My True Bias Emerson Shorts

_DSC0716

Last year I made the Emerson crop pants.  I didn’t blog about them or photograph them because it was just as the pregnancy symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks and all creative projects came to a screeching halt.  The pants were the last garment that I made before my bump really started to show.  It was really the perfect time to start a sewing blog.  …

Anyway, I was super happy with the way they turned out.  The pants fit well but I wasn’t really all that sure of the fabric.   Linen wrinkles.  I don’t want to make time to iron…or use starch?  And my only experience with linen had been with RTW clothes that were pricey and did not wash well.  (Thank you, J. Crew.)  But I live in a very warm climate and I hear that linen is perfect for hot weather.  It’s both breathable and lightweight.  And, if you catch a good sale, as I did, it’s not too expensive.  Fast forward to now, almost a year later, and I am pleased to find that the crop pants still fit me postpartum and I’m 99.999% sure it’s because of my fabric choice.

So I decided to use the same pattern in the same size to make shorts in the same fabric even though I’m about 15lbs heavier.  Hmm?  Given my current measurements and the garment finished measurements,  my Emersons have negative ease! …so technically they should be super tight but they’re not.  Last year, I cut a size 8 pattern and adjusted the back per my usual flat seat alteration.  (I say “usual” but I’ve only done it twice and I’m not even sure it’s the right adjustment for me…especially now.)   I went ahead and made the shorts version the exact same way.

_DSC0720

It’s amazing what a good camera angle can do for your booty. I didn’t even arch my back.

_DSC0718

Admittedly, the shorts are pretty darn snug when I first put them on (as shown above) but after a few minutes of wear, the linen relaxes (stretches?) quite a bit and they become the perfect lounge-y, summer shorts.

_DSC0712

The linen that I used is from fabrics-store.com.  It is the IL-019 multi-purpose linen in the color MONUMENT.  It is pretty much as described and you can see that the color is on the cooler side.  I also purchased a lighter grey linen, the IL042 900 FS Premier Finish and if these shorts continue to work for me, I will probably make another with this linen as well.  I guess I’m into grey shorts…  I’m also curious to see how the different fabrics affect the final product even though they are of similar weight.

_DSC0717

Both the Odgen cami and Emerson shorts have become summer basics for me.  It’s not hard to understand why the patterns were released at the same time.  I will have multiple versions of each whipped up soon enough.  I’m also going to put some effort into really understanding what I need in my closet right now.  I hastily decided to get rid of all of my maternity clothes and for that reason, my everyday, stay-at-home mom gear is pretty drab.  I don’t need fancy but I do need them to fit well and meet the needs of my current lifestyle.  I think the Summer of Basics make-a-long will be the right motivation for me right now.  Those who participate have to “spend the next 3 months making 3 basic items for your wardrobe”.  One down, two to go!

_DSC0715

 

 

A simple summer nightie.

The idea of sewing clothes for my kid did not interest me at all.  But like many makers, I imagine, I find myself making things I never thought I would.  Children grow out of clothes so quickly and I’m a bit picky about the projects that I take on because I have so little time to invest…especially with a newborn. (Yes, he’s here.  Finally!)

My son is darling but he’s also another reason to sew children’s clothes.  My postpartum body is not the ideal starting point.  It’s tricky to make a piece of clothing that I will fit into now and later when I’ve lost the baby weight (fingers crossed!)  Am I thinking too far ahead?  This is my current struggle with making my own clothes but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion…and one that I’m sure others have dealt with.  I digress.

So, back to this project…

My daughter has been described as “strong-willed”.

She refuses to wear anything other than a dress.  T-shirts? Nope.  Shorts? No way.  Skirt???!  No.  Her indignation has carried over into nightwear.  Forget about the traditional two-piece pajamas.  I’ve nearly lost an eye to a flung onesie.

Her resistance to normal sleepwear began with a Christmas nightie that I purchased from Target, made of fleece with that annoying Elf on the Shelf guy printed on it.  A dress she can wear to bed?  Yes, yes, yes.  She wanted to wear it every night, far into the new year and even as temperatures here started rising.  I didn’t get it and like many other toddler battles, I lost and let her wear it over and over again.

