Ottobre Kids: Tiny Fan Pants (4/2016 #4) and Hippa Sweatpants (1/2018 #19)

I didn’t sew anything for Jude during his first year, partly because I just wasn’t really finding any sewing time but also because I just didn’t have the desire. He got a ton of cute clothes as gifts and hand-me-downs, he outgrew everything in a matter of months (as babies do), and most practical baby clothing requires snaps and I had no desire to invest in a snap setter.

After we took stock of all the cute outfits he received for his birthday, we realized he could use a few more pairs of pants and some pajamas for colder nights, and I thought, “That’s easy enough to make.” And now, in the course of a couple of months, I’ve gone from not having sewn him anything to having made him three pairs of pants, five sets of pajamas, and a Halloween costume. At some point, I wondered if I would ever feel compelled to sew clothes for him, but now I feel like I could happily keep cranking out tiny clothes and I have to stop myself from buying up a bunch of cute fabric.

 

 

My stint of kid sewing started with two pairs of basic pants, both made with stashed fabrics and patterns from Ottobre Design. The first pair were these little navy joggers, which are made using the Tiny Fan Jersey Pants pattern (#4) from Ottobre 4/2016, and sewn up in Kaufman Laguna jersey (a cotton-Spandex blend). I wanted pants that would fit him right now, so I sewed a straight size 80, which is the size that most closely matches his current height, and the fit is perfect.

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The pattern is really just a basic jersey pant with a folded elastic casing waist and cuffed legs. But nearly every seam is top-stitched, adding a bit more visual detail and making them feel like more than a basic pair of pajama pants. The directions suggest using either a cover stitch machine or decorative stitch for the topstitching—I have a decorative stitch on my machine that, to my eye, looks a bit like the cover stitching often done on athletic wear.

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Doing all of the top-stitching takes more time than just zipping every seam through the serger, and it also required a slightly unconventional construction order. That was only a problem when I accidentally attached one of the leg cuffs to the waist. I didn’t recognize the problem until I had completely sewn the seam using a lightening stitch AND topstitched the seam. There was no way I was ripping that stitching out (it was unlikely the fabric would have survived it anyway), so I had to recut and resew one of the legs. But that’s not a big deal when the pieces are so small.

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I’ve been sewing little pieces of red cotton twill tape into the waistband to easily distinguish front from back. So far, he hasn’t come home from daycare with his pants on backwards, so it seems to be working.

After the Tiny Fan pants, I used the leftover sweatshirt fleece from the Ottobre Woman hoodie I made myself a couple of years ago to make Jude an adorable pair of hipster sweatpants. This is the Hippa Sweatpants pattern (#19) from the Spring 1/2018 issue. They are slim-cut sweat pants with front slash pockets and little cargo pockets on the legs. These again are a size 80, and I love the fit on Jude.

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The directions were easy to follow overall, and these came together pretty quickly despite the extra details. There are sew-in snaps on the cargo pocket flaps to keep them in place. My only quibble with the directions were with the waistband. They advise you to sew your elastic in a circle, quarter it, and then baste the elastic to the waist of the pants at the quarter points. Then you fold the waistband over and you are supposed to stretch the elastic as you top-stitch the waistband in place.

Ottobre 1/2018 #19 Hippa Sweatpants

This didn’t work at all for me. I had to stretch the elastic a lot and felt like I had very little control over the fabric as I was sewing, and the result was a waistband that was just a massive eyesore. I ended up ripping out my initial attempt at sewing the waist, which took forever because the stitches were so tiny due to all the tension from trying to stretch the elastic as I sewed.

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On my second try, I stretched and basted the entire length of the elastic to the top of the waist with a regular zigzag stitch. Then I folded the waistband over and used a lot of pins to help more evenly stretch the elastic and distribute the fabric for the waistband. The result isn’t perfect, but I felt like I had a lot more control and ended up with a much more even (and less hideous) waist. I skipped the fake drawstring because I didn’t have any twill tape on hand that would work and was feeling pretty done with the pants at that point.

