Sunday, August 30, 2015

Prefontaine Shorts: PASS

I sew mostly work clothes, so my off-duty wardrobe is often lacking. Case in point: having only one pair of shorts. (Those cutoffs are too hot to wear on sweltering days, no matter how short I roll them.) Last year I purchased the Made with Moxie Prefontaine Shorts pattern so I could make a more lightweight pair.

And here they are, 12 months later, my second pair of shorts! The delay has nothing to do with the pattern itself, which is very well explained and easy to sew. I particularly liked being walked through the process of making and applying knit binding (cut from t-shirts or jersey fabric).

The only thing that stumped me was choosing a size. Prefontaine Shorts sizes are based on finished garment measurements. This allows you to choose a size based on the fabric you're using and how you prefer your shorts to fit. The standard advice is to use the size closest to your hip measurement. But I had questions. Would a mere 1/2 inch be enough ease? Would I need to alter the crotch? Would the 5-inch inseam look dowdy? Would the low waistband give me muffin top? Following Sara of Sew Sweetness's lead, I made a quick muslin to find out. 

SO GLAD I DID. I dropped the crotch seam by an inch. After that, the shorts fit just right. The ease was perfect and the inseam, now just three inches, looked fine. The sport elastic feels like a dream and doesn't bind, even with a slightly lower rise than called for in the pattern. (I used 1.5 inch sport elastic instead of the 1.25 inch elastic that's called for.) I goofed and cut two back pocket slits before I realized I should have cut just one. But, hey, more pockets! 

These are made from a yard of lightweight quilting cotton from a friend. The binding is a lightweight jersey from a pile of fabric I bought during my last trip to the discount fabric outlet. Next time I'd use a heavier jersey to give the hems more weight.

I finished these up just in time for our end-of-summer camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes. They were perfect for hiking, biking, and lounging on the beach. And did I mention all the pockets? Love them!

If it weren't the last hot week of the year, I'd be tempted to make a more cleanly styled, or dressy looking looking pair. Better put it on my calendar for early next summer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tumbling Block Coasters: PASS

Do you ever see a tutorial or pattern and are immediately struck with an urgent and insistent need to make it? Even if you don't really need the final result? Purl Soho's simply lovely tumbling block coasters were it for me. They take a traditional quilt block pattern and give it a modern look. And they're made from 100% wool felt, a material I was eager to try.

Too bad we don't use coasters.

But desire is a sneaky thing. It knows I love weddings and gift giving and that, oh look, here is a wedding on the calendar for August. I hit up Etsy for some wool felt scraps and started scheming.

The original pattern calls for each coaster to be a single diamond, which can be arranged to form a tumbling block trivet. But I wanted smaller diamonds that would form a coaster-sized tumbling block. After puzzling over math and Adobe for an embarrassingly long time, my illustrator husband intervened. "It's just a hexagon," he said. Followed by, "This is gonna blow your mind!" Within seconds he had produced a template. (Which you can download here. You're welcome!)

Tell you what, wool felt ain't cheap. Even when you use 3mm instead of the 5mm called for by Purl Soho. I traced the diamond pattern tightly to use every inch of that stuff.

I sewed a practice set using thin polyester felt I had on hand. No way was I going to screw up my felted gold wool. I love the color combo on these.

With careful cutting, these come together very easily. (I was able to trim off the occasional wonky corner that didn't match up.) When I was finished, I wrapped them up with a delicious bottle of gin and headed to the wedding.

Will the coasters get any use? Maybe, maybe not. But they go well with gin and the new glassware the happy couple received from their registry, so I'm counting this a success!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tania Culottes: PASS

Hooray, my Tania Culottes are finally finished! I've taken them for a three-week test run before posting them the blog. Because I'm thorough. The fact I've been reading Y the Last Man is purely coincidental. 

There is plenty of good advice to be found about this pattern, which was released in 2013. Warnings about how short these run abound. I cut a size small based on my measurements, but extended to the XL hem line. Even so, these are juuuust barely long enough to wear to my casual workplace. And there have been some near Marilyn moments when the breeze picks up...

What's lovely about these culottes is that they are impossible to tell apart from a full skirt. That is, until I can sit down on the ground cross-legged without flashing anyone. So happy for that.

I made these up from estate sale mystery yardage. I suspect it's polyester, perhaps intended for thin curtains. The drape is lovely, but the hand doesn't quite feel like other apparel fabric I've used and it wrinkles like crazy. Still, it's very pleasantly swishy to wear and the busy print distracts from the need for pressing at the end of the day.

If I make these again, I'll compare the crotch line to my jeans so I can get a better fit. It's a bit snug. Also, I'll take better care when installing the zipper. Mine looks pretty shabby. Fortunately, I usually wear a shirt over top. Specifically, this navy Renfrew. Maybe I need to make up one in coral? I'll get right on that. Right after I finish those last two volumes of Y the Last Man...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

First Edition Morocco Pants: PASS

When Celina of petit à petit and family put a call out for pattern testers for her Morocco Tuxedo Pant & Shorts, I couldn't resist. (Even though it was right before a long-distance vacation and I still hadn't made a successful pair of underwear, let alone the cute pair of Tania culottes I imagined wearing on our trip.)

