Plaid Flannel Tova

This dress had a long walk to the short drop. It’s lasted a couple extra years because I kept noticing it in, say, spring, and thinking “Well…of course you’re not wearing it now. Wait and see in the fall”, and then forgetting it existed in the fall, etc. I finally fished it out this fall and thought “Honey, you are never going to wear this”. I was surprised that it was less short and puffy than I remembered. But I’m still not going to wear it.

This is the Wiksten Tova dress, and if I remember correctly I got it as one of the patterns in a Perfect Pattern Bundle, a bygone fundraiser for charity that was similar to the Humble Indie Bundle. A handful of debut and early-career indie designers would each contribute a PDF pattern and you could get like 5 random PDFs in exchange for a donation. Usually there were one or maybe two I wanted, a couple I felt neutral about, and a real clunker I’d download just ’cause. That said, what do I know, because one year I considered the runt of the litter to be an oddly-proportioned pants pattern, and in hindsight those were the fashion-forward True Bias Hudson pants!

Anyway, however this pattern landed in my lap, I can see now I picked the wrong fabric for this project. The sample top in a thin crisp plaid is actually still adorable to me; my version might be plaid, but as much as I love Kaufman flannel, it’s not necessarily the right choice for a dress with gathers and lightly puffed sleeves and, ideally, sharp little bib corners. The combination of heavy flannel and this pattern makes for a doughy yet stiff finished garment.

The Tova dress did mark some meaningful firsts for me though! This bib was the first time I ever sewed inset corners; I certainly didn’t understand what I was doing, so that fact that I ended up with a halfway decent result is a credit to the instructions.

It’s also one of the earliest projects where I was aware of pattern matching as a possible choice, let alone a desirable one, so I did myself a favor and cut the bib on the bias. By the way, I guarantee you this happenstance was just luck!

I remember sewing the plackets in place and being startled and relieved that the plaid was level across the two – I had forgotten to plan for that, but luckily fabric stinginess had caused me to cut the placket pieces butted up against each other side-by-side!

I also remember trying on the dress the first time and feeling like a great big toddler. My mysterious attempt to fix this took the form of shortening and elasticizing the sleeves. Maybe I meant the dress to appear longer by comparison?? I didn’t do a great job at this. At a guess, I sewed the elastic into a loop, stretched it and attached it to the inside of the sleeve with a straight stitch, then folded it over to the wrong side once more to hide the raw fabric edge and topstitched it in place with a zigzag stitch. I guess I hadn’t learned about channels yet.  

I also zigzagged within the seam allowance to finish these seams, and while it’s not the most beautiful technique, it’s actually lasted!

Frankly I bodged it – I probably should have pinked as well as, or instead of, zigzagging – but in many ways that matter, this finish is actually…fine!

So I’m coming out in defense of bodge jobs, especially for early projects. I remember helping a friend sew her first garment a couple years ago. Looking back, I was too enthusiastic about stuff like French seams and understitched bias facings. I should have emphasized flexibility over finish. Unpicking perfect narrow French seams to adjust a garment’s fit is a pain for anyone regardless of experience! It’s not a reasonable expectation for a beginner that a new pattern/garment is going to fit correctly without tweaks, but I think my focus on polish implied that expectation. Anyway, today I would advise a new garment sewer to cut a little extra seam allowance and pink the edges when they’re happy enough. Heck, anyone can! There’s nothing wrong with a classic!

That said, if I can use French seams I probably will because they are beautiful and sturdy and je les aime.

It’s sort of fascinating to see my own development tracked inside this thing! Most of the older garments I’ve kept I’ve kept because I thought they were still acceptable, which meant they were most likely above-average in the era I made them. But this dress, not so much! I feel like it’s helping me remember what it’s like to be a beginner. Obviously I prefer to feel proud of the clothes I’ve made and finish them nicely and get a lot of use out of them, but there’s something valuable about revisiting this new-learner feeling within sewing too, possibly because I’m only ever going to get further away from it.

I’m still not going to wear this dress though. So toodle-oo it is!

Pattern: Wiksten Tova dress

Pattern cost: ?? obscured by the sands of time

Size: all we are is dust in the wind

Supplies: all we are is dust

Total time: in the

Total cost: wiiind

Navy Corduroy Roberts

I wore holes into my PA Turia dungarees (pattern here), so they’ve taken up semi-permanent residence in my mending basket until (I’m guessing) I’m snowed in with no projects, at which point I might dabble in life-saving surgery. In the meantime I find it hard to picture going through life without immediate access to navy corduroy overalls, so I turned around and made some more.

