Category Archives: clothing

Jeans!

One of my reasons for visiting Toronto was to take a Ginger Jeans class with Heather, the pattern designer, at the Workroom.  I had actually already made the pattern once before, but I couldn’t pass up meeting and learning from her.  As it happens, my first pair turned out better than the class pair, but that’s totally on me and doesn’t mean I didn’t learn.

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This was the minute after I finished my first pair and I was very excited.

So, I made the first pair with the high waist and skinny legs, using a kit from IndieSew.  I believe I cut a size 12 waist graded to a 14 at the hip, but did so many adjustments, I have no idea what it would be now.  Though I usually never take the time, I did make a muslin, with some cheap denim-like fabric I had.  I knew it wouldn’t be wearable so I just basted everything together and realized I definitely needed to do a sway back adjustment, take out 5” in length, and take in the side seams.

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Then I went in for the real stuff.  I followed the instructions in the Sewing Your Own Jeans e-Book (which are a little different than the pattern instructions, and uses photographs instead of drawings, which is helpful for me) and was really happy with the results.  I ended up doing the sway back to both the yoke and the waistband, taking out 1/2” and 1 1/2” respectively.

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I used a favorite feather print for the pockets and bright pink thread win my serger.

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I had a hard time with the last few finishing things.  I primarily sew on my Singer Featherweight, which doesn’t have bar tack or buttonhole options (I know there is a buttonhole attachment but I don’t have one yet).  I tried using a studio-mate’s machine but it wasn’t quite powerful enough for all that denim.  Part of my problem was also that I stupidly didn’t trim the zipper down!  So, I ended up having to unpick the topstitching of the waistband and get back in there to trim it. Then I did a buttonhole with straight stitches (which I realize might not last long). And then the rivets… the rivets!  Those were such a pain!  The ones in the kit were hollow post and none of them turned out.  (I’m waiting to get some in the mail from Taylor Tailor and then I’ll replace them.)

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Things I would do differently: I sewed the pockets so that the seams wouldn’t show from the inside of the jeans, but I don’t like feeling the seam allowance when I put my hands in the pockets.  I wish the legs were even skinnier.  I should have taken out more crotch curve length.

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Overall, I love these jeans.  I have a good sized booty and it’s hard to find jeans that fit.  I just washed them this week, for the first time since finishing them (back in May, ahem) and didn’t dry them (as per Heather’s guidance), and they still fit great.

For the class, I went completely unprepared.  The trip came at a time when I wasn’t sewing at all, and I didn’t take the time to gather up my pattern or buy supplies.  So I had a lot of catching up to do and thanks to Heather, I did!

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I bought denim, lining fabric, and hardware from the Workroom.  It was the last of the denim they had left, which turned out being almost enough (I had to redo my waistband and use some of a classmate’s denim).  Since I didn’t get to prewash it, Heather told me I will never be able to dry them, which is okay.

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This time, I went with the low rise version and cropped them (since I typically roll up my jeans to this length anyway). I cut out a size 16 this time, which ended up being too big all around, and I forgot that the low rise version came with stovepipe legs, so I had to take those in a lot (and ended up with too tight calves).

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Heather’s fitting help showed me to take out 1/2″ from the front crotch curve length and 3/4″ from the back, which helped a lot.

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But, the waist is still too big.  I can’t even buckle my belt to the first hole without creating a paper bag waist appearance (which I do not like).  Heather’s sway back adjustment took in the waistband, but I think I need to take in the yoke, too (like I did on my first pair).  I think I have just enough denim left to redo those things, although for the sake of consistent topstitching, I have to take them almost completely apart.  But it’ll be worth it for a pair of well fitting jeans!

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Unfortunately, the rivets I got at the Workroom were also the hollow post, but Heather had a stash with her that I was able to use.

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Here’s a poorly lit little peek at the insides.  You can see how the low and high rise have different pocket constructions.  All seams were serged and topstitched.

