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

One Day My Prints Will Come

Today, another pattern from the way-back-when. This particular moment in time is the MN Cascade skirt and it feels like a mermaid slammed into a princess going full speed with no airbags. Once a year around now, I find it in the back of my closet. On super-hot days the double gauze is irresistible. Well, it hot, so here we go.

Basically, the Cascade is a more-than-a-circle skirt. It fastens with a simple overlap and it’s made of two fronts, a back, and a waistband. A go-getter with a drawing compass could whip one up without too much trouble but I made this early in my sewing career (‘career’) before I figured out 1) most skirt patterns are just a litttttle reheated-feeling and 2) what I like to wear.

However, this skirt keeps escaping my culls. Ordinarily it would be way too swishy-pretty for me, but it’s so sort of unabashed that it shot the moon and I like it again. It makes me laugh to dress up like I’m going to comb my hair with a dinglehopper and drown sailors and then actually just get a sandwich instead.

We’re going back, way back – pre-spreadsheet, so pre-2017 – but I can almost guarantee that I bought less fabric than this pattern called for and ignored the grainlines when cutting. 3 7/8 yards of 45”-wide fabric, and that fabric is Nani Iro? Yeah, did not happen. At a guess, I bodged this any-which-way out of 3 yards, if that. The nondirectional print doesn’t give any clues but I know myself pretty well (and I continue to love this print! Dare I call it…TIMELESS?!).

It’s also safe to say I cut a size M. Right now my waist falls between and M and an L and this still fits comfortably, but I think an L would have been a better investment. In a word: overlap. A longer waistband means more overlap, which means more coverage. My highs are a little too high. Though that doesn’t explain why my lows are so low!

That high-low angle is X-TREME. It’s X-Box 306. It’s arguably Xanadu. The fabric is light, too. Usually beautifully so, but it can get dicey. On the morning we took these pictures, the air was dead, but I popped a safety pin at the bottom of the overlap just in case. Later that afternoon it was a little breezier and despite the pin, unless I held the skirt edges like I was processing royally, any wind could boost my rating to PG-13. But that’s why it’s also so suitable for our recent stretch of 95°+ days (35° to you Celsius fans)! You gotta do what you gotta do.

This skirt features my first (and at time of filming, only) hand-rolled hem! It’s actually a huge amount of fun to sew but I did not do a great job despite the double-layered fabric (it’s a bit tuftier than intended). I’d probably go with a bias binding for a fun pop if I were sewing this today, but this hem treatment doesn’t inhibit drape or flow at all, which is nice! I used two sets of dress bars for an invisible closure.

There was a time in my life where I squeezed a Tate top out of any semi-realistic scraps, which is what I’m wearing here. This free Workroom Social pattern appears to have vanished from the internet! I’ve fallen out of love with it but I still have a PDF copy if anybody wants one.

My version has such features as “a baby-hemmed hem that likes to flip up”, “extra seamlines born of necessity rather than style”, and “pretend buttons”. The pretend button placket is just the selvedges overlapped without additional finishing; the neck and armholes are bias-bound. It’s fun to be swaddled in Nani Iro from neck to ankle (hey, if you’re looking from the back, it’s ankle! It counts!) but I’m not wowed by this shirt. The cut-in shoulders are no longer my go-to silhouette, and I’m usually too lazy to convert my convertible bras, so it doesn’t get much wear.

On the other hand, in this summer of many parties, including 18 months worth of make-up parties (is anyone else feeling like Slurms McKenzie? If Slurms and all his buddies were fully vaccinated, TBC), this skirt  has been a friend indeed. I don’t care if high-low hems are so 2011-2012. Lots of cool stuff is from around then. Call Me Maybe. Cotton candy grapes. Rivers of London.

Anyway, wear whatever you want! I have declared it meet, and I get to do declarations now, because in this skirt I am clearly a princess. Long live me?

Pattern: MN Cascade skirt

Pattern cost: ?

Size: M?

Supplies: ? Definitely Nani Iro double-gauze

Total time: Lost forever

Total cost: Never to be known

Summer Jams

Thanks to general encouragement (especially KK of Magpie Logbook!), I finally sewed myself some fresh summer pajamas.

The pattern is Lisette for Butterick, B6296, and I just noticed it’s sold in the category “Family Sleepwear” which also includes B6338. Begging the question, why didn’t I sew frillybum sleep panniers for the whole family instead?! Oh well. Maybe next time!

