Ol’ Farmer Pants

My students have been known to comment on my outfits, never more so than when I wear overalls. I got a very suspicious “Why do you like those overalls so much?!” the first time I wore my Roberts dungarees. This pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees has been called my “weird old farmer pants”. One of my favorite so-called compliments, though I can’t remember which pair it applied to, was when a kiddo told me she liked my underalls. “You mean my overalls?” “No, I mean your shirt.”  (A lot of them are turning ten this year and every year they get more hilarious. I’m very fond of the hooligans.)

Anyway, despite the bad press, I’m still wearing these! I’m leaning into the farmer aesthetic, too, though anyone doing actual manual labor would laugh these right out of town – more on that later. I was hoping to wear this outfit to host a Late-November Gratefulness Eating Day for my parents (gratitude and stuffing are nice, Thanksgiving is iffy), but maybe next year, as we’re not doing any gathering. The smart money says I’m wearing jimjams right now but you never know!   

When I made this pattern in 2017 it was the only indie overalls pattern I found. Since then the options have exploded (outwards in two directions, towards loose wide bags and sexy little numbers) but this sits right about in the middle, a classic Osh Kosh B’Gosh shape. One benefit of that particular timing – 2017, not a lot of other options – is that it’s been blogged a lot. There are some truths universally acknowledged, like the included back pockets are comically small. I used the CC Ginger jeans back pockets instead, and I could have gone bigger; a non-fitted bottom means more fabric to cover.

They’re placed too far out and up, but that’s on me.

Another common change, it seems everyone agrees; two hip zippers is one too many! I’ve complained about invisible zippers in the past, but there’s not a lot of evidence of why we don’t get along, because I avoid using them. I used one here. Alright, deep breath. Here it is.

Come closer, my pretty. Closerrr.

It’s bad!! It’s bad at the top, where I couldn’t figure out how to neatly finish it! It’s bad at the bottom, where (I assume, this was years ago) my over-zealous unpicking ripped past the seam allowance and I bartacked a piece of scrap fabric to the wrong side! I admit fault at the bottom there, but I don’t feel totally responsible for the top, because the waist edge is finished with a single turn to the wrong side. There’s no waistband/facing/binding in which to hide that zipper end.

That edge is my biggest complaint about the pattern. The opening of the patch pocket is finished the same way, but that’s not carrying any weight. For the join between the bib and the pants, a seam that experiences a lot of stress, it’s a weak finish. It’s why I could never wear these to do physical work. And sewn in this lightweight corduroy, a single line of stitching with the seam allowance pressed down is basically a perforated line.

After several wears my bib started ripping right off at both ends! Originally I mended those edges with some discreet hand sewing, but that didn’t last long. So once again I popped a little piece of scrap fabric behind the rip and bartacked the crud out of it. Now that’s ripping too. I really like corduroy, but 21 wale might be for a good time, not for a long time; the pants I made Professor Boyfriend from this same fabric are nearly translucent on the seat. I guess 3 years of wear isn’t a terrible innings, but I might try to fix these one more time, if I can figure out how.    

I fit these on the fly! My 2017 spreadsheet doesn’t include the size I started from (weird thing to be coy about) but my best guess would be a 48, the largest available size, since I removed a lot of width from the legs. My fitting notes indicate that I narrowed the front leg 5/8” (cut the seam allowance off the outseam, basically), and reduced the back leg 1 5/8″ at the waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at the leg. Which is a lot. Nowadays I would start from a 44, and I’ve only gotten bigger & better, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Also in ‘mysterious choices from a  former life’ I extended the straps by a few inches, which was unnecessary, and then my extra strap ends were flapping around and bugging me, so I stitched them down (that line behind the rectangle slider dealie there), and now my straps are only pretending to be adjustable. The hardware is cute though!

Overall the pattern is pretty good, I think! That back seam is flat-felled, as are the inseams. My chest pocket is purely decorative since I stitched it shut, but I like it. I like the shape of the legs, too, though inevitably they bag at the knees. I’m wearing my Turias here with a Mélilot, which is a real get-along shirt pattern.

I still remember the nice woman at the fabric store helping me choose between these buttons and dark green ones, and eventually selling me on these by describing them as raisins! Which seemed appropriate for an Autumnal Food Party outfit. I hope you’re enjoying a meal, wherever you are, and having a safe, relaxing Thursday!    

Evenin’, all!  

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: unknown; let’s say the final size was about a 44

Supplies: 2 yards corduroy in Navy, $23.00, Gather Here; $1.50, zipper, Gather Here; $7.99, buckles, Etsy

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $41.49

Pattern: Deer and Doe Mélilot

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 42

Supplies: 2 meters mystery floral, $7.73, TMoS; $7.80, buttons, Gather Here

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $15.53

Sad sacks

Now that I have a blog I like to give clothes a bit of a farewell tour before gifting/donating them. Sometimes this has the opposite effect of reminding me I like them. After trying this pair of trousers with 2 buttoned shirts, 3 tanks, and a tee, and rejecting most combinations, though, I’m reminded why I don’t wear these. So long, so pants!

These are a Burda Style pattern from 2015 and if you can find a link to them you’re a better woman than I. The pattern might even be quite good (for evidence, see this wickedly stylish pair) but my iteration is…poor. Is it weird if I offer to email you the PDF, if you want? They’re functionally un-buyable, but is that crimey? Is this the dark web now?!

It’s hard to express exactly what doesn’t work for me about these, style-wise, but it’s not hard to describe what I did wrong – the zipper, the facing, the front pockets, and the pleats. That’s most of the parts. And almost the back darts.

