Can I call it a chain…

…if there’s only 3 links?

I had grander plans for summer sewing and my Chain Reaction project. But in the end, I only finished three projects over the entire summer. The third, the Itch to Stitch Fortuna shorts, was mentioned in my last post. Today, to catch up, I’ll share the other two. (With some help from the toddler who refuses to let me get any project photos on my own.)

My first project, and the first one that I made for this intended chain, was the Shenanigans Skort from 5 Out of 4 Patterns. I ended up making this as part of her Facebook group’s sewalong. Since I already made this once before, last summer, it was a fairly quick project to knock out. The two changes that I made were adding some rise to the back, which worked well, and attempting to add in seam pockets. My thought was that it might give the overskirt more of a polished look than the patch pockets on last year’s black ponte version. That didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I ended up having to go back after about two washes and understitching them by hand, because they were bagging out so badly. Also, the stress points were already developing holes. So I won’t be doing that again, but I am happy with the changes to the fit.

The second project was another from the Itch To Stitch Sew Beautiful book, the Prague top. This is me being very late to the cold shoulder trend, and I’m still not entirely convinced about how I feel about the look on me. That being said, it was a pretty easy sew, and the shirt is comfortable to wear.

How fun is this print? I picked it up in the juvenile section at Joann’s, actually, because I really wanted a great novelty print and couldn’t find anything in the boring adult fabrics. (I guess this was my midlife crisis shopping trip?) Truth be told, a big part of what drew me to it was that I knew my sons would love it if Mommy has a dinosaur shirt. And they do.

I made a size 12, graded to 14 in the hips. I also shortened the sleeves just a bit. Will I make it again? I’m not sure. But it was worth trying.

I had other plans — a second Santa Fe top, and a seafoam colored skirt to pair with the Prague tee. I had hopes of sewing a dress and jacket combo that I’ve been plotting for several years, too, with a small chain built off of that. But we ended up having an extremely busy summer with plans nearly every weekend, and lots of late weekday bedtimes with my kids struggling to go to bed before the sun. I don’t regret losing the weekend time to making memories during our “Summer of Fun”, as my husband dubbed it, especially after last year. Lots of beach time, water park time, getting to see extended family and friends that I hadn’t gotten to see in over a year was worth it. I could have stood to have more of my weeknight time back, but it’s just a season of life. I can revisit those next year, right?

Now I’m trying to shift gears into Halloween costume mode. It’s been a slow start, since we’re also getting our homeschool year going, and trying to juggle two students plus a toddler there. But I did pick up a couple of patterns to use as starting points, and some curtains from the thrift shop to use for materials. So hopefully I’ll have that rolling soon.

Well, that got away from me.

Oh, hi, September. I didn’t mean to take so much time off of here. Honestly, I realized about 2/3 of the way through the summer that I never hit publish on this post, as I’d meant to go back and try to get better pictures. Obviously, my life is not conducive to better pictures, so here I am just playing catch up with what I have.

I had decided to take a break from the chain reaction sewing in order to fill a badly needed wardrobe gap. During the temperature ping-pong match that is Mid-Atlantic spring and fall, I can sometimes get away with my flannel pants and sometimes get away with my shorts. But more often than not, I really just need some lighter weight pants! And all I had left in this category, after three pregnancies’ worth of stretching killed my RTW set, was a pair of falling-apart Sewaholic Tofino pants that I made during my newlywed year.

I had been intrigued by the Fortuna Pants in the Itch to Stitch Sew Beautiful book since I first saw them, because—confession time— even though I wear them pretty regularly around the house, I’m not a huge fan of the jogger style pants. Especially the ones with the cuff on the bottom, because they remind me of 1980s sweatpants. These, however, have a wide leg option, and that is what I decided to try out.

