Tentative joiner joins

So, for the first time, I’m joining me-made May. I’ve watched others for the past two years, kind of envying them, but I don’t exactly have a lot of experience joining things … I I finally took the plunge this year, after waffling back and forth. My pledge is to wear me-made every day, but I could hardly avoid doing that as I own only a few sweaters and the odd jacket that I haven’t made myself. The real part of the pledge is to never wear the same combination of clothes two days running. This means  I’ll have to a) put clothes away and b)  make a deliberate choice about what to wear in the mornings. It’s easy when you don’t go out to work to throw things on a chair at night before bed and then throw them on the next morning again. This will be a tough challenge!

As to what I’ve been sewing lately, just futzing with a few t-shirts while I prepare to cut into some lovely plaid material for a blouse. I cut up a long-sleeved over-sized t-shirt I made last year, and wasn’t terribly happy with, and made a paper pattern for a sleeveless tank from a couple of different old RTW tanks.

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Sorry for the bad pic — I was taking a few shots for IG. Some of you may remember the fabric. I do like the stripes.

And I like the top so much that I immediately started another one in a small piece of green jersey.

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Um, pardon my toes.

I just made one pattern piece because the difference between front and back is minimal.

So, check out my outfits on IG if you’re interested. I’ll try not to cheat.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

Floral waterfall, or something new

I’ve been looking a fair bit at pinterest lately. Once you indicate an interest in something by saving it, their program sends you more similar stuff. The result is I’m seeing tons and tons of clothes that I like. That’s a first in my long, long, long life 🙂 I’d been looking at a waterfall top/dress pattern from Chalk and Notch (I just had to go look up their name because I was going to write ‘notch and crotch’ and that just didn’t seem right :). I was finally convinced to buy and download the pdf after I saw three or four similar dresses on pinterest.

Those dresses were mostly in woven fabrics. I thought the Chalk and Notch pattern was for both wovens and knits, but mostly people have been making it out of knit fabrics. I wanted to make a maxi dress out of a ‘robust’ woven fabric, something that would make a statement. It’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but still within my “boho” or “art teacher chic” or (my favourite) “bedouin chic” style preference.

Anyway, I thought I’d better start with a muslin, using the shorter top pattern to check the size and the outcome with a woven fabric. After I downloaded the pattern, I saw that they state it’s specifically for knits, so whoops. Anyway, I dug out some floral home decor fabric that I had originally bought to make a window covering.20170322_142003

Sorry for the sideways view. WordPress is not perfect when it comes to presenting photos right side up.

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Try to ignore the undershirt peaking out at the neckline. It was too cold and, frankly, I was too lazy to go upstairs, remove new top and undershirt, and dress again.

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There were a couple of problems due to the woven fabric. First, the sleeves. The pattern did say that if anyone made the garment out of woven fabric, the sleeves might be too tight. It provided bicep measurements for each size. So I took this seriously. I measured my biceps. They were the width for the size I was using (size 12). The finished garment width, which Chalk and Notch also provides, indicated about an inch of ease. I thought that might be okay, but just in case, cut the fabric with an extra quarter inch of seam allowance  down to about elbow level. I didn’t worry about the forearm. That was my mistake. I could barely get my hand and arm through the bottom portion of the sleeve. I was able to pick apart the stitching and resew with about half the given seam allowance (the pattern allows only 3/8 inch). So ….. they’re okay, but I would definitely be better off with slightly wider sleeves for full elbow bends.

I also found that the top pulled across the tops of my shoulders, making it a little uncomfortable. Fortunately I remembered that another raglan sleeve top pattern I have that is meant for wovens, but that I’ve only ever made with knits, has shoulder darts that extend from the neck to curl around the edge of the shoulder bone. (It’s a bit of a curved dart). I decided to try that. I opened up the raglan sleeves to the size 14 marking (I had cut extra seam allowances) and made shoulder darts. The result is that the top is now happy to sit where it’s supposed to.

I also added about half an inch to the bodice bottom, and another half inch to the bottom of the ruffle just because. I made bias binding for the neckline and also for the bottoms of the sleeves because there wasn’t enough wide at the wrists to fold the fabric over.

At the end I was so excited about this that I immediately pulled out the two pieces of wool fabric that I intended to use for the calf-length dress, only to discover that my imagination had gotten away with me again. There wasn’t near enough to make the dress. Not even close.

So I started work on something else instead and have been ruminating grumpily over what I might be able to use instead. Today I pulled out these two fabrics, both of which seem too “precious” to cut into and actually use, you know? Some fabrics are like that.

The bright blue is a lovely textured wool. The other is much more beautiful than the pic shows. I tried north and south light to capture the true colour, but neither worked. This is a lovely pale blue/lavender hammered silk. I think I’m going to use it. I realized I have about four yards of it, which means I could make the dress and have almost two yards left, enough to make a top or bottom later that might get more wear.

