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

Last Resort

I really like black outfits in the summer even if they effectively make me look glow-in-the-dark, but this one kind of crossed the line from “casual” to “deadly-widow-on-a-cruise”. To be fair once I realized that I leaned into the styling; since I’m only going to wear this outfit this once, I may as well wear it as hard as I can. This is my wearable muslin for M7936.  

Sometimes a muslin gets promoted to the big leagues. This isn’t one of those times. I haven’t really been tempted by short rompers lately; I feel simultaneously overdressed and underdressed, and this summer has been so relatively cold in New England that I’ve gotten to enjoy long pants most days anyway. But I wanted to sew through this pattern once before deciding whether or not I would make myself a full-length version. Honestly, I’m still not sure.  

The drafting was simple but good – everything lined up, there’s generous hem allowances, and the pockets are a good height and size. I had to sew my nemesis, an invisible zipper, but even that went okay thanks to the expert guidance of Kenneth D. King! However, it seems my new nemesis is facing a V-neck with an invisible zipper at the point. My fabric was a slightly grow-y, slightly shifty rayon/linen blend, and I didn’t make it perfectly symmetrical. I hand-stitched the edge of the facing in place to minimize the mismatch.

It’s obviously not an invisible finish, but if a line is going to be slightly wobbly anyway, I think hand-sewing visually justifies it. I wonder if a closed-end dress zipper in the side seam would make a good replacement for the center zipper, possibly if the back neck had a “V” neckline as well for extra hip-in, hip-out room? I’m not fond of placing the thing I’m most likely to mess up front and center, but a back zip can be a hassle too.

Fit-wise there’s not a ton to say – the intended fit is free through the waist and loose in the hips and shoulders. I sewed a straight size M (the pattern alpha-sized, by the way). It’s comfortable but the inseam pockets gape a bit, so grading to an L probably would have been more suitable. It passes my squat test for thick thighs as-is, though.

Unfortunately it’s a little uncomfortable to raise my arms above my head. It’s a cut-on-sleeve issue, not a body-length issue. Lifting my arm moves the whole garment, inevitably, but the sleeve digs into my arm before I run out of crotch space; if it were a set-in sleeve I would have a sense of how to adjust (all due to ikat bag’s generous post, an evergreen from 2014) but I’m not sure what to do about it here. Adjust the shoulder slope, possibly?

I sewed and finished the pattern according to the directions before adding my own twist, the little strappy hardware bits. It’s just four rectangles folded like double-fold bias tape and topstitched shut, plus four D-rings. The strap width was determined by the D-rings I had sitting around, 1 ½”.

These straps each started life much, much longer. I pinned them to the finished garment before trimming. This was easiest, but it wasn’t always easy. I was home alone for this sewing project and pinning straps above my own booty with the help of exactly 1 mirror was a bit fussy. They were unsurprisingly unsymmetrical, so I took measurements on the flat garment and tried to split the difference, only to somehow end up sewing the back straps symmetrical to each other but a good 4” lower than the front straps. Several tries later I ended up with this arrangement.

I was a little worried that the cinching would pull back the fabric around the invisible zipper and reveal the coils, but it’s all good. These look a bit useless when fully loose and a bit tortured cinched to the max; this sort of half-waist seems to be the sweet spot. You can get a similar(ish) effect with something like this elastic waist, with the exception that I have a flat area (panel in that link) between the strap ends on both the front and back.   

I’m not super excited about this romper, alas. Why’d I even bother poisoning the Colonel, y’know? The one thing I unabashedly like is the depth of the V. I really wanted to recreate a particular denim jumpsuit I have pinned, but now I dunno. I was pretty grateful to pop this off in favor of jean shorts and a tank; I just feel more like me in that outfit. On the other hand, denim makes everything better.

It did inspire me to go through my wardrobe and pull out a few other things I don’t feel excited about. My clothing swap pile is growing. Got to get that stuff out before the if/when of another lockdown…

On that cheery note, arrivederci! If Scotland Yard comes sniffing around, tell them it was natural causes.

Pattern: M7936

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M

Supplies: 2 yards of black linen/rayon, $11.98, Sewfisticated; 22″ invisible zipper, Gather Here + 1 1/2″ D rings, Winmill Fabrics, $4.79

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $22.26

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

Winter Shirtdress

I’m so close to being done with my quilted jacket, but not quite. In the meantime, I have something a little less exuberant to share – actually this is another farewell tour, so say hello & goodbye to my would-be-could-be-but-isn’t go-to winter shirtdress.

