Wide Leg Pants

Another awesome free pattern from Peppermint Magazine! I love the look of these pants, but sewing them up was not without complications (i.e. I’ve never sewn ‘hard pants’ as I’ve been on the elastic waist everything for awhile).

Pattern: Peppermint Magazine Wide Leg Pants by In the Folds

Fabric: Robert Kaufman railroad stripe 100% cotton, 6oz (from fabric.com)

Size: C

Modifications:

  • Length: pattern designed for 5’7″ height. I removed 3 inches at the shorten line – I’m 5’4″
  • Added belt loops
  • Added back pockets (traced from a pair of jeans I like) and placed 3″ below waistband. On finished garment it’s 2.5″ below.
  • Flipped the fly/zipper to the lefthand side (this took way more energy than I had intended – everything was backwards!)

Um, so these pants were not exactly a joy to sew. I should have known, as this is the first pair of ‘hard pants’ I’ve ever sewn. But in my typical self-confidence/naivety I figured I’d knock these out with no problem. And as usual, I refused to sew a toile. It feels wasteful! Also, if I were to make a ‘wearable toile’ I probably wouldn’t wear it = still wasteful. I just want to make the thing I want to make in the fabric I want it in i.e. I’m impatient and I suffer the consequences of my own actions 😛

Sizing & Waistband

The first issue I ran into was choosing my size. My waist is 30″ (but I wear size 27 pants?!) and my low hip is 37″. I sewed a straight Size C based on some reviews I had read that these pants have a lot of ease. Well, they do not have any ease in the curved, interfaced waistband. Duh! But I didn’t grasp this and figured “What difference will 3/4 of an inch make?” Well, it does make a difference! In typical fashion, I had completely finished the waistband, tried the pants on again and thought “Oh no! These look perfect but I’ll never be able to sit down!” However, using 100% cotton, even with the non-woven interface, the pants & waistband have stretch a little bit with wear. TL;DR choose the correct waist and hip sizes and grade between if necessary.

The other issues I had with the waistband were:

  • Using fusible non-woven interface = too much bulk

Even with trimming the seam allowance (after you’ve sewn the seam), I still had too much bulk to use the sewing machine for the button hole. I think there are three ways you can fix this: 1) don’t use interfacing 2) only interface the outer waistband 3) don’t interface the seam allowance. Likely I’ll try option 2 next time.

  • Extend the length of waistband piece 8. 

I sewed the inner & outer waistband on, and then as I went to complete Step 31… I didn’t have any seam allowance to finish the edge in alignment with the zipper. I ripped back the stitches and removed both the inner & outer waistband Piece 8s. I recut longer Piece 8s (added 2 cms), ironed on the interface, and sewed them on. You can trim any extra off, once you’ve sewn the seam and you should, to avoid some of the bulk this adds.

Per extending piece 8 – I know there are notches and drill hole markings but I could have really used instruction on how to align the pieces in the entire fly because I barely ever sew pants zippers or flies. Once the waistband is aligned via the notches, check the alignment of the waistband to the pants so that there is enough seam allowance on both ends to align with the fly/zipper edges vertically. Also, align your zipper top teeth with the top of the pants, then shift the zipper down the amount of the seam allowance (1/2″). Then you can also double check that the bottom of the zipper isn’t past the fly drill hole (Step 11-13). This brings me to the next complication I made for myself.
 
Flipping the Fly

I’m not sure why the fly is on the righthand side. In reading reviews, before sewing these pants, I knew this was the case and took it upon myself to flip the fly so it was on the lefthand side, like all of the RTW pants that I own. I think this is a Virgo impulse, because it’s completely unnecessary to do and made sewing these take infinitely longer as I tried to follow the instructions and flip all of them in my head to attach and sew the fly. In the end, it worked out and I’ll probably do it again if I ever sew up another pair of these pants (rust orange linen, anyone?!).

Ok, my last complaint about the waistband fly situation is … sewing a curved waistband is so much work! And by this I mean, if you mess up somewhere, you have so many seams to rip back and so many pieces (at least 6) to think about aligning, etc. I would have been fine with a straight or flat waistband on these, which means you could also avoid having to sew in the ditch (Step 33) – which I also found endless annoying as I don’t have an edger foot for my machine and the before mention bulk in the waistband makes it especially challenging. A curved waistband is the same width at the bottom as the pants opening and then narrows at the top. This could provide a better fit, especially if you have an hourglass waist/figure. I don’t and it was part of the waistband sizing issue (i.e. choosing a size too small for the waist). 