The back darts are meant to be sewn in two passes; first the diagonal lines right at the point, then the back pockets, then most of the rest of the pants including the back facing, and then the part of the dart that attaches to the waistline. I’d never come across something like before!

I won’t say I did it *right* per say, but I did it, and I guess it worked.

The front pockets are another story. The pattern pieces were shaped like an apostrophe that seemed to have no relationship to the front leg (taller than I would have expected, with a straight vertical top section and then a bulging curve). I didn’t understand what to sew, where, so I ended up with a couple short raw edges that I bound with a scrap of rayon.

Basically, I sewed accidental facing pockets, on top of the actual pockets. I’m sure that contributes to the weird pleat, but the pleats would probably be weird either way – I mean, that diagonal line!! I don’t even know WHY. It just IS.

The zipper appears normal from the outside.

It’s not, but I’m not taking responsibility. Here’s the deeply tragic block of instructions dedicated to the zipper. I apologize for the wall of text but it’s a good visual representation of what I was banging my head against. This is presented as is, by the way – without paragraph breaks, photos, or diagrams/illustrations.

Zip slit and upper edge: Press self-facing on slit edges to inside. Stitch along center front on the right and 5 mm before center front on the left. Stitch zip under left slit edge (underlap). Pin slit closed, matching center fronts. Stitch loose zip tape to right facing, not catching shorts piece. Fold underlap piece lengthwise, right side facing in. Stitch across upper and lower ends. Turn right side out. Neaten attachment edges together. Lay underlap under left slit edge and pin to facing. Stitch facing to underlap, close to zip attachment seam. Turn right facing to outside and pin to upper edge. Pin (upper) facing to upper edge of shorts, right sides together. On right slit edge, trim away facing allowance, along center front. Stitch along upper edge of shorts.

??WHAT?? If you can understand that, may I recommend Etruscan for a light read? I can sew a fly front, but I didn’t know how to finish the top edges without the facing also obstructing the zipper action. Reader, I winged it.

More rayon binding, and a definitely odd diagonal fold on one end of the front facing. Later, I purchased M7726; their directions have the zipper end below the front facing edge. If I did that here, though, the zip would be like 3 – 4 inches long. (Can I just say, as an aside, these pants are sapping my enthusiasm for ever making that McCall’s pattern.)

Unlike the petite French lady linked above, I didn’t have enough length for a punchy cuff, so instead I made a lackluster little hem on the outside.

 I almost forgot to mention the called-for sash belt, by the way! I made one, but I periodically lose it, including right before these photos. It usually turns up somewhere, sometime, but to heck with it.

There’s enough fabric in these trousers to remake them, most likely (Brussels Washer linen, by the way; hindsight says to choose something with more body), but I think I probably just kind of won’t bother. To paraphrase Fiona Apple in her song Paper Bag (written, I assume, about these pants), these are a mess I don’t want to clean up. I’d like to be Villanelle in Oxford bags (second season not a patch on the first, though the costumes are still tip-top), but I’m not. I’ve never even murdered anybody. How embarrassing!

Anyway, I’m altogether over these, and I can give them away as-is. Hopefully their next wearer will be more forgiving.

Another quick aside – we’re still all-masks-all-the-time over here in Somerville, and I’ve embraced that same shaped mask everyone sewed. Most recently I’ve added a piece of binding top-stitched onto the nose section, as a channel for a metal nose piece, but on cold days it’s still not quite enough to prevent my glasses from fogging. Any mask-and-glasses wearers out there with innovations for winter weather?

May your pleats hang straight and your underlaps lay under the left slit edge, pinned to facing! (Again, WHAT??)

Pattern: Burda Style paper-bag pants from 2015

Pattern cost: $3.00

Size: ?? unknown (pre-spreadsheet, sorry!)

Supplies: ? yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen

Total time: ?

Total cost: unknown, but too much, as it turns out

Red Jeds Redemption

A bit of a thud down to earth this week, from flighty capes to good solid pants. A quick aside: I’m writing this blog post the weekend before the US general election, and it will post a couple days after, so hopefully it won’t feel totally out of step with reality. I’m hoping, in fact, reality will be heading in a more benign direction.

In the meantime, how about a trip to Canada with the Thread Theory Jedediah pants? Well, the pattern is Canadian; actually, we’re in the park at the end of our street. This is the third pair of Jeds I’ve sewn this year, and the 8th…9th?…pair I’ve sewn overall. It was also the first fly-front trouser pattern I ever made!

I was so intimidated the first time – I’m not sure exactly how long it took me, but I carefully sewed my zipper fly, flat-felled or bias-bound all the seams, and finally, nervously, forked them over to Professor Boyfriend. I had decided to start with trousers for him because he’s a nice uncomplicated long rectangle, so I thought I could focus on construction and not worry about fitting; to which I say now, HAHAHAHAHA. There was something like 4 extra inches at the waist. I took them in (inexpertly) and they were still (unsurprisingly) baggy, but wearable. Professor BF loyally wore them until they fell apart anyway. So of course I rewarded him with a second pair that was far, far too small.        

I’d like to pretend the third pair was just right, Goldilocks-style, but truthfully I’m still tweaking these every time I sew them. Now I’ve flipped-flopped – I’ve practiced enough construction that I can whip up a pair PDQ, but I’m making incremental changes to fit. Is it possible, even likely, that his body is incrementally changing over the years, also, and that my pace is too slow to keep up with reality? NO.

