Contest · Fashion · Vintage

Fall Wardrobe: Green Sailor Pants

green_sailor_pants21I’m getting started on my Fall wardrobe with a pair of olive green sailor-style wide leg pants. These are View E of the Butterick wardrobe pattern B5859. Essentially, they are high waisted pants with a back zip. If they look a little familiar, it’s because I have made them before. Why re-invent the wheel?

Previous Versions:

I dreamed up these pants as part of my Fall wardrobe plan, but also as part of a 5-piece wardrobe to enter in patternreview.com‘s 2018 Mini Wardrobe Contest. Even though this is make number 3, I used several new techniques and learned a lot.

Selvedge Trimmed Facing

green_sailor_pants15After I finished cutting out the pants, I cut the selvedges off the remaining fabric and set them aside. Pre-washing the fabric had brought out their texture as well as a short fluffy fringe. After recently buying some trim by the yard, saving this “trim” seemed like a good way to economize.

Meanwhile, I went through my scrap pile and picked out a piece of pretty floral lawn that coordinated with the green. I think that one of the delights of sewing for yourself is using surprising fabrics for pocket linings, facings, and bindings that only you can see. The floral became the waistband facing fabric.

Serendipitously, I had piled the twill strips piled on top of the facing pieces. They looked so good together that I used the strips to make a sharp binding for the facing’s bottom edge. Here’s a little slideshow of the facing going together.

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Basting with Double Eye Needle
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Very long basting stitches along zipper opening

Do any of you read your sewing machine manuals just for fun? It sounds dull, but if you haven’t cracked yours since your machine was new, it’s worth going back and taking a second look. When my machine was new, I was only interested in learning the basics: threading, straight stitch, zigzag, etc. Now that those skills are second nature, the rest of the manual is much more approachable. All of this is by way of introducing the double eye needle.

My manual has a page devoted to using a double eye needle (not to be confused with a double needle) to make long basting stitches. I don’t know if this trick works universally, or only with some machines, but it is pretty slick. Here’s what you do:

  1. Thread machine normally, threading the needle through the upper of the two eyes.
  2. Set stitch to blind hem stitch
  3. Set stitch width to widest setting
  4. Set stitch length as desired
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Thread in upper eye of double eye needle

These settings will result in a long straight stitch slightly to the left of center (test the needle position before sewing to learn how this works). Since the blind hem makes its stitches in a 3 to 1 pattern (RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT LEFT), you will get a stitch that is 4 times as long as the selected stitch length.

Once you are done, you can continue to sew normally by just switching to the bottom eye.

Double eye needles are a little tricky to find. I have never seen them in shops and they are even hard to find online. I located a package of 5 size 80 universal double eye needles in just 3 places:

  1. Create for less $4.59
  2. Amazon $6.50
  3. Directly from Schmetz $4.99

If anyone else has other or better sources, please post a comment!

Finishing Touches

green_sailor_pants16I really like the look of vintage sailor-style button front pants. I can’t imagine how annoying they must be to actually open and close when you need to (ahem). For my pants, I just copied the look without copying the design. Besides, I was already going off on my own with the green color. The buttons are just sewn on – there are no actual buttonholes. I sewed the buttons on top of the seams created by the front darts.

I wound up using an invisible zipper, just because that is what I had on hand. I don’t think it makes a big difference in this case, but I think a plain zipper would go better with the casual style.

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Supplies

Here’s what I used:

What do you think about the supplies list? Should I keep doing them?

Next time, more Fall fashion.

Until then, happy sewing!

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I reviewed this pattern on patternreview.com. Check it out here!

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Fashion · Vintage

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 3: Button Up!

pinstripe31My fear of buttonholes has been holding me back, but I finally worked through it and finished! I don’t suffer from Koumpounophobia, but I was perversely amused to learn that fear of buttons is a thing. Apparently, Steve Jobs had it. My reluctance had more to do with a long history of messing up sewing projects on the very last step.

I chose simple dark brown buttons and brown all-purpose thread. Before starting, I needed to do a little trial and error. I haven’t used my machine to sew buttonholes in years, and I never did it often enough for it to become automatic. Rather than ruin my work, I set up a trial swatch to match the fabric and interfacing in the garment. Boy, was I glad I did!

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My “Easy to Sew” pattern gave these instructions:

Transfer buttonhole markings to garment.

