Thursday, July 2, 2020

McCall's 6711 Dress Pants

***This blog post was written in March, before the covid-19 outbreak, and has been waiting to be published for more than three months! I plan on making this pattern again soon.


In case you guys didn't know, winter is cold. And when you need to look a little nicer in the winter time, pants are a good option. I know what you're thinking, "Beth, this is obvious." Well, it took me like 7 years to sew myself some dress pants.


I used to have many pairs of pants like this, back when I worked in an office. Only one of those still fits now, and even that is a stretch. I didn't want to spend too much money or effort on a pair of pants I knew I would rarely wear, so I dug up a pattern I already had, McCall's 6711. It must be out of print now, so I'm linking to the Pattern Review entry. This pattern has a top, pants, dress, skirt, and a blazer. That's a lot! I made the dress previously, and when I find the right fabric I think I'll make the top, to go with these pants.


The fabric is a polyester/spandex stretch suiting, from the Spot the Bolt bin at Jo-Ann's. There was just over a yard of it left, so I wasn't sure I could get some pants from it or not. I ended up using a stash stretch woven for the waistband facings.


The pattern calls for a center back zipper. For whatever reason, I decided I knew better and put an invisible zipper in the side seam. It ended up being dumb because there are pockets there, and the zipper running along the pockets pulls it in a weird way.


I like the pattern, it has a nice tapered leg and pockets. Those were basically my only two requirements. It was a pretty easy sew as long as you're comfortable putting in a zipper.


I sewed a size 10 which seemed to fit everywhere except through the seat. I used the smallest possible seam allowance, instead of the 5/8" drafted.


I'm happy enough with these to wear them to church. My top choices are limited since I don't gravitate to fancy/shiny/synthetics. If I had a solid black blazer (made from this same pattern perhaps?) there are a few things lingering in my closet, again from my working days, that would work. For now, I'm pairing it with this thrifted sweater from The Limited.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Allegro Gardening Pants Hack

I recently listened to the Love to Sew podcast episode about TNT patterns, and today I'm bringing you one of my favorites!


I've made the Allegro Bottoms in shorts four times, and the skirt once, but this is my first stab at the cropped pants. I don't know why I waited so long! Please note, right after I made these, the pattern was updated with a slightly different fit and higher rise.


My very first pair of Allegro shorts were an XS and were made about ten or fifteen pounds ago. Last summer I batch-sewed three pairs and went up to a size S. For reference, my hips are 38". I adore the fit of these pants, they are just loose enough to be comfortable but not sloppy.


I needed a pair of pants to wear on our outdoor treks, and particularly while gardening. I seem to find myself in my garden in the middle of hot afternoons, no matter how often I tell myself to go out in the mornings instead. I'm always losing tools and knew I needed some big pockets.


I decided to order some lightweight poly stretch woven from The Fabric Fairy. I am a part of their promo team and thought it would be a cool challenge to use this fabric in an unexpected way. This is the kind of fabric that most people use for running shorts, it's that lightweight swishy stuff that dries quickly. This colorway is sold out, but there are lots of others here.


I added giant patch pockets on the side of the pants. I didn't really measure, just went with the largest rectangles I could cut from my yardage after cutting the pants.


The back pockets are rounded instead of the rectangle ones that come with the pattern. This is a personal preference that I think makes my butt look better!


I did not have 1 1/2" elastic for the waistband, so I stole a tip from Instagram and zig-zagged some 1" elastic to some 1/2" elastic. It's not perfect, but given the shelter in place order we were under at the time, I made it work.


I added 1/2" elastic in the hem. It was not a part of the pattern originally, but it is a part of the update.


I will say, I didn't love sewing this fabric. I imagine that people who sew a lot of synthetics would probably have an easier time than me, but I almost exclusively sew natural fibers. It took to pressing just okay. I was scared of scorching the fabric! It does hold up well to washing and the outside abuse I've already put the pants through. I love the finished product but I'm not in a hurry to sew with it again.


So there you have it, the perfect outdoor pants for sitting in the dirt, carrying super interesting rocks, or picking mushrooms!

