Sewing Vloggers

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Sewing Onward! Hooray!



This is the time when many bloggers regale you with tales of how many yards of their fabric stash they have sewn up over the past year. They may tell you how many patterns they have sewn or even purchased. The numbers  of tops and skirts and pants tumble forward as they recall their efforts for 2020.  Some of those efforts are downright amazing given what 2020 has dealt us. And, some sewists can tell you the THOUSANDS of masks they have sewn and the lives they have touched as we have all experienced this pandemic. My sewing friend and fabulous bagmaker Jill Goldsmith can. She went from making hundreds of masks for those who needed them to fulfilling the needs of hospitals and nursing homes to setting up workrooms throughout Florida.  When PPE was at a premium in those early months Jill provided  PPE for our precious health care workers as prescribed by the professional health care community. She organized  an army in  Florida working to provide what was needed in hospitals and nursing homes. Anyone who knows her knows Jill is a force to be reckoned with. She can make a mask. She can make a beautiful bag. She can get masks of high quality out to thousands of professionals and organize an army to help her do that. Jill is amazing and I am so proud to know her. She is a very good friend of my daughters. Jill is now recuperating from surgery on her hands. Any wonder? Need I say more about this angel? These are some of the people that sewing has brought to the fore in 2020, angels like Jill Goldsmith.

 I made masks for friends and family as they needed them. Mask making was hard.  I found my isolation and disconnect very difficult. I  missed milestones planned and dreamed of for years hard to handle. I had many days of tears coming and going, sleepless nights and anxiety over this pandemic that were further fueled by political unrest and division.  I am not like my friend for various reasons. Wish I was. But I powered through and sewing was my comfort. Letting it be my comfort gets  and got me through. I am so thankful for that. I have several good friends, met over the years of blogging and sewing that were in the same place as I was. We helped each other through. It was good to know I was not alone. I am in a better place now. 2020 is behind. I am learning about and practicing mindfulness. I like it. I see light at the end of this tunnel but am in the moment and my husband and I are so enjoying each moment as we are blessed with them. So you will get no garment counts here or yards removed from my available resources. Instead will share just a handful of things that I am particularly proud of. 

I share garments that were challenging to make, that I felt I mastered for whatever reason and that I have worn a lot. They are not hanging in my closet as monuments to my sewing skills. These are the things I have made and really enjoyed wearing. 

I could not wear these flow-y rayon cullottes enough.

My cropped linen top ended up being a VERY practical garment and a lot of fun to wear. 

This vest, has become exactly what I wanted it to be, a cuddly, warm throw on. Love this!

Some new things I tried in 2020:

Keep in mind, I've been sewing decades, but I am always learning and discovering new things in sewing. I try to keep my mind open to them all. 

* Linda Lee of Sewing Workshop showed me on one of her FB videos how to use poly mesh as a lining for flow-y sheer fabrics. Works great! I talk about that here. 

* I made a couple of tanks with shelf bras. I have since learned a better way to make them and will use that new technique next time I do a tank top. Thank you, Whitney of Tom Kat Stitchery. 

* Made myself my own underwear as in in nice, pretty undies. I am very proud of those. They are so comfy and so much easier to make than I thought. Thank you Megan Nielsen for your free pattern. Fit me perfectly and I love the style.

* I started using 100% cotton thread for all my wovens and keeping the poly thread for my knits. I fought this for years but Linda Lee convinced me and I decided to experiment. I was not impressed but with the current construction of a white shirt I get it. My topstitching and seams do not have the slightest pucker to them, something inherent to poly threads. Poly threads have a bit of stretch that happens as they are wound on their spools and perfectly flat stitching can sometimes be the sacrifice. For now I will continue with this new lesson learned. I really see the difference on my  white shirt.

Some minor sewing accomplishments in 2020:

* I began searching out and making clothing with elastic waists. This is more  about wearing what is comfortable than anything else. So far, so good. Linda Lee's patterns have great elastic waist designs.

* I'm discovered new designers in and out of the Big Four. I LOVE Mimi G's patterns. They have details that are so well executed and that are so lacking in 95% of patterns out there. I am sitting on pins and needles right now waiting for one of her OOP designs that is stuck in the mail. Can't wait to get my hands on it.  I've also returned to Sewing Workshop designs and really like the Picasso pants that I have made two of already. She has a unique viewpoint to her construction methods and I like it.  

* I made my first pair of real pleated, full legged trousers in years and I absolutely love them. There will be more. So comfy and feminine. 

* I've gotten quite utilitarian and resource conscious as I sewed through my queue and then had no where to wear all my pretty clothes. I've made undies, aprons, scarves from leftovers, tank tops from leftovers, pants slips. Is this the equivalent of killing time with sewing? I sure hope not. I really like to be thrifty and mindful of the resources I have and I hate waste. I guess these items are also palate cleansers of a sort. 