Make buttonholes at markings.

So….  that helped a lot.

Next step – read my sewing machine‘s manual. The machine’s instructions were also basic, but at least gave me enough to start experimenting.

I made a swatch with the same interfacing, lining and pinstripe fabric that I would be sewing.

After much experimentation, I was finally able to consistently stitch the buttonhole I wanted. I actually had to make a second test swatch because I ran out of room on the first one.

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Here’s a full list of adjustments and additions I used.

  1. Place tear-away stabilizer under the buttonhole area.
  2. Use a walking foot.
  3. Set the stitch width to the maximum (in my case, 5mm).
  4. Run the bobbin thread through the eye of the bobbin case’s hook. This increases the tension on the bobbin thread.
  5. Increase the stitch density by adjusting the machine’s balance.
  6. Increase the presser foot pressure.
  7. Mark the vertical boundary of the buttonholes with two strips of blue tape.
  8. Insert a strip of wash-away stabilizer between the lines of tape. Use wash-away marker on the stabilizer to mark the buttonhole placement. Bonus – the lines are highly visible against the bright white wash-away.
  9. I still had problems with the long side of the buttonhole rectangle staying straight. Solution: set up the seam guide and use more blue tape to give it a “track” to follow.
  10. Make several buttonholes on the test swatch. I did not work with the actual vest until I could get three in a row exactly right.
  11. Open the holes in the test swatch sample and make sure the button fits. I used a very sharp seam ripper to cut the slots.
  12. Apply Fray Check to the buttonhole stitching.
  13. Before cutting the holes open, remove the stabilizer and place pins just inside the holes’ bartacks. The pins prevent over-cutting.

I checked and double checked my markings. Yes, I psyched myself out a little. One more triple check and I was ready to go.

Overkill? Maybe. You could make a case. But it worked!

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Why yes, those stripes do line up! So kind of you to notice.

I decided to hand-sew the buttons rather than machine-sew. The reason is that I wanted to make sure they were not attached too tightly. A too-tight button can pull through the fabric or distort the nice flat plane of the button placket.

I can’t believe it, but it’s really done!

I am so pleased with the finished outfit.

Do you have any tips for making buttonholes? Write a comment below – I would love to hear them.

In case you missed it, here is the rest of the series.

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 1: the Pants

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 2: the Vest

I have lots of great things planned for 2018. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Fashion · Vintage

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 1: the Pants

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Fabric swatch close-up: Brown Pinstripe Polyester

Last month, I made these awesome high-waist pants. In the process, I made a good copy of the pattern including all of my personal alterations. I have been looking forward to using it again ever since.

With that in mind, I took a look through my fabric stash and drew out this pretty pinstripe polyester. The plain chocolate brown is brightened up by alternating pinstripes of gold and bronze. It seems to have a little spandex as well. I had always intended this fabric to be used for pants, and with fall finally beginning, the timing seemed right.

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Wrong side of pant facing using both knit and non-woven interfacing due to poor planning. I think it will work…

I’m not sure where the fabric came from. It was probably a remnant or some kind of irresistible bargain. That would certainly explain why, after pre-washing, I found dozens of flaws. I had five yards to work with (also a good sign it was an irresistible bargain), so there was still plenty even when I avoided the snags and pulls.

Before jumping in, I thought through some style possibilities. While I love the high-waist look, I know that there are some situations where the style would make me feel out of place. Because they fit so well (that is, comfy!), I can see using them as the base for casual looks with fitted pullover tops. But what really appealed to me was the idea of wearing it with a matching vest. Something about a feminine version of menswear basics always seems to look so chic. Making a vest is something I have never done, so it would also be an interesting challenge.

But first the pants. I am once again making view E from Butterick 5859. Because I took the extra time with the first pair, these went together quickly. That’s not to say that I didn’t manage to sew not just one, but two seams on the wrong side. That happened. But the seam ripper and a good night’s sleep took care of the problem.

I have to say, it felt really great to put on my new pants and have them fit on the very first try!

In the meantime, I also cut out the pieces for the vest (Out of Print Simplicity 4079 View A). I found that I had a lot of lining left over when I was done, so I decided to make it into bias tape. I thought it would be nice to bind the waistband facing with it. The lining fabric from Mood is a polyester satin, which is heavy enough for a jacket or coat lining. I really love the way the bound facing turned out, but I am not sure if I would try to make bias tape with the same kind of fabric again. The material did not want to take a crease, so it was really slow going. Still, I have at least 2 1/2 yards left, so I don’t think I’ll need to make any more.

