Muse Jenna V-Neck Cardigan

I like sewing with sweater knits but, as a knitter, they also make me feel like I’m cheating. So I think of this, affectionately, as my cheater cardigan–made over the course of two days rather than the two (or more) months it would take using yarn and needles.

Muse Jenna Cardi

This is the Muse Patterns Jenna Cardigan. I made the hip-length version with 3/4 sleeves and used the Jenna Expansion pack to get a v-neck, which is my preferred cardigan neckline. I’ve been planning to make this cardigan for a long time, and for some reason, I built this pattern up in my head as being a bit challenging. But, in reality, it’s very easy to put together and really only takes a bit more time than a basic t-shirt.

Muse Jenna V-Neck

I knew I would need the size 40 for the shoulder, but I didn’t want to have to do an FBA to get enough room across the bust so I went with the cheater FBA (appropriate for my cheater cardigan) and blended out to the size 42 at the armscye. I ended up significantly slimming the sleeves and the sleeve cuffs–I took 2″ out of the sleeve cuffs and an inch from either side of the sleeve opening, tapering to nothing at the top of the sleeve seam. But other than initially floppy sleeves, I’m really happy with the fit on this pattern. I think the only adjustments I’d make to the pattern the next time around would be removing some of the sleeve cap ease and lowering the point of the v-neck just a bit.

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The fabric I used is a really soft cotton-Spandex slub sweater knit that I bought last year from Fabric.com. The little bit of Spandex means that it has good recovery, which means that this shouldn’t bag out with wear. It’s pretty lightweight and similar to my two most-worn cardigans, which I wear year round on all but the coldest of Ohio winter days. My other cardigans are black and gray, so I’m glad to have an option that is an actual color. I sew with so many neutral fabrics that this is the first time I’ve ever used something other than black or gray serger thread.

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I used this project as a reason to finally figure out how to sew buttons on using my machine. It worked well (and was not at all difficult to figure out) so I’ve now succeeded in making my most-hated finishing task that much faster and easier. So this project is a win all around!

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Brooklyn to Halifax Hoodie

Would you be shocked to know that Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams was one of my childhood heroes? Of course you wouldn’t be shocked. I mean–just look at this hoodie.

Hey June Halifax Hoodie

This project actually started it’s life back in May as the SBCC Brooklyn Hoodie. The Brooklyn has a relaxed, classic fit that just didn’t play nicely with this fairly limp, unstructured cotton French Terry. (Also, I’m not sure I get the deep love for French Terry as a fabric. People seem to praise it for being really soft, but this fabric doesn’t seem extraordinarily so–at least not more so than sweatshirt fleece. Plus it sheds everywhere. Maybe it’s just that I prefer body over softness in a fabric?) Of course, I didn’t realize that the fabric and pattern were a poor match until I’d cut everything out and sewed the body together.

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Earlier this month, I decided to see if I could salvage the fabric by recutting the pieces using a more fitted pattern. I decided to use View C of the Hey June Halifax Hoodie pattern. I was able to cut the Halifax fronts and back from the already-cut front and back pieces and then had enough extra fabric to cut the sleeve pieces for the Halifax.

Hey June Halifax Hoodie

Because this was a salvage operation, some of the details on my hoodie are different than they would appear if I had made the Halifax pattern as drafted. My hoodie is shorter through the body since it’s cut to the length of the Brooklyn. I also used the pocket, hood, sleeve cuff, and hem band pieces that I had already cut out using the Brooklyn pattern, adjusting them slightly as necessary to make them work.

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But where it counts in terms of fit–through the body and the sleeves–this is the Halifax Hoodie. Since I wanted something fairly fitted, I went with a smaller size than my measurements would recommend. My current measurements (for reference: Bust 41″ and Hip 45.25″) would put me around a 1x according to the Hey June size chart. Based on the finished measurements indicated on the pattern, I cut a straight XL. I’m fairly happy with the final fit, which is very similar to the fit of an Old Navy hoodie that I wear all the time.

