Tag Archives: finished projects

Pseudo-Victorian Skirt

Still wandering blithely down the garden path of “how far can we get from mainstream fashion?”

Back in October, maybe, I spent some time fantasy-fall sewing and pulled out several candidate fabrics for fall and winter pieces that would complement what currently passes for my wardrobe. I wanted a skirt that would fill the same role as the Adventure skirt, but for the grey/red/black subset of my wardrobe, and this grey “flannel” got tapped.

First of all, you know those fabrics that you buy and then they’re too precious to use for fear of ruining them? Well, this fabric is basically the exact opposite of that. It was billed as some kind of flannel, which I guess it maybe is, but I would more describe it as a lightly brushed twill suiting, 100% polyester. I bought it quite a few years ago to make a shirt for a Christmas present, and even paid a significant chunk of full price. At the time, I was thinking the poly flannel would be durable. Which, I mean, hopefully it will be. But it’s also so, so nasty. Although it has a nice drape, it frays like crazy, and worst of all does not want to take a press. Anyway, I’m profoundly grateful to have it out of stash, and that I didn’t turn it into a gift.

I didn’t want to freehand the pattern as I did for the Adventure skirt (the fabric alone was going to be annoying enough) so I pulled out an old Burda envelope pattern I had made back in the day. I figured I could modify it a little bit to get the effect I wanted. (Actual pattern options would be the Folkwear Edwardian Walking Skirt, which I should actually have a traced version of somewhere, from when my mom made it for herself back in about 1992, or the Scroop Fantail skirt, which conveniently went on sale shortly after I started this project. But I already knew I loved the shape and length of the Burda pattern). I actually couldn’t even find the original pattern (curse words) but I did find my traced out version. I knew I needed to add at least 3” at the waist, and I was hopeful that adding a bit more fullness thorough the hips would make room for pockets (since my hip expansion hasn’t matched my waist expansion the last few years.)

My pattern changes were simple. I cut the centre front piece a bit back from the fold (probably adding about 1.5” there, and I cut the back piece not on the fold, but extending out to the edge of the fabric so I would have extra fullness for the pleats. I added a more precise 3” to the waist and length, but in hindsight I should’ve added more because the wide underlap I tend to use on the closures of my “Victorian” style skirts needs more overlap than the narrow zipper closure the waistband is designed for. I also cut pocket bags, shaped to attach to the waistband. This nicely keeps the pockets from pulling on the side seams, but in hindsight I should have cut them using the upper part of the side front pattern piece for the shape, as that would’ve been a good size and supported the pocket nicely. Also I didn’t add quite enough length to accommodate the pocket reaching the waistband, so the actual part of the bag below the hand opening is really shallow. Though my phone didn’t fall out at work when I put it there, so they’re functional.

I came incredibly close to underlining the entire skirt in (real cotton) flannel, but didn’t have enough that I was prepared to sacrifice, so I just went with a single modern-style layer. It makes for a swishier skirt anyway.

I spent a LONG time fussing with the pleats to fit them into the waistband, and they’re still not great.

In the pics the rear closure isn’t lying especially flat, but I’m hoping it’s just my pinning because I got impatient and wore this before I made a button hole for the closure so it’s just held on with a big safety pin.

I was hoping for an invisible hem with hand hemming, especially since it required a LOT of easing, but I don’t know that it’s much more invisible than a machine blind hem. Oh well. It’s done now.

It maybe says something about the weird state of my wardrobe right now, but I’m hopeful that this skirt will be a really practical addition.

Unfortunately, I still have about a mètre of the fabric left. I’m tempted to make a matching top, or at least waistcoat, to extend the historybounding look, but we’ll see.

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Refashion and repeats

I haven’t had the oomph to tackle anything big this fall, despite digging out some fabrics I’d like to use and some intense fall wardrobe capsule fantasizing. But words like “cottagecore” and “historybounding” have been inspiring me, and I’ve been puttering at an assortment of little things.

