More Pants Problems

I made a few tweaks to Burda 7447 and decided to try again. I was feeling pretty good about everything. I even lined these suckers. Now I’ve got the waistband all but finished and I’ve made a very sad realization…I cannot sit comfortably in these pants. So I haven’t quite learned all my fitting lessons yet.

I pulled out the tripod and the remote again to do my “fit-by-photo” and I’ve realized that the 1/4″ I shaved off the back inseam was not really necessary. Can you see it pulling?

I’m going to have to see if I can rescue the pants, but everything is pretty finished at this point. In any case, this wool blend that I purchased at A Fashionable Stitch is lovely and a much better weight and drape for the pattern than the cotton twill I used on my previous pair.


Printed Patterns, my new trick

Have you started using downloaded sewing patterns that you print at home? Many new indie pattern designers are using this platform for distributing their patterns. When I have a choice I generally go the old-fashioned way and get the pattern already printed in a pretty little envelope. But there are times when I want the pattern now and there are times when a really great pattern only comes as a download.

I am working on the Grainline Archer. For $10.50 it’s a steal. And I’m sure I’ll love it once I tape together the pages and get a usable pattern together.

I came up with this little trick while I was cutting the pages.


Before I figured out this trick I decided the best way to put it together is to cut the edges off one long and one short edge of each page then overlap the pages. I tried using my paper cutter, but that wasn’t working because the edges weren’t always quite straight. I was getting tired of using the scissors on each edge, so I came up with this compromise.
In step 2 you can see that I’ve cut off three corners which surround the 2 edges I need to trim.
In step 3 you see that I’ve lined up the line on the edge of the pattern with the line on the paper cutter.
Step 4 shows what the edge looks like after it’s trimmed.
Step 5 shows the trimmed page ready to be taped into the giant conglomerate of pattern pages.

Just repeat these steps about 64 times and you’ve got a pattern ready to be traced.

I’m not sure this is genius, but it’s the best I’ve got.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


I am still working on fitting my pants. The pattern is Burda 7447. I think the pattern itself is great. I just have a problem with the crotch being a little on the baggy size on basically every pant I make. I fiddled around with it for quite a while. I started by just scooping out some of the front crotch curve, but then I got to the point where I couldn’t get the fit close enough with this method.

So I went back to the method I used on my jeans and pinched out a small dart (or “wedge adjustment”). I recut the pants front with this alteration and tried again.

I didn’t really have my “aha” moment until I pulled out my camera and took these photos. Nothing is pulling tightly in these pants, but there is some pulling under the crotch. I wore them the evening I took these photos. They weren’t uncomfortable at all, but they just didn’t feel “right.”

I feel like these pants are a failure, but the experience is not a complete failure. What I learned is that when I am having fitting issues I need to take some photos and step back and look at them before I start frantically trying different methods.

I keep forgetting that I am in fact a pear shape (thanks Tasia for sharing this with me). I may need to look further into this with regard to my pants fitting quest.

And also, this is the Hot Italian’s favorite shirt but I don’t think it looks so awesome in these shots. I’m wondering if he likes it because I usually wear it with skinny jeans. This fit-by-photo expedition may give me greater insight into my wardrobe as a whole. I’m looking forward to the experience and hope you’ll offer your own insights along the way.


2014 Wardrobe Challenge…and rambling

Sewing things that actually get worn in my everyday life seems to be a goal on a lot of sewist’s minds these days.

My resolution for sewing this year is to sew items that will be useful to my wardrobe.

I just finished making a dress. It’s cute and fairly casual, but I will never wear it to work because I work in an office/job where I wear pants every day. I took the time to fit in impeccably and finish it with all the cute details, but I will wear it maybe once a month at best. What I really need is some great everyday tops that are dressier than a t-shirt and can be layered with other things.

So my first sewing goal for the year is to make 3 tops that fit this bill. In this post I started making some plans.

I won Liesl + Co’s weekend getaway blouse on a Pattern Review Challenge.

I plan to make this with a piece of white silk that I’ve been procrastinating using because I’ve never sewn with silk before.
Then I need to make my Alma blouse and a knit top as previously planned. I’ve made the Alma before, and I’ve ordered this Jalie pattern. I’ve got high hopes for this Jalie pattern. I’ve been actively searching for a knit top pattern that was more than a t-shirt for a while now. I tried Hot Patterns 1002 and it didn’t work for me at all. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover the Jalie pattern.
My resolution for blogging this year is to take and post photos of myself in the garments that I’ve made. I bought a wireless remote for my camera that I need to start playing with.



Holiday Sewing

It’s a bit of a sore spot for the Hot Italian, but I am a selfish seamstress. I prefer sewing for myself 99.9% of the time. Second to myself, I prefer simple sewing projects for children. Third, simple home décor projects. Fourth, other handmade type gifts. And DEAD LAST, anything the Hot Italian thinks I should make for him.

In any case, December was a tough month for me because I committed to only do holiday sewing and no selfish sewing.

