Halloween 2015

Oh goodness, did I get piled on this year for Halloween! The entire month of October was spent sewing costumes for the kiddos. It’s not that I don’t love dressing them up for the occasion, but the planning and plotting is so much more fun than the actual doing!

Oliver waffled between many, many ideas, but in the end went with a construction worker. He loves to build things, put stuff together, help with home maintenance, car repairs, you name it. The hardware and auto parts stores are his happy places. All I had to make was a vest, which only took an afternoon and half a yard of fabric. I traced a safari vest pattern from the 3/2015 issue of Ottobre magazine; it already had some pocket details, so it was just a matter of using bright orange fabric and ironing on some reflective tape to get the look I needed.


Isabella decided on Sleeping Beauty for her costume. That was slightly more problematic because there are literally no good patterns (in print) for that dress. My kids have come to expect a certain level of authenticity, and I dreaded trying to figure out how to make the shoulder detail work. A desperate google search, however, led me to an out of print Simplicity pattern (5835) from 2002 (I think?). Finally! Um… except that it was listed for $20-30 everywhere I looked. Fortunately, I snagged one on ebay for under $20, because c’mon. It looks perfect. Okay, almost perfect. I really cursed that skirt. Under the peplum, the waistline is gathered. And the only satin I could find in the right color combo was that really heavy poly satin, which was a nightmare to gather. I don’t understand why costume patterns draft such huge skirts for such tiny people! There is over 60″ of width gathered onto a 22″ waistline (!!). If I ever make this again, I would take the time to draft a proper gored circle skirt, because the gathers keep the peplum piece from sitting nicely.


Sylvia decided on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I was going to try and accurately replicate the dress from the Disney movie, but I stumbled on Simplicty 2834 (also out of print, but still in stores) and thought it looked fun. I probably should have stuck to my original plan, because this one really took a while to make. It has a under dress (with the front chevrons pieced) plus a fully lined coat. Um… didn’t notice how involved the outfit was when we decided on this pattern! The dress has a partially elastic gathered waistline, and pieced circle skirt. I didn’t realize the pattern called for a full lining on the coat (minus the sleeves), so I didn’t buy enough fabric for that. Instead I created a facing for the bodice portion, and used bias tape to finish the coat hem. I had to be super diligent about cutting all the pieces correctly and not mixing up the red and black sections. It took forever to check and double each piece, but fortunately I got it all right on the first try—yay! But holy cow. There were a LOT of pieces to cut for this outfit. So. many. pieces.


Anastasia is a huge Star Wars fan (movies, yes, but also the animated series, as well as the hundreds of books out there!) so she knew she wanted a Star Wars character. She generally dislikes going the well-known or popular route, so she picked Jaina Solo. I used a pants pattern from the 4/2015 Ottobre magazine, which are made in a ponte knit. They’re basically elevated leggings, so pretty easy to make. For the robe I picked up a brown interlock and used Jalie 2919. I kept the shoulder pleats free (because stitching them down is for crazy people) and she was able to cross it in the front, and keep it closed with a strip of black fabric wrapped around her waist. The pattern has narrower sleeves, so I simply re-drew the sleeve to have a wide opening at the wrist.

Now, the light saber was a bit of an issue, because apparently this character (almost always) has a purple light saber. My husband ran to the store Friday afternoon to see what could be cobbled together… He found some bubble wands with purple tubes (talk about luck!) and glued two together. Then he used electrical tape to tape a mini flashlight to the end and voila! Purple light saber! Best part is, we only had to spend $2 and about 30 minutes making it.


And that, my friends, was our Halloween! The kids were so excited about their costumes, and received many compliments. Most of them got a couple different outings with school parties and whatnot, so it’s not like it was all for a short two-hour window on Halloween night. I don’t go all out like this every year, but I’m willing to every once in a while. Let’s just hope they go easier on me next year!


lisa g.

jalie 2908 | finale… for now

i finished my first real live regulation jeans and i have to say, i’m pretty proud of myself! not long ago, even after having a great deal of success with pants, i had put jeans in the “not to bother with” category. and really it wasn’t due to any lack of skill set, but more due to the inconvenience of getting it done right. i’m looking at you topstitching thread!!! the constant back and forth, threading and re-threading my machine, then switching pressor feet all the time… ugh. not gonna lie folks—it’s a hassle.