 
Full length view of front of pants.
A Note on the Fabric

This fabric frays like crazy! Ideally, I would have sewn these pants with french seams on both side seams. Instead, I zigzag stitched the seams as I typically do, not having a serger. There was still a ton of fraying, so I used “Fray Check” on all the seams, once I finished sewing the entire garment. I love the look of this fabric, so I guess it was worth it and something to think about if I sew anything with the remnant.

In All …

I should have expected to run into some fit issues and knowledge gaps (I’ve never sewn a pants fly before!?!). The end result, these pants look exactly like I had envisioned! I’m obsessed with the railroad stripe fabric and the wide leg silhouette and fit. I can fix the waistband issues the next go around and this pattern is free! I hope that some of the issues I ran into will be helpful for someone sewing these up for the first time, but if not – at least I know what not to do next time 🙂

 

Other notes:

  • Needle: 80/12
  • Tension: 4-6 (depending how many layers sewing through)
  • Stitch size: 2.5 (4 for basting)

Hallon Dress

Since I first saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to make one for summer and wear to a party or fancy-ish occasion. With friends getting engaged and married, it seemed like good motivation to look through my fabric stash and get sewing!

Pattern: Hallon Dress by Paradise Patterns

Fabric: Robert Kaufman cotton linen blend from Bolt

Size: 6 modified

Modifications:

  • Height adjustment for 5’4″. Removed 1″ from front & back pieces (per instructions) & 2″ from hem.
  • Removed 1/2″ from front top/arm holes (should have graded size 4 (top) to 6 (hips to hem).
  • Resewed the darts 3 times (and still kinda hate them)

I’ve been into pink, especially earthy pinks lately. I’m planning to pair this dress with the Kinikin cardigan that I knitted in a soft pink a couple season ago. I also loved sewing with this linen cotton blend from Robert Kaufman. I had this fabric in my stash, I was originally going to make some Pants No. 1 for my study abroad in Colombia. I didn’t end up getting to that project (…grad school). But that’s fine – as this fabric was easy to press and lended itself to very ‘professional’ bias and hems. With a light and breezy drape, I’m glad this fabric is a dress (instead of pants).

Height Modifications

This pattern was easy to modify – as I’m 5’4” and the pattern is designed for 5’7”. I followed the directions to pull out 1” from the front & back pieces and an additional 2” from the hem. I was a bit puzzled at not having to shorten the front & back bias pieces but it’s because you end up trimming the ends of both once attached.

Darts 

I watched 3 different YouTube tutorials on how to not have pointy darts … the tutorials made sense, but I just can’t seem to get darts that lay flat. I stitched and ripped out the darts three times trying to sew them to the correct length and in a curved line instead of straight (which encourages a point). So … I’ll probably remove the bust darts if I sew up another Hallon. Darts just don’t feel necessary for A cups in this pattern.

Grading Size 4 to 6

In retrospect, I should have graded the pattern from size 4 top to size 6 armhole on down. This would have removed the excess fabric in the bust that was gathering and laying oddly, but still have given a roomy fit for my hips.

Because I didn’t grade between sizes… after I finished the whole dress, I decided to rip out the front armhole bias.  I removed a half inch from the armhole or total width across (ie. where the bias was previously attached). Then, reattached the bias (via top stitching the bias all at once as opposed to the pattern instructions). This removed the excess fabric that was gathering weird because my bust is smaller than a B cup (which the pattern is design for). I guess I can’t make everything oversized …

For reference my measurements are 34B-28W-38H and I’m 5’4”.

Overall, this is an easy pattern and comes together quickly with only 6 pieces (mostly bias). I was glad to learn how to properly sew slits in a skirt/dress. Because this dress has great drape, I want to make one in a black faux-silk and another in a fun, bright abstract print.

Extra sun for all the house plants!

Fawn Skirt

Since making the Peppermint Magazine Pocket Skirt, I’ve been thinking about the ease of wearing skirts and wanting to have more in my wardrobe. When I saw this fabric on sale, while browsing online, I knew I wanted to sew up a Wattlebird skirt.

Pattern: Wattlebird Skirt by Common Stitch, View B – modified

Fabric: Floral Crinkle Rayon fabric from Joann

Size: 10 AU

Modifications:

  • View B: Two sections instead of three. I did the Top Panel, Mid Panel, and Frill (removed Bottom Panel).
  • French Seams (added an extra 1cm to the width – though its unnecessary as this is a loose garment with plenty of width for gathering)
  • Elastic for Waist: 26″ and 1″ overlap (effectively 25″).  

This skirt is easy peasy to sew, even without a pattern. Though I love a pattern because it lets me turn my brain off and be in the flow of sewing and following instructions. This pattern does take a TON of thread because you baste 2 rows of stitches on the frill and mid panel to create the gathering. I found it challenging to gather or pull on the basting in this rayon fabric. I’m not sure why that happened, maybe it’s the crinkle of the fabric that creates more friction. I didn’t bother to remove the basting stitches after, as I sewed french seams – so the basting stitches ‘disappeared.’ 

Why did I sew french seams?

Because I don’t have a serger and this rayon fabric seemed prone to fraying. I also didn’t think a zigzag stitch would be enough to prevent significant fraying. French seams are easy to add to this garment. There is plenty of fabric – whether or not you add in additional seam allowance – and space for the french seams to sit (i.e. they don’t add extra bulk to the garment). While I didn’t take a photo of this, I did french seam EVERY seam, including the side seams and all the seams that connect each section of the skirt (i.e. the gathers).

Modifications to View B

It very easy to adjust the height of the individual panels or the number of panels you want to include. I left out the Bottom Panel because I wanted the total length of the skirt to hit around or below my knees. 

Hammock life is pretty good
About Sewing with Rayon

I tend towards cotton twills and linens when I sew, and I always have to look up how to work with new to me fabrics. I found this crinkle rayon to be very easy to work with. I followed conventional advice to use a new sharp needle, size 70/10. I also kept the walking foot on my machine, though I don’t feel like it was necessary – I was just too lazy to take it off from my last project. And before I even started, I pre-washed the fabric TWICE in a garment bag, on a delicate cycle (warm) and tumbled dried (warm, removed fabric from the garment bag for drying). Hopefully that prevents any uneven shrinking – though I read that rayon is significantly weakened when it’s wet, so I’ll try to keep laundering to a minimum to increase the longevity of the garment. Both of these articles were useful to me:

I’m happy with how this skirt turned out. I tend to wear it mid to high waist on my body and fitted the elastic for that. It’s a very light garment due to the rayon fabric – which I love and makes it perfect for wearing this summer. I also don’t have many floral patterns in my closet but I am obsessed with earth tones, like this ochre-mustard yellow. I hope I get a lot of use out of this garment! Happy sewing!

p.s. I’m wearing my Fawn skirt with the Blomma Tank in an olive waffle knit. This pattern is free if you sign up for Paradise Pattern’s newsletter (worth it!).

Fleece Hats | No. 1 & 2

Photo of two high pile fleece hats laying on the snow

Why make another hat?

I have a climbing trip at the end of January and am flying a budget airline. I’m packing minimally as I can only bring one bag (plus our “extra” carry on bag which is full of climbing gear). I have plenty of hats, but they’re all knit — wool, acrylic, cashmere. Knits definitely get style points, but when I’m climbing, everything gets covered in dirt and grime and I hate carrying “heavy” extra layers in my small multipitch bag. 

So I started thinking about the fleece hats of my childhood — is Turtle Fur still a brand (they are!), are there cool new indie designer patterns for fleece hats (nope, not really)? Per the last question, it’s probably because it’s incredibly easy to make a fleece hat and they are all pretty much the same. Regardless, I couldn’t find a pattern that was exactly to my liking — so I drafted once from a Madewell knit hat that I like the fit of. What was I looking for?

  • No folded up cuff – I just want to pull the hat onto my head and be done with it
  • A large-ish sewn in cuff – i.e. the place where the fabric is doubled to provide extra comfort and warmth for your ears
  • One main seam – all patterns I saw had 2 cut pieces resulting in two side seams. I wanted one seam at the back
  • Not too slouchy, just slouchy enough – Based on my Madewell hat, 12″ height is my preferred amount of slouch in a hat. Much more and the hat falls down my head and covers my eyes.
  • Using “sherpa” fleece or a high pile fleece – it feels like wearing a cloud! Light and cozy. I used this fleece from JoAnn Fabrics (1/2 yard, color “Stormy Sea”).

Right then, so I probably think way too much about making a basic hat. But, this is why I like making things because I can be overly specific and then adjust or draft a pattern to meet my needs. 

Drafting the pattern

First I measured the hat lying flat. Height 12″, Width 10.5″ = total ‘circumference’ was 21″

Second I measured the hat on my head, it stretched out to a circumference of 24″. The fleece I was working with had enough stretch so I knew I could use the same flat measurements to draft my pattern.

