Stitch Twice

Recently, a woman biked past my house wearing a pink shirt and warm brown pants. I thought “I like that! Why don’t I have an outfit like that?” and so now I do*.

This is my second pair of Papoa pants in as many months and they helped me cement my new philosophy: sew everything twice. At least! I’m not going to throw good fabric after bad if a pattern/finished garment just doesn’t work for me, but I like sewing repeats and I want to prioritize that. It goes so quickly and smoothly the second time; my first pair of Papaos (including an hour and a half of pattern assembly) took me 7 ½ hours, while this second pair only took me 5 ¼. I shaved 45 minutes off my sewing time, mostly through knowing better when to finish seams. This includes the hidden tie end, which I remembered to finish BEFORE sewing it into the crotch seam, a pleasant change.

The flip side is that I’ve been feeling a bit boring lately. I’M not bored by my clothes, but I might be, I don’t know, measurably boring? So I’d also like to take more risks, for a given value of ‘risks’. Brace yourself: my back pocket – are you sitting down? – uses – do you have a heart condition? – the wrong side of the fabric. TA-DAAA.

Okay, so I’m inching past “tiny, basically unnoticeable risk” like a little inchworm. But someday I’ll wear pants on my arms with an Elizabethan ruff and one big sock and this will have been the gateway decision. Well. Maybe. 

If you take only one piece of advice from me (and who wouldn’t after that fashion prediction), let it be this: sew the butt twice. I sew the seat seam with each leg side up once. You can put these lines of stitching side-by-side or on top of each other. I don’t care. Secure your butt and thank me later!

This was especially important for this fabric, because the stitches tended to float on top, rather than sink in. It’s Kaufman fineline twill in Walnut (not the color of a walnut; I’d call it ‘old honey’ or ‘new penny’ or ‘timely chestnut’ or ‘I want that job where you get to name paint swatches’, which I felt very qualified for until my mother saw these and asked “Don’t you already have pants in that color?”. I hadn’t noticed. Last time I called it russet). Even though I used a fresh 80/12 needle and my machine purrs over heavier denims and twills, I could feel it working to punch through. I guess it’s a tighter weave – it felt, basically, like it had greater surface tension. It pressed like a sonuvagun though. Dang, I love cotton.

I made no real changes, except grading the waist facing to match my hip grading, which I forgot to do on my first pair. I also made the back patch and the tie openings a bit larger. I had hoped it would reduce wrinkling in the tie. It didn’t, but that hasn’t stopped me wearing these as often as possible!

I love this pattern, I love that there’s no interfacing or pocketing or zippers or buttons needed, I love that it was a one-bobbin project when I was low on coordinating thread, and I love my new discovery – that 3 yards of 45” wide fabric are enough yardage for my size! Hooray! I limited my fabric search the first time around to 54” wide fabric, but now the world is my (45” wide) oyster.

*Because you are as wise as an owl and as clear-eyed as a hawk, you’ve probably noticed that my shirt is, er, not actually pink. But because you are as discreet as a Bourke’s parakeet (known for your quiet and gentle nature) you were not going to point it out. Thank you. Anyway, what happened is, I ordered two rayon knits together – a pink one and this grid – and once they arrived I discovered ONCE AGAIN I had managed to online order a fabric the exact saturation and value of my skin tone. I don’t want to look like I’m wearing a Lia suit, so the pink fabric has been rehomed, and this is my spiritually pink shirt.

It’s made from luxuriously heavy bamboo rayon, which for some reason always feels a little damp. I am uneasily conscious that the reason might be: it’s damp? I try not to over-dry my clothes, but there’s such a thing as too much moderation. The pattern is the free Stellan tee, which I keep making because I find it perfect, this time with a scooped neckline – 1” wider at the neck (so 2” wider total) and 3” deeper. It’s a good start, but too conservative. Next time, more.  

More scooping. More crotch reinforcements. More repeat patterns. More, more, more!

We took these pictures on a wonderful cool evening between scattered thunderstorms. Thematically, I finished this blog post while listening to Rain; I just discovered Mika has an orchestral album and I am SOLD.  More orchestras!!

Wishing you more safety, health, and justice too. And more pants, if that’s your bag!

