Completed: Knippie baby blouse

I sometimes find it difficult to sew for baby boys. One problem is that you can’t add too many cute frills because people might find it too girly. The second problem is that dresses are somehow just more fun to make. I usually end up making another Growing up sew liberated envelope tee. However, my colleagues have been creating a lot of boys lately so I’ve already given several of these tees away. It was high time for some diversification or risk people thinking I am a one-trick monkey.

140910_frontI still had some of the coronavirus fabric that would be great to use for a boy but the amount was somewhat limited so not every pattern was going to work. After much deliberation I chose blouse 6 from Knippie 5 2010 in size 74. If you compare the shirt I made with the line drawing you might notice that my version doesn’t look all that much like the drawing. First, I made short sleeves because of fabric limitations. Second, I don’t really like the western cowboy details so I left these completely off on the front and changed the curved yoke to a straight yoke and cut the back piece on the fold. I considered leaving out the yoke completely but inside yokes are pretty useful for embroidering sizes on so that persuaded me otherwise. I didn’t like the square pocket so left it off as well. In the pattern the front placket facing is cut separately which I really don’t understand when you don’t use a contrasting fabric (bulk, extra sewing, seriously why?) so I merged the front and front placket pattern pieces. On the sleeve piece some of the notches were missing but I didn’t have any trouble putting them in, it just took a little bit more care to get things properly aligned and eased in.

140910_detail collarThe main fabric is a baby corduroy that is really soft. It also doesn’t wrinkle much when it is washed which is a huge bonus for parents with young children. I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the collar and used some left-over fabric from another make. I think it works very well and probably makes the shirt better looking than if it had just been the main fabric. It does seem to become a bit of a theme though, not having enough fabric for what I want to make. I’m not entirely sure what that says about my project planning and fabric buying skills…

openI didn’t have suitable buttons in my stash and used snaps. This is possibly also a safer option in clothes for young children but I found it a bit challenging and time consuming to get them all spaced equally. Don’t do this bit when you’re in a hurry. They look really good though. I placed the top snap a bit lower than they did in the line drawing because I don’t think baby’s like having a collar really tight aroung their neck.

I didn’t follow the Knippie assembly instructions. According to them topstitching of the collar is optional. Optional??? Not in my book. I used French seams for the side seams and the yoke trick (also called burrito method) for the shoulder seams. This encloses all seam allowances which looks really great in my opinion. The seam allowances of the sleeves were overlocked and then topstitched in place.

140910_inside detailThere are two things that I am not completely happy about. I accidently cut the back yoke piece upside down (getting creative with limited amounts of fabric does have its risks…). Luckily little kids mostly lie on their backs right? I also should have used a lighter thread for attaching the collar because on the inside you can now see the stitching line. Other than that I think it turned out very well and I will probably use this pattern again.

 

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Completed: yet another Lady Skater t-shirt…

front colour blocked t-shirtI needed some simple projects to get going again and decided to fill a gap in my wardrobe: long sleeved t-shirts. Useful when it gets a little bit colder and a short sleeved t-shirt doesn’t provide enough coverage anymore but a cardigan or sweater is still too warm.

140907_sideIf you have been following this blog for a while you may have noticed that I usually use solid colours when sewing for myself and that I am not averse to some colour blocking. To make this t-shirt I used the same pattern as before but adapted it to give the top of the t-shirt a different colour. I even remembered to take some progress pictures so I could show you how I changed the pattern to achieve this look. This is a very easy method to give your favourite t-shirt (or dress) a different appearance.

The first step is tracing your pattern because you don’t want to mess with the original, you might want to use it again some other time. Make sure to include all relevant pattern markings, I forgot to add the straight of grain line for the sleeve at first…

trace pattern

Fresh pattern pieces!

The second step is to decide where you want to cut and mark this position on all pattern pieces (front, back and sleeve). I made a mark ¾’’ below the armpit. You could cut a little bit higher than that, but I would advise you to take into account that you are introducing extra seam allowances inside the shirt and you don’t want all of those to meet exactly at the armpit because that will become very bulky which is a pain to sew and might also not be too comfortable when wearing. If you only want a small strip of the second colour at the top you can also cut above the armpit. Check that the marks you made on the front and back bodice match and that the marks you made on the sides of the sleeve match as well.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Draw a line across the pattern pieces through the mark and cut the pattern. Make sure that both sides of each pattern piece are labelled correctly.

mark and cut

My pencil marks aren’t very clear but I first drew the cut line with pencil.

