Saturday, April 30, 2011

Help me choose!

As you've probably noticed, I have embarked on the pants fit quest. Leslie pointed me in the direction of a local fitter who will prepare a pants pattern and fit it to you. Wow! Since my mom and sister are coming into town next week, we decided to make a day of it and head down to Austin for slopers all around. This is going to be so fun!!
Here is my dilemma - what pants pattern to use? I want to use this as a base TNT to alter other styles. Here are the ones I'm thinking of.
This is a super basic, slim cut pant pattern. I can't see myself making it as is, but I think the slim cut would allow for a more precise fit.
This one has slightly wider legs and a looser fit all around, but it has a slightly higher waist with double darts both front and back. I love the way the back double darts fit in the vintage McCalls pant I just made and this would be an opportunity to figure out the optimal front dart placement for my figure.
Slightly lower waist and wider leg, with single darts front and back. This one I would make up as is - I just love the shape of the leg - but I'm not sure it would be ideal as a fit garment, since it doesn't have a close fit at all.
No, the irony of selecting an Amazing Fit pattern for this is not lost on me. I love a contour waistband, and it would be useful to have a TNT waistband as well, but is it worth the added complexity? I'm not sure.
Of course, I could also trace off any one of the many fabulous burda magazine pants as well, or would it be more useful to fit a jeans pattern, since they are so closely fitted? What would you choose, if you could only choose one?

ETA: Myrna (who has saved me twice now!) reminded me that Vogue offers a pants fitting shell for just this purpose!
Lucky me that Vogues are on sale at Hancock today and hubby came home early from work so I could go get it without my helpers. The best part - 2 back darts! Perfect!! I admit that the Amazing Fit pant is still tempting, since I'd really like to see how she fits the contour waistband on me. I'll have to contemplate this one further...

Friday, April 29, 2011

1974 McCalls 3668

More pants!
This is McCalls 3668, published in 1974, worn with a top I refashioned from a housedress of my grandmother's. It's from the same era.
Here is the pattern envelope. I love the note on the side "A Carefree Pattern". They are a very simple pair of pants. Straight legs, no pockets, topstitching or even fly. The zipper is in the side seam and the waist is faced with petersham. The shaping is with darts - one pair in front and 2 in back. The waist sits at my natural waist, which is high.
From the front, I'm not in love with the way the darts make my belly appear. I admit that it is not as flat as once it was, but I don't think these are doing me any favors. I'm generally not a fan of front darts, and these are just confirming that impression.
From the side, I'm happy with the way they hang. I used an invisible zipper, and I'm pleased with how it came out. I have had trouble with ripply side zips in the past, but this one lies nicely. I was amused with the pattern instructions for the zip. They said, "Insert zipper in side seam per package instructions." No hand holding there!
From the back, the double darts give it a very nice shape here. I didn't even have to take in the center back seam as I so often do. The crotch curve adjustment copied from my last pair of pants seems to have worked as the diagonal wrinkles are gone. I could probably use a smidge more ease in the seat, but they are pretty good.
Here is the waistline, which I mentioned above was faced with petersham. I've never done this before and so I just followed the pattern instructions. I applied it to the right side by edgestitching it along the seam line and then turning it under, steaming it into shape and topstitching it down. It is very comfortable - the petersham has some give, but not too much - and fairly easy to do.
Overall,  think these will be a nice addition to my wardrobe. Sewing pants always makes me want new tops though, so I have the Jalie Scarf collar top in the works and a Burda that I got at the last pattern sale cut out. I'm also determined to squeeze in that frog print maxi dress. And another pair of bellbottoms... and some white trouser jeans... and a couple of skirts for the Simplicity SAL on Facebook... and... and...
Do you ever feel like there is more sewing you want to do than hours in the day??