After two consecutive winters of wearing this zero times, it’s time to say goodbye (I’ve yet to successfully integrate a dress into my casual wardrobe). This particular experiment hails from 2017 and is mostly a Deer & Doe Melilot, with guest star, the fabled but rarely seen Grainline Archer bum ruffle. I alternate between thinking that ruffle is pretty unappealing and craaaving a bum ruffle Archer shirt; it’s the honey mustard pretzel bites of shirt views.

The fabric is brushed cotton, 4 yards of Kaufman Grizzly Plaid cotton to be precise. It’s soft but less bulky than their Shetland flannel. 2017 Lia was apparently pretty apprehensive about fabric thickness though, since a lot of my decisions appear to have been made to reduce bulk, unfortunately sometimes at the expense of quality/longevity. I was also living that new-serger life, which contributed.

The inner collar stand has a serged bottom edge, which is surprisingly not too obvious. I pictured this being worn done all the way up the neck, and it is the way it looks best, but I really put baby in a corner, style-wise, there. Cover your collarbones or reveal your lazy serging, hussy! The collar is closed by a silver ring snap, and there’s a second snap about 3 inches below that one. And for the rest of the placket…nothin’. It’s funny for me to revisit old projects; I’ve become a sewing completist since then. I would have placed snaps all along the placket nowadays, whether or not I planned to use them.

This isn’t the first popover placket I’ve bungled, but it’s among the worst! Since the Melilot has a full placket I would have followed an online tutorial; I don’t remember which, but this nice, recent CC one makes it clear that it’s just a sleeve placket writ large. I’m not sure how I made it so complicated, but line up it does not.

My other bulk-reduction moment is in the sleeves – I wanted to wear this with a rolled cuff, and again didn’t leave any other choice, since the sleeves are finished with scrap cotton cuffs. Serged on the outside, no less.

I like the visual balance of the cuff but the placement is just wrong. I thought a full-length sleeve would be overwhelming on a dress, but I judged the shortened sleeve length incorrectly, so it’s not very comfortable; the cuffs sit over my elbows, so I’m always either tugging them down or feeling them ride up.

The interior seams are serged as well, except the hem, which I finished with bias tape. I like the extravagantly swoopy Melilot shirt hem and I transferred it downwards. That does make the sides pretty short!

Plaid matching fell by the wayside as I adjusted this dress. Originally I lengthened the Melilot shirt (size 42) by 11” and added extra space for my hips. I used the shape of the Melilot back, but divided at the height placement and along the curve of the Archer bum ruffle seam. The lower half is also mostly Melilot, with the upper edge shape and width of the bum ruffle. This turned out to be a series of nopes. I had to shorten the top back to raise the ruffle by 1.5” to make it even barely a top-bum rather than a mid-bum ruffle, remove the added volume from the hips (in a word: saddlebags), and shorten the dress overall by 4.5”.

The finished dress isn’t terrible. It’s not the most thoughtfully constructed but it’s warm; the details are sloppy, but the silhouette isn’t bad. But I just don’t wear it! I can blame the usual suspects; the length, the fact that it’s a dress at all, lack of pride in the finishing. I think this candid more or less sums it up.

 And I also think it’s just a bit blah! I could see something like this working in a warm, colorful flannel, but the last thing I reach for in winter is top-to-toe grey.

Okay, now picture this with me instead: a winter shirt, maybe needlecord, deep jade or dark teal, shiny buttons…and a bum ruffle?! Maybe someday!  

Pattern: Deer & Doe Melilot (mostly)

Pattern cost: $10 (my first Melilot, weirdly!)

Size: 42, extended 6.5”

Supplies: 4 yards Kaufman Grizzly Plaid cotton, Mercer’s Fabric, $28.80; snaps, Michael’s, $3.00; thread from stash

Total time: 10.75 hours

Total cost: $41.80

Nutmeg & Tum-Tum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch you later!

