Ogden Tank

Once again I am here to share with you an okay piece of sewing. Today’s solidly acceptable offering is the True Bias Odgen cami, but I’ve made some changes that round this grade-A pattern down to a B+.

I’ve sewn 8 regular Ogden camis in various states of cropped-ness from full length to very brief. They’re all keepers. I’ve replaced the straps and mended the neckline points on a couple where they wore out, because I didn’t want to lose them from my summer rotation. It’s a simple and extremely wearable pattern that I like it a lot.

That said, sometimes I want to cover my shoulders (variety is the spice of shoulders!) and since I really liked the loose body and depth of the v-necks in this pattern I hoped I could use it as a tank base. A really well-fitting shell is my Holy Grail of basic patterns. This isn’t it. It’s more of a Prosaic Grail. It’s wearable, it’s comfortable, it’s the exact definition of “fine”.

But if you’re filled with a burning and/or yearning for an okay tank of your own, read on!

My first step was to put on one of my existing Ogdens and ask Professor Boyfriend to place a pin in the strap where it sat on the high point of my shoulder. My ideal finished Ogden strap length is 6.5”, and that divided surprisingly neatly into 2.75” in the front and 3.75” in the back. I also put a ruler on my shoulder (long-ways from neck to arm, or proximal-to-distal if you’re feeling anatomical) and looked at it in the mirror to estimate the angle of my shoulder slope.

I then retraced the pattern, but I didn’t cut it out. The strap attachment point is marked on the pattern. On the front piece, starting from that point, I drew a vertical line parallel to the center front that was 2.75” long. On the back that line was 3.75”.

The original finished strap is a scanty ½” wide, so I marked ½” centered on that line. I wanted my straps to be thicker; I added ¼” to the outer edge and 1.5” to the inner edge (arbitrary or carefully judged? You decide!).

I also added a thin acute triangle to the top of each strap based on my shoulder slope estimation, then ½” seam allowance. Finally, I blended the neckline and armscye curves into the new straps.

I also cut new facing pattern pieces with the updated neckline, but I didn’t modify anything else about them. I’m content with the length of the internal boob curtain (I’ve read reports of it cutting across some breasts oddly, but it works for me). Now I just had to sew the thing!

I staystitched the necklines and then used the burrito method to finish the neck and arms. Historically I’ve struggled with that technique, but this lightweight swiss dot was nice and thin so it was unusually easy.

 I understitched the neckline but the armscye edges seemed to behave themselves without it, so I skipped it (I was also running out of black thread, which may have weighed in the decision).

The tank was almost done after that – French seam the side seams, hem the outer and facing, bada-boom. Construction is all good. Fit? Eh. It looks like I could stand to pinch a dart out of the armscyce, but darts do not feature in my fantasy tank pattern (as a member of the IBTC I feel strongly that if I don’t wanna I shouldn’t hafta). The “v”s also look a little “u”-ish to my eyes, as a consequence of adjusting those curves, I guess. The straps obviously can’t sit any further out though.  

I really can’t get too heated either way. It’s fine! It’s a comfortable shirt and it’s breezy and it’s fine. It’s abundantly, undeniably fine. It might be cuter knotted at the waist. I am falling asleep trying to care. I’ve got a smallish piece of this fabric left, and it might be enough for the outer pieces of another proper Ogden cami, which I’m sure would get used because this imperfect version is already highly wearable. I’d have to buy more black thread, though. Quelle horreur!

Separately, I got this little hat from the Buy Nothing and I think I like it. Let me be a you person, hats!

Soon my fall sewing will begin. O_O Now that I can get excited about.

Pattern: True Bias Odgen cami, with changes

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 6 bust, 8 waist and hips

Supplies: 1.5 yards black swiss dot cotton, Sewfisticated, $7.49; thread from stash

Total time: 2.75 hours

Total cost: $7.49

Pajungles

This handsome sonofagun is back and putting my own plain-Jane pajamas to shame! Professor Boyfriend spent most of his twenties wearing variations on mud color, and then one day this wonderfully be-catted fellow just sprang into being and now I’m a peahen. I’m the opposite of complaining!

This is more of a lounge set than strictly pajamas, and it was unplanned. Prof. B.F. picked this sensational leopards-print (as opposed to leopard-print, singular) cotton for a casual summer button-up, but it had been a while since I’d sewn something for him and I couldn’t remember the right yardage, so we got nervous and overbought. After cutting and sewing the shirt I still had about a yard left from the original 2 ¾ yards and I broached the idea of matching shorts.

Backstory, I’ve been hinting about coordinated sets since seeing those made by Emma of Emma’s Atelier (most recently, this one) but Professor Boyfriend wasn’t biting so I pitched these as “cotton sleep shorts”. Prof. B.F. is not a wide guy, but 1 yard of 45” wide fabric wasn’t going to make full-length shorts with all the fixings. I Googled around for free woven boxer patterns but modifying his Jeds pattern seemed easier than printing and assembling an unknown quantity. I was pushing these as pajamas, so it didn’t need a fly opening, and I didn’t have enough fabric for slash pockets, so these were really as simple as could be.

I blended the front pocket into the front leg, and the back yoke into the back leg. I abbreviated both inseams to a 4” finished length and straightened the hem extensions. A quick walking of the seamlines to confirm everything would match, and badda boom, pattern pieces. However, at this point courage failed me and I decided I needed more ease. I retook his measurements and those of the flat pieces; his widest point was 38”, and the pattern was 35”, so I freaked out and added 4” of ease by splitting the front and back legs vertically and adding 1” of width to each.