I have another pair in the works, midrise in black, which I’m really excited about, and will combine everything I learned from the first two pairs.

Sorry for all the words! But thanks for making it this far :)  Stay tuned for a post about the tops I wore in these photos!

Trying to find the perfect button up: Archer.

I’m still on my quest to find the perfect button up shirt that I can fill my closet with and this is almost there.  The Archer by Grainline Studio is a classic button up shirt that has a lot of potential.

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As soon as I received the pattern, I knew I wanted to use this plaid from my stash (another gift from Laura; I’m noticing a trend!), which meant my first foray into pattern matching.  I read Lauren’s post on it and tried to match the horizontal striping around the bodice.  I could have done better with the vertical striping, too, but it’s a small/busy enough plaid that it works.  I decided to cut the button placket, sleeve cuffs, back yoke, and pockets on the bias, which breaks up the pattern a bit, for better or worse.

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Overall, the shirt just feels too big.  I made a size 12 based on my measurements but the sleeves are way too long, the pockets are too large and too low, and for someone that likes more fitted clothing, it just feels too baggy.

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I do, however, really like collar stands.  And I like the way Jen has you attach it.  Since this fabric didn’t have a wrong and right side, I accidentally attached quite a few pieces of the shirt backwards, you can’t really tell.

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I was happy to try a different kind of sleeve placket, though I think I’ll do the Hawthorn style next time.  I chose to use snaps because my machine is not too keen on buttonholes (though I occasionally borrow my studio mate’s machine).  I would have loved to use red ones but alas, my snap stash is dwindling.

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With a few adjustments, this just might make a perfect button up.

Petal hem shorts.

I actually made these Chataigne shorts from Deer&Doe a couple years ago.  I wasn’t crazy about the fit back then, and I’m still not now.  But they’re not hopeless!

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I  really like the front yoke that comes to a point and the scalloped hemline.

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I found the hem facing had a tendency to flip down, so I made my first attempt at a blind hem. I did… okay.  It probably would have been better with a different color thread.

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I pulled out the pattern the other night and noticed that based on my measurements, I’d graded the pattern and cut the waist at a size 44 and the hips and hem at 42.  I think I should have just gone 42 all the way, especially using a stretch chambray like I did.  Hence, the safety pinned gather on the back.

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And while I like high-waisted bottoms, these seem a little bit too high.  The pattern includes a mid-waist option, so maybe somewhere in between would be better.  I also wish the front pockets were deeper, which I’m finding is a trend.

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I used a voile for the lining and serged all inside seams.  I might try to undo part of the lining and take in the waist to achieve a better fit.

On another note, I’m so happy that it’s bike riding weather.  I love this gal!

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Catarina.

I recently acquired a printer through a local swap/sell/give Facebook group and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say it’s changed my life.  That, and receiving March’s Seamwork Magazine, I had to make the Catarina dress RIGHT THEN.

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I used a red rayon (?) from my stash (that I also used to make my first Deer & Doe Datura blouse) and I love it so.  I’m almost ready to take on the summer heat in this dress.

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I didn’t have any bra strap rings and sliders (and no patience to get any!) so I made the straps adjustable by pulling and tying them at the back, foregoing the waist tie.    As the day goes on, the straps slide in towards the middle and the back poufs out, but I actually don’t mind it.

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I didn’t have enough fabric, so I shortened the skirt by about 5″.  I used a red ‘ninja star’ polyester (also used for Seamwork’s Akita blouse) from my stash for the bodice lining and bias hem facing.  I like the little peeks of pattern.

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I cut out a size 12 based on my measurements, but this one is so roomy, I think I could go down a size (or two, even).

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I’m sad I used up the last of this red fabric but I’ll be getting a lot of wear out of this lovely piece this summer and making more!

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Oslo and Simplicity.

The Oslo sweater from Seamwork Magazine was something I wanted to make early on in my subscription with them.  I always need more sweaters!

