Lazy Winter 1: Greenstyle Brassie Joggers

Front view

After finishing my pinstripe trouser and vest, I was ready for something quick and easy. Winter holidays mean lots of lounging around, enjoying all kinds of delicious food, and generally not trying too hard. With that in mind, I pulled out a nice dark gray french terry I bought without a plan last year. (Another 2018 New Year’s resolution – stop doing that!). I was going to make some awesome DIY sweatpants!

Some of the features I wanted were fitted silhouette, pockets, elastic rather than drawstring waistband, cuffs instead of elastic on the legs, and a nice, long length. I decided to use the Greenstyle Brassie Joggers PDF, which offered all of those options. I haven’t used independent pattern designers very often, since patterns from the Big 4 pattern brands (Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, and McCall’s) are so inexpensive and familiar. The pattern sells for $10, which is more than I am used to spending. But I like the idea of helping new designers and at the same time contributing to a more diverse marketplace. (The Big 4 and several others are now all owned by the same parent company).

Side View

Once I purchased it, I was able to download the PDF pattern and instruction files to my laptop immediately. If I had wanted to, I could have printed out the pattern right then on 19 sheets of printer paper. But then I would have had to tape them together. That didn’t seem like a lot of fun, so I went with option B – sending the included “copyshop” version of the pattern (one great big page) to a printer.

I looked into having the printout done where I live, but it was really expensive. Most places were quoting me between $12-$20 per sheet! The best option price-wise right now seems to be where you can have black and white sheets printed for a more reasonable $0.60 to $5.70 per page, depending on size.

Once I had my sheet, I unrolled it and set about planning. Mainstream patterns have been printed on thin, semi-transparent tissue since at least the 1920s. Tissue is easy to cut and pin through, although you need to be careful not to tear it. Regardless of who does the printing, PDF patterns will use opaque office paper. I rely on being able to pin through my pattern. I also want to be able to see through it well enough to make sure that I have stripes and other designs placed where I want them. So I went through one more step and transferred my size to Swedish tracing paper. It wasn’t too much work, and using the tracing paper is actually much nicer than using tissue. It’s sturdy, semi-transparent, and does not shift and blow around as easily.

One of those pesky pockets

Careful reading of the instructions is important. This pattern assumes a 3/8″ seam allowance instead of the typical 5/8. If you don’t need to let out any seams, 3/8″ is great. The serger works best with 3/8″ width, and of course, you won’t waste as much fabric.

There is a line drawing of the pants on the first page, but no pictures or line drawings of the many length and finish options. On the other hand, every step is thoroughly explained and supplemented with illustrations. Another nice thing is that the designer’s website features pictures of customers’ finished pants in all kinds of sizes and styles.

Despite all that, I managed to mistake the back pieces for the front ones. I sewed the pockets to the back crotch curve.  I had to completely re-cut the backs and pockets. Luckily, I had enough scrap to cut out two more pieces, but I had to give up 2 inches of length. So. Capri length it is!

One thing I liked about the construction was using fusible interfacing strips to stabilize the curved pocket openings before turning under and topstitching. I used the heat-n-bond soft stretch tape again and it really made a nice stable curve. Because it was fused in place, I didn’t have to mess with pinning it, so stitching went much faster. Good thing – since I had to do it twice! I’ll definitely be using this trick on future projects.

Back View

The pattern features a waistband with both a drawstring and elastic in separate casings. I like this option, since I think the drawstring is a nice look, but I don’t love pants that use drawstrings alone. Instead of a drawstring, I used a length of black ribbon. It was less of a style choice than finding something on hand that would work. I can always rethread a drawstring later if I don’t like it.

The pants turned out to be ankle length when all was said and done. I like them a lot. They are really comfortable – easy wear and easy care.

I can definitely see using this pattern again. Maybe shorts length or even as pajama bottoms.

Next time: the companion top to my lazy winter outfit.