My paper copy was in the higher size range, which was necessary for my downstairs, but a little too roomy for my upstairs. The dilemma of the cross-sized! I sewed a 14 top and a 16 bottom. The shirt is exaggerated by design and sewed up easy as pie. The shorts weren’t complicated, but there’s not quite enough vertical space in the back. Two extra inches, one added to the top of the back rise and one to the curved part of the seat seam, would be welcome.

The shorts are wearable as is, but if you’ve been sitting on this pattern (seat pun) and you have a bit of a bum, you might want to add volume. Also, the back yoke is narrowest at center back and is cut on the fold. Odd! Or to put it politely, unique!

By the way, I deeply dislike threading elastic into a waistband. It may technically take less time than sewing a fly, but each minute stings like poison because I hate it, and the elastic twists, and I untwist it, and then it twists again, and I hate it. After an estimated four thousand hours, I finally got the elastic lying flat and stitched a line through the center so it could never twist again. Grrr. Comfy though!

The pocket bags are surprisingly generous – they end about an inch and a half above the hem of the shorts. Next time I would consider trapping them in the cuffs so they can’t flap. I love using cuffs to finish, by the way. It conceals so many raw edges and has a nice weight. Everything else is French seamed because she’s (me’s) worth it.

I’m a little worried that these look like formal radiology scrubs, nice finishing and all. Hopefully the frilly little buttons and the piping help prevent that.

Self-fabric flat piping is sort of the Men In Black: International of piping. Maybe nobody worked that hard on it, but it stills seems like unnecessary effort for something pretty hard to see. Sewing it was good low-stakes practice, though! It’s slightly uneven but even I have trouble spotting that. Originally I planned on a ditsy floral contrast fabric but I eventually opted for monotone, both because it aligned with a traditional masculine aesthetic, aaand because I had a big ol’ free piece of scrap fabric. I still do, actually. This took remarkably little piping. I used straight grain pieces on the shorts legs and bias-cut everywhere else.

The collar directions are basically identical to these from the true indie sew-alike, CC Carolyn pajamas, including the part where you kind of fade the piping into the front + facing seam right before it meets the collar. I was surprised at how easy and tidy this was. And though I was initially hesitant to snip into the collar, it must be snipped in order to finish the center section of the seam allowance in a different direction than the ends, and it actually feels secure! Yay!

I sewed the longer version of the shirt and it was a little bit ghastly. Way too long, it covered the majority of the shorts. Instead of redoing the hem properly, I folded it up as much I could and popped another line of sewing on top. I was limited by the preexisting button hole, but I still got a luxurious deep hem (with a secret bonus hem inside).

Speaking of luxury, I bought the fancy buttons to finish this because I wanted a discreet feminine touch (that sounds like code for something, but it’s not) to balance the overt masculine influence. These bitsy enamel sweethearts were over a dollar EACH. I sewed them on FIRMLY.

Unfortunately, my buttonholes were a little too big and the shirt kept unbuttoning itself. I wore it a couple times that way before deciding that spending five annoying minutes to fix the problem represented better value than the five annoyed seconds per button over and over, forever, and I hand-sewed the buttonholes a scotch smaller.

I think this fabric might be Oxford cotton. It has no wrong side and a tiny moiré diamond pattern made from a darker blue and a white thread. It’s sturdy enough that I skipped interfacing the facings, and it holds its shape well enough that it’s still cool on hot days, no clinging. The cotton had just enough body to make gathering the sleeve cap ease kind of a pain, but it’s pajamas, so let it pucker!

I have slept in these, but they’re at their best as lazy daytime PJs. They make me want to linger in bed with a locked room mystery and a stack of hot buttered toast like an idle Woosterian aunt-botherer. These pajamas mean business! And my business is pajamas!

Good night & good luck!

Pattern: B6296

Pattern cost: $1.00

Size: 14 top, 16 bottom

Supplies: 3 yards of cotton (Oxford?), $14.97, Sewfisticated; buttons, $6.64, Gather Here; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 11.75 hours

Total cost: $25.00

4 Denimsional

In my continued mission to squeeze value from the MN Dawn Curve pattern until it squeaks, I’ve made another pair of Dawn shorts. I’m not the only one confused by shorts this year, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with denim – even better, leftover denim from all the other pants I’ve made recently. I had large scraps and more than a little hankering for the bi-color/parti-color/jester trend, so blammo!

