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.



Hand knit sweater #3

I finally finished my third hand-knit sweater — can I say “of the year” even though it’s January and the year was 2017? This is a top-down sweater from Cocoknits. In the book it looked like this


I didn’t particularly like the neckline, so I subbed the neckline for another sweater in the book. I also wanted a sweater that flared out into an A-line shape, but that was not pulled in again by a ribbed hem. I actually knit the body following the instructions to add 4 stitches every 12 rows, and then ripped it back to just under the bust because there wasn’t enough flare. I added 4 stitches (2 to each side) every fourth row instead, and I’m happy with how that turned out. The hi lo hem is made using short rows, and because I had extra stitches because of my extra increases, I ended up adding a couple of extra short rows. I like this. It’s totally simple, which tends to be my aesthetic. The yarn is not uniformly dyed, so the splotchy-stripey colour is the design feature.


You can see the fabric better maybe below


It took me forever (well, almost two months) to knit this and part of the reason is that I discovered I don’t really like to sit inside my house knitting for long stretches. I enjoyed knitting my first sweater in the summer, when I could sit out on one of the porches. That was a relaxing way to spend some quality outdoor time. So I’m going to wait to start my fourth sweater until it’s nice enough to sit outside.

I had to force myself to not sew anything for the last month so I could finish this!



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.

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 …