Tag Archives: pants

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.  😉   )
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Thread Theory Jutland Pants for Pattern Review’s Menswear Contest

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants for Pattern Review’s Menswear Contest

Have you ever admired the complexity or ingenuity in a piece of clothing in a store?  I certainly do when I look at workwear and outdoor clothing.  There’s so much thought that goes into each piece, not to mention interesting design lines and cool fabric.  That always seemed like a fairly unachievable level of sewing, until the first time I made the Thread Theory Jutland Pants.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

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Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

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Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

After sewing my first pair (Variation 2) toward the beginning of this year, I began planning another in better fabric.  I knew it would be awhile before I started, but I wanted to make these again.  In July, I found just the right fabric at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH, a cotton brown/green English canvas that was a lovely 61″ wide.  It was heavy, but nice.  Once my husband approved the color, I bought the fabric, but still wasn’t ready to cut into it.

And then, like so many projects that get left in the dust when we chase after the new, it became a “someday” project.  The fabric sat in my stash all summer until one day, as I was reading Thread Theory’s blog, I saw that Pattern Review was running a Menswear contest with a tempting prize–a gift card to Thread Theory’s online shop.  This was it.  It was time to make the pants.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

Having made that first version, I had a pretty good idea of what tweaks I needed to make on this version, and there were only a few.  He asked me to raise the side cargo pockets, raise the knee patches, and lengthen the belt loops–all doable.

In addition to the three yards of the canvas that I bought, I used 1.25 yards of Cotton + Steel’s cotton lawn solid in Fedora for the waistband facing, pockets, and the insides of the top of the cargo pocket flaps.  Other than that, there was some midweight interfacing, bias binding, Gutterman polyester thread for construction and Gutterman topstitching thread.  I used a jeans button for the front, a jeans zipper, and Velcro that was sticky on the back for the cargo pockets.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

Hem reinforcement detail

As far as materials go, I loved the canvas.  That turned out to be a great choice.  It’s heavy and nice, but not so heavy my machine couldn’t handle it (although I have ordered a “Hump Jumper” since making these in order to prevent skipped stitches when going over multiple layers of fabric for the next time I make something like this).  The lawn feels great, but was too light for the waistband facing, I think.  Before fully trimming my zipper, I managed to create a hole in the facing where the zipper teeth rubbed on it.  😦  I’ll try a quilting cotton next time, at least for the waistband facing (but honestly, I’ll probably use a quilting cotton for all those little bits).  The interfacing, jeans button, bias tape, and zipper were fine, as was the construction thread, which I really like.  I’m done with Gutterman topstitching thread, however.  After making two pairs of pants with it (these and my olive green pair), I just don’t like it.  I get a lot of “thread nests” on the underside of my garments, despite using a jeans needle and making sure my tension and presser foot pressure were appropriate.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl has given me a few other kinds of topstitching thread to try out (a rainbow one and Coats brand), so we’ll see how those go on future projects.  The jeans needle I used was a good choice, and the only time I had trouble with it was when I applied my Velcro.  I think it was because the back of the Velcro was sticky, and it gummed up my needle.  There were a lot of skipped stitches there, so I think I’ll try some without the adhesive next time.  Live and learn, right?

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

After making this pattern twice, I have to say I still really love it.  It is definitely a more complex pattern than most of the others that I make, as each step is often composed of several smaller steps, and there are a few points that had me scratching my head a bit, even the second time around.  Luckily I wrote myself notes, so this time was much easier than my first attempt.  I also had to remind myself not to question the directions or think I knew better.  The one time I tried to go “off book” and do things my own way, I managed to sew the fly shut!  Ha!  It’s a good reminder to be humble and follow the directions.  When I make these pants, I feel really proud of myself because they just look so good!  I also think all the details and possibilities of this pattern keep it interesting, even though I’m not sewing for myself.  😉

On that front, though….I realized that this size fits me!  I think one style I aspire to in the fall and winter is a girl version of outdoorsy and rugged, so I would love a pair of pants like this in my wardrobe, especially flannel-lined, which is an option with this pattern.  What if I could make the flannel lining REMOVABLE?!  We’ll see what happens with that!  I did spend several hours on Wednesday wearing the pants around so I could see if they truly were comfortable on me.  I think the outlook is positive!  To that end, I bought up the last of the grey English canvas at Pintuck & Purl last time I was there…

As far as the contest goes, voting runs from the 18th-24th.  If you’ve been a Pattern Review member for at least 90 days, you can vote, and I’d love your vote if you think my project deserves it.  You can vote in the contest here.  You can also read my review of the pattern if you want more/different information than I’ve got here.  Fingers crossed!

