Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vogue 8330

The heavy duty snap was hammered and these babies are done!
I love them!! When I first started seeing skinny jeans, I was horrified. Could anything be more unflattering?? What would Stacy and Clinton say??? But the more I saw them, the more I liked them.  Still, I couldn't convince myself to put in the effort to sew a pair when I wasn't sure that I liked the style. So, I did the unthinkable and actually bought a pair of jeans. I know. After some judicious back waist darts, the RTW pair fit OK, and I found myself wearing them all the time, even though the fit was only OK. It was obviously time to sew myself a pair that actually fit.
The pattern I used was Vogue 8330, which I found at the thrift store. I was thrilled to see very favorable reviews on PR. Erica B even made these! The only thing I didn't like about the pattern was the low rise, so I raised it to just below my natural waist. That took 3 inches in front, tapering down to 2 inches at center back.
I added 2 of the three inches above where the pocket sits, to enlarge the pocket opening, but I should have lowered the coin pocket. It looks a little strangely tall. The topstitching was done with C&C "jeans" thread on my Janome. The jeans were constructed on the serger as well as my vintage Singer. She purrs through denim like butter.
I used Dritz rivets, although I have some nicer ones coming soon from Hot Patterns. I couldn't wait, so they'll go on my next pair of jeans. For the closure, I used a heavy duty snap, also from Dritz. It was much easier than fighting Janome to make a buttonhole with jeans thread. I will have to explore other color options though. Hancock's only has black and old gold, which doesn't match the silver rivets they carry. Hello.
Inside, I used a striped cotton for the waistband facing and pockets. I extended the pocket bag across the front all the way to center front. I first saw this done on Beangirl's blog, but have since seen that some of my Burda pants pattern have that feature as well. It is really great for keeping those pocket bags tucked in, but also provides a little tummy control for those of us who perhaps don't have the tummy tone of yesteryear.
Changes I made for fit are mostly detailed here and here. I think these are my best fitting pants to date, so I am pleased. Despite the fact that I get front wrinkles if I move, I am still pleased to have figured out the front crotch curve as having a good fit there makes these pants quite comfortable. Nothing pulls, binds or rides up. I'm not sure I am thrilled with the fit of the waistband, since it tends to roll down on the sides. It is a contoured waistband, and I wonder if it doesn't curve too sharply for how high the waistline is on these pants.
Here are the pockets, now actually stitched on. I waited to sew them on until I had sewn and topstitched the center back seam, so that I could balance the pockets an equal distance from the topstitching. In looking at the pictures, I think they might have been a bit more flattering if I had placed them slightly closer in. I'll remember that for next time!

I'm pretty darn thrilled with my jeans. They are comfortable and despite the dogma about pant legs falling straight from the hips, I find these pretty flattering. It was fun to sew along with the ladies at It's a Jeans Thing as well. Thanks for letting me play!! I may try to squeeze another pair in before the 15th of December!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Spirit

I finally joined the Pinterest crowd a few weeks ago. That site can be a serious time sucker, but I have also found some fun ideas there. This is my first attempt at using one of my "pins".
The idea for the tree comes from this blog. She includes a pdf tutorial with patterns for the decorations. Very nice! Of course, I've never been very good at following directions. I cut the felt tree from a 1 yard piece of 72" wide felt. I only used half of the width, so I'm thinking about making another for their bedroom. For the ornaments, I used a roll of duct tape to make the circles and let the kids pick bits of trim to decorate, then I used the hot glue gun to affix their decorations. The "garland" is just mohair yarn. Nice and sticky with the felt.  Since felt sticks to itself, no velcro is needed. We all had a pretty fun time putting it together, and it was really quick - maybe 45 minutes total.
Here's Myra, rearranging the ornaments to best effect. She says it needs some presents, and I don't think she means felt ones...

