Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

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Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

This summer we attended two weddings, which seemed like a great reason to challenge myself to sew a few dresses.  I’ve never been much of a dress-wearer, but I’d like to find a style or two that I like for summer, and wear dresses more.  My original plans involved making a fit-and-flare dress for the first wedding and Butterick 3731 for the second, but creative plans often change.  I don’t know what it is, but so far, after trying two different patterns, the fit-and-flare, darted-bodice dress style eludes me.  There must be some fitting knowledge that I’m missing.  So, after a hearty (but failed) attempt, I put that style aside and got to work on Butterick 3731.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern is probably only my second vintage pattern that I’ve worked from.  On one of my trips to the Brimfield Antique Show I found this pattern, which was in my bust size…but was missing instructions.  The antique dealer gave it to me for free since it only had the pattern pieces.  I posted about it online, and crossed my fingers hoping that someone in the sewing community would have it and could send me directions.  And a wonderful lady named Sara did.  Isn’t the sewing community great that way?  Thanks again, Sara!

Vintage Butterick 3731

My original intention was to make the maxi dress.  I graded the waist and hips out to fit my measurements and made a muslin (which was a good idea, because I found a few little problems I needed to fix).  Then I bought some rayon challis from Joann Fabrics at a great price.  The fabric is one designed by Gretchen Hirsch for Joann’s, which I was excited to try.  I laid it all out, only to realize that in grading the waist and hips up, I hadn’t considered the sweep of the skirt.  It was too wide and I didn’t have quite enough fabric.  I could have made the skirt more narrow, but even so, I was somehow still short on fabric, so I decided that this dress would have to be the shorter version.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern was so easy to make and fit!  It was great to have a project that wasn’t overly hard to fit!  That being said, however, there were little parts where notches didn’t align or seams needed to be finished beyond what the directions instructed.  I made sure to use French seams or clean-finished seams so the insides would look relatively nice.  My goal wasn’t perfection, just a dress that was well-made and that I felt comfortable in.  And I do feel comfortable in this dress.  I’ll admit that the picture of how I look in my head isn’t exactly how I look in real life, but I still love the dress.

Vintage Butterick 3731

The flowy fabric turned out to be a good choice as well.  It’s soft, yet cool. I will say, however, that having used both the rayon challis from Cotton + Steel on a shirt for my mom as well as this rayon challis from Joann’s, there is a marked difference.  I don’t have full confidence that the fabric in this dress will stand up to wear and tear, whereas the Cotton + Steel rayon feels really durable.  Cotton + Steel rayon is also far, far more expensive, so you have to weigh your priorities.  This was the right fabric for this dress at the right price point.  I’d still really love to make the maxi version, but that will also have to wait for the right fabric at the right price point…that maxi will take a lot of fabric!

Vintage Butterick 3731

If anyone is thinking of trying this pattern (and it seems like there are a number of copies out there on Etsy and other sites), I would recommend it.  It’s comfortable, easy to fit, and great in a drapey fabric.  Despite a few little oddities in the directions (a few notches that didn’t match up and a facing that ran a little short), the directions and pattern pieces are good overall.  It also feels current as the ’70’s return yet again.  😉  I’d love to try this in a soft linen.

Vintage Butterick 3731

Recommendations

  • Siobhan of the blog Just Keep Sewing made one of my favorite versions of the Victory Patterns Hannah dress, which is on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.
  • If you love 1970’s fashion, you might want to check out the #70sfashioncult hashtag on Instagram.  It’s full of patterns and ’70’s clothes.  You could even add your own retro creations or ’70’s patterns!
  • Do you live in the Midwest of the USA?  If you do, and you have a Meijer near you (which is like a Midwestern Target), try their Michigan Cherry coffee.  It’s one of my favorites!  Several of my friends in New England have also grown to love it since I have wonderful in-laws and parents who are willing to ship it to me.  😉
  • Since knowledge is power, let me help you with your bowling game.  After watching this, I want to ask my local bowling alley if they oil their lanes with ‘The Badger’ or ‘The Cheetah’ or a house pattern.  They’ll probably think I’m super cool if I do that.  Right? 😉  Check it out:  The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

