Men's Pants

Pattern: Thread Theory's Jedediah Pants
Fabric: Eco Twill Denim Blue
Cost: $17

In my household we joke that, while we both wear the pants, I'm the one that makes them. And while I don't sew all of Mr. Made's clothes, I do try to sneak in a few projects for him. These were a pair I made up for his birthday in December. He had originally picked out the fabric, but I realize now that it had been bought over a year prior. Oops! Anyway, birthdays are a good excuse to do some unselfish sewing.

I have written about Thread Theory's Jedediah Pants before, so there's not much new to report there. I like them because they're one of the few pants patterns available that actually go down to his size and have a slim, modern fit. For this pair I did tweak the fit at the hips and front fly area to be a bit more roomy while leaving the waistband snug (I had previously made everything snug, and now it was a bit too snug). Now that I've gotten the chance to do some more pants fitting on myself I think it would be fun to really fit this pattern to him, but there's never enough time when we're both hanging out at home to do it. 

For this pair, I wanted to follow the welt pocket tutorial on the Thread Theory blog, but I had already cut out my pants with a yoke, and their version requires that you convert the yoke into darts. However, that seam did give me the idea to do a sort of in-seam back pocket flap, and after a little googling I confirmed that this could be done. The line drawing for Vogue 8940 shows a pair of yoked mens pants with a pocket sewn into the yoke seam and covered with a flap. Of course, they don't offer a picture of said pockets, but luckily for me someone had posted an image on Sewing Pattern Review, which allowed me to copy the design.

As you've noticed, the color on these turned out a bit bright. Looking back now at my order I see that the sample on did look a bit darker. He has been wearing them a great deal though, mostly because he doesn't have a ton of pants for work, and then one of his 'more fashionable' students complemented them, so I think that gave him a morale boost!

Weekend with Ginger, Part II

Pattern: Closet Case Files's Ginger Jeans
Fabric: stretch denim
Cost: remnant

Having finished a very satisfying pair of jeans on Saturday, I decided to not lose steam and plunge right ahead with the second pair on Sunday. As you'll recall from my first post about my weekend with Ginger, I took a rainy weekend to myself to perfect the fit of the Ginger pattern. After finishing the high-rise version on Saturday, I decided to make a few remaining alterations to the pattern and use the remnants of the same fabric to make an ankle-length pair.

The first tweak I wanted to make was to the front crotch curve. While the low-rise Gingers fit me perfectly in this area, the high-rise version for some reason contained a lot of excess fabric. I expected them to be the same shape, but when I compared the original pattern I found that they are in fact different - the high-rise Gingers feature a much more protruding front crotch section. To fix this issue for this pair of jeans, I simply traced the front crotch from the low-rise Gingers onto my high-rise Ginger pattern. That was an easy fix!

Second, I wanted the pants to fit slightly lower than the high-rise version. To do this, I cut off the top 1" of my pattern pieces, tapering to just 1/2" off in the back. This is different that lengthening or shortening at the fitting lines, as I simply wanted the jeans to sit lower on my torso. I was initially worried that only shaving off half an inch at center back may look weird (compared to shaving off 1" at the front), but the shape actually turned out to be great.

With these changes in mind, on Sunday I woke up with my pattern pieces already cut out, and glorious rain falling outside. After a trip to the grocery store and some breakfast, I was all set to begin. For this pair, I thought it would be interesting to see how long a pair of pants takes when you don't have to pause for fitting. Here it goes:

Pockets: Half an hour. This step was easy as I had just done it yesterday. I also french seamed the bottoms of the pockets, which is possible because it's a one-piece pocket. This is a technique I picked up from the Thread Theory Jedediah Pants (see sewalong for details).

Fly front: Another half an hour. Again, it helped that I had just done this yesterday. I've said this before, but I love Heather's instructions for the fly front. Method here.