Anyway, I’ve cut and taped and slashed and re-taped my initial pattern so many times that it no longer has a relationship to the size chart, but it’s in the range of a 32 waist, with a generous flat seat adjustment and slimmed legs. I’m not sure if my initial fit mishaps were due to measuring error (most likely), cutting/sewing error (second), deliberate pattern ease (third), or pattern error (least likely; I’ve been happy with Thread Theory patterns in the past). They were some goofy trews though.

The pattern calls for 3ish yards of fabric, depending on fabric width, which I found to be way too much.  I can make 2 pairs of full-length pants from 3 yards, and once I even eked 1 pair of trousers and 1 pair of shorts from 2 yards, so I think most sizes could safely buy less.            

The common area for adjustment seems to be the seat seam. It’s shaped like a “J” hook, with an almost right-angled corner; I didn’t do an ‘official’ flat seat adjustment (I didn’t know what one was yet) but I slapped a wodge of paper into that corner and smoothed the curve, and it improved the fit a lot. I may have overdone it, so I’ll scoop it a *little* more next time. If you or your prospective wearer has got das booty, you might not want to make any changes at all. I also shaved down the hip curve on the front and back, which necessitated scooting the pocket over a bit, so the hand opening would remain large enough.  

I now use the CC order of construction and fly zip method; otherwise I follow the Jed directions. By the way, this is the pattern that taught me to cut my notches pointing outwards, not into the seam allowance, which I now do for everything! Even though I don’t flat-fell these seams anymore (my serger has made me complacent), it’s nice to have the option. I also LOVE the front pocket construction – it looks so tidy and professional when done right. These, however, are not quite right. Instead of pocket facings, I cut the pocket lining from the main fabric (these were a q sew – pandy pants, if you will – and all my cotton scraps had been used for masks). Predictably, the openings stretched out a bit. It’s not horrible, but a nice stable cotton pocket bag would have helped.   

The main fabric, by the way, is a vintage wool (blend?) that came from some of my oldest friends! They have an ancestress who worked in a US woolens mill, and this cranberry piece was leftover from her stash of remnants from the mill! If I had made these out of lockdown I would have purchased coordinating thread instead of cobbling together some red odds and ends, but when you gotta sew, you gotta sew.

I love this pattern for smart-casual trousers! Professor Boyfriend reports that they’re warm, comfortable, and the wool doesn’t itch at all. I’m certainly going to make more, and more, and more – I’ll probably hem them a little deeper next time, raise the pockets a ½” or so, and maybe slim the legs even more. I’m not tired of sewing them yet, and he’s not tired of wearing them. So we’ll call it a match. 😎

Pattern: Thread Theory Jedediah pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ???

Supplies: vintage cranberry wool, gift; thread from stash; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.30

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $1.30

The Cape

I know Edna Mode said no capes…

But counterargument…

Maybe capes?

I know the timing of this post is suspect but this really wasn’t intended as a Halloween garment. I somehow convinced myself that I would casually pop on a cape. As one does. The pattern is question is Vogue 9288 and the utility is…doubtful.

Here’s a list of V9288 ‘can’ts’:

Can’t carry a bag.

Can’t wear a backpack.

Can’t hold hands with a companion.

Can’t move my arms above the elbow.

On the ‘can’ side, there’s items like swish, twirl, menace, flap like a crow, etc. So I guess you do the math?

This is view B (because view C would just be impractical, amirite?) and truthfully its only real purpose is that it’s fun to wear. I’m really torn – this satisfies, at best, half of my ‘quality and sense’ goal, but if you had told the me in high school who was obsessed with LotR that I learned to sew and DIDN’T sew myself a cape I would have kicked your butt from the Iron Hills to Far Harad.

It’s not even particularly warm, though! And because it’s wool (the price said ‘probably not’, the sheepy aroma says ‘but it is’) it gets stinkier in the rain. So I can wear this on dry, not-too-cool days when I’m overcome with sartorial daring. So yeah, that’s been twice in the past 6 weeks. Not my best ROI.  

But rather than litigate its very existence – it’s here now! – let’s talk about construction. As I said, I used wool, a subtly gridded wool suiting that moves really nicely and smells a bit. Unlike other sewists who have blogged this cape, I elected not to line it, due to an admixture of cheapskatery and urgency (if I waited to find the perfect lining, I would possibly lose my momentum to make a cape at all). I used my regular lightweight cotton interfacing for the facings and collar, but it can’t quite stand up to the weight of the large buttons.

They’re from a Ziploc of leather buttons I bought at a flea market many years ago. It cost $5 and it turned out to be one of my greatest sewing investments. I only need to undo one collar button to get in and out of this cape. It goes over my head though, which you might find disarranging if there’s more to your hairstyling than mine (shampoo and a declaration of “Let the wind take it”). All of the buttonholes are functional. If I undo the bottom buttons, my range of motion VASTLY increases; if I was redoing this from the beginning, I’d shorten the placket to the top four buttons only.

I considered swapping the patch pockets for welts, but my fabric was springy/bouncy and it didn’t press neatly or stay pressed well. I suspect a high polyester content, but it didn’t mind high iron heat, so it’s a bit of a mystery. I didn’t want to fight it, so in the end I chose patches, but rectangles instead of the curved pockets called for. My trusty random piece of scrap wood (a.k.a. my clapper) was handy here.

I didn’t make any other changes to this pattern. It’s a straight size M, the largest size in my envelope. I actually cut the tissue paper!! It’s the right size for my shoulders and bust, and obviously my hips fit inside. However, I failed to account for the center panel – it’s its own piece, and in a perfect world I would have graded it wider at the hips, because my flank coverage is a little dicey.

