La Dee Da

I have another dress in my winter wardrobe!  I finally got round to making my second Assembly Line V-Neck Dress, in that lovely rusty windowpane wool I bought at the end of the summer.  This takes my winter dress total to 3!  Woohoo!

I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern this time.  I stayed with the size I made the first time, the large, which fits well enough and I like the feel.  The first change made was to narrow the shoulders.  I took the shoulder line in by 1cm and gradually shaped the armhole line back to the original line by about halfway down.  The fit across the shoulder is much better now, so that’s an alteration that’s staying.

The Assembly Line V-Neck Dress

Now, the first dress I made with this pattern, fabulous as it is, has a small problem.  Although other people have told me over and over again that it’s fine, I still feel akward abaout it.  It’s the depth of the V.  I keep pulling the dress back so the v isn’t so low, or, now that it’s chilly, I wear a jersey vest top underneath.  This just keeps me from feeling that it’s too low and I’m showing a little too much.

The new neckline is perfect!

Sooo, I decided this time to lift the V by 5cm.  I traced the existing neckline, and taped paper to the front to extend the centre front line up by the 5cm.  Then I just taped the traced line so that that front point lined up and tilted the new line until it lined up with the existing line at around the shoulder point.  A bit of truing to make the line nice and smooth and it was all done.  Then I traced that and made a new facing.  I’m much happier with this new line and height of the V, it still has the shape intended, but leaves me feeling more comfortable wearing it.

Now for the fabric!  I bought it from a little shop in Kenilworth, Karen Delahunty Sewing & Knitting Centre.  It’s a lovely, soft, draping wool, and is very comfortable to wear.  I am glad I’d bought 3m originally, because with the shapes and length of the dress pieces – and trying to line up the pattern, you need almost all of that!  There’s very little left.  As it was keen to fray, I overlocked everything before starting to sew.  Now, as for the instructions, they’re dead easy to follow, plenty of images for those who prefer pictures to words!  You end up with a very neat inseam pocket too, which is always nice.

So, I’m happy with my new dress, I just need to figure out a good colour of tights to wear with it.  Initially I thought grey would be good, but now, seeing these photos with the black tights, I’m thinking navy….  And I need better shoes!

Scrapbusting Projects

I had a nice big collection of leftover pieces of denim from this year’s denim projects, and some I’d kept after making my Birkins.  I had an idea to make something from the proper scraps as well as the larger pieces that weren’t big enough for something on their own.  I started with all the really small pieces, thinking if I just sewed them all together to make a “piece of fabric”, then I could make something out of that.

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I made piles of the different colours and weights and literally just grabbed a piece, tried to see if there was another that I could fit the shape into and topstitched them together.  I used a combination of the demin thread and ordinary navy thread to give some contrast, and some stitches were just zig-zag, others were from the decorative stitches on the Bernina, which aren’t anything like the fancy stitches you get on a modern machine!

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I mixed up the colours a bit, and tried not to get too caught up in making sure the fabrics were equidistant from each other.  I tried not to think too hard about it, just get sewn up, otherwise it starts to look “planned” and I wanted to try for an organic look.  That’s something that’s not easy for me!  Eventually I figured I had the right length of “fabric”, although now I think maybe I could have made it a little deeper.

But for now, I sewed the short ends together to make a tube, but without doing it the normal way, with a seam allowance.  I simply laid the ends over each other and topstitched with a few rows of fancy stitch.  Next I sewed the bottom closed, with the seam allowance on the outside.  The allowance was pressed open and I decided a width of around 10cm would be good.  I marked the sides, which would eventually be the middle of the 10cm wide side “panels” and lined those side lines up with the seam line on the bottom.  By sewing across this and making a triangle (with the baseline of 10cm), I made the “gusset” or width of the bag.   Then I folded those triangles up and topstitched them in place.  I quite like the look of everything on the outside for this bag, no hiding the construction!

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But, I was worried that it might not be terribly strong, so I rifled around in the scrap bag and found two pieces of linen, green, but different greens.  There wasn’t enough of each to be full linings, so I have two colours of lining, constructed in the same way as the denim outside, but with the allowances all hidden this time.  The handles are just long straight pieces of one of the denims that had enough for me to use!  I left a 20cm gap in the base of the lining and then sewed the lining to the outer bag around the top, catching in the handles.  After a quick press I bagged it out and stitched the gap closed.  I’m rather happy with the finished bag, although I do think I should have made the fabric piece deeper, the proportions aren’t quite right.  But seriously, no train smash!!