* Inspired by Peggy Sagers, I tried some of her brilliant cut and sew ideas for wraps and mini ponchos. I love that she shows how these are actual knockoffs of very big ticket designer items. It was a lot of fun making these projects and so easy. 

* I read the entire manual on my newest serger during lockdown. Uh, seems I should have done that a long time ago. I learned a lot. Yes, this was an accomplishment.

And now 2021 awaits!!!

It will be better. I know it will. I have plans.

* My husband and I are building an extension table for my Pfaff. I priced them and it is no financial issue to buy one but I am sorry I am not paying those ridiculous prices! I did a lot of research, we both hit Lowe's and tomorrow we hope to put it all together. Yay! I'll have a detailed blogpost coming on that. 

* I hope to add variety to my creative endeavors in 2021 beyond sewing. I really would like to get into free motion quilting but on art pieces, not quilts. Think landscapes, portraits, still lifes, etc. That is why I want the table!

* I would like to be more coordinated about my clothing. We will see how far that gets. 

* I REALLY want to get into Visible Mending. I have been researching and practicing and it intrigues me intensely. I am waiting for some waste canvas to arrive to help me with that process. Our local shop is without as is Joann's. I can't wait to play with a couple of sweaters I have. It just fascinates me and some of it is so very artistic. High priority on this one. 

* Make lots more undies! Just too much fun. 

* At the moment I have no big clothing goals other than the White Shirt I am working on right now that I need badly. I would like to make some cool sweat shirts but I just can't find the right fabric yet. I'm getting closer. With no big clothing goals and no big events on the horizon and a closet full of casual clothes I need to expand my creativity into other areas. I will. I think that will be a wonderful journey of discovery. I will like that. 

May you all put the old year behind and be blessed with a fabulous, healthy, and creative New Year!!! Love you all!!!...........Bunny

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Acacia Underwear Pattern

 


Covid, oh, Covid, what  hast thou done to me?

My sewing for the past months has been totally  influenced by the Covid monster. It has provided lots of time to sew and no where to wear many of the lovelies  I have made. It's been an evolution. It started with me attacking my queue of garment dreams and I got a lot of those done. They are still waiting for their public moments. It has continued to evolve to searching out new designers and garments and putting those in the queue. However, my desire to make those garments is often fueled by a future event, a trip, a milestone. None of that is happening with this virus and my interest wanes. But  Covid keeps opening it's opportunistic window. The latest is my return to utilitarian sewing. See my recent post here on mending a more technical garment. I have more mending accomplished and will share with you the more interesting achievements as they come along. There aren't many as you know most mending is pretty mundane. I am intrigued by visible mending, however, and have a cashmere sweater awaiting that. 

I've always wanted to make my own undies, not bras, corsets or lingerie, just nice, comfie, well fitting underpants. It's a holdover comfort thing from my childhood. My grandmother made all my undies as a child until she passed away. They were always of fine all cotton batiste,  mostly cut on the bias. They were lovely. She would send me back home with a stack at the end of every summer. 

So Covid has rung the bell and called in the teacher and I am learning to make my own undies. 


The pattern I used is the Acacia Underwear pattern from Megan Nielsen. It is a free download if you sign up for their newsletter. It will click over to zero dollars when you check out your cart. You can see on the pattern that I added a little bit to the top front and side front.  I was actually between sizes and I also prefer my bikinis a little higher cut on the tummy but more on that in a bit. After making the first pair I made the adjustments and committed the pattern  to oaktag. It is only the three pieces, front, back and crotch gusset. A suggestion: For me I found it easier to mark the center of each piece, the crotch gusset top and bottom, the back, top and bottom, and the front, top and bottom. I also marked the center of the sides. You can see this in the pink ink on the pattern. I just always do this on any pattern. It is a habit and the way I match pieces together even if they have other markings. 

For fabric, this is a scrap keeper's dream. I have three pair to show you and one is an ITY knit, another is a Modal/spandex combo and the third is a cotton/poly knit. With this pattern you cut two crotch gussets, one for the outer side and one for the inner. I like 100% cotton for the inner gusset and use rejected tee shirts for that piece. 



Don't we all have tee shirts with dreadful logos on them tucked away somewhere? My husband does and he gave me a bunch of never worn white ones. This piece is so small that a couple of tee shirts can make a lot of gussets. 


When it came to construction, I went in all sorts of directions, with each of the three having differences. 

First, what inspired me to get going on undies was the Vlog by Tom Kat Stitchery. In it Whitney (last name?) shows 3 different ways to make this pattern from Nielsen. One uses picot edging. another uses foldover elastic and the third, her preference and now mine, uses fabric bands.  I learned a lot from her and highly suggest watching this video. She knows her undies. I did watch other vlogs but hers was definitely the most knowledgeable and she's got a very good teaching style.  All of her  panties were made on the serger and the first had edges of picot trim. Hers were perfect. Mine were not. See the pink pair above. I questioned why she did not insert the leg elastic in the flat. I watched a video that did and decided that was the way to go. It really wasn't and I should have listened to Whitney. I ended up with lumps and bumps.  I used the serger and it actually made for a bumpier seam than the triple zigzag on my sewing machine. My skin has become very sensitive lately to anything rubbing or irritating it inside my garments or shoes. I have even worn undies inside out it has bothered me so much. So the next two pair I made on the sewing machine. It just took a little longer, but not much. Another deviation from Whitney that I will stick with is using a triple zigzag to topstitch my bands  rather than a plain zigzag which I am sure is also nice. Just my preference. 

