Monday, 16 September 2019

autumn sewing: Butterick 6621

Hi! I have had a hell of a week. We were without hot water for ten days (TEN) thanks to a series of increasingly farcical engineering misadventures that left me waiting at home every day for a phone call or unexpected visit that never came. It was rubbish. But on the plus side, I got a LOT of sewing done. Not only did I get both the dress and the trousers done, I also made an entire other shirt for Patrick. It's a lot better than the first one. But for now, dress time!

I've been considering B6621 for ages. I saw several awesome versions on other people and was waiting for the pattern to come out here, which is how I discovered that Americans get Big 4 patterns in smaller collections on a regular basis while we just get a giant pattern dump a few times a year. By the time it was available here it was getting too warm for this kind of dress, so I decided to put it off til the autumn. I was really excited about it though - three different variations on waist details without actually having a waist seam, and sometimes no waist seam is exactly what I want.

For my first attempt I decided to go with View B in the black and pink sweater knit from my Walthamstow post. The sweater knit is so soft and snuggly that I wanted to maximise my chances of at least being able to wear it around the house if I wasn't keen on the finished dress. Fortunately it turns out I am keen on it, and it's going to be a real workhorse dress as the days get colder.

I cut a 16 on the top (with a 2.5cm cut-on FBA) and a 20 in the skirt, and this is perfect for me. It doesn't cling but it's still nicely close-fitting. Obviously I also hacked five inches off the skirt because it's me and I do that. I didn't hate it full-length but I definitely wouldn't have worn it very often. I also cut the back as one piece because I didn't want to chop up the print. I'm really into how the back looks in this fabric and I'm glad I chose to do it this way.

The waist ties are single-layer and just hemmed, so the wrong side of the fabric can be visible. I considered doubling up but decided it would be too heavy. In future I absolutely would double them up as it's basically impossible to arrange the ties so that the entire wrong side is hidden. However, going for the single layer did mean I could copy the extremely wang-like diagrams.

Pictured: wang diagram. It amused me more than it should.

Next time I make this dress I'll probably substitute a different neckline. I don't hate the way it looks but I really don't like things touching my neck. If I have enough scraps left over I might even cut this neckband out and scoop the whole thing a little bit. Not much, just enough that I won't be able to feel it on my throat when I'm slouching around on the sofa.

I will be making more of these, and unusually I will probably try all of the views in the envelope. I definitely want to have a go at the twist version, as it's a detail I've seen in a few patterns but never had the confidence to go for (it's about a fifty-fifty shot of whether it would conceal or highlight my stomach). Now that I own it I'd like to try it out!

Next up: I'll be in France next week with some friends, so the Pietra post will come in two weeks' time. I really want to write about the shirt but I think I need to space out the Patrick posts a little. 

Butterick 6621 dress

Fabric: Sweater knit from Fabric Store in Walthamstow (possibly RIP? It was looking very depleted and sad last time I went there)
Cost: £4
Pattern details: Pullover jersey dresses with twist front, faux wrap or waist ties
Size: 16 top with FBA, 20 hips
Alterations: Back panel cut on the fold, 1 inch FBA, five inches taken off the skirt
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday, 9 September 2019

actual shirt attempt: Vogue 9220

I said when I started sewing, and for the three years following, that I would never make a shirt. I haven't worn a single item of clothing with buttons on it since I took my school uniform off for the last time and I don't intend to ever do so again (I fully recognise that this is really weird, but I've hated buttons since I was a small child and my vibe is not the button-up vibe anyway), so I didn't really ever expect to revisit the point.

Last year, however, Patrick made a couple of pouty comments about my resolve to never make him a shirt. He may have been kidding - he would certainly say now that he was - but I do feel a bit bad that I don't make much for him, and the kinds of shirts that he likes seem to have been completely out of production recently. At first I said I'd make him a shirt if he paid for me to do a shirtmaking class, but then nobody seemed to be running them. When I thought about it in a bit more detail, I realised that it wasn't actually that many new techniques - I've sewn collars before, I know how to flat-fell a seam - and it probably wasn't worth paying a couple of hundred quid to get someone to show me how to make sleeve plackets and then talk me down from my buttonhole anxiety. So I resolved to give it a try on my own.

Look at it! It's a shirt!

The pattern we went for was Vogue 9220. Patrick is very particular about his shirts and didn't want front pockets or floppy collars or fake anything anywhere, which narrowed it down considerably, and this pattern had both fit options and cuff options. I haven't seen another pattern for double cuffs, and it's one of his favourite things. I initially said I would start off with regular cuffs and work up to the fancier ones, but decided as I was cutting it out that these weren't appreciably more difficult so I may as well just dive in head first. The shirt comes in standard, tailored, or slim fit, and this is (allegedly) the latter.

