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

Syd and Ruth

Once again I picked a sewing project by seeing a shirt on my TV and thinking “COME LIVE IN MY HOUSE”. In this case my jumping off point was the orange blouse worn by the character Syd in the season 2 pilot of Legion, a show that – it’s real weird. I like it, though! Syd in particular is a refreshing take on the trope ‘the girl who can’t be touched’. It’s the job of everyone else in the story not to touch her, and she doesn’t apologize for it. What’s not to like? : )

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The show’s costumes are often wonderful and inspiring (Oliver! Tracksuits! Lenny!) but I’m a classic sucker for a camp collar. Ruth isn’t a complete ringer but it was close enough to get the ball rolling.

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First things first: my shirt’s not orange. It’s not easy to find the perfect tangerine, especially as oranges in fabric stores lately seem to be skewing red (just me?). Also, this pattern has cut-on sleeves, not set-in sleeves, but I feel like that change (as well as pockets) is pretty easily added to another draft. You can’t see the bottom of Syd’s shirt, and I couldn’t find a still that showed it clearly, but hers fastens with a big bow over her left hip – totally achievable to add and sew, but I liked the skinny little tie and kept it! Bad copycat!

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The only visible change I made to the pattern was hemming the top with what’s essentially a waistband, a long rectangle folded over itself. The official Seamwork blouse variation calls for a peplum but I scorned their pepluminations. My band features a single button. It’s doing most of the work of keeping the layers aligned.

But the real MVP is the safety pin tucked under the collar lapel at the center front!

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Do you see that deep cavernous shadow where the shirt fronts overlap? You can tell it’s buckling like crazy. It’s at least 1.5” too long, probably more like 2.5”. I’ve avoided true wraps because of this ongoing problem, but reading bra blogs helped me pinpoint the issue. I have an extremely wide-set bust (I can lay four fingers flat on my chest before touching the nearby topography), so any shirt that has added length for travelling across a bumpier landscape is taking an unnecessary detour, let’s say. I don’t need any extra length to cover what’s essentially a flat surface. (Fun fact: it took us two tries to get these photos, because the first time we tried the ambient light was bouncing off the cloud cover and my sternum like a couple of professional-quality reflectors and blowing out all the photos.) Actually, and I shudder to admit this, the front length might need to be shorter than the back length because of my poor posture and habit of hunching my shoulders.

Did you just throw your shoulders back while reading that? I know I did while writing it!

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The back is blousy even though it’s darted, which I like! Short ‘n’ wide is the name of my shirt game. It tends to ride up on the sides though. This is definitely a shirt I futz with while wearing, but it’s possible a set-in sleeve would mitigate its tendency to creep up when I talk with my arms.

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I added a back facing because I guess duh, but also because I experienced full yawning incomprehension when reading the collar directions. I still don’t know what they were asking me to do, but surely a facing is easier?

Fun fact number 2: one of the first garments I sewed was a dress, and I was scared of sewing my first zipper. Surprisingly the zipper went in easily while instead the facing completely kicked my butt. It was years later when I realized I had traced the facing for a different neckline view than the one I used for the dress.

If you ignore the baffling mirepoix that was the collar installation section of the directions, it’s also really straightforward to French seam everything. So I did, yay!

I’m not usually a dress person, but I would consider sewing the Ruth dress as written. It went together nicely and despite my fit woes I like the shape. Even better, I’d sew this again as my tangerine dream, pop on some black gloves and call myself Syd.

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Arriverderci!

 

Pattern: Seamwork Ruth

Pattern cost: $0.50

Size: 8

Supplies: 3 meters of block print cotton, Etsy, $28.47; thread from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $28.97