These are all rigid denims. The light blue is 10 oz.; the dark blue is 8 oz.; the black used as one back leg is also 8 oz.; and the other black denim is 5 oz. I used that just for the back pockets, coin pocket, and belt loops. I cut those lightweight pieces first and set them aside. Everything else I cut improvisationally. This is the first time I’ve sewn Dawns without tweaking the fit or trying a new view, so I felt good about experimenting elsewhere.

I prioritized making the back from the dark scraps to a) minimize underwear show-through and b) in case I sat in something. I haven’t sat in something, but summer isn’t over yet. I probably could have brought one more light element to the rear, but I love black and blue together, and hopefully wrapping the dark blue to the front makes the front and back feel less separate.

I actually cut belt loops from every fabric and decided to make a call on which to use later, but there’s something to be said for sewing loops from a lighter coordinating fabric. It was so much easier to get through those layers.

You can see I’ve got buckling in the back yoke, but I’m starting to believe this is inevitable in rigid jeans. They just slump after the first day of wear (this is day 2 or 3 for these shorts – non-consecutive, if you’re asking!) but otherwise they wouldn’t fit on day 1 and I’d never get to day 2 anyway!

Oh also, when I sewed my muslin of this in the winter, I noted that the shorts back leg outseam is 1” longer than the front outseam. This time I eased them together, but is that a thing? Easing the outseams? I guess it keeps the hem parallel to the grainline, but it seemed like a lot of excess to ease over a relatively short seam (compared to a full-length pants leg).

I tried the MN button fly directions for this pair. I would class them as effective but inefficient. You’ll be switching between regular thread and topstitching thread way more than necessary if you follow them to the letter, and I know this because I did. I used a hodgepodge of bobbin threads but topstitched each denim tonally, except the light blue; I didn’t have any light blue thread, hence the gold.

Surprisingly the pattern only calls for 3 buttons or rivets on the fly, plus 1 on the waistband – and it was enough! I typically use 5 on the placket, but it’s so much faster to get in and out with just 3 that it makes me 60% more likely to pee. Oh, and my pocket bags are scrap cotton with shades of blue and grey. I’m feeling preeetty happy with the insides of these shorts.

I’ve been using a straight waistband with this pattern, which made it really easy to color block. I cut long rectangles from whatever scraps accommodated that and then placed + trimmed them to match the finished shorts.

I switched topstitching colors on each section of the waistband. Hems too. I pulled the thread to the back and knotted it instead of backstitching. Fiddly, but I like the result!

I’m actually very pleased with these shorts. They’re longer and a bit looser than I usually wear shorts and there seems to be some excess fabric in the front leg/crotch, but they’re comfortable even when my thighs are given full scope, important for such summertime activities as lying in a hammock, sitting on a picnic bench, etc. And I love these scrap colors together (not totally surprising since I bought them all in the first place). Plus it was $FREE$ (as my dad says, ‘if your time was worthless’).

Also, you may have noticed I have a low-poly paper fox head in these photos??? It’s leftover from Halloween 2020 (I made this one, Professor B.F. made a red one) and I had a case of the why-nots. One way to tell I’ve been blogging for a while – three years ago when we first took photos, I was adamant that no one could even be nearby, and for these I unconcernedly unbuttoned my shorts roughly ten feet away from two plumbers conferencing outside their van while balancing a paper fox mask on my head.

No shame in my game anymore. Woof, arf, assorted fox noises. See you soon!

Pattern: MN Dawn Curve jeans

Pattern cost: NA

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

Supplies: leftover denim medley; thread, rivets from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Kitchen Sink Pants

New pants! Brace yourself; the following contains a lot of words but not necessarily a lot of information.

These are my kitchen sink pants (as in ‘everything but the’). Here’s a quick rundown of their features:

  1. A faced front with a center fly zipper.
  2. Elasticated back waistband.
  3. Back darts.
  4. Single-layer pockets with faced inseam openings.
  5. D-ring straps for cinching.
  6. Mild balloon legs.

Of that list, item 1, a jeans-style center fly opening-plus-faced front sans waistband, was the one that kept me up o’ nights. Ever since sewing a faced pair of paper bag pants I wondered how to actually get the zipper to go to the top and finish everything nicely. The answer: I don’t know. The result: somehow very, very tidy. ??!!?? Ordinarily when I have trouble describing a technique in words alone I whip up a technical illustration, but I felt my way through this process, and I understand neither what nor how anything I did. What a terrible start to a post, ha!