In other news, my jeans are ALMOST done. All that is left is hammering on the snap. Seriously, that is all. Hopefully I can get that done today and get some pictures. I'm pretty excited about them. I can't wait to show you all!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Back Pockets

Whenever I make a new pair of jeans, the first thing I stitch is the back pockets. Having the pockets done gives me a little mojo burst, which I need at the beginning of an involved project.
I don't have an embroidery machine, so I have to work a little harder to get my pockets symmetrical. Over the course of my last several pair of jeans, I've worked out a system that works for me. I thought I'd share it.
The first thing I do is trace the pocket pattern piece I'm using, then draw in the hem and seam allowances (if it has them). I copy this several times (on a regular copy machine/printer) to give me something to sketch on so that I can try out different design ideas in the space I'll actually have on the pocket.  Once I've settled on a design, I flip it over and trace it backwards so that the two pockets are symmetrical. I used regular computer paper today, but the next step is easier if you trace it onto tissue paper.
Cut out your tracing on the cutting line and glue it onto your fabric with a glue stick. Just dab a little glue in the upper and lower allowances. You don't want it glued permanently, but you don't want it to shift around when you stitch. Wonder Tape would work too, but glue sticks are cheaper. Pins are acceptable, but may distort your design as you stitch.
Now stitch your design through the paper. Go slowly and sew accurately along the lines you drew.
That big fat jeans needle you should be using does a nice job of perforating the paper, so it is easy to remove from your design! Just pull gently, starting with the big pieces of paper. When you get to the little ones, tug on your pocket a little. Even non stretch denim will stretch a little on the bias, and this will help detach the paper from your stitching.
Now all that is left is to press down your hem allowance on top and topstitch it in place, then press under the allowances on the other sides and bottom of the pocket. Since you already traced out the pocket shape, you have a template you can use for pressing. Handy!

Any other tips? Please share!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whisker relief!

A big thank you to Tanit-Isis and Anonymous! I think I fixed that pesky front crotch curve.
Better, yes? Here is how it looked before.
So, Tanit-Isis got me thinking about the shape of the curve, but I wasn't sure what to do about it. Anonymous (who are you? You are a genius!) pointed me it the direction of the Savvy Sewer Salon over at Sawyer Brook Fabrics. Jennifer Stern had hosted a couple of sew alongs and addressed several fit issues, including this one (You'll find that thread here.). When the wee one went down for a nap, I decided to give it a try. It worked! And it only took about a 1/8 inch change to totally change the fit of these pants.
The original stitching line is in red, with the new stitching line in tan. You wouldn't think that teeny change would make any difference at all, but it did and I am thrilled!!

Thank you both for commenting and getting my mind working!!

Pant's fitting woes

I've started in on my new jeans. I'm using Vogue 8330, which is an OOP pattern from 2006 or so.
It has several positive reviews on PR and I like the shape of it. I've been wanting to make a pair of "skinny" jeans for a while as I wear the RTW pair I bought often, even though it isn't all that great a fit. Anyway, I started out with some flat pattern alterations. This pattern is quite low rise, which isn't a great look for me, so I added some height to the rise and made my now usual crotch alterations (scoop out and lower the back, lengthen front hook slightly). Then I whacked a muslin out of some crazy orange stretch sateen, which has a similar weight and stretch to my denim.
This is back version 2.0, after I took 2 1/2 inches off the CB waistband and darted the yoke by the same amount. I'm pretty darn pleased with the fit back there, actually. There are a few under the seat wrinkles, but without them I can't sit down. Wearing ease is a must.
In front, I'm not so pleased. Those darn crotch wrinkles - what is that about?? I looked them up in The Perfect Fit, which said that this was a full thigh problem. I can buy that, so I tried releasing the side seams, but that actually made it worse! Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit says I need more space in the inseam, and I was about to try that alteration when the small people woke up and I had to stop playing sewing.

So ladies, what do you think?? I know there has been a lot of discussion about these particular wrinkles out there in the blogosphere lately. I always see them in RTW. Do I just live with them, or is there something I can do to fix this??? This is why I sew! I'm off to check out Sunni and Sarai's pant fit tutorial's. If y'all have any suggestions, I am all ears!