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My only complaint about this pattern is the number of pattern pieces that call for being cut on the fold. I hate when relatively small pieces like sleeve cuffs are meant to be cut on the fold, especially since you need to cut 2. The sleeve is also cut on the fold, which is one of my pet peeves–not just because it would be infinitely more convenient to cut both sleeves at once but even more so because sleeve caps with symmetrical fronts and backs don’t tend to fit that well. You can see that there’s excess fabric at the front sleeve cap–something I’d probably try to get rid of if I made this pattern again. I also printed the pattern piece for the cowl neck since I was considering making up View D or E with another piece of fabric. The cowl neck actually has two “cut on fold” lines that run perpendicular to each other as though you are supposed to fold your fabric in quarters and cut the cowl that way. I mean, I didn’t and wouldn’t actually follow those instructions–I just traced the pattern piece, flipped it over, and traced the other side. But it’s still annoying that the pattern pieces are organized that way. I’d much rather print a few extra pages than have so many “cut on the fold” pieces.

Hey June Halifax Hoodie

Still, I’m happy with how this one turned out and even happier that I was able to save a project that nearly ended up in the trash. I feel like it’s a sign that my sewing skills and confidence have increased.

Pacific Leggings and McCall’s 7386 Tank

Behold, my third pair of black pants in a row. I made a pair of lounge pants, then a pair of jeans, and now: activewear. And it’s activewear meant for actually being active in–I promise that I have not worn these pants while laying on the couch or while doing my weekly grocery shopping.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings and McCalls 7386

These are the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings. I made view C, but added two inches to the bottom of the leg to make them more of a cropped length rather than capri length. I also added the yoke pocket from View B.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings

My current waist and hip measurements match the size 14 almost exactly, so I cut a straight 14 and made no pattern adjustments beyond lengthening the leg a bit. Overall, I’m really happy with the fit for a first go with this pattern. My only issue is that I’d like the waistband to sit a bit higher. I sewed the waistband with a smaller seam allowance to give myself a bit more height and while the rise is high enough to wear comfortably, next time I’ll add an inch to the rise of the front and back pieces.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings

The fabric is a black poly/Spandex activewear knit I bought from Fabric.com. It’s a nice medium weight that is very shiny on the right side and a bit more matte on the wrong side. I decided to use the matte side of the fabric as the right side since I’m not into shiny pants. I wanted to try to highlight the seaming on the pattern, but didn’t want to do something like top-stitching in a contrast color. So for the outseams and the waistband seam, I decided to serge the seam wrong sides together, press the serged seam to one side, and then top-stitch it down. The result is an exposed seam finish that looks a bit like a faux-flatlock stitch. I just used a straight-stitch to top-stitch the seams to one side, and it is surprisingly stretchy. I’ve pulled these on and off multiple times and moved around a lot in them and haven’t had any popped stitches.

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I wore these on a long hike this past weekend, and they were very comfortable. It’s been many years since I owned activewear other than cotton-spandex yoga pants, and these leggings are infinitely nicer than anything I’ve owned before. The waistband fit is perfect for me. I usually have a hard time keeping any kind of elastic waistband from sliding down my hips but this waistband fits firmly and stayed in place throughout our hike.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings and McCalls 7386

I also made the tank top I’m wearing here. (Although please ignore my embarrassing farmer’s baseball spectator tan, acquired during an intensely sunny Reds game over Labor Day weekend.) I’ve been looking for a basic tank top pattern that does NOT have a racer back, which is surprisingly hard to find. I ended up buying McCall’s 7386, which is a “learn to sew” pattern with options for a basic knit tank, skirt, and tank dress.

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I cut a L for the upper body and blended out to an XL through the waist and hip. The tank top, as drafted, is pretty short, so I added 3″ to get a low-hip length. I had to take a small wedge at the side seam under the arm to get a better fit in the armhole, but otherwise the fit is good. The pattern has a shaped back seam, which gives a close, curvy fit through the back. It’s a nice detail to include on a very basic pattern like this.

McCalls 7386

The pattern instructions call for finishing the armholes and neckline with a simple turn-and-stitch hem. I wanted a more professional-looking finish so I tried the skinny knit binding method described in this post from Sew Fearless. I pretty much followed her tutorial, although I didn’t fold the binding under as I sewed. I’m just not that coordinated. Instead, I pinned the binding in place so I could just focus on making sure my topstitching was even. This is probably the nicest finish I’ve managed on a knit top to date, and the skinny binding is definitely a technique I’ll use again.

