Stellan + Dawn

I have stamped the last spot on my MN Dawn pattern card – All 4 Views! This may be my least favorite, but it’s not bad, it’s just the most similar to other patterns I’ve sewn before. I think I’m a half-step out of sync with fashion because I’m getting tired of wide legs again. Oops. And I fear I overcommitted to cropped legs.

The final length of this pair was determined by a silly error (entirely mine). My table is fairly small so I can only lay out about 1 yard of fabric at once, and not the whole width; basically I trace from left to right on a single layer, moving the fabric off the table as I go, and then cut from right to left. By the time I realized I had traced both back leg pieces the same-way up, I had cut a lot of the fabric already. I was annoyed with myself because I would have had plenty of fabric if I had done it right the first time, but instead I left myself with a strictly limited area to fit the second back leg piece. I squeezed it in by rotating it off-grain and losing about a 1.5” triangle from one corner of the hem. Originally I planned on  making these full-length with an option to crop if I didn’t like it, but instead, by necessity, I folded a deep double hem with that missing corner inside. It’s about equivalent to the cropped length with a 1” deep hem (this is 2”). The length is fine for fall but I might be sad in winter when my ankles get cold!

Also, fun fact: I was using up odds and ends of green thread and you can see the moment where I ran out of the best match. It was here. Here it is.

Luckily with this wide cut and stable fabric I don’t seem to be suffering any side effects from cutting one back leg piece off-grain. I was worried there’d be some weird twisting, but nah! I’m not going to start recklessly cutting pants legs willy-nilly but if you need to claw an inch or two out of your yardage…maybe go for it?

I didn’t make any unique changes to this pair; I cut the fronts with grown-on fly extensions and sewed the zip the Ginger way, which is typical for me, and I also made the butt pockets into big old rectangles and added carpenter details, which I’ve done before if not to Dawns. Professor Boyfriend accused my hammer loop of being mannerist but how many hammers does he carry. 😛

I wasn’t sure whether to place the loop’s horizontal segment parallel to the butt pocket edge or perpendicular to the side seam – I couldn’t have both, so I picked perpendicular, especially since that nearby low-leg pocket would be perpendicular too. At one point I considered using patch pockets instead of jeans-style pockets on the front. And then I forgot!

I recently treated myself to a roll of 1” wide tricot fusible and for a change I interfaced the waistband. Why oh why is cutting stable, easily-marked fabric a pleasure, but cutting equally stable and easily-marked interfacing a chore? I often skip it, but this 1” roll made it easy to do it right. And look at that! This is the second day of wear, and no crumpling! It’s almost like…I should have been doing this the whole time!

The fabric was super cooperative too. Just a standard cotton twill, but a peach to sew. I do like it when life is easy.

The top, also new, is my second, slightly-refined shoulderpad Stellan (free base pattern here, my first attempt here). Part of my fickle-and-inconstant moon routine is to now wonder if I actually like shoulderpads? Eh. I can always unpick them. I shortened the front armscye by the unscientific expedient of folding out 2 centimeters horizontally from the pattern piece across the upper chest. I also narrowed the neck by 2 cm per side, and raised the front neck by 1 1/8″.

I’m (item 1): not sure why I switched between metric and imperial while making notes and (item 2): really glad I took notes. I didn’t remember and wouldn’t have guessed that I raised the neckline over an inch! It seems like a lot!! But now it’s true-crew, which is what I wanted. This fabric is Kaufman Laguna jersey, the feel of which varies a lot color-to-color. This Navy is so soft and heathery; meanwhile I’m wearing a Terracotta Laguna jersey Stellan in the photos for this post, and it’s much crunchier and more solid. The facings still flip a bit on this tank but understitching helped.

There’s so many things I’m excited to make from patterns I already own, but also, having successfully ‘finished’ the Dawn pattern, I kinda think I should buy myself a new pants pattern. Maybe two. O_O I own so many pants but I love sewing and wearing them, and 365 days a year x 2 legs = 730 pairs of pants, right? Right?!

Pattern: MN Dawn, wide leg

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist, 16 hip; 16 rise; with lots of changes

Supplies: 2 yards of green cotton twill, Sewfisticated, $9.98; zipper, Gather Here, $1.60; thread from stash

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $11.58

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M; shoulder pad variation; narrowed neck 2cm, removed 2cm in height from front armscye, raised front neckline 1 1/8″

Supplies: 1 yard of Kaufman Laguna jersey in Heathered Navy, Ryco’s, $11.50; shoulder pads, Sewfisticated, $0.99; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $12.49

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

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

How I Don’t Buy a Pattern

…Until I do!

Like many of us, I looove new sewing patterns. I also looove keeping my money (dragon-style in a big pile would be top preference). It’s a push-and-pull. So, how do I decide if a sewing pattern is worth the moolah? Obviously this will vary – when I was beginning I prioritized instructions and pattern support. My current priorities have evolved towards fit and value.

Value is simple: does it have a few views, or if it has one view, is that one super classic and useful? For me, that’s the Ginger jeans. I only sew view B but I sew it a LOT. If it’s a rectangle or a circle with some pleats or gathers, is it priced accordingly, or does it offer something else? The Raspberry Rucksack is a draw-your-own-rectangles pattern, but I’m a bagmaking newb and the designer shared a detailed sew-along, so I’m happy with that pattern.

