some not so boring basics

i love all the bright colored pants i’ve been seeing, and i finally got around to making a pair. i ordered this coral twill a while back under the want of pink twill. pink… coral… same diff? eh. it’s just another fashionfabricsclub.com not-exactly-what-i-thought-i-was-getting acquisition. i really waffled on whether or not to make these pants because of the color not being what i had in mind, but decided to go for it if for no other reason than to experiment with making a skinny cropped thurlow. then, if they didn’t turn out, i wouldn’t be too bothered. and whaddayaknow, i think they came out pretty okay!

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ugh, and can i just say how hard it is to photograph pants? i look at the pics and all i see are HIPS. yeah, bright colors exaggerate that visually, but hello! fun pants! that, and i made about every derp face possible… i took 80 photos, and this is all i have to show for it. sorry, i know you all come here to view my stunning photography skillzzz… aha, aha, aha… KIDDING. moving on…

i decided to give these a dressier edge and scale back on all the topstitching i usually do. also, since i knew i would be stitching and unpicking to get the leg shape right, leaving the topstitching out definitely kept the frustration at bay. i did topstitch the whole crotch seam because, let’s face it, my backside needs all the reinforcement it can get. i used a hook and eye closure, the waistband is stitched in the ditch to catch the facing, and i even sewed up a tube to make the belt loops instead of just topstitching the folds.

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i have to admit—getting the leg shape right was a lot more challenging than i had anticipated. i started out with a straight cut from about the knee down so i could easily taper in as i worked it all out. i’m not totally satisfied with the leg, but i have a much better idea of how to go about it for the future. after rounds of basting, taking in, letting out, taking back in… i finally just had to stop futzing and go with it. since this fabric is a non-stretch, it’s a delicate balance to achieve both wearability and good fit. i’ll certainly wear these pants, especially as the weather cools but before the chill really sets in; they’ll look great with my knit blazer, a denim jacket, my chambray archer, an in-the-works archer, and a few other tops in my wardrobe. they’re definitely a win, and definitely a learning experience!

EDIT: in case anyone is interested, i wanted to add that i began tapering the outer seam about mid-thigh, then both inner and outer seam symmetrically from the knee down. i left about 1 1/2″ ease at mid-thigh, 3″ ease at the knee, and the hem circumference is 13″ or 14″.

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the astute among you will notice my title says some basics; in other words, i also made the white tee i’m wearing. my last RTW white tees are pretty much only worn to bed, or relegated to what i wear for a heavy duty house cleaning, so it was time. a good white tee is the LBD of casual wear, and finding an appropriate white knit can feel a little like tilting at windmills. i got my fabric from girlcharlee.com (HERE) and it comes pretty close to ideal. it’s a cotton/rayon jersey, it’s super soft without being too challenging to work with, and, while far from opaque, is good enough to not require a cami.

i used the renfrew pattern with hem and sleeve bands omitted. i cut the shirt 2″ longer to account for the lost length, and the sleeves… i can’t remember if i made any changes to the pattern piece, i traced that off a long time ago. for reference, they are about 1 1/2″ long under the arm (after taking a 1/2″ hem) and cut straight across. the size 6 gives me a nice fitted tee, but i went with a size 8 since this fabric is thin. i find that thinner fabrics require more ease than thicker fabrics (knit or woven) and i really just wanted a nice comfy tee. mission accomplished!

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can’t really see the details on my shirt, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it turned out really nice!

i thought i’d mention that the renfrew neck band has been the bane of existence for many people, and truthfully, i don’t even bother with that pattern piece. i sew up the right shoulder, attach the neckband, stretching as i feel necessary, then sew up the left shoulder. this is basically a fool-proof method if you ever have difficulty with knit neck bindings. yes, it means the one shoulder seam isn’t completely flawless, but it means that there is no guessing about neckband length and, most importantly, no unpicking and re-doing. if you’re serging, it’s easiest to leave only a 1/4″ SA for the neckline and band so you don’t have to worry about slicing off just the right amount evenly. then i zig zag over the neckband join to keep it in place and call it a day. easy peasy!

