Red Dawns Rising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Til next time!

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans

Pattern cost: NA

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

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

Total time: 9.5 hours

Total cost: $45.41

Overall this 2020 Nonsense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern: Kwik Sew 4138

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M, S/M waistband

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

Total time: 10

Total cost: $42.64

Goldie Dawn

Nothing says ‘seasonal sewing’ like a nice, warm, heavy pair of corduroy…shorts! Okay okay, it’s a wearable muslin of the MN Dawns, not a perplexing sminter (wummer?) staple. I had some leftover cord from my recent jacket and no great faith that this pattern would fit right away, so it seemed like an economical choice. Actually I was righter than I knew. This first muslin isn’t great!

Before I sewed a stitch, I changed the pocket bags to be pocket stays. I traced the curve at the bottom of the pocket bag from the Ginger jeans, but left the pocket opening as-is. I hate it when a pocket bag follows my hand out of the opening during use, and anchoring it in the front seam keeps everything sitting pretty.

This necessarily changed the construction order slightly; I had to sew the pockets before the zipper, or I wouldn’t have been able to trap their center edges. I was full of virtuous intentions to follow the Dawn jeans directions to the letter, but oh well. My lord make me pure but not yet, etc.!  

I opted to use a zipper because I think I can get a better read on fit when there’s not also pulling from a button fly – even a successfully fit button fly pair of jeans is going to get lines if your stomach curves outwards as mine does. The final pre-sewing decision was sizing.

I chose a 14 waist graded to a 16 hip, with a 16 rise. I used the 16 rise because I knew I would need a full stomach adjustment and potentially a full rear adjustment, both of which add height to the vertical part of the crotch curves (the full rear adjustment can also add depth to the back crotch extension, a.k.a. the horizontal part, but I used the crotch extensions as drafted). Starting with a higher rise built in some wiggle room. I’m using the Curve range, which has 14 as its lowest size; I could have guessed at and graded to a 12 at the waist, but I was wary of curving the side seam too extremely from the get-go. I prefer to distribute that adjustment among the back and front center seams as well since I’m not a 2D object. I cut a 16 below the notches on the crotch curves, slanted to a 14 above.

Like I said, I was determined to follow the instructions, so I tried a new-to-me zipper installation technique. Honestly I’m not wowed by it, or maybe just not by my implementation of it. Somehow my zipper ended up only barely overlapped, and there’s more basting and ripping than in the Gingers method. I’d like to give it another try before I fully judge it; it’s similar to the button flies I’ve sewn, and I’m happy with those.

Otherwise the sewing went well. I used a ¼” seam allowance on the back pockets and lowered them 1.5”.

The notches matched and sewing heavy cotton (with topstitching, no less) is absolutely my idea of fun. The back outseam was 1” longer than the front, but that’s an easy fix. The fitting, however…

The front was so-so, not good but not irredeemable. I reduced the 5/8” inseam seam allowance to ¼”, but I still need a deeper front crotch extension. I also have gapping at center front, but that could be due to my mis-aligned front zip installation. Otherwise it’s alright.

But the back seam was a crime scene! As in, worse than this! I had an acme of fullness where the pointy yoke center met the back leg, and my hungry bum was as hungry as a hippo, a famously hungry hungry ungulate. The back crotch curve seems to be designed to accommodate a high, heart-shaped rear. My butt is my-butt-shaped and I needed to make CHANGES. I shaved off that ‘nipple’ of extra fabric where the yoke and leg meet, removed ¼” from the center back, and scooped the crotch ¾” deeper 2” below the back crotch notches. Taking out a chunk of fabric like that is like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, because it narrows the hips, where I also need space. I ended up sewing 1/4″ wider side seams at the waist, blending at 6″ down to 1/4″ TOTAL side seams (i.e., adding 3/8″ seam allowance below that point).  

Final result: the waist is still too loose, the crotch still too shallow. Also, weirdly, despite my reducing the waist circumference, the waistband wasn’t too long. Alarming!

Anyway, these shorts aren’t actually a total distaster. I wore them all day after taking these pictures; they’re comfortable, and everything that’s wrong with them is information gained. I’m not going to keep this pair, but I’ve already done some serious arts-and-crafts on the pattern pieces and tried again. More on that soon! I can’t decide whether this pattern is an intriguing intellectual challenge or if it just made me grumpy. Maybe both. But grumpy does not mean done! See you next time!

