Author Archives: Stitch It Again

More Summer Sewing

I sewed a third pair of shorts, and a simple skirt.

The shorts are made with gray knit fabric, a cotton jersey.

I used the Patterns for Pirates Mama Bear  Joggers, modified with a higher rise and slimmed down hips and thighs, with the waistband from the Itch to Stitch Mountain View jeans, the same combination I used for my navy ponte pants in January.   It is a double waistband with the elastic stretched and sewn to the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch.  These shorts are so comfortable I could wear them to bed.

I topstitched a dense zigzag in a blue thread for a decorative look on the pockets and hems.

I had some of the tan cotton twill left over from my Angelia shorts, so decided to sew up the Love Notions Allegro Skirt.  This is the same pattern I used for my denim shorts.  It’s an a-line shape with an elastic waist.  I changed the pockets, but I made them too hard to get into.

My goal was to have a casual summer alternative to shorts. I don’t know if it’s the fabric or the pattern, but I don’t like the way it hangs on me.  I either need a fabric with more drape, a different color, or a different silhouette.  This make is a dud – I feel like I’m wearing a middle school uniform!

I achieved my goal for this summer with sewing 3 different pairs of shorts, 2 sleeveless tops, a dress, and a skirt.  The red top is an old Hanes tank and the yellow print top is a refashion from a few years ago.

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For future summer sewing, I could still use a casual dress with pockets and lightweight, loose cotton pants.

What’s next?  I don’t know, maybe I’ll take a breather and ponder the meaning of life, clean house, or take up a hobby. More likely I’ll reorganize my sewing stuff and keep on sewing!

Knit Midi Dress

I stopped sewing shorts to make a dress!

Last year, I bought a few different printed rayon spandex knits.  My intention for the 2 yards of this big pink roses on navy background print was to sew a birthday dress.

I cut the dress long, and was undecided how I wanted to finish it: maxi, midi, a drawstring or elasticized waist, add pockets or not, or maybe make two pieces.  My indecision led to not finishing the dress in time for my birthday, and I wore a ready-to-wear dress out to dinner instead.  I decided to put the unfinished pieces in storage and move on to something else.

This year I don’t plan on going out, although outdoors dining is allowed in my city.  But my present to myself is to finish this dress.

Butterick 5607 is an old pattern, and is meant for woven fabrics.  Well, I broke the rules and used it to sew a very stretchy knit! The pattern has 3 neck variations; I chose the scoop. The dress style is a simple shift with a slight A-line shape, and an all-in-one facing is provided for the neckline and armholes. It has bust darts which were not needed on a knit fabric. This pattern would also work well for sleeveless tops.

I had previously cut out the dress and basted it together, and cut out the facings.  I sewed the side seams, and followed the directions which have you sew the shoulder seams last.  Then some hand sewing is required to finish the top of the armholes. While sewing I suddenly realized I could have used the burrito method for a clean finish, but didn’t want to change course.  In the burrito method the shoulders are sewn first, the side seams are sewn last, and the whole garment is  rolled up to sew the armholes.

I stabilized the shoulders by sewing on top of a twill ribbon. This was especially important because the whole garment hangs from the shoulders and my fabric is very stretchy.

Later, I took the ribbon off half of the seam to reduce bulk. (The outer garment shoulder and facing is sewn in one continuous pass). I also edge stitched the neckline and armholes because the weight of the dress was pulling the front down exposing the facing.  I  didn’t skip the understitching, but my fabric was still misbehaving.  I added side slits, sewed a 2 inch hem a little above the ankle, and I was finished.

I sewed a sash with the fabric I cut from the bottom, although I like the fit of the dress just as much without.

I had mixed feelings about the print: first I liked it, then I thought it cloying.  I didn’t add pockets because the dress looks dressy to me, and not like an everyday dress, even though it’s as comfortable as a nightgown.

I enjoyed posing to show off the slit in the photos!

I’m glad I took this birthday (plus one year) dress from UFO to done!

Love Notions Patterns Summer Outfit

I sewed up another pair of shorts and a tank top. They are two Love Notions patterns, the Laundry Day Tee, and the Allegro bottoms.

 

I love that Love Notions pdf patterns are quick to put together because there is no cutting of page margins.  You can choose to print only the size or sizes you select, and the instructions tell you which pages to print for the variation you have selected.  Love Notions pattern are very affordable, often just $5 or $6 during their frequent sales.  They also offer many cute and practical patterns!  This is my first time actually sewing their patterns, although I own a few more.

Let’s take it from the top. The Laundry Day Tee is close fitting through the shoulders and bust, and then flares out into an A-line shape.  The pattern comes with many  neckline, sleeve, and length variations, and is free when you join the Love Notions Facebook group.  The idea is you can whip one up in the time it takes to do laundry.