My fabric was a soft, stretchy jersey that I hacked in half lengthwise and made a wrap baby carrier out of for my firstborn. It didn’t get used much, because it was very cumbersome to tie up out of the house (like dragging on the parking lot), and I got a Moby wrap at a swap before my middle child came along. So I’ve had it stashed for close to 5 years. I made the size 12, with a few modifications. First, I added about an inch to the back crotch curve. The finished pants ended up rather high rise, so this probably wasn’t necessary, but it’s an adjustment that I often need. I also graded it in to a size 10 at the waist, which worked great. Finally, I modified the front to have the angled pockets of the jogger version, because I got spoiled by having pockets in the multiple Carolyn pants and shorts that I’ve made, and can’t go back to pocketless pjs.

Let me just say, these pj pants are super comfortable. I’m sure a lot of that is due to the fabric, but I’m really loving the wide leg. When I wear them, I can’t help feeling like I’m wearing glamorous 1930s loungewear instead of pandemic world stretchy pants. I also feel like, with the right fabric, these could be easily dressed up or down. Maybe some future orchestra pants, if I can find the right black knit? The one thing that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with were the pockets, since they bag out very easily when I put my phone in my pocket. But more on that later.

I had some of the baby wrap left over, so the next pattern I tried was Hey June Handmade’s Santa Fe top. I didn’t realize when I printed it that I was essentially assembling 6 complete patterns, so the prep took the last several nights of my 100 Days Project. But it was a quick sew! I knew I wanted sleeves on my pj top, so I only had enough of the jersey left for the contrast and piecing together the neckband. I paired it with a lightweight black jersey that I’d ordered in hopes of making a good basic black tee, but it’s not great in the opacity and recovery departments. Good enough for sleepwear, though!

I made a straight size L for this one, and believe I’ll be sticking with it for now. I did find the neckband a little unwieldy, mostly due to needing a lot more practice to do a decently straight edge stitch on my coverstitch machine. I’m guessing the sleeve bands were supposed to have similar construction and be half the width , but oh well.

Overall, I think both patterns are keepers, and have definite TNT potential. In fact, I’ve already made the Fortuna again, but as the shorts!

I did make a few little tweaks the second time. I wanted to give my pockets a little more stability, so I drafted a self-facing, and used that as a sort of lining/interfacing when I sewed them on. It’s not a perfect fix, but my phone does pull the pocket far less out of shape than in my pj pants. The binding was a little different as well, but that was more me accidentally sewing it on the incorrect side and then just rolling with it.

Finally, I made a faux cuff by basically flipping the hem to the outside. The fabric, a very soft French terry, is excellent for comfort, but the color combined with the style was giving me serious gym shorts vibes. So this was me attempting to be marginally more stylish than I’ve become. That being said, I’ve been wearing these quite often since I finished them. So, since I don’t have many shorts anyway, I think more will be in order when I have time and comfy fabric in more interesting colors and prints.

Chain Reaction, The Second: Up to Shenanigans

It’s been a slow start since the 100 Day Project ended. Admittedly, I needed to ease off the pedal some, as we were wrapping up our first year of official homeschool. (Official in that I had a state sanctioned attendance requirement to meet, since we did preschool at home last year too.) I did have time to pull out stash and patterns for a tentative 6-piece summer chain, though, so here’s the first piece!

Wardrobe styling courtesy of my 4 year old, who insisted that I wear my “superhero shirt”. And I forgot to take off the house sandals, oops.

Last summer, I was hopeful that I can turn the 5 Out of 4 Patterns’ Shenanigans Skort into a TNT pattern, as knit skorts have proven to be extremely practical for summer wear with little kids. I made some tweaks from the last pair, adding a little length to the skirt and increasing the back crotch length. Though I think the back skirt could use just a smidgen more length, the shorts fit is perfect now.

A little lo-hi, but still wearable.

I wanted to fiddle with the pockets this time, since I don’t necessarily want to do patch pockets on everything. So I added in-seam pockets to the overskirt. And, well, this may not have been the fabric to try it with. It’s a thicker jersey type, as opposed to the ponte that I used in my original version, and the edges seriously like to roll toward the right side of the fabric. That made pressing the hems a challenge, and also made the pockets not lay very well.