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But the result is totally adorable—comfortable and cute. He looks like he’s ready to go play soccer with his friends. I love these so much that I would eagerly make him another pair in a larger size. But next time, I think I’ll just create a fold-over waist casing and thread the elastic through.

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I get the Ottobre Woman and Family issues, but I haven’t actually subscribed to Ottobre Kids yet—I’ve just bought a few random back issues. Upgrading to the full subscription is on my to-do list for the beginning of 2019 though. I just love these patterns. They are basic enough that they are comfortable and easy to wear, but they also have such great details. And they are one of the few places where you can find a great balance of boys, girls, and unisex designs.  Every issue I look at makes me want to fall down another kid sewing rabbit hole.

Black Ginger Jeans

Hey, look — I made another pair of black pants. So novel! This time, I made what I think of as real pants with a real waist band that I can feel comfortable wearing outside of my house. (I do not give a shit about what other people wear in public, but I do not feel fully dressed without a non-elastic waistband.) This is my first pair of Ginger Jeans, which I had originally planned to make as part of the Outfit Along. I missed the deadline and the sweater I planned to make with these still isn’t done, but who really cares?

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

To parrot what so many other sewing bloggers have said before: I was a little anxious about taking on this project, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. The sewing was very manageable, and top-stitching is incredibly satisfying. I can see many more pairs of handmade jeans in my future. And yes, it kind of blows my mind that I was able to make a pair of jeans.

I had actually started to get a little bored with sewing because I was playing it safe and only choosing boring projects. It was nice to get that slightly obsessive “must get back to the machine!” feeling with this project, and it ended up being a bit of a breakthrough project. I’ve had lots of more complicated patterns that I’d like to try, but didn’t feel competent enough to take on. Sewing these jeans got me over that mental obstacle.

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I made the skinny leg version of the pattern, altering the high-waisted version to be a mid-rise per the instructions in this tutorial. I started with a size 18 (for reference, my current hip measurement is 46″ and my waist is 34″). I also added 1″ to the center back rise through a full seat adjustment (should have added a little less, I think) and removed 1″ of length from the legs above the knee. After my basted fitting, I ended up sewing the outseam with a 7/8″ seam allowance and slimmed the legs a bit more. I also moved the back pockets in by 1/2″ on either side, although I think I would have been better off moving them in a bit more.

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I used a black stretch denim I got from Fabric.com. It’s a cotton/poly blend with a little more poly content than I would like. The wrong side of the fabric definitely has a synthetic feel to it, but the right side has a really soft, brushed finish. The fabric has a lot of stretch, but it seems to have really nice recovery so I’m hoping these don’t bag out a lot with wear. I used quilting cotton for the pocket lining and added the pocket stay, which is a really nice feature.

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I used the denim for the waistband facing and didn’t use any interfacing at the waist. The waistband application is probably the thing I’m least satisfied with on this pair–I used my edge-stitching foot to try to ensure even top-stitching, but it just kind of dragged the fabric down and stretch it out a lot so I ended up with a rippling waistband. I was able to mostly steam it back into shape, but next time I’ll use my walking foot.

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I think the next time I make this pattern, I’ll also experiment with using the pocket lining fabric as the waistband facing since I could use a slightly more stable waistband. I’ve also seen people use elastic as a kind of interfacing at the back of the waistband to keep it from stretching out over time, which is something else I might try at some point.

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For my first pair of jeans and my first time using this pattern, I’m pretty happy with the fit I got–I’ve never had a pair of jeans that fit this well at the waist. And I feel like it will be fairly easy to keep tweaking this pattern to get an even better fit. I need to shorten the front rise next time–I think that’s why I’m getting wrinkles at the front. It’s a bit hard to see at first because of the stiffness of the interfaced fly front, but I can actually pinch out about 1″ of excess fabric from the front rise. I wouldn’t want to alter the shape of the skinny leg, but if I were making the straight leg version, I would probably also do a wide calf adjustment.

