Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Disaster turned favorite: jeans shorts

These jeans shorts wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the Jeans in June & July -challenge by Sew Busy Lizzy. My story is the same as everybody else's: would love to make jeans if it weren't for all the stitching and fitting.

I managed to overcome these obstacles though. I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears and finally cut my favorite pair of old jeans to pieces. It just feels so WRONG to cut into a finished garment. My old jeans had pretty much reached the end of their road though, and the fit was great so I didn't want to waste that.

During the making of the Unselfish golf shorts, I realized that I kind of like top stitching and top stitching thread in particular. So you see, I ran out of excuses for not making a pair of jeans.

The intended pair of jeans ended up being shorts for two reasons. For one, the deadline for the challenge was the end of July. As I'm writing this we've had the hottest week of the year here, so I couldn't muster the will power to squeeze into a pair of jeans even for fitting purposes. The second reason was that if the jeans turned out to be a disaster, I wouldn't have wasted nearly as much fabric if I only made shorts. And besides, all the problems occur above the knees anyway, so a pair of shorts are just as tricky and time consuming as a pair of pants.

I googled for some back pocket stitching inspiration, and found the design I used here. I wanted to keep the stitching pretty classic, but added some green stitching to make them feel my own. Obviously I wanted to use purple, but my local fabric store doesn't share my love for all things purple and doesn't stock top stitching thread in that color. I know you are as shocked as I am.

So there I was, happily stitching along, feeling confident in my skills and the marvelous fit of the shorts-to-be - but then disaster struck. I tried them on for the first time - and I could barely get them past my knees. A fitting disaster! I had underestimated the difference between super and ridiculously super stretchy denim!

I had left a little more seam allowance than usual, and was able to squeeze out enough extra width to fit into the shorts. They were still very tight though, and by tight I don't mean 'oh, these are a bit snug' but more along the lines of 'I can't feel my lady parts'. I let out all the seams by 2-3 cm:s, and this is a stretchy denim. I have no idea how much to add when I'm going to attempt these in a regular denim.

 I probably made this face when I tried the shorts on for the first time. You can almost see how I'm contemplating alternative hobbies: stamp collecting, bird watching and other relaxing and fulfilling pastimes. But I persevered. The waist band fits great since I made a muslin for it only after I was happy with the fit of the shorts. I followed Katie's advice and didn't interface the lining. At least it feels great with all the stretch in the denim.

 I really really really like these shorts and I'm hoping that some poor quality lycra and sheer will power will make them stretch out. I can't will my ass to get any smaller, but I can ignore the tingling sensation in my thighs. Right now I have been wearing them all day, and they have stretched out noticeably. I didn't hem them though, since it makes them even tighter around the thighs. Any ideas on that? Can I just leave the hem as is, or can I stitch it with a stretch stitch to keep them from fraying?

These disaster-turned-favorite shorts are also part of the Summer Stashbust, yay!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Help! How do you finish your chiffon edges?

I'm stuck. I can't decide what to do. I have three (!) chiffon tops planned - but I don't know how to finish the neck line and arm scythes. Help me please!

For the pattern I decided to do a mash-up of models 11 and 12 from the German magazine Meine N√§hmode 3/2014. My plan is to make a wearable muslin and hopefully get the pattern right and then make two more.

This is my fabric for the wearable muslin. Yep, one of those moments of what-was-I-thinking, but I like the yellow sooo much.

These two fabrics I got on sale earlier this summer and I immediately thought flowy summer top!

So now I need help. I have never made anything unlined with chiffon earlier and now I'm struggling with the finishing. I was thinking of using french seams for the first.time.ever on this project, and for the hem I plan to turn it under twice and topstitch. But the neckline and arm scythes? I have a newly found love for visible self-fabric bias tape, but am I setting myself up for a nervous breakdown with the chiffon?

How do you finish your chiffon? I'm grateful for all the help I can get!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

More jersey and lace

This is the younger sister of my red jersey and lace top. No major changes, I just tweaked the pattern a bit.

