Denim Again-im

New pants!! I may look like a scarecrow or some kind of gigantic boy who eats soup and says “Gee!”, but I feel like a time traveler from nineteen-seventycute.

I actually know exactly what caused me to make these pants: I got chilly. I love the look of cropped pants but sometimes I want continuous coverage! This past spring I modified some patterns to make my own version of the Anna Allen Persephone pants, which I call my Perse-phonies, but this is my first time making them full-length.

I’m happy with them, even though they’re less structured than I pictured. I used Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed; it’s non-stretch denim but I wouldn’t say rigid. It’s pretty soft and drapey. It was lovely to sew, and wide enough that I could fit both legs side-by-side, but now I’m a bit baffled about what to do with the leftovers. It’s probably too heavy for a shirt but I don’t really want more jean shorts and it’s not heavy enough for a bag. I anticipated having to place the legs vertically, so I have a healthy piece left over. Any suggestions?

Oh, another note about the fabric – it has a smell when it gets ironed. I’ve encountered it in denim before, and it’s hard to describe. It’s musty. Not nice. It’s not awful, either, but it does sort of…exist, more than I’d like. This is after a white-vinegar wash, by the way!

I guess it’s not really useful to talk about fit when we don’t have the common touchstone of a shared pattern but next time I should probably adjust for a protruding seat and protruding front thighs. If I was just prioritizing one, I’d fix the seat, because while I don’t mind wrinkles under my bum I could live without the horizontal wrinkles between the darts.

I cut the legs extra-long so I could make a deep hem.

2.75” finished, and I could stand to round up to 3”!

You can really see the tension on the buttons here, by the way. A zipper distributes that tension evenly across l’estomac but I like the vintage flavor of a button fly with this silhouette. I used five buttons, as usual, and I stitched horizontal lines between the buttonholes, a good tip from Fabrics-store. I also topstitched the inseam from the hems up, stopping about 1” from either side of the crotch seam. It’s barely possible I could have done this in a single pass of continuous stitching. I stand by the easy way, though; it works!

My black pair of these has no pockets which is NOT COOL, PAST LIA but I patch-pocketed this pair right up.

One on the rear, which is in slightly the wrong spot because I placed it with the jeans on, accidentally pinned through the denim to my underwear, and then took out the pins so I could escape and thought “I’ll remember where it goes” (I didn’t).

It’s also oddly narrow! Ask me how often I look at my own butt, though. Never, except in these photos. So it stays.

And these notched patch pockets in front!

The notch was part of my initial vision and I’m not sure why; I go back and forth over whether they’re worse than a regular pocket or kind of cool. Is the process totally self-evident? I made some diagrams anyway.

You might argue – too many diagrams???

I also have a secret pocket! I’m calling it a protest pocket – not to be accessed during normal wear, but just the right size for an ID, a little cash, and a hand-written list of phone numbers. Mine is underneath my patch pocket, but you could sew it to one layer of a pocket bag, too.   

Normally I’d make it deep rather than wide, but I really wanted to use that selvedge!

I mean, right?

Oh and, US voters, don’t forget to make your voting plan! Register, request a mail ballot, donate to The Movement Voter Project, etc. I’m voting Biden/Harris. Feeling unenthusiastic? Professor Boyfriend (and literal professor of Political Science) and a friend (and leader of the CCR) have made this website which I highly recommend, whether you’re feeling a bit blah, or an engaged voter looking to motivate others!

In other news: I got a haircut and my neck is FREEEE, and I recently learned I’ve been spelling selvedge wrong this whole time (‘selvage’). What can I say, I keep busy.

I think that’s it, except that I almost rehomed this shirt but now I’m glad I didn’t. Later, dears!