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Look 6926 & Style 2687

I was sorting through patterns the other day, attempting to impose some order on my sewing space, and I came across this pattern that I purchased intending to make Myra an outfit from the scraps of this skirt. She's about to outgrow this pattern, and since I am a bit obsessed with houndstooth right now, I decided its time had come.
I'm happy to say that we are both thrilled with the result!
The dress is made with New Look 6926. I used view C, which is an unlined jumper with front and back bodice cut on the bias and bias cut patch pockets on the (straight grain) skirt. Per the pattern, the neckline and armholes are finished with bias tape, but I elected to fully line my version. The main fabric is a wool blend from Hancock's and the lining is a poly/acetate lining, also from Hancock's. As mentioned, they  are both left over from this skirt.
I used an invisible zipper in back, and I'm so pleased with how well in came out. This is attempt #2, as the first time I managed to twist the zipper. I hate when I do that!! Since the bodice was on the bias, I stabilized the center back seam allowance with fusible tricot interfacing, cut on grain with no stretch in the vertical direction.
Here is the lining, from the back. I also stabilized the armholes and neckline with interfacing, and inserted the lining completely by machine following Trena's amazing tutorial. It looks completely amazing, if I do say so myself. You must try her technique. It was easy and looks great. The little tag comes from Izzy & Ivy. They have the cutest size and care tags.
The blouse is from OOP Style 2687. It is a basic blouse with a Peter Pan collar and puffed sleeves gathered into a narrow binding. The neckline is finished with bias tape. I used a zebra print as Myra refuses to leave the house if there isn't some animal print on her person. It's a good basic pattern, and I'm sure I'll use it again, as it goes up to size 8. The fabric is a heavyweight polyester satin from Fabric Mart. I have miles of this stuff as I ordered some, then got a large length in a mystery bundle.
Myra's favorite part of the ensemble is the little purse. It is also from New Look 6926. I made it out of the same satin as the blouse. The bag body is interfaced with craft bond interfacing and the pocket and bag itself are lined with the satin as well. The pattern calls for a ribbon closure, but Myra can't tie a ribbon, so I found a cute silver flower button in my stash and made a loop out of black yarn to button it.
Myra loves her purse, and immediately filled it with the trappings of toddlerhood.

Linked up!...

Next up, I need a pair (or 2) of jeans. I joined up with Lynn to sew up some jeans in her sew-a-long.
Come and join us, or just follow along! There has already been some great info shared.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vintage pattern love

Hey ladies,

This is a totally shameless plug for my Etsy shop. I just listed some darn awesome 70s patterns. Hop on over and take a look! Here are a couple of my favorites.

Classic shift dress in 3 lengths. How great is that keyhole neckline?!
70s wedding? Yes, please!
And many more!! Click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

FO: Not-Quite-A-Baby hat and mittens

My little mannie was well equipped for the winter chill last year. My sister and I knit him many hats and mittens, but as this year started to get colder, I found myself unprepared. All of last year's gear was too small, but knitting patterns seem to be sized for newborns or toddlers, and Duncan is in between. So, I hitched up my big girl pants, and adapted a pattern for mittens. Then I got crazy and wrote one for a hat. So, lest there be other wee one year olds in need of headgear, I'd like to share my pattern with you.
The Not-Quite-A-Baby Hat
Yarn: Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Washable Ewe
Needles: US size 6 and 7 circular, 40 inch for Magic Loop or dpns
Gauge: 5 1/2 sts/inch & 8 rows/inch in stockinette stitch on size 7 needles.
Size: Intended for Duncan's 17 inch noggin

CO 104 stitches onto your size 6 needle and divide in half for Magic Loop or arrange evenly over your dpns. Join to knit in the round.

Knit k2 p2 ribbing for 9 rounds.

Switch to size 7 needles and knit even in stockinette stitch (knit all rounds) for 2 1/2 inches. If you want to extend the wear of your hat, knit for 3 3/4 inches and fold up the ribbed section. Then as not-quite-baby grows, you can fold down the ribbed section for more length.

For the decreases:
1) *k11, k2tog, rep from * to end (96 sts.)
2&3) knit
4) *k10, k2tog, rep from * to end (88sts)
5) knit
6) *k9, k2tog, rep from * to end (80 sts)
7) knit
8) *k8, k2tog, rep from * to end (72 sts)
9) knit
10) *k7, k2tog, rep from * to end (64 sts)
11) knit
12) *k6, k2tog, rep from * to end (56 sts)
13) *k5, k2tog, rep from * to end (48 sts)
14) *k4, k2tog, rep from * to end (40 sts)
15) *k3, k2tog, rep from * to end (32 sts)
16) *k2, k2tog, rep from * to end (24 sts)
17) *k1, k2tog, rep from * to end (16 sts)
18) *k2tog, rep from * to end

Break yarn, leaving a 6-8 inch tail. Thread your tail through remaining 8 sts and pull them tightly together. Weave in ends and lightly block.