My biggest issue with my first version was that it was snugger than I intended, so I added a whopping 10 cm at the center front hemline this time. I like it much better now, although it doesn't feel as wide as I thought it would, probably because this jersey isn't nearly as stretchy as my red viscose from jersey-hell.

The jersey is from my mum's stash (!) and I barely managed to squeeze out this top from the left-over piece. I got this matching lace to go with it, and it was the only one in the store that was even nearly the right shade of white. It's so sheer it reminds me of a veil, but I'm liking it more and more. 

I tried finishing the neck line and arm scythes with a double needle as I did with my red top, but the lace wouldn't have any of it. Instead I finished the edges by overlocking them, pressing them to the wrong side and stitching them down with a stretch stitch. This was a totally new technique to me, but it seems to be stretchy enough, and quite pretty actually. It took some trial and error though. I had cranked up the differential feed on my serger after sewing the side seams, which meant that the first time around the serged edge wasn't nearly stretchy enough and I had to rip it out. But then, success! A new technique to add to my repertoire.

Oh and this time I basted the lace to the jersey with my sewing machine before serging the edges. Yay for me!

This really was the perfect Summer Stashbust-project, and extra points for reducing my mom's stash right?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jersey and lace top

For my summer wardrobe, I needed to get back to basics. I don't have enough tops that I like, especially comfy knit ones I would like to wear all day. At the same time, my fabric stash was giving me a bad conscience; you know with the old ones glaring at you every time you come home with something new and pretty. I pulled out a leftover piece of red viscose jersey that I had just enough of and bought some red polyester lace to go with it.

And here comes a first for me - a RTW knock-off! I took one of my favorite RTW tops and traced around the edges of both the front and back pieces. I wasn't too meticulous, but I checked that my shoulder and side seams were the same length for both pieces. I cut both the front and back pieces on the fold.

My inspiration. The lace is so cute!
Now that I look at this picture I realize that the original top has some gathering at the center front.
Whoops, that might explain why my knock-off turned ot too snug.

Next I decided how low I wanted my lace to go. I measured where my bra was, both at the front and back, and drew the seam line accordingly. As long as I get to decide, I won't be flashing any underwear.

I then cut both the front and back pattern pieces into two separate pieces along the lines I drew. This seam doesn't include seam allowance, so I made a note on the pattern pieces so that I would remember to add it when I cut the fabric. 

When adding any kind of seam that begins at the arm scythe, whether it's a princess seam or a vertical seam like mine, take a minute to check how the positioning of the seams look from the side. I think a safe way to go is to try and match the seams so that they are at the same height. You can position the seams just the way you like though, just be aware of the side view as well. 

I found the original RTW top a bit snug, so I wanted a bit more ease. I did this by shifting the front pattern piece 1 cm away from the folded edge of the fabric at the hemline. This way I got two more centimeters at the front hemline, but the vertical seam at the top stayed the same length. The result wouldn't have been exactly the same if I would have added the extra ease to the side seams instead of the centre. My alteration however was so small, that you probably couldn't tell the difference. It also depends on the drape of the fabric. I did no alterations to the fit of the back piece.

Then on to sewing. It wasn't easy. I don't sew knits a lot, and this viscose was slippery as... I used a lot of pins to match the edges of the jersey and the lace. Be aware of this if you draw a curvy line -the matching is... challenging. Of course I was lazy and went straight on to sewing all the seams with my serger -which means that there's no room for error. Even as I was sitting at my sewing table I was asking myself: why do you do this?! At least baste the goddamn pieces together! But no, rational thinking has nothing to do with sewing sometimes.

I was apprehensive of the finishing of the neckline and arm scythes. I decided to take the easy way out and turned my 1,5 cm seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric, steamed it into place and stitched it down with a double needle. I'm not a big fan of the double needle, I'm usually not pleased with the way it turns out, but this time the stitching looked better than I expected. Surprisingly, the lace was very co-operative, but the jersey just pulls in all kinds of directions. I already gave it a good steaming, which helped, but I'm hoping that it will settle completely when I wash it.  

