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 …

Big girl play pants

So, there’s what I’ve decided is a myth about ugly old lady elastic waist pants. I’ve actually seen this phenomenon once — a woman who had pulled her elastic waist pants up as high as she could over a tucked-in shirt, just like she might have done on a baby. It was an awful sight, and, well, I don’t know how anyone could be that oblivious. But I’m betting there are twenty-year olds who’ve never worn any but elastic waists. Yoga pants, sweatsuits, jogging pants, that’s all many young people wear around here. My prediction is they’ll never wear anything with a woven, interfaced waist band, and those uncomfortable things will be history in another twenty years or so. You’ll have to go vintage to find them 🙂

I wear elastic waist pants, and if I can slip a cord through the casing along with the elastic, well then I think I’m dressing young, not old.  I found a pattern that’s actually labelled “young” and decided to buy it (on drastic sale) primarily to compare it with my own self-drafted yoga harem karate dance pants. It’s a cool Burda pattern for short pants.

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I used an exterior microfibre fabric from my stash, and experimented with putting longer legs on this thing.

 

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I took a page out of Marcy Tilton’s book actually, and tried two angled wedges, one in front and one in back to make the legs narrower than they would have been if I just followed the inner and outer legs lines.

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This is the front one. The back one is a little less angled, and longer, but without topstitching (I was running out of thread). I have to confess I have no idea how or why angled wedges work. But if anyone decides to try this at home, make sure your pants legs are a couple of inches too long before you start.

They’re fun pants and super comfortable. More comfortable than the harem yoga pants, which give me trouble when I try to scramble into my truck. I plan to make another pair out of linen for the summer.

Unfortunately I had to steal a lace from a hiking boot for this project.

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What will we do about that?

Orange you glad …

There’s a time for orange, isn’t there? What a bright pop during the grey rainy days.IMG_1077

It’s the pants I’m going to talk about. They’re my second attempt with a Marcie Tilton pant pattern. The first was horrible. I posted a couple of times about a pair I attempted, but I’ve come to believe I should put the pattern on a bonfire. This one is V9035.IMAG0378

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I made some adjustments, removing the waist band and adding to the leg length. I never lengthen pant legs — I’d like to lengthen my own 🙂 This pattern was weird. It called for the yoke to be interfaced, but not lined or faced. Who wants to wear raw interfacing on the inside of a garment? The bottoms of the legs have a couple of draping tucks. It’s because of them that I bought the pattern. I wanted a pant that was kind of funky to match the fabric, which is also kind of funky. It’s something called “washed wool”. I think it drapes beautifully and works well with the pattern.

Removing the waist band turned out to give me problems with the fly. I didn’t interface the yoke (although possibly I should have), but I made a facing. I’ve done waist facings when there’s just a simple back zip, but with all the facings of a fly, I had to fly by the seat of my pants, as it were. This is what I did.

I’m happy with how it worked out, and I like the buttonhole tab I made, but I’m not happy with the process. It’s not something I want to repeat. It must be possible to have pants with a fly, but no waistband, yes??

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I like many things about these pants. They have no side seam, just a dart. They’re pretty fitted around the hips, but loose on the legs. The ankle treatment allows the legs to drape nicely. But I’m just not sure that I’ll make another pair from the pattern.

I have to confess that after I took these pictures, I took the pants out for a walk. They fell down. That’s all too normal for pants, for me, Ms. Hipless Wonder. When I got home I opened up the yoke facing at the sides and resewed them with a sharper curve (I had lessened the curve of the side yokes, and halved the side darts). They’re snugger now, and I also see that I can move the button a bit too if need be. Cross my fingers, I’ve solved the problem.

harem karate yoga pants

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I was thinking of pants like this — I guess they’re called “harem pants”, but I don’t like that term — before I went wandering around Europe for a few months. I searched online and saw a few basic patterns, but nothing I trusted.

I had done nothing except choose the fabric I wanted to use when it was time to go to Paris. Wandering toward the Eiffel Tower one day I saw a chic young woman wearing an intriguing outfit that included these sorts of pants in black and white, black boots and a black leather jacket. I stared. Then I stared even harder as I tried to figure out how her pants were constructed. She called me on it, shouting at me from across the street. For a minute I envisioned fisticuffs with a chi chi, feisty Parisienne. Not a good idea in a city where I didn’t know anyone who could carry me home, broken and bloody in the aftermath!

Her angry comment to me — it was in French, but I got the drift — indicated she correctly surmised I was staring at her clothing, and not at her, so I really don’t understand why she was upset. Anybody?

A month or so later I was wandering through a shopping district in Florence when I entered a shop specializing in Thai products. They had a rack of these pants, all in assorted Thai printed cottons. I got to take a closer look 🙂

2015-03-10 13.46.24 2015-03-10 13.47.01When I got back home, I pulled out the fabric I wanted to use as the base (it was material I’d bought at a theatre company sale). I used a basic drawstring loose pant pattern, and cut off the crotch points. Then I made pattern pieces for a central triangular panel for the front and back, as well as a dirndl waist, copied from an old skirt.

I had already cut out pieces from the old skirt for the central panels when I went to a nearby yard sale and found the fabric that I actually used. I loved it, it was cheap, and it went with the base fabric better than what I was planning to use.