Since I was deeply unwowed by my last PA Turias I pulled out Marilla Walker’s Roberts collection. I’ve made the MW Roberts dungarees once before with a pile of changes, chronicled here, but I wanted to play it straight this time, inspired by Fabric Tragic’s black pair. I think there’s something insouciant about the Roberts silhouette! I want strenuously to be insouciant!

Plus I laid out my pattern pieces to check and the Frugal Dougal (some kind of budget-conscious magical miniature Irishman, I guess?) on my shoulder whispered that I could probably get this pattern out of two yards of 54” wide fabric. And praise Enya, I could!

There was one compromise I had to make if I wanted to use corduroy and fit the pattern into two yards: the nap would have to run in opposite directions on the front and back, but as long as I walked forcefully into every interaction and moonwalked out again, nobody would have to know. Also, the front bib is lined in self-fabric; to save fabric, I had to cut the lining upside-down relative to the front nap, but I labeled the wrong side of the upside-down bib “FACING” and considered the problem solved.

Obviously I forgot I had done this, and also that there was a need to do this, and the next time I saw that “FACING” label was when I was sewing the FACING piece as the outer and the outer piece as a FACING, but by then I’d already hard committed by sewing the side button openings which overlap that seam, so ship = sailed.

I would classify the mistake as “visible but unimportant”. As are my other, more deliberate changes to the pattern. First, I drafted out the tucks on the front leg below the waist, and I even edited my ‘master pattern’ – the printed version that I return to, and that I expect to reflect all necessary changes. The top edge of front leg now has a slight dip in the center instead of being perfectly level across, but I once saw a video (I wish I could find and link it) where a designer showed an edge like that, and how when you force it into a straight line, it pops out the volume into the fabric below. And that volume is perfect for my rounded stomach! I adjusted the front pocket pieces to match.

I also sewed two hip openings instead of one. It turns out the necessary number of hip openings to pull these off and on is zero, but at least they’re useless AND symmetrical. This took a bit of doing – after sewing the front and back facings, I realized one side was misaligned by a healthy ¾”, and did a fair amount of unpicking and easing to get it to match the other. Unlike the facing/outer conundrum above, this was absolutely worth the time.

I’m going to eat a quick bite of crow and mention that I wasn’t very flattering about the Roberts directions for the hip openings when sewing my heavily edited version – but actually they’re totally fine, provided I follow them! The diagrams are clear and the order of operations makes sense.

For my last barely-a-change, I extended the straps so I could feed them through buttonholes on the front bib and knot them. I liked the idea of being able to wear these overalls snug or loose, depending on the shirt. That works fine. But I discovered too late that I really should have sewed the buttonholes horizontally, as the straps have to do a little half-twist to orient to the holes.

I have another category of changes, which is “invisible but important”. This includes adding interfacing to the button extensions (I keep saying buttons, but I used jean rivets) and to the top edge of the front bib. Because the side buttonholes go through two layers of corduroy and their seam allowances, I forewent interfacing there. My favorite neat little addition, though, is an extra step when sewing some seam allowances.

When using heavier fabric or lots of layers, I think turned corners can look a little soft/mushy, but I discovered that if I pre-fold the seam allowances in one direction and stitch them down, I get a much crisper result. This was especially useful on the back bib.

There’s no before image, but I’m very happy with the after!

In the category “future changes”, I’d like to make my next pockets deeper. These feel a little chancy. Otherwise, these dungarees are completely comfortable!

They’ve passed a series of tests – the crawl-around-the-floor-doing-a-project test, the curled-up-with-a-book test, even the I’m-doing-laundry-but-don’t-have-a-hand-for-the-wooly-dryer-balls-so-carry-them-in-my-bib test.

I anticipate getting lots of use from these, and hopefully will be able to use the scraps to repair my old Turias, too! I love corduroy season.

Pattern: Marilla Walker’s Roberts dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 5; drafted out tuck; applied side placket to both hips; lengthened straps

Supplies: 2 yards of Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Navy, $35.45, Fancy Tiger Crafts; thread, Michael’s, $3.59

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $39.04

1933 Skirt

Traditionally the moment I get cold I have no style at all, but I live in New England and I would like to be chic in the winter. I often wear fleece-lined tights under pants, but that’s not famously comfortable, so I’m calling 2022 as the year of the skirt! Combine a love of flannel with a dislike of wasting money and a languishing copy of M6993, and we have ourselves a swing. And possibly a hit. I think I like this!