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I managed not to use any of the bigger pieces of the denim scrap for the bag, only the small scraps.  That means, of course, that I will have to find something else to use all those bigger bits for.  Maybe another shopping beg, maybe a cushion cover.  I can’t see myself making an item of clothing, I just don’t think I’d wear it, although I love the idea.  It just wouldn’t be me, and that would be a waste.

But wait, the title is for projects, and I’ve only showed you one so far!

I’ve also found a use for all the rest of the small scraps from my cutting table!  Earlier this year I started to see poufs on Instagram all made using the free pattern from Closet Case Patterns.  That lightbulb moment happened, and I started to save those little bits instead of putting them in the bin.  No more fabric going to landfill in my house!  I filled a bag, well compacted, from the Fancy Silk Store, which isn’t a small bag!  Once it was overflowing, I thought I had enough, and started to assemble my pouf.

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First I needed the pattern, so I signed up to the website, which gives access to various free goodies and advice sheets.  Pattern downloaded and printed, I traced the triangular pie shapes for the top and the rectangle side pieces so I’d have more to pin on to the fabric.  I had 6 of each, so I could easily place and cut many at a time.  I decided to keep it low key and muted, so cut some leftover linen in dark green, olive green and some lime green leftover from my Teddy Designer pants made this year.  I cut four of each and sewed them together symmetrically.  I didn’t do the piping, not enough scrap for that!  The base is also a bit patchy, one piece of linen and one of a thick-ish cotton.  I’m not bothered with that, it’s the bottom, no-one’s going to see it!!  The zip wasn’t quite as long as that required, but I figure it’s long enough, and it’s from the stash.

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But – I realised I’d need a bag to put the scraps into, if I ever needed to wash the linen outer pouf.  This I made from the pillowcases of a duvet set that has finally given up the ghost.  I used the bottom pattern pieces and cut 4, there’s no way I’m cutting 12 triangles from pillowcases for the inside bag!  The side is also made from bigger pieces than the original 12 rectangles, long strips from the pillowcases did the job.  I used a small zip from the stash just big enough to stuff the scraps through.

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Now, as the zip in the outer bag doesn’t extend all the way across the pouf, I put some of the scraps into the inner bag and then put the inner bag into the outer.  I finished stuffing scraps into the inner bag while it was in the outer bag.  Possibly completely negating the whole reason for making the inner bag in the first place!!!  Oh dear.

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And then I realised I didn’t have enough scraps!  How??  I was sure there was enough, but nope.  So I added the stuffing of a lumpy nasty cushion, a couple of hubby’s shirts that have been cut up to make jeans pockets, and two jumpers that he’s put his elbows through and won’t let me patch, but it’s not enough.  I can’t believe I need more scrap fabric!  So I’ll just keep adding fabric as it turns up, eventually the saggy baggy elephant impression will go, and I’ll have a nice big pouf for the living room.  It’s already made itself handy as somewhere to put the laptop, Good Food magazines, and my feet!  But I don’t think I’ll be making many of these, given how much they need to fill them up!

 

The Misses of 2019

To be fair, there haven’t been that many items I made this year that haven’t made the grade, for whatever reason.  So this might be a short list!  Of course, if the project was that bad a miss, there won’t be photos, or many, and maybe not even a blog post…

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The first project that springs to mind is the black and white gingham top made back in January.  I have not worn that top.  At all.  In fact, I cut it up and turned it into a cute little dress for a 3 year old.  It was a case of wrong fabric, wrong pattern and wrong adjustment.

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Second is another top, and another case of wrong fabric for the pattern.  I’d thought the Kabuki Tee from Paper Theory would look good in viscose.  I was wrong.  And the pattern wasn’t for me, I had liked the colour and thought I could get away with the pattern because of the colour, but it felt all wrong to wear.  It felt like it was wearing me, rather than the other way around.  It’s another project that’s been cut up to make something for a cute little girl.

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That’s the only photo I have of me wearing the top.  And that’s only because all my other clothes were in the wash after coming home from 3 weeks away!

