Monthly Archives: May 2010

JJ update

Wore my JJ blouse all day yesterday. Poopily, the crinkle in the crinkle cotton relaxed as it was worn (especially across the back) so by the end of the day the back was VERY saggy and loose. The front was still fine (and still gaping slightly :P). Not sure if I’ll try and take the back in more or just chalk it up to a learning experience… maybe I’ll see what it does after the fabric’s washed.


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More fantasizing…

Because, y’know, thinking about sewing might be even more fun than actually sewing (for one thing, you never hugely goof up just thinking about it).

Mostly about those Jalie jeans again. The pattern should be here next week sometime (5-7 days shipping in Canada… so nice to actually order from a Canadian company!). With any luck I can get out to Fabricland sometime this weekend to scope out the stretch denims… I haven’t paid much attention to them in the past. I’m thinking I may scavenge a zipper from an older pair of jeans… we’ll have to see on that front. I should fit into a Q or R size (Q is the largest kids size, R the smallest adult size)… not sure which I’ll go with; as I understand it the kids “low rise” isn’t really, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be reducing the rise either way, so maybe it doesn’t matter. The Q is allegedly 1/2 inch too small, but I think I like my fit a little snugger than the model on the cover… on the other hand, it doesn’t have a very large seam allowance, so perhaps I should cut the R and just increase the seam-allowance from 3/8 to 5/8… that would add up to about an inch reduction over the whole thing, I think.

In terms of alterations:
1) leg length. Obvious. The inseams given for the sizes that would fit me in the hips are like 29-30″; my minimum required is like 32-33, preferably 34. ALTHOUGH, the illustrations show a heels-length jean, so it is possible that the garment inseam is already longer than the actual inseam is intended to be. Have to measure the pieces and find out, I guess.
2) tightness. I already mentioned this a bit. The problem is, in order to be tight enough for my liking once stretched out, I pretty much have to be jumping up and down and wrestling my way into the jeans when the fabric’s freshly washed. Obviously this won’t work for pinned fittings, and since every denim stretches a little differently, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make a me-fitted pattern that works for every future denim. I’m THINKING I will have to add a “fitting wear” stage (maybe before attaching the waistband?) to see how much they stretch out, and then take them in.
3) leg width. Flare, or the lack of it. Although I’m not a huge fan of skinnies (despite their current preponderance in my wardrobe) I think I’m done with the flares for a while. I want to seize the opportunity of making my own to make some “stovepipe” legs; I had a pair like this a couple of years back that I LOVED… they were snug to the calves, and then straight down from there. Like the narrowest boot-cut ever. Of course, if I manage to nail this and make my own jeans for the rest of my life, I can play around with whatever I like. But that’s my first goal.
4) waistband. The pattern recommends you cut it straight on the bias (stretchy) or, if you’re low on yardage, on the straight grain (less stretchy). However, a LOT of people seem to have back-gaping problems with this pattern (not a major issue to fix, but not improved by a straight waistband). Upon examination of all my jeans (which are all low-rise stretch denim, relatively high-end, and do not gape at the back), they ALL have a contoured waistband: the band is usually on the straight grain at the back and a slight to full bias at the front overlap part.  Now, for the record, rear-end gaposis (isn’t that an awesome word?) is usually severest in people with a big difference between hip and waist measurements. I have no such issue—my hips (ulp) are only about 7 inches larger than my waist, and quite narrow (or my waist is large… after flipping back and forth between the two viewpoints since I was 15, I’m settling on a little bit of both). BUT, I do have a bit of a swayback, and whatever fullness my bottom does possess is located directly to the rear… RTW jeans often gape on me (just not the ones I actually buy). So I am TEMPTED to try and make up my own contoured waistband for the pattern (because, y’know, how hard can it be? /sigh). Alternatively, I’m tempted to try a straight-grain and see if I can create a stretch jean that doesn’t fall down. (I doubt this is possible for jeans as low-rise as I like mine). I’m also wondering about lowering the front waist (which I will) more than the rear… I am extremely attached to a waistband that goes BELOW my pudgy parts, but I’m not especially attached to the plumber’s crack. Anyway, just a thought.

I will edit with some pics of my FAVE jeans of all time, my old Buffal City-X low-rises. I love these jeans. I think I had about five different pairs over a couple of years. Sadly, they don’t make the style any more, and I was less thrilled with the most recent pair of Buffalos I got last spring (hence my more recent foray into GUESS… with mixed success). But at the moment my camera is being poopy (again) so I’ll just post this (after like five days in the works) and get it out there.

Edit: not the best pic, but here’s an idea of the fit I’m looking for. Unfortunately I can’t get good shots of my own bottom.