The main reason Patrick hasn't been able to find shirts lately is that the prints have been wrong. Again, he's got very particular taste - he likes loud prints, but stylish loud. He wouldn't look twice at a novelty shirt. He's very into Liberty prints, mostly florals and paisleys, and his colour palette is quite specific. While I could find several fabrics that fit the criteria, they were all £16 per metre and up, and I wasn't prepared to spend that on something that was an experiment and could very well be unwearable. I also didn't want to just buy a plain cotton and make him a work shirt, because that's no fun at all (also they're covered by a suit jacket all day and it would feel like a giant waste of effort). I searched for a little while before coming across this viscose at my favourite stall in Walthamstow. Seriously, they have everything. While orange is not one of Patrick's colours, it's sparing enough to work, and though it isn't cotton it also doesn't have any polyester in it, so shouldn't be too sweaty. And at £6 for two metres, I wouldn't cry if (when???) I messed it up. Viscose is very much not the ideal fabric for this kind of shirt, structure-wise, but it was good enough for a trial run.

I got everything cut out and interfaced, then it sat around for a couple of months while I had nerves at it. Finally, in mid-June, I decided enough was enough and got the shirt finished up to the point of making holes in it in a few sessions over the course of a week. And really? It wasn't that hard. The only place I really had difficulty was making the plackets, which was totally new to me and not the easiest thing to comprehend from the brief instructions. With the help of a couple of tutorials I got them to be functional if not especially pretty, and I'll now have a better idea of what I'm doing when I try again. What I should have done was poked about on the inside of one of the many shirts already in the house, but I didn't. Next time. But the yoke, the collar, the sleeves, the flat felling, and the double cuffs all went pretty smoothly. Even my topstitching wasn't too hideous.

At this point I got him to try it on. We decided it was too big in the shoulders and WAY too long in both the body and the arms ("oh, by the way" said Patrick as we were doing this, "I have incredibly short arms"), but that it was still wearable so I should carry on and finish it. You can see the huge folds of fabric on the sleeves in all the photos above, and witness the utter ridiculousness that is the back length:

Look how long that is. It's practically down to his knees. I think it's partly that this pattern runs long and partly that we're using a dress shirt pattern to make a regular shirt because there's no such thing as a regular shirt pattern with double cuffs. Sigh. The shirt then sat almost finished for AGES while I panicked about the whole button/buttonhole situation. I was pretty sure that I'd get the alignment of buttons to buttonholes wrong (spoiler: yep) and that would make the whole thing look like shit. It was well over a month, if not two, before I leapt on a random trailing thread of motivation and got everything finished.

In terms of my first attempt at buttons and buttonholes, it's not hideous, but I did mess up the alignment on the top and bottom buttons. The bottom one I was able to cut off and redo, the top one not so much. We decided it wasn't that big a deal as he never uses the top button on his non-work shirts anyway. I also bought a pack of bog-standard buttons and I really don't like them. Solid white next time.

Me: I mean, you're probably not going to wear this one so I -
Him: [affronted] I will.
Me: But it's way too big.
Him: I will wear it and I will look styling.
Me: But...
Him: I. Will look. Styling.

Once I realised he wasn't budging on this point, I insisted we shorten the shirt to a less ridiculous length. I didn't want to force him into two separate photo sessions, so what you see above is the shirt pinned into place (I have since hemmed it properly, don't worry). Though the sleeves are still obviously too long, it's much better like this.  Look how much less ridiculous the back is now:

This did not go as badly as I feared for a first attempt, but there's a lot of work to be done here. For a start, while this isn't necessarily a bad fit for a shirt to have, it's not how Patrick wears his shirts. This is supposed to be the slim fit cut but there's still a LOT of ease in here. Patrick has narrow shoulders so I always thought there might be a need to go down a size in the shoulders, but a smaller size overall will probably get us closer to the fit he likes. Having done some measuring of his normal shirts compared to this one, I think a decent chunk of the sleeve problem would be resolved if the shoulder seam sat in the right place, but I would still take a couple of centimetres off the sleeve length next time. Patrick also thinks the double cuffs are a bit skimpy and would like more length taken out of the sleeve then added back in at the cuff. I think for this I'm just going to measure the cuffs on his regular shirts and make them that size.

My guess is we'd be adding an extra centimetre to these. Also, say hi to either Alphonse or Ernie (I'm not sure who lives on which side), the massive bejewelled lizard cufflinks I got him for Christmas last year. 

For my own ease of reference, the adjustments I'll make next time:

- size down to a 38, possibly even a 36
- shorten the sleeves by 2cm
- reduce size of dip in back of shirt
- shorten hem by 2cm at the front, 5cm at the back
- increase the size of the cuff by 1cm
- ignore the bit where it asks for different sizes of button for no real reason
- burrito the yoke instead of slipstitching then topstitching and wasting a lot of time

He's pleased, though, so it's okay. 

