Author Archives: Stitch It Again

Basic Jeans and Tee

I sewed another pair of stretch denim jeans.

 

It’s the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans.  It’s the fourth time I’ve used this pattern.

My denim is from Cali Fabrics.  It is 10 ounce and described as midweight.  I like this denim, but it isn’t as stretchy as my magic denim shorts that fit me perfectly through weight fluctuations.  It was sold as 25% stretch, but I tested it as about 15-20%.  My magic denim (from the thrift store so it’s also mystery denim) has about 30-35% stretch and the comfort is amazing! I still like the weight, the color, and even the smell of this denim, but I would love to find a stretchier denim.  Previously, I had ordered stretch denim that I liked much less: one was shiny and didn’t look like denim, and another with color that came off on my hands just from touching it.  It’s hard to find the perfect denim, but this is close enough that I would buy it again.

I love the cute doggy fabric that I found at Dollar Tree for the pockets.

I feared I wouldn’t be able to get the waistband over my hips, so decided to skip the elastic.  I may redo the waistband and add elastic when I start wearing them again in the fall.  I was going to substitute ponte knit fabric for the waistband, but the denim does stretch enough to just get past my hips.  I will wear these a whole bunch because they meet my two musts in pants : stay up while walking, and complete comfort while sitting.

It turned out my Ginger Jeans are unwearable, because they wouldn’t stay up even after I added a button further in than the first one. I am always needing more bottoms than tops because I have often have pants that are either too big or too tight as my weight fluctuates 5-7 pounds.

flat lay of jeans and tee

I topstitched with the same gold thread, but omitted the rivets since I used them all up.

But…I made a mistake eliminating the back seam.  That seam really does help with lessening the typical bagginess I have in the back thigh.

I would have taken in the inseam more but I had already topstitched it.  I also think I have a too long crotch extension. I did a flat seat adjustment, but that wasn’t enough.

On the same afternoon I finished the pants, I quickly sewed up a tee shirt.  I used a 3X tee shirt I got at Dollar Tree as my fabric, and a free pattern.  I really like my dollar shirt.  I used the easy tee pattern from It’s Always Autumn blog.  The one size she offers, a size large, fits me well.  I’ve also used the free Kirsten Kimono Tee Shirt pattern from MariaDenmark for this type of tee shirt.  The shirt has cut-on sleeves without an armhole seam.  I raised the neckline, and I sewed a band for the sleeve cuffs the same as I did for the neckband.

Next up:  I’m excited to get started on my summer sewing.  I plan on making 2 to 3 pairs of shorts, 2 tops, and maybe a dress or skirt.

 

Button-up Willamette Shirt

 

I made the perfect match!  I paired the gingham fabric I bought at an estate sale a few years ago for $1 with the Willamette pattern by Hey June Handmade.

The pattern is for a casual boxy shirt with cut-on short sleeves, a collar,  and a placket that is sewn together instead of buttoned.

This pattern is easier and quicker to sew than a traditional shirt because there isn’t a collar stand, armhole seams, or even buttonholes.  However, I opted to change the pattern and made 5 buttonholes.  I used another shirt as a guide for placement.

I liked the opportunities in this pattern to play with the direction of my fabric, and cut the yoke, collar, and cuffs on the bias.  I decided to make the pockets blend in and cut them straight of grain.

I sewed a size 10 based on my high bust measurement.  It’s roomy with about 8 inches of ease, and doesn’t pull at all across the chest.  I could go down a size but glad I didn’t sew my full bust size of 14 which would have been too big for my shoulders and arms.

I believe the lavender gingham fabric to be a cotton and polyester blend.  It’s crisp, doesn’t wrinkle, and was a breeze to to sew.

I learned three new skills sewing the Willamette shirt.

