Shorteralls

A bunch of things recently happened simultaneously:

I’ve always had what a certain era of crime fiction describes as “the body of a well-nourished female”; this continues to be true if not truer, and all at once my years-old Morgan jeans were too tight on my thighs.

Two of my three remaining pairs of Ginger jeans gave up the ghost. These were also several years old, so not too surprising. One gave out at the inner thigh (classic) and the OTHER ONE’S ZIPPER EXPLODED.

And finally, my dear mummy mailed me a care package of several pairs of brand-new tights. Um, ka-CHING.

So I’m channeling my 2016-era Phoebe Waller-Bridge and wearing shorts over tights this season, plus relying more on skirts and tights for warmth (my lesson from last year), and the upshot is I rediscovered some stuff in my closet, including this old pal. This is my first-ever pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees!

One of my clearest memories of sewing this pair was that the fabric smelled baaad. Why? I still don’t know. But the smell persisted after several vinegar washes, especially when I heated the fabric, like with an iron. Based on the many search results for “how to get smell out of new jeans” it’s a not-uncommon denim thing! It’s totally faded away now, but these dungarees are five years old.

One thing I didn’t remember is that I apparently bought 1.44 yards of denim for this project. It had to be a remnant, right?! There’s no other possibility for getting that length, unless fabric was sold by the 4%-of-a-yard back in 2017. Anyway, apart from the odor and the oddly specific yardage, this is a classic 6.5 ounce black denim (not true black, but it never was!), and I heartily endorse this weight for short-eralls. It’s a little light for full length pants, but feels just right for a little shortie layer that I used to wear bare-legged in the summer (scandal!) and now enjoy over tights in the fall.

I didn’t record my starting pattern size back then (HONEY) but at a guess: 46. I did record the following changes: reduced front leg width 5/8″; reduced back leg 1 5/8″ at waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at leg; changes reflected in paper pattern. That last bit is crucial, and should have informed me going forward not to expect packet measurements from my altered pattern copy. However, since I am a ruthless doofus, I usually write that sort of thing on the pattern paper too (plus a date, in case of future changes), and I failed to do so on this one. At least it explains the problems I’ve had with fitting this pattern more recently!

The hardware came from a short-lived shop on Beacon Hill called Mercer’s Fabric; I bought a three pack of buckles in 2017 and have not had to buy them since. This is the only set still attached to its original garment, though – the other two have been recycled forward a couple times each.

I bought two zippers as directed but only sewed one. It’s nominally an invisible zipper, and I just about can’t think of a worse idea than two invisible zippers. I didn’t get the installation quite right so the zipper tape top doesn’t meet the overalls edge; instead I added a little button and loop to hold the very top closed. I’m waiting with a kind of morbid excitement for my fraying beginner button loop to fail. But it’s still here.

I goofed on the envelope pocket too. When sewn correctly, the flap is attached right-side-to-wrong side of the main pocket piece and then flipped forward to enclose the top edge. Alternatively, you could do what I did, fully misunderstand, and topstitch every edge to the bib including the top one, so what you have is not a patch pocket but a patch.

The seams of these overalls are finished with a combination of flat-felled seams – center front and center back; bias tape – back bib; serging (using what was then my brand! New! Serger!) – front bib and side seams; and the pocket openings – just clipped and turned once. At the time I felt some doubt about the clipped curves, but they’ve maintained just fine!

And honestly even if they hadn’t I can’t see lightly getting rid of these because one time I wore them to work and a sixth-grader suspiciously asked if I was cosplaying as Lenny from Legion. FLIPPIN’ I AM NOW.

It’ll be interesting to see how much longer I fit into these. They would have been loosy-goosier and more casual five years ago (I recall I once wore them to go hiking) but I think this fit is pretty cute too, especially over my new mock-neck shirts. (I’m finding these so useful, not least because they make me feel like an X-Man (an image search reveals no visual correlation between X-Men and mock necks, but I still feel like one)).

These will probably be a remake-and-replace when the time comes. The fabric is easy enough to source, and the utility is high. Annoyingly, due the above-mentioned recent fitting struggles with this pattern, I threw out my printed copy a few weeks ago, so I’ll have to reprint.

But I think these are worth the tape!

Final PSA: these shorties are SHORT!

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: 46 (estimated); reduced front leg width 5/8″; reduced back leg 1 5/8″ at waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at leg

Supplies: 1.44 yards Black Washed Denim 6.5 oz, $17.08, Gather Here; zippers, $2.50, Gather Here; buckles, $3.75, Mercer’s Fabric; thread from stash

Total time: 9.75 hours

Total cost: $32.33

Navy Corduroy Roberts

I wore holes into my PA Turia dungarees (pattern here), so they’ve taken up semi-permanent residence in my mending basket until (I’m guessing) I’m snowed in with no projects, at which point I might dabble in life-saving surgery. In the meantime I find it hard to picture going through life without immediate access to navy corduroy overalls, so I turned around and made some more.

Since I was deeply unwowed by my last PA Turias I pulled out Marilla Walker’s Roberts collection. I’ve made the MW Roberts dungarees once before with a pile of changes, chronicled here, but I wanted to play it straight this time, inspired by Fabric Tragic’s black pair. I think there’s something insouciant about the Roberts silhouette! I want strenuously to be insouciant!

Plus I laid out my pattern pieces to check and the Frugal Dougal (some kind of budget-conscious magical miniature Irishman, I guess?) on my shoulder whispered that I could probably get this pattern out of two yards of 54” wide fabric. And praise Enya, I could!

There was one compromise I had to make if I wanted to use corduroy and fit the pattern into two yards: the nap would have to run in opposite directions on the front and back, but as long as I walked forcefully into every interaction and moonwalked out again, nobody would have to know. Also, the front bib is lined in self-fabric; to save fabric, I had to cut the lining upside-down relative to the front nap, but I labeled the wrong side of the upside-down bib “FACING” and considered the problem solved.