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I started this post before I really got into the JJ blouse… then I was having camera issues and forgot I never finished it. Here it is, illustrated at long last:

As my obsession with making my own jeans proceeds, I’ve been reading the old Pattern Review Jeans Sew-Along. It’s going to take awhile. Then there’s the winter jeans sew-along, and there might even be one ongoing. That would be exciting… I discovered the idea of sew-alongs a couple months ago, but I’ve never done one. I have learnt a lot from reading them, though. And one thing I learned from the jeans one is that there are special sewing machine feet for edgestitching and topstitching!! Did you know that? I didn’t.

Technically a blind hem foot, this works great for edgestitching and topstitching too!

I don’t know much about feet. I used my mom’s old Pfaff (which has about a million different feet) happily for years with just the regular foot. At some point I discovered the hem roller (she has two, a narrower one and a wider one. My machine has only one, a narrow one, I think). After much experimentation (and MUCH frustration) I can often get a mostly good hem off one of these, if the fabric has a very straight edge. I used it to hem my tiered skirts, because there’s way too much fabric (like, 20-30 yards of hemline) to bother pressing (or bothering about my goof-ups). I am sure my mom must’ve showed me how to use a zipper foot because I’ve inserted at least one zipper under her tutelage, but I promptly forgot and nearly gave myself an aneurysm trying to put one in with a regular foot. It only occurred to me years—and some very sloppy zippers—later to check if there was a foot that would make it easier. Back to the tiered skirts, I had read about (but never seen) a ruffler foot… I resolved to figure out if my mother had one. I picked out the biggest, most complex and terrifying-looking foot in the box (it really is a doozie… here’s a photo of mine)… and sure enough that was the ruffler foot. A bit of experimentation and I figured out how to use it, at least roughly (for example, what looks like a 2:1 ruffle ratio in a foot-long sample can be quite a LOT different over ten yards of seam)…

And now, I was reading on the jeans threads about edge-stitch and top-stitching feet. They seem to be fairly similar. The basic idea is some kind of “rudder’ that extends in front of the foot, perhaps adjustable, so that you can guide your edge or seam straight at the rudder… and thus the stitch-line is really straight parallel to that seam or edge! Remember that temper-tantrum I had about my topstitching on the Anna top? (OK, it was the least of the issues with that top, but anyway)… So I just went and looked through the feet for my machine (as I no longer have access to my mother’s glorious cache)… and lo and behold, there is such a foot!

This is the solution! Hallelujah, choirs of angels, etc. Here’s a photo of some topstitching on what will hopefully someday be the JJ Blouse (no ruffles), showing different settings from the edge. I think I like the narrower one better, but I’m not bothered enough to go back and fix it (especially since I still don’t know how the blouse will fit). In any case they’re a great improvement over the Anna top. It’s a little fiddly in that there’s no obvious markings on the foot to allow you to adjust the rudder consistently, and the screw seems a little loose, but the results at least for a small project are FINE!

In other news, it’s the fifth of May and it has now been snowing for three days straight. We haven’t had this much snow since February. Possibly not even then. We sure needed the moisture, and I know snow’s really less of a pain then rain… but it’s May, dudes. I’d rather have rain.

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Red JJ blouse---Finished!

This might officially be my first piece of truly wearable home-made clothing. It remains to be seen how much I’ll actually wear it… I’m not usually a blouses kind of girl… but here’s hoping.

All in all… impressed with myself. Or maybe just the pattern. I was half expecting it to come out completely impossible to wear. Instead—a cute little blouse, despite my best efforts to mess things up.

Front view... slight gaping.

Nit-picking (because what fun would it be without nit-picking?):

1) there’s a slight bit of gaping at the front in the bust; it never showed during try-ons because I always had it pinned there, and in fact that’s where I was going to put my top button (there is no button at the collar)… but then when I was measuring my button locations it was easier to move it up an inch (so it was 16 inches above the bottom hem instead of 15) and put a button every four inches. That’s what I get for settling for easy mathematics :P. I can always tack a little snap in there or something if it’s really bugging me.

2) minor oopsie in the buttonhole placement on the sleeves… they’re a tad too far from the end of the band. If you notice this, you’re looking WAY too close.

Back... still a tiny bit loose, but fine.

3) hem a bit ruffly. Actually I’m fairly impressed with how this turned out, considering a) the stretchiness width-wise of my fabric, and b) how much I suck at doing narrow hems on a curve. It is no couture product, but it’s all right.

4) the back could still come in a tiny bit, maybe just a little higher up. but really, no biggie.

The interior seams are completely unfinished, since I was mostly thinking of this project as a muslin. At this point I’ll leave them as they are… if they ravel enough to really bug me I’ll try and zig-zag them at some point. I wish my serger were working.

Looking good!

All in all… pleasantly impressed. The automatic button-hole on the machine worked really nicely (though I’m still VERY glad I did the 4 or 5 test runs it took me to get the settings right. There’s always SOMETHING I forget about when I’m setting it up.


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JJ… (presque) fini

Almost done... possibly even wearable!

I am trucking along today (actually, I’m egregiously neglecting other things I should be doing… but anyway, here!) It still needs buttons, buttonholes, and the hem finished, but the look is there.

