Perse-phony

First, a plug: if you’re shopping for fabric or yarn, and you don’t have a local fabric store, may I recommend mine?

And now, a post! Pants!!

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What, pants AGAIN? So soon? Yes – not to be A Bummer, but my school is closed for obvious reasons, so I have some extra time. And, I find pants are substantial/engrossing enough that sewing them is a mental and emotional booster. So yeah – more pants!

Actually, while I’m proud of these pants, I feel a little weird about sharing them. Because here’s the thing: they don’t have side seams, but they’re not Persephones. Despite the fact that everybody looks like a vixen in that pattern, I don’t own it. Every time I thought about buying it, I hesitated, because I wanted to figure it out all by myself.

I also want to respect intellectual property and the hard work of a small business owner. I know an individual can’t ‘own’ a side seam (or lack thereof) but in my corner of the sewing world it’s impossible to separate this look from Anna Allen’s pattern. I decided once my experiment was done, if I found anything lacking in my draft that a simple tweak couldn’t fix, I would buy the pattern and learn from it. And if I was satisfied with my version I would obviously still credit her design! Introducing: my Perse-phonies!

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Thank you, Anna Allen, for an amazing design! I had a ton of fun trying to recreate it, and hopefully this will be accepted as a loving homage to a red-hot pants pattern. YMMV, but here’s how I got there.

My hypothesis: since seams are essentially darts, I could change the angles of the front and back crotch seams to have larger intakes, and remove the side seam entirely. I started out with two patterns I’ve sewn a number of times – the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, and the Peppermint Magazine wide-leg pants. I worked with my copies of the patterns, both of which had already been graded and adjusted for my shape. I used the Fern shorts from the crotch up, and the Peppermint wide-legs for the in- and outseams. Also, I removed the Fern pockets and all seam allowances for this experiment.

On the Fern short front, I removed the width of the front dart and the difference between the side seam and a straight line from the front crotch, changing the angle to meet the new center front. I did the same thing for the back piece, but I kept the dart. Then I butted the pieces together, and traced off the inseam and outseam from the Peppermint pants by overlaying the patterns at the crotch point. Finally I smoothed the waistline, added back the seam allowances, and I had a pattern piece! This lengthened the front crotch, but that’s fine, as it would hopefully have a similar effect as my usual full stomach adjustment (it’s not quite that dramatically slanted in real life, but I wanted the modification to be clear in a small diagram).

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I sewed a pair of shorts as a wearable muslin, and actually it went great! I just had to widen and lengthen the darts by ½” total, and scoop out the bum seam a little. Meanwhile, the front was surprisingly perfect! :O Or, well, with one exception – I used the button fly directions from my Morgan jeans pattern, but I was a bit cavalier about buttonhole placement and they are SO DEEP under the fly overlap, I have to mount a spelunking expedition to button myself in and out. I sewed the shorts from some leftover scraps of Cone Mills denim and you will definitely see them some sunny day (if I can find the buttonholes again).

Since I didn’t add pockets, these came together shockingly fast. I can see why people make multiple pairs. They’re like the chocolate chip cookies of pants.

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I didn’t necessarily need another pair of black pants right now, but it’s the fabric I had on hand at a time when that’s an even more valuable consideration than usual, and it was always destined to be pants someday! The fabric wasn’t perfect for this experiment because it has a small amount of stretch, but I interfaced both sides of the waistband and all the crotch facings/shields. It’s sturdy. It’s practically armor (what sublimated feelings?)! It’s no longer available at Threadbear Fabrics, but it’s a true black USA-made denim with scanty stretch and the magical ability to pick up all the white fluff in my house. And I think it worked!

They’re a little loose, but I might sew them again in a non-stretch denim or canvas and then reevaluate. Luckily this shape is easy to adjust – I’d just remove a skinny column from the center of my leg pattern piece (probably about 1/4”). The big surprise was how LONG these were! I must have used my adjusted Peppermint pants piece (the one where I added 4” inches to the length), because these pants have a 2 1/8” double-fold hem and they’re not that cropped! I described them to my sister as “just cropped enough that you wonder if it was on purpose” and I stand by that! I could have trimmed, but nice deep hems are luxurious.

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The fit around the front crotch is a-ok, but I did make the front button placket (do you call it a placket on a crotch?) ridiculously long. I can get in and out of these pants by undoing the waistband and three underlap buttons, even though I sewed four, and I have a vestigial fifth buttonhole way down deep. I thought about tacking the overlap down in a couple places, but since these have broken in a little the overlap doesn’t want to pop open as badly as it used to (this is popped with encouragement).

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Speaking of broken in, I’ve worn these like 4 times in the last 10 days. What, nobody’s gonna see!

If you have some bottomweight yardage, interfacing, and a handful of buttons, these are a great q sew (Prof. BF and I calling this time ‘the q’, which I know sounds flip but for some reason we find it comforting)! These are things I usually have on hand, as opposed to pocketing and zippers – I’m always out of zippers – and I’ll definitely repeat this project. Maybe even this q. >_> We’ll see. 

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How do you feel about recreating patterns? Obviously most people would agree it’s different when copying a corporation versus an individual, but what about design? Do you feel differently if it’s complex or simple? Specific or universal? What if the business serves an underserved or underrepresented community? And what if a pattern is only available as a PDF and your access to printing is limited by a global pandemic (for example)?