I now think I measured him wrong, because his commercial pants size is a 34” or 35” waist, and he probably could have wiggled in and out of these without me adding anything. I’m pretty annoyed with myself because I could have used the fabric more efficiently (often a point of pride). I might go back and remove some of that excess, even though that essentially means disassembling 75% of the shorts, just to prove that I can do math.

The waistband is a big old folded rectangle with elastic threaded through it. I learned my lessons from my own PJs and made the casing’s finished width just a smidge larger than necessary. I couldn’t cut it continuously, but I could match the seams with the short’s side seams. I left a bit of each of the short edges of the waistband unsewn so I could attach the whole waistband before adding elastic.

I left this opening on both sides as part of my cunning plan to reach in and untwist the elastic as necessary, but of course this meant the elastic went in without a fuss, so I just had two short seams to hand-sew closed. Which I did…NOT. Hey! It’s ongoingly adjustable!   

The shirt is Professor Boyfriend’s usual short-sleeved Fairfield. When I handed it to him he said “Wow! You pattern-matched across the button placket!” because he is a nice person who pays attention and because DID I EVER. In a stable fabric with a largish repeat like this quilting cotton, it was a straightforward pleasure.

Nothing really to add about this pattern, except that I’ve officially converted to French-seaming the armscyes instead of flat-felling them. I might tweak the sleeve cap next time for a narrower sleeve, but that would be harder to sew. I’ll keep yah posted.

So after this shirt and the matching ‘sleep shorts’ were finished, I convinced Professor Boyfriend to try them on together, and while he originally described them as “very cool pajamas” he might be warming up to the idea of this being an outside-the-house outfit (the shirt has been in public, but the combination hasn’t).  The shorts don’t have any pockets, but I have just enough scrap left to add one bum pocket, and if you can carry your keys you can leave the house, right? I’d want to narrow the legs a bit first to make the bottoms a little less casual, but personally, I think the world is ready. I probably won’t be able to talk him all the way into a romphim, but a set is excellent progress!

And I think he looks meowvelous!

(Forgive me.)

Pattern: Thread Theory Jedediah pants and Thread Theory Fairfield Shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??? waist = 38.5″ inches stretched, and M

Supplies: 2.75 yards of Leopard in Jungle cotton, $33.00, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $5.10; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 2 and 5 hours

Total cost: $38.10

One Day My Prints Will Come

Today, another pattern from the way-back-when. This particular moment in time is the MN Cascade skirt and it feels like a mermaid slammed into a princess going full speed with no airbags. Once a year around now, I find it in the back of my closet. On super-hot days the double gauze is irresistible. Well, it hot, so here we go.

Basically, the Cascade is a more-than-a-circle skirt. It fastens with a simple overlap and it’s made of two fronts, a back, and a waistband. A go-getter with a drawing compass could whip one up without too much trouble but I made this early in my sewing career (‘career’) before I figured out 1) most skirt patterns are just a litttttle reheated-feeling and 2) what I like to wear.

However, this skirt keeps escaping my culls. Ordinarily it would be way too swishy-pretty for me, but it’s so sort of unabashed that it shot the moon and I like it again. It makes me laugh to dress up like I’m going to comb my hair with a dinglehopper and drown sailors and then actually just get a sandwich instead.

We’re going back, way back – pre-spreadsheet, so pre-2017 – but I can almost guarantee that I bought less fabric than this pattern called for and ignored the grainlines when cutting. 3 7/8 yards of 45”-wide fabric, and that fabric is Nani Iro? Yeah, did not happen. At a guess, I bodged this any-which-way out of 3 yards, if that. The nondirectional print doesn’t give any clues but I know myself pretty well (and I continue to love this print! Dare I call it…TIMELESS?!).

It’s also safe to say I cut a size M. Right now my waist falls between and M and an L and this still fits comfortably, but I think an L would have been a better investment. In a word: overlap. A longer waistband means more overlap, which means more coverage. My highs are a little too high. Though that doesn’t explain why my lows are so low!

That high-low angle is X-TREME. It’s X-Box 306. It’s arguably Xanadu. The fabric is light, too. Usually beautifully so, but it can get dicey. On the morning we took these pictures, the air was dead, but I popped a safety pin at the bottom of the overlap just in case. Later that afternoon it was a little breezier and despite the pin, unless I held the skirt edges like I was processing royally, any wind could boost my rating to PG-13. But that’s why it’s also so suitable for our recent stretch of 95°+ days (35° to you Celsius fans)! You gotta do what you gotta do.

This skirt features my first (and at time of filming, only) hand-rolled hem! It’s actually a huge amount of fun to sew but I did not do a great job despite the double-layered fabric (it’s a bit tuftier than intended). I’d probably go with a bias binding for a fun pop if I were sewing this today, but this hem treatment doesn’t inhibit drape or flow at all, which is nice! I used two sets of dress bars for an invisible closure.

There was a time in my life where I squeezed a Tate top out of any semi-realistic scraps, which is what I’m wearing here. This free Workroom Social pattern appears to have vanished from the internet! I’ve fallen out of love with it but I still have a PDF copy if anybody wants one.

