Back to denim

Okay, so I’ve been greatly frustrated with the lack of interesting trouser patterns available (mind you I don’t know all the indie pattern companies so I may have missed some, but I doubt it). AND I’ve been feeling nostalgia for denim. I haven’t worn any for about four years, and my last pair of denim jeans have gotten too tight. Plus I stopped liking them several years back!

So I picked up a couple of pieces of denim at the last OSF (a fabric recycler) sale, and I decided to have another look at a Marcy Tilton pant pattern that I made a few years ago. I posted the unhappy results here, and my alterations here. You can see the results weren’t great. I’m going to avoid calling this the worst drafted pant pattern in history, because maybe someone made these and is happy with them. I’m really curious about this. If anyone reading this made the V8499, do tell! What I liked about the pattern was that it was “different” and had a cool pocket feature and knee darts.

So this time I decided to straighten these pants out (the pattern produces a sort of round pant — narrow in the waist, wide at the hip and narrow at the ankles) I wanted to make them more vertical. First I altered the waist.

20170415_195541

I eliminated the dart, drastically reshaped the hip-waist curve, and also eliminated a curve in the seam between the front and front-side pieces (there’s a seam up the centre of the legs).

After making a toile out of bedsheets, I also widened the legs, straightening out both the inseam and the outside seams from the knee down.

I was being really meticulous with these, and it was kind of a pleasure. I wasn’t sure what the result would be. Before cutting into the denim I decided to go all the way and add a front fly. The pattern calls for a half-elastic waist, which is another problem. The front has a facing, and the back a casing for the elastic. That means all the bunching up occurs at the back. I decided to have a casing all around to distribute the elastic around the entire waist. And just because you’ve got an elastic waist doesn’t mean you can’t have an opening. I like front flies. And I like to wear a belt.

20170415_192947

Those are the knee darts, seen from above. I chose to topstitch in grey, which doesn’t stand out much, but I didn’t like the usual alternatives — blue jean gold, red, navy, black, white or blue.

20170415_195153 (2)

It’s really easy to add a front fly. All you need to do is make a buttonhole tab, which then slides into the casing, along with the elastic. Sew a little seam, and it’s done. On the left side, I simply stitched on top of the fly top stitching. On the other side, the line of stitching is hidden under the tab. Wish I had done this on previous pairs of elastic waisters.

So here’s the final result.

IMG_1377IMG_1378IMG_1380IMG_1382

Erm, I love them, I think. With a long tunic top. They’re so shockingly different that I wonder what other people think. This ultra-baggy is what I see a lot of on pinterest. Seems to be a European style …

Keeping it Simple

I made a second version of Vogue 9193 trousers, using two small pieces of wool gaberdine that came together in one bundle. There was just enough fabric. I love the colour and drape.

IMG_20170330_110843_24420170330_11020020170330_105249

Look at that blue sky!

I like this pattern — it’s a bit funky and a bit sophisticated, I think. I wore these all day today and realized I have to tighten up the elastic in the waist. I had to keep hitching them up. The t-shirt is another of my TNT Butterick pattern that I’ve now made up about 8 times, I think.

It has occurred to me that when I’m choosing what to wear on any given day, the priority is colour. Often I choose grey and white in the mornings because those colours seem really calm. I think this combination of cream and green is also very calm.

I wonder how many people choose clothing for its colour? Is colour more important than the design (the pattern) and the fabric? Actually in this case, the fabrics for both top and bottom are pretty high quality, which is making me feel unusually upscale!

Ups and downs

Well, it’s been a pretty tumultous time here, what with the onslaught of the rainy season, my first bad cold in years, and an attempted cyber robbery. Let’s see if I can string words together in any meaningful way for a post about learning to serge, and about an outfit that I half like and half don’t.

I bought Vogue 9193 after seeing a totally terrific outfit Ruth of Core Couture made using that pattern, as well as some others. I have to mention that when I looked at the pictures on the pattern envelope, I did raise both eyebrows and scratch my head. Perplexed? Yes. The pictures are not at all attractive. So I looked at the line drawings, and saw some interesting things. I decided to go ahead.