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Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

Hi, sewing friends!  It’s been awhile!  I planned to take all of July off from the blog, but had to stretch it a little longer.  We had family in town and I had no time to take pictures!  I finally rectified that, though, so it’s back to your regularly scheduled sewing posts. 🙂

First up is something I finished back in June.  It’s the Eucalypt Woven Tank Top & Dress Sewing Pattern from Megan Nielsen Patterns.  I have had this pattern for ages and have been wanting to make it, but haven’t until this summer.  I made two different versions of the tank in the same fabric.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

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Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

According to my measurements, I’m a medium at the bust and a large at the waist and hips, so that’s what I made for my first version.  I made it from a polyester crepe de Chine I bought at Hobby Lobby a few years ago that I’ve been saving to use for a wearable muslin.  Since the fabric is pretty shifty, I traced my pattern pieces out as full pieces rather than half pieces as printed.  Whenever I do this, I layer two pieces of tracing paper on top of each other and tape them together.  Then I line up my tracing paper at the cut-on-fold line, and trace the half piece.  I cut that out and then unfold my taped together tracing paper into a full pattern piece!  Since this was a PDF and I cut the pattern out, I just taped a piece of tracing paper to the pattern piece and cut it out to the same shape.  Then I opened it up so I could have a full piece.  Check it out:

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns in Two Versions

Version one was a bit tight across the back and the bust and was also a little tight on the front armscye.  I decided to go up a size on the bust and make a straight large for my second version since I was having some tightness all around.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

Back

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

Tightness on the armhole front

Version two turned out a lot better!  I’m much happier with the fit overall.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

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Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

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Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

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Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

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Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

Front view

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

Back view

So, now, here is my quandary.  There are a few fit issues despite how comfortable it is.  The shoulder seam line looks like it is too far back.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

The side seam also curves as it reaches the top in a way that I’m sure it is not supposed to.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

And I have some excess fabric in the back, that makes it look like I need a swayback adjustment.

Eucalypt Tank from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Two Versions)

If I wear the top as is, it is comfortable and provides good undergarment coverage.  If I pull the shirt forward so that the shoulder seam sits where it should, the swayback problem disappears, but I have gaping in the armholes that make it look like I need a dart.  So, do I just ignore the weirdness and make any future tanks just like version two?  Do I do a swayback adjustment to get rid of the excess or add a dart?  Do I tinker with it?  Do I care enough to do a bunch of stuff?  I don’t know.  It is really nice to have a quick and easy pattern that you like and can just whip up.  What would you do?

Lastly, ever since I finished my 2017 Make Nine, I’ve sort of been floundering around with my sewing.  I feel like I have a very short attention span, want to sew all the things, and get tempted by new patterns left and right.  I missed that sense of purpose I felt when I made my MakeNine goals, so I decided that since summer is really only half over (we have until the autumnal equinox in September!), I was going to make a summer sewing plan.

2017 Summer Sewing

I posted it on Instagram and even made a hashtag for it:  #2017summersewing.  I only chose six garments, and I’ll feel free to slip other little things in if I want to, but these are things I plan to make.  So, one down and blogged, five to go!  I’ll keep you posted, but feel free to join in with your own projects if you want to!  I already feel more focused and creative in my sewing.  🙂