Obviously I forgot I had done this, and also that there was a need to do this, and the next time I saw that “FACING” label was when I was sewing the FACING piece as the outer and the outer piece as a FACING, but by then I’d already hard committed by sewing the side button openings which overlap that seam, so ship = sailed.

I would classify the mistake as “visible but unimportant”. As are my other, more deliberate changes to the pattern. First, I drafted out the tucks on the front leg below the waist, and I even edited my ‘master pattern’ – the printed version that I return to, and that I expect to reflect all necessary changes. The top edge of front leg now has a slight dip in the center instead of being perfectly level across, but I once saw a video (I wish I could find and link it) where a designer showed an edge like that, and how when you force it into a straight line, it pops out the volume into the fabric below. And that volume is perfect for my rounded stomach! I adjusted the front pocket pieces to match.

I also sewed two hip openings instead of one. It turns out the necessary number of hip openings to pull these off and on is zero, but at least they’re useless AND symmetrical. This took a bit of doing – after sewing the front and back facings, I realized one side was misaligned by a healthy ¾”, and did a fair amount of unpicking and easing to get it to match the other. Unlike the facing/outer conundrum above, this was absolutely worth the time.

I’m going to eat a quick bite of crow and mention that I wasn’t very flattering about the Roberts directions for the hip openings when sewing my heavily edited version – but actually they’re totally fine, provided I follow them! The diagrams are clear and the order of operations makes sense.

For my last barely-a-change, I extended the straps so I could feed them through buttonholes on the front bib and knot them. I liked the idea of being able to wear these overalls snug or loose, depending on the shirt. That works fine. But I discovered too late that I really should have sewed the buttonholes horizontally, as the straps have to do a little half-twist to orient to the holes.

I have another category of changes, which is “invisible but important”. This includes adding interfacing to the button extensions (I keep saying buttons, but I used jean rivets) and to the top edge of the front bib. Because the side buttonholes go through two layers of corduroy and their seam allowances, I forewent interfacing there. My favorite neat little addition, though, is an extra step when sewing some seam allowances.

When using heavier fabric or lots of layers, I think turned corners can look a little soft/mushy, but I discovered that if I pre-fold the seam allowances in one direction and stitch them down, I get a much crisper result. This was especially useful on the back bib.

There’s no before image, but I’m very happy with the after!

In the category “future changes”, I’d like to make my next pockets deeper. These feel a little chancy. Otherwise, these dungarees are completely comfortable!

They’ve passed a series of tests – the crawl-around-the-floor-doing-a-project test, the curled-up-with-a-book test, even the I’m-doing-laundry-but-don’t-have-a-hand-for-the-wooly-dryer-balls-so-carry-them-in-my-bib test.

I anticipate getting lots of use from these, and hopefully will be able to use the scraps to repair my old Turias, too! I love corduroy season.

Pattern: Marilla Walker’s Roberts dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 5; drafted out tuck; applied side placket to both hips; lengthened straps

Supplies: 2 yards of Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Navy, $35.45, Fancy Tiger Crafts; thread, Michael’s, $3.59

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $39.04

Pair of Pant

As I am nothing if not susceptible to trouser trends, these are the Adams Pant from Daughter Judy. By the way, that’s one of the silliest uses of the fashion singular I know of (“Put your pant on, you’re late for school!”). They’re described as a “painter’s pant” (just the one) but the part that sold me was “generous fit through the thigh”. I don’t know if I’ve increased my landholdings again or if I’ve just become more aware of constricting thighs, but my Morgan jeans are not as comfortable as they used to be.

These were a low-stakes sew because I had the main fabric left over from an unblogged pair of MN Dawn shorts I made earlier in the summer. I was bound & determined to own brown shorts and when I found this unlabelled fabric in a nice cocoa shade I ignored its two issues: first, that I had to buy the complete remaining yardage (2 7/8th yards), and second, its suspiciously low price. It ran me $8.61. I took it home and did a burn test, but in my heart I kinda already knew it was poly-cotton. Anyway, I had a hearty chunk leftover, a little more than half, so there was never going to be a cheaper time to try this new-to-me pattern.

There’s three possible Adam pant prices to choose from, all of which donate 5% to a nonprofit. I chose the cheapest. As an aside, it would be fascinating to learn what proportion of buyers choose which price. Does the Goldilocks Effect still apply when there’s no difference between the three products?

Since there’s two back leg views, this pattern took a lot of printing! Otherwise there’s nothing too revolutionary in the pattern pieces, except that the back leg piece, instead of a single shallow concave curve from crotch point to hem, is an “s” curve. It’s mostly concave except for the few inches leading to the crotch point, which are ever-so-slightly convex. In theory I thought this is maybe where the thigh room would come from; in practice, it leads to a beautifully flat crotch once the inseams are joined. No stabby crotch at all. You could balance an egg on it. Props, Judy!

I was a little less impressed by the back pockets. I loved the idea of darted volume, but when it came time to turn the edges under, they were bulky, man! Undeniably bulky! I couldn’t get the stitching to sit pretty and I was hoping for a tip and/or trick to wrangle that bulk, but none was forthcoming. Ultimately I unpicked the pockets, darts topstitching, and darts, and just sewed them flat. I didn’t alter the shape, which widens towards the bottom, in hopes of keeping the visual weight similar, but on my butt it kind of operates like the trick-photography forced perspective shots from FotR and the edges appear parallel.

