Bonny swim set

You guys, I am a MAGICIAN. Look!

I made SWIMWEAR.

[smug]
Ok so it’s not that big of a deal, what with all you geniuses out there making actual bras and couture coats and the like, but honestly, I feel like a g-d genius. And so THRILLED.

I probably should have done this photoshoot at the beach but it’s COLD and I couldn’t wait to show you this. I fully intend to report back one this one gets the actual swim test, so perhaps I’ll do another photoshoot in a more appropriate location then.

This is the Patterns4Pirates swim set, consisting of the Siren swim top and the Hello Sailor swim bottoms (you get a discount if you buy them together). I had seen these before but first thought about making them myself when I saw Michelle’s review on the Curvy Sewing Collective.

The top seemed like just what I have been looking for for… maybe a decade. Even when I fit into RTW swimwear I couldn’t find something to fit my specs. All I wanted was a bikini top that acted like a bra – I wear wireless bras also so wireless is much better for me especially in something like a swim top where I want a lot of movement and comfort. And I wanted it to NOT be a halterneck. My boobs are heavy. They are heavy enough that I have neck issues just from carrying them around wearing a good supportive bra (and I have comparatively small boobs – I’m an E/DDD cup which is honestly not that big) so WHY in all that is good would I want to literally hang them off of my neck? That’s a recipe for both a migraine and a black eye. No thanks.

Of course, I could never find such a top. I have some ok one pieces, and they are great for swimming laps but I really really really wanted a bikini. S even bought me a custom made one off of etsy for christmas one year but it just doesn’t fit right and… it’s a halter neck. So I never wear it and then I feel sad.

So. I saw this bikini and I thought ‘I bet I could do that’. I bought my fabric from the Remnant Warehouse and it came so quick, I was impressed. The fabric is this Aqua Life chlorine resistant stuff and I also bought aqua swim lining and rubber elastic from them. The fabric was really nice and actually quite easy to work with, although slippery enough that I had to go slow. The one issue I had that it was quite hard to tell the right side from the wrong side, to the extent that either the top or the bottom is cut the wrong way. And they BOTH have the grainline running sideways because  I cut the top, decided I’d cut it the wrong way and sewed it so the cross grain is on front, and then did the same with the bottom. But the other way.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because there is equal stretch both ways – I know, because I tried to use that to give me an indication of the right side! In the end, I just used the side that felt nicest because it clearly looks pretty much the same to me. Next time I would choose which side is the right side at the start and mark that, and make sure I track it while I’m sewing, so at least I will be consistent. That said, I honestly don’t think you can tell that the top and the bottoms are different sides of the fabric. I used poly thread and lightning stitch throughout and I started out with a regular foot before switching to my walking foot, which made it a lot easier.

You’re a KITTY!

My overlocker is in for a service and it’s waiting for a part so I just went ahead and did it all on my sewing machine. That means there’s a couple of unfinished seams on both top and bottom where the bands attach, but I can always go back and finish them later.

I did not like the way the pattern pdf was constructed at ALL. It’s a no trim pattern, where you just overlay the sheets of paper on each other. Which is great in theory but it made it a bit hard to see if I was lining it up properly because there’s no grid or joining marks. There were also a couple of pieces where corners and curves were missing because they fell within the edges of the paper that doesn’t get printed. Not a fan. However, I liked pretty much everything else about the pattern – it’s well drafted, the instructions are great, the pdf is tiled so you can print just the size you want, or a few sizes to grade between (a thing I did not realise when I printed them), the pieces are laid out in a logical order so you can just print the first section for the most basic parts of the pattern, and the instructions tell you which pages to print for what view (another thing I did not realise before printing). I really appreciated the range of options in this pattern, plus extra hack ideas on the website. It’s the sort of thing that’s easy to draft but it involves more trial and error than I’m happy with for something like swimwear so I don’t really want to do it myself. So when it’s included in a pattern I feel I’m getting value for money and also that I’m in the hands of someone who cares about her customers.

Mhm. Uh hunh. You don’t say!

The sizing is laid out really well in the pattern, and how to pick your size is explained well. For the top, the biggest three sizes have quite a gap between – I fell between a size XXL and a size 1XL. My bust size is high bust 41″, full bust 46″, under bust 37.5″. I graded between size XXL and 1XL, which was easy to do as it’s a simple pattern shape, and cut a 5″ front length. I did spend like five minutes looking for the band pattern piece before realising you’re just given cut specs for it. I rescind my statement above that I am a genius.

For the top, I chose to use the elastic gathering method for the bust side rouching, because I figured it would act like gentle boning and add a bit of support, which I think worked really well. Obviously it’s not actual boning but it helps hold it in place, especially as I have firm rubber elastic. I only had thin elastic as that’s all that I could find available, so for the straps I threaded two pieces in side by side. I didn’t actually read that there are cut lengths for this part (whoops, doing a lot of not reading atm…), I just fed it in so that it sat at rest inside the straps, and then I basted it in place before sewing the straps in.

I chose the straight straps for ease of getting it on, which I think was good – it’s quite tight by necessity, and so it’s a bit hilarious to get in, especially as my high bust/underbust measurements are so far apart (lots of tugging and rearranging) although it got easier as I tried it on and the elastic got a bit less rigid. I don’t find this a problem but it’s worth noting for people who have a similar or higher bust/underbust ratio to me, and who have mobility issues. If the under bust wasn’t so much smaller it would be ok, so perhaps a drawstring or something would help in that instance? I guess it’s the price for having a no-clasp swim top. I did try stepping into it rather than pulling it over my head, but because my hips are about the same measurement as my bust (but less smooshy – when I put it on over my head I basically have to put it on one boob at a time. TMI city!) it was no go. Something to think about if I want to make a one piece out of this, I guess, I might not be able to use elastic all the way around in that case. Perhaps I could just use it at the front?

Bust gathers

The first part went together so incredibly quickly, but then the fiddly bits and sizing slowed me down. The straps took me a while, and the under bust band totally tripped me up. My under bust size is 37.5, which is again in between sizes. I initially cut the smaller size, because I figured that was a good place for negative ease, since almost all the support of the top comes from the band. Yeah, nope. That’s not a part of my body that has any give (my ribcage) so the band was super tight and rolled up and uncomfortable. I ended up unpicking it, recutting it at 27″ (right in between the suggested sizes for the two sizes I’m in between. Duh). I also switched around the construction a bit here. The instructions have you just double over the material and sew it on the top, but I decided that I wanted to put some elastic in there for more support. What I ended up doing was placing the top and the opened out  band RS together, and basting it with a straight stitch. Then I used a long zig zag stitch to baste some at-rest elastic around the top – so not stretching it at all. THEN I folded the band over and sewed it with lightning stitch, as directed by the pattern.

Two basting stitches still in there.

This resulted in an unfinished seam but it works, and I can always finish it when my overlocker gets back to me. I think I would use this construction method another time, it worked really well (although I was too busy winging it to take pics, sorry! If anyone desperately wants to know leave a comment and I can try to show you on a mockup) and then I’d just finish the seam with serging.

