Tag Archives: shorts

Adventures in Shorts Fitting: McCall’s 6930

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We’ve been talking a lot about shorts lately, haven’t we?  I’ve noticed that in my sewing, I tend to make tops.  I have a lot of me-made tops in my closet, but not a lot of shorts and pants.  Why is that?  Fear.  That’s it.  Silly as it sounds, I have been afraid of making shorts and pants because I don’t know how to fit them.  But this was the year of sewing first jeans and then, this summer, shorts.  I’m so glad I finally plunged in because now I have a better grasp of some of the fitting issues I might face and how to fix them.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

So let’s talk about this particular pattern, McCall’s 6930 (View A).  There are a couple of shorts options in this one, as well as capris.  They have a flat front, shaped waistband, back zipper, and pockets, with optional belt carriers.  It actually took me three tries to get this right, and I took pictures of each of them, so you could see some of the things I had to fix and the mistakes I made.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Last summer, I began my first version of this pattern.  I could tell that something was wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I put it away until this summer.  I nearly threw these shorts out when I was cleaning up one day, but I tried them on first and realized that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered.  So, I finished them, and came up with ideas on what I wanted to improve.  The front was baggy and went up too high, and the back felt like it needed more length in the crotch seam.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The baggy front was no good.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

I looked in my trusty book, Sewing Pants that Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, and decided to try taking a wedge out of the front and add a wedge into the back.  After I had done this, I saw that the book said not to take wedges out of the front, but there was no explanation as to why, so I decided to try it anyway.  I took out the wedge and redrew the top of the front crotch seam, making sure it was straight like before.  When I asked a friend who used to work as a pattern drafter what was up with the book’s advice, she asked if I had redrawn the center front line and, when I told her I had, she said it ought to work.  Her other suggestion was to take some of the length out of the top of the front, thereby leaving that front seam intact.  She also told me that the new grainline should be more or less perpendicular to the top of the shorts so that they would hang straight down.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The front pattern piece, above.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The back pattern piece.

Version two came out much improved.  There was one main problem, however.  I had made these out of a stretch denim…but the pattern didn’t call for a fabric with stretch.  So, as you may imagine, these shorts tend to “grow” throughout the day until they are a bit large by the end of the day.  Another minor thing that I noted was that using a lighter weight fabric for the back of the pocket is not as good as using a fabric of the same weight.  I did this in versions one and two.  It creates wrinkles and doesn’t hang as well–not super critical, but important to note.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

This picture makes me look excited about the hugeness of these shorts, but I’m really just making funny faces for my photographer.  This photo shoot got a little silly by the end…

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Fabric the same weight as my denim would have worked better than the lightweight denim scrap I used.

I cut into some of my precious fabric from Pintuck & Purl for my third version…and it came out great!  When I put these on, they just feel right.  The one thing I will probably tweak if I make this pattern again (which I’ll probably do) is to lengthen the back crotch point just a bit as the front of the legs feel closer to the body than I think they should.  The leg openings aren’t too small, it’s more like they are tilted toward the back when they should be more balanced.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Front view.  There’s a little yellow on the darts from my chalk markings, but that washed out easily.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Back view.

Each of the adjustments I made were the same as those I made on McCall’s 6848, the pajama-turned-everyday shorts I recently blogged about.  It feels good to know I am on the right track.  Now the question is, will these be standard adjustments for me, or will they be limited to McCall’s patterns?  Either way, I feel like I’m making progress in learning to fit pants and shorts, and a lot of the scariness is dissipating.  It’s such a pleasure to occasionally wear an outfit that I’ve made–not only the top, but both the top and the bottom.  I’m really happy that I tried despite my fear.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

And…..guess what?  Today is this blog’s third birthday!  That’s pretty cool!  I thought about doing a round-up of past posts, but I wanted to talk shorts one more time instead.  I’m so thankful for this blog, which has helped me grow in confidence as a writer, seamstress, and photographer.  I think I have a good groove, have seen some improvements in those areas, and I hope for more improvements in the future in both sewing and blogging.  I’m also thankful for you, my readers, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning.  Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in this.  Learning these skills goes far beyond sewing–the confidence and happiness that comes from sewing has expanded into other areas of my life as well.  So, I’m thankful for the blog, for you, and to God for the skills, time, resources, and frame of mind to grow.  Thank you.

And last but not least, let’s have some Recommendations!

  • Another fun post in the Cotton + Steel substrate series is the one all about rayon, which is new to me.  I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future.
  • Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite button up shirt pattern into a popover top (a top with a button placket that only goes partway down the shirt)?  I have!  I just wasn’t looking forward to figuring it out on my own.  Luckily, Craftsy did it for me.  You can read all about it here.
  • Did you know it’s National Sewing Month?  It is!  To celebrate, Pintuck & Purl is doing a fun Q & A with various bloggers and pattern designers over on their blog, and I’m one of the bloggers!  You can read their blog here.
  • When knitting takes over…
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Finally Just Right: McCall’s 6848 Shorts

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It may be September, but summer isn’t over until the first day of fall on September 22, so it’s been shorts-land over here lately.  Yes, Shorts-Land is a place, and that place has been my house, where I’ve been sewing up a ton of basic and not-so-basic shorts this summer.  Like many aspects of sewing, I’ve been putting shorts and pants off because I didn’t know how to fit them, but I also know that I really need to try if I’m ever going to learn.