Tyo was looking for an elf-y white shirt for her Hallowe’en costume, and didn’t find quite what she was looking for in the house. However, her search inspired me (a few days after Hallowe’en) to pull out an old shirt my husband had retired as the sleeves weren’t really long enough. It was a bit of a romantic style, purchased from one of those booths that sells Central American hand-crafts at various festivals many years ago, with a bit of embroidery and a lace-up neck opening, but a standard round shirt collar and shirt cuffs. Since it became too small for my husband, it’s been kicking around in the “not in use but too cool to throw out” pile. (This pile is Too Big. But that’s another issue for another day.)

I cut off the sleeves just below the elbow. In hindsight maybe I should have cut them not quite so short, but I was thinking of Tyo and she finds it annoying when puffy sleeves flop down over the cuff, and her arms aren’t as long as mine. I hemmed the edges into a casing and added a narrow elastic for a blousy sleeve.

Also can I say I’m LOVING this outfit a lot more than I thought I would?

Then I cut a wide scoop neckline, starting just above the top of the neck lacing. I used one of the sleeve off-cuts to cut a series of on-grain strips, connected them together and pressed in the edges with a bias tape maker, and used that to bind the neckline. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the squishy, heavy-gauze type fabric curved around the neckline, even when cut on grain, but I should have stay-stitched or even slightly gathered the neckline first as the same squishiness of the fabric let it stretch out quite a bit under sewing, and the resulting neckline is a bit wide and deep for Tyo. It works ok on me, and hopefully will be ok for her—worst case I might unpick the back neck and add a pleat there or something.

Despite how long it took me to write all that, the entire mod was probably done in under an hour.

As I was musing over the shirt refashion, I still felt that I wanted a light/neutral coloured top with actual swishy sleeves, so I decided I needed another Adrienne Blouse. My previous versions are red and black, in heavy rayon knits. This one is a heathered oatmeal colour cotton knit, not nearly so drapey and a bit thinner, originally purchased from Blackbird Fabrics. I’m relieved to say the sleeves work just as well in this fabric, and the body still fits nicely (with just the right amount of ease). The elastic I used in the shoulders for this one is VERY firm, which makes the neck a little higher, and I wouldn’t mind if it were a smidge lower, but other than that I’d call it a pretty flawless make. There’s nothing like a TNT pattern when you just need a win. (Also, I’m going to be so sad when the big sleeve trend passes. I’ve always kinda liked puffed sleeves, and it is glorious to finally be able to revel in them without feeling slightly guilty that I’m too old or dignified for them.)

The only change I made with this version was to remove the extra sleeve length I had added. It’s not a huge difference in the look, and it saves a few inches of fabric. I’m excited to try it with some skirts and belts, but of course the twins goobered something dark right on the front about five minutes after I got home from it’s first wear, so my pictures are pretty limited.

So basically I just want to dig through my closet and play dress up figuring out all the possible outfit combos with these things… and I mean the twins would be all over the pulling out part, but they are still not too fond of the cleanup parts.

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Wee black bats

The twins came home from the NICU shortly before Hallowe’en two years ago. I was tickled by an impossible fantasy: tiny twin bat costumes. Well, those didn’t happen, and other costumes came our way last year but this year, the bats came home to roost.

It maybe starts with capes, though. The twins are getting to an age where they’re excited to dress up, but their motor skills are still about fifty-fifty whether they can put their own pants on. But capes—capes are easy to put on and off. (And also fairly simple to sew, which is bit an important feature in our current time-poor phase of life). Some of my older girls’ friends growing up had a dress up box filled with fancy capes their mom had made, a cape for every occasion.

So I’ve been thinking about capes off and on. And bats on and off. So maybe bat capes was inevitable.

First came the pattern. I wasn’t going to go out and buy one (although there are plenty available). A full-circle cape, while easy to draft, would be too fabric-hungry, especially if I’m making two. But I definitely still wanted a cloak feel, not a chincy superhero cape. Eventually I settled on a half-circle style, still plenty of swish but not quite as big of a fabric hog.

The clincher was the above diagram, which showed up in a Google image search from I don’t recall where. But it made it very clear how to adapt a half-circle cape from an existing shirt pattern. Which I already have, in a form complete with hood, in Jalie 3355, all traced out in the twins’ size (or at least size 2, which is close enough.)

The twins were, of course, terribly excited to help me out with the drafting.