Skinny Knit Binding

The fabric I used is a cotton/rayon/Spandex jersey I got from Girl Charlee at the beginning of the year. Their jerseys can be a bit hit or miss and this is one of the nicer ones I’ve bought–super soft, lightweight but not sheer, drapey but not clingy.

Overall, I’m really happy with both of these pieces. I’ve been hiking and walking enough recently that I should probably be making more things like this!

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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.

Vogue 8909

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.

Vogue 8909

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!

Another T-Shirt Post: The Concord

I’ve tried 4 or 5 different patterns for a basic t-shirt, but I haven’t found one that I really like yet. Either I can’t get the fit that I like with a reasonable amount of adjustments or the fit is close but the pattern doesn’t really offer the kinds of sleeve and neckline options that I’d like. I’ve also had issues with patterns being drafted for a kind of fabric/stretch percentage that I’m just not likely to use. I’ve frequently considered buying the Renfrew pattern, but I know I’d have to make adjustments to get it to fit my bust and I know it’s meant to have more ease than I would like. I also considered buying the Lark pattern when it was released, but I knew it would present similar bust (and probably shoulder) fit issues. I also didn’t totally love the versions I was seeing pop up on blogs. So I ordered the Concord pattern as soon as I got the email about it’s release—the multi-cup sizing system plus all of the style options seemed promising and very worth the price for a new pattern.

Cashmerette Concord T-shirt

I’ve made three versions so far. I had some slightly spendy bamboo jersey I bought myself for my birthday, and I was a little hesitant to just cut into it. So I used some olive/drab rayon jersey that I wasn’t really in love with to test the fit of the pattern. For my olive tee, I made View C, which is the long length with the curved, split hem. I used the scoop neckline and the mid-length sleeves with sleeve tabs. This fabric sucks—it is very light-weight (I have to wear a layer underneath this or you’d be able to see my bra), super shifty, and very clingy. That’s all to say that this probably wasn’t the best fabric to use for details like the sleeve tabs and the hem facings.

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It took me a minute to figure out what size to start with. The pattern instructions recommend choosing a size by starting with your full bust measurement and then picking the size that is the closest match to your waist measurement. My full bust measurement is 44” and my waist is 36”, which means that my recommended size would be the size 16 with the C/D cup pieces. My pattern cup size (the difference between my high and full bust measurements) is bigger than a D, and I was seeing a few different reviews saying they were planning to go up a cup size on future versions, so I cut the size 16 E/F cup pieces and graded out to an 18 for the hip. I removed an inch from the length of the body at the lengthen/shorten line and did a full bicep adjustment to add .75” to the width of the sleeve.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt

I’m very happy with the fit on the upper body. (You can see what look to be pull lines at the bust on my olive tee, but the pull lines are actually from the Old Navy tank top I’m wearing underneath.) For my olive test version, I wish I had added more width through the hip to account for the fact that the long length would be skimming over my jeans. I don’t usually wear shirts this long, but I am surprised at how much I like the length on me. I also really like the shape of the curved, split hem. I was worried about the width of the neckline, so I sewed the neckband on the olive version with a ¼” seam allowance. I went back to the recommended 3/8” seam allowance for my two later versions.

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For my two black bamboo versions, I kept the sizing and adjustments from the olive tee, but went with the mid length and did one with short sleeves and one with mid-length sleeves and cuffs. I had originally planned to try the V-neck on the short-sleeved tee, but I really love the shape of the scoop neck—not too wide, not too deep, not aggressively U-shaped. (I also suspect that I will want to narrow the V-neck, so I figured I would wait and experiment with that later.) I sewed the side seams for both black tees with a ¼” seam allowance to give myself slightly more room through the waist and hips in particular. They are still very fitted through the hips—I’ll have to spend more time wearing these to decide whether the current width is comfortable or if I’ll want to add more ease in future versions.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt

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At this point, I know better than to proclaim that this is my one, true, best t-shirt pattern. I’ve done that with several patterns before and then my feelings change over time as I see how the garment wears and/or become more particular about fit. (Plus, I clearly love t-shirts and so the likelihood that I will try other t-shirt patterns in the future is very high.) But, I can say that this is probably the happiest I’ve been with a basic t-shirt pattern out of the envelope. I can also say that I really love this bamboo jersey—it’s heavier and more substantial than the rayon jerseys I’ve used but not as stiff and firm as cotton-spandex blends tend to be. Plus, it is super soft. I hope it wears well because these black t-shirts are going to get a workout.