I used my serger sparingly – just on the long edges of the main cape facings, which I serged, turned once, and stitched.

The center back seam and edges of the front panel facings are all on the selvedge.

The back of the cape could probably be cut as a single piece, view and fabric width permitting. I French seamed the side seams. The finished cape is tidy and will probably age well, especially if I wear it as infrequently as I have so far.

Depending on that someone’s style, this pattern could be someone’s entry-level project into outerwear. It’s mostly straight lines, there’s no complicated fitting, no sleeves – just buttonholes and hemming a curve. The directions were great and the diagrams were clear. Way to be, Vogue!

But I don’t know yet if this will be a permanent fixture in my closet. It did wake up my cape appetite – I’d like to try a more modern one next, like the Seamwork Camden. Two capes, though, when this one gets limited wear? I try to only sew clothes I intend to wear but I love the idea of being a swishy confident cape witch. It’s a conundrum.

In the meantime, though it wasn’t intended as such, there’s one approaching occasion where it’s sure to come in handy…

Happy Halloween!

Pattern: Vogue 9288

Pattern cost: $15.98

Size: M

Supplies: 4.5 yards of gray wool suiting, Sewfisticated, $31.46; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $47.44

Modded Fall Skirt

I need one of those nice multi-part German words to mean “adapted from an existing pattern with substantial changes”, because I didn’t draft this and I sure didn’t hack it (“I’m in!”), but I did adapt an existing pattern with substantial changes. Anyway! I wear skirts now, I guess!

I had less denim left over from my 1970s pants than I thought (if more than I expected). I’ve been considering adding skirts back into my life, mainly because my tights are underemployed, and the timing seemed right. ONCE AGAIN I started with the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, pretty much treating that pattern as a lazy woman’s block. I’m the lazy woman.

Searching how to alter a pants pattern to sew a skirt yielded some pretty dire refashions but not a lot of pattern manipulation. I went so far as to visit *the second page* of Google search results without success. In the end I felt my way through adapting the pattern on paper, which yielded a wearable but blah skirt, and finally altered the fabric directly, for a skirt I actually like.

Here are my initial changes:

This sewed up fine. The seams matched, the side seams hung straight, the hem was reasonably even (it dipped a bit in back – my rear takes longer to travel side-to-side than top-to-bottom,  I guess), though it was a little loose at the waist. But it was EXTREMELY uninspiring. It wasn’t really A-line, just a lackluster triangle. I thought about widening the back darts to fit the waist, but it needed a more dramatic change. So I added a back seam, taking in the skirt about ½” at the waist, and curving the seam extravagantly under my bum to remove a full 7” in width from the back hem!

This is what the pattern pieces looked like after my on-the-fly changes:

I added a grown-on placket to the center front. On the back, the little red filled-in areas reflect where more fabric was needed. I changed my paper pattern to include those, but since I obviously couldn’t add them back onto the already-cut denim skirt, there’s a funny little upward dip in the hem, like a gradual buttcheek curve (like so: ‿‿).

I didn’t think I’d be able to hem the skirt neatly when double-folding the finished placket, so instead I tried the following technique. It uses a 5/8” hem allowance and the downside is you’re locked in to whatever skirt length you start with, but it’s low-bulk and tidy!

I had a belated flap about the placket overlap (if my finished placket is 1” wide and the seam allowance is only 5/8”, then I’m going to be short by 3/8” per side for a total of ¾” too small at the waist!!) but in the end it came up a bit big, so I’m not sure what happened there. But I’m not mad.

Oh and did she add pockets? Yes she added pockets.

Even with adjusting on the fly, a simple skirt sews up so fast! I was recently given a bag of fabric by a lovely parent at my school which included this handsome autumnal floral, and I was so pumped that my skirt design kind of worked that I immediately made another one from my adjusted pattern. That’s called science!!

I was working with a leftover piece of sturdy cotton (?) canvas (?) so I’m glad I avoided both pattern twinning and floral cheek meat.

I was worried about a flower vanishing right into the crack seam (as all the best couturiers in Paris call it), but it’s a busy design and there don’t seem to be any terrible florivorous mishaps.  

You know what makes a simple skirt even faster? Rivets instead of buttons. Buttonhole placement, by the way, was determined by how many mostly-matching buttons I could find in the ol’ Tub O’ Buttons. 10, spaced about 1.75” apart, except for the waistband button and the first placket button, which are close buddies. 10 rivets too. It’s almost enough to get a gal to invest in an anvil.

This is shopping-not-sewing, by the way, but I’m very happy with my new(ish) Kodiak Low-Rider boots. They’re city boots from a hiking company, and they took about 18 hours to break in (3 6-hour wears) and now they’re super comfortable. My one complaint is there’s no back tab to help pull them on, but I recommend them to anyone else who’s constantly on the lookout for flat boots.

Now let me sit and ponder if I got away with this post without revealing the hole in my tights…

See you soon!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, in a way

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: D at waist, E at hips (again, sorta)

Supplies: scraps of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, scraps of floral cotton canvas (?); thread, buttons, rivets from stash; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 5 hours/3.75 hours

Total cost: $2.39

Denim Again-im

New pants!! I may look like a scarecrow or some kind of gigantic boy who eats soup and says “Gee!”, but I feel like a time traveler from nineteen-seventycute.

I actually know exactly what caused me to make these pants: I got chilly. I love the look of cropped pants but sometimes I want continuous coverage! This past spring I modified some patterns to make my own version of the Anna Allen Persephone pants, which I call my Perse-phonies, but this is my first time making them full-length.

