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Adventures in amateur sewing


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March 2019 & April 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 2

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers

Yes, I know it’s almost May.  But I swear this a project started in March and finished in April. In part 1, I made shorts to get out some kinks while I figure out how to make actual pants.

Anyways, I finished my pants using the same pattern as the shorts from the previous post. I was so amped up after my shorts that I couldn’t wait to start on the real deal. I had been imagining these pants since I bought the fabric over 3 years ago. The fabric is a really nice (but thick) plaid flannel. I think it may be double layered since the plaid is only on one side. The pattern said not to use fabric that is too thick, so I think this choice was pretty borderline. It was definitely too thick to make a shirt with. I’m sure things were not as streamlined as they could be using such a bulky fabric, but I am still happy with the result. As you’ll find out the project was a success, however it started in tragedy!

As I was laying out my pattern pieces to cut my fabric, I noticed one was missing. This has never happened to me before, surprisingly. I tore the house apart looking for it, but I couldn’t find the back pocket facing pattern piece. It’s basically just a square, so I decided to take apart my failed gray test shorts, so that I had something to work with and could get the right size and shape. I wouldn’t have the pattern markings, but maybe it would still be okay. However, I hate losing things and it definitely caused much annoyance on my part that I couldn’t locate this.

The pattern piece in question – it was hiding under my bookcase

A few days later I decided to vacuum my living room. I took the vacuum hose to get under the book case and suddenly I heard a noise – kind of like paper getting sucked in. I shut off the vacuum and what did I see…?

Ah! There it is! Well at least my pattern is now whole again.

Anyways, the pants were already cut out, and I took the time to try to match the plaid. This was actually quite complicated. I was able to match the front and the sides with not too much effort, but there were a lot of smaller pieces like pocket facings and welts where the figuring out the matching was not as obvious. In the end not everything really matched up – I probably could have taken some more time to figure out where the welts would be on the pants to see how it could match better. Probably the same with the waistband, although since it’s curved, it would never match completely.

These sewed up faster than expected since I had just finished the shorts, which were great practice. The main thing to note about sewing pants is that you have to adjust the length. Because this needs to be done around the middle of the leg, there is usually some folding and taping along with the constant measuring of both leg pieces. I usually give myself a little extra length, which in this case worked because I made such a wide hem.  The best part is I got to use my awesome horse flannel fabric for the waistband lining and the fly facing. I was so upset that I’d wasted this on my failed shorts project, that I tried to work it into this project. Thankfully this is something I can wear.

Hmm, the back plaid doesn’t match up as much as the front. However, the fit is great, especially in the back.

 

And belt loops ensures that my pants can fit, if my weight fluctuates again.


Now that these are finished, I’m a little burnt out on pants. I did have one more pants project that I wanted get out of the way – a pair of corduroys. Since I had a whole new pattern for this one, I had started a muslin to work out the fit and waistband issues. I abandoned it years ago, afraid I was going to get it all wrong again. After these last two projects, I feel like I can finish the waistband and cut into my new corduroy with a new confidence I didn’t have before. However, in the immediate future, I feel like I need a bit of a change of pace. I haven’t started planning out my spring projects yet, however I’ve been dying to figure out this whole silk dress thing for two years now. It may finally be time.

Until next time!


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February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers

Despite my lack of energy with writing blog posts, I did have a very productive February & March. I was able to finish up my two button-down shirts (well one is mostly done) and get my pants project underway. In order to figure out how to sew a decent pair of pants, I started out small – meaning shorts! What better way to figure something out by taking the whole leg out of the situation. Not only that but you waste less fabric this way.

The thing about pants is that it tends to get complicated with the fly. I always feel like I’m following the pattern, but somehow I miss some important detail and I end up with mutant pants. The first time, the fly was not centered. One time I couldn’t get it to lay flat. And the main thing I always forget to do is enclose the fly facing within the pants waistband so it sticks out unfinished and looks completely unprofessional.

The first pair of Thurlow shorts I attempted actually seemed to be going along as planned. One of the main thing I learned was in order to make sure the fly ends up in the right spot, you need to pull the left side over to the notches on the other side. This will help you avoid pulling it too far over (which I’ve done) or not over enough (which I’ve also done). I actually perfected the whole fly & fly facing thing on these shorts and I was extremely excited that these could be the shorts where it all came together. However, when I sewed the wasitband on, somehow the left side did not match the right side and I couldn’t figure out a good way to fix them. That and due to a careless error, I ended up having to cut the sides down more than I wanted, resulting in bad fit problems. This was not my day.