I chose a comfortable, familiar fabric in a rich color so I knew I would enjoy handling it even if the skirt didn’t suit me. I also treated myself to this coordinating bear cotton. The nice helper at the fabric store asked me what I was making (I don’t know if it’s sincere or if they’re told to do that, but either way I like to chat); I said the flannel was for a skirt, and she asked if the cotton was for the pockets, and I cheerfully lied and said ‘yes’.

You know how world-class misogynist and lover of full stops, Hemingway, famously wrote a six-word tragedy? Well, I can do him one better. Modern horror in five.

THE SKIRT

HAS NO

POCKETS.

Hemingway would disapprove of my story. Is this a good time to mention I hate that woman-hater right back? He can farewell to my butt. Anyway. The cotton was only to line the facing/waistband/yoke. In this case, I don’t mind the lack of pockets. It would be possible to add side-seam pockets below the facing, but it would mess with the silhouette, and the silhouette is the priority. It does make it challenging to know what to do with your hands while taking blog photos, though, so I am mostly pictured composing my list of demands.

By the way, I bought ½ yard of bear cotton, and that’s the perfect yardage to cut all your lining and interfacing pieces as long as you accidentally cut all the front facing pieces from view B, too. I could have had a bear mask! Oh, well. I’ve officially converted to self-fabric interfacing, since it launders predictably, reduces scraps, and makes sewing waistbands and collars a terrifying minefield of right-sides and wrong-sides. Gets those red blood cells churning. Good for the ventricles.

This pattern was a ton of fun to sew. That pointed yoke + those panels were engrossing and satisfying. So much so, actually, that I got caught up in it and forgot to topstitch the seam allowance above the backed split before adding the yoke, and had to do it later, but I don’t think it shows!

Then in smart-women-outsmarting-themselves, I figured out how to make the insides pretty by folding over the top edges of the underlap, sewing the underlap to the skirt panels, and then serging the long seams together. And in doing so I put those raw top edges – where else? – on the outside front of the skirt.

As accidental raw-edge-flashing goes, it’s not egregious, as it took me several hours of wear to notice, but it is a failure of deductive reasoning. Those edges had to be somewhere, babe. I do like the pretty insides, though! Instead of doing this, you could fold the diagonal edges twice towards the back, or they could just be serged.

There’s a fair amount of hand-sewing in this project, primarily when finishing the yoke. I elected to hand-sew the hem, too.

I like the way the hem is handled; the directions say to snip into the side seam allowance above the hem allowance (I did this before serging, so I could weave in the serger thread ends), then press open the seams within the hem allowance before turning. I think next time I would snip the seam allowance a little lower and trap the snipped end under the hem turn-up. It’s a nice low-bulk finish, but it does mean you can’t alter your hem length.

The pattern directions are sparse-but-good, with one small error; step 17 instructs you to press under the lower edge of the right waistband lining, but it shows the left waistband lining in the illustration. It’s shown correctly in the next step, and not the kind of thing to ruin anyone’s project. Just briefly confusing.

I cut a size 16 from 2 1/2 yards of 45” wide Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Navy, and I had over ½ yard extra fabric (19.5″, to be precise!). I cut non-directionally, but even though the fabric has no wrong side I cut as though it did. If I make another skirt, provided I choose a non-directional pattern, I can reduce my fabric buy by 20%. Heck yes!

The size 16 worked well for my body, too. I took in the waist ¼” per side, tapering to nothing just below the facing. It’s been a while since I’ve worn a skirt, and I never really wore snug skirts, so I was pleased and surprised at how comfortable this is. The flannel has a nice amount of give. I feel like a real classy dame. I doubt I really need 2 of these, 20% off or not, but I might give the fuller view a whirl.

By the way, for a super-thoughtful, historically-grounded, and fun-to-read review of this pattern, I recommend Seam Racer’s post! Caution: may cause the reader to spontaneously describe things as ‘sportif’.

Toodles!