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summer (in the school sense) is coming to an end this week. the three oldest will all be at school full time, which leaves just me and my 4-yr oliver at home (aside from a few hrs of preschool 3 days a week). oliver and izzie are so close and spend all day playing together without much attention from me, so having only oliver at home will eat into my daytime sewing for sure! i’ll have to go back to sewing at night most of the time, but it does give me the opportunity to do some activities with only him (izzie hates going out and when she’s bored or uncomfortable EVERYONE gets to hear about it). it will be a bit of an adjustment around here, but fortunately i have a small backlog of projects i need to get to posting about. happy first days of school everyone!

—lisa g.

possibly the most boring skirt i’ve ever made

how’s that for a blog post title to really suck you in? riveting, i know. just to let you know how boring it is, i made this skirt monday, threw it in the wash (i always wash my twill makes before wearing them), and totally forgot about it! i came across it when sorting laundry this morning and was all—hey, new skirt… sweet!

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super bright outside, but whatevs. i can never pull myself together to take morning pics with better light.

okay, so i wear my denim moss mini all. the. time. it’s in pretty heavy rotation, so i knew i was due for another “basics” moss (from grainline studios, incase you’ve been living in a cave). i had intended to make one from the same fabric as my daughter’s shorts, but finally conceded to the fact that the color is too close to the actual color of my legs and would probably end up way too wash-y out-y. however, i had plenty of fabric left over from my husband’s jedediah shorts, and that fabric color is a way more flattering, but still a go-with-everything, basic color. and now we match d’awwwww…..

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i gave the skirt a more slash pocket treatment instead of the slant and gape. i can’t say i really prefer one pocket type over the other, i just like to be difficult.

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and, as before, i added back pockets and belt loops. then, because last time i had a hard time with the zipper insert as drafted, i added an extra 1/4″ SA on the underlap side of the fly.

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the waistband is cut as one piece which means that the front of the waistband ends up being on the bias. i noticed that my denim moss distorts a little because of this, so to help prevent the waistband from mis-shaping too badly, i pieced my interfacing so that the bias part of the waistband is reinforced with on-grain fusible. i used a woven fusible (stuff i had picked up for collars and cuffs) and really like how it holds up in waistbands (though not so much for the collars and cuffs…). i really don’t know what the best way is to interface waistbands, i suppose i should look into that, given my affinity for sewing them.

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anywho… since this skirt is rather plain i decided to jazz up the insides with some leftover seersucker for the waistband facing and leftover floral cotton lawn for the pockets, which just happens to be the same fabric the top i’m wearing. so… my top matches my pockets haha! gotta love that.

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to top it all off, i decided to hammer in a snap for the front closure. basically lazy me didn’t want to make a buttonhole and sew on a button. plus, hammering stuff is way more fun.

the end.

—lisa g.

sewaholic | saltspring dress

guys. when i saw the saltspring dress pattern announcement from sewaholic i was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to be available. to me, this is a perfect dress: it’s comfortable, it’s simple, it’s chic, it’s versatile, it’s cross-seasonal, it’s a no-brainer! i snapped up the pattern immediately and began searching for the perfect fabric. eventually i landed upon hawthorne threads website and BAM! perfect fabric. i don’t usually buy the cute designer prints due to my limited budget, but i just loved the floral and polka dot, the large scale print, fall-transitional colors… it was meant to be. so i splurged (you may laugh, but anything over $8/yd is a splurge for me) and dang do they deliver fast! that was my first order from hawthorne threads, and it was on my doorstep within two days. love that!

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i decided to eliminate the zip and reduce the blousing. if you haven’t read up on this pattern, the bodice lining is shorter than the overblouse to allow the blousing to stay put; yay for a fidget-free belted dress! i felt the blousing was slightly more extreme than i wanted, so i reduced it by 3/4″ at the lengthen/shorten line (the pattern includes about 2″ of blousing). for me, the reduced amount is perfect.

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i really wanted to do a maxi length, but i just couldn’t bring myself to buy the extra yard of fabric needed. in the end, i think this is a good length for this print. any longer and the pattern repeat might start to look too… repeat-y if ya know what i mean. i did add 1″ in length to the skirt pieces. then i decided to use my rolled hem foot because it was still going to be shorter than i wanted. so, if don’t want a short dress, check the hem length (i’m 5′ 8″ and have a crazy long waist to knee measurement). basically i added over 1 1/2″ to the skirt length.

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and can i just say that tasia is a pattern drafting genius? no gape at the neckline, folks. NO GAPE. how??? i can actually lean over without flashing the world. baffling! i would totally use the lining piece with adjustments to make a simple cami in the future. i mean really… how did she do that?

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final verdict: i soooo love this dress!!! basically this is my favoritest dress eeevvveeerrrrr. if you don’t dig the tie straps you could easily make adjustable straps with the little bra slider thingies. i do recommend leaving the zip out unless you are very busty (obvs not a problem with me…) it’s totally unnecessary. it does make things a little fiddly to sew up, but really this is one of the fastest dresses i’ve ever made. aside from the hem (i let it hang for a day incase the bias grew—it didn’t), i only spent a few hours on the sewing part. and for the record, i don’t sew very fast!

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no doubt this will be a repeat pattern for me (hey, gotta justify spending top dollar for a pattern, amiright?). i would really love it in a solid color, great for layering, and on and on… okay i’ve run out of stuff to say… go buy this pattern it’s awesome!

—lisa g.

jedediah pants by Thread Theory

if you haven’t heard of the new pattern company Thread Theory, you’re in for a treat! or at least the men in your life are. as i sew more and more of my family’s wardrobe, that means my husband, nathan, occasionally gets a new piece to add to his closet. after sewing a few shirts earlier this year, it was time to start making some pants. the state of available menswear patterns is pretty uninspiring to say the least. clearly there is a gap in the market waiting to be filled, and Thread Theory patterns is posed to be one of the first in line to fill that gap. they have an up-to-date take on classic looks and i am very excited to see where they are headed.

pardon the rumpled appearance, these have already been worn several times and gone through the wash. what can i say… he likes his new shorts!

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i’ve been following Thread Theory for a short while, and when i saw their newest pattern offering, the jedediah pants, the release couldn’t come soon enough! my husband is on the smaller end of menswear sizes and pants, in particular, are almost always too big and way too long. i immediately begged offered to be on the list of pattern testers, and when the call went out i jumped at the chance. since i’ve done a lot of pants and shorts lately, i can knock them out relatively quickly. of course i’m accustomed to not following pattern directions, so forcing myself to actually read every step was a huge challenge for me. however, for the sake of pattern testing, i figured i should!

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the jedediah pants are a casual pant with a dressy edge. they have a flat front, slash pockets, back patch pockets, and back yoke. the great thing about this pattern in particular is the fact that they have included instructions for things like flat-felling seams, bar tacking points that need reinforcement, and even french seaming the pocket bags (p.s. i have a tutorial on that if you need a visual). they also include the pocket facing pieces and the fly shield. it is a fold-over fly facing, but since every other detail is there, i won’t complain.

for this pair i used a medium-heavy cotton twill and went with a shorts length. i love the cuffed variation the pattern offers, but my fabric was a bit bulky so i ended up hemming them to knee length. if you’re not into the tapered leg it would be super easy to change it up, depending on what look your guy prefers.

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as far as the fit goes, nathan typically wears a 30 in RTW so that is what i cut. as i was sewing them up, i thought i should check for sure what his measurements actually are, and lo and behold his waist is closer to 32″. afraid they would end up too small, i sewed the side seams at 3/8″ as well as the back seam. this left him plenty of room, but now the waistband i cut was too small. i had more fabric, but instead of cutting a new waistband (heaven forbid i waste fabric!), i simply pieced it right under the button closure where it won’t be visible. lesson: actually measure your guy’s waist. i believe these are sized a little slimmer than your typical RTW, but the pattern does include finished measurements to help get a proper fit.

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since this is the first pair of pants i’ve sewn for my husband, this will definitely be my go-to for a casual pant or shorts. the fit is great, and it’s nice to see him in clothes that do fit instead of drowning his frame. the only downside is that once you’ve been bitten by the custom fit bug, you just can’t go back! he’s already requested more. 🙂 if you’ve thought of making pants for your guy, there will also be a sew-a-long over on the Thread Theory blog beginning august 15th to help you through the process. however if you’re impatient and want to get started sooner, the included directions are very thorough, even if you’ve never sewn pants before. seriously. they left nothing out!

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so what do you think… tempted to sew a pair for your guy?

—lisa g.