I sifted through a lot of internet to find this tutorial for a front fly/front facing. I read through it several times and then went ahead and sewed my zip the same way I always do, only to end up unpicking the top three or four inches of my topstitching (the center seam edgestitching and the straight vertical part of the ‘J’ around the fly extension) and redoing it after adding the facings. It’s not particularly obvious in this dark tone-and-tone thread, but follow the wise advice found at that link, because my way was bad. The universe graciously forebore and it all worked out, but there’s no particular reason why it should have.

The pattern is also uncertain – I smushed together my PA Morella trousers with my traced Madewell balloon jeans, but I didn’t use any specific lines from either. I laid them in a stack under some tracing paper and drew new lines based on my feelings, usually somewhere between the two. This is so contrary to the organized way I usually work, and I don’t plan on rebranding myself as an intuitive artiste, but I guess I’ve made enough pants for myself that navigating by feel was a reasonably effective process. Still, yikes.

The flat faced front/back waistband technique is all Morellas. I ended up cutting my front facings twice, because the center zip complicated the process. The first time I cut them without additional seam allowance at the center. When I went to attach them, it felt like a mistake, so I recut and reinterfaced with more SA, only to trim to the original size when sewing. Again, I’m expressing this poorly because I understand it poorly. I’d like to sew another pair of pants with this feature (it’s so SO so SO comfortable to wear) and maybe take pictures that time, to really get the practice cemented in my mind.

You might have seen the pin these were based on, by the way. It’s this one below – I couldn’t find any other images of the pants, but I tried to copy what I could see. I decided to add elastic to the back instead of relying entirely on the straps for cinching because I thought it would sit more evenly (I was throwing all my spaghetti at the wall anyway), so I didn’t get those pleats but otherwise – yeah?? 

In case you were wondering why darts + elastic (surely choose one), it’s because there’s darts in the picture! And that’s it!

The rectangle rings are leftover from my Raspberry Rucksack, by the way! I sewed the straps to match their measurements.

My single best innovation was adding a buttonhole in the fly shield so I could sew a button to the inside waistband and the layers would sit flat when worn. Game changer. I’m the Banksy of fly shields (no I’m not, but I am disproportionately excited about it).

Hopefully these interior shots will supplement my complete lack of explanation!

You can actually see the shape of the single-layer pocket bag there – that line of topstitching basically vanished completely.

I used 8 oz. denim (Kaufman per ush), which was light enough that all the hoopla at the waist didn’t get too thick, but perfectly suitable for pants. I almost bought 6 oz. but that would have been pushing it, I think. Anyway I’m very happy with the fabric. I used the selvedge on the edge of the fly shield and the edge of my pocket facings, which look like nothing on earth in a photograph, but function perfectly well!

Lest you think I think I am a pants savant, I forgot to reshape the hem allowance to angle outwards, so when I folded them up, the hems were slightly smaller than the diameter of the legs. I eased them together but the hems are *almost* gathered as a result. Tsk. I said tsk!

If you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding this fireplace: alas, this is not my apartment, but a very chic AirBnB (this one, well worth a look!!). These are the last of our vacation shots. Someday I’ll go on a vacation without needing a haircut. Someday!!

Anyway, I sort of expected these trouser-jeans to be clown pants but actually they ended up staid! But I really like them! I’m still nervous about *how* I made them (the word “mushy” comes to mind – mushy pattern, mushy understanding) but I’m finding them quite easy to wear.

And now I want to add hardware to everything. EVERYTHING.

Next up, July. Blergh. See you there!

Pattern: No pattern??

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??

Supplies: 2 yards of Indigo Washed 8 oz. denim, $25.20, Gather Here; 7″ zipper, 1.5″ non-roll elastic, $4.59, Gather Here; thread, rectangle rings from stash

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $29.75

Balloons Below

I don’t typically enjoy tracing/rubbing existing clothes, but I recently got access to a pair of Madewell balloon leg cropped jeans and I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. You know that bit in P&P where Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth how ardently he admires her? He was quoting me, talking to a pair of jeans. I actually considered buying a pair, but when it comes to pants I’d rather sew them every time (even if there’s no fit advantage to doing so! I love the process!) so I saddled up for a RTW dupe experiment.

Sneaky peeky (with inner waistband short end on the selvedge)…

And here’s the very candid photos of the ‘official’ pair, for reference.