I wasn’t totally happy with the front pockets either. Function A+ mind you, they’re nice and deep and anchored at center front, which I like, but the finish isn’t elegant or sturdy. The bottom edge of the pocket bag is in places a single layer of fabric, which you’re instructed to finish with serging. I made the poor choice of a lightweight Ruby Star cotton so it looks and feels very flimsy. Also, you can theoretically see the pocketing while the pants are being worn, as the pockets pop slightly open by design. Next time I would choose a more robust cotton in a matching shade.

The zipper instructions were new-to-me but I liked them fine! They’re not the easiest instructions I’ve ever used – that honor as always to the CC Gingers zip fly – but everything lined up as it was supposed to, and I only had to unpick once, for purely aesthetic reasons. I used a nylon zipper because I had it around. Since these are lower-stress than tightly fitted pants I think it will be fine long-term.

I used the waistband width and length from the Daughter Judy pattern, but the curve from a many-times-sewn pattern, sadly no longer for sale, the Fern shorts. Mine looks wide so I suspect my progressive tracing and cutting added another ¼” or so to the final waistband width. It crumples like a sonofa despite interfacing, which means next time: more interfacing!

Apart from the curvier waistband, I cut a straight size 14. I increased the back dart intake ½” total each, and removed ¼” from the height of the side seams at my waist at final fitting (the side seam “rise”?). These are definitely not wrinkle-free (especially after the half-a-dozen wears this pair has gotten before these pictures were taken!) but they’re comfortable to death.

I’m a little interested in the current fitting trend monster, top-down center-out, and this would be a good pattern to try it on. I’ve also got my doubts – it requires a level of faith in a designer’s specific crotch curve which IMO isn’t always merited – but this pattern has a low enough crotch (I daresay a general enough crotch) that why not go for it!

I could definitely see myself making another pair of these in a nicer fabric. I am LOVING the thigh room (“Let my people gooo!”), and I’m a little intrigued by the elastic-back view. These are already completely non-restrictive, so the elastic must be really easy to wear. Maybe an elastic-back version with a longer hem for winter warmth + stew room? In the meantime, the poly content has not prevented me from wearing this pair, so it’s official: I like ’em!

And I like you!

Pattern: Daughter Judy Adams pant

Pattern cost: $14.00

Size: 14; used waistband from Fern shorts (size D); sewed pockets without darts; removed 1/4″ from side seam “rise”; increased dart intake 1/2″ each

Supplies: leftover cotton/poly twill; 1/2 yard of Ruby Star Society Moons in Natural Unbleached Metallic quilting cotton, $6.50, Gather Here; button, $0.90, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $21.40

Pocket Corner

I am healed! There was a period of about two days where I was allowed out of isolation (masked & distanced) but hadn’t yet tested negative, and I basically spent them prowling around the shady parts of my neighborhood feeling like an apex predator. Now I’m once again a delicious healthy zebra. But for a shining moment, the world had to wash its hands after seeing me.

Professor Boyfriend is also home and healthy, and our new fridge has ice cream in it, and the future is now, sweetcakes! It seemed like a good time to slap on a new skirt I sewed for vacation (“vacation”) because it’s official: I’m a skirt person now.

I have three more skirts in the pure-imagination phase, but I can already picture how useful they will be. This one, the Peppermint pocket skirt, is not only useful unto itself, but it’s also unlocked the usefulness of a lot of my summer tops that had been yielding diminishing returns. That includes my 7 remaining Ogden camis, a pattern I was wearing less and less for no clear reason.

This year I hit a sort of style plateau; I was bored by a lot of what I owned but lacked a clear goal of what I’d rather be wearing. But this skirt, and skirts generally, have helped me realize I was primarily Confused By Shorts (working theory). Ogden is back in my life! This skirt is a friend to summer dressing, and casual slight tanks & tees are its natural companions.

It’s also an easy sew. It is, in essence, a glorified tube. I like it. I like the saggy saddlebag pockets (I might be making a virtue out of a necessity, but I like to emphasize my hips). I like how the pockets slump into relaxed folds but stick out enough that my hands easily land there.

I like that it’s full enough to be muy muy comfortable but narrow enough to look contemporary. It’s a tricky width to find, but a good one to hit! Pretty much the only change I’d make next time would be to experiment with wider elastic. I could also add a little length to the back panel, since it looks like the journey over my bum is hiking up the back hem a bit, but I probably won’t.

I tend not to evaluate myself with a level.

I also like that it’s free! This pattern was designed by Paper Theory, one of those super-spendy British indies, and it’s a great way to get that disposable-income look. It’s a solid pattern and the instruction booklet covers everything necessary. I just followed along like a good little listener. I sewed a straight size 16, finished the seams as directed, and even turned up the hem the recommended amount.

Oh! I did add one line of topstitching to the waistband though, because I’m a free spirit (whose elastic always twists)!  

The fabric is a linen/rayon blend in the color “Thyme”, and it’s very nearly not a color. Actually I was such a conformist when making this skirt I tried to find a dupe of the dark-olive linen used in the pattern sample (sidebar: when did we start calling olive “khaki”? Isn’t khaki the sandy-pants color that Seinfeld wore?), but this grey-green is actually pretty versatile (double sidebar: thyme is dark green! This should be called, like, wormwood! It’s more accurate, and also awesome!). I started with 2 yards of Telio Silky Noil Washed Viscose and was left with 14.5″ selvedge-to-selvedge. I’ve already made it into a…something. You’ll see. This blend wrinkles, but the wrinkles mostly fall out with wear.

The pockets, which are, broadly speaking, the whole dang point, are actually wider than the skirt panel below them. That’s why they wing out so reliably. They’re also understitched, though in my floppy substrate that doesn’t prevent the inside from making itself known…but discreetly.

I could try using a stiffer coordinating fabric for the pocket interior to emphasize the shape if I make another flow-y version. Might be fun!