Pattern: M6993, view A

Pattern cost: $12.79

Size: 16; took in waistband/front facing 1/4″ per side (1″ total)

Supplies: 2 1/2 yards Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Navy Herringbone, 1/2 yard Dear Stella Brave Enough to Dream, Bears, Gather Here, $36.59; 10″ invisible zipper, Gather Here, $1.59; thread from stash

Total time: 7.75

Total cost: $50.97

Olive Morellas

Sometimes my sewing falls accidentally into a vertical schedule; this year, like last year, I shared elastic waist pants in January. Actually it’s the same pattern, the Pauline Alice Morella pants. These are pretty freshly made but they’ve already had quite the workout. READER!! Did you know…IT FEELS NICE TO WEAR SWEATS?

Basically I’ve been pulling these on whenever possible, and not just weekends and evenings. And I can, because they’re my *dressy* sweats. They’re made from the second length of my recent Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece order from Hawthorne Supply Co. I got 2 3/8th yards of this color, olive, and I have over half a yard extra (20.5″ full width!), plus scraps. I cut my waistband in two pieces to maximize the yardage, but even so, whattah savings. I might try to squeeze out a warm tee or something from the remainder. It’s dicey, but it might just work!

I’ve wanted a really cozy pair of winter jimjams for a while, and here they are, but you can go ahead and call these pants a topographical survey because they are finding aaall the bumps. You can see my hems through them (multiple).

In a non-layering season the bum would probably look less busy, but right now I’m wearing an outfit on an outfit (long-sleeved undershirt, fleece-lined tights, then a turtleneck and socks and fleece-lined sweats); it’s 8°F (-13°C!!) so you’re getting whatever the opposite of a Full Monty is. A Cavernous Montgomery. Also, in New England, talking about extreme cold is whining AND bragging. 😎

Even though this fabric is a knit, I treated it like a woven – I used a straight stitch everywhere and sewed my same size unadjusted, 44. The fit is noticeably looser than my cotton/linen pair, surprising no one. Generally this is a good outcome for sweats. Unusually, though, I have too much fullness in the front thighs. So far I’ve led a thigh-forward adulthood, so I was surprised to find excess fabric there in particular! I’m not sure if this is being revealed by the fabric or caused by it.

Either way it’s worth it. These are really, really comfy. They’re one of those “I’ll wear it right off the machine, thank you shopkeep” kind of makes. I did climb out of them long enough to sew over the back waist elastic because it was twisting a lot. Originally, I found an elastic piece of the right width and length in my shoebox of notions (sorry, cookie tins), and I thought it was the fancy non-roll stuff, but boy did it prove me wrong! Happily, topstitching makes it behave itself!

Twist no longer, waistband.

I used different scrap elastic in the ankles; it was the Gallant to my waist elastic’s Goofus, so the ankles remain un-topstitched. Thanks, ankles (thankles).

The cuffs are author’s own, by the way. I cut two rectangles 16.25” x 5” with the stretch going around the leg. Then I folded them in half, attached them and ran some 1.5” elastic through, basically following this waistband tutorial…but on ankles. I did not remove the hem allowance from the pants pattern, so my finished legs are about 3” longer than drafted.

Obviously the main feature of this pattern is its wraparound pockets! I promise you won’t be mad at yourself if you reinforce those corners. After a few wears I found some popped threads, even though I sewed over each corner twice, so I added these Merchant & Mills rivets. Technically they’re bag rivets, but I liked the color.

I had forgotten nearly everything about constructing these statement pockets except that I wanted to add some stitching to the pocket edge, so this time I followed the directions and understitched it. It helps the pocket opening stay neat, though the bag itself still gets rucked up inside the sweatpants’ leg sometimes. Either way I can’t keep my hands out of the pockets so I’m really glad they’re reinforced.

There’s a lot of clipping to the stitching line when making these. My woven pair has survived over a year of washing and wearing, and I’m not very gentle on my clothes, so I’m hopeful this non-ravelling fabric will survive too! They won’t get used in the summer, but I plan on wearing them hard enough for the rest of the winter to make up for that.

Once again I’m a little out of sync with the world; I think people are looking forward to getting dressed up again, but I’ve only just discovered the joys of fleece lining. I’m probably set for sweats for now, but I might add another sweater at some point. In this reporter’s opinion, my winter knits sewing twofer was a success!

Stay warm! 1 month of 2022 down, y’all. 11 to go.

Pattern: Pauline Alice Morella pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 44

Supplies: 2 3/8 yards Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece in Olive, Hawthorne Supply Co., $35.04; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $37.43

#2 Toaster #2

I recently ordered fabric while chilly.

