Friday, March 19, 2021

How to Alter Women's Scrub Pants

This post contains affiliate links.

I've recently begun volunteering at an organization that requires scrub pants. I wasn't particularly interested in sewing my own (maybe after I get a feel for what I want) and needed them quickly, so I ordered some from Amazon. What a weird experience! After years of making all my own clothes, I can't remember the last time I wore pants that weren't custom made to my body. I panic-ordered the size I thought would be close and hoped for the best. 

When they arrived, they fit my hips well but not my waist. They were also a touch too long. I didn't have time to send them back so I decided to alter them myself. First up, the waistband elastic needed to be shortened to fit more tightly on my waist.

I found the seam on the waistband (on my pair, this was on a side seam) and got out my seam ripper. I carefully opened the seam on just the waistband, so that I could access the elastic inside.

Once the seam was opened up, I gave a big yank on the elastic to pull it out of the waistband. No dice. It turned out, the elastic was sewn all along its bottom edge (you can see the line of stitching on the above photo). Whomp whomp. This meant that I could not shorten the elastic without ripping out the stitching all the way around the waistband. If you're trying to alter your pants, hopefully you don't have the same problem!

Like a lot of other mending or alteration projects, this one required some outside-the-box thinking. I decided to insert a second piece of elastic into the waistband, right on top of the old one. I held up some 1/2" elastic around my waist and cut it to fit, using the amount of stretch I desired for a snug fit.

Using a bodkin, I inserted the new elastic into the hole and threaded it all the way around the pants. I pulled out the ends and clipped them together in preparation of sewing them. Normally, I would sew these together by machine, but for the purposes of this post I wanted to show that it could be done without a showing machine.

Taking a strand of polyester thread (don't use dusty vintage cotton thread, it will break!) I doubled it up and tied a knot at the end. A quick X shape was sewn through my overlapping elastic ends and I was done.

Using the same needle and black thread, I then sewed the waistband hole closed.

Now that my waistband fit properly, it was time to tackle the length. Since the fabric was lightweight, I decided to fold up the original hem once and sew it down. No need to rip out the hem, re-measure, etc. as I only wanted to shorten it slightly. 

A quick trip through my sewing machine and I had a new, even sturdier hem. 

Have you altered ready-to-wear pants? If you'd like to learn how to sew, check out my post on the Best Beginner Sewing Books. If I can teach myself, so can you!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Double Cotton Gauze Fern Jumpsuit

My birthday was in February, and because he's awesome, my husband bought me a Mood Fabrics gift card. Browsing through their freebie patterns, I ended up seeing the Fern Jumpsuit, and fell in love. Their recommended fabric was a double cotton gauze, and when I checked it out I saw that it came in something like 40 colors. Even better, it was crazy affordable. 

I settled on Royal Blue for my jumpsuit, but I also snagged a bit of Rosewood for funsies. The pattern directions called for 5 yards...I assumed that was crazy pants. I've never used 5 yards of fabric for anything! Being cheap, I ordered 3 yards and assumed I'd be fine. I was wrong, but I could've gotten away with 4 yards I think. 

Video of me unboxing this fabric

One disadvantage of a free pattern is that it can be missing something useful like a finished garment size. My measurements on top put me in the 4/6 range, but it ended up WAY too big. I do think the model is wearing it with a lot of ease, but unless you stand in the same dramatic poses you'll look like you're wearing a sack. The top is essentially a fully lined Ogden Cami...I should've just used that pattern as I've already worked out the fitting. I didn't have enough fabric to make it fully lined, so I used facings exactly like the Ogden.

For the pants, I measured in the 8/10 size. Since the top and pants are gathered together it didn't really matter if I used two different sizes on top and bottom, which was nice. I found the fit of the pants to be fine, although I probably could've gone down a size without issue. I made no changes for length (I'm 5'4") and they may look a touch long compared to the model. Due to the faux ankle placket, you cannot shorten the pants after cutting.

After I assembled the top and bottom, I was super frustrated by how off the fit was for the top. Taking in the side seams was going to make the center front and back V's too wide and deep. I didn't have enough fabric to recut. I thought about finishing the bottoms as elastic waist pants and later making an Ogden for a faux jumpsuit. I thought about setting the whole thing aside, ordering more fabric to recut the top, etc. After sleeping on it (and some side eye from a sewing buddy who questioned the idea of elastic waist pants) I was determined to at least try to rework the top.

I spent some time with it on my new dressform (also a birthday gift), redoing the side seams and also cutting center back and working with a seam there. After almost 9 years of fitting on my body, it was quite a change to be able to fit on a dressform. It was SO much faster!