I had a rayon spandex knit with a tie dye type print in stash in mind for this.  I thought the swinginess of the A-line shape would be ideal for the hottest days of summer, and I opted for a sleeveless tank.

I folded away a few inches of length at the shorten/lengthen line and added some width to the straps.

I bought the fabric online so didn’t see the variable colors of the dye pattern of the fabric.  There was more light space than I expected, and I played around with the best way to cut it.

I have since decided I don’t like sewing with this type of rayon knit because it’s so very very stretchy which means it easily stretches out of shape and grows.  I cut a size large and then had to snug it up at the underarms quite a bit.  I should have also cut it an inch higher at the underarm to give me some leeway, because I don’t want to deal with too low underarms.  The neckline and armholes are finished with 2 inch bands folded in half.  I don’t have a serger so I used a stretchy zigzag stitch of 1.5mm  long and 3mm wide to sew the seams.

This is such a fun and cool top!  It feels as light as a whisper. I put it on before pressing the hem and bands, and didn’t want to take it off!

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For the Allegro, I cut a size 10 of the 5 inch inseam shorts. The pattern is for woven fabric, but I had a yard of stretch denim I had ordered to see if I liked it enough to use for pants.  It is the Robert Kaufman super stretch denim.  I didn’t like working with this denim.  It’s supposed to be indigo but looks almost black and attracts lint.  As soon as I touched it, the color came off on my hand. I prewashed it twice, and started sewing with it.  And the result was still a deep blue stain on my hands.

I didn’t want to use the denim for the pockets, so substituted a scrap of cotton with a cute dolphin print.

I lengthened the rise and narrowed the legs on the shorts pattern.

The waistband has an inserted piece of elastic that was hard to get through the channel.  The elastic is then stitched down in two rows. I had never made this type of elastic waistband before. The elastic called for is 1 and 1/2 inches wide.  I didn’t have any so substituted a 2 inch elastic which I cut down.  I omitted the drawstring.

I  topstitched  with the same gold thread that I used for my previous denim pants. Partly because I lengthened the rise, the slash pockets had too long of an opening.  I added some bar tacks to help with this, but need to change the slant of the pockets in the future.

I considered doing a turned up hem on the shorts, which I see on denim shorts a lot, but sewed a deep hem instead.  The funny thing is I could see a blue ring on my lower thighs from the turned under hem after wearing the shorts for only an hour.  Hopefully, a few more washes will make them wearable because it’s super annoying shedding dye everywhere.  They pass my test of not slipping down while walking and total comfort while sitting.

The photo below shows the comparison of the waistband to my favorite denim shorts I made last year.  I wear them so much I thought I would sew a similar pair.

I love the smooth fit of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Jeans waistband.  It probably would have been better to use that pattern for these, because denim is a little thick to be all bunched up, but I wanted to try out the Allegro pattern.

I will be sewing variations of both the Laundry Day Tee and the Allegro bottoms again.  They are patterns that make the kind of comfortable, casual clothes that I live in.

Angelia Shorts and Upcycled Top

I bought tan cotton twill to make shorts to match my summer tops that don’t go with blue.  I was attracted to Itch to Stitch’s pattern, Angelia Shorts, as they have details similar to ready-to- wear shorts I had bought in the past.

I sewed view B which has a zipper fly, 8 buttonholes with lots of pockets, tabs, and cuffs.

I cut a size 10, shortened the crotch extension, narrowed and lengthened the legs, and added to the rise.  I typically make significant changes to a pattern.  I prefer comparing patterns I’ve used before or measuring clothes that fit instead of sewing a muslin mock-up.  I omitted the front pocket tabs, but made the buttonholes and sewed on buttons to keep the same look.

The shorts have a curved waistband with a seam in the center back.  In the future, I would either make the waistband elasticized in the back, or use a knit fabric for part of the waistband for greater comfort and ability to fit through weight fluctuations.  My new motto is no more uncomfortable waistbands or shoes!

I had major problems with my machine halfway through.  The thread kept breaking, the machine locked up a few times, the bobbin tried to jump out of the machine, and the stitches and buttonholes became dreadful.

comparison of buttonholes

this was supposed to be a buttonhole

this is the bobbin thread

I had to stop working on the shorts, take a break, and read a book.  After about a week, I set to work on troubleshooting the machine.  I readjusted the tension,  changed the thread, rewound the bobbin, changed the needle and stitched on scraps until somehow I got it in workable condition. Whew!  I was able to finish.

To go with the shorts, I upcycled another too tight knee length rayon dress from my own closet into a top, using the bottom 2/3 to make the top.  I did the same thing last year, and used that top as a template and used ready made bias tape to finish the necklines and armholes.

More summer sewing to come!

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!