So the only thing you really need from the original pattern is the neckline and the shoulder, which gives you the size of the dart to take to make the half-circle sit nicely on the shoulders. (I wouldn’t mind making a version that converts the dart into the top of a side seam, for more efficient fabric usage…)

And of course, the hood. I wanted to make sure, though, that the hood was nice and roomy. I’m a fan of a feature of the hood of McCall’s 6800, which is a dart that makes the oversized hood fit on the neckline. So I added about an inch of extra depth, to be taken out with a dart aligned with the shoulder seam, and then added about 1/4” of height as well, just in case, as the hood is designed for stretch fabrics.

My fabric of choice was a black polyester suiting, extremely drapey and exactly the kind of slithery, fraying, impossible-to-press fabric that I most loathe sewing with. But, it was in stash, and I was happy to have it not be in stash, and that was the main thing.

To bat-ify the cape, I made the hem reverse-scalloped, but the main thing is of course the ears.

I did a bit of googling of bat ears, and a bit more googling of methods for adding animal ears to hoods. I went with the “cut a slit in the top of the hood and sew the ears in, tapering to nothing” method. I free-handed a shape that seemed about right, directly on the fabric, and cut and sewed. Living dangerously, though honestly as long as they weren’t round I think they would be fine. They are a bit floppy due to the fabric; I thought about adding interfacing but since I wasn’t prepared to interface the whole hood I was pretty sure they’d fall down anyway. I think they’re still fun.

There is nothing much to say about the construction, other than the fabric was a bitch and every machine acted up on me.

The coverstitch (which NEVER gives me issues—nor should it at that price point) was gathering everything no matter how I played with the differential feed. My rolled hem on the serger worked fine in tests but on the actual cape managed to miss catching the cut edge and then form a giant tangle of thread around the prong that the fabric is supposed to roll around, and which actually bent the prong. So I may never do another rolled hem again. Then the regular machine had the inner end of the thread on my nearly-empty spool come loose and tangle with the outgoing end.

It turned out that literal gremlins, aka the the twins, had gotten at the differential feed of the coverstitch, and cranked it to max. However, since I NEVER touch it, I actually forgot where it is and I kept adjusting the presser foot pressure instead. Facepalm.

But, I got them done. River got her first training in pulling pins as I sewed and putting them in the pin cushion (this was ALMOST enthralling enough to keep her from pulling them right back out). The older girls provided childcare (husband is sick as a dog with the non-covid cold the rest of us are just getting over) enough for me to get them finished, despite the recalcitrant machines. And they are utterly, battily adorable, if I do say so myself.

My mother-in-law has suggested Red Riding Hood capes next, but really the sky’s the limit, right?

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Dark Academia

Is apparently a thing? And the older girls want to assemble outfits and take pictures. So they have been collecting, among other things, pleated plaid skirts, which are apparently having a Moment again.

So they thought the twins needed some too.

A few months ago Tyo picked up an old plaid flannel duvet cover at Value Village, purely for the fabric. While flannel isn’t exactly ideal for this kind of skirt, I wasn’t going to go stash-diving, or sacrifice anything precious, for this quick make. Also, the edge where the buttons had attached was already hemmed.

So, I measured roughly what seemed like a good skirt length for a two-year-old, plus a bit for folding over elastic, and tore off the long, hemmed edge. Oh, I removed the buttons, too, in case you were wondering. Once I had a long, hemmed rectangle, I cut it in half (because twins) and started pleating. In the end I didn’t have quite enough fabric for fully-pleated skirts, so they have a flat front reminiscent of a kilt, which I am ok with.

The wavy hem is not my fault!

Once I had lengths a bit bigger than the twins’ bottoms, I stitched them up into a tube, and added elastic at the waist, so they pull on just like pyjama bottoms.

Action shot. Also: first fashion dolls!

The only hitch was actually that time-saving pre-finished hem from the original duvet. Of course the fabric was cut, and then hemmed, off-grain, while I had torn the upper edge of the skirt so as to be perfectly on grain, so the hems didn’t line up perfectly when I sewed the skirts into tubes. To manage this I unpicked a few inches at each end and then “blended” (aka fudged) the two lengths together, and the jog isn’t overly noticeable. They definitely won’t take home any sewing awards, but they’re still pretty cute.