And the only other fail I can think of is the pair of Ash Jeans I made at the end of November, in the wrong size!  But are they really a fail?  They made up really well and looked good, and I managed to sell them to someone who (hopefully) was the right size.  So I’ve bought replacement denim and plan to make another pair as soon as.

It was at this try-on stage that I realised things weren’t going as well as I thought.

Honestly, they’re the only projects I can think of that fit the fail bill, I seem to have had good luck this year!!  How about you?  Has it been a plus or a minus year for your projects?  I do enjoy looking back over the year at everyone’s projects, and seeing how you all feel about the projects you’ve put your time and effort into.

Top 5 Hits of 2019

I can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again, December, christmas, and the time to review what has worked well, and what didn’t.  The end of another sewing year, this is when I start looking at all those projects that I’d intended to make and haven’t quite got round to.  Joining the Socialists in reliving the best and “worst” projects of the year, I still start on a high!  Of course!

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There have been many highs this year, my favourite pattern has been the Paper Theory Zadie.  Although I’ve “only” made two jumpsuits from it, I have loved wearing them so much.  I’ve actually started making a fancy Zadie for my Christmas outfit!  I don’t usually bother with a specific, purpose made Christmas outfit, but this year, I’ve decided to give it a go.  So my Zadie jumpsuits are definitely on the top 5 hits list!

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The Style Arc Teddy Designer Pants are another pattern that’s hit the mark with me, and having made 3 pairs this year, I really can say it’s a fabulous pattern.  I always get compliments when I wear them.

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black teddy 3

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For Daughter No2, the best loved projects have been the skirts make using 117 from Burda February 2017, again, used three times.  I have a pile of fabrics waiting to be used for this pattern, so I know this is a hit!  Two of the skirts made for Daughter No2 were in summer fabrics and she’s loved them.  Now she has a canvas print that’s good for winter and she loves that too.

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Skirt 117 from February Burda 2017

I haven’t been able to make much for Daughter No1 this year, it’s tricky when we don’t get to see each other that often, so fitting is tricky.  I have, however, managed to make her the trousers so so wanted earlier in the year, although I don’t have blogable photographs of them yet.  But I know she loves them, and when she wore them to work, she got many complients.  And I could have had many orders!

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1987 Vogue 1199, much altered!!

Last has to be my corduroy jacket, the most recent of a whole string of jackets made from the jacket pattern 116 from April Burda 2009.  Everyone loves the colour so much, it’s quite unique in a sea of black, grey and beige in the winter!   Until I get to make my Peppernoot and Tosti and Sienna Maker Jacket and nameless other Burda patterns, this is my favourite winter jacket so far!

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Next up will be those projects that, for some reason or other, didn’t quite make the grade.

 

 

 

 

Cold Day in the Sun

 

It’s been tricky to catch up on the projects made for the daughters lately, they’ve had stuff delivered, either in person or by the very helpful Royal Mail, and I never see it again!  I have asked for photos, but so far nothing has been forthcoming.  So  I managed to persuade Daughter No2 to come home to help with the putting up of the Christmas tree, and to bring at least one item she’s had recently so I can get photos!

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Skirt 117 from February Burda 2017

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She brought one of the skirts I made using skirt 117A from February 2017 Burda.  I’ve been using up various bits of leftover fabrics on this pattern, and this one uses some fabric I bought aaaaages ago in Derby.  I had planned to make a jacket with it, I liked the leaf print at the time, and the canvas has good weight.  But – I never used it, and when I dug it out of the stash earlier this year, I knew I wouldn’t use it for myself.  I offered it to Daughter No2, not expecting that she’d go for it, when she said yes please!  Another of “those skirts”!

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I added the pockets, again, and tried a chunky, exposed zip in the back.  I left the flaps off this time – not exactly intentional!  I’d been putting the pockets togeter and admiring my handiwork, when I realised the flaps were still sitting on the cutting table!  Oh well it’s worked out ok without them!  She’s actually had this skirt a while, and it’s been worn in both the warmer weather with tees and trainers, and now with tights, boots and a jumper.  The neutral colours of the fabric means it goes well with pretty much most of her wardrobe, and I love it with the orange coat I made her two years ago!