I’m henceforth going to make all my shopping decisions while chilly. I’m not saying the cold makes my brain work better, just that 4 yards of Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece was EXACTLY what I wanted to sew with in January. I got two lengths, one for a sweater and one for sweats. This first one is called Woodrose. After 4 years, it finally kicked my butt into gear to make another Toaster #2 sweater!

I sewed my original 2017 Toaster from soft, drapey modal French terry. While it didn’t exactly work, I could see it had potential. By the way, Sew House Seven is steadily + reliably updating their catalogue to add sizes up to 34, and I believe the Toaster will be included soon.

When browsing cold-weather fabrics, I saw Kaufman does a French terry now. I picked this color to go with the skirt I made recently. I’m trying to add more variety/warmth/elegance/overall oomph to my winter wardrobe, but even so my clicking-finger hovered over my typical Sienna for a while; maybe next time!

Hawthorne Supply Co. sells fabric by the 1/8 yard, which is terrific, because the pattern calls for 1 5/8 yards; half-yard cuts would have left me with an awkward amount leftover, guaranteed. I shortened the body of the sweater 1.5”, and I have 6” extra selvedge-to-selvedge. I like the finished length, so next time I can order 1.5 yards. Climb back into my pocket, sweet little $1.70! You’re safe now.

I haven’t been working on anything madly complicated lately but this still seemed like a luxuriously tiny number of pattern pieces. Front, back, sleeve, badda-boom. I compared the front and back armscyes, and they are shaped differently as I hoped/expected, but the sleeve itself is vertically symmetrical. What’s that about? It doesn’t affect comfort, so maybe it’s a knit thing.

When I make another Toaster #2, I’ll extend the width of the grown-on neck facing to reach the shoulder seam. It’s like an inch away anyway, max; may as well anchor it there. Missed opportunity. The split mitered hem is a quick, clear, fun part to sew, though! I added a sassy little triangular fold before topstitching the top of the vent allowances.

Construction went quickly, but I spent a solid hour or more at the end of the process just futzing. The front funnel neck looked odd. There seemed to be too much fabric above the bust, or maybe too much width? Maybe some combination of those? I did my usual ‘tug tests’ – pulling the fabric tighter, looser, forward, back, etc., and have concluded that I don’t know much about history biology what a slide rule is for fitting the upper bust, but I know how to show a sweater a good time.

I tried stitching in the ditch to keep the neck facing in place, by hand and by machine; topstitching along the long front and back edge of the facings; making the front neck deeper and shallower; pressing in a crisp edge, pressing it out again; and finally, topstitching a few random sigils to keep everything in place in the best arrangement I could manage.

After a day of wearing, I realized moving my head around an average amount crushes the front funnel neck anyway, and the fit wrinkles either hide inside of the use wrinkles or merge into mega-wrinkles. It’s moot.

Somewhere there’s a fabric with enough body to stand up at the neck and enough drape to move gracefully across the mysterious hinterland of my upper chest, but is it 95% cotton, fleece-lined, and $13.50/yard? Probably not. Weird neck aside, I loved sewing this fabric. It was so cooperative and just beefy enough (also, beefiness will never not hit me as the most hilarious sewing qualifier). I used a stretch stitch on the shoulders, sides, and cuffs, and a straight stitch on the hem, and it was fine with both.

The fabric is quite malleable, but it has a low recovery. This pattern actually calls for 5/8” seams throughout, but I used ¼” seam allowances on the sleeve and side seams, so my S bust graded to a M waist might be more like an M graded to L when all is said and done. I like the balance of the width and the length and I really appreciate that it has a set-in sleeve, as I’m feeling distinctly cool towards drop shoulders lately. I asked Professor Boyfriend what era he thought it was referencing and he Zoidberg-scuttled away because he thought it was a trap, but it’s an honest question. I definitely feel a bit past-y, but I’m not sure when!

I’d love to learn how to read and fix these wrinkles before I make another Toaster #2, but I still like this one. It’s fuzzy inside, actually warm, and the color is different enough from the rest of my wardrobe that it goes with practically anything. You’ll probably see it again in a week or two!

In the meantime, I might go use my actual toaster and make some hot buttered toast. Mmm. Always a good idea!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Toaster #2 sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: S bust, M waist, with ¼” sleeve and side seams

Supplies: 1 5/8 yards Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece in Woodrose, Hawthorne Supply Co., $24.92; thread from stash

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $24.92

Plaid Granville

I’ve been meaning for a while to add a home-sewn plaid flannel shirt to my closet. This isn’t the shirt of my dreams, but it’s going to get a lot of wear.

