Tag Archives: alteration

Maximal procrastination

The Blazer of Awesome

I am (as my husband will assure you), one of the world’s champion procrastinators. It’s a major handicap, actually. But this jacket fix represents a level of procrastination rarely met even by me.

I got this little grey blazer in high school, ladies and gents, which was kind of a while back not that long ago after all, from my old standby Value Village. The fit was, and is, astounding—perfect shoulders, perfect waist length (no swayback issues!)… Great.

Except. The more I wore it, the more creepingly aware I became of the one, glaring, unforgivable flaw.

You guessed it. The sleeves are too short. (I need some kind of “ba-dum-dum” sound effect every time I say that. 😛 Or maybe a laugh-track.)

Back—OK, maybe not quite as perfect as I thought (or it used to be 😉 ). Still pretty damn good.

Not too long after graduation, the frequency of its appearance in my regular wardrobe rotation dropped dramatically. I am really not fond of the cold wrists >_<. But still I couldn’t give up on it entirely. Everything else was too perfect. So it hung in the back of the closet, making me sigh with occasional wistfulness.

About four years ago, I found a black corduroy curtain abandoned in the lobby of our apartment complex (these occasional windfalls are the only thing I miss about apartment living. Well, that and the endless hot water.) I bundled it home, and soon realized that the wale width and texture was a perfect match for the details on my poor jacket. And since the jacket had plenty of other black cord details, why not cuffs as well?

Nonetheless, four years passed. The corduroy curtain served many purposes, most of them involving taking up space in my closets, but never became part of a blazer.

Cuff closeup. Photographing black corduroy is rather akin to photographing dark matter, I’m thinking.

Well, finally today the prospect of a quasi-job-interview prodded me to haul out something approaching office attire—the businesswoman suit. By some miracle (probably as a way of displacing some intense anxiety), I motivated myself to find the curtain, locate the portion where the fading of the blacks matched best, and cut out two plain cord rectangles. I interfaced them with Armoweft, stitched into tubes and folded them in half, and tacked the resulting tubes inside the ends of the sleeves. Voila, stupid simple cuffs. Total time, probably about 30 minutes, plus time to dig out the fabric from the garage.

Because I enjoy a bit of a tailoring dissection, here’s some closeups on the jacket itself. Fortunately, the lining is loose, not bagged, so I could flip it up and gawk at the insides.


The label is “Newport Sportswear Ltd” from Toronto, Canada. The jacket is #4138, and a size 7, according to the hand-written label. Google did not give me much (any) info about this brand, aside from some Etsy listings for vintage clothes. I had never really thought about the vintage of this jacket, but it’s certainly not a typical fit for the 80s or the 90s (remembering I got it in the latter part of the 90s). The rather flexible lady certainly has the hair to be 70s.

Corduroy insert, with fold

My favourite feature by far is this little corduroy insert on the back shoulder, which greatly increases the range of motion, otherwise the blazer would be way tight. According to Allison of A Fabric Fixation, this kind of feature is called a bi-swing back. (My motorcycle jacket has one as well, which makes sense.)

Bi-swing inset, interior view

This is what it looks like from the inside—it forms a little folded pocket or pleat. The shape is a bit more complex than it looks on the surface!

Lapel fold and pleat in lining at bust. (Sherry had us ease this in.)

Other little details? Well, the “tailoring” and construction is virtually identical to what Sherry went over in her RTW sewalong, which is to say it’s distinctly tailored but not heavily or intricately so. If this IS a 70s jacket, it’s also a testament to the powers of early fusibles, because everything’s still perfectly in its place.

Shoulder pad

The shoulder pad is very thin, two layers of felt, but it does the job. I had taken some photos of the buttonholes (machine) and collar interior, but really they didn’t turn out terribly informative, so I’ll spare you them, and just repeat how much I love this jacket.

Especially now that, fourteen or fifteen years into owning it, the sleeves are finally long enough. And it doesn’t even look funny!

(OK, I don’t think it looks funny, so if you do, you can suck it. It’s my blazer, not yours. And I’m going to wear the snot out of it, now.)



Filed under Sewing

Spreading the bug.


I have a lovely friend here in town who is creative, crafty, and has one of those unique figures  that makes buying clothes off the rack an experience that ranges from frustrating to soul-destroyingly brutal. She is well-rounded,  busty, and very, very petite. Needless to say, it was glaringly obvious to me that she needed to start sewing.

Of course, persuading her (a busy puppy-mom with nowhere near enough hours in the day already) of this took a bit more work. In fact, it wasn’t until a month or so ago that I finally managed to get her to pick a thing to make, and we began the adventure of fitting her.


As I mentioned before, the pattern she picked was New Look 6789. This had lots of things going for it, from our perspective. Aside from being intensely cute to start with, it has princess seams, no waist seam (a feature she’s about as fond of as I am, with even better reason), and broad, bra-friendly straps.

