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 was...seven 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!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Tailoring the Oslo Coat

 My journey of hand tailoring seemed to be filled with innumerable choices. Which interfacing? Which thread? How exactly does pad stitching work? Some of my choices were successful, some less so. This post will detail all those intricacies and my advice on what worked, and what I'd do differently next time.

What is hand tailoring? First, hand tailoring does NOT mean sewing entirely by hand. Hand tailoring means shaping the pieces of the coat or jacket using hand sewing stitches. It means sew-in interfacing instead of fusible. It means inserting the lining by hand. It probably means a lot of other things, but that's the high-level summary.

Almost every piece of my pattern had some sort of hand work to it, whether it was sew-in interfacing, pad stitching, or both. I also added sleeve and back stays (a stay is a piece of lightweight woven fabric meant to reduce tension and stress on the main fabric). For the sake of simplicity, I will go through each piece one at a time.


You're probably thinking, this is a weird looking front bodice, and it is. The Oslo Coat has a shawl collar AND raglan sleeves, both of which alter the traditional look of a notched collar, set-in sleeve front. To properly orient yourself, note that the black line you see above is the roll line (the line of the coat which folds back to create the lapel). The portion above that goes around behind the neck, creating the collar. The outer edge is center front.

My pattern called for interfacing the collared portion, the center front, and the lower hem. My pattern did NOT have the roll line marked, but it did have the break point (the point at the center front where the roll line ends). One of my biggest head-scratching moments came when I tried to determine the roll line. I had to lay the coat front and front facing together, try to simulate what they'd look like when sewn, and how they'd roll over one another. I had actually sewn the roll line tape down on one side before I realized it was in the wrong spot. There was a lot of trial and error here. Lesson one: choose a pattern for hand-tailoring only if it has the roll line already marked.

The collar portion of the front is interfaced with lightweight, sew-in hair canvas. I cut the hair canvas according to my pattern, but then trimmed the edges 1/2" so that it would not be sewn into the seam. Instead, the edges were catchstitched. Each stitch takes only a tiny bite of the outer fabric, so that the thread won't be seen from the right side.

In the above photo, you can also see a closer look at the heavy weight flannel which extends just above the bust. This piece was not part of my pattern. My fabric had a decent amount of drape, and although this coat is a drapey style, I hoped to avoid the "caving in" of the fabric above the bust, which sometimes happens on coats. The flannel filled out the hollow above the bust. To attach it, I sewed it by machine to the hair canvas, and then treated them as one when I catchstitched the edges.

Once the large piece of interfacing was catchstitched down, I sewed the roll line tape on top of it, also using catchstitches. That leads me to my second lesson: hand tailoring is much easier with a busy, textured fabric. I was using black silk thread for all my hand stitches, and it blended in SO well with this fabric. I do not have the skills to make invisible stitches on a flat, thick coating with no depth to it.

Next came the pad stitching. I watched many videos, I marked all my lines, I removed the lines (a heat-disappearing pen works amazingly for this task!) I remarked them, I pad stitched badly for a while...basically, it took practice. Much like all of sewing! The purpose of pad stitching is to allow your hands, needle, and thread to shape the fabric in a curve. Fusible interfacing does not give the same flexibility.

Having done all this pad stitching, I can say I doubt I'd do it again on a shawl collar. I believe I had more success shaping the fabric with steam and my iron than I did with needle and thread. But take my words with a grain of salt, this was my first time using these methods and it's possible I just did them badly!

Padstitching done, it remained to interface the center front, which I chose to do with fusible interfacing (I used knit fusible because it seemed the best weight of what I had on hand). This portion needed reinforcement only for one buttonhole. 

Finally, I hand basted heavyweight, bias-cut rectangles of hair canvas 1/2" up from the hem. This was a change from my pattern, which called for the interfacing along the bottom edge. I moved it up the 1/2" to keep it from the seam allowance. I chose heavyweight, versus the lightweight I used in other areas, to give the hems weight and crispness.


This is the portion of my tailoring journey that generated the most questions. The books I consulted didn't seem to remember that facings existed. There were no directions about interfacing or pad stitching them. The vague, general consensus was that facings were often not interfaced at all, however, my pattern called for interfacing the entire front facing.

Again, I cut my lightweight, sew-in interfacing to size, and then trimmed 1/2" from the edges, with the exception of the edge where the facing would be sewn to the lining (in this photo, it is the edge in the center of the mat). I felt that if any edge needed reinforcement, it would probably be that one. Again I catchstitched the edges to the outer fabric. I decided, based on nothing really, to tape the roll line of the facing. I did not do any pad stitching (you can see one row of it above, but that was mostly because I had thread left on my needle after sewing down the tape). 

As I mentioned before, the roll line was not marked on my pattern. Again I had to lay my pieces together and transfer the roll line from the front piece to the facings. More guessing. In the end, I wish I would not have done this step, I think the collar would lay better without two taped lines trying to match up. Lesson three: do not pad stitch or shape the front facing


The back of the coat did not call for interfacing except at the hem. I opted to include a back stay. I drafted it myself and it is cut from regular muslin with the bottom edge finished with pinking shears. The stays DO extend into the seam allowance for extra reinforcement.