The Lady Skater pattern has the seam allowance included in the pattern. However, where I cut the pattern, the seam allowance is not yet included. This means that I have to remember to add the appropriate seam allowance when I cut the pattern from fabric. I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to get a straight cut. You can also tape some extra tracing paper to the pattern and add the seam allowance to the pattern if you worry that you’ll forget.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

I chose to first sew top and bottom of each pattern piece together before assembling the t-shirt. You could topstitch the seams but I didn’t. For another look you could also only do this modification to the bodice to get a differently coloured yoke and leave the sleeves as they are.

pieces assembled

And it case you are wondering, yes, there will be jeans at some point, just not this week, I have too much other stuff going on…

140907_back

 

Sewing jeans: Muslin 4

First I’ll show you some changes I made to muslin 3 to improve the fit.

At the front I pinned out a horizontal dart and added some fabric to finally fix that wavy side seam (this latter part is better visible in the side view of the muslin).

muslin front

The change I made to the paper pattern to add that extra room to the front is possibly different from how you think it was done so I took some pictures. I chose not to add this extra space by adding onto the side seam because that most likely would have changed the length of the front side seam and then it wouldn’t have been the same length anymore as the back side seam. Instead I made a vertical cut in my pattern and created a lot of hinge points at the side seam. In the muslin I measured at several point how much room I had to add. The hinge points made it possible to curve the original side seam to mimic what I had done in the muslin.

straighten side seam

1. Slice in the pattern as you did in the muslin. 2. Create hinge points, I accidently cut some of those too close so they teared… 3. Tape a piece of tracing paper underneath the pattern and shape side seam to add additional room to pattern.

At the back I struggled a bit and ended up adding another wedge across. Not sure whether that was really necessary… In the end I decided that the way I had taken out the extra space I had taken out at the yoke wasn’t right and created the weird shaping so for muslin 4 I redrafted this curve in the pattern.

140811_muslin3_back

140811_muslin3_side

Then onto muslin 4. I didn’t have enough fabric left to make it full length so I made it as long as I could with the fabric I had left over from muslin 1 and 2.

140811_back curveFor this muslin I redrew the back seam because I needed to fix the problems I had created by taking out all of the gaping I had at the center back of the yoke. In the muslin you can see that I am now planning to remove this excess by pinning it out as if they are back darts. This will create some shaping in the yoke pieces and I think this should get rid of the gaping. I also realised that the curve I had at center back wasn’t deep enough to accomodate my curves so I changed it as shown in the picture on the left. Perhaps I’ll have to scoop it out yet a little bit more.

In muslin 3 I felt that after I straightened the side seam it was still located a bit too much towards the front of the trousers so I moved it back by 1 cm in the pattern. This was done by making a vertical slice in both front and back pattern pieces. The front piece was taped to some extra tracing paper adding an extra cm. The back was overlapped to take out 1 cm. Don’t forget to also make this change to the yoke piece!

muslin 4 front

Still a couple of wrinkels at the crotch, but not too bad. The top of the trousers aren’t straight so I’ll have to change that. I think moving the side seam backwards is an improvement.

muslin 4 back

I do think the back looks better but now there is some fabric pooling that I’ll have to get rid off. This picture is also a bit slanted…

muslin 4 side

Side seam is much straighter. Top front is a bit lower than the back.

Since jeans are usually supposed to fit quite tight when you put them on I think I’ll make them a bit more fitted at the side- and inseam because the muslin is a bit loose right now and I think they will end up too loose when sewn in a stretch denim.

I’m afraid I’ll have to make at least 1 more muslin… Can you believe I am already dreaming of all the easy no fuss tops I’m going to make after I finally finish these jeans?

 

Sewing jeans: Making samples

topstitchingthread

Do you ever get started enthusiastically on a project and then suddenly lose steam? That’s what happened with my muslin process. I was a bit tired and didn’t have much time so not much progress was made and now I have to motivate myself to get back to it. I have finished muslin 4 though and I think I’m really close to getting a good fit. I’ll probably write about it after the weekend. Now I want to show you another part of the sewing process, collecting all the materials and testing out different techniques before using them on the actual garment.

needle&thread

Also important: a supply of fresh denim needles!

I already bought some denim and matching thread for this project a while ago. All my RTW jeans are blue so I thought it would be fun to use a different colour for this pair and chose grey. I like how the fabric looks and feels, but it is quite lightweight so probably more suitable to wear in summer than winter (so I’d better hurry up making these!).

In Angela Wolff’s Craftsy class she shows how to distress denim with sandpaper to get that worn look that most RTW jeans have. I wasn’t really sure how well that would work on my fabric so I tested it and it’s not a success. It makes the fabric fuzzy which doesn’t look very pretty so for this pair I’ll give the distressing part a miss. I’ll have to try it on something else though!

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper.

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper. It’s turned a bit fuzzy.