I had some grey merino wool jersey that I wanted to use. And a scrap of purple wool that I thought I could mix in to give it a bit of colour. I don’t love this top.

sweater2sweater1

I guess what I mostly don’t like about it is the batwing sleeves. I never did like batwings, but I’ve made tops now with such drop shoulders, that they actually have the same profile as batwings. So I thought it was worth a try. Would I like this if there were shoulder seams partly down my arms? I really don’t know. I like the angled seam at the waist and the droopy pocket, which you’d think would give it a funky look, right? It doesn’t. I really don’t like the neckline. Even in purple. Would it be better if I replaced the little stand up collar with an ordinary t-shirt binding? I think this top is too conservative for my taste, although I’m not entirely sure what makes it conservative. All I can say is that it will be useful for the winter. But what  a waste of a beautiful fabric.

While I was working on it, I finally had the free serger lesson I was entitled to at the store that sold me the machine back in the summer. Thus far, I had been sewing everything with my sewing machine, and then serging the seam allowances. For knit fabrics that’s too much work, and the manager of the serger store explained that it was silly to remove stretch by sewing a straight stitch seam, and then add stretch again by serging the allowance. She helped me figure out how to measure for a 5/8″ seam allowance. No clear markings on the machine for that. So I sewed this top together first with a long basting stitch and then tried to serge right on top of it. That was okay, but it struck me that I really should use a 3/8″ seam allowance. So I interrupted my work to whip up a few lounge items, using just the serger, for practice.

img_1320img_1325

Two long-sleeved t-shirts and one pair of leggings. These are TNT patterns that don’t have seam allowances included.  I couldn’t bring myself to serge the sleeve-into-body seam. Gosh, is there a word for that?? They’re set-in sleeves. Does anybody serge them? Is it safe?

I love that grey fabric. It has some spandex, but not too much vertical stretch. I already have a pair of loose elastic-waist pants that I made last spring. I think I should have bought the whole bolt of fabric. I could make lounge wear, t-shirts and undies out of it forever. The orange is what they call a technical wool. Very soft and lightweight. They were practically giving it away at Our Social Fabric for halloween costumes.

So then I was ready to make the pants that came with the Vogue pattern. I have to warn you, these are a utility pant and so, not conventionally beautiful. But I like them a lot. Have a look.

pants1

pants2

I really like the horizontal seam at the hip, with the two front pockets. The fabric is a poly/wool suiting fabric. The colour is, um, a version of khaki, right? I’m calling it “poop khaki”, but that’s not a terribly polite name for it. Anybody have a better one?

The side seam on these pants is around back, rather than right at the seam, and the legs curve in a bit near the bottom. I think these are pretty funky pants, although I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with some other small design detail that I could add to nail home the funk factor. Maybe a thigh pocket that comes out of the side seam? Or a fabric loop emerging from the hip seam?

I plan to make these again, and next time I’ll lower the waist a bit, and increase the dip from back to front. And add some funky little detail if I can think of one.

 

Panting in floral and flannel

I’m not in love with, I wouldn’t go that far, but totally delighted with Burda 7400. I’ve made two versions of it before, although the first was a bit of a botch up.  You can see them here. This past week I made two more pairs.

img_1303img_1304img_1305

This fabric was a spontaneous purchase at a 70% sale at Fabricland. I was just heading out the door, empty-handed, when I spotted this in the home decor section. I think it’s a stylized floral design, and the fabric is double? two-sided? In the background it’s all woven together, but in the “bubbles” there are two light layers. It gives the effect of padded or quilted fabric, but it’s very light and flexible (viscose and polyester). It’s a different look, isn’t it?

Here’s a look at the inside. You can see I used some linen fabric for the pockets and inner elastic casing to eliminate bulk.

img_1302

I was ransacking my closet, looking for things to wear with it, and found this old jacket.

img_1306

Double-breasted is coming back, but the shoulders? Does the padding have to be removed?