From the back... can you see the little closures on the sleeves?

The sleeve alteration, definite oopsie. Not the effect I was trying to achieve. It also pulls the band of the sleeve up higher on my arm than intended, making it a touch tight. I think I may try taking the princess-seams at the back in, to see if that helps with the saggy back problem… 1/2 inch on each side, tapering to nothing at shoulderblades and hip, maybe, seems like it would do the trick. But all in all, it looks pretty good, I think. Lots of little oopsies (although I think not as many as my last attempt at a wearable shirt, and the seams are completely unfinished inside, but I think I am getting better at at least SOME of my weaknesses: the cutting was reasonably precise, and I managed to catch the inside on both the arm-bands (not the collar, but I can tack it down by hand inside if I’m actually going to wear the thing. I can’t finish it all the way until I pick up some buttons, though…

I've never done little trims like this before... a bit fiddly, but turned out surprisingly well.

Edit: Yup, taking in the back seams did the trick, although I think my quick seams weren’t quite as smooth and even as they could be. Will post the photos when I get some buttons on and actually have a finished project!

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JJ Blouse

For practice, or maybe just to have a project I can actually WORK on (as opposed to just obsessing over, like the coat and the jeans), I am going to make the JJ blouse. Without ruffles. So the other night I went down and dug through my “stash” for something light-weight that I had enough of. My stash is not at all impressive. It is mostly hoarded or scavenged… old curtains and bedding, bits and scraps my mother or other people were giving away, a few remnants bought here and there. Not a lot of actual substantial bits of fabric. I tend to hang on to even the littlest bits… dance costuming often doesn’t use very much. But it did yield just under 2m of a reddish crinkle-cotton left over from my second tiered skirt. It seemed like a nice weight to try for a summery blouse. So I ironed, and started cutting.

Issue # 1: the crinkle. It’s not an issue with the tiered skirt at all, but that’s a very different kind of construction (and doesn’t require a pattern). But the problem arises when ironing, and putting pattern pieces on. First, how much do I iron it? Do I try to get it completely flat, knowing that it will “shrink up” as it re-crinkles itself? Do I aim for some medium-flatness and just try to get it as even as possible? I don’t know, either… I went the latter route, and we shall see if I pay for my foolishness.

I cut the pattern out pretty much as is, aside from shortening the sleeve a bit. We’ll see how that works out… it was the sleeve cap which was shortened, which will reduce the pouff (it occurs to me that this line on the pattern corresponds to the shortening-line on the body of the shirt, which I did not shorten. Ah… oops. Well, that’ll be interesting. What I REALLY should’ve altered (if I wanted it shorter but still pouffy) was the bottom edge of the sleeve. Silly girl. Ah well… we reap what we sew. And I still don’t even know if the blouse will FIT me… it should be the right size in the bust, and it doesn’t look TOO fitted in the waist, so I’m hopeful, but generally these things either fit in the shoulders, the bust, or the waist, but never all three (which is why I don’t OWN any tailored, fitted blouses). On the upside, sewing with the crinkle-cotton is basically like sewing something with a 2-way stretch.

[photos will be added when I manage to charge my camera]

Edit: First try-on

The fit is surprisingly good; I could probably even have gone down a size, but this is all right. The only real “issue” is that eternal swayback. I really have to figure out how to do a proper sway-back alteration. It’s not mentioned in my only sewing book, and I’m a little confused by the accounts I’ve found online… I should dig around Pattern Review’s message boards a bit more, maybe they have something in there… But in the mean-time, looking surprisingly good.

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I done a bad.

I just ordered Jalie 2908 (women’s stretch jeans) pattern. What on EARTH am I thinking? Even if I had time to mess around with these, they’re probably WAY beyond my skill set. But… damn it would be nice to make my own jeans.

The plusses:

  • the pattern has REALLY good reviews
  • it doesn’t use much fabric (less than 1.5 m, and if I did capris for practice runs it would take even less)
  • I am really picky about my jeans fit… I have a hard time with ready to wear (and I end up paying A LOT) so being able to make my own (and have them fit… the big if) would be really awesome.
  • I could make them LONG enough!
  • pattern includes kids sizes too so I could make pants for the kids
  • I could finally make the stove-pipe legs I love so much (not skinnies, not boot cut… straight up and down below the knee)
  • I might actually be able to fit into the largest kids’ size (that’s not actually a plus, except to my ego)

The minuses:

  • most of those reviews also mention how much work the pattern was
  • I am not sure if my fitting skills are quite up to the challenge
  • I think my usual low-rise preference is even lower than the pattern’s “low rise” version.
  • I don’t have any stretch denim; I have never sewn stretch denim; I have no money for the foreseeable future to buy stretch denim.
  • nor do I have the time, really, to be messing around with major sewing.
  • they’ll require a lot of hardware I don’t possess (rivets, jeans buttons, zippers etc.)

I am nuts.


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