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So that’s it. Some thing’s I’d do differently — I used a too-stiff non-woven interfacing in the dirndl waist. It was all I had in the house. I’ve since stocked up on various weights of woven interfacing, and next time I’ll use something lighter. Also, while I love the central fabric, it’s sufficiently stiff to make the pants a little more “formal” than I would like. I will make these pants again in a lighter fabric, maybe linen, and I think they’ll look simpler and drape more softly. I would like to do piping when sewing two kinds of fabric together (many of the pants in the shop in Florence had piping). But I just don’t feel up to learning to make and install piping yet. Oh, and I’ve got enough of the yard sale fabric left to make a matching vest. That’s a project for some other time.

And in case anybody’s wondering — the pale green vest is a copy of the Marcy Tilton pattern I used for the “web” vest. Her pattern is actually for a jacket, but I de-sleeved both versions. I got the fabric, a wool crepe, in a remainders bin for a dollar or two. I just love those sorts of finds.

Tilton trousers redo

Okay, so I looked at the pix of my trousers (from my post on these trousers of last month), and no they don’t look alright even with the inseam adjustment I made. I tried the pants on again. Nope. I like loose pants and loved this pattern for its looseness, but these pants just look oversize and I knew I would only wear them out of a feeling of obligation — I made ’em, I gotta wear ’em.

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So I took apart four more of the seams (there are 8), leaving only the side seams as is. This involved picking apart topstitching plus the actual seams! And I checked my notes about the size and adjustments I had started with. I had sewn the pants on the size 12 cutting line because all the measurements told me that’s what I should do even though, as the pants came together, my eye was telling me the pants were about double the size my pants normally look. When the numbers and the eye disagree, which do you go with??

I decided, pretty arbitrarily, to resew these four seams on the size 12 sewing line, which meant taking them in 5/8 inch for a total of 5 inches. And they fit! After shaving a whole 5 inches off!tilton pant redo1

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The problem now is that the dye keeps running. I’ve washed the pants a few times and the colour has shifted from pinkish-peach to brownish-peach, with barely discernable streaks. Sigh. I wonder if this is why the large chunk of fabric was in the thrift store for such a low price. I’m going to think about dying these pants now. Or killing them!

Reversible web vest

webvest1I’m really excited about this project for two reasons. First, it’s the first item I’ve made from the fabric given to me at my recent fabric party. Yea! One down, 14 to go :p~~. And second, this vest is the product of a series of lucky? fated? unplanned for sure events. I would never have made this vest under normal circum-stances. I wouldn’t have bought this particular fabric, even though I like it. I wouldn’t have planned this combination of pattern and fabric. Believe me, my finger was barely touching the rudder of this boat.

So you’re wondering how it got made? I guess my primary contribution was to buy the pattern, which happened before I received the fabric. It’s actually a jacket pattern, another Marcy Tilton, which you will be happy to hear I didn’t pay full price for. It’s one of those ‘barely there’ patterns: three pieces, and only a couple of instructions. Basically, sew fronts to back, sew sleeves to body. That’s it. Who wants to pay for that? Oh yea, it includes instructions for felting some wool string onto the body if you want. I bought it because I liked the design and thought it would make great indoor sweater/jacket sort of things — loose and non-binding. None of the edges are finished, so it’s meant to be made up in fleece-like fabrics, or maybe a worsted woolen if you want to do the felting.

When I got this “web” kind of fabric — it really can’t make up its mind whether it’s stripes, diagonals, circles, squares or diamonds — I thought it would work because it’s double-sided; since the fronts of the jacket just flap open and don’t have facings, the inside of the fabric has to be of the same quality and appearance as the outside.

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There wasn’t enough fabric to make sleeves, but I’m okay with vests. They’re great for layering in the chilly “wet-coast” rainforest and they don’t bind the arms and shoulders. So I started cutting it out, wondering at the back of my mind how I was going to finish the edges.

There are only four seams, and since either side of the fabric can be on the outside, I decided to make it reversible by folding under the selvage edges and topstitching them.

I’m a really slow sewist, so all this took about a week, during which time I kept the question about how to finish the raw edges simmering on some burner way at the back of my mind. (You can tell I’d never worked with seam binding, can’t you?) Normally I wouldn’t dream of starting a project until I had figured out all the techniques that would be required, so I was just floating (to maintain the imagery) on a boat of belief that the necessary knowledge would come when required.

Eventually and slowly the idea of making seam-binding sort of coalesced until I went digging through my stash of left-over bits of fabric looking for something I could use. I found two things — an old black and blue floral skirt and a length of shimmery beige fabric that I actually bought to make some ruffles. I couldn’t make up my mind, and then I knew (really!) that this fabric could be bound with two different kinds of bindings. The fabric really is a web of upright lines, diagonals, circles and squares. It’s so …busy that two kinds of binding doesn’t add any more busyness to it.

IMG_0898I merrily folded all the binding over the edges and pinned it before realizing that possibly sewing through the whole sandwich in one go wasn’t the way to do it. So then I researched, and found great articles on four or five different ways to attach seam-binding. Sewing it all in one go is called the “cheater method” and it worked for me 🙂

So here’s the final view: the reverse side and hanging loose. I think it’s a marriage of form and content that’s pretty cool. Couldn’t ‘a planned it better.IMG_0894

And by the way, calling it a “web” vest is only partly because of the fabric. I’m also honouring, in a tongue-in-cheek way, the man who gave me the fabric. Thanks doctor Webb 🙂 Do you like it?