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.

making stuff for the kiddos…

i really needed to do some sewing for the kiddos, so for the last couple weeks i’ve made almost exclusively kid stuff. i’ll try not to bore you too much, but i take the same approach with kid makes that i do my own. good techniques, finishing, etc. if you phase out, i totally understand. in fact i only follow a handful of sewing blogs that feature almost exclusively kid stuff. why? well a lot of it is way too crafty for my tastes and frankly, too picturesque. i mean really. who let’s their kids run around in a field of flowers with the sun at just the right angle to get that lovely glint… whatever. recently i have relented and added a few of those blogs to give me ideas for using up my too small to make anything for me fabric leftovers. so, while this may look like a kids’ make blog for a bit, things will return to normal in no time. promise!

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first up: a tee for my boy, oliver. i got this stripy knit from girlcharlee.com and went back to the RTW tee tracing i made up here. i roughly graded it up a size so it should fit him awhile. when i finished the shirt i hadn’t put a pocket on the front and he promptly asked me where the pocket was. okay fine—i added a pocket and he said: “okay, now it’s finished!” the boy loves his pockets!

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don’t you just wanna squish him? he’s the most cuddle-tastic kid ever.

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next i wanted to make a new tote bag for my daughter, anastasia, to give to her as a birthday gift. ohemgeee… she just turned nine. how the heck did that even happen? ahem. so she is a serious lover of books. she began reading at a very young age and by the time she was in kindergarten she had abandoned the picture books in favor of the boxcar children and nancy drew. she reads at an astounding rate (and finishes multiple books every day!) so it’s very difficult to keep an adequate supply of reading material. when we make our library visits, her tote bag is filled to the brim.

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craptastic pic… this color seriously messes with my camera!

i noticed that having a wider based tote would make it so much easier for her to fill her bag—the 3-4″ bases most tote bags offer are just too narrow—so i cut the bag to have a wide 6″ base. instead of cutting off the excess at the bottom corners i topstitched it to the outside for a little extra book carrying durability.

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i used leftover fabrics from my most recent pair of shorts and the jacket i made for her last fall. i picked up some quilting cotton to line the tote bag and make some interior pockets. she has a pocket to hold her kindle, another pocket to hold pens/pencils/etc. the other side of the interior has a zippered pocket.

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the pocket kinda disappears in there thanks to my awesome pattern matching. 🙂

as a whole the bag turned out great! the only thing i was kicking myself for was not making the straps long enough to extend the whole width of the facing so i could topstitch an X for reinforcement. i used the triple stitch for all the topstitching since i didn’t have enough foresight to pick up topstitching thread. triple stitching is wicked annoying, but a single stitch just doesn’t have enough beef, imo, for this sort of thing. the bag was well-received and should last her many years to come.

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i made sure to write down the dimensions i used because kinda want my own now…

—lisa g.

a couple tees

some may find sewing tee shirts is terribly boring, but i happen to love them. and it’s my blog, so there! here are two more. i had quite a bit of green knit fabric left over from one of my renfrews and since green is my boy’s favorite color, i promised i would make him a tee shirt. i put it off for quite a while because i didn’t know what to do for a boy’s tee. it’s not like i can just throw a ruffle on it and call it a day. i finally got the idea to make a silhouette-type applique of a truck. i found some scraps in one of my many boxes/bags of leftovers and set to work.

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i added some knit fusible to the back of the applique, pinned it on the tee, then zig zagged it in place. i used my walking foot to keep it all from stretching. i left the edge raw so it would get a little texture as it gets washed and worn. i didn’t use an existing pattern (there are a few good ones out there here, here, and here) instead i traced off a tee he had in his closet. call me cheap, but we just plunked down $900 on car repairs so… uh… the fabric budget (and basically anything that is non-edible) has been chucked for a couple weeks. boo.

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he is super pleased with his new tee! i have a few more boy-friendly colored scraps (and maybe even a few re-fashionable tee shirts…) so hopefully i can pump out a few more for spring.

now on to me… for MONTHS i have looked longingly at the chevron knits at girl charlee. but every time i was ordering, either they were out of the ones i wanted, or i just couldn’t think of how i could incorporate it into a top suitable for an adult. an entire chevron… anything… just seemed like too much. enter the brilliant idea to pair it with a solid! pretty sure this was my sewing sister’s idea (as in she’s my sister and she also sews…). it’s really hard to pair up knits without feeling them, so i studied the weight/content/stretch factor and said a little prayer. fortunately what i picked paired perfectly!

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the grey on white chevron was my favorite because it’s more subtle than the brighter options. i don’t have a raglan sleeve pattern per se, so i took the hot cocoa tee by dixie, slashed and overlapped until it was the same size as my renfrew. worked like a charm!

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i made the sleeves some random length (finished with a band), made the hem curved like a baseball tee, and added a tiny pocket. love it! the chevron knit is a tiny bit see-through, so i don’t think it would work for a dress unless it were lined, but it is super soft and (duh) CHEVRON! which is awesome. every time i wear it my husband starts asking for his own tee shirts. “just like yours. but probably not with that patterned fabric stuff. just plain.” we shall see, husband. we. shall. see.

—lisa g.