I probably should have understitched the pockets when I initially made them, but I was doing it in a 4 day rush job to keep up with a sewalong that the pattern company was running. I did finish in time (though I didn’t win the drawing, oh well), but after about two wears, I could see that the pockets kept rolling toward the outside of the seam, and there was danger of a hole developing at the stress point already. So I had to go back and understitch by hand, and reinforce that lower corner. Proof that, to quote a chapter that I recently reread in Lord of the Rings, “short cuts make long delays”.

Keeping it real with my clingy toddler co-model

All that to say, I don’t quite have the pockets down for the skort TNT of my dreams. I don’t think I’ll do the inseam again. But otherwise, this was a promising step forward, and a solid foundation to build this next wardrobe chain on. Every other piece I picked is also a knit, so I’m hoping that I can knock the rest of this out a little more quickly. To be perfectly honest, I’m hoping to save some time to knock out some Halloween sewing before we start school again, just to save me the stress of deadline sewing in the fall!

Chain Reaction 1, finished!

Since I didn’t manage to get pictures of my fourth finished piece before I finished my most recent project, I have two things to share today.

The first is a pattern that I’ve made before, the Stasia Tee by Sew Liberated. Since I’ve already talked about this pattern, I made it basically the exact same way as before, except I did add a little extra width to the lower section to compensate for the mom tummy that I’ve gained since the ivory version. I made a coral tee years ago, and it ended up being a surprisingly versatile piece in my wardrobe. But given that it was two kids and a quarantine ago, it isn’t fitting that well these days. So this one was to function as both a replacement for that, and a much needed pop of color in this particular chain.

I had quite a bit of this coral left over, so I did make a second little side project, which I’ll put in a different post soon.

The second project, and what I believe will be the last piece in this particular chain for now, was the Carlsbad Vest from the recently released Itch to Stitch book. As you know, I’ve become quite a fan of her patterns in recent years, and I can honestly say that I want to make every single pattern in this book! Which I haven’t been able to say about other pattern books that I’ve acquired in the past. To be honest, this vest wasn’t on my immediate radar, but I found a fabric during my birthday mini-shopping spree that I thought would be perfect for it. And since it happened to work with the pieces in this chain, I just went for it!

The fabric is a double-sided knit from Joann’s — black and white stripes on one side, and white dots on black for the reverse. Initially, I was wondering if I could make this fully reversible, but that’s a lot of flat-felling on a stretchy knit. So in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of rippling all the seams. I did think that the reversible quality would make for a fun contrast with the waterfall effect of the front, and I do believe it worked out well. I also ended up using the dotted side for the arm bindings — partially for the style, but also because this knit was surprisingly hard to cut straight and all of my stripes for those pieces ended up slanted!

I made the size 14– I probably could have done the 12, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t pulling over my hips. The instructions were really nicely done for the mitered corners and the collar, so I had no trouble sewing this together. Honestly, the part that took the longest was the hemming, since it’s on all four sides and the way the corners are constructed made me think that my coverstitch machine wouldn’t be the best finishing choice. I ended up doing a folded hem (as per the instructions), with a narrow zigzag and tear-away stabilizer. It worked like a dream, with nary a ripple in sight, except the ones that are supposed to be in the front from that long rectangular piece. I could see myself making this again as an alternate silhouette to the Blackwood Cardigan, with a nice drapey knit.

And now, here’s how all five pieces in this chain mix together! As a reminder, the other three patterns involved are the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Jeans, the Itch to Stitch Atenas Jeans Jacket, and the Paprika Patterns Jade Skirt.

So, six looks from five pieces, which I can likely mix up more with different shoes (though my choices are admittedly limited there), or jewelry. Especially once I get to the point where Miss Grabby Toddler lets me start using my necklaces and dangly earrings again!

Overall, I’m quite pleased with how this chain-style sewing experiment worked out! My plan is to take a brief break from that for another project (I very badly need some pajamas that are between flannel pants and summer shorts), but plans for the next chain are definitely in the works. And, of course, I’m fully planning on mixing these pieces in with other things in my closet/future sewing projects as much as possible!

