Tag Archives: Ellen

Red Leaf Clover (Round two)

Clover---round two

Grum.

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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The Bell-bottoms

Vintage wranglers (with accessories)

In about 1997, I stumbled upon two pairs of bell-bottom Wranglers, presumably vintage but more or less pristine, at a garage sale. They were a little big, but at least that meant they sat a bit low on my hips. In those days, stretch denim and low-rise pants had not yet penetrated to my little backwater… I was still wearing my Levi 501s and trying to figure out why anything that fit at the waist had huge flaps at the hips.  At seventeen you don’t really have a clear sense of your body… all I knew was that the look I was seeing wasn’t quite right. I was also still wrestling with my 80s-bred distaste for any pants that flared at all. The wranglers hung off my hips at the perfect level, though, and if they didn’t hug or skim anything, well, as long as I could show off my tummy, at that point I didn’t much care. I wore them with boho shirts and a metal-link belt that had belonged to my mother in the 70s, if not the 60s. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would be wearing bell-bottoms more-or-less exclusively for the next decade.

Ellen Bellbottom Jeans

Although I was never a serious devotee of the flare (I don’t have the hips for wide ones), I was a late adopter of the skinny jean, as well—I got my first only a little over a year ago.  But I haven’t had non-stretch, old-school flares since I ousted those Wranglers, round about the birth of my first child.

Then, Joy’s Bellbottom Challenge cropped up and, coincidentally, I wound up with two metres of absolutely gorgeous dark-indigo non-stretch denim. Obviously the two would have to combine into some seriously retro bellbottoms.

Not, however, as huge and sloppy as my old wranglers, however. So, I went to my handy-dandy Ellen pants pattern, which is my only non-stretch pants pattern (that I know fits, anyway…), traced it off, made the adaptations for jeans (back yoke, front pockets), brainstormed a couple of different ideas for the closure and the pockets, and got to work. Ellen is a great pattern for mods like this because it’s completely free of style details if you leave off the pockets.

I opted to have the legs flare from about mid-thigh. I probably could’ve gone a bit lower, but I wanted, for whatever reason, more of a wide-legged look than a hip-hugger look. I added what seemed like it would be a modest, but definite, flare.

Front lace-up fly

I decided, for no particular reason, to make a corset-closing front rather than a traditional fly… I had a pair like this shortly after Tyo was born, and I always loved the feature (I have a bit of a weakness for things that lace up.). I haven’t decided whether to add grommets to the waistband itself, or buttons with a tab stretching between them. We’ll see. Although inserting grommets is always a little nerve-wracking, this was still simpler than a fly, for those of you who are chicken of flies and not afraid to look a little out there ;).

Bound waistband interior and flat-felled seams

Bound waistband interior and flat-felled seams

I did my new favourite waistband-finishing technique, binding the inside with bias tape (this time the blue satin left over from my springy coat facing), and, since the Ellen has 1.5 cm seam allowances rather than the 1cm of the Jalie pattern, I decided to try my hand at (ulp) felled seams.

They were… ok. Definitely not perfect. In particular, although my yoke seams lined up at the seam-line, the way the seam-allowances interact in a flat-felled seam means that after they were folded over, the yokes look offset. Boo. On the up-side each seam is only stitched twice, instead of three times, and there’s less swapping back and forth of threads. The trimming and pressing takes a lot longer, though, and I think I get more even topstitching with the “cheater” method. Hmm. We’ll see. A big part of me is still convinced I’m not making proper jeans if they don’t have felled seams. Hmm.

Bellbottoms

Bell-bottoms: back

I hemmed them LONG. If they don’t shrink up in length, I may have to shorten them. That’s ok. I’ve been traumatized by too many too-short pants over the years to mind a bit of extra length. And it’s fun to put on heels and still have only my toes peek out.

So... much... leg...

