Named Clothing | Alexandria Peg Trousers

I’ve long admired many patterns by Named Clothing, and yet it’s taken me until now to make any of their designs. It’s silly, because they draft for a taller woman, and I definitely fit that demographic. Well, aside from my weirdly petite upper body… totally out of proportion to the rest of me. Anyhoodle… I picked up the Alexandria Peg Trousers when they had a sale a few weeks back. I’ve made True Bias’ Hudson Pants and I wear them all the time (oops, never blogged!), so I thought a less sweat pant looking alternative would be really nice for actually leaving the house in. I found a rayon twill at JoAnn’s in a nice olive color and thought they would be a perfect match.

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First a bit about the pattern. I got the .pdf version, which includes two sizes per file (you get all the sizes, they’re just not nested like other patterns) with seam allowances included. I thought it was pretty handy to have the SA line drawn in, as I typically need to grade between different sizes for the waist and hip. I lucked out in that the two sizes I needed happened to be in the same file, so it wasn’t all that difficult to compare the two and make the necessary alterations. Even though it should have been simple I made it as complicated as possible. Way to go, self. For the back piece I took width off at the outer seam from waist to hip, then at the CB seam from the waist to maybe 4″ or so down (just above the bum, since i need plenty of room there). Then the front piece is where I made things difficult; sine there are pockets and pleats it was kind of a mind-bender as to where to grade in or out. But if you need to grade down for the waist, just take the extra width off the side seam (most of which is pocket) from waist to hip and call it a day. The pocket opening is far enough in from the side seam that you won’t mess up the proportions.

My fabric (rayon twill) was a real pain to work with; it’s nearly impossible to cut on grain, it’s shifty, it’s fray-prone, and stretches out of shape easily. It has so much drape that the fabric itself kind of bags out under its own weight. Because of that, the pants seem to have drag lines all up and down the seams. Kind of a bummer really. To be honest, I was super unhappy with the pants when I tried them on mid-construction as I was testing the elastic length. The rise was so high, they looked like clown pants! I tossed them aside for a few days as I contemplated whether or not to even finish them.

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Buuuuut I really, really hate to leave projects unfinished, so I decided to try and save them. I basted the pleats down to keep them in place so I could lower the rise. I cut 1″ off the front, tapering to 1/2″ at the back (I usually need to add extra to the back rise for boo-tay coverage, otherwise I would have done 1″ all around). I cut a new waistband, which I made about 1/2″ longer to compensate for the lower rise. I finished the pants, tried them on and was so much happier with them! Completely turned around how I felt about these pants.

However, even though I’m happy with how they look on me, they’re still oddly restrictive when I sit. I have to kinda pull the legs up to sit down, then they’re a little snug in the thighs, and tight at the knee and calf. It’s possible I should have lengthened them (I’m 5’8″—most of my height being in my legs…) as I don’t think I have particularly large calfs (13.5″). So in the end I have mixed thoughts about these pants, just not for the reasons I anticipated while I was in the throes of construction. Ultimately, I don’t think I’ll return to this silhouette in a woven fabric, but rather stick to knits.

Now to switch gears… The tee I’m wearing is a Grainline Studio Scout Tee, made in a rayon/poly blend knit. The poly is a bit eh but I super love this tee anyway. I think for a slouchy tee, the scout will always be my go-to pattern. The only thing I did differently here was scoop the sleeve hem up slightly at the center (3/8″ or so) so it doesn’t sit as straight across. Then I used my possibly favorite neck binding method of sewing the binding to the right side at a 1/2″ SA, then pressing the binding up and around the raw edge, then top stitching in place. I think this looks better than a banded finish, and involves less guesswork regarding how long to cut, or how tight to stretch the binding strip.

All in all, I’m pleased with my experience with Named patterns, and I look forward to making more of their offerings. I’ve seen the Inari tee/dress made up so many times (and I love every one) that I really want to give it a whirl. And they have new designs coming out very soon… can’t wait to see what they’ll be releasing!