For Duncan's little mittens, I adapted the excellent Baby Mitts pattern by Susan B. Anderson. I love this pattern because it is easy to knit, cute and very useful. I knitted a few pairs of these for Duncan for his first winter and they really came in handy. This year, they were all too small, so I sized up the pattern. Here is what I did.
Not-Quite-A-Baby Mitts
Same yarn and needles as the hat
Size: Fits my 1 year old as well as my 3 year old.

CO 32 sts onto your size 6 needle and join to work in the round.

Knit k2p2 ribbing for 9 rows.

Switch to size 7 needles and work even in stockinette stitch for 2 1/2 inches.

For the decreases:
1) *k2tog, k15, rep from * to end
2) *k4, k2tog, rep from * to end 
3) knit
4) *k3, k2tog, rep from * to end 
5) *k2, k2tog, rep from * to end
6) *k1, k2tog, rep from * to end
7) *k2tog, rep from * to end

Break yarn, leaving a 6-8 inch tail. Thread your tail through remaining 8 sts and pull them tightly together. Weave in ends and lightly block.

I hope this keeps your little Not-Quite-A-Baby warm and cozy!
Here is the Ravelry button -

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tutorial: Comfy knit pencil skirt

I'm so glad y'all are as excited as I am about this skirt. I don't think I've ever made three of the same thing in a row before, but I just love this so much!
It works tucked it, too!
So, to make your own...

You'll need:
A basic, darted skirt pattern that fits you well. This really would work with any shape skirt, not necessarily just a straight skirt, but in order to get it over your hips, it must be a style with darts rather than one shaped with gores, panels or a yoke.
Enough elastic to go around your waist. For comfort, I suggest at least 1 inch wide. Mine is 1 1/4 inch.
Knit fabric with at least 30% crosswise stretch. For a below knee pencil skirt, just one yard of 60 inch wide fabric should be plenty.  Be sure your knit isn't too thin. You want it to skim your curves, not cling. I suggest ponte knit, some sweater knits, interlock or a heavier jersey.

The first thing to do is to prepare your pattern to use with a knit. This is crazy easy, so I only have one picture for you.
The original pattern is the whiter one to the left. If you are happy with the shape of the skirt you are using, you can just use the pattern pieces as they are to cut your fabric. Just ignore the dart at the waistline and any notches there - you won't use them. In order to peg my skirt, I took one inch off of each seam at the hem line and tapered back to the original seam line at the hip. That is a total of 8 inches, ladies. ETA: snowflakes asked how that added up to 8 inches. Good question! I also removed an inch from both center front and back, angling the fold line up to the original waist seamline. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't.  I also decided to cut my back panel on the fold, so I eliminated the center back seam allowance.
I left both lines there, so should I need a center back seam for some reason, I can put one in.

Once you have your pieces cut, you can assemble your skirt. If you eliminated the center back seam, that means just stitch up the side seams. If you are concerned that your knit doesn't have enough stretch, be sure to baste the seams closed and try it on first. If you can get it on without trouble, you're home free. Once your skirt is together, you're ready to apply the elastic waistband. 
First, a note on applied elastic bands. Since you will be stitching through the elastic, you will lose a little recovery. This will vary depending on the type of elastic you are using. Softer elastic can be more comfortable, but has less recovery and is more prone to wardrobe malfunction. I chose a firmer, non-roll elastic. It is still quite comfortable, but I know I can count on it to keep my skirt up.

To measure your elastic, wrap it around your body wherever you want the top of your skirt to sit. You want it snug but not tight.  Now subtract an inch (more if your elastic is quite soft) and cut your elastic to that length. For example, I like my skirts to sit slightly below my natural waist, where I measure 30 inches around. I cut my elastic to 29 inches.