Click through to the full-size rear photo to get a better view of my back pockets… I made them shield-shaped to echo the corset-fly.
My hubby, a diehard child of the 80s, has already expressed his dislike of them. I explained that I think I’m allowed to own one pair of jeans that he doesn’t like. He countered that he doesn’t own any jeans that I don’t like. I pointed out that’s only because he won’t go shopping without me. I think this means I win, don’t you?

It really doesn’t show in the pictures, but I also did one vintage thing that I’ve never before attempted on jeans.

I pressed creases front and back in them. I think they look very smart.

Now all I need is a 70s blouse to go with them… 😀

(I think I’ll have to do a 70s week in Me-Made June, what do you think?)

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Finishing Ellen

Ellen Pants, with button and belt-loops

I pretty much finished the Businesswoman Pants back in October, shortly before I embarked on the coat for Tyo. And I was pretty happy, but after a day of wearing them two things were obvious. First, the little metal pants-hook and bar I had sewed were not in any way, shape, or form sturdy enough to keep these pants up (in fact, by the end of the day the metal bar was a twisted remnant of its former self). Second, the lack of belt-loops was driving me nuts, because they kept sliding down (increasing the strain on the hook and bar). I don’t know if this is a side-effect of the dropped waist or the slippery lining or just the generally rectangular shape of my hips, but it was still annoying.

Anyway, it was clear that the pants needed a button and belt-loops. And today,

Rear, with belt-loops

while I waited for my laptop to defrag and otherwise soothe its booboos (it’s been cranky lately), I decided to tackle these minor finishes. So I made a button hole (successfully, by machine!!!! … on the third try. Fortunately this wool is highly forgiving of needle-holes), and cut, interfaced, ironed, and topstitched (as subtly as possible) the belt loops. I didn’t want to topstitch the belt-loops in place, either, so that took a bit more thinking. You can do this without too much trouble, I think, if you apply the belt-loops while you’re constructing the waistband, but once it’s done it takes a bit more finagling.

I ended up sewing the bottom ends, folding them up and over to the inside of the waistband, and hand-stitching there. Me and my hand-stitching, I know. Also, figuring out how to distribute your belt loops when none of your seams line up is a pain in the ass.

Fancy button

I was going to attach one of my usual jeans buttons, but (perhaps fortunately) I couldn’t find the little doohickey for hammering them on, so I went through my buttons and found this black plastic shank button with a rather battered “jewel,” that arrived in a small and generally unremarkable baggie of buttons from the thrift store a few weeks back. I’m not convinced that the plastic shank will be tough enough either, but it’s not as if it’s an overly precious button. But it’s cute, and where else am I going to use a rather tacky plastic-gemstone unique button? It will get scratched up and hidden by belts, but it’s already rather battered, so whatever :).

I’m not convinced that I totally love these pants—my hips definitely benefit from the pocket and yoke detail on jeans—but they’re warm (which sounds really good right now) and will definitely come in handy when, y’know, I don’t want to look like a total schlub.

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The Business Woman Pants

 

The Business Woman (AKA Ellen) Pants

 

Well, I wanted grown-up pants, and it appears that’s what I’ve got. Tyo took one look and said “Mom, you look like a business woman!” Syo concurs.

I’m going to choose to take that as a compliment, I guess ;).

Whether that’ll feel too weird to leave the house in, is yet to be determined, I suppose.

 

 

They feel deliciously warm. The wool on the inside of the waistband is a tad scratchy (perhaps this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to face with a different fabric… say, more of my lovely Kasha. Hindsight and all that…) but I think it’ll be fine; I’m not super-sensitive. With the lining, they feel very, very substantial… perfect for winter. We’ll see how the un-lined bottom of the legs interact with the knee-high socks I often wear in the winter.

 

 

You will note how smashing they look with my grey blazer. Mmm. I’ve had this blazer since high school. It fits perfectly, has just the right amount of structure, and almost never gets worn because…

you guessed it. The sleeves are too short. *headdesk*

I have an ongoing plan to add black corduroy cuffs, at such time as I come into possession of some black corduroy of the right wale-thickness.

Anyway, although it pains me, here’s a couple of more “fitting” shots. You can see that the pockets are still gaping, showing the lining. However, it’s pretty even on each side, so maybe I could pretend that’s a design feature?

 

Rear view. A touch tight.

 

You can see that the waistband is a little, ah, snug. I suspect this is a case of me curving less than the pattern does, especially since I had to take the back in for a swayback a bit (though it seems worse in these pants than in the first pair for some reason). More curve in the back, less in the sides. The pants themselves are actually quite loose through the seat/hips. And I’m not sure what it is, but once again I was unable to match up the seam-lines on the waistband with the seamlines on the pants and have the waistband match for length the rest of the pants. I don’t know if it’s because of the pants stretching (I would expect this of the soft wool but not the firm lining) or the fly somehow not being square in the front (though I tried very hard to make sure it was) or even the fly shield throwing things off (it’s an addition not in the original pattern, as far as I can tell). So basically what I’m saying is the waistband is a bust, but provided it can be covered the pants will be fine.

 

Front view

 

 

Here’s from the front. Again, snug waistband=some distortion at the front closure, though the fly isn’t gaping in this version (yay interfacing 🙂 ). The wrinkles at the hips go away if my feet are together as they should’ve been for taking a fitting photo. Did I ever mention how much I loathe fitting photos? ;). Also, I love this shirt, but pouffy sleeves + sleek pants =linebacker look. Holy cow.

Not much more to say. I’ll try wearing them tomorrow, see how they feel. And how they go with my regular boots! Because I gotta tell ya, the heels are gorgeous but not going to happen. Just not.

I have a feeling this will be my last outdoor photo-shoot of the year, which sucks mostly because our indoor light is not great. But man, it was chilly. I don’t have Elaine’s fortitude to take outdoor pics all winter!

 

So stylish! (?)

 

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Picky zippy

Inadequate zipperosity.

I don’t have a nice grey metal zipper. Why do I give a flying fig about the colour of the zipper in these pants? I don’t know, but I want one that’s metal, either grey or black, and I don’t have one. The one metal zip I do have kicking around was purchased for my Jalie jeans and isn’t quite long enough. Grr. If I had thought about this I could’ve popped by the Sewing World by the train station on my way home from work today, because while they don’t have much that’s of use to me, they do have zippers (and needles… I need a new twin needle, too… my old one finally died, though it lasted much longer than any of its predecessors.)

While I’m wishing, I’d like some pinking shears too.

Anyway, as you can see, I have not made significant progress on the pants.

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Welt!

Pocket, that is. Although, a raised, stinging mark on the flesh might not be too far off, either.

Yesterday, I took the plunge and cut another set of Ellen pants from my grey pinstripe wool. There’s actually quite a bit of this fabric—the pants only used about half—so doubtless there’s a blazer in my future.

The pattern comes with instructions to line the front piece to the knee (underline, actually, if you read the instructions). I did want to line, as I’m a bit hesitant about having wool trousers to begin with, never mind against my legs. So I cut out lining pieces front and back out of some of the leftover lining from my coat. Yes, these are going to be winter trousers. (Somehow the term “trousers” seems much more natural when I’m not talking about casual attire.) If any of you have any advice for how to line trousers with a fly, I’d love to hear it. My usual tutorial for installing a fly is Debbie Cook’s, but that, of course, doesn’t involve any kind of lining, and the only advice I could find in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (my one and only sewing tome) was to construct separately and slipstitch around the zipper; nor did a quick google yield anything more specific. Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but I have this sinking feeling that I’m going to end up with a bulky mess right at the front of my otherwise-sleek trousers.

Someday I should really invest in a good book on tailoring. And in pinking shears.

Welt pockets---testing, testing, 1...2...

Anyway, I decided I wanted welt pockets on the rear. Now, I have always thoroughly avoided welt-anything to date (including the related technique, bound buttonholes). Not out of dislike, but out of pure chicken-shit-edness. There are any number of excellent tutorials on making welt pockets out there, which I have read over at various times. My tome has a description as well. Most recently, Gigi went over the process briefly, so that was the one I turned to, though it’s not particularly in-depth. Two admonitions stuck out in my mind: practice and precision.

Neither are my forte. Especially when it comes to sewing.

Nevertheless, I dutifully sorted through my scraps and started ironing and interfacing etc. After the first test welt, I decided to interface future welts. It looks fine, but it feels more sturdy with the interfacing, a little less likely to sag and expose the pocket lining.

Note: this is not intended to be a tutorial. I pretty much still suck at this. This is mostly intended to remind me of what I did (and maybe what not to do next time).

Drawing the future-welt box on the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric was easy. Figuring out the relationship between the box-size and the welt (especially depth) took a little more mental gymnastics. I eventually settled on a welt that was 2cm wide (including a .5 cm seam allowance) and a box that was 7mm on either side of the line (the line being about 1mm wide, it all added up to 1.5 cm, the same width as my welt. Oh, good!

Welt pinned in place on right side of fabric, pointing down.

Next, how do you orient this? The whole thing gets flipped through and around, which is quite dizzying to my little, spatially-challenged brain. So, to start, your folded welt goes on the outside, pointing DOWN away from where the pocket will be. Its seam line goes along the bottom edge of the box, the raw bottom edge of the welt (currently pointing up) goes roughly along the middle of the welt. Well, technically 2mm off, in my example, but what’s a mm or 2 between friends?

(And dear lord, imperial people, I can understand inches in the macro range—I use them myself, to my shame—but how on earth do you wrap your minds around measurements like “5/32” of an inch? Mind-boggling! Give me my millimetres any day.)

I pushed pins through the fabric to locate the corners of my box on the right side, pinned the welt in place, and then basted it in for my sanity’s sake. Next the pocket lining goes on TOP of this (yes, on the right side of the fabric!) I used a single piece for my samples but two pieces sewn together for my actual pants. The single piece was a better idea. Probably there’s a different way to do it if you’re going to use two pieces, but what ever. Position the pocket lining over the welt on the right side of the fabric, facing down. I got this right the first time (unlike the welt…I had to rip off my first one)

Stitch around your box from the wrong side, so you can see your lines. Be achingly, brutally, precise.

Did I mention that I am lacking in precision?

People suggest counting your stitches along the short sides. I tried. Usually it took 7, sometimes 6, once only 5. This had less to do with my boxes being uneven than me not letting the fabric feed through evenly.

Blurry pictures of cutting through the welt.

Then… you cut. I love my little dissection scissors as they’re sharp, pointed, and tiny, but I think I need a new pair to keep dedicated for sewing. My husband has been using these to trim his hair and they’re not as sharp as they used to be :P.

The trick is to clip right into the corners, without clipping through your stitches. I did pretty well on the practice welts, actually, but not quite as well on the real thing; I blame it partly on my heavier lining fabric, and partly on being nervous about clipping my stitches.

Tucking everything through.

Once your box is snipped open (cut on an angle into the corners, making little triangles at each short end), you flip the whole shebang—that prolapse of pocketing and weltishness blighting the right side of your fabric—through to the inside, where it properly belongs. The edges of the welt itself show, which flummoxed me a bit when I first did it. For the next one I trimmed the edges on an angle (as you can see in the image above of the welt pinned in place), which seemed to make for less bulk at the bottom corners when flipping through. I have not seen this in other tutorials, and it may very well be a bad idea in the long run).

Sewing the "little triangles" down to the pocketing after pushing everything through.

Once you have it tucked through, you iron everything in place; Tug on those little side triangles and then stitch them down. This is supposed to make sure the welt lies flat and the hole’s edges are nice and rectangular. Sewing it down wasn’t actually as tricky as I had feared (I’m still scared of the button-hole-sized equivalent, though)

Stitch around the edges of your pocket bag, and voila! You have a welt pocket!

The real thing. Not... so perfect.