I my opinion topstitching in contrasting thread is one of the scary parts of sewing jeans. It is so visible and if it isn’t done right it can really brand your make as homemade. For my jeans I bought two colours of Coats Epic 40 thread to try out. Black and a brown that is really close to black. First I tried which stitch length would look best and decided on 4.0. I also tried some stitches to use on the back pocket embroidery (another scary part…). I used the black thread for my samples but I think in the end I prefer the brownish thread over the black one because it is a little more subtle. I’ll have to practise a bit more though to get my double rows of topstitching consistent before I attempt this on the actual jeans.

stitch length

I also tried a keyhole buttonhole.

In bag making one trick to make your bag look professional is to throw some metal hardware at it and I think this might be true for jeans as well. I bought some metal rivets and jeans buttons that I can apply with my Prym pliers. Rivets are typically used in jeans to reinforce pocket corners. I got enough of both in each packet that I could try them out to see how well they behave when I apply them. It worked surprisingly well. It also made me realise that I have to think how I want the button oriented before I put it into the fabric. I think my jeans will feature at least a couple of rivets.

140808_rivetandbutton

I am not yet ready to get started on my jeans because I still need to perfect the fit but I think I do have everything I need to finish this pair. I’ve also already made some design decisions, like which thread to use for the topstitching and what stitch length to use. This will speed up the sewing process because I won’t have to stop to test this anymore. I also don’t have to quit in the middle of a sewing frenzy because I forgot to buy a zipper (I have a huge stash of zippers and something is bound to be suitable). Testing these things also makes for a nice change from making muslins.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It's also fuzzy.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It’s also fuzzy.

Do you generally make samples before trying something new?

I'll need to experiment some more...

I’ll need to experiment some more…

Sewing jeans: Muslin 3

Before I show you what muslin 3 looks like I first want to show how I adapted muslin 2 into muslin 2.1 to determine how to change the pattern.

I started with a very simple alteration. Muslin 2 showed a lot of fabric being pulled into the crotch indicating the crotch length was not long enough. The trousers were also very tight across my thighs indicating I needed some more room there. I solved both issues by doing what “The Perfect Fit” one of the fitting books I own, calls a full thigh adjustment. The pattern is extended both at the side- and inseam which lengthens the crotch seam and increases thigh circumference. The red lines in the schematic below indicate how I re-sewed the seams in muslin 2 and changed the pattern for muslin 3. I also removed the gaping I had at the yoke.

full thigh adjustment

These 2 changes already made a huge difference to the fit as you can see below.

Muslin 2.1 front

Notice how the straight of grain lines have become much straighter and more horizontal.

 

Muslin 2.1 back

Wrinkles at the knee have disappeared. Straight of grain lines are straighter and more horizontal. Yoke lies nicely against my back. It no longer looks like I am about to burst out of these.

Muslin 2.1 Side

Wrinkles at the knee have mostly disappeared. Side seam has become straighter. There appears to be less strain on the fabic on my butt.

After I changed this I noticed I could remove some of the wrinkles I still had at the front by pinning out 2 darts. I made this alteration in the pattern by slicing the pattern open and overlapping the edges to simulate the dart I had pinned out. This does not change the side seam.

pinned darts front

At the back I thought I probably still needed to add some more length to the crotch seam so I sliced the muslin open horizontally and inserted some fabric. This did seem to improve the fit at the back and the muslin became more comfortable to wear so I made this alteration in the pattern as well. This is done by slicing the pattern open and creating a hinge point at the side seam. You can then add a wedge to the pattern by sliding the center back upwards. The side seam does not change.

adjustment to back

After I had made all these changes I decided it was time to make muslin 3 to check whether the changes I made on the pattern were correct. Unfortunately I ran out of muslin fabric (why did I ever think 3 meters would be enough???) and had to use something a bit lighter weight than ideal but I didn’t want to wait until I had the opportunity to get some new fabric. The fit is still not perfect but I think you’ll agree this is definitely an improvement over where I started with muslin 2!

Muslin 3 front

Still not 100% happy with the crotch, but overall I don’t think this looks too bad. Side seam at the thigh is perhaps still a bit too much to the front.

 

I still need to add more lenght to the back crotch lenght because fabric is still being pulled in. My alterations at center back caused the center back seam to be a bit strangely shaped so I'll need to reshape it.

I still need to add more lenght to the back crotch seam because fabric is still being pulled in. My alterations at center back caused the center back seam to be a bit strangely shaped and it sticks out so I’ll need to reshape it.

Muslin 3 side

Side seam still not completely straight. Center back seam sticks out.

How many muslins do you think I’ll end up making before I dare cut into my denim?

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.

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