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It’s been rather chilly these last few days, winter has properly arrived with cold frosty mornings and bright sunny days.  I have a little pile of wintery stuff to use for more of these skirts, one a nice bit of leftover wool plaid that I’d made a jacket for Daughter No1 when she was in Sixth Form.  That fabric has been hanging around for a while!  Time to be used, and removed from my stash!

 

Ash Jeans for the Win!

For those of you waiting for the results of the jeans! They’re done, worn and I’m rather happy with them!  I have had my fun and games trying to chose the right size to make, initially going purely with my measurements and toiling the 31 in the slim leg version in some left over pieces of denim in the stash.  The toile fabric wasn’t quite stretchy enough, but I figured with the proper stretch, that the 31 was  just fine.  But I was wrong – so wrong!!  They were like leggings, but without the amount of stretch that leggings have – I felt like I was back in the late 80s again, having to wiggle and jump into my jeans!  So if anyone out there would like a pair of slim leg Ash jeans in size 31 – I have a pair looking for a home!

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Wide leg Ash Jeans by Megan Nielsen Patterns

It was tricky to figure out which size to actually make.  In the end, I retraced all the sizes from 31 to 35, and graded between the sizes.  I toiled the wide leg this time, using the left overs of that fabric I used for the slim leg version, so be sure of the stretch percentage.  This time I had the 35 at the waist, going to the 33 at the hip, eventually ending at the 32 for the legs.  The fit was much better, but slightly loose higher up, so I went down to the 34 at the waist.

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Fabric for this pair of jeans came from the stash.  I had initially bought two pieces of stretch denim from Croft Mill for these jeans, and the first pair was made with the Brexit – Devine fabric.  It’s a lovely fabric, good dark blue colour and good weight for slim leg jeans.  After the poor fit, I immediately put another 2m of the fabric into my basket to replace it!  I didn’t want to use the next piece if it was going to go bad again, and I remembered that I had a piece of denim in the sewing cupboard.  I cannot remember where or when I got it, but it was probably from Croft Mill too!  They do tend to have good denims.  Thank goodness for a stash!

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As most of the construction details have already been covered in my Work in Progress post, I’ll leave that out here.  Here I’ll tell you that I’m pleasantly surprised with this pair of jeans, they fit well, after all that faffing with different sizes, and I will definitely be making another pair, this time I’ll be brave and make the slim leg version.  The sizing I chose seems to have done the trick, so I’ve transferred all that information to the slim leg pattern.

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So, for me, it wasn’t a case of “fits straight out of the envelope”, but then that really doesn’t happen to many of us, does it!?  The instructions are good and easy to follow, I just did my own zip thing.  (See previous post about pattern designers making fly front zips overly complicated!)  Initially, I thought the length of the “regular” height, full length was perfect, I cannot remember when last I didn’t need to cut a large chunk off the bottom of a pair of trousers.  But, after wearing these a couple of times now, I feel they could be a smidgeon longer, max 2cm.  Of course, that’s just about the hem allowance, so I’ll have to make a hem facing if I actually want to lengthen this pair.  Perhaps with the slim leg, this length will be ok – but with the width of this pair of jeans, I feel they could be just that little bit longer.

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So, it seems I can put my Birkin Flares (now 3 sizes too big) to bed, because Mama’s got a fabulous new jeans pattern – yeah!  And with 4 leg styles to choose from, I’ll be busy for a while here…  ps, I also have a length of another denim from Croft Mill Fabric to use on another pair, I can’t link to the fabric because it seems I bought the last 2m!  Check out their denim fabrics though, I’ve honestly yet to be disappointed with their denim fabrics.  Always get a sample first though, before you part with your hard earned money.

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Light as a Feather

Stashbusting is good this month!  I have finally, finally used a piece of viscose that I honestly cannot remember buying.  It’s been in the stash for what seems like ages, just waiting for the right project to come along (another of those!).  It’s a lovely drapey weight, closely woven, unlike some cheaper viscoses.  And the little feather print is lovely, without being too cute!  Really, I’ve earmarked this fabric to many a pattern over the last few years, but have always bottled it at the last minute.  So what happened this time?  Who’s the lucky pattern?