I’d usually try to match an existing garment to a pattern, but with a pair right in front of me I wanted to try making a direct copy. Unfortunately, the process by which I copied them isn’t really applicable unless you get lucky in a similar way. Here was my recipe:

Step 1 – visit your sister + family for the first time in over a year and a half, thanks to a combination of vaccinations and negative rona tests

Step 2 – your sister is wearing really really excellent jeans

Step 3 – try on her jeans and discover, miraculously, you like the fit

Step 4 – borrow some leftover wrapping paper and a yardstick from your mother

Step 5 – grab a pencil, best-guess the grainlines, and spend the first afternoon where your immediate family has been within an ocean of each other doing math-y arts-and-crafts while muttering to yourself at the table where your four-year-old nephew would really rather be doing his dino puzzle

I didn’t have any tracing paper, and feeling the raised edges of the seams through wrapping paper wasn’t working for me. Taking and transferring measurements seemed like my best bet. The Madewell website has a few key measurements that let me check my process – I didn’t look at it until I was done, for independent verification.

The front leg went really well, and I got the finished 26” inseam right. The back leg was harder (possibly because I couldn’t lay it flat) and while I ended up with an outseam only ¼” longer than the front leg’s outseam (woo!), the inseam as I drew it was only 23”. I’d be fine with the back inseam being a little shorter, based on patterns I’ve sewn in the past, but 3”! Woof! My finished hem circumference was also 16”, as opposed to the ‘official’ 15”, but that was an easy adjustment. I chose to remove the whole inch of width from the inside back leg hem instead of dividing it among seam allowances. Then, I lengthened the back inseam as shown. I don’t know if this is technically sound, but it’s the way I could think of that added length without excess width.

It also changes the angle of the hips, but not necessarily for the worse. The width stays the same, because anything I lost on the inseam side I added back to the outseam side (about ¼”). It’s still ¾” shorter than the front inseam, but that’s consistent with my commercial patterns.

My traced yoke also ended up ¾” narrower on the horizontal than my measurement of the top of the back leg. I divided it on my (guessed) grainline and popped a little more wrapping paper in the gap.

I didn’t trace the fly shield, pocket bags/facings, waistband, or belt loops, but they were rectangles so I just whipped them up myself. The original waistband was straight so the only curved line I had to invent was the bottom of the pocket bag; I used Ginger’s.

Oh and of course, I added seam allowances. I cut a little cardboard shim 5/8” wide and moved it around the perimeter of my copied pieces, drawing an outline as I went, which I found easier than measuring over and over and connecting the dots.

The pattern pieces didn’t raise any alarm bells – they looked like pants, which was the idea. Since what makes these jeans special is the shape of the leg, I didn’t feel like a shorts muslin would be that valuable and I decided to jump right in with fashion fabric! Plus I had a coupon. I ordered this denim from Stylemaker Fabrics; Madewell doesn’t list the weight of their denim, but I (and my machine) like sewing 10 oz. denim, and the value was right (color is brighter, but I like it).

Final, possibly fatal decision – do I plan for success or budget for failure? I decided to plan for mitigated success, and part of that plan was staystitching everything except the back leg inseams. I sewed the front ‘officially’ the first time, with double lines of topstitching, but I basted the back yokes and back center seam, before basting the long leg seams. So even if I had totally nailed everything, I’d have to unpick and resew most of the pants anyhow!

Luckily (luckily?) the back needed adjustment. I scooped the back crotch curve ¼” and narrowed the center back 7/8”, blending to nothing at the crotch extension. That’s about what I added to the yoke pattern piece, by the way, so I guess it was my leg measurements that were off! I also narrowed the side seams ¼” just at the waist. I was happy with the yoke/back leg seam shaping, so that was my only “wasted” basting, which isn’t so bad. Then I stitched them up for real…and…well… 

I’m a happy bunny! They’re not identical to the Madewell pair (not even that close) but they’re not bad at all! I pitched my side seam curve a little low – the ‘belly’ of the curve should be higher on the leg – and the fabric is obviously newer/not artfully faded, and I added more rivets – but otherwise not bad! I would go as far as to say…GOOD!

As the denim relaxes I’m noticing some issues (namely, there’s some puddling in the yoke) but that’s highly adjustable if I make another pair, and overall I’m happy.

This ‘wedgie’ style isn’t the fit I usually go for, but it mirrors the original and truth be told I think it makes my rear view look like ten thousand American dollars.

So listen! The sensible thing to have done would have been to add a convex curve to the outseam of an existing pattern (or bought a new pattern, like this or that). But I enjoyed the time I spent on these. I learned more this way, often by investigating my owned patterns further, and taking a few measurements from those I wear regularly for comparison. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can find it here. These are also all patterns I’ve adjusted (usually for full stomach and full thighs, and grading across sizes too) so these measurements differ from the fresh-from-the-printer pattern pieces, but since they’re all adjusted for me, the relationships should be consistent.