I did not realise when I re-sewed the band on that I’d sewn the join at the front instead of the back, whoops. But actually, the band rolls upwards and you can never see it so… that’s fine? I have a big dent in my chest there from where my bra band sits so the rolling up is inevitable. It’s wide and tight enough to still provide solid support so I’m not worried. This top definitely passed the jump test although we’ll see if it passes the actual swimming test.

Nothing aint going nowhere

I initially thought the top was a bit tight, particularly under the arms, and I was wishing I’d cut the bigger size. But having worn it for photos, it eased out just enough that I think I made the right choice. It was incredibly comfy after about a minute of wear. I think a good change would be to go up a size but use power mesh in the front, which I think would give good support as well as maybe mitigating my always-visible nipple situation – but I didn’t buy any power mesh, so. The support in this top is coming from negative ease, so it needs the squish factor it has.

Flushed with success, I cut out the bottoms. I thought I’d try the side panel version, for fun. I was already thinking I might do the one piece hack and the plainest bottoms would be best for that so I thought I’d get this one in first. Plus, I thought it would be easier to adjust the sizing if I needed it.

Size wise, I was closer to the chart for this one. My waist and thigh measurements are band on the 1XL size. My hip measurement is an XL – that’s two sizes lower! I ummed and ahed and then I ended up just cutting the straight size 1XL because I figured it would be easy to take it in especially with the side panels. In the end I think it came out totally perfect!

I had a bit of trouble easing in the crotch curve, but managed it in the end. I found the notches for the pattern pieces did not match up at ALL on a lot of the pieces. It’s possible this was user error though because I tend to be slapdash about notches if I know they’re not 100% necessary, and they did match up where matching was actually necessary for precision.

I was a bit skeptical about the elastic cut sizes for the leg, and also couldn’t quite work out if I was reading the instructions on how to sew it right, so I basted the leg elastic first. I’m really glad I did because it was TIIIIIIGHTTTTT. The instructions say not to ease it at all in the front of the leg but I found it so tight that I couldn’t help easing it a bit there, and it dug in to me. I wonder if my rubber elastic is more firm than the expected elastic?

You can see the bust gathers at work here

I unpicked it and cut it with an extra 2″, and rebasted. It seemed to work pretty well, although my second leg has a better distribution because I’d gotten the hang of it more. The first leg I did has a spot at the back where I didn’t pull it enough and a spot at the front where it’s a bit tight, but it’s fine. I also turned the fabric under so the raw edge wasn’t showing, based the elastic on that and THEN turned and sewed. I think if I’d had an overlocker available I might have been fine with the technique given, but I didn’t want the unfinished edge there.

The leg edges are for sure the dodgiest part of this make. I think I probably should have used a twin needle rather than a lightning stitch – I had to go back and do another row of stitching in some places but on the other hand, I really appreciate the stretch power of the lightning stitch there. It’s going to be a stress point, so it’s nice to have them feel solid. They look alright on, and I think they’re pretty good for a first go. Next time I would take extra time in this bit. There’s no rush! The bits where I basted and went extra slow are definitely better.

Messy

For the waistband I cut a strip the width suggested and then held it around me until it fit right, and then used that. It ended up being 34.5″ which is a bit longer than recommended. I think I probably could have made it a bit tighter, as it creeps down a bit after some movement, but it’s am ok compromise for comfort, although I worry it will stretch out with wear. High waisted things do tend to creep on me because of the shape of my waist. Next time I might consider putting some elastic in the bottoms in the same way I did in the top.

Next time I will scoop out the front leg curve a bit – it still feels like it’s cutting in a bit and you can see it’s rolling in. I compromised by sewing with a wider turnover there but it’s still just a bit long, so next time I’ll scoop it just a bit. I might see if I can go back and copy the next size down’s curve.

I REALLY love the coverage this gives me on the back legs, and on my belly. I actually thought I would be nervous to share these photos and was braced to do it anyway because dammit, it’s my body and I refuse to be ashamed of it. But in the end, I feel totally comfortable! I am so thrilled.

So that was a big ol’ wall of words. Here’s your TL;DR – I love this pattern. I found it really well written and helpful, and I am thrilled by the size range on this. I know there are a lot of people still sized out, which stinks. But it’s definitely a larger size range than most patterns I see around and I appreciate that It’s nice not to be the largest size, like usual! I also love the potential it has, and the hack and suggestions available for it. I am interested in trying out other P4P patterns after this.

I am so thrilled and grateful to finally have a bikini that I look and feel good in, and that is comfortable and practical. A quadruple threat! I honestly never thought it would happen. I also feel very grateful to the CSC and their swimwear month, because although I always intended to get around to swimwear, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten to it this year or even any time soon. The CSC month made it seem possible and even simple, and also introduced me to this pattern! And thanks to everyone on the CSC facebook group who have been so nice and encouraging and excited for me when I posted about this! You have all made me feel very happy.❤

 

Wear are they now, part 1

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I’ve been thinking lately about which of my makes are and aren’t in my wardrobe, and why that is. I thought it might be useful to go back and look at the last couple of years’ makes and reassess their success or not. My blog posts tend to be ‘this isn’t perfect for these reasons, but basically it’s fine’ and sometimes it is fine, sometimes it’s GREAT and sometimes those imperfections are just too big. So I thought I’d go back until I found the first thing that’s still in current rotation in my wardrobe, and review the things I’ve made since then. Makes from 2014 or earlier tend to have been gotten rid of because my taste or style has changed, or they had some significant beginner flaws like poor fabric to pattern match.

I’ve split this up because it was getting long and very tedious, at some point in the future I’ll do the rest. Be warned, terrible photos from a dying camera and  a dead-faced me coming up!

Special mention:

A special mention goes to my Kasia skirt, which I made in 2012. I still have this, although it’s in a box because I don’t really wear straight skirts much, but I still love it and it fits and looks good so I can’t bear to part with it. It does gape a bit because of the weird construction of the front, but I still remember the thrill of this project – doing something a bit outside my comfort zone, and pulling it off. And I remember how magical it felt to have something in my wardrobe that actually FIT my actual body. Bliss.

Ottobre painted roses:

Still love these. These photos aren’t the best but I haven’t managed a selfie with these ones recently so they’ll do. I didn’t wear them much last summer but mostly for lack of skirts to pair them with. I’m not sure I’ll get much more wear out of the roses one since my style has shifted but I’m giving it another summer to see. Just recently I took the too-tight arms off of the white one and replaced them so hopefully it will get more wear because I did put it on several times over summer and then took it off because the arms were uncomfortable.

This is a great pattern and I still highly recommend it. I’m also thinking of mashing up the armholes and sleeve of this with springfield since this is the best fitting woven sleeve I’ve found for me. Also it’s interesting how although I felt comfortable in that outfit at the time, and I can objectively see it’s fine, I just want to whack a circle skirt on myself in those photos. personal style is a funny thing.

Bluegingerdoll violet:

First blog post in my current house! I actually don’t remember seeing this one in a while. I think it might be in the ‘summer things’ box, or perhaps I got rid of it. It had been relegated to a house dress because the fabric was a bit too thin really. Still like the pattern but not sure I would make it again.