 

When I went back to attempt the 2nd pair of shorts, I was much more meticulous about going through each step. I think those mistakes also helped, as I breezed through the back welts and pockets (another confusing step from my first attempt) and fly construction. This time, the waist lined up pretty well and I was ecstatic.

I wish I could take all the credit for figuring this all out, but actually my main cause for success was discovering this sewalong blog post. I had a very frustrating time trying to figure out the instructions on the back welt pockets when I was making the first pair, and a search online helped me find this and see what I was doing wrong. It kept telling me to sew up the triangles (?)  and the drawing did not make any sense. I didn’t realize I was supposed to sew down the triangle that was made from clipping the corners and that I had to pull the side over so that I was only sewing on the welt.  Some actually pictures from the blog cleared this up and I was able to follow along on other sections as well.

One of the main things that took away from these pants was to always make sure the waistband is long enough to cover the top of the fly and well as the center back. I now always cut it a little longer and the end just to make sure – I can always cut off more but adding on doesn’t work. The other was to take your time positioning where the fly is folded over and where the waistband is going.

 

I really enjoy using interesting fabric for things like pockets and facings. For the gray short screw-up, I had used this great flannel with horses on it that I had bought as a remnant. I’m kind of sad that it ended up in a project that I had abandoned. For these tan shorts, I decided to use this great fabric my mother had given me, which was sewing themed with dress forms, pattern information and stuff of that nature. I was pretty terrified to use it, but it ended up working out in the end.

The instructions on the pattern for the wide hem were also a bit confusing and the sewalong didn’t cover this, so I kind of made something up. I’m not sure this is how I am supposed to do it but I ended up sewing a wide hem, then folding that piece over and stitching just at the side seams. I like the way it looks, even though this may not be what the pattern had in mind.

A few imperfections – the back seam was a bit fussy and in the end wasn’t perfectly fitted. Also, the front fly shows a little bit of the underside lining, but I’m still very happy with the results.

And now, to take these to the next phase – actual pants! This has been my downfall, so I’m hoping the successes with the shorts can translate to a pair of pants that I can actually wear proudly.

To be continued….!!

2018 Pant


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The 2018 pant: Starting off a difficult year

Pattern: New Look 6058 view DNew Look 6058

It’s always nerve-wracking to finally cut into that fabric that you bought a few years ago and you love so much. I knew when I bought the black textured fabric used for this project that I wanted to make some fancy pants with it, ones that could be worn on a night on the town. I even had a name for them – the New Year’s Eve pant, because it reminded me of an outfit I wore a long time ago on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, I didn’t go out on the town on New Year’s Eve and I also didn’t finish these in time to wear them until well into February. So instead, these have been dubbed the 2018 pants. A still-hopeful name for pants that I at least finished within the year, right?

Unfortunately this year is not what I thought it would be personally. After starting a new job last fall, I thought finally my career was finally taking off after a slow start and some difficulty. But sometimes these things don’t work out, even when you try your hardest at something. At the start of this year I found myself exactly where I didn’t want to be – struggling to find another job. Some years have so many positive memories that you can’t help but look back and smile. This will not be one of those years. However, it’s okay as I feel I will be a stronger person for it in the end.

These pants gave me almost as much anxiety as my newly realized unemployment. Fitting pants is quite difficult with my body type and I knew that I needed to make a muslin to feel things out. I took my measurements and first made sure to adjust the crotch, which tends to hang really low on pants’ patterns for some reason. When I sewed the legs up, I realized these pants were really huge on me and even with the zipper seam allowance it was not going to work. Part of the problem was also that Continue reading

Back yoke


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Striking a new corduroy: part 1

Pattern: McCalls M6610IMG_1028

New skills acquired:

  • Flat-Felled Seams
  • Double Needle Action

I’ve been kind of down on my sewing lately.  Things are just not coming out as nice as I want them and it’s been a frustrating few weeks.  This could be why I haven’t been writing in my blog  – I have been working on projects, but have no feelings of satisfaction.  Also, it seems most visitors are getting to my blog by searching for “amateur in bikini” but that is another issue.

For the past few months I have been piecing together some corduroy pants, which I am affectionately naming Grape-Cord.  I am using a blue jean pattern that I have actually made a muslin of way back in the early days of my blog.  My biggest accomplishment to date is the fact that I can now spell corduroy without looking it up.  No, just kidding, I’m having some wins on these.

What is working…

Drafting a new pattern for a better fit

1. Adjusting the pattern for size

I have big hips and big thighs.  There, I said it.  It makes jean shopping a frustrating task that usually ends in tears and typical sewing patterns for bottoms don’t work so well.  I end up making the size for my measurements and the crotch ends up around my knees.  So I decided to try to adjust the pattern on this one.  I added a good Continue reading