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Right side of facing
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Inside pants (zipper is in back)
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Lots of binding left over

And here are the finished pants:

Next in this series, follow along as I tackle my first vest!

Fashion · Vintage

Vintage-Inspired Pants Part 2

For my vintage style pants, I chose a medium weight twill in a poly blend that drapes easily. I wanted something that had a little bit of movement and fluidity this time. I think in the warmer seasons it would also look great in a crisp cotton or linen.

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Pattern for facing and pattern for matching interfacing

After cutting the fabric, the first step is to stabilize the facing pieces. Sometimes it is tricky to know what to use. You don’t want the waist to have too much stiffness. It would be well supported, but it would not be comfortable to wear. You also don’t want too little. That would run the risk of having pants fabric bunch up at the waist when you sit. I chose a medium weight fusible tricot interfacing. It has flexibility vertically, but is stable horizontally. Placed so the stable horizontal axis goes across the waist, this option supports the waistband shape without stiffness.

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Tricot interfacing after fusing

Since I was planning to use this pattern more than once (stay tuned!), I went through the extra step of making pattern pieces for the interfacing. Typically, pattern instructions have you cut interfacing with the same pieces you use for facings. There is nothing wrong with doing it this way, but it can be improved on. I trace the facing pieces onto extra pattern paper, then draw a new line where the seam line would be (in this case, 5/8 inch from the edges). Using these smaller interfacing pattern pieces, you will waste less interfacing material and you will not add unwanted bulk to your seams.

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Fraying situation critical

I assembled the pants mostly on the serger using a 3 thread overlock. The fabric I was using had a tendency to fray, so I made sure all of the raw edges were enclosed in some way.

I spent a little extra time on the facing, binding the lower edge. I’ve seen this done in better ready-to-wear and just liked the look.

I did the hem with my regular machine using the blind hem function.

The versatile black pants look great dressed up or down.

Something about this outfit makes me want to learn to tap dance. I think that’s a good thing.

See Vintage-Inspired Pants Part 1

More construction details

 

Finished Pants

Fashion · Vintage

Vintage-Inspired Pants Part 1

B5859 Company Photo
Inspiration photo

This year, I’m facing the change of seasons head-on. While we are still able to dip our toes in the ocean, I’m pulling together plans for fall looks. First up will be a vintage inspired high-waisted trouser.

I am making view E from Butterick 5859 – one of their Lifestyle Wardrobe patterns. The high waist is right on trend. This year, wide legs are coming back as well. Finally, trends are starting to converge with my taste!

The pattern is not that old, but unfortunately is already out of print. For those of you looking to sew your own version, you might want to try Decades of Style’s 1940’s Empire Waist Trousers, or Wearing History’s Smooth Sailing Trousers.

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Line drawings from B5859 Envelope

Although the pants are described as semi-fitted, they still warrant editing to follow the wearer’s curves. The pattern has front, back, and side seams as well as darts in the front and rear; so there are 8 places to make alterations. Knowing that I would probably need to make some changes, I decided to make a quick muslin first.

One of the nice things about making a muslin is that you only have to work with the essential parts of the pattern. There is no need to bother with facings or interfacings, pockets, zippers, etc. So, I only needed to cut the front and back pattern pieces.

Last month, Craftsy.com had an all-you-can-watch for free day. I took advantage of it and watched all of the lessons in Linda Lee’s Serger & Coverstitch: Fashion Details class. My favorite take-away: use your machine’s chain stitch for temporary seams. When you are ready to take the seam out, you don’t need a seam ripper.  You just start pulling one end! I tried this with my muslin and it worked like a charm. It’s way easier than using a seam ripper and leaves no little thread “crumbs.”

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Chain stitch used to baste muslin together. French curve used to smooth revised seam line (teal marker).

I’ve actually picked up a lot of tips from Craftsy classes. Sandra Betzina’s Pant Fitting Techniques class got me in the habit of cutting side seams with a 1 inch seam allowance (at least the first time you are trying a pattern). That way, you have lots of room to make changes, if necessary.

I chose a pattern size based on my largest measurement (hip). I marked the new 1-inch side seams on the onion skin, then cut out my muslin pieces. Then, I chain-stitched my pants together and checked the fit.