Assembly: An hour and a half. I assembled the seat and the inner pants leg, then took a break to walk the dog (not included in the time). These seams are generally the easiest part of making pants (you just sew a straight line!) but they do take some time as I stitch each seam three times: I sew the seam with a triple stitch, serge the raw edges together, press, and then stitch down the serged seam allowance to the pants with another triple stitch. I like this method because it produces a nice, strong faux flat-fell look, and the triple stitching keeps the seam and topstitching in place. Without the triple stitch I have found that the thread starts to come undone over time.

Waistband: Another hour and a half. Because I was using remnant fabric, I had to piece the waistband together at the center back. Many patterns are pieced here so it's not a huge issue, and the seam was also covered later by the back belt loop. After nearly a dozen pairs of pants, I feel like I've figured out a good technique for the waistband that works for me, so I'm pretty pleased with my work here.

Belt loops and button: Half an hour. I was now able to try the final product on and they were looking good! True to my changes, this pair was higher cut than the low-rise, but not quite as high as the high-waisted. I had removed an inch from the height all around, but kept an extra half inch towards the center back, which ended up looking fine and feeling great. I hate it when you bend over and expose yourself! Sitting here typing this they are comfortable to sit in as well.

Pockets and hem: Another half hour and I was done! Because I ran out of fabric I had to make the back pockets from a different denim, and I am worried they might fade. But I can always replace them in the future, perhaps with a fun print like a dark floral. (Note: Perhaps inspired by this, I have a post up on the Thread Theory blog about different ways to embellish your pockets. I'm often a plain pocket type of gal, but in this case I may need to get creative!)

In all, my weekend with Ginger was a success! After making more than ten pairs of jeans from three patterns over the past few years, I feel like I finally have a TNT pattern. To the trained eye the fit may not be perfect, but they feel great on and I'm liking the look. The winning combination proved to be using a good pattern in a cut I like with really taking the time to figure out my fit adjustments (and not over-fitting!). With my final pattern, I was able to make a pair in five hours of sewing (plus maybe another hour of cutting the night before), which would be totally doable over a few weeknights when I want to make this pattern up in the future. For me, fitting and seam ripping are really the most time-consuming parts of making jeans, so taking a weekend to figure that out should really pay off.

Some thoughts on fit: Through this process I am learning that there are several ways to fit a pair of pants. On my previous gray pair of Gingers, I cut the pattern out using my hip size (the largest size), and then tried to alter the remaining pieces to fit my measurements. In doing that, however, I changed the ease of the pattern because I didn't use negative ease in calculating the size of the pattern pieces. My adjustments also ended up altering the lines of the pattern, changing the back seat curve and affecting the back fit.

For these Gingers, I graded between sizes rather than trying to change the pieces all by myself. I find it is best to leave as much fitting to the pattern as possible, or try a new pattern! This allowed me to keep more of the original style lines. For example, the back yoke on this version much more closely resembles the back yoke of the original pattern than on my modified gray Gingers. However, to grade between sizes I was careful to not just connect between the lines but to actually curve some of the pieces to evenly distribute the changes (versus just taking the seam in at the sides). The pattern is now a size 4 at the waistband, a size 6 at the yoke, a size 8 at hips, and a size 2/4 at the legs. I used to grade between sizes a lot to fit my measurements when I first started sewing, and I'm finding this still works best for me rather than trying more complicated fit adjustments.

The result, as seen below, is that the pants contour nicely to my lower back above my butt. This was my main accomplishment for the project. In looking at these pictures again, I'm also thinking I could put some more work into the back thigh - here I took the pants in at the side seam rather than dealing with the extra ease below the butt, and the fabric kind of droops down there accordingly. I will need to find some sort of tutorial for this... However, I am wary of removing too much there, as some ease is necessary to move around!

Since making these jeans a couple of weeks ago I have been wearing them as much as possible. In these pictures the pants have been worn unwashed probably about five times (is that gross? I don't care, I love them!). The thicker denim has really held up nicely for wear, and the fit is very comfortable - not too tight and not too saggy. The dark color makes them perfect for work, while the slim cut is also nice for weekend wear. Overall, I am very happy with them, and I think this slower approach may change how I tackle more complicated projects in the future. If only I could take a weekend to myself more often!

