Leisure wear and other changes

It seems like a long time since I’ve been able to sew anything new. After finishing my closet refashion, which turned out to be more physically arduous than I had expected, I had to make adjustments to a couple of pairs of trousers that had shrunk in the wash. I know, I should have pre-washed them. I managed to rescue both of them, thankfully, but it took time.

I should mention that my spring has been difficult in a couple of ways. In January my dear companion, my cat Holy Smoke, became ill and died five days later. This was really hard on me — partly for confronting the suffering of a poor helpless creature, partly for having to make the decision to ease her out of that suffering when it was clear she couldn’t recover, and partly for having to learn to live without her presence in the house. She was with me for almost 12 years. Even now I keep expecting to bump into her when I enter the kitchen, or go downstairs, or, well, go anywhere in the house.

Holy Smoke, philosopher and fabric aficianado


I guess I started the closet reno because I didn’t know what to do with myself. Lugging bag after bag after bag of broken plaster and lumber down two flights of stairs was maybe not the best way to keep myself busy.

For those who don’t follow me on IG, I had a narrow closet in my bedroom under the eaves. A lot of it was inaccessible because there was only a small doorway. I removed the wall and replaced it with curtains, which I placed about a foot further away from the eaves. The result is a LOT more space.

Things are returning into balance now. I was happy at last to be able to make something new. I chose to deal with some fairly thick stretch cotton fabric that I bought on sale at Fabricland in the summer. I thought it might work with an old-fashioned “sewing with Nancy” pattern from McCalls. It’s McCalls’s 3728, dated 2002, and includes a whole outfit including long and short “dusters”. 20180312_165510


After I lay the fabric out on the floor it looked like I could make both a short duster and an ankle-length skirt, which is the only kind of skirt I wear at home. I threw it in a cold-water wash, lined-dried it and flung it out across the floor again. It looked astonishingly shorter than it had before. A long skirt was out of the question, so I decided workout shorts would work.

Here’s the duster.


I’m wearing it with a pair of pants from the free download “Barb” pattern, which I also made in the jumble of the spring somewhere, but didn’t much like until I hit on the idea of adding elastic to the ankles.


The problem is not really with the pattern, but with the fabric. This is a beautiful suede-look stretch fabric, but it didn’t know how to hang below the knee. I quite like the pants now though.

Here’s the “leisure suit”.


It’s kind of cool, isn’t it? I used the pant pattern that came in the package, but shortened them, added inseam pockets using some black jersey fabric for the front pocket bags, added grommets and a bright lime green bootlace for a tie. This is not your average warm-up suit 🙂 It was totally appropriate for the weather today, which was sunny and warmer than seasonal. At last, a taste of summer.



Valley Girl

I saw this Cali Faye Valley top online at least a year ago and loved it. I had a top like it back in the 1970’s, except in rougher fabrics. I had a small piece of swiss dot cotton, and bought a bit of rayon to complement it. It’s got pirate sleeves!


There are many things I like about this — the front and back yokes, the single button, the wide sleeves, and the cuffs that open at the inner sleeve seam. I never wear long sleeves with the cuffs buttoned up, so having them open at the inner seam is more logical than the usual. I sewed buttons on the cuffs, but didn’t bother making buttonholes.


I can’t help but think, though, that this looks a lot like it should be a nighty. Is it too, um, virginal for me?? I have some heavy black silk. I wonder how this would look made up in that? Sophisticated, or more like sexier lingerie?

This was a bit finicky to make. The pattern calls for only the front yoke to be lined, but I chose to line the entire yoke because the swiss dot cotton was so thin. The instructions call for sewing the yoke and the yoke lining and then sewing them together at the neckline. Then you’re supposed to sew just the front yoke to the gathered body, then flip the yoke to sew the yoke lining along the same line. It actually did work. I tried to do the same for the back, but couldn’t sew the full back yoke lining to the body that way. Anyway, it’s tricky enough to sew a yoke to a gathered piece without having to do it twice on the same sewing line. I think if I make this again (and again choose to line the whole yoke), I’ll pin both yoke and yoke lining to the body and sew it once (as you do for a standard button up shirt). Then sew the shoulders together at the end.

I think I’m going to enjoy wearing this. It’s really light and airy.

And now, I do believe I have enough summer clothes, and might take a bit of a break to do a bit of knitting.

Earth and Sun

or maybe spotted bananas ….

I decided to make the ultra wide-legged trousers I wanted by simply using a drawstring pant pattern that I’ve used before and adding five inches to the sides, both front and back. The final waist measurement is 56 inches. I put in inseam pockets, and made a waist band rather than simply double-folding the fabric to make a casing. I took a 56 inch wide strip of fabric, folded it in half with wrong sides together and pinned it to the outside of the pants. I inserted 1 1/2 inch wide elastic and then inserted some mountaineering cord in front of the elastic for a drawstring. I’ve done that before and like it. The elastic starts the job, and I can pull the cord as tight as I want on any given day.


It was a bit windy out there today. I bought the fabric especially for them, on sale at Fabricland. It’s a cotton/linen blend. I also made the top from an old TNT pattern and a small piece of wool that I picked up at a thrift shop. It might be a wool gauze. It’s very nice anyway.


It turns out another small linen top I made last summer also works with these pants. Yea!


That’s it. I’m glad to have some yellow in my wardrobe. I’ve gone some yellow jersey that might go with these pants. If so, I’ll whip up a simple t-shirt.

Why did I leave that plastic bag (filled with clothes pegs) hanging off the clothesline???

Shift in Earth

Isn’t this just the plainest shift you’ve ever seen?


I made it with fabric left over from a pair of fisherpants, to wear with the pants. The pattern is neue mode S22859. I have no idea how I came into possession of it.


So that’s the pants and shift together. It’s a very earthy look, isn’t it? I wonder if the colour is not good so close to my face (better for bottoms than for tops?)

It is my intention to dress it up, like this:



I’ve been seeing long dresses paired with pants, but I’m not sure how I feel about this combo. Does anyone see cultural appropriation? I’m wondering if the shift should be either bigger/looser or tighter? I made no alterations to the pattern other than to lower the bust darts about half an inch, and shorten the sleeves because I ran out of fabric. I made the necklace out of glass beads.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.