This first pair has a picot edge, easy to install, but you can see I needed a bit more practice with my undie sewing. Next..........



This pair came out much better.  This is the cotton/poly blend, a lot like a nice tee shirt fabric. To trim the edges I used a 2 1/2 inch folded band for the waist and a 1 1/8 in folded bands for the legs. I folded them in half  pressed them, and then attached with 1/4 inch seams, RST. I then turned the bands inside and topstitched with the triple zigzag and went slowly. One thing, priceless, that I learned from Linda Lee on her vlog,  is to line up the edge of the fold on the leg band with whatever is a 1/4 inch away from your needle.  This is on the LEFT of the presser foot. When we sew a seam, we always put the RST, line up the cut edges under the presser foot and line up with something on the right side to get a perfect seam, might be a mark on the machine, a piece of tape, whatever.  As you stitch, watch the folded edge of your band on the left.  Line it up with something on the left that will put your needle exactly 1/4 inch away from that fold. Duh!!!! The band is what shows, not the seam allowances and this allows it to be sewn perfectly. It really makes a difference as you see above. 

These white pants side seams and crotch were sewn  on the machine with  a line of straight stitch and then a line of triple zigzag next to it (side seams and crotch gusset). No bumps at all and the stitching laid down very smoothly. I was happy. My skin was happy.  The seams had plenty of stretch. The fit with this higher waistband made me happy as well. No need to adjust the pattern at all. I may make my next pair with an even deeper waistband.


For my third pair I used a poly ITY knit. It really is prettier than the photo shows having sort of a velvety finish. It has the same construction as the white pair except for the legs. On this pair I simply turned and topstitched the legs with a triple Zigzag. I recently bought a bunch of undies and pulled them out to see how they were made. That's all they were on the legs. It will be interesting to wear these and see how the comfort/fit works out. It looks like they will cup my bum but if they don't I may like them anyway.  I also figured if I didn't like them this way it would be pretty easy to add on the leg bands. 
Update: This pair is so very comfortable. I cut the leg edges 3/8 inch wide after inspecting my retail panties. These snugged right up and are not moving at all. I will use this technique again, easy peasy. 

This was a really fun ride. I am definitely making more and soon. I now have a bucket under my cutting table just for "undie" scraps. You need so very little to make a pair. I know of some who automatically make a pair when they finish a garment and have enough fabric left over. Great habit to get into and it eats up those odd scraps. Just watch your grainlines. 

The third method Whitney used in her video was foldover elastic. Evidently it is pretty popular for undies but I just don't care for the look so won't be making those. I did order a bunch of elastic lace from Sew Sassy Lingerie and it came in today. I will play with that too. 

I also learned on this video to "sew in the bowl" something Whitney emphasizes often.  I've learned how to eye my needle from the edge of the binding/band/hem fold instead of the seam edge. Most of all, I learned how to make myself some undies. Covid has turned me to more utilitarian sewing lately. Now I am studying up on Visible Mending. 

****************************


LOVE my new Pendleton boots, quite practical for our New England weather! They have labels on the back heel and nice wool lining too! ...Bunny

Monday, December 14, 2020

Buckles and velcro and zippers, oh, my!

 PIC


My latest Covid hiatus is on it's last day today. I have been out since mid November. Tomorrow morning at 4:30AM I will get up  and get back to work for 14 days then will be out again for almost three more weeks. Whenever the weather afforded it I was out walking or hiking or working outside. That has come to a stop as it is now so cold and raw. I have been sewing. Many things in my queue have been stitched and of course more await. However, if you are like me, there is a small corner of your sewing space with something that is always awaiting your loving touch and that is mending. I figured it would be a good time to get caught up on the pile but ignore it I did. I continued to delve into the "fun stuff", the items I longed to make and dreamed of all those working, rushing days. Eventually, as my queue lightened, I made a pledge to myself. You know my crazy pledges. I said, "Self, every time you finish a garment, you are going to grab one, JUST ONE, of those things off the mending pile and get it done before you move to the next exciting item in the queue." And I have. Most mending is pretty mundane but I have done a couple of things that I think would be fun to share. 