I also had a piece of striped wool flannel, which I got from Fabrics etc. It’s old fabric, apparently, left over from a parent store’s warehouse. The manager, Tian, who is becoming a friend, was selling it at a severe discount.

img_1308img_1309img_1310img_1311

I’m discovering that elastic waist pants are really quick and easy to make. This pattern is just short of fitted, despite the waist. If I were to put  two standard darts in the back, I’d have to add a fly or zip and I’d have a pair of fitted pants. I think this will become a TNT.

This is a really classic look, isn’t it? I think these pants will be really versatile. In fact I can imagine wearing both pairs at home with t-shirts, and then taking them out to the opera or dinner out. Yes?

 

Textural trousers

When I found some textured, floral fabric at Our Social Fabric, which sells donated fabric for $1 – $3 CAD per metre, I thought I’d found the perfect material for another version of Burda’s Big Girl Play Pants. Then I changed my mind. Then I changed it back. I tried all kinds of other pieces of fabric, draping them over my arm, fondling them, folding them, trying to determine what would have the right amount of drape and heft. I think this is a real skill. You start with the uncut cloth, say two metres or so, and try to determine how it will behave in a much smaller pattern piece. I finally decided this fabric would not be too bulky for the project.

Burda’s pattern is for short pants with wide short legs. Last time I extended the wide legs, and then experimented with off-kilter long darts to narrow the legs. This time I altered the paper pattern, adding a 7″ wide strip to the bottom of the pattern, in line with the outer leg seam. Then I redrew the inseam . I admit I drew it freehand.

imag0435

I’m pretty happy with the result. It matches pretty closely to what I envisioned when I first bought the pattern, planning to alter it.

img_1295

I don’t have a whole lot to wear with them at this time. They’re the colour of water, a colour I totally love, and cream.

img_1298

 

I had a set of small fabric samples, about 4×5 inches, made of superfine linen. Two of them are shades of aqua, so I used them to make back pockets. I lined them with a bit of turban cotton to give them an appropriate body.

imag0434img_1299

The fabric is natural, and pretty coarse. It’s either cotton or maybe cotton and hemp. The weave is pretty open, which is why it’s not too bulky. I like the muted floral design. The other side of it is pretty nice too, but I thought this was the correct side to use.

imag0436img_1300

I had one more square of linen that I pinned to the front waistband as a (Japanese-inspired???) bit of frou-frou. It serves no useful function. And I’m still debating whether to add belt loops. It looks nice with a belt? What do you think?

I know my taste can be a bit bonkers sometimes, and these pants aren’t for everyone, but I do see this style from time to time in a fashion mag, or a Hollywood celebrity mag, and I always perk up when I do, and think “I like those pants!” So, for better or for worse, this is what I’ll be wearing this fall.

I’ve been reviewing what I made this summer. By my count I made 5 pairs of pants, one pair of shorts, three long sleeved woven tops, two woven shells, and 8 or 9 teeshirts. Most items go with most other items, so it’s a good wearable wardrobe. I’m now going to do the same for the cooler months of the year. This is the first item. I’m working on another couple of pairs of trousers, which I’ll post about as soon as I’m done 🙂

Celery stalks and cerulean tops

I was about to start in on cooler weather items last week, feeling quite proud of my summer output, when we had a sudden heat spell. Well! A perfect opportunity to go back to the Alexandria pegs for a pair of shorts. I’d been berating myself (sort of) for not having made the pants out of this celery green linen in the first place.

IMG_1268

I’m not being entirely truthful. I do like my red Alexandria pegs and they’ve already gotten a lot of wear. This is a comfortable pattern. I had to discipline myself with whips and chains, though, to cut these legs down to shorts length. I had enough fabric to make pants! Why use less fabric than you have?? Well, having made four pairs of light weight summer pants in the past few months (see them here, here, here and here), I was short shorts.

The Alexandria offers a shorts version, which has some kind of weird curved bottom edge. I didn’t use it. Instead I simply widened the pants leg at the inseam, in accordance with the shorts version. I gave myself enough fabric for just below the knee shorts. It’s odd that I’ve discovered that the best skirt length for me is about 3 inches above the knee, but I haven’t won shorts that short in decade. I like my shorts long.

