Tag Archives: Jalie

Fleece Pants: A Family Odyssey

Episode 1: Failure
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Those of you who follow me Twitter or Instagram may have caught the odd hint of one of the winter obsessions Chez Isis this year—fleece pants. The perfect antidote to a Saskabush winter, especially for people who spent the last five years in balmy southern Alberta. And yet, and yet, they have remained curiously absent from the blog. Unforgivable, no? I agree. I kept waiting to get them ALL DONE, and do a great big family fleece pants post.

I have come to the conclusion that if I do that, I may still be waiting come next winter. So, here I go with one installment at a time.

Dredging deep, deep into my memory, may I present my first attempt at making fleece pants? A veritable antique by blog standards, stitched in the fall of 2012.

I used the pattern for the Jalie 3022 yoga pants, of Pink Suit fame (or infamy), with the same alterations to length and rise I had had success with in the pink pants. Fleece is really a nice fabric to work with—bulky, but not slippery, and with enough stretch to make the fit forgiving, right?

Well, I had double-checked the stretch requirement on the pattern envelope, and the fleece matched it, but I neglected to think about one startlingly important aspect, the difference between “two way” stretch and “four way” stretch.* In particular, this pattern needs something that stretches both in width AND length.

The fleece stretches in width, but when it does so it loses length.

As it turns out, a lot of length.

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Enough length that the vertical seams, which were beautifully smooth when I topstitched them, bubbled out like crazy. The length which had been more than adequate on the pink fabric (I cut off two inches of the four I had added) became inadequate even for hemming. But most disastrously, the rise, which ended up perfect (after tweaking) on the Pink Pants, became somewhere between risque and just plain indecent. And if it’s too low for me, dear readers, well, it’s too low to show you. ;)

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Which is not to say I didn’t wear them. Oh, no. Many a dark and icy winter morning was softened by reaching for my fleece pants. Long shirts and oversized sweaters compensated for the problematic rise, and they were particularly perfect for walking the kids to their bus stop, which has to be one of the most grueling treks of the Canadian prairie winter.

But finally, I had to admit that they really weren’t adequate. It would make much more sense to make myself another, larger pair. And, well…

They fit Tyo perfectly.

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All the photos in this post, as you have probably noticed, are of the pants on Tyo.

Coming soon: Episode 2, the Sister-in-Law Edition.

*And I’ve seen this defined differently in different places, so, in the absence of a Central Fabric-Describing Authority, I’m going with what is convenient for this particular post.

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Wads of wadders.

Wadders can be cute, too.

I’ve been trying to make myself into a better skeptic, the last few years. Critical thinking and all that. Evidence. So generally, I’m skeptical of the idea of curses.

But right now, dear readers, my (admittedly anecdotal) evidence is that drapey, clingy, stretchy red jersey is, indeed, cursed. This is the second piece I’ve thoroughly demolished (the first was briefly figured here, which top never really grew on me, and the one I made from the rest of that piece was so horrific it never even got blogged.)

So, this is not my favourite kind of knit. But it is one I’ve successfully worked with on occasion. My cowl-neck shirt, for one. My friggin tunic top I made the pattern for, for another. The slinky maxi fabric I used just recently was a little beefier, but not much.

So why did this fabric defeat me so?

Closeup. Aieee.

Partly, I guess, the answer is laziness. What I wanted was a quick knit top to whip up in the hour or so I had before bed. And to trial Jalie 2788, the twist top. Not so much for it’s own sake (although it’s cute), but because what I *really* want to make is a cute dress like this Burda one, but I don’t want to pay five bucks for a download pattern when I already have a twist-front pattern on hand. Albeit  a slightly different twist, but anyway. Yes, I’m a cheapskate. Anyway, because I wanted quick, (and I had cut out the shirt before and tossed the scraps) I didn’t want to sit around practicing neckline finishes.

(More blog shoes)

Sometimes, I manage to get away with this kind of half-assery. Just, not this time. The pattern suggests folding over and topstitching. I first attempted to do this straight; Not going to happen. Cut that off,  put on my usual binding, but it was fiddly and wound up stretched not enough in some spots, too much in others. And I think it’s really a bit heavy for this style of top.. Then decided to use Steam a Seam for the arms and hems. This worked much better, and is what I should’ve done for the neck, too.Why didn’t I? Well, partly because I’ve run out of (or misplaced) my Steam a Seam strip/roll, so all I have left is the wide stuff for applique, and I get really tired of just cutting little slices off of it. I need to get another twin-needle for topstitching, too.

Back view. Could use more swayback adjustment.