The first is a pair of ski pants. My kids have been skiing since they were little things. Here in New Hampshire, if you are in the early grades of grammar school, you learn to ski through school. It's hard to remember when they didn't ski and we lived, literally, five minutes from the local slope, a quite good one. Today, they and their families all ski, both downhill and cross country every weekend of the winter and quite into spring. DD passed on to me a pair of ski pants that no longer fit her. For my sewing friends who live in warmer climes, I'd like to share with you the miracle of modern engineering these pants actually are. They don't just keep you warm. They are made to be flexible, warm, comfortable, hold precious things safely, be easy to get in and out of as well as keep you dry. There is velcro, zippers, buckles, snaps, and things I don't even recognize on ski pants. The fabrics are high tech too. Let me give you a little tour and then show you the mend that intimidated me at the start but came out rather well. Above is the fly area. 


In this pic you can see everything is triple topstitched. There are metal loops connected to fabric loops connected to wider fabric loops so that when important things are connected to the loops they are not lost in the speed of the moment. There are closures as you can see on the top left that I don't recognize. There are rivets and there are zipper pockets inside of pockets with more zipper pulls with the ability to hang items off of themselves as well. You can also see the adjustable velcro waist. I know DD liked to snug these up tight when she wore them. 


Let's open up that velcro and fly to see what is inside. The waistband is all lined with a rather furry type of facing. Down below that is another layer of fuzzy type lining that goes against one's lower back and legs. You can see these are made by "Marker" and the sizes are clear for several languages, the only one of which I understand is USA size 10. Underneath this lower back flap which I assume is for warmth, you can see the entire pant is lined. 



The softer upper lining stops and the more nylon type of lining starts below the crotch.  Sorry for DD's lint issues. These are old pants. 



We've looked on the inside but what is REALLY inside these pants? If we open up those legs there is even more function happening. The outer fabric you see has a waterproof backing integrated into the outer shell fabric. Then there is a layer of poly batt functioning as an interlining to the pants lining for warmth,  busy place in there!

Let's move on down a bit more, to the spot where I have to do the big mend!


My job is to shorten these pants four inches so I can wear them myself. They also will be well washed when the mending is done so no judgements, please! What we have here is the outer pant. You can see the outseam is triple topstitched all the way down to the zipper. The zip and surrounding lining, interlining and shell all need to be shortened that four inches. Underneath that pant layer is another layer. It consisted of a different fabric that appears to have a black waterproof backing as well. The bottom is gathered into a casing that is topped by a stip of rubberized lines, the better to cling to one's ski boots and prevent any snow from getting through. It is snapped shut but also velcros as well. The outer pant zips down nice and snug over this inner moisture preventer. 


I marked the cut line of the hem edge and ripped out the zipper stitches with my favorite seam rippper all the way down. The top of the zip was left in place. I cut the zip and the hem off at the cut line that you can see marked. I pinked that edge. The ends of the zip were folded back into the hem space. The hem was triple zigzagged into place and the zipper was topstitched into it's old home, just shorter. Now on to the underpant.


For this I went to my classic method for shortening jeans. It is the one where you fold the jean up half the desired length of the shortening. So if you want to shorten the jean 2 inches, you fold it up one inch. Here I needed to shorten the inner hem four inches so I folded it up 2 inches and pinned that in place. As in the jeans, I then sewed right up to the original hem business. Here it is the button tab and rubberized strip. Again I used the triple zigzag. I then pinked off the excess four inches. Done!


Done!


One inner pant leg done!


One pair of ski pants, washed, mended and ready to wear this season. Are you as exhausted as I am? Pardon the crazy wrinkles and waves in a lot of these pics. I had to really over do the contrast to make things visible on the black. The pants are quite lovely now that all that detritis from  DD's years of use has been removed. I will be warm and cuddly and ready for our 3 days of supper cold hitting Wednesday. Back to regular sewing and enough of the Mending Pledge for now. I do have another biggy for you  but enough already...........................Bunny







Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Tale of Two Pants


Hello, lovelies! Today I have a couple of pants to share with you, not in the best presentation, however. Pardon the blouse, a quick grab from the closet that doesn't work and no longer fits well but my photographer was available and I went with it. Bad camera angle too. Hey, they can't all be Avedon days. 



This is the Picasso Pant from The Sewing Workshop and I really like it. So without further ado...

It has an elasticated waistband that is flat across the tummy. There are two tucks in the front where the flatness begins and seams down the center legs, front and back. Each leg ends in a shaped band.  This is a very easy pattern and goes together quickly. The crotch is long which is usually the case in a wider shaped pant. 



Here you can see the tucks which I pushed open for you. This leads to one of my suggestions about this pattern. I found between the waistband and the tucks that their release ended up below my tummy and they were therefore way to long for my five foot frame. Next time I make these I will either just leave them as a gather or make the tucks a mere half inch long (preferred).
 
The front band flattens right out when worn. 

Fabrics:



First the corduroy: This is a lovely 100% cotton 21 wale cord from Kauffman. I got it at my LQS and it is so soft and yummy. Long story short, I mistakenly put bleach in the wash when I prewashed it. It did not shrink at all but came out looking like it had gone back in time to the Sixties. I was stricken. I spent the next two days playing with paints and stencils and researching dyes. In the end it was just "[email protected]#@!&?!!&  it" and I went with what I had. I proceeded to make the pants carefully placing the now carefully and intentionaly (yeah, right) discharge dyed cord in specific areas, mostly close to the bands. I consider it an artistic liberty and will stick with that story. The fabric is so soft and nice. 


