Noa shirt

I have an oversized double-gauze men’s Steven Alan shirt that has survived almost a decade of RTW culls, and I eventually figured out that I love it. Since then I’ve had an eye out for a sewing pattern that would allow me to replicate it. Around the end of last year I found the free Noa shirt pattern from Fabrics-Store.com. I thought this could be the one – per to the website, it’s got “classic tailoring”, a “relaxed silhouette”, and plenty of comments saying “watch out, it’s BIG”. Hello, sailor!

I chose to sew a 12/14 because the approximate finished chest measurement of 49” matched my existing RTW shirt, but my finished Noa shirt actually has a 46” chest so they’re really getting their money’s worth out of the word “approximate”. On the other hand, the pattern cost me approximately $0.00, sooo. And it’s a very functional pattern. The Noa is a nice professional-looking conventional button-up for people who prefer a dartless fit, but alas, it is not my dream shirt!

Sorry to spoil the ending, but the fact that I lopped the arms off probably gave you a clue! In large part my ambivalence is due to the fabric. This crisp yarn-dyed striped cotton grabbed me in the store, and I thought I could make something that was kind of winking at the idea of a business guy’s dress shirt, but I accidentally made a straightforward, non-winky, business guy’s dress shirt. A perfectly nice one – the fabric is stable, on-grain, and it pressed like a dream – and I enjoyed sewing it, but wearing it? I don’t know.

I used the Fabrics-Store blog to find out the seam allowance (3/8”) but otherwise sewed everything in my usual mish-mashy way, lots of techniques from different patterns all smooshed together.  I used the asymmetric back pleat from the Willamette, Archer’s burrito yoke, this collar, and Sewaholic’s continuous bound sleeve placket. Because OH YES, I sewed the sleeve placket. I sewed BOTH sleeve plackets, AND I added the cuffs, for all the good it did me. Even though I’m not scared of bias bound sleeve plackets anymore I realized that they’re not totally suitable for vertical stripes – by design, you sew on a slight diagonal, so the finished placket will never be parallel to the stripes.

Do I lie?!

This shirt looked so dang office-ready with the pleated full-length sleeve. If that’s what you’re looking for, vaya con Dios, get thee some sharp cotton and sew the Noa. I wanted something relaxed, more like this breezy Coco’s Loft edition, but it was clearly too late for that. It’s never too late to grab a pair of scissors and chop your sleeves off, though! I thought this baseball length looked sort of wacky and modern (finished length 6 ¾”) but mostly I wear it with a rolled cuff. Also, rolling the sleeve up hides the fact that I ran out of thread and hemmed the sleeves (truly, widely, deeply) with the only nearby shade in my house.

In retrospect, an actual contrasting thread color might have been fun, especially because my topstitching is pristine (I know I’m not supposed to say that, but it is). A couple more details I enjoy: I sewed the hem inside-out because when I attached the sleeves, I loved the candy-stripe effect of the seam allowance.

Also, this button-up is a button-*down*, because I sewed some wee little buttonholes into the collar points and buttoned those fellahs down! I copied a technique I saw in a RTW shirt to reinforce the button area, using fusible hem webbing like double-sided tape to attach a scrap of self-fabric to the inside of the shirt. All edges pinked, of course.

I thought about not opening the buttonholes and sewing the buttons through the collar, but I’ve done that to one other shirt and it makes ironing the collar a pain in the neck.

Not that this fabric needs a ton of ironing. It gets some wear wrinkles, but nothing too severe. If it weren’t for the hand, color and pattern – you know, its characteristics – I would probably really like it. I actually sewed this Noa at the end of December (strangely right before Very Peri got announced as the color of 2022) and so far, the weather hasn’t been such as would let me wear it, so I’m not sure I’m avoiding it for practical reasons or prejudiced ones.

I feel like lately whenever a project doesn’t quite live up to my hopes, I gaze out the window and whisper in a melancholy voice “ah, but ‘twere it linen…”, but…what if it was linen? Black linen, or sand-colored maybe? In any case, I’m not recycling this pattern quite yet. Or giving the shirt away either, though if summer comes and I’m still not wearing it, I’ll dump it like some shorted stock (that’s business talk, right?).

Buy, buy! Sell, sell!

Pattern: Fabrics-Store Noa shirt

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 12/14

Supplies: 2 yards striped cotton, Sewfisticated, $7.98; thread, Sewfisticated, $2.49; buttons from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $10.47

Stripes

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

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

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

Which, oops, I did upside down!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OOF!

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

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

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Pattern: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A

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

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

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.64

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

Rhubarb Rhubarb

Hooray, Professor Boyfriend is triumphant in his first pink shirt!

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I originally thought of this hue as Nantucket Red, but a little research proved that that’s actually an indistinguishable but legally distinct color! Apparently, Nantucket Red – that mainstay of New England coastal preppie summer culture; just picture someone named Bryant drawling “We summer at the Cape” – is owned by one business in particular. I have a soft spot for Nantucket Red, since growing up it gave even the most normative boys an entrée into wearing pink (though as I reminded some students today, colors don’t have genders, and genders shouldn’t be valued by comparison – seriously, who is feeding them ‘blank is a girl’s color (subtext: and therefore bad)’ at this stage of the game?! >( Blah, rant over. Well, paused). Anyway, I’m calling this universally flattering hue “rhubarb”! Come at me, copyright!