And thanks to my husband for posing for pictures.  That’s not something he likes doing, plus it was really cold that day, so I appreciate it.  I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he gets a new pair of bespoke pants for Christmas out of the deal.  😉

Update:  Thanks for your votes, everyone!  I didn’t win the contest, but I had the second highest number of votes.  So, no gift card for me, although my husband definitely won since he finally got his pants!  Congratulations to the winner, who made an amazing blazer for her husband.

Recommendations

  • The WAWAK Sewing catalogue!  I saw on Instagram that @peterlappin had ordered one, so I got one myself and, I have to say, it’s pretty awesome.  I even placed my first order for the previously mentioned “Hump Jumper” (Isn’t that the weirdest name?), jeans buttons, and Zipper Ease for stuck zippers.  They have some cool stuff at great prices.
  • I really like sewing round-ups where bloggers highlight new patterns and cool sewing projects on the web.  My two current favorites are from Closet Case Files and Helen’s Closet.  If you have other favorites, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
  • Simplicity 1538.  This has really become my favorite button up shirt pattern, as evidenced by my first try from a vintage sheet, tiger shirt, and flannel shirt.  It’s similar to the Grainline Archer in style.  On Wednesday I cut out my fourth version of this shirt.  I love it.
  • Droste Dutch process cocoa powder.  I had some left from a few recipes, so I made hot chocolate with it (plus sugar, milk, salt, and heavy cream), and it was AMAZING.

Ginger Jeans Hack Inspired by Meggipeg

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Ginger Jeans Hack Inspired by Meggipeg

Today’s project has been a long time in the  making.  And the inspiration for it comes totally and completely from an amazing seamstress on the other side of the world:  meggipeg.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Ever since I saw her version of a pair of Balmain jeans made from the Jamie jeans pattern by Named, I wanted my own.  But, like a lot of projects that I knew were going to take some work, I had to psych myself up.  I didn’t own the Jamie Jeans pattern and, like most indie patterns, it wasn’t cheap.  I kept thinking about it, and almost committed to buying the pattern before realizing that with just a little more work, I could use a pattern that I already had.  And then came the perfect impetus to get going on making my dream a reality:  I had signed up for a class.  And not just any class, but a choose-your-own-sewing-adventure kind of class where you pick what you want to work on.  The time was now.

Class Projects!

All my class projects ready to go!

I had verbally signed up for Lauren Taylor’s (a.k.a. Lladybird’s) Sewing Master Class at Pintuck & Purl way back in May, when I first heard about it.  I love seeing all the things that Lauren sews, and I knew it would be a great opportunity to work on some projects that I found intimidating.  So, along with a few other projects, I came up with my pants scheme.  It was time to finally make some super-cool pants a la meggipeg and Balmain of my own.

However…I didn’t love the idea of figuring out how to fit a new jeans pattern, especially when I also had so many other project supplies to buy, and that’s when I realized:  I could use the Ginger Jeans pattern.  All I needed to do beyond what I was already going to do was change the front pocket and add front leg seams.  I don’t hack patterns much.  But this seemed worth the time investment.  In addition to the aforementioned changes, I drew up some parallelograms for the sides of the front legs and divided up the back pocket.

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

Adding a seam to the front leg.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Changing the front pocket shape.

I had plans to add zippers to the front of my jeans as well, similar to Papercut Patterns’ Starboard Jeans, but these didn’t make it into the final pants (because I forgot to put them in before doing the pockets).  Oh, well!  I also contemplated zippers at the bottom of the jeans, but decided against those before beginning.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Ooops!  I forgot the zippers!

I didn’t get a lot done on these in the class, because this was the third of my several projects (not all of which will show up on the blog–sorry), but preparing for the class forced me to make the necessary pattern changes beforehand.  It got me going on the pants and I managed to cut out the pattern and get started during class.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Just in case you’re wondering about supplies, I’d love to share.  Here’s where everything came from:

Ginger Jeans Hack

I love this vintage sheet as pocket material!