Jasper sweater dress:

I donated it. I felt uncomfortable in the straight skirt, and a bit exposed – I think I need a waistband especially in knits otherwise I feel like I’m wearing pyjamas, and in an exposed way not a  freeing way. All personal style issues – objectively I really liked it and thought it looked good on me, but not like myself. I would still definitely recommend this pattern, it’s so well written and drafted. I would like to make the jumper version at some point, when my RTW jumpers start biting the dust.

My M6696s:

Black Viole:

I think this maybe got worn maybe five times. It’s not a great fabric choice in that it’s very thin so if it’s warm enough to wear it it’s warm enough that I don’t want to wear black. Also it’s see through enough that I really need to wear a slip or something, so then it’s too warm for a slip or too cool for such a light dress.

Fabric choice aside, there are numerous fit issues. The waist is too low all around, which makes me look boxy. It’s WAY too low at the back, and the fix I did to bring the waistline in after I was finished makes the centre back really heavy (I put a tuck in the back waistline) and  so it drags down and feels and looks awkward. Also those sleeves and armholes are pulling like woah. I wore it a few times and always felt a bit rumpled in it. However, it’s still hanging in my wardrobe because I thought it might be good to have an original version of this pattern with not so many tweaks to try on, if I attempt it again. Once I do that or decide not to,  might harvest the fabric for something else because it’s too nice to waste.

Anchors:

This got a LOT of wear last summer. The armscye pulling is a weak point and the seam has had to be repaired there, and it’s still straining. Also, it’s too short. It’s exactly the length I intended it but it now reads as too short to my eye – I initially started thinking the waist was too high but I don’t think it is, I think it’s just that I want a longer skirt. I haven’t been wearing my shirtdresses in autumn and winter because once I have socks or stockings on, I feel like I’m wearing a school uniform, and I think a longer skirt would help mitigate that. Here it is with one of my Bonnies – this was one of my favourite outfits in autumn and I liked it with grey or white knee socks too but then the school girl factor came in too much.

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Even as it is the bare knees are giving it a gangly look rather than an elegant one. I have let the hem out with the intention of turning it up with bias tape to get as much length as possible, and patching a bit extra onto the placket, but I have yet to sew it back up again. I think that might get my knees covered but honestly I wish it were hitting a good 3″ lower.

Teal flannel:

This one is sitting in a basket, in pieces. I took it apart to underline it and let it out wher eit was too tight and then couldn’t decide which adjustments I wanted to make, and then decided I didn’t like straight skirts anyways, so it’s been there for a while. I am of two minds about it. I adore this fabric and would love to wear it. But the whole thing is too small and the skirt is too short and if I were making it again from scratch I’d flare the skirt a bit more to give it some oomph – and some more sitting room. So I’m not sure this one is going to get put back together again. That said, I fell for it again a bit looking at these photos, so perhaps I should finish it and see if it gets worn in autumn or spring.

Teal broadcloth:

I still love this dress, a lot. But I also have so many issues with it. Same as above, pulling armscye, collar too wide, too short, and also in this one the waist really IS too high. The broadcloth doesn’t have any give at all so it’s just a wee bit tight and high everywhere. But I just love the colour and the feel of the fabric. I wore this dress at least once a week through summer and autumn and it was my go-to feel good dress, but I also couldn’t stop noticing all the things that are wrong with it. The best, most important thing I learnt from this dress is that I am most comfortable wearing bright, deep solids. That’s when I feel most like my self. Bonus points if I can create a whole monochromatic outfit.

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All teal all the time work selfie. The green glasses are because I’m sensitive to the specific spectrum in fluoro lights and without the glasses I get migraines.

I am planning to let down the hem on this one too but I’m also considering just buying more of this fabric and trying for a better fitting bodice. The M6696 has been good to me but it’s just not quite right and I’m not sure I’m going to get it with minor tweaks.

Twister dress:

Meeeeeeeeeeeeh. Too tight, too polyestery, too cutesy. Love the idea, don’t love the reality. Oh well, I had fun making it. I can’t remember if I’ve donated this yet or not but I intend to.

Miscellaneous skirts:

All of these have been donated – the pencil skirt is no longer my style, the black skirt was too wrinkly and the denim was too big and I couldn’t be bothered taking it in.

Bonnies and Moneta with circle skirt:

I still wear the bonnies a lot and I wore the moneta a lot last winter. The waistband stretched out though so everything is now hitting in the wrong spot. I still wear it as an around the house dress although I find the wool a little bit itchy at my elbows.

Violeta (violet + moneta mashup)

Wore this constantly last winter but now I feel too exposed and va-va-voom in the tight skirt. I’ve put it away while I contemplate whether to donate it or not but I haven’t worn it in almost a year so it looks like I will. I did love it and now I don’t.

Solstice dress:

Let us never speak of this again.

Steeplechase bike shorts:

I’ve since made two more batches of these (I can get 4 out of 3 metres) and I wear a pair every day. Possibly the best and most useful things I’ve ever made.

I think this post is long enough now. I’ll pause and do the rest at a later date. Hopefully this is interesting to someone besides me but if not, oh well. Always good to do a stock take!

Springfield experiments

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Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching Cashmerette patterns with interest and excitement. There’s so much promise in the premise of plus size patterns actually drafted for plus sized bodies, which are often very different than smaller bodies. Patterns with a swayback adjustment already in? And properly proportional armholes? Sign me up!

Jenny’s style is different from mine though so I hadn’t yet bitten the bullet. I don’t wear wrap dresses although the Appleton is still tempting me and I might have to concede when the weather is warmer. The Washington is not for me, I bought Concord but have yet to make it because I just can’t bring myself to be excited about another knit shirt (maybe when it’s warmer?) and I like Upton but can’t see myself getting much out of a sleeveless dress. I love my sleeves. I had the same reservations about the Springfield top (give me sleeves) but in the end, I couldn’t resist.

Here’s my lovely, unironed muslin of the top. I followed the pattern instructions to pick a size and made up a straight size 18 in a C/D cup – I’m high bust 41″ and full bust 45.5″ for those playing along at home. And it fit. Perfectly. Right away. Immediately. With no adjustments.

I’m astonished. I admit I was starting to get a bit eye roll-y like yeah yeah, everyone loves cashmerette, but guys. It’s real. Actually here is my real first muslin:

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I decided that the straps were a bit widely placed for my liking, and I moved them in an inch. However now they’re too far in and my shoulder and underarm nuggets are too exposed😛. So I’ve now mashed the pattern up with my adjustments so I’ve really just brought the neckline in.

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My initial adjustment to bring the strap in – I cut the strap off and moved it over 1″, smoothing the armhole out. I then took a tuck out of the back yoke so it would match.

I left the adjusted top as is though because although I was hoping for a wearable muslin, this fabric –  I can’t remember where I got it, maybe as a freebie at craft camp? – is very polyestery and I can’t see myself wearing it. The neck and arms are just folded under and stitched which is why they look so crap, but you can get the idea of the fit and that’s what I care about. I’ve kept the muslin and I’m idly considering adjusting it for sleeves, so we’ll see. Here’s the back:

With a vague attempt to pattern match. Princess seams are not the best for gingham but they’re what I wanted to try out! I did go back and sew the upper back with smaller seam allowances (and have adjusted the pattern to reflect this), as well as extending the back yoke each side, to give me extra room in the upper back. I also sewed the side seams a bit smaller at the hip and adjusted the pattern to add and extra 1cm there. But look at that FIT.