As I mentioned in my autumn plans, before I make another one of these I want to have a go at the Sew Over It Hackney shirt (sans front pocket, because Patrick thinks shirt pockets are for dweebs). Partly because I downloaded the pattern in my mass Stitch School harvesting session and it would be nice to use it, but also because - unusually for Sew Over It - they provide a full range of finished measurements upfront. Chest, waist, hem, collar, shoulder width, back length, sleeve length, underarm seam. I think that will be really useful in trying to get the fit right. My hope is that eventually I can merge the two into some kind of Patrick Frankenpattern and be able to create the perfect Liberty print shirt by his 40th birthday in March. Which might be a bit of a tall order as Liberty is not looking especially Patricky at the moment. We've had a bit of back and forth over whether a shirt in the same print as my Minoru would work, and he has concluded that he just won't know until there's a shirt of it in front of him. This is not a risk I am prepared to take. For now I've got a navy and white cotton lawn with stripy background and floral foreground (which has now arrived and is eminently shirtable) from Abakhan, and we're going to see how that goes.

Up next: either Pietra trousers or B6621 dress, depending on what I finish first!

Vogue 9220 shirt attempt

Fabric: Japanese viscose from Walthamstow
Cost: £6
Pattern details: Men's formal shirt in standard, tailored or slim fit, with collar and collar stand, sleeve plackets, and regular or double cuff options.
Size: 40
Alterations: None for the first try
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday, 2 September 2019

sewing plans: autumn 2019

I didn't intend to neglect my blog for the entire month of August, but I've just been completely uninspired to sew. Mostly that's due to the weather; it's been too dull and grey for me to want to make bright summer dresses, but also so sweaty and sticky that I've not wanted to make warmer clothes either. Plus it's really demotivating when you know you're going to have to put the brand new thing you just made in the wash after two hours of wearing it because it's sweatlogged. Eugh. I know a few people on Instagram who are doing Sew Every Day September, so I'm joining in with that to try and help get me going again.

For this season I want to work mainly from a palette of sunset colours; yellows, oranges, corals, blue-violets. Obviously if I see a nice bright green all bets are off, and I'll probably make the odd neutral/stashbusting piece, but I'm going to try to stick to that colour range. I still have a ton of leggings to finish from my last plan (and it's becoming increasingly urgent as my old RTW ones are starting to show signs of going threadbare round the thighs) so this plan is slightly shorter and doesn't have a massive challenging project on it. My original intention was to make black jeans this autumn, but I really think I might never sew again if I set myself that challenge right now. For winter, perhaps.


A pair of tapered-leg trousers

The thing I most often find myself missing in the autumn is a pair of trousers that won't drag through puddles. I made three pairs of the Papercut Palisades in the hopes of solving this problem, but I've found that the elastic gets really awkwardly twisted at the sides when I wear them and it puts me off taking them out of the drawer in the morning. I'm going to have a go at the Closet Case Patterns Pietra trousers, which look similar but have a much smaller elasticated section. I'm going to make a toile with a piece of slightly crappy denim I have in my stash (I ordered it when I was planning a red denim dress, and it arrived about as far away from red as it could be without becoming a completely different primary colour), and if they work I'm going to make my real pair from blue-violet cupro.

A pair of mustard cords

How many lists has this been on now? It's driving me mad. I MUST have my yellow trousers! I have the fabric but I still don't have the pattern. All the patterns I own seem to be designed for lighter or drapier fabric and I've so far not seen anything that looks right. Please give me your recommendations!

An autumn maxi skirt

This is something I keep going back and forth on. I really love the idea, but I'm just not sure if the visions in my head will work out in practical terms. For example, I really love the Deer&Doe Fumeterre skirt but there's a high chance of running into the aforementioned puddle issues. I've also considered an asymmetric skirt that gives the impression of being maxi without really being so, and the idea is great but in practice it could so easily look wrong on me. I went to Walthamstow last week looking for inspiration and found what I can only describe as orange leopard print hairy viscose, which I think would be a cool maxi skirt if I can find the right pattern. It'll need to be one I can easily add a lining to so the hairy viscose doesn't stick to my tights. What a sentence that is.


A yellow bodysuit

Several months ago I bought three pieces of viscose jersey in blue, yellow and grey to make bodysuits with. I only got as far as the blue one because the fabric was such a pain to work with, but if I arm myself with enough Wonder Tape I think I can do it. It's either going to be another Nettie or a Kommatia Patterns Ferri, depending on what my wardrobe demands. (Incidentally, I am so confused by Kommatia's rebrand. The old patterns apparently aren't coming under the new name and if you search the new name Google literally assumes you mistyped and shows you results for something else instead. This seems... not well thought out.) If I have time I'm also going to make a second black Nettie because I wear my first version constantly when it's cool enough to do so.