Recommendations

  • One of my new Instagram discoveries is @plantsonpink .  It is literally pictures of plants in front of pink backgrounds.  Why is this so satisfying?  Well, I do like plants, pink, and pink and green!
  • Speaking of plants, I’m really enjoying going through Six Seasons:  A New Way With Vegetables by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg.  He breaks the year into the normal four seasons, but then divides summer down into three (giving you Spring, Early Summer, Midsummer, and Late Summer, as well as Fall and Winter).  The recipes in each section highlight various vegetables that are in season at that time.  I’ve learned to love vegetables in recent years, so I’m always looking for new and creative ways to use them.
  • I was up in Exeter, NH with family on a recent Thursday and happened upon the Exeter Farmer’s Market.  It’s amazing!  It has a great variety of produce, meat, baked goods, flowers, and so much more.  I was really impressed.  I definitely recommend it if you are in the area on a Thursday.
  • I’ve heard New Zealand is beautiful.  It sounds like a great place to visit.  And here is one more reason to want to go–the safety video from Air New Zealand!

Striped Lark Tee

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Striped Lark Tee

I love black and white stripes for graphic impact.  It was something I never thought about until a few years ago when I bought a black and white striped shirt.  It went with so many things and brought something really cool to every outfit I paired it with.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

About a year ago, I would have said that it was crazy to spend time sewing t-shirts when they can be bought so cheaply, but I think differently now.  T-shirts are quick, satisfying, and really fun.  They are the perfect project in between more difficult projects because, not only are they fun and easy, they build your wardrobe.  For all these reasons, I decided to make a black and white striped Lark Tee (pattern by Grainline Studio).

Lark Tee in Black and White Stripes

This is now my second Lark Tee (my first, a long-sleeved, scoop-neck version can be found here).  This time I went for short sleeves and a crew neck.  Here are my notes:

  • notch out rather than into the seam allowances, since they are only 1/4″
  • leave the shirt length as is if you plan to tuck your shirt in
  • for a more standard t-shirt length, cut off 4″-4 1/2″

Because I planned to wear this shirt untucked, I cut off about 4″ using a stripe as my cutting guide, which was just right.  (For reference, I’m 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches tall.)  I tried to cut the neckband with one stripe going around the neck, but it didn’t work out well, so I switched to the neckband you see in the pictures, which I really like.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

The fabric is a really nice rayon/Lycra from Pintuck & Purl.  I would say it’s somewhere in the light- to mid-weight zone, but is still fairly opaque.  It was great to work with.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

Overall, I like this pattern.  Sometimes I wish there was a little more shaping on the sides, but I can always add that later.  I would really like to try a v-neck version at some point, maybe with this fabric, but we’ll see.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

Do you have any favorite t-shirt patterns you want to share?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Recommendations

  • Bird feeders.  My family got me a pole you can attach to a railing as well as a bird feeder for Mother’s Day, and I love looking outside and watching the birds.  I think I need a hummingbird feeder that is easier to clean, though.  We have an old one, and it gets dirty quickly and is hard to clean.  Does anyone have any resources for making or buying an easy-to-clean hummingbird feeder?
  • I may have mentioned this book before, but I’ve been looking through Leda Meredith’s book Northeast Foraging over breakfast most mornings.  It’s fascinating.  This year I want to try Salicornia.
  • Ever since I met Heather Lewenza this spring and saw her Hannah dress in person (pattern by Victory Patterns), I can’t get it out of my head.  It might have to be a summer project…
  • What if this happened every time we used “literally” when we actually meant “figuratively”?  Hahahaha!

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

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Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

It’s almost officially summer (the Summer Solstice is June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere this year), and it’s FINALLY starting to get warm here!  I am so ready to think about summer sewing!

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

I completely got sucked into that change-of-season-restlessness/spring fever feeling going around, which is bad for your wallet, sewing, and general contentedness and I wanted to SEW ALL THE THINGS!  The fact that this feeling coincided with the end of my Make 9 was rough, because it left me very unfocused and mentally breathless.  Luckily, however, I found this project which actually fills a gap in my wardrobe for a cropped light layer that works with dresses and other garments with a natural waistline.  It was also a great project after the surprising complexity of the shirt from my last post because I’ve made this before, so it fits and I know it goes quickly.  Unfortunately, my having made it before didn’t stop me from making a small blunder, as you’ll see.