Weekend with Ginger Part I

Pattern: Closet Case Files's Ginger Jeans
Fabric: stretch denim
Cost: $12

Ever since I vowed to stop worrying about all the sewing that needs to be done and focus instead on each project as I go, I've really been able to take my time with each garment that I make. This was certainly the case a few weekends ago, when I decided to perfect the fit of my Ginger Jeans. Mr. Made was out of town, we got a bit of rain, and I had the perfect opportunity to hole up inside and get to work! The time and concentration really paid off, as I made a few adjustments and got my best pair yet.

The first thing I did was sit down with the sizing guide, a tape measure, and my past versions of the Ginger Jeans to take some proper measurements. Oh boy! You know you're pear shaped when you measure size 8 in the hips, size 6 at the waistband, size 4 at the waist, and size 2 at the bust, all in the same size chart! While I can usually get away with just measuring my hips for a pattern, on a design this fitted I'm learning I have to be precise. My last few pairs had left me with some gaping at the waistband that desperately needed fixing, so I was determined to get my measurements right.

Fitting the Ginger Jeans required some calculations and also a little guesswork and luck. To fit the pattern, you are supposed to know your hip and waist measurement, but you also need to figure out what size waistband you need, which falls somewhere between the hip and waist. I used my previous pairs of Ginger Jeans to calculate what finished measurements I needed, as well as some additional information provided on the pattern envelop about how far below your belly button the waistband is supposed to sit. It was also crucial to remember to calculate in some negative ease, as the wearing ease I left in my last pair meant the pants were too loose!

To get the best fit, I decided to trace the high-waisted version of the pattern and grade between sizes. First, I traced a size 8 from the legs up through the hips. Then I graded down to a size 6. In the front this is accomplished by simply tracing down to the next size. In the back, however, the yoke requires some more advanced modifications. To accomplish this, I traced a size 8 yoke and then used Heather's method to curve the yoke so that the bottom (near the hips) is a size 8 but the top (near the waistband) is a smaller size 6. I then did the same with the waistband, cutting a size 6 and curving the top down to a size 4. Luckily this wasn't a onesie so I didn't have to compensate for my size 2 bust! Finally, I mirrored these changes on the pocket pieces, as they have to have the same side seam curve as the pants.

Needless to say, it took all of Friday evening just to measure, trace, and cut out my fabric. On Saturday I slept in, took the dog for a run, and then set about on the construction. By mid afternoon I had completed the front of the pants - pocket construction and front zip fly - and was planning on running out for some groceries but it started raining again, so I cancelled my plans, ate some lunch and got back to work. As opposed to my previous sewing marathons, I was glad to take a few mini breaks to keep me sane!

An hour later, I had attached the back yokes, basted the pants together, stay-stitched along the top, and was trying them on. They were not too tight! In fact, they fit great along the waist, curving in to my body along the back and not too snug along the tummy. The only adjustment I needed was in the section from the hips to the knees, where I was able to pinch about an inch out of the outer leg seam. I realized here that, while I needed the full size 8 at the hips, below that I actually needed to size back down. By shaving half an inch off the front and back sides, I essentially graded back down to a size 2-4 through the knee.

Rather than tracing my adjustments onto the fabric as I usually (lazily) do, I went back and traced these changes onto my pattern pieces, and then used the pattern pieces to make modifications to the fabric. I find that this allows me to grade more smoothly between sizes, and keep things more consistent. However, I must also remember to check and make sure the edges of the front and back are the same length!

By dinner time on Saturday I had sewn up the sides, done the waistband and the hem, and was attaching the back pockets. This pair is made with medium-weight stretch denim, which I like better than my last pair of lighter-weight jeans. I used triple stitching throughout to make the pants more durable, and the topstitching is done in black thread.

The one thing I would fix on the next version is the extra room at the front crotch. I didn't have this issue with the low-waisted version, so I'll have to play around with it. Looking at the back pictures now, I'm also wondering if there is a wedge that could be taken out of the center back crotch, but I'm also conscious of the need to bend over and move around, and so some ease is necessary.