The bottom of the coat also has a strip of bias cut, heavyweight hair canvas, like the front of the coat. In the above photo it is only pinned on, but I did end up basting it by hand. I also removed 1/2" on each short end so that it would not be sewn in the side seam.


This coat has a two-piece raglan sleeve, both pieces shown below. I created a sleeve stay, just like I did with the back stay. Since it's a two-piece sleeve it did mean drafting two different shapes.

The sleeve hems also have heavyweight interfacing, 1/2" up from the edge. These pieces I did NOT cut on the bias, as one of my books said it was optional and I couldn't imagine wanting my sleeve hems to stretch. Again, this was sort of an experiment, and in the end I think the sleeves would have a more natural shape if I had cut the interfacing on the bias. They are pinned on in the above photo, but I hand-basted them after removing 1/2" from the short ends/seam allowances.


This piece called for interfacing, and I hand basted in the lightweight sew-in hair canvas, removing 1/2" from the top portion to reduce bulk. I would definitely repeat this process for a back neck facing. I always have trouble fusing and neatly sewing curved pieces like this, and hand sewing gave me much more control and accuracy.


I have never made a bound buttonhole before, but since there was only one it seemed like a good time to try. It is similar to welt pockets, which I've done. 

I made a practice buttonhole in identically fused fabric. It was successful, I liked how it looked on the outside, but I couldn't understand the directions (from my various sewing books) about finishing the back. My tailoring book essentially said to slash the front facing and hand sew the flaps under! In other words, the lips are only made through the outer fabric. I'll be honest, it killed me to slash into my almost finished coat and just tuck in the cut edges. In a less textured fabric it would look like absolute garbage. It's a nice finish from the outside, but I don't think I'll do it again.


Never thought about the existence of raglan shoulder pads? Yeah me neither. But there is a difference! A raglan pad is the same as a regular shoulder pad, except with an extra extension to prevent further collapse down the arm.

I had purchased regular should pads and could have just added on to them, but I decided to save them for my next coat project. I ended up making my own pads. I used a pattern from Closet Core Files and made up the raglan portion. They are NOT pretty, but it was a good exercise. Mine are made from heavy weight flannel, lightweight interfacing, and a variety of thick felted wool sweater scraps. Not being a quilter, I had no batting on hand. It would've been easier to use batting instead of sweaters. 

In the end, I'm not sure the pads were necessary. I can barely see a difference and the pattern wasn't drafted to include them. I have narrow shoulders, so I'll take all the extra I can get, but I won't be making my own again and may never use raglan ones.


Okay, confession time. I have read SO many blog posts where someone says they inserted their lining by hand. I admit, I had no idea what that actually meant, except that maybe they just sewed the seams by hand. I didn't understand the why or even really the how. I finally stumbled on the process in one of my books. Essentially, the lining is basted into the coat by hand, fiddled with until it works, and then slipstitched together by hand. 

To my estimation, a dressform was a vital component of this process. The coat needs to be turned inside out, to be placed on a dressform, and then hand stitching and adjusting done as needed. I do not have a dressform. I inserted the lining by machine and bagged it out through an opening in the sleeve lining, just as my pattern recommended. It was a million times faster and I had no problem obtaining a nice result. 

So there you have it! That is my long, exhausting trip through hand-tailoring a wool coat. I hope this was helpful and please drop any questions if you have them! Make sure to check out my other posts about the Oslo, covering supplies and a general review.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Wool Oslo Coat

 After a year of planning, sourcing, hemming and hawing, my hand-tailored Oslo Coat is finally here!

I had this coat on my 2019 Make 9 plan. It was the only project I didn't complete. I spent most of the fall of 2019 sourcing all the supplies (fabric is wool/mohair/nylon boucle from Fabric Mart), reading the books, making the plans...only to chicken out from the sewing. I know I'm not the only one who backs off from a project that feels too daunting. Fast forward a year, and my sewing confidence is higher, the timing is right, and the coat is complete.

I made a coat two years ago, but it has a hood and doesn't work that well with scarves. I have a decent collection of wool and cashmere scarves and it drove me crazy to not be able to wear them. I also didn't have a coat that felt nice enough for a dressy occasion. My husband made my day when I put the coat on with my fluffiest scarf, and he said that I looked like an old lady on the way to a funeral. Success!

The pattern I used is the Oslo Coat from Tessuti Fabrics. There are not a lot of reviews out there for this coat, but I read what I could. It seemed that nobody had any issues with the pattern and only recommended moving the pockets up (which I did). I love sewing raglan sleeve coats (like my Yuzu Raglan from two years ago) because you don't have to ease in a set-in sleeve. So, if you're trying to choose a pattern for your first coat, I recommend a raglan.

