My 100th blog entry…and I’m only talking about leggings

Patterns:

  • Sewaholic Pacific Leggings
  • Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I can’t believe it, but I’ve written 100 blog entries for this blog! It’s been such a sporadic journey as I try to write about my sewing. I have good intentions that never seem to carry out as work and life always get in the way. And I’ve also done nothing to promote myself and get myself out into the sewing blogging community. I am even worse at keeping up with my favorite blogs. My reading has dropped off more than my writing. But I have slowly kept at this somewhat, even though I’m pretty much writing to an empty audience (by my fault of course). My take two project have been going slowly, but 2022 is coming to a close and there were a few project ideas that I will not get to this year. In fact, I was hoping this month to write about my second attempt at a skirt, but I haven’t had much motivation to finish it and I’ve been moving on it a lot slower than I hoped. As I tried to work up some motivation to just get the darn thing finished, I ended up making some more leggings instead. After my pretty successful attempts earlier this year, there were some other ideas I wanted to try, even though I technically don’t need any more leggings this year.

The first pair was from a pattern I’ve already used, the Sewaholic Pacific leggings. I like the different panels on these, but I wanted to try to make a shorter version with the zipper in the back. I didn’t include the bottom leg panel and adjusted it so it was the length I wanted. I think maybe next time, I may have to keep all the panels and just shorten the leg to where I want it. The bottom of these kind of bunch up in a weird way, probably because it’s not designed to be the bottom. I think I didn’t quite taper the bottom correctly to create the right hem.

They are not bad though, and I did some topstitching on the legs using a kind of flatlock stitch, which I like. I also added some holes on the inside waistband so I have the option to add a drawstring inside to help with fit. The last pair I made felt a bit loose and I’ve had to hike them up when I run sometimes. This will hopeful secure them, I just need to find a good drawstring that will work to insert into them.

As you can see I added two button holes into the waistband on the inside, so I have the option to add a drawstring on the inside to make these pants more secure.

For the other pair, I took a chance on a new-to-me pattern by Fehr Trade, the PB Jam Leggings. I was excited to try this pattern out with this yoga-wear fabric I had bought a while back. It had such cool colors in it and an interesting design, that I thought it would be great with some color blocking. I needed to find a solid color that would work, so I settled on this navy blue lycra spandex, which I was actually able to use for a number of other projects as well. This design worked perfectly for what I envisioned for this fabric as it had these curved side panels and also a section at the knees.

I think they look pretty nice, especially for a first time. It was tough lining up the front and back legs so that the side swirl lined up okay. It’s still not perfect, but after basting them 5 different times, I was finally able to get it the best I could.

They are definitely very fitted! I definitely can’t gain any weight any time soon, but hopefully that won’t be too much of an issue, since I’m jumping right back into marathon training. I actually got an invitation to run the Boston Marathon from my running club! I’m so excited and nervous at the same time, but I think if I can focus on my training, I can get good results. And now I have some new pants to train with!

Reflecting on 100 posts, it’s been a pretty great 8 years of sewing. I’ve learned a lot since that first skirt I made back in 2014. I’m not sure I would have known then that I would still be keeping up with making my own wardrobe. But I’m glad to have stuck with it, even if my projects ebb and flow the way they do. I’m hoping to still have a few more posts this year and I definitely have many projects lined up for the winter. Maybe I can even get out there so I can get people to read this blog…well one thing at a time anyways.

Thanks for reading, whoever is out there!

Take Two for 2022: The problem with pants pt. 2

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, after a pretty dead and uneventful January. I’ve also been running more now that I have some actual racing goals and motivation. Which is good, since the one pair of pants I’ve been able to finish since my last blog post (part 1) are my Sewaholic Pacific leggings. This was a second test run and I have to say, I like this pattern. These did not come out perfect, but I think they will be wearable enough to take them out on a run. I also did not make the same mistakes with the waistband from part 1, so some lessons learned!

Pinning the gusset to the first leg, these lines really help you know where to sew

I was a lot more comfortable with the gusset portion of the pants. I again followed along on the tutorial on the Sewaholic website. I’m still having trouble on knowing where to clip on the inseam. The photos and explanation just didn’t seem to make any sense to me. I clipped something, not sure it was in the right place. After I sewed the gusset to the first leg, I finished the seams with my serger. This was not in the tutorial, so I was nervous about attempting it, but it worked out really well. I ended up being able to finish the rest of the seams in the same fashion. I then decided to topstitch around the gusset seam, on the right side, hoping it would flatten things out and make it stronger overall.

