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

Olive Morellas

Sometimes my sewing falls accidentally into a vertical schedule; this year, like last year, I shared elastic waist pants in January. Actually it’s the same pattern, the Pauline Alice Morella pants. These are pretty freshly made but they’ve already had quite the workout. READER!! Did you know…IT FEELS NICE TO WEAR SWEATS?

Basically I’ve been pulling these on whenever possible, and not just weekends and evenings. And I can, because they’re my *dressy* sweats. They’re made from the second length of my recent Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece order from Hawthorne Supply Co. I got 2 3/8th yards of this color, olive, and I have over half a yard extra (20.5″ full width!), plus scraps. I cut my waistband in two pieces to maximize the yardage, but even so, whattah savings. I might try to squeeze out a warm tee or something from the remainder. It’s dicey, but it might just work!

I’ve wanted a really cozy pair of winter jimjams for a while, and here they are, but you can go ahead and call these pants a topographical survey because they are finding aaall the bumps. You can see my hems through them (multiple).

In a non-layering season the bum would probably look less busy, but right now I’m wearing an outfit on an outfit (long-sleeved undershirt, fleece-lined tights, then a turtleneck and socks and fleece-lined sweats); it’s 8°F (-13°C!!) so you’re getting whatever the opposite of a Full Monty is. A Cavernous Montgomery. Also, in New England, talking about extreme cold is whining AND bragging. 😎

Even though this fabric is a knit, I treated it like a woven – I used a straight stitch everywhere and sewed my same size unadjusted, 44. The fit is noticeably looser than my cotton/linen pair, surprising no one. Generally this is a good outcome for sweats. Unusually, though, I have too much fullness in the front thighs. So far I’ve led a thigh-forward adulthood, so I was surprised to find excess fabric there in particular! I’m not sure if this is being revealed by the fabric or caused by it.

Either way it’s worth it. These are really, really comfy. They’re one of those “I’ll wear it right off the machine, thank you shopkeep” kind of makes. I did climb out of them long enough to sew over the back waist elastic because it was twisting a lot. Originally, I found an elastic piece of the right width and length in my shoebox of notions (sorry, cookie tins), and I thought it was the fancy non-roll stuff, but boy did it prove me wrong! Happily, topstitching makes it behave itself!

Twist no longer, waistband.

I used different scrap elastic in the ankles; it was the Gallant to my waist elastic’s Goofus, so the ankles remain un-topstitched. Thanks, ankles (thankles).

The cuffs are author’s own, by the way. I cut two rectangles 16.25” x 5” with the stretch going around the leg. Then I folded them in half, attached them and ran some 1.5” elastic through, basically following this waistband tutorial…but on ankles. I did not remove the hem allowance from the pants pattern, so my finished legs are about 3” longer than drafted.

Obviously the main feature of this pattern is its wraparound pockets! I promise you won’t be mad at yourself if you reinforce those corners. After a few wears I found some popped threads, even though I sewed over each corner twice, so I added these Merchant & Mills rivets. Technically they’re bag rivets, but I liked the color.

I had forgotten nearly everything about constructing these statement pockets except that I wanted to add some stitching to the pocket edge, so this time I followed the directions and understitched it. It helps the pocket opening stay neat, though the bag itself still gets rucked up inside the sweatpants’ leg sometimes. Either way I can’t keep my hands out of the pockets so I’m really glad they’re reinforced.

There’s a lot of clipping to the stitching line when making these. My woven pair has survived over a year of washing and wearing, and I’m not very gentle on my clothes, so I’m hopeful this non-ravelling fabric will survive too! They won’t get used in the summer, but I plan on wearing them hard enough for the rest of the winter to make up for that.

Once again I’m a little out of sync with the world; I think people are looking forward to getting dressed up again, but I’ve only just discovered the joys of fleece lining. I’m probably set for sweats for now, but I might add another sweater at some point. In this reporter’s opinion, my winter knits sewing twofer was a success!

Stay warm! 1 month of 2022 down, y’all. 11 to go.