Pattern: Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $11.18

Size: 12 bust, 16 waist and hip

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

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $44.87

Double dip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern: CC Nettie + Halfmoon Atelier Basic Tank

Pattern cost: NA (previously made) + free

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

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

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $48.05

So long, short dress

I don’t have so many clothes that I need to swap them seasonally, but a couple times a year I take a Long Hard Look at what’s around and work out what I’m missing, and more importantly, what I’m not using, and why. My size is slowly but surely growing, and I’m comfortable and happy with this; I’m not hoarding anything for a mythical smaller version of myself and I have no trouble getting rid of clothes that don’t fit. But what about clothes that kinda, sorta fit? That would fit if I spent a couple hours on them? Those are tricky.

My Lisette Itinerary dress (OOP) is a particular challenge, because while I just realized I haven’t worn it in over a year, in some ways I’m still pretty pleased with it!

Mainly I’m proud of the hand embroidery, which isn’t perfect, but it took ages.

The sewing is sashiko-inspired – the color palette, the design – but I think it’s probably not sashiko, because I didn’t stack multiple stitches on a long needle. It’s just a regular old backstitch throughout. I’m missing a lot of my usual data on this dress – time, money, even size unfortunately – because I made it 5 or 6 years ago.  But I do remember doing the embroidery for hours and hours by the glow of a British murder series. The serial killer had a thirtyish white brunette wife, a thirtyish white brunette mistress, and he only murdered thirtyish white brunettes. I barely looked up while sewing and when I could I had no idea what was happening to whom. It was a confusing show.

This Lisette dress has fully lined back and front yokes, making it an ideal candidate for embroidery. Both shoulders are standard seams, since I omitted the shoulder placket. I gambled on fitting my head through the head-hole without the closure, and it does. I have to take my glasses off first, though.

The obi-style cloth belt is also self-lined. And I suspect, a smidge small for me! It doesn’t quite meet in the back. I sized my motif to fit the finished belt measurements.

It balances the yokes, IMO! Also, somehow the dress looks even shorter without it?!

Oh yes, this is short. I’m wearing pajama boxers underneath (which I actually always did, even when this was getting regular use, an example of the healthy kind of paranoia).  

My version is more A-line than designed. In the misty past I forgot to grade out from my bust size, which meant it was way too snug on my hips. Instead of buying more fabric and re-cutting the body, I inserted two triangular gussets from the leftovers, widening from about 1” at the underarm to 7” at the hem. They’re invisible from the back of a trotting horse, as Ramona Quimby’s father’s grandmother would say.

There’s not one raw edge inside this bag. The side/gusset seams are flat-felled, the yokes are self-lined, and the armscyes are bound with the same bias tape I used to hem (every ¼” counted).  

Even though it’s old, I’m proud of the workmanship. And I love this fabric! It’s medium-heavy cotton with a ton of texture and next to no wrinkling. And I think the embroidery still looks cool (and is aging shockingly well). Bad news: it’s too small in the biceps now, the armscyes are too high for my comfort, and the upper chest feels a little binding.

It gives me wedgies in my armpits.

So that’s a no.

If I remove the sleeves and lower the armscyes, that could fix all three problems in one swoop. Or I could shorten the sleeves and use the cut-off fabric to add further gussets in the underarms. If I made it much shorter (and a shirt, obvs) I might even have enough ‘new’ fabric to make the sleeves interesting in some way. This would probably represent a few hours work, and it would make the result of many more hours of work wearable.

But at the end of the day, this dress ain’t me anymore, you know? And I don’t see myself reaching for it as a shirt either. So I think I’ll just feel proud, and move on.

One more for the rehoming pile!

Happy Juneteenth, everybody!

Pattern: Lisette Itinerary for Simplicity 2060, view B

Pattern cost: ? pre-spreadsheet

Size: ? pre-spreadsheet – probably a 14, with modifications

Supplies: indigo cotton, white topstitching thread

Total time: ? sorry, this is

Total cost: ? worse than useless

Lilac in Spring

One of the few patterns I bought instantly and sewed instanter was the Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs. They haven’t appeared on the blog despite being one of my favorite things, because I made them exactly as written; I even used the Jungle green Essex cotton/linen that’s shown in the sample. They might still show up someday because they’re terrific and make me feel like a small-town florist in a musical about a small-town florist, but it took me years to make a second pair! And as soon as I had, mere moments to wear them!