The main downside is that the pattern only goes up to a size 16, and we really should’ve been starting with an 18, even before the FBA.

I started with measurements. Full bust, high bust, and back waist. To give you a small sense of what we were dealing with—standard Misses sizes are drafted with a back length of 16″ or so. Mine is around 15″, resulting in my standard, moderate petite alteration to the bodice.

My friend’s is 13″. If she’s standing tall.

What followed was not an elegant sequence of well-practiced fitting. Rather, it involved a lot of measurement, followed by pattern alteration, followed by trying on, followed by further tweaking, and that’s without going into all the stitching and unpicking and swearing. My friend did, far and away, the bulk of the work herself, while I directed. This worked pretty well for me, and hopefully for her.

Having determined based on measurements, roughly what we needed to add to the pattern, both all around and for FBA purposes, I put my slave labour friend to work tracing out her pattern. We added width. And I did a Y-type Full Bust Adjustment a la Debbie Cook, except with less precision.

Now, my dear friend, having picked an excellent pattern, had decided on a very cute, black with white polkadots knit for the fabric. Yes, you are absolutely right, this is a pattern for a woven. Ahem. Never one to be dissuaded, I figured that making it in a knit should make it possible to omit the zipper, so away we went. To start off, after she’d block fused a portion of fabric, we cut out the top yokes and straps, and did some quick test-fitting with these. All seemed well, so I set her to cutting out the rest of it. Which was not block-fused. Which was not fun in this fabric. Nor was it the kind of stuff that liked to be sewn. But she soldiered on, hampered mainly by the fact that our days off during a week don’t coincide, and she lives on the far side of the city (which is the better part of an hour’s drive even when traffic isn’t ridiculous). Obviously, it’s not perfect—some spots the angles are a little off, and in particular there’s some issues with the vertical seams where I should’ve had her use a stretchier stitch, and hemming the lining nearly drove her over the edge—but the fit, the fit.

Rear fit

I don’t think I can explain to you how triumphant I feel over this dress. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it’s leaps and bounds above anything off the rack.

It fits her bust.

It fits her back.

We could probably have shortened the waist even more (I wasn’t sure how much should come out below the armpit, as opposed to above it, which was easy to adjust with the straps.), but it’s much better than storebought.

With a little bit of princess-seam tweaking, we seem to have achieved skimming fit. Woot, woot!


So, bear with me while I wax philosophical here a moment. I’m a big fan of body acceptance. A fan of finding what’s beautiful about yourself, whatever your size or shape may be, and running with that.

And watching my friend go through the fitting process has been illuminating on so many levels—the physical challenge of fitting a body so different from mine, sure, but also the body-negativity she struggles with, having a body that not only isn’t the model ideal, but doesn’t even seem to be in the same universe, as dictated by the clothes on the rack. Like most of us, she knows what works for her and what doesn’t, but—like most non-stitchers—she doesn’t quite know the difference between what doesn’t work because it’s not flattering for her shape, and what doesn’t work because she’s never tried on a version that actually fit. (I have a similar problem with tailored shirts, frankly). And she’s still trying to digest that it’s not a problem with her—it’s a problem with the clothes, and the system that only caters to shapes within a certain standard deviation of average.

I hope she does absorb it. I hope she learns to tell the difference between a bad fit and a bad body. And I hope (maybe a little selfishly), that she’ll keep on sewing, even if it doesn’t become a major obsession hobby, and will have at least a few things that make the body that she has look as beautiful as it actually is.

And I think that she looks like a bombshell in this dress. 😀


Filed under Sewing

Project Drop Waist

Oh, no—more toile photos!

So, it’s no secret that I have Issues with waistbands that sit at my waist. Above the waist is great, below the waist is fine, but waistbands that sit right at my waist—these are problematic.  Especially if there’s going to be any kind of waist emphasis (like a belt), blousing above the waist, or gathering below. I always end up feeling cut in half, emphasizing both the width of my waist (2-3 sizes larger than the rest of me) and the shortness of my upper body.

Unfortunately for me, this describes roughly 90% of the dress patterns out there, and (even worse) a large percentage of the ones I’m dyingtomakerightnowdammit!

Now, I successfully made a dirndl-skirt sundress last summer by adding a dropped waist to a formerly straight-waisted pattern. And, despite being a fairly extreme example of stunt dressing, it was one of my favourite things to wear last summer. But a) this was a princess-seam pattern, and b) I used a shirred back, which allowed me to really fudge the fitting.

So, it appears, the sensible thing to do would be figure out a bodice template—a block, if you will—that I can morph onto these waist-length patterns to drop the waist slightly. Most of the ones I’m concerned with have a simple gathered or pleated skirt, which won’t be much affected by the addition of a few extra inches (and I’d probably be adding inches to the waist anyway).