Vogue 8854 Black Pullover Hoodie

View C Art from V8854

I have been trying to give a little more thought to my wardrobe these days.  I have a bad habit of accumulating dressy things that I rarely wear and wearing out boring casual items. My new plan is to focus on making easy care & love-to-wear everyday clothes.

Some of the worst offenders in my casual attire are sweatshirts and casual jackets.  I grabbed this pattern as soon as it came out because I knew if/when I made it, it would become a staple.

This is a Very Easy Vogue pattern.  I was curious to see if it lived up to its billing.

I used a mystery fabric I picked up on a bargain table.  It looks like a 100% cotton french terry in solid black.  I washed it in warm and machine dried it on medium.  So far so good.  It looked the same – only a little smaller and with apparently a lot less fluffy fuzz.  It is soft, lighter weight than it looks, and surprisingly drapeable.

Halfway through, checking out the size on my duct-tape double.

I’m not convinced that the high-low silhouette will stand the test of time, so I altered the pattern to have a single level bottom.  I also added the optional kangaroo pocket.  Never pass up the opportunity to add pockets!  Adding pockets is one of the great benefits of sewing for yourself.

The unusual neck opening closes with snaps and a single 1 1/2 inch button.  This is a great opportunity to use something special as a focal point. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult size to find.  Instead I went with a slightly smaller loop and a button I have been wanting to use.

That full lint trap in the dryer was a sign of things to come.  Five minutes in, my whole sewing area was covered with black fuzz.  I took a second look at the pattern instructions and made sure that all raw edges would be secured inside a seam or an overlock stitch.

View of back with hood down. A stiffer fabric would make the hood too bulky.

The pattern calls for double lines of stitching on most seams.  I changed all of these to serged overlock seams.  Leaving any raw edges would lead to fraying, decreasing the life of the garment.  I’m pretty sure it would also decorate any future load of laundry with tons of black cotton lint specks.  Taking a few extra steps here saves a lot of headaches later! I made notes on the pattern instructions so that I don’t have to rethink my modifications later.

There is only a tiny bit of interfacing in this – just on the right side of the placket.  To keep it nice and soft, I used this fusible made specifically for knits.  It adds some structure, but leaves the fabric soft and stretchy.

Even Feeding Trick
Sewing the kangaroo pocket in place. Tip: Place a few layers of fabric under the presser foot wherever there is a large difference in thickness. This will help move the fabric through the machine evenly.

Construction was straightforward.  For a Vogue pattern, this was very easy.  There is no lining, no buttonhole and no fussy fitting.  However, I would not recommend it to a complete novice.  Some of the recommended fabrics, such as sweater knits, can be tricky to work with.  You will need to be proficient enough to work with varying thicknesses, stretchy fabrics, fraying, etc. and make your own changes if needed.  I would say it was appropriate for an advanced beginner or intermediate level sewer.

For some reason, the pattern did not specify any edge finish for the inside of the plackets, leaving them raw.  This could work with some knits, such as a heavier sweatshirt or fleece.  I definitely needed to add in a narrow hem, binding, or overcast edge for my loosely woven terry.

As you can see in the pictures, it comes out as loosely fitting as the illustration.  The sleeve length was too long for me, but I kind of like that in a loose pullover.  If that gets old, I can always scrunch them up.

The interesting neck opening shows off a focal point button.

If I make this again, I think I might use the nicely centered rectangular placket as a ground for embroidery.  Can you imagine this with boho-style redwork or maybe a row of simple repeated shapes in a complementary color?  If I embroider, I would omit the button and loop and just do hidden snaps all of the way up.

I do have a way of making things harder than they need to be.  If you make this in a more stable material that didn’t need any special care, you could make one up in a couple of hours.  Maybe I’ll do that.  Maybe I won’t.  For now, it’s time to clean up the lint and start something new!

Hood up! You can see how big and loose this hood is. Spooky or glamorous? You decide!