The next fabric is also from the LQS and they are getting some great garment fabris in there. I forget who makes it but it is a yarn dyed linen that is a canvas weight. I really fell in love with it. It took four trips before I plunked down my  cash but by then I knew it was solid and pants were its future. It is far bulkier than the soft cord and frankly the back waist gathers are fuller because of that but I love the drape this stiffer fabric gives to pants. I put the sharpie in the picture so you could get an idea of the size of the weave. It really is awesome fabric and unique and pricey AND IT RAVELS LIKE CRAZY. 

Construction:

Anyone can make these pants. They are really quite easy. Because of the ravelling nature of both fabrics I stitched each seam, then serged together and pressed to the side. Then the seams were topstitched as well. That did emphasize the shaping of those bottom bands which I like. On my first pair, the cords, I automatically took an inch out of the leg and in inch out of the bands. These pants are meant to be cropped. I really did not want them cropped but they are a bit. In the linen pair I made them as sold and for me, at five feet, they came out grazing my ankles which is exactly what I wanted. So, be careful and be sure of your desired leg length before you cut into your fabric. To reiterate, five foot me is at grazing ankle length with no adjustments to the pattern. 





In conclusion:

I really like this pattern and will definitely make some linen versions for summer. I can see these working nicely with a tucked in tank top. I highly recommend this pattern for even a beginner. Linda Lee's instructions, as my experience with her patterns has always shown, are impeccable, easy to follow and very clear. I would watch that front tuck and if you are short, shorten that tuck as well. Also know this pattern is sold quite cropped for more average height people. The gray version grazes the ankle on a five foot tall person. Highly recommend............Bunny



Oh, if you are not watching her, Lee has a live Facebook show on the Sewing Workshop page every Tuesday at 11:00 am. Lots of great sewing info, fair amount of selling, but great fun as well. It is replayed on youtube after..............Bunny

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Let's make a pants slip!

 


While this may not be the most attractive undergarment you will ever own (it could be) I guarantee you will get miles of use out of it.  I have really come to appreciate the value of pants slips. Why bother with pants slips?

                     *  They save sewing time. You don't have to line every pair of pants that needs 
                         a lining. Just finish your seams and wear a pants slip and you have all the
                         benefits of a lined pair of pants.

                     * They offer versatility. Sometimes, in my cold climate, I wear pants with tights
                        underneath AND a pants slip for extra warmth. The pants glide right over the                                tights with the slip.  Pants slips smoosh right down and can even be worn very                                unobtrusively with jeans, when you need just a little extra warmth in winter. 

                     * They give you choice. Sometimes, in summer, I wear my linen pants with a pants
                        slip, sometimes I don't. All depends on weather and such. 

                     * Because She said so! Who is she? Claire Shaeffer, that's who!  When I took my 
                        Chanel class with the great Claire,  one of the students, a college level textiles 
                        professor, asked about lining couture pants. Claire informed us that couture pants
                       were not lined and were always worn with pants slips. She said she wore pants 
                        slips for all her pants. That was the real clincher for me.

So, for those reasons, I am a pant slip aficionado and just made another pair. I'll go over here how I did that and my philosophy regarding pants slips. 

      



            I am aware that pants slips can be made of tricots and silks and decorated with the most glorious of trims. My preference is to have something that will hold up to frequent laundering and wear with minimal fuss. I tend to use two different fabrics. My first choice is Bemberg rayon. It is reasonable in price, usually readily available, and comfortable to wear. Research tells me that many people find it warm. I don't  and it is my favorite lining for most sewing projects. If I can't get my hands on it quickly, as in this case, one of those gotta sew it now moments, my second choice is an anti-static poly. I have used the version from Joanns and it has worked just fine, launders well, and I have not found it to be warm on my lower body. Just make sure the bolt end says anti static.  This is what I have used today. I don't add trims as I want to make these as quickly as possible and spend my creativity on garments that are on my public side. I also don't want anything on these, as in trims,  that will telegraph through to the public side of my pants. 

           The number one rule of making pantslips, IMO, is to have as little bulk as possible. Keep that in mind as you go through the process. 


The pattern:

If you use the two fabrics I mention, they will smoosh under your pants and not be noticeable pretty much most of the time. It is ok if the pantslip is a bit bigger than your pant leg. I used my pants sloper, which you can see above, to cut my slip. Most of the pants that I would wear this with are straight legged and cut straight down from the hip curve, so this liner will be smaller than most pants I will wear it with but still have room to move. Very important here--notice that the sloper has darts and there are two on the front and one on the back. You must have darts but you will not sew them!!! 