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lisa g.

a “probably different than you’ve seen before” flat-felled seam tutorial

Many months ago, I was deep internet researching jeans-related construction, and came across a forum convo about flat-felled seams. I can’t remember exactly where this was posted (pattern review maybe?) but I tucked that info away in mah brain and pretty much forgot about it until now. I pulled out some denim for a pair of jean shorts and decided to do some testing on scraps. I was pretty excited about how my seams came out (as were you!) that I immediately tried another sample and snapped pics. Like I said, I didn’t come by this method independently, so if you’ve seen this discussed elsewhere, give me a holler so I can give credit where credit is due. [*UPDATE* Found it! It was a pattern review thread… I can’t seem to link directly to the convo, but it’s under “sewing techniques and tips>how to sew RTW style flat felled jeans seam.”]

There are two things that have always bothered me about the center back crotch seam on jeans (now there’s something only someone who sews might say…). First, the way things are usually constructed, the seam allowances are pressed to one side of the seam line. This means that the top stitching is not centered, and the pockets are not equidistant from the top stitching. You can space the back pockets differently on each side to offer a little more symmetry, but ultimately I would prefer a centered seam. The second thing that annoys me is that the original stitching line can end up looking a little bit strained. Even though the seam is perfectly secure from all the lines of stitching, sometimes you end up pulling on the original seam and you’ll see the lighter part of the denim showing through. Hard to explain that one, but if you’ve ever noticed this, you know what I’m getting at.

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METHOD 1 | 3/8″ SA

I’m going to show two slightly different methods. The first method requires a 3/8″ SA, and is particularly useful on thicker fabrics because the final seam ends up with only 3 layers of fabric. (Click on the photos to enlarge)

Take the fabrics you will be joining, abut them, and sew a wide zig zag stitch to join them. Do not overlap the fabric. It doesn’t matter what thread you use, because this stitching will be hidden at the end.

This part gets difficult to explain, so bear with me and when in doubt, refer to the photos. Press the fabric just to one size of the zig zag stitching (about 3/16″ from the abutted edge), then turn to the other side and do the same. If you look at a cross section, your fabric will form a “Z”. The abutted seams are on the inside of the folds and completely covered.

Top stitch from the right side, then make a second pass, which will just catch the folded edge on the wrong side. I like to use my blind hem foot as a guide, and I found that the folded ridge on the under side is lumpy enough that the foot can follow it for the second pass. This eliminates any guesswork or need to sew from the wrong side. Given that most machines have difficulty producing a nice stitch with top stitching thread in the bobbin, this is most useful!

At the begining I had marked the 3/8″ SA, and you can see that my marking is neatly centered. Also, you will note that the finished seam has three layers of fabric, making it perfect for thicker fabrics.

METHOD 2 | 1/2″ SA

The second method is essentially the same as the first, but it ends up being a little bulkier, and requires a 1/2″ SA.

Start by pressing one of the SA’s to the right side by 1/4″, and the other SA to the wrong side by 1/4″. Open it up, and overlap the pressed SA’s, using the pressed line as a guide.

Once overlapped, run a line of basting stitches down the center. Again, thread doesn’t matter, the stitching will be hidden in the final seam.

Since the seams have already been pressed, top stitch as before: first at the outer folded edge, then again along the inside folded edge. Since the fabrics are overlapped instead of abutted, you end up with 4 layers of fabric in the seam.

You can see from my chalked marking that I got off ever so slightly, but this is a sample and a super unprofessional blog, so I didn’t feel compelled to re-do it.

It occurs to me that you could also mark 1/4″ on one SA, overlap the other fabric, baste, then press the seams after basting. Give it a go on some scraps and see what works for you.

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Before you ask, I did try the first method (though not the second) on a curved edge in order to simulate the back crotch seam of jeans. I found that I had absolutely no issues with the curve. If anything it was easier because all the top stitching was closer to the edge of the fabric. When you press a curved edge to one side, the edge of the fabric is shorter than the line where you would be top stitching. You can clip the curve if you are faux flat-felling, but the seam will be inherently weaker. That’s not to say you’re in danger of splitting your jeans, but if there’s a better way I’m all for it. I hope you give this a try!

—lisa g.

floral blouse | Simplicity 1106

I wanted a quick top out of a rayon challis I picked up on clearance at JoAnn’s recently (seriously, I’ve found some great fabrics there lately!). I was originally going to make something a little more detailed, but the heat and humidity has zapped all the energy outta me. Instead, I decided to sew up a simple kimono sleeve top using Simplicity 1106. There’s nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering about this pattern, it’s just a nice, simple top.

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I made view D, which has a front pocket and cute cutout detail in the back. However, I omitted the cutout because I was afraid it would dip below my bra. I meant to measure the cutout so I could see for future reference but I’ve already folded all the tissue up and put it away… oops.

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I always seem to have a problem with tops being too big on top, so I gambled and traced off an XS at the neckline and bust (I measured at the top of the S range), then graded out to the M for the hem. My shoulders may border on the narrow side (I think? Not sure what the standard is for shoulder width though), and the XS turned out to be perfect. The fit through the hip was a little more fitted than I had anticipated, but that’s partially due to the length of the top, which I cut down. I took 2″ off the hem, and 2.5″ off at the side seams to give it a little more of a shirttail. I think this shortened length is good for either tucking in or leaving out.

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The top isn’t actually tight around my hips, I just have the front tucked in this picture.

I know most people (it seems) have a real hate for facings, but I was pleased to find that that is the method used by this pattern. Of course you could always sub a bias facing if that’s your jam, or if your fabric is on the sheer side. I top stitched the facing at 1/2″ to give it a subtle “design feature” element.

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Overall I’m pleased with this top, though I wish I would have paid more attention when cutting! I managed to get the only dead space of the print front and center, with the brightest flowers cutting into the neckline. Meh. The pattern placement on the back looks great, so I’m really bummed that I didn’t get similar placement on the front. Live and learn!

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I should mention that my shorts are another modified Thurlow made in linen. I loved my first pair so much, that I quickly cut out a second pair, and both have been in constant rotation!

—lisa g.

a campy blouse | McCalls 6512

I wanted to make a breezy summer top with a cotton voile I picked up at Joann’s. I went pattern diving in my stash and pulled out one I’ve had for years, but never sewed up—McCalls 6512. I love all the details on this pattern and the unique style lines, I don’t know why I waited so long to sew it! I was hesitant to use a voile because I thought it might end up too boxy and shapeless, but I think it worked out great.

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In fact, the cotton made all the fiddly details a breeze to construct. This top has pleated pockets, pocket flaps, an inset front panel, sleeve tabs, collar band, button band… the works. It’s hard to see all the details in this print, so here’s the line drawing.

Based on the finished measurements, I sewed a size 10 grading out to a 12 for the waist/hip. That comes out to be one size down in the bust, and two sizes down at the hip. The fit is a little roomy on top, but nothing terrible. I could probably have done an 8 on top, but I’m happy with the fit from the waist down. I’m beginning to think that I have square-ish shoulders, which is leading to some front and back neckline gaping (not just here, but patterns in general), so that’s another thing I’ll start to watch out for. I did lengthen the back hem by 1″ because I like a longer back hemline, just not as extreme as view B shows.

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As far as construction goes, I pretty much followed the directions (GASP). I did add extra top stitching at the button band and collar. The pockets called for two rows of stitching, so I figured top stitching the button band and collar wasn’t totally out of line. Also, the pattern suggested some pretty extensive interfacing, which I felt would be too much for this fabric. I opted to use my lightest fusible for the pocket flaps, sleeve tabs, and button placket, and only interfaced one side to keep it flexible. I went with a slightly heavier fusible for the collar so it would retain its shape.

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This shirt in voile definitely has a campy/safari vibe, so I decided to embrace it and pair it with the khaki Moss Skirt I made a couple years back. I would like to eventually make this blouse in rayon, which I think would give it a completely different look. This was such a fun pattern to make, but I think it may be out of print. Snatch it up if you ever find it, it’s a real gem!

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—lisa g.

a very loud alder shirtdress

Hey guys! June was a major whirlwind around these parts, with school finishing up and the accompanying busyness that ensues. Then we took off for our family vacation as soon as school was out and were gone for almost two weeks. We drove cross country, from (west of) Boston all the way to my home town in the middle of Kansas. It’s about a 24 hour drive, but with kids who have bladders the size of a walnut, it ends up being much, much longer. Oy. Not my favorite trek, but flights to KS (for a family of six) are just crazy expensive. We managed to visit some friends and family both coming and going in order to convince ourselves that it was worth the effort!

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Anyway, we’re back now, so here is a Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress I furiously sewed up before our trip. I jumped on this pattern the second it came out, but have only sewed it up once. THE SHAME! But I’ve had a hard time finding the right fabric since I needed it to be opaque, but not so stiff that it would be difficult to gather or not hang nicely. My dive of a fabric shop, Sewfisticated, stepped up to the plate and delivered this super awesome fabric. It’s a cotton sateen, but light weight enough to be a shirting fabric. It has the right drape and it’s perfectly opaque and the pattern is a large scale paisley. I could hardly believe my luck! Man I love that shop. Hardly anything is priced above $4/yd, unless it’s silk or wool.

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As I cut the dress out, I began to doubt my choice of admittedly very loud fabric. However, giant paisley=awesome so I kept at it. I’m very glad I did, because I think it’s a super fun dress. It wasn’t super fun finding buttons though. Purple is a pretty difficult color to match, and JoAnn’s yielded nothing. Shocking. Eventually I found something passable at Fabric Basement. Is it too picky to say that I prefer a four hole button when it comes to button ups? I suppose it can be forgiven since it’s a women’s dress and not a men’s shirt, but whatever. Random note: The pattern and website says you need 9 buttons, but you actually need 10. I had to leave off the last buttonhole because my buttons came in a pack of 3, and thus I only bought 9 buttons!

Fitting tweaks:

I’ve made view A before, so I had a good idea of the fitting tweaks I would need. I cut a 6 in the bodice with a teeny tiny SBA. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t even need to bother because the dart is fairly small to begin with. On the front, I graded the side seam out to the 8 (per my measurements) but left the back at a 6. My lower back is narrow and I would have been tempted to add darts for shaping, so I figured keeping the smaller size would have similar effect. Last time I raised the bust darts and armholes, but really what I needed was a petite adjustment, which is easier anyway. I shortened the bodice above the bust by 1/2″ and now everything is in place. I think I still added 1/4″ or so the the armholes, because I detest low armholes. Also, I feel as though I should raise the pockets by another 1/2″ or so, because the current placement kinda flattens my chest a bit, visually.

For the skirt portion, I cut a 10 (per my hip measurement). Then I sliced and lengthened the skirt by 1″ at the L/S line. I do wish I had another 1/2″ to 1″ in length, because I feel a bit exposed as is. The side curves up and feels really short, but I love the swoop of the back hemline. I carry my width in my thighs, so I feel mildly porky with my small upper body, skinny ankles, but thick thighs. Oh well… I will continue to wear this dress and hopefully make a few more in time!

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So that’s that. Great pattern, fit, style… everything. I’ll be sewing this up every time I find Alder-appropriate fabric!

—lisa g.

Southport Dress | True Bias

The Southport Dress by True Bias was a pattern I snatched up right away. It’s just so perfect for summer throw it on and look like I tried wear. Everyone seems to be making this dress in rayon, but I’ve been dying for a linen dress, so I went that route. Plus, I think it’s more helpful to fit a pattern using fabric with less drape. My fabric is another one of those nice linen/rayon blends from Joanns (this one, while it’s still available).

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I modified the bodice slightly to skip the button front and to eliminate the dart. This pattern is drafted for C cup (in sewing terms) and my measurements put me in an A. My upper bust is 33″, and full is 34″. Normally, I would take my upper bust measurement and add 3″ to select which size to make (for a C cup draft), then remove 2″ in a SBA. However, I went with a size 6 bodice (for a 35″ bust) and took out 1/2″ (1″ total), then went ahead and closed out the dart completely. I was left with a teeny tiny 1/2″ dart, so really what was the point? As it happens, closing out the dart added exactly the length I needed back into the waist seam.

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After trying the dress on, the bodice was just huge on me. I went back in and pinched out 1/2″ on the side seam under the arm, tapering to nothing, thus removing an extra 2″. Despite my adjustments, the bodice is still very roomy. Next time I’ll make a size 4 bodice with the same SBA and dart removal. Additionally, I’ll do a petite adjustment to hike the neckline (that I already raised by 1″) and armholes up where I prefer them.

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My hip measurement put me in a size 12, while my waist measurement was at a 6, so, I cut the waistband casing as a size 6 but the skirt a size 12. I simply made a few small tucks in the skirt when attaching the casing—since the waist is gathered the tucks blend in. I added 1″ in length (usual addition for my height) and 2″ on the back skirt panel. I wanted to make a side split hem, and thought it would look better if the back were slightly longer. Also, it’s just more comfortable when I sit down to have a little extra length back there. The skirt sizing is fine, though I could probably go down a size for stiffer fabrics like linen or chambray but keep the fuller skirt for fabrics with more drape.

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Overall I’m happy with the dress. I wore it as soon as I stitched up the hem, and again a few days later. Any of the oversized bodice issues haven’t bothered me too much, but I will alter the pattern for next time. I keep wishing I had another like it, so I’m sure I’ll be making another soon!

—lisa g.

modified thurlows in linen

I love the elasticized, drawstring-waist shorts I’ve seen in stores lately, so I thought I’d try to replicate the look from my beloved Thurlow pattern from Sewaholic. I’ve used this pattern so many times since it came out; well worth the investment if you happen to be pear-shaped. There wasn’t much I did to modify the existing pattern, but since it generated so much interest over on IG I figured I’d give you a rundown.

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I started off by changing the angle of the front pockets and re-drafting the pocket bits to suit my preference. It’s pretty easy to make this alteration, but I’m not going over it here; I just wanted to point it out so you knew why my pockets look different than the pattern shows.

I added 1/2″ on both the front and back side seams, grading back to nothing around the hipline. I also adjusted the pocket pieces to match. Then at center back, I added 1/2″ from the original stitch line, grading back to nothing at the notches, or where the crotch curve begins to straighten out. Don’t forget that this pattern has a CB extension, so I simply folded my pattern piece to accommodate the extra 1/2″, plus standard seam allowance. Since the waistband is going to be elasticized, I skipped sewing the back dart.

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I skipped the welt pockets and added patch pockets instead.

I measured all around the top edge of my pattern pieces to make sure it would be wide enough to be able to pull over my hips, and to determine the waistband length.

Lastly, to create a faux fly, I added a fold back fly facing by lining up the facing pattern piece at the seamline. When it came time to sew the fly, I edge stitched the CF seam line and topstitched following the facing, as per usual.

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To make the waistband, I took the measurement I got earlier (plus SA) and cut a straight piece 5″ wide. I pressed it in half, then pressed up the inner SA. I wanted a drawstring, so I made a couple buttonholes (which I reinforced with fusible before making). I sewed the waistband to the outside of the shorts, graded the seam, then pinned the turned up edge to the inside and topstitched from the outside, leaving a gap for elastic insertion.

You can use wider elastic if you want, but I liked a similar pair of RTW shorts that had a small channel of elastic, so I went with 1/4″ elastic. I topstitched 1/2″ from the folded edge, then again 5/8″ below that, again leaving a gap in the lower stitching for elastic insertion. Once my elastic was in, I closed up the gaps and inserted the drawstring through the buttonholes.

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So this is a bit long-winded for what it really is. I spent an hour tops deciding what pattern alterations to make. I was using fabric leftover from a previous project, so I wasn’t going to be devastated if this turned out to just be a muslin. However, I’m feeling pretty good about this pair, so I made sure to finish everything properly. These shorts are super comfy and will be perfect for the summer. In fact, I already bought more linen for a second pair.

—lisa g.