Chain reaction 1, The Jade Skirt

Not that you can see any details here, because black fabric.

My third piece in this first chain is the Jade Skirt, by Paprika Patterns. I’ve had this pattern/fabric pairing in my stash for a few years now, along with fabric for a second version, so it was time! And a basic black skirt is something that I’ve been lacking for awhile anyway.

The chair models it better than I do for details.

This was definitely a pattern that needed some brainpower on my part, more so than the pants (a pattern repeat) and the jacket (other than the welt pockets.) The front of this skirt is basically fabric origami, and I’m very glad that I took my sewing time one night to watch the video tutorial on her website! The folding process really wasn’t bad after that, though I think it would have helped if I had any quantity of more than two pin colors. I did find it a little tricky to wear for its first outing today, because even though it’s stitched under the folds to secure them, things tend to shift around when I’m in the process of sitting down. The other knit that I have for this one is a spongier, textured one. So I’m seriously debating topstitching the folds in place for that one, whenever I get to it. We’ll see how I feel after a couple of wears.

Pattern alterations!

The fitting was a more challenging process than I anticipated. I started out with a size 8, and the longer length. I’m not sure if I ended up making this higher waisted than it was supposed to be. The way that the skirt is constructed means that the bottom is finished off by the lining before the waistband is attached, and putting the finished edge at my preferred knee-area skirt length does make it high waisted on me. So then I ended up having to take quite a bit out of the back darts and side seams— I think I ended up grading it in about 6”-7” all around from my hips! And if I do succeed in flattening out my third baby tummy any, I may need to take it in even more. In anticipation of that, and also because me and stitching in the ditch with stretch stitches don’t get along, I hand sewed the waistband lining in so I can more easily access those side seams again.

I still love these crazy statement sleeves.

Just for fun, I paired this newest addition to my wardrobe with the oldest surviving member of my handmade wardrobe. I made this shirt back when Lord of the Rings was still in theaters, and I was trying to incorporate as much Middle-earth style into my wardrobe as a broke student could manage. (Side note, how am I looking at 20 year anniversaries of these movies now? I guess I’m old or something.) Anyway, this shirt alone has managed to survive the wardrobe purges since. And while I hadn’t really been able to wear this one in awhile, between babies/nursing and just lacking basics to pair with it, I think it works well with my accidental high waisted skirt. So I’m happy to have a way to get this back into a more regular rotation.

For my 100 Days Project update, I’m at the halfway mark today! And I haven’t missed any days yet, though I had to get creative with things like a recent late night at book club. I’ve used a few here and there for things like rethreading machines and washing fabric, which still counts for me because they’re parts of the process. I’ll admit that I’m starting to get some evenings here and there where I just want to take a night off and do something else, but knowing that I only need 15 minutes has helped a lot with keeping me motivated.

I’m actually already mostly done with my next project in the chain! So I’m thinking that one more project after this will probably be good for this set. I’m strongly considering knocking out a quick filler project or two before starting the next one, as I’m still plotting it out. Summer clothes will likely be involved!

Sewing with a (tentative) plan

I didn’t have any particular project- based goals in mind for this year, but I think I may be stumbling into something.

A more cohesive wardrobe has been a wish of mine for years, but I’ve also found it difficult to get inspired since I also love brighter colors and prints. I’m also finding it hard to put outfits together lately, period, due to having to get rid of so many clothes last year.

So I started off this year with some badly needed pants, a second version of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull-on jeans. These are still in progress due to having to do some serious fit- checking, which I’ll talk about more when I actually finish them.

Meanwhile, in the Sewing Sphere community, we’ve been discussing something we could work on together as an open sew-along. Many of us have had jackets and blazers on the brain, so I decided that for my first Year of the Jacket project, I’m going to tackle a classic jeans jacket pattern that I’ve had queued for a year or so. The fabric that I have to test it with is a black denim, and the pants I’m working on are a black and blue print, and I realized that this is the beginning of a complete outfit project.  All I need is a shirt.

So this led to the idea of centering my sewing this year around chain reactions. I’ve struggled in the past with planning capsule wardrobes that actually work together in the end, and successfully completing one is still a long term goal of mine. But if I start with a jacket that works with the pants, and then a shirt that works with the jacket and pants, and then, say, move to a skirt that works with the shirt and jacket, that’s basically six outfits right there depending on whether I wear the jacket or not.

I feel like this approach just might be the ideal thing for now. It’s not so big of a project that I’ll be overwhelmed at trying to fit in an entire capsule in a reasonable amount of time, but will hopefully curb the closet orphan problem. I could also use a garment (or even two) that I already have as a starting point, or center them around community challenges like the jackets. If I keep the chains relatively small, like 3-4 garments, I’m less likely to get bored of sewing all the same colors. Plus then I can still take time for side projects as needed. (My oldest already has quite the creative costume mashup in mind for Halloween this year!) And this could be a good way to build up to a larger capsule project in time, as I rebuild my TNT stash.

My plan for blogging this is to still do the individual projects, but then I’d also like to do a roundup post to mix and match the pieces as I feel that the chains are complete for now. So stay tuned!

Sewing Shenanigans

After my second son was born and I needed some postpartum summer clothes, my mom gifted me with several knit skorts. They’ve become a summer staple for me, since they’re very practical for things like getting up and down off the floor with the kids, but still a little dressier for when I need to go out. I’ll need to work on some sleeveless tops to go with, since most of what I have left doesn’t quite work with the silhouette of the skorts. I’ve been wearing them anyway since I’ve mostly been at home for months now, but I feel pretty frumpy about it. Anyway. I had the thought a couple of years ago that I should try to hack some patterns together to create something similar. But then I was browsing Maternity Sewing, and discovered someone had done all of the work for me! And it’s overall better than I could have done myself.

The pattern is the Shenanigans Skort, by 5 Out Of 4 Patterns. I didn’t get to the pattern last year as the maternity wear I intended, but that may be for the best since I didn’t have to factor in the third trimester waistband fit. It has several options in lengths and skirts, so I made the longest length in both skirts and shorts, the mid-rise elasticized waistband, and a straight size L.

My sewing this summer has still been at sloth speed (more on that later), so it took a lot longer to make than it probably should have. But on the days where I did have both time and motivation to sew, I was able to get large chunks done. So with a few tweaks, I think this has strong TNT pattern potential.

What I liked:

1. The sizing is very forgiving. Whenever I make it again, I’d like to add an inch or so to the back rise. I think I’ll just have to accept this as a standard pants alteration by this point, just like my long sleeve length adjustments. But it’s still wearable.

2. I’m not much of an “athleisure” person. I’m not a fan of the term either, tbh. But I will admit that the athletic cut of this pattern works well. The shorts are much more fitted than on my RTW pairs, but this also eliminates the slightly nagging problem I have with those, of the shorts riding up under the skirts. The length was good, and the shorts are surprisingly comfortable. I’m seriously considering a shorts only hack of this as a project I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile, to make something to wear under other skirts and dresses to avoid that irritating thigh chafing.

3. It’s a good stand in, at least for the warm seasons, for the basic black skirt that I haven’t had in awhile. We’ll see how the ponte holds up.

The one thing I didn’t like as much: the pocket instructions for the version that I initially used were really confusing. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to just leave the edges raw, or how to sew it with any finishing since it was a very curved shape. So I ended up ditching it, making two rectangular patch pockets that were easily large enough to hold my phone, and sticking one on each side. Patch pockets on adult clothes aren’t my favorite look, but it works. I think in future versions, though, I’d take some ideas from some of my RTW versions to make it look more polished.