I ended up shortening the straps, taking in the side seams (at least 1/2" on each side) and narrowing the back via the new center back seam. That much seam ripping and resewing did mean that the final product isn't sewn as nicely as it could've been, but the fit is much improved. I sewed the top to the pants and then created a 1/2" elastic casing from the seam allowance.

Without all the styling I've done in these photos, this jumpsuit does sort of veer into weird pajama territory. I didn't have enough fabric to make the belt, but I plan on picking up another yard next time I order from Mood. The jumpsuit is super comfortable and I imagine the cotton will be lightweight in the summertime. I have a crazy bra that I wear with Ogdens and I've worn it here (from Amazon).

Band-aid from when I stabbed myself with my seam ripper

The pattern directions are minimal and what you see online is what you get. I'm kind of on the fence about recommending this pattern, I like it, but please muslin the top! There was also a labeling mistake, the bodice pieces are both labeled "front bodice" but obviously one is the back. The fabric was not that bad to work with, but it is difficult to rip seams neatly. As far as free patterns go, it does deliver a fairly dramatic style. Kind of a mixed bag all around but hey, a jumpsuit with pockets is worth trying any day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

What I'm Reading: A Beginner's Guide to Overlockers, Sergers & Coverlockers

Okay, so maybe I don't need to read a beginner book if I've had my serger for like, 8 years. But the problem with knowing what you're doing is that you can get stuck in a rut. It's never a bad idea to refresh yourself on techniques you may have forgotten all about, so I had no qualms about picking up this book at my library.

Like most serger books, A Beginner's Guide to Overlockers, Sergers & Coverlockers starts off explaining the different types of machines. Right off the bat, I learned something! Admit it, you don't know the difference between an overlocker and a serger either. The author explains that an overlocker only cuts and finishes edges. It does not do the fancy stitches like a rolled hem, which is possible on a serger. The book also discusses coverlockers (known to me as coverstitch machines) and combination machines (overlocker and coverlocker in one). 

The first 40 pages of the book are informative and get into the fine details of each machine and its parts, thread, fabric, appropriate stitches, and machine threading. The rest of the book contains 15 projects you can complete on a serger and/or coverstitch machine, ranging from pillows to tank tops to make up bags.

If you are new to these machines and don't have the ability to take a class, working your way through this book would be a great alternative. Each project builds on skills and gives enough exacting detail to ensure success. Some of the later projects even get into specialized presser feet, which is rare in these kinds of books. Unfortunately for me, my library's copy was missing the patterns, so I can't comment on them. Whomp whomp. 

It was clear from reading this book that the author has forgotten more about overlockers than I'll ever know, but I did think she was a little quick to assume that all machines are the same. For example, my serger (the perennial favorite Brother 1034d) does not make a chainstitch. Reading the manual is still the first thing you should do whenever you get a new machine, because they are not all the same.

For the beginner serger/coverstitcher willing to work through some projects in order to learn, this book is a great place to start. There are a lot of photos, concise text, and professional guidance. Just keep in mind that no generic book will ever replace your particular machine's manual.

Curious about other beginner serger books? Check out my other reviews in this post. This blog contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Colorblocked Wilder Gown

Like a lot of sewists, my fabric shelves are usually bursting. Mine are not full of brand new cuts however, more often than not they're overflowing with large scraps. Too big to stick in the "future pocket bag" box, and too small to create an entire garment. I don't consider myself a master of combining colors and fabrics, but sometimes I get lucky and do okay. What do you think, is this dress a success?

I made the Wilder Gown once before (OMG the list of things I haven't blogged is a mile long) from a rayon crepe. I love the swish factor and despite how fussy it looks, it's actually an easy sew and comfy to wear. I decided to gather up all my red/pink/coral/rust/brick/brown linen scraps and see if I could piece together another Wilder with them. I tried a few methods for choosing scraps, and ended up laying everything out on the floor to better visualize how I wanted to cut. I tried to recreate a complete piece of fabric, with selvages on each side and gaps filled in with scraps.

This method worked for me because I felt like I could "see" the project as a whole, rather than one piece at a time on my cutting table. It also helped that the skirt is simply rectangles without pattern pieces. That was easy to visualize and to know quickly if I'd have enough yardage. Additionally, the front of the bodice is cut in two pieces, making it simple to use two colors there.

It did take quite a long time to cut all the pieces. Most of my scraps were wrinkled and needed ironed out first. The rectangle skirts needed the smaller components sewn together into the right size. It was tedious, but that was outshined by how great it felt to use up these pieces! 

I made an XS and shortened the last tier by 4" (I'm 5'4") from personal preference. There is a generous amount of ease in this pattern. Next time, I may shorten each tier equally instead of just the last one.