And then when I got it to try-on stage, it was too big—baggy and saggy in unflattering ways. The measurements for my size are, seriously, *perfect*—the only alteration I made was to add a little swayback adjustment, since there’s already a back seam. But, the fabric is pretty darn stretchy, so I’m going to blame that on the fabric. So I took it in a couple cm on each side and at the shoulder seam. Now the length to the bust is pretty good, and things are a lot less saggy-baggy except right around the neck binding,  Except apparently I should’ve kept the ease below the waist, because AIEE that is too tight to be flattering. Not my best area, there, upper hips and lower belly. /sigh. Must work on that, soon.

And then I tried to make panties, from a pattern traced off one of my fave pair of boy-cuts, from the remnant

Undies. Fail.

Also fail. Partly for shoddy construction, but mostly because this elastic, which I bought more for its cuteness than any practical plans, is not nearly stretchy enough.

Just for the record, this is probably the third pair of underwear I’ve attempted that didn’t end up wearable.

I’m going to bed now.

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The Pink Suit

Pink Suit. Also, bad hair. >_<

(as my children so endearingly dubbed it) … is finished.

Right off the bat, I am going to apologize to Lisa. I did not end up incorporating her awesome hood pattern on the Renfrew. Mostly because I couldn’t find one of the  pattern pieces I painstakingly drafted from her instructions when the time was right, and I was too impatient to wait for it to show up. But then, the pink fabric is possibly a bit too thin, anyway. I will definitely try another time, after the pattern piece shows up.

So, shall we start with the bottom?

Jalie 3022

I added 4″ to the leg length in this pattern, as the size R (my hip size) only has a 30.5″ inseam. 34.5″ is a bit excessive, even for me, but frankly I wanted to be safe rather than sorry, and given that 4-way stretch pants sometimes lose length as they stretch, I wanted plenty. As it turned out (at least in this very stretchy fabric), I only needed about two extra inches, but I think I’m going to keep the length in the pattern just in case. I added the length in two sections, 2″ at the lengthen-shorten line on the thigh and 2″ just below the knee. I also did a small full-butt wedge (this  adjustment), based on my kids’ experience. Although as it turns out I probably could’ve skipped that, not so much because I didn’t need a bit of extra height in the back as because the overall rise was considerably too high for me—coming to just below my belly-button. That looks right on my kids; it doesn’t look right on me. Fortunately in a style like this, it’s easy to fix. I lopped off the seam at the bottom of the waistband (I don’t un-pick knits if I can avoid it), and cut a band off the top of the pants-portion, about 1cm from the back increasing to 3 cm at the front. Then re-attached the waistband. PERFECT!

Seam---interior

For seam finishing I went a bit…overboard. I had decided on black topstitching, in the hopes of cutting down the severe sweetness of all that pink. For my seams themselves, I opted to use a simple overedge stitch on my White, which is both stretchy and makes a much straighter seam on the right side than the overedge stitch on the Janome. And then finish the edge on the serger. And then topstitch with what I think of as the Janome’s “Athletic stitch.”

That’s a lot of stitching.

Topstitching

One of my main reasons for using the White for the seam stitch (besides saving me switching my settings constantly) is that it has adjustable pressure on the presser foot, and lightening the presser-foot pressure makes the knit wave up much less than the Janome’s fixed, heavy foot. Which meant that my seams looked really nice right up until I decided to topstitch with the same Janome. At which point they waved up like crazy. Ironing has helped somewhat, and I’m hoping that the laundry will take care of the rest, but if not, I will be warned for the future. Which is too bad, because I really like the look of this topstitching for “athletic” gear.

Jalie 3022 construction---one wide, flat piece.

I was initially a touch puzzled by the instructions, which have you construct the back as usual, then stitch each side of the front to the sides of the back, before finishing the front crotch and then the inseam. Then I realized it was *much* easier to topstitch the outseam before the “tube” was closed by stitching the front crotch. Smart Jalie! And for once I actually followed the instructions, so I got to enjoy the benefits of their braininess. Yay!

I used strips of Steam-a-Seam Lite (2) in the hems of the pants, as has become my modus operandi for knits, and they turned out, well, no wavier than the other topstitched seams. The nice thing about this particular topstitching (as opposed to say, twin-needling) is that it is the same top and bottom, so I could topstitch looking at the inside and make sure I was covering the edges of the hem-fold. Although, since the edge was already fused in place with the Steam-a-Seam, I suppose there wasn’t much I could actually do if the hem was wonky. Still, I felt better. ;)

Pink suit! Seams slightly ripply

On to the top?

Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top.

I used mostly the same construction methods on the shirt, although not nearly so much topstitching (just around the bands.) Once again I followed Tasia’s instructions surprisingly closely (for me), and was glad of it, because I initially sewed the “V” on the neck-band the wrong way—it was making an “A”, not a “V”.  So double-check that bit, because it’s not really obvious from the pattern piece. It turned out pretty well, though, as you saw above.