My version has such features as “a baby-hemmed hem that likes to flip up”, “extra seamlines born of necessity rather than style”, and “pretend buttons”. The pretend button placket is just the selvedges overlapped without additional finishing; the neck and armholes are bias-bound. It’s fun to be swaddled in Nani Iro from neck to ankle (hey, if you’re looking from the back, it’s ankle! It counts!) but I’m not wowed by this shirt. The cut-in shoulders are no longer my go-to silhouette, and I’m usually too lazy to convert my convertible bras, so it doesn’t get much wear.

On the other hand, in this summer of many parties, including 18 months worth of make-up parties (is anyone else feeling like Slurms McKenzie? If Slurms and all his buddies were fully vaccinated, TBC), this skirt  has been a friend indeed. I don’t care if high-low hems are so 2011-2012. Lots of cool stuff is from around then. Call Me Maybe. Cotton candy grapes. Rivers of London.

Anyway, wear whatever you want! I have declared it meet, and I get to do declarations now, because in this skirt I am clearly a princess. Long live me?

Pattern: MN Cascade skirt

Pattern cost: ?

Size: M?

Supplies: ? Definitely Nani Iro double-gauze

Total time: Lost forever

Total cost: Never to be known

Last Resort

I really like black outfits in the summer even if they effectively make me look glow-in-the-dark, but this one kind of crossed the line from “casual” to “deadly-widow-on-a-cruise”. To be fair once I realized that I leaned into the styling; since I’m only going to wear this outfit this once, I may as well wear it as hard as I can. This is my wearable muslin for M7936.  

Sometimes a muslin gets promoted to the big leagues. This isn’t one of those times. I haven’t really been tempted by short rompers lately; I feel simultaneously overdressed and underdressed, and this summer has been so relatively cold in New England that I’ve gotten to enjoy long pants most days anyway. But I wanted to sew through this pattern once before deciding whether or not I would make myself a full-length version. Honestly, I’m still not sure.  

The drafting was simple but good – everything lined up, there’s generous hem allowances, and the pockets are a good height and size. I had to sew my nemesis, an invisible zipper, but even that went okay thanks to the expert guidance of Kenneth D. King! However, it seems my new nemesis is facing a V-neck with an invisible zipper at the point. My fabric was a slightly grow-y, slightly shifty rayon/linen blend, and I didn’t make it perfectly symmetrical. I hand-stitched the edge of the facing in place to minimize the mismatch.

It’s obviously not an invisible finish, but if a line is going to be slightly wobbly anyway, I think hand-sewing visually justifies it. I wonder if a closed-end dress zipper in the side seam would make a good replacement for the center zipper, possibly if the back neck had a “V” neckline as well for extra hip-in, hip-out room? I’m not fond of placing the thing I’m most likely to mess up front and center, but a back zip can be a hassle too.

Fit-wise there’s not a ton to say – the intended fit is free through the waist and loose in the hips and shoulders. I sewed a straight size M (the pattern alpha-sized, by the way). It’s comfortable but the inseam pockets gape a bit, so grading to an L probably would have been more suitable. It passes my squat test for thick thighs as-is, though.

Unfortunately it’s a little uncomfortable to raise my arms above my head. It’s a cut-on-sleeve issue, not a body-length issue. Lifting my arm moves the whole garment, inevitably, but the sleeve digs into my arm before I run out of crotch space; if it were a set-in sleeve I would have a sense of how to adjust (all due to ikat bag’s generous post, an evergreen from 2014) but I’m not sure what to do about it here. Adjust the shoulder slope, possibly?

I sewed and finished the pattern according to the directions before adding my own twist, the little strappy hardware bits. It’s just four rectangles folded like double-fold bias tape and topstitched shut, plus four D-rings. The strap width was determined by the D-rings I had sitting around, 1 ½”.

These straps each started life much, much longer. I pinned them to the finished garment before trimming. This was easiest, but it wasn’t always easy. I was home alone for this sewing project and pinning straps above my own booty with the help of exactly 1 mirror was a bit fussy. They were unsurprisingly unsymmetrical, so I took measurements on the flat garment and tried to split the difference, only to somehow end up sewing the back straps symmetrical to each other but a good 4” lower than the front straps. Several tries later I ended up with this arrangement.

I was a little worried that the cinching would pull back the fabric around the invisible zipper and reveal the coils, but it’s all good. These look a bit useless when fully loose and a bit tortured cinched to the max; this sort of half-waist seems to be the sweet spot. You can get a similar(ish) effect with something like this elastic waist, with the exception that I have a flat area (panel in that link) between the strap ends on both the front and back.   

I’m not super excited about this romper, alas. Why’d I even bother poisoning the Colonel, y’know? The one thing I unabashedly like is the depth of the V. I really wanted to recreate a particular denim jumpsuit I have pinned, but now I dunno. I was pretty grateful to pop this off in favor of jean shorts and a tank; I just feel more like me in that outfit. On the other hand, denim makes everything better.

It did inspire me to go through my wardrobe and pull out a few other things I don’t feel excited about. My clothing swap pile is growing. Got to get that stuff out before the if/when of another lockdown…

On that cheery note, arrivederci! If Scotland Yard comes sniffing around, tell them it was natural causes.

Pattern: M7936

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M

Supplies: 2 yards of black linen/rayon, $11.98, Sewfisticated; 22″ invisible zipper, Gather Here + 1 1/2″ D rings, Winmill Fabrics, $4.79

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $22.26

Summer Jams

Thanks to general encouragement (especially KK of Magpie Logbook!), I finally sewed myself some fresh summer pajamas.