When I was musing about this the other day (nothing like beating a topic to death 😉 ) I was thinking I would just try adding on to a pattern I already had—Simplicity 3965, say. Lauriana (one of the more fabulous pattern-drafters out there) sagely commented that perhaps it would be less trouble start with a longer bodice, perhaps a hip-length sloper drafted to my own measurements.

Now, obviously she was right, but my (vast and growing) pattern collection is a bit short on such a basic, at least with the length, fit, and dart positioning I wanted. I was, however, reminded of the fact that I had drafted a “fitted dress block” from the book Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear, by Winnifred Aldritch, a few months ago, which had languished un-tested on my hard-drive (I like to mess around with pattern drafting in Inkscape, usually when I am supposed to be doing something else). Partly because Aldritch was a bit vague, or at least confusing, on the issue of waist-shaping.

Anyway, with Simplicity 3965 giving me an idea of how much waist-shaping was required (at least above the waist), I set out on an odyssey. There was printing; tracing; tissue-fitting (on me and my dubious duct-tape double). Sway-back adjustments were made. I have confronted the horror of the shaped dart.

Self-drafted bodice

All for… this. /sigh.

Well, perfection has not been achieved, but I think I might be getting into the right ball-park. The shape (and breadth) of the rear darts is truly terrifying, but they are at least approaching doing the job (although it looks from the photos that the back is still a smidge tight—overall the bodice is quite comfortable. I’m not quite sure what to make of the side-wrinkles in the front, exccept that perhaps a bit more bust-shaping is in order. Additionally, the bust-dart is still about 1 cm high, and the side-seam falls a bit towards the back. I might moosh a teeny dart out of the front armscye to bring that in (or play with the shoulder slope some more).

Anyway, despite the imperfections (which are considerably more evident in the photos than in the mirror… not sure if that means it’s actually better in real life or worse than I had thought) I figured I had reached a point where I was ready to try using it on another pattern. I.E. Simplicity 3965.

Premature? Possibly, especially since I was thoroughly befuddled how to relate the narrow back dart of Simplicity 3965 to my wide, angled, and oddly-shaped one on the self-drafted bodice. But I had limited time to sew this past weekend and I have fantasies of wearing this dress for May Long (which is next weekend—yeah, probably not going to happen).

Simplicity 3965 (modified)

So I matched up the waistline, and attempted to add the shaping of the self-drafted bodice on to the Simplicity bodice. This worked fairly well for the front, not so well for the back. My self-drafted back piece is very wide, but then a lot of the width is taken in by the dart. The Simplicity bodice back is much narrower, with a correspondingly narrower dart. I can’t help but think that a narrower pattern overall would be preferable, but obviously the swayback alterations didn’t transfer with their full force. Alternatively, letting out the hips a bit more might be helpful. Part of what’s hanging me up is that “high back hip” which I still haven’t really learned to fit.

Also, in this one you can see the lovely sunburn I acquired on Mother’s Day.  This is what happens when I sit back and let other people organize the day’s expedition… my mother’s day brunch turned into a two-hour wander on a new segment of riverbank, with nary a squirt of sunscreen to be seen, on the first really summery day we’ve had so far.

I’m hoping that one more muslin will be sufficient—sewing these up is quick, but annoying, and I’m running out of crappy zippers. 🙂


Filed under Sewing

Flutter Fun, and an observation

Fluttery & Clover

Ever since Steph of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World first mentioned her plan for a flutter-sleeve hack of her Blank Canvas Tee pattern, I was on board. Totally. For realz. I waited patiently for her to come out with the hack, and read through her tute carefully.

Diagram of my flutter-sleeve pattern changes.

And, of course, predictably, went my own way. I took a protractor, made a line 45° up from the edge of the shoulder (or, if it’s easier, at 135° from the line of the shoulder), and then measured a length from the edge of the neck that roughly corresponded with how long I thought the sleeve should be. Using the edge of the shoulder point as the centre of my circle, I made a partial arc of the circle down towards the rest of the sleeve (a compass would’ve been perfect for this but, being too lazy to head upstairs for the rest of the geometry kit, I just measured with my tape measure in several places.) Then I sort of free-handed, sort of used my French Curve, to approximate the rest of the sleeve. Oh, and I rounded the spot where I had drawn in my first angle. Steph’s method is probably a lot more precise.

Unfortunately, then I got cold feet. The sleeve looked too short, I thought. I lengthened it, re-drawing the curve, and cut out a trial version in my scrap jersey—the old knit bedsheet I bought at Hallowe’en for making Tyo a shirt. It doesn’t have the best drape, but it was available and cheap and not earmarked for any other projects at the moment.

Flutter sleeve: too long (original size), too short (cut line), just right (click to zoom in to see the "just right" line)

Predictably, the sleeve was too long. I stuck a pin in where I thought it “ought” to go, shortened, and cut again.

Now, I think they’re a bit short, at least at the very top of the shoulder. I actually think my original curve would’ve been pretty much perfect. So there you go. At least the angle seems pretty good.

