straight in with the fabric, I had some lovely misty grey viscose in the stash, bought last year or the year before from Clothspot. It has that lovely drape and sheen that I love in a viscose. I used French seams throughout and double turned the hems. I omitted the keyhole opening of the original pattern and used bias for the neckline.
So, how did it work out? Pretty well, I think. I’m not putting this top into full rotation in the wardrobe until it warms up considerably! I think it’ll be lovely in the summer, the flare will help air to circulate! The colour is great and I think there’s just enough flare to give a nod to the Japanese pattern, with me still feeling comfortable in it. I will be making it a little shorter though, I recon 5cm should do it.
If you’re the right size and shape to make a version straight from the book, the diagrams are simple to follow and you don’t need to know Japanese to make anything. There is a great blog post here to help you understanding some of the terms you’d come across in these books. For another version of the top, from the original pattern, here’s Sew Busy Lizzy’s beautiful top.
I’m already planning my next projects from these books, and have tweaked my easy fitting bodice block and drafted a Kimono block to help to get me started. There are many patterns I want to try, I hope they all turn out as fabulous as they look in my head! 🙂 In the mean time, there’s still the Burda Challenge 2018 to get on with, and April is looking like it’s going to be full of sewing, although not that many patterns from this year’s issue have got me excited. There seem to be more in previous years, but we’ll get to that in another post, shall we?
I’ve been promising Mr W something handmade for years. It’s usually met with a look of doubt, those shifty eyes that say “yeah, right!” The first thing I thought I’d make was some shirts, found lovely ex-Paul Smith fabric at some of the sewing shows. Then he got fussy – “make sure the stripes follow exactly, make sure they join at the cuffs and collar, make sure it doesn’t look homemade…. Well, that last one did it!! HOMEMADE!?!?!?!
Needless to say, that lovely Paul Smith shirting found its way to making shirts and blouses for myself and the girls instead and he got nothing! But for a while now I’ve wanted to make him a nice coat, something smart but comfy. He’s massively allergic to spending money on himself, so wouldn’t ever think of dropping £100 or more on a single item of clothing that only gets worn in one season a year.
I originally thought I’d make a peacoat, but after trying out the Thread Theory Goldstream, we realised the shape didn’t suit him. So I resorted to drafting one. I have a couple of menswear drafting books, but the only one that had a good enough looking block and resulting patterns was this one, Patternmaking for Menswear – Classic to Contemporary by Injoo Kim and Myoungok Kim. I bought it about 2-3 years ago from Foyles at their Charing Cross Store. (amazon link) We’d had a day in London, finishing at the book store while we waited for our train home and ended up with quite a pile of lovely books!
Anyway, I’ve looked through it loads of times, but never found the time (or inclination) to use it, until now! Having made exclusively for females, this book helped to make sure I was measuring all the right places with good photos of where to measure for a man. The only thing I had a problem with – and it was a major problem, was the unit of measure. As it’s a US book, it’s all in inches!! I tried to work that way, but got myself completely muddled. My ruler might have inches on it, but trying to find 6.3225 inches on my ruler just wasn’t happening!!! So I threw out that draft, which looked so wrong it wasn’t funny, and converted everything to metric. I have a chart in my notebook now with all the little bits of inches converted into nice and tidy millimetres.
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So, depending on what works easier for you, you might like to convert everything before you start, or maybe you know where to find 6.335 inches on a ruler that shows only 1/8. The draft, once the measurements were converted, looked much better! You start with a torso block – I chose the slim fit as we wanted a more fitted garment. Then that block is converted to a slim fit coat block. You do the same if you’re wanting a jacket, start with the torso block and convert to a jacket block. The sleeve blocks are drawn for the correct block.
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The original block had a pretty good fit, the sleeves were too long (not sure how I measured that much!) and they needed a bit more room in the bicep area, but otherwise all was good! The only thing that threw me a little was when you’re told to extend or move a line out 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, or 1/2 to 3/4. Doesn’t sound like much, but converted to millimetres that’s 3-6mm or 12-19! That’s a lot of mms! So I opted for safety and chose the middle.
Drafting the style lines and making the working pattern was next. We chose the Chesterfield style as the base for this coat, drafting the main body of the coat was straightforward and the instructions pretty clear. When you get to the lapels, collar and facings though, you start jumping around the book. The collar and lapels are in the jacket section of the book, facings in the shirt section and pockets are back in the coats! I have a fair few bits of paper sticking out the top of the book to keep my places!