Pattern: Pauline Alice Morella pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 44

Supplies: 2 3/8 yards Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece in Olive, Hawthorne Supply Co., $35.04; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $37.43

A Murder Is Announced

Professor Boyfriend and I have participated in a weekly game night for years, but this year for one week only we hosted a murder mystery evening instead. It was partly for Halloween but mostly due to A Murder Is Announced, because we held it on Friday, October 29th, just like the mysterious notice in the book!

I was given the character of Sally, an authoress, and initially I thought I’d just wear this McCalls dress, but then I had a rummage through my mending basket and got a better idea. I’ve had this brown Kaufman flannel half-circle skirt lying there unworn for ages due to a youthful indiscretion – I tried to install an invisible zipper on the bias and the back seam was unwearably wobby. It took me months of wear to notice, but once I did, I realized my rear looked like a ski slalom. Then I crammed the skirt in the mending pile for mumbledytum years.

But change was finally a-coming. I removed the waistband, unpicked the back seam to about an inch above the finished hem, and took out the zipper. Happily I didn’t have to touch the hem itself!

Then I was pleasantly surprised to see the fabric itself wasn’t stretched all out of whack. The zipper had become permanently distorted, though, and I didn’t have another one. Here’s where I had to use my little grey cells, mon ami. Some context: this skirt is pre-spreadsheet-era, meaning it’s at least 5+ years old, so as you can imagine I didn’t have any leftover scrap fabric hanging around. Also, my washing machine is broken (and has been for several weeks) so I haven’t been buying and can’t add new fabric. Also also, it was the Tuesday night before the Friday of the party. Also also also, the original waistband closed with a snap I was unable to pry out, so instead I had to snip off the ends, making the already-scanty waist piece (see: my measurement of 5+ years ago) now comically small.

So I winged it!

Improvisational button fly time. I grabbed some buttons from my recent regretted button-buying binge and, HUZZAH, even though they weren’t suitable for the planned project I ordered them for, they were perfect here. I ‘drafted’ an extremely sketchy fly shield from a mostly-coordinating scrap by guessing at a length and width, folding it in half, and sewing the bottom shut. Then I sandwiched some snipped-up hair elastic button loops between the shield and the original back seam allowance. I also left the bottom half-inch or so of the shield piece free and unstitched, which matters later.

 Next, I folded under and topstitched the opposite seam allowance, but only parallel to the seamline.

The only part that required a little finesse was re-sewing the center back seam. I folded the bottom free half-inch of the fly shield out of the way and sewed the back seam shut until I bumped into my new stitching. Then I overlapped the button side over the now-extended fly shield and sewed a short horizontal bar to join the two layers at the base. Voila, button back!

I used another piece of scrap fabric to extend the original waistband piece. Does it match? Nah. Does it matter? Honestly, also nah. Professor Boyfriend and I have a saying we rely on in times like these: “It’s better than good. It’s good enough!”

For a finishing touch, the day before the murder, I Googled “how to sew a beret” and about an hour after that I had one of those too!! I used Erika Bunker’s tutorial on the We All Sew blog, and it was excellent. My only meaningful change was to add seam allowance to the inner circle (the head hole circle). I also folded my ‘stem’ in half and attached it flat instead of sewing it into a loop. This beret was the perfect use for a scrap of wool that was too small to wear but too nice to get rid of! I lined my wool with cotton, because it’s what I had around. I love it.

It was surprisingly easy to find everything we needed to host the evening lying around our apartment – this poison bottle is a vintage vanilla extract bottle I use as a bud vase, my cigarette holder is a metal straw with paper curled inside, and I bought my brooch at a pawn shop at the tail end of my Victorian phase (the pawn shop has been a patisserie for years, which shows how long I’ve been living in Somerville).  

My new-old skirt is still a little snug, but it served its purpose. Much like the pockets, which, while low, are large enough and sturdy enough to contain a murder weapon. I walked around with a Lewis chessman in my pocket all night but was still framed for murdering an industrialist with a hairpin. Nom d’un nom d’un nom! I think I’m a beret person now, though! I’m going to wear it in real life!

And as long as I’ve got you here, how perfect would Navid Negahban be as a post-Suchet Poirot!? He’s my dream casting. Pipe down, you Malkoviches and Branaghs! Hercule has arrived!

Now it’s time to pick your weapon!