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Well, it’s actually a vintage Vogue, from 1956.  I’d always liked this pattern, the front is interesting with the dart pleats at the neckline.  But, I wasn’t the right size…  Thank goodness that’s all changed, and now I have a variety of 50’s Vogue patterns, jackets in particular, that I can make!  I’d come across it again while searching the vintage pattern stash for patterns I know I won’t use to re-stock the Etsy shop.  I took it out and checked mesurements – and realised I had to make it now!  A quick toile revealed it wasn’t tricky to put together, although I did manage to put the band on inside-out.  That’s mostly because I wasn’t concentrating on the right and wrong side of the fabric!  The toile showed I needed to take the shoulders in by 1cm and just let out the narrowness of the waist a little.

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Vogue blouse pattern 8095 dated 1956

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I didn’t cut the pattern up, just marked the edge of the armhole and shoulders with chalk and drew a new line 1cm in, tapering to the original line just over halfway down the curve.  The waistline was just as easily altered, chalk marked the new cutting line.  I French seamed wherever possible and used a polyester fine sheer fusible interfacing on the cuffs, back neck facing, front band and to support the fold in the front opening.  It was just enough to add support without bulk.

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There’s a zip in the left side seam to enable getting in and out of the blouse, although I suspect that by the time I’d widened the waist diameter, I could have just as easily pulled it over my head!  Not sure I want to check that now though..  I used a lightweight invisible zipper in that seam, not that it makes much difference to the stiffness of the zipper.  It did make it tricky to stitch close enough to the teeth to get a good invisible insertion though!  In the end I stitched 3 rows of increasingly closer stitching on that zip.  Got there in the end!  And, of course, to support the zip, I’d used a 2.5cm strip of interfacing on each of the seams.

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I’m really rather happy with the finshed blouse, the sleeves are the right length – I know, a little chilly for winter, but I’m constantly pushing my sleeves up anyway.  The hem is the right length too, I don’t like tops any longer than this.  It’s the right length to wear out, or tuck in.  And it goes with just about everything in the wardrobe!  Win, win, win!

 

Chestnut Lander Pants

Oh, I do love these!  After being a teeny tiny bit ranty the last time I blogged about these Lander Pants, I think I need to show the other side of the coin.  Yes, the zip instructions were unduly complicated, but the rest of the making of the garment was just fine.  And the finished result is a little more than “just fine”!

I overlocked the pieces either before sewing or as I went along, depending on what was required.  The fabric I have used is a heavy-ish weight denim that I bought from Truro Fabrics back in September while on holiday.  I had gone in to find something to buy, and I wasn’t disappointed!  I left with two pieces of denim, zips for jeans and, new to me, a reel of Gutermann Denim Thread.  The demin is gorgeous!  It is woven with blue and chestnut coloured thread, instead of blue and white.  The blue gives the chestnut a deep, rich colour, which I just love.  So, as there’s more blue on the underside of the fabric, I used navy thread in the overlocker.  I also used a 100 denim needle, it’s a chunky fabric.

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True Bias Lander Pants in denim from Truro Fabrics

I lined the front patch pockets with a scrap of navy blue linen left over from my first Zadie Jumpsuit.  Topstitching was done, anywhere I had two lines, with a denim twin needle!  Get yourself one, it’s great for even, parallel lines of stitching, and makes your work look extra fabulous!  The thread used, that Denim Thread, is thinner than regular topstitching thread and was recommended by the ladies at Truro Fabrics after I said that my Bernina has the biggest hissey fit when I try to use topstitching thread.  I used it in the top (needle thread) only, and regular thread in the bobbin.  That’s because I didn’t want to waste it!  As it turns out, when I did use it in the bobbin, for the waistband topstitching, it went as wrong as regular topstitching thread.  But not quite as bad.  The thread comes in a variety of decent denim-y colours, and wasn’t a pricey alternative.  I’ll definitely be using it again!

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Obligatory bum shot!

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The length of these pants is perfect for me, I had thought I’d need to cut a chunk off when I first put them on to check length, and turned up a nice healthy 8cm, but when I checked the hem requirements in the instructions, it says to turn up 6mm and then approx 7.5cm.  Well, there’s your 8cm!  Perfect!  I can’t believe these and the Ash Jeans have been the perfect length, straight out of the envelope.  These are the size 12, with an extra 1cm taken out of the outside seam to compensate for the small percentage of stretch that this denim has.  I wore these pants all day and have to apologise for some creasing, although some is in the fabric after washing and storing.  I hope they’ll soon wash/iron out!  They’re a very comfortable par of trousers, and I’ll most definitely be making another pair.