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It was a pretty easy pattern to assemble.  I’m not sure if I did the sleeve cuffs correctly at first, ‘cause they seemed awfully big.  So I cut them off (trimming them by 3/4” on both sides in the process), folded them the other way, and sewed them back on, which worked better for me.

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I used a lightweight jersey I bought at JoAnn’s on clearance.  I’d say it’s worth the $3/yard I paid… I have worn this almost every day for the two weeks after I made it and it has pilled A LOT and catches ALL THE CAT HAIR, so I don’t see it lasting a super long time.  But it was a good first run of the pattern and I’ll definitely be making more!

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And then this top, I am IN LOVE WITH.

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I’d had one yard of this 36” wide vintage fabric laying around for awhile (a birthday gift from Laura Lashley a few years back), not sure that it was enough to actually make anything.

But then I saw this Simplicity pattern in my box (#1364), and thought I might be able to eek it out.  Which I did!  Wonderfully so!

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I only had a 14” zipper, so there is a longer-than-called-for slit in the back (but it covers my bra so what’s a little skin?).  I eliminated the seam allowances on the back pieces and cut them right on the selvedge, sewing the zipper right on.

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I love the boatneck and how my tattoos peek out over the top.

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It has a facing at the neckline and bias tape facings around the armholes, and I serged all the visible seams.

I’ve actually made this top once before, using an Anna Maria Horner voile and a vintage separating zipper.

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I made that one a size 12, and could still pull it over my head without using the zipper so this time, I made a 10.  I can still pull it over me without the zipper, but I think that’s partly because of the extra long back opening.

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I have two other one-yard cuts of vintage fabric from Laura and they might all have to become this.

And many thanks to the boyfriend for helping me take pictures! Like all these where I was picking pet hair and fuzz off of me:

Mesa dress.

I’ve wanted an easy knit dress for awhile and I think I’ve found it.

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This pattern from Seamwork Magazine is straightforward and easy.  I had this fabric in my stash, I think from my friend Laura and it seemed like a perfect thing to make a “muslin” with.

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This was my first time attaching a knit neckline and I’m not entirely happy with it.  I started pinning it at the back and stretching it a little as I went, until I got around to the front and didn’t need to stretch it anymore.  I think if I shortened the piece by 1” it would ease in better.  Or maybe I just need to not stretch in back and stretch in front instead.

I think I might eliminate the skirt slits next time.  It’s not such a tight dress that I need them for mobility, and I didn’t like having to serge and twin-needle sew them (although I did pretty well, I think ;) ).

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I am curious, is there such a thing as a full butt adjustment?  I have a generous back side (which I love!) but I find figure hugging things bunch-up at my lower back, which isn’t the most flattering.  I’ve heard of a full- and small-bust adjustment, but what about the butt?

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I’m already thinking up ways to alter this dress, including make it into a shirt.  Thank goodness for easy, customizable patterns!  I love Seamwork Magazine SO MUCH.  See my other #seamworkmakes here.

A handmade wardrobe.

I’ve always dreamed of having a handmade wardrobe.

This is the year it’s gonna happen.

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I’ve been on a roll these last few weeks, making four dresses, five shirts, two pairs of shorts, a sweater, and a bra (not to mention 3 quilts)!  I have a bunch of posts ready and waiting for photographs so you’ll be seeing them all soon!

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I’ve been working through my pattern and fabric stash which, while not huge, is full of things I’ve never made.  I’m trying to make really wearable things, which often means “boring”.  While I love a statement dress, I often go for jeans and a t-shirt (a favorite grey v-neck in particular), so I’m aiming for more neutral, comfortable pieces, that I can make multiples of.  I think I’ve found a couple of those already.