It’s spring, and I’ve decided to start dressing like it. I’ve been dressing defensively lately – as Northern hemisphere winter was replaced by global and personal uncertainty – and that’s meant dark colors, heavy fabrics, lots of wrapping up and absolutely no chance of seeing of my own toes (it reminds me of Liz Lemon flipping through her closet in that one episode of 30 Rock – “Grey, maroon, navy – am I depressed?! Later!”). But I can keep what makes me feel secure in those choices (sturdy fabrics! Pants so wide that they socially distance for you!) and add some breeziness and color.  

I’ve historically avoided purple but I had a yen for a spring pair of Bibs and this just-right shade of purple (called “Lilac”) edged out mint green and sunshine yellow. Dang, now I want those too – I could dress like a package of Peeps! I arranged my paper pattern pieces in my secret weapon, a.k.a. my front hall. My hallway has one area that’s about 45” wide, which then widens to about 54”, so it’s ideal for laying out pattern pieces and calculating yardage on different fabric widths. I knew I wanted to use Essex cotton/linen again, for the structure, and gambled that I could get away with 3 yards instead of the 3 5/8ths called for.

These are the cropped view, no darts! I just made it!

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I had to cut both front bibs on the crossgrain, as well as the waistbands, but I’m pretty jazzed at how little fabric was left over AND that I could save some spondoolies. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend this for directional fabric. I made one minor change to this version; instead of sewing the front pockets as patch pockets (I wasn’t happy with the neatness of the curved edge on my first pair), I sewed them as single-layer slash pockets. I’m not convinced this was the right choice, as it diminishes their visual impact. However, they are neat! And it’s easy to use the existing pieces to make this change (patch pocket above, single-layer pocket below). The pocket facing stays the same.

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I topstitched the pocket bag edge twice to anchor it. Everything else got one line. And liked it!

I did the fold-and-topstitch technique for the long straps because you’re going to have to lock down my region a whooole lot longer before I think it sounds fun to turn a long skinny tube right-side-out. For some reason my brain went pbbt when it was time to make the belt loops, though, and I folded them in thirds instead of quarters (the fabric selvage is the outside third, but still). It would be nice if they were stronger, especially the outermost loops, as those see the most stress.

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I’m saving my scraps, though, and if I need to replace them, I will!

Sewing this went very smoothly. It’s not just straight lines, but really nothing challenging; it’s a lovely relaxing sew that zips right along, and I think a beginner who was enthusiastic about topstitching could make a beautiful pair. I only had one little wrinkle, when I needed to ease the inner bib’s bottom edge to match the outer bib. I hand-basted the layers together, and used those stitches to gather the inner bib edge slightly, too. Topstitching holds everything in place and any literal little wrinkles are hidden on the inside.  

Fit is sort of beside the point with the wide legs and the cinched waist. I sewed a 14, no zipper. I could lose 4” in width without dire consequences but I like the extra extra fabric, it makes the gathering more dramatic!

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These Burnsides are worn over a Roscoe blouse, by the way, which I sewed in April 2018. Still not blogged, but someday! For now it’s enough to say: I sewed the smallest size (!!!), and it was the star of my latest late-night closet fashion show, so I’ve been wearing it a lot lately.    

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I like its neckline, I like the curved bib neckline, I like ‘em together.

I’m really pleased to have added a second pair of Burnside Bibs to my wardrobe – the only thing slowing me down was choosing a color, and I’m in the mood for all sorts of colors right now. The witch hazel is blooming, so is the forsythia, and I’m pretending to know which is which. It’s a weird spring, but it’s spring, baby.

I hope you’re keeping well, and if you feel like sewing, I hope you’re sewing something that makes you happy! Zum Wohl!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 14, dartless view, curved bib, cropped

Supplies: 3 yards Essex linen/cotton in Lilac, $34.46, fabric.com; thread, Tags, $3.28

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $37.78

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: XS

Supplies: 2 yards Treasured Kermes rayon in Crimson, $23.73, Red Beauty Textiles; thread from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $23.73

Jean-Paul II

I hope you’re okay with a post which is mostly shouting, since this was the most frustrating sew! Such a marathon!! And like any time someone does a marathon, you know I have a LOT to say about it. Also, like a marathon, it was my own fault. Okay, let’s take a tour of what went wrong –

I changed the collar, which meant drafting a neck facing, only mine was disastrous. So I unpicked that and tried a wide binding. Also bad. So I unpicked that to try a narrow binding, which basically worked, except I’ve sewed dozens of them and yet it somehow took me 4 tries to catch one 2-inch section of this one??? And THEN I noticed one collar point was fraying ALREADY because I clipped too close to the stitches before turning, but I could not have it with taking it off at that point, especially because I had already added my plackets, which were also NO PICNIC.