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

Today’s project is the cropped Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns.

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

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Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

This is a wrap top with raglan sleeves.  It has a neckband, cuffs, and long ties that also function as a waistband.  It’s close-fitting, but comfortable in a fabric with the right amount of stretch.

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

Before sewing this, I relied on a few ready-to-wear options that I had when I needed this kind of garment, but they weren’t ideal (one is a wintry knit and the other is very casual).  So this year, when a midweight, four-way stretch rayon/Lycra knit went on sale at Cali Fabrics, I jumped on board and got some in order to make this a reality.

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

This is the second time I’ve made this cropped, wrap cardi (The first, as well as the long faux wrap version can be found here.).  This time around I did most things the same way.  I do a few recommendations, however.  I sewed around the hole that the tie goes through with a closely spaced zigzag, like you would with a buttonhole.  A straight stitch looks much better, but I wanted it to stretch.  Test your stitch on some scrap fabric first, though, because I had some distortion of the fabric the first time I tested it.  I also recommend trimming the bottom edges of your neckband after beginning to attach the waistband/tie so that you trim it at the correct angle (yes, I’ve now trimmed it wrong twice).  Finally, when the directions tell you to stretch your neckband as you stitch it, you really need to do that, maybe even slightly more than you think.  I didn’t and you can see that my neckband stands away from my body a bit in a way it shouldn’t.  I was afraid to stretch too much, so instead I went to the other extreme and stretched too little.  Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

Neckband issues aside, I’m really happy to have this in my closet.  It will be a good, yet inexpensive way to see if this is a style that I will feel good in with some of my natural-waisted garments.

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

Other sewn outfit details:

Skirt:  Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt; blogged here

Camisole:  Shortened slip from McCall’s 6696; unblogged

Cropped Coppelia Cardi for Summer

Recommendations

  • Have you seen the jeans Jenny of the SoleCrafts blog made?  Jeans are impressive enough on their own, but she made her own pattern!  People who make their own patterns continually amaze me.  I love reading Jenny’s blog because, even though we have different styles, she is completely fearless in her projects and figures out things I would use a pattern for or didn’t even know you could make at home (like shoes!).  Amazing.
  • Speaking of making shoes, Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn makes ALL her clothes, shoes included!  You can watch a video of her talking about the shoes she has made here.
  • I definitely prefer paper sewing patterns over PDF patterns, and one more thing that has always been a strike against PDFs for me is that you either have to print a bunch of pages at home, or pay close to the price of the pattern to have the large sheets printed at a copy shop.  Jenny of Cashmerette talks on her blog about how to print those large pages cheaply, and she goes over resources to do this for numerous countries.  What a great idea.  Even with my love for paper patterns, I certainly have several PDFs.  The more money we save on printing, the more we have for fabric!  😉

 

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top: Butterick 4259

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Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top: Butterick 4259

Wow!  This pattern was a crazy one.

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

I got Butterick 4259 for Christmas from my family.  I fell in love with the shape and style of the pattern and–let’s be honest–the cover art.  This is a vintage pattern with “Young Designer Kenzo” printed on the front.  I’ve never tried one of the vintage designer patterns, so this seemed like a good start, since it didn’t look too complicated.

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

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Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

Well, the shape wasn’t, but…let’s just say I would love to hear the story of how this pattern was produced.  I made a muslin, just to be safe, even though I thought the shirt would fit, although I planned to widen the waist and hips.  I’m so glad I made that muslin because I ran into a significant problem:  the collar was drafted to fit the shirt before the front plackets were folded in.  So, I either had to shrink the collar to a size that would be too tight or expand the shirt.

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

The main pattern pieces were really interesting, too.  Rather than a front and a back piece, there was a right side piece that was the front and the back and a left side piece that was along the same lines.  The picture below doesn’t show the whole piece, but hopefully it give you an idea.  The curve on the right is the neckline and the curve on the left is the sleeve.  The piece is about twice as long as what you see here.