Oh and! Because all the pieces are vertically symmetrical, I was able to open the digital file, split the biggest pieces, and then stack them in pairs, which meant printing this pattern only took a lithe and lovely 13 pieces of paper!   

If you like skirts and you’re in the mood for a straightforward, almost-mindless win with lots of wearability, I recommend this freebie. I can’t tell if I’m over-praising a simple make because I’m euphoric to be dis-infected, but hey, either the skirt or the lung capacity feels good!

By the way, I’m trying to get past my style block with a fun exercise: picturing a self-insert Mary Sue who happens to look exactly like me in fictionalized scenarios (giving an interview! Opening a witch bakery! Cutting a foe, in the Austen sense, not the “Butcher of” sense!) and looking at what she’s wearing. Is it wide stiff mid-thigh shorts? No? What, never?! Then why am I? The parallel real-world experience to this is catching my reflection in an uncontrolled surface (i.e., a plate glass window) and then recording my own reaction (“OH NO”).

More summer makes to come. Thanks everyone for your comfort, commiseration, and TV recs! Stay frosty! ❤

Pattern: Peppermint pocket skirt

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 16

Supplies: 2 yards of Telio Silky Noil Washed Viscose Linen Slub Thyme, $43.70; elastic, Sewfisticated, $0.99; thread from stash

Total time: 3.5 hours

Total cost: $44.69

Navy Linen

I have a nice straightforward W to share today, and you know I like it ‘cause it’s got me standing like Jim Rash doing Angelina Jolie receiving an Oscar. Back in high school I wore a lot of skirts; I added dresses in college; then I phased out both and started living in pants, but I don’t know, I’ve been feeling skirts lately. Shade in the summer, warmth in the winter!

This particular skirt is an imitation of – um, an homage to the Tessuti Madden skirt. It’s a perfectly nice pleated skirt pattern with one side seam and an off-center button closure and I copied it, I copied it right up. Basically, as far as I can tell, it’s two rectangles, a pocket, and a waistband. I used the waistband piece of M8248, helpfully covered by a belt in the envelope photo, thanks, but it’s a curved waistband with front and back pieces that I merged into one long piece. Then I split the waistband 2.5” from one end, and moved that bit to the other end. Finally, I drew on additional straight extensions for the button over/underlap. Et voilà! “Drafting”!

The skirt panels required a little simple addition. I decided to draw them in Illustrator, and then look at the Properties panel and transfer those dimensions to fabric. I started with two pieces each 36” long and 15.75” inches wide, which is half of my waist measurement. Same as the waistband, I cut off a 2.5” section of one panel (now the front) and moved it to the other panel (now the back). I decided on the finished width of the pleats – .75” – and for each pleat (8 in front, 10 in back), added another 1.5” in width. Since a pleat viewed on edge is basically a squashed letter “Z”, that measurement is double the top layer – it adds the zig back/zag forward fabric, for fullness that doesn’t change the finished waist measurement.

I also added 1.25” in width to each panel for button placket, and then 5/8” seam allowances using the recently-discovered-by-me Offset Path function – I looovvveee iiittt – and I had my final pattern pieces! Still rectangles, but BIGGER rectangles. The front was 29.5” wide x 37.25” long, and the back was 36.875” wide x 37.25” long.    

 I messed up a bit adding the grown-on button plackets; I thought of them as overlapping, which they are, but of course they also add one placket’s-width to the skirt. I made the same error of logic when adding to the waistband, so the pieces fit together, but the finished skirt was 1.25” too loose. With a bulky sweater it was just comfortably loose, but in a summer top – and let’s face it, linen skirts and summer tops go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong – it was dipping at the center back. Rather than minutely increasing the pleats or resewing one of the plackets, I decided to retcon in some back waist elastic. I unpicked two sections of waistband and fed a scrap of some 1.5” elastic through one opening and out the other, snugging it up and then securing it with two short vertical lines at the side seam + what would have been a side seam.

The skirt is definitely not tight but it sits correctly now, and is still really comfortable, even on stonking hot days.

I opted for a slash pocket instead of an inseam pocket in the one side seam because I like them better, and because it’s much easier to sew French seams that way. The fabric is 100% linen from Sewfisticated; it was lovely to sew and finish.

It’s also quite light, so I gave it a nice deep double-fold hem, added tricot interfacing to the button plackets, and lined the waistband in cotton for stability. I use this interfacing roll in white, and while nobody’s ever tried to sponsor me, if they want to, they can, and I promise I’ll rename my apartment Fusible Tricot Interfacing Rolls Stadium.

The buttons are my laser-cut jaguar buttons. I rinsed this batch before varnishing and they came out a little blonder as a result.

I started with two and a quarter yards of the linen and I had to enough left over to try out something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. It’s a tank based on the Peppermint button-front dress, a free pattern. It’s actually just the size E facings from that pattern extended, with the button placket extension added to the new fronts.

I couldn’t fit the back on the fold but I was able to cut it in two halves with the center seam on the selvedge, which is my favorite fix for an unplanned straight seam! Pre-finished, baby!

I was originally confused by steps 12 and 14 (*NOTE: these are sequential steps in the directions, since step 13 appears before step 12. I don’t make the rules), where the facing edges are attached to the plackets, but once it clicked it was pretty terrific. Low-bulk, super neat, and well worth applying to other projects. Even if you never make this pattern, it’s probably worth reading the directions for that step.

This tank also got laser-cut buttons and functional buttonholes, though this unshaped version can go off and on without touching the buttons. It’s not my all-time favorite tank but it was a really fun sew!

I’ve been having kind of a dud-ly sewing season lately, so it’s nice to add a couple things to my summer wardrobe without any mixed feelings or regrets. This just confirms my suspicion that linen makes everything better.

What a breezy and often expensive non-surprise!