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans

Pattern cost: $14.98

Size: 14 waist, 16 hips, with adjustments

Supplies: leftover Kaufman 14 wale corduroy in Gold; 9″ metal zip, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread from stash

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $16.38

Removable Collar

Hi! Come in, get cozy, let’s make a collar! As a reminder, I added a removable sherpa collar to my Hampton jean (well, corduroy) jacket, and today is the how-to.

Oh, but first the why-to – it makes a surprising amount of difference to the warmth of the jacket, and while it’s a pain to put on and take off, once it’s on it’s less fuss than a scarf. And I like the way it looks. 😎 I was jazzed about the idea of ‘removable’ because I wanted to be able to launder it separately or replace it if it aged faster than the rest of the jacket (plushy materials, especially cheap plushy materials, get mangy so fast – or maybe just mine do, but still).  

I figured out some better techniques mid-sewing. The diagrams are idealized – the photos show what I actually did, ha!

First, prepping your pattern! If you’ve already finished your coat, you can add a collar after the fact, but if not, it’s a good idea to add some interfacing where the buttons will be sewn. The Hampton collar has no interfacing as written – you could interface the whole thing, or just add it in spots to preserve the casual drape. That’s what I did. To ensure I could find them again I sewed “X”s from corner-to-corner of my interfacing squares.

Have your collar pattern piece handy (on the Hampton jacket it’s a half-piece, which is what you’ll see reflected here), and let’s boogie –

Now isn’t that all very tidy and sensible? It’s, um, not what I did. I did prepare my jacket collar mostly as described.

But I didn’t patch-interface my inner collar, which was a misjudgment that I’ll hopefully get away with. There’s not a ton of stress on the buttons, but I’d feel more secure if the fabric had a little support! Oh, and a note on the number of buttons: I had leftovers from an old shirt; 5 medium, 3 small. The pacing and placement worked out, which was pure luck. I’ll take it!

My fabric, by the way, is the same fineline twill I used for the pocket bags to reduce bulk. Same purpose here. My sherpa is pretty cheap (in quality, not in price, cry for me – it was my last fabric.com order before I learned that website is owned by Amazon) and it shed like a sonuva, in addition to having unexpected stretch, so I immediately interfaced it and serged the edges.

Originally that long rectangle piece was going to extend beyond the sherpa. I was going to sew buttons below the collar, not on it, hence my short finished edges.

Above I recommend cutting the undercollar in two pieces on the bias, because using mine cut on the straight grain proved it will crumple and crunch instead of conforming to the curl of the collar. If/when I remake this collar (if I can source nicer sherpa material, fer instance) that will be my biggest change.

Now, about that sticky-outy rectangle – it didn’t work! It was unsightly and uncomfortable. That’s why I landed on a folded-under rectangle band; it’s harder to button, but much nicer to wear. If you really don’t want spare buttons on your inside collar (I admit they’re pretty obvious) you could hem the sherpa layer in a similar way, but tuck little loops, like a cut-up hair elastic, between the rectangle and the sherpa. That way your buttons could still be below the collar but the attachment would be pretty low-profile.

Definitely understitch, and definitely wrap the seam allowance towards the undercollar! I guarantee you’ll only see fuzzy cozy sherpa when wearing a collar constructed like this! I finished my edges with bias tape, which was a bit of an overreaction. Serging probably would have been fine.

Anyway, as throw pillows are pets for your couch, my jacket has a pet collar! I’m glad this experiment worked out, and I might reconstruct it one day with better know-how and nicer materials. That’s the power…of removability!

If you have any questions about any of this, let me know!

Stay warm! Merry happy!!

Pattern: Alina Sewing + Design Co Hampton jean jacket (just the collar)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12 – my rectangle was 19 ¾” long

Supplies: 1 yard of Shannon Minky Luxe Cuddle Sherpa Ivory; leftover fineline twill, fabric.com, $18.28; buttons, thread from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $18.28

Corduroy Jacket

Hellooo I am happy and warm. It took a while to get this project started, but once I did I got hooked. I really really wanted to wear my finished corduroy jacket!