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The first working pattern toile went together really well, I was pleased to note all the pieces went back together properly and all the notches lined up well. Pretty chuffed with the two piece sleeve too, the head is nice and smooth. “Client issues” were as follows:
Coat too long!
Sleeves still too long (how??)
Break point just a bit too low
Collar fall a little too short
lapels just too narrow
So these are my adjustments:
Shortened the coat by 32cm so now it’s just above mid-thigh
Moved the back vent up so it works properly with the new length.
Shortened the sleeve by 3cm, 1.5 above the elbow line and 1.5 below.
Lifted the break point by 3cm.
Redrafted the lapels 7.5mm wider and the collar 1cm deeper in the fall.
I made these adjustments to the pattern on Saturday and toiled again, adding the pockets, yesterday. I was lucky enough that Mr W came home before I went to bed and so I was able to get him to try it on again and check. It all works! I got the thumbs up!! The fit is great, he thinks it may be too long still, but any shorter and it’ll be a jacket…. A coat needs to at least keep your bum warm!!
My next task is to draft the facings and lining pieces. He wants two internal pockets and I know they’ll need to be reinforced, judging by what he does to his jacket pockets. I want to find him a jazzy, different sort of lining and he’s asked for extra trims on the inside. So I might dig out my silk box and make reams of bias strips to sandwich into the seam between the facings and lining.
We had a devil of a time finding a suitable fabric that didn’t break my bank, I had thought this fabric from Fabric Godmother would be different enough, but he turned up his nose at the sample. Evidently it’s “too different”. Eventually in desperation I got some Melton samples from Fabworks and made him agree that the Classic Onyx Melton would do just fine for his first handmade coat. If the inside is interesting enough.. (insert eye-roll here)
That’s only part of my coat making adventure that was supposed to take place in September. If you follow on Instagram, you’ll have see I’ve already finished one coat, and as soon as the person for whom it was made comes to put it on, I’ll to show it all off! There’s another in progress, only at toile stage at the moment, but hopefully I’ll be able to move it forward this weekend after a fitting. That’s everyone else’s coats, I haven’t even started on mine!
I may have mentioned that I was thinking of joining the Refashioners 2017 challenge in the last post. I has all sorts of ideas running through my head, all dependent on what sort of suit I could find, and how much I wanted to spent. And whether anyone would wear what I came up with in the end… Warning this is a long and picture heavy post!
I rummaged in the local charity shops in town and came home with my wallet £30 lighter and my bag two suits fuller. The first to be used is a size 18 ladies Marks & Spencer wool trouser suit, navy with grey windowpane check. I sort of thought of making a pencil skirt from the trousers, and turning the jacket into something shorter and more fitted. Of course, I started pulling it all apart before I managed to remember that a “before” picture might be required. Thankfully I managed a photo of the jacket, sort of halfway through being unpicked.
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I started with the trousers. I really wanted a long, fitted pencil skirt, like the Pulmu in shape. But there wasn’t enough fabric for that plan. There was a photo from the 2018 Carolina Herrera Resort Collection on my Pinterest board that I really liked, shape, angles etc. As I thought this refashion might be worn by daughter no 2, I showed it to her and explained what I wanted to do. Nope. She liked the fitted shape and wide shoulders (sorta) but didn’t like the bottom half of the top at all. (The best bit in my opinion!) So I took ideas that would work, the centre seam, 45 degree angles, wide shoulders and fitted bodice.
Turning to the bodice block I drafted something I thought would work, only to find there just wasn’t enough fabric, the trousers are too narrow. A compromise meant I needed to cut flanges for the extended shoulders (and honestly, they could have been wider) and insert them into princess seams in the front and back. I still wanted the angles though, so the upper fronts are cut on the bias, after drawing on the lines of the windowpane to make sure they’d be lining up properly. All pieces are cut like this, I wanted everything to line up.
It didn’t turn out too badly, to be honest! Not all of the windowpane lines line up exactly, but with the angles going on I’m still happy with the result. I had in mind that it would be more of a waistcoat-type top than a top-type top, and thought I’d use a separating zip in the centre front. But instead we have an invisible zip in the left side seam – client requirement.. 😉 The armhole and neck edges are bound with navy bias tape from the stash, so all I had to purchase to complete the project was the zip.