I did one or two things differently on the construction side of these than on my first pair of Ginger Jeans.  This time around, I interfaced my waistband (good idea!) and used true topstitching thread (so-so).  I do think I’ll interface the waistband in the future, but I might try a different alternative for the topstitching thread.  Maybe I’ll use upholstery or button/craft thread, or maybe I just need a bigger needle and different tension on my machine.  I had a lot of thread nests with the topstitching thread and it just wasn’t my favorite overall.

Time for less talk and more pictures, right?

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

The pants themselves?  I LOVE them!!!!!  So far I’ve worn them about five days out of the last two weeks.  Yep!  I hope I’m not the only one that calculates how many people I’ll see more than once in a week so I can rewear outfits!  But even if I am–oh, well!

I love these pants so much.  The ease is great, the fit is great, the stretch is great, and the fabric is great.  It was definitely worth the effort to make these.  Thanks for the idea, meggipeg!  I hope you take my emulation of you as a compliment.  I’m always impressed with your style.

Ginger Jeans Hack

I even made a flannel shirt to go with it!  Stay tuned for more details on that…

Recommendations

  • I really love these Carhartt’s socks.  This isn’t an affiliate link or anything (I don’t do those currently.), just some socks I like.  I like the colors, and they keep my feet warm without making them sweaty, which means I can wear my Converse All-Stars or moccasin booties without getting numb toes when the weather is cold.
  • Robert Kaufman fabric.  I love Robert Kaufman fabric (in fact, I have some of their Mammoth Plaid that I just made into the flannel shirt of my dreams).  The fabric is moderately priced and great quality–and they have so many options.
  • The Imagine Gnats online shop.  I have a really hard time getting myself to buy fabric online, always preferring to see it in person first, but I have to recommend this shop.  The customer service is great and so is the curated fabric selection.  I’ve probably ordered twice from here and I have to give owner Rachel Gander props for the extra little sticker and piece of candy she put in my orders and for ending what has felt like an age-long search for the perfect olive green stretch twill.
  • And because candy corn is one of my favorite fall treats, here is a video that shows how candy corn is made:

Summer’s Last Garment: Simplicity 1020 Pants

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Fall has officially started (the autumnal equinox was Thursday, September 22), but I still have one more summer garment to share with you.  I also have a few other projects I did during the summer, but those are great for any season, so we’ll save them for another time.  Today I want to talk about these pants!

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

I really wanted some wide-leg linen pants for summer, and I also wanted to try sewing with linen, something I hadn’t done until I made this Datura blouse (also pictured).  When trying to find a pattern for the pants I had in mind, I remembered some scrub pants I owned in college.  They had a wide, straight leg and were the ultimate in comfort.  Since I hadn’t been able to find a pattern I really liked among the “regular” clothing patterns, I turned to the scrub patterns, and found Simplicity 1020.

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

 

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

I figured I could use that and just leave off a few of the extra pockets, keeping the front and back ones.  I found my fabric at Fabric.com–a Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen blend (55% linen, 45% cotton) in blue and a cotton/rayon (50% cotton, 45% rayon, 5% Lycra) knit in Indigo for the top of the pants.  Other than that, I just needed elastic and thread, which I had in my stash.

I made a quick muslin out of a sheet since I’ve had to do so many fit adjustments on recent bottoms, but while these could maybe have been tweaked slightly, they were good overall, and I decided to make them without adjustments.  This makes me wonder if the Simplicity pants/shorts patterns will fit me better (i.e. with fewer adjustments) than McCall’s and Butterick.  I’ll have to explore that as I make more pants.  The pants themselves were not too difficult to sew up, although I did prolong the process by finishing all my seams.  Finishing seams used to feel like such a chore and while it still does sometimes, I didn’t want thready insides once these pants were finished and went through the wash.  I used a turned-and-stitched finish (a.k.a. clean-finish) per the instructions in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Turned-and-stitched/clean-finished seam allowances

The linen seemed too thick for French seams, although I’m open to hearing about other finishes people have used.  I also basically did a double turned hem for all the pockets and then topstitched them on so that I wouldn’t get threads in the pockets, either.  Last, but not least, I covered the seam where the main pants fabric joined the knit waist fabric with bias tape.

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

All of that added quite a bit of time, but I was really happy with these when they were finished.  I don’t know what has happened to me, but it makes me really happy to see those beautiful insides in a project.  I guess I’m “growing up” as a sewist.  😉

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

I think my only question on the whole thing is the hem length.  If I had hemmed these at the suggested spot, they would have been long, but probably good with heels.  I turned them up one more time so I could wear them with flatter shoes, and I think that is the right length for lower shoes, but sometimes, at some angles, they look a little bit like floods. (Wow.  I just used Google Images to look up “flood pants”.  It was a little different than I expected, but I think my statement still stands.)  I didn’t actually cut my excess off the hems, so if I change my mind later, I can rehem them to be longer.  I’m done with them for this year, though.

