Double Trouble Trousers and Tee

This week I made another couple of items from the two The Sewing Workshop patterns I bought online. I started with the Hudson pant, which is a really simple and subtle design. I’ve been wanting to use up my stash, particularly stuff that’s not all that nice, but that I picked up for pennies on the pound thinking I must be able to use it somehow, for something.

So I decided to use up some undyed cotton jacquard and think of it as a useable toile. I added some patch pockets. My intention was to move on to a piece of black wool with a subtle herringbone design, which I liked, but which seemed to be too thin really. You can see through it if you hold it up to the light. It also picks up every bit of lint and hair in the house. I suppose it’s not a very good quality of wool.

Somewhere along the way I decided to use the two fabrics to make an inner pant and an outer pant and sew them together so that both would be visible.

Here’s the inner pant, before I knew that’s what it would be.20171101_135851

I sewed the black pair to the beige pair at the back waist casing. I left it free at the front, except for tacking the two together at the CF. I left part of the outer legs open. I hemmed the black pair a bit shorter than the beige pair.

I also made pocket welts, without pocket bags, on the black pair. My idea was that I could slide my hands through the pocket welt openings, right into the patch pockets on the inner pant. Great idea, eh? Unfortunately, it doesn’t totally work. There are short flaps of fabric on the inside of the pocket welts, and I can’t really remove them. They get in the way, so I have to scrabble around to get to the patch pockets. Still it’s nice to stick my hands in the welts. And the inner patch pockets could be used to store money, etc. They’d be good traveling pants if one was concerned about pick pockets.


I like them, but I’m wondering if I should sew the two pairs together at the front waist, rather than letting the black fabric flap around. Thoughts?

Then I moved on to the Trio set of patterns, and cut some grey merino wool for the long-sleeved tee. After cutting out the pieces, it looked to me like it was going to be a tight fitting tshirt, which is not something I want with lightweight jersey. I had just enough fabric left to cut a second front and back. So that’s what I did, and then basted the two fronts together and the two backs together. I’m really really glad I did that, as it has made the top much sturdier and warmer than it would have been otherwise. I’m thinking, in fact, of doing this again with some other lightweight merino wool jersey in the stash.

I have to say I’m really liking the patterns from The Sewing Workshop. I believe they’re meant for mature women. But both the pants and the sleeves were a titch too short, which is almost unbelievable. I added short cuffs to the sleeves. The pant legs are fine, although there’s not much of a hem on the longer leg (who has two legs the same length, anyone?)


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.


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.


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


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.


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?


Edgey pants, or ….?

Some time ago I pulled out a 90’s Donna Karan wrap skirt and baggy pant pattern and went to town. I made two versions of the skirt, and then tried a pair of long shorts, using the pant pattern. This is the pic, in case you’ve forgotten, or didn’t see that post 🙂


Why do pattern companies use black for their envelop pictures anyway? Is it when they don’t want you to see details of the design and/or fit? I had a really hard time figuring out if the shorts fit. This was partly because it had been decades since I’d worn pleated pants, and the whole look was new. Although the size 16 was perfect for the skirt, I was taking in the size 14 to try to get what looked right for the shorts. I did discover that the lovely “paperbag” look was not for me.

I wanted to try the pants, straightening out the legs instead of going with the peg leg look. I actually went out and bought some fabric especially for the project. (I didn’t go so far as to buy it at regular price!) It’s a Kaufman linen cotton blend that’s so popular it’s actually for sale in two Vancouver stores.

I cut off the top two inches of the front and back pieces, as well as of the facings, to eliminate the “paperbag”. I had a pretty good idea of how to straighten the legs, but confirmed it by placing a wide-leg pattern piece on top of the Donna Karan piece.

Here’s the result.


I had to ransack my closet to find something to wear with them, as all the tops I’ve made are too long. I found this shirt, which I haven’t worn much because it was always too big. Looks like a decade in the dark caused it to shrink. I love the fabric, but it is a little tight in the bust, isn’t it?


I deliberately eliminated the pockets so I would have a clear canvas to examine size. I took a one inch  seam allowance  at the waist down to the hip, grading to 5/8ths. After finishing them, I finally figured out how to tell if baggy pants fit. It’s the rear end! Now matter how baggy the pant, if they don’t have an elastic waist, they’re going to fit properly across the derriere (notice how polite I’m being?). These pants didn’t, so I had to eliminate a slight outward curve at the hip. The side seams are now completely straight.

They’re still not snug enough to stay up without a belt, though. I think I could still lose about an inch at the waist.