Still confused on where to clip, I can’t seem to make sense of the directions, but at least it seems to lay somewhat flat
Finishing the seam with my serger – I was nervous but this method seemed to work out really well
Topstitching around the gusset…the jury is still out on this as well
Continue reading “Take Two for 2022: The problem with pants pt. 2”

Take Two for 2022: The problem with pants pt. 1

Patterns:

  • Sewaholic Pacific Leggings
  • Closet Core Ginger Jeans

Few things seem more complicated to me than sewing up a decent pair of pants. I’ve attempted dress pants, casual pants and leggings but I’ve never really successfully made a pair of pants I’ve liked enough to wear all the time. The exception to this is of course pajama pants, but as soon as any complication is thrown into the process, the results are not great. The main issue that comes up is usually fit, as I tend to make things bigger than I need. In some cases I’ve actually lost weight during the process of making them, and they end up just not being quite right.

Project 1: Working out workout pants

I’m in the middle of a couple projects right now, forcing myself to get this pants thing right. The less complicated project of the two is a pair of exercise leggings. I’ve attempted this before which had okay results, but I never really wear any of the ones I’ve made. On my first attempt, I successfully added a back zippered pocket to a pair of Papercut Patterns Ooh La Leggings. It worked but it was never ideal, as the back panel was not well suited for it and my stuff tended to really float around back there. The main issue with these pants was actually the fabric, which didn’t really have much two-way stretch. It was a soft cotton-knit, but unlike what I usually wear when I run or work out. My 2nd version also had its issues with the fabric not being that opaque, so I was always a bit self-conscious wearing them.

These are nice, and I like the pattern, they just don’t quite look like workout pants.

I tried this again with a different pattern, Fehr Trade’s Duathlon pants, which were specifically designed for running and exercising. I really liked this pattern and it was honestly very easy to follow. I used actual spandex this time and they looked like real running pants. I put them on and…they were too loose. I got so scared these would be too small that I didn’t even think of the fact that they are supposed to be smaller than normal because they need to stretch onto your body. Then with all the running I was doing, I lost even more weight and these began to just hang on my body. I can still work out in them, but I don’t feel too comfortable wearing them running and I think baggy spandex just looks too silly.

running pants - final
These are even baggier now than when I first wore them. Definitely my fault, not a pattern fail.

This time it will be different, I swear! The first part is picking a pattern that is the exact design of what I want. This time around I am making Sewaholic’s Pacific Leggings. I love this pattern company as they make patterns specifically for pear-shaped people (like me). This pattern had a version with the back zipper pocket that I’ve come to rely on when I am running. I wouldn’t have to figure out how to add one later. Perfect! And there were options for color blocking. Fun! And it has a gusset. Yes! Or…wait a minute, what?! Okay this was a new one on me which brought all that pants anxiety back. A test pair would be needed before I cut into that new yogawear fabric I bought, to make sure I know what I am doing.

The back pocket looks really nice on this and was not complicated at all.
Continue reading “Take Two for 2022: The problem with pants pt. 1”

Dreary spring & flannels in May

Pattern: Granville shirt by SewaholicSewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

You can never have enough plaid flannel shirts, especially when you live in New England and you’ve only seen the sun once in the month of May. I’ve made this pattern about 4 times, so there is not much else to say about it specifically. You can check out my other posts on it here and here, if curious. It’s interesting to me how long it can take to finally understand something about a pattern you’ve made more than once. While I was making this shirt & another Granville at the same time, I finally realized that the “under-collar” was the part attached to the outside of the yoke. This is because it gets folder over and this part ends up underneath. It seems obvious now, but when you are just reading the directions and trying to decipher the drawings, it can get confusing as to what part is supposed to be attached to where. Hearing the word, “under-collar,” I immediately think it needs to be on the inside, not obviously thinking of how a collar is folded.

Speaking of the collar, this particular pattern has a really great tutorial on the website on how to make the collar & collar stand. This is really helpful since it’s probably the most complicated part of the shirt.

As I listen to more May showers outside, I wonder if it will ever be warm again. At least I have my many flannel shirts to keep me warm. Now that that I’ve some-what perfected it, it may be time to give the pattern a rest for now – at least with the flannel. Trying this out on some regular shirting could be a nice new challenge.

I’ve been spending this month gearing up for some summer projects and, as promised, some more sew learnings. Before typing this, Continue reading “Dreary spring & flannels in May”

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 Continue reading “March 2019 & April 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 2”

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 Continue reading “February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1”

Flannel shirt

The quest for perfection: or just another button-down

Pattern: Granville shirt by SewaholicSewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

Skills acquired:

  • Flat-felled arms
  • Patience

It’s gonna be different this time.

Or at least that is what I told myself when I purchased yet another 3 yards of plaid flannel. I wanted to make another flannel shirt, one that I could be proud of. I had made 2 before that were okay but had some obvious imperfections. This time I was going to do it right – I was going to practice the techniques making a muslin with some cheaper fabric and make sure I knew what I was doing before I stitched into the flannel. I used the Granville shirt pattern from Sewaholic since I had really liked the fit on the flannel shirt I attempted before. I made it a size smaller since I wanted a more fitted look and I had obviously made it too large last time.

