Well hardly. But the third try saved this dress before I was out. Once again, i picked apart the side seams and took it in. This time more the bodice than the waist.
I have learned, over many indie patterns, that I need to err on the side of too small rather than too big. Definitely riskier but it’s what the research tells me.
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.
Pants are my jam right now. I’m feeling much less intimidated by all that funny stuff around the zippers. So much that I’ve ventured to experiment a little: change the pockets from patch to welt, adjust the placement of the fly facing, try a variety of pant closures.
The cords are drafted from a RTW pair of jeans (which I used for these shorts last summer) and the material was salvaged from my mom’s sewing closet – 2 yards spandex free!
The navy pair are in fact shorts. My second try at this Pauline Alice pattern with a few minor size adjustments and a couple pocket swaps. The material was a score at a thrift store. Some heavier cotton twill that was barely a yard.
I found the pattern for this romper and the fabric was a real steal but unfortunately it looks a little like a prison jumpsuit without a belt and a nurse’s uniform with one.
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.
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.
I am not in tune with the seasons. But i am so pleased with my new jacket.
Designed by a Japanese pattern maker living in Amsterdam, i originally found her work when i came across another of her patterns (also for a jacket, also in the works). I saw this one and fell in love and decided to make it first. I love the bomber style. I love it in wool.
But it’s way too hot for June.
Though i found lining for the sleeves in my stash, i had to buy more for the rest of it. The teal ribbing is from Nature’s Fabric (it was a toss up between that and olive). The fabric for the shell was in my stash of vintage blankets but not heavy enough (and far too lovely) to convert into a wool mattress pad. I had some serious work to do cutting out the pattern (and making sure all the pieces were correctly orientated) around all the moth holes. The picture below shows the holes marked with painter’s tape.
The pattern itself was very straight forward; the lining pattern was a little less intuitive but mainly in terms of the order of the steps.
I hyped myself up for the zipper work but the pockets were no big deal and this was the first separating zipper i’ve put in without having to redo once or twice.
The fit is fabulous right off the bat. The only modifications i made were to shorten the back collar facing and the collar ribbing. The body and sleeve length are impeccable. Living in Amsterdam, she must know my type.
Now i have to wait three months to properly wear it.
After my first jeans attempt, i decided to make a pattern from a pair i really loved which have worn out. Since it’s June, I started by using the pattern for a pair of cotton twill shorts.
Even though the original jeans had a bit of spandex, the twill was pure cotton. I added a half inch seam allowance to the pattern to account for no stretch, but it actually didn’t need that in all areas, probably only along the rise seam. Which makes this pattern adaptable to most wovens and blends which is great. I want to try some cords next.
Partway through this project, i realized i was envisioning chinos for this material – with more of the dress pant type detailing rather than denim accents. I considered starting over but then pushed through instead. And i’m thrilled with them.
When i finished them last night, i immediately pulled them on and they fit great, no adjustments. I realized i was wearing two self-made shirts so the whole outfit was mine. So cool.
My tee was a second try with a dandelion knit. My first try ended with a cowl i wasn’t pleased with. Though i loved the button detail on the shoulder, i did not succeed in making the print less juvenile or cutesy-looking. Best to go simpler.
This is the first attempt:
This is the second:
The sweater was a pattern i made when i came across the Perri Pullover which is no longer in print. I used a thicker knit which is a blend but it was cheap at Len’s Mills.
The three-quarter length sleeves kind of make sense for a spring/summer pullover. I’d love to make it in hemp fleece or cotton french terry. The deep pockets – sourced from a thrifted shirt – are my favourite.
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.