I’m happy with them, even though they’re less structured than I pictured. I used Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed; it’s non-stretch denim but I wouldn’t say rigid. It’s pretty soft and drapey. It was lovely to sew, and wide enough that I could fit both legs side-by-side, but now I’m a bit baffled about what to do with the leftovers. It’s probably too heavy for a shirt but I don’t really want more jean shorts and it’s not heavy enough for a bag. I anticipated having to place the legs vertically, so I have a healthy piece left over. Any suggestions?

Oh, another note about the fabric – it has a smell when it gets ironed. I’ve encountered it in denim before, and it’s hard to describe. It’s musty. Not nice. It’s not awful, either, but it does sort of…exist, more than I’d like. This is after a white-vinegar wash, by the way!

I guess it’s not really useful to talk about fit when we don’t have the common touchstone of a shared pattern but next time I should probably adjust for a protruding seat and protruding front thighs. If I was just prioritizing one, I’d fix the seat, because while I don’t mind wrinkles under my bum I could live without the horizontal wrinkles between the darts.

I cut the legs extra-long so I could make a deep hem.

2.75” finished, and I could stand to round up to 3”!

You can really see the tension on the buttons here, by the way. A zipper distributes that tension evenly across l’estomac but I like the vintage flavor of a button fly with this silhouette. I used five buttons, as usual, and I stitched horizontal lines between the buttonholes, a good tip from Fabrics-store. I also topstitched the inseam from the hems up, stopping about 1” from either side of the crotch seam. It’s barely possible I could have done this in a single pass of continuous stitching. I stand by the easy way, though; it works!

My black pair of these has no pockets which is NOT COOL, PAST LIA but I patch-pocketed this pair right up.

One on the rear, which is in slightly the wrong spot because I placed it with the jeans on, accidentally pinned through the denim to my underwear, and then took out the pins so I could escape and thought “I’ll remember where it goes” (I didn’t).

It’s also oddly narrow! Ask me how often I look at my own butt, though. Never, except in these photos. So it stays.

And these notched patch pockets in front!

The notch was part of my initial vision and I’m not sure why; I go back and forth over whether they’re worse than a regular pocket or kind of cool. Is the process totally self-evident? I made some diagrams anyway.

You might argue – too many diagrams???

I also have a secret pocket! I’m calling it a protest pocket – not to be accessed during normal wear, but just the right size for an ID, a little cash, and a hand-written list of phone numbers. Mine is underneath my patch pocket, but you could sew it to one layer of a pocket bag, too.   

Normally I’d make it deep rather than wide, but I really wanted to use that selvedge!

I mean, right?

Oh and, US voters, don’t forget to make your voting plan! Register, request a mail ballot, donate to The Movement Voter Project, etc. I’m voting Biden/Harris. Feeling unenthusiastic? Professor Boyfriend (and literal professor of Political Science) and a friend (and leader of the CCR) have made this website which I highly recommend, whether you’re feeling a bit blah, or an engaged voter looking to motivate others!

In other news: I got a haircut and my neck is FREEEE, and I recently learned I’ve been spelling selvedge wrong this whole time (‘selvage’). What can I say, I keep busy.

I think that’s it, except that I almost rehomed this shirt but now I’m glad I didn’t. Later, dears!

Pattern: Perse-phonies

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ?? 31” waist, 43” hip

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, $32.60, fabric.com; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $32.60

Denim Granville

These are the last of the fancy photos from our trip, and probably my favorite batch too! Next week it’s back to Professor Boyfriend’s phone camera and the occasional abandoned power plant.

Luckily, a denim shirt is at home anywhere. This is my accidental take on the outfits Samantha from Bewitched wears to do housework, but with less witchcraft and Endora but luckily also less Darrin. I digress.

This pattern is the Sewaholic Granville. I think Sewaholic patterns are aging well despite no new designs for several years. I’ve got half an eye on the Cypress cape, too. I sewed a size 10 Granville in my pre-spreadsheet era, which was technically perfect at the time; it still fits, but it isn’t my preferred fit, so I retraced the pattern in a size 12. I also modified the body of the pattern for a more relaxed shape.

The yoke, sleeves, pockets, and collar are unaffected. On the front, I temporarily held the dart closed, then traced the side seam from the Grainline Archer (a shirt I want to love but that doesn’t seem to love me back).

On the back, I merged the three princess-seamed panels into one, but without removing the seam allowances. Where the pattern pieces “kissed” I marked the center of my new pleats, each 5/8th of an inch deep. After folding the pleats (the direction is dealer’s choice; I overlapped towards center back) the width of the back panel will again match the width of the yoke.

I also traced the Archer side seams here. I didn’t make any changes to the hem curve.

As you can see the pleated back adds considerable ease and makes the shirt really comfortable and casual. There’s no reason you can’t wear business denim if you want to, but this suits me and my needs much better!

Everything is French seamed – even the armscyes, which isn’t exactly my idea of fun but it’s better than flat-felling in the round – and it’s tidy, and gladdens the heart of woman. This actually inspired me to try French seaming the sleeves on Professor Boyfriend’s shirts, too, and I like the result! Not only is there no potentially wobbly topstitching, but the seam, with its four layers of fabric, is also supportive. It helps the sleeve hang nicely with a little extra ‘bounce’ from the shoulder.

I should have chosen one topstitching distance and stuck with it, but instead the collar and pocket flaps are stitched at ¼” and everything else is more like 1/8th or 1/16th. That’s a pretty fiddly complaint though.