Overall, I was happy with how this came together, as I needed a sewing win. My motivation is starting to return, finally, since I saw a new pattern that caught my attention. It’s already assembled and ready to cut! The time is a little trickier, mostly due to the kids. Sometimes lengthy bedtimes aside, we’re continuing with homeschooling this year, and this time for both boys as kindergarten/ basic preschool. So I’ve been spending a lot of my evening time preparing for that, since we’re planning to start later this month. I’m really excited about the main curriculum that I found, as its main focus is lots of fairy tales and fables, and I can use it with both boys. I’ll have to do math and literacy stuff with them individually, but having most of it more one room schoolhouse style will help immensely. (I’m a little nervous about trying to teach Hobbit to read, since I want him to love it, so hopefully that will go well.)

This took forever

It really did feel like it! I started this dress way back in February, intending for it to be part of the Sewcialists’ Denim month. Clearly, I should not try to sew clothes for challenges with deadlines during my current life stage. It took me over 3 months to make this thing.

This is Simplicity 8830, a shirtdress and tunic designed by Mimi G. I’ve been wanting a simple chambray dress that could be styled in different ways for awhile, and genuinely needed something new and nursing-friendly that I could wear to church. (You know, a long time ago when we could actually go places and be around people.) I thought the fit on this one would be pretty forgiving while my body is still trying to figure out where it wants to settle after this last pregnancy.

Things started off well on this one. I genuinely enjoy projects that have a lot of nice details, so I was having fun with all of the topstitching. I did initially change a few things on purpose. Aside from my usual inch added on the sleeves, I borrowed the yoke instructions and sleeve tab from the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt that I made right before this, so that I could enclose the yoke with my contrast fabric and give the sleeves a good roll when I want them to. I also decided to do bias bound seams on the sleeves for that same reason. I used a scrap of blue floral quilt cotton for the binding, the inside of the collar/ pocket flaps/ yoke facing, the in seam pockets, the facing for the epaulets, and had enough bias binding left to make a narrow faced hem. It was part design decision, but I really ran out of the stashed chambray that I’d chosen, and so I had very little fabric left over from either piece!

I did run into an issue with the fitting. It took some serious thought to choose a size to sew, because the ease given was ridiculous. My current measurements for the big 4 put me in an 18, but I sized down to a 16 so I wouldn’t end up with 8″ of ease around my chest. I really wish that the pattern had given the finished hip measurement as well as the bust. After I sewed the side seams and tried it on to figure out the button placement, it barely pinned together over my hips! I had just enough in my chambray scraps to cut two wedges out, which I inserted from just above the side pockets to the hem to give it a little more of an A line shape. That didn’t show up that great in any of my pictures, but I wanted that to blend in, so mission accomplished?

I do remember having to add a similar wedge in the last time I made a woven McCall’s pattern, so I guess grading up a size or two in my hips is going to have to be my thing now. But seriously, I could have avoided that whole process if they’d just given that one extra finished measurement.

A closer up of the contrast fabric, in the hem.

Aside from the fitting, this dress suffered from a severe loss of sewing motivation. I was working through all of those topstitching details when the world started shutting down, and once the hip issue showed up, my sewing slowed to a snail’s pace. Part of it was just the usual kid stuff, like the baby is teething and not always easy to get to sleep. But I thought that, without my usual 1-2 rehearsals during the week, I’d be sewing more. That hasn’t been the case.

It took me several weeks to realize that making this dress, as well as the baby dress that I’ve been hand- embellishing on the side, was suddenly making me sad. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to wear it, because I don’t feel like I’m in a place right now where I can dress up, even in a casual piece like this, to just stay home. My life at home is messy, with baby spit-up and purees, and a sticky-handed toddler. (I guess he’s kind of a preschooler now, since he turned 3 recently.) There’s been lots of extra baking, since bread supplies aren’t reliable and homemade bread is a comforting thing. My older boy wants to do crafts and science experiments often, which is good, but still messy. And there hasn’t been anything that I normally dress nicer for, like church activities or music lessons. So I’ve mostly been living in graphic tees and jeans/ stretchy pants. I couldn’t even be bothered to dress for Me Made May this year, since there is only so many ways one can style already-pilling gray Hudson pants.