A hoodie

Last year (I think) I made a cropped Jalie hoodie, which I really like but don't tend to reach for when lounging because the neck is too restrictive. I want to make a second one using the same body pattern but the hood from the Burda men's pattern I used to make Patrick's velour one. We had a long discussion about matching Liberty sweatshirt fleece hoodies, but ultimately that's £80 I do not have, so it's going to be something a little more subdued.

A jacket

I considered putting my fourth attempt at a leather jacket on this list, but as soon as I wrote it down all my will to live spontaneously exited my body, so I took it back off. What I'm going to try instead is making the red fabric from my Walthamstow post into a lighter autumn jacket. I bought a Kwik Sew moto jacket pattern a little while ago which I think I'm going to try, even though it's unlined and I'm not sure that's a great idea. How easy is it to add a lining to a jacket pattern?

One pieces

An autumn dress

One of my main goals for this season's sewing is to make transitioning into darker days as easy as possible. I'm not great at autumn and winter despite SAD lamps and vitamin D and what have you, so it's often the case that I just curl up into an anxious little ball that can't leave the house. If I'm able to leap on the faintest whiff of energy or motivation things go a lot better for me, so I want to make several things that I would happily wear around the house if I wasn't planning to go anywhere, but also could conceivably wear on a walk round the block should I suddenly get a passing fancy to go outside. I'm going to try Butterick 6621, in one of the several pieces of printed sweater knit I have in my stash.

A hoodie dress

On a similar note, I really, really want a hoodie dress. I've kept putting it off because it's not really something that's "my style" so much, but on colder days I've been known to root through my drawers looking for the hoodie dress that I know isn't in there, so it must happen. I might need a couple of goes to get it right (I do want it to be a dress and not just an elongated hoodie), so I'm going to start with the Kommatia Patterns Mysig pattern and see how that goes.

A second Sirocco jumpsuit

I kept meaning to get round to making another Sirocco, but I hadn't put it on any lists and no fabric leapt out at me in particular. I still don't have any fabric, but I do think a solid colour Sirocco, probably blue, would be pretty useful. I'd like to have more autumnal jumpsuits in general, but my past attempts haven't gone very well and I'm not sure what I'd need to do to get the kind of fit and look that I want. I'll keep my eye out.

A wedding guest dress

Two of our friends are getting married next month in what I expect to be a full-scale princess extravaganza, and I want to make something to wear. I want something that will be suitably fancy but not so fancy that it precludes me wearing it to a restaurant on a random Thursday, and I want to challenge myself by NOT making an Anna dress this time. What will it be instead? I have no clue. I probably have some frustrating bust-fitting times ahead of me.

If I have time and the fabric I ordered is OK when it turns up, I'm going to have a go at making Patrick another shirt. I finally, finally finished the one I put on my spring plan, and you can read all about that next week, but I'd like to try out the fit of a different pattern and it's going to be the Sew Over It Hackney shirt. They did a thing last weekend where they waived the three-month minimum sign-up period for their Stitch School, so I paid £15 for one month and downloaded about a dozen patterns, which you really can't knock as far as value goes. Their men's shirt pattern is intended to be more of a day-to-day one and also comes with all the finished measurements easily accessible, so I think it might be helpful for me to have a go at. This is very much fabric contingent, though!

Up next: the finished shirt, at least three months late!

Thursday, 1 August 2019

summer sewing: an ambivalent review of the Amy jumpsuit

I'm back! We had a really great holiday (Biarritz is WAY too expensive to stay in but the food is fantastic, and San Sebastian is just beautiful and lovely and chilled and everyone should go if they have the opportunity) and I have eaten so. much. fish. I love going on holidays to seafood places. We also had two horribly expensive meals, courtesy of Patrick's father who has been saving for this for about twenty years, one of which was the biggest wankers' paradise I have ever been to in my life. They started off by giving us a dictionary of culinary witticisms, and at one point served me a very small piece of green pepper with three (THREE) glasses of wine. I felt quite sick by the time we left. 

With that out of the way, here's what happened to my bronze viscose:

This is the Closet Case Patterns Amy jumpsuit, and I've been putting off writing up my review because I genuinely can't decide what I think of it. Please bear with me as I attempt to work through my various thought processes.

First of all, I will say that my worries about this colour and print being overwhelming were completely unfounded. Somehow on the body the print is much less in your face and the colour seems to lean much more in the bronze/mustard direction than HI LOOK AT ME I AM EXTREMELY YELLOW AND ALSO EXTREMELY PRINTED. I really like it. 