The pattern is Lisette for Butterick, B6296, and I just noticed it’s sold in the category “Family Sleepwear” which also includes B6338. Begging the question, why didn’t I sew frillybum sleep panniers for the whole family instead?! Oh well. Maybe next time!

My paper copy was in the higher size range, which was necessary for my downstairs, but a little too roomy for my upstairs. The dilemma of the cross-sized! I sewed a 14 top and a 16 bottom. The shirt is exaggerated by design and sewed up easy as pie. The shorts weren’t complicated, but there’s not quite enough vertical space in the back. Two extra inches, one added to the top of the back rise and one to the curved part of the seat seam, would be welcome.

The shorts are wearable as is, but if you’ve been sitting on this pattern (seat pun) and you have a bit of a bum, you might want to add volume. Also, the back yoke is narrowest at center back and is cut on the fold. Odd! Or to put it politely, unique!

By the way, I deeply dislike threading elastic into a waistband. It may technically take less time than sewing a fly, but each minute stings like poison because I hate it, and the elastic twists, and I untwist it, and then it twists again, and I hate it. After an estimated four thousand hours, I finally got the elastic lying flat and stitched a line through the center so it could never twist again. Grrr. Comfy though!

The pocket bags are surprisingly generous – they end about an inch and a half above the hem of the shorts. Next time I would consider trapping them in the cuffs so they can’t flap. I love using cuffs to finish, by the way. It conceals so many raw edges and has a nice weight. Everything else is French seamed because she’s (me’s) worth it.

I’m a little worried that these look like formal radiology scrubs, nice finishing and all. Hopefully the frilly little buttons and the piping help prevent that.

Self-fabric flat piping is sort of the Men In Black: International of piping. Maybe nobody worked that hard on it, but it stills seems like unnecessary effort for something pretty hard to see. Sewing it was good low-stakes practice, though! It’s slightly uneven but even I have trouble spotting that. Originally I planned on a ditsy floral contrast fabric but I eventually opted for monotone, both because it aligned with a traditional masculine aesthetic, aaand because I had a big ol’ free piece of scrap fabric. I still do, actually. This took remarkably little piping. I used straight grain pieces on the shorts legs and bias-cut everywhere else.

The collar directions are basically identical to these from the true indie sew-alike, CC Carolyn pajamas, including the part where you kind of fade the piping into the front + facing seam right before it meets the collar. I was surprised at how easy and tidy this was. And though I was initially hesitant to snip into the collar, it must be snipped in order to finish the center section of the seam allowance in a different direction than the ends, and it actually feels secure! Yay!

I sewed the longer version of the shirt and it was a little bit ghastly. Way too long, it covered the majority of the shorts. Instead of redoing the hem properly, I folded it up as much I could and popped another line of sewing on top. I was limited by the preexisting button hole, but I still got a luxurious deep hem (with a secret bonus hem inside).

Speaking of luxury, I bought the fancy buttons to finish this because I wanted a discreet feminine touch (that sounds like code for something, but it’s not) to balance the overt masculine influence. These bitsy enamel sweethearts were over a dollar EACH. I sewed them on FIRMLY.

Unfortunately, my buttonholes were a little too big and the shirt kept unbuttoning itself. I wore it a couple times that way before deciding that spending five annoying minutes to fix the problem represented better value than the five annoyed seconds per button over and over, forever, and I hand-sewed the buttonholes a scotch smaller.

I think this fabric might be Oxford cotton. It has no wrong side and a tiny moiré diamond pattern made from a darker blue and a white thread. It’s sturdy enough that I skipped interfacing the facings, and it holds its shape well enough that it’s still cool on hot days, no clinging. The cotton had just enough body to make gathering the sleeve cap ease kind of a pain, but it’s pajamas, so let it pucker!

I have slept in these, but they’re at their best as lazy daytime PJs. They make me want to linger in bed with a locked room mystery and a stack of hot buttered toast like an idle Woosterian aunt-botherer. These pajamas mean business! And my business is pajamas!

Good night & good luck!

Pattern: B6296

Pattern cost: $1.00

Size: 14 top, 16 bottom

Supplies: 3 yards of cotton (Oxford?), $14.97, Sewfisticated; buttons, $6.64, Gather Here; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 11.75 hours

Total cost: $25.00

Pink Ice Cream

After years of min-maxing my sewing stats, it’s not totally surprising that I like most of the pants I sew, while shirts are hit and miss. This one is a wearable miss. It checks off the essentials; it is a shirt, I think it’s reasonably well-made, I like the fabric, it fits my body. But if my list of its qualities starts with ‘it is a shirt’ you can probably tell it’s not a love match.  

This is a Seamwork Natalie blouse which in retrospect I shouldn’t have sized up. Alternatively, I should have sized up way, way more. This is a 12, one size up from my recommended 10, and instead of feeling breezy and effortless it’s just a bit big. Camp collars, y’all. I was aiming for safari style; I landed in the service sector. I’m basically dressed as the top 50% of the waitress in this Bleachers video (the irony being that I’d rather dress like Jack Antonoff and I have nobody to blame but myself!!).    

