Tag Archives: sewing shorts

End of Summer Leftovers

Do you like leftovers? Some are good, others are tasteless. Well, in this case I’m talking about using fabric left over from other projects.

I sewed up another Laundry Day Tee, the sleeveless version, by Love Notions from the fabric left over from the Classic Tee. This a versatile pdf pattern and the no-trim pages of Love Notions patterns are a big time saver.

Some sewing tips:

1) When you print out a pdf pattern with layers, don’t print only one size or all the sizes. I usually print out 3 or 4 sizes because I might want to use the shoulder or neckline of a smaller size, and it helps to see a few sizes in case you want to grade up or down in certain areas.

2) Don’t print out the entire pdf for a pattern with multiple variations. Look for where it tells you which pages you need for the option you are sewing.

3) Customize your pattern. A pattern is a starting place, and you can use it to make your ideal garment with some changes. I cut the neckline wider at the straps and not as deep, and now it is perfect for me.

I wore it walking to the library and took a selfie. The breezy wider hem shape was perfect for keeping me cool.

4) Measure clothes that fit well and compare to pattern pieces to help cut the right size.

5) Take notes on makes. I do this but often leave out important details, and my memory fades.

6) If there is a pattern piece for the band on a knit, don’t use it. The length you need will differ depending on the stretchiness of your knit. You may need to shorten it. This rayon/spandex knit is very stretchy and I had to snug up the top of the side seams and then stretch my binding tighter to avoid droopy underarms.

I’m wearing the top with one of the two denim shorts I have sewn.

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I don’t wear clothes that are classified as activewear. I don’t ride a bike or go to the gym. One active thing I do is walk. Since I’m out walking my dog every morning and night, why not sew a sporty walking outfit.

I had some navy ponte fabric left over from the full length pants I sewed at the beginning of last year. Ponte is a double knit fabric. I think I wore polyester double knit shorts from K Mart when I was about 10, but this fabric is a nicer, more breathable rayon/nylon blend. It was just enough for a pair of shorts, although I did need to cut the inner waistband from another bit of rib knit I had. The pocket linings are from a scrap of silky fabric which helped to reduce bulk. The pockets are nice and deep to hold phone, keys, and poop bag.

I sewed the shorts with my sewing machine and then serged to finish the seams. The pattern is another repeat: the Patterns for Pirates Mama Bear Joggers with the waistband of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull-on Jeans. It’s satisfying sewing a pattern that has already been altered to fit.

The shorts feel sleek, soft, and firm. They are thicker than leggings, and not as skin tight and revealing which makes them just what I wanted. When I came home from my walk this morning I didn’t want to take them off. So I didn’t – I wore them all day.

I topstitched the hems and around the pockets with a zigzag stitch and I very much like the sporty look and lack of a ridge I’ve gotten when using a double needle. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s easier than threading up a double needle.

More photos of garment and construction details to follow because this is a sewing blog, not a fashion blog, ha! How the clothes fit on the body is important to see, and the final piece.

The knit tee was an upcycle cut from a XL tee I had on hand. I again used the Laundry Day Tee but with much of the swing removed due to fabric width limitations. I chose the neon/lime green color to give me more visibility when walking at dusk.

Do you wear woven tops with knit bottoms? The opposite is very usual with a tee shirt paired with jeans. Somehow I got the idea that knit bottoms should be worn with a knit top. I need to experiment with this.

I used the hem of the original tee shirt for the binding so I didn’t have to iron a strip in half. That’s why there is a line of stitching on the binding. I like a good shortcut.

right side of tank
serged wrong side

I sewed the blue floral top back in July and I struggled with getting the neckbands and armbands sewn decently. I don’t like the method of measuring the neckline, calculating 85%, and marking the band and fabric circumference into fourths that the standard instructions have you do. It’s too hard for me to get it stretched evenly and takes too long pinning. I messed up and sewed folds into the shirt side of the seam and had to rip and redo. For the green tank I cut a longer strip for the band, didn’t join or pin the band, left a tail unsewn at the start, and then stretched the band as I sewed it on with a basting stitch, stopping before the end and making a mark for sewing the ends together. It’s kind of like joining quilt binding but with a straight stitch. Tanks are the worst to sew because there are three bands instead of one! I would buy some tanks if I could find a brand and size that fit well, but at this point it seems easier to just sew them.

I love these leftovers! The two knit sleeveless tops and knit shorts are first rate pieces that fit well, are comfortable useful clothes, and in my opinion look good too.

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

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!

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!

Denim Shorts and a Refashion For Two

I have been holding on to about a yard and a half of stretch denim I bought at my now closed neighborhood thrift store for several years.

It wasn’t quite enough for a long pants version of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull-on Jeans, so I decided to use the same pattern for a shorts version.  I already sewed this pattern two times previously this year: these green pants and these gray pants.

I bought topstitching thread and jeans rivets for this make. I’ve read about some machines not being able to handle the thickness of topstitching thread so i practiced on a scrap.  This thread’s thick!

comparison of all purpose thread and topstitching thread

No problems and looking good!

I also practiced installing a rivet.  They are installed by making a hole in the fabric with an awl, and then hammering them in.  The difficult part for me was cutting down the posts, as I didn’t have a tool strong enough.

If the post is too long it will crack through the rivet.

one rivet installed, discarded cracked rivet on the right

I had to improvise to find a hard surface for hammering them in.  I used the back of a cast iron skillet.  Next time I will follow advice to use a block of wood.

I chose to eliminate the back leg seam of the original pattern.  The previous time I made the pattern I traced a new pattern piece after sewing the two back pieces together.

I love these shorts!  The fit is perfect. The waistband stays put with no slippage yet they are very comfortable when sitting down.  I haven’t had a pair of denim shorts that fit for several years, and they go with so many of my summer tops. The shorts have creases in the photos because I couldn’t wait until I photographed them to start wearing them!

front view

back pockets

front pocket bags

In the top photo I’m wearing them with my I love this fabric refashion,  but I have a new refashion to show you.

I’ve had this knee length rayon challis dress with a beautiful Hawaiian print in my closet for almost 20 years.  I’ve gained weight over the years and it no longer fit, but still I hung on to it.

I laid another refashioned rayon sleeveless top over the bottom of the dress, and thought it would be just wide enough to make a top.  I used store bought bias tape for the armholes and neckline.  I didn’t take apart the side seams so had to pinch out armhole darts to remove the excess flap of fabric that formed when I tried the top on.

 

I love it!  I like the way the high side slits from the original dress hem show off my rivets ( I put 4 in the front) on the shorts.

What to do with the top of the dress?

I saved the best for last…..

I grabbed the leis for some twinning with my dog Sparky in his matching shirt.

I am so thrilled to add these two pieces to my closet.  They will be summer staples for me!