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I need to revisit the button position, you can see some pulling at the top of the zip, which means the button needs to move over.

Work in Progress Wednesday 9/19

Phew, another week has flown by and I actually have another work in progress for you! To be fair, I’ve managed to complete that work in pogress by now, but I thought I’d share some of the making process, just for interest sake. The work in question is a pair of True Bias Lander Pants. Or Lander Pant, as they’re described. Now I don’t know about you, but this term gets me, it’s like referring to scissors in the singular. It’s a pair of scissors, and a pair of pants/trousers/shorts! If you only had a pant, you’d be arrested for indecent exposure! And you’d be cold…

Anyway, that’s just me – I think. So, I had bought this pattern about this time last year, intending to make a pair for myself, and for Daughter No1, who wanted a pair of pants that really fitted closely to the hip, then almost flared out, culotte-like, to a cropped 7/8ths length. Finally tracing the pattern on holiday in September, I thought I’d start the experiment with a pair for myself, as you do! I traced the 0 for Daughter No1, and the 12 and 14 for me, not being 100% certain which would be better. Upon toiling and double checking measurements, I decided to go with the 12, because there’s a massive 2.5cm seam on the outside leg for adjustments. The hip measurement of the 12 is 2cm wider than my actual measurement, but the waist is a fair bit narrower, so I wanted wiggle room!

The toile showed me the straight 12 would be fine, even the length was good! That’s a small miracle in itself – I was fully prepared to remove up to 4cm. In hindsight, and this would have showed up if I’d used a stiffer fabric for the toile, I should have shortened the crotch depth by 1cm and possibly gone down a size at the inner leg seam. I’ve made those adjustments on the pattern for the next time.

Now, the instructions… Hmm. I bought the zip version (you need the original version before this will work…) because I knew I wouldn’t do the button fly, and it’s not Daughter No1’s bag either. So there are duplicate instructions for most of the making, and you have to slot the zip instructions into the order of work, which is fine. But I have never seen front fly instructions like it. They’re almost as weird as the ones for the Peppermint wide Leg pants! I have no idea why some pattern makers make inserting a fly zip so complicated when it’s really not necessary.

The other thing I have a real problem with are the Imperial measurements used throughout. There are people in this world who have no idea what 1/4 of an inch is, how big it is and what it looks like, nevermind having something on a machine to measure that. So the first thing I did was to convert all the bits of inches throughout the instructions to metric. Seam allowances are 1/2 inch, which in metric is 12.7mm. I do not have that marking on my machine, or my rulers. So I had to borrow a quilter’s gadget from a friend with all those little bit of inch markings on it to use for turning up edges and marking topstitching distances. This all takes time and delayed the completion of the project. Please, pattern makers, please just be more inclusive and include more universally recognised measurements!

I also reversed all the zip instructions, because, just like the Ash Jeans I made last week, the zip opens the wrong way. Luckily, while doing that, I was able to alter the other zip instructions so they were less complicated and wouldn’t have the “you won’t be able to get all the way so there’ll be a hole, but that’s ok” moment. So, the work in progress post will go over the revised zip instructions! Phew, let’s get started.

Number one, don’t sew the front and back legs together at the inside leg seam, nor do you want to sew the entire front crotch seam from the zip stop to the upper centre back before you’ve put the zipper in, trust me. It’s a fiddly job at the best of times, especially if you have a stiff fabric, so there’s no way you want to be wrestling with all that excess fabric when it’s completely unnecessary. My instructions will be for the fly as I have sewn it, on the opposite side to that in the pattern. If you like your zips opening the other way, simply reverse the lefts and rights.

Make up the pockets and do all the topstitching and then you’ll do the zip. You’ll need both front pants pieces, the fly facing, zip and fly guard. You want the front pieces to have the fly extension marked, as well as the centre front and the zip stop. Use chalk or tailor’s tacks, whatever works better for you – or both like me. I cut off the right fly extension along the marked line and then overlocked both front seams. At this point you can also overlock the fly facing and make up and overlock the fly guard.

Sew the two front pieces together from the zip stop marker to about 2cm before the end of the crotch seam, along the front seamline. Now pin and sew the fly facing, right sides together, to the right front, go right up to the zip stop. Press that seam onto the facing and understitch, stitch all the way past the zipstop to the end of the facing. Turn to the inside and press well. Pin in place. (I use a lot of pins!)

