Flared Pants

I didn't know just how much I've been wanting a pair of wide legged drapey pants until I made these!

The pattern is Vogue 1059 - an alice + olivia designer pattern from 2008.  I think I bought all of the alice + olivia pants patterns when they came out.

The fabric is a rayon crepe from The Fabric Store.  Initially I thought that I bought enough for a top / bottom combo (a la lizajane) but I'm not sure if I do have enough left for a top.  Never mind, these pants seem to go with so many tops that I already own.  My favourite combo is with this reversible swing top (featured here).  The top is mauvy pink / indigo and the pants navy / cream / burgundy, but they seem a pretty good colour match in real life (better than the photos!).  The bodgy hem on the top still annoys me though.  I'll have to redo it one day.

The pants have a wide waistband.  I wasn't sure how it would look in the chevron fabric, but the mismatched chevrons don't bother me.  In the past, I have cut size 12 / 14 for the alice + olivia patterns.  I had just started cutting these when I read the hip measurements on the pattern - the bonus of using commercial patterns - and decided to cut a 16 instead.  I didn't want to put any stress on the fabric.  Then I decided that maybe I should go for the 18 instead.  My hip measurement puts me between the 16 and the 18.  In the end, I cut a 16 front and an 18 back.  The pants had a tendency to fall down, more because rayon crepe has a heavy drape than because of a fit issue, so I sewed a narrow elastic to the seam allowance of the top edge of the waistband, which seems to have done the trick.

The pants have an invisible zipper at the back.  I don't think that I have sewn pants with a back zipper for over 20 years.  Makes for a quick sew.  You can see that I haven't under-stitched the waistband facing and  so the facing is peeking out a little - I wanted to see how the elastic worked out first.

I did go to the effort of pattern matching my picket openings, but I didn't pattern match the side seams so it is all a bit of a mess of strips there anyway.

So, it only took me 8 years to sew this pattern up....why did it take so long???  I'm sure the next pair will come around sooner.


More jeans plus Named Geneva Raglan Tee

These are the jeans I made after altering my pattern to eliminate the back wrinkle that was annoying me so much.  I'm pretty happy with the fit of them.  You can't see in the photos, but the front is low cut and the back rise is higher.  They still loosen over the course of the day and drop down if I am not wearing a belt, but now they do that evenly, rather than have the back sag much lower than the front.

There is some evidence of "internal rotation of knees", according to my fitting book, but not so much that I feel I need to correct it.

An acceptable amount of wrinkling in the back...at least comfort wise!  I am wondering if I could remove a little bit of length from the back yoke, but I will wear these for a few weeks before attempting any more jeans.

The front pattern stayed pretty much the same.  I have laid the old and new back patterns on top of each other.  The new one is underneath.   If you look, you can see that the upper half of the back is tilted over, resulting in a smaller body space for my rump whilst keeping the same width from crotch seam to side seam.  The crotch curve is also steeper.

Close ups of my top-stitching.  My button holes have not turned out so well.  The waistband is not interfaced, which may contribute to this, but also I think it would be better if I did them in normal thread rather than the top-stitching thread.  I used a fancy stitch on my belt loops.

Back pocket embroidery.  The front pocket bags are made from a silk faille remnant, that I dyed a bright purple / fuschia for another project.  The dyeing did not go well, so I did not use the fabric for that project, but it sure does feel nice as pockets.

I am heading south this weekend, so wanted a couple of long sleeved shirts to take with me for the trip.  Last year I made 3 long-sleeved shirts for winter (unblogged), but I only like and wear one of them.  This year I tried my first Named pattern, the Geneva raglan sleeved tee.  I have pretty square shoulders, which can be a hassle when fitting raglan styles.  This pattern has a darted sleeve, and the Named models seem to have pretty square shoulders, so I thought I would give it a go.

The only fitting change that I made to the pattern was to add 1 cm to the hips.  I could probably benefit from a narrow chest alteration, but did not bother for these first versions.

I have had a busy week, so it took me 4 days to make this!  I used a different construction order than that outlined in the pattern.

Monday - printed and traced pattern, cut out body
Tuesday - cut out sleeves.  Overlocked side seams together in main body colour.
Wednesday - changed overlocker threads to sleeve colour.  Overlocked sleeve side seams together.  Attached sleeves to body.  If you set everything up, both sleeves can be attached in one pass, which eliminates any hassles with sleeve allowances on the back neck before binding.  I attached down front armhole on one side, up armhole on back, kept overlocking across back neck, then down the back armhole and finally front armhole on the other sleeve.
Thursday - sewed one shoulder dart closed with regular sewing machine (I find it easier to get a nice dart finish on my regular machine.  Set up coverstitch machine.  Attached binding.  Different reviews seem to show different widths of neckline.  I cutoff the neckline seam allowances on the pattern, because I was going to bind, rather than attach a neck band.  My binding is much narrower than a neckband, so I have probably ended up with a wider neck than the designers intended.  I don't like high necks though, so I am happy with this neck size.  I sewed the second shoulder dart closed, joining the binding in this seam.

I then hemmed the sleeves, changed the thread colour on my cover stitch machine and finally hemmed the bottom of the skirt.

After that, I whipped up a second one in an evening.

I really like the casual style of this tee shirt, and happy with the fit.  I wasn't going to buy patterns this year, because I am having fun with drafting, but I am focused on drafting jeans at the moment, and did not want to get distracted with t-shirts.  This shirt fit so well out of the envelope that I just may have to try out some other Named patterns.


Distressed or distressing

Making jeans No. 5 is the first time I have been upset with how my jeans making journey was progressing.  Maybe because all along what I really wanted was a pale blue pair of jeans, and I thought I had learnt enough to make a pair I liked.  I mean, 4 practice pairs should really be enough, shouldn't it?