As so many others have said before me, there’s not really much not to love about this top. Easy fit, cute styling. I do prefer a smaller seam-allowance, especially when setting in the sleeves; the Jalie knits all have 1/4″ seam allowances, which can feel a bit scant—I think 1cm is definitely my fave in almost any situation. The shoulders feel a bit tight (which is odd, considering they’re rather wider than on my knit sloper) but I think this actually has to do with the curve of the armscye on the body, which is much more extreme in this pattern—which also makes the sleeves angle down more, as opposed to the sleeves on my sloper, where they angle more out. Despite the sleeve-caps being virtually identical. Verry Eeenteresting, my friends. (You can see the effect of the downward angle in the photo below, where they bunch up a bit above my shoulders because my arms are out.) This is also one of those differences that I wouldn’t notice in a fabric with a bit more give or a bit less recovery. I will say, if you’re fitting a knit, this is the fabric to do it in—it actually stays the size and shape that you cut it out.

Other than that, it is what it is and what it is is luverly.

Oh, yeah, back view

Altogether, it is a lot of pink. Possibly more than I’m comfortable with. I was hoping the black topstitching would take the edge of the sweetness, but there’s not quite enough of it. I don’t think it will actually stop me wearing these (although maybe not so much together), but if it does become a problem I could always take a whack at producing a lovely sludgy dyed colour as Carolyn is so good at.

The only complaint I have about the pants (aside from the ripply seams) is that the fabric is *borderline* too thin for bottoms. In a dark colour, I might not have noticed it, but, well, we’ll just say I shall have to be careful which underwear I wear with these.

So another view. Note the un-ripply inseam and the ripply topstitching.

I had some photos showing where the waistband ended up after my alteration, but I’m just not quite happy enough with the current  jowly condition of my midsection to throw them up (at least in combination with the other things I don’t like about these photos, like my bad after-work hair and the crappy photo quality of my backup camera).   So you’ll just have to imagine it going from right below my navel to sitting comfortably beneath the belly-flub.*

On your mark...

I wish I could say this sporty suit will inspire me to  take after Winnie, but I fear that a) I hate long-distance running, and b) nothing’s going to change before the end of the summer at the earliest.

But at least I will be comfy while I slob around the house!

Also, now Tyo wants shorts from the leftover fabric. My desire to move on to other projects is at war with my desire to get rid of the remaining half-metre or so of this fabric. Hmm.

*As usual when I whinge about my body, I feel the need to insert a disclaimer: overall, it’s a pretty good body. I am (and have been for the past several years) mistreating it horribly, as health, fitness, and everything else except family and sewing, in fact, are pushed aside in the face of THESIS. And while I haven’t gained a significant amount of weight, I’ve definitely lost muscle tone, and what I do gain goes right to my middle. It’s not horrific—it’s just not what I want to see when I look in the mirror, and not what I would be seeing if I was doing anything other than sit in front of a computer nine hours a day. And I can’t even blame it on having children… ;)

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Whew!

Action shots

This post was almost titled “Disaster, Part II.” But at least temporarily, disaster appears to have been avoided.

Finished (?)

I finished Tyo’s Jalie 2795 bunnyhug late Saturday, and handed it to her to try on. I was a little apprehensive since an early test fitting had suggested it was going to be snug; the sleeves had been a little short, so I had added an extension to the cuffs, as you can see.

Well, Tyo couldn’t even get her hands through the cuffs without major pinching and pulling. That being said, once she did get it on, she didn’t even want to take it off to go to bed, always a good sign. So when I got up this morning I sliced off the old cuffs, grabbed the pattern piece, and dug through the mass of scraps under my cutting table in search of something I could make a new pair of cuffs from (since the rest of the fabric I used for this has now been reduced to scraps none of which are much bigger than 4″ square. I eventually (to my great relief!) turned up the remnant of the fabric from when I made this sweater last winter. It’s not as fresh and dark a black as the other sweatshirt knit, but there was enough of it and I was beyond caring (and I suspect things will even out after a wash or three)

Cuffs!

So I improvised some wider, extra-long cuffs, slapped them on, and the child was happy to go. Further examination indicated that the problem with the cuffs may have been more me than the pattern—I think I reversed the direction of maximum stretch in my attempts to cut thriftily, as the fleece grainline isn’t obvious, the only way to tell is by stretching the fabric experimentally.

Slim fit

The size, which I was really worried about, is definitely not generous. This will be great when I make one for myself, but isn’t exactly what you’re usually looking for for kids. I have a feeling the time she’ll be wearing this one will be measured in months as opposed to years or even seasons.

j

Interfaced zipper

In an attempt to avoid wavy-zipper issues, I used a small strip of interfacing on either size of the zipper insertion. This seems to have (mostly) done its job, except I should probably have put it on the other side—the way I folded the zipper in to finish everything the edges of the strip show on the inside, which isn’t ideal.