Pattern: RTS Papao pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 43 waist, 45 hips

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 4.9 oz. Fineline twill in Walnut; $34.44, fabric.com; thread from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $34.44

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M, with 1″ wider neck, 3″ deeper front

Supplies: 1 yard of Telio Bamboo Rayon Jersey in Grid Print, fabric.com, $16.09; thread, Tags, $3.28

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $19.37

Papao pants

Or according Professor Boyfriend, “Pa-POW!” pants. This is a rare picture of me standing regular in these, because they make me feel very FaSHuN like I should make angles with my body.

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A good feeling! These are the new Ready to Sew Papao pants, part of a collection of three patterns. The trio was released with eerie prescience, because they all look super comfortable and none of them require notions beyond thread. I might just surrender and buy the Patsy overalls, too. The patterns all call for natural, stable, lightweight fabrics, so it’s basically a tiger trap with my favorite sewing fibers on top and Paypal at the bottom.

Anyhoozle, big surprise, I love them.

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I had a little trouble sourcing an ideal fabric. The samples are sewn from 30€/meter hemp fabric and the designer’s self-dyed cotton bedsheet, respectively, both of which are inaccessible to me for different reasons. As those weren’t options, I wanted cotton twill. I had trouble scrounging up non-stretch non-polyester fine line twill (fan favorite Ventana twill is about 2 oz./70 g heavier than recommended), but I ended up finding it at Fashion Fabrics Club, a.k.a. Denver Fabrics.

Whether that name makes you shudder or cheer seems entirely up to chance. It’s a true gamble (try searching either business name + reviews, and strap in), but this Ash Brown Fine Line twill was as promised. The second fabric I ordered (cotton denim) was very much neither cotton nor a denim, but their return policy is deliberately obstructive, so I’ll bring it to the next Artisan Asylum’s swap and just tell myself I paid more per yard for this fabric which I DO like. Caveat very emptor, my shopping experiment is complete, I won’t order from them again.

I do love this color, it’s such a neutral team player, though when I make a second pair I want it to be bright pickle green. Send up the Bat-signal if you know of a fabric like that!! Pattern prep and sewing both went pretty smoothly. I obviously chose the view with the front pocket.

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Wide though not deep, a true pocket-of-all-trades! I graded from 43 at the waist to 45 at the hip (my measurements: 31” waist, 43” hips). I forgot to grade the facing pieces accordingly and cut them in a straight size 43, so the bottom edge is unfortunately a tiny bit short, and I have some puckers in the pants fabric here and there. Honestly the grading was unnecessary; if you’re just a few sizes apart, choose whichever size is larger. If your hips are larger, you could cinch the waist more, and if your waist is larger, terrific, the pants are meant to be loose through the hips anyway. And there’s generous crotch clearance!

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I have mega drag lines and I fully do not care. It’s a relaxed, body-friendly design, and a little extra fabric is all good.

This was one of those fun puzzle-patterns where I wasn’t totally sure how things would turn out, so I mostly followed the directions with a couple trivial changes.

1. I topstitched the ties.

2. There’s a ‘belt loop’ (more of a belt patch) on the center back. You’re supposed to sew two pieces right-sides together and then turn them right-side out to make a self-lined rectangle, but I think my corners look a little mushy when I do that. So I sewed the long edges of a tube right-sides-together, turned, tucked in the short edges, and topstitched. (Side note: that belt loop/patch is extremely helpful for identifying where to put my legs! Trickier than you might think!).

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3. If you follow the directions, you end up with the short serged edge of the inner tie poking out of the front of the pants. It’s hidden inside the wrap, but I knew it would bother me, even when I couldn’t see it. Next time I’d turn the ends in, like I did for the belt loop. This time I had already topstitched and serged, so I tucked a little patch in between the front crotch seams, over the tie. Its finished size, after I turned in one long and one short edge, is about 1” wide by 2” tall; the seam allowance inside the pants is serged. I topstitched it in place to hide the serged end of the tie. And now I share my crotch secret with you.

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Is it really for motivated beginners, as the old song says? I’m not sure. It’s easy to fit and it uses friendly fabrics, but by the end I was manipulating a lot of fabric in the machine. But they also come together pretty quickly. And there are moments that delighted me, like flipping the facing over and finding the little strap openings really lined up! So something for everybody, I hope.

And I am deeply motivated to wear them! I actually like getting dressed (look at the rule-follower thriving on structure, bless), especially when my daywear is as comfortable as loungewear, and these pants are that comfortable. And I’m happy to recommend a pattern that accommodates waist sizes from 24” to 49” and hips from 35” to 60”. And I do mean accommodate; due to the wrap closure you can adjust this to be comfortable throughout the day (and I assume over the course of many days, but I made them, like, a week ago, so we’ll see).  