I don’t have clear feelings about these questions myself. Well, I do have one clear feeling – a wish for you, your families, and your communities to be safe and well.

Pattern: Uhh…?

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 10 at waist, 14 at hip (sizes synthesized from a mélange of patterns)

Supplies: 1.6 yards stretch denim in True Black, $24.40, Threadbare Fabrics; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $24.40

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

Thfreepeats

Not just repeats, but freepeats. Three free repeats. Thfreepeats!!! That is, uh, a misty word to try and say aloud.

Hey, guess what? My blog is one year old today. 🙂 Speaking of threes, is this a good time to mention I have a posting schedule? 3x a month, on days ending in 6. I didn’t want to announce it anywhere until I was sure I could sustain it*! Anyway, in the 35 posts that I’ve shared so far, some pattern repeats have already appeared – and here’s two more.

*’I’ is a strong word for an endeavor in which every photo not of my boyfriend is by my boyfriend. ‘We’, this is a ‘we’ project.

First is the Stellan tee, a free pattern from French Navy. The first time I sewed this in a slinky-ish rayon knit, but these new two are in a sturdy organic cotton knit that the Stoff & Stil website strongly implied was for  babies, but don’t I deserve nice things as much as a baby?! I’m not sure they ship to America, but my German-citizen-sister does. Thanks sis. ❤ My particular fabrics are out of stock, but their printed jersey selection is darn cool and the quality is super…BEEFY. Seriously, is there a funnier fabric word than beefy?  

First up, beefy tigers. The tigers are toddler-approved. Since this is printed jersey, the wrong side shows on the cuffs, but I quite like the contrast. I always wear the sleeves rolled, but this is how the shirt looks uncuffed/untucked.

Secondly, beefy bananas! This is a talk-to-me shirt. Strangers tend to talk to me anyway (they do not find me intimidating for some reason?), but a banana shirt causes an epidemic of chit-chat – all friendly! I sewed these two tees back-to-back and made the same changes to both. I lengthened the neckband about 4”, sewing it in flat after one shoulder seam was sewn, and then trimming the excess. Also, um – I followed the directions. Just for the hem! Last time I could not get it to turn neatly. This time I actually sewed the foldline as instructed, and surprise…it folded! I continue to skip the neckline binding, though. I yam what I yam.

Professor Boyfriend says I can’t wear the banana shirt with these pants because “One is French vanilla and the other is vanilla bean!” but what does he know?

This cotton jersey presses well, stays cuffed, has good recovery and is easy to sew. However, those same properties mean that the neckbands could use an ironing now and then. WELL, THEY WON’T GET IT. I’m not going to iron a tee-shirt. Nevaaaarrrr!  

But look at my happy banana accident! It continues across the wrinkly neckband! Complete coincidence, the banana gods must be smiling.

For the tiger tee, I sewed the side seams and then the hems; for the banana tee, I sewed the hems and then the side seams. I think I slightly prefer the banana treatment for ease of sewing.

From here on out, please ignore my straps – since these photos were taken in a public area I needed a layer beneath the tees so I could change in the middle, and since I was getting weird show-through from the double layer of hems, I decided to photograph the pants with just my slightly ratty RTW cami.

So let’s talk about pants, bay-bee! These are the Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants, and I love them, as I loved them the first time I made them. I still haven’t solved my main fit issue though, i.e., the front pockets. I’m pretty sure I need a protruding stomach adjustment. The overall width is okay (you can tell because the side seam is hanging straight) but the front waistline dips a little instead of sitting level. I’m happy to make another pair though, and trial that adjustment! They fly together and I feel very happy and comfortable in them.

The fabric I used is something mysterious from TMOS. It’s quite heavy. It almost feels like indoor/outdoor fabric but it’s not waterproof and it burns like natural fiber. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s coated, though. The pocket linings are a scrap of shirting cotton, and the leather button is from my flea-market stash. I have a healthy chunk of this mystery fabric left but I don’t have a plan for it! Any thoughts?

I only made one change to this pattern, which was to grow-on the fly extensions. However, I forgot to extend the pocket bags to match! See those short lines of stitching to the farthest left and right? Those are keeping the edges of the pocket bags in place. Luckily they’re not visible when the pants are zipped. Also, I only changed thread color once (I like tonal topstitching) and it was to match the zipper tape – at the time I readily acknowledge it was a pain in the neck to rethread for, like, two 6” lines of stitching, but now I think it was worth it. Mm. Tonal.  

I quite like these patterns and garments as a benchmark, actually – a year ago I never would have worn wide cropped pants or exuberantly printed tees, and yet I have not travelled so far that I don’t appreciate a $0 pattern price tag.   

Also, my basket-weave button matches my basket-weave shoes. Ladies, gentlemen, and others, I feel I have ARRIVED.

See you on a six-day!

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M

Supplies: 1 meter of organic cotton (tigers), $17.30, Stoff & Stil; thread, $1.91, Michaels/1 meter of organic cotton (bananas), $17.30, Stoff & Stil

Total time: 2.5 hours/2 hours

Total cost: $19.21/$17.30

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments

Supplies: 2.5 meters of heavy linen/cotton canvas (?), $15.19, TMOS; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread, Michael’s, $1.79

Total time: 4.75 hours

Total cost: $18.38

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