Eventually, I got tired of waking up to a red-faced, sweaty little girl so I set out to find a lighter version.  With no desire to shop around after a look around Target, I convinced myself that it might be fun to make one for her.  I found this free pattern for a Summer Nightie on the Sew Much Ado website.

_DSC0551

The pattern calls for knit fabric with 30-40% stretch.  This being nightwear and with consideration for my daughter’s predisposition to sweat like a pig, I chose to search for a cotton knit.  I found a few options on fabric.com and settled on these three.  The first and third are 100% cotton while the unicorn print was a 95%/5% cotton/lycra blend.  I used another cotton/lycra blend, a dark grey heather jersey knit, for the neckband and armholes.  I would definitely recommend the princess unicorn print as well as the floral print.  They were super soft and a good weight.

The pattern is one size which could have been a bummer because I did not want to grade it to a different size.  I used it as is and got lucky.  It fit her perfectly.  The instructions were very clear and I was able to whip them up fairly quickly with my serger.  I sewed one in the funky, colorful fabric to check the fit and then I sewed the remaining two exactly like the first.

_DSC0563

_DSC0566_DSC0572

I expect that they will be in rotation all summer and I hope they make it through.  My daughter loves them and I got some much-needed practice using my serger.  The best part was watching her, the excitement on her face as she twirled around in her new nightie.

_DSC0578

As for me, I’m on the search for patterns that will help me get through the summer as well as this body morphing miracle.  Fortunately, I see a lot of silhouettes in recent pattern releases that will work well and I’m excited to take on the challenge and get back to sewing my own clothes.

My Seamwork Akita, a post pregnancy blouse?

It’s been some time since my last post, so let’s catch up!

I am having a tough pregnancy.  Fortunately, we are in good health.  So far, so good.  But.  Thirty weeks in and I still feel pretty terrible.  There are good days and bad days but for the most part, I feel “pukey” most of the day and especially at night.  I have acid reflux and no appetite.  My belly is all baby, which is nothing to complain about if you fancy your skin being stretched over a basketball filled with varisized rocks that rotate around themselves and sometimes graze your bladder and impact your ribs.

It’s said that misery loves company.  And while I’m not so sure about that, the company I keep is a beautiful, sweet but equally messy and sassy, almost 3-year old girl.  She exhausts me.  The boy inside my belly exhausts me.  When I do get a moment to do what I want, my preference is to just lie down.  I am so done with pregnancy and I can’t wait for the evacuation of this baby boy from my uterus.  (And by evacuation, I mean, a safe and speedy, epidural-friendly childbirth.)

So, while I wait for the second sour patch kid to arrive, I dream of a new normal and the new handmade wardrobe that might make life just a bit sweeter.  And really, that’s all there really is to catch you up on.

Before I write about this latest project, I should mention that I have no interest in making or even buying maternity clothes.  However, making clothes that are comfortable and flattering post pregnancy, yes, for sure, I’m in.  I chose the Seamwork Akita blouse because I signed up for a subscription to Seamwork magazine (You get to download two free patterns per month with the subscription.) and the blouse intrigued me as a quick sew, one that I might be able to get away with wearing both during pregnancy and thereafter.

The first time that I made this blouse was not right.  I used store bought bias tape that was too bulky for the fabric.  I also skipped the stay stitching along the neckline resulting in a frumpy, neck-gaping top.  There is no mention of stay stitching in the instructions but frankly, I know better.  I chalk it up to having taken too long of a break from sewing and pregnancy brain.

This pattern instructions include the use of bias tape to finish the side seams, arm holes, and neckline.  I wanted to make the finished garment in a striped bubble crepe and the bias tape that I purchased was way too bulky (not to mention, unnecessarily labor intensive for me at this time).  I found the fabric at Joann’s and really liked the drape and feel despite it being a polyester blend.  It was also less than $5 a yard!

_dsc0031

Instead of using the bias tape, I opted to experiment with my new (second-hand) serger to finish the seams.  I used a rolled hem to finish the entire side seam and then stitched the sides closed on the sewing machine.  To finish the armholes, I simply folded the fabric over and stitched the hem in place.

_dsc0025

 

_dsc0022

I made my own bias tape out of the same fabric for the neckline.  I would do this differently next time.  Instead of the same fabric, I would likely use a solid fabric of similar weight because you can clearly see through the neckline.  It looks messy, almost as if the colors are running together.

