Completed: Comox Trunks

I’ve made a piece of underwear! They’re Thread Theory’s Comox Trunks and I made them for my brother.

Thread Theory Comox Trunks

Clearly, the best part of these trunks is the elastic! I don’t have a lot of elastic in my stash and what I had didn’t feel nice enough to sit next to your skin all day long. I wasn’t very optimistic about finding anything really nice and then stumbled upon this elastic in a stall at a local weekly market. It feels very soft and it has stars on it! They also carried several different colours. Just brilliant.

These trunks were easy to make but I didn’t follow all of the construction steps. The attachment of the binding pieces to the fly seemed a bit fiddly so I simply folded the binding strips in half and used my overlocker to attach them to the front pieces. This does leave an exposed seam inside the fly but since I suspect most men don’t even use the fly I don’t think this will be a problem.

Thread Theory Comox TrunksI sewed the inside front pieces wrong sides together. As a result the seam allowance ended up inside the fly and not on the inside of the trunks, so there is one exposed seam less that might cause irritation. With hindsight I should also have done this with the binding piece for this front piece because that seam did end up on the inside of the trunks and could easily have been hidden as well.

To further reduce the number of exposed seams I used a different method for the attachment of the gusset. I now wish I had taken pictures as I worked but I promise I’ll do so if I make them again. Basically, you skip the part where the gusset pieces are basted wrong sides together and instead work with two separate pieces. Layer the two pieces right sides together with the front (or back, doesn’t matter which side you start with) sandwiched in between. Sew this seam. Then, leaving the gusset pieces right sides together stuff the entire trunks inside the gusset pieces (fabric is allowed to spill out through the sides of the gusset) until you can layer the gusset pieces right sides together with the back sandwiched in between. Make sure nothing else is caught in between and sew this seam. Now, you can pull the trunks right side out through one of the gusset’s sides, et voila, you have hidden both seams on the inside! It feels a little bit like magic. If you have constructed yokes on classic tailored shirts you might have used this technique before.

Gusset with hidden seams

Seams of the gusset are hidden in between the two gusset layers.

I used my coverstitch machine (4 threads) to attach the elastic. This worked well, but next time I should pay more attention as I am sewing because I didn’t catch the trunks in all places on the first go and had to do some fixing.

The one thing I didn’t like is how the pattern pieces are printed from the PDF. With a PDF pattern you have to do some assembling after printing and my printer tends to scale when it shouldn’t which can make it difficult to line things up. I, therefore, have a very strong preference for the layout of the pieces to be optimized so that a pattern piece is scattered across the least number of pages possible. In this pattern (PDF for size 24-36), piece 3 could have fit on 1 page instead of 2. Piece 4 could have fit on 2 pages instead of 4 and piece 5 could have fit on 1 page instead of 2. Yes, this does result in the printing of more pages, but it does also result in less taping and less fudging when things don’t line up. On some pieces text runs across the markings that you need to line up the pages which I think is a bit sloppy and could easily have been avoided.

This pattern piece sums up what I didn't like: Printed across too many pages, text is placed across the diamond that you need for matching up. The mark that indicates you need to cut this piece on the fold is place right on top of the line that you need to cut for matching up the pages which I found a little confusing.

This pattern piece sums up what I didn’t like about the PDF. It is printed across more pages than necessary. Text is placed across the diamond that you need for matching up. The marking that indicates you need to cut this piece on the fold is located right on top of the line that you need to cut for matching up the pages which I found a little confusing. I also had some matching issues, but I fully blame my printer for that problem.

To conclude, I think this is a well drafted pattern that is very quick to make. I did all of the sewing in just one evening. I can’t really say too much about the written instructions that come with the pattern because I barely looked at them. I did read the sewalong blog posts and those were definitely helpful, even if I decided to ignore some of it. The size range of the pattern seems quite large with 24-45. I made size 30 and my brother is positively skinny so I suspect this pattern might also work for teenage sons (if willing to wear mom-made underwear, that is). The pricing of the pattern is also very reasonable as the PDF version is only CAD 7.50.