Plus we’ve concluded that if Professor Boyfriend was a vegetable, that’s what he’d be (I’d be a butternut squash, obviously). And here he is, fulfilling his destiny!

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This is my zillionth time sewing the Thread Theory Fairfield, but only the second time with short sleeves. I love a sassy short-sleeve button-up, with my eventual goal being to put him in a Winston Bishop from New Girl-style Bird Shirt, as I think this is the exact right amount of fabric and casual flair to float a wacky print. However, as I’m historically lazy, I did not print out the separate pattern piece for the short sleeve. Instead I measured an existing shirt to find out that the final sleeve should be 5” long (armpit to hem), with a 1” deep hem. It looks nice cuffed, too! No photos of that here, since we took these photos in literally 12 minutes between the end of work and the beginning of game night.

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This is a straight size M with back darts, no need to reinvent the wheel; we’re both happy with the fit on him. Professor Boyfriend has requested that next time, I move the pocket upwards a few inches; using the pattern markings places it a cool half-inch under the business end of his pec. Something to look out for, if you’re considering the pocket! No need to unpick and resew this time as it’s pretty well blended into the stripes. And speaking of resewing…

This relatively simple shirt (no cuffs, no sleeve plackets) took me FOR-EV-ER. I resewed the front placket three times! That’s just two straight lines, but I couldn’t get them right! Finally I fiddled the stripes perfectly into place, topstitched oh-so-precisely, and went ahead with the shirt. When it came time to hem I realized my fussy aligning and topstitching had failed to catch the raw edge in places.

I could not, would not, unpick and resew at this point. I didn’t think the collar stand would survive, for one thing. This cotton is lovely and soft but it doesn’t have a ton of tensile strength and it already wasn’t too happy with my unpicking binge.

IMG_8465So I hand sewed a length of cream twill tape over the raw edge! Honestly, it was easier to face at that point than any other solution I could think of. It’s not too obvious or offensive and I’m hopeful the shirt will last through many washings and wearings despite my dingleberry routine.

And to soothe my troubled heart…

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Not too shabby, eh? The collar isn’t perfectly lined up but considering I forget to account for the stripes moving across it when cutting, it’s darn close. A big thank-you to Lady Luck!

To conclude, in the words of many valiant background actors in many movie scenes: rhubarb rhubarb, rhubarb rhubarb.

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Th-th-that’s all, folks!

 

Pattern: Thread Theory Fairfield shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M

Supplies: 2.5 yards of lightweight pink/cream cotton, $30, Gather Here; $1.91, thread, Michaels; $6.00, buttons, Gather Here

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $37.91

Copying Cat

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Well, I went ahead and ‘borrowed’ this make from Cat in a Wardrobe. I guess the word I’m looking for is ‘plagiarism’? And also, maybe, ‘an escalating pattern of behavior’, because a few weeks ago I posted about my first pair of V8499 pants; those were directly inspired by Eli’s, but these are just plain copied. Except, I’m thicker and in flats!

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I referenced her sweater styling, too. Originally I was disappointed in my finished pants; I had hoped to wear them with fitted shirts tucked in (I was picturing a black knit camisole), but I didn’t like these with any of my tees or tanks. But pop on a squarish, pill-y, navy blue RTW sweater and we’re cooking with gas. I recently won the MN Jarrah in a blog raffle and I’ve got high hopes for view A – make-and-replace!

I had to adjust the pattern to better reflect my inspiration sources (i.e., copy more good). To guarantee safe transport past my juicy hips, I widened the back leg pieces. They join with a perfectly straight seam that’s parallel to the grainline, so I added an additional 3/8” seam allowance to each piece, for a total increase of 1.5”. Since the back facing is grown on that should have required no further adjustments.

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I ended up recutting a separate back facing since somehow while sewing I just lost the height there. I could have used narrower elastic, but I needed it to hold up all this railroad denim, and I had extra fabric anyway. Technically you could omit this back seam and cut the back leg as one piece, but I changed stripe direction there! My stripes alternate; center back = cross grain, side back = straight grain, side front = cross grain, center front = straight grain. So nowhere did I have to sew two parallel stripes together.

I also extended the legs by 4” so I could have big deep cuffs.

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The front leg pieces, as well as the back, are divided by vertical seam parallel to the grainline. The inseams and outseams narrow towards the hem, with a convex extension at the hem for turning. Here’s my technique for extending the leg:

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I lost some of the taper, so this pair of pants is straighter, wider, and less cocoon-like. I changed the angle, by the way, starting just below the knarts on the front side piece.