Anyway, They Might Be Giants, this is where they make balloons!

Pattern: traced from Madewell balloon jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 29

Supplies: 1.75 yards of Soft Mid Weight Denim Bleached Blue – 10 oz, Stylemaker Fabrics, $25.00; zipper, Sewfisticated; thread, Michael’s, $3.79; rivets from stash

Total time: 10.75 hours

Total cost: $28.79

Darkest Dawns

I didn’t think I had too many pairs of jeans until I began regularly using the phrase “I’m not a denimhead, but”. I just love sewing jeans, and this pair was an easy comfort sew. Probably I should have taken it a little less easy, though, because the fit isn’t great!

Let’s rewind. These are Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans, the tapered view. I made one pretty bad muslin, and then adjusted the pattern and sewed one pretty good ‘real’ pair. This pair uses the pretty-good adjustments, plus a couple more, but with less success. These are shown on the 3rd (and final) day of wear, by the way (they are actually foxy and wrinkle-free right out of the dryer, but only for a few hours).

I started from a 14 waist, 16 hips, with a 16 rise. Here’s my list of total adjustments, with the new ones for this pair in bold:

  • ¼” small waist adjustment
  • 3/8” wide hip adjustment
  • removed ¼” from center front at waist
  • removed ½” from center back at waist
  • scooped butt curve ¾” deeper
  • lengthened front crotch extension by ¼”
  • lengthened back crotch extension by ½”
  • lowered back pocket placement by 1”
  • enlarged back pockets by ½” per side
  • integrated front fly pieces into the front legs
  • used a straight waistband

Bigger bum pockets, A+. Integrated fly extensions (and Ginger zip installation method), A++. Straight waistband…eh? B+, A-? Hard to judge in this fabric. The most significant issues stem from the denim, which is thin and crispy. I think either a heavier denim or a softer denim would be more *discreet* about my fitting problems, instead of the extremely obvious and sharp wrinkles I have here. Also, the waistband crumples. But most importantly, because I sewed my pretty-good pair with much thicker fabric, I think by comparison this pair came up a little…big? I’m not used to that. A hot wash & dry helps a lot, but the crotch is still busily wrinkled.

I spent a while staring at my own reflection, confronted with new-to-me wrinkles. I tried pinching and binder clipping excess fabric at a few different points, and what I came up with was: I just don’t know.

The extra fabric under my butt goes away if I sit down or angle a leg forward, so I assume that’s necessary for wearing ease.

The extra fabric in the front crotch smoothes out if I stand up exaggeratedly straight, but that’s not really part of my daily life in the same way sitting and walking is. If I tug the front leg fabric back (jerry-rigged test to see if I should shorten the front crotch extension), there’s no improvement. If I tug the fabric up (to see if I should shorten the vertical rise), it’s distinctly worse. I guess it’s probable that the front crotch curve needs to be shallower – it would make the crotch shorter overall, but wouldn’t affect the extension where it fits my inner thigh, or the rise.

Or it might just be that if I want to wear this cut, on my excellent bod, I’m gonna get these wrinkles! I wish I had used this fabric for something else – specifically, how good would it have been as Clyde pants?! But as the wisdom says, It’s Only Fabric.

And in any case, the pants are really comfortable. Pandemic or not, I like high hard pants. There’s no give in the fabric so I definitely couldn’t do yoga in these, but I already don’t do yoga, so problem solved.

Favorite new trick: selvage is useful not only for the outside edge of the belt loops and the unfolded edge of the fly shield, but also for the short end of the waistband underlap. It makes a neat, low-bulk finish. Yay woven selvage!

I made a couple very mild style swings on this pair. I used a traditional button instead of a jeans rivet to keep a low profile (oooh) and left the hems raw (aaah). I put a line of stitching ¼” from the raw edge as a safeguard. Then, after a wash, I trimmed the fringe neatly, somewhat mitigating my supercool edginess.

I remember reading something, somewhere, about softening natural fibers by soaking them in a solution of a common household good (like baking soda, not necessarily baking soda though) – does that ring a bell for anybody? I think I’d like these better if they weren’t so crunchy, but fabric softener seems like a no-go (I searched “is fabric softener…” and Google auto-filled “…bad?”, and the results said “Yup!”).

