Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Safran Jeans - pour mon grand derriere

This is the first pattern I've sewn from Deer and Doe (although I own the Brume skirt and it's on my to-do-soon list).  I swore I was going to commit to making pants and jeans this fall, really loved all of the tester versions, and was high on the success of my first pair of Closet Case Ginger jeans, so I was ready for the Safrans.
I started with Version A, the longer length with pockets.  I cut a size 42 at the hip and graded to a 38 at the waist. I usually don't grade pants patterns that have a yoke, I just take a dart out of the yoke, but these are sans yoke, hence the grading.

For fabric I actually bought some of the fabrics they recommended in one of their blog posts - very helpful! Especially when ordering online.  Descriptions of stretch % can be greatly exaggerated depending on the source. So I started with this charcoal stretch twill from Mood fabrics.  This fabric feels amazing. It is quite heavy but with a ton of stretch.  Great to sew and very comfortable on.  Mood's description about varying color is very accurate - when I took it out of the box, I thought, "oh, it's more brown". While sewing it, I was convinced it was indeed charcoal. When I stepped outside to photograph them wearing black shoes, it looked  brown! I give up.  If Mood sold this in black or navy I would buy 20 yards of it to wear forever, but this color is confusing...

These were pretty quick to sew. I've made pants before - beaucoup de pantalons, for Tim. It's not the construction I was avoiding, it was the fit issues that I knew I would have to deal with.  The instructions are quite good except for their method of installing the fly front. It was merde.  I tried it their way, hated it, ripped it out and used my preferred method.  I also find it slightly odd to do the fly after the fronts and backs are attached; I usually do the front in its entirety, then the back, then put them together, which also makes it easier to tweak the fit.  So for my second pair I changed the order of construction. Other than the fly, it is a very well done pattern.
The only modification I made was to not interface the waistband.  They're very snug pants and I thought it would be more comfortable, and so far no regrets.
My first pair - LOVE them. Love them. They fit pretty perfectly. The high waist was great in terms of avoiding the gaping I usually get at my back waist. I immediately decided to make 6 more pair!
Pics! My backyard was under construction so these are kind of crappy pics from my doorway, but they'll do.

They look brown against the black and gray shoe, no?
 I love how they fit. LOVE.
Those shoes look ridiculous! I swear that fabric is supposed to be charcoal gray.
They're ass-tastic!  I don't think they really twist like they do in the photo. I think I sat down to put on shoes and didn't adjust them before taking the pics....
I made a second pair, in denim, also with a fabric recommended by Deer and Doe. This was a Telio black denim from Fabric.com.  I don't think it has as much stretch as the twill (Fabric.com says 15% even though Deer and Doe recommend 20-30%).  I made the shorter version, View B.

They are a tad snug as you can see! I look 15 lbs heavier than in the other pair! Merde again! This fabric is a bit thinner, I'd call it the lighter side of midweight, and I don't love it as much as the twill.  Oh, also, I was watching football and since this was my second time thru I thought I could half pay attention to the instructions. So I topstitched my pockets closed! They are purely decorative.

 Boom.  I haven't worn these for a full day yet, so it's likely they'll stretch out a bit and I won't look like a sausage in a denim casing.  Oh, and even though these are View B, I included the pockets. I don't think I can go pocket-less, I think my ass is too big.
My stash is full of stretchy bottomweights, and this is now one of my go-to pants patterns (and my Closet Case Gingers). I do think you need to choose your fabric carefully, with respect to weight and stretch, which is why muslins for stretch wovens can be so frustrating (I didn't make a muslin!), there's just so much variability.  But I'm in love with both pairs even though they aren't perfect, with definite plans for more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Simplicity 8214 in Pumpkin Polka Dots

My eyes lit up when I saw this recent pattern release by Simplicity - I was super excited about 8214, which is a kind of retro-looking combo of top/dress/jumpsuit/pants. I have a couple of actual vintage dresses in my closet with a similar style.  I decided to start with view A, the below-the-knee dress.

For my first pass at it I wanted to use a cute but inexpensive fabric, so I chose this navy polka dot peachskin fabric from Califabrics.  Well, first I googled 'peachskin' - it's just a polyester woven, but it doesn't really wrinkle and has a very nice drape if you're open to polyester in your life.  And the orange polka dots are seasonal for fall.
I cut a size 12 based on the finished pattern measurements and I made a few minor changes to the pattern. It isn't very noticeable in the photos on the pattern envelope, but the front buttons down.  Since it fit over my head (like the Style Arc Holly blouse) I just lapped one side of the front over the other and topstitched it down.
that is a wrinkle not a wayward dart

I also didn't interface the facing (which i also omitted in the Holly blouse, it's just a preference). 
I lopped about 2" off of the bottom, the view A length was a little too long for me.