Frikking finnicky flutter sleeves. At least they’re easy-ish to tweak going from longer to shorter.

I paired my trial, not-really-opaque-enough-for-public version of the tee with my red clovers, cuffed to a high-ankle length, for the purposes of the photos. I think I’m liking this length better, and they are *much* more comfortable with belt-loops, although the belt doesn’t help with the front-sag, since the belt wants to sit exactly where the waistband wants to sit. Anyway, we’ll see. The weather is a long way from ready for this look, anyway.

An interesting observation

Steph recently came out with the updated and finalized version of her BCT pattern, considerably refined from the early draft I used around Christmastime to make my versions. Curious, I eagerly printed off a new version. And then compared it to my version of the pattern.

The results were very interesting indeed.

Pattern comparison. Click to see larger version.

For one thing, the pattern I had printed out (original size 35), whether through some quirk of the early drafting or scanning or my own ineptitude (always a possibility), was considerably smaller than the new size 35. Actually, it’s somewhat smaller than the new size 30 (for a 30″ bust). Which goes a long way towards explaining why my versions of the tee are so, well, fitted.

The shoulders on the old pattern were quite a bit wider (even in my shrunken print-out), as was the neck opening on the back, and the angle from shoulder to sleeve was more extreme. I suspect Steph was bang on in altering those for her new version :).

The original draft was quite short (Steph wears her trousers a lot higher than I do 😉 ) and I had added a lot of length to the bottom. The length of the new, longer draft is pretty much *exactly* the same as my lengthened version of the original. Win!

So, for the moment, I’m gong to keep on working with my old version (as I like how it fits), with maybe a few tweaks around the shoulder. But since I have thrown my versions out there of examples of what you may get from a Blank Canvas Tee, I thought I should also point out that I apparently printed mine considerably smaller than intended. If you want a tee that fits like mine—go down a size. 🙂


Filed under Sewing

In which I obsess some more over Square Shoulders

JJ Blouse Shoulder

Emily of Calico Stretch expressed some curiosity about the square-shoulder alteration in this post. A quick google search turned up plenty of tutorials, but none that actually square the shoulder the way I do.

Which may very well mean that I’m doing it wrong, but I figured I’d throw it out there, anyway.

If you look at the photo above, the need for a square-shoulder alteration doesn’t really jump out at you. I certainly never noticed. But see how high the collar sits at the back of my neck? The fabric is firm enough that it just pushes the collar up, but as soon as I move around it starts bunching and folding back there. I don’t always need it, which is confusing, but when I do, it’s a big (if subtle) improvement.

I tend to square the shoulder by dropping the mid-line—shortening the centre. This is much easier to show than describe, so here’s a quick diagram. The dashed lines represent where I would slash and overlap a pattern, although frequently I just try to incorporate it while I’m tracing off a pattern.

Square Shoulder Adjustment

Most of the other methods I’ve run across have you raise the outer edge of the shoulder, rather than dropping the inner edge (eg. Debbie Cook’s excellent little diagram).

So how did I start doing it backwards?

Well, it all goes back to Sherry’s fascinating sway-back analysis. Because while I managed to ignore my square shoulders for years,  the annoying lower-back puddling of *every* piece of clothing I have ever owned had always irked me. Anyway, Sherry does an excellent job exploring the ramifications of the sway-back adjustment (not to mention other fit issues that can lead to “sway back” puddling, of which I have at least two), and ends up, in the case of patterns lacking a waist or centre-back seam, basically adjusting the shoulder to shorten the centre back.

My very firstest Lydia, showing the weird tuck it developed above my shoulder. Some of this was armscye issues, but a lot was the slope of the pattern's shoulder seam. Note how the oogliness extends behind the neck. This shirt was one of my few instant wadders*. I gave it to the kids, who promptly "refashioned" it into shreds small enough that I could trash them without too much guilt.

I started out trying this alteration on my knit sloper, and was startled to find that, while it did reduce the swayback puddling a bit, the single biggest effect was to remove the little bulge of extra fabric I always tend to get behind my neck. I had always thought that the solution to this would be to drop the rear neckline (which is what this alteration does), but I had never related that to squaring the shoulders.

I think part of the reason this method works so well for me is I have a short upper body to begin with.  The last thing I want to do is increase the distance between armpit and waist, which is what the other method—raising the armscye on the side—would do. Obviously you could then compensate by shortening, but that would be two operations rather than just one. (Frankly, I usually shorten on top of the square shoulder, so I’m not actually saving myself time).

Of course, now that I’ve re-read Emily’s actual question, she was asking more about the armscye differences.

Knit sloper (black); Renfrew (red dashed line)

So here’s another diagram, showing (some of) the differences between the two patterns; I ignored the differences in armscye height and waist position/shaping. You can see that, for the same shape of sleeve-cap (which was almost identical between the two patterns), the Renfrew (red dashes) requires less height but more width towards the lower part of the sleeve cap. It would also produce a sleeve that angles down a bit more.