The pattern is the Alina Sewing + Design Co Hampton jean jacket, and I bought it the moment it was released in 2017. Around the same time I grabbed a denim jacket from a clothing swap, which I never wore, so I back-burnered the pattern until this fall when I heard corduroy whispers (and spotted this gem) and it was ON.

I ordered some Robert Kaufman 14-wale corduroy in Cider from fabric.com, but while waiting for it to ship, two things happened; first I learned that fabric.com is owned by Amazon, and then they canceled my order. I don’t knowingly spend money on Amazon retail (I know I can’t totally avoid their web hosting services, but it’s usually very easy not to buy anything from Amazon; I just buy it elsewhere or don’t buy it). I had set my cap at a Cider jacket, but all I could find in stock elsewhere was Gold.  

Cider is a cuter word than Gold. On the other hand…

Here are the swatch images from the Kaufman website. They’re practically the same color! Which is which? I don’t know, I’d need to check the file names! So even though I technically used Gold I’m calling it Cider, dammit! This is my cider jacket! 

The pattern is pretty terrific. Putting together the PDF was actually dare I say it fun! Everything lined up effortlessly and while there are a ton of pieces, none of them are very big, so I didn’t have to manipulate giant floppy continents of paper; mostly I could cut as I went. It sewed up really well, too, with matching seamlines and all the layers (like the pocket bag and placket self-facing) falling right into place. I cut my pocket bags from a contrast fabric – strong light cotton twill, scraps from an old project – to reduce bulk. 

However, the inside of this jacket, under the lining, is a mess. We’re talking a new-season-of-Bakeoff-cake-bust-showstopper-level mess. It was my choice, not due to the pattern or directions. There’s at least four different shades of yellow thread in play; some of the seams are serged, some aren’t; one seam is partly serged because I broke a needle halfway through and never went back. I heartily endorse lining.

I had my heart in my throat when I went to match my lining to the coat shell, though, because I sewed the lining first. Ideally I would have sewn the coat body and then traced the lining from that for a perfect match, but I had to make sure I had enough of this flannel left over from one of Professor Boyfriend’s shirts (which I barely did), or make a different plan for the seam finishes than the Wild West I ended up with. I merged the paper pattern pieces and hoped my math was good. Happily, math was a pal, nothing stretched or shrunk, and the lining fit. I added it before sewing the front plackets, and after the side seams and shoulders, basically moving the last part of Step 4 to after Step 5.

Here’s the seams where I had to piece the flannel. Worth it! I can be a bit of a perfectionist over topstitching and this way the body seams only had to look good on the outside, saving me a lot of angst. I hand-basted the free edges of the cuffs, collar, and waistband in place before topstitching those to keep them even inside and out, though. And I had to do the waistband twice, because I didn’t grade the seams the first time and there was a horrible lump like a berm or a bowling alley bumper where all that bulk was. Thankfully because of the way these are attached, I only had to undo the topstitching over the seam allowances and my hand-sewing, leaving the bottom part of my topstitching and the button hole intact. I graded aggressively while I was in there the second time. It’s still lumpy, but I have nothing to reproach myself with!

For the ultimate in thriftiness, I re-used the topstitching thread I unpicked from the waistband! I was running low on stash thread (hence the different yellows), and I used these saved pieces to topstitch the cuffs. It wasn’t quite enough to keep the wolf from my door, and I ran out of coordinating thread and topstitching thread with just the back tabs left! So I had to buy some. 😦 It felt good to use every usable piece, though. I probably would have just squeaked out enough topstitching thread if I hadn’t tried three sample buttonholes before deciding regular thread was best. Oh, and if I hadn’t sewed the tabs three times. I sewed a worst pair and a bad pair first of all, then set them aside to see if I’d like them better later; I didn’t. None of three attempts were perfect but these were best. I had to rotate the grainline 90° to play nice with the ribs of the corduroy. I thought about just skipping them, especially once everything else was already done, but I really wanted an excuse to add hardware to the back!  

Here’s a fun fact: I put the hanging loop on the wrong side of the collar. Here’s a fun fact, part 2: there it remains.