What I really wanted to accomplish was flat-felled seams on the whole shirt. I had tried this with the first shirt, but I found it difficult when installing the arms in the arm hole. It got a bit messy. When I attempted it on the second shirt, it looked so bad that I just unpicked it and sewed them in using my serger, abandoning the whole flat-felled looked for the arms. I cheated. This time, I wanted to get it right so I asked someone I knew who had successfully done this on a flannel shirt of her own. She directed me to this online tutorial. Aha! It all made sense now.

It had been a long time since I had made a real button-down shirt, so I had to re-learn a few things, which made me glad I had this practice fabric. One of those techniques Continue reading “The quest for perfection: or just another button-down”

A tribute to lounge wear – a few variations

Patterns: Sewaholic Tofino pants, McCalls M6681 & free-form pantsSewaholic Tofino

Skills acquired:

  • Adding pockets
  • Piping 

I’ve made some PJ pants in my time, in fact I’ve made a lot recently.  I decided to consolidate them all in one post, for more efficiency (another one of my job skills – companies take note!).

Pajama pants are probably the most basic garment there is.  It’s the perfect thing to make when you are first learning to sew.  You don’t really need a pattern, there are no zippers and they are made from basic cotton fabric.  There are ways to dress them up and build off the simple design, but for the most part there is nothing easier.  The most basic patterns have two pieces for the front and two for the back.  These all get sewn up pretty much how you would imagine (even the order doesn’t matter too much) and you end up with two legs.  The waistband gets folded down, an elastic is added, the pant legs are hemmed…and voila!  Something you can lounge around in that you made all your own.

Put it in your pocket

I wanted to make my boyfriend a new pair of lounge pants since I felt like I could improve upon the pants I had made him a while back.  He said to me, “If you do make another pair, could you add pockets?”  Hmmm…this was something I never thought of.  There aren’t too many patterns out there that include pockets on such a garment and I didn’t really trust myself to figure this out on my own.  I found this handy tutorial online and decided to experiment with some pants I was going to make myself, just so I could get it right.  I had a remnant of flannel which I really liked, although I did not have enough to make full length, which is why these are cropped.

PJ Pocket pants

It was all pretty straightforward, however I kept messing up because I had a hard time Continue reading “A tribute to lounge wear – a few variations”

The flannel shirt A/B test

Pattern: Grainline Studio Archer shirt

A/B testing is kind of my thing.  I did this a lot at my former job and it’s always exciting to me when I get real results from an idea or theory.  I’m a total nerd for data.  Back when I was just toying with the idea of making a flannel shirt I had bought two different independent shirt patterns and couldn’t decide which one to use.

Sewaholic VS Grainline

I did some initial reading up on both patterns, and made the decision to start with the Sewaholic Granville shirt because the pattern was designed for pear-shaped bodies (like mine).  I liked the result, shown in my previous post, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the shirt would look using the other pattern.  Well, the only way to know for sure is to test it out.

Hypothesis: The Sewaholic Granville shirt pattern is the better pattern for making a plaid flannel shirt

Now this obviously cannot be a real A/B test since there are a lot of factors in this test that make it imperfect and not scientific.  We all know that the first attempt at something has the most learning curve and so some techniques that were new to me when making the Granville shirt, were more familiar when making the Archer shirt.  Also the material I used for the Archer shirt was a lot cheaper, in price and quality, so the overall result would be slightly different no matter what.  There is no way to hold all conditions equal for this experiment, but I decided to still test out the following parameters:

  • Ease of pattern directions
  • Garment details
  • Overall fit and look

Ease of Pattern Directions

Both patterns have clear directions that could help anyone making their first button-down shirt.  The drawings are all well done and precise.  I did find it strange that the Grainline pattern didn’t specify which drawing referred to the interfacing cutting layout.  There is Continue reading “The flannel shirt A/B test”

Waffle Knit: It’s not just for breakfast anymore

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew topRenfrew

What do you do with mis-matched fabric?

I bought this fabric a while back because I really liked the waffle-like knit texture it had.  It reminded me of one of my favorite winter shirts.  One that now has a giant hole in it – probably from over-wear.   However, when I brought the fabric up to the register, I noticed the colors were off.  There was a whole section that was missing one of the colors.  The fabric was so soft and perfect for a thermal shirt I wanted to make, that I negotiated a price reduction and bought it anyway.  It would be at least be good to make as a muslin, right?

discolored fabric

I was able to cut out the front and back out from the fully colored section, but I had to cut the arms out on the faded Continue reading “Waffle Knit: It’s not just for breakfast anymore”