Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Jeans M5894

For the month of January, I decided to try making a pair of jeans. I have the McCall's jeans pattern, number 5894, in size 18 and up. In ready-to-wear jeans I'm a size 12 or 14. But I bought the pattern based on my hip size, and that's what it came up with. I started by making a muslin out of muslin. I was sure I'd need to make the waist bigger than the pattern said, as my waist measurement is about the same as my hip measurement, but it turned out that I had to take in quite a bit on the side seams.

Then I had to try to figure out what to do with the 'smile' lines in the crotch area. It turned out that the problem was that my thighs are fatter than the pattern allows for, so I needed to let out the inner seams.

Josie helped me figure out the fitting issues. No, she's not a fitting expert, but she was willing to help me pin and unpin, and take pictures of the pants on me.

It took me another week or two to get to sewing my actual denim fabric, but when I did I had fun with the front pockets. I decided to use a pretty yellow daisy print for the lining inside (our little secret, k?), and use yellow thread for the topstitching. I didn't go buy special topstitching thread; I just used what I have.

It took another day or two to get the zipper and fly installed. The instructions that came with the pattern were clear enough, but after making the muslin I realized that they had the zipper opening on the left, like women's pants do, and I knew I wanted it on the right, like men's pants. I found a great sew-along on Peter Lappin's blog, Male Pattern Boldness, that helped me tremendously.

A better glimpse of my pretty lining fabrtic
One of the things I learned from Peter's blog is that it's okay to sew the jeans in stages, i.e., the front pockets one day and the zipper and fly another day, etc. In other words, I didn't have to do it all in one day. During that time I took some time to watch Angela Wolf's Craftsy class about altering store-bought clothes. In there she talks about hemming jeans, and she mentions that you can actually thread your needle with more than one spool of thread--as long as you have a separate spool for each one. So I set up my sewing machine with two spools of yellow thread, in order to make the topstitching a little more pronounced, and I liked the results.

On the left, below, you see the double-thread topstitching, and on the right is the single thread topstitching that I had already done.

So the front of my pants is single-thread topstitched, and the back is double-thread topstitched. That's okay.

Another thing Angela talked about was using sandpaper and a hammer to buff the edges of the fabric to make them look worn, like storebought jeans look, rather than fresh and new like homemade jeans. You can see my efforts at that, above.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a shot of me wearing the pants that I tried my hand at altering. Since I had watched the section of the class on taking in the waist on a pair of pants, I went ahead and tried it. 

These pants are what I bought at a thrift store in Colorado a couple of months ago. They seem to fit great when I first put them on, but then they gradually get bigger and bigger until they're falling off of me. I ended up taking off the waistband, the back belt loop, and unpicking the center back seam, then resewing it all back together to make the waist two (2!) inches smaller. I took in half an inch on each of the two darts--one at each pocket--and an inch (or more) at the center back. The pants stay up better now. And they're more comfortable. But that dart that extends behind the pocket makes the pockets a bit looser and stick out a bit, and I realize now that the pants are just overall too big for me.

So I tried to apply what I learned to my jeans-sewing efforts. Here is the yoke sewn on, no waistband yet.

I don't know why it's so tall in the back. Did I sew it on upside down? Seriously, that yoke makes the back of the pants come up above my waistline--and these are supposed to be below-waist jeans to start with! Plus, did I mention that I already took out an inch in the rise of the front and the back? So why are they so tall?!

And the front still has some fitting issues.

Side view. 

Oops! Look what I noticed. See this side seam, and how far it is from the front pocket to the back yoke?

And see this other side seam (the left?) and how much closer the two are to each other?

Yeah. Not good.

Another thing I noticed is that the left side seam seems to run down my leg just where it's supposed to, while the right one seems to sit to the back a bit.

So I unpicked and re-sewed another time or two.

And I worked on getting the waist area tight enough to not fall down or droop.

When I sit down on the carpet, the back gapes open, so I took in that yoke by almost two inches.

And still, after 30 minutes of wearing, the back still falls down and bags in the seat area.

I'm not super-motivated to put on the waistband and finish these, as there are other projects I want to get started on. I'm thinking I need to pick out the seams again, maybe even take the back pockets off and cut off another inch or two of the back rise; maybe even adjust the front pockets and rise. I don't know. But I'll come back to it when I'm ready. Time to give it a rest.

Monday, January 12, 2015


In November Pattern Review ran a contest for making a handbag. I've never made a handbag before, but I wanted to try, so I bought a pattern (it cost $10!) and looked through my remnants that I've been stocking up on, and this is what I came up with:
I sent away to China for the oval rings to go on the sides where the straps are, and it took a few weeks for them to arrive, so I didn't get the bag done in time for the contest. But that's okay. I now have a new purse. I love the four outside pockets--two on each side, and the inside pockets in the lining, and the zipper top. I love the colors. I learned about interfacing a purse, including using iron-on fleece to give it some body. I learned about making your own piping. All in all it was a good experience, and I'm thrilled with my new purse!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Style and Sew an A-Line Skirt

That's the name of a Craftsy class taught by Deborah Moebes. Or maybe it's Design and Sew. Anyway, here is my first "muslin," or practice skirt, made to fit my own measurements:

From the front it looks fine, although the sides kind of stick out. From the side, though, it looks almost like a pencil skirt, with no shape in the back. Or, wait! Maybe that's me that has no shape in the back. :-)

So after I tried the first version, I followed her directions for "slashing and spreading" the pattern to make a fuller skirt. I cut six slashes from the hem to, but not through, the waistline, and then spread each one by half an inch at the hem line. This added three inches to this quarter of a skirt, or twelve inches total to the hemline of the whole skirt.