I made that ‘change’ (read: mistake), added an additional button to the jacket front, and shortened the sleeves. Otherwise, this is an unadjusted size 12. I sized up (my chest measurement puts me somewhere between an 8 and a 10) because I wanted it to be a little less fitted and a little more masculine-of-center.

Don’t be like Lia, friends. Listen to the nice pattern and sew a muslin. I didn’t, and it’s fine, but around hour 14 I started thinking “I’m going to be really peeved if this doesn’t fit the way I want”. The sleeves are shortened by 1.5”. Originally I shortened the sleeve 2” but thankfully I got cold feet and added ½” back. I love that the pattern includes finished sleeve length, though it’s from the sleeve cap, not the underarm seam. You know what’s not easy, is measuring your ideal sleeve length from the edge of unknown-width shoulder seam. UGH I should have just whipped up a muslin, I officially qualify as a lucky dog!

I changed the order of sewing a bit, mainly sewing buttonholes on the cuffs and waistbands before they were attached, and sewing the placket seam of the sleeve first. I think you’re supposed to sew the underarm seam first to make it easier to flat-fell, but I’d rather have ‘raw’ finishes on the sleeve seams and an easier time sewing the sleeve placket. I did consider flat-felling the underarm seam (I do it all the time for Professor Boyfriend’s shirts), but eh, if they’re not both going to be completely enclosed, why bother for just one (incidentally, I couldn’t picture how to flat-fell any seam in a tube until one day I came across the phrase “sewing in the bottom of a bucket” which made it suddenly totally clear). I serged the underarm, ‘complete’ seam, and zigzagged + pinked the placket seam.

The hardware is from Gold Star Tool. I bought 100 gunmetal jeans rivets, bent 2, and ultimately successfully installed 15. That’s an acceptable rate. They feel really firmly attached. My buttonholes began a bit stiff, but they loosened up. I ended up with the extra on the front because I sewed the buttonholes before attaching the waistband and then discovered I had space for one more; I don’t mind the cluster there, especially since it echoes the pairs on the back waistband.

I topstitched one armscye but it just didn’t look terrific, so I unpicked that and skipped the other. Either I have some puckers there because I skipped the topstitching, or I omitted the topstitching because the puckers made it look uneven. Tomato tomato. I’m just glad my wrists are covered and the sleeves fit over a sweater!

So, I’m happy! I don’t feel like this jacket expresses my deepest personality or adds anything original to the world – I just plain like it, and I’m going to use it a lot. I’ve worn it on a couple sub-40 days (including in wet snow) and stayed cozy, hooray. And I hope you don’t mind it too much because you’re going to see more of it next time. You’ve probably spotted some stray buttons and already guessed, but next post, how to add a removable collar!

See you there!

Pattern: Alina Sewing + Design Co Hampton jean jacket

Pattern cost: $12.00

Size: 12, with the sleeves shortened 1.5”

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 14 Wale Corduroy Gold, $45.00, Gather Here; thread, Michael’s, $5.58; rivets, Gold Star Tool, $12.97

Total time: 22.25 hours

Total cost: $75.55

Ol’ Farmer Pants

My students have been known to comment on my outfits, never more so than when I wear overalls. I got a very suspicious “Why do you like those overalls so much?!” the first time I wore my Roberts dungarees. This pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees has been called my “weird old farmer pants”. One of my favorite so-called compliments, though I can’t remember which pair it applied to, was when a kiddo told me she liked my underalls. “You mean my overalls?” “No, I mean your shirt.”  (A lot of them are turning ten this year and every year they get more hilarious. I’m very fond of the hooligans.)

Anyway, despite the bad press, I’m still wearing these! I’m leaning into the farmer aesthetic, too, though anyone doing actual manual labor would laugh these right out of town – more on that later. I was hoping to wear this outfit to host a Late-November Gratefulness Eating Day for my parents (gratitude and stuffing are nice, Thanksgiving is iffy), but maybe next year, as we’re not doing any gathering. The smart money says I’m wearing jimjams right now but you never know!   

When I made this pattern in 2017 it was the only indie overalls pattern I found. Since then the options have exploded (outwards in two directions, towards loose wide bags and sexy little numbers) but this sits right about in the middle, a classic Osh Kosh B’Gosh shape. One benefit of that particular timing – 2017, not a lot of other options – is that it’s been blogged a lot. There are some truths universally acknowledged, like the included back pockets are comically small. I used the CC Ginger jeans back pockets instead, and I could have gone bigger; a non-fitted bottom means more fabric to cover.