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My topstitching is a punchy blue. This was Professor Boyfriend’s idea! We were talking about potential thread colors over dinner (as you do), and he suggested neon. Michael’s had neon pink, orange, and yellow (all of which looked pretty rad, but none of which would play nice with my shirts), and also this super-saturated blue. I like the effect, though even after sewing with my double-stitch function, I mainly just catch a glimpse of blue from the corner of my eye.

The seams are all French-seamed and topstitched (I was surprised on re-reading the directions that Vogue doesn’t actually instruct you to finish your seams, but it’s so technically easy on this pattern! There’s 4 perfectly straight lines!). My denim was borderline too thick for this finish – flat-felled probably would have been better, but who feels like it? At the crotch point where all the thicknesses intersect I topstitched to within an inch of the intersection on each side because I wasn’t looking to die that day. So many layers! The gap is very much situated at my undercarriage so no one will ever have to know. I SAID NO ONE.

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Each of these pockets can fit a paperback novel. Or I guess, keys and a phone.

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I have a new pin! It’s a void chicken from Stardew Valley. Cute li’l red-eyed cluck-cluck laying me void eggs, gonna cook some Strange Buns with all that void mayo.

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Not pictured here: spring is creeping in, one yellow-green bud at a time. Don’t let my desaturated butt be the most colorful thing in the landscape, New England!

Pattern: V8499, view C

Pattern cost: $0.00 (second usage)

Size: 14, with added width and length

Supplies: 3 yards of 10 oz. railroad denim, Fabric.com, $31.29; thread, Michael’s, $1.25

Total time: 9.25 hours

Total cost: $32.54

Resort Hobbit

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This is the second of my 3 vacation outfits, and the only one I sewed for and reliably wore all summer 2018 (pre-blog, but I don’t mind blogging my wardrobe steadies, anyway). I’m calling the aesthetic of the pants resort hobbit. Shorter & wider please. The pattern is V8499. I’m not sure why I bought it initially (Vogue sale brain/shipping minimum?), but after I did, the first and best inspiration came from Cat in a Wardrobe. I copied her stripe placement but looking back on her post, I’ve got to make these again and copy her exactly! I love them in denim! I’d have to size up or at least lengthen to get the same sort of silhouette she achieves on her petite frame…I want those deep cuffs though.

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I used lightweight linen that I would have described as ‘green and white’ riiight up to when I wore it on a tropical island and stood next to some bright greens. Grey-green and white, maybe. Anyway, it’s rumpled and airy, and changing stripe direction meant that I didn’t have to worry if the cut pieces warped a little bit. I sewed it with the vertically striped-side up, making sure to keep my presser foot parallel to those, and let the horizontals look after themselves.

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I sewed a size 14. I wish split pattern ranges had a little more overlap. My hips are right on the cusp of each range. I probably should have bought 14-up, not 14-down. The front waist is flat and the back waist contains elastic; I really have to wiggle in and out, though it’s totally comfortable once on. I’m worried about how this will affect the overall lifespan of the garment. Every seam is French-seamed and topstitched, but I hate straining the loose-ish weave of the fabric! I might have to buy the larger size range (and trace again, gross).

I am roughly, from top to bottom, small, medium, and large (in retail, anyway). If a garment needs to fit in just one or two areas, like a cocoon dress that’s fitted in the bust, one range is okay, but across my whole body, like a jumpsuit or a swimsuit, a split range isn’t going to work. It’s even more difficult for someone who falls below/above/across the highest or lowest ends of the range – at least I have information available, if I decide to pay for it and buy the pattern twice. If you’re outside the far ends it’s just not there! >(

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Well, the need to wiggle-in and wiggle-out doesn’t stop me wearing the pants in practice. It just makes me stop and think if I *really* need to pee.

The pants had a new-to-me feature – knee darts (knarts, if you will).

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The knarts shape the pant leg to kind of cocoon the knee cap. I’m not sure why they should, but I enjoy a good topstitched dart anywhere.

The top is the Wiksten tank, which I owned for years before stumbling across the Katy and Laney variation, which was the kick in the backseat I needed to make it.

You could probably apply this tie-front variation to most woven tank patterns. (Back when I was first sewing, I asked an experienced friend, “What’s the difference between the Wiksten tank and the Grainline Tiny Pocket tank?” Her answer: “$3.”) I really like the exact proportions of their band here – not too short or too tight, just cropped and comfortable.

There’s a tiny raw edge at either end of the hem between the ties, but it’s survived the Wild West of my laundry so far (everybody in! Wash cold! Dry hot! Just a shirt and its will to survive!). This was a free make, by the way – the fabric was leftover from my Peppermint jumpsuit, and the pattern was a gift. I had to piece the tie band, but I consider it a #sewingleftovers success.

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Enhance your pants – with knarts!

 

Pattern: Vogue 8499, view C

Pattern cost: $5.00

Size: 14

Supplies: 3 yards of Telio Tuscany Pinstripe Chambray Linen in Light Green/Cream, $43.16; thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $48.16

 

Pattern: Wiksten tank

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M, with the Katy and Laney variation

Supplies: scraps of ikat cotton, thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00