  1. Sewing a double yoke:  This is sewn with a burrito technique to result in a clean finish with no raw edges visible on the inside. I did get it wrong the first time, and had to unpick.
  2. Cutting pattern pieces on the bias:  Although I have cut bias strips many times, I haven’t cut pattern pieces that way and had to look up how to do it.   I drew cross grain lines and then 45 degree grain lines on the pattern pieces.
  3. Sewing buttons on by machine:  I used the pretty blue foot that came with the machine for the first time.  I used fabric glue to keep the buttons in place before putting the foot down on top of them.  I also put the darning plate on to disengage the feed dogs.The back view:

I’m wearing the shirt with two other handmades: the Mountain View shorts and the Sorrento Bucket hat.  This pose shows the amount of ease in the shirt.

Gingham has a country look, doesn’t it?  I finished the shirt before Memorial Day weekend, and wore it out to go shopping.  I like this pattern.  It’s a nice change from both tee shirts and wide necked tops, and I would make a variation of it again.

 

Sewing During the Pandemic

What does one sew during a pandemic?

I was in the middle of sewing the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans in early March, was feeling a bit unwell, took my temperature, and it was 101.  No, this isn’t a story about a bout with coronavirus (that I know of) , but sickness and the unsettling changes of sheltering in place led to a month’s lag in working on my jeans.

I got sidetracked by researching mask patterns, sewing several of two different styles, and was ready when my grocery store had a sign “No entry without a face covering”.

I applaud and admire those in the sewing community who have sewn hundreds of masks for donation to first responders.

I also sewed two different “isolation headbands”, the fun challenge offered by Sew Over 50 on Instagram as a remedy to cope with uncoiffed hair.

But I did finish the jeans. I almost titled this post “pandemic jeans”.  They’re  not a complete disaster, but I lost interest in making them, and a few fit issues mean I expect I won’t be wearing them much if at all.

I chose to sew View B, the high waisted option with skinny legs, and a pocket stay. I shortened the legs pattern in two places taking out 6 or 7 inches.

I narrowed the legs.  I did a flat seat adjustment.  I deepened the pocket bags.

The fly installation went well. The thing that looks strange on a lot of jeans patterns I see is the fly area is too long!  Mine looks this way at 7 inches.

I used the same gold top stitching thread as I used on my denim shorts.

When I basted the front and back together I discovered a big problem: my back outseams were 2 and a half inches longer than the front.  I still haven’t figured out where I went wrong, but I cut down the yoke, and matched them up.

When I tried them on I was disappointed.  They are not only lumpy, but the rise is about 1 and 1/2 inch too low.  When I wore them once to walk the dog, I kept pulling them up.  My anatomy dictates where I like my pants to hit on me to fit well and be comfortable.  Odd that they’re supposed to be high waisted, and weren’t high enough on short me.

A close up of the “drag lines” indicating a problem with the fit.  Ugh!

On a positive note, they are well sewn.  The legs don’t twist, the top stitching is good,  the waistband is good, and the belt loops and hardware look good.  I’ve become a slow, but reasonably competent seamstress.

I find the photos I took in the course of my daily life, while staying home, going to the doctor, and going on walks in the neighborhood more interesting than the photos about my pants, don’t you?

On to happier days (hopefully) and happier sewing!

Upcycled Boxy Tops

I used the Maya pattern by Marilla Walker to transform two cotton pillowcases and a rayon rectangular sarong cover-up into two unique tops. The Maya is a simple pattern with a generous amount of ease and cut-on sleeves without seams.

Top 1:

I used a pillowcase with an interesting asymmetrical print, and another with a  coordinating solid gray color.

I arranged my pattern pieces to use the deep hems of the pillowcases, and I finished my seams with flat fell seams on the inside. I drafted my own neck facing, because the one supplied by the pattern has a center seam, and I didn’t want bulk there. I used the plain pillowcase for the sides, sleeve cuffs, and facing.

I attached the pillowcase tag to the neckline.

I like the everyday comfort of cotton which gives this top a soothing, casual feel.