I finished our tree skirt. Well, I did most of it. My lovely mother offered to bind the edges for me. I made the pooch a Christmas stocking and made a table runner for my sister-in-law.

I do love giving handmade gifts. I love being able to give someone something that they couldn’t just buy themselves. I almost got a gift card, but I spent the evening on this Pinterest-inspired runner.



Making Plans

I was inspired by Carolyn’s post on Crazy 8 Wardrobe Planning. This is exactly what I need since I’ve rediscovered my love for apparel sewing.

I’m not quite ready for Goodbye Valentino’s ready to wear fast, but I think I might be up for a Me-Made May challenge. Now that I’ve worked through a few pants fitting issues I should be able to get a few pairs made that I could wear to work by May.

I need to make 8 items:

  • One jacket
  • One cardigan
  • Two tops
  • One blouse
  • One pair of pants
  • One skirt
  • One dress

My color scheme will be charcoal grey and teal, but I might shop my stash and see if any colors speak to me.

The Jacket – undecided, maybe Sewaholic Cordova
The Cardigan – view A or B of McCall’s 6844, I already have a grey version of view C

The Tops/BlouseA Sewaholic Alma Blouse with collar and 3/4 sleeves, this one is cute

Two more tops, still undecided. One with a button front and one in knit.
The Pants – Burda 7447. My first try was pretty good, but had a baggy crotch and I abandoned them.
The Skirt – I don’t really need a grey skirt, so maybe I’ll make a teal one. I’d like to try Simplicity 1541.
The Dress – I need a good sheath dress that is work appropriate. Most of my dresses are not really sleek and professional. New Look has a hundred sheath patterns and I’m sure I have more than one in my stash.

The other part of my plan is to only buy fabrics for the above items – a fabric fast so to speak. I will use as many fabrics from my stash as possible.

Right now I’m doing some holiday sewing so it’s all hush hush, but come January I’ll be back to building my wardrobe!


I made JEANS [McCalls 6610]

Just recently all my favorite jeans seem to have worn out. Since I’ve been on quite a sewing binge lately I decided to give pants another chance. I bought and returned a $100.00 pair of jeans to tide me over while I sewed. After only a few hours of wear the yoke had stretched out and bulged. Since I’m usually a $30-50 jeans girl I was particularly disappointed that these jeans couldn’t maintain a good fit for a day’s wear and took them back.

My recent attempts at pants have been fairly unsuccessful. I even took a four week class and wasn’t happy with the pants I produced from the $200 tuition.

I purchased Angela Wolf’s jeans class on Craftsy hoping that she could give me some new tips to help me in my efforts. (The class is on sale for $19.99 right now and I recommend it highly)

I decided to take a week long “staycation” for the week of Thanksgiving. On my agenda were shopping for the Salvation Army Angel Tree (we adopted a 4 year old girl to shop for), daily yoga or other exercise, healthy meals, and SEWING.

I finished my Woodland Stroll Cape and made a denim Colette Ginger. Then I made a pair of ponte leggings using McCalls 6173.

I made a discovery while making my leggings. Although they are a stretch fabric and should be fairly easy to fit I still got the dreaded bagginess at the crotch that has been plaguing me. I decided it was good enough and moved on to the jeans. When I sat down I noticed a little dart forming at the crotch that got me thinking about what I might do in the future to remedy this issue.

I made a muslin of McCalls 6610 in a size 12. The pattern measurements suggested a 14 but judging by the looser fit on the envelope I thought I could get by with a 12. My muslin was tight, but I knew that would be OK because I was going to use a stretch denim for the final garment. But even still, the baggy crotch was there.

The alteration that we tried in my pants class didn’t work for my baggy crotch. I looked in my new fitting book that my American Sewing Guild buddy gave me and also my pants book and I could not find the answer. So I hesitantly googled “baggy crotch pattern alteration” worried about what that combination of words might produce. I found a sewing blog for petites. I am not at all petite at 5’8″ but I decided to give it a whirl.

Image taken from

It was magical. Taking out that “dart” of fabric at the crotch curve was just what I needed.

I still had quite a few fitting adjustments to make as I put these together because I wanted them to be just right. I slimmed down the legs quite a bit to make them more of a skinny leg rather than a straight leg. It didn’t turn out to be just as easy as increasing the seam allowances below the knee for me. I ended up with baggy knees. Luckily I had enough fabric on each side of the leg to make another “dart” at the knees to straighten them out and eliminate the excess fabric, something like what you’d do for knocked knees.

Another adjustment I made was to draft a curved waistband rather than the straight waistband in the pattern. This made for a better fit at the waistline. I also combined the two pocket pieces like Angela Wolf recommends. It’s a completely unnecessary seam at the bottom of the pocket.


All of this basting, adjusting, and resewing took up most of my Thanksgiving weekend but I’m happy with the result.

I decided to forego the distressing technique Angela teaches for this pair of jeans. I did however use her topstitching tips. I loosened the needle tension, used a jeans needle, and used two spools of matching thread rather than struggling with topstitching thread. The result is a little more subtle than regular topstitching but I am happy with it. I used an olive green thread just to have something a little different than the usual gold or white.

I convinced the Hot Italian to take a few photos. He insisted on the hip pop.

8a433-mc6610back3b9e9-mccalls6610frontThese jeans have a higher waist than what is most common right now, but I think that the higher waist suits my pear shape and doesn’t look at all matronly. The Hot Italian says that these are the most expensive jeans I’ve ever owned simply because I spent about 30 hours perfecting them. The supplies themselves were less than $20.

Update 2/1/14: I’ve just become a Craftsy affiliate. After purchasing several of their courses I have chosen to advertise on my blog.


Liesl + Co Woodland Stroll Cape

This year I started trying out a few indie patterns. I’m a sucker for the $1 pattern sales at Joann, but some of the indie patterns are just so appealing.

My latest was the Liesl + Co Woodland Stroll Cape. I was attracted to it ever since I saw it and then when Pattern Review announced a contest I had no excuse.

It’s a really unique design and a breeze to put together. It doesn’t take much fabric either. I ordered a piece of plaid wool but it hasn’t arrived yet and I had this cute blue and grey floral brocade in my stash. This is a great stash buster because of it takes so little fabric. I even used a navy lining I had in my stash so I get double points for stash busting on this project.

I have yet to master selfies, or whatever you want to call them. I think Santa will be putting a wireless shutter release in my stocking this year. So until then I will have to just post photos on the hanger. Be warned, it’s 100% cuter on than it is on the hanger.

My measurements were just on the verge of the size small (4-6). I probably would have made a medium, but with the obvious amount of ease in the pattern I thought a small would work. For reference, I’m a 34″ bust, 28″ waist, and 39″ hip. I decided the hip measurement didn’t matter much since it hits at the high hip and doesn’t have any restriction there. In any case, here she is:

60493-woodlandstrollcapeYesterday I wore her with a long sleeve grey t-shirt and the Hot Italian said it was cute. I figure he has pretty good taste.

Some Ideas for Your First Skirt

I think a skirt is a great project for learning to sew. There aren’t many seams and they go together fairly quickly. It’s important to have some good successes early on when learning to sew. That keeps you motivated to try more advanced techniques as your skills develop.

I’m still hesitant to recommend knits for a first sewing project. Some people seem to have trouble with knits. But knits are so easy to fit, so if you do go for a knit I recommend a ponte knit. Ponte knits are fairly thick and stable. They are the easiest as far as knits go. Ponte knits have become very popular with ready to wear (RTW) these days and most fabric stores are starting to carry a pretty good selection.

I’ve made a few skirts with McCalls 6654. It’s a great pattern and very simple. It has options for a straight skirt and a more flared skirt.

In my opinion a lightweight cotton would be the easiest for a first skirt pattern. The high-low style is really in (still I hope?). Two patterns I found that are fairly simple are McCalls 6567 and Simplicity 1662. The two patterns are practically identical, so just watch your sewing ads and see which one comes up on sale first!

If you’re feeling ready to use a zipper and add a waistband there are a lot of options. I just made a skirt using the Colette Ginger pattern. It’s lovely. You can’t get it at JoAnn or Hancock and it will cost you about $12-16 but I was surprised at how great the fit is. Although it’s an A-line skirt it still has great shaping through the hip area which is what makes it a cut above your basic A-line skirt. And it has some really cute waistband options.
If that’s not your price point, Simplicity has a good pattern in their Learn to Sew series (2314). I haven’t tried it personally, but it looks similar to the Colette Ginger with a little less curve through the hip.
Another option is Simplicity 2286. It has a more gathered flirty youthful style.
Since I’m also teaching girls sewing, I’ve been trying to find girls patterns to fit this class. It’s been really difficult. I think I might just grade down a misses pattern if I need to. If you have any that you like please let me know.

What I’ve Learned about Teaching Sewing…so far

I had my first sewing class several days ago. It was a lot of fun and a little chaotic. There were four girls (ages 11-15) and two moms. We had three sewing machines and were all together in my living room. Luckily I have a good sized living room and I purchased a few small sturdy folding tables and some extension cords.

We made an infinity scarf. I will post the tutorial soon. It was perfect for a beginning project. All straight seams and a little bit of handsewing.

I taught the girls a little bit about their sewing machines. We wound a bobbin, loaded it, and threaded the machine. Then we practiced sewing straight lines on pieces of fabric. I taught them how to secure the seam with a backstitch at each end. This concept seemed more difficult to them than I expected. They were backstitching for an inch or so every time, but I guess it doesn’t hurt anything.

One thing I read about learning to sew is that you should pay more attention to the edge of the fabric than the needle to keep your lines straight. I guess I’ve been doing it for so long that I forgot that’s how it’s done. To help the girls remember which line they need to follow I shared this little tip with them…

b481b-seamallowanceDuring our next class we’re going to start a skirt. My plan is to talk about picking a pattern, measuring for your size, choosing fabric, and preparing the fabric and pattern.