The top has a shaped hem, dipping lower into a slight curve in the front, and being higher in the back with a “v” notch in the centre back, reminiscent of a waistcoat. I like the shape of the top, it looks really good with high waisted trousers! Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of it on a person, Betty the dummy will have to do. That’s Part One of the project!
Part Two took a little longer… I really wanted to turn the square, only slightly fitted jacket into something much more interesting. I had thought of using the Bellatrix pattern, but it would never have fitted onto all the bits of jacket fabric remaining. So I thought of a biker jacket… I also wanted to reuse the jetted pockets – no point remaking something that’s perfectly good already. But biker jackets don’t have pockets in the position that these were in, so they needed to change orientation. More angles!! Also, this is when I remembered the September 2017 issue of Burda magazine had a pretty sweet biker style jacket in it that might be useful. I liked the shoulder yoke shape and knew I could do something with it and the existing parts of the jacket I wanted to save. I traced daughter no2’s jacket block and set to work! This project is part pattern cutting and part draping!
I used the stylelines of the Burda jacket to get the proportions right, and pinned and draped onto Betty (my vintage dressmaker’s dummy). There were bits of paper and fabric all over my sewing room while this went on, a real mess. There was just enough fabric in the existing sleeves to recut sleeves to fit, the cuffs for the sleeves were made from what was left over from the trousers. I reused the sleeve head pads, they give a lovely sharp shape to the top of the sleeve.
I managed to reuse the waistband from the trousers to form the hem band on the jacket, which was brilliant! I did have a small meltdown moment when I realised the whole jacket wasn’t going to come from the fabric I’d managed to harvest. That’s where suit number two came in very, very handy. It was a men’s 3-piece wool suit in grey. I’d deliberately chosen it to be able to combine with the ladies suit fabric if that’s what I’d needed.
I cut up the waistcoat to make the shoulder yokes and the contrast “V” on the front. This makes the jacket much less formal, gives it a sporty vibe that contrasts quite nicely with the suit fabric. The original lining was a dull, unfriendly colour, and not enough in the right shapes and sizes to reuse, so I dived into the stash and found a yummy raspberry satin lining left over from a coat I’d made years ago for daughter no1. I love these two colours together!
The only thing I wish I’d taken more time over is the zip. I should have waited to be able to buy a longer length, but as I couldn’t get what I needed locally I opted for “this will do”, which is ok, but actually never does “do”. A longer zip would nave finished at the neckline instead of a couple of centimetres short. At least the snaps work! I got 6 large, dark bronze sew on snaps for the hem band, cuffs and neck. They’re sewn on using buttonhole stitch, they aren’t budging for a long time!
I really love the finished project, I’m glad I took the time to pin all those check intersections on the fabric, and drew all the lines onto the pattern pieces to ensure I’d have a better time pattern matching when it came to the sewing. Patience makes so much difference! I wish I’d had enough time to refashion the second suit for the challenge, but other things had to be done too. I will refashion it and show you what I managed to do, but it won’t be soon. I have in mind a pair of culottes and a long line blazer, but it might not work! The thing with refashions is to be prepared to change your mind, go with the flow and adapt to what you have to hand. It’s certainly taught me something!
Click on the individual images below to see them in detail.
Oh my word, how fast is this year spinning by? I still have a pile of fabrics to use up and patterns to find, not to mention still ploughing through daughter no2’s summer wishlist. I have done pretty well using up stashed fabric this year, I haven’t calculated any totals yet, not measured anything, but I’m feeling positive that I’m going in the right direction! The project I’m working on at the moment is also a stash bust, but only half.
Earlier in the year, I was asked by a friend to make a 1920s evening dress for her to attend a charity ball in September. At the time I said, yes, why not? Sounds like fun. I started looking at patterns online and had a few ideas, then when I won a pattern of my choice from Decades of Style I thought I might as well pick something useful. So together we decided on the Zig Zag dress. I duly ordered it and promptly forgot all about it.
A couple of months passed and said friend mentioned that we probably ought to make a start on the dress… OH DEAR! I admitted total forgetfulness and then thought, where’s that pattern?? Decades of Style assured me that it had been sent out long ago, so someone else is enjoying my pattern – grrrr. They sent out a new one, but of course, now we’re getting twitchy. In the meantime we bought what we thought was the perfect fabric, but it was all Croft Mill Fabrics had left, and it was less than the Zig Zag dress required. We needed to figure out contrast areas.