For your casing you will need, preferably and hard to find, elastic cording, the type being used right now in masks. If you can't find that, you can use beading cording, which is very strong and what I used this time or 1/8th inch elastic. 



Construction:

To keep bulk down, all seams were pinked only and given a hard press. I don't iron these. I just pull them from the dryer quickly, hand press, and they are fine. That poly seems to remember where the seams are suppose to lay. The hem is serged with a three thread finish, folded up an inch and a 1/4  and given a hard press as well. 

I like my hem to end two inches above what any regular pant hem would be. 


Above is the waist seam. The arrow points to the tuck that is made from the dart in the pattern. 

Fold your darts into tucks that will lean in the opposite direction of the way your pants darts are ironed. Back to keeping bulk down here! 

Your waist seam is 3/4 inch wide. It is serged or pinked and then folded to the inside and stitched to make a small casing.  You may have to leave the side seams separate to get them to fold down without pulling. You will understand once you try it. It's OK.  In other words when you stitch up the side and crotch seam stop when you reach the casing area and tie off. This makes it easier to fold down the casing. 


The side seam where you want your opening slit will end about 6 inches below the casing. Make sure this measurement works for you  to get over your hips. In the pic above you can see that the slit is simply the pinked side seam pressed back and topstitched about a 1/4 inch away.  

Cut a length of elastic cord long enough to go through the casing and tie in a bow with a double knot. Don't make this too snug. You will rarely untie this. Run the cording through and your closure is done once tied. 

This is simple, neat sewing, no fuss.  You can make a pantslip easily in an afternoon or less. While the casing area looks ruffly, it will smoosh out of the way and you won't know it is there. I like my open slit on the side, even if there is a center front fly because it keeps the tummy area smooth. You will also find the pants slips slides right over your hips for those bathroom moments as you pull down your public pants along with it so you are not dealing with any closure. 

This simple project can really make getting dressed and your sewing easier and more productive. I hope you give it a try. I have really enjoyed having these in my wardrobe. I am going to make another this week, an anti static out of gray. A supply of these in neutral colors is a great addition. One caveat-----brush up on your seam finishing skills. With unlined pants, you want the seams to look great and be well finished to hold up over time. I recommend Hong Kong seams whenever wise. Let me know if you give this a try or if you already have.....................Bunny 



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

McCalls 5239, A Kathryn Hepburn Trouser, maybe?

 


I love classic pleated wide leg trousers, just love'em. They are my favorite style pant and now that they are back in style it was time to give them a go. Pfffft, you say, she can't wear these! She's only five feet tall! Well, Pffft, to you! I wear them and love them anyway. They are comfy and feminine and that is good enough for me. We all need to wear what we love and feel right in, right? 

I have recently developed an aversion to jeans. I don't know where it came from but I am just so sick of them. I took a pledge to wear them absolutely as little as possible.  My attempt at finding a  workable casual wardrobe has led me to decide to keep the damn jeans out, OUT I say. I have a fair amount of bottom weights in my stash and have been planning various pants and top outfits, all with a bit of interest and not jeans. I wanted them all casual. I really think this approach has upped my day to day dressing a lot. Now that these are done I am concentrating on corduroys. So let's get on with what was a very interesting sew, to say the least. 



Fabric

Some stash digging brought out some 100% cotton chino fabric. This is not the greatest fabric for this style of pant but I am looking for every day wear here. I've always like working with chino and the vibe it gives off, a bit classier than a denim but still every day. Dress it up, dress it down, boat shoes or black jersey and dangles. Chino cotton crinkles but doesn't hold the wrinkles  badly. It is stiff and stands out on it's own as well. I just accepted that. This was my first use of this pattern and the goal was  my idea of a true trouser and a "trouser" fit.  There is no lining and no interfacing except in the zip area.  The pocket stay is a 100% cotton batik, a nice, tight weave.


pardon the slipping out top

Pattern

I was looking for a high waisted, front double pleated pant with slanted pockets and volume in the legs from the hips down. I think I got that here in McCalls 5239. My original plan was to use my pant sloper and start from scratch with a new tissue. Then I started digging through my patterns and found this:


It had all I had in mind in View C, the red version. This is Palmer Pletch's pants fitting pattern from 2006 and now OOP. I looked at the measurements on the back and lo and behold, they were almost exactly like my own/sloper  in the size ten. The waist was a half inch off and that would be easy to fix but how would the crotch curve be? I took the pieces out and overlaid my sloper and it was pretty dang close. I just needed to adjust that crotch curve a tad and would be good to go. Now I didn't have to make a new tissue, etc.  View C was it! 

Washed my chino again, third time, and started laying out the pattern. But wait, we have some issues here. 

                   *  There were two pleats either side of the zipper. The pattern showed the  pleats for the four sizes on either side and none were marked, no sizes and very confusing. What went where and for whose size?  No reference in the instructions, either. I winged it. 