Fitting Round One: Torso Too Loose

I put the pants on inside-out to make pinning simple. Being careful to do both sides evenly, I pinched and pinned slight changes in the side seams of the waist and above-waist area. There was still a little gap in the small of the back, so I pinned that as well. After taking the pants off, I used the pins to draw new seam lines for the sides and center back. Just to make it more visible, I changed the color of the chainstitch thread. Then I stitched the new seam lines.

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After the second fitting: green thread on changed seamlines; horizontal decrease pinned.

Fitting Round Two: Torso Good, Crotch too Low

Using a ruler, a mirror, and a little bit of guesswork, I saw that I needed to raise the crotch curve by about an inch. I started with the upper “shorten or lengthen here” line on the paper pattern pieces. I found the corresponding points on my muslin, then used them to draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline). I made two more lines, 1/2 inch above and 1/2 inch below. I pinned the top and bottom lines together to make a 1 inch reduction. I was thrilled that they looked perfect when I put them back on. Just to make sure I didn’t over-fit, I twisted, sat down, and walked around. Still good… I was done after only two rounds – that’s a record for me!

Transferring the modifications to the paper pattern was pretty easy. While I was working on it, I also removed the extra seam allowance from the sides. The last change was to modify the pattern pieces for the facings to match the new waistline.

Next time, putting it all together!

Fashion

Easy Pull-On Cuffed Pants Part 3

If you have been following along, you know that I just made cuffed pants that I can’t get my feet through.  Sigh.

If I had gone right back in and tried to fix it, it might have been a real mess.  I needed to sleep on it for a few days.  So here we are, a week later, and have I arrived at a solution I am happy with.

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Problem on the bottom.  Solution on the top.

I didn’t have very much scrap, but I had enough to make a little bit of bias tape.  I cut the leg at the inside seam, going from the bottom to just above the cuff. Carefully, I pinned and sewed double-folded bias around the cut area. Once again, working in this area was pretty fiddly, since it was small, multi-layered and the other side of the cuff kept slipping under the needle.  I powered through though.  The next step was a lot easier.

I cut short lengths of the waistband elastic and pinned them horizontally one on top of the other on the inside of the new opening.  I sewed one side down, but left the other pinned.  Before sewing the other side, I tested for fit.  (See, I learned something!) It fit, I sewed the other side down and repeated the process with the other pant leg.

Finally, my “easy” pants were done!

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That’s what I call high-waisted!

For the most part, I like these pants.  They are very high waisted. Even when worn at the natural waist, the crotch is on the low side.  Still, since I’m probably only ever going to wear them with an untucked shirt, they should be fine.  The legs and cuffs look good and that’s what the world will see.

I always like to think of what else I could do with my patterns after trying them out. Assuming I plan the cuffs better, this really is an easy, versatile pattern. Burda Style shows them in dressy, luxe fabrics – even sequins.  They even have a little article on how to put together outfits with sequined pants, which is something I never would have considered before. Any drapable fabric thin enough to stand up to a 2 to 1 gather at the waist would work. So, I would consider anything from silks and sequins to jerseys and french terry fair game.

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Proof I can put my feet through the cuff

Thanks for reading all about my casual clothing reboot.  Coming soon: sewing with spandex, using the serger for something other than seams and more!

Fashion

Easy Pull-On Cuffed Pants Part 2

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Line drawing from Burda Style for pattern 114A/B

I had enough soft gray fabric left from a different pair of pants to use for these.  I knew it draped well and was machine washable. The only thing I had to buy was wide black elastic (1 1/4″) for the waistband.

Part of the pockets show on the front, so they have to be in the main pants fabric.  But the inside doesn’t show, so I cut those pieces from a scrap of cute cotton voile from my leftovers pile.  Using a lightweight fabric decreases the pockets’ bulk and gives whoever does the laundry (me) a little surprise pop of color.

One of this design’s unusual features is a raw, uncased elastic waistband. I have seen the exact same elastic used in ready-to-wear cinch belts, so it makes sense that it would look good exposed.

I was really hoping I could figure out how to use the serger to apply the elastic and do the gathering in one step. Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out a way.  When I really thought about it, I realized that it would have to be done in multiple steps, if at all. I did make a nice test swatch attaching the elastic to the fabric with right sides together.  That would be a great treatment for a full, puffy skirt. Unfortunately, I was trying to apply the elastic on top, overlapping the fabric, not turned to the inside.  Trying to stretch the elastic the necessary 2×1 ratio was just too difficult for something that should have been simple.