Cashmerette Concord T-shirt

Black Fog

My current sewing project selection process is to simply sew whatever seems interesting to me at the moment. I’ve given up on making sewing plans since I never stick to them. I think when I’m in the process of planning, I tend to be very practical, privileging whatever projects I would most benefit from having in my (very lean) closet. But then when it comes time to actually sew, I find myself completely bored by the practical. The other thing that kills my plans is that my style is changing a bit. When I’m making plans, I end up talking myself out of some of the different cuts and style lines that I find myself drawn to right now and instead come up with lists of projects that reflect the kinds of things that I’ve been safely wearing for years but am now bored with.

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Anyway. When I got the newest issue of Ottobre Woman, I was a little put off because it was pretty much full of things that I cannot ever imagine wearing. Skirts and dresses are always a hard pass for me, but I also hate jumpsuits, anything with a peplum, and especially any kind of cold-shoulder shirt. There are a couple of basic designs in this issue that I might make at some point if I come across the right fabric, but the only thing that immediately jumped out at me was design #5—the Fog Jersey Blouse.

Ottobre Woman 02/2016 Fog Jersey Blouse

This shirt is an A-line tee with a shaped hemline that is basically cropped length at the front. It also has invisible zippers at the side seams, so you can open the side seams up for a deep split. I’m not really sure what drew me to this design, except that I liked the way it hung with the zippers open and that it seemed to strike a nice balance of minimalist with a bit of interest. Regardless, it was what I was interested in sewing, so I didn’t think too hard about the practicality of zippers at the side seams or the fact that I would probably never try on a shirt like this in the store or about whether the neckline was deep enough to be “flattering” for me. I just traced the pattern off and sewed it up in some black cotton jersey I had on hand.

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As far as sizing goes, I traced a size 46 for the shoulders and blended out to a 48 under the arm. The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to shorten the sleeves by 2” to get a true ¾ sleeve length. The magazine describes the sleeves as “cropped,” which I think means that they are sort of bracelet length? It’s hard to tell because the sleeves are pushed up on the model.

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Neckline detail, complete with all the fuzzies black fabric inevitably attracts

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Invisible zipper, partially undone

The neckline is faced with a strip of binding, which results in a nice, clean look. (And it turns out that I really like the shape of the neckline, even if it is higher than I normally wear.) Constructing most of the shirt was a no-brainer. The most time-consuming step was, of course, installing the zippers at the side. I’ve never actually sewn an invisible zipper before. It turns out that what everyone says is true—if you have an invisible zipper foot, it pretty much does all of the work for you. When the zippers are done up, they are actually invisible (although there is some reinforcing stitching at the tops of the zippers, per the pattern instructions, so that definitely makes them less invisible). Of course, I intend to wear the shirt with the zippers open, so no one will really appreciate my work, but that doesn’t make me any less pleased with the outcome on my first two invisible zips.

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This is how the shirt hangs when the sides are zipped up

The shirt is fairly short at the front—all the shorter on me than on the model in the magazine because I didn’t do an FBA to add any length for the bust. But I always planned to wear a tank top or something underneath this, so it’s not a big problem. This isn’t the kind of pattern that I see myself making over and over again, but I do like the shape of it, and I’m glad I gave it a try. Plus, now I can mark “invisible zipper” off my sewing-skills-to-learn list!

Ottobre Woman 02/2016 Fog Jersey Blouse

Camas Blouse

I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it, and bought it immediately–well over a year ago, according to my email records. I even printed it out and put the pdf together right away. But I lost momentum and sort of forgot about the pattern for two reasons: first, I wasn’t sure what would be the best way to adjust the pattern to fit me, and second, I wasn’t confident enough in my sewing and was pretty sure I’d screw up the placket.

Thread Theory Camas Blouse

I pulled the pattern out again last month when Thread Theory hosted a Camas Sew-Along. I didn’t actually manage the “sew-along” part, but I read all of the tutorials and found they addressed all of my concerns with the pattern. And now that I’ve finally finished this shirt, I love it. It’s definitely not perfect, but I still think this is probably the nicest thing I’ve sewn for myself so far.