Please note that I am not criticizing Renfrew here—I have no idea which is “better”, if either. I’m just mentioning differences, which may or may not affect things like fit, range of movement, and wrinkling. For example, the downward-sloping sleeve has a somewhat more restricted range of motion than a more outward-pointing sleeve (not a big deal in a knit), but tends to have fewer wrinkles under the arm when the arm is lowered. I’m not even sure how or why the armscye curve on my knit sloper wound up being so shallow.

I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts about shoulder alterations and sleeve cap/armscye shaping. I’m no kind of expert—just noting my observations. 🙂

*It often takes me a while—weeks to months—to figure out if an article of clothing is a success or not. Many things I am initially thrilled with end up not being worn, or being worn but not liked, due to some minor quirk of sewing, fit, or styling that I just don’t appreciate right off the bat. I had no such issue with this one: it was awful from the get-go. It (and the four other versions it took me to get the pattern wearable) are the reason I went so hog-wild doing knit pattern comparisons.


Filed under Sewing

Renfrew vs. Knit Sloper—Round 1

Some of you will remember my battles with Lydia, the $1 download from Burdastyle for a very basic knit pullover. The end of this process was my knit sloper, which, frankly, bears little resemblance to the original pattern.

Although for reference, the basic changes were:

  • going down two sizes to remove ease (Lydia, like Renfrew, was intended to be an easy pullover, which wasn’t actually the look I was going for)
  • petite-alterations to the armscye, sleeve-cap, and above the waist
  • square-shoulder adjustment
  • removing ease from the sleeve-cap
  • my ubiquitous lengthening of the sleeve

Once I had the knit sloper worked out, I traced it out on bristol-board so it’s a) durable and b) easy to trace and then hack.

Now, there is one MAJOR confounding factor for comparing it to other patterns, however. Which is that the sloper has no seam-allowances, while Renfrew and Lydia both have 1.5cm (which is way too much for knits, in my opinion—.6 cm is fine, although for slippery annoying knits I think I do prefer 1cm). So in the following pictures, you need to mentally add 1.5 cm to most of the borders.

So, first up—because this is what most of you may be interested in—Renfrew vs. Lydia. (And please do click through to see the full-size photos, because the details are not so obvious at blog-size. Although the full-size photos are fuzzy as crap, because I am still lacking the charger to my good camera. Sorry.)

Renfrew vs. Lydia

Now, *this* is complicated because I don’t have a pristine print-out of Lydia anymore, and I wasn’t in the mood to produce one just for the purposes of pattern comparison. On the other hand, both these patterns have the same seam allowance. Unfortunately, the bodice pieces are opposite sides, so it’s difficult to superimpose them, especially since this particular copy of Lydia is the one I hacked to make my mother’s (unblogged 😦 ) Christmas present. So pay attention to the lines of the smaller sizes on the Lydia pattern, not the cut outline.

As you can (hopefully) see, Lydia actually has more shaping going on than Renfrew. It’s also a somewhat shorter pattern (remember Renfrew has the band at the bottom to lengthen it). The waist is slightly longer in Lydia, and, most surprisingly, the hips are a little more generous (this is suprising because Sewaholic patterns are supposed to be drafted for pear-shaped women, so I was expecting Renfrew to have more width below the waist).

I should add that the shoulder height and angle in the Lydia you can see has been altered to match my sloper, since my mom and I share a short upper body and square shoulders—the original Lydia was rather longer through the armscye and had a much more sloping shoulder. So Lydia originally would’ve had a shoulder-slope similar to Renfrew, but a rather lower armscye, and a longer, somewhat more shaped, waist. I think the amount of ease each pattern was designed for would’ve been similar.

Sloper vs. Renfrew

Enter my knit sloper. This is when things get a bit wacky.

Like Lydia, you can see that my sloper has more shaping than Renfrew. The waist is slightly higher in my sloper, but not as much as I had thought it might be (I tried to align the bottom of the armscye, remembering that my sloper doesn’t have seam allowances. The armscye in my sloper is shorter, but again, not as much as I had thought it might be. The shoulder slope is hugely different, however. There’s a slight difference in ease (remembering that my Sewaholic size, 6 or 8, is the 4th or 5th line over, while the sloper needs 1.5 cm added to the edge, to be comparable.) I’d say at the bust, the difference in ease is about 4 cm around the whole bust, rather more at the waist and almost no difference at the bottom. There are also some differences in the shoulder-point position and armscye curve, but seeing as 1) my sloper has very narrow shoulders, and 2) I’m really not sure what to make of them, I’ll get back to you about it once it’s made up.