_dsc0028

There is enough ease in the pattern that it “fits” over my baby bump but it doesn’t hang in a very flattering way.  I am eager to try this on once the bump is gone.  And by “gone”, I mean, before the year or so it will take for my body to return to a new normal.

 

Some things are just worth​ the fuss.

_DSC0959

This is the Odgen Cami by True Bias.

You may be looking at this picture and thinking, well, what was all the fuss?  Let me ‘splain.

I have a tendency to make things more complicated than they really need to be.  It happens when I make mistakes and overanalyze.  In this case, I did both.

_DSC0896

My first mistake was choosing the wrong size.  (Sewing 101:  measure yourself, write it down and then do it again, and then again.)  I cut a size 8 when I should have cut a size 10.  The pattern instructions are very clear, listing both size and finished measurements.  I just messed up and made my muslin too small.

When I tried on the size 8, I noticed that the side seams were skewed, pulling to the front at the top. I tried the muslin on, looked in the mirror, took it off, and then tried it on again, looking several times before realizing my error.  The cami was riding up in the front causing the back to drape at an angle toward my waist.  Basically, I didn’t have enough room in the front.

And that’s when the analytic took over… The pattern has one piece for the front and another for the back. Simple enough!  But my concern was that even though the front was small, I felt like I had enough fabric at the back. I thought that if I cut a size 10, I’d still have a skewed side seam because the front and back pieces are very similar in width.  I thought that maybe I needed a bust adjustment to allow for more room in the front while keeping the same size in the back.  In the end, this was the correct solution for me but it took some trial and error to implement.

I was also curious about how to do a bust adjustment with and without a dart.  So I tried both.

Full Bust Adjustment, adding Darts

I did the adjustment with darts first.  Why add darts to a pattern that doesn’t have them?Well, again…”a tendency to make things more complicated than they really need to be”…but I saw this as an opportunity to learn a technique on a simple pattern.  This would have worked well, if I had done the adjustment to the right size.  But instead, I did the adjustment to a size 6.  What?!

Lesson learned:  if you’re going to do a full bust adjustment, understand how the rest of the pattern will fit first.

The instructions for a full adjustment with darts were very clear starting with how to select your size based upon your HIGH bust measurement.  When I made the size 6 (with the dart adjustment), the cami was tight across my upper back and high bust.  So again, I picked the wrong size.  If I had chosen the size correctly, confirming that it would fit across my high bust, I would have ended up with a cami that fit.

Full Bust Adjustment without Darts

The adjustment with no darts worked out well in the end but only because I learned a bit from the first.   I also did this adjustment to a size 6.  But unlike the version with the darts, this adjustment allowed for a better fit across the high bust by adding 1.5″.  My high bust measures 35″.  If I assume that the finished measurement of the high bust of size 6 is 33″  (36″ (chest) – 3″ (c cup) = 33″), then the added 1.5″ would still only equal 34.5″, short of the full 36″ (35″ + 1″ ease) that I really needed. So, instead of using a size 6 back piece, I used a size 8.  This gave me a high bust finished measurement of 35″ (33″+1.5″ + 0.5″ (from size 8 back).  Even though this indicated no ease whatsoever, I went for it.

_DSC0986

So what you see in the photos is a finished garment using a size 8 back piece and an adjusted size 6 front, no darts.  From what I gather, strictly from the tables in the pattern instructions and what I added, my finished garment has a 35″ high bust and 38″ bust. This allowed for zero ease in both places.  On paper this doesn’t seem like it would fit me but it does.

_DSC0909

There are a couple of other things to consider.  First, the fabric I used is thin and slinky.  Also, the adjustment allows for more room for my bust adding more fabric horizontally, “allowing” the shirt to ride up, as needed.  And then there are the straps.  I shortened my size 8 strap by 1-1/8″ to lift the back up so that it hung from the widest part of my back.  So, in the end, I don’t really know exactly where the true high bust and bust are falling BUT who cares! It worked!

I am still curious to see how the size 10 fits.  I will probably make one just to learn a bit more about the fit.  I fear that I made up a problem, i.e. that the side seams might skew forward at the top even with a bigger size.  Nonetheless, this is a great pattern to experiment with because it’s quick to sew up.

_DSC0969

_DSC0918

_DSC0947

The finished look is really lovely.  The facing adds such a clean finish.  I can’t tell without looking carefully (and once I have it on) which side is the front but that’s nothing a tag can’t fix.  I should also mention that I asked Kelli from True Bias to help with fit and she was kind enough to offer to take a look at pictures.  I was already deep into my shenanigans to really makes sense of what I was doing, so I didn’t follow through.  As a beginner, it’s nice to find this type of support!

I’m already planning my next Odgen Cami!

 

 

 

A bathing suit may have been a better idea…

_DSC0337

We spent a few hours at a community pool today for a farewell party.  It was damn hot.  And while I would have rather stayed in the comfort of my perfectly air-conditioned home, I had to say goodbye to friends that have been a part of my Houston family for many years.  See,  I’m not from TX but I got here as soon as I could.  Nope. No.  But if you’re acquainted with a true Texan, you can imagine how many times I’ve heard that.

_DSC0401

So, the shorts.  I’m pretty happy with them.  They are the Chi-Town Chinos by Alina Sewing + Design Co.  There were many sewing firsts during this project.  Fly zipper.  Slash pockets. Back pockets.  Belts loops.  Bar tacks.  I also spent time making a muslin, twice.  My first muslin was way too big, a size 10.  The second, a size 8, was a pretty good fit save the extra fabric in the back.   In the future, I need to pay attention to the finished garment size per the pattern.  I would have saved a bit of time had I looked more carefully at the pattern information as it applies to my measurements.

Nowadays, I measure 29″ at my waist and 39″ across my hips.  I chose size 6 for the final, even though the finished garment size at the hips is 39″.  Using a size with zero ease seemed a bit risky for me but I took Alina’s suggestion to size down because cotton twill is prone to relaxing.  This worked out well for this Hobby Lobby cotton twill.

_DSC0339

I increased the rise by an inch.  I will increase the rise a little bit more next time because I felt like I was getting a wedgie at times.  I did not foresee this problem with the muslin because I didn’t test the flat seat alteration with another muslin.  I just wanted to get things moving!

The flat seat alteration was pretty simple.  I did it exactly as written by Ann Rowley.  As she states, “This adjustment removes the equivalent of a fish eye dart from below the buttocks, shortens and narrows the dart and straightens the centre back seam, so reducing the shaping there.”  It would have been nearly perfect had I increased the rise just a tad more.

_DSC0397

A bathing suit might have been a better choice for today’s adventure but I was eager to wear my new shorts.  Please pardon the wet spot and wrinkles!

The sewalong was a pretty neat event to participate in.  It was my first!  I appreciated reading Alina’s encouraging words throughout the process.

The chinos really are a nice, casual addition to my wardrobe.   I do want to make another pair with linen but I’m experiencing a little sewing shorts burnout.  That said, it feels good to have made shorts that are comfortable at my hips without the added slack at my butt!

 

 

Burda Stretch Drawstring Shorts

_DSC0748

I was so hopeful when I took this picture.  But I was duped and seduced by the expectation that this would be a quick and easy project.  I made so many changes to the original pattern and I could probably fine tune it a bit more.  That said, I am glad that I worked through the head scratching and seam ripping and finished my new favorite house shorts!

I made a muslin first and then used a Telio Morocco stretch poplin for the final pair.

shorts_ht_edited06
Example of the bias binding going all the way to the waist in the City Gym Shorts by Purl Soho.

The pattern instructed me to sew the side and inseam first, then “trim away seam allowances on the lower edges of trouser legs” and use bias binding to finish the hem. I thought this was strange but I tried it anyway and it looked pretty terrible.  I thought about putting the bias binding all the way up to the waist (example below) but I opted to remove the binding altogether and finish with a narrow hem.

Except that at this point, and a little seam ripping later, I realized that I had no allowance to hem and I had to discard the “wearable” muslin that I had made.  Trust me, I thought long and hard about how to fix this but I just couldn’t.  I had no room to shorten them further to add the hem allowance back. BAH.  Bye bye floral shorts….