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

These pants are super comfortable (secret pajamas for the win!) and they wrinkle much, much less than I thought they would–maybe because of the cotton blended in?  I think of cotton as pretty wrinkly, but who knows?  Maybe because of the midweight?  I don’t know.  Whatever it is, I’m happy with them.  Now it’s on to fall sewing!

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

 

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

 

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

Recommendations

  • Here’s one more post from Cotton + Steel about the fabric called cotton lawn.  Sounds like lawn is a winner for your button up shirt needs.
  • I’m really impressed and intrigued by the embroidery of Tessa Perlow.  This article about her has some great pictures so you can get a feel for what she does.  I think I’d like to try adding embroidery to some of my garments someday…
  • If you are a garment sewist in fairly close proximity to Exeter, NH, you might enjoy the Pattern Review Meetup happening at Pintuck & Purl this Saturday, September 24 from 2-4pm.
  • Jellyfish or jelly fish?  Be careful how you say it!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized! Or…I Made Jeans!!!

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I didn’t think it could be done.  Could I ever make jeans?  I doubted myself and procrastinated for ages.  Until finally, I used my old sewing trick that has served me so well:  just do the first step.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

This is great for life outside of sewing as well, but I mainly use it to get myself moving on “scary” projects.  Even if the first step only takes one minute, once I do it, I can be done for that day.  Next time, take the next step.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Eventually I tend to get caught up in the process and things move along.  That’s what happened with these jeans.  It took me forever to trace the pattern, and forever to cut them, and forever to get to sewing them, but at the point of sewing, I took the first step…and then the second…and then worked on them for a whole day!  By that point, things were getting exciting, and I couldn’t wait to work on them again.  After another day of sewing, I had them done!  They are the most comfortable jeans I think I have ever worn.  And they fit!

Aside from jeans-making being new to me (and therefore intimidating), pants in general intimidate me in the area of fit.  The few times I have made/attempted to make pants or shorts, I can tell something is off, but I don’t know how to fix it.  There were two things, I think, that really saved this pants attempt.  One was that the drafting on these is different from what I have encountered in the Big 4 patterns that I have tried.  In those, I always feel like the front is too high and the back is too low.  This jeans pattern didn’t feel that way at all.  The second thing that saved this project was all the excellent fitting advice that Heather (the designer) offers both in the instructions and in the sew-along on her blog, Closet Case Files.

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

So, let’s talk process a bit (Technical Talk Ensuing.  Skim this part if you just want pictures.).

I chose to make this first pair of jeans out of an inexpensive denim in case I had a lot of problems.  I got my denim at Jo-Ann Fabrics on sale.  I noticed that many others had used denim from Jo-Ann’s with success, and so I decided to give it a try.  I also got some interfacing there.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

I found some rainbow topstitching thread in my stash.  (I wish I knew where it came from so I could get more, but I have no idea.  It may not even be real topstitching thread.)  I used navy thread from my stash for the non-topstitching parts, and some really old thread for the basting.  I’ve decided that basting is an excellent use for old thread.  I have lots of hand-me-down thread and I know you’re not *supposed* to use it, but I do.  I can’t let it go to waste.  Basting seems the perfect use, because if it breaks, it doesn’t really matter.

The fabric for my pockets is some very old Amy Butler fabric that I had in my stash.  My husband saw it and said, “Oh!  You’re making your pockets out of diaper bag!”  Back when I had my first baby, one of my best friends made me a diaper bag with this fabric.  Time to put the scraps to a new use!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Now on to the jeans.  I made View A in a size 14.  View A has a low rise with stovepipe legs–similar to what I wear on a daily basis.

Because I’m new to fitting pants, I just cut the size that fit my measurements without any initial adjustments.  I assembled the front of the pants completely.  Then I basted the back of the pants with the exception of the pockets, which I pinned on.  After that I basted the sides together, all before assembling the waistband.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

My main issue came at the back.  The back waist gaped.  Heather explained very clearly what I needed to do, and so I made a few darts in the yoke, tried the pants on again, and then took out just a bit more until they felt right.  Then I sewed everything minus the waistband together.