Vintage Butterick 4259 by Kenzo

As far as the fit of the shirt, I decided I liked the size of the collar, so I cut down the length of the right and left side pattern pieces and spread them apart to add the necessary amount of length at the collar, which also widened the shirt.  (You can see this above.)  Then I removed the extra width I had added at the waist and hips.  This worked well, making the shirt and the collar compatible.  I was lucky enough to be able to consult my friend’s mother, who was a professional seamstress for years, and she also advised me to lower the collar in the front by a quarter inch to bring it down from my neck and closer to my collar bone.  She also thought this would help with the problem of the shirt pulling to the back, and it largely did, but you can still see that the back hem hangs lower than the front, which I don’t think is an intentional design element.  The shirt itself has a number of weird drag lines that I don’t love but in the end, we sort of just declared it good enough.

Vintage Butterick 4259 by Kenzo

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Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

I ran into problems with the directions as well.  The way that the front interfacing is supposed to be applied seemed wrong, resulting in interfacing that would be visible inside when it was easy to enclose it, so I used my common sense to enclose the interfacing on the plackets.

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

I feel like, fitting-wise, this pattern is a bit tortured.  I would be interested to see it in a drapier fabric, but it really felt like a pattern that wasn’t tested or edited well.  I don’t usually run into that in the Big Four patterns that I sew with, so, like I said, I’m really curious about what the process was to get this particular pattern produced.  Maybe when my sewing skills are at a higher level, I’ll revisit it and work on the collar and sleeve areas to see if I can get rid of some of those drag lines.  The pattern in its current state doesn’t make the grade as my summer dream shirt, but it has potential.

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

In case you are curious about my final version, I used “You’re my Anchor Natural” in the Bluebird line from Cotton + Steel (purchased here) as well as vintage buttons and some of the Art Gallery lightweight denim for the pocket and inside collar stand.

Vintage Butterick 4259 by Kenzo

The denim was left over from these shorts.  I’m not entirely sure if I love the pocket, so I may take it off.  What would you do?

Vintage Kenzo for Butterick Top

One great thing about finishing this project is that with it, I finish up my 2017 Make Nine!  Yes!  This was my last one!  All the others were blogged with the exception of the Liesl + Co. Gallery Tunic since that was not for me (it was for my Mom, one of the few people I’m willing to consider sewing for other than myself–and that’s rare).

So, what’s next?  I’d really like to try to find some dress styles that I like, I have a few bathing suits I’d like to attempt (although I’ve shelved those for the moment to focus on the dress sewing), and who knows what else?  I have tons and tons of things I would love to try making, but sometimes that can be counter-productive (a.k.a. overwhelming–I want to SEW ALL THE THINGS!!!).  Maybe I need a new Make Nine just to keep me semi-focused.  😉

And in case you want to look it over, I reviewed this pattern over on PatternReview.  🙂

Recommendations

  • I would really love to make these Lobster Roll Sliders from Tastemade.
  • I still think it’s hilarious that this store is real, but I recently discovered FatFace when a store opened in our area.  Yes, this store is real and yes, it sells clothes to women (and men and children), and the style is pretty cool.  It still baffles my mind that the men who started this company think the name was a good idea (I think they named it after a mountain), but I am inspired by the style.
  • Rachel from Maker Style did a Q & A episode on her podcast and she mentioned me!  OK, it was just because she was answering the question I submitted, but I’ve never been mentioned on a podcast before, so I was excited.  I really love her podcast, which is all about garment sewing (and the businesses that are connected to that), and I highly recommend it if you like podcasts and sewing clothes.
  • I’m not sure what to say about this video, except that Americans do eat a lot of potatoes.  Here is Rita Pavone singing “My Name is Potato”.  My Italian is pretty rusty, so I apologize if there are any bad words or sketchy things I missed.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top in Striped Rayon Knit