This was my first Tessuti Fabrics pattern and I have no complaints. The instructions were thorough, contained LOTS of real-life photos and finishing details for a great coat. There were no drafting problems, no mismatched notches, none of the frustrations I've encountered with more well-know patterns. I had my pattern printed at PDF Plotting in large format. I cut a size 8 for my bust of 33" and hip of 38". I'm 5'4" and made no length adjustments. The shoulders feel a touch narrow, but I believe that is because I put in raglan shoulder pads. I do not believe the pads are necessary, I only did it to get the full tailoring experience.

I took my time with this coat (hand-tailoring has a way of being time-consuming) but it was still complete in about 2-3 weeks. I did read one review that said the sewist finished the coat in one night! So again, I can recommend it for a beginner who doesn't want to take a ton of time.

The hand-tailoring aspect requires its own post. Despite a thorough explanation in the book I used, I still came across questions and had to make some things up as I went. It was a good experience and I'm pleased with the results, but I'm not sure I'll do it again! 

Initially, I bought a grey silk habotai for this coat, but halfway through the project decided it was too thin. I ordered this anti-static pongee from Vogue Fabrics, and although it is polyester *gasp the horror* it was easy to work with, actually feels less static-y, and of course the color is a gorgeously perfect match. 

I had fun adding some details but didn't go too crazy with changes. The pattern is so well done it didn't need much to make it special. The hem is even drafted with a purposeful pleat for movement within the lining, something I've never seen before.

I think this project puts me at five coats all-time, including a few for family members and not counting anything in the jacket category. To be honest, I have at least two more coats planned and materials already purchased! As scary as they are to make, how many other handmade items do you put on almost daily for months at a time? An investment of sewing time and money can net you a huge reward in terms of usefulness. If you've never made a coat, I challenge you to give it a try!

Read my post about tailoring techniques here, and supplies here.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Arthur Pants and Indigo Dyed Strata Top

NBD, It's only been 85 years since I wrote a blog post. I'll spare you the technology woes and just use the most sensible excuse: 2020 man. To make it up to you, I have not one, but two amazing new projects to show off!
Meg at Sew Liberated teased us with the Arthur Pants pattern for quite a while before it dropped, long enough for me to know I needed it. My elastic-back Winslow Culottes are on heavy rotation, so I knew I would love that feature on the Arthurs. It also made me happy that I could reduce the appearance of bulk on the front by installing a flat waistband and pleats, rather than gathers. Though harder to sew (due to the zip fly) it's worth it to me for a smoother silhouette.

The most distinguishing feature of these pants is their balloon-leg shape. Reminiscent of MC Hammer's famous pants, it works much better with linen instead of that scary glittery polyester of the 90s. Speaking of linen, this beautiful navy fabric is from fabric.com and it's exactly the color I wanted. It's actually a linen/cotton blend, which made it kind of sticky feeling. It's hard to describe any other way, except to say that pet hair sticks to it like crazy.

I made a size 8 to go with my 38" hips. Many of the tester versions featured a cropped leg, which I felt was more flattering. I was disappointed to find that a cropped length was NOT included in the pattern. Normally, I wouldn't be concerned about shortening length, but I did not want to wreck the silhouette. The pattern did include finished garment length, which helped me figure out that I needed to remove 6". The pattern is drafted for 5'7" and I am 5'4". I removed 3" from the hem and 3" from the Lengthen/Shorten line. It did not fold out neatly and I wasn't sure how to true the lines. I ended up shifting the bottom portion of the leg towards the outseam in order to preserve the balloon shape.

Other than that, out of the metaphoric envelope the fit is excellent. The elastic is super tight in the back but the front lies flat. I used a hoarded four leaf clover button from Arrow Mountain for the closure. Looking at these photos, I think I need to move the button over a touch to make the fly meet in the middle the correct way.

The back isn't super flattering (I feel like square pockets rarely are) but again, for comfort and style I'm willing to accept it.

This pattern took much longer than anticipated to put together, due to French seams, flat felled seams, and a fly zip. You almost have to pay me to sew flat felled seams, I dislike them that much. But, I felt it was in the spirit of Sew Liberated and slow fashion to do them as instructed, so I did. It does turn me off from making the pattern again in the same way. Also, how many Hammer Pants do I need?

And in case you missed it, I made a fantastic video of myself doing the Hammer Dance. I have such good moves, I should've been a dancer.

The second part of this outfit is a hand-dyed Strata Top (also from Sew Liberated). The fabric started as an undyed linen/rayon blend from Dharma Trading Company. I previously dyed this exact fabric at the Maker's Retreat last year, and ordered five yards of it for my own dyeing purposes. 

I made a quick muslin of the Strata to check fit and then went ahead and sewed it up totally undyed. After the top was done, I got my indigo vat ready, wet the shirt, folded it, and started dipping. 

There was a lot of trial and error, dumped out vats, failures, and frustration before I ended up with an indigo vat that worked. I used all natural ingredients for my vat (google the 1-2-3 indigo vat method for more info). Needless to say, unfolding this top and seeing that the dye job worked was an amazing feeling! There is something quite magical about the process. I'll surely go into more in a later blog post.

I love it when two patterns from the same designer go together as well as these two. This is such a fun look but also comfortable!