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!