Thread Theory Camas Blouse

(By the way, the tank top I’m wearing under my Camas in these picks is super “grabby” so the shirt doesn’t look as sleek as it can. I have a much nicer cami that I’ve worn under this when I’ve worn it to work that results in a much smoother look, but it was in the laundry due to an unfortunate Moroccan Stew dribbling incident. Regardless, the neckline of this shirt is pretty low, although the sew-along has instructions for raising the neckline if desired.)

For this shirt, I started with the size 16 and blended out to an 18 for the hips. Then I added an inch of length to both the body and the sleeves.  I also did an FBA following the method described in the sew-along, adding an inch of width to the fronts in the middle of the section that would be gathered into the yokes. This adjustment was really easy to make and works nicely to maintain the silhouette of the shirt. I think 1″ is about the upper limit of what I would add to this pattern–the fronts were pretty densely gathered for me, and I suspect that adding much more width through this method might result in some unflattering “poofing” under the yokes. Also, be careful not to keep the gathering outside of the placket seam allowance. My gathering got caught in the placket seamline on one side and that side doesn’t lay as nicely (although that’s not going to keep me from wearing this).

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The actual pattern instructions are very clear, but the nice thing about the sew-along is that it gives a couple of different options for constructing different part of the shirt. I constructed the placket following the steps in the pattern instructions, but next time, I think I’ll try the second, more streamlined method described in the sew-along. The construction of the shirt is quick and straight-forward up to the placket. I was worried that the placket would be difficult, but it really just takes a bit of time and care.

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The fabric I used is Dakota Stretch Rayon in Plum. I bought it from Fabric.com, but I don’t think this particular color is available any more. It’s a fluid, drapey fabric so it works well for the gathering details. I used knit interfacing for the yokes and placket, but only interfaced the top layer. My button placket is also fake–I just sewed the buttons through both layers of the placket. The fabric is more than stretchy enough for me to just pull this on, so it didn’t seem worth it to mess around with buttonholes.

Thread Theory Camas Blouse

I’ve got more of this fabric in black and am already planning to use it to make another Camas before the fall semester starts. I love that pattern combines the comfort of knits with some interesting design and construction details. I wish there were more patterns like this.

Leggings: Aires and Sammalikko

All of my comfortable lounge/light exercise/work-at-home pants have given up the ghost. They are threadbare, tattered at the hems, riddled with tiny cat-claw snags and holes, stretched out, poorly fitting, and just generally sad-looking. I decided I would make a couple of pairs of simple leggings to replace them and bought a few yards of a medium-weight black cotton-spandex jersey blend at the beginning of the year. I finally got around to my leggings experiment last week and ended up with 3 pairs of leggings from 2 different patterns.

Seamwork Aires Leggings

The first pattern I tried was the Aires Leggings pattern from the January issue of Seamwork. This pattern caught my attention because it has a wide yoke-style waistband (which tends to fit me much better than the simple elastic-casing-style waistband you see on a lot of basic leggings patterns). It also has a crotch gusset for greater movement and the contrast leg bands offer a bit of visual interest without being as complicated as some of the other athletic leggings patterns around.

However, after seeing a couple of finished pairs online and knowing a bit about the fit issues people have had with Seamwork/Colette patterns, I was skeptical that this pattern would fit me well. Rather than cut right into my new fabric, I decided to make a wearable muslin out of a bunch of knit remnants I had on hand–hence the seriously questionable camo color-blocking.

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Sizing and Fit:

I fall right between an XL and a 2X on the Colette size chart and decided to cut a 2X based on the finished measurements. I added about 5″ to the length of the legs and an inch of width at the calf. While sewing, I also removed about .5″ from the front rise before attaching the waistband.

While the fit at the hips indicates that the 2X was the right choice, the waist band is too big for me. (It looks all right in pictures, but doesn’t feel secure enough when I’m wearing these.) Meanwhile, despite adding extra width, the lower legs are still too tight. If I was going to make this pattern again, I would need to take in the waistband and add at least another inch to the lower leg. It’s hard to see in these pictures, but there is some extra fabric at the front crotch so I’d also need to make some adjustments there.