These are worn with a cupro knit Stellan tee, which is one of my favorite Stellans. It’s got a cool hand and it’s very slithery, so much so in fact that it slithers right out of my stitching and has been mended in several places. I’ll continue to fix it, because I love it.

Honestly I’m really fine with the jeans, too. Like I said, I’MNOTADENIMHEADBUT here’s an excellent excuse to iterate further. As always, I end up back where I started: thinking about sewing jeans.

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans (Curve, tapered view)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist/16 hip & rise, with many changes

Supplies: 1 2/3 yards of Mid Weight Cotton Denim Black – 10 oz, Stylemaker Fabrics, $25.00; zipper, Gather Here, $1.60; thread, Michael’s, $3.70

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $30.30

Red Dawns Rising

“Fell deeds pants awake. Now for wrath fabric. Now for ruin fitting. And the red dawn[s]!”

Here we go again! My first ‘proper’ MN Dawns, the pattern only slightly mauled, in corduroy. Corduroy again! This is it for a while, though…probably.

I surprised myself with this fabric, as I’ve got kind of a self-mythology that I don’t like red; which is why I’m describing this color as “ruby chocolate” (Mood said “henna”, and it’s OOS). The fact that these pictures were taken on Valentine’s Day is PURE COINCIDENCE I ASSURE YOU. Anyway, this cord is definitely du roi. It’s seriously plushy. Like, the first time I washed and dried it, it overflowed the lint trap with ruby chocolate fluff and almost committed ruby chocolate arson. While sewing it shed tiny velvet fuzzies all over my ironing board, sewing machine plate, and legs. But I like it! It’s warm! It’s rich! The wales are deep and dramatic and luxurious! The small amount of stretch in the fiber makes next to no difference, though – I had hoped it would aid in recovery, but nah.

Oh, by the way, the yardage estimate for the Dawns is VASTLY overgenerous. It calls for 2.5ish yards and I had over a yard left over! I passed the remnant on, so you won’t be seeing it on the blog again, partly because this was straightforward to sew until I reached the belt loops, whereupon I broke no less than 5 needles, two on the same loop. Yikes. Enough was enough for me.

These Dawns are freshly washed, and they’ll bag over the course of the day, but right now I think the fit is – dare I say it – pretty good! I made further significant changes to the pattern, which I had already modified as described here, with the help of my personal Good Book, Singer’s Sewing Pants That Fit.

The below illustrations encompass ALL my changes, shorts and pants – i.e., starting from the straight leg view, unmodified 14 waist, 16 hip, with a 16 rise, here’s everything I did to get to these pants. First, I stacked and taped all the affected pattern pieces; pocket bag, facings, etc. on the front, leg + yoke on the back. Then it was time to slice-and-dice…shall we gif?

The finished pieces don’t look ‘ideal’, as in, they don’t look like a platonic/generic pants pattern, but they work for my body way WAY way WAY better. My other helpful change, not to the pattern pieces but while sewing, was to stretch the heck out of the waistband when attaching it to the pants. I wanted it to conform to my body, and on my shorts muslin the waistband stands up straight, partly because I forgot this step.

Just to commit a quick pants blasphemy for a second – I don’t think this pattern, with my changes, benefits from a curved waistband. The rise hits at like the one point of my body that isn’t curved, and I’ve already made every seam that meets the waistband less vertical, essentially widening dart intakes on the sides, front and back. The mild curve of the waistband is superfluous. Also, a folded rectangle is easier to cut AND there’s less bulk to sew through when adding belt loops. Ooh la la!      

My changes also made these pants less suitable for corduroy overall, mainly because topstitching the fly meant sewing a shallow diagonal across the wales (it reminds me of a story of a college classmate once told, of a boy who went in for a kiss she tried to avoid, and his teeth ended up scraping sideways clack-clack-clack across hers).

But that’s true of the original pattern as well. I’d like to try canvas or traditional denim next.

Begging the question, will there be a next? I think probably yes. I’ve achieved a fit state that Professor Boyfriend calls ‘Pareto optimal’ and I call ‘Whack-a-Mole’. The front is a little long, but if I pinch out the extra length, I get more wrinkles at the crotch. The waistband isn’t perfectly level but a shortened back rise would be worse. But the overall effect is comfortable and reasonable-looking.

There’s still tweaks to be made – I might want to enlarge the back pockets further, experiment with their placement (right now they’re about an inch lower than the pocket markings, by the way), try this zipper technique one more time (I’m still not wowed by it but I need to know if it’s my lack of experience), and swap in a straight waistband. And I’m tempted to give the tapered leg view a whirl. Basically, I can always find a reason to sew another pair of pants.