Before I close, I must send a shout out to my sewing group! We meet every Thursday evening and it is SO FUN! Right now we are copying out favorite RTW modesty tee shirts. Today as we stitched up side seams and started to have actual tee shirts, we all got pretty excited. There was jumping and possibly squealing and Rebecca exclaimed, "Who needs to go drinking? We can just get together and sew!" And so, my dear readers, go get your sew on!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BWOF 04/2009-118 pants!

Thanks to all the fit help that I got from all of you, my best fitting pair of pants ever is finished!
I'm wearing them here with New Look 6816. I thought the Pucci-inspired print was a nice nod to the 70s and went with the bell bottom shape. I hemmed them extra long so that my toes just peep out in heels.
The pattern is BWOF 04/2009-118. It's been reviewed favorably on PR and I can see why. It is a very flattering shape and the waist comes high enough to cover my post-baby fluff, but not so high that they feel like "mom jeans". Alterations I made were to deepen the crotch curve. Back alterations are detailed here. In front I copied the curve from the Jalie 2908 pattern, as I get a good fit in front with them. I also had to take 2 inches off of the length, and I hemmed them for a 4 1/2 inch heel. Now, I am 5' 6" with most of my height in my legs. Flat footed, I have a 32 inch inseam. These suckers are LONG! I also lined them, which this version does not call for. As for the pattern instructions, I didn't use them at all as they are in French in my copy of the magazine. I'm pretty proud of myself for making lined pants without instructions, although I did refer to the Jalie pattern for the fly.
My facings are quilting cotton and I used a vintage button from the stash. It seemed appropriate, but I'm not sure it is going to be belt friendly. We'll see. The fabric for the shell is from a mystery bundle from FabricMart. I didn't burn test it, but it behaves like wool with a bit of poly. It didn't shrink or felt in the wash, but it sewed and pressed like wool. It also feels and smells like wool and is a bit water repellent. It shaped really well with steam. It was a pleasure to sew.
Here is the lining. It is a grey mystery fabric from the stash. It is actually nice and silky. I have about 4 yards left, so I think I may make a top to go with the pants. I saw a grey and yellow ensemble at the Banana Republic Fall 2011 show that I really liked, so I think a grey top would be fun with these pants. In the pictures they are reading as khaki, but they are closer to yellow.
And the fit? Worlds better than unaltered but not perfect. Still, I'm happy. I actually think the asymmetry that you see here is a sewing error. I had a bit of a mismatch in the side seam that I didn't correct and I wonder if that is what is making those ripples on the right. The left side is perfect!
Here is the left side seam. Nice and straight! You can see the shape of the pant better here as well. The flare is pretty pronounced. I really like it.
So, I think I may have a new TNT! As of my writing this, I've been wearing these for several hours and they are very comfortable. The lining makes them feel very luxurious. I'm glad I listened to Mitch on that one! I have another pair of pants from a 70s pattern cut out, and I've copied this crotch curve to them, so we'll see how that goes. They are much higher waisted, so it'll be interesting to see how that changes the equation. So, have you started your Bellbottoms yet?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter dress and pants fit update

I wore my dress today! You remember, the one I wasn't sure I liked.
And I love it!! The brown accents are fun and I love the length. It feels kicky and fun. The fit isn't bad, but I think I'm just getting more picky about fit. I'd have been thrilled to find anything that fit this well off the rack, so I'm pleased. That said, I think I'm going to need to start looking closer at the fit in my shoulders. I think I may need to start making a broad back adjustment as a standard change for me. I didn't in this dress and it pulls a bit when I cross my arms in front of my chest.