Back view

I wasn’t too keen with how the hood, which inserts on top of the collar, looked when I first stitched it up, but I actually like it quite a bit when worn. The size is ok, not big but not too small to be functional, and the unusual seaming looks really nice when it’s down.

I used two main seam finishes in this piece, serging and topstitching on the black sweatshirt material and stitching the seams inside-out and covering the seam allowance with twill tape on the fleece. Both are pretty fun and make for a nice finish, but are a bit time-consuming (you have to go over each seam three times). A few seams, like the underarm/sideseams, I just stitched and then serged for finish.

Pocket and side panels

The one interesting bit of construction was the pocket openings. They’re set into the side seams, and you basically make a single welt and insert it into the cut-out in the side-piece. It gapes a bit towards the centre, but I don’t actually mind the look, and it meant that I was less likely to catch the welt in the seam. Yay! It also helps that my pocket lining and my side-panel material matched—I wouldn’t want to use a different material for the pocket lining (not that you normally would on a sweatshirt).

Most importantly, though, it was perfect for a day at the playground.

Play!

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And a pair for Tyo.

Tyo's shorts (front)

Having finished cutting the last bits for Tyo’s bunnyhug last night, I had about half a men’s XL sweatshirt left sitting on the basement floor, so I decided to cut the shorties (Jalie 3022)  for Tyo out of it. It may be borderline in terms of stretch, but then so was the red striped fabric I used for Syo’s pair. I tend to round up the Jalie patterns for the kids, because I’d rather make their clothes a little loose and have them grow into them. (This does not always thrill my children.) On the other hand, I really need to re-measure them; Tyo grew something like two inches since Christmas.

The photos pretty much all suck—black, y’know–but I think you get the idea. Though I think the shorts are much cuter in real life.

Tyo 'Tude

Knowing that Tyo’s derriere requires rather more room than Syo’s, I wanted to add more height to the rear crotch curve. Normally to do this I just add a wedge at the CB seam, about halfway up the curve, tapering to nothing at the side-seam. For this particular pattern, though, this is complicated by the vertical seam along the back of the leg. This incorporates a little bit of shaping at the top, and the potential for a lot more if you needed it. For this first try, I didn’t add any shaping on this seam, and they seem fine, but it’s certainly an option if you need it. Anyway, I basically added 1.5 cm in height all along the centre-back pattern piece (piece B), and made a wedge on the side-back pattern piece (piece C).

My changes

I am very, very, very glad I did this little alteration, as Tyo’s shorts cover very nicely—high enough at the back and covering her entire butt. Yay! Hence the modeled shots here. 1.5 cm may have been a bit excessive, but I’d rather be safe than sorry in this case.

Side view---great rear coverage

For construction I followed the Jalie instructions much more closely this time, especially for the waistband, which is the full height with the decorative “contrast” band—in this case it’s made of blue stretch velvet, from a tiny remnant I had to piece at the CF (in hindsight, it would’ve made much more sense to put the seams at the sides, but I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead.)

Tyo's shorts, rear view

I stitched all my seams in three passes, straight triple stitch for the seam itself and then using the serger to finish it, and then topstitching. It makes a much nicer finish inside than the overedge stitch on my machine, and with the topstitching the seam-allowances are flattened down nicely on the inside, which looks much more professional, if not 100% RTW.

Inside waistband.

When I posted about Syo’s Leotard and using the three-step zig-zag to attach it, I got a lot of comments from people who found this stitch stretched out the elastic too much, keeping it from recovering fully. I didn’t find that at all on the leotard, but I was using clear plastic swimsuit elastic in that case, and I wonder if the commenters were referring to standard elastic instead—because when I triple-stitched the (regular) elastic to the inside of the waistband (basically understitching) with a three-step zig-zag, it definitely ended up longer than when it started. It’s fine on, but you can see the top of the waistband is a little ripply when it’s not being worn. So, commenters—have you had this problem with clear plastic elastic? Or is it just (as here) with standard elastic? I don’t know if I’d use clear plastic elastic in a waistband like this anyway, but it’s definitely something I’ll keep in mind when making my stitch-choices in the future.

Rear view---coverage!

Incidentally, I sewed the entire project with my 1/4″ edgestitching foot. This worked great, because the keel on the foot is right at the edge of the seam-allowance. I mean, it’s not hard to line up a 1/4″ seam allowance with the edge of the regular zig-zag foot, but this was practically brainless. It wouldn’t have worked if I’d been trying to use my over-edge stitch, though, because the edgestitching foot is a straight-stitch-only foot.

So, in conclusion, pretty definitely a win.

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Shorts for the shortie

Almost-undies

One of the things I traced off last week was Jalie 3022, a cute yoga-pants pattern.

In the shorts length.

In sizes for my kids.

