Category Archives: design

Pants 101

It’s been about a year since I started to get serious about sewing my wardrobe.  One of the first patterns I tried were jeans which were mostly a fail with a lot of learning along the way.  This spring, I’ve been tackling pants again with a lot more success.


These chinos were made from some olive linen bought years ago using this pattern which I modified with back welt pockets instead of patch.

Similarly, these shorts are essentially the pants shortened, with the same modifications and an even closer fit.  The fabric was a scant yard found at the thrift store plus some printed scraps for the pockets and inner waistband.  It’s thrilling to turn a $2 piece of fabric into something wearable.

Next: cords.  Brown cords are my holy grail.  Basically, I’ve been on the hunt for good brown cords since high school.  I think i’ve had two perfect pairs in my life: one found when I was 16 in a thrift store in what is now my hometown, one found in another thrift shop in Venlo, Holland.  Sewing seems the perfect opportunity to acquire the brown cords of my dreams.


This pair is completely wearable but since it was only my second attempt at adapting a pattern from an RTW pair, I’m not completely satisfied with the fit.  Whether it’s the lack of spandex or my cut wasn’t completely aligned with the grain, whatever the case, the pattern needed more adjusting than I expected.

When I got more aggressive with sizing adjustments, I was much happier with the results.  Even with another all cotton fabric found in my mom’s stash – lucky me!  Turns out great jeans are still possible without an ounce of spandex.

Here’s a close-up that captures the print:


When I put them on this morning, along with my linen v neck and woven linen button-up and nearly all-wool bra, I was happy to know that my sewing has gradually reduced the amount of synthetics in my life.

Second thoughts

I’ve loved this skirt for awhile, found this fabric and thought it perfect for it. 

 
Once i began to sew it, i realized it was too dark to really show off the smocking.  Also, the instructions state that the smocking takes up the fabric width-wise at a ratio of 2:1 but i feel that’s much too generous.  What’s more, the smocking gives the waist some elasticity even though i used embroidery thread and not elasticized thread.  I tried resizing it it four times before concluding that i will never be able to give the skirt a more defined waistline.

Before making it, I had already worried i would not have a proper shirt to wear with it because of its high rise and the fact it’s meant to be shown off.  Now that it’s done and i wasn’t able to give it the definition it deserves, i find it even harder.  I still love the fabric but sadly, i might have to rethink the design. 

  

Backward

  
This shirt ended up backward…or rather it started out that way. 

 I wanted a simple woven tank.  The fabric was a gift from a neighbour who is downsizing.  It was 1/2 yard from a curtain that was shortened, à la The Sound of Music.

I envisioned a single button and loop closure for the back.  But it just wasn’t working.  Before giving up, i turned it around.  Removed the button and the loop.   

 So much better.

Next time i’d try it in voile or something with drape.  I’d make the straps narrower and curve the hemline. 

 And keep that neckline just the same.

Denim trouble

I suppose it wasn’t a total bust since i feel like i learned a tremendous amount.

But first the things that didn’t work:

The fabric is a wool (i know, i know), polyester, spandex denim which is more affortable than straight wool denim but as a result, too synthetic, too slippery, too thin, too shiny.  

 I had hoped the Jamie jeans pattern could save it but sadly no.   Actually, there were problems with the pattern itself.  I had to take almost 2 inches off the front rise and a smidge off the back.  I should have done even more, though on the front that would make the pockets entirely useless.  I would have also liked to take them in at the front seam (which was suggested by online sewers as the advantage of the additional seam) but again, with the pocket already set, it would have been a lot more work.  And no, i didn’t do a muslin.  Am i starting to see the advantage of that step?  Maybe.  

So to segue into what else i learned:

1. Setting the waistband is a true sewing miracle.  I love it and i’m getting so much better at it.  Moreover, the topstitching, the denim crotch seam and all the other classic jean detailing was such good practice for me.  Especially when i had to do some steps twice! 

 2. Since i still have to do so many size adjustments with a purchased pattern, why not try my next denims using a RTW pair that already fit well?

3. Which brings me to my last thought.  If my objection when sewing clothes is to make them in the fabric i want (and often can’t find) and since i usually don’t have trouble finding jeans that fit, then i’d like to try corduroy next.  And no stretch please.

Greys & Greens

From winter to spring.
Pants for Eily:

 
Shirt for me:

  I started out by using this pattern but i modified it so much that i’m not even sure i should credit that source.  First i compared sizing to my Burda blouse because i was skeptical of both my ability to measure myself appropriately and Lekala’s ability to accurately depict these measurements (with all due respect, their patterns are only $3 and arrive personalized in your inbox within hours of purchase).  Rightly so, as it turns out.

Next, i eschewed the (decorative) half seams in the front, the full seams in the back (except for the horizontal one) as well as the pockets and belt, and made the necessary pattern changes.

Lastly, the length. I’ve wanted a shirt dress for awhile.  That was my plan when i bought the pattern.  But it was also my plan to use fabric from my stash. This embroidered linen – i don’t even remember my intention in buying it, pants, sleeveless dress, curtains, who knows? (Maybe nothing in particular as my love for linen began way back in high school from whence this fabric originates) – in any case, i had only enough for a shirt.  The fabric also has a bulkier drape than i would have liked for the pattern.  So midway through, i decided against one additional modification – the half placket – and sliced the front for a full button band as the original pattern intended.

Considering all this, i’m so pleased that it’s wearable in the end.  Not only that, i like it. (I had some serious doubts about the excessive embroidery.) 

I think the sleeve straps are my favourite.