Unfortunately by the end of the evening no one had cooked dinner, but I had finished my best pair of pants yet! Now to decide whether or not to try to sew a second pair this weekend... (see Part II on Friday!)

V-Day Bra

Pattern: very modified Pin-Up Girls' Classic Full-Band Bra #1200
Fabric: Techsheen fabric and findings from Sew Sassy Fabrics
Cost: $10

Perhaps this is TMI, but in testing out my new order of bra fabrics and notions I decided to make myself a Valentine's Day bra inspired by this set from MJTrends fabric store. I don't get too much into candies and roses this time of year, but I couldn't resist a playful, slightly kinky new bra for Feb 14.

It is made using my TNT pattern, a highly modified Pin-Up Girls #1200 in Techsheen, a nylon-spandex blend bra fabric with a 2-way stretch (10% in width, 35% length). This is the first time I've sewn with a proper "bra" fabric instead of regular ponte. It is technically used for the band, but since my pattern is modified for stretch fabrics in the cup I used it there, too. My hope is that it will be sturdier than some of the lace I've been using and will hold up better than ponte, which does tend to pill. In my order I also received proper bra strap elastic and wire casing, which I think will enhance the longevity of my bras. I didn't sew adjustable straps because I'm lazy and my bras generally don't outlast stretched-out elastic anyway.

After sewing up this TNT pattern again I've decided I'm finally ready to branch out and try another pattern. I have Merckwaerdigh BHS10 that I'd like to try for added support and coverage, perhaps with some foam shaping.

There, I think I have sufficiently dulled my scandalous pictures with enough tech language, so I'll leave you with some shots of the details.

Wedding Season Inspiration

Wedding season is coming up, and I appear to have reached that stage in life where everyone is getting married. Luckily, this gives me an excuse to play dress up and make some of those fun pretty dresses that I never seem to have an excuse to sew/wear. I browsed through my Pinterest files and came up with these picks for four upcoming nuptials, (from left to right, top to bottom):

1. Storybook wedding:  I have been obsessed with the idea of a storybook dress ever since I saw this promo pic with Ryan Gosling and co-star Faith Wladyka. A few days ago, Sara Lawson posted an adult version, which I think would be perfect for my fun and funky friend's wedding (pictured here in a band with Mr. Made). Alternately, I've been shopping around for some sort of fun graphic print. Keep your eye out!

2. Alaska romance: I love florals on a dark background, and what better to wear to a wedding in Alaska than this moody, floral inspiration! I think I can feel both dressed up and at one with nature in dress like this.

3. Fun and playful: After Jessica and Robert's wedding in Alaska, Robert's twin brother Jeffrey will be getting married in Tahoe. The bride, my friend Jen, has a style that is funky and punk and romantic all at the same time, giving me the perfect opportunity to sew up this playful dress. I have been wanting to make it for a while, and have already purchased the fabric and dye.

4. Vegas wedding: Finally, in September my cousin will be getting married in Las Vegas. She has asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding so I may not get to choose my dress, but maybe she will be one of those brides who sends you off with a color swatch and let's you choose your own. If that's the case, I'm definitely going to try my hand at making a bustier dress with my TNT bra pattern, inspired by Mahaila.

A note about colors: I'm sure the astute among you have already noticed that two of these dresses prominently feature the color white. I understand that this is can be a big no-no at a wedding, so I'm already brainstorming ways to make these my own. I am planning on dying the third dress a light yellow with a darker yellow accent, similar to this inspiration pic. For the storybook dress, the colors may be fine as-is because it is more of a print, but perhaps I could stain the background with tea to be a bit more off white. At least they don't feature lace! Any thoughts out there from brides or brides-to-be on the subject of wearing white at a wedding? 

A note about shape: I really love fit and flare dresses for these types of events - easy to wear, flattering, and very romantic. I could also see having a number of these dresses in my closet for later events; they're dressy, but also fun and casual enough for a dinner out or an artsy party. I have one princess seamed bodice pattern that may or may not fit, but are there any other fit and flare patterns that you are loving?