Ube Adrienne

Because I like to sew repeat, practical garments in workaday fabrics, I don’t take too many chances to stretch my sewing skills. I’ve lately been craving some skill building though so I think this will appear in two ways: first, more finicky fabrics; and second, using the little grey cells instead of a pattern. Basically, when I see a garment that I probably could work out on my own or cobble together from already-owned patterns, I want to at least give that the ol’ college try instead of defaulting to buying. This is a fancy way to say: I’ve started copying stuff.

My not-a-Field bag was the gateway to the slippery slope of the domino effect (actual purchasable pattern found here). Next and now, my not-an-Adrienne blouse (real deal found here)! A.k.a. an Adrian top???

I scrolled by this pattern any number of times without feeling particularly tempted until I saw it on Crafty Clyde. She dresses with a quirky, sassy edge and I thought if she was feeling good in it maybe it didn’t have to be straightforwardly romantic.

I also thought this was a good candidate to copy because everyone mentions it has just the two pattern pieces – the identical front/back and the sleeve. And since it’s an untailored stretchy sleeve I could probably make the sleeve and the body symmetrical, so that’s two *half* pieces! Surely I could come up with two half pieces! I didn’t know if I would like it, but I really wanted to see if I could do it.

I studied the finished top and it suddenly clicked that the Adrienne is a raglan tee with extra pizzazz. Oddly, I don’t own a fitted raglan top pattern, just a loose one. But I preferred a fitted body to balance the big sleeves, so I went poking around the internet and found a couple free ones – Life Sew Savory and It’s Always Autumn both look pretty good. Actually though I followed the It’s Always Autumn DIY raglan directions to modify my CC Nettie pattern. I don’t know what size this ended up being, but it has 2” of negative ease at the bust and 1” of negative ease at the hip, which I find fitted but comfortable.

I gave the sleeve vertical side seams and a horizontal bottom edge because it wouldn’t need to fit anywhere but the shoulder. Basically the sleeve piece is a box with a sleeve cap on top.

There was a hot second about a year ago where I thought I might want to wear more off-the-shoulder stuff. I never saw that through, but I remembered this tutorial, also for the Nettie. I followed that to trim the top of my pieces off. I love that it left my sleeve with a flat top edge to make an elastic casing easy to fold and sew, while I added a barely-scooped curve to the body neckline to mimic what I saw on the real pattern.

Because the sleeve was now basically a rectangle with bites taken out of two corners, it was simple to split it vertically and add a bunch of width. The final sleeve piece I made is about 20” wide by 18” long at its most extreme dimensions. Unfortunately this places the finished sleeve bottom edge annoyingly right in the crook of my elbow. I thought it was going to land a few inches above my wrist; the only reason I can think of for my confusion is that the flat top edge tricked me into judging its length as though it were a dropped sleeve, which it really isn’t!

Next time I would increase the length by a good 5” or 6”, and the width by maybe 2”. It’s as easy as extending straight lines.

Both top and bottom of the sleeve are simply folded over once at ¾” and sewn with a straight stitch at 5/8” to make casings. I used ½” elastic. I cut each shoulder elastic to 8”, but pulled out some on either side to make it easier to tack in place; the finished length is probably more like 7”, which feels pretty good to me. I cut my sleeve elastic at 11”, based on the measurement of my forearm, where the sleeve…isn’t. Looser would have been better at the elbow, but it’s not too tight to be comfortable. Just a little annoying!

I considered cutting a single casing to go across the shoulders, front, and back, à la the linked Nettie tutorial, but I thought the shoulders might end up at a right angle to the front and back necks and I didn’t want bunching (plus I was copy-catting), so I banded the front and back separately.

I think my bands are a little too skinny. I should have aimed for a finished width of 5/8” so the neck and shoulder stitching would feel more continuous. The back band (or what I decided would forever be the back band) wanted to flip, so I popped a little topstitching right in the center to discourage it.

The fabric is a simple no-name cotton jersey from Sewfisticated – I thought it was grey in the store but it’s definitely chromatic. Since I don’t really like purple (which some folks might say this is. Who’s saying that?!) I’m calling it ube peel! It was easy and cooperative to sew; they stock it in a couple colors, and I would happily buy it again, especially at $5.00/yard. I bought 1.5 yards and have 1/3 yard remaining. Kind of an awkward scrap. I might have to start sewing underwear. Phooey.

My finished top doesn’t have all the glamour and personality of the original, but I like it! I might make another one with more sleeve! This is probably one of those cases where a positive sewing experience is influencing my feelings about the final garment, too – it just felt good to stretch my figuring-out muscles, and I want to do more of that. I’m never giving up my pattern collection though. You can bury me with it. I mean, if it’s good enough for Pharaohs…

See you soon!

Pattern: copycatted Adrienne blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 34” bust, 43” hip

Supplies: 1 1/2 yards of 95% cotton/5% Lycra, Sewfiscated, $7.49; packet of ½” elastic, Sewfisticated, $2.49

Total time: 2.75 hours

Total cost: $9.98

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