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top in Striped Rayon Knit

Hi, friends!  It’s back to sewing this week.  I have a nice little backlog of sewing projects to share, but the weather hasn’t been cooperating for picture taking.  When the clouds started to brighten on Wednesday, I rushed outside to take pictures of this shirt.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

This is the Coco Top from Tilly and the Buttons.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top and Dress

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top and Dress

I made the dress version around the time I began sewing regularly, but I had never made the top.  The fabric came from Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan, and I’ve been holding onto it for over a year trying to figure out the best use for it.  It’s a great substantial rayon jersey that is actually reversible:  blue and white on one side and orange and white on the other.  I really wanted to make a reversible garment, but in the end, the mental gymnastics became too much and I decided to go with a Breton-style shirt where I could incorporate both sides of the fabric.  The Coco pattern was just right since it had the little pocket and it wasn’t hard to color block (stripe block?) the sleeves.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

As far as details, I made the size 5 (Tilly has her own sizing system that is different from other patterns and ready-to-wear) in the long-sleeved shirt view with the pocket.  I used the 3/4 length sleeve line as my color/stripe blocking placement line and just added in seam allowance.  I used a jersey needle and a walking foot as well as polyester thread.  I did try out fusible stay tape for my neckline as suggested, which worked out well.  Instead of zigzagging the neckline, however, I used a twin needle, which I also used on the sleeve edges and bottom hem.  And I opted to zigzag my side seams instead of using a straight stitch.  I used to use a straight stitch on knit seams that weren’t going to stretch a lot, but after wearing those garments for a while, a lot of my stitches popped and I had to resew them with a zigzag, so I went right for the zigzag this time.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

I liked sewing this pattern.  Tilly’s directions are very easy to use, and she includes helpful tips here and there.  Her pictures are really clear, and I’m a big fan of her color scheme, which makes all her images fun to look at.  I would certainly make this again–maybe in the dress version.  🙂

Recommendations

    • I recently watched the movie “Queen of Katwe” about a girl living in poverty who learns to play chess and how it changes her life.  It was excellent.
    • Itch to Stitch just released the free Lago Tank pattern.  It looks like a great basic for summer.  I’ve never tried any patterns from this brand although I’ve been tempted.  This might just be the project to start with.
    • Speaking of free sewing patterns, the Curvy Sewing Collective posted an EXTENSIVE round-up of free patterns with a great size range.
    • And to give you a laugh this week, here is a video that reimagines an important part of the Sleeping Beauty story.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I’m really excited about the jeans I have to share with you today.  I love all the details I put into them!  Just like the gingham shirt from last week, jeans provide a fun chance to experiment with details.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I made the decision to swap one of the tops (Simplicity 2255) on my 2017 Make Nine plan for some Ginger Jeans, partly because I needed some jeans, but also because I was no longer sure if that top was the right use for the precious fabric I had planned for it.

I knew that Me-Made-May was coming up, and I needed more pants, AND, last but not least, Pintuck & Purl was hosting a Jeans Sewing Master Class with Heather Lewenza of Closet Case Patterns, maker of the Ginger Jeans pattern…and, you know, I thought that warranted a new pair.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I am both completely in love with these jeans and slightly annoyed by the subtle fit issues that I didn’t notice until after these were finished.  We can leave the annoyances until later–let’s talk about the fun stuff!

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I knew before I even had the fabric that I wanted to use yellow exposed zippers on these (partly because I completely forgot to put them in my green pair), and I knew I could do it because I learned how when making my Refashioners 2015 jacket (worn in the picture above).  The instructions come from the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1976 edition), my favorite sewing reference.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I’ll give you a quick rundown of the other supplies I used and where they are from, in case you are curious (I’m always curious about these sorts of things.).  Also, I know there are a billion links in this post.  I love information, and I want you to have all the information I have in case it will help you.  None of these are affiliate links, although I do work part-time at Pintuck & Purl.

  • Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case Patterns:  Pintuck & Purl
  • stretch denim: Pintuck & Purl
  • yellow exposed zippers:  ZipIt Zippers on Etsy (a really great shop for zippers!)
  • sparkly gold fly zipper:  Pintuck & Purl
  • jeans button:  Wawak
  • yellow Gutermann topstitching thread and navy Gutermann construction thread:  Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • red Coats topstitching thread: either Pintuck & Purl or Jo-Ann’s
  • interfacing:  Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • Amy Butler Daisy Chain fabric for pockets, waistband lining, and bias tape on the hem:  ?? (I can’t remember where I got this!  It’s been in my stash for a long time.)
  • gold leather patch:  a gift from Elizabeth Berthoud of Sac A main

One great discovery with this pair of jeans is that my Singer Featherweight sewing machine does great with Gutermann topstitching thread.  I was ready to swear that thread off because it didn’t do well in my Elna 3005 the last time I made jeans, but this time I set up both machines so I could use my Elna for construction and my Featherweight for topstitching, and both machines did great with their respective threads.  I used the red Coats topstitching thread in the Elna and it worked great.  It’s so rare that anything disagrees with my Elna that I assumed the problem was with the thread, but I’m glad I tried the Gutermann with the other machine (admittedly, I only did this because it was the only yellow/gold topstitching thread I had on hand and I didn’t want to run out to get more).

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So, with the exception of the exposed zippers, which I had to put in before doing the pockets, I followed the directions as written.  I made a size 14, View A (low rise, stovepipe legs).  The back pocket topstitching design came from a bunch of topstitching designs Heather sent out to newsletter subscribers.  It was really fun to pick one out.

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

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Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

I was also inspired by my coworker Lauren to add bias trim to the hem of the my pants and a contrasting thread color on my buttonhole as well as some contrasting bartacks.  She makes cool clothes.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So let’s talk fabric.  I chose this great stretch denim, and I really love it.  It’s very different (in a good way) from the inexpensive denim I used for my first pair.  It has a great hand and feels substantial, yet still stretchy.  What I DIDN’T do (but should have) is wear my jeans around for a few hours after basting them.  I was impatient.  I admit it.  I basted them, wore them around for a few minutes, and called them good.  And they were.  They were just right.  So, I sewed them up, and finished them off.  I washed them to get any chalk marks off and hung them up to dry (by the way, I did wash and dry the fabric in the dryer more than once before making these).  Then, I put them on and…they seemed a little looser than I remembered…and a little longer than my other two pairs.  Hm.  In my concern about not making them too tight (you know I love some ease!), I didn’t account for differences in fabric.  This stretch denim is stretchier than my other two pairs.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I also asked Heather to take a look at my jeans during a lull in the jeans class (I was around to help out on day one), and she gave me a few fitting tips that she said could remove the excess fabric in the back and my need for a belt.  Her advice was both generous and helpful, and might also apply to my gray pants with the mysterious extra fabric in the back.  She is a fitting master.  It was amazing to see her help everyone.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So, final analysis:  I LOVE these jeans.  I think they are my coolest-looking jeans to date (the green pants are sort of in their own category, I think), and I am always mystified when people don’t stop me and tell me how awesome they are.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

That being said, I really wish the fit was as perfect as I thought it was when I basted them together and tried them on.  They are a little looser than I want them, and I definitely have to wear a belt.  BUT…this is all part of the learning curve for making pants, right?  As much as I wish I had all pants-fitting knowledge magically deposited in my brain, that is never going to happen, and I really do remember fitting things better when it is something I’ve had to learn the hard way (Darn it!  WHY is there no silver bullet/magic potion/easy answer?  Learning and skill development actually takes WORK!  Shocking!).

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

If you are thinking about making jeans, the Ginger Jeans pattern is a GREAT pattern.  It was much less scary than I thought it would be and the directions plus the sew-along are really, really helpful and well done.  Heather clearly does her research.  Go for it!