They’re placed too far out and up, but that’s on me.

Another common change, it seems everyone agrees; two hip zippers is one too many! I’ve complained about invisible zippers in the past, but there’s not a lot of evidence of why we don’t get along, because I avoid using them. I used one here. Alright, deep breath. Here it is.

Come closer, my pretty. Closerrr.

It’s bad!! It’s bad at the top, where I couldn’t figure out how to neatly finish it! It’s bad at the bottom, where (I assume, this was years ago) my over-zealous unpicking ripped past the seam allowance and I bartacked a piece of scrap fabric to the wrong side! I admit fault at the bottom there, but I don’t feel totally responsible for the top, because the waist edge is finished with a single turn to the wrong side. There’s no waistband/facing/binding in which to hide that zipper end.

That edge is my biggest complaint about the pattern. The opening of the patch pocket is finished the same way, but that’s not carrying any weight. For the join between the bib and the pants, a seam that experiences a lot of stress, it’s a weak finish. It’s why I could never wear these to do physical work. And sewn in this lightweight corduroy, a single line of stitching with the seam allowance pressed down is basically a perforated line.

After several wears my bib started ripping right off at both ends! Originally I mended those edges with some discreet hand sewing, but that didn’t last long. So once again I popped a little piece of scrap fabric behind the rip and bartacked the crud out of it. Now that’s ripping too. I really like corduroy, but 21 wale might be for a good time, not for a long time; the pants I made Professor Boyfriend from this same fabric are nearly translucent on the seat. I guess 3 years of wear isn’t a terrible innings, but I might try to fix these one more time, if I can figure out how.    

I fit these on the fly! My 2017 spreadsheet doesn’t include the size I started from (weird thing to be coy about) but my best guess would be a 48, the largest available size, since I removed a lot of width from the legs. My fitting notes indicate that I narrowed the front leg 5/8” (cut the seam allowance off the outseam, basically), and reduced the back leg 1 5/8″ at the waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at the leg. Which is a lot. Nowadays I would start from a 44, and I’ve only gotten bigger & better, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Also in ‘mysterious choices from a  former life’ I extended the straps by a few inches, which was unnecessary, and then my extra strap ends were flapping around and bugging me, so I stitched them down (that line behind the rectangle slider dealie there), and now my straps are only pretending to be adjustable. The hardware is cute though!

Overall the pattern is pretty good, I think! That back seam is flat-felled, as are the inseams. My chest pocket is purely decorative since I stitched it shut, but I like it. I like the shape of the legs, too, though inevitably they bag at the knees. I’m wearing my Turias here with a Mélilot, which is a real get-along shirt pattern.

I still remember the nice woman at the fabric store helping me choose between these buttons and dark green ones, and eventually selling me on these by describing them as raisins! Which seemed appropriate for an Autumnal Food Party outfit. I hope you’re enjoying a meal, wherever you are, and having a safe, relaxing Thursday!    

Evenin’, all!  

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: unknown; let’s say the final size was about a 44

Supplies: 2 yards corduroy in Navy, $23.00, Gather Here; $1.50, zipper, Gather Here; $7.99, buckles, Etsy

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $41.49

Pattern: Deer and Doe Mélilot

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 42

Supplies: 2 meters mystery floral, $7.73, TMoS; $7.80, buttons, Gather Here

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $15.53

Business Forest

For a week+ in January, I had something flu-ish. I wasn’t stoic. Exhibit A: I am still complaining about it. (I’m so lucky that I could take sick time and that thanks to Professor Boyfriend, I had literally no responsibilities beyond choosing my next mug of tea. One lucky couch potato.) Anyway, I couldn’t focus on books and I got sick of TV, and eventually, despite feeling lousy, I turned to the sewing machine for a change. These are my flu pants.

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Also, my coming-down-with-something shirt! I’ll zip through the shirt – it’s a Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck in cotton knit, and it’s definitely snugger and stiffer (oo-er miss) than my original poly sweater version, but I could use a hot steamy iron (oo-er again?) so I was happy. I bought the fabric at Gather Here so I was able to get the exact yardage – 1 3/8ths yards – and I was impressed, it was spot on. I sewed it pre-Nyquil, and have nothing further to report. Except that you can’t see in the long shots, but in the details, it’s neon Funfetti! Yay!