After that, I assembled the waistband and basted it on.  It also gaped, so I followed Heather’s directions and put a few darts in.  On my first try, I sewed the darts in opposite to how they were supposed to go!  Argh!!  I contemplated just recutting the whole thing, but I ripped out the darts and resewed them in the end.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Once I got that right, I sewed it all up and went after the back pockets.  I started to get nervous when I sewed them on because I was nearly out of topstitching thread.  I managed to finish the pockets with just a little bit left.  Success!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

When I put these pants on for the first time…oh, it was wonderful!  They were so comfortable and fit so well.  I had done it thanks to help from Heather Lou!  What an amazing thing to make your own jeans!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

If and when I make these again, here is what I would do differently.

  • I would interface the waistband.  I thought I wanted one that would stretch but, I think because I chose a cheaper denim, mine tends to stretch out.
  • I would also consider basting the jeans the slightest bit tighter.  These are so comfortable, but the denim doesn’t have the greatest recovery despite the spandex content.
  •  Lastly, I’m curious about how to do a midrise version, something Heather explains on her blog.  I’d like to try that.

If you are considering making jeans, I highly recommend this pattern.  It gave me enough confidence to move forward and to want to try making more pants so I can learn how to fit other styles to my body as well.  Heather also has a jeans making e-book and published a blog post on basic pants fitting that you might find helpful.

Success!!

Update:  I’m linking this post up with Allie J.’s blog for her series called “The Social Sew”.  Each month she puts out a sewing theme and you can link up your recent projects that fit within the theme.  Since this month is ‘Me Made Basics‘, I thought these jeans would be a great fit.  You can also check out what everyone else has made.  It’s a great way to find new sewing blogs!

Recommendations:

  • I just found out that one of my favorite podcasts, Thread Cult, is back up and running.  I thought perhaps it had been abandoned, but it turns out it was only on hiatus.  This podcast is “for the sewing, fashion and textile obsessed”.
  • I’m fascinated by the Instagram account of Tara Curtis @t_jaye.  She makes these fabulous geometric designs that remind me of quilts, but she does it by weaving strips of fabric.  If you love pattern and design, I think you’ll like her work.  She also has a website.
  • Have you ever looked at Cooking Light magazine?  I like their recipes because they are healthy AND they taste good!  Several of their recipes have become family favorites.  You may be able to read Cooking Light at your library (ours lends out magazines) or check out their recipes via their website.
  • Here is an important lesson on compound words.  (Preview this before showing it to your kids–there’s nothing bad, just a few surprising parts that could scare little ones.)

I Made PANTS! Unselfishly, Even…

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Is it still unselfish sewing when you get the knowledge, even if you don’t keep the garment?  Of course it is!

Finishing this project kept me on a serious sewing high for a good week.  I made real, true pants!

Let me introduce you to the Jutland Pants, Variation 2 (cargo pants) by Thread Theory Designs, Inc.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I made these for my husband, and I think they are a success!  I don’t measure success by perfection.  In this case, success meant finishing the project and producing a wearable garment that fit well enough to be worn.  I’ve made leggings before, but I’ve never successfully made fitted pants.  I dimly remember an unwearable pair that I attempted for myself before I really got into sewing and an unfortunate craft fail, but this is my first finished pair of fitted pants that…fit.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

So, let’s talk details.  What I really wanted to create was an awesome pair of pants like these ones from Duluth Trading Company.  The inspiration pants have all sorts of special features and although I didn’t include all the possible options in this first home sewn pair (like lining, knee pads, or a crotch gusset), between the pattern and the Thread Theory website, you can learn how to put all these cool extras into your pants.  When I saw this pattern at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH, I knew it was one that I wanted.  Thread Theory patterns are not cheap, but in making these pants, I felt that, more than any other independent pattern I have tried, this one offers great value for my money.  This is something I couldn’t make up on my own, print for free off the internet, or easily find from another company.  There probably are other cargo pant patterns out there and while I make many “Big 4” patterns, I was really glad to have the more individualized support that Thread Theory offers.  They have a sew-along on their blog and in the two instances when I got tripped up and e-mailed Morgan (one of the owners), she got back to me and answered my questions.

