Tag Archives: sewing pants

Angelia Shorts Hack to Cargo Pants

I wanted to make a pants version of the shorts I made last year, the Angelia shorts by Itch To Stitch. I loved the patch pockets, zipper fly, and buttonhole and buttons details. I also wanted to change the pattern to have a partial elastic waist. My fabric is a light olive mostly cotton twill with about 10% stretch.

I enjoyed sewing these pants and love the look of them, but not the fit.

When I basted them and tried them on, I was disappointed. They were very baggy and full of drag lines in the back thigh, and the crotch was not right. The rise was too low. There was not enough room for my butt, and they dipped down at the back waist. I tried to save them by adding an inch to the waistband, but they are now too long in the front crotch and still too short in the back crotch length. It’s odd because the shorts fit me better in the rise and waist, but I guess I must have made some changes to that area when I altered the pattern. I also should have extended the elastic partway into the front, because they’re too loose in the front waist. One of the problems I have with the fit of close fitting pants legs is I have smaller than average thighs and larger calves. I might try a large calf alteration to help with the hang of the legs and to see if some of the wrinkles are caused by the fabric riding up from the lower leg. I was thinking to remake them into shorts, but if the crotch fit isn’t comfortable they won’t get worn. I have made so many clothes that are favorites in the last 2 or 3 years that I’m not used to a fail, but, to paraphrase Longfellow, into each sewing life some clunkers must fall. The poem is “The Rainy Day”.

The top is a refashion from a thrift store rayon skirt that I made last year but hadn’t written about. I loved the wonderful abstract print and fall colors with brown, tan, rust, and dark green.

The shape was wider and shorter than my pattern piece, but I like the way it worked out.

I have two more fall fabrics I wanted to sew to go with these pants, but I’m putting those plans on hold. I still would like a pair of pants in this color family, preferably a drab dark olive.

No more rainy day – tick-tock, do you know what time it is? Time for summer sewing!

Spring Sewing – Classic Tee and New Look 6515

I’m ready to step into the warm, sunny days of spring!

I was looking forward to sewing a cool spring outfit from these two fabrics: a soft cotton double gauze and a floral slinky rayon/spandex knit. I sewed a tee and wide leg pants. They are also both on my “Make Nine” list for 2021.

The tee shirt is the Classic Tee from Love Notions.

I made the crew neck tee with short sleeves in size medium. My measurements put my bust in a size large and my hips in a size medium, so I printed the pattern with both sizes and compared it to other tees. I decided on the medium and am happy with the fit. Previously, I found this very stretchy fabric hard to sew with, but I wanted to try again with this simple pattern. I thought I wouldn’t have a problem with the fabric growing with a pattern with sleeves and a higher neck.

I sewed the seams with my serger, but I cautiously machine basted the neckband binding on before serging.

New Look 6515 is one of the patterns I bought off EBay last year.

I planned to make the pants full length and without the slit. I was sewing with the fabric known as double gauze for the first time. There are two layers tacked together. The fabric is called bubble gauze at Joann where I bought it with a gift certificate from a sweet friend. It is very soft, airy and crinkly textured, and sometimes used for baby items. (I have since found out there is a smooth type as well).

Oddly enough for someone who googles everything, I didn’t look up how to sew with double gauze. I decided to just go with my instinct. I thought it best to avoid ironing the fabric as much as possible to retain the texture. I read the opposite while looking up tips for sewing with double gauze while writing this post, that double gauze requires quite a bit of pressing. Okay, ha!

This fabric doesn’t have structure and is a little thin, so it isn’t especially suited to most pants. The suggested fabrics listed on the pattern envelope are batiks, chambray, cotton types, gauze, linen types, so it’s a match. I can also imagine these pants even more unstructured in a flowing rayon with a slit above the knee. They would almost look like a skirt.

I started with a size 16 which matched my hip size allowing for some ease. The finished hip measurement for each size is given on the pattern.

The waist is partially elasticized, and the legs are full so there is no fitting or shaping. I thought the legs were too wide on me, so I slimmed them down. Maybe I slimmed them down too much, but they still swish when I walk. The waistband has an interfaced flat section, and it is folded to make a double layer. The elastic is inserted into the one of the openings shown below, extends a bit into the flat section, and is tucked in and sewn down at each seam. I love this waistband!

The pants have seams down the middle of the front and back. I subbed an inset pocket for the inseam pocket provided with the pattern.

Mistake of the month: I was merrily zipping along serging the seam allowances and didn’t realize I was catching part of the pants. I did this on parts of 3 out of 4 panels. Luckily there were no holes and I was able to unpick them. I did this gently; the open weave makes the fabric fragile.

Both the tee and the pants were easy to sew, and I highly recommend the patterns. The tee will also go great with jeans and the pants with sleeveless tops. These pieces will be light enough for wearing in the summer to the grocery store, and if I ever go anyplace else. Actually, I feel optimistic about the summer, and these are happy clothes for going out.

I love the cool and fresh colors and textures of this outfit!

Sleeves For Me – Rhapsody Blouse

My first make of 2021! I sewed the Rhapsody Blouse by Love Notions and chose the bias tie neckline and the bishop sleeve with an elasticized cuff.

I like the forward gathered shoulders and the close fit of the armhole.

I bought the fabric in two pieces totaling $2.50 several years ago at my little neighborhood thrift store run by a community church, and the pattern on sale for $5, so this is a thrifty make. Later, I found several holes in the fabric and hoped I had enough to work around. It is a lightweight, slippery fabric, and a perfect match for this pattern. It’s probably polyester, which I tend to avoid, but I love the print. I printed out a size medium, and I used the full bust piece. The comparison with the full bust piece on bottom and the regular piece on top:

The blouse is sewn with french seams. I used the serger to finish the armhole seams for a neat finish. I applied the bias tape binding differently than the instructions, first sewing it to the wrong side and then sewing it to the right side. Making and sewing the bias tape was the hardest part of working with this shifty fabric. I used starch to stabilize the fabric but I still had a few bad spots, but they aren’t too visible. I usually use bias tape as a facing, but this is exposed which is harder to sew. The size medium is a very good fit for me with just the right amount of ease. I only adjusted the body length and sleeve length for my short proportions.

I think it’s a lovely blouse. Peasant or bohemian blouses with dramatic sleeves have been the sewing rage for a few years, and I didn’t have anything like this in my wardrobe. I would like to made the pattern again in a floaty cotton, but change it up.

I wore it with another pair of Mountain View Pull-on Jeans by Itch to Stitch that I finished in December. I used the same stretch denim from Cali fabrics as I used last year, but this time I added more details including rivets, and topstitched back seams and pockets. It’s important to use a fabric with enough stretch for this pattern to be able to pull them over your hips. I wear the previous pair constantly at home and needed a backup.

I’m glad to check the Rhapsody pattern off my list and to have this blouse in my closet.

A Look Back at 2020

I sewed clothes! To be precise I sewed 17 clothing items: 5 pairs of pants, 3 shorts, 7 tops, 1 dress, and 1 skirt. This is 3 more than last year, despite being sick in the winter and then needing to change my sewing plans to sew masks. I think nearly everyone with a sewing machine sewed masks this year, especially early on when they weren’t available at the store. I not only sewed masks but I spent a lot of time looking up mask patterns and reading how to make masks that were more protective. Sewing to survive, literally.

I knitted quite a bit less this year due to hand problems, only completing 1 hat. I didn’t finish any other needlework, although I did start a cross stitch project toward the end of the year.

Of the bottoms I made I wore the navy ponte knit pants, the pull-on jeans, and the denim shorts the most – 1, 3, and 4 in the photos. The traditional zipper fly jeans I made were nicely sewn but the waist didn’t fit right so I never wore them. The last 2 pairs of pants were just finished in December so I don’t know their frequency of wear yet.

The tops I wore the most are the tee shirt and swing tank, 3 and 5. With tops I’m able to use more diverse fabric sources: a refashion from my own closet, a thrift store refashion, fabric from an estate sale, and a garage sale sarong.

Of this group I wore the masks the most.

Some of my stand out outfits:

I sewed 5 items from my Make Nine list from last year:

My other sewing goals were:

To buy and learn how to use a serger – I did this toward the end of the year. I haven’t used it very much as of yet.

To match stashed fabric with patterns, especially for tops – I did this well.

To buy fabric wisely, especially to buy more bottomweight fabric for pants – I did well with this, I also bought some knit fabric as I had none in stash.

Techniques I want to learn are sewing a collar and welt pockets – I only sewed a collar without a stand and no welt pockets yet, so this one did not happen.

Next signpost ahead: 2021

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.

 

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.

Stretch Woven Pull-on Jeans #2

I ordered gray cotton stretch twill to make another pair of Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull-on jeans.  The idea being that on my second go-round I would have the advantage of learning from my mistakes from the first pair.  My two main problems were cutting the fabric with the stretch up and down instead of across the body, and twisting legs.  Despite these mistakes I have worn the olive green pants lots, and the only thing that bothers me about them is that they slip down a bit. To fix that problem I am making the second pair with a higher rise, and with tighter elastic.

So how did I do this time around? Will this be mistakes part 2?

I cut the pant pieces very carefully, measuring to keep the grainlines straight, with the stretch in the right direction, and in a single layer.

I did this in an effort to eliminate twisting of the legs. I believe the twisting was caused by the back and front outer seams being different lengths causing me to twist the legs as I sewed them. But the extra steps couldn’t hurt.

I also referred to this pattern review post and especially the diagram about balanced pants.

I had to piece the pockets to cut all the pattern pieces from 2 yards of fabric, and topstitched a simple design that well with the seam. I used a lighter gray all-purpose thread for the topstitching.

 

Straight legs!

I like this pants pattern because instead of having a bunchy elastic waist they are smooth and flat, and hold my stomach in while being comfortable. I also enjoy the actual sewing of the pattern; the instructions are good and making them is just complex enough to be satisfying, and easy enough for me to sew well.

Fake fly but real pockets

And this time I decided to change the back waist to knit ribbing, and used the navy I had on hand.

Um, no.

This time I couldn’t pull up my pants!!

I learned the number one thing to know about working with stretch woven fabric: test the stretch percentage.

I ordered fabric with the same description from the same vendor as my olive green fabric, but while the olive has 30-40% stretch, the gray has only 10%. When I received the gray twill, I thought it felt different, but ignored the sewing “red flags”.  The pattern states the fabric needs to have between 20% and 30% stretch. I used the Megan Neilsen guide  for calculating the stretch.

After I added the waistband, the pants couldn’t get over my hips.  I thought about adding panels to the side waist, but then realized the length of the waistband has to stay roughly the same to sew onto the pants. The stretchy knit ribbing I used for the back waistband worked, to my relief. I don’t wear my shirts tucked in, so it doesn’t show. Luckily, the pants legs are slim but not skinny tight, so I can move in them, although they’re not as comfy as my stretchier pair.

I plan to make a shorts version for the summer, and a denim version eventually.

For me, there is a lot of problem solving in sewing.  I’m able to get through projects faster now that I’m better at figuring out solutions. Do you find that you are always having to solve problems in your sewing or in your craft ?