I'm so pleased to have used a lot of extra fabric that was destined to gather dust. I was concerned that they wouldn't all play nice together (some were linen, some cotton, some Tencel, and various weights) but in the end they worked. This project definitely boosted my confidence with color blocking, and I'll be turning to that solution the next time my shelves are overflowing!

Most of these fabrics are from Blackbird or The Fabric Store Online. If you're curious about a certain one, please ask and I will try to find the source for you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mid-Rise Ginger Jeans

Imma let you in on a little secret: you don't need to buy the Ginger Jeans pattern. Not the full one, anyway. You only need the mid-rise version. Confused about the versions? Let's review.

high rise skinny leg

Ginger Skinny Jeans Pattern: includes low-rise stovepipe leg, and high-rise skinny leg

Ginger Flared Jeans expansion: only includes legs for flared version, must also purchase full pattern

Ginger Mid-Rise Jeans pattern: mid-rise in stovepipe or skinny leg, do not need to purchase full pattern

low rise stovepipe leg

If you buy all three of these, your cost is a whopping $38 for the PDF versions (only the main pattern is available in a printed form). Compare that to the Megan Nielsen Ash Stretch Jeans pattern, which features only mid-rise, but four leg shapes and three inseams for $22. Ash debuted right after I bought Ginger, otherwise I would've definitely started my skinny jeans journey with Ash.

mid-rise skinny leg

Obviously, I'm a little salty about Ginger. I have a well-documented love/hate relationship with Closet Core Patterns. Hate the directions. Hate the price. Hate the dishonest hype in the sewing community. I keep coming back to them because the size chart fits me really well. In fact, the Kalle Shirtdress is on my Make 9 this year. What can I say, humans are inconsistent and unpredictable. 

Anyway. You probably didn't come here to read my ranting. Let's see some jeans!

My hip size is 38" and my waist is ideally 28". I say "ideally" because I have a typical three kids mom belly that I prefer to have my jeans suck in for me. I've learned to fit my waistbands smaller than my actual body measurement, otherwise they fall down in the front. I also have a swayback. I'm 5'4". These measurements put me in a size 10 hip and size 8 waist. 

This is my fourth pair of Ginger Jeans (low rise stovepipe here, high rise skinny here, low rise skinny unblogged but on IG here) and I've also made two pairs of Morgan Jeans. That's a lot of trial and error and not all of those pairs are successful. Each one taught me a little bit more about my body, a little bit more about my fit challenges. Most significant is my swayback. Without a lot of changes, I'm doomed to back waist gap. This pair feels the most successful of any jeans I've made, and here are my changes:

1. Yoke: The yoke on jeans functions in the same way as a back dart on a pair of dress pants, it shapes the seat of the pants above your butt. Just as you would take a deeper dart for more shaping, you can change the shape of the yoke. Here is a great illustration, from the fitting portion of the Ginger Jeans sewalong:

2. Waistband: As drafted, the waistband is cut on a fold at center back and is curved. I'm not sure what body that works for, but it's not mine. The gaping I've experienced can be fixed by taking darts all over the waistband, but the more you do that, the more off-grain the waistband becomes. As it becomes off-grain, it stretches out, in essence undoing the darts you just took! The only solution I've discovered is to chop the waistband into smaller pieces, changing the angle of the seams but keeping the pieces themselves on-grain. I have a seam at center back and at the side seams. I also interface my outer waistband and facing with knit interfacing. It lends more structure than no interfacing, but doesn't become uncomfortably stiff (ask me how I know). Here are my waistband pieces. Note the giant angle at center back that is not even close to 90 degrees. I also drafted a different left and right front piece.

3. Front pants piece: I can't exactly explain it, but the front of my body is closer to a size 8, while the back is a size 10. My hips are a 10. But I've always felt like the front of my me-made pants are too baggy (not just on this pattern either). For this pair, I decided to keep the hip line of a 10, but use the cut line for the 8 in some places. I can't tell you why or how I made these choices, except that it felt instinctual based on how my pants have been fitting. And it worked! My altered piece is below. Size 10 is in pink, and size 8 is in yellow.

4. Back pockets: I moved them up. Thigh pockets make me crazy.

5. Inseam: I removed 1" from the L/S line and 1" from the hem.

It's a lot of changes. Some of these translate to different rises of pants but some don't. I'm not sure my body shape can pull off low-rise anymore, I feel like my belly will push down my pants no matter what kind of fitting I do. My high-rise pair fit well but aren't comfortable. I dragged my feet on purchasing the mid-rise pattern, but now I'm glad I did. There was no mixing of leg styles, the rise works for my body, and the instructions were not garbage like my paper pattern.