I think that I’m having a little bit of a sewing identity crisis. I know that we’ll get back to going to church, hopefully sooner rather than later, because streaming services for months has turned out to be a sad substitute. What is more questionable is my music life. I’ve read reports on how vocal groups probably won’t be able to meet again until a cure or vaccine is found, and the flute is very similar in air production. Plus, unlike all of the other wind instruments, you blow across the mouthpiece instead of in, so it’s the most difficult wind instrument to contain. So I don’t know what this means for my community orchestra. I don’t know if my teaching will recover, since my student count had already taken a huge hit during my last pregnancy due to students graduating or just being too overwhelmed with school activities. (Oh, the irony.) So all that I had was two students left, and Zoom lessons weren’t great for either situation for various reasons. We had already decided to continue homeschooling in the fall, since preschool with my oldest has been working out well. So I’m wondering, if I’m “just” a stay at home mom now, what do I sew?

I’m doing an experiment during May that I hope will help. And I know that better fitting jeans are a wardrobe hole. But I may need to seriously rethink how I’m going to use my fabrics now.

A Fine Feathered Visby

My first 2020 project is in the books! This is the Visby Henley from Itch to Stitch. I’m hoping to start doing better at utilizing my Pattern Review account this year, so here’s my official review:

Pattern Description:
From the website: “The Visby Henley & Top will become your favorite wardrobe staple. Wear this long sleeve pullover by itself on a warm day, or as a base layer underneath a snuggly sweater on a cool night. The Visby comes as a classic henley, but you also have the option to add a hood or skip the buttoned placket altogether. You also have the choice to add a bottom band!”

Pattern Sizing: 0-20. I made a 14, graded to 16 in the hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes! The biggest struggle I had was with the placket, as the length ended up being over an inch off from where the slit was cut to. But that easily could have been user error rather than a drafting error, as having a baby around means I’m rather tired all the time.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I like: The length of the shirt is great, especially for not riding up too far when I’m having to get down on the floor. The cuffs are a stylish touch, and overall, the shirt is very comfortable. As mentioned, I did have a small struggle with the placket, but since this shirt also has a plain front and a hoodie view, I don’t think that’s enough to stop making this one.

Fabric Used: Two fairly heavy cotton jerseys. I’m fairly certain the bird one is Art Gallery.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As mentioned, I did grade the hips out one size, and I also lengthened the arms about 1″ (a standard change for me). I also sewed the buttons on non-functionally, because once I realized that the placket wouldn’t look right if I made it deep enough to be nursing friendly, I didn’t want to bother sewing buttonholes into jersey.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, and yes.

Conclusion: A nice wardrobe builder tee, with lots of potential for fun fabric mixing.

Now for a few unofficial thoughts:

  • I really do think I’d make this again, as I like the raglan style and don’t have much else in my wardrobe that fits that for a tee. But whenever I do get around to making a second one, I think I may size down in the bust and sleeves. I guessed at my sizing based on previous nursing-era measurements while I was cutting this out, since I was still pregnant at the time, and I do feel like it’s a little too baggy up top.
  • I know there’s a giant swayback puddling in the back, but that’s just my figure, and it’s not something that bothers me so much that I’m going to do a lot of fiddling with darts in a knit tee.
  • The disapproving-looking owl right there near the back makes me happy.
  • I really need to work on my model poses, don’t I? I actually had someone to take the pictures this time (my husband), and he was just snapping at random while I didn’t know when the pictures were being taken. Thus the “staring epically into the distance” pose, since it was honestly the best one.

Back on the jeans wagon!

Jeans have long been a defining staple of my style, and I’ve honestly missed making them (and wearing ones that fit) since the boys came along. So when I saw the Mountain View pull-on jeans by Itch to Stitch— and particularly a tester shot that showed off just how well they don’t gape in the back– I was sold. I haven’t been feeling ready to go through the fitting process for, say, the Ginger jeans that I’ve been hoarding, but elastic waist stretchy jeans? That, my mom bod can handle.