The fabric for this post was purchased with a gift certificate given to me by The Fabric Fairy as part of their promo team. I purchased the pattern. All opinions are my own!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

North Shore Swimsuit

How many swimsuits does one land-locked Midwesterner need? Don't answer that.


The theme for May's Fabric Fairy Promo team is "self-care". To me, that means "sew stuff you like". I LOVE making swimsuits. I have way more than anyone "needs". Somewhere along the way I had to give myself permission to sew them because I like it, not because I need them. I try to limit myself to one per year, but that usually turns into two or three #sorrynotsorry


This year, I went with a new pattern, the North Shore Swimsuit from Greenstyle Creations. There are a TON of options in this pattern, I won't even try to list them. I've had a similar swimsuit pinned for a century and the North Shore seemed like the closest match I could find. I made the Deep V Full Cup Front, with a Pullover U Back. I cut the mid-rise bottoms but used wider elastic, so mine are not a great representation of the accurate mid-rise. My bust is 33" and I made the top in XS. My hips are 38" and I started with a medium, but they were too big. I cut them down to a small and they fit great.


This print is called Abstract Monarch. The last two years, my kids and I have raised monarch butterflies. It's fun and this suit reminds me of that. I like how it's abstract though, you might not know it's an homage to monarchs at first glance. I completely forgot to order any lining fabric, so I made due with some black and green solids leftover from last year's swimsuits (here and here). Construction was done with my sewing machine and I topstitched the elastic with my coverstitch.


I ordered my swim elastic from The Fabric Fairy as well. This was my first time trying "rubber swim elastic". It was a lot like sewing a rubber band. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing! We'll see how it holds up over time, but I did think it felt sturdier than the Dritz stuff I usually buy at Jo-Ann's.


I think this suit is super cute and turned out how I envisioned. The pattern directions were great and I could even recommend this as a first-time swim project. Now if we could get the leak in our hot tub fixed...

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Distressed Morgan Jeans+Slouchy Pocket Union St. Tee

***This blog post was written weeks ago, before the covid-19 outbreak. I am publishing it now in hopes of providing even a small amount of distraction for those of us that need it.

Hey look ma, more pants! Yeah, I know, it's been out of control. After my second pair of Morgan Jeans were soooo close, I had to go straight to a third pair to work out the final fitting issues. Of all the pants I've made so far this year, these are the best-fitting. And hey, I threw in a new t-shirt too so don't worry.


The Morgan Jeans are drafted for non-stretch denim, so please note that this pair and my previous ones were made with stretch denim. I like spandex, what can I say? These are a size 8 for my 38" hip. I made significant changes to make the waist smaller than an 8, however. I have a swayback and also a mama pooch, so for my particular shape I need lots of waistband shaping to snug in the front AND back.


Sadly (or not, keep reading) I made a cutting mistake and cut two identical front legs instead of mirrored. I had just enough fabric left to recut...minus a weird, wonky shape at the end of the leg. I opted to put a scrap piece of denim down, pin it to the fabric, and figure it out later.


Turned out, sewing down that "patch" looked super cool. Cool enough that I purposefully cut a hole in the other leg, and did the same thing! And I left the hem raw, with only a single line of stitching to prevent further unraveling.


The fabric I used is from LA Finch Fabrics and was called "Famous Maker Stretch Denim Medium Blue" (can't find it now, it must be sold out). I am SUPER happy with it, it reminds me a lot of my beloved Cone Mills Denim. I wasn't sure about the color at first but it's grown on me.


After the last pair, I noticed that the back yokes on Morgan Jeans are cut in the opposite direction of Ginger Jean yokes (with the grain running horizontal to the body). That was kind of a head-scratcher for me, for this pair I cut the yokes with the grain running vertically on the body, like every other pair of pants I've ever made. I also chose to interface both the waistband and the waistband facing. With trial and error, fitting and refitting, I've found that a waistband cut in many pieces, to allow for shaping, works best for me, as long as I interface it to prevent stretching. Honestly, I like my waistband feeling like a belt without having to actually wear a belt.