Welcome to November. Don’t get murdered. 🙂

Wear Your Greens

I made another True Bias Marlo sweater, pretty much the same as my first True Bias Marlo! Iseefabric was running a 20% sale for some American holiday (I’m not being coyly European, I just forget which) and I picked up 2 more yards of their lovely squashy waffle knit.

This color is called ‘Pistachio’, and on least on my screen it’s accurately pictured, a grey/blue/green rather than a straight sage or what-have-you. Pistachio was my second choice, but Oatmeal sold out. It’s a little more romantic than I generally like. Like, this sweater would go great with a broderie anglaise sundress and a flower crown, while my aesthetic is more thick socks and a tuna fish sandwich. That said, according to the economic theory of revealed preference, I DO like this color, because I wear the sweater all the dang time. It’s the time of year when the inside of my apartment is reliably freezing even on warm sunny days and I’m generally to be found inside a Marlo.

I tend to wear this one open, though, and I’m not sure why; some tiny quirk of button placement, maybe?

Speaking of: I recently became a nihilist *just* long enough to spend too much money on buttons, including these. They’re beautiful engraved shell buttons I ordered from this Etsy shop. They really are lovely but from any reasonable distance they read as solid white.

Continuing my pattern of using whatever elastic is nearest when I need elastic, this time I stabilized the shoulder seams with plush-backed bra strap elastic. I had the perfect amount and those shoulders are going NOWHERE. My only meaningful change from my first long Marlo was to serge the seam allowance edge of the neckband + body. First I hand-stitched the cuffs, but that reminded me that I got these seam allowance berms from turning under. I actually like the serged finish better from the outside even if it’s less pristine on the inside.

Unexpected bonus: the neckband is actually hugging my neck! I must have stretched a bit more vigorously this time.

This is a useful and functional piece, but I didn’t really enjoy sewing it because I rushed through the process. I didn’t make sloppy mistakes or anything – it looks the same as it would if I sewed it mInDfUlLy, probably – but instead of the process making my brain feel like it took a warm bath, it felt like a cold shower. And I hurried for such a foolish reason, too; because I was more excited to use my serger on the next thing, with black thread, but my serger was already threaded with white, so I banged this out so I could avoid switching the thread one time. Rethreading isn’t even hard once you’re used to it. The whole process takes about a minute and a half. So, to save 90 seconds, I made two hours less pleasant. Kind of a dingaling move.

But the thing I wanted to use my serger + black thread on? These pants!

They’re the MN Dawns I posted about a month or so ago. I had a wild hair to reshape the leg. I pinned the outseam, tried them on, and decided why not. First I cut a freehand curve from about knee height to the hem, then I unpicked the hem, serged the new fresh seam allowance, and finally refolded the hem along its original creases. I couldn’t squeeze any more length out of the legs because the missing corner I’m hiding in the deep hem is on the inseam side!

Since I didn’t adjust the inseam, the balance of the leg changed. Now it has this kind of bow-legged banana shape which I really kinda dig.

I really like balloon/banana trousers. The silhouette looks fresh to my eye. Plus, when picking a shirt, it’s easier to balance than a straight-sided wide leg pant. I might want to play with more extreme versions of the shape, too. Also in foot news I finally got the pair of combat boots I’ve been thinking about for ages! It’s not NOT because of this music video. I love ‘em. Other shoes feel like socks now. Anyway, I’m done poking at these pants now! Finito!

Ultimately this Marlo ended up pricey, but I glanced at my spreadsheet and I’ve still spent less than usual by this time of year, so I’m not going to sweat it. The Fabric Snob recently added waffle knits in some deep, rich colors (iseefabrics tends to focus on light beach-culty hues) so who knows what will happen next!

But hopefully something cozy. Happy Halloween, all!

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10 bust, 14 hip

Supplies: 2 yards organic cotton thermal waffle knit in Pistachio, iseefabric, $35.60; Agoya shell buttons, Etsy, $12.44; thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $48.04

Stellan + Dawn

I have stamped the last spot on my MN Dawn pattern card – All 4 Views! This may be my least favorite, but it’s not bad, it’s just the most similar to other patterns I’ve sewn before. I think I’m a half-step out of sync with fashion because I’m getting tired of wide legs again. Oops. And I fear I overcommitted to cropped legs.