When I first read reviews of this pattern, a lot of people mentioned the sleeves were too long. That wasn’t my experience of the size 10. The size 12, however…

Oh dear. The good news is that I like my sleeves cuffed, and all this extra length means I can get a neat smooth cuff below my elbow, which is my favorite length anyway!

You can see how crisply it folds – the fabric also wrinkles some, but this was worn all day, straight out of my suitcase, before these pictures were taken, and I don’t look too disreputable.

The picture above shows the color pretty accurately, a cornflower blue that makes it easy to wear double-denim. And if you’ll excuse my preening, I did a dang fine job ordering thread online to match! This is from Mood, and their suggested thread would have been too light. Victory dance!

By the way, this is hemp fabric, not cotton. It’s a strong, soft, sustainable fiber – what a dreamboat! It was easy to press and mark, but it definitely felt ‘harsher’ than cotton denim while I was cutting and sewing it. It’s not for dull scissors. The fabric feels totally soft to the touch, though, so harsh isn’t exactly the right word – fibrous maybe? Tough? It is smoother than I expected. I don’t know if I’m going to get that beautiful denim fading on the seams. I hope I do! I still want a toothier denim shirt, so this one might get a sibling.  

The buttons, as many of my buttons have been lately, were fished from a Tub-O-Buttons at work! Also described as ‘button hash’ (delicious). The kids sort out the fun, sparkly, colorful, interesting buttons, and I swoop in and use the leftovers. So far no student has been like ‘THAT THREE-EIGHTHS-OF-AN-INCH OFF-WHITE TWO-HOLE BUTTON WAS MY BIRTHRIGHT’ so I don’t think I’m taking too much advantage. 😀

Final thoughts: I’ve wanted a denim shirt for a while and this does NOT disappoint. The color goes well with indigo jeans and my recent surplus of fox-colored pants. I love the sized-up and modified Granville pattern. This is the kind of deeply practical basic I like best! I think I’m going to wear this shirt for years, especially since hemp is supposed to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.

Oh, and what’s in the mug? English Breakfast tea at the beginning, and nothing by the end! I do my own stunts (when the stunt is drinking tea).

Yum!

Pattern: Sewaholic Granville

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12, with modifications

Supplies: 2 yards of Light Blue 6 oz. Hemp Denim, $27.98, Mood; thread, $3.91, Mood; buttons from stash (kinda ^^)

Total time: 9.25 hours

Total cost: $31.89

Nutmeg & Tum-Tum

This is the second item I accomplished from my recent plan of three (the summer pajamas are on hold unless I decide to use a solid or something else I can reliably order online, but these newly chilly nights have got me thinking long flannel thoughts anyway). So! Jumpsuit!

My first impression was not madly propitious – kind of a Low Security Pumpkin Spice situation – but I went to Professor Boyfriend and demanded compliments. He told me “It looks like you’re overseeing a dig site” and also to try a belt which were both the right things to say!

The pattern is the Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit, and while I’m happy with the finished look, I feel like I let the side down by buying it. I couldn’t find a finished size chart anywhere on the website, but after purchase I saw in the file that I’m the largest one. I’ve happily transitioned from being the largest size in a small envelope to the smallest size in a large envelope – lots of room to grow! – so butting up against a limit like that is both surprising and disappointing! Spending my money there was self-defeating and anti-social. I still wanted to sew this pattern, but I waffled on sharing it. I am sharing it, obviously, but I’m making the recommendation to wait to purchase this or another Workshop pattern until they improve their size range. Also, here’s the size chart!

I sewed a size 12 at the bust, grading to a 16 at the waist and hip.

Some good things about the pattern: the fit is comfortable and easy to move in. Getting into the jumpsuit is easier than getting out, but both are doable. Style-wise, I’ve been on the lookout for a shawl collar blouse pattern since seeing this one on Mr and Mrs Rat, and this is pretty much a shawl collar blouse with pants stuck on. So, value! Also, every pattern piece matched at the notches and seamlines, no trouble, except…

Neutral thing: I was EXTREMELY annoyed to discover the front leg fabric piece was about 2” shorter than the back leg. I pulled out the pattern pieces to walk the seamlines (I know, I should have done this before cutting my fabric) and discovered I hadn’t fully unfolded one piece of paper. If the legs on mine seem a little short, um, that’s why. My fault entirely. I compensated with a baby hem.

Finally, the bad thing: the directions. HOT DOG.

There’s no information about finishing seam allowances, stay-stitching, understitching, nothin’. If you’ve got some experience under your belt it won’t matter, but I got the impression that this was a teaching pattern used in their workshops, and it’s at least supposed to be beginner-friendly if not beginner-oriented. The PDF instructions are 12 pages long – 5 of those are essentially a cover with glamour shots (one of the 5 is blank), 4 are general (yardage requirements, lay plans), and only 3 cover the whole jumpsuit. There are 4 diagrams, that’s it, and they’re kind of godawful anyway.

I found the collar directions really hard to understand at a read-through. It was a little easier when I was actually sewing, but my finishing doesn’t feel secure or look neat (the directions tell you to fold under the seam allowances, then join the back and the collar/facing with one line of topstitching).

Next time I’ll try drafting a back facing and following these much more thorough directions.

I reshaped the collar slightly; it’s drafted with a little triangle bite taken out of it (I hesitate to say ‘notch’ because it’s not a notched collar), but even on the Workshop sample this looks pucker-y, so I changed it to a continuous curve. I applied it to the bodice and the facing.