I also think the waist to crotch length is a bit long. I find they fit best if I let them slide a little down from where they’re supposed to be. That means the crotch is hanging pretty low. I think I’ll make a horizontal cut across the front piece at least next time and take out an inch. That will necessitate a shorter fly, which will be a good thing.

I do like them. The fabric is just right for them because it’s really light weight. But in some of the pix I took, my  legs look somewhat shortened. Having legs disproportionately short for my body, I have found extremes in cuff width (too narrow, or too wide) can give me a stumpy look.


I was trying to put together a “look” above. The top is from   Simple Modern Sewing, one of those Japanese pattern books. But I’m not sure I want the tucked in look — again because of the leg/trunk lack of proportion. What I really need are some shorter tops that cover the waist, but not the pleats,  and maybe a knee-length sleeveless or sleeved cardigan — something that will add a perception of length. That’s the thing I’m discovering, as I try out different styles of clothing. You can’t just wear any top with any bottom. They have to complement each other in cut and design. You need to make an outfit. Who’d a thought???

Anyway, I’m open to critical comments, if anyone wants to take the plunge.

Fisher in a basket

Ever since I reduced the width of my grey fisher pants I’ve been on the lookout for fabric for another pair. I finally didn’t find any! But I made a pair anyway, with a length of fabric I had purchased with another purpose in mind. I’d been waiting to find a drapey fabric, and this linen-and-something in a sort of basketweave is not particularly. It produced a different look.



I whipped these up in a couple of days and wore them, with my tablecloth top, to a business meeting. Bought a new pair of “dress” sneakers for the occasion.

I like these pants a lot. But I fear I may be aiming for a karate master look ….


My camera doesn’t seem to be giving me very good exposures. I’m afraid it may be pooping out on me, which could be a problem. It’s the only one I have that can screw onto a tripod. I’m sorry these pix are a bit dark. They’re the best of the batch, from multiple locations.

I have almost finished another pair of pants, which I’ll post about in a few days, and then — I’ve finally bought a serger (with a mild infusion of cash as a result of a birthday) — so I’ll be whipping up a bunch of tshirts. I’m desperately short of summer tops. But I’ve made some really good scores of knit fabrics recently at various discounters, so I’ll have plenty to practice on with the new babylock. Wish me luck 🙂

Just call me angel . . . in a napkin

I ended my last post by saying I’d be refashioning a table cloth for next time. I just can’t use that horrible, horrible phrase, “and now for the big reveal”. I can’t. You know?? It must be the ugliest phrase in the English language.

So, anyway, this is me, dressed in a table cloth.


Pretty angelic, yes?


It was a huge tablecloth, which I found at the local Sally Ann (does everybody know that nickname for the Salvation Army?) I almost left it behind (afterall, I didn’t know its provenance) but it was a fabulous, floppy, snow white cotton jacquard. It’s so hard to find nice cottons in Vancouver. Ninety percent of the cotton fabrics in town are quilting cottons, and maybe 8 percent are standard, basic, boring shirting fabrics. Which leaves the odd nice bolt scattered among the six fabric stores. So, I imagine it covering the long rectory table in some vicar’s cottage next to the oldest church in town, lilacs and violets in chrystal vases on its surface. Provenance, done.

The top is the first pattern I ever purchased through Pattern Review, because of reviews I saw at the site. When I received the pattern, and saw the envelope pix, I realized I would have overlooked it in the pattern book. It really doesn’t look like much. It’s Butterick 6024. I made a few changes. I raised the front and back neckline a bit. I replaced the elastic at the sleeve ends with a flat cord. I changed the hem design. The pattern has the front hem straight across, with a dip occurring only in the back panel. I cut the front and back to have the dip start in the front. A much nicer look, if you ask me.

This was my first pintuck operation, and my first woven bias binding neckline. I’m happy with how they both turned out. I love this top 🙂

The pants (shortened because I couldn’t get the whole length out of the table cloth after I’d cut out the pieces for the top) are burda 7400, which is a pattern I used once before. As I was laying out the (two) pattern pieces, I realized that I had mistakenly cut one of them for a size xxxxl! No wonder the previous pants I had made just weren’t right.

The pattern shows wide ribbing folded over at the waist. I didn’t do that the first time, and I didn’t do it this time either. Instead, I cut a rectangle and made a casing for elastic, sewing the casing to the top of the pants. It worked well. I have such a small difference between hip and waist that there isn’t much bunching. I may add belt loops so I can wear a belt with them too.