The Amy pattern is intended to give the impression of a simple summer dress while actually being a super-wide leg jumpsuit, and that was a good part of the reason I decided to make it. I wear jumpsuits all the time in the summer because they protect against chafing while allowing me to keep relatively cool, and I liked the idea of a faux dress that didn't require an extra layer of shorts. It's incredibly comfortable and non-restrictive, and I think if we were having a summer like last year's I'd be wearing this a whole lot more. 

I think I have two main qualms with this pattern, the first being simply that I'm not sure the style is right for me. I think I'd like it better if I'd had enough fabric to fully lengthen it. Midi length skirts and cropped trousers are things I almost always steer clear of, and though I will ignore my personal fashion rules occasionally if the overall idea appeals to me, I think this looks a bit odd. Also it means I have to take into account how hairy my ankles are, and I will never like any garment enough to commit to a strict depilatory routine. 

The overall shape is another thing I'm not quite sure about. I thought the belt would be enough to do the shaping work, but even with that I don't think it's quite right. Possibly the faux dress/culottes thing works against it here, as belting a dress isn't going to disrupt any crotch seams. As you can see, I'm not a fan at all of the jumpsuit without a belt and I would never wear it that way. Some people can pull off the tent look, I am not one of them. 

In regards to the actual pattern, there were a couple of things I really didn't like. The first, and more minor, point is that this pattern comes with a belt but not belt loops. This is a very specific pet peeve of mine - I am a naturally very scruffy and easily dishevelled person, and sashes become very quietly unknotted on me all the time. If it's not attached to the garment by other means, I WILL lose it on the Tube and not notice until three hours later. This has happened to me more than once. It may be that this doesn't really bother other people, but it really annoys me. I can deal with it on something like the Esther trousers, where belt loops would really change the look of the garment and the sash fabric isn't slippery at all and won't snake itself loose at the least opportunity, but not here. Belt loops, please. 

Point two is the side zip and pocket. Now, I don't like side zips at the best of times. I understand that they're sometimes necessary and I don't tend to fault pattern makers for including them, it just always takes the wind out of my sails when I read the envelope of a pattern I really like and it says "side zip". This pattern requires a 7" invisible zip, which I found really hard to track down. I certainly couldn't find one in anything resembling a matching colour. At first I thought I could just use one of my 9" zips, but any longer than 7" and it gets in the way of sewing the side seam pocket. As it was I still found it quite annoying to get both the zip and the pocket sewn well in such close proximity. It has left me with a bit of weirdness on that side, which I think really impacts my feelings about the whole garment. If you have proportionally smaller hips than me, you can just leave the zip out and skip all this nonsense, but I wouldn't be able to get into the jumpsuit without a zip. 

(My machine has historically HATED shortening zips, so I don't even try anymore. I don't know what it is that makes it so upset, but it judders and glowers and swears at me by putting words in the stitch number display. We've agreed to just avoid it altogether.)

On the other hand, it is incredibly comfortable and I do like the look and the vibe. As I mentioned at the start, this is the wrong kind of summer for this kind of garment, and if things were less grey and muggy I'd probably feel a whole lot better about wearing this. I'm looking over these photos now and enjoying the way it looks, and I'm not sure if I was feeling self-critical and frustrated the last few times I put it on or if this is just one of those items that photographs a lot better than it looks in the mirror. If I'm feeling up to it I might try re-sewing the zip and clearing up the weirdness a bit, and that too might make me feel better about the whole thing.

On hotter days I often do hang out in the house wearing this. I think I've mentioned before that our living room is basically a greenhouse, so it's often a lot warmer outside than it is inside. This jumpsuit is the perfect thing for existing in my living room and not turning into a horrible roasting sweatbeast. I'm actually wearing it right now for exactly that reason, and having put it back on I do think that the weirdness around the pocket and the fact that I have to care what state my ankles are in are the main barriers to me wearing this jumpsuit. The first I can probably fix, the second I probably can't.

My final verdict is inconclusive. I'm pretty sure I won't be making this again - the shape just isn't what I want and I'm not really interested in working out how I can change that. I do hope that I can make my peace with this version and get some wear out of it, though; I really like the fabric and I do think this was the right kind of garment to use it for. If I could be inspired enough to fix the mistakes I think that would go a long way to changing my feelings. 

What's up next depends on what I can get photographed. The things I've made are anti-chafe shorts and an improvised bikini (my attempt went extremely wrong and I ended up making a pair of bottoms to match a sports bra toile I made and forgot to post earlier this year), neither of which really lend themselves to being photographed outside. We'll see what can be done! 