I understitched towards the facing from the waist up to the breakpoint (where the collar rolls outward), and towards the bodice above it. The underlapped piece is behaving nicely, but the overlapped one is breaking lower than it should. I’d like to lower the breakpoint next time anyway, for a deeper V, and make the collar curve smoother/shallower as well. I accommodated the triangle this time in case I changed my mind about using it but next time I won’t bother!

Because of the misplaced roll, my fifth and top button is hidden under the shawl part of the collar.

Originally I wanted to find metal buttons, but I like these little wooden biscuit-y ones, too.

The wrinkles on my upper chest are intense. The bust darts (which appear in no photos, somehow) are definitely too high by an inch or two; maybe lowering them will help in the future.

Oh! Also I added pockets! I used this Threads technique which has directions only in the print edition, but it’s worth searching out. I like it because you can finish the seam allowances together, and then topstitch for added security.

I actually topstitched all the legs seams, just in case. The fabric is soft, light shot cotton – I ordered Harissa, but I’m pretty sure I received Nutmeg. Hard to get upset when I’ve been sewing the heck out of this copper/fox color lately anyway! It’s pajamas-soft and goes great with my plan to #dresslikeacrayon.

I might make another one. I don’t have a specific fabric in mind, but this was comfortable for lounging, hiking, and eating, and YES visiting the bathroom takes a little longer but what, am I in some big hurry? Nah. Plus I want another crack at that collar. And second time sewn, the pattern is free…so…rematch!!

Catch you later!

Pattern: Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $11.18

Size: 12 bust, 16 waist and hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton Harissa, $27.62, fabric.com; buttons, elastic, $3.68, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $44.87

Double dip

Brace yourself for a temporary but exciting boost in photo quality! We recently vacationed for a few days in Ashfield, MA, in the foothills of the Berkshires. I spent the chilly, drizzly days tucked up next to a Jotul with a mug of tea and a puzzle and the fresh, sunny ones picking raspberries and walking up Pony Mountain. It was (it will shock you to learn) nice!! One unexpected bonus is that one of our friends-cum-travel-companions is a skilled photographer, and he generously gave Professor Boyfriend a photography lesson and loaned his camera for these pictures, too.

One activity I didn’t do (thanks to the cold weather which I looove) was test-drive – or test-swim, I guess – the subject of this post, my new bathing suit.

I mentioned this in my planning post, but this swimsuit is based on the CC Nettie. I ended up merging the Nettie with the straps of the Halfmoon Atelier Basic Tank (free when you subscribe to the newsletter); I used the width of the Nettie bodice, and split the difference between the depth of Nettie scoop and the Basic Tank scoop necks, but the shape of the straps is the Basic Tank shape. Even though I’m not happy with the finished suit I’d like to take the tank pattern for a real spin. The back scoop is particularly to my taste.

So! I don’t like the suit! Boo. I was planning on basic but it’s downright austere. I look like I’m doing stage tech for a water ballet. I have enough leftover fabric that I could cut new leg bindings, but I’m not sure how to achieve the bum coverage I want AND a higher front leg – it seems like I’d have to start making the leg opening higher across the side seam, and surely that would affect the back?

It’s also far too thick and warm. I fully lined the suit – front and back. This, I have discovered, is exactly the same as wearing two bathing suits. Technically, I underlined the suit, since I sewed the bindings at the same time to both shell and lining. I also added thin, lightweight foam cups between the layers, zig-zagged to the lining only.

You can make out the top edge of a cup there, I think! Inserting them was a bit of a pain. There’s gotta be a better way, but here’s what I did:

  1. Baste the front outer + lining together at neck and side seams. Repeat for the back. If you’re doing this with black fabric, do it in the daytime, not by lamplight, or you will end up with different sides of each fabric showing and you’ll have to unpick and do it again. Take it from One Who Knows.     
  2. Sew the shoulders and neck binding in the order you prefer (I do shoulder 1, neck binding, then shoulder 2, because I don’t like serging in a circle).
  3. Baste the front (2 layers) to the back (2 layers) together at side seams. Pin the crotch seam together while wearing the suit (unless this alarms you, in which case baste that too).
  4. Again, while wearing the suit, slip the cups between the front outer and front lining through the un-basted front leg. Move them around until they’re comfortable and then pin in place.
  5. Remove the suit. Unpick the basting holding the front and back together. Unpick the basting holding the front outer and front lining together.
  6. Rearrange the pins so the cups are pinned just to the lining. Move the outer fabric out of the way. Smooth the lining fabric over the cups and zig-zag around each cup’s edges.
  7. Baste the front outer and front lining together again.
  8. Finish the suit in the order you prefer.

Credit where credit is due, neither fabric – the outer nor the lining – show any sign of all this stitching, unpicking, and re-stitching. The outer is this SPF tricot and it’s very stretchy and comfortable and the edges don’t roll at all. The lining is this matte tricot and perhaps you notice the words ‘high compression’ in the product description. I didn’t. It’s NOT kidding around. I wish it was!!

Speaking of that step 8, by the way – finishing in your preferred order – I flubbed that. I decided to join the front and back crotches, sew the leg bindings flat, and then sew the side seams last. This was effective, in that it prevented a great big lump of seam allowance in my crotch, which was the idea. I still have those lumps, though; they’re just on the side seams where anyone could see instead.

The leg bindings are driving me UP A WALL. I don’t think it’s only that last bad decision that causes them to constantly flip and roll, since it’s happening on the back neckline, too.