As far as all the fabric and notions went, I bought duck canvas on sale from Joann’s for my main fabric.  My original plan had been to get some really nice canvas, but then I thought that I ought to start with something cheaper for my first try.  The lady cutting my fabric looked really doubtful when I told her I was going to use it for pants.  She told me it was the kind of canvas you used to make bags like you might get at L.L. Bean.  It really shook my confidence, but I got the duck canvas anyway.  In the end, it worked out great!  Encouragement, people!  That really would have been preferable!  I also got a metal zipper that was as close as possible to the size called for, but a little longer because I couldn’t find the exact size.  I bought medium weight fusible interfacing and a jeans button from Joann’s.  I had Velcro, bias tape, and something that I hoped was broadcloth or another suitable pocket material in my stash.  I didn’t line the pants.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Unlike nearly every sewing project I’ve ever done, I actually made a muslin for this one.  I had an old sheet that came in handy for this.  I took all my husband’s measurements and then made up a sample without the extras like the cargo pockets, knee patches, and hem reinforcements.  The added benefit of the muslin, besides checking the sizing, was that I could practice a few areas like the fly and the main pockets.  It turned out that the muslin was mostly right, but after evaluation, we shortened the pants by about an inch and made a straight size instead of grading between two sizes.

This is definitely a complex pattern and I thought more than once that I was glad I hadn’t been the one who had to design it and then figure out how to communicate the directions for sewing it.  You can tell that a lot of work went into creating this pattern.  There were times when I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, so I had to turn the questioning part of my brain off and just follow the directions.  Luckily, they didn’t lead me wrong.

Here are some “in progress” shots:

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

The two questions I wrote to Morgan about had to do with how to shorten a metal zipper (Could I really just use the waistband as the top stop rather than trying to remove teeth with pliers?  Yes, thank goodness!) and if I was supposed to do a second line of stitching on the seat seam as pictured (You can, but you don’t have to and it complicates things if you are doing a lining.).  For the zipper, she recommended leaving at least one metal tooth above the seamline and letting the zipper tape extend into the seam allowance by about a centimeter.  At that point, you can cut off the excess.  I hand-cranked my machine when I went over the teeth just to be safe and avoid breaking needles.  This was a billion times easier than trying to take out teeth with pliers!

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Concerning the second question, here is what Morgan said (I hope it’s ok to quote her–it will be more accurate and less confusing than if I paraphrase):  “I didn’t end up including this in the instructions due to how it might complicate things when sewing the lining.  I usually stitch the seat seam by clipping the seam allowance at the base of the fly just as you describe.  I stitch rather than pressing the seat seam so that the seam allowances stay to one side.  Depending on the fabric I am using, the seam just under the fly can look a little bit ‘warbled’.  If this is the case, I clip one seam allowance a couple of inches below the fly so that they can sit pressed open rather than both pressed to one side.”  I did the extra line of stitching before she was able to get back to me (because I was impatient) and while it was mostly ok, it did turn out a little funny, like she mentioned.  After being worn a few times, though, it’s not noticeable any more.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

When I finished, the most amazing thing happened.  I was proud.  I was so excited.  But mostly…I was grateful.

I feel grateful.

I’m grateful that I get to sew.  I know it’s a privilege that I have the time to improve my skills in something besides cooking for my family (let’s just leave housework out of this).  We may not have a ton of extra money (we don’t), but we have been blessed enough that we have been able to make it, somehow, even though I have been home, and thanks to God’s blessing and the public school system that my kids are able to attend, I can do this.  I don’t get all the housework done and, alternately, I don’t get to sew all day every day, but for this time in my life, I have been able to sew enough and have had the support and friendships to enable me to get my skills up to the point that I made my husband a complicated pair of pants.  Maybe I won’t be able to sew forever or even want to, but for now, I’m really, really grateful to God, my family and friends, and now to Thread Theory that I made a pair of pants that my husband likes and wears.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I promise nothing about the length of my blog post when I finally make myself jeans.  😉

The icing on the cake is that sometimes, my husband wears this:

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I made his shirt and pants!  I’m so proud.  Now to get over my fear of making myself pants…and to conquer bathing suits…and sew all the things!!!!

And don’t you think these need a clever leather tag on the back?  I’m taking suggestions for what it should say!  Leave yours in the comments!

Recommendations:

  • Just when you think you’re an INDIVIDUAL something like these awesome, AWESOME biker-style jeans comes along…and you just want to copy them.  I want these jeans.
  • Double Chocolate Banana Bread (recipe from Smitten Kitchen).  I was skeptical, but it’s so good!  If it’s from Smitten Kitchen, that will probably always be the case.
  • More Christopher Walken.  More Jimmy Fallon.  More Will Farrell.  More Cowbell!