You can see my undershirt there and my bra sits just under that so it’s definitely been brought in too much. But the straps as is showed my bra on the other side.

I do have a couple of small complaints. The first is that the seam allowance on this pattern is 1.2cm, which makes sense I guess since that’s 1/2″. But it means that to do french seams one would have to either sew VERY carefully and neatly, or remember to add .3 to the sides. I wish it was just 1.5cm or even 1cm because that would be easier to remember to add to, I think. I know it’s a small thing but it made me scratch my head, I don’t think I’ve ever sewn another pattern with a 1″ seam allowance. The second is that I found the pdf quite hard to tape together. A couple of the pattern pieces were placed so that there was only a teeny tiny scrap hanging over onto another page, making it hard to tape accurately. And I found it totally impossible to tape the bottom of the front bodice in a way that lined up. It’s possible this was user error but I tape a lot of paper patterns and I’ve never had quite so much trouble. I unstuck everything and tried extra carefully to line it up and it just wouldn’t, so in the end I just taped it in place. I wonder if my having to adjust out the hip was because I was adding back in the room that was meant to be there if the pdf had lined up properly.

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It just would not line up at all.

However, those are things I can work around, and I think this pattern is worth it.

Once I had my first muslin done I decided I wanted to try something a bit interesting. As I said last time I’m trying to up my casual wear game which is currently made up of not quite successful makes and almost worn out things, which doesn’t make a gal feel put together. I decided I’d like to try a loungewear style singlet. I tend to sleep in as little as I can get away with (TMI? Sorry not sorry) or relatively close fitting things because I roll around a lot in my sleep and in looser clothing I get tangled up and uncomfortable. But I was thinking I’d like some nice, casual things to throw on when I’m planning to spend the morning wafting around looking elegant and having breakfast cooked for me.

Tada! No iron!!

This fabric is one of a couple of rayon sarongs I bought in Bali last year with the intention of sewing up. When I was buying it the shop attendants said it was ‘second grade’ and you know, they’re were not kidding. This fabric was a NIGHTMARE to work with. It had stretched all off grain and was really tricky to cut out and stretched more as I was sewing it. So this is not the elegant thing I was intending, but I guarantee it will still get wear in summer. The back is the pleasing bit, though.

My idea for loungewear was given this specific direction when I saw Lauren from Lladybird’s silkLakeside pjs. I’ve admired this pattern but it doesn’t go up very  big – I could get away with using my high bust and an FBA but the shorts are never going to fit. Plus tbh since I wouldn’t wear them to sleep in, I’m probably always going to wear it with a bra because I am not comfortable walking around without one. Even – especially – when it’s hot! (underboob sweat, anyone? And you thought I was done with the TMI.) Flashing a bra strap doesn’t feel fancy to me so the lakesides were out. But a mashup? Perfect.

There’s now a law that there needs to be one ‘you’re a KITTY!’ face per blog post.

I was going to just draft the back piece myself since it’s basically just a big curve but a friend lent me her copy of lakeside (thanks Lucy!) so I could trace it off and line it up with the view A plain back of springfield. This essentially involved just lopping the top off the largest size of the lakefield back piece so it was flat to connect with the yoke. I did not think the construction through though and I finished the backflaps with bias before sewing everything together. I should have sewn the side seams and then finished the back and the front together (duh). As a result, the front is a very dodgy double fold and sew, and the bit where it meets the back is very sloppy. That’s ok because it’s sloppy anyway because of how the fabric stretched out.

That is NOT meant to dip like that. Yikes! The other side is the same so maybe it looks like it’s on purpose?

This fabric. Was. A nightmare you guys. A nightmare. I mean to be fair it was not intended to be sewn as fabric, but hoo boy. A nightmare. I finished the neck and armholes with self bias too but I had some issues with it – I think a cutting error due to stretchy, foldy fabric and then a stretching out (I did stay stitch everything as soon as I cut but it is just that loosely woven) means that one armhole is not wide enough and flashes my bra:

Sigh. It’s extra low and wide at the back, which the other armhole isn’t. Just focus on how I used the edge for the yoke, instead. Although then you can see how loose and stretched the back neckline is…

I have another sarong in a different print and also some of this sarong left. I was planning on making some shorts to go with it but… I don’t think I can face it. Nothing good can come of this fabric you guys. Nothing. I think the other sarong is destined to remain a sarong.

What is this poise? We’ll never know

So all up, this one is a bit of a fail. I bet it will get worn in summer but it isn’t exactly going to up my loungewear game, since it’s yet another not-quite-right make. Oh well.

This is the widened straps, by the way, and I’m really happy with them. I’m also happy with the unintentionally great pattern placement on the front and the fact that I will never have to sew with this terrible fabric again. AND the fact that I have a winner of a pattern on my hands in the Springfield!

I do have limited need for sleeveless tanks but one or two will be incredibly useful so watch this space for some non-muslin versions. I will also definitely be making another, better, Lakeside/Springfield mashup in a better behaved fabric.

A partial success still counts as a success, right?

Piper shirt

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Do you ever have a moment where you have a useful and practical list of garments you need in your wardrobe, and then one day you’re just like ‘nah I’ll sew this other thing instead’? Probably. I think most of us do.

You ever make something practical like a white shirt, but you make a version that is in every essential neither season or particularly practical? Yeah, that.

I bought Simplicity 1166 originally for the skirt, which is a very practical and useful looking garment. Here’s your schematics

But I couldn’t stop looking at that shirt. Those weird square armholes! What would the sleeve pattern piece be like? Would it look terrible on me? Probably, right? Those huge baggy sleeves! The model is holding it down but they’re still giant. But… maybe they’d be cool? They’d definitely be interesting!

Well??
I like this photo because it looks like my cat is rolling his eyes at me.

One evening I couldn’t take the curiosity any more, so I pulled it out of the packet and whipped up a muslin. I figured it looked like an ease-y, loose shirt and I could probably get away without and FBA. I traced off a size 20 shoulder with a size 22 from the armhole down. Technically that’s below my full bust measurement by the sizing guide but the actual garment measurements indicate there’s many inches of ease in this one so I figured I could swing it. Here’s my first muslin:

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That sleeve situation was out of control. The downwards diagonal was sitting right over my breast and making it super duper pouffy. It looked interesting, alright, but not in an elegant, cool way! The sleeves were also really really long. The model clearly has hers folded up about four turns in the photos.

I went back to the pattern and I raised the under arm up 2″, tapering to 1″ at the corner and down to nothing at the shoulder. I duplicated this on the sleeve and walked the seam lines until they matched up – I had a bit of trouble doing this because of the weird shape of the sleeve so what I found worked was to fold out a pleat at the top, flat part of the sleeve until it was the right length when I walked that seam. Then I shortened the side lines of the sleeve cap to the appropriate measurements. This helped with keeping the sleeve width the same, because I still liked that.