Luckily, all was not lost.  I sewed the front and back seams to complete the construction of the muslin so that I could get a feel for the fit from this first pass.  Which is is exactly why I will never try a new pattern without doing a muslin first!  They were HUGE!  I am also glad that I tried to make a wearable muslin (Does this really exist?) because I did the finishing which I may have otherwise skipped.  My muslin was a size 40 and I didn’t add the seam allowance to the pattern but I did use a 3/8″ seam allowance while sewing.  Call me lazy.

Shortly after wrecking my muslin, I went back to the size 40 pattern and made a few changes:

  1. added 1″to the length
  2. removed a 3/4″ from the side seams,
  3. removed 3/8″ from the front and back seams (because that’s how I sewed it the first time),
  4. removed 3-1/8″ from the rise and,
  5. added a 5/8″ seam allowance all around.

I used these changes to make the final pair. Ta-da!

_DSC0240

As I mentioned earlier, I nixed the bias binding and used a narrow hem.  I didn’t discover the rise issue until I was nearly done and found that the shorts fit better when I rolled the waistband down once.  To fix this, I cut off the folded waistband (because I had already added the eyelets). Then I used a separate piece of fabric to recreate the 1-5/8″ wide waistband.

Are you confused yet?  Because I am.  I think I could have gone down 3 sizes and had the same result.  Seriously.

My final pattern looked like this.  I have it glued down to oak tag to make it easier to trace.

_DSC0212

If I were to do this again,  I would likely use a straight hem instead of tulip-ish hem.  Maybe with a short slit at the side seams?  I would also take in the side seams a bit more or just use a fabric with less or no stretch.  The stretch poplin feels cool and lightweight.  The shorts are super comfortable but this fabric is not the best choice if you want to avoid saggy butt syndrome.  I learned this the hard way but aren’t the mini-bicycles fun?

_DSC0216

I may revisit this pattern and do some more fixing.  Or I may just keep it movin’.  Do you have a shorts pattern that you love?  Do you find that there is always a number of pattern alterations required to make them fit right?  I foresee a flat seat alteration in my future!

 

My Mercer Tunics

I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across the Mercer Tunic but I do remember quickly realizing that those who had made it, had made it several times.  I wanted to give it a try because I needed more summer gear and I figured that any pattern that sewists are willing to revisit over and over again must be a good one.  I decided to try out a few different light and flowy wovens.

I found all of the fabrics at my nearest Joann Fabric and Craft store.  I picked up a 100% polyester crepe georgette, a Nicole Miller lyocell/linen blend, and a Silky Prints metallic rayon.  I wanted neutral colors and a light, summery feel.

 

I made the first tunic with the crepe georgette.  Allie from Indiesew was kind enough to respond quickly to my email and confirm that this would work well for the pattern.  I was super excited to hear back from her and I’m likely going to buy another Indiesew pattern for this reason alone. Thanks again!

Anyway, I was freaking out about how I was going to cut this slippery fabric.  I found a post by Grainline Studio that outlined how to use paper when cutting through silk.  This is exactly what I did and it worked like a charm.  The extra work (and wait time for my roll of newsprint to arrive) was well worth it because my cutting job turned out extremely well.  I used this method to cut out the other fabrics as well.  In fact, I layered the lyocell/linen blend and rayon and cut them at the same time.  I thought that the paper technique might be overkill but I also did not want to take the chance.  I guess I’m risk averse when my shears are in hand!

_DSC0816

I was able to sew the first two up with no major issues.  I sewed a large first and then went down to the medium.  I skipped the buttons on the first version but I added buttons to the second to contrast the light color and make it a little dressier.  My button hole blunder turned out okay in the end.

I found it kind of tough to topstitch the neckline binding but I got the job done.  The extra thickness near the placard was a challenge for my feed dogs alone.  This was the tipping point for me and I went ahead and ordered a walking foot.  $50!  I hope it’s worth the investment.  I am going to use this baby to complete the third and final tunic.

_DSC0826

_DSC0824

The polyester frayed like crazy. The lyocell/linen blend will forever be wrinkled.  And I have yet to sew the rayon but it feels so cool and smooth.  Now I understand why rayon is a favorite among a number of people.  Poor man’s silk?  I’ll take it!

I will post an update once my third tunic is complete!  Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day.