Pattern: based on Tessuti Madden skirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: fits waist measurement 31.5” – 32.5”

Supplies: 2.25 yards of navy linen, Sewfisticated, $22.48; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $22.48

 –

Pattern: Peppermint button-front dress

Pattern cost: NA

Size: E, facings as a tank

Supplies: leftover linen; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.75 hours

Total cost: $0.00

OshKosh B’Gosh B’gone?

For a while I’ve been thinking about making a new, improved set of PA Turia dungarees. I decided my next pair would use stretch denim, and I was convinced I wanted them to be blue. Not black or indigo, just true blue, so when I finally found some blue (ding!) stretch (ding ding!) denim (ding ding ding!) at this Etsy shop, I happily ordered 3 yards. When it arrived (unbelievably quickly, props) I looked at the blue denim in front of me, this thing I wanted for so long. And I couldn’t remember why.

So: wrong side! It’s a highly acceptable blue-grey! It’s preferable to the blue, but I can’t say I would have picked it otherwise. This color situation was the first indication that my sewing caught the prevailing spirit of the times. These dungarees were ever-so-slightly doomed.

But because I didn’t know that yet I launched into these with a can-do spirit, making some changes I’d been hoping for to the pattern – I split the back horizontally at the waist, lengthened the legs 2” from the bottom, added a waistband, and planned a side-button closure. I decided also to change the pocket to a single-layer pocket instead of a patch pocket.

My ‘drafting’ was limited to the rectangles for the waistband pieces and the fly shields, and the fly extensions for the sides. The waistband was meant to serve three purposes: to allow more room for vertical girth (my original corduroy pair is a bit binding when I bend), to strengthen the connection between the bib and the pants, and to finish the waist neatly. All three purposes were satisfied, but me, not so much. I figured a waistband would add vertical space without having to edit the rise, and this is both true and sort of missing the point of adjustable straps. Surprising exactly one person – myself –everything sits correctly only when the straps are yanked way up. BY THE WAY: one of my straps is twisted in every photo, but this is called cinéma vérité.

Anyway, I gave myself more than enough height, but I was surprised by width. I knew that once the side button closures were sewn, it would be impossible to change the outseam seam allowances. This worried me a little because I remembered having to take in my first pair over and over, but Lia-from-the-past had already trimmed the paper pattern pieces (without noting having done so, LIA!!) so when I did a quick baste-fit they were actually a little snug. I ultimately used a 5/8” sa on the crotch and inseams, and 3/8” sa on the outseams.

I’m not singing praise songs about these overalls, but I am feeling pretty good about the way I sewed my side button closures! I read this CC post about adding hip buttons to Jenny overalls, and this True Bias Lander pants button fly tutorial, and mashed those up to find a technique that would work with my pattern pieces.   

I’m proud of that. It’s not perfect, but it works. In a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, though, don’t forget to interface the noted pieces. 😬

By the way, I finished my pocket edges by double-folding the fabric to the back; the extension was shaped like this.

It wasn’t until I took my front leg pattern pieces to the ironing board to press those edges in place that I noticed I had cut 2 the same instead of mirrored. Happily, I had just enough fabric to recut one front leg, but it obliterated my leftover yardage. Still! I’d rather use it if I’ve got it! I used the extra wrong leg to cut some smaller pieces, like the fly  shields and bib pocket(s).

I actually made 3 bib pockets and selected none of the above. This stretch denim was too spongy-springy to press really nicely into shape, and my pockets looked bulky and uneven. Well, two of them did. The first one might have been perfect, but I trimmed the seam allowances way too aggressively and burst through a corner, so the bib has no pocket. It’s wide. It’s bland. It’s too late now!

My front and back bib edges were serged and folded once, then sewed down from the wrong side.

I didn’t clip the curves on the back, but the stretch compensated for that. I don’t love this denim, but credit where credit is due: the bobbin stitching looked just as nice against it as the topstitching, which is never guaranteed. Also, I ran out of tonal thread at the end of the project with just 2” left unsewn on one leg hem, but I shrugged and used the wrong color, and hey, who can tell!

Sewing overalls is a lot like sewing pants, plus extras; it’s not a very speedy process, and I kept setting myself back. Still, after my cutting and construction woes, I was eager to try on the finished pair. They feel terrific. I think they look awful.

The crotch is too long. The back is buckling. They’re snug in a band across my lower belly, but loose above and below. Also, I think these are just fighting my form. I tend towards the in-and-out-y, but these make me feel like a Minecraft person, boxes stacked on boxes. Part of me appreciates that blocky simplicity, but I also feel like a Wisconsin youngster with Bigs disease* (*okay so, a long time ago I mixed up the plots of the Robin Williams vehicle “Jack” and the Tom Hanks movie “Big”, neither of which I’ve actually seen, but I committed then and I’m not backing down now!!).

That said, I gave them a day’s grace and they’re almost too comfortable to believe – soft and stretchy, warm but not heavy. I marked the giveaway reason on my sewing spreadsheet as “fit” before I even strung the buckles, but now I’m not so sure. In the words of The Clash, “Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?”

And to paraphrase them further: should these stay or should they go?!

Pattern: PA Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: NA (repeat)

Size: 40 outseam, 48 crotch and inseam; extended legs 2″, split back and added front and back waistbands (finished width 1 1/2″), added side button fly extensions; used 3/8″ seam allowance on outseams

Supplies: 3 yards of 50″ wide 12 oz. true blue stretch denim, $42.00, etsy (AdFabric); thread, hardware from stash

Total time: 9.5 hours

Total cost: $42.00

Wooly Cornflakes

I seem to be the recipient of a cute little curse where every elastic-waist pair of pants I make is dressier than my jeans. Is this because I ignored an old woman at a business-casual well? Who can say!