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Closed side pocket
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Pop of pink in pocket lining

I ended up just sewing it on using a zig-zag stitch on my regular machine, stretching as I went.  Then I cleaned up the messy bulk on the inside with a three thread overlock.

I went back to my regular sewing machine to do the gathering on the cuffs.  Applying the cuffs was a fussy process, since the circumference was smaller than my free arm and the fabric had no stretch.  I sewed the cuff to itself no less than three times!  While it was many more steps than I had hoped, the results looked good.

Then I tried to put them on.

Aaaargh!

I couldn’t get my feet through the cuffs!

After a few deep breaths, I checked my work.  I did indeed follow the directions as written in the magazine.  The cuff pieces were the right size.  I don’t know if this is a known problem with the pattern, or whether I missed something.  Either way, the pants needed work if they were going to be wearable.

It looks like this is going to be a three part post.  Oh, well.  It happens to everyone, right?

See Part 1 Here.

 

Fashion · General

Easy Pull-On Cuffed Pants Part 1

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This could be me!

This is the last project for a while in a series of upgraded casual wear.  Over the past several weeks, I have made myself a sophisticated hoodie, a long-sleeved pullover and a versatile sleeveless knit top.  What I really needed most was a pair of pants to wear instead of my increasingly ratty jeans.  I came across a neat pants idea while leafing through some magazines.  They were a pair of jogger-style pants, but made with dressy woven fabric.  With pockets and an elastic waistband, they would be as easy to wear as sweatpants, but look much better.

The magazines I perused where back issues of Burda Style.  They were a neat magazine because each issue included a pull-out with something like 50 multi-size full-scale patterns.  The glossy pages showed all of the clothes styled different ways and the instructions for making them.  Even though I loved reading it, I never made any of the designs.  I had heard that Burda patterns were especially tricky, and I guess that might have kept me away.  These pants really called to me and they had an “Easy” rating, so I went ahead and dived in.

Side note – Burda no longer offers a US-only version of the Burda Style magazine.  They still produce an international English language version.  They also have an excellent website, where you can choose from a large selection of PDF patterns.  The pants pattern from my magazine is there, and can be downloaded for $5.99.

I have so much to say about the Burda Style magazine process that I am splitting this project into two posts.  Part 2 will feature the pants and my thoughts on construction.

There is quite a difference between Burda and what I am used to.  Here are the steps you go through to get from magazine to finished product.

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This might take a while.
  1. Determine your European pattern size by comparing your measurements to the table in the instructions section.
  2. Find your pattern in the instructions section.  Be careful: there are going to be several garments that share pattern pieces, so make sure you are looking at the right one.  The pant front and back pieces were used in at least 3 other sets of instructions.
  3. Read the instructions carefully.  Here you will find fabric layouts, fabric suggestions, and notion lists.  You will also find a list of pattern piece numbers and the letter (A,B,C,D) corresponding to their page in the pull-out.
  4. The pull-out consists of 2 large sheets printed front and back.  Like most multi-size patterns, each size has its own line style.  Unlike most patterns, groups of pieces that go together are printed in one color.  Other groupings are printed on the same page in their own color.  There is so much going on in the sheets, you may find it helpful to use a highlighter to trace just the lines you need.
  5. Once you located your pieces, trace them onto your own paper.  Transfer all of the grainline arrows, notches, etc.  Leave some extra room.
  6. Add your desired seam allowance around the edge of the traced pieces.
  7. If there are rectangular pieces in the garment, they will not have printed pattern outlines.  You will have to measure and cut them or make a pattern piece. Strangely, the measurements given for the rectangles include a 5/8 seam allowance.
  8. Cut out the pieces and start assembly. Again, read carefully.  There are no illustrations in the pattern instructions.

From here, it actually was easy to sew.

So, would I do another pattern like this?  Sure.  It was a good value and I really like the style. But this time I would be going in with my eyes open. A similar pattern with step by step illustrated instructions would obviously be easier and faster.  Still, Burda has a lot of styles that can’t be found anywhere else.  If I keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, maybe one day I will be brave enough to try Marfy.

Continue to Part 2