Sunday, November 22, 2015

Baste & Gather Birkin Jeans: Tested and LOVED!

I did a quick (front, back, yoke) muslin in a non-stretch twill. So they were REALLY snug. My denim has just a touch of stretch (no fiber content available as I got it from SR Harris) so I thought a a non-stretch woven was best for muslining.

They were SO tight! LOL!!!! But I knew they would be fine in the denim.

Based on my 33" waist and 43.5" hips, I chose a size 33. The pattern is of higher rise; not natural-waist high but high. There is 3" of negative ease at the hip and positive ease at the "waist". However, don't be put off by this. Choose based on your natural waist. The area of the body where the waist hits is wider; thus the larger measurement.

Jeans don't normally take a lot of fabric but these are (awesomely!) extreme flares. I was all "pfft! 3 yards?!" but I *totally* used that yardage. I could have preserved a little bit the fabric suggestion.

I cut denim single layer. 1) My sad hands can't take the double layer 2) it's easier to ensure you're on grain.

I lay the denim out and using my wide ruler (5" x 24"), I make 'extra' grainlines. Lining the ruler up with the selvedge I use a pen to make a few extra grainlines across the width of the fabric.

I line up my pattern piece and take measurements from the grainline to the edge of the cutting table at the top, center and bottom to ensure the grainline is straight.  Flip the pattern piece and line up with one of the "new" grainlines and do the same.

No twisted legs!

*Removed 2" from the length on the paper pattern. The pants are designed with 34" finished length and there is no universe (or high heel) that exists in which I need a 34" inseam! :).

*Shortened front crotch length 1/2". This is standard. I haven't 'met' a pants pattern where I didn't need to shorten the front. No change to the back rise though! :-O I didn't need a 'big booty adjustment'! Woohoo!

*1/4" full inner thigh adjustment

*I added 1/2" at the side seam for insurance but ended up sewing a 3/4" seam allowance. So basically the straight pattern with 3/8" side seams. Next time I'll sew 5/8" seams. They relaxed a bit during wear. Not stretched out of shape but just relaxed, as denim does. The next pair will be really snug through the hip.

*Raised the pockets 3/4" and brought them in to center 1/4". The pockets on these are big but I like them.

*Pressed the yoke seam UP instead of down. These jeans manage to be higher rise without making the pockets appear too low, which is one of my biggest gripes with the beloved Gingers. The yoke looks so ridiculously long/tall that it makes many of the versions out there look like the pockets are on the back of folks' thighs! (Obviously the low rise version of that pattern fits differently...). With my Sandra jeans, I shortened the height of the yoke. I will do the same on these. Just a tad. Again, all of my RTW jeans --even higher rise-- have 'skinnier' yokes.

*Used a one piece waistband

*Interfaced the buttonhole area (the waistband doesn't need interfacing and none of my RTW jeans have an interfaced w/b). But I've learned the hard way, and especially with stretch denim, to interface the buttonhole! Or alternatively, use a stabilizer.

*I cut the extension off the wrong front piece. And instead of just reversing my zipper, without thinking, I cut the extension off the other side too! So I don't have a perfectly hidden zipper now :(

*I must have dulled my needle at some point and continued trying to sew with it. It was hell. I spent nearly 2 hours sewing and ripping out topstitching on the fly front before it was halfway presentable. My thread kept nesting, breaking, shredding. It was horrible!!! I took a break (I had a massage already scheduled that day - ahhhh!) and came back and got it done. I then basted the side seams. The next day, I sewed the (deeper) side seams, pressed, serged and was ready to attach the waistband.

I was initially using a hot pink jeans zipper and went to remove the teeth. I did one side and then zipped it to ensure the other side was even.

You see where this is going?

I pulled the zipper pull off the top of the one side.  Now, I've done this before and found the 'fix' of putting it on from the bottom. But, I have never, ever did this and had a zipper work 'normally' after. It catches, it skips, it doesn't work well...So I did the unthinkable.

I ripped out all the fly front stitching. The topstitching, the zipper stitching, all of it. And inserted a new zipper. So disappointed in the results though. This was made MUCH harder as the pants were fully assembled at this point so trying to work around everything was tough.

Took several tries again for the fly topstitching and it isn't perfect. My thread kept nesting and I kind of gave up.


*All this waste of thread and redoing things...I ran out of topstitching thread. Seriously. I still needed to do the waistband and hem. At this point I am over the whole process. I mean, I like the jeans and it isn't their fault! :) But I was OVER.IT.

Luckily the second time I sewed jeans I decided to get regular thread, that matched the topstitching thread, to use in the bobbin. I just doubled this thread to do the remaining topstitching.

Isn't that a thing of BEAUTY!?!? I think from now on I'll just topstitch with two spools. Worked marvelously.