These are my ES Clyde pants, a pay-what-you-wish pattern. It’s a minor miracle that mine are here, not because there’s any particularly tricky steps when sewing, but because I was convinced I didn’t have enough fabric. I kind of didn’t, but not in ways that ended up mattering!

Somebody’s pattern review somewhere said that they easily made a pair from 1.5 yards of 60” wide fabric, and I can’t remember who this person was but that is not something we have in common. I assume they also made a size 12, or I wouldn’t have risked it – though I found when transferring the pattern to fabric that I had inexplicably printed and assembled a 12 tall, so that might have something to do with it? I snaffled a Clyde pants pattern in that weird free distribution window around early 2021, if I remember correctly, so my memories of picking a size are a little foggy. By the way, I’m not, and neither was I in early 2021, tall.

1.5 yards was definitely not enough yardage for me. Hypothetically, let’s say I fit all the leg panels side-by-side, 6 in total. (I did not.) The pocket backs and facings still wouldn’t fit on the length. Realistically, let’s say I fit 5 of the 6 leg panels side-by-side. (I did.) There was no way, at any angle, that the 6th piece would fit. Cue: moping.

On day 3 of the mopes I remembered reading a online discussion about piecing the crotch hook on pants, and after some adjacent but not-quite-relevant results (no Google, I don’t need instructions on how to give someone a piercing with a crochet hook) I turned up this PatternReview.com thread. I followed those instructions pretty exactly, letting the pattern piece overhang the fabric, rough-cutting a scrap  larger than the overhang with a selvage edge, and matching and sewing the selvages before cutting the hook. Next: rejoicing! I had all 6 panels! And I would defy anyone to notice this seam without my active participation.

I also had to piece one of the pocket backs (I almost got away with it, too, but the seam just peeks out) and use a different scrap fabric for the pocket facings. This cotton has a very different hand than my main fabric, but it sure was ~*available*~.

This main fabric, by the way! It’s a wool blend with a tiny red-and-green check that I think merges into a nice soft cocoa color at a little distance. For topstitching I used a spool of plum-colored thread that I don’t remember buying, with olive green in the bobbin; they’re both pretty dang subtle but the plum is practically invisible. It was like sewing a dazzleship. The fabric was soft and drapey on the bolt but it pressed crisply, and the finished pants have a little more ‘crunch’ than I anticipated, almost cornflakey. No leftovers.

The instructions are good, probably! They’re certainly lavish! I just used the “Quick Start Guide” and loved it. They’re really clear about the seam allowances (mostly but not exclusively ½” – just narrow enough that I don’t feel guilty serging instead of French seaming) and the steps are intelligently sequenced. I followed them to the letter until sewing the elastic. I tried their way, but I didn’t like it, so I unpicked and sewed a typical casing instead.

I used one line of topstitching instead of two because I was running out of thread. 2 lines would have been handsomer on this wide elastic, though.

And the finished pants? Well, they exist, which was definitely in doubt for a minute there. But they’re a little too trim and tailored for my preference. I like the slouchy, relaxed fit most sewers achieved elsewhere. I have a few options if I want to make another pair, including reprinting the pattern in a larger size or using a 3/8” allowance on the long seams instead of ½” (with 3 seams per leg, not counting the crotch, that’s an extra ¾” of space per thigh). I shudder to think of printing this again (my ink! Oh woe, my tape!), but that’s probably the best choice, because, again, I am not tall. These are quadruple-cuffed!

And finally there’s the obviously correct next step, which is to surrender to the inevitable and use linen. A-doy.

In the end – my end, specifically – nobody is going to notice the piecing on the back leg except me, and I’ve come to appreciate it. It’s like a tag telling me which side is the back. This is the first pair of pants where I’ve felt serious doubt on that point.

Is this because I offended an old woman at a vertically-symmetrical well?! I have got to stop hanging out at wells.

Pattern: ES Clyde pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 12 tall

Supplies: 1 1/2 yard of cocoa wool blend, Sewfisticated, $10.49; 1 yard of 3″ wide elastic, Sewfisticated, $0.99; thread from stash

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $11.48

M8248

Another skirt already! I ordered a copy of M8248 during one of the recent McCall’s sales. I know a pleated skirt is so, so basic, but I really liked the envelope photo styling and its specific proportions. I thought it had a winter-wearable, late-nineties Sandy B. homeowner-witch vibe, but in the gap between placing my order and receiving my copy I had a moment of doubt. As in, did I just spend $9.00 on a drawing of a rectangle?

Happily, no. It’s invisible in the line drawing, but in addition to the slight shaping on the skirt front and back (and a curved waistband – heads up, curved waistband fans), this pattern has side panels. Also, the front and back panels are identical for all sizes. All the grading occurs in the width of the waistband and the side panels. I loved this since it meant I could cut the pattern tissue instead of tracing it. I was even able to cut the side panel tissue by making little guide holes along the seam allowance for my size without cutting off the larger sizes, so the only piece I had to trace was the waistband. Huzzah!

For my winter witch vision I knew I wanted to use wool, and I found this springy/spongy wool blend from Sewfisticated (you have to add “blend” after “wool” at Sewfisticated; it’s reflexive). I think it’s riding that bulldoggish line between ugly and cute. I had 22 3/4″ full width leftover from my pattern-suggested purchase of 2 ¼ yards (hold that thought!). Also, I cut the inner waistband from scraps of tightly-woven cotton twill for stability.

I started from a size 16, which is a little up from my measurements. I extended each waistband piece by about 1” on a short side, as well, so it would overlap above the zipper – I prefer not to cross a seam with an invisible zip if I can help it, and I found some suitable buttons on a very deep dive into my button bag, so that plan was a go.

Then I sewed just the waistband first. I concluded I needed to remove 3/8” extra seam allowance per side, for a total reduction of 1 ½”, and planned to just sort of massage that difference into the skirt seams and/or pleats.