This allows me to use up yet more teeny knit scraps, test out the pattern, and, in all probability, contribute to my children’s chronic habit of dressing extremely inappropriately for the weather.

So, over the last week, I managed, in approximately five-second intervals, to get a pair of the shorts together for Syo. I traced of the size J pattern, in shorts length, making no adjustments on this initial pair. This is the equivalent of the size 6, for my nearly-nine-year-old, but it matched her measurements and the fit is pretty much spot on.

I should, however, have remembered that Jalie drafts for the flat-of-butt. Syo’s derriere is not quite as J-Lo-esque as her older sister’s, but it’s still decently protruberant. The rise in the front is good, even a little high, but the rise in the back is a bit meager. And, while the shorts version is pretty short, I don’t actually think the bottom of her butt is supposed to be hanging out. And there’s a wee bit of wedgie action going on.

None of which prevented her from bouncing up and down upon seeing them, squealing “Mommy made me booty shorts!”. She has also slept in them every night since, and worn them to school under her (very) skinny jeans because she forgot to take them off, so they must be fairly comfortable. It’s also why they look a bit stretched out and beat up in the photo…

As to the pattern itself…

The main feature that makes this pattern a little different is the additional vertical seam down the back. This allows for a bit more shaping in the butt region, not to mention lets me use even smaller scraps of fabric to make up the shorts. It does increase the construction time a wee bit.

I took some major liberties with the waistband, partly due to fabric limitations and partly due to not having a nice contrast-fabric to make the oramental panel on the outside. I just cut the single, inside piece, and folded it over around some wide elastic. This worked, but it didn’t produce a particularly nice waistband—partly because the waistband elastic I had on hand was a bit heavy for the purposes, and partly because my fabric is not overly stretchy, so rather than easing neatly to the waistband it’s pretty harshly gathered. it looks fine on, though. I have since actually read the instructions, and they make much more sense and give a much nicer finish, calling for a narrow, 1 cm elastic to be attached inside the top of the waistband. So don’t judge the pattern by the crap-tacle I made of the waistband.

I used a faux-athletic-looking stitch for hemming the legs. I will note this is the first time I’ve successfully hemmed this particular, rolly fabric without adding elastic or a band. I stitched the hem from the wrong side so I could flatten out the rolling manually as I went, and it worked really well, but obviously wouldn’t’ve been possible if I’d wanted to use a twin needle topstitch, for example.

All in all these are a quick, not terribly nicely-finished test piece. But Syo seems completely happy with them. I’m not sure how many booty shorts my kids need (they actually cover less of her butt than some of her underwear), but it’s a great way of using up spare fabric, especially little teeny bits. And yes, she wears them with the matching bralette from the photo.

I have a pair ready for Tyo, too, but I’ll do a separate post on them once I get her to try them on…

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The joys of experience…

More little jeans

The thing about making something over and over again—especially in rapid succession—is that you should, really, be getting better at it each time, right?

Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

After finishing the littlest jeans ever last weekend, I figured I had a good couple of weeks to poke around at the next pair, for my older niece Fyon, and still have them in the post in time for Fyon’s birthday at the end of the month.

Did I mention that I suck at mailing stuff? This is why I make patterns that can be shared via download, rather than hosting giveaways, when the guilt at how much I get from the online sewing vs. how much I contribute gets too bad.

ANYWAY, when I realized that my MIL and her husband would be in town for a couple of days this week, it suddenly became imperative to get Fyon’s pair done so I could send both presents back with her. And while it’s easy enough (at this point, for me) to whip up a pair of jeans over the course of a weekend, it’s another thing entirely to cram it into a couple of evenings. Nonetheless, I dove in, and they are done and currently winging their way back to Saskatchewan.

Fyon’s pair was a straight size 4—unlike her little sister, she’s tall for her age and well-proportioned (i.e. slightly chunky). She’ll be five in a few weeks, but the measurements I took of her last summer suggested that the size 4 (H) would be just fine, even allowing for four months of growth. Here’s hoping. In case you haven’t been following along, the pattern is Jalie 2908, which is far and away my most-used pattern of all time. Cost per make is in the pennies, at this point.

Rear view

Given the time-frame, I dropped all hope of originality and opted for the same detailing in slightly different fabric. This is probably just as well—despite their size differences, my nieces are only 18 months apart in age, and much jealousy often arises if they don’t get more-or-less exactly the same gifts. I decided to make my piping a little narrower this time, in the effort to get a more “piped” look—I think I was successful, although the wider look of the first pair is a bit more whimsical and cute. This pair is positively sedate. I also plum forgot (as I usually do) to add a teensy change pocket, and I’m surprised at how much more boring this makes the front view. Subtle, but true. I also forgot to do any embroidery on the front. Oopsie. Tyo suggested stars, rather than hearts this time, which I went with happily on the back pockets, as they’re super-easy to stitch.