*I somehow missed that the waistband piece was cut 2 -- as in waistband and facing. All of my jeans have a single waistband piece that is folded over. And then I didn't have a large enough piece. I wasn't thinking; I should have just added a CB seam for the waistband. I was clearly not functioning at my peak at this point. I needed that CB seam because my waistband was gaping like crazy. Again, being OVER.IT., I used the elastic trick that I've used on RTW denim instead of having them taken in at the waist. I have a 10" length of elastic that is stitched at the ends. The stitching is hidden by the carriers.

*They fit very well through the butt, hips and thighs. Really love the fit!

*The fabric is nice. Heavy but not too much so. They suck everything in nicely! And just a little bit of lycra. I hate really stretchy jeans. Hate. Hate. Hate.

*The flare is SO fun!!! I want to make another pair in a lighter wash denim.

*There are some really great tips for sewing these! Things that I'd not thought of before and really help to make things look handmade vs. homemade!

Just a couple...

*The front pockets are shallow. But the bottom of the pocket piece is straight so deepening them will be a cinch. I need at least another inch of pocket depth. If my phone can't fit, it's not okay! ;-)

The final pattern will have pockets with 1" additional depth.

*The coin pocket. It is prepared same as the back pocket. When I chose the SA Sandra as my intro-to-jeans pattern, I reviewed others in my stash -and- my RTW jeans. All of them have the coin pocket 'caught' in the stitching/serging of the front facing piece.

Blunders and mishaps aside...I LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!

That flare is *EPIC* 

The pattern is really fantastic and my mishaps were just me having rough sewing days. I do have a couple cuts of denim in stash but nothing that's 3 yards. I'll be on the lookout for a lighter denim to make another pair. Maybe gray <3

I've tested a few patterns now but I think it's clear that I wouldn't do a test unless it was a garment I was actually enthused about. It's time and effort and often on a tight deadline and who wants to do all that work *JUST* to get a free pattern?! Not I.

I hemmed these Saturday morning and took the photos above...and then I decided I just had to wear these that day. Styled as such:

I felt really awesome and glamorous and fantastic all day!!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

I Would Like to Be...The Outerwear Queen!

Long before I started sewing I would have conversations with friends and while many of us were shoe lovers, most of them were also bag lovers.

I don't care about bags.

I buy one $40 bag, preferably in a neutral, and carry it til it dies.

But outerwear. Oh how I love outerwear!!!

I have at least a 15 outerwear pieces in my closet. I have a whole closet for my outerwear!

Happily, I am up to 5 handmade outerwear items! Well, that number will be changing in the near future! LOL!!!

I'd just posted on Instagram to day how happy I am that this coat fits again.

I scored it for $30 on clearance at JC Penney one year, after seeing it for $140 at Macy's on clearance. I think I bought this coat in '07 or '08 but I think it still wears really well.

It has a bubble hem, slightly puffed sleeves gathered at the wrists and a funnel collar. So feminine and so much to love! 

And then someone posted on PR about a OOP/Vintage outerwear sale on EBay (Here, NAYY), where I managed to buy this little lovely:

S8975, Vintage 1970s trench

And then I was minding my own business and saw that Closet Case Files released a new pattern, the Clare.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of their patterns and don't follow the blog. It was an IG post that hipped me and OHMYGOSH I have to have it!!!!! I think both coats can fit in with my extensive collection!

IMO, *THIS* is the kind of interest I think of when I consider dropping major bucks --which I consider an $18 pattern -- on an Indie. So many things are not interesting enough to warrant stepping out of the Big4 box. And I don't seem to have the problems with Big4 that many complain about. I sew "my" size, I make "my" adjustments, and by and large, that formula works!

Now, I'm not saying "this is the most innovative thing in the history of all the things ever and that no coat pattern like this has ever been made ever in history."

Yes, I am being difficult! I'm just saying, It is cute, it's different, and looks like it'd be fun to sew and wear. Winner!

Good thing I haven't been buying fabric!!! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Burda (Con't!) 10/2015 #109

Yep, Burda has my attention right now!

After making the top and cowl, I decided that this top would also look pretty danged cute.

I will say one thing about Burda, I think for the most part what you see is what you get. So this boxy oversized look on the model is how the pattern will come out sewn in your size.

But it works!!!

It was quick to sew; I had the collar traced off but none of the other pieces. I got them traced out and got it sewn Saturday morning. I hemmed it later in the day and then didn't take it off until bedtime. It's SO cozy!

I used a size 42. While I won't say I'd go down to a 40 if sewn again, I'd just leave off my seam allowances from the sleeve and side seams. I added 3/8" SAs and ended up removing 5/8" from the sleeves and sides (total of 2.5" removed all around the body and 1.25" from the sleeves!).