I am VERY happy with how these fit against my back. I tried crossed belt loops this time for something new.


Lately, I've been finishing the bottom of my waistband facings with bias tape. The whole stitching-in-the-ditch, catch-the-facing nonsense NEVER works for me. I just plain like finishing them this way, and it adds another unique spot of color inside. Yes, my pocket bags are two different fabrics. These are definitely one of a kind!


All seams were sewn on my sewing machine, finished with my serger, and topstitched with my vintage Singer 15-91. Yet another reason why I was batch sewing so many pants at once, after you've gone to the trouble to set up three machines with the right needles and thread you want to take advantage. My topstitching is still not perfect, but it has come a LONG way in just a year.


My shirt is a small Union St. Tee (number 37 million in my closet) made from modal/cotton/spandex knit from Blackbird Fabrics, in a gorgeous, not-this-season autumnal rust color. I used Adrianna's recent slouchy pocket tutorial, and this is the FIRST TIME I have put a pocket on a Union! Incredible!


In these photos, the shirt is not hemmed as I was waiting for a thread order from Wawak. I did not have four cones of brown thread for my coverstitch and couldn't bear to dig up a twin needle. But rest assured, it was hemmed once my thread arrived. Label in the side seam from Kylie and the Machine.

This post contains an affiliate link to the Union St. Tee. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Linen Willamette Shirt

***This blog post was written weeks ago, before the covid-19 outbreak. I am publishing it now in hopes of providing even a small amount of distraction for those of us that need it.

I am a die hard fan of knits for tops, and it's a rarity that I'm wearing a woven shirt. But I make exceptions for my beloved Hey June Patterns, and for this fun Willamette Shirt!


Disclosure: I am a Hey June affiliate. I met Adrianna in person last fall at the Maker's Retreat and she is awesome. I LOVE her patterns. But I paid for the Willamette and will give you my honest opinion, as always!


I can't remember what inspired me to finally buy this pattern, but I think it was seeing it in person on Adrianna (I'm 99% sure it was this one). We were in the midst of indigo dyeing a lightweight woven fabric and I decided I wanted to use my yardage for a Willamette when I got home. Because that retreat fabric is precious, I made a wearable muslin using leftover striped linen (from this Hinterland).


While I think we can all agree that this shirt fits, I feel like I might make another muslin in a bigger size. The chart says a bust of 33" is a 2, the smallest size. I normally wear a 4 in HJ. I did not grade out for my hips (that would put me at an 8). Finished measurements for a 2 are 44" across the bust, 11" of ease. You'll definitely see this pattern again on the blog, so check back later for progress (spoiler alert, I made another in a 4 and prefer that fit).


Fabric choice is going to be key here. I know from experience that this linen is still stiff after one wash (how it's shown here) but softens up with wear. It may relax and grow a bit. A rayon challis has more drape and will fit differently as well. I was a little concerned that the solid black cotton I used for the cuffs would be too stiff, but it ended up working out. I used it for the inside yoke as well.


I'm wearing a new pair of low-rise Ginger Jeans (I think I'll save that review for a later day) and I think the Willamette looks nice with a half-tuck. I also like it with Lander Pants. The only thing I don't like is that the cut-on sleeve means it's too bulky to slip under a cardigan. I sewed this in January and still haven't worn it out of the house because I can't figure out how to make it work for winter. If you have any ideas, drop them in the comments below!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Flirty Hinterland Dress

Last summer, I made two Hinterland Dresses and wore them regularly. I knew I wanted more of them, and when I saw this pink leopard print rayon challis at La Mercerie, I ordered it ASAP. I mean, pink leopard print? My dream.


Shortly after I purchased this fabric, Jess decided to stop carrying fabric and to exclusively sell yarn, so I'm sorry, you can't get any more of it! The fabric is so beautiful. It was a typical rayon challis, shifty as all get out. I made sure I staystitched like a good girl and I'm happy with the sewing results. The hem is finished with a rolled serger hem.


