Tag Archives: Melody Miller

Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

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Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

Today is another project from my 2017 Make Nine list–Simplicity 1696, a pair of chino-type pants.

Simplicity 1696

As I was choosing my projects for the year, I wanted to make sure I had a few pants (or trousers for my non-American friends out there) on my list because I realized that I still fear making them and therefore I avoid them.  It’s not the construction that I fear.  It’s fitting.  Here’s the problem with fitting…you might know something isn’t right, but that doesn’t mean you know the cause of the issue.  How can you fix a problem if you don’t even know what the problem is?  But when I look back at my experience making button up shirts, which I have come to love, I realize that you can’t figure out your common fitting issues if you never make the garment in the first place.

So, this year pants are on the list.

Simplicity 1696

I’ve had this particular pattern for a long time, but I’ve never made it before now.

Simplicity 1696

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Simplicity 1696

It’s one of the Amazing Fit series, so it sounded like it had a lot of extra fitting tips inside, and it definitely delivered.  Before beginning, it directs you to take certain measurements to determine which back piece you will use–slim, average, or curvy.  Once I measured myself, I chose curvy.  There are some great tips for fitting as you go as well as extra-wide seam allowances in key places.  The pattern has directions for adding faux welt pockets to the back, but after trying them out, I thought they looked fake, so I took them off again.  Otherwise, I did everything as instructed.  The only fitting I did was to take the inseams in by 1/8″.

Simplicity 1696

That being said, I think there is excess fabric in the back, and I don’t know what to do about that.  MY FITTING FEARS HAVE COME TO PASS!  AHHHH!!!!

OK, so it’s not quite as scary as I thought.  😉

You can see it better in the picture below.

Simplicity 1696

The fabric I used for these pants is a cotton/spandex sateen from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  It’s a little on the light side, although it is a bottomweight.  So, here is my question for you, readers:  do you think all the back wrinkles are due to fabric choice or something else?  The feel of these pants is perfection.  They are comfortable and not too tight.  But the look of the back leaves something to be desired.  Should I have gone with the average back?  Is it something else entirely?  The few shorts I have made before have generally needed more length in the back crotch seam rather than less, but maybe these are different?  I’m not sure.

Simplicity 1696

After trying them on, I decided not to worry too much about it.  Hopefully I’ll run across the answer at some point (maybe one of you will have it), but since these feel so comfortable, I decided not to let my fitting questions stop me from finishing the project.

Simplicity 1696

So, final analysis?  This is a great pattern, which I highly recommend.  For myself, I may not have figured the pattern out to perfection, but I now have one more pair of pants under my belt (haha), and I’m a little bit less afraid.

Recommendations

  • Anyone who has been reading the blog for awhile will know that I love fabric from Cotton + Steel (the tiger shirt I’m wearing in the photos above is made with Cotton + Steel fabric), so it was a lot of fun to hear about the inception of the design group as well as the personal story of Melody Miller, one of the founding designers.  If you want to listen, you can check out this podcast episode from Modern Sewciety and/or this one from the Crafty Planner podcast.  If you are new to podcasts, you can find out how to listen to them by scrolling to the bottom of the second link.
  • My husband and I have very different taste in books, but every once in awhile he comes across one that, while it may not be my typical genre, he is sure that I will like.  He’s a good judge of these things, so that’s what caused me to dip my toe into a little sci-fi recently with the audiobook version of Starwars:  Bloodline–New Republic…and it was so good.
  • If you are north of Boston, whether in Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, or southern Maine and are looking for a good place to eat, I highly recommend The Farm Bar & Grille for delicious, casual food.  Good for a date, good for a family outing.  I’ve only tried the Massachusetts branch, but I’d be willing to bet the New Hampshire and Maine ones are good too.
  • I think this particular bad lip read video is appropriate since I just recommended a Star Wars book…(And if your kids are standing by while you watch it, Luke says “pitchy” at the end, not the word that rhymes with pitchy that we tell our kids not to say.  😉   )

The Apple Picking Skirt

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It was time for a crazy-sewing-lady skirt.  What came from this determination was “The Apple Picking Skirt”!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

As I’ve sewn more and more, I’ve used awesomely patterned quilting cotton less and less, but let’s be honest:  quilting cotton has the MOST FUN prints!  So, I decided that I needed a skirt (or a dress or a…something) out of some really cool quilting cotton.  Who should step in the fill the gap but Melody Miller of Cotton + Steel and her super cool Picnic collection.

Melody Miller:  Picnic (Apples Pink)

This was the project I chose after finishing my jacket for the Refashioners challenge.  I still had/have a few projects on my “big ‘ol batch of sewing” list (good name, right?), but I needed something quick and easy…and with only one or two new concepts to learn.  So, I checked out Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirst from my library for the billionth time (I really need to buy a copy!) and used her instructions to create a dirndl skirt, which is basically two rectangles sewn together with a rectangular waistband at the top.  I’d never made one of these types of skirts before, and I wanted to try it.  I also wanted to try using horsehair braid to make the hem stand away from my body.

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

And it was fun!  And easy!

So, let’s talk about a few details.  I ordered my fabric from fabric.com, and got my horsehair braid from Pintuck & Purl.  Maggie, the shop owner, gave me some information on using it, and between that and Gretchen’s book, I was golden.  I got the pink zipper at Joann’s, and in my button collection (a gift from my in-laws’ attic), I found the BEST button!  Check this out!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

It’s a squirrel!  And it looks like it’s holding the apple!  Thanks, Mom!

This was certainly a project of details.  It’s such a simple skirt, that I had fun on those extras.  I’m really convinced that the things that make clothing special (besides quality construction and style lines) are fabric and details.  Even in the thrift store I use fabric as a guide, looking along the rows of clothing for stand-out fabric, and only then considering the garment.

Since I mentioned details, I have another favorite detail on this skirt–the tag!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

I didn’t realize until the last time I was up at Pintuck & Purl and was talking to some of the other ladies at the Sip & Stitch night that Cotton + Steel always has cool selvedges.  This fabric had all the information about the designer and the line and all that, but it also had this cute little section that said, “I made something pretty for you!”  Well, selfish seamstress that I am, I changed “you” to “me”, and I sewed it to the back of my skirt.

Now is when fantasy clashes with reality.  Would I really wear this apple picking?  No.  But I did wear it to church, and it’s making the beginning of fall feel pretty fun (I was having a hard time letting go of summer after the last winter we had.).

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

While I was making this, I spotted Jenny’s cool skirt featuring fabric with a map of London on her blog, Cashmerette.  I felt we were thinking on the same wavelength, which I liked, since she’s pretty cool.

Now that all is said and done, I’m not sure this is my favorite silhouette on me, but I think I’m going to try at least one more high-waisted, gathered skirt (from a different pattern) before I decide for sure.  Sometimes new silhouettes just take a little getting used to.

So, what about you?  Do you try to go incognito with your sewing projects so everyone will think they are store-bought or do you like to stand out and embrace looking “homemade”?

Whatever you are sewing, I hope it makes you excited for the season ahead and drives you on to make more projects in the future!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt