Tag Archives: Closet Case Patterns

The first Fiona

Apparently since all my (minuscule amount of) free time is no longer occupied with Fabricland projects, my vulnerability to the lure of the Shiny New Indie Pattern has re-emerged. Or something. Anyway—first Avery, then York, and now the new Closet Case Patterns Fiona dress have leapt to the front of the sewing queue.

Ok, the Avery was for a class I was teaching, but anyway. Fiona just hit me in all the right places. You may have noticed I have a bit of a thing for button-front sundresses, and sundresses with a band detail across the top. Add in that fabulous low-back option? The only thing I might have changed was a fuller skirt, but on the other hand the columnar shape is one I don’t already have in my wardrobe. And it’s good to try something new.

Well, high hopes can be a curse as much as a blessing, and I kind of struggled with this pattern. Which is fine since this was meant to be a wearable muslin, but it’s still a fairly intensive pattern. Them’s a lot of buttonholes.

I took brand-new measurements and followed the pattern recommendations, which put me in a size 8 at bust and waist grading into a size 10 hips. I think for the no-bra version, at least, I should’ve gone down to the size 6… and possibly up to a 12 in the hips.

Anyway, trying to figure out how a button-front bodice with criss-cross straps and a back overlap is fitting before things are all sewn together is pretty tricky. There are a lot of variables. Initially I thought I could take in the waist by increasing the back crossover. This seemed to work, and I attached the straps, trimming about an inch and a half off (as I had expected since I’m fairly short-waisted). But then when I got the skirt on, it was pulling up weirdly at the back. Releasing the overlap to its original amount (and then taking it in at the sides, and then also taking it in at the princess seams over the bust) fixed most of that. But then my straps were too short. So I opted for a halter closure.

After all that, the skirt itself is pretty much as-is, though I made the rear darts a bit deeper and they could perhaps be a smidgeon longer. The grading to the smaller size at the waist changes the side curve, and I could probably tweak it a bit, but it’s not bad.

I’ll add a little bit about my construction here. The fabric I picked, which looks like linen, is apparently actually ramie, which is a bast fibre from a different plant (a member of the nettle family, which I always think is neat possibly because I watched The Wild Swans too many times as a child and shirts made from nettles are a big part of the plot, anyway, this does not matter). It behaves like linen in pretty much every way except for maybe being a bit scratchier. Anyway, it is a handkerchief weight, which is lovely and summery but not actually opaque. So I underlined the bodice and the upper part of the skirt with random cotton scraps from around the sewing room, making it opaque and also a little bit less scratchy.

I did the buttonholes on my grandma’s Singer Rocketeer, which made them largely painless although the metal grip that jerks the fabric around seems to have done some damage to the lightweight ramie. That would’ve been another foot reason to use a wash away stabilizer… note to self.

Since there were also so many damn buttons, I decided to face my fear of the button-sewing foot. The principle is simple: drop the feed dogs, set a zig-zag to the width of the holes in the button, and the foot holds everything in place.

There’s an oddity with mine in that the soft no-slip plastic “shoe” on the foot seems to slip forward and get in the way of the needle. I had to trim parts of it away with scissors to get it to work at all. But once I did it worked really, really well. Just hand-wheel the first couple of stitches until you get really good at gauging where the holes need to be.

The blue buttons were my kids’ suggestion. Left to my own devices I would’ve gone with white (actually, I would’ve liked metal but I didn’t have twenty random matching metal buttons. These blue ones were just about the only non-white buttons I had in anything like the right quantity and size. )

I don’t know if I’m overly in love with this version—I had a hard time getting photos I liked. (On the other hand it was the end of a long hot day where I spent several hours walking, so my makeup was basically gone and the hair was hanging on by a thread). I do think the band at the top is too loose, maybe not enough to show but it doesn’t feel as secure as it might. But it’s still pretty fun and I like the overall look.

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Gingerly, jeans

I massively enjoyed following the #nofearjeansmonth and #nofearnewjeans hashtags that Closet Case Patterns coined for February. I like to think of myself as one of the “first generation of internet jeans sexists”, having made my first pair as part of a Pattern Review hosted sewalong in the spring of 2010. Jeans were a staple of my wardrobe at the time, and being able to make my own revolutionized my mindset. Also, they were fun to sew. I even wrote posts full of helpful tips.

But in the last eight years, something changed. Partly, as I transitioned from grad school to the workforce, I got to indulge my love for stunt dressing more. This has always been a recurrent theme in my life, but it went particularly well with working at a fabric store, and even my eventual “grown up job” was a good venue for overdressing. I just wasn’t wearing jeans, except in my downtime, and there isn’t much downtime when you’re working two jobs.

But something else was going on in the background, too. Those jeans I had loved just weren’t working for me any more. Partly I gained a little weight, but even the ones that fit weren’t making me feel sexy any more. As I crept further and further past the thirty mark, as my skin elasticity changed… what I wanted in my jeans was changing.

Some of it is undoubtedly the cultural zeitgeist. Low-rise jeans, always controversial, had had their day. But I’ve never been a slavish follower of fashion and I’m not quick to change when something works for me. But my low-rise jeans were no longer working.

Enter the high-rise Ginger jeans. I’m not convinced these are working for me, either, but I’m branching out, testing. Seeking.

Compared to the changes I made to my Jalie 2908 pattern to get it to the style I wanted, the Ginger Jeans are a much better starting point. Actually the other view (low rise, straight leg) is why I originally bought the pattern when it first came out—it nailed exactly what I had modded my Jalie 2908 into. Of course, it was much easier just carrying on with my modded version than tackling a new pattern, so I didn’t. Until I was finally ready to try something different.

For this high-rise, skinny version, I made minimal changes. I added a wee bit of height to the back (possibly unnecessary), and angled the rear seam a bit more. I also had to take in the side seams, a LOT, but this is a very, very stretchy denim.

I did my pocket placement more or less as the pattern directed (I think) and I’m not super happy with it. They should be slightly higher and much closer together. (The closer-together part has a lot to do with the extra-stretchy denim, though)

This denim was a mystery fabric, so while I like the weight and stretchiness, I don’t trust it. But I think it cost me $4.00/m, which made it perfect for a wearable muslin.

To make sure the waistband didn’t gape, I actually eased the back yoke onto a smaller portion of the waistband. This worked pretty well. I also interfaced only the front half of the waistband—I’ve gone back and forth on this over the years, as it’s kind of a trade off between comfort and stability. I’m pretty happy with the half-and-half, at least at this early stage.

I topstitched on my new-to-me Elna, but I chose to use two extra-strong threads in the needle, and it was kind of a nightmare. Lots of snarling and refusing to penetrate, not to mention skipping stitched at corners and things like that. Eventually I gave up and dropped to one thread, and just topstitched twice all around the waistband and hems. The effect is better than I would’ve gotten with the two threads. So, next time, we won’t do that. I’ve also been experimenting with using Coats’ newish Eloflex thread in the bobbin—it’s stretchy, so hopefully less likely to snap in high-stretch areas than regular thread in the bobbin. I’m hoping, anyway. We shall see.

The Ginger pattern suggest you add a bit of interfacing at the top of the pockets to keep them firm. I gave it a try, but at least in this super-stretchy denim I’m not a fan—the less stretchy pocket rim makes a dent across your butt. (Though having worn them a few times since the photos were taken, I think they’ve stretched out a bit.)

So does the yoke seam. This is partly because the denim is so stretchy, while the seam is stable, and I think the position of the yoke line (the yoke is pretty tall on this pattern) emphasizes it. According to @wzrdreams on Instagram, who is a pattern smarty-pants, cutting the yoke on the cross-grain can help with this and I am totally going to try that next time. Though this particular denim has lengthwise stretch too, so it might not have helped so much. Anyway, wearable muslin.

The only real fit change I would make next time is scooping out the front crotch curve a bit—it’s a tiny bit camel-toey on me.

They’ve relaxed a bit after a day of wearing and I think that’s helped the fit, which is good. And they’re already letting me experiment with some wardrobe pieces I haven’t been getting much use of lately—mainly shorter tops—so that’s exciting. And the weird charcoal colour goes with some other things in the wardrobe which gives me some new colour combos to play with. So, I think good? I think?

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