Fashion

Lazy Winter 1: Greenstyle Brassie Joggers

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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).

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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 pdfplotting.com 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.

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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.

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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.

Fashion

Flatlock Fun Run Tights

I recently decided to audit my workout gear. My activewear drawer had been packed full, but when I got rid of the things that didn’t fit, were damaged or just plain ugly, there wasn’t much left.  The worst category was bottoms that could be used in a gym workout.

I was off to a good start with my Girl Power Shorts, but I also wanted to put together a long tight with some compression and at least one pocket.  I landed on Greenstyle Creations’ Stride Athletic Tights PDF pattern.  The pattern offers options for high and medium rise waistbands, different lengths, with or without pockets, and with or without a crotch gusset.  For my first pair, I chose the long length, pockets (always!), medium rise, and gusset.

TIP: Use a gusset if you are planning on wearing your tights for yoga or activities that require a degree of contortion.  You can leave it out if you are just going to use them for walking or running.

Flatlock_testI had a piece of really nice medium weight black poly/lycra calling out from my stash. The deep solid black was the perfect base for decorative stitching.

Flatlocking is a seam technique where the fabric pieces are joined at the raw edges with a covering stitch. It’s particularly useful for thicker fabrics since there is no double thickness at the seams.  It’s also great for activewear because the inside of the garment is smoother, reducing the possibility of chafing.

When considering a flatlock technique, you need to think about how the seam lines will affect the appearance of the garment. You will be stitching a stripe between all of the fabric pieces where they are joined. You can downplay the stripes by choosing a matching, or slightly darker thread. I thought it would be fun to play with it though, keeping the fabric simple and making the seam stripes the focal point.

I tested various types of thread, seam widths and stitch lengths. I tried wooly nylon, rayon embroidery thread and polyester embroidery thread. I liked the shine of both of the embroidery threads and chose the poly just because I liked the color better. I preferred the narrower 4mm flatlock with the “Seaglass” polyester embroidery thread.*

*Note: This was not a great choice…  keep reading.

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Seam Plan

My next step was to make a plan for which seams I wanted to highlight and which I wanted to disappear into the background. I wanted to hide the gusset, inside leg seams, pockets and hem. My regular black serger thread worked well for this purpose.

Sewing a flatlock seam is really easy.  You simply set up your serger for a 2 or 3 thread overlock with the knife down.  (For most of my seams, I chose to do a 3-thread version for durability). Thread the needle with the thread for the underside of the seam. Thread the lower looper with the thread you want to show on top. Adjust the spacing so that the overlock extends slightly past the cut edge of the fabric. Stitch the seam as usual, right sides together. When you have chained off and taken your piece out of the machine, gently pull the two pieces apart and flatten. If your tension is right, you will have a nice, flat seam joining the two.

The PDF pattern includes easy to follow instructions, so putting the tights together went smoothly.

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Since I was featuring flatlock seaming, I hemmed the pockets using black thread and a 2-thread decorative flatlock.  I’ve seen this in ready to wear, but never tried to do it. The process is not difficult. Press the hem in place as usual, then fold over once more. With the knife down, stitch a two-thread overlock over the outside (or top) edge of the fold. When it is done and smoothed flat, the front has a decorative flatlock stripe while the back’s ladder stitches hold the hem in place. Neat!

I like that Clear elastic is used inside the waistband to add a flexible, invisible bit of structure.

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Curved seams. Bleh.

I didn’t like pinning those curved seams!

I sewed my label inside the hidden pocket – no chafing!  Also – hey, hidden pocket!

I had intended to do a coverstitch hem, then I realized that it would be impossible to work with the small diameter opening on a machine with no free arm. I ended up zig-zagging the hem on my regular machine.

Full disclosure:  I messed up one of the decorative seams.  It was close to the bottom of one leg, and could not be fixed.  So I cut the ends off of the legs, saving as much as I could.  My tights are capri length instead of long.  Oh, well.  We’ll just keep that between us, okay?

tights_pocket_zoomSo, what was wrong with the thread? No stretch. The first time I put on the tights and tried stretching, the seams pulled right out in the tighter areas!  I was able to repair them, but there is no way that I will be using my tights for anything more athletic than housework.  I’m keeping the pattern, though.  With a few changes, this could still be a great staple piece.

Lessons learned for next time:

  • Modify the pattern for roomier thighs
  • Try the higher waistband
  • Use a fabric with more stretch
  • Use a thread with some stretch

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