What about those pants I'm working on? I want to thank everyone for the comments, emails and links you all sent me. I love the support from the sewing community! You are all awesome!! Myrna, who has a similar figure to mine, reminded me of a similar journey that she made while fitting pants. Her posts here, here and here, were so helpful! I'm linking them for your benefit, but also so that I can find them again. The old memory just ain't what it used to be...
So, my next step will be to get a flexible curve to measure my own crotch curve more closely, but I did do some tweaking of the current pants to see what I could do just by deepening the crotch curve.
What do y'all think? I'm pretty happy with how well they fall now. It isn't perfect, but I'm calling it good enough.
Here is the altered pattern piece. The original seamline is in blue with my altered seamline in red. I dropped the crotch curve down nearly an inch and pinched out about 5/8 of an inch from the back waist. You can see how different the shape is from the original curve.
Joy had asked how the alteration affected the side seam, and I am happy to say, it is still nice and straight.

Pants fitting is very interesting. Everything is so interrelated, but not at all intuitive for me. I'm excited to have this pair coming along so nicely. Hopefully, I'll have a completed pair to show you in a couple of days. Every time I tried them on, Mitch asked if I was going to line them, so I finally took the hint and am adding a full lining.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me fine tune these. I so much appreciate all the help! It's so great to have so many educated eyes to scrutinize my work. You all rock!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pants fitting...

Somehow, I find myself in great need of new pants. Since I got my first burda magazine in April of 2009, I've wanted to sew model 118, these cute pants,
but my issue is in french, so that slowed me down a bit. I'm confident enough now in my pant construction skills to give it a go without instructions. What is slowing me down now is fit.
Here they are from the front. The inseams are sewn, but crotch and side seams are just basted so that I can adjust as needed. I think the fit is pretty good actually from this angle.
The side seams are nice and straight, but from here you can see that the back is not falling quite smoothly.
From the rear, I like the fit through the hips and backside, but I have wrinkles in the legs that radiate from hip to knee,
which disappear when I tug the center back up a bit. This does make the crotch just a wee snug, but it fixes the back wrinkles. So, dear friends, here is where you come in. What do you think is going on here? I'm thinking for this pair that I can make them work by shaving off a bit at the back waist, tapering to nothing at the side seams, then deepening the back crotch curve to compensate. What would you do?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ottobre 06/2008-16, the "Tammy" skirt

Thanks to everyone who has weighed in so far about my crazy dress idea. If you haven't scoped out the wild vintage fabric, scroll down to the last post and let me know what you think. So far it looks like I've got some sewing to do...

And what have I been doing otherwise? Well, at my last sewing group, one of the ladies brought some tubs of fabric, patterns and notions that her daughter in law had asked her to get rid of. In among the half sewn dresses, random zippers and shoulder pads was a little green Myra-sized top and quite a lot of coordinating plisse. I adopted the poor forlorn yardage and gave it purpose.
I hemmed it long in the hopes that we'll get 2 summers out of it.
The pattern is from the 06/2008 issue of Ottobre. They call it the Tammy skirt. I call it adorable!! It features a curved front yoke with a center front box pleat and symmetrical knife pleats radiating out. I actually ordered this issue after seeing this adorable version in the Ottobre flickr group. Let me tell you, if I ever need a mojo boost, I just surf the flickr group and immediately want to sew something.
In back the waist is elasticated for a nice easy fit. I photographed it from the side to show you that I actually did take the trouble of matching the print.
It is fully lined - gotta love Ottobre. I used some grey cotton/poly broadcloth of unknown origins. I think it was given to me, which makes this outfit essentially free. Gotta love that!
The pattern construction was kind of cool. You pleated the front, attached the yoke and then facing, then stitched on the pleated front lining. Then the back was attached to the back lining and the elastic basted on. Only then were the side seams sewn, with the skirt and lining sewn as one into a long tube. Then the lining was folded into the skirt and the elastic sewn down. You did have to carefully line up the waistline front with the top of the elastic at the back. Of course, the pattern was perfectly drafted, so it all fit together effortlessly. I love Ottobre, and Myra loves her new skirt.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I pulled this crazy length of tricot out of the stash because it was long enough to use as a wrap for wearing Duncan, but as I was playing with it, I thought it would make a cool maxi dress. I'm pretty sure it is authentically from the 70s...
Be honest, completely insane or crazy cool?
In case the colors in this photo haven't blinded you, here is the print up close.
Yes, it really is that bright. But I love it. Especially the purple frogs. I'm thinking of making it into Simplicity 3503, the view in gold.
If you saw me in the street in that would you pretend not to know me?