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McCall’s 6848 is a pattern I’ve been tweaking little by little, and I think I finally have it right.  This is actually a pajama pattern, but after making my first pair of shorts from it (View D), I realized this it was going to be more of a summer staple than pajamas.

McCall's 6848

McCall's 6848

One thing I’ve found in the little bit of pants/shorts sewing I have done is that bottoms sometimes feel as though they are too high in the front and too low in the back for me.  This was definitely the case with my first pair of these shorts.  So, I got out the good ol’ Singer Sewing Reference Library books and looked up fitting, until I came up with some ideas.  For my second pair of shorts, I took a wedge out of the front and added a wedge into the back.  This got my shorts really close to what I wanted, but the front legs felt just a little…well, not tight, but not quite right–a little like they were pressing against me too much in the front of the legs.  So, for this last pair, I lengthened the back crotch point just a bit and…finally just right!!!

McCall's 6848

 

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They feel exactly like I want them to.  For this pair, due to my need for basics, I decided to try out the new Art Gallery Fabrics Denim.  I got it at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH (who, by the way, I’ve started doing some social media for, which is super cool).  I was kind of skeptical about this thin fabric.  I didn’t really believe it was denim, because the weight is closer to a quilting cotton, although it’s much drapier.  When you look at the weave, though, it really is a denim weave.  All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it.  I managed to make these up before the road trip we went on in July, and they were perfect in the car.  I guess it’s always a good day when you can wear something designed as pajamas in your everyday life.

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I even put a little lace flower in there as my back tag.

The one extra thing I did (besides that flower) was add some long bartacks at the sides.  I know from experience that these shorts can catch on things…and rip.  It’s no fun ripping a hole in the side of your new shorts.

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The only other thing I would change if I made these again would be to add pockets.  It’s pretty annoying not to have any, but I think, at this point, I want to focus more on fit than modifying patterns with extra features.  So, I’ll save it as a future idea.

Recommendations

  • I’ve got to recommend it again–BRIMFIELD!  It’s going on now, and if you are an antique-lover anywhere near western Massachusetts, I highly recommend you go.  Brimfield is the largest outdoor antique market in the US and it’s going on this week until Sunday.  You can find all the details at the above link.
  • I tried one of the best recipes EVER on Monday.  It was Bostocks from the Seven Spoons cookbook.  It’s an amazing combination of day old brioche (like challah bread), orange simple syrup, and almond cream.  It’s totally worth the work, and you can make the various elements ahead of time.  Check your library…I bet they have it!
  • How about more learning about fabric?  Here’s a link to another of the Cotton + Steel substrate series.  This time it’s all about their cotton/linen canvas fabric!  Interesting!
  • And finally, I’ve got one more video from Cotton + Steel about how their fabric is manufactured and printed over in Japan.  It’s pretty cool to see how it’s all made:

 

Pleasant Pathways Shorts, or I Need Some Basics

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Hi, guys!  I hope you’ve been having a good week.

Today’s project is brought to you by the need for basics.  I’m like a lot of sewing people.  I get drawn in by the pretty, happy, shiny prints and end up with a closet full of crazy, crazy fun…that doesn’t all go together.  I also tend to make a lot of tops, because I’m still trying to get over my fear of sewing pants due to my lack of fitting knowledge.

Well, you can’t learn if you don’t try, right?  So, along with the tops, I’ve been working on shorts this summer.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

This pair, however, was more of a known quantity, so I made them up earlier this summer when I went nuts sewing easier, known stuff after all the complex things I’d been doing.  I’ve made this shorts pattern before, back when I started sewing seriously, and the fit has always been great.  I never needed to alter them.  Besides the fit, the other great thing about this pattern is that it is free, free, FREE!  You can find it here.  It’s one that Anna Maria Horner made for Janome.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

I still wear my first pair of shorts from this pattern (the green ones in this post).  In looking at my measurements now, I should probably grade out at the hip, but I used some stretch denim that was left over from my Ginger Jeans extravaganza, so the fit turned out great, and they’re very comfortable.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

I didn’t have a navy zipper, so I used what I had, which happened to be red, but thanks to my fairly new invisible zipper foot, you can’t see the red much.  Plus…I don’t actually mind.  I like little surprising details and contrasting colors.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

Someday I’d love to add pockets and maybe a waistband to this, but for now, this pattern was just what I needed as far as sewing a known pattern and something basic that fit well and matched with most things.  I highly recommend it.

So that’s it!  I hope you give these a try if you are looking for some simple shorts.

I’ve still got some summer sewing to fit in, so you’ll likely be seeing more of that here for a bit.  Summer isn’t officially over until September 22!