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I’m pretty sure that I also need a knock-knee adjustment. In a post on common jeans-fitting adjustments, Heather from Closet Case Files referred to the knock-knee adjustment as the cutest sounding fit adjustment. That is a sweet thought, but it does not feel very cute to me. These jeans and their knee wrinkles are bringing some latent knee insecurities to the surface. It’s weird–I make lots of different fit adjustments for many unglamorous reasons, but the idea of having knock knees kind of messes with my head.

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This picture shows the knee wrinkles in their truest form. I have now analyzed many pictures of myself in pants and found that I consistently have this cluster of wrinkles pointing at my inner knee. For the sake of comparison, I have also analyzed pictures of many other sewing bloggers in pants and found that their knees look quite different than mine. Even allowing that you may likely end up with some wrinkling at the knee in skinny jeans to allow for movement, most of the skinny jean knee wrinkles I’ve seen run horizontally and don’t come to a point like mine. I think the knock-knee thing is evident in my stance too. If I “zip my thighs together” like so many yoga instructors are fond of saying, my knees come together and I naturally end up with about 3″ of space between my feet. And if I try to force the inner soles of my feet to touch, it is physically painful because my kneecaps are essentially fighting one another for the same space. And yes, I see that this all makes very public the crazy amount of time and energy I’ve given to contemplating my knock knees.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

Anyway. I respect my knees and acknowledge that I cannot change them, so I will just start making a knock knee adjustment part of my regular pants-fitting repertoire. In the meantime, I’m happy enough with how these pants turned out to keep wearing them, and I’m already excited about making the next pair.

Vogue 8909

I have not been particularly inspired to sew this summer. I think I pretty much stopped sewing around mid-May and haven’t done much of anything in my sewing room until this past week. I haven’t done much knitting either. I had a brief burst of knitting activity in June where I managed to finish the body of a sweater. Since then, I’ve knit a single sock. I don’t particularly like summer weather or warm weather clothes, so it’s not a very inspiring season for me. Plus, I’ve kept fairly busy this summer–traveling, entertaining houseguests, finding new places to hike, reading a lot, teaching a summer class.

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At the very end of July, I finally got around to cutting out the Ginger Jeans I said I was going to make for the Outfit Along. (Obviously, I didn’t meet the deadline for the actual OAL, but I’ve made progress on both garments and will finish them eventually.) But when everything was cut out and ready to do, I realized that what I really wanted to sew at the moment was something simpler–I wanted a gentler reintroduction to the whole process. So I pulled out Vogue 8909 and sewed myself up an easy pair of lounge pants.

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I made View A, which uses ribbed cuffs to finish the pant legs. The fabric is a heavyweight cotton jersey I bought awhile ago from Girl Charlee. I think it was one of the designer exclusive that they have from time to time. It has minimal stretch and feels a lot like the jersey used for something like a Hanes Beefy T. The ribbing is the cotton ribbing they sell at JoAnn’s, which is a little on the heavier side so it works well with a heavier fabric like this jersey.

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I started with the XL (my current hip measurement is 46″). I did a quick tissue fitting to check the length of the rise and ended up shortening the front rise by 1.5″ before cutting out the pattern. I did a basted fitting after and decided I could use a bit more length in the back, so I let out the yoke seams at the center back–I started sewing on the side of the yoke that meets in the center back using a 1/4″ SA and then gradually tapered back to the recommended 5/8″ SA by the time I reached the side seam.

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I was pretty pleased with the fit on these out of the envelope. I experimented with a couple of different crotch curve adjustments during my basted fitting, but none of them got me a better result than sewing that pattern as is. The only problem I had was that once I had completely finished the pants, I realized that the bottom of the legs was too wide and baggy. The cuffs were about 3″ too big and the legs didn’t really look tapered at all–the result was a pair of pants that looked less like joggers and more like a pair of weird sweats that had shrunk to high-water length in the wash.