Thread Theory Comox Trunks

If you are wondering why I used grey thread in my overlocker the answer is laziness. My coverstitch machine was already threaded with the dark blue thread and I didn’t feel like unthreading it…

Have you ever made underwear? I found these trunks very easy to make and am now thinking that making underwear for myself might not be as difficult as I used to think. Except for bras of course, those are on a completely different level of sewing and fitting.

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Tutorial: Decorative jar hats

I made some strawberry & raspberry jam two weeks ago. What, in April? Isn’t that completely out of season? Yes, that’s why I used frozen fruit *gasps of horror from the jam police*. Ever since I started making my own jam I’m not really that fond anymore of the store bought varieties. I usually find them too sweet. I suppose I should make a huge batch in summer when fruit is in season and available everywhere but life doesn’t always work out like that. As a result we were out for ages and I missed it.

Ingredients

I suppose we should be glad she didn’t use orange juice from a carton…

The thing with using frozen fruit is that you have to wait for a bit for it to thaw before you can start the jam making process. So, while waiting I decided to make a little tutorial on how to make decorative jar hats, because I’m sure that’s what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

Jar hats

I recycle jars from store bought jam to put my homemade jam in but those jars aren’t always very pretty so I thought of a way to make them look more attractive when I turn them into a gift. It is a little hat that is placed over the lid and stays in place by either a piece of elastic or a ribbon. You can make them to fit any jar and would also be great when you gift a jar with homemade cookies, apple pie filling or even chocolate easter eggs. (Uhm, yes, I did plan to post this before Easter, but got completely sucked into Downton Abbey. I’ve just finished season 3 and am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the season 4 DVDs…)

Materials

Materials

  1. Fabric for top and bottom of hat
  2. Matching thread
  3. Paper to make pattern
  4. Compass
  5. Piece of elastic or ribbon
  6. Pair of scissors
  7. Chalk or disappearing marker
  8. Pins
  9. Measuring tape
  10. Safety pin (not in picture)
  11. Optional: embellishments such as embroidery floss, buttons, applique, fabric paint

Method

140419_measure jarStep 1: The jar hat pattern consists of two circles that have the same center. The inner circle has a diameter of A+2*B (see figure), this circle will cover the jar lid. You can either measure A and B separately with a ruler, or determine the whole measurement in one go with the tape measure. I used a tape measure and rounded my measurement up to 11 cm (don’t round down).

Step 2: The large circle has a diameter of A+2*B+2* 2 1/4” (5.5 cm). This will create a 2” (5 cm) skirt around the jar hat with a 1/4” (0.5 cm) seam allowance. For a very small jar you may want to make the skirt smaller, for a very large jar you might want to make it larger.

140419_schematicsStep 3: Use the compass to draw the pattern on your patten paper. Since you put the compass in the centre of the circles when drawing, the distance between the two legs should be half the diameter of the circles. My small circle has a diameter of 11 cm, so the distance between the legs was 5.5 cm. For the outer circle the distance was 5.5 +5.5 (skirt) = 11cm

Step 4: Cut your pattern from the paper. Cut around the large circle and cut out the smaller circle so you end up with a ring.

140419_pattern

Step 3 and 4

Step 5: Layer the two fabrics on top of each other. If you want to use elastic place the fabric for the underside right side up. If you want to use a ribbon place the fabric for the outside right side up. Place the pattern on top and pin. For this tutorial I made a hat with elastic so placed the solid pink fabric on top.

Step 6: Use the disappearing marker or chalk to trace the inner circle on the fabric. (First test on a scrap whether the markings will come off)

Step 7: Cut around the outside fabric. Do not, I repeat, do not, cut out the inner circle!