Now POSE!

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See you later, be excellent to each other!

Pattern: RTS Papao pants

Pattern cost: $11.37

Size: 43 waist, 45 hips

Supplies: 3 yards of Ash Brown Fine Line twill, $34.05, FFC; thread from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $45.42

Pete and Repeat

Or, Perkins and Reperkins. I binge sewed the Ensemble Patterns Perkins shirt this past summer and I’m finally catching up here! I sew a lot of pattern repeats, but this shirt showcased one of the wider varieties of fabrics I’ve used to sew one pattern, and I hoped it might be interesting to compare the finished projects. My first post showed the cropped, gathered view in breezy semi-sheer polyester. Here’s that same view in lightweight but opaque 100% cotton.

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Okay, you caught me – this is 10% a thoughtful comparison of one pattern in many fabrics and 90% me saying LOOK AT THAT PRINT!! Like my first Perkins, I sewed this in a fabric I bought from TMOS. I am KICKING myself that I didn’t buy more. I bought 1.5 meters for the princely sum of $5.47 and if I could ever find it again (impossible, at a guess) I would buy 3 or 4 meters more.  

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That’s some aggressive fruit! ❤ Fear meee!

I actually got this Perkins from the leftovers of my 1.5 meters after making a tee, so when using stable fabrics where print direction doesn’t matter, I think you can really cut the pattern pieces any which way and be successful. The only pieces that aren’t backed or lined in some way are the shirt front and back – the plackets, collar and collar stand, yoke, pocket, and sleeves all have added support/structure.

The pocket placement might seem too low on the cropped view. Hold fast. It’s not too low. It’s just right. I doubted and was justly smote (by having to unpick and re-sew the pocket where the markings indicate; I’ve been smote-er).

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I used cotton lawn to line the sleeves of this and the next Perkins, and I used the lawn instead of interfacing as well. I’m of two minds about this. On the ‘pro’ side, I was able to cut the cotton lawn very efficiently with nothing leftover for my scrap box. Also, it’s never going to get that wrinkly surface that interfaced pieces sometimes develop after going through the wash a few times. On the ‘con’ side, unless you baste it to your pattern pieces (I didn’t), it’s a pain in a neck to actually sew. The solution (baste it!! Obviously, baste it!) didn’t occur to me at the time. I also managed to stack my collar pieces wrong, which is how my lawn ‘interfacing’ ended up as my undercollar –

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Who knows what terrifying carnivorous fruits lurk within these collar pieces?

The stiffer cotton adds volume, but because it also weighs a little more, it floats away from my body less. So the silhouette is similar to my polyester Perkins, but the movement is quite different. Sisters-not-twins. So this one is their brother, maybe!

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This is a different view – regular length, no gathers. The sleeves and collar are the same for all views (well, there’s a tied-in-the-back collar option, but it’s very very not for me).

The first time I posted a Perkins shirt review I was so buzzed on my finished shirt that I forgot to talk about the instruction booklet. I puzzled it out and I love my shirts, but the instructions are confusing. The first two pages of sewing instruction show steps 01, 02, 01, 02, 03, 01, 02, 01, 01, in that order. Each sewing stage restarts the numbering and the views are jumbled together. Again, after sewing two views, I’m happy as can be with the drafting and my finished shirts, but the instructions share certain qualities with a funhouse mirror.

That said, this was my third time sewing a Perkins shirt in a span of weeks, so the actual construction held no mysteries for me. But the fabric was another story!

I used cotton twill for the outer pieces and it came out of the washer and dryer so, so off grain. This would be less than ideal even if it wasn’t marked with a grid that would make any error on my part super duper obvious. I cut everything on a single layer, skewing my pattern pieces to match the skewed grid. Then, after cutting, I pulled the cut fabric back on grain. I had to pull hard! This is so counter to the usual way to treat cut fabric! It felt wrong, like throwing away a book or eating a sandwich in a bathroom.

Luckily it worked! I didn’t start with a ton of faith in the process, so I cut the yoke and the pocket on the cross-grain instead of trying to pattern match.

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I also decided this shirt would button left-over-right, instead of the intended right-over-left, because I liked the shirt front better without the off-center vertical red line visible on the placket.