I invested in black serger thread (a thing I never usually bother doing) and it’s the only saving grace of these messy, roll-y, uneven bands. Even though the fit is basically fine, the thickness of those double fabric layers and the unreliability of the bands make this bathing suit uncomfortable and fiddly to wear.

So, next steps? I like the top half better than the bottom half, so I might chop the suit in two a couple inches below the foam cups and finish the top with one last flippin’ band. And then I might hiss at the bottom half and call it names. I don’t know. Maybe I can find a pattern for swim boyshorts, or something – I want the coverage but something about this cut just feels so sternly modest. At least shorts say “I’m fun! Gender is a construct!”.

I was beginning a “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” pose (translation: “Nudie Ladies Have A Picnic”) when a bug set up shop on my leg. It probably thought it had landed on the moon. Go find another big white thing to walk on, buggy Neil Armstrong! I’m going to go put on pants!

Pattern: CC Nettie + Halfmoon Atelier Basic Tank

Pattern cost: NA (previously made) + free

Size: Nettie – 10 bust, 12 hip; shortened 1.5″ at waist; Tank – 5 bust

Supplies: 1 yard of Black UV Protective Compression Tricot With Aloe Vera Microcapsules; 1 yard of 5.6 Oz Black Matte Tricot, $30.97, Mood; 4 cones black serger thread, $17.08, fabric.com

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $48.05

Fern Cryin’ Out Loud

How many times am I going to blog a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts? As always, Miss Swann, at least once more. Well, twice more, actually, since there’s two pairs in this post.

I don’t have a stash (one part smug to two parts jealous of your sweet sweet stash) but I save aaall my scraps. Both these shorts were made out of leftovers, originally from a pair of Peppermint Wide-Legs and RTS Papao pants.

This first pair was made from a mystery fabric which, while not exactly right, was very available. I wanted a pair of longer shorts for work this summer, but they ended up a hard-to-wear betwixt-and-between length, so I re-hemmed them to about a 3” inseam. It’s an improvement, but due to the stiffness of the fabric they stand out from my body more than I like and the finished silhouette is on the edge of dorky.

If not exactly in dorky territory, they’re on the Dorky Trail, headed west. I need the space for thigh spread, though!

I’d like to say the wrinkles are for verisimilitude. So I will. They are for verisimilitude, and you are welcome.

The thing that sells me on this pair, despite the fabric, is that I did a really good job sewing them. (No one will match Hercule Poirot for his humbility!) I know I’m not supposed to say so but I did, they look nice inside! I had a perfect scrap of sandy glimmer cotton for the pockets (not pictured, oops), and the only zip I had happened to be a coordinating color, too. It’s so tidy in there, it makes my heart glad.

I used the selvage for the edge of the fly shield, which I like aesthetically though it serves no purpose that serging/zig-zagging the edge wouldn’t also accomplish. Also, I’ve finally started backing my waistband buttons with little flat buttons on the inside. It really helps reduce wear and warping. Luckily I have a tin of them harvested from Professor Boyfriend’s worn-out RTW shirts.

I also hang onto decent-sized singleton buttons like this one, the ecru cherry on this beige cake!

 My second pair, in known-quantity cotton twill, has many more wrinkles, even though I just popped them on for the photos. Also, PLEATS.

I converted the front darts to 1” deep pleats – why? Oh, um, no reason. I think I slightly overfit the waist. Not to the point of discomfort, but the snug waist + pleats do mean these practically bloom open. Someday I’ll actually use a drapey fabric like the pattern calls for but right now my legs are inside fabric balloons. Super comfortable, unsurprisingly!

At this point I was out of zippers (well, I had a 5” one for Professor Boyfriend – but me and my body getting in and out of fitted-waist pants with a five inch zip? Ha ha ha HA good sir). So I was grateful for my recent experience sewing hidden button flies! There are a lot of good techniques out there, but I gave this one a whirl and LOVED it. I did the short lines of stitching between button holes to keep everything in place.

My shirt is a Deer and Doe Melilot, which is the zippiest button-up shirt pattern I know. It has no yoke, dropped shoulders, and cut-on plackets. The bit that takes the longest is turning the curvy hem.     

I used cotton voile bias tape to hem. I’ve done it by double folding before, too, but I like this better. The fabric, by the way, is a vintage Italian linen tablecloth – it was basically Professor Boyfriend’s trousseau. He brought it to the relationship and I used it to make a short-sleeve button down for him, then foraged the scraps for myself.

I should wear my short-sleeve Melilots more often. I really like them so I have a bad habit of saving them ‘for best’. This isn’t the easiest-wearing one in my closet, because of the linen, but who can say no to a basic white shirt?

I pointed the collar but otherwise sewed a straight size 42, no changes. It’s a little snug on my hips but the bust fits okay. I might retrace as a 44 with a 42 collar, because the collar fits perfectly; this was the first shirt pattern I tried that I could button all the way to the top (though I don’t right now, because I don’t like high necks + coronavirus hair together).

Speaking of buttons, I actually sewed this last summer for the Sewcialist’s logo color challenge. I got white on the wheel but couldn’t resist a little pop of something-something!

Surprise!

Also, when this post goes live I will hopefully be in the Berkshires, Q-tip up the nose permitting. Time to pack!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: leftovers of mystery TMOS fabric/leftovers of cotton twill; thread, buttons from stash; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.28

Total time: 4.25 hours/6 hours

Total cost: $1.28/$0.00

Pattern: Deer and Doe Melilot

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 42

Supplies: leftovers Italian linen tablecloth; thread, Michael’s, $3.75; buttons, Gather Here, $6.00

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $9.75