Marking and cutting the fabric

Step 6&7

Step 8: Make a buttonhole just outside the marked circle. For the hats with elastic the buttonhole should end up on the inside of the hat, for the hats with ribbon the buttonhole should end up on the outside of the hat. For very delicate fabrics you might want to reinforce the location of the buttonhole with some fusible interfacing before making the buttonhole.

140419_buttonhole

Step 8

Step 9: Layer the two fabrics right sides together and sew around the edge with a 1/4” (0.5 cm) seam allowance. I used my 1/4” foot. Leave a small gap for turning.

Step 10: Trim the seam allowance. I used pinking shears to ensure that the edge would be smooth after turning the fabric right side out. If you don’t have pinking shears you can also clip small notches into the seam allowance. Do not trim the seam allowance at the gap.

140419_sew outside

Step 9 & 10

Step 11: Turn the hat right side out. Roll the seam in your fingers to smooth it out and press flat with an iron. Fold the seam allowance to the inside at the gap.

Step 11

Step 11

Step 12: Edge stitch 1/8” (3 mm) from the edge of the hat. This closes the gap. If you have an edgestitch foot that can be helpful. I used my blind hem foot and changed the needle position.

Step 13: Stitch over the inner circle markings. This creates the tunnel for the elastic or ribbon.

140419_sewing

Step 12 & 13

Step 14: If you are using elastic, measure how long the elastic should be for a snug fit around the jar. Cut the elastic a little bit longer.

If you are using ribbon measure how the long the ribbon should be to fit around the jar and tie into a nice bow.

Step 15: Use a safety pin to thread the elastic or ribbon through the buttonhole.

Step 16: If you are using elastic, tie a knot in the elastic and trim off the excess. Pull the elastic completely inside the hat. You are done and can put the hat on the jar.

If you are using a ribbon, place the hat on top of the jar and gently pull the ribbon so that the jar hat is shaped around the jar lid. Tie a bow into the ribbon and you are done.

Elastic

Step 14, 15 & 16

Did you ever consider dressing up your jars?

Jar hats

Completed: Lady Skater dress with drape neckline

140411_front viewThis dress nearly defeated me but I am glad I persevered. I thought it would be fun to change the scoop neckline on the Lady Skater dress to a drape neckline to create a different look . I worry that if I make the same pattern over and over with the only change being the fabric that is used they’ll be too much alike. Changing details like necklines and sleeve lengths seems a good solution to this problem and they’re also fun as it often involves some pattern drafting.

140411_drape neckline2So, creating a drape neckline, “how hard can it be”? I had made drape necklines before on t-shirts for one of my sisters. A smarter person than me would have studied that pattern extensively before she started drafting, and more importantly, cutting the fabric. Let’s just say my first version wasn’t even remotely drapey and looked more like a boat neck trying to strangle me.

Luckily I had enough fabric left to cut a new front bodice. This one worked much better! I think I could have added even more drape but was worried at first that it might be too revealing. I shouldn’t have cut it out of fabric immediately though because I didn’t really consider the effect that my changes to the pattern had on the shape of the waistline. My waistline looked like this after cutting it from fabric (and that was the last piece of fabric large enough to accommodate the front bodice):

This is what happens when you forget to true up your waistline...

This is what happens when you forget to true up your pattern…

Whoops, not sure how that is going to look when the skirt is attached… I wasn’t certain how to fix this, so decided to leave this problem for after I completed sewing the bodice. I needn’t have worried though because this fabric has more lengthwise stretch than the fabric I used previously and as a result the waistline ended up far too low for my taste. I chopped an inch off the front and back bodice and in the process got rid of the sweetheart waistline detail.

Before reattaching the skirt I also took in the side seams. The before pictures below are how the dress was when I posted last time. I didn’t really like the dress then and wasn’t sure how to fix it.

