Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jamie Jeans version 2

If you follow me on Instagram then you already got a sneak peek (or ten) of these jeans! I've been working on them on and off eternity. I had some fit issues and then know how it is. So I'm thrilled that they are finally done and, gasp, wearable!

Side note...Indiana weather is drunk right now. Earlier this week the temps were in the single digits, today it's going to be 64. So I apologize for the sloppy half-frozen backyard! And also my neighbor's unfinished-for-six-months shed roof.

After M was born I realized it had been two years since I'd worn regular jeans. I thrifted some and was more than a little aggravated at how poorly they fit. Because obviously, me-made is a million times better than store bought. I almost chose to make Jalie 2908 but decided not to reinvent the wheel and went with Jamie Jeans, from Named, since I've made that pattern before.

This time, however, my fabric was quite different. My previous pair were made from a super-stretchy denim that almost felt like a knit. This time I went with a more traditional stretch denim (from Mood, almost 4 years old!). Using the handy chart in my Sewist's Swatch Book, I determined that the stretch percentage was only about 10%. The pattern calls for 15-20%.

I went ahead and made the same size as before, 6, believing that I'd probably be able to make it work since I had removed a ton of fabric from the legs with my stretchy fabric. Thankfully it did work, but I had some fit challenges first.

Length: These are drafted with long legs. I'm 5'4" with short legs, an inseam of 28 1/2". Last time I cut off 6" at the bottom hem. This time, I removed 3" from the paper pattern at the knee, assuming I could remove the rest from the hem later. But a friend pointed out that having extra length at the bottom was distorting the leg during fitting, so I cut most of it off.

Calf: A shoutout to my husband for helping me diagnose the main problem I had. There was bunching throughout the leg, and I finally figured out the calf was too tight, pushing the fabric up around my knee. Once I let out the calf (from the 3/8" seam allowance to 1/8"), the wrinkles went away. I also consulted this jeans fit guide at Closet Case Files, so now I know how to correct the paper pattern the right way. Who knew a mother of three who never works out could have thick calves?

A few horizontal lines, perhaps a shallower crotch curve is needed. 

Waistband: I removed a wedge from center back for a better fit. I was still able to ease the waistband to the pants without changing them as well.

Not wrinkle-free, but better than it was. Possible low butt adjustment needed.

I did not use the pattern directions at all. I followed the sewalong at Indie Sew, which I highly recommend! You'll see below that I followed one of their tips, to NOT topstitch the fly, which I think was good advice.

Even though I was scared to do it, I opted for contrast topstitching everywhere else. I used my vintage Singer 15-91, which is a beautiful, efficient machine. I still don't have great control over the speed, it's hard for me to regulate with the pedal for some reason and it can go pretty quickly. There were times I had to rip out my topstitching and do it again. I think I sewed the waistband three times to get it just right. The results were worth it, though.

I also used my Singer buttonhole attachment for the first time! I watched some YouTube videos and it was surprisingly easy. I think I'll write a separate post about it later.

When I finished these up, I had a panic attack realizing that they were too short. Nothing like cutting off 3" and then ending up with short jeans to make you bang your head against the wall. But a quick Google search schooled me to the proper length for skinny jeans, which is apparently at the top of the ankle. A happy accident on my part! Now I just feel old and out of the loop about fashion.

I'm pretty happy with my first "real" pair of jeans. I have enough fabric left for another pair of pants, I'm considering some Thurlow Trousers since the low stretch percentage would probably work better with a wider leg pant.

And just for funsies, I used some leftover poplin from this dress for my pocket bags. Fun pocket bags, a customized fit, I mean really, why doesn't everyone sew for themselves?

Need your own Sewist's Swatch Book? Save 20% with the code RESOLVE20. Valid through Jan. 20th and applicable for all versions of A Sewist's Notebook!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kids Can Sew! A New Sewing Machine

As Christmas approached, my husband and I realized we didn't have a "big" gift for our oldest daughter. We debated a bike, but opted to save that for her birthday next month. One night while falling asleep (when all my best ideas happen) it came to me--a sewing machine! So obvious, right?

I remembered reading a review from Amy at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop, after she had bought her daughter a machine. We ended up going with the same one, this Janome. This is a half-sized machine and is basically the cutest thing ever. It comes in a variety of colors, you don't have to pick pink ;)

One thing I read was to avoid toy machines, which are usually chainstitch machines and won't really sew real seams. This Janome could be a kid's machine, or a good compact travel machine for simple projects. It has 10 stitches, reverse, and a unique pressed foot that prevents anyone from sticking their fingers under the needle. AB is turning five next month, but she can be a bit absentminded, and I feel better knowing the presser foot is guarded.

The biggest con you'll see about this machine is the lack of a light. For the price, especially not knowing how much she'll sew, I can live without a light. I just put a lamp next to her. One other thing to note is that it only works with a certain size needle (it's escaping me at the moment but it was a size 14 I think). Obviously, it's not going to sew 10 layers of denim or anything, but I have other machines for that purpose.