My previous Hinterlands felt a bit too big in the skirt, so instead of a size 10 skirt, I cut an 8. It's just a gathered rectangle so I had no problems sewing it to my size 4 bodice. I omitted a front placket because I wanted to elevate the dress a bit, and because the print was busy enough as-is.


I cut the shorter length skirt and when I tried it on, I felt like it was too short (I'm only 5'4"). I took a risk and decided to add a ruffle to the bottom. It's a gathered rectangle cut the full width of the fabric. I call it a risk because skirt ruffles can easily take a look from "cute" to "nightgown". I did include the waist ties on this version so that I could pull in the silhouette and define my waist.




Styling is the most important feature of this dress. In these photos, I went with a full face of makeup and heels. I've tried a few necklaces, but they just get lost in the print. Some bangles on my wrist would help. Anything to keep you from thinking "nightgown"!


I think you can tell, I love the way I look in this dress. Unfortunately, I haven't worn it anywhere yet! Maybe I shouldn't have sewn a sleeveless dress in January. I've raided my closet for cardigans or jackets I could wear on top, and I just don't have any that work. I close-fiting pink cardigan would look cute, or a solid black blazer. By the time I get around to sewing either of those, it will be spring/summer and I won't need them. So, this lovely dress gets to hang in the closet, waiting for a special day.


The only issue I have, and it's not specific to this pattern, is the tendency for my bias tape facings to flip outward. It's most obvious in the above photo on the neckline. What's the solution here? Stitch closer to the edge of the tape? Use narrower tape? Help me out!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Icicle Creek Top

Instagram followers will already know that I recently spent a warm, sunny afternoon frantically photographing six months worth of garments. I definitely sew faster than I blog! So if you notice similarities in the next gazillion blog post photos, you're not imagining things, I did take them all on the same day! I'll start with the oldest garment just to make sure there's some kind of order. First up, the Icicle Creek Top!


Holy guacamole, the Maker's Retreat was five months ago! That's where I was when I made this shirt. Originally a retreat-exclusive pattern, Kimberly has recently released it for everyone to buy. She also added a second tunic-length view. At the retreat, Kimberly provided 2 yards of white rayon knit (I *think* she said it was from Dharma Trading Company) for all of us to either indigo dye or ice dye. I opted to ice dye mine. We did sew up the shirt before dyeing it, although we had a chance to practice the ice dyeing process on some tea towels first.


The Icicle Creek Top is a dolman-sleeved shirt with a half button placket. I made a size 2 graded out to a 4 around the hips. Per usual, the placket was the only challenging part of the top, mostly because knits can be fiddly to press neatly. I recommend trimming away as much bulk as possible before trying to topstitch everything together. The top can also be made without the placket altogether, and I think that's what my next one will be. I sewed my buttons directly through the placket so they are not functional on mine.


For such a basic design, I really, really LOVE this shirt. Not just because of the memories of sewing it up surrounded by an amazing group of talented ladies, but the fit is spot on for me. Kimberly is tall and drafts that way. I am 5'4" but long-waisted and I prefer my tops long. I did not remove any length in the bodice or the sleeves. I'm particular about how long sleeves fit me, I like them at just the right length and tight enough to push them up, but loose enough to not feel constricted. These sleeves are just the way I like them!


As I said, I sewed the shirt and then dyed it at the retreat, but I opted to bring it home to do the hems with my coverstitch machine. The rest of the top was sewn on a regular machine, we had no sergers at the retreat. A super quick explanation of ice dyeing: you put ice on your fabric, then powdered synthetic dye on the ice. It melts and dyes the fabric.


Choosing colors for ice dyeing was SO hard! There was a tendency to want to choose all.the.colors. I tried to channel the ocean as my inspiration. It was difficult to keep any cross-contamination of color off the fabric, so there are some tiny spots of colors I didn't intend. But it all leads to a one-of-a-kind garment.


I have some drapey pink rayon knit picked out for a second Icicle Creek and can't wait to sew it up!

Retreat photos were not taken by me! Used with permission from Kimberly Payne.