Monthly Archives: January 2015

Jammie Pants

McCall's 6641

McCall’s 6681

Over Christmas, I was wanting to do a wee bit of sewing for my children, but by wee I do mean wee since I had about as much free time as I ever do lately, which is on the order of a few hours ever other week. For Tyo, stretchy cozy PJ pants seemed to fit the bill, but they needed to be as simple as possible. Even the Sewaholic Tofino pattern, which has to be one of the cutest PJ-pants patterns out there, and is sitting patiently in my stash, seemed too complicated.

So, after a bit of stash rummaging, I settled on McCall’s 6681, a Stitch ‘n Save pattern that I can’t quite decide if it’s cute, or just dated and butt-ugly. Anyway, the bottoms were a completely basic PJ trouser, which is what I was looking for. As it turned out they’re a teeny bit tapered, which I thought might suit the kids these days.

Batpants!

Batpants!

Despite the deliciously-soft panda fabric featured throughout this post, the first Christmas pair was made with Batman fleece. This was a rare score, indeed, since Fabricland has had mostly bugger all for licensed anything the last couple of years, so I had to snaffle it up when I saw it, since this year Tyo is All Batman All The Time. I’m not terribly into taking on pop-culture as totem or mascot, myself, but, well, I suppose there are worse mascots she could adopt than Batman. And this was a LOT easier than the Pikachu onesie.

Now, while one of the major downsides of having a teenage daughter is her ability to steal your clothes, in making these as a present, it became a bit of a boon—I made them to fit me, just a little bit shorter. It worked fairly well, though I should’ve made the waist a bit more snug—not sure if that’s to be blamed on my comparatively-larger waist (do you see the hips on that kid?), or the way the elastic stretches out a bit in sewing. Anyway, they aren’t going to fall off. And she was very, very happy with them.

So, when I finally dug out this panda fleece (purchased a year ago last fall, originally for Tyo before she came down with a bade case of Pikachuitis) to make a pair of comfy pants for Fyon’s birthday (who is eight now, by the way, how the hell did that happen?), I figured I should make Tyo a pair too, for old time’s sake, even if pandas are so year-before-last. Since I had the pattern all ready to go ‘n everything.

The pandas will get you if you don't watch out!

The pandas will get you if you don’t watch out!

So I did.

Tyo-fitting pattern changes

Tyo-fitting pattern changes

Being the second make, I tweaked the pattern a bit, finalizing the changes I’d made to the rise the first time. I make these changes kinda preemptively to a lot of pants patterns, especially when I know they were designed for a higher rise in the front than I like. (I’ve become comfortable with a very uneven rise, nice and high for lots of coverage in the back, dipping low in the front to sit under the belly. Tyo seems to like it too, but it makes it really hard to wear most storebought pants and leggings. For this pair, I added a bit of length (depth? I always forget which it is) to the back crotch, as well, just for good measure.

The front.

The front. I forgot to get her to hike her shirt so you could actually see the rise.

Now, I’m certainly not going to be a fit-Nazi about some baggy PJ pants, but I am pretty pleased with how they turned out, anyway. No smiles and straining, but not so huge she’s swimming in them. How much can be credited to my alterations and how much to the fact that these are loose PJ pants, I don’t really know (I suspect mostly the latter, though.) And no, I didn’t even try to pattern-match panda-faces across her butt.

The back.

The back. Also, why can’t I have hips like that? /momsulk

The back hangs almost straight, and the rise is nice and high.

The side.

The side. You can kinda see the angle of the waistband under her shirt.

The best thing about PJ pants like these is how damn fast they are to put together. These didn’t take more than an hour all told (it helped that the pattern was ready to go, mind you), and I also managed to churn out a couple of fuzzy pants for Fyon and the Waif. And I think I have just enough panda fabric left to make some 3/4-length comfies for Syo.

Small fuzzy pants

Small fuzzy pants

There’s only one problem: Osiris is now wondering where his panda pants are.

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Little Black Shirt

Very boring black tee.

Very boring black tee.

Over the holidays, I finally egged up and cut into one of the merino wool knits Steph of 3 Hours Past bought on my behalf last winter, since they are apparently abundant and luscious down under. Unfortunately by the time the postal snails got the fabric to me, it was spring, and I figured I had better wait until the weather gods were speaking Woolish again. Though really, I shouldn’t’ve waited, because now winter is half gone (hopefully) and there’s still three other pieces not even cut into. Anyway, I agonized over what to do with this beautiful, lightweight black jersey. I BELIEVE it’s the same stuff Steph made her Little Black Red Velvet out of, which is absolutely delicious, and I was sorely tempted to imitate her completely. Sadly, at the last moment, I choked, and took the safe route—I made up yet another version of my knit sloper. This means that, aside from being wool and not cotton, it’s functionally identical to the two black knit tops I made WAY BACK when I was first working out the kinks of the pattern. Both of which are still in rotation, by the way, although one has seriously gibbled shoulders and the other one, which may never have been blogged, has a teeny, mended hole that really annoys me whenever I find it (although I usually can’t find it, which is why the top remains in rotation.). I managed to finish this top just in time to go back to work, which, combined with a vicious dose of Saskatchewan Winter (which had been remarkably mild through most of December), meant that I actually wore all three black shirts three days in a row. And then had to explain to everyone, by the third day, that no, it actually wasn’t the same shirt three times.