I only made tiny changes to the pattern, by adding a pocket and straightening the sleeve hems. I also used cream quilting cotton instead of interfacing. I’m not convinced I’ve been attaching interfacing well enough, as I’ve had some bubbling in the wash lately, and since most of the facing is freely moving within the shirt, I didn’t want to risk it. It made the facing a bit thick and independent-minded – hopefully it’ll get washed and worn into submission. I invisibly tacked down each side underneath the centermost corner of the pockets, but they still have occasional fits of exuberance and try to roll free. No. Stop it. Conform.

 I almost ditched the chest pockets halfway through. They kept squashing out of shape regardless of staystitching, pressing, etc., so the only iron-on interfacing is on the back of the pockets, with the seam allowances removed, to keep them on the rectangular-and-symmetrical path. It was that or throw them in the scrap box. Even though I’m not convinced they add much, I grudgingly allow that they are not too bulky, despite the double-folded box pleat at the top hem. Originally I planned to place the pleat intake on the inside but I was worried that any deep breaths would make it look like my boobs were talking and/or blinking. Nightmare averted?

I borrowed the pocket placement from my Sewaholic Granville pattern. I was surprised to see it didn’t cover the Natalie dart end – the Granville dart extends further – but for once my bust darts seem to be pointing in the right direction, and I wasn’t going to rock the boat.

I edgestitched the facings but found my stitching line upsettingly wobbly (this fabric was happy to meet an iron and it eased nicely, but it was squishier than most cotton/linens, not to mention it frayed like a sonofagun – actually, it was kind of a hot jerk) so I unpicked that sewing and replaced it with short horizontal lines.

In a partially-successful attempt to keep the facing at the back neck in place, I added a little stitched box where the collar would hide it.

You can see the fabric pretty well there; it’s a new-to-me version of Kaufman’s cotton/linen, Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed. It’s a pretty icy pink and I love speckles, but I mostly bought it because I pointed it out to Professor Boyfriend at the store and said “Look! Pink ice cream!” before realizing the actual name was “Gelato”. It was destiny. “Pink ice cream” is a reference to a monumental temper tantrum I had at age three. I screamed for ice cream for hours, one for each year of my life (I got it, too – I tell my students this story with the moral “if you scream long enough…”). As near as I can guess pink ice cream was strawberry, which continues to be one of my favorite-ever flavors, so there yah go.

I had a heck of a time choosing buttons for it; dark buttons looked objectively nice but the high contrast kind of summoned a Pink Lady energy, mother-of-pearl was too feminine for me, the wood option was too big, etc.. I bought these buttons, unsure if I would use them but convinced I just needed to get something, to add a little chocolate and vanilla to the strawberry ice cream – Neapolitan buttons.

This is a reasonably breezy blend but eh. I did not achieve the summer safari sensation I wanted. I’ve mostly been wearing this blouse open over a tank for sun protection, but I’m just unenthusiastic! I know some people lose interest in dressing for fun in winter, but that’s me in summer. I don’t have a ‘character’ for summer, just a repeatedly thwarted urge to pass myself off as an extra in The Mummy. If you’ve got a go-to pattern for breezy summer button-ups, I’d love to see it.

Stay hydrated, Northern Hemisphere! Southern Hemisphere – you have my envy.

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12

Supplies: 2 yards of Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed Gelato cotton/linen, $26.96, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $4.20; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $32.55

Nutmeg & Tum-Tum

This is the second item I accomplished from my recent plan of three (the summer pajamas are on hold unless I decide to use a solid or something else I can reliably order online, but these newly chilly nights have got me thinking long flannel thoughts anyway). So! Jumpsuit!

My first impression was not madly propitious – kind of a Low Security Pumpkin Spice situation – but I went to Professor Boyfriend and demanded compliments. He told me “It looks like you’re overseeing a dig site” and also to try a belt which were both the right things to say!

The pattern is the Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit, and while I’m happy with the finished look, I feel like I let the side down by buying it. I couldn’t find a finished size chart anywhere on the website, but after purchase I saw in the file that I’m the largest one. I’ve happily transitioned from being the largest size in a small envelope to the smallest size in a large envelope – lots of room to grow! – so butting up against a limit like that is both surprising and disappointing! Spending my money there was self-defeating and anti-social. I still wanted to sew this pattern, but I waffled on sharing it. I am sharing it, obviously, but I’m making the recommendation to wait to purchase this or another Workshop pattern until they improve their size range. Also, here’s the size chart!

I sewed a size 12 at the bust, grading to a 16 at the waist and hip.

Some good things about the pattern: the fit is comfortable and easy to move in. Getting into the jumpsuit is easier than getting out, but both are doable. Style-wise, I’ve been on the lookout for a shawl collar blouse pattern since seeing this one on Mr and Mrs Rat, and this is pretty much a shawl collar blouse with pants stuck on. So, value! Also, every pattern piece matched at the notches and seamlines, no trouble, except…

Neutral thing: I was EXTREMELY annoyed to discover the front leg fabric piece was about 2” shorter than the back leg. I pulled out the pattern pieces to walk the seamlines (I know, I should have done this before cutting my fabric) and discovered I hadn’t fully unfolded one piece of paper. If the legs on mine seem a little short, um, that’s why. My fault entirely. I compensated with a baby hem.

Finally, the bad thing: the directions. HOT DOG.