Labels---best laid plans.

Aside from glitches like that, I had some good ideas that didn’t quite pan out, and some technical difficulties. I remembered to attach a label with my kids’-brand name, Bookemon & Ebichu (as I found the sheet of iron-on transfers again, finally! ;) ), and this time figured I’d do it BEFORE the waistband was attached, saving me from doing it after, by hand, like I did last time. It seemed like a great idea, no? Except that when I topstitched along the waistband, the stitching went over the label. Not awful, but not really the look I was going for. (I do like how the swan-stitch turned out! It’s one of the cams that came with the White, and while each individual bird isn’t particularly lovely, the overall effect is a cute detail, I think.

On to the technical difficulties. I’ve mentioned before that the new Pfaff, lovely as it is, has some tension issues. Something is gummed up in the the tension disks, to the point where a) the tension doesn’t release when the presser foot is raised, and b) when the tension is high (as it needs to be for stitching with thick topstitching thread) it seems to feed a bit unevenly or something—two or three stitches will be fine and then one will pull a loop of the top thread to the back. Again, not catastrophic, but not perfect. The topstitching thread I used on the pair of jeans for Waif was a different brand and not quite as thick, and it worked well, but the Guterman topstitching thread was definitely more challenging. And it got even worse for zig-zagging (which you generally use a lower tension for). You can see how attractive the insides of my bar-tacks are. /sigh. So while the overall jeans are fine, and cute, the construction has some lumps and bumps that I wish it didn’t. I did a better job on the fly this time, I think, anyway.

At least it’s out of the way.

Interior waistband

There’s the usual buttonhole elastic in the waistband, and again I used a snap. It seems, in the random way of snaps, to be a little sturdier than the one that I put in on the Waif’s pair. Which probably has everything to do with how things get bent in the hammering, but I haven’t managed to really improve on that with the tools I have available.

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The littlest jeans… EVER.

teensy tiny jeans

I didn’t sew for my kids when they were little. I think I made one sundress-type-thingy for Tyo when she was two, and as sundress-thingies go, it was not impressive. So sewing in these extremely small sizes is a bit new to me.

But, a few weeks before Christmas, my Stylish Sister-in-Law happened to mention that she has a terrible time finding pants for her youngest daughter, who is one of those waifish children with the waist-size of a one-year-old and the leg-length of, well, at least a two year old. (Seriously, child is 3.5 years right now and hasn’t broken 30 lbs. Maybe not even 25. I’m pretty sure Tyo was that weight at a year.)

Pocketses

Now, unfortunately, this conversation didn’t take place enough before Christmas that I could actually put together a pair of very little (but relatively long) jeans as a present for the Waif. But now that I’m home and seeking fresh avenues for procrastination, it seemed like the perfect project.

Also, I got to try an experiment—how many sewing machines can you use on one pair of jeans?

The answer, at the moment, is three, plus the serger. If that weren’t the absolute maximum number of machines I can have set up at any one time, it might well have been more.I did the main construction on my Featherweight, and the topstitching and embroidery on the “new” Pfaff 360. The upside of using the Pfaff for the topstitching (and it has an excellent straight stitch, even with no straight-stitch plate) is that I can switch it to zig-zags for the bar-tacks without having to re-thread anything. The downside of this is that the tension settings for a straight stitch with topstitching thread (very high) vs. a zig-zag stitch with topstitchings thread (much lower) are very different, and I kept forgetting to switch back. So I had to re-stitch several areas, and wasted a lot of precious topstitching thread in the process. At least it’s easy to pick out when there’s huge loops on the back because the tension was too low. I used the White for a regular-thread zig-zag to attach the front yoke to the front pocket lining, since that was easier than re-threading the Pfaff (or I told myself it was…). If I’d gone with applique embelishment, I would probably have used the White for that, too. (Incidentally, while I still love my modern, basic Janome, it’s so very, very nice to have machines that can handle the tension required for topstitching through denim.)

Now, kids jeans are fun. Not so much because they’re little (although that doesn’t hurt), but because you can use the most whimsical, off-the-wall details. And jeans, let’s face it, are all about the details. The basic construction is both monotonous and intermittently fiddly—adding the details is where the fun comes in.