As always, I tried to cut too many corners. I tried to do the stitching without pressing the seam allowance to the wrong side first. Major error -no time won there. I also -which upsets me even more- had to admit that my mom was right all the time: you shouldn't backstitch with a double needle. The backstitching under the arm ripped in no time, apparently the backstitches aren't elastic enough. Tying the threads together from now on then...

The top turned out okay. I like the red lace, despite the risk of it looking christmasy (as my dear sister pointed out). It's too snug for my taste though, and I have no idea where the extra ease in the front disappeared. Is it the viscose that makes the jersey cling to my stomach for dear life?

I have already plans for another one, and again the knit is from my stash! Next time I'll make some further alterations to my knock-off -pattern:

- Check the shape of the arm scythe, the angle at the side seam is too sharp
- Remove 1 cm at the centre back fold at the neck line. Didn't notice this problem with the RTW top, but my lace is heavier and that causes it to stand out
- Don't like the shape of the front neck line
- I ended up taking 2 cm off the length
- Oh, yeah, and remember to avoid viscose jersey like the plague

There you have it folks. Have you had any difficulties when copying a RTW garment? Any tips and tricks to share?

PS. This is my first make for the Summer Stashbust 2014, yay! Thank you Sally for looking after all of us sewists out there who don't have the will-power to stay away from fabric stores. My wallet salutes you! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Unselfish golf shorts

First of all, let me just state that I had absolutely nothing to do with the choice of either the color of the fabric or the topstitching. That's all his fault.

Over my sewing years I have done very little unselfish sewing. Very little. I can't remember how my boyfriend got me talked into making him a pair of shorts, but I'm happy he did.

It took me a while to figure out how I would go about this project, fit-wise. Luckily he has a pair of shorts that fit perfectly, so I used them as reference. I have never copied a pair of pants though, so I felt unsure of how accurate my pattern would be. In order to have something to lean back on, I first traced the pattern for a pair of men's trousers from an old issue of Burda. It's not even worth mentioning which pattern though, because it turned out to be useless. I only used the waistline as a guide when I laid out the existing pair of shorts on top of the tissue paper and then traced around the edges. If I would have made a muslin based on the Burda pants, the fit would have been so far off I would have had no idea how to fix it.

Just to be on the safe side, I still made a muslin out of some old sheets, and it fit almost perfectly. I took it in just a bit at the center back. For the muslin waistband, I cut a straight piece of fabric in desired height and stitched it to the waistline. I then molded the waistband into the right shape at the side seams and center back by using pins. (For all you ladies out there: guys are so much easier to fit clothes on. Seriously. All straight lines, no curves.) Then I used the muslin waistband pieces as pattern pieces by cutting them into the right shape at the sides and back.

The topstitching was surprisingly easy. That might have been because I was mentally prepared for a total meltdown on my part, so when hardly any unpicking was needed, I actually enjoyed it. I mean, really enjoyed it. The construction was straight forward, nothing special, except that I kept repeating to myself to remember to sew the fly to the other side. Didn't even mess up there!

Oh, and then the fabric of course. It was chosen solely based on color, and it's a cotton satin with some elastane. It was nice to work with, although the curved upper edge at the waistband stretched out a bit. Damn you satin weave. The fabric is quite thin, so I can only hope that it will stand the test of time (and golf. Lots of crouching action going on there).

Evidently, the crazier the golf shorts, the better the golfer, so these fit the bill perfectly. And boyfriend is happy, which means that I'm happy.

Funny story: the minute I finished these shorts, I logged on to read my blog feed (of course!). I was clicking my way through some old posts at 'Did you make that?' and found the Sporty Summer Sewathon. I read the text and gradually got more and more excited when I realized that I could enter these shorts into the contest. When I got to the part where it says "Sew crazy golf trousers for you or a loved one", I laughed out loud. So by divine intervention, these butt-hugging-too-turqoise-for-my-eyes-golf shorts are now my entry into the sewathon. Wish me luck!

Have you ever seen a cuter manlier zipper?