There’s no information about finishing seam allowances, stay-stitching, understitching, nothin’. If you’ve got some experience under your belt it won’t matter, but I got the impression that this was a teaching pattern used in their workshops, and it’s at least supposed to be beginner-friendly if not beginner-oriented. The PDF instructions are 12 pages long – 5 of those are essentially a cover with glamour shots (one of the 5 is blank), 4 are general (yardage requirements, lay plans), and only 3 cover the whole jumpsuit. There are 4 diagrams, that’s it, and they’re kind of godawful anyway.

I found the collar directions really hard to understand at a read-through. It was a little easier when I was actually sewing, but my finishing doesn’t feel secure or look neat (the directions tell you to fold under the seam allowances, then join the back and the collar/facing with one line of topstitching).

Next time I’ll try drafting a back facing and following these much more thorough directions.

I reshaped the collar slightly; it’s drafted with a little triangle bite taken out of it (I hesitate to say ‘notch’ because it’s not a notched collar), but even on the Workshop sample this looks pucker-y, so I changed it to a continuous curve. I applied it to the bodice and the facing.

I understitched towards the facing from the waist up to the breakpoint (where the collar rolls outward), and towards the bodice above it. The underlapped piece is behaving nicely, but the overlapped one is breaking lower than it should. I’d like to lower the breakpoint next time anyway, for a deeper V, and make the collar curve smoother/shallower as well. I accommodated the triangle this time in case I changed my mind about using it but next time I won’t bother!

Because of the misplaced roll, my fifth and top button is hidden under the shawl part of the collar.

Originally I wanted to find metal buttons, but I like these little wooden biscuit-y ones, too.

The wrinkles on my upper chest are intense. The bust darts (which appear in no photos, somehow) are definitely too high by an inch or two; maybe lowering them will help in the future.

Oh! Also I added pockets! I used this Threads technique which has directions only in the print edition, but it’s worth searching out. I like it because you can finish the seam allowances together, and then topstitch for added security.

I actually topstitched all the legs seams, just in case. The fabric is soft, light shot cotton – I ordered Harissa, but I’m pretty sure I received Nutmeg. Hard to get upset when I’ve been sewing the heck out of this copper/fox color lately anyway! It’s pajamas-soft and goes great with my plan to #dresslikeacrayon.

I might make another one. I don’t have a specific fabric in mind, but this was comfortable for lounging, hiking, and eating, and YES visiting the bathroom takes a little longer but what, am I in some big hurry? Nah. Plus I want another crack at that collar. And second time sewn, the pattern is free…so…rematch!!

Catch you later!

Pattern: Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $11.18

Size: 12 bust, 16 waist and hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton Harissa, $27.62, fabric.com; buttons, elastic, $3.68, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $44.87

Double dip

Brace yourself for a temporary but exciting boost in photo quality! We recently vacationed for a few days in Ashfield, MA, in the foothills of the Berkshires. I spent the chilly, drizzly days tucked up next to a Jotul with a mug of tea and a puzzle and the fresh, sunny ones picking raspberries and walking up Pony Mountain. It was (it will shock you to learn) nice!! One unexpected bonus is that one of our friends-cum-travel-companions is a skilled photographer, and he generously gave Professor Boyfriend a photography lesson and loaned his camera for these pictures, too.

One activity I didn’t do (thanks to the cold weather which I looove) was test-drive – or test-swim, I guess – the subject of this post, my new bathing suit.

I mentioned this in my planning post, but this swimsuit is based on the CC Nettie. I ended up merging the Nettie with the straps of the Halfmoon Atelier Basic Tank (free when you subscribe to the newsletter); I used the width of the Nettie bodice, and split the difference between the depth of Nettie scoop and the Basic Tank scoop necks, but the shape of the straps is the Basic Tank shape. Even though I’m not happy with the finished suit I’d like to take the tank pattern for a real spin. The back scoop is particularly to my taste.

So! I don’t like the suit! Boo. I was planning on basic but it’s downright austere. I look like I’m doing stage tech for a water ballet. I have enough leftover fabric that I could cut new leg bindings, but I’m not sure how to achieve the bum coverage I want AND a higher front leg – it seems like I’d have to start making the leg opening higher across the side seam, and surely that would affect the back?

It’s also far too thick and warm. I fully lined the suit – front and back. This, I have discovered, is exactly the same as wearing two bathing suits. Technically, I underlined the suit, since I sewed the bindings at the same time to both shell and lining. I also added thin, lightweight foam cups between the layers, zig-zagged to the lining only.

You can make out the top edge of a cup there, I think! Inserting them was a bit of a pain. There’s gotta be a better way, but here’s what I did:

  1. Baste the front outer + lining together at neck and side seams. Repeat for the back. If you’re doing this with black fabric, do it in the daytime, not by lamplight, or you will end up with different sides of each fabric showing and you’ll have to unpick and do it again. Take it from One Who Knows.     
  2. Sew the shoulders and neck binding in the order you prefer (I do shoulder 1, neck binding, then shoulder 2, because I don’t like serging in a circle).
  3. Baste the front (2 layers) to the back (2 layers) together at side seams. Pin the crotch seam together while wearing the suit (unless this alarms you, in which case baste that too).
  4. Again, while wearing the suit, slip the cups between the front outer and front lining through the un-basted front leg. Move them around until they’re comfortable and then pin in place.
  5. Remove the suit. Unpick the basting holding the front and back together. Unpick the basting holding the front outer and front lining together.
  6. Rearrange the pins so the cups are pinned just to the lining. Move the outer fabric out of the way. Smooth the lining fabric over the cups and zig-zag around each cup’s edges.
  7. Baste the front outer and front lining together again.
  8. Finish the suit in the order you prefer.