The fit was pretty much fine EXCEPT - the forearms were so tight I could barely raise my arms to tie the bow.  Not the top, near the shoulder or bicep, but the forearms - !?  I had to go back and let them out to 1/4" SA and they're still snug, so next time I'll have to cut them larger.  Up until this point I hadn't realized I had disproportionately monstrous forearms -
- but now I know. I'm admittedly curious to find out if anyone else has this issue - is it drafted small, or is it just me?

Other than the arms, I really love it.  I appreciate the detail in the sleeve finish, it's very feminine.
  It sews up pretty quickly especially if you've made that style of blouse before and are familiar with the process of installing the facing and then the bow.
Here comes Ringo. I'd pet him but the sleeves are too tight...
...that's as far as I can reach!
On my "to sew for fall list" - a version in this amazing bird rayon challis!  I also bought a few yards of this peachskin to make a spring version.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Vintage Simplicity 9309

All I want to sew for fall/winter is jeans and blazers and jackets. I'm skirted-out, I guess.  I came across this photo a while back while checking out one of my favorite sites and really loved the entire look.
I just love the long jacket over casual jeans and a t-shirt, and decided I wanted to make something similar.  Even though I think the bold stripe on that jacket is kind of what makes it, I decided to use some of the many yards of wool suiting I already had in my stash before trying to find a similar fabric.  I pulled 2 yards of this wool suiting from Mood out of my stash and some coordinating Bemberg rayon for the lining.

I searched Etsy for a pattern I could use and come up with this gem from 1979:
Oh yes.  Interestingly, they don't give you the yardage needed for just the long jacket - it's assumed you will make a jacket-skirt combo.  The 2 yards I had was just enough for the long version of the jacket.  The pattern was a size 12, bust 34, and I made it as-is, no adjustments other than omitting the patch pockets.
It went together pretty easily - I've made lined jackets before, so there were no real surprises.  Vintage instructions are usually (always?) better than the modern version.  The wool was beautiful to sew and press/steam.  I added a single button, but it's the kind of thing I feel like I would mostly wear open.

My finished version is not as long as the inspiration photo; I thought it might overwhelm me seeing as how I'm only 5'4" and it's not something I would wear a heel with.

The overall look is totally what I was going for - I am super excited with how it turned out.  The suiting weight is great for NorCal fall temperatures.  I like the collar turned up  more so than folded down.  When I tried it on, my first impression was that the length makes it feels like a "Luther" coat -
(you're welcome)
- his knee-length tweeds are so gorgeous (if you watch the show, you understand why I nearly cried when he threw his coat in the Thames). Give me a case to solve!!  And a plane ticket to London.
I don't know that I need too many of these in my closet, although the striped fabric of Margot's is calling to me, and if I can find something similar there may be another version of this in my future!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

McCalls 6656 - the Fauxest of Furs for a Vegetarian

My fabric stash is full of gorgeous wools and faux furs...but Bay Area winters don't really call for the heavy coating, sadly. So I live out my winter coat fantasies by sewing for others, namely my family on the East Coast.  Califabrics recently added some gorgeous faux furs to their shop, and I really loved this pink one, with different shades of black and gray and different pile lengths.
I'm not really a pink person myself, but I still thought this was so pretty and unique. So I decided to use it in a coat for my sister for her November birthday. She's a longtime vegetarian but signed off on the faux fur, and this is unabashedly faux - no pink rabbits were harmed!
The pattern I used was McCalls 6656.   I made view A and a size S.  This has a big red  "EASY" on the front of the pattern, even though it looks like it would be complicated - it wasn't. It was super easy! It is unlined, uses button closures instead of a zipper, and the edges are unfinished.  Deceptively simple.
The body of the jacket was a black wool coating from Mood fabrics that was kind of medium weight and almost felted in texture - perfect for a pattern with raw edges.  I added 2.5" inches of length to the jacket body based on my sister's measurements.  I've sewn faux fur before, and used my usual method of tracing the pattern pieces with a sharpie on the back of the fur and cutting with an X-acto knife to minimize the fur shedding.
The jacket sewed up very quickly and I thought the instructions were adequate.  I ended up topstitching the front to help keep the fur facing in place and hand sewed the rest of it in place along the inner seam allowances.  Following the advice of another patter reviewer, I did not use the original button placement markings - they seemed much too high. I just tried it on, made a note of how it draped and where it would be comfortable and marked it accordingly. I'd say my top button is at least 3" lower than the suggested placement.  Other than that, it was a quick, fun sew - 4 hours start to finish including a bit of hand sewing! 
I love this SO MUCH. I kind of want to keep it for myself, but I won't - partly because it is a tad snug across the shoulders for me.  But I even love the pink more than I thought I would! (I still have about half a yard leftover...)

