Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing


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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….!!

Flannel shirt


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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


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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


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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


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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

Crescent Skirt


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Coming back from leave…with a leaf skirt!

Pattern: Sewaholic Crescent Skirt

New Skills Acquired:

  • Bound seams

Well I don’t know what happened.  I got super busy in August and September and put my sewing on hold. Then all of a sudden it was December and I hadn’t gone near my blog, not even to read posts from my favorite bloggers.  It’s not like I haven’t been sewing – I have been working on projects here and there when I find a spare weekend.  In fact this skirt I am writing about was actually made in September and I had even started a post about it.  Well these things happen.  Sometimes you get so focused on the constant making that you don’t take a step back to write and reflect on what you have accomplished.  I felt so behind in the projects I wanted to finish this summer that I kept pushing through and I let my laptop collect dust.  But now we return to our regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress…..

What a difference the right pattern makes!  With my last skirt a fitting failure, Continue reading

plaids


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Anti-fashion in a new age: the improved flannel shirt

Pattern: Sewaholic Granville shirt (1501)Sewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

New skills acquired

  • Plackets
  • Collar & collar stand
  • Flat-felled seams

I grew up in the 90’s. This was the decade where I awkwardly lived out my teen years and a few young adult years as well.  Say what you will about the grunge music movement, but for a self-conscious pre-teen who had spent most of her childhood bullied mercilessly, that music felt like ecstasy inside my head.  I remember spending many hours listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind over and over to try to numb my pain.  And I actually spent an entire family vacation to Arizona with the Pearl Jam Vs. album constantly pumping into my ears.  People say that music was depressing, but life can be depressing when you become a teenager.  The music mirrored all my thoughts and feelings about growing up and trying to find my place in a world that didn’t seem to want me.   And the flannel!  Flannel shirts were the style – a part of the anti-fashion movement that was sweeping the country. We were no longer going to spend money on brand names and store logos.  We would look in thrift shops and re-purpose old clothes from our parents.  It was casual and comfortable and a way to rebel against corporations.

I miss my flannel shirts.

Anyways, this fashion craze was all finished when I went on to college. Continue reading