Credit where credit is due, neither fabric – the outer nor the lining – show any sign of all this stitching, unpicking, and re-stitching. The outer is this SPF tricot and it’s very stretchy and comfortable and the edges don’t roll at all. The lining is this matte tricot and perhaps you notice the words ‘high compression’ in the product description. I didn’t. It’s NOT kidding around. I wish it was!!

Speaking of that step 8, by the way – finishing in your preferred order – I flubbed that. I decided to join the front and back crotches, sew the leg bindings flat, and then sew the side seams last. This was effective, in that it prevented a great big lump of seam allowance in my crotch, which was the idea. I still have those lumps, though; they’re just on the side seams where anyone could see instead.

The leg bindings are driving me UP A WALL. I don’t think it’s only that last bad decision that causes them to constantly flip and roll, since it’s happening on the back neckline, too.

I invested in black serger thread (a thing I never usually bother doing) and it’s the only saving grace of these messy, roll-y, uneven bands. Even though the fit is basically fine, the thickness of those double fabric layers and the unreliability of the bands make this bathing suit uncomfortable and fiddly to wear.

So, next steps? I like the top half better than the bottom half, so I might chop the suit in two a couple inches below the foam cups and finish the top with one last flippin’ band. And then I might hiss at the bottom half and call it names. I don’t know. Maybe I can find a pattern for swim boyshorts, or something – I want the coverage but something about this cut just feels so sternly modest. At least shorts say “I’m fun! Gender is a construct!”.

I was beginning a “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” pose (translation: “Nudie Ladies Have A Picnic”) when a bug set up shop on my leg. It probably thought it had landed on the moon. Go find another big white thing to walk on, buggy Neil Armstrong! I’m going to go put on pants!

Pattern: CC Nettie + Halfmoon Atelier Basic Tank

Pattern cost: NA (previously made) + free

Size: Nettie – 10 bust, 12 hip; shortened 1.5″ at waist; Tank – 5 bust

Supplies: 1 yard of Black UV Protective Compression Tricot With Aloe Vera Microcapsules; 1 yard of 5.6 Oz Black Matte Tricot, $30.97, Mood; 4 cones black serger thread, $17.08, fabric.com

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $48.05

Fern Cryin’ Out Loud

How many times am I going to blog a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts? As always, Miss Swann, at least once more. Well, twice more, actually, since there’s two pairs in this post.

I don’t have a stash (one part smug to two parts jealous of your sweet sweet stash) but I save aaall my scraps. Both these shorts were made out of leftovers, originally from a pair of Peppermint Wide-Legs and RTS Papao pants.

This first pair was made from a mystery fabric which, while not exactly right, was very available. I wanted a pair of longer shorts for work this summer, but they ended up a hard-to-wear betwixt-and-between length, so I re-hemmed them to about a 3” inseam. It’s an improvement, but due to the stiffness of the fabric they stand out from my body more than I like and the finished silhouette is on the edge of dorky.

If not exactly in dorky territory, they’re on the Dorky Trail, headed west. I need the space for thigh spread, though!

I’d like to say the wrinkles are for verisimilitude. So I will. They are for verisimilitude, and you are welcome.

The thing that sells me on this pair, despite the fabric, is that I did a really good job sewing them. (No one will match Hercule Poirot for his humbility!) I know I’m not supposed to say so but I did, they look nice inside! I had a perfect scrap of sandy glimmer cotton for the pockets (not pictured, oops), and the only zip I had happened to be a coordinating color, too. It’s so tidy in there, it makes my heart glad.

I used the selvage for the edge of the fly shield, which I like aesthetically though it serves no purpose that serging/zig-zagging the edge wouldn’t also accomplish. Also, I’ve finally started backing my waistband buttons with little flat buttons on the inside. It really helps reduce wear and warping. Luckily I have a tin of them harvested from Professor Boyfriend’s worn-out RTW shirts.

I also hang onto decent-sized singleton buttons like this one, the ecru cherry on this beige cake!

 My second pair, in known-quantity cotton twill, has many more wrinkles, even though I just popped them on for the photos. Also, PLEATS.

I converted the front darts to 1” deep pleats – why? Oh, um, no reason. I think I slightly overfit the waist. Not to the point of discomfort, but the snug waist + pleats do mean these practically bloom open. Someday I’ll actually use a drapey fabric like the pattern calls for but right now my legs are inside fabric balloons. Super comfortable, unsurprisingly!

At this point I was out of zippers (well, I had a 5” one for Professor Boyfriend – but me and my body getting in and out of fitted-waist pants with a five inch zip? Ha ha ha HA good sir). So I was grateful for my recent experience sewing hidden button flies! There are a lot of good techniques out there, but I gave this one a whirl and LOVED it. I did the short lines of stitching between button holes to keep everything in place.

My shirt is a Deer and Doe Melilot, which is the zippiest button-up shirt pattern I know. It has no yoke, dropped shoulders, and cut-on plackets. The bit that takes the longest is turning the curvy hem.     

I used cotton voile bias tape to hem. I’ve done it by double folding before, too, but I like this better. The fabric, by the way, is a vintage Italian linen tablecloth – it was basically Professor Boyfriend’s trousseau. He brought it to the relationship and I used it to make a short-sleeve button down for him, then foraged the scraps for myself.