Finished Project! Leather Pants!

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I think any finished project involving leather pants really needs an exclamation point after it.  Don’t you?  😉

So, I bought these from the thrift store for $15.  They’re made by GUESS, and I think they may have retailed for somewhere in the $150/$200 range (which makes me feel like I got a good deal).

Leather pants revival (Pattern and Branch)

Leather pants with side seams ripped out in preparation for their new look.

I wanted to try sewing leather, so my plan was to turn these into a simple clutch or something like that.  But they were so soft…and nice…and AWESOME, so I changed my mind.  I decided to try to make them fit me, especially considering that leather/stretchy knit pants are currently on trend.  This is a good thing, since they were originally so small I could only pull them up to just above my knees.  So, I spent some Christmas money and got some wool double knit (I took my cue from The Selfish Seamstress.).  It was pricey for me (it doesn’t take much for fabric to seem “pricey” in my world), but man!  That stuff is gorgeous!

So, the short version is that I sewed a strip on each side and it worked, but I was sweating it, I’ll tell you.  This was definitely borderline between craft fail and success there for awhile.  When it comes to fitting clothing, I really don’t know what I’m doing.  I cut some extra wide strips of the double knit, sewed elastic into the top, and then sewed the back seams of the side panels.  Then, I laid my favorite jeans on top to get an idea of the shape on the sides.

 "Fitting" the leather pants (Pattern and Branch)

Somehow, what I came up with didn’t seem wide enough, so I extended the shape out 1.5 inches on each side to where I had decided I wanted to sew the double knit waistband section to the pants front.  Then, I went for it, leaving the bottoms unfinished so I could try them on before hemming.

They seemed to fit pretty well, so I hemmed the pants and finished sewing the leg seams.  I wasn’t sure about the length, which is perfect if you have a bit of a heel, but a little long without one, but after wearing them tonight with some flat shoes, I think they are alright as they are.  I still need to fix up the lining inside, but on the whole, I love these pants!  They aren’t perfect or even the most flattering pants in the world, but I went for it, it worked well enough to wear, and I have leather pants now!  How cool is that?

Here are some finished photos.

Leather pants revival (Pattern and Branch)

 Leather pants revival (Pattern and Branch)

And just in case you needed an idea of what to wear when you go OUTSIDE in your leather pants, may I propose this?

Leather pants revival (Pattern and Branch)

Doesn’t everyone need a faux fur coat to go with their leather pants?

Leather pants revival (Pattern and Branch)

Yes, everyone DOES need a faux fur coat to go with their leather pants.

Hm, that coat is supposed to be material for another project, but I’m starting to sort of like it as is, so we’ll see.  We wouldn’t want to keep things too normal around here, would we?  😉

Craft Fail: One size fits all pants

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I got sucked in.

I was pregnant, and I wanted pajama pants that would fit me while pregnant and afterward (just humor me and pretend that elastic-waisted pants aren’t the obvious solution).  So…I found a pattern online for these one size fits all type pants.  SO BRILLIANT!

Or so I thought…

Somehow, once created, these weren’t the wonder pants of my dreams.

Pretty cool, huh?

Pretty cool, huh?

I followed the pattern and all, but once I tried them on, I realized a few things.  Um….how should I put this?  Well, a baby wears diapers….so I guess it could sort of be a mother-child look-alike outfit…or something?

Sort of looks like diaper pants...

Sort of looks like diaper pants…

I’m not sure if these pictures display the true and full diaper-like nature of these pants, so I’ll include a few more below (it also sort of feels like you are wearing a diaper when you have them on).  Beyond the diaper thing, the thighs were a bit snug.  So much for one size fits all (or even one size fits most).

As I was discussing these with a friend of mine, she said they reminded her of some pants she had seen once where the side seams were unsewn, with a tie in the front and back (unlike these, which only have a tie in the back), so you could truly customize them.  Once she said that, it brought to mind some Thai pants I had seen once that were a similar style.  I think those might have been better….

Anyway, you could try to make the best of this.  Here is what they could look like dressed up!

That's my modelling face.  Don't you think I'm a natural?  ;)

That’s my modelling face. Don’t you think I’m a natural? 😉

They can even be worn by men!  Our friend Caleb agreed to model them for you guys.

"One size fits all" pants AND giant sweater!