After setting the correctly-fitting waistband aside, I quickly matched the front/back and side panels, serged the seam allowances, installed the invisible zip using the Kenneth D. King method, and hand-sewed the hem to give myself a treat later. It’s nice to return to a finished hem, isn’t it?

With only the pleats and the waistband attachment remaining, it seemed like I was going to sail through this project. Then those seeds of confidence bloomed into a beautiful garden of oopsie-daisies.

I’m a relative pleat newbie and I was less than madly enthusiastic about thread-tacking all the pleat markings, so I didn’t. You can use an awl if you’ve got guts and a cutting mat, but I figured I’d just look at the pattern piece for reference when I got there. Because I cut out the paper pattern pieces instead of tracing them, I didn’t transfer or, apparently, read the markings. And since I thought I was hot stuff, I didn’t read the directions either. This is the moment – post serging, zipper, and hemming – when I realized I was supposed to have a total of 4 side panels. I had 2.

It’s clear from the line drawing that the front and back of the skirt are meant to be identical. The side panel has one pleat line marked; it joins its paired leg on the main panel, but I merrily ignored the fact that with only one pleat per side panel, there was no way the front and back could match. Also, the plaid didn’t match across the seams, but I assumed my fabric had grown. Most egregiously, I ignored the notches. When does a low-down double notch match a high-up single notch? Never, is when! And yet!! That is how I sewed it.

This is where my generous leftovers stopped being a surprise or a point of pride. Yes, you too can have leftover fabric if you merely don’t cut 1/3 of all the skirt panels!

If this was a moral test, I failed. My skirt still has only 2 side panels. I was weak!! I couldn’t face unpicking nearly every stitch I had sewed so far. I ended up doing a lot more pleat massaging more or less on the fly to fit the skirt to the waistband, though not without cost. The ultimate price: my back is missing the 2 widest-set pleats, the side hangs a little funny, and I lost the proportions I paid $9.00 for. Oi.

But. But!! It’s still kind of, I don’t know, romantic? Uneven and wooly and kind of ugly but also sort of pretty? I could see making another in black or navy to soup up the witchiness. But I like to think that next time, I’d use all the pieces!

Pattern: M8248

Pattern cost: $8.99

Size: View C, 16, waist reduced 1 ½”, 1 skirt panel missing (siggghhh)

Supplies: 2 1/4 yards wool blend, Sewfisticated, $11.23; thread, zipper, Sewfisticated; buttons, Winmill Fabrics, $4.64

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $24.86

1933 Skirt

Traditionally the moment I get cold I have no style at all, but I live in New England and I would like to be chic in the winter. I often wear fleece-lined tights under pants, but that’s not famously comfortable, so I’m calling 2022 as the year of the skirt! Combine a love of flannel with a dislike of wasting money and a languishing copy of M6993, and we have ourselves a swing. And possibly a hit. I think I like this!

I chose a comfortable, familiar fabric in a rich color so I knew I would enjoy handling it even if the skirt didn’t suit me. I also treated myself to this coordinating bear cotton. The nice helper at the fabric store asked me what I was making (I don’t know if it’s sincere or if they’re told to do that, but either way I like to chat); I said the flannel was for a skirt, and she asked if the cotton was for the pockets, and I cheerfully lied and said ‘yes’.

You know how world-class misogynist and lover of full stops, Hemingway, famously wrote a six-word tragedy? Well, I can do him one better. Modern horror in five.

THE SKIRT

HAS NO

POCKETS.

Hemingway would disapprove of my story. Is this a good time to mention I hate that woman-hater right back? He can farewell to my butt. Anyway. The cotton was only to line the facing/waistband/yoke. In this case, I don’t mind the lack of pockets. It would be possible to add side-seam pockets below the facing, but it would mess with the silhouette, and the silhouette is the priority. It does make it challenging to know what to do with your hands while taking blog photos, though, so I am mostly pictured composing my list of demands.

By the way, I bought ½ yard of bear cotton, and that’s the perfect yardage to cut all your lining and interfacing pieces as long as you accidentally cut all the front facing pieces from view B, too. I could have had a bear mask! Oh, well. I’ve officially converted to self-fabric interfacing, since it launders predictably, reduces scraps, and makes sewing waistbands and collars a terrifying minefield of right-sides and wrong-sides. Gets those red blood cells churning. Good for the ventricles.

This pattern was a ton of fun to sew. That pointed yoke + those panels were engrossing and satisfying. So much so, actually, that I got caught up in it and forgot to topstitch the seam allowance above the backed split before adding the yoke, and had to do it later, but I don’t think it shows!

Then in smart-women-outsmarting-themselves, I figured out how to make the insides pretty by folding over the top edges of the underlap, sewing the underlap to the skirt panels, and then serging the long seams together. And in doing so I put those raw top edges – where else? – on the outside front of the skirt.

As accidental raw-edge-flashing goes, it’s not egregious, as it took me several hours of wear to notice, but it is a failure of deductive reasoning. Those edges had to be somewhere, babe. I do like the pretty insides, though! Instead of doing this, you could fold the diagonal edges twice towards the back, or they could just be serged.

There’s a fair amount of hand-sewing in this project, primarily when finishing the yoke. I elected to hand-sew the hem, too.

I like the way the hem is handled; the directions say to snip into the side seam allowance above the hem allowance (I did this before serging, so I could weave in the serger thread ends), then press open the seams within the hem allowance before turning. I think next time I would snip the seam allowance a little lower and trap the snipped end under the hem turn-up. It’s a nice low-bulk finish, but it does mean you can’t alter your hem length.