Abut the ends of your elastic (don't overlap, you'll get an unsightly and difficult to sew over lump) and stitch them together with a zig zag stitch. I like a wide three step, as I think it is a little more secure.
Here is what your elastic should look like. I'm stretching mine just a little so you can see the two cut edges, but ideally you don't want a gap between them. You can stop here and move on to attaching the elastic, but I like to cover the stitching with a little scrap of fabric. I think it adds a little strength and looks nice.
No tricks here, just wrap a little scrap around the elastic and zig zag stitch the two cut edges onto the elastic. I use a much narrower stitch here. On Janome, the width setting is 2.
Now you need to quarter your elastic and the waistline of your skirt. First, mark center front and back, then match them up to determine your quarter points. They may or may not be your side seams! I like my elastic join to be at center back, where the fabric tab helps me to tell front from back, so I start quartering there.
I mark my quarter points with pins, then just match up the pins.
Here is where it gets a little different, so bear with me. You need to line up the WRONG side of your elastic  with the RIGHT side of your skirt, overlapping the elastic onto the skirt by the width of the seam allowance. Basically, you are lining up the edge of the elastic with the seamline. It may help to mark or baste along the seamline so that you have something to line up the elastic.
Here is how it looks from the right side. The left edge of the elastic is aligned with the seamline, so under the elastic is the seam allowance. At this point you are ready to stitch, but since you'll be stitching along the edge of the elastic and unable to see the allowance underneath, feel free to pin it in place in a couple more spots. If you were smart and marked your seamline, you are in good shape.
Ready to sew! While stretching the elastic to fit, stitch the elastic onto your skirt using a narrow zig zag stitch. On the first skirt, I used a lightning stitch and just tried to stay close to the elastic edge, but I found that I had some visible elastic at the top of the skirt when I did it that way, so I switched to a narrow zig zag, with the left swing of the stitch right at the edge of the elastic. This way, when you fold under the elastic, it is completely covered. 
Here is what the wrong side should look like when you are finished. You can see how the elastic pulls in the fabric of the seam allowance and ruffles it a little.
Here is the right side. Sorry it's a little blurry, but hopefully you get the idea. The elastic is stitched to the right side of the skirt with that narrow zig zag.

Now, you flip the elastic inside the skirt and hit it with a warm iron and a few puffs of steam. 
I also like to stitch in the ditch on the side seams to secure the elastic down, although it will stay down when you wear it even if you skip this step.
Here is my line of stitching along the side seam.

Now all you have left is the hem! I thought I'd throw in a little bonus tip for you here. Have I mentioned that I love fusible thread when hemming, particularly knits? Here is how that works.

First, mark your hem and trim the hem allowance to an even width, whatever you like. I like 1 1/4 inches. If you want to finish the raw edge, do that now. With fusible thread in the bobbin, stitch a line of basting stitched along the hemline (where you'll fold).
The fusible thread is thick and white. You can use whatever color thread you want in the needle, as once you fuse the hem, the top thread easily pulls away. A contrasting color is easy to see.
Here is another little trick, if you've finished your seams together and want to avoid that lump you can get with all of the seam allowances in one spot, just snip the allowance at the hemline and fold the two in different directions. It makes for a much smoother hem and no skipping stitches if you happen to be coverstitching.

Now, fold up your hem on the stitching line and press it with steam. Steam really helps the thread to fuse, even at lower temperatures. Once your hem is fused, use whatever hem treatment you like. For my three skirts, I did three different things. 
For the first, more dressy skirt, I catchstitched the hem by hand, which is a great way to invisibly hem knits, since a catchstitch has plenty of stretch. 
For my second skirt - a boucle sweater knit - I just used a narrow zig zag stitch, since the stitches disappeared into the texture of the fabric. 
For my final skirt (the one in the pictures here), I used the coverstitch machine (a twin needle would work as well). You could also leave the hem edge raw for a more deconstructed look, or use a decorative stretch stitch. 

Now pull on your skirt and marvel!! You look great!!
I hope this tutorial was helpful. If you have any questions or something is unclear, please leave me a comment or send me an email at katiedeshazer (at) gmail (dot) com. If you make a skirt with this tutorial, I'd love to hear about it! Send me a picture or two!