“One size fits all” pants AND giant sweater!

We thought it would be fun to combine the pants and the Giant Sweater from this post.  I’m pretty sure this is the “I love this outfit SO MUCH!!!!!!!” smile.  Thanks, Caleb!

So, while these pants seemed like a brilliant idea, they didn’t turn out so brilliant.  Maybe those pants with the unsewn sides would be better…..I could try that version some day!!!!  What do you think?  😉

Project Day!

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Today was project day.

Drinking coffee and getting to work!

Drinking coffee and getting to work!

I usually reserve Monday mornings for blogging and for projects, but often it’s just the blogging and maybe some photography that happens.  When I planned out my time to start this blog, I found little pockets where I could write posts, but still haven’t found my rhythm for continuing to make new work, write posts, and take care of my family.  This year is for attempting to figure some of that out.

I realized that I was sort of stuck with my creative projects.  There was one that had me stumped, and when that happens I tend to avoid working on things.  It sort of feels like a roadblock to getting anything done.  My roadblock was some vintage pants I was altering.  So, after gathering advice and thinking about the problem for a long time, I decided to take the easy way out so I could get them done and move on.

Vintage wool pants

The pants in question

I got these pants pre-kids and, even then, they were snug.  In fact, they met their demise when I wore them one day, sat down, and split the butt seam.  (Luckily, I was on my way home, so I didn’t have to figure out a creative fix at work.)  Anyway, in the end, I decided to let out the seams, but that meant that my waistband was now too short.  I tried adding an extension to it, but it wasn’t quite long enough, and there were some other reassembly problems that I ran into.  That was when I decided that the most important thing was being able to wear them again.  So, I finished the top edge with single-fold bias tape that I already had, which also makes the waist less high and more comfortable for me.

Here they are!

Wearable again!

Wearable again!

Vintage pants

It’s so nice to have these wearable again, just in time for the colder side of fall and the coming of winter.  They were, I think, originally meant to be ski pants, so they are made of handwoven wool from Ireland, and are lined inside.  I won’t say they are the most slenderizing pants out there, but I love that blue on blue check, and that they are warm and cozy.  I also think fashion is more fun if it’s just a little bit weird.  🙂

The pants were the only project that got finished (well, I fixed a hole in a jacket, so I guess that got finished, too).  The other two projects are in-progress.

I have a little bit of a long-sleeved shirt shortage, so I’m trying to alter some shirts I got last winter to fit better.  These two are going to be sewn together and then reverse appliqued a la Alabama Chanin.

Shirts soon to be sewn together

You can see the other shirt where I folded up one of the sleeves.  Both shirts came from Lands’ End.  They are basic t-shirts and are the same style.  Both are inside out and safety pinned to one another so they can be sewn together.

Two shirt sewn together

Here is a detail after sewing.  I used the t-shirt/bolero back pattern piece from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin as my guide for the side seams.  I laid it over the pinned shirts and used chalk to trace around it.  Where the side seam touched the armhole, I tapered to the wrist opening (you can sort of see that above).  Once the two shirts were sewn together, I cut off the excess fabric.  Next, I’ll work on doing the reverse applique.  I’ve made a lot of the patterns from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design as basics in only one layer of fabric to test them out (although I have been using my machine, rather than hand-sewing them….I hope Natalie wouldn’t be disappointed 🙂  ).  I’ve really come to love and trust her patterns and working with knits, which I was always afraid to do before I discovered the Alabama Chanin books.

The other project I worked on was a muslin (test garment) for a shirt pattern I’m developing.  I mentioned before that I had gone through Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch.  While I’m starting to get the basic ideas, I still need a lot of practice.  I’ve made a button down shirt pattern before, but wanted to make another pattern and then make some variations from there.  This is the test garment for the initial pattern.  Here it is so far:

Muslin for a button down shirt pattern

I found a cute sheet to use as my muslin fabric at the thrift store, so I’m hoping that even if this isn’t perfect, it will still be wearable and I’ll get two shirts out of the process.  Once I put the cuffs on, I think I can try it out.  I’m not great at fitting and transferring my corrections to my pattern, but I’ve been reading up on it, so I need to give it another try.  I loved the first shirt that I made, but it wasn’t fitted as well as it could have been.  It’s all progress, right?

Hopefully I’ll make some good headway on these projects sooner rather than later so I can share them with you as they get finished.  I’m looking forward to showing you how they turn out!