And, for your edification, here’s how the sleeves compare:

Renfrew sleeve vs. Knit Sloper

So I should really have set the knit sloper a little further down, to allow for seam-allowances. Sorry. Anyway. Sleeve cap height is actually fairly similar, however. Renfrew’s sleeves don’t seem to have much (if any) front/back shaping, and there’s no notching to indicate it, anyway. I know lots of knit patterns don’t, it’s not necessary, but I do think you get a slightly better fit when there is some. (You can see I have a little bit of shaping on my sloper—the front is to the left—although for the life of me I can’t remember if that’s original to the Lydia or if I added it as I was messing around.)

The original Lydia length is about where the knit sloper starts flaring out, so that length is very close (remembering that the sloper should be down another 1.5 cm, but on the other hand the Renfrew has the cuff on the end. So Renfrew sleeve is probably functionally longer, for your size, than the Lydia. I think the taper of my sloper is pretty true to the original Lydia sleeve as well, so the Renfrew sleeve also appears to be a little more straight overall. It also doesn’t appear to be drafted with sleeve cap ease, which is great in a knit.

So what does this all mean?

Sloper vs. altered Renfrew

At the end of things, I still wanted to be making Renfrew, not just another version of my knit sloper (but with sleeve-bands). So I opted to keep as much of the Renfrew shape as I could. For size, considering I like a little less ease in my knits (and I *REALLY* liked Seraphinalina’s Renfrews, where she went down a size), I went with the 6.

I “petited” the armscye sightly, by the simple expedient of using the size 4 rather than the size 6 height, and squared the shoulder by going over to the size 2 at the side of the neck. I also shortened above the waist, but by considerably less than the 2″ I removed from the Lonsdale—only about 2 cm, this time. And, because I wanted to keep the same overall length, I actually just “slid” the waist shaping up.

Since I’m making the 3/4 sleeves this time, I didn’t make any length alterations on them—I just adjusted the sleeve-cap height to the size 4 rather than the size 6. And it’s all cut out and ready to go, except that now I want to take a whack at adding Lisa’s hood. Which may not work (and I have enough fabric to make one go at it but not several), but requires a bit more thinking about matching the neckline that I haven’t quite gotten to. Maybe on the weekend…


Filed under Sewing

I sewed silk!

Pretty dress

… In about the teensiest, most tentative way possible.

Last summer, we bought the girls a couple of shirred-top, recycled-sari-silk dresses at a stall at a street fair. They’re not exactly well-made, but they’re extremely pretty. The only problem was that they were strapless. However, a fortuitous accident illustrating the inadvisability of cycling in a long, frilly silk skirt provided a fair bit of mangled hem that needed to be sliced off. Fortunately there’s plenty left to frill around in—and now I had fabric to spare to make some spaghetti straps. Which didn’t stop me from putting the project off pretty much all winter, but finally last night I was bumming around the sewing room, poking dispiritedly at the mounts of *stuff* and not really feeling able to start anything major. Tyo pointedly suggested that perhaps I should GET THAT DONE.

Silk + Bike rear-wheel = BAD

Well, I got them started, anyway.

After sorting through the mangled mass to find a bit that wasn’t too shredded and melted, I very gently ironed a portion and cut out two strips, each about 3 cm wide. The ironing was very much NOT facilitated by the fact that I didn’t use a press-cloth when block-fusing Armoweft interfacing onto Osiris’s coat; Armoweft is the nicest interfacing I’ve found yet, but the glue does seep through when you’re fusing with it. So my iron’s foot was covered with gunk. I do terrible things to my iron, honoured readers, but this was unusually bad even for me.

But, back to the silk. My strips were cut on the bias, more because the portion of the skirt I I’d had to cut off had been cut on the bias than because I wanted skinny little spaghetti straps. I actually think these straps turned out a bit too skinny.

Anyway, once I finally got them pressed, I pulled out a brand-new, super-fine needle (65/9) and sat down with some scraps to play with my tension and stitch length. I was too lazy short of time to look up what kind of a stitch length is good for bias silk, (I know Sunni and Sherry have both weighed in on the topic), but eventually went with a short stitch, but pulling while I stitched. Which makes the fabric scooch all over the place, but anyway. When I was done, I had straps. When not being pulled on, the straight stiches actually look a bit zig-zagged. Interesting.

Spaghettie straplets. Also, never feel bad about your shirring again!

I used the bobby pin method for turning the straps. I love this method WAY over using a cord on the inside of the tube, but really for slippery silk I think anything would’ve worked. These were the easiest little tubes to turn, ever. And once I ironed and stretched them to maximal skinniness, they didn’t look half bad, despite my wonky stitching and general incompetence.

Some careful handwheeling got them nicely attached in the front, and now all I have to do is stuff a child into the dress long enough to measure the length to attach them in the back.

And who knows, maybe I’ll get some actual *real* sewing done one of these days…



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Red Leaf Clover (Round two)

Clover---round two


So. Still not the best photography, but at least it’s not the iPhone. I lightened the crap out of things to make the wrinkles etc. show better.