Construction-wise, the only change I made was to sew the bottom of the belt loops into the outer waistband seam, and also to finish the bottom of the waistband facing with bias tape. I absolutely HATE stitching in the ditch and trying to catch a fold on the waistband facing. Hate it with a raging passion of a thousand suns. Bias tape finishing is way easier and then it doesn't matter how you catch the facing when you're topstitching.

I sewed all the seams with my main Brother PC-420, finished the seams with my serger, and topstitched with my vintage Singer 15-91. I'm lucky enough to have space for three machines at once, which allowed me to sew these up in a weekend. I use Guterman Mara 70 weight in color 444 for topstitching, with matching all-purpose thread in the bobbin.

Fabric choice also matters greatly for a successful pair of skinny jeans. Every now and then I get lucky with a random stretch denim, but I try to buy only Cone Mills denim. I've tried different weights and they all feel different (9.5oz used twice, and 9oz used once). This pair is 8oz and it's my favorite. My secret source for Cone Mills is LA Finch Fabric. She already has the best prices, and on top of that often has sales and remnants.

Finally, the little details are what take a pair of me-made jeans from homemade to handmade. You'll level up your jean sewing experience if you add belt loops, rivets, a jean button, a leather tag, and a pocket tag. Sometimes I add secret embroidery inside the waistband, but I didn't this time around. Wawak is a great source for these jean notions, and I highly recommend a hole and buttonhole punch set.

Next time, I may try to reduce those wrinkles under the butt, but some are needed for movement so they don't bother me too much. I'm resisting the urge to make another pair immediately, since I don't exactly need them, but it feels amazing to have what I would consider a TNT jeans pattern! 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Buffalo Plaid Cheyenne Tunic

 Well friends, the World's Biggest Hey June Fan* finally made one of the most popular HJ patterns. May I present, the perfect Cheyenne Tunic.

*title determined by myself only

If you look through my old posts or my IG feed, you will see my obsession preference for knit tops. I like to be comfortable, and I've always felt like woven tops are too restricting. I may become a convert after making up this top, however.

The Cheyenne Tunic can be made in a more simple, 3/4 sleeve length with a half placket and mandarin collar. I chose the long sleeve with tower placket and cuff, full button placket, and collar with stand. The last time I made an all-out button up shirt years ago? And my oh my is that shirt a disaster. This one is made much better!

The instructions are impeccable as always, and there is a sewalong online. I am a fairly experienced sewist, but I still had to redo one sleeve placket because my sewing was 1/4" off. I know a lot of people like sewing button ups, because they are technical and methodical, but I don't think that's me. Waaaaay too many opportunities to screw up!

I've been wearing this top for two days straight. The fabric is a deadstock flannel from LA Finch Fabrics. I did add a tiny scrap of Liberty of London lawn on the collar stand. 

My preferred way to wear the top is unbuttoned over a knit shirt (I just can't quit the knit tops). If I wanted to wear it as a stand-alone button up, I think I would actually size down. This one is a small, my normal HJ size, with no mods. 

I can't wait until I've worn and washed this shirt into a floppy favorite!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Oslo Coat Resources

Coat-making is a daunting task for more than one reason. It can be hard to source all the proper supplies. This post will outline what I used for hand-tailoring the Oslo Coat. From fabric, to interfacing, to thread, it's all here!


My first foray into hand-tailoring found me deep into many different sewing books. Here are the ones I used:

Singer Sewing Reference Library: Tailoring--This book is by far my most useful reference. The content is identical to a book called Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket. The book covers the three kinds of tailoring (by hand, by machine/fusibles, combination of both). There are a lot of full color photos and the text is excellent.

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing--The sewing Bible, I consulted this one for the different types of bound buttonholes.

The Complete Book of Tailoring by Adele P. Margolis--Another classic that served mainly to reinforce what I'd learned in the above Singer book.


Main fabric: wool/mohair/nylon boucle coating from Fabric Mart, 2019

Lining: Pongee Plush Anti-Static Lining in Burgundy (100% polyester) from Vogue Fabrics, 2020

Heavy cotton flannel: Organic Cotton Plus, 2016

Lightweight sew-in interfacing: sourced locally, but I believe it is the light version found here from Wawak

Heavyweight sew-in interfacing: bought from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics, 2019

Knit fusible interfacing: Pellon, sourced at Jo-Ann's


Silk thread: Gutterman, sourced at Jo-Ann's

Polyester thread: Gutterman, color matched via Fabric Mart

Roll line tape: found locally, but I believe it is this from Wawak

Button: vintage, found locally

Raglan shoulder pads: made by me using heavy flannel and upcycled wool scraps

Tag: Kylie and the Machine

Check out my other two posts reviewing the pattern, and discussing tailoring techniques!