Wear Your Greens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But hopefully something cozy. Happy Halloween, all!

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10 bust, 14 hip

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

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $48.04

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