So, at this point I have lowered the rise in the front 5cm, tapering to 2.5 at the hip and zilch at the centre back. And this time (yay!) the zipper held out long enough to take some actual photos.

So at this point I’m seeing two major problems, aside from generalized looseness:

1) wrinkles at side-seam along hip. Several of you in the last post (thanks so much, everyone!) attributed this to excess hip curve, and you’re probably right. On the left side the zipper has forced this extra length into a single large fold at the bottom of the zipper, on the right side it’s more distributed.

2) bagginess at front crotch. I obviously need to research this. These aren’t strain wrinkles—it’s more like there’s just too much fabric here.

Minor problems include

3) dip at CB still there. If I lower the sides more, this may help, but really a bit of extra height in the back will be a must for next time.

4) wrinkles and looseness along legs. There’s some width that can be taken out here, I think.

Next up, I did what I should’ve done before I ever cut, and dug out my pattern for the Burdastyle Ellen Pants. This is the one that created the Businesswoman Pants, and while the fit isn’t totally perfect, it’s hella better than this pair, at least so far. The only reason I didn’t before, aside from laziness, was that the Ellen isn’t drafted for stretch fabric, so I wasn’t sure how precisely comparable they would be.

Crotch Curve Comparison:

Ellen vs. Clover

So this was the REALLY interesting part. I overlaid the two patterns. The solid paper is the Ellen pants (cut to a size 34 rather than my usual 36 as they run large). The tissue is my tracing of the Clover (size 2 grading to size 4 at the waist).

The biggest single difference is the rise in the front. It’s more than an inch higher at the centre front, and substantial. The rear rise is almost identical—a smidge lower at CB, a cm higher at the sideseam. There’s a slightly greater curve to the hip in the clover. The back piece is slightly wider in the Clover, but then the front piece is slightly narrower, so I think the overall width is very similar (and Ellen is non-stretch!). The spookiest thing is that the diference in rise doesn’t even out at the side seam—the rear side-seam is higher, when the crotch curves are lined up, than the side on the front, which means that there’s some odd shifting of how the halves are going to fit together. That’s boggling my brain, I tell you.

The crotch curves are almost identical, up to and including the much longer rear than front curve. This is the bit that really threw me for a loop, because I was expecting there to be a significant difference, not just a few mm at the back of the rear crotch curve. Now maybe having the front fly on the Ellen masks certain things, or maybe it’s just that they’re in non-stretch fabrics, but I never saw anything in any of my Ellens like the folds I have in the Clover.

There are a few other differences—the Clover legs are much narrwer, especially as you go down, than the straight-legged Ellens. But on the whole—scary close.

So I think I’m going to cry Uncle, seam rip the entire kaboodle, and recut following the Ellen pattern at the top. And then maybe consider taking in the side-seams until the stretch factor is properly accounted for.

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I’ve stuck with the same two pants patterns this whole time…


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Red-Leaf Clover

Colette Clover pants. You can see from the wrinkles that the waistband at the side isn't pulled as high as it can go.

Or, possibly the worst-photographed post ever.

Did I mention my camera charger didn’t come home with me after the holidays? So yeah, the last few posts have been iPhone photos. Painful, I know. I’m working to get the back-up camera functional again (battery issues, but at least it uses standard AA batteries), but as of this moment you get iPhone photos.

So, after making little jeans for everyone short in the family (or at least that’s what it feels like…), I was in the mood for some new pants myself. And frankly, I’m a little bored of Jalie 2908, although I do have fabric for another pair for myself planned.

So I pulled out this red stretch (?twill? Sometimes it looks like twill, other times not.)

After much hemming and hawing, I cut out the size 2, which is my actual hip size, grading to a size 4 (which is not quite my actual waist size) at the waist. The long view finished inseam is listed at 27″, designed to fall just above the ankle. Dear readers, 27″ is a longish capri length on me.  Since it’s winter and my desire to make a pair of pants that would look funny with socks is at absolute zero, I decided to lengthen them to a more normal, scrunch-around-the-ankle, skinny length. I added 6″ (15 cm.) I had some misgivings about the rise, which some people have reported as a bit high (and we all know I’m a low-rise kind of girl), but figured I would keep it as-is for now, as that’s something which can be tweaked after the pattern’s cut. The crotch-length was a little disconcerting, as the horizontal leg of the back L seemed really long, but the horizontal leg of the front L was really short, so I hoped it would even out. It’s different from most of the other crotch-curves I’ve seen, so I was kind of curious to try.

Clover crotch-curves

And then I took a deep, deep breath, and I cut into my precious* red twill.

It is my intention for these, eventually, to be a sort of wearable muslin. Uncharacteristically for me, I basted them together just to check the fit—I’m planning on completely re-stitching everything once I have them fitting how I like.