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I’ve also always wanted to participate in Me Made May (a challenge for people to wear at least one handmade item every day in the month of May and generally be more thoughtful about their wardrobe), but short of wearing a dress every single day, I’ve never felt like my handmade wardrobe was robust enough.  But now it is and I’m very excited :)

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Part of that will include wearing things I’ve made that I’m not so crazy about, and I might sell those things to people that will love them.  So stay tuned for that!

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I have to give many thanks to Seamwork Magazine for helping me feel as though my handmade wardrobe dream is achievable.  Thank you!

Coming up: jeans, a coat, a cape, and a bathing suit.

A new shirt.

I recently subscribed to Seamwork Magazine and downloaded all the back issues. I remained very indecisive about which patterns I wanted to get, though. I immediately downloaded the Camden cape and then after a few weeks and two more credits, I got the Akita top and the Oslo sweater.

I’m on a mission to sew more staple pieces this year, because while I love colorful dresses and bright prints, I often just wear jeans or a skirt and a simple top.

I think the Akita fits that staple bill, as I’m sure I will make many more.

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I used a red (what my boyfriend deemed) “ninja star” polyester print from my stash. I didn’t have any coordinating bias tape so I folded the neckline over 1/4″, clipped the seam allowance, and folded it over another 1/4″, which worked out!

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The pattern is one single piece, which makes it really easy. I love the length of the top as is and the fact that it allows different hem finishes. I’m thinking a dropped hem for the next one?

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The sleeves are a little more fluttery than I usually go for but they’re open for alteration, also.

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You could split open the back or even turn it into a button up! I’m excited to add many more Akitas to my closet.

I made a bra!

I made a bra and I am damn proud of myself.

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I purchased a bra kit from Tailor Made Shop and used the Watson Bra pattern from Cloth Habit.

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In stores I’ve always bought a 34B, but in taking my measurements for this, I appeared to be a 36A.  Lo and behold, it fits me great!

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I don’t think my machine is ideal for this kind of project.  While it all worked out in the end, I cannot adjust the length of my zig zag stitches and the feed dogs were not cooperating, so all the stitches are terribly uneven.  I had a hard time attaching the hook side of the closure, but it’ll do.

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I used the rose fabric for the cups, white net for the cradle with the roses as the lining, and net for the back, with both peach picot edged elastic, and the wider white elastic for the strap.

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The sides of the cradle stretch out wonky, probably because I didn’t cut and baste the two layers together well.  In the future, I’d like to try fusible lining.  I also realized after I was finished that I threaded the straps through the rings incorrectly.  Whoops!

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When I first put it on, I didn’t love it.  But after prancing around without a shirt on for a bit and then wearing it all day, I’d say it’s a success!  And it definitely won’t be my last me-made bra.

Party like it’s 2016.

At 6 o’clock, New Year’s Eve, I decided I had to make a dress to wear that night. Grabbing a washi print by Rashida Coleman-Hale that I’ve had in my stash for a couple years, I decided to try Butterick 5748 again, the same one I made for the wedding a few weeks ago.

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To say the least, I love it! It feels like such a party dress.

I realize why I fully lined the dress the first time I made it – because the instructions tell you to!  The second time, I didn’t line it at all, because the fabric was heavy enough that I knew my underthings wouldn’t show through.  This time, I opted to only line the bodice, with a bright yellow cotton.

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I shortened the bodice to “petite” length and the overall length by about 6″. The bust darts still seem a little low, but I find that which bra I wear makes a big difference.

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I also wanted to change from an invisible zipper under the arm to an exposed zipper in the back. Using this tutorial, I put in a bright blue metal zipper, machine sewing the lining in with it.

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I used pre-made teal binding (and a few inches of lime green) for the hem and did all top stitching in bright pink.  In my haste, I did not serge the side skirt seams, which I now regret, considering they’re the only exposed seams and it would have taken an extra 3 minutes. Next time!

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It pretty much came together like a dream and I love all the bright colors! In a perfect world, I would have worn some silver glittery heels but alas, I have none (yet).

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I got many compliments that night and I can’t wait to party in this dress again!