Closet Case Patterns Amy jumpsuit

Fabric: Printed viscose from Walthamstow
Cost: £9
Pattern details: Super wide leg, cropped jumpsuit with bust darts, lined bodice, side zip, and optional pockets and sash
Size: 16
Alterations: 2 inches of length added to the legs, belt loops added
Would make again/would recommend: Probably not/Unsure

Monday, 15 July 2019

summer sewing: Zadie jumpsuit

Hi! I've spent the last two weeks being completely owned by a gastric bug! YAY! That's okay, it's fine, it's not like I'm going on holiday on Friday and am now massively behind on sewing and organisation or anything. But I'm finally human enough to take photos, so here we go!

Last June we went to New York to visit some friends, and I insisted on fitting in a trip to Mood Fabrics. After many years of watching Project Runway it had acquired semi-legendary status in my mind, and almost all the American sewing people I follow talk about Mood pretty regularly. I was super excited to go, and super overwhelmed when I got there. It was about half the size I'd expected, but with about three times as much stuff. I'm really not sure how they managed to film in there. I spent about two hours in there, vacillating between "I must buy EVERYTHING and bankrupt myself" and "Can't do it, I'm just going to leave without anything" and stressing myself out. Patrick convinced me that I would regret leaving with nothing (I normally don't take him to fabric shops and when I do I'm pretty decisive, so he was not having fun at all, poor guy) and I decided to pick one thing that I had a plan for and would definitely be able to use.

This was not that plan.

I had bought this really beautiful soft raspberry linen with the intention of making a swing dress, and I put it on my summer plan last year. I made a toile... and hated it. I made a toile of a different swing dress and hated it so much that I never photographed it. Eventually I decided that I just wasn't going to be able to get the look I wanted from a swing dress, and gave up. I've had my eye open for other ideas since then, but nothing that might fit onto 2.5 yards of fabric presented itself.

When I saw that the Zadie jumpsuit only used 2.5 yards of fabric, I got very excited and could picture the resulting jumpsuit immediately, but after making my toile I was worried. The layout is incredibly fabric-efficient, leaving only a few scraps, and the actual pattern is for a cropped jumpsuit (I think cropped trousers look weird on me, so that length was never an option). I'd managed to squeeze a bit more length out of my toile, but that was 2.5 metres of fabric rather than yards. I put the jumpsuit off for a couple of months while I worried about what to do.

You will note that this is a full-length jumpsuit. What I only realised as I was halfway through laying it out was that this linen is SUPER wide. Wider than any fabric I'd ever used before, in fact. I cut out two Zadie jumpsuits in the same session and it was easier to get all the pieces out of this fabric than it was for the 3m cut I had of the other one. I'd cut bias binding from a different fabric just in case and it turned out I didn't need it at all. I could have made cuffs for the arms and legs with the scraps if I'd wanted to.

As last time, construction was super simple. I French-seamed the whole thing even though the thickness of this fabric makes it borderline awkward because I still don't have a functioning overlocker and historically I've found my zig-zag finished seams don't really like heat and sweat and rubbing very much. It was only the waist seam that gave me any trouble, so I think it was the right decision. I'd cut everything out a couple of weeks beforehand, and I got most of the actual sewing done in one afternoon.

I cut a straight 16 this time, and I'm very glad I sized down, because I think if it were too oversized I would look a bit like a supermarket warehouse worker (which I have been, though not in red, and I'm not too jazzed about revisiting it), but as it is I think it looks great. I really enjoy the casual vibe rendered in a glamorous colour, and as always when I make something red, I remember that I really need to find a way to work more red into my wardrobe. Red looks really good on me but head-to-toe red doesn't often fit my day-to-day general vibe and I've never been able to work out how to pair it with other colours in a way that I actually like. There are lots of shoe or accessory colours that I like with red, but in terms of finding a top or bottom to pair with a red item, nothing looks right on me. Black - nope. Navy - nope. Grey - only very specific tones. White - looks okay, but I'm not about to start making white clothes. Maybe I need to put some more effort into this.

I really like this jumpsuit and I think I'll wear it a lot this summer. My toile version is really nice but a bit... beach pyjamas-ish to wear in London unless it's super sunny, and we really aren't having that kind of summer. Because this one is linen it's nice and cool on muggy days, but it doesn't look instantly inappropriate when a cloud drifts in front of the sun. It's coming on holiday with me and I plan to eat a lot of oysters in it.

This is probably the last time I'll make this pattern until at least next summer. It's really great but I don't think I have room for more than three (the third is one I'm making for a blog post on Minerva). I know there's a long-sleeved version but I don't think that's for me.

I'll be on holiday next week and probably won't have caught up with my sewing enough to schedule a post in advance. Depending on how productive I am, the next post might be a bikini, a different jumpsuit, a bunch of anti-chafe shorts, or something else entirely. We shall see! 