Well, in theory. I still have some issues getting the welt perfectly flat at the corners, not having it gaping, and other niceties. Precision, precision. I actually did slightly better on my second practice welt than on the pants themselves. /sigh. That being said, I think I’m more irritated with my inability to match the stripes properly (I tried! I REALLY DID!) than with the welts themselves. I may end up putting a small button in to keep them from sagging, as the shiny silver lining REALLY shows.

Also, it’s snowing again. Although seeing as it’s the end of October, I need to stop whining about that. At least it’s not sticking yet. 🙂

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Home (and speaking of pants…)

My back yard, Friday. There was actually quite a bit more snow an hour later, but I didn't take a second picture.

Well, I made it back, just in time for two inches of snow Friday.  /joy.

I did not, sadly, get to do any fabulous fabric (or button) shopping in Pittsburgh. We did walk up the Strip district once, and I

Pittsburgh. Note the complete and total absence of snow.

spotted at least one neat-looking fabric store along with several other interesting looking shops, but it was ten o’clock on a Tuesday night, so there was no awesome fabric-shopping for me. I did score a few books I really wanted, but I suspect “Major Transitions in Tetrapod Evolution” really isn’t your cup of tea, so I’ll spare you the review ;).

Ellen, v. 1

Yesterday, rather spontaneously and with my typical lack of forethought, I decided to tackle pants. Pants which are neither jeans nor stretch.

I started with the Burdastyle Ellen pattern. Compared to, say, the JJ, there are remarkably few versions of this on Burdastyle, but it seemed to fit the general bill of “pants that are not jeans and not stretch”: no yoke,  rear darts, a slightly higher (though still lowish) rise, and a close-fitting but straight, rather than skinny, leg. And Burda usually has a good reputation when it comes to pants drafts. I actually use a modified version of the Ellen waistband for my jeans, so that wasn’t a complete guess, either.

The main charm of these pants are the cute little patch-pockets with the unusually shaped flaps, which I conspicuously failed to include in my pair, mostly because it’s hard to spend that much time on details of a pair of pants you’re not even sure will fit.

For the sake of full disclosure I’ll reveal that this is another attempt to pretend that I am, all measurements to the contrary, a

Ellen pants, front

Burda size 34. This time because several people on Burdastyle had mentioned that the pattern seemed much roomier in real life than it looked on the model. This seemed a little too snug through the hips when I tried it on, so I let it out a bit at the side seams (below the waistband), but then it was too loose, so I took it in again. The waistband is snug, but that extra overlap you see beyond the fly shouldn’t actually be there, so if it weren’t I think the sizing would be basically perfect. (I’m not quite sure how it worked out that way, either, since the waistband is in four pieces that match to the side and back seams, and I only had the overlap on one side of the front. Probably something to do with my sewing of the fly). I also added an inch to the length (it seemed ok, but better safe than sorry, right?), which probably wasn’t strictly necessary but did allow me to put a nice, wide hem on the bottom. I did a small swayback adjustment to the waistband, which is deliciously easy when you have a centre-back seam.

Ellen pants, back

Overall I’m passably happy with the attempt.  The fabric I used (an ex-curtain) is, on second thought, a little thin for bottoms, and it seems to bag out a bit; these pictures were taken after a few hours of wear and the knees are distinctly pouchy. In my haste I neglected to interface the fly region (actually, I neglected to read the instructions completely…), so the gaping there is entirely my own fault. The fly installation is not my best, but certainly not my worst yet; once again I followed Debbie Cook’s tutorial. I really like hers for some reason (though I use pins instead of the wonder-tape), though I wish it covered the fly shield. I always forget that part and then it ends up being a bit fiddly and weird.

So that was my weekend’s sewing. I have a feeling my days of daily sewing posts are going to be on the wane for a bit… I don’t even want to think about the amount of work I have to do this month (how did it get to be almost Halowe’en?!?), and November is NaNoWriMo and then it’ll be Christmas… Hopefully once or twice a week will be enough? (Y’know, when I actually have something to talk about? 😉 )

Now, to decide whether to bother putting the patch pockets on the pants…

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