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

Recommendations

  • As an art lover and a surfing…spectator, I love seeing the boards at Album Surf.  Check them out for some serious eye candy.
  • I thought Hila’s Nautical Outfit turned out great!  Striking colors and patterns!
  • Cotton + Steel Fabrics teamed up with Colette Patterns awhile back to explain some of the different fabric substrates they use.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn about double gauze, check it out on Cotton + Steel’s site here.
  • Here’s a video about Cotton + Steel’s double gauze collection, Bespoke.  It was interesting to hear about their thought process and to learn more about double gauze itself.

Another Pair of Shorts! McCall’s 6848

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Thanks to my attempt at batch sewing, I have a nice little backlog of projects to share with you.  Of course everything took a backseat to the Refashioners contest and some fun pattern testing I did for Megan Nielsen, but now I’m back to my regularly scheduled projects and I want to share these summer makes with you before summer is too far gone from the northern hemisphere and we all start to wonder if it really happened at all.

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

I’ve made the shorts from McCall’s 6848 before and it’s fast becoming my most used pattern (knit versions of the tanks here: #1 and #2; woven shirt here).  One of the next frontiers in sewing for me is fitting.  It’s something I don’t really know how to do.  Some of the “how” is starting to trickle into my brain, but it’s the doing that needs to be done before I can really understand it.

Here’s what my pattern looks like:

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

What I’ve found with the few patterns I’ve tried for bottoms is that the front half often has too much fabric for me and the back half not enough.  These shorts, with all their ease and comfort, seemed like a safe pattern to try out some fitting ideas on.  If my attempts aren’t spot on, the relaxed nature of the pattern should be forgiving so that I can wear them anyway.

My Mom is so awesome in feeding my sewing habit (Thanks, Mom!) and donated all of her apparel-related volumes of the Singer Sewing Reference Library to me.  I cannot recommend these books enough.  I looked through them and got some ideas about what to try to remedy my fitting problem.  Here’s what I came up with:

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

I measured the extra fabric on my first pair of shorts and used that number to get an idea of how much fabric I wanted to take out of the front.  As you can see above, I took out a wedge, and then redrew my grain line.  This makes it sound like I know what I am doing–I don’t.  I’m trying out some ideas I found and hoping for the best.

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

On the back pattern piece, I tried to figure out how much I needed to add, then slashed to the edge and opened up a wedge, taping extra paper behind the wedge.  Then I redrew the grainline and hoped I did it right.  I’m really not sure how to tell if I’m doing that step correctly, so I just try to keep it similar to how it was in the beginning.

After doing this, I cut out my pieces* and made the shorts like I normally would.  Then I tried them on, and I have to say that they were much better!

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

They still felt great after a full day of wear.  The only thing I noticed that might be improved upon is that they may need a small amount of fabric added to the back crotch point.  They felt very slightly off in the front when I first put them on, so this is what I hope to try when I make these next.  I wrote myself a note to try that next time, and put the pattern away.  I think summer sewing is winding up for this year.

I had to add some little bar tacks to the side seams because the shorts from this pattern and the handles on my kitchen drawers seem to have an unhealthy attraction to one another that always results in rips.  Even this pair hasn’t escaped it’s fate, but you can try…

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Looks like I left a few marker dots on there, too!  Oops!

What I will say about this pattern is that these are the shorts I reach for time and time again.  If I’d had more summer sewing time, I probably would have made a few pairs in more neutral fabrics because they are just so comfortable.  I suppose that might have something to do with this actually being a pajama pattern…but you know I love secret pajamas as much as the next person.

*In case you are wondering, the fabric is an Amy Butler quilting cotton from her Soul Blossoms line called Passion Lily.  Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for the gift of this fabric which I have been hoarding holding onto for a long time! 

Me-Made-May ’15: Week One

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I can’t believe Me-Made-May ’15 has only been going on for eight days!  It seems like a lot longer.  It’s hard to come up with something me-made to wear every day!  It’s also a fun challenge.  So, while I do have other things to show you, we’ll be doing a fair bit of week-in-review stuff this month, so you can see if I’m keeping up with the challenge.  So far I haven’t had to resort to counting the me-made leggings I’m wearing as pj’s as a day’s outfit, but I think that is probably coming.  That’s my fallback.  😉  Here’s week one:

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 1: Alabama Chanin style shirt #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 1: Alabama Chanin style shirt close-up #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 2: raglan t-shirt #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 2: raglan shirt close-up #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 3: kimono sleeve dress #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 3: kimono sleeve dress close-up #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 4: pink t-shirt and altered jean shorts #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 4: altered jean shorts close-up #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 5: Summer Blouse #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 5: Summer Blouse Close-Up #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 6: exercise shirt #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 7: Ankara/wax print shorts #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 7: Ankara/wax print shorts Close-Up #mmmay15

Wow!  I feel like I’m writing a post that says, “HEY, EVERYBODY!  LOOK AT ME!!!!”  I guess I kind of am…  So, after you LOOK AT ME!!! and my outfits, look around me!  We have flowers!  We have leaves!  We have grass!  Spring is finally here and we even had some warmer weather which is awesome because it’s warmer weather and because it means I got to add a little more variety to the clothing I could wear that I had made.  There’s no way I’m making it through this month without repeats, but it’s a great exercise in creativity and it makes me want to sew even more, and that’s a good thing.