I did thread the machine and bobbin for her, those things might be too tricky for a 5 year old. But once we were set up (which didn't take long) AB sat down and sewed her first item without much trouble. I sat with her and helped her guide the fabric properly and place her hands in the right place. We made a simple flannel blanket for H's new baby doll.

Normally AB gets easily frustrated or bored with new things. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to sew this blanket together without either of us devolving into tears. I can't quite explain the feeling of sharing something I love so much with my own offspring. It was kind of surreal and amazing and I hope it's something she continues to like as she gets older. If not, that's okay too, I do have two other daughters behind her ;)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Project Runway recap

Hello friends! I've been on a bit of a break with Christmas and my husband's vacation, so just popping in to rehash the finale episodes of Project Runway.

Spoilers ahead...

I enjoyed the first part of the finale with the home visits, and it was nice that once they were back in NY there wasn't any funny business. No last-minute looks or challenges, just put together a small show with what you've already made. Oh, and here's more money to blow at Mood just for funsies!

I could have clapped and done a happy dance when I heard Laurence say she didn't have any black in her collection, especially since she said her inspiration was going from darkness to light! I was impressed with her pieces she showed Tim and thought they looked expensive. Rik and Roberi both had issues with cohesion and that was obvious before the judges brought it up. To be honest, I'm not sure what those two were thinking. And Erin did Erin per usual, except she got a friend to make whackado prints for her. Blah.

It's no secret that I like Laurence the best, both her personality and her clothes. Sadly, I begrudgingly must agree with the judges that she didn't do enough with her collection. The garments were beautifully made, looked expensive, and her concept was solid, but they weren't exciting. It's fine if that's not her, but against the other collections understated is never going to win. Sigh.

Rik's collection was cray cray. I tried to understand the denim embroidery with the leather and just couldn't. Plus it was like, acid wash denim, with paisley, and it all just screamed ugly 90s to me.

Roberi. I just don't know. There were things I liked, but the fluorescent fabric cheapened the collection for me. The dress with the feathers that Heidi liked was the most memorable of the entire finale, I didn't even realize it was feathers. I think he was probably deserving of second place.

Erin...sigh. Correct me if I'm wrong, but has Erin made anything wearable this entire season? Perhaps the jumpsuit from a few challenges back, but that was an afterthought. I hated her collection. It was all crafty and embellished and ugly. Those weren't clothes, they were more like art that a person was wearing. Don't get me wrong, art has its place, but I didn't think its place was on a fashion tv show.

I'm sad with this season. I feel let down that Erin was proclaimed the winner from the beginning. There hasn't been any suspense leading up to her win, which makes for crummy tv on top of the fact that I don't like her clothes. So thanks a lot PR, you made me regret watching this whole season!

How do you feel about Erin's win? Was it deserved?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Project Runway recap

Time is getting away from me friends. Less than two weeks until Christmas, I'm not done shopping, Project Runway is almost over, I haven't started sewing the stockings I want to make...the pressure is on. Just like with the designers in this last episode. Yes, Christmas stockings=fashion week.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: Am I right in remembering that nobody complained about having another unconventional challenge? I guess these guys are ready for anything!

Worst moments: THEY might not have complained, but I will. Tired of it. Over it. Thinking it's a setup for crafty Erin to make embellishments out of garbage.

Best garments: I liked both jumpsuits, but those had more to do with fabric than design. For the unconventional looks, Laurence's dress was super interesting and beautiful, I just wish I hadn't seen a bird seed dress before on this show (although her's was much more effortless).

Worst garments: I didn't like Erin's unconventional look, but it was creative, I'll give her that. I was amazed that Roberi finished his garment but it didn't do much for me, it felt unfinished. Rik's looks both looked old to me. Like most weeks, there were some details to like, but nothing that blew me away.

So there we have it, the (final?) four moving on to fashion week. It wouldn't surprise me if next week is the real final challenge though. Cornelius going home wasn't much of a shock. This week felt a bit like an episode we just had to trudge through to get to the real business.

Next week: home visits!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Jamie Jeans fit help

Since I've worn my first pair of Jamie Jeans nearly to death, I figured it was time to make another. My first pair is made from a super-stretchy cotton/spandex denim, and I removed a lot of width to make them fit tightly, as intended. This pair is from a more traditional stretch denim, and I need a little help with the fit.

These *feel* okay on, when standing, but looking at the photos I see a lot of wrinkles. My biggest issue is that when I bend my legs, the fabric doesn't seem to stretch much. The pants become tight and uncomfortable. I'm wondering if I should let them out a bit? Finish them as-is and let time stretch them out and break them in? I've pulled out my two fit books but I'm looking for some additional feedback. I haven't made many pants, especially tight ones, so I'll take all the help I can get!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Project Runway recap

Only a few more episodes to go this season! This has been a good group of designers, although I hope they kick it up a notch going into the last few weeks. Maybe more dramatic designers inspire more creativity?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: Tim crawling around on the floor and getting tricked by Swatch. Heh. I can relate. Sometimes I think my kids do that sort of stuff to me on purpose.