I also shortened the sleeve by seven inches. Seven. Inches! Oh and I tapered the front side seam out by 1″, because the sides were pulling and I still couldn’t be bothered doing and FBA, and anyway I didn’t need the width at the centre I needed it at the side. Here’s muslin two, it’s the white side:

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Much more maneagable. You can see from the pulling that I really ought to have done and FBA but I still couldn’t be bothered and I had plenty of movement room so I figured I could live with some pulling. I was figuring that this shirt would be a nice casual topper for the weekends, a good throw over beach shirt or when I wanted something a bit dressier than a tshirt. I wasn’t aiming for a perfectly fitted dress shirt, so comfy and easy was more important. Instead I sort of cheated and I slashed and spread the front piece by 1″ (my notes aren’t clear if this was as well as or instead of the 1″ at the side seam), and I took a 1/2″ tuck out of the front and back shoulders to make the sleeve sit higher up on my actual shoulder. I also lowered the dart by 1″ – this was the first time I have lowered the dart wholesale instead of changing the angle or mucking around with it in some other way, and I am SO pleased by how it turned out. Spoiler alert: perfect placement:

Look at that perfect darrrt!

I was pretty over muslining especially for a shirt that I didn’t see much everyday use for, so I went ahead and cut into my fabric. The shirt itself went together pretty quickly. I had a BLAST sewing those pointy sleeves but also they were very tricky, and I didn’t do a super great job on the left front, it’s a bit puckery. Bringing the sleeves up and making them less dramatic plus my less than precise sewing because once again, I’d decided that near enough + a fun time sewing = good enough made them not quite as crisp as they could have been, and more rounded) means I’ve lost some of the drama and obviousness of that design feature. I figure it’s a fair tradeoff for a shirt that’s actually wearable.

Puckery sleeve corner

So yes, the shirt came together fairly quickly but I had a connundrum. I initially only cut out one sleeve because I wasn’t sure I had nailed the length. When I put in my shortened sleeve I was worried I’d made it too short. I’ve been thinking about the rolled/unrolled length and I wondered if I’d gone too far, so I cut out another sleeve that was a bit longer, and sewed that in. This took a bit of wrangling with re-drafting the cuff. The original shorter sleeve basically stopped where the sleeve had started to narrow, and for the longer sleeve I had to find a suitable spot to put the cuff. Here’s the shirt with both sleeves in:

Both sleeves are cuffed once. I couldn’t cuff the longer sleeve any more because the cuff was now too narrow. I’m not sure how the model managed to get it cuffed so high – presumably she has thinner arms than I and also probably knows that fancy way of cuffing where you end up with the cuff on the outside, which I saw one time on pinterest and totally failed to learn. Actually looking at these I can also see that the fronts are scooping up – I’ve noticed that in my finished piece and figured it was because I didn’t do that FBA and should have added length but I’m wondering if it’s not a cutting error on my part because the muslins aren’t doing that. The front IS shaped but not that dramatically.

Scoopy front and weird wibbly arms. You can see how much less dramatic the batwing sleeve effect is compared to as drafted

As you can see, I ended up going with the short sleeve. I threw it out on instagram and was initially leaning towards the longer sleeve because it seemed like a more familiar silhouette. I was also suggesting having the shorter sleeve but a smaller cuff to bring it in. In the end the instagram opinions were pretty evenly divided, so I had to think for myself! Terrible. The deciding factor was how off grain the sleeves looked. I checked and double checked and they’re definitely cut on grain although it’s possible I introduced a grain error when redrafting things and the grainline isn’t where it should be on the pattern itself. The sleeve is a totally unconventional shape so it was hard to double check or intuit it. In the final product, though, I think the weight of the cuffs is pulling it straight.

I’m really glad I went with the shorter sleeve. I think it suits the silhouette better and it’s going to make it more wearable as a casual shirt, which is what I wanted. I’m trying to up my weekend-wear game. I did use some cheap fusible interfacing and it’s made the cuffs a bit bubbly, so i won’t be using that again but I don’t notice much in real life.

I wish I’d thought about the front length. Even without the dip, it’s short, because I think it’s meant to be worn tied up. But for me it’s a bit too short to do that without flashing some belly, which I am not against exactly but it’s also not generally the look I’m after.

Tied up – you can see my white undershirt because it’s cold and I’m wearing layers.

I feel like everything about this is hitting me in exactly the wrong places. Perhaps if I lengthened it a few inches so the tie was wear my waistband is? I’m not sure. The buttons are in slightly award places too, I think – I found my high bust point and put one there and then used the button distance gauge that simplicity provided. Because the buttons are so big and therefore so far apart it’s a bit tricky – really I want all the buttons about 1″ lower because then I’d get extra coverage at the stomach and the top button would be in the way when I open it – as it it prevents the button band from folding out to sit neatly. But then I’d have gaping over my bust!

The back when tied and the pulling back sleeve – this is why most sleeves are curved I guess!

However in the end I think I like this shirt best of all tucked in:

Which makes the shorter length just perfect. Even if I do kind of look like a nurse

Perhaps the nurse effect would be less dramatic with one of my bigger skirts. But you know, I’m kind of into it! I can actually see myself making this again, although I might reign in the collar which turned out to be kind of gigantic and also weirdly swoopy and pointy. Which I would have known if I had paid attention because it’s like that in the line drawings. I don’t notice it as much in these photos but irl it seems so dramatic – maybe because it’s right near my face so I can see it all!

Seriously look at that, those points are hanging over my shoulders!

I sewed the sleeve cuffs with flat felled seams, so that whatever way they are there’s a neat finish. It took a bit of braining because I initially put them in the wrong way so they are a bit overworked and frayed a few places and I had to satin stitch them down, oops. I did take some closeup photos but they all turned out a bit crap so I won’t show you. I need to work on getting better detail photos. Anyone have any tips?

I also finished the facings with overlocking and I tacked down the back neck facing because it kept flipping up.

I could stand to shave a bit off of that collar at the back, too…

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough that I’m going to synthesise the important detailed here:

Pattern: Simplicity 1166 “head back to the 1950’s with this great vintage simplicity pattern. pattern includes button up blouse, bra top with crossed back, and full skirt with buttons. simplicity sewing pattern.”

Fabric and notions: White broadcloth from Spotlight, 4 3/4″ white buttons from Lincraft

Size made: Size 20 shoulder, size 22 armhole and down

Adjustments:

  • Brought armhole up 2″, tapering to 1″ at turn, and 0″ at shoulder. Duplicated on sleeve, keeping original sleeve width.
  • Took a 1″ tuck out of the shoulder width
  • Spread front by 1″
  • Lowered the dart by 1″ using this method http://curvysewingcollective.com/tutorial-lowering-or-raising-a-bust-dart/
  • Shortened sleeve by 7″, redrafted cuff to match it

Changes I would make next time: Straighten out front so it doesn’t dip in the middle; take more care about the sleeve corners; reduce width of the collar points.

Things I like:

  • I love the shape of the collar before it gets too drastic at the ends
  • The ease-y fit is a bit outside of my usual shape but I am really digging it
  • I am just in love with Spotlight broadcloth, it’s such a nice hefty fabric and it behaves so well
  • it’s a casual shirt but it makes me feel fancy!