Embroidered hearts

After some experimentation, I settled on free-motion embroidery and flat “piping” for this particular pair.  I opted to use the remnant of fabric from my Cream Spice Capris of last summer, since neither of my children seem particularly intrigued by it and I won’t be the one who has to keep them clean.*

The pattern, as always, is Jalie 2908. I cannot explain to you how awesome it is that the Jalie patterns come in umpteen sizes. For the Waif, I traced off the size 2 (F, the smallest size), but used the size 3 (G) length. I then re-checked my measurements and realized that the hip measurement I had for her (49 cm) is well below the hip-size of the 2 (56 cm), even allowing for any growth she might have done in the four months or so since I measured her. (However, as I discovered sewing my first pair of jeans for Tyo, you do want to go a bit big for the kids sizes in this pattern, if only so they don’t outgrow them in five minutes. Although again, I’m curious if this is the same in the really little patterns or if they’re drafted with more ease. The picture of the girl on the pattern envelope certainly looks like her jeans have a lot more ease than the adult version.) So I took 1 cm lengthwise tucks out of the back and front pattern pieces (avoiding the pockets to make my life easier), which should reduce the width by 4 cm total, a reasonable amount.  I forgot to narrow the back pockets by the same amount, which did come bite me in the ass later, but we’ll get to that.

To change things up,

After some experimentation and a lot of trial stitching, I hit on my strategy for embellishment. For the piping, I made some bias roughly 3 cm wide and folded it in half. I tested adding a cord, but decided I liked a flat, soft insert better—a little more flexible for the small niece, although it is a bit trickier to get even and it comes out a little wide. I played around with applique, but wasn’t satisfied with the look with my particular thread and fabric colours. Maybe when I make a pair for Waif’s older sister, Fyon. Instead, I went with some freehand embroidery hearts. I outlined each heart once or twice, for a sketchy, crayon-drawing sort of look. Also, that’s about all I’m capable of for freehand embroidery. Not my forte (although I’m sure hooping the fabric and doing the embroidery first would probably improve things at least somewhat. As it was, I ironed wash-away stabilizer onto the back of the denim, used the same little foot and settings as my mending extravaganza, and went to town.

Now here’s the thing. I could have gone with a more precise design (perhaps not hearts) and created more-computer-quality-looking embroidery. Personally, I rather like the freehand/wobbly look (and there are plenty of jeans out there that have machined versions of this look). But it’s one of those things that could, in the right eyes, just make these cute little jeans look tacky and home-made. Not so much because they’re on jeans, but because they’re on homemade jeans. I’m choosing to reject this opinion; hopefully Stylish will, too.

Waistband inside with buttonhole elastic.

I made some other alterations that are kinda standard at this point for making 2908 kids’ jeans. I curved in the yoke a bit more (easy since I was already putting a tuck in it), although not as much as I often do as Waif’s bottom is considerably less curvaceous than, say, Tyo’s. (She seems  to take after her father in the that department, as Stylish, her mother, is the embodiment of what I think Tyo’s going to look like when she grows up. At least from the neck down.). I cut the waistband in long, narrow pieces rather than short, wide pieces with a back seam, and used my pocketing/piping fabric for the inner facing. This reduces bulk, but mostly I just like the flash of colour it adds to the inside. I bound the bottom of the band with more bias tape, as that’s every so much easier than trying to fold it under and have things come out nicely. And, I added buttonholes to insert adjustable buttonhole elastic, easily the best invention for kids’ pants in the last 20 years. (Tyo is going to have such a hard time finding pants that fit once she outgrows the ones that come with buttonhole elastic)

Excessively tiny change pocket. The blue smudges on the fly are my wash-away marker, and will wash out.

I remembered this time to add a change-pocket, although given the teensy-weensy size of the jeans it’s strictly decorative. I opted for piping only along the top of the rear pockets, and did a much better job of finishing the edges of it this time—you need to fold the ends over at a 45° angle so that once everything’s in place and stitched down there’s a smooth edge and no joogly bits sticking up. As per usual, I positioned my pockets after stitching the CB seam, so they’d be centred around the topstitching rather than around the rear seam itself.

However.

Pocket colliding with side-seam. Oopsie.

Remember how I said I didn’t shrink the pockets when I narrowed the red of the pants?

This, combined with the general tininess of the jeans, means once the outseam was all stitched up, the 1-cm (or less) offset on the one side was enough to put the left pocket right against the side-seam, while there’s about 1 cm of space between pocket and side-seam on the right.

Oops.

Erm.

I am not going to try to fix this, even if I could. But note to self—when smallening a pattern, smallen** the pockets, too. Even when you’re lazy.

Final details. I decided to try a heavy-duty snap for the front closure, as several of the children of my acquaintance seem to prefer these (let’s face it, the traditional jeans fly with button for small and even medium-sized kids is not really a good idea). I always find snap-insertion a bit haphazard, and I’m a little worried it will pop open, but I suppose time will tell.

As I did on the Cream Spice Capris, I added piping to the edge of the belt-loops, just to look pretty.

And as that’s probably way more than ANYONE wants to read about a pair of jeans for a preschooler, I’ll sign off.