Recommendations

  • I just found out about @tinycarpenter_ on Instagram.  It’s a little Lego guy who uses big people tools for his carpentry work.  Fun!
  • I love sewing inspiration, and I find a lot of it in catalogues from companies like J.Crew and Boden.  Often when I see clothing that I really like, I can think of a pattern that matches it.  I think of this as shopping for inspiration.
  • And, um, here is a little prom dress inspiration for you (hahaha!):

Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

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Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

It can now be officially established (if it wasn’t before) that Simplicity 1538 is a Tried-N-True (TNT) pattern for me.  I think this is my fifth one (see previous versions here: wearable muslin, pink tiger quilting cotton, flannel, flannel with pearl snaps).  I love this pattern.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538

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Simplicity 1538

Today’s iteration is made in a high-quality red and white gingham from Pintuck & Purl with quilting cotton accents (one of the Cotton & Steel Sprinkle fabrics) from the same store.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Buttons are from Jo-ann Fabrics.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I was inspired to add these fun blue accents after I saw a shirt by another sewing blogger (unfortunately, I can’t find my inspiration picture anywhere!).

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I love those little details whether they are hidden and only something I know about or if they peek out and add to the look of the garment as a whole.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This project in particular really brought home how much fun those little details can be and make me love shirt-making even more.  Shirts and jeans are great canvases for these kinds of creative touches.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I didn’t do anything new to the pattern fitting-wise.  You may or may not remember from previous posts that this shirt is a 16 at the bust, graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I also lowered the dart and did a major broad back adjustment (more about that here).  Those things are pretty standard for me when making woven tops, and it’s great to have a pattern where all that stuff is already done.  I used French seams on the arm and side seams.  I’m pretty happy about those.  They aren’t perfect, but they’re good, and they make me happy when I look at them.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Now let’s get to the fun details I built into this shirt.  For starters, I did not try to plaid match anything.  Once a gingham is this small (1/4″ squares), I officially let myself off the hook.  I just don’t care.  What I do care about is being able to contrast the straight horizontal and vertical lines of the gingham with some diagonal bias lines.  I put the outer back yoke, the front button placket, the cuff placket, and the outer cuffs on the bias.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I debated doing the same on the collar stand and collar, but left them on the straight of grain this time so they would contrast with the yoke.  I added blue accents to the insides of the cuffs, the inner yoke, the inner collar stand and the underside of the collar.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

It took me awhile to find a blue that I liked with this gingham, but I’m really happy with this.  The buttons were also good finds–they have a subtle design, but when I saw them against the shirt, I knew they were right.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This is the second gingham shirt I have made (the first is here), and while I sort of thought that cotton gingham was pretty similar across the board, I should have known better.  My first gingham was a great deal at Hancock’s (RIP, Hancock’s!), but the quality isn’t great.  As soon as I made it, I was wondering how long it would hold up.  No regrets or anything, but I doubt it will last 10 years.  The feel of this is much better.  Maybe it’s just the difference between actual quality shirting fabric and run-of-the-mill gingham.  Lesson learned.  I think this red and white one will be around for a while.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

So, now it’s just a matter of celebrating spring in my preppy new shirt!  Hooray!  I love the fit.  I love the fabric.  I love the pattern.  This is a great shirt.  Bonus:  it’s one of my 2017 Make Nine projects.  One more done!

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Recommendations

  • After the crazy outfit in this post, maybe you’d like to read about how to successfully pair prints in this excellent article by Kenneth D. King for Threads Magazine.  Thanks to this article, I now know why this combination works (well, at least why I like it).
  • Have you seen the yarn by Hedgehog Fibres?  That speckled and colorful awesomeness might just make me want to knit again.  Sewing has taken over my creative life, and I love that, but all those colors are mighty tempting…
  • I’m not a big nail polish person, but I’ve been wearing hot pink covered with a big glitter clear coat, and it has been really fun.  Both came from Claire’s.  If you are looking for fun nail polish, check them out.
  • And here’s a funny signs video to give you a few laughs. Have a great weekend!