The pattern directions are sparse-but-good, with one small error; step 17 instructs you to press under the lower edge of the right waistband lining, but it shows the left waistband lining in the illustration. It’s shown correctly in the next step, and not the kind of thing to ruin anyone’s project. Just briefly confusing.

I cut a size 16 from 2 1/2 yards of 45” wide Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Navy, and I had over ½ yard extra fabric (19.5″, to be precise!). I cut non-directionally, but even though the fabric has no wrong side I cut as though it did. If I make another skirt, provided I choose a non-directional pattern, I can reduce my fabric buy by 20%. Heck yes!

The size 16 worked well for my body, too. I took in the waist ¼” per side, tapering to nothing just below the facing. It’s been a while since I’ve worn a skirt, and I never really wore snug skirts, so I was pleased and surprised at how comfortable this is. The flannel has a nice amount of give. I feel like a real classy dame. I doubt I really need 2 of these, 20% off or not, but I might give the fuller view a whirl.

By the way, for a super-thoughtful, historically-grounded, and fun-to-read review of this pattern, I recommend Seam Racer’s post! Caution: may cause the reader to spontaneously describe things as ‘sportif’.

Toodles!

Pattern: M6993, view A

Pattern cost: $12.79

Size: 16; took in waistband/front facing 1/4″ per side (1″ total)

Supplies: 2 1/2 yards Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Navy Herringbone, 1/2 yard Dear Stella Brave Enough to Dream, Bears, Gather Here, $36.59; 10″ invisible zipper, Gather Here, $1.59; thread from stash

Total time: 7.75

Total cost: $50.97

Vest-iges

So I made this pair of disasterpants (they feel worse than they look), immediately rued wasting the fabric, but then got some great suggestions to reuse it and keep it out of a landfill. The one that really grabbed me was KK’s idea – a vest! I had a biggish scrap left of uncut yardage and a strong desire to chop up some jodhpurs, and thus this vest was born.

I’m really a bit tickled by it. I knew from the get that I was unlikely to keep it (my middle is usually warm enough, it’s my ends that need help), but may I introduce Han Solo – After Dark?

I know the camera adds 10°, but it’s not overemphasizing the triangular profile of this vest. It’s like wearing a velveteen pyramid. That’s because I quilted not 1, but 2 layers of batting to each outer layer.

This fabric swallows light, but you can maybe kinda-sorta see I used wavy vertical lines. It was a really relaxing experience; I made a paper guide to keep the lines relatively consistent, but the organic nature meant I didn’t have to be precious about spacing or even notice if I strayed 1/8” from the planned curve. Also, I quilted each piece separately (just the 3 – back and two fronts), and they were all wee and easy to handle. And now, really quite plushy!

Can you tell the back is cut from two pieces, and one is on the cross-grain? It seemed so obvious on the table, but it shows up less in photographs than I expected. I didn’t have enough fabric to fuss about fuzz worry about nap.

I Googled around a bit and decided that rather than buying a pattern to use up scraps, then buying fabric to use that pattern, in a circle, forever, I would try a free pattern. I landed on this Purl Soho design as a base. I started with a size L, but shortened about 4 or 5 inches – a few from the bottom, and a couple more removed horizontally through the armscye. I considered extending the front to overlap or cutting a separate button placket, but a) I was pretty sure I didn’t have enough fabric to pull that off and b) I wanted to make this a no-spend project, and I didn’t have any coordinating buttons to hand. As it turns out, the shape of the neckline as drafted is too high to overlap nicely anyway.

I did pop in some pockets. I didn’t have enough fabric (that’s my vest leitmotif) for patch pockets, so welts it was.

I worried the velveteen + two layers of batting might be too bulky for nice welts, but actually they went in neatly and smoothly. I’ve learned you can play pretty rough with cotton velveteen and it doesn’t mind, so I pressed with lots of steam heat. Also the fabric ate up all my topstitching.

I used and appreciated this single welt tutorial from poppykettle! Unlike hers, however, my pocket interior isn’t self-fabric, but a long rectangle of scrap cotton with a bare facing of velveteen, and my measurements were based on availability rather than any overwhelming design plan or logic.

My lining is composed of a thousand scraps, mostly velveteen but also some leftover corduroy from old mangled overall legs. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough navy to go around the armscyes or face the hem.

Lining the vest, especially contrasted with bias-binding, was delightfully quick. I used a convenient Sarah Kirsten tutorial – special shout-out to her tip to sew the edges of the turning hole down to the edge of the fabric! Wrassling this right-side-out was a bit athletic, and I can’t be certain but I think she saved me from shredding the lining like cabbage.  

My last step was to sew directly over the quilting lines nearest to each front edge, now through all the layers, to de-puff the front somewhat. At this point I wasn’t even using navy thread in my bobbin – it’s purple – and yet it just nestled down into the pile and disappeared. And the vest was done!

And actually, so was this bonus skirt! After ripping out the inseams, I cut off most of the lower legs. Then I sewed the back center seam in a straight line down from the waistband, the front center in a straight line down from the base of the fly, trimmed the excess, serged the edges, turned the hem to my desired length, and ta-da. A new mini. The finished length at center front is 16.25″; the finished length at center back is 18″.

Neither the vest nor the skirt are staying in my closet, but I don’t consider either of them a failure. I made them both to get something out of nothing, and hopefully once they’re swapped or donated, someone will enjoy each piece. Maybe even together, but they’d have to be bolder than me!

Happy February! : )

Pattern: Purl Soho vest

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: L; shortened from the bottom and through the armscye (about 4 – 5”)

Supplies: scrap velveteen and corduroy

Total time: 6.75

Total cost: $0.00

Pattern: refashioned pleated mini

Pattern cost:  N/A

Size: 44 waist (from SisterMag jodhpurs)

Supplies: refashioned jodhpurs

Total time: 1.75

Total cost: $0.00