So I went back online, made a few sketches, had a few ideas. Eventually we settled on a new design and I started to draft from her close fitting bodice block. I drew a panel at the hip, divided the skirt into three and added 3cm of flare to the hemline of each panel. The front and back bodice both got a v-neckline, the back deeper than the front. Because the fabric has a zig-zag sequin motif I decided against any curves, so the hip panel is straight and angular. The pattern pieces fitted comfortably on the fabric, I had enough black silk charmeuse in my stash to use for the lining, we were sorted.
Except that we couldn’t decide whether the hip panel should be sequins or plain. A general agreement on Instagram was that it should be sequins, you can never have enough! I had only one way to make sure we were on the right track. I had my friend hold the fabric up against herself and I tied a width of black chiffon around her hips. Folding the fabric up to the finished length, we then looked in the mirror. We liked what we saw, then I removed the chiffon… Not so dramatic. Even though we thought sequins would be better, turns out we both preferred it with a plain black hip panel! Go figure.
The lining has been made up, all seams French seamed and the neckline stabilised with Vilene bias tape. As of now the sequin fabric has been cut and I was left with masses of chopped sequins on the cutting table, and everywhere else in the sewing room where they’d ricocheted after being cut. Thankfully my new vacuum cleaner made short work of the stuff on the carpet, but I’ve a feeling I’l be hoovering up sequins for a while yet.
Now my task is to hand baste the skirt seams, remove the sequins that are in the way and then machine the seams. The sequins are attached to mesh, so there won’t be any fraying. I’m tempted to run the seams under the overlocker, but I’m not sure it’ll play nicely with that fabric.
The Decades of Style pattern eventually turned up on Friday morning, sadly, too late for this project, but hopefully I’ll have occasion to use it. I really appreciate the company sending out another pattern, who knows where the first one ended up, but I hope the person who has it eventually gets a conscience. So, this is my task for the weekend and into next week. I want to get it all finished by next weekend, partly so I know it’s done and partly because there are lots of piles of things still waiting on my cutting table!!
Jeans. The staple of just about everyone’s wardrobe since the 70s. They come in various guises, colours and lengths but we cannot get enough of them. Since their introduction as basic workwear they have undergone dramatic transformations in style, detail and of course, the fabric they’re made of. The quest for the perfect pair of jeans is rather like the Quest for the Holy Grail. We’d do anything to find them, including shelling out large amouts of money on designer jeans. But us sewists are the lucky ones, we can make our own!
I’ve made jeans for the girls before, but never made a “proper” pair for myself. I bought a couple of Hot Patterns jeans, came very short with the one and gave up on the idea. Then the Closet Case Gingers came along & I bought the PDF immediately. I even bought fabric, but when it came to the crunch I chickened out of actually making them. I just wasn’t convinced about the styling and fitting – that they’d look good on me. I’d already justified the purchase of the pattern, I was going to use the skinny version for the girls, of course…
In the intervening months I bought more stretch denim, black, caramel & beautiful blue. They liked my stash, too happy there to ever come out & be used.
The style is always the thing I get stuck on. I like a straight leg, but you just cannot beat a bootcut or flare to make your legs look longer, or to balance out a larger body/hip. I buy bootcut jeans whenever I can and love a flare. My ordinary trousers can attest to that! Then in December I started seeing flared jeans aplenty on the internet. Sewists were making flared jeans! Where is that pattern! I NEEDED it!
I bought the Baste + Gather Birkin Flared Jeans on my birthday at the end of December (getting Mr W to print the pattern on A0 at the office, ssshhhh). I had the fabric, I had the pattern. Just to make it up… Now Daughter No1 is safely wandering around Thailand with a rucksack of handmade goodies to wear, I can turn my attention to sewing for myself again, and JEANS are on the top of the list!
I started tracing the pattern last week, finishing on Monday this week and finally making a half toile. I really wanted to check the fit around the top half, the length wasn’t a big worry. I made the size 35, based on my waist measurement. Apparently the hip should have been a size lower, but I have a bum & tum to fit into that space and with 3inches (7.5cm) negative ease, I wasn’t taking any chances!! After the toile I decided to add a little (5mm) to the inseam on both legs to accommodate wide thighs and curved out a little extra on the CB seat seam. I also wanted to change the opening of the fly from the right to the left. All of my trousers are left hand opening, & I can’t explain how confused I was trying to open and close the toile with my right hand! Silly, yes?? The rest seemed ok & I couldn’t wait to start!