 

Top 2:

I bought this striking print pareo or sarong for $2 at a garage sale. It still had the tag attached with a copyright date of 1994 and a little booklet showing the many ways to wear it.

The print was so beautiful in its entirety, I hesitated to cut it up, but I felt it had stayed hidden in a drawer long enough.

I expanded my pattern pieces to be full size, and spent some time playing with the pattern placement.  I had originally wanted the lizards to be oriented vertically heading up towards my shoulder, but that didn’t work out.

I used french seams in the construction, and again attached the original tag.  I decided to use the fringe on the arms, but not on the bottom.

The top is quite eye catching with its statement print and different front and back. This rayon top feels dressier, and has a Southwestern look.

I’m always on the lookout for different sources of fabric to sew with.  What’s next?  I would love to find a pretty tablecloth, or maybe a linen towel.

 

Ponte de Roma Knit Pants

My first make of 2020: slim navy knit pants.

I wanted a pair of winter pants that would be very comfortable for working in my home office,  but still presentable for walking in the neighborhood and going out.

Ponte de roma is a fabric I had never sewn with.  Ponte is a double knit, resulting in thickness from the two layers, with a greater stability and firmness than other knit fabrics.  These characteristics make it easy to sew with. Pants made from ponte are opaque, not as clingy and skin tight as leggings, and can have pockets. The ponte I bought has a composition of 66% rayon, 30% nylon, and 4% spandex. Other pontes have polyester as the primary fiber.

My pattern was the Patterns for Pirates Mama Bear Joggers.  I bought these because they have a variety of waistband, pocket, hem, and rise options. Looking at the size chart, I discovered my measurements put me in a size M hip, XL high hip, XS thighs, and a L calf! I have strange proportions! This explains why I have problems with getting a good fit in ready-to-wear.

Below is a diagram from an article on the New Mexico State University website.  I’m a heart shape.

I compared the medium pattern piece to my already modified Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull-on Jeans (laid on top) which are designed for a stretch woven.

It seems the joggers pattern is shaped for a diamond figure, and I have the concave proportions of a heart.

I had to reduce the hip and upper thigh, add width to the lower leg, and add to the rise.  I also shortened the legs by about six inches. This is another advantage to sewing: instead of lopping the six inches off the bottom of a pair of pants I shorten the pattern in two places, above and below the knee, and am able to keep the proportions correct.

As I began sewing the pants, they started morphing into the Mountain View pants which I’ve made several times.  I prefer the construction sequence of those pants with the outer leg seam sewn last, which allows for ease of altering.  I also used the Mountain View waistband, which is quick and easy.  An inner and outer waistband are sewn together and the elastic is stretched and sewn to the seam allowance.  I realized I really didn’t need the other pattern.  It makes more sense to use the pattern that I had already fitted.

 

I should have used a thinner fabric for the pocket lining because they bag out a little at the bottom.

Worn with a pullover sweater I knitted way back in 2007 and still wear.

The back:

Worn with a raglan tee shirt I sewed in December:

Dressed up with a favorite thrifted velour sweater knit top, and matching purse:

I gained a few pounds post holidays and some of my pants have been feeling a little tight when sitting or eating. These ponte pants feel super comfortable and cozy, look flattering, and are a welcome addition to my wardrobe.

A Look Back at 2019 And On to 2020!

Taking stock at what I made in 2019:

I sewed 14 clothing items: 2 pairs of pants, shorts, a knit romper, 3 knit tops, a knit dress, 2 woven tops, a dress to woven top refashion, a spring jacket, a hat, and a knit nightshirt. I also sewed a zippered pouch.  I knit a short sleeve pullover, 2 scarves,  a dog sweater, and dog bandanas.  The striped pullover is the first sweater I completed since 2010.

How did I do on my 2019 Make Nine challenge?  I completed 6 items.

Out of the three items I didn’t make, only the cross stitch picture was started.  I didn’t get very far, even though it seemed like I spent many hours on it. I can see the roof of a house, and the wing of a goose.  It was tough going, and then I stopped.