So now I've got a skirt shaped more like I had imagined that I'd like it to be. In fact, it's really similar to my favorite grey wool skirt that I wear so much. Except that this one is blue and made of cotton and doesn't have six "gores" in it. But I mean, you know, similar shape.

And the side/back seems to work better now, too.

So after I made the practice versions, I made a "real" version out of this blue cotton "jacks" fabric that I bought a few weeks ago in order to build up my stash for the Style the Stash Sewalong. I used the practice skirt, above, as the lining.

And.... I like it! One thing's for sure, it's very comfortable. And it fits me.

I put in an invisible zipper for the first time using an invisible zipper foot, and it worked! I was so tickled with myself. Mixed in with all the metal attachments that come with my sewing machine from my mother was a baggie that had these plastic invisible zipper foot attachments. Two years ago when I made Melinda's wedding dress, I had no clue how to put in an invisible zipper. Now, thanks to Deborah and also Sunni Standing (with her free zipper class, also on Craftsy), I knew what to do.

I didn't tell you then, but I'll tell you now, that I had actually tried to insert an invisible zipper into that dress that I made in May. Deborah says you can just use a regular zipper foot to do it, and that's what I tried to do, but it didn't work so well. You can see the zipper in several places. I could have unpicked it and re-did it, but it's behind me where I can't see it, so it really doesn't bother me. :-)

I've had people ask me why I'm so determined to learn to sew my own clothes. One reason is because it's helping me be more aware of my body and its shapes and sizes, and hopefully to help me appreciate it as is, even as I'm working on getting healthy and strong again. And another reason I'm working on sewing my own clothes is because I'm loving the learning process.

I'm really excited about trying some more skirt variations. This could get addicting!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Knit top

Simplicity 1716 is a pattern that got high marks on Pattern Review. I made it with a lightweight cotton knit fabric. I started it yesterday and finished it today. I like the interesting and modest neckline. It was fun to figure it out.

The sleeves were fun to make, too, and I like how they cover my upper arm.

As long as the fabric holds up alright, this should be a functional and cool top to help me get through these hot summer days.

Ruffling foot

Things have been a bit hectic since the wedding, but are starting to settle down. Two days ago I was ready to get back to sewing things for myself. We had moved my machine and other sewing essentials to the attic where I could have some space to finish up the wedding sewing when children and grandchildren were filling our home. Advantage: great escape. Disadvantage: hot attic. So before I could start sewing on a top that I wanted to make, I decided to make some curtains to cover the south-facing window.

I use my mother's "vintage" Singer sewing machine, model 15. It's the one I learned on, and I love it. The only thing it can't do, I think, is zigzag. It has an amazing buttonhole attachment that makes perfect buttonholes every time. And it has this ruffling foot.

I had never tried it before, even though many of those little girls' dresses that I made had to have gathered skirts, basically because I wasn't sure how much of them would gather and whether or not the gathers would be adjustable to make the skirts fit the bodice.

But, curtains--that would be a great opportunity to just ruffle up some strips of fabric and sew them around the edge.

And I did it.

Okay, don't look too closely, as they are by no means perfect. But they are functional, and kind of pretty, I think. I lined the fabric with that blackout lining in an effort to keep some of the heat out. And I used the top ruffle as the curtain rod pocket--probably a real no-no. But, hey, they add color and functionality to my new room, and I think they're kind of fun.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Big Girls' Dress

This is my oldest granddaughter, and she's modeling Butterick 3714, made of pink satin Casa fabric from JoAnn's, fully lined. I haven't reviewed it yet on pattern review, but I need to, as this is the third time I've made this dress, and I love it.
The bodice and sleeves are overlaid with matching pink sparkly organza

It's a pretty good dress for twirling.

The lining supports a tulle ruffle that helps the dress stand out away from the body.

I made two of these dresses, both size ten, but one for each of two very differently-shaped young ladies. For this one, I did the size ten for the length, but cut the size eight for the width, and  it is still a little loose on her. For the other, I took some length out of the bodice and the skirt, but added width to the waistline. When I get a picture of the other girl modeling hers, I'll post it as well. Between the satin, the lining, the organza overlay, and the tulle, each dress probably took, oh, about six yards of fabric.

Wow! I hadn't stopped to realize how much fabric each dress takes. Oh, my.

Stay tuned for the middle-size girls' dresses, to be posted sometime in the next couple of days.

Baby's dresses

This little girl is the youngest of three little granddaughters who were born into our family last year. The dress she's wearing is made from McCall's 2053 out of primrose pink Casa satin, lining and organza from JoAnn's. Her two cousins have similar dresses made of the same fabric. I used a grey satin ribbon and sewed it just under the bodice in the front, with ties for a bow in the back. Her mama made the roses for the hairpiece in her headband. There is also a matching set of panties to go with each dress. Total yards? I don't know. Probably a yard each of the satin, organza and lining, plus an additional half-yard or so for the panties, for each dress.