 

Sweet and Honourable skirt

Here we continue in the ‘more skirts, bigger skirts’ theme with some sateen from Spotlight. I bought this intending to make another gertie skirt but then I wondered if perhaps two was enough. After my Lennox skirt I kept thinking of Jo’s wool circle skirts – I love the way hers fall and of course mine don’t hang like that, as my torso has a larger circumference.

Wheeee!

I figured to get that I’d have to have more degrees in my ‘circle’ so one night I traced off the pav skirt and slashed and spread it as wide as would fit on my the last piece of tracing interfacing I had left – a very arbitrary measurement.

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I probably could have made it a full 90° but then I would have had to make it shorter, or use a lot more fabric. I could have, as I have a metre or so left over. I am toying with maybe making another pair of gingers or perhaps a bomber jacket out of it. What do you think, matching pants or matching jacket?

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Anyhow. Apart from a wider bottom circumference, it is the same as the Lennox skirt, using the gertie skirt waistband etc. However, UNLIKE the Lennox skirt, it didn’t all go smoothly – when I sewed it up I felt like it was perhaps of an unruly size, so instead of sewing the waistband on as usual I basted it on to check. Good instincts, it was significantly too big! When I held it closed at the back in such a way that it fit, the side seams were way to the back, telling me that the pattern piece was too wide.

This is my ‘you’re a kitty!’ face

I suspect partially that I made an error when tracing it and made the waistline too low – I thought it looked too big but I measured it a couple of times and the measurements matched the original pav pattern. I should have listened to instinct and made it higher regardless, as it’s much easier to lower that waist and give yourself more room in the skirt than it is to bring that in. Especially when you’ve already top stitched the pockets.

Strike a pose

Long story short, I unpicked everything and took it in two full inches on either side (!). The fitting is still a bit iffy – today and two weeks ago it’s about an inch too big, a week ago it fit perfectly. I think I am just going to have to resign myself to a fluctuating waistline and either add in a second hook, or add elastic. Or both. I definitely need to go back and take some room out of the centre back of the Lennox skirt, as even at the peak of my waistline flux it’s big enough that I have to pin it. Bodies! So tricky. It sits maybe a little high on my waist but if I have it sitting lower, the back droops because of my swayback.

Strike a different pose
Strike… of the cat hair all over me.

 

For the insides, I lined it again with taffeta, leaving the lining open at zipper part of the back seam. I find with my skirts where I’ve tacked the lining to the zipper, they eventually tear since that area gets a lot of tension as I slide in and out of car seats, etc, so I’m better off leaving it floating. It’s overlocked to finish.

I hand stitched the hem, and on what is almost a double circle skirt, that’s quite a lot. It only took me about three hours, which is comparatively quite fast! I think practice is speeding me up. I hung it for a week or so before hemming in case it dropped. It didn’t do so in that time but I noticed today it is a little bit lower at the sides. If it drops much more I’ll have to rehem it. (noooo!)

As I stitched, I thought a lot about war, and colonialism, as one does. When I first tried the skirt on I was struck by how much the poppies look like splashes of blood, or gorey wounds. In a good way, I guess? I was intending to make a valar morghulis joke but then the association with poppies lead me down a more serious path.

I work in the centre of the city and am lucky enough to be close to quite a few green spaces. I try and go for a bit of a walk every day, and one of my favourite walks takes me past the war memorial, down the newly installed Anzac memorial walk down the side of the governer’s house, which lists all the major fields of war where Australians have served. There’s a stone in the corner of the governer’s grounds memorialising the first gaol in my state, which is also where the first people hanged are purported to be buried (the link goes to the very first but next were some un-named (of course) aboriginal people and then someone who stole clothes worth two years’ wages from an inkeeper). On the other side of the road is the Migration Museum, which used to be a lying-in home and destitute asylum. Then I take a left, past the original army barracks and parade ground where my maternal grandfather used to work, down a leafy walk lined with memorials to specific squadrons and battles, and back up the other side of the governer’s house. Sometimes I walk back past the statues of Matthew Flinders, who ‘discovered’ much of South Australia. There’s a lovely patch of grass there but most office workers avoid it because often there are aboriginal people sitting there, sometimes drinking. There’s also the statue of Dame Roma Mitchell, who was a real tough,  smart lady and went to the same high school as me (not at the same time, obvs).

Adelaide’s war memorial – this side is called ‘Spirit of Duty’

So there’s a lot there, to make a person dwell on war and patriarchy and imperialism and colonialism, and the violence and misery all of those things bring.

I also think of my family history, of my paternal grandparents particularly, who trod this same ground as me when it looked quite different, and who both served in WWII – my grandmother staged a one-woman sit in in her seamstress job which she wasn’t allowed to quit as it was essential services. Finally they gave in and fired her and she became a drill sergeant. My grandfather was a rear gunner in a weather scouting plane, a precarious position. He saw some combat and later suffered a long breakdown which I don’t know the details of because nobody in my family really talks about it. I think about how I never really got to know my grandfather very well (he’s been dead a decade or so), and how I regret that because while I adore my grandmother I suspect I more strongly take after my grandfather’s side of the family and the older I get the more I understand him, as well as my own father, and wouldn’t it be nice to have them both still there to have that be a conversation, not just me thinking in my head about people who are gone?

I think about why I am drawn to retro styles, and whether that is a good or a bad thing, because I certainly am not comfortable with a lot of the associations and with the history of the period – but the same goes for this modern period, anyway. I think about how it makes me feel connected, and I think about gender performance and what being a woman means to me. I think about how 100 years ago, WWI had been going for two years and would go for two more, and about how technology had changed was and produced new horrors – and continues to do so.

A heavy burden for a sewing project to carry. Most days it’s just a skirt. But sometimes it’s a good reminder, too.

I’m not sure how to recover from all of that, so I suppose that’s the end of this blog post. What’s your personal relationship to your history like? Does it intersect with your sewing ever? Do you have any makes that carry more weight than is fair to put on an innocent garment?

Lennox skirt

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Hello again! How about that weather we’ve been having, huh?

Anyway, here is a skirt. It’s not a very exciting one on the surface of it but nontheless I am pretty pleased about it.

It’s cold and I can always use more black skirts so I thought I’d toss the stash and see what came out. I wanted a circle skirt to further my mission of more clothes that take up a lot of room (bigger skirts! No, BIGGER!!!). I have a fair amount of wool suitings, many of them from Shula’s destash by way of Suse one craft camp, but most of them are comparatively small cuts so I wasn’t sure if I could get a skirt out of them. In the tossing of the stash I uncovered this one. It’s some wool I got from Rathdowne Remnants back in 2012, which is about as old as my stash – I think I might have some stuff from 2010 at the earliest. In the link, it’s the one in the photo with the faded selvedge. It’s quite heavy and is heathered with green and purple, although I found it hard to capture that in photos.

Topstitched pocket

I got, I think, 2m of it intending to make one of those Ottobre skirts I was churning out at that period and just never got around to it. My memory of it was that it was a 1m cut but it must have been 2m I think. It was very wide and I managed to get this circle skirt out of it. I did have to piece the waistband, and I wish I’d thought it through and pieced it twice, on the side seams, rather than having one line on the front – you can see it in the first photo above. I’m debating putting belt carries on this and perhaps I could put one there – would it make it more or less obvious? Hmm.