I chose a dark charcoal denim with 2% lycra from the stash. I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics around this time last year! It has a fabulous handle, soft on the underside, and a slight sheen to it. I thought it would be perfect as a slightly dressier look than “normal” coloured denim. Threads, zip & button were all from the stash.
I really like the instructions for this pattern. All are well written and illustrated and you really cannot go wrong with them. I think quite a few pairs of jeans were taken apart to provide the exact level of detail that has gone into this pattern. It’s the best way to learn to make things – take something apart and see how it was put together in the first place! I used white pocketing for the pockets and instead of simply sewing the bottom seam and overlocking, I make some quick French seams. Hopefully this should be stronger, depending on what I decide to jam into my pockets!
The fly is inserted in a way that not many sewists will be used to, it’s a method used mostly in industry for men’s wear. But it’s well described and goes together well. The only thing I’d say is, if you have the right length zip (I had 5″) you will not have to cut off anything, pliers will be unnecessary and you will skim past the bottom end of the zip with your topstitching.
Topstitching…… I don’t use topstitching thread most of the time but for jeans you need that thicker thread for a more authentic look. I have in my needle box a twin denim needle, perfect for accurate double lines of topstitching on the perfect jeans. Except my Bernina didn’t like it at all. It allowed me the satisfaction of neatly stitched pocket top edges and then stopped. Any more attempts resulted in a hissy fit and a nice lump of thread under the fabric. Similar effects happened when trying to use a single row of topstitching. I have to add here that I didn’t use a topstitching needle. That’s one thing I didn’t have to hand and the local haberdashery didn’t stock so exotic an item. The stitching looks ok from the top, but when you turn the fabric over there’s a lovely collection of loops of topstitch thread and the bobbin thread is ineffective. I tried tightening the bobbin tension but nothing worked. Just to show how perverse my fabulous Bernina is, it was perfectly happy for me to use the jeans twin needle with normal thread in one needle and topstitch thread in the other. Machines! *throws hands in the air*
There is even a little trick to make sure the centre back seam still looks like it’s in the centre, topstitching and all. You place one back leg piece 1cm away from the other, then stitch at the normal 1.5cm seam, once you iron the seams in one direction and turn it over to the right side, you’ve (hopefully) got a matching yoke seam and what appears to be an even placement of the pockets. Topstitching can seriously throw the symmetry off, even if it all measures the same, visually it’s tricky!
But seriously folks, my misbehaving machine was the only issue I had with the construction of these jeans. That and my over-enthusiastic estimation of the length of my legs! I measured the inseam of 34inches (84cm) with my boots on and determined it was a good length for me… Erm, nope! I chopped off 8cm and turned up 2.5 for the hem! I didn’t have to worry about loosing too much of the flare (there’s plenty!) thank goodness. I have now used the shortening lines to take out 2cm in the mid-thigh and another 2 mid-calf. The remainder will come off the bottom, it’ll be fine! 😉
Once on, the jeans are so good! The high waist, and it is high, ensures no muffin top, HURRAY! In photos of other versions of the jeans the waistand doesn’t to be as high as it is on me, but the lower edge of the waistband sits on the top of my hip bones, so it cannot go any lower if it is to be a high or natural waist. But I likes it! I didn’t think I’d be going back to waistlines on the natural waist ever, but I might be persuaded now.
By the way, that’s a new tee! Made last night after a day of gallivanting, I needed to do something productive. Luckily it was already cut out the night before so all it needed was a little Vilene bias tape for the shoulder seams and it was good to go! The pattern is a self drafted one. I shortened the sleeve from the original version which I wore to the dreaded wedding in December. The fabric is the most beautiful viscose jersey from Ditto Fabrics, the drape is fabulous and it’s so soft!! It’s my second make for the summer (who said I was wishing the year away??)
Mr W likes these jeans, says the fit is really good, so I must have done something right! 🙂 Apparently there will be an “add-on” for this pattern which involved making the legs into skinnies. Could be interesting. I’d prefer a straight leg myself, and with a fit around the top as good as this one, playing with the legs to make millions of pairs of jeans will be so much more fun!
ps, this is my just-in-time sumbission for Jeans in January!