I hope you got to spend Valentine’s Day doing something you love, maybe with somebody you love…and I’ll leave you with these affectionate words!

Til next time!

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist, 16 hip, with ch-ch-changes

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Italian Burnt Henna Stretch Cotton Corduroy, $35.97, Mood; 1/2 yard Rifle Paper cotton in Strawberry Fields, $6.25, Gather Here; 9″ metal zip, Sewfisticated; thread, Michael’s, $3.19

Total time: 9.5 hours

Total cost: $45.41

Overall this 2020 Nonsense

Hi there! As I mentioned recently, Heather and I planned to share overalls in February to mark being over 2020! Obviously flipping over a calendar page doesn’t create systematic change but 2021 does feel like an improvement so far, including some pretty cool executive orders, the re-opening of my local library branch for contactless pickup, and, well, these so-so overalls.

These were supposed to be a redemption make, ideally replacing my old pair of Turias before they split along the equator. I either wanted to repeat the pattern (What Katie Sews just posted a winter pair, very inspiring) or the fabric, 21 wale corduroy. I’m starting my transition to a corduroy-only blog (kidding, but also…I have been using it a lot lately) so I ordered 2.5 yards of Kaufman 21 wale cord in Olive Drab from The Confident Stitch and paired it with Kwik Sew 4138.

K4138 looked like the kind of pattern I could eyeball and copy but I got it on deep sale so why not use it? I was pleasantly surprised, when tracing, to see it wasn’t just rectangles – the bib and the straps are, but the pant legs have actual shaping and the waistband is curved. But the pattern support was lacking. This was my first time sewing a Kwik Sew pattern, is the back of the envelope always so coy? The only finished garment measurements given were the inseam length and width of leg at hem. It’s a beginner-facing pattern with a fitted waist, tell us the waist measurements! They weren’t printed on the pattern tissue, either.

Also, for the first time ever in my experience, the lay plan was wrong. I ordered the listed amount of fabric and far from being the usual way-too-much it was 4” too short! I could have shortened the legs from the hem to fit (and if I had actually looked at that spurned inseam measurement I probably would have) but after some experimenting I was able to come up with my own plan that fit the pieces as drafted. Surprise surprise, these legs are too long.

So yeah, cutting was unusually trying. The fabric is beautiful though – soft and light and a sheeny silvery green – and I expected sewing to be a snap. January brain disagreed.

You jump right in with a lapped zipper, using a simple fold-and-topstitch method. “Oh ho ho,” I thought to myself. “I’m sure there’s a better way. I remember pinning one!” and sure enough I had this video saved. It’s a nice clear video but I could not do it for some reason, even with the increased seam allowance! I sewed and unpicked my zipper six times. I had a shopping appointment at Gather Here that afternoon and I decided I would give up and grab an invisible zipper (so you know I was desperate) but then in the store I was in a complete flurry and walked out with some beautiful fabric and, as I realized when I got home, a traditional zipper.

I did the simple fold-over-and-topstitch method (the first one mentioned in the video, the one in the Kwik Sew directions booklet), and it came out pretty good. O_O Blurgh.

After that, sewing was ok. I cut a medium, except for the waistband. After some measuring I decided on a waistband halfway between a small and a medium (3/8” larger than small, 3/8” smaller than medium) but then when sewing I waffled a bit and sewed just the waistband side seam allowances with ½” sa instead of the called-for 5/8”. My only other pattern change was to cut the bib as a single piece with the fold on top. I also changed the sewing order very slightly, topstitching the waistband piece on the bib edge before adding it to the pants half.

I put all my interfacing on the outward-facing sides and used overalls buckles instead of buttons and buttonholes (partly because I had them, partly because I was worried about going too cute with these).    

I think the finished pair might be a swing and a miss. The proportions seem a little funny, and thanks to my fabric choice, I’m not quite sure what ‘character’ these are for – forget the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, these say Hobbit/Saboteur.

But they are sturdy, and tidy, and soft (as am I).  And who knows, maybe when I can get my ankle bones out I’ll like the proportions better. And in the meantime I can be sure that the bib won’t rip off the trousers, so I’ve definitely satisfied the minimum. Now off to enjoy my new library books!

Pattern: Kwik Sew 4138

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M, S/M waistband

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Olive, The Confident Stitch, $38.15; zipper, Gather Here, $2.10; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 10

Total cost: $42.64