Black photos, ugh.

Black photos, ugh.

I am happy to report, it makes a pretty damn yummy shirt. The merino isn’t as soft as cotton or rayon to touch, but it ain’t bad either. At least, I don’t find it itchy, though I’m not particularly sensitive to such things anyway. I added a band to the hem, because I love that finish, and I used 1/4″ fold-over elastic to finish the neckline.

For those of you who are epically long-haul readers (and have really, really good memories), you may realize how much of a triumph that actually was. I purchased a small shitload (I think about 4m?) of this stuff maybe three years ago from the random-fabric-dive in Cow Town, and I’ve mangled pretty much every attempt to use it, fairly badly. It’s not pre-folded… I talk about one attempt to use it here (but was too traumatized to actually show the tank-top) and I used it on this tank-top for me, which is at least wearable if not pretty, and gets regular use in the PJs-and-undershirts rotation. But I’d never been able to get it go on in one pass, and a second pass just mangles it pretty badly.

While musing about how to finish the neckline for the merino top, I ran across the last metre or so, lurking sulkily amidst my elastics. And I was thinking about how to apply it in a single pass, as seems to be preferable (I’m pretty sure Cloth Habit has a post on applying this stuff somewhere, but I couldn’t find it). Anyway, I was trying to think about sewing machine feet that would help, like a binder, with folding it over for me. Almost like what a rolled-hem foot does, but without the extra roll.

Actually… pretty much like the flat-felling foot does.

Flat-fell foot

Flat-fell foot

Lightbulb.

Well, in hind-sight lightbulb. I did a wee bit of testing, and discovered that, miraculously, yes, it did work. I started with just the elastic, pinned closed, and took a couple of stitches, then lifted the foot and arranged the elastic so that the bottom was flat and the part that needed to fold overtop was protruding through the slot in the flat-fell foot. (Bad description? I think the photo is probably better than anything I could say.) Then I tucked the fabric into place, lowered the foot, and went to town. Beyond that, it was just a bit of fiddling with getting the tension right, and the length/width/position of the zig-zag I used to apply the elastic. (I did shift the zig-zag slightly to the left to get it right at the elastic edge.)

Can you see it any better? not really.

Can you see it any better? not really.

AND IT WORKED!!!!

Badly-lightened photo of neckline binding

Badly-lightened photo of neckline binding

Finished neckline, flat. Even crossing the shoulder-seam wasn’t a big deal.

Can you see it? Not really.

Can you see it? Not really.

and on me—even flatter. 🙂 There are a couple of wrinkles when it’s loose, but nothing I’m going to whine about. It’s on, and it worked.

And, now I’m completely out of that kind of elastic and the only stuff we have locally is single yards in packages at Fabricland that cost an arm and a leg. Argh. And with the dollar doing what it is, I have zero desire to order anything that has to cross international borders. >_<

But at least I have a pretty sweet (if completely boring) shirt.

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Watson!

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Watson!

 

Sometimes ya just gotta jump on the bandwagon, right?

I bought Cloth Habit’s Watson pattern shortly after it came out. Then, of course, realized that my home printer was dead out of ink, so actually making it up had to wait. (Although at one point I was seriously considering tracing the pieces off the computer screen. It’s a small pattern, you could totally do it.)

Once I did get ink, I promptly made up the bikini (panties! Yes, I come from a pantie-saying family.)

My first pair isn’t overly pretty (due entirely to my choice of elastic), but the fit was bang-on; it might be the first pair of home-made undies I haven’t wanted to lower the front on after my first go round*. The only thing I wasn’t over the moon about was the three-piece exterior construction. I know some people love this because it lets you get a really neat finish on the crotch, but I don’t love the look of the front crotch seam. Purely a matter of taste. I would have photos but my kids made fun of me for taking pictures of my underwear so I didn’t take any. Darned kids. As I said, they don’t look terribly pretty anyway, but the fit and feel is great. (Actually, they look fine on, but are kind of scrunchy when not being worn, and I don’t have a chic underwear-modelling-mannequin to demo on.)