I ended up unpicking the cuffs (which I sewed on using a lightening stitch and then serged to finish, all in black thread–it took FOREVER to get them off) and recutting them to the measurements for the L. I then tapered the leg to also be the same measurement as the L at the leg opening. I’m much happier with the resulting fit through the legs. I looked at a lot of reviews of this pattern, but no one mentioned problems with the width of the cuffs/legs. I think it is likely one of those plus-size grading issues where all parts of a pattern get graded up equally despite the fact that plus size bodies aren’t proportioned that way. In other words, having wide hips does not mean you have the ankles of a severe edema patient, no matter what the grading formulas think. So if you are thinking about making this pattern in an XL or XXL, be mindful of the width of the lower leg.

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This photo shows some of the design details on this pattern–it has a back yoke and forward seams with inseam pockets. The front is finished with faux-fly topstitching (which I did not get a good picture of). The waist band is a 3-channel fold-down waistband that has elastic in the top and bottom channels and a drawstring through the middle. The yoke gives a better fit than your standard elastic waistband pants, and all the other details kept this from being a completely boring sew and make the finished pants look a bit more polished.

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I’m really happy with how these turned out–they fit well, they are easily the most comfortable pair of pants that I own, and while I am not one to go out and about in sweats, I appreciate the fact that I now have at least one pair of lounge pants that are decent enough to be worn out of the house on a quick errand.

Now that I’m back in the sewing swing of things, my Ginger jeans are officially underway. I just finished my basted fitting so it’s on to the actual sewing!

Eleonore Jeans, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

I hate these pants. I hate them so much that I wasn’t even going to blog this project, but in the interest of showing the good, the bad, and the ugly, I decided to take some pictures of them. (Although I didn’t put that much energy into getting pictures. These are wrinkled from being balled up in the closet because I could not be bothered to iron them.)

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Anyway. These are the Jalie Eleonore jeans, which are pull-on jeans with a fake fly front and elastic waist. This particular pattern has been well-received and well-reviewed by a lot of bloggers and Pattern Review members. The Style Arc Misty jeans, which is a very similar pattern, has been likewise celebrated, and I’ve seen a few people modify the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans pattern to make them pull-on jeans. That’s all to say that many people enjoy wearing and look very good in pull-on jeans. As it turns out, I do not.

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My rational mind knew that I would not like wearing pull-on jeans. I had originally planned to make the Style Arc Misty pattern, but my serious doubts about whether I would like them meant that I kept putting the pattern off until, eventually, the size range that I had didn’t fit me anymore. At that point, I should have just washed my hands of the idea. But I kept seeing more positive reviews of pull-on jean patterns and they seemed like a really nice way to ease myself into making jeans. So I went ahead and ordered the Jalie Eleonore pattern, since I liked its wider size range and the fact that the elastic for the waistband is enclosed.

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The pattern itself is okay—they are easy to construct and the instructions are very clear. The front pockets are fake, which I found more annoying than I anticipated, but this would be relatively easy to alter if I wanted to make another pair in the future. I do feel like there was something a bit off about the sizing. My fabric, which is a gray stretch denim from Girl Charlee, has the 20% stretch specified by the pattern. My current hip measurement is ~1.5″ smaller than the measurement listed for the size I chose, and these pants still feel and look uncomfortably tight. Based on other reviews I’ve read, I wonder if this is more of an issue in the larger sizes? (I made the size DD.)

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I ended up hemming these a smidge too short, and I think I need a full calf adjustment. Again, if I liked these pants at all, these would be relatively easy things to fix or modify. But I don’t. Instead, I feel kind of like I’m wearing toddler jeans. (In fact, I’m happy that this pattern goes all the way down to a girl’s size 2 because I would make this pattern for a child in a heartbeat. They address so many of the objections little kids tend to have to wearing jeans.)

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The thing is that I really love wearing jeans. I wear jeans or pants that basically fit and look a lot like jeans every day. I don’t find them uncomfortable. I like a traditional waistband with belt loops. I love a good fly front. I always want to have 5 fully functional pockets.  So these pants just aren’t doing it for me. Even if they are physically comfortable, I feel psychologically uncomfortable wearing them—like I’m wearing fake pants. I just can’t do it.