I used a regular zipper instead of an invisible and for some reason decided to top-stitch it. Atrocious. I unpicked it and redid it but honestly, it doesn't look that much better :-p But you can barely see it so.... LOL!

The description mentions the zipper making it 'easier to get on/off' but it is not necessary to get it on and off.

I like the hi-low on this one! I wish I would have topstitched that horizontal seam. I pressed and pressed and it still flips up/down in certain places. 

I do have to 'arrange it' when I first put it on but after that it isn't fussy.

OMG one isssue; the long collar is folded down to create a facing. Every time I put it on my head gets stuck! LOL!

The sleeves are roomy but if you look at the line drawing and how the yoke comes down, I think that they have no other 'choice' but to be roomy.

I initially added 1" hem allowance which I never need hem allowance with straight sized Burda. I decided that with the yoke, a wide hem would be nice. I hemmed it at 1 3/4". I had also added 1" for the sleeve hem. I trimmed away 1" and hemmed it 1.5".  I used fusible tape in the hems and a double needle.

I really like this pattern. It went together quickly and very nicely. It also helped that it was the featured pattern so it was hi-lighted on the pattern sheet in pink (easier to trace!) and you get step by step illustrated instructions. Score!

The Burda fest continues after I finish this pattern test!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Burda Fest (Part One?)

It's looking like November is going to be a Burda! Burda! Burda!! month.

You'll have to forgive the photos. I was losing daylight by the second and won't be able to do photos again until Saturday. And I already have FOUR other things to blog. I couldn't get further behind!!!!

On with it!

When the preview for October came out, all I could see was this "top". Then I learned it was a sleeveless top and capelet combo.

I was smitten.

The cowl and back bands are integrated (it's a weird pattern piece!). It has release pleats in front, bust darts and darts that release in back.

It is shown once as a knit and once as a woven and includes a zipper. With the low back, in a knit, a zipper is not needed. Also, Dawn at Two On Two Off made it in a woven and still eliminated the zipper. So ymmv.

I was extra happy when I saw that it was the sewing lesson pattern - yay!


Still Burda-fied. I don't know what in the heck they wanted me to do with finishing the neckline. No clue. At all. Like, I don't even know. Total make it work moment.

Maybe one day someone more experienced than me will post a show and tell and make this make sense because it is a beautiful top. I have some fit issues that would need correcting but I would totally make this again!!!

The back bands are gaping on me. The top pic on the right is where I attempted to pull it in a bit closer to my back. I just sewed it diagonally, but I need a better fit at the shoulder as well.

I used a size 40 through the neck/shoulder and 42 for the rest.
I typically do not need an FBA or to lower bust darts with Burda.
I meant to do a swayback adjustment -- forgot. Dang it.
I used bindings on the armholes instead of the included facings. Bad idea. The shoulder is a bit dropped and I think it looks weird with the bindings.
I added a 1 1/4" hem allowance (which I normally skip hem allowances on regular sized Burda patterns). I removed 3/8" and still used a 1 1/4" allowance. 

I think it's so cute!!!!! 

I did make another silly mistake; there is another pattern that uses this cowl. For this pattern the top part should be about 7" shorter! hahaha! So I'm going to chop it off and re-hem. As is it's crazy 'tall'! FYI in the other pattern it is folded in half so still; not intended to be a ginormous collar :)

I can't say I'll make a bunch of these :-p but I will make the top again. I think it would be beautiful in a woven. I'll have to muslin that. 

I kind of want the other pattern too that uses this collar; need to go digging in the stash for a fabric. 


And FINALLY!!!!!! I made the skirt from the August issue!!!!


I would totally make this in a stripe for chevron or in something with drape. Ahhhh.

As it were I used a double-sided suiting fabric (composition unknown; it doesn't love being pressed without lots of steam).

I used a 42 for the front and a 44 for the back (that's my new thing with skirts; works wonderfully!).
I added no hem allowance and hemmed it 1 1/4" using catch stitch. Next time I'll do slipstitch in the back, at least.
I added 1" side seam allowance (3/8" everywhere else). I ended using 3/4" seam allowance at the waist and 1" for the rest. I will do a slash and spread to add the needed waist room.
I used a lapped zipper instead of invisible and made a tab with button.

I. Love. It.


I can't tell you how many times I've tried it on. The asymmetry is very subtle. It's higher at CF and slopes down to the side seams, which then dips down in back.

Did I mention that I love it?

The front sits nice and flat. It sits a little higher on the waist

My daughter has this thrifted skirt (cobalt blue, 100% wool,'s gorgeous) and I was looking (admiring!) at it recently. I loved the lapped zipper and button tab and decided to use that on this skirt.

I just seem to favor a lapped zipper on skirts lately :)


Totally should have slipped stitch. Dang it.

I realized I was putting this project off and had to figure out why.

I was afraid!