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Watson bra: closeup with elastic and cup seams.

 

Next up was the bra. Bralette. Softie. Whatever you call those things that look like bras but don’t have underwires. I should confess that I’m not a huge fan of this type of bra; OK, I am not a fan of bras in general, really; as a teen I refused to try one on until I could reasonably fit something that didn’t say “A” for the cup size (that was the end of high school), and then after I had kids I got annoyed again and really didn’t wear them until, well, I started sewing and discovered that a nice, padded foam-cup could shift me from needing small-bust adjustments to being bang-on in pattern-bust-sizing. So basically it was sewing that got me wearing bras again. And of course, if I have to wear it, probably sooner or later I’m going to want to try to sew it, although the bras you can easily sew are, of course, not the kind of hard-cup I usually go for. The first bra pattern I bought was the Marlborough, back in the summer, but though my trial was pretty successful, it keeps getting back-burnered. Watson, not having underwires, was a lot less scary for my first “bra” type experiment.

I will pause to voice one small complaint about sizing. Both the Watson and the Orange Lingerie Marlborough suggest that you find your cup size by taking your full-bust measurement and then subtracting your high bust measurement. I gather this works for many people.

It does not work for shit for me. My high-bust is the same or (at most) 1/2″ smaller than my full bust. Blame it on broad shoulders or well-developed pectorals or who-knows-what, but according to this method I am an AA cup. (I did, however, go with Amy’s recommended band-size based on my ribcage measurement. That worked fine.) For the cup size, I went with the one that corresponds to my “cup volume” for pretty much every storebought bra I’ve ever owned—the one that corresponds with 34B/32C/30D. Now, cup size on this bra is pretty forgiving so maybe I would’ve been just fine in a the 32AA cup, but… I’m kinda doubting it. Anyway, /endrant. If you know your cup volume, just go with that.

 

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Emergency mail rescue!

So I made up almost the entire bra, in the long-line view, then realized what I already knew, which was that trying to fit the long-line onto any bra hook sets that I had on hand was not going to even remotely work; with the elastic finishing I had used, my back was a full 3″ (which is about 3/4″ longer than drafted for—I was using foldover elastic to finish the band top and bottom rather than folding it behind, so I wasn’t getting rid of my seam-allowance. It’s not that I was unaware of this so much as that I liked the wider band, until I actually had to think practically about how I was going to finish it off.) So, I got me to the Bra Maker’s Supply website to order some wider bra hooks (and some other doodads while I was at it). (Also, hooray for in-Canada shipping—it got here regular mail from Ontario in three business days! I couldn’t drive the distance in much less than that.)

Why do I keep making stuff in black?

Why do I keep making stuff in black?

Happily, the 4-hook bra-back fit PERFECTLY on my band. I used Tasia’s trick of hand-basting the back bits in place before bar-tacking—genius! Flawless attachment the first time. (Yes, this is my first time attaching any kind of bra back, really.

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Ermagerdbra!

 

Since materials are such a big deal when it comes to bra-making, I should probably go over them: I used a standard, fairly heavy and very stretchy cotton-lycra knit, a single layer everywhere except the front band (“cradle.” I’ll figure this bra terminology out one of these days. 😉 ). I had just enough strap elastic left from my Gertie Slip to make the straps, and as mentioned above I used a wide plushy fold-over elastic (1/2″ when finished) to finish the bottom and back of the band. For the top and cups, I used my crappy-but-quick-and-easy method: serge clear elastic on to the inside, fold over, and zig-zag. Not the prettiest, but it works and doesn’t show. For the cradle, I used a double-layer of my cotton knit, and interfaced one side with fusible knit interfacing. I made this side the inside, but in hind-sight I kinda wish I’d made it the outside; since the interfaced side has no vertical stretch, but the un-interfaced side does, the un-interfaced side tends to bubble a little bit. Something to think about next time. 🙂 I didn’t line the cups in any way and I’m a bit torn—I feel like the stretch helps the fit, but on the other hand there isn’t a lot of support or shape. Not that I need much of either, really, so perhaps that’s just me being used to hard-cup bras. But the band feels very solid with the elastic and interfacing and the industrial-grade four-hook back, while the cups feel much softer and lighter. Maybe a double-layer for the cups would’ve been the way to go.

Still, quibbling aside, it was fun to make and is pretty fun to wear. I also made Tyo try it on, and it fit her pretty well on a tighter hook—I’m actually kinda liking the idea of making her bras (especially if I can sell her on simple soft ones like this), since finding storebought ones in her (itty bitty) band-size is either tricky or very expensive.

And now, back to those men’s jeans… >_<

*I like the front low on my underwear—your mileage may vary.

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