Reviewing My 2016

I’ve been reading a fair number of blog posts in which sewists look back at the past year, which gave me the idea to do the same with an eye to seeing what I can learn about myself from the photos I published this year. It’s not the individual makes so much as the “looks” that I’m interested in. And this post is primarily for myself and may involve some self-examination, so feel free to skip it 🙂

It was a year of practical sewing, making wearable items to replace a wardrobe that was pretty much non-existent. Although I love clothing and have often spent many an hour drooling over shop windows, I’ve never financially prioritized clothing. I’ve worked at jobs that didn’t require nine-to-five attendance, or the wardrobe to go with it.When I bought an old house a dozen years ago, that pretty much eliminated discretionary spending too.

The result is that I haven’t really known what I would like to look like if I had the choice. Now that I’m sewing, and finding all kinds of places that offer fabric pieces for massive discounts, I do have the choice. So, if not jeans and sweats and fleece, what? The external always reflects and reveals the internal. What I choose to look like will tell me something of what I’ve become by this post-sixty stage of my life.

Here are ten pix I liked  from the last 12 months. While sorting through all the blog posts to find these (and I left out the last three simply because they were so recent, and I wanted to stick to the number ten) I pronounce myself “arty”. Huh. Who’d a thought?

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I can also see that I’m pretty happy. I know I’m smiling for the camera, but I remember how I felt when I took all these pictures and I was always feeling pretty good. If I think about it, these pictures reveal that I’m happier than I have ever been in my life. I’ve been aware of this. Over the past two years I’ve sometimes stood looking out my bedroom window at the city and mountains and trees and felt happiness — a quiet kind of contentment — spread like a fine mist inside my body.

I also see in some of these looks a bit of a f**k you attitude. I’m not trying to look attractive. Conventional beauty doesn’t interest me. Conventional clothing doesn’t interest me. I don’t wear makeup and sometimes I think that at my age I should. But I really can’t bring myself to care enough.

Still … if there’s one thing I’d like to see more of — and maybe this will be a sort of goal for the coming year — it would be a kind of quiet, unostentatious elegance. Maybe I’d like to drop the “f**k you” for a self-assured elegance. If I could move in that direction, I think it would reveal greater self-acceptance. So maybe that’s really what I’d like for 2017.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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.

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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?

 

Free Tree Tees and more

I’ve been surfing the learning curve this week, figuring out my new serger, plus trying to nail down exactly what constitutes a knit. Most of the knit fabrics out there are things I never had anything to do with until I started sewing. I have the feeling new knit fabrics are being invented daily. So, I’ve got a stash of about half a dozen pieces from half a metre to five yards, all scrounged from discounters or thrift shops, all fibres unknown. Some have crossgrain stretch only, and some have four-way stretch. Those are two different animals entirely! Two-way stretch fabrics are at least somewhat familiar. They float. Four-way stretch fabrics sag.

I started with a small piece of something with four-way stretch, figuring the top would be short enough that the fabric’s sag would not be a factor. I used Grainline’s free Hemlock pattern. This is a pattern I tried about six months ago and didn’t like. Since then I figured the fabric had been a bad match — too drapey, not enough body for the boxy shape.

I added an inch to each side, front and back, and took a couple of inches off the bottom.

Here’s the result.

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I like it. The fabric looks familiar — I think I’ve seen men’s golf shirts made out of it. I actually got sleeves out of the piece, which was not even a yard long. That’s the advantage of a pattern like the Hemlock, which has a really shallow sleeve head.

I decided another piece of fabric also had enough body, so made a second one right away.

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I had a nice piece of white fabric (two-way stretch) that I intended to use for a sleeveless version of the Hemlock, but after I pinned the pieces together and tried it on, I realized there wasn’t enough body. There was nothing to like, so I recut the pieces using my TNT self-drafted top/tunic/dress pattern.

I suppose two pix are redundant, but I’m showing off the blue wide-leg pleated pants that I posted about last time. I shortened them about an inch, and hand-hemmed them because I didn’t like the visible stitching line. I was heading in the wrong direction with them, thinking I needed a short or tucked-in top. I like both the blue Hemlock, and this white tee with them.

I’ve decided to christen the white one. Although it started out as a pattern hack, I think I’ve made it my own by now. So, allow me to introduce the Great Lakes Tee. Named in homage to where I grew up, always within spitting distance of one or other of them.

Here’s another.

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I really like this blue fabric. It’s a cotton heathered blue, two-way stretch. It’s really airy. I found a crumpled bundle of it at a thrift store. There’s still about two metres left.

So, all those fabrics were pretty easy to deal with. What’s left are four-way stretch pieces that I find pretty unfamiliar. I did burn tests on most of them, and discovered that they’re all largely natural fibre, which was surprising. So here’s the last Great Lakes tee  for now, made from the saggiest of the pieces.

The sag doesn’t seem to be a problem. But  I can’t imagine making anything tunic length or longer from this type of fabric. It’s almost a beautiful colour, isn’t it? So close, but …. let’s just say that it reminds me of a beautiful colour 🙂