The final length of this pair was determined by a silly error (entirely mine). My table is fairly small so I can only lay out about 1 yard of fabric at once, and not the whole width; basically I trace from left to right on a single layer, moving the fabric off the table as I go, and then cut from right to left. By the time I realized I had traced both back leg pieces the same-way up, I had cut a lot of the fabric already. I was annoyed with myself because I would have had plenty of fabric if I had done it right the first time, but instead I left myself with a strictly limited area to fit the second back leg piece. I squeezed it in by rotating it off-grain and losing about a 1.5” triangle from one corner of the hem. Originally I planned on  making these full-length with an option to crop if I didn’t like it, but instead, by necessity, I folded a deep double hem with that missing corner inside. It’s about equivalent to the cropped length with a 1” deep hem (this is 2”). The length is fine for fall but I might be sad in winter when my ankles get cold!

Also, fun fact: I was using up odds and ends of green thread and you can see the moment where I ran out of the best match. It was here. Here it is.

Luckily with this wide cut and stable fabric I don’t seem to be suffering any side effects from cutting one back leg piece off-grain. I was worried there’d be some weird twisting, but nah! I’m not going to start recklessly cutting pants legs willy-nilly but if you need to claw an inch or two out of your yardage…maybe go for it?

I didn’t make any unique changes to this pair; I cut the fronts with grown-on fly extensions and sewed the zip the Ginger way, which is typical for me, and I also made the butt pockets into big old rectangles and added carpenter details, which I’ve done before if not to Dawns. Professor Boyfriend accused my hammer loop of being mannerist but how many hammers does he carry. 😛

I wasn’t sure whether to place the loop’s horizontal segment parallel to the butt pocket edge or perpendicular to the side seam – I couldn’t have both, so I picked perpendicular, especially since that nearby low-leg pocket would be perpendicular too. At one point I considered using patch pockets instead of jeans-style pockets on the front. And then I forgot!

I recently treated myself to a roll of 1” wide tricot fusible and for a change I interfaced the waistband. Why oh why is cutting stable, easily-marked fabric a pleasure, but cutting equally stable and easily-marked interfacing a chore? I often skip it, but this 1” roll made it easy to do it right. And look at that! This is the second day of wear, and no crumpling! It’s almost like…I should have been doing this the whole time!

The fabric was super cooperative too. Just a standard cotton twill, but a peach to sew. I do like it when life is easy.

The top, also new, is my second, slightly-refined shoulderpad Stellan (free base pattern here, my first attempt here). Part of my fickle-and-inconstant moon routine is to now wonder if I actually like shoulderpads? Eh. I can always unpick them. I shortened the front armscye by the unscientific expedient of folding out 2 centimeters horizontally from the pattern piece across the upper chest. I also narrowed the neck by 2 cm per side, and raised the front neck by 1 1/8″.

I’m (item 1): not sure why I switched between metric and imperial while making notes and (item 2): really glad I took notes. I didn’t remember and wouldn’t have guessed that I raised the neckline over an inch! It seems like a lot!! But now it’s true-crew, which is what I wanted. This fabric is Kaufman Laguna jersey, the feel of which varies a lot color-to-color. This Navy is so soft and heathery; meanwhile I’m wearing a Terracotta Laguna jersey Stellan in the photos for this post, and it’s much crunchier and more solid. The facings still flip a bit on this tank but understitching helped.

There’s so many things I’m excited to make from patterns I already own, but also, having successfully ‘finished’ the Dawn pattern, I kinda think I should buy myself a new pants pattern. Maybe two. O_O I own so many pants but I love sewing and wearing them, and 365 days a year x 2 legs = 730 pairs of pants, right? Right?!

Pattern: MN Dawn, wide leg

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist, 16 hip; 16 rise; with lots of changes

Supplies: 2 yards of green cotton twill, Sewfisticated, $9.98; zipper, Gather Here, $1.60; thread from stash

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $11.58

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M; shoulder pad variation; narrowed neck 2cm, removed 2cm in height from front armscye, raised front neckline 1 1/8″

Supplies: 1 yard of Kaufman Laguna jersey in Heathered Navy, Ryco’s, $11.50; shoulder pads, Sewfisticated, $0.99; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $12.49

Pajungles

This handsome sonofagun is back and putting my own plain-Jane pajamas to shame! Professor Boyfriend spent most of his twenties wearing variations on mud color, and then one day this wonderfully be-catted fellow just sprang into being and now I’m a peahen. I’m the opposite of complaining!