I should wear my short-sleeve Melilots more often. I really like them so I have a bad habit of saving them ‘for best’. This isn’t the easiest-wearing one in my closet, because of the linen, but who can say no to a basic white shirt?

I pointed the collar but otherwise sewed a straight size 42, no changes. It’s a little snug on my hips but the bust fits okay. I might retrace as a 44 with a 42 collar, because the collar fits perfectly; this was the first shirt pattern I tried that I could button all the way to the top (though I don’t right now, because I don’t like high necks + coronavirus hair together).

Speaking of buttons, I actually sewed this last summer for the Sewcialist’s logo color challenge. I got white on the wheel but couldn’t resist a little pop of something-something!

Surprise!

Also, when this post goes live I will hopefully be in the Berkshires, Q-tip up the nose permitting. Time to pack!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: leftovers of mystery TMOS fabric/leftovers of cotton twill; thread, buttons from stash; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.28

Total time: 4.25 hours/6 hours

Total cost: $1.28/$0.00

Pattern: Deer and Doe Melilot

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 42

Supplies: leftovers Italian linen tablecloth; thread, Michael’s, $3.75; buttons, Gather Here, $6.00

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $9.75

Swish swish

My machine is officially tuned up, and among other maintenance, apparently the feed dogs were way too low! But we’re reunited and it feeds so good (soz not soz). Anyway, it’s feeling and sounding great – I’m pretty sure I could Tokyo Drift in it.

My repair squeaked under the wire for the MA/RI travel restrictions. I hope our spike becomes a divot soon; I have friends and family across the border, and somehow it’s worse knowing they’re close but unavailable. Not that having family abroad and off-limits has been a comfort, exactly, but it’s a smaller contrast from the norm.

Anyway, my planned projects are stacking up on my cutting table a.k.a. my sewing table a.k.a. my eating table, but in the meantime here’s a deep deep cut!

This 2016 (?) make is the bottom half of Vogue 9075, an awfully-cute jumpsuit that I muslined the top of exactly once before abandoning it forever. This makes me laugh, now, because looking back the legs are just two big rectangles, plus notches for pleats, and crotch curves! It certainly wasn’t necessary to spend folding money on just the legs! But at the time, it gave me confidence to try something new, and I guess that was worth the sale price I almost certainly paid for it. Also, whatta crotch curve. I’m a fan.

It’s comfortable without being at all droopy, hitting just above the high-tide mark for chub rub, and I’ve borrowed it for other big short wide pants so I guess I did get my money’s worth. Plus it’s actively encouraging to look back at a pattern that felt like a challenge several years ago and discover it’s wonderfully simple (like an egg!). This is also the pattern that introduced me to what I think of as a Vogue-specific inseam pocket – the opening starts several inches down, but it actually extends along the side seam from the waist, and it’s anchored in the waistband. I used white cotton to minimize show-through and because it was handy.

I topstitched the seam above the pocket opening, as well as stitching down the pleats, which was The Recommended Thing To Do when all the pear-shaped ladies hopped out of the fruit bowl and into this pattern several years ago. I’m not sure it made much difference, since I used drape-y rayon, but it might save on ironing? Excuse me capitalistic patriarchal beauty industry but REAL culottes have wrinkles! Okay fine, I skipped ironing. This isn’t the first time it’s come up, but FOLKS, sometimes summertime is WARMER THAN I LIKE.

Here’s a glimpse of those stitched-down pleats, as well as my ‘invisible’ zipper and my au natural wrinkles. I’m wearing this with one of my earliest CC Netties, and even though I think that new dress is just a wrap hack of that one Vogue dress (only me? PROVOCATIVE CONTENT), mama can draft a back scoop. It’s casually elegant, IMO, and my bra never shows. Witchcraft.

I still get wrinkles like this at my shoulder seams, unfortunately. I’m pretty sure it’s more to do with my relative lack of experience/how I handle the fabric, since I don’t see this on other people’s makes.

I’m 80% sure I picked up the rayon for the culottes at Michael Levine in L.A. – it was definitely the L.A. fashion district – and I think it ran me about $30? I might not choose it today, but it fits neatly into my summer wardrobe of blues and greens and whites. I don’t really like light colors on my bottom half too much, partly for aesthetic reasons (grounding colors on the part of me closest to the ground – it just makes sense!) and partly for practical ones. I’m working at the summer program at my school (everybody masked all the time; the kids are champs and they’re doing amazingly well, but if you have a student returning to in-person school in the fall I recommend a low-stakes practice day wearing their mask at home, because the kids who practiced seem to find it easier and more comfortable). Anyway, all that to say that my average day involves building forts out of sappy pine branches, digging in the garden, painting, bedazzling, running through sprinklers, kicking a muddy soccer ball, disinfecting disinfecting disinfecting, and hanging out in a field, so it helps if my bottoms hide stains.

But I can promise this pattern is up to all that, including our multiple high-nineties days.

All the breeze can fit in the legs…

Without sacrificing ideal ground-sitability!

And just between you and me, the woven scrap I used for the crotch finish of this Nettie, is this rayon! SECRET SIT-SPACE SYNERGY!

Stay well, fight the power, see you soon!

Pattern: Vogue 9075

Pattern cost: $6? $8? In that family?

Size: most likely 16 or 18 (the past is another country)

Supplies: 3 yards printed rayon, probably around $30

Total time: unknown

Total cost: call it $40