I do have to say, this took a lot longer than I expected. I actually started this project back in August, and intended all along to do a fit check before working on all of the details. But then I heard a Love to Sew podcast episode just after cutting it out where Brooks Ann Camper was talking about hand-sewing and not overly handling the fabric, and kind of on a whim, I decided to hand baste the jeans together. I still think it was the right move, as the denim I used was one that had been sitting in my stash for a few years because it was a lot lighter weight than I wanted. But it does have the 30% stretch that this pattern calls for, so I figured it would be the perfect test fabric. The machine basting and ripping out process probably would have weakened the fabric quite a bit, since I had to make some significant changes.20180917_085635

The back is where it’s the most noticeable. The dark stitching was the original seam lines, and the yellow is the changes I had to make. I ended up having to pull the back in about an extra 1/2″ starting from the back and going through the yoke, and then taking an additional dart in the waistband that is actually in the finished product. I’m going to see if I can smooth that out in future versions. I also ended up changing the rise slightly by reducing the seam allowance between the yoke and the waistband, and while wearing them and sitting down to write this, I think that was a good move.

Additional changes I made: I added a little extra width to the hips (about 1/4″ total, I think), and pulled it in around the knees to give it a little more of a flare effect– bootcut/flare jeans are still my favorite, and the straighter leg that this originally had just looked really baggy and ridiculous on me when I tried it on. A nice feature of these jeans is that there’s an additional back leg seam to help with fitting adjustments, so I was able to take it in at the back of my knee quite easily.

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Once I figured out the fitting changes and adjusted my pattern (look at me, being all smart and doing the adjustments right away, the actual assembly process went quite smoothly. Figuring out what to do with the pockets was a little tricky. I did all of the topstitching in the same color thread with the triple stitch, but I ended up deciding on a design from one of the templates in a free download from Closet Case Patterns. I’ll be honest, the pockets were my one quibble about the instructions for this pattern. The order of assembly on there has the pockets as the last thing, after the legs are all stitched together and the waistband is on, and that seems unnecessarily difficult to me. I went ahead and sewed them just after the center back leg seams, before doing the crotch or inseams or anything, but I can see that being a tricky point if you’re more of a novice in sewing pants.

So are you ready to see the results?

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20181120_080711  Here you go! Overall, I’m pleased with the fit, though I think that maybe I should have made the elastic just a little bit smaller. We’ll see if it ends up bothering me enough to remove the waistband and fix it later. They’re actually quite comfortable for a high rise pant, and the elastic content means it won’t restrict my breathing (crucial when your instrument is a woodwind!)

 

 

 

The back view. I think that in the future, I might move up the back pockets about a half inch or so, because they seem just a little low to me. But look at the flare!! The back seam blends in really well here due to the tone on tone stitching, but I can see that being a fun detail to highlight.

I would definitely make this pattern again, and am now curious about some of the other patterns from this designer. She has some really lovely tops! I do have one other piece of denim in my stash, in the more typical indigo color, that seems to have the right stretch amount for this pattern. But it’s also more narrow than the typical denim, so I’ll have to see if I can tetris it out. Honestly, I think that is probably the most difficult part of this pattern, aside from just working out the fitting– finding the right fabric! It seems like most denims cap out at around 15% stretch, and with the nature of the wide elasticized waistband, I’m not sure that just sizing up a little would be sufficient. So I may have to branch out to some corduroys and twills to see what I can do.

For the record, I’m still planning to try those Ginger jeans at some point, once I’m certain that we’re done with kids and my weight is stable. But this works well to give me my fix now. And I think that the color will help to brighten up my winter wardrobe very nicely! (Now I just need some print tops with this color, because how do I not have this happy turquoise?!)

Also, the other reason that these jeans took longer than expected is because I took a break in the middle, which is not typical for me on a project. But the opportunity came up to write a post for the Sewcialists blog’s Sustainable Sewing theme, which went up yesterday. So if you want to see my latest Refashion Redemption Project piece, go check it out!