Press left fly extension to the inside

Fold the left pants piece in along the fly extension line and press well. Pin the zip with the head of the zip 19mm (3/4 inch in the instructions) from the top of the opening to the fold, keep that fold tight up against the zip teeth. Pin and BASTE. I rarely baste, but for inserting zips, this step cannot be ignored. With the zip foot, stitch up from the bottom, close to the edge of the fabric. You’ll find you cannot get past the zip head smoothly, so stop about 3cm before the top of the zip, with the needle fully down, lift the presser foot up and push the zip tab down to past your presser foot. Now put the foot down and continue to the top.

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Sew zip to left front

Line up the right centre front with the marked centre front on the left, I pin along this fold, through all the layers. You’re now going to sew the other side of the zip tape to the fly facing on the other side.

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Pin centre front lines together, but you don’t need the perpendicular pins shown on the left. The facing needs to be free

Fold the right front on top of the left so that the zip and facing are together. Pin the tape to the facing, baste and stitch, with a zip foot.

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Pin zip tape to fly facing, baste and stitch

From the right side now, measure approzimately 3.5cm from the centre front on the right. This will be the line you’ll use for your fly topstitching. Now, normally I’d wait until I had the fly guard on to do this step, but it does work this way with a thick fabric. If you attach the fly guard now, and then topstitch, you’d have to pin the guard out of the way of the stitching, which means making a lumpy bulge at the base of the zip. This would interfere with the topstitching. If you were using a linen, I’d wait and do this step after the fly guard is on because it’s a less bulky fabric..

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Mark the topstitching on the right

Pin perpendicular to the marked line so you’re catching the fly facing to the front of the trousers, you don’t want them shifting as you stitch. Now load your topstitching thread and stitch along that line, or either side of it, if you’re using two lines of stitching.

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Layers pinned together, ready to stitch

I used a denim twin needle – a little cheat, but so worth it for even, parallel lines of stitching. This is the reason why I topstitched now rather than later, because I didn’t want to mess up the curve or have extra stitching showing.

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Fly topstitching

Now, remove all the pins on the outside and turn to the left fly extension and zip tape. You’ll need to sew the fly guard to this section. Fold the trousers over eachother so the extension and zip tape stick out and pin the fly guard overlocked edge to the seam allowance, sandwiching the tape between the guard and the fly extension. Pin and stitch, using a zip foot. Pull the fabric of the trouser piece well over to the left so you can stitch as close to the fold as possible.

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Pin the guard so the zip tape is sandwiched

Now, because we have topstitched the fly facing already, you won’t be able to get all the way down, but it really is ok this time, because we will be catching the guard in in other places, so this won’t be flapping about. Just go as far as you can.

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Finshed fly.

Now, on the right side, and with a single needle and topstitching thread, stitch for about 1-2cm along one of the lines of existing stitching to catch that guard to the right front. Then you can sew the front and back pants pieces together along the inside leg seam and then sew the remains of the crotch seam. Press that seam to the right side in this case, and topstitch it down. The topstitching past the fly stitching will secure that end of the fly guard, so there you have it, no flappy guard, and a zip in without all the excess fabric and trouser legs! You can now sew the outside leg seams and finish the trousers as per the original instructions.

I hope that was all as clear as mud! Really, once the fly zip is in, the trousers are quick to make up, depending on how much topstitching you’d like to do! I wanted to have double topstitching along the waistband but didn’t want to use the twin needle because of how it would look on the inside. However, despite my Bernina being quite happy to use this new Denim thread from Gutermann in the needle, it didn’t like it very much in the bobbin. I spent ages messing aroud with the tension, thought I’d cracked it, but when the stitching was done on the waistband, it wasn’t good enough. As I really didn’t want to unpick it, I tried to make myself think it’s ok, no-one else will see it, but it didn’t work!

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Horrible, messy tension in the bobbin thread on the waistband.

So I ripped it all out (sob) and replaced the denim thread in the bobbin with normal thread and just settled for one line of topstitching. It doesn’t look wrong. The button is a leather one from the stash, I think it’s from a charity shop originally, as I only have the one.

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New single line topstitching, much neater!