ETA: From my mother, who gave me this fabric : "A note on the authenticity. The fabric is, in fact, Qiana. A DuPont -held trademarked name of Nylon that was wildly popular 1968 - 1975. Qiana, like rayon 80 years previously, was intended to replace silk in the American closet. Hardly!! Your father, and grandfather, briefly (pun intended) wore Qiana undies for a couple of years." 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Simplicity 2418

I picked up this pattern several days ago, and have been completely obsessed with it. I've got approximately 14,679,435 other projects in the queue, but this one had to be sewn.
And I'm quite glad I sewed it! It is so much lovelier than I thought it would be, and my expectations were pretty high.
The pattern is quite simple. It is a bias cut tunic with a shoulder yoke. The front shoulders are pleated into the yoke and the neckline forms a small cowl in front, which is hemmed rather than faced.
The back is gathered into the yoke. The yoke is topstiched. The hems are simple narrow hems. The fabric I chose, a silk charmeuse, did make this project a tiny bit more challenging, particularly as the front and back is bias cut. My walking foot was a godsend!  It was still a fairly simple project. Cutting it out was the worst part, construction only took about and hour and a half. Although I think this will be a versatile pattern, it definitely benefits from a fabric with lots of drape. I think it would be spectacular in lawn or voile, georgette or a soft knit (in which I'd cut it on grain rather than on the bias).
The bit of a cowl is particularly nice. It isn't faced, but it does stay in place pretty well. As you can see it is finished with a narrow hem, so there is a chance that the wrong side of your fabric could peek out on occasion. I didn't have this happen much while wearing it, and we took our pictures on quite a windy day. It stayed put surprisingly well.
With this type of sleeve, I always worry about bra coverage. I stitched the side seams as marked on the pattern and the coverage is good.
As far as fit goes, I sewed a size 10 in front and a 12 for the back and yoke, which fits quite well. (ETA: This is my way of doing a cheater broad back adjustment.)  I did not need an FBA, but the cut is generous and the bias cut gives a bit of wiggle room there. I did shorten it by 2 inches as I plan to wear it untucked. Overall, I'm very happy and will definitely be making it again. We'll just add that to the list... First I have some bellbottoms to make!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Simplicity 2526

If you'e been following this blog for more than about five minutes, then you know how dress obsessed my 2 year old daughter is. What you may not know is that she wears multiple different dresses as the day progresses. She loves to dress up, and Logan wants to play along, too. So, he's been asking me to make him a blue dress. This required some thinking. I don't want to stigmatize or restrict creative play, but he is a boy. So, I let him choose some fabric and a pattern. I was so relieved when he chose this one!
So, here is Logan's blue "dress". The fabric he chose is a poly peachskin given to me by my Mom. It's very plastic-y, but totally fine for dress up clothes and should be easy care. It was the devil to sew, though. Part of this was because the pattern is designed for fleece or coating, so this thin, slippery, impossible to ease stuff is pretty much the opposite of that. The pattern is very basic, and in fact I wouldn't use it for an actual coat. It is unlined with a one piece collar with facings to the shoulder. The pattern calls for the collar to be handsewn to the back seam, but I just finished it with bias tape.
I think this is neater and easier to do. Instead of buttons, I used snaps. Logan wanted red, just like Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Train. The other gripe I had with the pattern was the utterly ridiculous amount of ease in the sleeve cap.
After fighting with it, I finally just shifted the sleeve up in the armscye until it fit, then trimmed off the excess. That is nearly an inch wide at the shoulder point! In a child size 4! I'm all for a little cap ease in a heavy, tailored coat, but that is insane.
Here it is on Logan. The funny expression is his current facial response to the request for a smile. Anyway, he's very happy with it, and spent the afternoon dancing in it. I think the sizing is a bit off though. He's generally a pretty standard size 4 in the big 4. If anything I have to shorten them, but while there seems to be enough room in the body, it is quite short both in the arms and the overall length. I took smaller hems, but even as a dress up coat, they're too short and I can't see them working at all for an actual winter coat. When I get ready to sew for the Utah winter next year, I'll definitely be sewing from Ottobre.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wadderville, Population: Me.