I will add, I finished these several weeks ago and am still waiting on the older girls to put together their photo shoot. So, you get messy living-room action shots.

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Simple white T-shirts

(I made these shirts, and wrote this post, months ago, but never hit publish because I wanted better photos. I should never do that; it never works out. So if the twins look vastly different in age between pictures, that’s why.)

There’s been a debate in the sewing community over the years on the value of making tee shirts, when they’re so readily and cheaply available. Obviously I’m on “team make it anyway, at least if it’s fun for you.” But I did question my sanity a bit on deciding to make these. Surely there are plain white toddler tee shirts to be had fairly easily for a couple of bucks? But in the end I’m glad I made them.

I’ve honestly been wanting to make the twins shirts like these since I finished their Christmas overalls. I held off because, well, see above about tee shirts, and when we switched over to the 18-month clothes the volume of hand-me-downs in their wardrobe doesn’t even fit in their dresser, plus their dad has made a bit of a hobby of scouring thrift shops for matching second-hand baby outfits—he enjoys the challenge. Frankly he’s a better baby stylist than me. But he has increased the number of overalls in their wardrobe substantially, and one thing you are NOT likely to find at the thrift store is multiple white unstained toddler shirts. So these were actually a practical addition.

Look how much more hair River has now than when I took the pics with the overalls!

For the pattern, I used Jalie 2805, which I had traced the smallest size way back when I made the white sweatshirts. The Jalie size F (=2T, I’m told) is still pretty roomy on the twins, but this is also a pretty fitted style. I figured I’d start with the short sleeve because a) summer, and b) no worries about excess length.

And I already have the fabrics and the patterns, so might as well, right?

And the shirts are a little bit big, but that also means they’ll fit for a comfortable length of time.

The fabric is a beefy cotton interlock I bought at some point when thinking I would make tee shirts for my husband. It turns out he’s ridiculously fussy about tees, both fit and feel, and while I won’t swear that I’ll never try again (because finding him a tee he’ll wear at a store is also pretty hit or miss) it won’t be with this fabric, which apparently doesn’t “feel right.” I was actually looking for a cotton Lycra for the twins but this seemed pretty good for a start so I ended my stash search.

Other than that there’s not much to say. The construction is simple. I will brag a little as I think I’m finally making some progress with the precision of my topstitching on the coverstitch (although the hems aren’t quite as tidy.) The heavier fabric is a little puffy, but I also could probably have pressed better. Making a garment entirely on the serger and coverstitch still feels a bit like cheating, though.

Oh and they probably wouldn’t even be finished if I hadn’t needed to change the thread on the coverstitch to make Syo’s grad gown…. (But that’s another story for another day!)

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The Sundress that Missed Summer

So I blinked and my summer disappeared, how about yours? We got ourselves caught up in some renovation that spiraled far out of control and I’m still reeling from it. Not to mention two year old twins are a HANDFUL. anyway, when I started this sundress there was still a comfortable amount of summer left ahead—now it’s finally finished, it’s Labour Day. I don’t know why the stupid thing about not wearing white after labour day is the one fashion rule I feel anxious about breaking but, well, there it is. Anyway.

The dress is loosely based on a tutorial By Hand London posted in their Instagram stories, I thought last spring but apparently a year ago in the spring? Anyway it’s a simple shirred sundress with rectangular puffy sleeves added, so to what extent a tutorial is really necessary I’ll leave up to you.

The real experiment for this dress, though, was using my coverstitch machine to do the shirring. No hand-winding the elastic into bobbins that always run out at the worst moment! This experiment was inspired by me noticing that the twins’ shirred storebought dresses are, in fact, stitched with a chain stitch. Which my coverstitch can, of course, do.

I tested it out, and it worked fabulously (or potentially fabulously, see below). I will be doing my shirring on the coverstitch from now on!

However, the villain of this particular make (aside from my house for forcing me to spend the summer renovating instead of sewing) was actually my elastic thread. I had a whole spool of the cheap stuff (I do know better, but it wound up in my stash somehow, and if I waited until I made it to a fabric store to buy actual good elastic thread, the whole thing would’ve been left ANOTHER year. .) And it was not evident at the start, but at some point this spool got water-damaged, and as the project proceeded the thread became more and more grody and decayed—and stuck to itself more and more, which caused endless problems with the shirring. So there’s a non-zero chance that after the first washing I’ll have to unpick and redo that entire step, which I won’t lie, is kind of horrifying. So we’re just not going to think about it right now.

The fabric was purchased from Fabricland in my last year or so of working there, which makes it five or six years old? Yikes! I’m always a sucker for border embroideries and this one is near the nicest I’ve seen, although the stitching quality isn’t the best. I wanted to use all of the three or so mètres I had, so I decided to add a gathered seam above the top of the embroidery, so I could have a little less fabric bulk in the upper portion.

It did require lining, though. One of the biggest delays in starting the dress was in finding the time to locate an appropriate lightweight cotton in stash. However, eventually I did… my stash organization is pretty rudimentary, which given my stash SIZE is not ideal.

I stitched the cotton voile lining to the outer fabric along the top and then flipped them so that edge was pre-finished, then shirred away through both layers. I was a bit nervous about the two layers feeding evenly and not getting distorted, but if there was any shifting the gathering hides it well. I sewed the back seam after. I cut the lining short so it doesn’t show through the cut-out lacework, however. Other than the piece of lining I cut off, though, this is a zero-waste dress—the sleeves dimensions were determined by what I had left over from the bodice.

Because of my issues with the thread, I stopped my bodice shirring higher than I had meant to, but I actually think I really like where it lands. When and if I get more (better) thread, I might add a few more rows, but not many.

I did need to tweak the attachment of the sleeves a bit, in the hopes of keeping them on my shoulders a bit better (it helped but they do still tend to fall down—a ribbon tie across the back may be needed). I also ran a line of 1/4” elastic around the top to try to help keep things up better, especially when the sleeves fall of my shoulders, but there still isn’t a huge difference between my high bust and full bust so this kind of support doesn’t work well for me.

The only thing missing, I fear, is pockets. Side seam weren’t an option (since there are no side seams) and patch just didn’t seem right. Also there’s that gathered seam right over prime pocket territory. I don’t know if it’ll be too much of an issue as I think this is going to have to be more of a special occasion dress anyway.

Assuming I can get out the weird pink stain one of the twins left on it already…

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Camouflage pinafores

There’s a pattern by Helen’s Closet for a simple, pull-over adult pinafore, called the York Pinafore. I made one a few years ago, here. Well, a few weeks ago I got it into my head that matching mini Yorks for the twins would be adorable.

Can you spot the pocket?

I had actually started taking some measurements and drafting a pattern when I realized that I already had one—the stretchy overalls I made the twins over the winter are actually the exact same shape, minus the legs.

So I grabbed a kangaroo pocket in the twins size from Jalie 3355, and a yard of camo-print corduroy that I wasn’t sad to see go from the stash, and made them.

This was a simple project that would’ve been quick under any normal circumstances, but I can rarely “sew” for more than ten minutes at a stretch these days (Though the twins are very interested and excited to help me sort through everything, especially if it involves pins or pulling thread off of spools.)

For the bias tape finish I used some red quilting cotton tape I had made at some point for… something? Anyway it was in stash and ready to go. My application wasn’t particularly perfect, but I’m not going to fuss too badly about it. I do like the pop of colour.

My least favourite part is the hem; I did a quick blind hem on my machine, but in the black thread it’s not the least bit blind. I should’ve used a tan thread and just coloured the bits that showed with a sharpie. Or just topstitched the hem like the bias tape, which would’ve been easier. But I don’t think it will bother me enough to change—sewing time is too precious and summer is too fleeting.

Despite the cuteness these are a bit heavy for the weather we’re having, which has most days reaching higher than 30C, so I’ll just have to hope they still fit come fall…

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The Graduate

Thanks to COVID-19 it was a very strange, sad year to graduate high school. Syo (now seventeen, not seven) missed out on a lot this year—school musical, dance classes, Pom and cheer, and while our schoolboard never did shut down in person class this year, there has been a system of alternating days to keep the in-class numbers low, so there’s many friends she hasn’t even seen at class all year.

The one thing we were determined to make as normal as possible—a proper, handmade grad dress.

We started off strong. Syo did a concept drawing last fall and we purchased fabric back before Hallowe’en. Over Christmas we began making mock-ups, first perfecting a strapless knit “block” that fit to her liking, and then testing several iterations of the cowl-like neckline she wanted.

Please note: slightly draped neckline and asymmetrical side gathers.

And then in March, staring down the barrel of the “last mock up,” it was confirmed that there would be no big grad ceremony as our region entered its third wave of the pandemic. And we both lost steam. Even though I had told both her and myself that she deserved the dress with or without the ceremony or the party.

But finally, in early June, I put on my big girl panties and asked if she really wanted to finish it. And she did.

Commence panic.

We had to draft the final pattern. Half-circle full length skirt, in one piece with an asymmetrical bodice with ruching on one side only. The skirt wound up being too wide for the fabric. We were able to narrow it slightly for the red under layer, but the problem was much bigger for the black mesh overlay, which was a slightly narrower fabric with an even bigger pattern piece in the front. (In the back we added a CB seam to compensate)

This is where I made my biggest mistake. I should’ve just let the pattern hang off the edge of the fabric and cut the full length. Instead, thinking it would be covered by the lace, I made the decision to skip the bottom most portion of the front skirt. This did not work out—thé degree of coverage of the lace’s mesh was much less than the stretch mesh, so we had to add a big piece of stretch mesh to the bottom. Syo is less bothered by it than I am, fortunately. And actually, when it’s on and the skirt is draping in its folds it’s not at all noticeable.

Yes, she insisted the slit be that high.

There were a few other hiccoughs in construction. She really wanted to be able to move the straps either up onto her shoulders or draping down off of them, which is fine but wasn’t working out with the back portion of the strap, so at the last moment we had to cut that off. And her desire for a cut-out back with lacing (absent in that original sketch, you may note) made EVERYTHING more complicated.

The back-lacing ribbon extending to attach to the straps (with a black lingerie ring to look fancy although they’re not really visible) was a last minute remedy, and I think it works well even though it wasn’t part of the original vision.

And yes, it’s one of the most striking features of the finished gown and I didn’t get ANY actual pictures of it on her on the Day?!?

It took a fair bit of fussing to get the side gathers right, and the weight of the lace on the hem pulled them down in a way not really intended.

The biggest and hardest part, though, was appliqueing the lace on to the bottom of the skirt. It was a full-width lace fabric, and I had originally expected to use rather more of it than just the wide scalloped borders, but it became obvious that it was going to be much simpler to fit just the border to the curve (there was still a lot of snipping and overlapping) and then appliqué isolated lace medallions trailing up the skirt after. Although that last bit did not happen due to time constraints.

So many pins…

I’ve done lace-play a couple of times before, and it’s incredibly fun to mix, match, and reshape motifs into the shape you need. But the scale of this, and the tight time constraint, was new. Not to mention the fact that I would be appliqueing non-stretch lace into a stretch mesh.

Placement was the first issue—the weight of the lace pulled down on the stretch mesh so that I had to raise everything at least an inch from where it “should” have been. Getting everything as flat as possible was the second issue, and there are still areas that ended up stretched and puckered despite my best efforts. In hindsight, backing the whole thing with a layer of wash-away stabilizer might have been helpful, but I didn’t think of that until I was well into the weeds. Or or having the time to hand-baste everything, but see above about time crunch.

As it is, I did my preliminary placement on the dress form and then refined and smoothed things out as I went along. We’ll just pretend it adds texture and depth to the lace.

We had to ditch the idea of further lace medallions scattered up the skirt due to time, but I did add fusible interfacing to a lace motif to make an appliqué for the top of the skirt slit.

Every bit as impractical as they look.

When one is playing with lace, you have to go for it, so we also added little lace motifs to her shoes and, of course, a mask. (This involved some last minute hand-stitching the morning of.)

(Made the mask back last summer, just added lace to match the dress)

The graduation ceremony was modified into a kind of conveyer-belt style where each grad and family group was moved in in turn, and each got to walk across the stage and receive their diploma from the principal, one by one. It was more than I expected, frankly, and what it lacked in gravitas was made up for in photo-ops, although Syo may not feel the same.

The biggest problem in the end was that the weight of the skirt pulled down on what is, essentially, a strapless knit dress. I’m not sure how we could anchor it better, however, as it’s hard to add a waist stay to a knit (power mesh panels?) without creating bulges.

Anyway, she got many gorgeous photos although I didn’t manage to take any of the back! and I didn’t manage to capture the details of the dress all that well. But the best one remains this snap of her looking at Tris, taken just as we left for the ceremony.

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Unnecessary Jeggings

Or, Thing You Can Sew During Naptime

I haven’t been able to do much naptime sewing lately, but I managed a wee bit today, and for some reason, I made the twins jeggings.

I mean, I like jeggings. They have a couple of RTW pairs that that are getting pretty janky and are also nine month size (and the twins, while fairly shrimpy, are getting a bit tall for that at almost 21 months)

But they also have eighty million other pants and we’re fast approaching shorts season.

Anyway, as jeggings go these ones are pretty minimal—no pockets or back yoke or anything. I started with the same basic Jalie leggings pattern (2920), in the F size (size 2), which I’ve used for other leggings for them in the past. The only changes I made were to add a fly extension at the front crotch, to support the mock-fly topstitching, and to add about 1” of length and a bit of width to the bottom of the leg, for a more “pants” and less “leggings” fit.

The fabric is this glorious heavy “denim” knit I bought a ridiculous amount of back when I worked at Fabricland, and I wouldn’t mind making myself another pair of jeggings from it if I can motivate myself.

I did the topstitching again using the triple straight stitch on my vintage Elna, which is both ridiculously fast and better looking than the same stitch on my Janome, although it’s a little hit or miss. Since I was working with 1/4” seam allowances and the only way to topstitch the inseam on leggings is to sew up the inside of the tube, which is always a bit tricky, I opted for a single row of topstitching everywhere except the “fly”, and I’m pretty happy with that choice. (Also, a lot faster)

Anyway, they fit fairly “loosely” as leggings go, and there’s plenty of length, so even if they don’t get much wear over the summer I’m sure they will still fit come fall.

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Cold mess jeans

I’d call these jeans a hot mess, but they took way too long for that.

Sometime last year, amidst a tentative return to sewing when the twins started napping a little more reliably, I started work on a second pair of Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans. I need jeans pretty badly; while I did get back into my last few pairs after having the twins, they were on their last legs already. I’ve been a bit, ah, ambivalent about jeans for a few years now, mainly because the body I have to put in them has changed over the last ten years, as has the prevailing fashion, and I’m not sure how I feel about either fact.

But anyway, another pair of Ginger Jeans felt fairly safe stylistically. My last pair (which just need a new button, except the twins have managed to lose all of my jeans buttons somehow?) weren’t perfect but I was pretty comfortable with a few tweaks they’d be… as good as they could be. My pocket placement is a lot better this time, although they’re still too far out from the CB seam, at least they aren’t too low.

The fabric I picked is a Robert Kaufman extra-stretchy denim from Periwinkle Quilting, which is VERY, very stretchy. The fabric I used last time was also very stretchy, so it seemed like a good choice especially given my measurements have changed and there was no way in hell I was reprinting my pattern.

Anyway, I got them cut out, and then promptly ran into issues with the topstitching. This denim is so stretchy that not only was I worried about topstitching breaking (not so much the topstitching thread itself but the regular thread on the underside), but in my last version one of the issues was the yoke seam and pocket tops making dents in my backside because they didn’t stretch as much as the rest. Not the prettiest look. So after a bunch of testing on several machines, I settled on a triple straight stitch on my Elna machine. This gives a great heavy look, and it’s very stretchy, as long as everything works perfectly—but it’s also easy to mess up. Oh, and at this point I’d already done the front pocket and fly assembly (which are all stabilized by the pocket bags etc.) with a regular straight stitch topstitching. So now the back topstitching wouldn’t match the front, but I figured that was better than tight lines and broken stitches.

Anyway, I started plugging away at construction last summer, arguably the heyday of my post-twin sewing (I wasn’t back at work yet and I was getting to do at least a few minutes of sewing almost every day at nap time)… and then halfway through topstitching the inseam I ran out of topstitching thread. (Because the triple straight stitch is a huge thread hog)

In the old days this would’ve been a negligible issue. In a covid-lockdown world where I no longer work at a fabric store and have twin babies I don’t like to take shopping, it took weeks to get to a store and pick up some more, only to misremember the colour number and get the OTHER shade of gold topstitching thread. And then months to get back again to correct that. It was October by the time I had the right thread (which still isn’t perfectly right because of dye lots, but it’ll do), and I was back at work and very short on time. I did manage to sew up the side-seams and get them fitted sometime around Christmas, but there were other projects that took priority and then the whole jeans vanished, somewhere in the drifts of chaos as the twins disassembled ever increasing portions of our basement.

Anyway, when the Sewcialists’ final theme month was announced as All Butts Welcome, it seemed like the perfect prod to get me to finish the jeans. And they did turn up, after a few weeks of incremental tidying (in an area I swear I’d searched several times before). So I plunged back in. Except.

After the long hiatus, a lot of the details were fuzzy to me. I forgot that I was topstitching on the Elna. I grabbed the wrong colour topstitching thread. Triple straight stitch is almost impossible to pick out, people, especially when sewn on my Janome, which for some reason will only stitch that particular stitch at the default 2.2mm length—which is why I was using the Elna, not that I remembered that until after I had topstitched the waistband. Can I call it a design feature?

An extra line of not-very-straight topstitching is a legit design detail, right?

Then I realized that I had forgotten I ran out of topstitching thread partway through topstitching the inseam. So one inseam had only one line of topstitching, while the other side had two. I wasn’t prepared to roll with this, so I got the Elna set up. The stitch was perfect on my test, but for whatever reason, as I painstakingly stitched up the inside of the already-sewn leg tube, the backward-forward motion of the triple stitch was off, and because you can’t see much of what you’re stitching, I couldn’t see how bad it was until I got it done. It’s pretty bad. But it’s just half an inseam, right? It went on to topstitch the hems perfectly. The back and forward of this stitch can be affected by you pulling on the fabric, which is hard not to do when stitching up the inside of a tube, but I swear I was very conscious and careful of this. Anyway. I’m not currently willing to try it again.

Can you spot the wonky line of topstitching? I mean, of course you can but it’s less obvious in this photo than I thought it would be, actually.

As a final insult, I ran out of the gold regular thread I use for bar-tacks halfway through doing the belt loops. (Doing bar tacks in topstitching thread on home sewing machines is asking for it, I have learned painfully over the years.) Fortunately a scrounge through the thread drawer turned up some old thread from my Grandma’s stash in the right colour. Mostly I try not to use the old thread for construction as I don’t trust it’s strength, but for bar tacks on belt loops that won’t likely be used, it should be ok.

No, wait, maybe the final insult was discovering that the twins have managed to lose all my little jars of jeans buttons (I have quite a few, but they’ve been systematically emptying the drawers of my sewing desk for months and I have no idea where I put most of the contents. I miss my storage space.) Or maybe it was the half-ass attempt at a keyhole button hole that my Janome managed to put out, but I have low expectations for jeans buttonholes so I wasn’t too traumatized at that point. Although looking at the pictures, I realized I made the buttonhole too far from the end of the waistband, which allows the end to flip up and stick out a bit. I’m thinking a hook and eye or two might be called for, since I’m not moving button or button hole at this point.

At any rate, it was a pretty sweet triumph to finally put them on, and then be able to take some quick pictures right away.

I’m still not really sold on high-rise jeans on my body—I don’t have a teeny waist and I feel like they just make me look rectangular. My squishier mid-section has made my old low-rise stand-by less appealing, and mid-rise falls right in the middle of my “squishiness”, which is either uncomfortable and just squishes extra width up to my waist, or if it’s loose enough not to squish, just rolls down to the hip dip at my low-rise level. On the other hand, I’m not the sort to tuck a shirt into jeans, and I’m not likely to wear a crop-top like this out of the house. So maybe it really doesn’t matter anyway. Anyway, I’ve worn them and I will continue wearing them, and they feel pretty good on although a little too stretchy. But I may give in and buy my next pair of jeans, because I really don’t have the brain power for this kind of project right now.

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