I was too lazy to draw up a circle skirt pattern so I used the Pavlova one. I lengthened it at the waist by a couple of inches, and remembering that I had had issues with positive ease I also brought the waist up about a half a centimetre, to make the waist measurement smaller. I probably could have done with a bit more, honestly. It fits fine thanks to the waistband but I feel like it hangs a bit extra drapey at the zip, and there are a couple of small puckers where I eased the waistband to the skirt.

I swear the zip does do up all the way, I just managed to leave it down 1/2″ and daylight is so precious that I’m not taking the photos again.
A pucker by the waistband 

I used the waistband off of the gertie skirt although I lengthened it a couple of inches to make sure I had a proper overlap – and then ended up going back and adding another couple of inches as you can see above. I mean really all I did was cut a straight waistband a could of inches longer than my waist measurement and about 1 1/4″ tall. I was just lazy so I used an existing pattern piece, but it’s just a long rectangle so it barely counts. I also cut the waistband as two, one side wool and one side tafetta. I used midweight interfacing and probably didn’t clip the seams as much as I should have as they’re a bit bulky. I also wish that I’d used cotton or something more grippy for the waistband lining. The taffeta causes it to slide around a bunch – you can see it moving even in these photos.

Combined with the fact that I have trouble working out how tight to put in the hook, and the fact that the skirt is quite heavy, it is a bit unstable and shifts. I am planning to go and tighten the hook – I’ve already moved it once – or perhaps add another one so I can have ‘before’ and ‘after’ lunch hooks😛. I have also considered putting elastic in the sides but I don’t want to go back and retrofit that in. Perhaps belt carries and a belt would do the trick – but would thread carries be enough to hold it? I am pretty sure I threw out all the scraps (there weren’t many!) so I couldn’t go back and add self fabric carries even if I wanted to. Which I don’t.

Sliding off centre

The gertie skirt has quite a straight waistline and the pav’s waistline is curved like a regular circle skirt but it was fine, I just had to sew it slowly to make sure I was easing it in properly. I also used the pockets from the gertie skirt, and I lined it with taffeta, using the same circle pattern. I later had to go back and take in the side seams of the lining because it was too full and caught between my legs. This is a lesson I continuously fail to learn. One day!

Pockets, and apparently this is the face I make when my cat walks into the room.

The zip is just a regular invisible zip, and went in wonderfully. This wool was so lovely to sew with, stitches just sank in to it and it behaved beautifully. I serged the seams. I am trying to be neater and better about my finished but part of that is that I’ve decided that serging is just as legit as anything else. I always feel this weird guilt that I’m not binding or flat felling things. It helped reading this piece about period sewing – those dang Victorians, insisting on finished edges and giving the rest of us complexes about it! Anyhow, I’m letting go of that, serging is a perfect seam finish for me most of the time, since it means that the finished item is much more adjustable after the fact and I’d much rather it had neat serging and my time went in to other extra touches, or effort spent keeping the sewing neat.

I did, however, hand sew the hem! It took me about two hours and I really enjoyed about 1.5 hours of that… the last bit was a bit of a push. I realised, as I was drifting to sleep that night, that I’d not hung the skirt up so I wonder if the hem will fall. It shows no signs of it so far after a couple of weeks of hanging in the wardrobe and being worn twice a week – but then my denim skirt was fine for a good month and now it’s in the time out pile because the hems fell and it has a weird mullet hem, so now it’s languishing in the mending pile.

And THIS is the face I make while holding my very large cat. Look how much he loves it. (Toes of RAGE)

Apart from the hem this was a very quick make, and it’s a very useful addition to my wardrobe. I really love the way it hangs, it’s got a heavy, drapey swing to it. Perhaps I should acquire and wear more wool, it really is a fantasy fabric.

I am the night

Teacher’s Pet trousers

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So here are my Ginger jeans! This will be a long, picture heavy post, be warned!

Most of you will be aware I live a happily pants-free lifestyle. Not nudist (too cold! Too sunburny! What if I sit on something?) but all skirts all the time – except on weekends when I live in store bought yoga pants. However this time of year is so cold and I hate stockings and tights so much, I start to think that some work appropriate pants might not be a bad idea. I have all kinds of body/gender/appearance issues with pants which make me pretty wary of putting a lot of effort into fitting them and then finding I dislike them. But I had heard such great things about the Ginger Jeans that I thought I’d give them a go.

I can definitively say that when it comes to pants making, I am as clumsy as a camel. However! I triumphed in the end.

Actually these went together pretty easy, in essentials, but because I was changing things up they needed a fair bit of tweaking. The fabric is ponte I got on sale at spotlight. I figured it’s about the right stretch factor and I didn’t care if I wrecked it or didn’t wear it. I had 2m and I have almost a half a metre left because of my very wide fabric and from not doing back pockets. I wanted slim black pants because I felt that they were most likely to fit into my existing style and not make me feel like a lumpy teen who is trying to work out what to wear (exclusively jeans and Tshirts for years, and it worked ok as camouflage which was what I was going for, really. I find wearing jeans now makes me feel uncomfortable and not like myself).

I wanted to make a highwaisted pair that would look vaugely retroish, and I did not want to muck around with a zip. My number 1 problem with pants (apart from mild dysphoria, I am not kidding about that part) is that my stomach squishes when I sit down so that + jeans button = angry red welts and extreme discomfort. I toyed with the idea of a side zip but in the end I thought that I would just go elastic waisted the first time to try them out. I had seen Gillian do the same and it solved a lot of my ‘difficult waist’ fitting issues and I also figured it would be easier to fit the crotch curve if I didn’t have to set and reset a zip.

And then the villagers all burst into song…

To adjust the pattern to take the fly out I just folded that part of the pattern out. I wasn’t sure what to do with the pocket stays so I cut them on the fold, overlapping to take out seam allowance. I figured since they get caught in the fly they would be about the right size. WRONG. I don’t know if I used the wrong piece or misunderstood the way the pockets go together – I found that part of the pattern hard to follow because I was just skimming along and for complicated things I tend to need to do to understand them – but the pockets were way too big and had a fold in the middle. I just unpicked them from the waistband and chopped them off in the centre to make them hanging-loose pocketbags. The stays are some stash fabric with a slight stretch – not 100% sure what it is but it’s definitely cotton something.

… and dance.

I cut a straight size 20 which from the size chart would be a bit small for me but I figured negative ease would be fine. When I first tried them on they were HUGE around my waist. I did some tweaking and pulling and found that the side seams were balanced and the hips and legs fit how I wanted them to. All the excess was in the rise. I ended up taking 2″ from the front, tapering to about 1″ at the crotch, and then back out to four whole inches off of the back. Yikes! I’ve since seen a lot of people, including Heather, saying that the larger sizes run big. It’s a shame as it makes it hard to fit yourself and also means people who might fit into them won’t try them.They do fit my hips perfectly though, which I find a bit strange as the issue I have with bought pants is if the hips fit then the waistband is too tight!