And of course after one trip through the washing machine the collar point basically exploded, so I whipped some hand-stitches around it and now it’s fraying but also covered in hand stitches. So that’s…fun.

Back to the sewing – I couldn’t get the buttonholes going for some reason, and finally I noticed I hadn’t set my stitch width to the maximum. I adjusted, I sewed them, and they were basically fine. But then I realized I had accidentally put interfacing in the blind button overlap, not where the buttonholes go, so I unpicked them – AGAIN – so I could iron on little patches of fabric + interfacing and restitch.

Then, I French-seamed the bodice but the first time I did it inside out (!!!) and the second time I didn’t trim my seam allowances aggressively enough so all the seams on the right side ended up with what I call despite my better judgment “hairy crack”. No pictures of this because I picked out all the stray threads in a sputtering rage, like Mrs. White with a pair of tweezers.

FINALLY, I had decided to cut my fabric in two sessions (what a ding-dong) – and when I went back to cut the pants pieces I somehow hadn’t budgeted enough for full-length pants legs. So, sick of this project and unwilling to sink more money and time into it, I jettisoned my plan and just made it with shorts. GAH.

The thing is, even though it was going poorly, I didn’t stop. Is there a name for that? Dark flow, maybe??? CURSE US AND SPLASH US, I HATES IT FOREVER.

Okay, okay. I’m done.

Listen, is this garment fine? IT’S BASICALLY FINE. Is it what I wanted? NOPEDY NOPE. Alright, now I’m done.

The pattern is the Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit, which I made, poorly, once before. I bought the expansion pack because hope is the thing with feathers, I guess, but I still couldn’t get this pattern to really work for me. It’s not a drafting thing (with one quick exception, the waistband, more later) – it’s meee.

When reading about utility collections and clothing rationing in WWII Britain (I enjoyed this article), I learned about siren suits. Gorgeous and functional! Most of the examples I saw had a notched collar, rather than a collar and stand, and I thought I could fudge the Jean-Paul to match.

Here’s how I reshaped the collar and stand into one piece:

I have no idea if that’s the recommended way, but the collar rolls correctly. I extended the collar piece right to the edge of the stand because the plackets are sewn on separately.

I must have grabbed the wrong pattern pieces to make these changes, though (the ones from the original Jean-Paul pattern and not the extension, at a guess), since the new collar ended about 1” away from the placket seamlines on either side. This was after the grueling session binding the collar edge, so I just shaved a diagonal chunk off each top center front, grading to nothing at the waist. Oddly, this went fine. Off all the decisions not to bite me in the butt!

I extended the plackets slightly, folded over the extra at the top, and then attached as normal, so all raw edges were concealed.    

While this worked, more or less, the neck doesn’t sit open – there’s got to be more to a notched collar than just blending the stand into the collar piece. Someday I’ll crack that nut. Or, um, buy a pattern.

Sleeves, darts, tucks – all that went okay. Even the shorts (once I came to terms with the fact that they would be shorts and not full-length pants) weren’t too bad. The concealed button fly directions were solid! I used the slash pockets from the extension, and the openings feel nice and sturdy, no stretching on the bias. I was calming down. I just had to smash the top half into the bottom and call it a day.

But then the waistband was several inches too short.

At this point I wanted to set a small fire, but instead I chopped up the chest pockets I had cut and abandoned and patched them onto the waistband center fronts. This was not a victorious ending, but thank goodness, it was an ending!

The process of making this suit was so much more interesting (negative, but still interesting) than the finished project. I’ll still use it, but I think I have to cool it on this pattern for a while. The difference between my plan and reality is just bumming me out. Plus I’m not totally sure this outfit likes me either, because sometimes in the silence I can hear it whispering…

“…Oompa-Loompa costume…”.

Well, better luck next time, I hope.

Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $7.05 (expansion)

Size: 41 bust, 46 hip

Supplies: scraps 3 yards of Brussels Washer linen blend in Indigo, $26.19, fabric.com; thread, Michael’s, $2.96; buttons from stash

 Total time: 13.5 hours

Total cost: $36.20

Poppy Chitoniskos

I took a meandering road to this romper. First, I spotted Faye’s adorable playsuit over on The Fair Stitch. Next, I was overcome by the punchy color of the (free!) playsuit pattern sample. Then, I would have printed and assembled the pattern, but I realized…eh, my unused M7577 pattern was traced already. So I made that, but orange-red. And that’s how my cross-bodice shortie romper was inspired by a floral playsuit. You can totally see the similarity now, right?

I’ve been calling this garment my chitoniskos, after the trendy short chitons worn by fashion-forward Greek youths in the late 400s BC. I feel like a mango Artemis.

The Greeks didn’t have elastic, though. Sorry, classical Greeks.   

And elastic is the only notion you need for this McCall’s pattern! I sewed view B, but sleeveless, with Brussels Washer Linen in Poppy. It is the most (and only-est) orange thing I own. I graded from a 10 chest to a 14 waist. The pattern asks you to bind the armscyes and long crossover opening with what I recently read is called ‘the French method’, but I used traditional bias binding instead. The other sounded too bulky for summer! I also added inseam pockets. I caught the tops of the pocket bags in the waist seam so they don’t flop around, a tip I got from a Vogue pattern and really like.  

The bodice is obviously spacious, but I don’t regret a single quarter-inch when I’m wiggling in and out of this romper. The extra ‘puff’ above the waist is essential, especially on the way out! If you’re more flexible than me (either literally, like you can jump rope with your own arms, or metaphorically, like you’re willing to pop in an invisible side zipper) you could achieve a closer fit.   

It’s possible to wear this without the belt – the elastic is doing the meaningful cinching, if cinching is what you’re after – but I like it with! By sitting an inch or two above the elastic, I think it also helps keep the wrap wrapped shut.

I sewed the elastic waist casing as essentially a big French seam; first I sewed the bodice to the pants wrong sides together with a ¼” sa, then I flipped them and sewed them right sides together with a ½” sa, leaving a small gap. Then I threaded the elastic through the casing via the gap, joined the ends, and sewed the gap shut. A nice clean casing! You can topstitch it. I couldn’t. It got weird. I unpicked it. But maybe you can!

My major change (there’s often one) was to the bottom half of the pattern. I traced the largest size in my envelope, 14, for the waist and legs, but I just could not convince myself that my legs would fit inside. The pattern pieces looked darn small; but with straight inseams and outseams that were parallel to the grainline, they also looked easy to alter. I slashed-and-spread each leg front and back piece to make them 3” wider, so a total of 6” per leg.

First, I marked the new width on what would become my pattern paper. After cutting to but not through the waistline of the original pattern piece, I taped the outer bottom corners to my marked lines and futzed the middle bits evenly apart. Then I traced, cut, labelled, and ta-da! Like many people I use bum paper, a.k.a. medical examination paper. It’s see-through for tracing; easy to mark, fold, and store; and one roll is seemingly infinite.

You’re supposed to trim off the seam allowances before adjustments like these, but I wasn’t bothered. It didn’t affect the stitch line dramatically, and this linen/rayon has some give anyway.

Once you have a crotch curve and waist size you like, you can easily redesign a basic pants or shorts pattern into any non-fitted silhouette. Box pleats, inverted box pleats, gathers, a slash-and-spread technique like this – as long as you pay attention to the grainline and finish by fitting the legs to the original waistband, swooshy shorts/pants/culottes are your oyster!

I might have been able to squeeze inside the legs as drafted, but I like these. I think it balances the blousy bodice, plus “snug” is not a summery word. ‘Gimme some of those snug shorts!’. No. “Swishy”, that’s a summer word.

And I’ve never regretted extra thigh room for Terminator-style crouching!

This was always meant to be a straightforward summer sew – it’s not going to do double-duty for work, it’s not transitional, it’s pretty much just for hanging out with friends in hot weather. Which is why I find it bitterly ironic that it looks kinda frosty cool layered under a jacket.

Why?? Why you, when I have so much trouble layering actual fall clothes?!

Until next time, hypíaine! (<– Greek theme).

Pattern: M7577

Pattern cost: $4.49

Size: 10 at bust, 14 at waist

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in Poppy, $25.44, fabric.com; thread, Michael’s, $1.91; elastic from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $31.88