I was so happy with these pants that I immediately took apart the previous pair I had made, cut away about an inch and a half from each of the two back pieces and sewed them back together. I like this pattern because it’s a great compromise between fitted pants and elastic waist pants. The pants fit pretty close to the body, and a belt hides the elastic waist casing. The side seams are not at the sides, but closer to the front. That means the pockets lie flat and won’t bulge out at the sides.

green stripers

These are obviously not “good” pants, but they are a general utility pant more comfortable for me than blue jeans. I love the green “railroad” stripes. For my next pair, I may put in a fly.

A Tail of Two Shirts

I’ve been whipping up shirts from a pattern I’ve used before, burda 6908. You can see the first shirt I made here. It was a classic white shirt, but after I wore it a few times, I came to feel it was too big. Size is hard to determine when you’re dealing with “oversize” or even non-fitted. I made it in a size 14, with parts in size 16. I can’t for the life of me fathom why the size 16 parts, unless it was simply an error in cutting out the pattern. Eventually I took in the seams from the wrist, under the arm and down the side. I liked the result. So this time I tried the size 12.

IMG_1155 A shirt’s a shirt, you know. I have two patterns for basic button-downs, a fitted McCalls, and this no-dart version. I like it because of this collar (it offers 3 types). It’s a narrow collar, and the “points” face a little backwards. The collar stands up beautifully.

I carted this fabric — a heavy cotton poplin — back from Beijing with me in 1979. And I’ve carted it around probably a dozen homes since then, most of the time wondering why I ever bought it. It’s so bright! Well, it seems that I’ve changed, or regained something I had then. I love it now. It’s so bright!

I had a little square of sample fabric that I used to add a little surprise to the shirt.

I also eliminated one breast pocket and most of the top-stitching, angled the corners of the cuffs and shortened the front by about an inch. I also eliminated the front button and button-hole plackets, adding enough fabric to the shirt fronts to turn the fronts under twice. I prefer that less-obvious placket. I haven’t sewn on cuff buttons yet, and I’m contemplating making little button holes instead, so I can put a cool set of cufflinks through.

While I was on a roll I decided to make a second. I’d bought this fabric for about a buck at a discounter. It didn’t look like much — it was either beige or undyed — but I like the texture. I threw it in a dye bath.




I could have ironed it for this photo-shoot, but this one is always going to wrinkle so I might as well show you all its “true colours” 🙂 I don’t know what this fabric is. I assumed it was cotton. The stripes are woven in, which makes it really crisp. But now that I’ve sewn it up, it’s acting a bit like linen. In any case, it’s both crisp and floaty. If anyone knows more about fabric than I do and would like to comment, please do.

I found unusual buttons.


Fabric is everything, isn’t it? You can have the simplest designs — and I love simple — but make it up in a gorgeous and appropriate fabric, and you’ve got a great look. Next up, a tablecloth refashion!

sweater duster

Okay, hands up everyone who remembers all the posts I made last year about fabric given to me at an “exit party” from my job? Not everyone? Ok, I’ll just give you a chance to check out the post about the giving of fabric here.

I’ve returned to that part of my fabric stash to make my second, or is it my third (does sleeveless count?) coat.

My friend and colleague Noel gave me a big chunk of charcoal grey fabric. I thought at first it was a blanket. It was, in fact, coat material. I put it away, thinking it would be quite a while before I would feel competent to sew a coat with such heavy fabric.

One (or maybe two) coats later I was ready. I pulled out the fabric and had a good look and feel. It turns out it’s not that heavy. And it’s not woven. It’s a kind of felted wool blend knit. Perfect, it seemed to me, for a long sweater-coat. To be fair to myself, the fabric is pretty deceptive. It’s very lofty.


Like it? There’s a chenille thread looped back and forth and sewn to the fabric on the two front panels. That ran up and down one of the selvedge edges, and I used it for the fronts. The back, sleeves and front facing are plain. It almost looks like fleece, actually, and is very, very soft.


This time I sewed a hair elastic into the seam joining the front and its facing, and put a button on the other side, so I can do the coat up. How … odd … that none of the three coats I’ve made has any form of fastening. I thought I could wear a leather belt with this coat, but when I tried it, I looked again like an old bag in a housecoat. I’m definitely not the tie wrap  kind of crone. I may add a snap at about waist height.

grey dusterIMG_1073

The sleeves fold or roll up. As a bonus for this project, I figured out how to use my sewing machine to finish raw edges almost like a serger. They look really good. Almost makes me wonder if I really do need to save up for a baby-lock.

I’ve always liked long, straight maxi coats. Dusters I call ’em. Not much difference between this and the pink coat, except it’s unlined, and fits closer to the body. I used Butterick 6251, which was really easy. An experienced sewist could whip this up in a day. Took me three. Maybe I should whip up a few more, one for every day of the week?