Worst moments: Another unconventional challenge? Barf. It was only slightly more redeemable because they were asked to combine with fabric.

Best garments: I don't know if I liked any of them. I don't typically like avante garde, though. If I had to pick one, it would be Rik's, since it was still wearable enough.

Worst garments: Did Erin deserve her win? Probably, she did the best combining materials and innovating. But I'm so tired of her and bored with her designs. Oh look, a yellow something or other with oversized pockets and embellishments. Every. Time. She doesn't have any range. Similarly, I was very disappointed with Laurence. That dress could have fit in last week's challenge, which says that it wasn't very avante garde. The only risk she took was length, and that's a risk she's taken before.

Best quote: "You speak Spanish?!" --Roberi

I was honestly shocked by Mah-Jing's elimination. Heidi seemed to like his design so I thought that was a sure sign he'd be staying. I guess they decided that Cornelius' dress was more avante garde (in other words, scarier!). So now we're left wondering, who is going to show at Fashion Week? Surely Laurence and probably Erin, who else?

Next week: unconventional again...but Georgina!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cozy Winter Gear

It's been years since I've done regular shopping for myself. I sew almost all of my own clothing, and what I need to buy, I buy second-hand. But one piece of clothing has always eluded me: socks. A few years ago my husband got me a book about knitting, and I learned the basic stitches, but I haven't been able to devote enough time to it. I desperately wanted to learn how to knit my own socks. Well, while time was passing me by, an easier solution came along.

cozy toes socks

These are the Cozy Toes Socks by Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop (affiliate link). Now if I don't learn how to knit until I'm old and grey, I can still sew my own socks! And obviously, they require such little fabric that it's basically a freebie sew! Can you tell I'm excited! More exclamation marks!

These are stretched pretty tightly around my foot
so my stitching is showing.

This pattern has a lot of options. There is ankle cut, crew cut, and knee-high. There are multiple foot sizes as well as multiple leg sizes (slim, regular, plus). There are templates for making animal faces, if you're so inclined. Following the pattern directions and measuring my foot and calf, I was able to correctly pick my size the first time. I did make a single sock as a muslin before proceeding any further, but it fit without adjustments. This is the ankle cut, with slim width.

 Now for the bad news. I have been sewing Amy's patterns for four years and this was the most difficult to assemble that I have ever experienced. All of the options I noted above are great, but I got very confused trying to put the paper pattern together. The sock is three pieces and not intuitive. Normally Amy provides a diagram of how each piece of paper fits together but for some reason there was not a diagram in this pattern. Maybe I just have mommy brain, but it was very frustrating.  I also could not print pattern without color ink. No matter which options I tried, it refused to print grayscale  or black-and-white. If you do not have access to a color printer you cannot use this pattern.

Once the pattern was assembled, the directions do a great job helping you put the sock together. I think a sewing machine was recommended over a serger, but mine was eating my fabric. It worked fine with a serger if you're comfortable on one. And once you've done a single sock, it's super simple to make more. I will definitely be using this pattern over and over. The fabric I used here is modal/cotton/spandex French terry left over from my Irena. Soft and cozy!

woman's beanie hat

The second me-made that's keeping me warm this winter is my Delia Beanie from Named. A month or so ago I suddenly felt the need for a hat like this, and scoured Pinterest for a free pattern. I found a kid's pattern, made my daughter one, made one for a friend's son, then enlarged the pattern to make myself one. And forgot all about it. Only to discover that I already bought the Delia ages ago. This is why it's a good idea to browse your Dropbox regularly!

There aren't a lot of Delias floating around the internet, but I love Named and their other patterns I've tried. This one didn't let me down. The hat is one-sized, self-lined, and finished with a small amount of hand-stitching. There is an option for an applique, which I left off this time but would be easy to do as it's clearly marked on the pattern.

There was some head-scratching going on here to make sure I did it all correctly, but if you make your fabric match the illustrations you can figure it out. It was a fast sew on my serger and I finished the hand-stitching in front of the TV.

This is my impression of a too-cool sk8tr grl.

I did not sew down the "flap" in case I wanted to make my hat taller and slouchier, or in case my 4 year old wants to wear it. She stole it right out of my hands when it was finished. The fabric I used is a cotton/wool/spandex knit leftover from these leggings. It's incredibly warm and I love those leggings, I knew it would be perfect for this hat. I had just enough left for it, and all the rest I can use for socks!

Side note: in these photos I'm wearing Named Jamie Jeans, my Hey June Lane Raglan hoodie, and my New Look 6216 dolman top. Plus a me-made hat and socks! Killin' it y'all.