Okay, flu pants: the pattern is Simplicity 8842 and it’s an Amazing Fit pattern. I wouldn’t ordinarily go for pants that sit at my lower-natural-waist, so I was trepidatious, but in the end I found the fit Good Enough. I have sewn so few Simplicity patterns, none actually spring to mind, but I decided to sew size 16 (lowest size in the bigger envelope). My measurements put me in size 18 but I didn’t notice until I was almost done tracing; that’s the kind of precision and quality control you can expect from the rest of this project! But the outseams and the back seam at the waist were all 1” wide, so I bargained on using that wiggle room.

So why S8842 in the first place? I wanted pleats!

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Prior to sewing these I thought pleats on pants were some kind of arcane rite performed upon the most deserving of legs. These taught me that it’s just a bit of fabric you fold over. I guess I could just pop them onto any trouser pattern. Huh.

See above – my biggest mistake! The fly is weird! It’s so much weirder on the inside, but I am inside so I cannot show you. Can you see the vertical line of stitching just to the left of the fly overlap? That’s holding a hodge-podge of seams sort-of in place because I either skipped steps or added new ones and either way it got strange. Also, it’s teal because I ran out of green thread and felt too crummy to go to the thread store. Exhibit B, same as A: STILL COMPLAINING.

By the way, I used the ‘curvy’ fit pattern piece for the back – it’s got extra side-to-side room for the tush and a second dart per leg.

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I don’t think this pattern makes the most of my rear view but I’m ideally situated not to see it anyway!

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Because this is an Amazing Fit pattern, you add the waistband before baste fitting, and adjust everything simultaneously. I removed a ¼” wedge from the center back but didn’t need to change the side seams. I trimmed the 1-inch seams to be ½-inch before permanently constructing them, but I suspect my trimming was less than perfect; I probably cut off more like 5/8ths in some places. I was worried that I had overfit these. Luckily the corduroy relaxes with wear so it’s alright!

My only “design” change was making the curved pocket openings into straight pocket openings. I used a scrap of gingham from one of Professor Boyfriend’s shirts for the pocket bags, which makes sorting the laundry pleasantly confusing. I was new to some of Simplicity’s terminology; what I would call a “pocket facing” they called a “yoke”, and so on, but the directions were clear and the pockets are nice and roomy.

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The back ‘pocket’ is just a flap! I constructed mine differently than the pattern instructs. You’re asked to interface the flap, fold it right sides together, stitch, turn, sew it with the raw edge up towards the waist, then fold it up and topstitch in place. All those interfaced layers folded over each other felt way too hard and structural. I just cut a rectangle, turned the short edges to the wrong side, and folded it in thirds the long way. The top edge is the folded edge, and the raw edge at the bottom is caught in the topstitching. Lemon squeezy.

This pattern gives you a lot of flexibility width-wise, but not a ton length-wise. I wouldn’t have minded a little more height in the back rise, or an extra inch in leg length.

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I just want to cuff without fear of ankle breezes.

I’m happy-ish with the finished pants – kind of a mori boy meets businesswoman feel – but I don’t think I constructed them well. Also, the first time I wore them the back seam split open, which feels like a personal criticism. I’m used to sewing with love and attention to detail, and I sewed these because of boredom and coughing, with a headache and several bottles of seltzer. My attitude when sewing has a bigger effect on my feelings about the finished garment than I realized! That said, I’m glad I have something to show for my downtime besides catching up on Spidermans.

Maybe it’s the first pancake phenom! 2/3rds of my January 2019 sews were giveaways, and at least I’m keeping these.

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I hope you’re all beating your colds out there! And if you’re in the middle of one, I hope you can enjoy some couch time!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 1 3/8 yards of Speckle cotton jersey in Natural, Gather Here, $20.63; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $20.63

Pattern: Simplicity 8842

Pattern cost: $9.42

Size: 16

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Forest, fabric.com, $18.62; thread, zipper, rivet from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $28.04

Keeping Warm

As I mentioned in my last post, of the 18 new-to-me patterns I tried last year, two of them were free. The first was Peppermint Magazine wide leg pants, and the second was the Megan Nielsen Jarrah. I won the Jarrah as part of the Sew Twists and Ties festivities over on Cooking and Crafting last year, an event which is happening again right now!