IMG_2357

HOWEVER, it’s totally doable. if you’re even thinking about making jeans, just know that you probably won’t crank them out in a day. so let’s get down to the nitty gritty here…

first off, this pattern (jalie 2908) gets pretty high marks from me. it is an excellent starting point that got me to wearable by version two. i’m taking a bit of my own advice and wearing them and washing them to see how they break in before i really know how they’ll fit. at this point, they’re more snug than i was going for, but denim is kinda that way. it seems as though this denim has less stretch than the corduroy of my first version, so that’s a little frustrating. just goes to show that a muslin can only show so much.

over-exposed to show detail…

IMG_2442

IMG_2431

i detailed my alterations in my last post, but i thought i would re-cap here:

reduced/flattened the front crotch curve to remove the “flap.” it does seem counterintuitive to add fabric in order to reduce what appears to be extra fabric. i’ve seen various theories on this. some people remove or wedge out front crotch depth, but i could tell that the pants weren’t sitting as close to the body as my regular RTW pants. this led me to believe that the “flap” was really pull lines, not excess fabric. there are a few factors contributing to this, including full or prominent thighs, tilted pelvis, etc. really it’s all about figuring out your individual crotch curve. easier said than done, i grant you.

moved hip shaping to the back outer seam. i noticed that my outer seam was skewing to the back, so i removed 3/4″ from the outer seam on the front pieces, and added it to the outer seam on the back pieces (back and yoke).

added to back rise. i wedged open at CB to give me a little extra rise for le bootay.

added fabric to back along the lower crotch curve. this gets rid of uni-butt and lets the fabric uh… hug both cheeks instead of gliding over them as one. sorry… tmi…

shaped the yoke. in my previous version i had to take width out of the CB and side seams (i chose size based on my hip measure—a full two sizes larger than my waist). to spread out the reduction, i made three slash and overlaps to remove the excess. this made for a very curvy yoke, but what can i say. i have-a some junk in mah trunk.

curved waistband. the jalie pattern has a straight bias cut waistband. while i discovered that i didn’t need much curve on the waistband, which i attribute to a nice fitting yoke, i still needed some curve. i determined how much by sewing on a straight piece of fabric and making a few small darts. i removed the muslined waistband and used it to make a new pattern piece.

tapered leg from knee down. while i may have over-tapered, i’m pretty close to ideal. i think if i add just the tiniest bit of width back in i’ll be golden.

and, as much as i should do another version of this pattern, i’m also interested in trying the named jamie jeans. truthfully, i wasn’t all that interested in that pattern when it first came out—i’m something of a purist when it comes to jeans—but they do have a sleek dressy edge to them that i’m really digging. not to mention that you don’t have to topstitch that curved pocket edge. that curve trips me up every. single. time.

and now for the photo dump…

IMG_2463

IMG_2464

IMG_2466

IMG_2465

final thoughts… like i said, i’ve been wearing these for several days and am giving them a chance to get broken in a bit before i even think of making another pair. i imagine they’ll soften up soon, it always takes so long for a new pair of jeans to feel comfortable. i think the most telling thing is that my husband hasn’t noticed my new jeans! he’s usually pretty observant and complimentary about the things i have made, so i think it’s funny that he hasn’t noticed. i have to think it’s because he can’t tell that they’re any different from my RTW jeans, right?

—lisa g.

jeans update | jalie 2908

i had hoped to have a finished pair of jeans at this point, but lacking time (and motivation) has me lagging quite a bit. they are so close to being done, but i think—scratch that—i know i need to remove the waistband and cut a new one. and the waistband just happens to be my absolute least favorite thing about pants making EVER. EVER!!! i don’t know why, i just hate waistbands. also, there stands a chance that they will be too small entirely and unwearable for anything other than standing. but before i go there, let’s talk fitting!

if you recall, i started with jalie 2908 and cut a straight size, only making a few adjustments at the waist as i sewed them up. i took a pinch out of the yoke at CB, and a little more at the side seams. for a more accurate adjustment, i took my yoke piece and darted out the excess in three places in order to spread out the adjustment. spoiler alert: this worked marvelously! the shape over my bum is fantastic! adding to that, it seems this great fitting yoke translated into not needing much waistband shaping. who knew?

photo 3

so onto the waistband… i sewed on a straight piece of twill to draft the waistband and darted out a couple places to get my curve. then i cut my actual waistband on grain (not with the stretch) and over-zealously interfaced it, resulting in so much stiffness i can barely fit them over my hips. so, that needs to be re-done on the cross grain, and interfaced in such a way to allow for a little bit of give. i really think swapping out a new waistband will give me a much better fit, and perhaps a better overall liking of the jeans.

photo 1

added width to the back piece at the outside seam

one thing about the original draft on the hip line was that my side seam pulled to the back. a hip measurement is only the beginning of the equation. most of my circumference is on my curvy backside, so the hip curve on the front pattern piece was far too extreme. i shaved off about 3/4″ from the front hip side seam and added it to the back side seam. the result is a side seam that is straight as an arrow down the length of my leg. LOVE that.

photo 2

this shows the outer side seam where i removed width. since the side seam was moved, i also had to alter the pocket placement.

but, my biggest complaint from my initial pants was the excess front crotch flappage i had happening. based on my limited knowledge of pants fitting, i knew the front curve would need to be flattened. this seems to have done the trick! it’s rather counter intuitive to add fabric where it appears too much fabric already exists, but the result is a closer or, i should say, more accurate fit around the front. i also flattened out the curve on the back crotch slightly (again, adding fabric) because my first iteration seemed to be giving me uni-butt. i read somewhere that a flatter curve would assist in shaping the backside. i also raised the inseam by 1/4″ on the front, and removed a 1/4″ wedge from the back inseam to help eliminate the under butt wrinkles.

another adjustment i made was to taper the leg in from the knee down. my cords were definitely too baggy, and i had a hard time stuffing them into boots without them pooling over the top. comparing them to my current skinny jeans led me to removing a full inch which may have been too much…

photo 4

my fabric may not have quite as much stretch as this pattern requires, which is leaving me with a very tight fit, and one that may not allow me to actually bend my knees. oops. in hindsight, i should have left myself much more SA to account for stretch variation, but alas i did not. the thought of these potentially not being wearable (and having my least favorite tasks ahead) have definitely stalled me out. after all, why waste my time with all that topstitching, etc if they’ll just end up in the donation pile? however—denim stretches. what is initially too small, sometimes ends up as just right, or even too big a wear or two down the road. for that reason, i will finish these… as soon as i get a little more motivated.

—lisa g.

black dress pants

as mentioned in my last post, i made a white shirt/black pants outfit for my daughter to wear for a school concert. here are the pants i made, using the ever popular jalie 2908. i used a stretch cotton sateen that i bought from my local haunt for $3-4/yd, and what a bargain that stuff was! i bought several yards, and i’m so glad i did because it’s nice and soft, but still a good weight for pants. so yeah, i’ll be getting a pair of thurlows out of it at some point.

IMG_2353

i changed it up a little and re-drafted the jean pocket styling in favor of a slash pocket, and left off the back patch pockets. i contemplated altering the yoke and making darts, but then i would have felt compelled to add welt pockets, and i guess i just wasn’t in the mood at the time.

IMG_2288

Anastasia is pretty slim, so i graded a size down in the hips from the rest of the pants. i am so pleased with the fit! i know it’s hard to tell since they’re black and all, but they really look nice on her. she’s in an awkward size for RTW—the size 8 is way too small, but the next size up is really too big. it’s nice being able to fill in the gap, especially for something that needs to look dressy.

IMG_2286

also, i should mention that the sweater she’s wearing is one i made months ago but never blogged. it’s the Greenpoint Cardigan by Hey June. L-O-V-E this little sweater.

photo

it’s a raglan sleeve so it comes together practically in minutes, and is just one of those great patterns to have on hand if you sew for kids. i probably should have gone up a size since this fabric doesn’t have a ton of stretch, but it should fit through the spring. actually, i’m pretty tempted to grade up or hack out an adult size version of this sweater. if i ever find a good cardigan fabric for myself i just might!

—lisa g.

here begins the quest for great-fitting jeans

the holy grail of sewing (other than a couture wedding gown) would have to be jeans. jeans have been on my to-sew list for a long time, but frankly i was slightly afraid of failure so they kept getting pushed to the side. recently i picked up some $2/yd stretch corduroy on a crazy sale and decided to finally give jeans a try. i went with the ever-loved jalie 2908. i’ve made this pattern for my daughter twice and had great results, so i got to tracing off my own size.

(sorry about the awful pics… this dark color is super hard to photograph, so i overexposed the pics in order to see the details i’m talking about.)

IMG_2260

right now i’m about 75% happy, so i thought i would talk fitting. i’m not a pants-fitting expert, so what i say here is simply my own personal experience, and stuff i’ve picked up from fitting books. feel free to chime in if i say something that sounds totally off!

to begin, i wanted skinny jeans (i know… i’m using corduroy, not denim, but we’re just calling them jeans since they have the same stretch and design details) so i took some measurements from my everyday jeans to give me a starting point. the pattern is already fit with negative ease through the thigh, so most of the tapering came from the knee down. i did have to bring the back outside seam in a little right before the knee, but from there i tapered in symmetrically. i also added 1 1/2″ to the length. the leg shape i’m happy with, though i may try to reduce the under-bum wrinkling.

IMG_2225

now for some crotch talk! ugh, can we as the creative type come up with a better term than crotch??? for realz people. this needs to happen. anyways… off the bat i added a wedge to increase the back rise by 3/4″ (i’ve seen this called a “full bottom adjustment” hahaha the only FBA i’ll ever need!). this worked well, and the overall crotch seam length i’m happy with.

IMG_2224

so what’s this 25% i’m not happy with? i have this wedge of fabric just kinda hanging out below the fly. it doesn’t really show up in pics the way it does when i’m looking in the mirror, but this is something that definitely does not occur in my RTW jeans.

IMG_2260

i think i have two issues here: one—the pants aren’t sitting close enough in the front, and two—i have a “prominent thigh” pulling the fabric out, which is more obvious in profile.

IMG_2253

i think if i adjust the front crotch curve to be flatter, most of my issues will be solved. reducing the front curve will inadvertently add width to the front of the leg, making room for my prominent front thigh.

the waistband on this pattern is the straight cut, fold over type. it is cut on the bias and interfaced with stretch fusible. i didn’t feel like messing with a new curved waistband, but i will on my next attempt. by the time i got to the waistband i knew these were in “wearable muslin” territory so i didn’t sweat it. for round two, i plan to baste on a straight piece of muslin, then take darts in around until it sits flat, and use that to draft a custom waistband. i understand jalie’s idea of keeping some stretch in the waistband, but i just don’t think it will ever keep its shape.

IMG_2256

obligatory back shot… pear much?

as far as sizing, i cut the size corresponding to my hip measurement. my waist falls about 1-2 sizes down, so during fitting i took 3/4″ out of the CB, and another 3/8-1/2″ total from the side seams. the rule of thumb is choose a size based on your toughest to fit area (hip/thigh) and make simple adjustments to the rest. realistically i think i have a handle on what i need to do next, and i’m very optimistic! for further authenticity, i ordered some rivets and tack buttons (from taylortailor.com). i put one rivet in on the coin pocket to see how it worked and it was kind of a hassle. i think i’ll have to pull out the drill to get a good clean hole for the rivet post.

anyone else trying out jeans? sometimes i feel a little nutty going to all this trouble, but in all honesty i’ve always had to settle for good enough in RTW. with that in perspective, it’s not so nutty. in the words of the always inspiring Carolyn… “be your own sweatshop, yo!”

on a completely different topic, i want to introduce my baby sister, Monica to you guys! she shares my sewing obsession and we constantly talk sewing and consult each other when we need opinions. she’s been sewing for several years and just started up her own blog called seams right to me. her first garment post is an archer button up, so obviously she has great taste. if you feel inclined to add another blog to your reader, go show her some love!

—lisa g.

denim dress

a while back i got the idea in my head that i needed a denim dress. it seemed like a nice casual and potentially versatile garment to have in my wardrobe, so i picked up some denim at sewfisticated. these people always have a table of $2.99/yd denim remnants and i check out that table almost every time i visit. this one is probably around a 6.5 oz denim—lightweight, but still substantial.

IMG_1909

i planned to revisit mccalls 5927, which i made last year in plaid. my intent with making that dress was to fit a bodice i could go back to as a TNT. upon re-trying on that dress the multiple fit issues were very apparent—shoulder seam needed to move out, the back neck needs darts or re-shaping, etc. i had a pretty long list of changes i didn’t feel like dealing with. instead i went back to the hawthorn bodice, which i had fit recently, and fit well. i redrafted bits to eliminate the front button closure, added a back seam for a zipper, and replaced the v-neck with a scooped neckline.