Next, evaluating fit! I’m certainly not a pro, but I’ve figured out some ways of looking at a sample and seeing if it’s right for me. I don’t expect perfection right out of the envelope, but I hope to see evidence that some specific fitting needs have been considered. Come pick a nit with me.

Let’s look specifically at the MN Curve Dawns jeans, a recent purchase of mine. I’ve wanted them for a long time, but I procrastinated. I’ve seen dozens of people look like Flaming Hot Cheetos in this pattern and I want that spice, but the samples have fit issues – specifically, mine!

Don’t be distracted by this gorgeous Valkyrie’s glowing smile. First alarm bell: of the 16 images that show the front of the pants, 10 of those are posed with the model’s hand in her pocket. In the straight sizes, you can see the front in 15 images, only 1 of which has the model’s hand in her pocket. To me, this feels a little like camouflage – probably concealing drag lines, which I’m guessing means, they (and I) need a full stomach adjustment. Next, look at the yoke on the back of the shorts. It’s too tall, so it’s buckling. I only see this happening on the shorts sample, but I’ve made that adjustment before so I’ll probably have to remove height there, too (if it was a darted back I wouldn’t worry about it; it has to do with the particular shape of my bum).

Now take a peek this beautiful cozy angel.

Do you see those diagonal lines pointing towards her inner thigh? It looks like the pattern could use an accommodation for full inner thighs! I’d want to scoop the back crotch to be more of a “J” shape, as the need for a full rear/hungry bum adjustment is indicated, too. And finally, the back pockets are far too small for my taste.

So, was this pattern a good purchase? Well, I got it on sale, and it has 4 views with the potential for everyday usefulness, so to my mind, yes. Even though a close-read of the samples shows me a list of necessary adjustments, if I pull back for a second they’re still gorgeous. And I’m going in with a sense of what I need to do; prepared is half the battle. I’ll get a lot of bang for my buck once (if?) I fit them correctly!

Okay, now let’s do tops! While these patterns aren’t on my I-wanna list, they do have nice clear images. I don’t understand upper body fitting very well, but there’s one thing I can check right away.

First, the CC Cielo top and dress – look at the bust dart. Way too high, right? Again, it’s not that these samples aren’t beautiful; I’m just looking for indicators that the pattern needs more adjustment than I feel like (even something as simple as a misplaced bust dart can stop me from buying something; thanks, #Smaughordegoals).

Compare that to the Grainline Uniform tunic, where the dart is clearly too low.

Especially if the pattern is simple, I want to see that done right!

You might notice all of these samples were sewn in the higher range of each designer’s sizes. Most of my standard adjustments are made for convex curves – full stomach, full thighs, full biceps – so even if my actual size fits in either range, I get a better read on how it will fit my body from what many designers describe as their ‘curvy’ block. 

Of course, I’m not always this particular. I bought the RTS Papao pants more or less instantly. I loved sewing and I love wearing my two pairs (so far!). But if I give the pattern sample photos the business, I can see room for improvement.

There’s some pooling at the center back –the model may need a swayback adjustment. However, I usually don’t (by the way: a lot of suspected swaybacks are actually butts or hips that need more space! Something to consider). There’s also excess fabric at the thighs (more visible from the back), and sure enough, I get the same excess on my pairs. But that’s a pretty short list of potential changes, and if I had let that put me off at the time, I would be a sadder and less awesomely-trousered person today. So contrary to my pro-fussbudget propaganda, sometimes it’s fine to just let things go!  

This might be completely self-evident to all of you. And listen, I can always find a reason not to buy something; this is good, or I’d be up to my ears in mugs and novelty baking pans and seasonal cereals and pristine notebooks and sock yarn I don’t know how to use. Okay fine, that life doesn’t sound so bad. But if you want look at patterns with a more critical/thoughtful eye, and this was useful at all, I’m glad!

Here’s a few more tempting patterns I haven’t bought recently –

The Assembly Line V-Neck Jumpsuit – it’s over $20, only one view, and it wouldn’t go with the winter boots I wear nearly every day from December – March. Also, many of the samples are sewn in black, so I can’t see what the heck is going on. But I like it. This falls into the category of ‘maybe I’ll buy it with a gift card’.

The Sicily slip dress – it’s so slinky and lovely and dreamy and where would I wear this?! Ever? Professor Boyfriend suggested “to a murder mystery party” which, WELL PLAYED, PROF. BF, but that’s a post-rona discussion.

The Soho sweater – hey, it ain’t boring! But I doubt those sleeves would fit comfortably inside a coat, and I don’t have a source for full-bodied knits, so the likelihood that I could make this, let alone would make this, is extremely low.

Fibre Mood Leah jumpsuit – I have a pattern credit for this so it wouldn’t even cost money! Plus its name is a homonym for my name! Is it destiny?! Or is it riding up the model’s crack? I probably won’t use several yards of fabric to find out.

Well, that got wordy. Next time, another finished object – it’s a straight-lines-and-rectangles kind of pattern, but one I definitely got my money’s worth from!