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What I like:

The gusset piece is a nice detail and was very easy to construct. The waistband construction also results in something pretty professional-looking. It is a fully-faced, double-layer waistband with 1/4″ elastic sewn into the outer and inner yoke seam. I actually have a pair of yoga pants with a waistband almost exactly like this. If I made this pattern again, I’d probably cut a smaller size for the waist band, but I think the general shape of the waist band conforms nicely to my body.

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What I don’t like:

  • I think the contrast leg bands on these is too low for me, and I would be happier if it hit higher on my thigh.
  • The way these are constructed makes it difficult to adjust the fit. The legs only have one seam, which means that it’s harder to customize the fit by taking them in a bit here or there. You also can’t really gauge the fit of the waistband until it’s fully constructed.
  • Frankly, these require more work than I find I’m willing to put into a simple garment like this. I’m not opposed to a more involved pattern, but apparently I’m lazy when it comes to leggings. Making these made me wish I had just bought a pair from Old Navy.
  • This was probably the most inefficient PDF pattern I’ve encountered. So much white space that just got cut off and thrown in the recycling bin. Also, 26 pages of instructions? Excessive.

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Ottobre Sammalikko Leggings

So rather than continue to mess around with the Aires pattern, I decided to try the Sammalikko Leggings from the Fall 2014 issue of Ottobre Woman. I cut a straight size 52, using the black jersey I had purchased, and adjusted the fit as I went. I didn’t actually photograph that first pair because, well, they were in the laundry. But, they fit pretty well and once I made the necessary alterations to the flat pattern, my second pair turned out even better.

Ottobre 05/2015 Sammalikko Leggings

(I know this set of photos is cropped weirdly, but my tripod was acting up and there were some landscaping guys lurking around so I settled for weird, crooked pics.)

Sizing and Fit:

Like I said, I cut a straight size 52. I ended up shortening the front rise by 1.25″ and scooped out the front crotch curve. I also shaved about 3/8″ off in the front inseam. I shortened the legs by 3″ (I’m actually taller than the height given on the Ottobre size chart, but their patterns are always too long for me.) The legs on these are cut fairly straight from the knee down, so I ended up tapering the legs more. Finally, when I was sewing this pair, I took them in a bit at the waist by sewing the outseam with a 5/8″ seam allowance through the yoke and tapering back to a 3/8″ seam allowance at the low hip.

 

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What I Like:

I know that seems like I had to make a lot of fit adjustments for a simple pair of leggings, but the pattern is easy to adjust and the initial fit was pretty good–much better than the Aires pattern. That, combined with the straight-forward construction, meant that I was able to fit and sew this pattern in significantly less time than it took me to make the Aires leggings. So this pattern meets my personal requirements for a minimalist, un-fussy leggings pattern.

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I also really like the waistband/yoke. It’s a single-layer yoke with 1″ elastic sewn into a fold-down casing at the top. It may not look as polished as the Aires waistband, but the construction is more streamlined, it’s easier to adjust the fit, and the wider elastic feels more secure. This pattern also has a slightly higher rise, which I find more comfortable and less likely to migrate.

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What I Don’t Like:

Nothing! In future versions, I might shave off just a little more length from the leg or taper them just a bit more. But overall, I’m really happy with the fit. They are, of course, very comfortable and I’m pleased to once again have a pair of lounge bottoms that don’t make me feel gross.

I started doing yoga again, so at some point, I might make a pair of these in a different fabric with even better recovery (a bamboo jersey would be really nice) and actually try inserting the the gusset piece from the Aires pattern–if it works, it would be the best of both worlds!

 

 

My January Sewing, in a single post

I had a big burst of sewing activity before Christmas and spent my time away for the holiday plotting a huge list of things I wanted to make as soon as I got back. But once I was home, my motivation took a nose dive. All told, I managed to finish a single sewing project in January–another pair of Winter PJs for my godson’s birthday.

Jonas PJs

(Adorable PJ photos courtesy of my friend, Nicole)

J is currently very into what he calls “jungle” print, and I got the idea to make these when I saw a camo “jungle” cotton spandex jersey pop up on Girl Charlee. I cut the cuffs and neckband from some leftover black Kaufman Laguna jersey. I made these in a straight size 6. For reference, my friend says J usually wears a size 5 or boys XS.