Have you ever helped test a pattern? I had no idea what to expect and enjoyed both the actual testing and observing the way it was organized. Celina used an online survey to collect the measurements of the children we were sewing for and our sewing preferences. (There are so many variations included in the pattern!) Then she assigned each of us a size and view to sew and set up a private Facebook group for our discussion and to distribute the pattern. As we worked, we asked Celina for clarification on pattern instructions, discussed the construction process, provided each other with suggestions and support, recorded pattern errors, and uploaded photos of our progress. It was exciting to work on a project with all these avid sewers I had never met. Meeting the deadline was challenging, but it was rewarding to be work with others toward a common goal.

Though I love the pattern design and the color scheme my son chose, it took some last minute alterations to make these pants a useable garment. My kid's hips are two sizes smaller than his inseam calls for. Celina recommended making the size that matched his hips, leaving out the rear darts to make the waist larger and adding length in the legs by slashing and spreading at the knee. Though my son likes to wear his pants low, these are about two inches too low. The waist was also seriously gapping. (Made me wish I had taken the option to add button elastic to the back waistband.) And though I loved the look of the legs, my kid said these were way too long. (Celina has redrafted the waistband for the final pattern, but I will probably sew a larger size next time.)

Side view before alterations.
I couldn't raise the waist at this point, but I could address the gap. I pinched out a massive dart in the center back and sewed it shut. (No, I didn't remove the waistband first. That is the kind of detail I wasn't ready to commit to right before vacation. :) ) It was so sad to cut off the hem facing I had so painstakingly constructed. I didn't reattach it, deciding to fold up a simple hem instead.

I would have loved to use a hook and eye closure, but my son really wanted a button. Here's a shot before we added it. Maybe it's better with a button, so as to direct attention away from my wobbly waistband.

Let me tell you, participating in the pattern testing process has given me an even greater respect for designers. There are so many details to attend to! And technical writing is no joke. How one person explains a process may or may not make sense to another. And did you know there are several ways in English to describe cutting a mirror image (or reverse, opposite, flipped, etc.) of a pattern piece? Linguistically fascinating, but what a headache to sort out. Mad props to Celina and all those pattern designers out there. You've got brains of steel. (Is that a thing? Let's make it a thing!)

Morocco pants in action.
But back to the pants. My son loves the finished product. And now that the pattern has been updated for the release (and on sale for 20% off right now!), he calls his version "first edition." He thinks we might be able to sell them for a high price, à la Pokémon cards. I told him probably not, but that I was glad he had a pair of pants to wear on our vacation that wasn't threadbare.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Purple Pants: PASS

These purple Style Arc Elle pants put a smile on my face every time I wear them. This photo doesn't do the color justice. It's like wearing a bright purple crayon. How can that not make you smile?

Not sure my smile would last if I saw myself from behind. Eeesh, those wrinkles are intense! 

These are made up in a cheap stretch twill with surprisingly good recovery and are comfortable to wear. The only annoyance is that the leg openings tend to ride up my calves. I slide my pant legs down with each foot from time to time (unconscious muscle memory from junior high). Maybe next time I need to make the calves a bit larger. Could be I need a size up all around, as the seams are strained everywhere. Not sure anyone but me notices, so I keep on smiling and putting these on.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Basic Undies: FAIL

With Me-Made-May'15 coming up, it's time to take the pledge.
I, Vanessa of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavor to wear me-made items each day for the duration of May 2015. I will also make a wearable pair of underwear by the end of the month.
That's right. A wearable pair. Unlike my last attempt. And definitely not these latest pairs.

Jalie has produced a beautifully drafted pattern with a great fit. A great fit, that is, if you apply the elastic correctly. My first pair was terribly tight in the legs from over stretching the elastic. The second pair is coming apart at the waist from popped seams. Time to visit the Internet for tutorials. I clearly don't know what I'm doing!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Purple Stripe Raglan: PASS

The idea of wearing this soft purple stripe knit as a cozy shirt has been kicking around my head for at least a year. Enter the Lane Raglan pattern from Hey June to finally get the job done.

The Lane Raglan is a sewing community favorite and I can see why. It's quick to sew and comes with fun variations to play with: hood, thumb-hole sleeves, tiny pocket. (Though I chose the basic model here. Matching stripes was fun enough.)

The pattern sizing is based on finished garment measurements. Somehow I missed the instructions to use a size with no bust ease for stretchy knits. I selected a size bigger than my bust and hip measurements and spent an hour pinning out the excess and re-serging the seams.

The resulting neckline is higher than intended, with some bunching at the back. But at least I don't look like I'm wearing a sack anymore!

One thing I wonder about is stabilizing the seams. Are these going to stretch out? Should I be using twill tape or stay tape as I would in the shoulder seams of a standard knit shirt? If you have knowledge or opinions, please share!