*Lest you accuse me of cruelty to my sister-in-law, I’ll point out that I am making it for my younger niece, so she won’t have to try to keep it unstained through two whole children. Also, she dresses them in white pants all the time, so really she’s asking for it. But then she’s a lot more together on the whole “homemaking” thing than I am…

**I can make up words if I want to.

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Splurge

Not so vintage...

While visiting my mom post-Xmas we traipsed down to the trusty local Mennonite thrift shop. I just happened to be wearing the dress from Simplicity 6023 , made from fabric purchased at this same store during my last visit.

I was good about the fabrics—there was nothing screamingly spectacular. It helped that it was New Year’s Eve and they were closing early so I only had half an hour; just time enough for a good rummage through the chest of patterns.

I was not so good about the patterns.

Moreso vintage

I must now pause at this moment to say a sincere thank you to Darlene Ratzlaff (or her heirs), as nine or so of the sixteen patterns I nabbed bear her name (click through to see the full size). Whether or not she is any relation to my high school drama teacher of the same surname, she had good taste in patterns (and was close to my size). The Ratzlaff Collection all date from the latest 60s to mid 70s. I think my fave is the Style 3060 with the Wednesday Addams look in the middle.

Jalie Potpourri

My mom, (who, as I have mentioned before, is a bit of an enabler) had some other goodies to contribute: she was gracious enough to lend me several Jalie patterns: the famous twist-neck and sweetheart-neckline patterns, a really cute jacket, and the slit-neck sweatery thing. I really like the jacket pattern. Because, y’know, I need another jacket project…

Patternmaking in 1908

She had also acquired several vintage sewing books which I have absconded with, and which we shall have to discuss more as I have the leisure to peruse them adequately (how’s that for some excessive verbiage?). The niftiest, perhaps, is a 1908 book on pattern drafting. Sadly the curves and rulers that originally accompanied it (kit price $5) have long since wandered away. Still, pretty neat. I am really curious to find out how it compares with the “Modern block” method of Harriet Pepin and all the more recent pattern-drafting books I’ve read. Unlike some of the other early 1900s sewing books I’ve found online, this one has illustrations, which means I may actually have some idea what they’re talking about.

Butterick Sewing

There’s also a Butterick sewing book, of 50s vintage, which I shall have to compare and contrast with the 70s Simplicity one I nabbed a while back. /sigh. I’m so behind on my sewing-related reading. Someday, over the thesis…

Tailoring

My favourite, though, is the blue-covered book simply titled “Tailoring”. It claims to want to be “an advanced tailoring text that even a beginner can use”, and from my reading of the first few chapters it’s doing a pretty good job. It’s got a REALLY comprehensive section on pattern measurement and ease calculations, too, including a chart I will have to scan and upload…

Oh, and I suppose I should be doing some kind of New Year wrap up/retrospective, but I don’t really feel like it. Maybe if I’m bored later this week, or sometime in the next month when I have nothing actually sewn. I’d rather spend what precious free time I have actually sewing, though. Speaking of which, coming soon: machine darning! (It may be a sign of sewing withdrawal that this was actually really, really fun.)

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Do Over

Mom, you can't expect me to pose with my sister!

Although I love the idea of the Sew Weekly challenges—how fun, to be sewing something on the same theme as people all around the world!—I hardly ever actually do them, partly because I already have too much on my own list of projects, and partly because it usually takes me a lot longer than a week to go from theme/inspiration to an actual project idea, never mind a finished project. But every once in a (long) while the weekly theme coincides with something I’m already working on, and that was the case this week: Do Over.

Now, since I do over a LOT of patterns, this is not such a bit coincidence. But I’m still going to count it, because the project I finished this week, Tyo’s new jeans, is a do over on SO many levels.

Tyo's Ruched Jeans

1) Jalie 2908. Part of the do over is to revisit a pattern you’ve used before. This is easily my most-revisited pattern of all time, not least because it comes in sizes for both me and my kids.

2) I am re-visiting the skinny, ruched-leg detail I used on Syo’s most recent jeans

3) I am ALSO revisiting the cutout/underlay detailing from Tyo’s first, too-quickly-outgrown, pair of Jalie jeans.

… which basically means that there was nothing new or innovative about this project at all, which I think was probably NOT the idea of the theme, but oh, well. I’m still claiming it.

Some final thoughts: I added height to the rear crotch for Tyo’s booty. At the moment it’s a bit baggy there, so this wasn’t really necessary. On the other hand, she still has a fair bit of room to grow into these, so I’ll get back to you on that in another six months or so. Remember how I had pieced the waistband? I wound up only needing a small portion of extra and it works fine, but I’m a little puzzled that I needed any at all, since if anything my yoke tucks should have made the waistband too long for the jeans. Tyo’s jeans aren’t as strongly ruched at the ankle, mostly because I was trying to squeeze them out of a small amount of denim, so I could only extend the leg a small amount.

All right, I GUESS I can pose with my sister...

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