The only other significant sewing thing that happened in January was that I finally got myself a serger. I’ve been wanting and then talking myself out of getting a serger since I started sewing. I just didn’t feel like I did enough sewing or had enough room to justify a second machine. But the three pairs of Winter PJs I made for our nephews for Christmas (or, more specifically, the tediousness of finishing every seam in triplicate) finally convinced me it was time.

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I went with the ever-popular Brother 1034D. I was a little hesitant to get this machine because I’ve had two lower-end mechanical Brother machines that were pretty crappy and difficult to use. But I’m really happy with this serger so far. It was really easy to get the tension adjusted and I was able to thread it right on the very first go. People have complained that this machine is loud. It’s definitely not quiet, but I don’t think it’s much louder than my regular machine is when I’m using my walking foot (which is most of the time).

I used my new serger to make J’s “jungle” PJs. I didn’t feel confident enough to just serge all of the seams, especially since they were a gift, so I sewed the seams on my regular machine first and then finished them on the serger. I’m feeling confident enough at this point to just use the serger for mostly straight seams but I’m going to need some serious practice before I feel good about serging curved seams. Anyway, I’m excited about my new machine. It’s fun to use.

I’ve got a new project in progress, so the sewing landscape for February is already looking brighter. Maybe I’ll actually finish two whole projects this month!

Ottobre 02/2014 “Till Dawn” Jersey Top

Several months ago, I decided that I could use some shirts in non-neutrals to wear with all of the black and gray cardigans I own. So I found two pieces of rayon jersey in my stash, cut out some pretty simple patterns from Ottobre, and then left the cut out shirts sitting on the end of my ironing board for weeks on weeks on weeks. I finally got around to sewing them up in the week before Christmas. And while one of them was a flop (and was featured as #5 on my Top 5 Misses list), I’m pleased with how this one turned out.

Till Dawn Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014

This is the “Till Dawn” V-neck Jersey Top from the Spring 2014 issue of Ottobre Woman. It is just a basic tank, but uses a half lining (kind of like one of those useless shelf bras that they sometimes put in camisoles) to clean finish the neckline and armholes. I didn’t notice until after I’d cut my fabric out that the pattern calls for a jersey with 30% stretch—the rayon-spandex jersey I used has about 60% stretch. If I was wiser, I would have also taken note of the fact that the pattern photo shows a shirt that skims the body rather than being fitted, and that the tank is fairly long. However, I noticed none of these things and had to adjust for them all after the fact.

Till Dawn Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014

I found the instructions on this pattern a little bit confusing. I’ve never lined a garment like this before and managed to majorly screw up the armholes the first time. I ended up cutting the armhole seams off and re-sewing them the right way. The trick is to imagine the right side of the neckline as your “home position.” From this position, you twist the pieces to get the right sides to match just for the half of the armhole that you are sewing (the other half of the armhole will be enclosed in the fabric), sew the seam, and then turn it right side out so that you are back at your “home position.”

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The instructions for sewing the side seams and attaching the elastic to the bottom of the lining were also confusing and possibly had a step or two missing. I just ignored them and added elastic to the bottom of the lining pieces first, and then sewed up the side seams in one go. I also substituted fold-over elastic for the clear elastic called for in the pattern since it’s more flexible.

As far as sizing goes, I started with the same size blending I’ve been doing with the other Ottobre patterns I’ve made–46 at the shoulders, blended to 48 at armscye, to 50 at waist, to 52 at the hip. I also added ½” of extra length to the center front of the lining, blending to nothing at the sides of the lining piece. Of course, if I had realized before cutting into my fabric that the pattern calls for a jersey with moderate stretch, I would have cut a smaller size. Instead, I just ended up taking this in a ton as I was sewing—I removed a total of 3.5” through the body and pinched out additional width under the arm to remove armhole gape. Ottobre shirts seem to run a bit long for me, but this one was especially so. I cut two inches off the bottom and then folded up a slightly deeper hem then called for.

Till Dawn Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014

Anyway, that seems like a lot of work and detail for a straight-forward tank top, but I like the end result even more than I expected to. It looks a bit more polished than the cheap layering tanks I’ve bought from Old Navy before. I like the color and the fabric and the shape of the neckline is perfect. I’ll definitely be wearing this one a lot this spring.