I’ve adjusted the pattern pieces with my changes, but not my last extra skimming off of the rise so I have to go back and do that. I kept adjusting and sucking the front crotch in more until I had taken a good 1″ off all the way down. There’s still a bit of weirdness at the base there – I looked around online and saw that a fair few people have that too, but of course it’s a bit obfuscated if you have a fly.

Some weirdness

I’m not sure how I would fix that (hit me up if you know!) but I’d rather have that little pooch than the camel toe I get with most RTW pants so I can live with it. I think I could do with taking a 1/2″ fold at mid-rise as it seems to want to creep down and pooch a bit there, so I’ll do that next time.

The back is creeping up my bum a bit – it’s only very bad when I stand like above (and it’s more visible there because the shiny fabric + exact light conditions are showing it up. I think next time I need to add width to the inseam. I don’t know enough about pants but I suspect that would help with some of the inner thigh pulling, too? I did basically no fitting of the back because I pretty much couldn’t see it. I was sewing exclusively at night and black pants and low light meant no mirror viewing was really possible. I just made sure they were comfy and I could sit in them and went for it.

I’m really glad I had left the fly off so that I could do all this adjusting! For the waist, I cut the waistband as drafted except I put it on the fold the other way – so instead of joining at the front it joins at the back, folding out what I approximated to be the length of the overlap. I then attached it as I would a regular waistband – band to yoke, facing of band to front of band. Then I zigzagged some elastic in to the facing part, closed the yoke in and topstitched it (not very neatly – I was ready to be done at that point and I suspect this pair will mostly be worn with tops untucked). The elastic is the exact size of my waist when standing, so that at rest there is no wrinkling or anything – it’s more that it expands easily when I sit but then doesn’t sag out afterwards. I used 1″ elastic as that’s what I had that fit neatly in the band. I suspect I have already popped some of the topstitching stitches from getting it on and off, as they’re straight stitch and not very flexible! I probably should have used lightning stitch but I used straight throughout. I did take some detail shots but they all came out blurry and weird so I have nothing to show you, sorry!

One last butt shot.
Ok I lied
This one doesn’t even count as a butt shot. I don’t know what you mean.

After this I still spent a bunch of time fiddling with the pockets. The instructions have you either french seam, or serge and sew so that the serging is inside the pocket, and the clean finish is outside of the pocket. You can see what I mean in the sewalong. I found this made them bulky and I had a very visible and unattractive line where the pocket was. I spent some time moping about it because I have feels about my stomach. I think the issue is that the pocket happens to end right where my stomach is the biggest and also the lumpiest, on the edge of the ridge where my belly is dissected with underwear/waistband lines. I thought about my boughten jeans and how they have the serged edges on the outside, so I went back and unpicked the bottom seam and sewed it that way.

Tada! Lumpy pockets!

I also found the pockets quite shallow. I can’t fit my whole hand in there, and I think if they were longer they would have a more effective stay effect. I found the shallowness a bit weird on a high-waisted pant but perhaps that’s more flattering on people without big stomachs? I don’t know. Anyway if I make these again (which I intend to) I will lengthen the pockets by a few inches so they hit me in a better place and have enough room for my phone, as well as fitting the stay properly so I can have it all the way across my stomach, which I think will reduce how wrinkled they look and minimise any tucked-in tops’ wrinkles showing through. I didn’t bother making the coin pocket.

So once this was all done and I was pleased with my pants I grabbed a free minute and had a quick photoshoot. When I got the images off my camera I felt bad. I had just thrown on whatever shoes and a plain white tshirt so you could see the pants properly and I just felt weird and lumpy and strange. I might have well been wearing a chicken costume for how comfortable I felt. A lot of this is complicated feelings about my body and presentation that I can only barely articulate. I spent a week feeling glum whenever I thought about it. I did spend some time looking at images I liked of people wearing pants and decided that the main issue was the length. I had hemmed them at regular pant-length because I wanted these pants for warmth, dammit, and cold ankles wasn’t part of my plan! However they were actually hemmed a bit too short for that, and shifted around when I moved or sat, so they looked like I’d grown out of them. And all the photos I liked had people with cropped pants. So I decided I’d crop them and see how I liked them.

I basted them higher and they looked a bit like this:

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Look at these space dorks and their dumb short pants. That one guy is so embarrassed by his short pants that he’s passed out! And look how smug that lady is. I guess I’d look smug if I had a Science blue space nightie and matching slippers.

So I unpicked everything and tapered the legs in about 1cm each side at the bottom. I wasn’t very precise about so hopefully they’ll be fine. They certainly look better at least to my eye! Then I thought about how to style them for photos. Usually I go for ‘how to make the details the most visible’ but honestly, you’ve all seen ginger jeans before. I wanted a confidence boost. I pulled this top out of my wardrobe – I bought it in Bali last year and haven’t worn it because I don’t have anything it goes with! A match made in heaven. I hope you can still see the pants properly – I pulled it up for most of the photos so hopefully it’s clear. I’m still working out what shoes I like with it too. The white ones are a bit of a look, which I’m a bit unsure about, but I love the shoes and if I wear them with my shirtdresses I look too much like a nurse! It would be good if they could get some wear.

Sitting view, v important

I grabbed some rare winter sunshine to take these photos, and had a lot of fun doing it. How do you like my teal wall? I’m taking advantage because soon my bed will be where I’m standing, no room for photos! Can’t wait to go be able to stare at this lovely colour every night, just as soon as the paint stink dissipates. Before the teal it was beige. Floor to ceiling beige. Nightmare.

Minimal downcreep at the back when I sit

I was very nervous when I went to look at this second batch of photos but luckily I love them! They made me feel really good, and good about the pants (especially with a shirt long enough to hide the weird butt business). The power of styling! Must remember that. Utilitarianism and practicality is all well and good but it only goes so far. It also made me realise that part of the problem was that I’d created a wardrobe orphan! My general style silhouette is wide bottoms, slim tops. So none of my tops worked with this because I only feel comfortable if that’s flipped – slim bottom, bulkier top – like a shirt or an oversized jumper. I do try so hard not to make wardrobe orphans, too! Well at least it has one matching top. I suspect these will get more wear in warmer weather anyway, because the ponte is quite thin, so the thin lawn top is perfect. Honestly I never find pants as warm as leggings/stockings + skirt, unless they are going to be, like… flannel lined wool pants I guess. But I will have to think about sewing some shirts for these pants, especially as I am planning more. I have some thin denim to make some jeans-like pants – I’m not interested in the full jeans thing but some slim denim pants with a side zip sound like a go. And I would like to try the wider leg in some bengaline I have. Perhaps merging the high waist with the wider leg? Or perhaps I’ll muslin the lower waist and see how I like it. I’d also like to compare them with my Colette Juniper pants which I never wear because the rise is too short, and see what the shape of the rises are like compared to one another.

I guess I do this pose a lot, huh?

Phew! That’s a lot of words (and photos!) Everyone who stuck with me the whole way gets a gold star.

Here’s your TL;DR: I made pants, and I liked it! They would be a pretty quick project now I’ve fitted them (especially with no zip!) and for someone used to circle skirts they take up a very modest amount of fabric. I’m pleased I tried something different, and very excited to have a pants pattern in my arsenal.