                 * The instructions tell you that all seams are one inch wide, for fit insurance, with one exception, the waistband piece, which is 5/8ths. Since all the circles on the leg pieces are on the one inch line at the waist and you later connect this one inch seam to the 5/8ths inch waist band seam which has interfacing stitched to that 5/8ths seam allowance,  not the band, it gets pretty crazy. I'd never seen anything like it. Don't get me wrong. I am always up for new techniques, as you know, but give me a reason. This did not make sense to me. 

I cut my waistband one inch wider so a half inch wider for each side.  This way it sat higher like I wanted. 

The legs are 22 inches wide at the bottom. 

Anyhoo, I got it all laid out and cut and proceeded with the construction. 


Construction
Pockets



The pants have the classic slanted side pockets which means you are dealing with a bias edge.  One good thing about this pattern is that it has a pocket stay that extends into the fly zipper, something I planned on doing anyway. Pocket stays are great for keeping the tummy area looking good and if in a firm fabric can even hold that tumtum in a little bit. There was no interfacing or stay strip planned for the pocket edge. They suggested topstitching to prevent a "puckered" edge. As I always do, I cut a strip of selvage from the batik used to make the pocket stay. It was very thin and did not budge when yanked. I used this to stay the pocket edge. I always try to cut it  a hair short of a 1/4 inch shorter than the length of the seam needed and pull it and pin until the pocket edge is evenly distributed. You can see the little bubbles in the seam below the strip. This goes a long way toward preventing stretched out bias pocket edges.  The pocket edges and pleats were topstitched with a stitch often mistakenly used to sew knits. It is the one that sews over itself three times, nasty for knits, great for topstitching! It lays down a nice heavy line of thread. 

Zipper, Oy!


I found the zipper instructions not the best. The illustrations are far from clear.  I highly recommend searching out a better fly zip installation if you use this pattern. At first I thought "maybe it's me". So I got out a few patterns to compare. I picked pants that had the same double pleat, slanted pocket fly zip style. In the end, I trusted the ultimate expert, Claire Shaeffer and her couture pants pattern, Vogue 7881. Now I am not making couture pants here but she does set the bar. I found that Claire's pattern was so very clear and so very simple to understand. There were three steps for her zipper installation in the couture pants and so simple and this McCalls  Palmer Pletch fly has 7 steps, 2 tips and one "note" and very unclear drawings. 


The Waistband

I still don't understand how they did this waistband. 

                *  connecting a 5/8th inch waistband to a one inch pant seam. No reference to this in the instructions and confusing illustrations.

                * a method of sewing the interfacing to the 5/8th seam allowance, folding it over into the waistband and stitching to the one inch pant seam, I THINK. I still haven't figured it out.

                * making the waistband 6 inches longer  than the waist measurement. Yes, it needs over and underlap but 6 inches? 



                * a very odd addition of two small blocks of interfacing folded over the already interfaced waistband, at their ends, on the interior waistband. Let's add some bulk here just for the heck of it. 

                * The only reference to trimming the seam allowance on the waistband is to trim the little short waistband ends down to a 1/4 inch.  No mention of trimming or grading anything in the waistband seams.  I don't love me bulk in my waistband. 

All in all, this waistband installation is quite odd and filled with bulk that need not be there.  I spoke with a very accomplished career seamstress who took the Palmer Pletch week long course to "improve her skills."  She was blown away by this ridiculous waistband installation when she took her course.  I know many swear by their methods but despite sewing for decades I always approach my sewing and reviews from the standpoint of a new sewist and how would they interpret the instructions and tissues.


My own thoughts on the instructions in this pattern:

                *  The construction seems overdone at every step of the way. This will not work for new sewists and I can see them throwing it in the can and giving up on pant making. Making pants, not the fitting part, is really quite simple and it upsets me that it has been made so complicated. 

                *   Basic skills are not shown and bulk is added at every opportunity. What happened to grading seams?  Again, not for the newbie sewist who would be learning how to fit and likely buying this pattern. Emphasis is needed on  time proven sewing skills as in the waistband and fly for the less experienced sewist but you will have to go elsewhere to find that. It's not in this pattern.  

                 * Just make it easy on yourself. If the pattern measurements fit you, go for it as I did, then get yourself a great sewing book  or video and follow that on  how to make pants. Anyone from AD Lynn to Sandra Betzina, Nancy Zieman, Reader's Digest Sewing Book, and the Singer Pants sewing book will work just great.  

In Conclusion

I love my Kathryn Hepburn style trousers and will make more of them. I will  use my sloper and morph out to a 22 inch leg and add pleats and slanted pockets. I know that I didn't choose the ideal fabric but it is great for everyday casual and I also know these pants would shine in a wool crepe or 4 ply silk. Maybe when Covid times end, I will have that need and will invest in a pair out of such lovely fabric. 

I wear these mostly with white leather sneaks and a tucked in shirt. They have pointed out my need for a new great white shirt, one that will tuck in neatly.  Most that I own are too full to tuck in nicely. 