I traced a vertical piece that was the same shape “pillar” to capture the curve of where the hat narrows and the seams come together. Then I drew a quick sketch of how the pattern pieces should be laid out flat with corresponding widths. The total width was 16″ but I needed it to be 21″. I added a 1/2″ on both sides of my “pillar” template, which brought the total width up to 21″. That’s it! It was time to test it out.

How to use the pattern

  1. You’ll need a piece of fabric that is at least w 21″ x h 14″, a chalk pen, and the pattern piece
  2. With the wrong side of the fabric up, align the long edge to 0 and 21 inch marks on your cutting mat or ruler
  3. Start tracing from the middle — place the template on the fabric between 8 and 13 inches. Trace the top of the pattern. Shown in image below.
  4. Move template to the right, align between 13 and 18 inch marks, trace top.
  5. Move the template to the right, align the left side with the 18 inch mark. Only trace half of the top curve.
  6. Repeat steps 4 (3 and 8 inch marks) and 5 (align right of template to inch 3) for the left side.
  7. Cut fabric 
Photo of cut fabric with template laying in the center
Wahoo! Now you're ready to sew.
  1. Wrong side of fabric up still. Sew the main seam (backstitch at start & end). A note about seam allowance and machine settings: I didn’t use a specific seam allowance – I sewed as close to the edge as I could. I also used a large zigzag stitch, as I don’t have a serger. For my Bernette machine, the stitch size was set at 4 and the stitch was the largest zigzag on the dial. Also decreased the tension to 3.5
  2.  Now you  have four “points.” I started from the seamed point, but it doesn’t matter. Fold two points together and align the edge to sew the seam closed. Do this four times until your hat is closed. 
  3. Zigzag the bottom edge (this helps to flatten the high pile fleece &/or give a finished look)
  4. Fold the bottom up 3″ to create a cuff. Try the hat on to see if you like that amount of cuff, adjust as you’d like and then sew (again, close to edge as you can)
  5. Turn the hat right side out – you’re done!
  6. If you want a pompom – I used this tutorial from Whistle & Ivy. It’s very easy and can be completed in 15 minutes or less with 6″ of fabric and a bowl as your template.

A selection of photos of Tepals being very helpful behind the scenes. Working dogs gotta work.

Notes on sewing sherpa fleece

Overall, I found fleece to be very easy to work with. The biggest challenge was squishing the fleece down to get it into my sewing machine, but that wasn’t much of a challenge. 

I didn’t wash the fleece before sewing. Fleece doesn’t shrink and I think the sherpa would get a bit matted down in the wash (best to spot clean). Also, as a polyester fabric, washing sheds microplastics that go into our water — it’s a whole thing. So, not washing is fine.

This fleece is very big or puffy — making it hard to sew with a sewing machine. I read that using a walking foot can help, but I found that I could without one. I used my finger to flatten the fabric as it feed to the foot. Also, because of how fluffy it is, you won’t see your stitches (so don’t worry about neatness).

It also creates a lot of dust. Dusting your machine during and after will help keep the bobbin and other parts in good working order.

Maya Top | No. 2

Inspired by the Hackwith Designs’ Chandler Top and having some extra fabric on hand from my Wiksten tank dress last summer, I decided to sew up another Maya Top.

Pattern: Maya Top by Marilla Walker

Fabric: cotton stripe from Bolt

Size: 4

Modifications:

  • Size up two sizes for the sleeves, to size 6 (redrew lines with a french curve)
  • Straight, cropped hem
  • Added a pocket
  • No facings for neck or sleeves – used 22″ bias for neck

After a month of wearing this top, sizing up wasn’t necessary. It makes the shirt feel a little boxier than it needs to, especially when layering a sweater or jacket on top. Overall, I’m really happy with this shirt. It’s easy to wear and I always love the addition of a striped shirt in my wardrobe.

Future Maya Top Projects: If I find a fabric that is a bit closer in design to the Hackwith inspiration, I will probably do a size 3, add extra length to the hem (about 3-4″), & keep the size up for the sleeves while also, increasing the sleeve length (2-3″).

I’m interested in trying Named Clothing’s Inari Top. The dress version looks elegant & a little slimmer in profile than the Maya top dress. It might be the excuse I need to finally purchase some silk noil from Stone Mountain Fabrics.

A bonus – put the garden beds to rest for winter today & harvested the last of our summer produce.