I French-seamed the side seams on both these shirts, by the way. I needed to use cotton lawn to line my fruit shirt because I didn’t have enough main fabric, and I chose to use it for my plaid shirt because it was lighter and cheaper than my main fabric. And it reduces bulk in the underarm seam.

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Once again I’ve taken a winding road to a similar Perkins silhouette – the body of the regular view is a lot less full, but this twill holds much more structure! Well, why fight it, I guess?

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The plaid one is my favorite so far, but that might be because it’s the warmest one. I haven’t tried a fabric that didn’t work as a Perkins shirt – I don’t have plans to add a fourth to my wardrobe right now, but you never know, I might find a fabric I can’t resist and have a totally new favorite come spring!

Pattern: Perkins shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8

Supplies: leftovers from cotton Hemlock tee, TMOS; 2/3 yard of black cotton lawn, Gather Here, $5.90; 6 buttons, Gather Here, $2.00

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $7.90

Pattern: Perkins shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8

Supplies: 1.5 yards of Classic Plaid Twill in Hunter and Black with Red by Sevenberry, 2/3 yard of navy cotton lawn, Gather Here, $28.78; 8 buttons, Gather Here, $4.00

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $32.78

High & Wide

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Jellyfish stew,

I’m loony for you,

I dearly adore you,

Oh, truly I do!

Did you know Jack Prelutsky wrote those words about high-waisted cropped wide-leg trousers? Okay, fine, he didn’t. But he should have! And he did! No, he didn’t. HOWEVER. My heart sings for the Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants! You should go download them right away, because they’re a) terrific and b) freeeeeeeee!

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Folks are buzzing about this silhouette, and a free pattern is a relatively low-stakes way to try it out. Mine are a little wider and a little longer than the pants on the pattern model, because after my recent Case of the Small Pants (the butler did it! Well technically, the butt did), I wasn’t taking any chances. And GUYS. The PROPORTIONS. I’m so HAPPY. I started with a size F for a 43” hip, knowing it would require fit adjustments, and it did – though none of them were actually difficult to implement! Follow meeee…

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I removed ½” from the top of each outseam, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the pocket, and increased the back dart intake by ½” each, for a total reduction of 3” in the waist. The pocket openings were not a huge fan of this somewhat extreme after-the-fact grading, but I really liked the width in the leg and didn’t want to size down overall, so I changed the paper pattern as below.

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I’m hopeful this will work for future versions! I also laughed in the face of new fly directions (again, I learned caution from my recent pants failure, I am wise now) and substituted those from the Ginger jeans pattern. This pattern has fly extensions cut separately, but after attaching them I did everything but the topstitching as per Closet Case. I liked the minimal topstitching the Peppermint pattern directed. That fly is WIDE, by the way!

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You can see the bottom edge of the pockets here – the pocket bag is 1 piece main fabric and 1 piece lining and it’s a bit bulky but honestly, I’m not mad, it sewed up so quickly and the pockets are nice and generous.

I bought a sandwich baggie of mismatched vintage leather buttons at a flea market several years ago and I finally got to use one for the waist closure! It’s been through the washer and dryer a handful of times and it’s doing great.

About the waistband. I hacked my 3” adjustment off of it a little too merrily and it ended up far too short in some places (the right front, i.e., the underlap) and too long in others (the left front/overlap). Probably installing the zipper differently contributed, too. Overall the waistband still fit, though, so I just sewed it on with the seams misaligned all higgledy-piggledy!

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Fabric buying note: I didn’t use the full 3 yards of 45” wide fabric requirement. I have about 29” inches of uncut yardage (as in, selvage-to-selvage, not a bit missing) left over. I ordered this Ventana twill from Imagine Gnats using a #sewfancypants discount code, woop woop. 🙂 I was totally smitten by this color and so postponed making these in corduroy, but I want to circle back to that idea at some point.

By the way, we took these pictures on a very warm winter’s day! Can you believe this is February in Boston? O_O Ignoring for the moment the primal terror of this sentence, I wore these pants on this 64° day last week and a 20° day the week before, and they were easy to style for both weather conditions.

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This is an official statement of RECOMMEND! Stay wide, amigos!

 

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments

Supplies: 3 yards of Ventana Twill 8 oz. in Old Blue, $36.58, Imagine Gnats; $1.91, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $38.49