Topstitching and the button closures.

The fur is very soft when the jacket is closed and it's against the face - not at all scratchy or itchy, in my opinion.
There's not much else to say, other than I love this jacket and I love this fur and now I have to make one for myself! I think it's a really cool statement piece and it looks quite intimidating but is really  straightforward in terms of construction.  I'm going to go pack it in my suitcase to hand deliver it since I'm headed East soon - if I stare at it too long I might decide it's staying in California!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Califabrics.com is offering a coupon thru the end of August to celebrate the launch of the new blog. Check it out! Coups are like, free fabric! And check out the blog, there is a $100 giveaway at the end of August.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jalie 3243 - Shorts for Someone who Hates Shorts

The amazing thing about sewing your own clothes is that you can make exactly what you want to wear and what you love to wear. So naturally this weekend I made something I hate to wear - shorts!
I do not like shorts, I don't remember the last time I didn't mind wearing shorts - maybe high school.  I have a longer torso and short legs, but I'm too thick to wear a shorter inseam, and anything else just makes me feel like Mom Jeans.  Like I'm climbing in the minivan and bringing orange slices to soccer practice.  
Part of my upcoming end-of-summer vacation involves desert hiking, and it will be too hot for jeans and sometimes you just can't wear a skirt without looking like a jackass.  She knows it:
Short pants it is.

I wanted something simple, I really didn't want to put a lot of time and effort into something I don't feel good in. I chose Jalie 3243 after reading some positive reviews and viewing the finished products.  It's a straight legged short or pants pattern with front pockets and an elastic waist. Good enough!

I cut the size W - for my hip measurement, although my waist is a size R and that is some serious grading.  I didn't grade it though, I just decided to let the elastic do the work.
For my fabric I used a lightweight gray chambray from Califabrics.  It's very soft, lightweight but still heavy enough for pants/shorts, and I really love it, it was so easy to work with.
The pattern was very simple - Jalie is a great pattern company, I don't think I've ever had a negative experience sewing one of their patterns.  I made a pair of shorts and the pants version in a couple hours, using the instructions for the hidden facings (there are two options).
 They're fine.  For shorts.  I can live with this if I have to.
They may cause a polter-wang issue in the crotch? 
"Where did I park the minivan?"
They really don't look too bad, technically, even though wearing them makes me sad.  But as shorts go, they'll work for hiking around the desert.
This is a well-drafted and simple pattern, and I'm as happy with the final result as I can be!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cali & Co Sewing Blog Launches August 1 - with a Giveaway!

 A bunch of talented sewists/seamstresses/ladies from all over the world (including myself) will be blogging for Califabrics.com at Cali & Co  - A Sewing Blog for the Fabric Obsessed.  The official launch is August 1, with new posts added every few days all month.  There is also a $100 giveaway ending August 31.  $100 goes a long way at Califabrics, so check it out!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sew Over It Pussybow Blouse

The next stop on my pattern tour of pussybow blouses is the Sew Over It Pussybow Blouse. 
I decided to do Version 2, which is the attached v-neck (on the right, as opposed to the open v-neck), since Version 1 is almost exactly like the Style Arc Holly I had just made
This was going to be another trial version or wearable muslin, so I used an inexpensive polyester woven from Mood fabrics. 
I cut the size 10 based on the finished garment measurements.  This sewed up very quickly. It's not a complicated pattern and I had basically just done the same thing with the StyleArc version, and most of the major construction components are pretty similar.  I did not put the little buttons on my sleeve cuffs, not because they are tiny and fiddly but because I don't like button cuffs and I was happy just sliding my wrists through.  No other deviations from the instructions.  The results:

This fabric makes me look like I escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. But I like the blouse! A few things: this size 10 is much closer fitting than the StyleArc Holly size 10 (which I took in quite a bit and should have at least started with an 8).  I have to wiggle a bit to get this over my fat head.  But once it's on, I like the fit.
I like the slightly fatter tie on this pattern.  My next pussybow blouse will probably be from my vintage pattern collection and those ties are wide!
My only real dislike is the existence of a center front seam. You can see it in the photos because this polyester doesn't press well.  The StyleArc Holly has no CF seam and I like that better, but I think I could make this pattern again and omit the CF and it would be no big deal to the construction.  I also need to shorten the sleeves maybe 2".
The back is significantly longer than the front, and this needs to come up a few inches for next time.  It's draping weird on my arse. 
This shirt is hilarious!  And it matches my hair.  I do really like it, and I think it is definitely a wearable muslin (although not until fall/winter, because I was sweating under that polyester).  I will definitely make it again with those few modifications - no CF seam, shorten the back hem and sleeves.  Maybe in a fabric that is not so much Bride of Beetlejuice.