Reading the directions I was all "WHAT THE HECK?!" with the back waistband but front facing. "WHY would they do that?!?"

Well, they did it because it is a beautiful finish! :)

And not nearly as complicated as I was allowing my brain to make it out to be. The back piece is just "short" the amount of the waistband...once the back waistband pieces are on then it's easy-peasy. I sewed the side seams through the facings, understitched the front facing, pressed everything, and stitched in the ditch on the back facing. 

I like how it can read as grey; and plan to wear it as pictured Thursday or Friday!


 Lastly, I was selected as a "Top 50" Blogger by Burda. Yay! While I won't do the affiliate program at this time, I will gladly take the 5 free patterns that I won. There are some items from 2012 and 2013 that I must have! :)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November Plans Plus Other Thoughts

November plans:

I've agreed to blog for Fabric Mart for a little while (6 months I think??). This was a tough decision!! I've been contact by Wawak and Burda to become an affiliate but decided against it. I think this FM set up is a bit different and feels less forced. Probably because 85% of my fabric is from FM! My posts will generally go up the last week of the month.

*My plan for the first post is this Burda jacket.

I really like the lapels and stance on this one. And it's got princess seams, a CB seam and real welts! I will muslin it first! :)

I really like the skirt too, so we will see how that goes! I'm using a wool/poly tweed that was Sue's pick not too long ago and is currently on sale for 50% off; Here

*I also plan to sew something for the PR colorblocked contest that starts November 15.

*I'm totally going to finally sew the skirt from the 08/2015 Burda

*And I want(!) this top from Burda 10/2015. 

It's so awesome. Probably totally impractical :-) but so cute!


* Do you get annoyed by bloggers who don't respond? I think it's fine when there's a lot of comments that are generally positive encouragement, not necessarily responding "thank you" to every one. But I mean a blogger who gets asked a question of clarification or their opinion on something related to the garment and then they don't reply. So you wait awhile (e.g. they've posted 2-3 more posts) and you go check. Nope. Nothing. But you see they responded to another person on something.  Maybe they just don't like me... :-p

* Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch posted today how she got in deeper than she wanted sewing for a coworker. I'm (obviously) not criticizing her choice to say yes!! Just saying, I've gotten really good at saying no. Well, let's face it, I am just good at saying no to things I don't want to do! Let my family tell it, I am mean. What I know is that people will take and take and take if you let them. Often with no ill intent, I'm sure. And the giver feels burnt out--fast. I had this revelation just before my 30th birthday. And now, it's really, really easy to say, Hmm. No, I can't/don't want to/etc. If I'm feeling particularly nice I may actually give a reason!

My (close) younger cousin is getting married next summer. She asked me to make her veil. There are so many reasons to say no (which I did). Let us enumerate!

1) I don't enjoy sewing for others unless I decide to sew something for someone. E.g., asking me will zap my mojo. I had fun sewing the things I made my mom earlier this year and sewing my sister's dresses. But the minute I am asked to make xyz I don't want to do it. 

2) IT'S A VEIL! My mom made my veil. But I was one of the most low-maintenance brides ever. I honestly don't even know if it matched perfectly or if the trim matched perfectly because who cares? MY MAMA MADE MY VEIL! :)

3) IT'S A VEIL! No really, this needs to be continued. It's tulle. It should be good tulle. I don't even know where to get good tulle or how much good tulle costs! 

4) She wanted a cathedral length veil! Uhmm. 'nuff said.

5) She lives out of state. So fabric choices, length, trim, attachment piece, etc...All that would have to either a) be decided by the non-sewer or b) be decided by the sewer who is not the bride. No.Thank.You.

So, " can't do that. There's too many possible pitfalls." was my response.

* Aside from the fabric for my Fabric Mart post this month, I haven't purchased fabric since the beginning of August. I've been sewing from stash for 3 whole months now! And a funny thing has happened...I just can't get myself to pull the trigger on any fabric. Oh, I open the Fabric Mart emails...I've added things to my cart a couple of times. But then I manage to just close out. Now I feel confident that I can make it through December! I will end up getting something from FM for my December project, but these cuts aren't going into stash which is the real "problem"! 

* Related to fabric budgeting...household budget has been tight. My daughter is really and truly a fantastic kid. Not that my son isn't but he's got 2 whole years to get to senior year! :-p
She works and would gladly fork over money for a lot of the expenses that are being incurred but I won't let her. I did tell her she has to have her own spending money for her band trip next month, so there's that :)

*Unrelated to budget I am tired and exhausted and stressed out and tired. And I need to figure it out because it is now manifesting as physical pain. Yay me. Sigh. 

*Related to my awesome girl, she has already received notification of her spot in the 2020 class of the University of Minnesota - Morris! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And since they heavily recruited her, let's cross our fingers until January/February and hope for an amazing financial aid package! :-p