IMG_1270IMG_1269

I also decided to eliminate another couple of knit pieces from my stash, pieces I’ve been collecting from various discounters since I purchased the pattern magic books. I came that close to trying a couple of those items. But not yet. The avant-garde is calling me, loudly, but I need to tiptoe my way to it. So I tried a new t-shirt pattern, McCall’s 7093. I wanted a raglan-sleeve pattern, and this was the nicest one I found. It’s meant for wovens, but i didn’t see why it couldn’t be used for knits. The front is composed of three pieces, so there are opportunities for colour-blocking, and also for mix and matching woven and knit.

IMG_1272IMG_1271

For this version I added a ruffle (yes, me, a ruffle!), which I secured to the neckline with picot elastic. I also widened the sleeves a little and inserted elastic into a casing.

These two tops were really more experiments in working with mysterious knits. I think they’re both bamboo, both with 4-way stretch. The first is a feather-weight. It’s a joy to put on in the heat. The long-sleeved one is h-e-a-v-y. When I tried it on for the first time, I swear it hit the floor and bounced back up. I’m pretty sure it’s bamboo yarn wrapped around guttapercha. I doubt I will ever wear it with these shorts (though I love the two colours together) because it’s very warm.

So that’s it for this week’s production. I’m off to sing in a 240-voice choir tonight, a concert of Mozart’s Requiem. That should be a blast.

Tomato Pegs

I feel so trendy. I downloaded the pdf of one of those trendy indie patterns, and bought trendy cotton fabric from a very trendy little store with trendy high prices (but for which I had a gift card).

The pants are Named Alexandria Pegs. I saw them on another blogger’s site. She had made them out of olive green twill, and they looked great. Then I went to Pattern Review and to Named’s website to see other versions. I can’t say I was impressed. This, I suppose, is how Indie pattern makers get clients — through bloggers who try them out in some version or fabric that speaks to someone, somewhere. Olive green happens to be my favourite colour for pants (I have about six pairs in that colour). That may have contributed to my falling in love with them. Also the blogger, whose name I can’t recall, was very tall. With long legs. She looked terrific, and actually looks terrific in anything she makes.

I have to say I don’t think I made a mistake in a sudden fit of infatuation (I bought the pant pattern within 30 minutes of seeing the pants on the other blogger). I didn’t have fabric to suit them, but had a two-year-old giftcard that I wanted to use up. I liked the look of the fabric, and liked it in all their colours. But I could have wished it was a little more heavy duty. This is a lightweight fabric, without much body. They are perfect for warm weather, but if I want these pants in the colder weather, I’ll have to make another pair.

Here they are, my tomato-red peggies.

IMG_1260

IMG_1261

IMG_1262

You can see that the interesting thing about them is that they have a pair of pleats, one of which extends over the edge of the pocket.

I traced the size 8, but became alarmed when I read that the included seam allowance was only 3/8″. My hip measurement is closer to the size 10. So I cut the fabric 1/4″ bigger than my pattern pieces, and ended up using the 3/8″ seam allowance. In other words I made the size 10. The pants actually fit pretty much perfectly in the front, and all the extra ease for the elastic waist is in the back. I like that. Also, I think these pants are made for women whose widest hip point is at the upper thigh. I couldn’t see it in the pattern, but the pants almost seem to pivot at the upper thigh. I do love it when I encounter a pattern made for my body.

I added about an inch to the bottoms, and I’m glad I did because I needed the extra length for my long leg (it’s half an inch longer than the other, which is important when hemming pants).

Given that Named says its models are 5’8″ tall, I’m guessing the pants are supposed to stop above the ankles. I prefer to have them at the ankles and roll them up if I want the shorter look.

Has anybody else made an impulse pattern purchase purely because of seeing the clothing on another blogger? Clothes sure can look better on a real human being than on the pattern envelope can’t they?