IMG_1885

then i wanted to have some cap sleeves so it would easily fit under a cardigan or sweater. the sleeves proved quite an ordeal. i went back to the cap sleeve on the mccalls pattern and tried those, but they ended up a little too “strong shouldered” for my tastes. i mulled over it, then just fidgeted with them until i liked what i saw. so i cut off most of the cap with the pleating and just set it in with incidental gathers. obviously, it’s not perfect and there is either too much or too little ease in the cap, but it really doesn’t bother me. overall, the shape is very nice and i’m quite happy with it!

for the skirt, i pulled out NL 6776 (used perviously here and here) because it has a nice a-line shape and doesn’t take up a crap-ton of fabric. i pleated it to my heart’s content… which. took. forever. to get right. love pleats, but geeze they can be annoying. as you can see, i added a little swoop front pocket. inseam pockets are great, but i’m always annoyed about how the pocket bags flop about. i went back to the mccalls pattern as a guide and went from there.

since this is a denim dress, i took the opportunity to topstitch in white. i considered the more traditional gold, but i also like the look of white on denim. i even used white when stitching the zip down the back, and i did a pretty good job of keeping it straight! while i intended to wear a belt with this dress, the topstitching at the waist gives just enough definition that i don’t feel super inclined to bother with one.

IMG_1870

i had anticipated finding loads of things in my closet to layer with this dress, but came up pretty much empty-handed. that’s the problem with an at-waist dress: all my sweaters hit at my high hip, which looks terrible! then i grabbed this cardigan i made a year and a half ago (jalie 2919, unblogged but much loved! p.s. i nixed the ridiculous stitched pleats for gathers at the shoulder). it’s very very long, so i frequently just tie it around my waist. it works okay, but now i think i need a few papercut coppelia  wraps in my closet to pair with this dress for the colder months.

i hope you followed my merry adventures through all those patterns to get to this dress… i thought it was apropos to publish a real frankenpattern mash up on halloween, so happy halloween all!

—lisa g.

my first jean-like pants

i’ve made pants and shorts before, so i’m pretty comfortable with the whole process. still, i’ve put off making any actual jeans. but as with many of my sewing adventures, i try new stuff out on my kids first. i picked up this green stretch twill for pretty cheap and was dying to try out the famed jalie #2908. if you don’t know jalie patterns, they specialize in all things stretchy and active, and each pattern comes in approximately 5,987,423 sizes. since i’ve been into tracing patterns lately, i was okay with this.

i set off tracing each piece suuuuuupeeeerrrrr carefully. the pattern has 3/8″ SA, so there isn’t much room for error. overall the directions are very good and i didn’t need many changes. she wanted a skinny pant so i narrowed the legs in for a custom fit. hey, every kid needs custom fit pants, amiright? i started out by cutting a straight leg so i could taper as needed. i ended up taking in the seams by about 3/8″ below the hip, and 5/8″ from the knee down.


other changes were pretty minor. i added one of those little change pocket things, which i stitched onto the facing before assembling the front pockets. i made up a separate fly facing instead of the folded in variety, and cut a separate inner and outer waistband. i feel both of these are sturdier when cut separate instead of just folded. the pattern has a seam at the CB of the waistband, i’m not sure if this is just to save fabric or what. the waistband is a straight rectangle, so if/when i make her another pair i’ll eliminate the back seam.


i topstitched throughout to mimic RTW and even added a regular jeans hammer it in shank button. i don’t have pics of the shank button because initially i had sewn on a regular button because she was so eager to wear them and i hadn’t bought a jeans button yet. the shank button makes all the difference in the world for that real look. plus you get to hammer stuff. which is fun. next time i think i’ll try rivets too.


she wanted a lightning bolt design for the back pocket because she is a huge fan of the “percy jackson and the olympians” series (one is entitled: “the lightning thief”), not to mention harry potter.


i thought i would give you a comparison between these and a RTW pair. she usually wears an 8 slim, so i decided to make a size 7. in retrospect, i should have cut the waistband and length in size 8, then slimmed down to a 7. they’re long enough for her, but an extra inch wouldn’t have hurt!

so here they are next to a 7 slim skinny jean from old navy. it looks like the sizing would be very consistent with RTW, though the waist may be a tad snug by comparison.


the only thing that really bugs me is the giant back pocket. see how much larger it is than the ON jean? HUGE! i didn’t even think about this before stitching it on. i will definitely make a smaller pocket next time.


after this i feel pretty confident to make some jean-like pants of my own. i’ll want to alter some of the SA’s for a proper flat fell in places, but overall this is a really nice pattern. call me crazy, but i’ve been oogling over all the floral/patterned skinny jeans for spring. it’s hard to track down floral stretch twill in a pant weight, but i finally found some online at mood… if i feel daring enough, i’m tempted to make my own!

—lisa g.