I usually construct the jeans up to the point of sewing the side seams, and then try them on to do any minor adjusting of leg width and shape.  This time, when I looked in the mirror, I was really disappointed.   My jeans just did not look like jeans.  The denim was all crinkly and it didn't hang the way jeans should.  They looked more like trousers than jeans.  I thought that the fabric looked really flat, but it did not respond well to distressing with sandpaper.  

On the spur of the moment, I thought I would try distressing them with bleach.  I painted on a bit of bleach, had a look, painted on a bit more, then threw them in the wash.  After they dried, I showed them to my daughter, who thought it looked like I just sat in a puddle of something.  I threw them into the wash again, this time with some blue dye to cover up the bleach.  I am not very experienced at dyeing and just chucked in half a teaspoon of a blue dye, which I had previously used by the tablespoon to dye shorts a dark denim colour.  It seemed to work though and they came out a similar colour to the original denim, only lighter in the bleached spots.  I forgot to fix the dye though, and it rinsed out, so I chucked them back in the machine again. Then I thought that perhaps I should chuck in the waistband and fabric for belt carriers as well, seeing as they were not yet attached to the jeans and still the original colour.  Panic dyeing.

I cut off the hems and folded a cuff, added the waistband (with some difficulty, as everything had frayed by now) and considered the jeans.  I thought some additional distressing was required, which seemed to illicit a variety of responses from my household.  The other adult in our house thought that distressing new clothing was ridiculous.  My son pointed out that distressing was supposed to look like you really loved your jeans so much that you didn't want to throw them out. Hmmm, good point, I didn't actually like the jeans.  I continued on.  My daughter found me reading tutorials on distressing methods, and offered to distress the jeans for me...I gratefully took up her offer to take to the jeans with scissors and tweezers whilst I cooked dinner.  Another go in the wash and here they are.

These photos were taken early in the day, but the fabric has poor recovery and they slouch down and look more like a boyfriend style of jean as the day progresses.

I haven't really shown you the pockets and other details of my jeans so far.  Drawing etc is not a strength of mine, but I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed coming up with different pocket embroidery designs.  This one is more whimsical, with a heart motif, and the embroidery in a different colour to the rest of my top-stitching..

Ironically, these jeans will probably end up being worn most of all, because their lighter weight and cropped length is more suited to our climate.


Jeans No. 4 and a Mandy Boat Tee

I once heard somebody joke that white linen pants is what you wear once you turn 40.  I am wondering if maybe the same extends to white jeans.  I have never owned white jeans before, but suddenly, they seem like a very useful wardrobe basic.  Well, except for the keeping them clean bit. These were actually starting to look grubby before I even finished sewing them.

These photos are a bit grainy because they were taken at sunset, at Palm Cove.  White jeans did seem to be perfect for a winter weekend visit to Cairns.

At the time of sewing, I thought that these jeans were going to be perfect, so I even took the time to put in rivets.  I planned a looser style than my previous pairs, though I ended up taking them in again at the thighs and just leaving the lower legs wider.  Making them looser just seemed to exacerbate the wrinkle issues.  They look okay in these photos, because I have hitched them up at the back, but you will see in a later photo what happens when I am not posing for a photo.

I thought a Mandy Boat Tee in a coral pink linen knit would be the perfect accompaniment to the white jeans and a Cairns weekend. 

I used to love boxy tees, but lately, I am not feeling the love.  This was great for the weekend, but I confess that oversized tops make me feel a little oversized these days.  I have another oversized tee that I made last year and never blogged...I am thinking of cutting it back down to a regular t-shirt.

In this last photo, you can see what happens when I have been wearing the jeans for a while.  The back slips down and there is a lot of sagginess going on.  The good news is that I think I have corrected this in Jeans No. 6!


Random Sewing Tips from all my jeans sewing

Just a quick post, grouping together some of my tips....for me as much as anybody.  It is amazing how easily I forget things I have learned from experience, only to have to re-learn them again after later mistakes.

1.  Scissors

Cutting denim is not always easy, especially some of the stretch denims.  Whilst I don't own any hugely expensive dressmaking scissors, I have a couple of decent pairs.  When I was sewing dance costumes (all that sequined and glittered fabric), I did not want to ruin my good scissors, so I bought a cheap pair of Fiskars from Officeworks for $20.  As it turned out, I was impressed by how well they cut. Not only are they sharp, but they stay sharp.  They don't have a nice point on the end like my dress making scissors, but I often reach for them in preference anyway.  Well, I was reaching for them when cutting my stretch denims, that is for sure.  Nice to know that you can get away with cheaper sometimes (especially for children to take to home ec classes).

2.  Needle identification

I always meant to organise storage for my half used needles, but keeping those sort of systems is not my forte.  Now, when I am swapping needles, I stick the old needle through a bit of fabric I used it for and stick it in my pin cushion.  The fabric is a memory jog for the needle and I don't have to struggle to read that tiny print on the side of the needle.

Here you can see different needles for denim, linen knit and liberty cotton.

3.  Trueing the crotch seam on jeans.

The first photo below shows how I was trueing the crotch seams on my jeans after drafting the pattern.

This is fine, and necessary, but it is not complete.  Jeans are traditionally assembled in a different order to pants.  The front crotch seams are sewn together and then the back crotch seams sewn together and then the inner leg seam sewn.  I was struggling to sew the inner leg seam neatly, when I realised it was because I had not trued the seam that way.  I needed to butt the crotch seams up together, as shown below, and then true the inner leg seam.  So obvious in hindsight!

I hope these tips help somebody out there.  Happy sewing xx