It took me a while to find a heavy enough knit, but eventually I ordered this 100% cotton french terry from Joann Fabrics. I’m sure this pattern would make a cute lightweight sweatshirt, too, but I would really like to be warm please.

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Happily I’m as snug as a bug in this outfit! Both pieces are warm and easy to layer. I sewed view A of the Jarrah, the traditional sweatshirt view with sleeve and bottom bands.  

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I placed the stripes on the vertical for the sleeve bands. I wish now I had done the same for the bottom band! At the time, I was skimping on fabric. The yardage came out of the dryer so badly off-grain, it was actually trapezoidal. Because the stripes are mechanically woven, I just ignored the selvage and placed the grainline perpendicular to the stripes for cutting most of the pieces. Because of the wild skew, cutting the bottom band so the stripes ran vertically would have wasted a lot more fabric!

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Except for that, it was easy to work with. The cut edges were only a little curly and because it’s cotton I could iron with lots of heat and steam. This is a super straightforward and speedy sew, especially because of the drop shoulders and with the banded finish. The stripes make some nice angles!

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I’m showing the Jarrah sweater here with my third pair of Peppermint wide leg pants. I’ve tweaked these a little each time I’ve sewn them, and this time I tried a ¼” full stomach adjustment. I’m still getting drag lines pointing to my stomach, though!

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Plus, the pants came out big! Not way too big, but they’re for sure roomy. I’m not sure what happened this time – maybe I usually take a wider seam allowance on the outseams, or perhaps my full stomach adjustment had knock-on effects? I forgot to slightly stretch the waistband when pinning, which I usually do. Also, I swapped jeans-style pockets for patch pockets, which means no pocket stay. You can definitely see the roundness of my stomach more clearly but I like my round stomach. It’s where I keep my buttered toast. Anyway, I know this may sound like the ravings of an attic wife, but there’s something to be said for too-big pants – these are as comfortable as sweatpants. ❤

The color is hard to capture accurately – it’s called “Russet” (Kaufman 14 wale corduroy) but I grabbed these swatch images from a few different websites (fabric.com, robertkaufman.com, sistermintaka.com) and it looks a little different in each picture. In person I think it’s most like the third – more caramel than burnt orange, I guess?

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Inspired by Sew North’s carpenter-style Lander pants (also a house painter I surreptitiously stared at on the subway), I decided to add patch pockets to my Peppermint pants. I drew my own rather than using her measurements since it’s a different pattern. I got a little too cute, though, trying to duplicate the grainline of the pants perfectly on the patch pockets; it was a scant angle off the straight grain, and I should have just used the straight grain for neater pressing and stitching.

I also scrapped the hammer loop – I made one but I wasn’t wild about it, and I’m pretty sure it would have functioned as a child-towing loop, anyway. But hooray for extra pockets! I placed the back pockets by centering them on the back darts, with the top edge perpendicular to the darts. The height was just a smidge arbitrary. Okay fine, completely arbitrary!

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The patch pockets have bound openings – I made too much coordinating binding for my Tamarack but luckily it seems to go with anything!

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I’m a wee bit obsessed with the leg pocket.

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It’s holding my phone and my house keys and nothing pokes me in the stomach when I sit down! Nothin’!

My last change was simple as could be; I added 4” to the pant legs, then took a nice deep hem, so the finished length is equal to the unhemmed length of the pants as drafted. No breezes are finding my ankles. Cozy 4 life!

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As always, I can’t recommend this free pattern enough! I’m enjoying my Jarrah, too. This warm, colorful outfit will get me through January – just another 3 months of winter to dress for after that. But who’s counting? 🙂

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 10

Supplies: 1.5 yards of cotton french terry, $15.98, Joann; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $15.98

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments, including ¼” full stomach adjustment and 4” inches added to length

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Kaufman 14 Wale corduroy in Russet, $31.88, Gather Here; thread, button, zipper from stash

Total time: 6.25

Total cost: $31.88