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The upside to this project is that I got a chance to practice the part of jeans-making that I find most intimidating: top-stitching. I found out that my machine has no objection to top-stitching thread, and I practiced even top-stitching using several different machine feet. I discovered that top-stitching jeans is really satisfying and not that hard to do evenly so long as you are careful. So now that I’m confident enough to take on all the top-stitching that goes into jeans, I feel ready to just devote my time to fitting an actual jeans pattern. I’m planning to start working on the Ginger Jeans pattern sometime this summer. Until then, I lucked out and found two surprisingly nice pairs of jeans at Target, which means that this pair of pants can go straight to Goodwill. Buh bye.

 

Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous Tailored Track Pants

If my Onyx Shirt felt like a sewing victory, then this project made me feel even more triumphant. This is my first time sewing a pair of pants that are suitable for wearing outside the house.

Hot Patterns Tailored Track Pants

These are the Fast and Fabulous Tailored Track Pants from Hot Patterns. This project was an experiment in a lot of ways. It was not only my first serious attempt at pants-fitting but the tapered, cropped leg, elastic waistband, and relaxed fit are out of the norm for me in terms of style. When I first finished the pants, I was kind of disappointed—they felt a bit bulky and the legs seemed like an awkward length. But a trip through the washer and dryer improved the fit. (I did pretreat the fabric, but only sent it through the washer and dryer once. It’s a linen/rayon blend so I suspected that another turn in the dryer would result in a bit more shrinkage.) I’m pretty happy with them now and even wore them to a second new faculty orientation I had to attend at the university’s main campus–paired, of course, with a nicer shirt and nicer shoes than shown here.

HP Tailored Track Pants

The fabric I used is a medium-weight linen-rayon blend that I bought last year from JoAnn Fabrics. The fabric is probably a little heavier than is ideal for this pattern, and I did have some issues with bulk at the waist seam, especially near the pockets. I would manage the bulk differently on my next version, but I’d probably also use something a touch lighter. I actually have a lighter-weight linen-cotton blend that I’ve earmarked for a second version of this pattern, but I don’t imagine I’ll actually make them until next spring or summer.

HP Tailored Track Pants

Fitting this pattern was actually pretty easy, which makes me think that Hot Patterns pants might just be a good fit for my body. I started with a size 24, made a muslin, and ended up removing a 1.5-2” wedge from the center front and adding about 3/8” to the back inseam. With just those two changes, I feel like I ended up with a pretty respectable fit.

HP Tailored Track Pants

Once I got to the point of finishing the pants, I did end up shortening the legs by 2”. I was surprised that the legs seemed too long since I’m 5’7”. After a bit of research, I think the reason I needed to shorten the length was because I intended to wear these pants with flats. The fashion advice of the internet suggests that if I was going to wear these pants with heels (as pictured on the pattern envelope), the legs would have been a perfect length. Women’s clothing is weird and complicated.

Hot Patterns Tailored Track Pants

My one quibble with this pair of pants comes from my own poor choice of elastic. The pattern calls for 5/8” elastic, which I couldn’t find in the store. I didn’t want to have to order elastic online, so I used ½” elastic instead. The problem is that the channels for the elastic are wide enough to allow the elastic to easily twist and flip. The problem is made worse by the fact that the waistband design only allows for one point where you can invisibly secure the elastic (at the center back). The elastic in the top channel is most prone to twisting and it’s pretty annoying—all the more annoying since it’s a problem I feel like I should have been able to foresee and prevent. Oh well. Next time I’ll be patient and order the right size elastic.

Hot Patterns Tailored Track Pants

I like the detail of the cuffs on these pants, although you can’t really see them in these pictures thanks to the impossibility of photographing black. If I make these again, I think I might add some pockets to the back just to further distance their look from pajama pants. By far, my favorite detail on these pants is the multi-channel waistband, which makes them particularly comfortable. I have an 11” difference between my waist measurement and my high hip measurement, so the slope between those two points of my body is pretty extreme. It seems like the multiple pieces of elastic conform better to the shape of my body so that the waistband stays in place throughout wear. I think this is the first time I’ve not had to fight with a migrating waistband. Hallelujah.