This is a Sewaholic Granville with the same fit modifications as my other Sewaholic Granville. It’s a little less successful in this thick fabric, as it’s kind of occupying an awkward middle ground between indoor shirt and overshirt; in retrospect, I’d push it wider. I love the fabric though, a black-and-ivory Kaufman flannel. This may have wet my whistle for sewing an actual overshirt. Kaufman does staggeringly beautiful speckled flannel solids now!! I saw the olive in person and it’s gorgeous, plus this substrate is so satisfying to sew. Even though this Granville isn’t perfect, it’s cozy and I enjoyed the process.

I mostly rolled right along and followed the directions with no wacky diversions. As they were last time, the sleeves are really too long. Excellent for tucking cold fingers inside but not so good for washing dishes. This was a bright-but-cold finger-hiding day. I’m wearing them unrolled as a rule, partly because this is a heavy flannel for chilly weather, but also because I feel I earned it. I put in the time to get those sleeves right!

Slightly embarrassing after my recent tough talk about tower plackets, but I messed these up. Or not these, precisely, but their predecessors. I attempted to pattern match and got it exactly reversed – an ivory stripe on black, and a black stripe on ivory. I finished the shirt and actually wore it a couple times that way. Then because new sewing is on pause (I can’t pre-wash fabric right now) but that sewing mojo has to go SOMEWHERE, I sat down on a quiet Saturday morning and did it all again.

Luckily, because I sewed the cuffs in this way, I could unpick them without removing the button or worrying about the buttonhole. I unpicked and discarded the old placket pieces, and whip-stitched the cut line on the sleeve shut. I also unpicked the sleeve seam to just above the elbow (twice, because it’s French seamed) so I could spread the cuff end flat.

Time to cut a new, hopefully matching placket. Obviously my original system didn’t work, so I did the one thing I skipped amid all my mental contortions of figuring out the plaid the first time: I Googled it. It’s actually pretty simple. This tutorial is even from the Granville sewalong. I probably should have done that earlier! This time it went smoothly, though this fabric is a little too bulky for a pristine finish. The little buttons at the top are just for show.

I also sewed the hem a few times. First I sewed it exactly as written, but that left just an awkward flash of white at the center front, and I’d prefer to end on a dark horizontal stripe. So I unpicked the hem, straightened the front curve so no ivory would show when folded, and sewed it again. Then I realized I had cut one of the fronts slightly askew and the plaid was asymmetric. So I unpicked the longer side, trimmed it, and hemmed it again. Then I decided I didn’t like the look of cream thread topstitched on the black front edge there, so I hand-picked the hem with grey thread and unpicked the machine stitching. And here it remains!

If I get seized by another re-sewing mania, my next target would be the collar. I folded the button bands a little too much, so they’re wider than designed (for some reason my math was off on the day I cut). I should have shortened the collar piece slightly to compensate, but I didn’t think of it, so it ends a little too close to the end of the collar stand. This isn’t a big deal when I wear the shirt open, but if I want to button it all the way up the plaid lines diverge at the neck where it pulls apart to make space for the collar.

I’ve been considering adding flaps to the chest pockets, too. I don’t think it looks right to cut rectangular plaid on the bias, so I cut the pockets on-grain and pattern-matched the fabric underneath as far as I could. It diverges slightly because it covers the dart ends, so the bottom edge of the pocket isn’t quite parallel to the horizontal stripe anymore, but they’re still blending in pretty well. So what I have here is two fairly invisible pockets that I don’t put things in, because who uses chest pockets. Flaps would give them a little more context. On the other hand, do I need to draw focus to my invisible unused chest pockets, or am I just going loopy due to lack of new projects?

You might notice my total sewing time seems a little short for all the monkey business mentioned above. That’s because those changes were made after I wore the shirt in public, which means I mentally filed them under ‘mending’, and I don’t record mending times. If some sort of sewing authority ever audits my process I’m gonna be in trouble!

Are you enjoying our transition to long dark cozy evenings? It’s the stay-homiest time of year! I hope you’re gaining some quality sewing time. And I hope I’m gaining a washing machine soon, so I can sew new stuff too!

Pattern: Sewaholic Granville shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12, modified fit

Supplies: 3 yards Kaufman Mammoth Flannel in Ivory, Ryco’s, $33.00; thread; Ryco’s, $3.25; buttons from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $36.25

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

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

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

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