140411_beforeafter

I thought something was missing, but I was wrong, there was still too much of something. Fabric, to be precise. I took the dress in at the back waist and removed even more at both side seams from just below the bust to the skirt hem and am now much happier with how it looks. It was a subtle change but I think it makes enough of a difference, especially from the front.

140411_side viewI can imagine some of you might be interested in how I converted the scoop neck to a drape neck. In the picture below I highlighted the orginal front bodice pattern piece in green. Starting at the centre front waistline you draw a straigth line (1) that flares out towards the neckline and extends beyond the original pattern piece (this will be the new center front).  More flare means more drape. Then you fold the pattern perpendicular to line 1 so that the corner of the shoulderseam ends up on the foldline. Then trace the shoulderseam  and the armhole onto the piece that is folded over, this is how you create the facing for the drape. Unfold the pattern and draw a second line (2) perpendicular to line line 1 so that the traced part of the armhole measures around 7.5 cm (I think it will still work if it is a little less or a little bit more).  I also added a notch in the armhole where the facing ends up when it is folded over. If you don’t want to end up with a strange looking waistline you also true up the pattern there.

front bodice pattern with drape neckline

I am apparently able to draft patterns in the future…

I finished my back bodice with a neckband, there are other options, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the length of the finished back bodice shoulder seam should be the same as the front bodice shoulder seam, so depending on your choice of finish you may have to make some changes to the back bodice as well. I reinforced the shoulder seam on the back bodice with some stay tape (not visible in the pictures). The shoulder seam is sewn by laying down the front and back bodice pieces right sides together with the shoulder seams matching. The facing of the front bodice is then folded over the back bodice so that the shoulder seam on the facing matches up as well (see picture below). I highly recommend basting this seam first to check how it looks from the right side. It can be tricky to get the back and front neckline to match up exactly, in the picture on the right you can see that I didn’t manage to do so completely, but trust me, it can be a lot worse. I basted the facing to the armhole before continuing to prevent shifting during the attachment of the armhole.

140411_shoulderseam

For now I am done playing with the Lady Skater pattern. My next make will be something I have never made before but that will be used on a daily basis. Can you guess what it will be?

Back view

Sometimes you need to step back from your work and do something else

Unfinished Lady Skater dressI am working on my next Lady Skater dress. It only needs hemming before it’s finished but I’m feeling a little meh about it. Something is missing and I’m not entirely sure what. I could of course sew the hems and be done with it, but how likely is it that I’m going to wear a dress I feel meh about? I’ve decided to give it a rest for a couple of days before I try it on again to see how I feel then. If the feeling is still meh I’ll experiment a bit with skirt lengths, sleeve lengths, belts and waist ties to see if that will make me like it better.

Until I continue with the dress I still want to do some sewing but not start anything big. I made some fabric postcards using the method from my tutorial. I remembered a comment from katechiconi on my post about gift making. She suggested creating 4 placemats in one go, by first quilting a large piece of fabric that is later cut into separate pieces for the placemats. That would work equally well for making multiple postcards from the same fabric if larger pieces of the front and back fabric are interfaced before cutting the postcards to size. From the length of a fat quarter (± 45 cm, 18’’) you can easily cut 4 postcards that are 10×15 cm (4’’x 6’’). Conveniently, the roll of Vlieseline s520 that I am currently using is 45 cm wide, so that was just meant to be! The smaller piece that was left after cutting the 4 postcards was turned into a bookmark, because I don’t see why you can’t have a pretty fabric bookmark.

Cutting 4 postcards and a bookmark in one go.

Cutting 4 postcards and a bookmark in one go.

These postcards were almost instant gratification because they were fast to make and are so bright and happy. They would have been even faster if I hadn’t thought it fun to change the thread colour for the zigzag stitches around the edges for each postcard.

Do you sometimes take a break from a project when you are unsure how to continue? How do get yourself to go back to finishing it? I am worried the dress will turn into an UFO if I don’t solve my issues of not really liking it soon.

140407_postcards