I had really hoped that this would be a wearable muslin, but it is so not wearable!
Too bad, it's a really nice color. I thought things were moving along nicely until it came time to attach the collar and the neckline was not only a bit too large, but also uneven. I think the front band is the problem.
See how weirdly narrow and bizarrely offset it is? I seriously have no idea how it happened, so I think I'm going to have to go back to square one with this shirt.
It isn't a total loss though. We were able to tease the fit a bit better. There is still a little more room at the side seams than Mitch likes, but I think he may need some of that for wearing ease.
It pulls pretty significantly at the shoulder, despite the fact that the yoke is actually just a bit too wide and falls off his shoulder point. I think a more shallow yoke with pleats at the shoulder instead of center back might give him the room he needs.
One thing I really like about this pattern is that you can choose a separate neck size and body size. As you can see from this picture, I should have gone with a smaller neck.
So, in general I like this pattern. It is a nice basic men's shirt, and I think it is a great starting point, but I'm not sure I want to go forward with it. I just got this great Burda pattern with man style princess seams and I think I could get a really great fit with that. Still, I have made really good progress with this Kwik Sew and I think I could get something wearable next run through. What do you think? Wrestle on with the Kwik Sew or try out the new hotness? (Bonus points if you recognize that movie reference.)

Monday, April 11, 2011


Did you get a chance to hit the Burda patterns sale at Hancock's this weekend? They were 2.49!! I know, I was in shock! Good thing they had that 10 pattern limit. Actually, I only got 8, but only because two I wanted were out of stock.
I have been thinking about my crazy pattern collection lately. Myrna posted the other day about how her fabric and pattern collections have started to feel overwhelming, and that really struck a chord with me. My patterns are literally overflowing the six file drawers I have to hold them, and that was before the new additiond. As a result, rather than buying new drawers to fit in new patterns, I'm downsizing. A little. So, check out my newly minted Ebay listings!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I AM all that!

Thanks to Angie, for passing on this fun Meme, originated by Kristine (AKA Beangirl)
And the rules are...

The recipients of this award are asked to answer the following questions, link to whoever awarded them and then pass it on to five, no six people (who they think will actually be willing to answer these totally intrusive and possibly inappropriate questions). Feel free to snag the badge too!

The questions & my answers:
1) What size shoe do you wear? If you wear a size 8*, can I borrow your shoes?
* replace this with your shoe size!
2) 30's or 60's?
Can I answer both? Wishy-washy, I know.  Stronger 60s leanings, maybe.
3) Have you ever kissed someone you shouldn't have?
Haven't we all...
4) Have you ever been poisoned? Was it by the girlfriend of the person you kissed?? That is awesomely "Knot's Landing".
That could be a fun story! Alas, no.
5) Who's on your "Celebrity Free Pass" list (top 5)?
While I must disclaim that I don't watch TV and most of the movies I watch are animated, so my selection is severely limited and probably out of date.
1. Colin Firth - the ONLY Mr. Darcy.
2. Orlando Bloom
3. Matthew McConaughay (I always have to Google how to spell that.)
4. Christian Bale
5. Johnny Depp

And the lucky six nominees for my IAAT award are...
1) Mary Nanna from Make It Smirk
2) Pammie from Pammie and the Ps
3) Louiz from Random acts of Yarn
4) Kristine from Just Keep Sewing
5) Mary from Mary is Sew Fast
6) Cindy from Siestas and Sewing