I preferred to be sewing last year than doing anything else.  I also sewed more with knit fabrics than ever before.

Besides underwear, the only ready to wear item I bought in 2019 was a Hanes hooded zippered sweatshirt for under $10.  I’ve been wearing them since I was in high school! I don’t have a ban on buying ready to wear.  I just prefer to sew most things.  I still have a lot of ready to wear clothes in my closet that I enjoy wearing.  Some of my clothes get light wear and I keep things for a very long time.

My favorite  sewing related thing I bought was a huge table at my local hardware store.  This 6 foot long table has become my fabric cutting table, and has made that part of sewing so much easier than getting down on the floor. It folds up and fits under my couch when not in use.

On to my 2020 Make Nine:

  1. Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns.  The high waisted version. Stretch denim with a zipper fly and hardware.
  2. Mama Bear Joggers by Patterns for Pirates.  I want slim knit pants, but not leggings. Making these from ponte de roma for comfort, and without cuffs.
  3. Angelia Shorts from Itch to Stitch.  My fabric is khaki twill.
  4. The next 3 pieces are from Vogue 9246 (Vogue Five Easy Pieces).  The jacket. I will make it in tan twill in a medium length.
  5. Vogue 9246 top.  I have a striped knit in mind for this.
  6. Vogue 9246 pants. The pattern has a cropped wide legged pant and a slimmer full length pants, both with an elastic back. I have a cropped linen blend in mind for this.
  7. Willamette Shirt by Hey June Patterns. I want a collared woven shirt. I have a gingham from an estate sale in mind for this.
  8. Paisley thrifted fabric. I bought this in 2015 and I want to sew it up. I want a peasant/boho type top, and think Love Notions Rhapsody Blouse may be the one.
  9. Phoenix Top by Hey June Patterns. Interesting lines with a bib inset and gathers.  Reminds me of a top I wore in the 70s. I plan on making the view with the pictured bell sleeves.

 

I’m still sewing on the same basic mechanical machine I bought in 2010, a Brother XL2600i with 25 stitches and a 1 step buttonhole. At the time I bought it, I wasn’t sure if I would actually use it, or if it would end up stored in the garage.  Sewing has become a way of life to me.  To elevate the quality of my sewing, I’ve decided to buy a serger.  It is time for me to learn.

My other sewing goals for 2020:

To match stashed fabric with patterns, especially for tops.

To buy fabric wisely, especially to buy more bottomweight fabric for pants.

Techniques I want to learn are sewing a collar and welt pockets.

That’s a wrap!  Happy New Year!

Knitting a Top Down Raglan Pullover

I was excited to finish this pullover that I started knitting in March.  It is the first sweater I’ve knit since 2010!

The pattern is called Pink from the book “Custom Knits” by Wendy Bernard published in 2008.   I wanted a very basic style.  I have enjoyed knitting a top down in the round raglan before so I did it again.  The increases are before and after 2 markers so there is nothing to keep track of.

There are a lot of stitches on the needle before separating out the sleeves, and the knitting isn’t joined in the round until the v-neck is completed. My preferred way to knit in the round is on 2 circular needles, which I first learned to knit socks.

My yarn is Caron Cakes , blueberry cheesecake color, an acrylic and wool blend worsted weight.  I knit size large.

The body in a size large has 176 stitches and has a bust measurement of 39 inches in the gauge of 18 stitches to 4 inches. My yarn is aran weight, a little heavier than worsted and the finished measurement is 40 inches which fits me without any ease.

There are flecks of different shades of blue in each sequence so the effect is marled rather than pure stripes.  I quite like this and I love not having many ends to weave in.  I knit a short sleeved pullover with only 2 cakes.  I managed to match the sleeves and purposely used the darker blue for the ribbing.  I used a coupon for the yarn so this sweater only cost me a very economical $10.

I just love it with denim!