Pattern: Perse-phonies

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ?? 31” waist, 43” hip

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, $32.60, fabric.com; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $32.60

Roscoe Rescue

A while back I made a True Bias Roscoe blouse from some lovely hemp/tencel shirting. I added sleeve slits in the style of the neck slit, but eventually the “V” corners of all three burst into frayed, thread-y chaos. I unpicked the shirt and saved the fabric, and it sat in my scrap box, untouched, until recently. Then I had an epiphany. What’s the most efficient use of the fabric salvaged from a Roscoe blouse? Ta-da: another, trivially smaller Roscoe blouse!   

This is truly a beginner-friendly pattern. Straightforward to fit, cut, and sew, and I can pretty much guarantee it won’t warp out of shape, or if it does it doesn’t matter (these pieces got HANDLED). My original was sewn with French seams, which I had trimmed. I lost about ¼” per seam – 1/8” each from the raglan sleeve and front bodice on the right side, same on the left, and so on – but I wasn’t concerned about reducing the circumference by an inch or so.

It’s still not small! I’m pretty sure I started at the smallest available size, too. I should have sewn something between a 6 and an 8, based on my chest measurement, but this is probably a -1, and it’s fine.

Because of the simple shape and the loose cut, my remake differs from its parent blouse in only one obvious way – the sleeve length.

I cut above my frayed sleeve slits, following the curve at the end of the sleeve pattern. I then had 4 pieces of useable scrap fabric, each half as wide as one sleeve and about 6” tall, to cut everything I needed. The original cuffs and bindings sadly hadn’t survived unpicking. So, from scraps, that’s:

  1. Sleeve cuffs. Mine are pieced (once on the left, twice on the right), and about 3” longer than drafted. My new sleeve hem hit right about at my elbow and I needed room to bend, so the sleeves are also less gathered.
  2. A neck binding – for best results, cut on, ahem, the true bias. Mine is more like 60°.
  3. A neck facing, which I made longer and wider than the pattern called for. Longer was a necessity – I had to sew past where my first slit had frayed. Wider was a choice – I found it easier to press and sew.

I had some cotton lawn in an almost identical color on standby but I just squeaked out everything I needed!

The only sewing challenge was facing the neck with the slit already slit…ted. Slitted. Slite? I whip-stitched it shut and added a small square of interfacing over my new “cut to here” point, something I had failed to do the first time. I should have interfaced the facing piece, too, but I forgot! I sewed with the shirt side up, pivoting 1” past the original cut point, and then treated it exactly as usual.

It’s deeper and wider than the original draft but I’ve got the space! As per Shakira, you’re not going to confuse dem thangs with mountains.

The neck binding doesn’t curve as smoothly as should if it were cut at 45°, but I worked with what I had. I hand-sewed the second edge of it and of the sleeve cuffs; the gathering conceals my stitches that strayed through the outer fabric. Thanks, gathers, you’re a pal. I don’t like sewing you (I JUST DON’T) but I like wearing you just fine!

I miss the full pirate glamour of the longer sleeves but a wearable blouse is better than none. And fun fact: the sleeve cuffs are a little bulky, because the sleeves are hemmed inside. They’re actually baby-hemmed because I thought I would skip the gathering for a different silhouette, but I later changed my mind, and just gathered the hemmed ends and shoved them into cuffs. It’s a completely reversible decision. Secret baby hems! I never actually unpicked the shirt’s original baby hem either, so I got to salvage that from my first version, whoop whoop!

I recently read an old detective novel where a dame is described as cool and sweet and remote. That may be my color palette here, but I am actively sweating in all of these pictures, more than a little. The Roscoe is a great summer blouse because a) it doesn’t cling to my human Gatorade and b) it reduces my need for sunscreen, especially on hard-to-reach wing meat.

I’m so glad I was able to reuse this fabric! It’s cooperative, opaque, drapey, and soft as buttah. And I love moving fabric from my scrap pile to the closet. I *am*, however, running out of scraps to shop. I’m going to need an infusion of fresh fabric soon…

And some nice juicy planning. Although hopefully, I will be less juicy at the time.