This is more of a lounge set than strictly pajamas, and it was unplanned. Prof. B.F. picked this sensational leopards-print (as opposed to leopard-print, singular) cotton for a casual summer button-up, but it had been a while since I’d sewn something for him and I couldn’t remember the right yardage, so we got nervous and overbought. After cutting and sewing the shirt I still had about a yard left from the original 2 ¾ yards and I broached the idea of matching shorts.

Backstory, I’ve been hinting about coordinated sets since seeing those made by Emma of Emma’s Atelier (most recently, this one) but Professor Boyfriend wasn’t biting so I pitched these as “cotton sleep shorts”. Prof. B.F. is not a wide guy, but 1 yard of 45” wide fabric wasn’t going to make full-length shorts with all the fixings. I Googled around for free woven boxer patterns but modifying his Jeds pattern seemed easier than printing and assembling an unknown quantity. I was pushing these as pajamas, so it didn’t need a fly opening, and I didn’t have enough fabric for slash pockets, so these were really as simple as could be.

I blended the front pocket into the front leg, and the back yoke into the back leg. I abbreviated both inseams to a 4” finished length and straightened the hem extensions. A quick walking of the seamlines to confirm everything would match, and badda boom, pattern pieces. However, at this point courage failed me and I decided I needed more ease. I retook his measurements and those of the flat pieces; his widest point was 38”, and the pattern was 35”, so I freaked out and added 4” of ease by splitting the front and back legs vertically and adding 1” of width to each.

I now think I measured him wrong, because his commercial pants size is a 34” or 35” waist, and he probably could have wiggled in and out of these without me adding anything. I’m pretty annoyed with myself because I could have used the fabric more efficiently (often a point of pride). I might go back and remove some of that excess, even though that essentially means disassembling 75% of the shorts, just to prove that I can do math.

The waistband is a big old folded rectangle with elastic threaded through it. I learned my lessons from my own PJs and made the casing’s finished width just a smidge larger than necessary. I couldn’t cut it continuously, but I could match the seams with the short’s side seams. I left a bit of each of the short edges of the waistband unsewn so I could attach the whole waistband before adding elastic.

I left this opening on both sides as part of my cunning plan to reach in and untwist the elastic as necessary, but of course this meant the elastic went in without a fuss, so I just had two short seams to hand-sew closed. Which I did…NOT. Hey! It’s ongoingly adjustable!   

The shirt is Professor Boyfriend’s usual short-sleeved Fairfield. When I handed it to him he said “Wow! You pattern-matched across the button placket!” because he is a nice person who pays attention and because DID I EVER. In a stable fabric with a largish repeat like this quilting cotton, it was a straightforward pleasure.

Nothing really to add about this pattern, except that I’ve officially converted to French-seaming the armscyes instead of flat-felling them. I might tweak the sleeve cap next time for a narrower sleeve, but that would be harder to sew. I’ll keep yah posted.

So after this shirt and the matching ‘sleep shorts’ were finished, I convinced Professor Boyfriend to try them on together, and while he originally described them as “very cool pajamas” he might be warming up to the idea of this being an outside-the-house outfit (the shirt has been in public, but the combination hasn’t).  The shorts don’t have any pockets, but I have just enough scrap left to add one bum pocket, and if you can carry your keys you can leave the house, right? I’d want to narrow the legs a bit first to make the bottoms a little less casual, but personally, I think the world is ready. I probably won’t be able to talk him all the way into a romphim, but a set is excellent progress!

And I think he looks meowvelous!

(Forgive me.)

Pattern: Thread Theory Jedediah pants and Thread Theory Fairfield Shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??? waist = 38.5″ inches stretched, and M

Supplies: 2.75 yards of Leopard in Jungle cotton, $33.00, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $5.10; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 2 and 5 hours

Total cost: $38.10