There are things we wear that are universal, a good pair of classic trousers, a pencil skirt, a button down shirt,  and more. Be aware that any decent sewing manual and some good yutubers can pull you through making them all quite nicely. If you find a pattern that fits you well, don't be afraid to dump the instructions and search other resources for your directions. It will serve you well. 

Also, and last but not least, you do not have to look like Kathryn Hepburn to wear a good set of trousers. It's all about what you like and what you are comfortable in. 



Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Another Knockoff

 



I will be right up front here. I was watching a sewing video and the designer was featuring a coat pattern and doing a fashion show of happy sewists who modeled her design. The coats were lovely and each quite distinct. They did her pattern great justice. She then spoke about the pattern and of course did a bit of a sales pitch. Then, and I can't remember why, she interrupted all the coat talk with a nod to an apron pattern from years back and showed the envelope and the apron. It was quite unique and it's design was of an Asian influence. It was simple, as most aprons are, and in pretty much a heartbeat I did the famous "I can make that" that all of us sewists have said a thousand times. I did make it. 

The designer is Linda Lee, who I adore, an extremely gifted and knowledgeable sewist and designer. The pattern is the Tamari Apron which she still sells and I recommend. I think like most sewists who have started young and continued for years, I have been inspired by many a designer to give a design a go on my own. I did that here and thank Lee for the inspiration. Because the original design is her's I will not share measurements other than what she mentioned in the youtube video and that was that the base of the apron was a one yard square. I did find the measurements online but won't share those either and I don't think they should have been shared by the company that did. I can tell you I  changed every measurement, including the shape and size of the base apron, This was a bit design decision and a bit "petiting" decision. The straps, pocket, base, and loop are all different from hers and that is because I wanted it more in proportion for my size and scale. I played with shapes too.  I have no idea what her instructions are regarding hem depths, pocket hems, loop fillings, etc. 


Above you can see I did deep hems all around with topstitching and mitered corners.  The wide straps are not as wide as Lee's.  I tried to use fabric with an Asian flavor. A word here and it could just be my taste. In searching these out on the internet I found a lot of people really gilded the lily with this pattern, adding rows and rows of ribbons, wide bands of contrast fabrics  on the hems and the pocket as well. Some added ribbons on top of the straps. These are all great ideas but my personal opinion is that the design is so unique and eye catching that all that foofery detracted from the finished work, just my personal opinion. I say embellish, but just don't overdo it. I can see this in canvas with some fabric painting, what fun!

It is quite unique with it's one shouldered setup. I wasn't even sure I would like it but it was captivating. I used some really nice fabrics from the LQS, 1 1/4 for the base and 3/4 yard for the details. I lined my pocket. 



Still once I tried it on, it's uniqueness made me not sure of how I felt about it. 


In the above photo you can see how the corners of the square hang quite interestingly. The wide strap is flung over the should and then through a loop on the opposite side that sits at the waist. The strap then crosses over and meets a shorter strap on the other side and is tied off in the back. The strap is long. That and the diagonal of the square being on the waistline make this an all size friendly apron with little fussing. 

I brought it upstairs  on the dress form for some photos and husband saw it and LOVED it without any solicitation. He told me it looked like the work aprons of women in Japan in a video he watched on youtube (he loves youtube). Now my plan was that if this worked it would make nice gifts for the women in my family. He thought that would be great. I left my form up overnight and in the morning, somehow she looked better. Her bit of Asian influence had settled in and I came to really appreciate the unique look and closure. Heck, I think I loved Miss Dressform in the Asian Apron. Now to just wait for the quilt fabric sales that come this time of year at the Big Box!!!

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I have cut out those crazy Palmer Pletch chino trousers and they are ready to go on this upcoming long weekend. I have gone back to work and spare moments have been rare. Up here sunshine and warm weather, along with finishing up 90% of our home construction project has allowed us to do some Covid entertaining. What's that you say? My husband and I , much to the happiness and encouragement of our children, have been following quite strict CDC rules to protect ourselves. But, it is still isolating and we love to entertain and cook for our family and friends. Once we got most of the house biz out of the way we took advantage of the severe drought we are in up here. It meant constant sunshine and great weather outside. We brought in family members every weekend to entertain totally outside, two at a time only, and following all the rules. We had four big Adirondack chairs overlooking the lake, a very long picnic table and grill under the trees you see me model under and it was lovely. It almost felt normal. We wanted others with us but all understood the parameters and were thankful for what time and fun we did have together. We had paella  cooked outside, a ribs party and even shrimp burgers on one occasion. It was so great to connect and so tempting to chuck it all  and say to hell with all those masks and bottles of sanitizer, but we won't. I hope you don't either. Now, cooler weather is  setting in and the contractor and heating people will be in next week to get things all tied up and done before winter. I can get back to sewing and am so thankful for the little time we were able to spend with family. I sooooo look forward to more and I am sure you do as well. In the meantime, I am back to sewing and  blogging and more to come. I think it may be a tough winter for us all.  Stay safe all and be careful out there!.....Bunny

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