So that’s that! I now need to get some proper photos of the Ash Jeans and these, and Daughter No 1 has promised me photos of a pair of trousers I made for her last month. They’re gorgeous, by the way! Can’t wait to show those off! Now, I’d best go and make dinner, someone’s getting hungry…

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A year or two ago, I made a pair of Stride pants from the Merchant and Mills Workbook.  I’d made the largest size and shortened them a bit, but I cannot remember just how much right now.  The pattern was fine and instructions did the job, but I never liked the finished trousers.  I was really disappointed because I’d used a beautiful piece of black and blue plaid wool from Fabworks.  I was annoyed that such a lovely piece of fabric was now a very unliked pair of trousers.  I never even took photos of those pants!

So why didn’t I like them?  They were too wide, too floppy and the pleated front with waistband on the natural waist just didn’t suit me.  And I love wide, floppy trousers!!  So I wore them around the house for the first year, last winter I didn’t wear them at all, and this winter I decided I’d put them in the adjust or remake pile.  I had 6 pairs of wool trousers to make two sizes smaller before I got to these, and at that point I had no ideas of how to make these better.

Then, last weekend, when I was clearing the piles to make way for a visitor, I had a brainwave after dropping a piece of fabric.  It was the toile for Burda trousers 107 08/2019.  I’d traced the 44 – after making the 42 in the last pair of Burda trousers and finding them to be just a little on the small side!  But the toile for these was way too big!  So I needed to go down a size, definitely, and shorten the leg by 3-4cm to get the finished cuff to sit in the right place (to look the same as the model in the magazine).  The adjustments to the pattern were already made & I thought I had the right fabric to make a proper pair.

But – I was sort of reluctant to cut that fabric – see previous post!  The pattern can be made in fabrics with or without stretch, and the one in the magazine is made in ponte (that’s a good idea for next time!)  Back to that brainwave – could there be enough fabric in the Strides to be able to recut this pattern??  So I got cracking with the seam ripper, carefully unpicking all the seams, taking off the waistband and removing the zip.  After a good press to flatten the hems and seam allowances, I pinned the two fronts and two backs together, making sure the plaid was lining up too.  Then I took a deep breath and tried to get the new pattern pieces onto the existing trouser pieces.

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Burda trousers 107 08/2019

The back fitted perfectly, the front needed the grown-on zip facing to be removed, so I cut that as a seperate piece and attached it later.  Pockets and facings were going to be tricky, but, here’s the good part.  I had saved all the left-over bits of fabric from the original cutting out in the wool box!  Woohoo for scrap-stashing!  So, hip yoke pockets, waistbands, cuffs and the fly facing were cut from the left-overs, and a scrap of lining sorted the pocket bags.  I also managed to line up the plaid, high five!  I reused the zip and found a good button in the button box, I bought nothing to make these new trousers.

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Hip yoke pockets are lined with a scrap of lining fabric.

The making went well, instructions didn’t need much altering.  I usually insert the fly zip immediately after making the pockets up, it’s so much better to do without all the extra legs in the way.  The other thing I changed was to sew the pleats in the trouser cuffs first.  Darts and pleats first, whether at the waistline or at the hem!  I just knew that if I left it to the end when the instructions finally have you do them, I’d have lost more than half of the tailor’s tacks, and as both the leg seams are sewn up, you have more fabric hanging around than you’d really want.

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Centre back seam in the waistband to help with alterations (if required) later on

I rather like these!  I’m keen to make a pair in ponte now, I think they’d be so comfy.  They’re admittedly a little loose on the waist still, but I have a secret trick to fix that quickly.  I don’t cut back waistbands on the fold, I add a centre back seam.  Then, when sewing the crotch seam, I leave the last 15cm of the back open.  Then the waistbands are added, in halves (one front and one back).  Add the waistband facings, press, understitch, etc and then sew that back seam, all in one go!  This means that if you need to take in, or let out, the back seam, there’s very little to have to unpick, and it’s so, so easy to adjust!!  Men’s trousers are sewn this way, so why not ours??

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Anyway, I’m off to enjoy wearing this gorgeous fabric now, and I might have to find a good colour ponte for another pair, some secret tracksuit pants!

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Apologies for not noticing when taking the photos that the camera had decided that the teak chest of drawers was far more interesting to focus on than my trousers!!