Paper Theory Zadie jumpsuit

Fabric: Red linen from Mood Fabrics
Cost: I think about $40?
Pattern details: Wrap-front jumpsuit with cropped legs, big pockets and bias bound neckline made from self fabric
Size: 16
Alterations: Bodice shortened by 1 inch, 4 inches added to the legs
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday, 1 July 2019

FULL GALAXY NIGHTMARE: Jalie Clara leggings

Behold the glory that is me in head to toe galaxy print:

I made my first ever pair of leggings in February, after many months of putting it off, and frankly the experience didn't encourage me. After a bunch of alterations I got them to photograph OK, but the videos I got from both the dance class and weightlifting session I wore them to told a very different story. Wrinkles. So many wrinkles. I've never worn oversized leggings before and I had no idea they looked that bad.

I knew that if my second attempt also failed I probably wouldn't be motivated to try a third time, so I went for the safest bet I could think of, which was Jalie. Well-regarded, specialists in activewear patterns, I've used and liked them before. I saw a few people of similar thigh girth to me recommend the Clara leggings, so that's what I went for. I made my test pair in the same grey fabric as my Simplicity leggings, but I wanted to start off with the ridiculous galaxy extravaganza, so the grey ones are further down the post.

I bought this fabric from Girl Charlee a couple of months ago as a way to try and motivate myself to make more leggings. I did not, at the time, have any intention of making a matching crop top - that was a bolt of what I'll charitably call inspiration when looking at the half-metre of fabric I had left over. It looked quite see-through when I got it but on the body it's fine. I think I would have preferred the print to have more of the dark colours and less of the confusing peach, though.

The leggings are cut as one piece, with no front or outer leg seam, with a wide waistband and a gusset for better fit. There's also a second view with no waistband and a lower rise. My first pair was slightly too low for me at the back, so I cut these an extra inch higher and they sit perfectly. I wish I'd lengthened the legs very slightly - on proper activewear fabric I think this length would be fine, but this stuff isn't as dense and so it springs up a bit higher on my ankles. It's not that big a deal, but it does look extremely dorky with my black ankle socks and weightlifting shoes. Which is why I'm wearing sandals with my workout gear in these photos like a weirdo.

The top is the Kommatia Patterns Coco tank top, which I got for $2 in a sale on Makerist. It's a fairly standard tank top pattern with nothing particularly noteworthy about it, but I didn't have a tank top pattern and you can't really argue with $2. It has both a regular view and a cropped view, and this is a slightly lengthened version of the latter. I also put in a cut-some-bumps-on-the-side FBA. It's a really nice fit and I'll definitely use it again. It's super-basic so I'm not going to recommend anyone rush out and pay full price for it, but I did also buy several more substantial patterns from them in the same sale and I'm excited to review those properly. 

Will I ever wear these out of the house together? I really don't know. True story: our back garden is at the exact same level as our neighbours' balcony doors, and those doors remained resolutely closed and curtained while I took photos of normal clothes. When I came back out dressed like this, the doors were flung wide open and three people were milling around, occasionally glancing at me in mild horror. Which is both quite funny and also not at all encouraging. I'm definitely not ready to go lifting in a crop top yet - fat does funny things when you're jumping and squatting. Both pieces will get worn at dance classes for sure, and maybe the full galaxy nightmare will emerge in public one day.

While we're here, this is the first pair of Claras I made:

(Please excuse the sudden hair change - this picture is a few weeks old.)

This is the remainder of the fabric I used for my Simplicity leggings. I was a bit short on length so I cut the waistband pieces wherever I could fit them instead of on the fold. I added two inches to the legs and as you can see, it was unnecessary in this fabric. When I first tried this pair on I found that the back rise was too low for me, so I unpicked the seam and put a small yoke in the back. I couldn't manage to take a photo where it was visible - these leggings are awesome but they photograph like shit. 

I tested them out by wearing them to a personal training session and they held up WAY better than the Simplicity ones in the same fabric. They fit like leggings are supposed to fit, which means it's much, much easier to do everything. Here's me doing a snatch (snatch, jerk, power snatch, muscle snatch, rack jerk, I love weightlifting):

I will be making a bunch more of these. I have another two pairs of full leggings cut out already, and also the shorts version for anti-chafe purposes. Leggings live and die by the fabric choice so much that it'll probably be a while before I completely replace my RTW workout gear (probably as long as it takes me to find decent black activewear fabric, honestly), but the pattern is completely solid and I can't imagine ever needing another one. You'll be seeing this again.  

Next up: jumpsuit! Power stance! 