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: -1?

Supplies: Scraps of hemp/tencel shirting, thread from stash

Total time: 4.75

Total cost: $0.00

Electric Blue

I don’t really edit blog photos much – sometimes a little rotation/cropping, or leveling to show details – but I didn’t touch these. These culottes are blue. How blue?

This blue!

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My aesthetic is often neutral and earthy and discreet, like “Oh look at this stoneware, it’s so taupe, how daring”, especially when it comes to pants (“Is this denim medium enough?”) but not today, Kinfolk. These are midi-length MN Tania Culottes in electric blue rayon/linen, and hand to heart they’ve actually faded in the wash.

Enough blue language (waggles eyebrows), let’s talk about the pattern. As you can see, they’re missing the Tania ‘thing’, that clever hidden pleat in front and back. I think it’s really elegant. It’s just one of the elements that didn’t work for me.

First of all, I had what seems to be a common problem – I sewed my size, L, but my fronts and backs were narrower than the waistband. It’s an easy fix, though a little surprising to find in an indie pattern from a high-caliber designer. I narrowed the pleats by 5/8” each (basically, moving the pleat stitch line 5/8” closer to the crotch).

Then my first invisible zipper broke. As always, I kindly implore invisible zippers to go kick a cow. This isn’t particularly high-quality fabric (it was cheap though, party on), and when I unpicked the broken zipper I popped some threads in a couple places. After fusing a patch of self-fabric to the back of each hole and stitching around the patches, I installed a new zipper. This time I got a funny tuck of fabric where the zipper meets the side seam. I didn’t want to risk unpicking again so I am very much living with it!

I used a real potpourri of seam finishes. The zipper side seams are serged separately; the crotch and other side seam are French-seamed. I cut the inseams on the selvages and didn’t finish them at all. The hems are curved gradually enough that I was able to sew a simple double-fold hem with no trouble, which is nice, because there’s two of them and they’re long!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t love the finished culottes. The waistband was a little betwixt-and-between – wider than usual, but not quite wide enough to be a statement – the pocket openings were buckling, and the pleat didn’t really suit me. So I wore these very sporadically until I got sick back in January (ordinary flu B). I didn’t have the oomph to sew much but I made a lot of progress with my mending, especially these!

Most importantly I wanted to fix the pockets. I actually bought this pattern before the pocket piece was added, but I didn’t want to reprint, so I just winged my own opening angle/length. So my gapey pockets weren’t the fault of the pattern. It does seem to happen to the ‘official’ pockets, too, but luckily it’s an easy fix.

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I just smooshed the excess past the waistline and trimmed it off. While I was in there, I also converted the pleats to gathers. Finally I narrowed the waistband to a finished width of 1.25”. I’m much happier now!

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These are really comfortable and easy to move in! Happily, my pockets are smooth now!

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I think this color is pretty easy to dress up or down. I actually sewed these for a specific event. When we were briefly in London last summer we were gifted a tea in the Winter Garden Restaurant at the Landmark Hotel. I wore these with a dressy white blouse, and, I’m sure, a big goofy tourist grin. The tea began with two men in top hats simultaneously opening double doors so we could sweep into the lobby, and only got better from there!

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There was a piano player taking requests, who I never actually saw because he was hidden in some indoor palm grove. A hushed and scornful man brought us endless vanilla-scented tea and ice cold cream in heavy silver pitchers. Even the air felt fancy. It was delicious and elegant and probably the most memorable meal of my life. I want to go back!   

Speaking of wanting to go back, look what finally arrived in the mail…

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Well, I’ll wear it in gratitude and hope. And I’ll wear my updated, very blue culottes much more often, too!

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I can’t do this in a skirt! Can you tell I’m about to crack up and roll off a wall?

7 weeks into shutdown, the only way out is through! May your tea be hot and your cream cold! ❤

Pattern: MN Tania Culottes

Pattern cost: NA (previously made)

Size: L

Supplies: 3 yards of cobalt linen/rayon, $15.00, Sewfisticated; thread, zipper, $3.04, Sewfisticated; zipper, $1.50, Gather Here

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $19.54

Stripes

I’m back with two more knit tops. Can you tell I recently placed a Girl Charlee order? This is my second half, but unlike the two mitigated successes of my last post, these two makes are mitigated flops. The first because I forgot to reckon vertical stretch. And the second because I forgot again!

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I first sewed another Jarrah sweatshirt. It’s mostly fine, ‘flop’ is a strong word. I’ve made a Jarrah before and it’s a great project for beginners – relaxed fit, mostly straight lines, and no hemming if you choose the view with a banded finish, which I did. My first Jarrah was also striped, and I wished I had switched stretch direction more, so my bands here are all cut parallel to the selvage.   

I like to sew one shoulder seam and stretch the neckband to fit as I sew, then trim any extra. This time I had no extra. I was short! Vertical streeetch! *shaking fist at the sky* I could have unpicked, but I simply didn’t wanna. I pieced on a few extra inches, while most of the neckband was already attached to the shirt body, to cover the gap (it’s in front, of course).   

Which, oops, I did upside down!

The lack of vertical stretch kind of bit me on the sleeve cuffs, too. My sewing was a little crooked because I had to really pull to match the length of the cuff and sleeve end, so I serged off a little extra and then a leetle more, until the cuffs were pretty narrow, but hey, mostly straight! The shirt is a smidge pucker-y where it meets the waistband, too, but not fatally.

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Overall my simple sew took more time and effort than I anticipated. It’s not obvious in the finished shirt, but I’ll still be taking a minute off from the Jarrah. Two is enough for now!

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I mean, it’s not a smash hit, but I’ll wear it.

Plus, I had plenty of leftover fabric for a Nettie bodysuit. Plenty of fabric – but no forethought! This French terry had less horizontal stretch than my usual Robert Kaufman jersey and no vertical stretch at all. Did this factor into my planning or sewing? Did I learn a lesson from sewing the sweatshirt? It did not, and I did not. This isn’t the pattern’s fault – it calls for four-way stretch and has one of those “must stretch to here” guides that I cheerfully ignored. Girl!   

Even while cutting this Nettie I thought “These pieces look tiny!”, but I blamed that on negative ease. Also, I have several Netties that I wear regularly and they’re comfortable, and if anything a little long in the body. And I was enjoying the process of sewing it; after my unexpected problems with the Jarrah, I felt like I was really in the zone, everything was going smoothly, and my brain felt really calm. And the finished Nettie (I toot my own horn) is well-made! It looks nice!

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And it feels…WELL. Wearing this is like trying to make a queen bed with a twin fitted sheet. It’s 5 pounds of sugar in a 2 pound bag. It’s shapewear for a not-me shape. It’s NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

I can wiggle into it, actually. “It’s got a firm hold,” I thought. “But cute! Firm but cute.” And then, oh, the snapping. Again: I can get the front and back crotch straps to meet and snap, much in the same way Hannibal crossed the Alps – with effort – but unlike Hannibal, instead of waging war directly on the Roman Republic, I just feel nervous about sitting down.

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I considered my options. A) cut off the crotch straps, and hem this like a tee-shirt. Pro: easy; con: it’s tight enough that I thought, as a shirt, it might just crawl up my torso and start a new life as an infinity scarf. B) add some sort of crotch extenders that snap to both sides, like on a postpartum girdle. Pro: adds length; con: so many snaps in my back forty, practically a whole percussion section. C) wear it as-is with the crotch straps all loose and willy-nilly inside my jeans. Pro: don’t have to do anything; con: willy-nilly crotch straps.

I decided to wear this on a weekend day before making any tough calls. And I discovered that all roads lead to C), because the bodysuit unsnaps itself if I have the temerity to bend more than 15°. But it’s also irrelevant, because after running a brief errand while vacuum sealed into a striped leotard I could not peel it off fast enough! I have no intention of ever losing weight. It was my birthday a few days ago and for breakfast I had an éclair the size of a tube sock. This Nettie is a giveaway.

This flop counts as mitigated because I’m pleased with my handiwork. I wish a smaller-bodied person much joy of it! And now this post is over because I want to go home and put on something that fits. And write “check the stretch” fifty times on the blackboard.

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OOF!

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 1 yard Yellow Coral Stripes on Dusty Aqua French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, $8.64, Girl Charlee; thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Pattern: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 10 at bust, graded to 12 at hip; shortened about 1.5” at waist

Supplies: 1 yard Yellow Coral Stripes on Dusty Aqua French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, $8.64, Girl Charlee; thread, snaps from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Cheap and Cheerful

I have, one, a new t-shirt and, two, a pattern stashing problem.

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I was preening myself on how quickly I made this tee after the fabric arrived, and on my general immunity to fabric stashing (on the other hand I hoard scraps like my mother was frightened by a quilt while pregnant but NEVER MIND THAT), when I went to store the pattern and discovered my pattern stash was now overflowing two W.B. Mason boxes.

And that’s just paper patterns and assembled PDFs. To say nothing of my downloads folder.

Fabric is finite – you use it, it’s used up (except the scraps, ssshh), it’s transmogrified, it’s a shirt now. A pattern is a pattern forever and you tweak it and hack it and store it in a plastic sleeve and keep it in a box and then your box is full, but you keep seeing new patterns…

So have you seen the Stellan tee yet? By the way – it’s free!!

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If you can resist everything except temptation, give in like me and download this lovely gift from French Navy!

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Seriously, it’s a great little sew. I don’t often make t-shirts but this one kind of grabbed me, plus the price was right! I read somewhere that Sarah describes her style as ‘girl-meets-boy’ and I think this walks that line nicely. It’s a stylish basic with a neat hook – it’s got a relaxed fit that narrows through the hips, perfect for tucking in!

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My new tee is made from 1 yard of a rayon knit, but I could have squeaked it out of ¾ of a yard if I wanted to (a future consideration if I ever buy one of those fance organic cottons that cost like $20/yard). Fabric.com says this fabric is “medium/heavyweight” and I say that it’s “bs/not true”. It’s slinky and light, but a good medium neutral blue, and so comfortable to wear. Plus the edges didn’t roll while cutting or sewing, huzzah!

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I made one bloomer while sewing – see those puckers above my left shoulder, your right? I prefer to install neckbands in the flat, stretching by feel instead of pinning, but I guess my feels were taking a nap because I wasn’t assertive enough at one end of the band and had to make up for it at the other, i.e., stretch the crap out of it. I could have unpicked it but I’m kind of a satisficer, and my standards for sewing knits are…uh, not lofty.

Which makes my hem even stranger. The only place I struggled with the sewing directions was turning the 2 cm wide, gently curved hem without getting puckers and drag lines…so I did a double fold hem. On a knit!

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On a shirt, what’s more, I will never wear untucked! I used a zigzag instead of a twin needle, guided by the wise words of Lucky Lucille. I seriously dislike twin needling. I couldn’t even be bothered to buy one spool of thread in the right color, ha! But the only place the navy topstitching was obtrusive was around the neckband, so I just forwent it there.

I have a secret motive for wanting a shirt in this particular shade of blue. Hopefully I will disclose more once I sew the perfect pair of voluminous khaki shorts…and that’s your hint!

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Ignore my sourpuss face, I really like this tee!

P.S. Good bye paradise, welcome back urban decay! I’m reunited with my ol’ reliable brick wall!

 

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M

Supplies: 1 yard of rayon knit, Fabric.com, $6.98; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $6.98