I didn’t get any full-length pictures. The legs are pretty much fine—skinny, long enough. I may take in the outseams above the knees about .5 cm on each side—enough to bring me down, basically, to a size 0; I think this fabric has a bit more stretch than the pattern may have been planned for (I wish it had a stretch guide, or at least listed %stretch rather than %Lycra.  % Lycra is not very useful at all in predicting how much a fabric stretches, in my experience.) Alternatively, I may just like my pants tighter than was originally meant. Which is probable, too.

Anyway. The rise in the back is good, although it does that dip-down thing at the middle of the back. I would not want it any lower, that’s for sure.

Front view. You can just barely see that my belly-button is immediately above the waistband.

The rise in the front is a full 5cm (almost 2″) higher than I’d like. The pin in the front shows where I’d like the bottom of the waistband to fall in order to get the rise right.

The size of the waistband seems good as long as I don’t interface all stretch out of the waistband. (Though I suppose this will be different once I change the rise, anyway.) There is not much gaping at the CB, which is a common problem for me, so that’s good.

Unfortunately, the crappy zipper I threw in self-destructed within about 30 seconds of me putting the pants on, so I’m frantically pinching the one hip together in the pictures.

The front crotch seems a bit odd, I think because the curve is so shallow, but I’m hesitant to mess with it at this point. Maybe later. If any of you know what these wrinkles mean (left side of the photo, the right side is being pulled off by the issues with the zipper) please let me know! 😉

Anyway, I think I’ll be able to make some quite nice pants out of these, once I have them tweaked a bit. But some tweaking is definitely required.

And unpicking. And, y’know, reading the actual instructions.

*in the sense that I have been looking for a fabric like this for ages, not in the sense that it was expensive—it was definitely not.


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Syo Sews

Syo sewed so well. Also she's wearing a shirt I made her.

While I’ve been dithering over the hubs’ coat, Syo seized the opportunity to sneak onto an unattended machine and whip up a little purse. Her being extremely proud of her creation, she asked me to blog about it. Me being putty in her cute little fingers, immediately snapped some photos and set to.

Look! It opens!

Look! Not only does it have a strap (thankfully using up the last of that trim!), but there’s even something approaching a seam-finish on the end of the fold-over flap!

Ok, so I may be a little bit exuberant. Here’s the thing. She sewed this on her own. The only thing she asked me was whether she could use the machine (yes, dear, just don’t sew through your fingers, k?). No hovering, no planning, no supervising every seam-allowance and pivot and backtack.

People, this is how I learnt to sew (when I was probably right around Syo’s age, maybe a smidge older). Grab fabric, think (or don’t), and go. Doesn’t work? Try again. Something you never thought of goes wrong? Oops, that was a learning experience!

I’m not knocking anyone who learnt to sew properly—it’s probably a much faster, more efficient way to learn. But it’s not how I learnt, and trying to teach my kids feels… forced. Weird. Stressful.

This wasn’t stressful. This was great.

Shot with tree.

In other news, I traced out the size F(2, but in length G/3) and size H(4) of the Jalie 2908 jeans, to make up for my nieces, possibly even for Christmas. I’m still in limbo over a shirt for my Dad… I have the fabric picked out, but the Negroni pattern I ordered at the beginning of the month (yes, I caved, finally) still hasn’t arrived. I have printed out a custom size (as far as I can figure going on my mom’s recollection of his measurements and some gentle prodding over the phone) of this pattern, but I’m a little worried that it’s going to fit like a tent, which is not really what I want to create. I’m planning a backup gift on that front, either way. On the subject of Mr. Isis (every time I type that I think I should just put “Osiris”)’s jacket, I did a second muslin, with a much fuller back and wider sleeves, after he very instructively flexed while wearing the first muslin and ripped the back seam open clear to the waist. We are having some issues over fit vs. freedom of motion; like many hard-to-fit people, he’s used to wearing knits or vastly oversized wovens. Anyway, the second muslin had a very curved back seam, a lot of ease rotated into the shoulders (basically I rotated some of the curve from the neck into a shoulder-dart, but I don’t plan on sewing the dart, just easing the fabric in), and has some big folds under the arm, all of which disappear completely when he crosses his arms. I tried to suggest (as I seem to recall reading somewhere) that a suit-jacket should lie smooth when the hands are clasped in front. He doesn’t consider this adequate. I think he’s on glue. The debate continues. Anyway, I think I can shave off a bit of the excess and get something that doesn’t look completely grotesque when he’s standing naturally.  Fitting muscles is weird. It’s almost like an FBA for the back, in an area that doesn’t happen to have any darts. (Boy has a drop of almost 12″ from chest to waist right now. That’s not only more than mine, that’s more than twice mine. The jerk.). At least widening the sleeves went well. I’d be tempted to try a larger size, but the shoulders fit beautifully.

Now if I could just find my roll of craft paper to make the rest of the pattern pieces… (I’m trying to save the wrapping paper for the presents…)


Filed under Sewing