Jalie Clara leggings

Fabric: Galaxy spandex from Girl Charlee UK
Cost: £26
Pattern details: Leggings in full, capri and short lengths with no centre front or outer leg seams, gusset for fit, and either high rise with wide waistband or mid-rise with no waistband
Size: AA in the waist blended out to CC in the thighs
Alterations: Back rise increased by an inch
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday, 24 June 2019

summer sewing: emerald green Esther trousers

I made a pair of Esther trousers in April last year, and I thought I probably wouldn't make the pattern again. The shape is too distinctive to merit too many pairs, trying to get the pleats to lie flat was a huge faff, and try as I might I could not find a top to wear them with beyond the one in the blog photos. I tried a bunch of different lengths and shapes and colours and every time I looked like the doorbell had rung unexpectedly when I was chilling on the sofa in my underwear and had to scramble to put the closest things on. Pyjama realness. However, as spring progressed and I found myself severely lacking in trousers, I began to reconsider.

When I decided to make a second pair, I knew I wanted something slightly heavier in weight than last time and also a solid colour, to hopefully minimise the pyjama vibes I kept getting from my first pair. I had every intention of buying a neutral-ish colour for versatility, but it shouldn't have been any surprise to me that I came away with bright emerald green. Once again my camera refuses to accurately record any shade of green but it's much brighter than this in real life. The fabric is some form of crepe and has a little raised cross-hatch texture all over it. It's really nice.

Making these trousers in a heavier fabric was an entirely different experience. I will say that this crepe is probably too heavy; you'd be fine with a lighter crepe but this was definitely a tad too thick. Last time I said I wouldn't use a heavier fabric because of the bulk and volume of fabric around the thighs; I take that back. The reason not to use a heavier fabric is that sewing on the waistband is giant bulky pain in the arse. There are certain points on the waistline where you have the seam for the two front pieces, two large overlapping pleats, the pocket bag, and both sides of the waistband meeting in one place, and when you're trying to secure the waistband you're sewing through almost a dozen layers of fabric. I had every intention of French seaming it, too, which would have made everything worse.

On the plus side, I didn't have any of the same issues with the pleats here. I now think the fabric I used last time was too light, and it actually does need a bit of weight in order to naturally drape and fall nicely. You can see that this fabric is doing exactly what it's supposed to and there's nothing remotely prolapsed about it. Which is good, because it wasn't the easiest to press and it'll take a few more rounds with the iron before the seams lie exactly the way they should. I probably won't go back in for the pleats, though, I think they look fine.

Another thing to note that I don't think I mentioned last time is that the pockets are ENORMOUS. Almost my entire forearm can fit in there. I don't tend to carry a ton of stuff in my pockets but I really appreciate that they're there. Though I did once freak out on the Tube last week because I thought I'd lost my phone, having only reached in as far as I assumed a pocket would go instead of to the actual bottom of the pocket. Your stuff will be safe, is what I'm saying, and I don't think I really felt the benefit of them in the last pair because the fabric was so light and not really able to support the weight of much stuff.

The pattern comes with an optional sash, which I decided I did want to make this time. I prefer the look of these with the sash but want the option to wear them without, which leads to a small drawback: the sash doesn't attach to the trousers in any way, and the style of both really doesn't lend itself to belt loops. It's not a huge deal, and wearing the sash loosely double-knotted like this seems to keep it from falling off, but it does add a layer of minor annoyance to going to the loo. Especially in public. I have now found myself awkwardly wearing the sash around my neck in pub toilets multiple times.

Please excuse my face here, it turns out I only took one solitary no-sash picture. I'm not sure why that was. 

Despite the bright green, these will definitely be much more versatile and wearable than my first pair. I've tried them on with a few different things and they do not look like pyjamas with any of them. It does have to be said that the emerald green limits my colour pairings somewhat, so I'm thinking of making a couple of tops to go with them and also be useful elsewhere; depending on availability of appropriate fabric I'm planning for grey, blush and possibly some shade of blue or yellow if I can find the right one. I LOVE yellow and green but I'm not sure I love yellow tops with green trousers, so we'll see.

 (The weather is ridiculous and all over the place and unsummer-like at the moment, so the white balance of these photos is all over the place and I was occasionally forced to turn into a cat when the sun came out. I decided not to include all the grumpy windswept ones.)

Overall I'm much more positive about this pattern than I was last time, and I think I probably would make another pair if I could find the right weight and colour of fabric. I've got a much better understanding of what works and what I'd be looking for now, so finding the colour would probably be a much bigger pain than finding the weight. I don't want bright and I don't want true neutral, which basically takes it right out of my wheelhouse. What colour would you make these trousers in?

Next up: leggings! It's head-to-toe galaxy time!

Victory Patterns Esther trousers

Fabric: Emerald green textured crepe from Walthamstow
Cost: £9
Pattern details: Pleat-front trousers in two lengths, with waistband, back zip and button, and optional sash
Size: 16
Alterations: None to the pattern itself; substituted back button for press stud
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes