I Hate to Put a Label on It, But…

I finally did. Behold:

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Style Arc Jasmine trousers – with my label.

It wasn’t easy.

This is my second pair of Style Arc Jasmine trousers, with custom-made labels I got at The Dutch Label Shop. I bought 100 of these labels back in December 2017. The cost was  $33.70, including shipping. (I bought them during a 30% off Black Friday sale. The normal price would have been $46 with shipping.)

I chose red – my favorite color – the Distaff name and my city, New Haven, Connecticut (USA). You can also choose a logo, and I decided after some hemming and hawing to put the astrological symbol for Venus on the labels too, just to drive home the whole “female” point.

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Custom-made labels – ready for projects!

I put the labels in a drawer in my notions and threads organizer. I looked forward to using them. And then I didn’t. I even used a label the Islay Woollen Mill gave me when I bought fabric there to hide my labels, so I wouldn’t have to think about them.

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Lonely labels

I can’t say WHY I didn’t use them. Sometimes I think it’s a bit of an affectation to put your own label on something. Sometimes I am not proud enough of a garment to label it. Sometimes I just don’t want to do the tiny bit of hand sewing necessary – lame excuse, I know.

This week I finally said the hell with it and promptly sewed a label onto three items. Besides the Jasmine pants, I sewed one onto this top from Vogue 9246.

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Label matching – oooh!

And the Osaka skirt from Seamwork Magazine:

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Labeled, bitches!

I am going to label everything from now on. Promise. Three labels down, 97 to go!

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Sew Edgy Trousers

I am continuing to work on my “Sew Edgy” look for the office. Check out these trousers in black wool stretch twill:

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Not your everyday work trousers

(Sorry about the backdrop – our shittily stained fence is as close to “edgy” as my home looks.)

The trousers are a deep black, so it’s hard to see the detail, but trust me when I tell you the fit is just about PERFECT.

The pattern is Style Arc’s Jasmine trousers. This is my second pair. The first ones were pretty good, but I still needed to work out some fit issues. I also wanted to try different fabric, because the first pair, in a wool gabardine with 3% elastane are a little too stretchy. This time I used a black wool twill that I got at B&J Fabrics in New York. Gorgeous stuff! The fabric has 1% elastane for just a little stretch recovery.

I started again with the size 16 because the fit was perfect at the hips, and I took in the rest of the pants a bit from there:

  • 1 1/4 inches at the waistline
  • 1 1/2 inches at the waistband
  • Tapered the sides in 1/2 inch starting 1″ above the bottom of the pocket bags and ending at the knee. (The first pair tend to fit a bit like jodhpurs on me, given my waist-hip-thigh ratios.)
  • Sewed the entire side seams at 5/8 inch instead of 3/8 inch
  • Scooped out the back crotch 1/2 cm and extended the back crotch the same amount
  • Added 1 cm to the top of the center back of the yoke, tapering to nothing at the side seam, so the pants would not dip down a bit in the back.

I sewed a blind hem, hemming at the length the pattern comes in because I wanted to wear with patent-leather loafers for a menswear look. It’s a fine length for me, at 5’6″. I think they might be a bit long – we’ll see.

Also, this time I stay-stitched the back yoke curves because the last time that bias curve stretched out a bit during construction. And I tacked the pocket bag seam allowances down to the insides of the pockets to keep them in place.

One big fail, however, was the button. The pattern calls for one button in the waistband. Last time, I opted for a hook-and-bar closure instead. This time I wanted to do a button because I had a special one in my stash – a heavy gold button with an enameled black band around the outside. I like metal trims for work clothes as part of my Sew Edgy workplace look.

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I sewed TWO practice buttonholes on mocked-up scraps identical to the pants – same fabric and interfacing. They both came out great. When it came to the actual pants, however, no dice. The buttonhole went in wonky and started sewing in place. I ripped it out but accidentally ripped up the fabric of the pants a bit in the process. So now I had a hole in my fabric and no buttonhole. I adjusted the buttonholer to sew less densely and fast, and tried again. Same problem. I ended up doing two hook and bars on the inside and sewed the button as a faux button to the outside to cover up the little hole (which I darned closed). GRR! Tell me the truth – does the button look stupid?

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These pants are a TNT for me for sure! I am delighted to find a pair that fit and wear well yet have all the details of RTW trousers, such as a real fly and pockets. If you’re shaped like me – a bit of a pear – you may also like the way these work for you.

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Obligatory back view  complete with photobombing dog

I want to try a pair with some denim next to see if I can get a jeans look out of them.

Sad-ass Menopause PJs

Here’s my latest glamour-filled sewing project:

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Menopause PJs to the rescue!

This is what happens when desperation + 2 hours + very sheer fabric = project.

Let’s overlook the tunnelling and unevenness of the coverstitched hems, the stretched out neckline and the fact that one leg is slightly shorter than the other, and focus on WHY these PJs came to be.

Damn menopause night sweats are keeping me up. Every night. I was desperate for some lightweight PJs in cool cotton jersey. I bought 4 yards of this featherweight stuff online.

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The sheerest cotton jersey ever

After a particularly bad episode last week, I got home from work, scarfed down dinner and got to work. Two hours later I had a set of PJs. The top is from New Look 6330. The pants are McCall’s 7297. The pants originally were enormous so I cut two sizes smaller and the fit is great.

I have never sewn so fast. It actually took longer to change my BabyLock Evolution from serge mode to coverstitch mode than it did to make the shorts. Let’s say I was motivated. I also didn’t sweat the details – enough sweating going on as it is.

They’re pretty successful so far – definitely better for adjusting temperature than my old PJs. I like a 3/4 sleeve because my shoulders and arms get cold above the covers, while the wide neckline affords easy venting when I sit up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. The shorts keep my bottom just right. And the fabric is so light it wicks away moisture pretty well without getting soggy.

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Back view  – don’t look too closely.

I have enough fabric to make another pair – sounds like another after-work project later this week.

Ending Me Made May with a Whimper

So, it’s been cold here this May. I’d love to lay some of my summery me-made fashions on you this month, but I didn’t want to freeze my ass off. I ended up repeating a few things, so no point in taking pictures again. I did manage a me-made item every day, even though I had a couple of migraines (thank you – me-made PJs and T-shirts).

Here are a few unique looks. First, for the office:

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Head-to-toe Me Made – Style Arc Creative Cate top, Muse Jenna cardigan and Vogue 1312 skirt
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Style Arc Jasmine pants in stretch wool gabardine
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Simplicity 1202 top made from Nicole Miller fabric

For that last one, I was not having a good day at work – or a good hair day, either – sheesh! I was also wearing navy gabardine pants from McCalls’ 6901, but I couldn’t be bothered to get a full shot. Sorry, not sorry.

Here are some looks for home office and weekend wear:

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Kwik Sew 3452 sweatshirt. Yeah it was that cold!
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Breton tee from the GBSB book
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Tunic from Happy Homemade Sew Chic – I finally took off the black lace at the sleeves. Dog still will not pose for selfies.

My favorite look of the last week:

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Tunic from Happy Homemade Sew Chic

I was headed out to a hair appointment and then a baby shower. The skirt is RTW from the Boden catalog. This was the one nice day all week. I made the most of it!

And my “finish weak” look to finish May:

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Cardigan of shame

This cardigan is from Happy Homemade Sew Chic. It was the first knit item I’d sewn in ages, and it’s pretty… rough. For starters, the high-contrast geometric print is only on one side, so it’s not a great choice for anything where the pale and plain wrong side shows. Then there’s the error in factoring in how the pleats would work at the neckline with the fabric – not symmetrical at all. And finally I sewed on this silver clasp (the style of which has nothing to do with the style of the fabric, or the style of the garment) because I thought it would look better if it closed in front. Sure. Whatever.

I finish weak because I believe in showing the good, bad and ugly of my creations. I am not someone who photographs every garment and look to perfection. And I certainly don’t sew everything to perfection, either!

Me Made on Vacation

When I packed for my vacation this week, I was excited to realize that I could do so many coordinating Me-Made outfits. I chose a blue palette and a red palette, and picked pieces from there. Except for one dress and one pair of jeans (and lingerie and socks), everything I packed was Me-Made.

Let’s get to the looks!

At the airport in my Great British Sewing Bee tee and Jalie drop-pocket cardigan
The cardi again, this time with a Vogue top and pants from Happy Homemade Sew Chic
Another Jalie drop-pocket cardi, with a Maria Denmark Edith blouse and Jasmine skirt, which I altered to make button front

Cheers!

Sew Edgy Integrated Belt in Wide-Leg Trousers

I’m continuing my “sew edgy” work wardrobe with some wide-leg trousers that incorporate a cool integrated belt thingy to add a bit of metal and polish.

The pattern is Simplicity 3688, a retro 1940s pattern whose cover model is a dead ringer for ass-kicking Lauren Bacall:

 

I have made these pants before in black denim. I wear them pretty often, but the pattern was really meant for fabric with more drape. This project is using a dark gray linen-rayon blend.

I wanted to modernize these a bit with an integrated belt copied from some RTW Karen Millen pants:

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A built-in belt? Yes please!

This kind of built-in belt is a great option for me, to handle the whole waist-to-hip ratio without the need for an actual belt, which can get bulky and tends to ride up. Here’s how I did it, in case you want to try this at home.

This pattern has a side zip, not a front fly zip, so I wanted to add seams along the front for the belt pieces to sit into. Also, this trouser pattern has a straight, fold-over waistband because it sits high up. If you have a curved waistband or a waistband with a facing, you’ll need to do more tricky changes. (And I have no idea what those might be, sorry.)

Start with the original waistband, all marked with center front and back, side seams, buttonhole and whatnot. Interface it – I used sew-in interfacing because that’s what I had on hand.

Then figure out where you want to add seams for the integrated belt and mark them (straight lines in this picture):

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Original waistband

I used the center-front marking to place the belt seams an equal distance away. Cut the waistband along those lines so the waistband is in three pieces.

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Waistband cut to add seams

Cut a new center-front waistband panel, 2 inches longer than the original to allow for 1/2 inch seam allowances on either side. I am not adding seam allowances to the other waistband pieces, so the center panel needs to have enough runway on its own. Use your center-front marking to be sure it all lines up.

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Add seam allowances and cut a new center front panel

Then make the belts. Because this waistband is a bit skinny, my belt is a bit skinnier than the RTW example. I made two belts – a short one to hold the D-rings and a long one to wrap across the waist, through the rings, and hang down a bit.

I just eyeballed the measurements here, based on the Karen Millen pants. The long belt piece I cut about 16 inches and the short piece about 3 inches, both 2 inches wide, including a 1/4 inch seam allowance, to get a belt about 3/4 inch wide.

I interfaced the belt pieces too, using fusible this time because the pieces are pretty small. I sewed them as two tubes and turned them out. The long one was a bitch to turn out, just FYI.

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I put the two D rings in the short loop, folded it over and basted it closed.

Then I sewed up the the waistband with the new center-front panel, with the belt pieces attached in the seams, and pressed the seams open. The belt will sit in the center of the waistband once it’s folded over and sewn onto the trousers. Be sure to check the seam allowances here – this pattern has 5/8 inch where the trousers attach to the trousers and 3/8 inch on the facing side.

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Completed in-seam belt

Ta da! Now I just need to finish the pants…

Trying New Shapes and Styles for an Edgy Spring and Summer Wardrobe

I tend toward fitted garments. When you’re curvy, you gotta really work your assets, amirite?

But I see all these breezy, loose looks for summer and I think, “Why not me?” Here’s a try at this look:

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Top from Vogue 9246

This top is from Vogue 9246, a “Five Easy Pieces” wardrobe pattern package that also includes two jacket options and two pants options.

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Vogue 9246

(Aside: Every time I see the “Five Easy Pieces” Vogue brand I think of that Jack Nicholson movie of the same name. As if you’d wear any of these clothes to work as an oil rig roustabout. Except for a jumpsuit. Maybe.)

This top hits “edgy” looks for me for a few reason:

  • Deep color and high contrast with the piping
  • Exaggerated shape with cut-on sleeves

It’s not super edgy. I mean, my mom would probably wear this top, but not in this blood-red color. The pattern collection also has wrap pants and a duster, which I like, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Back to the top…

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The yoke seam detail is the only thing that holds any interest for me. I got this in a pattern swap, and it’s normally not my jam, truth be told. I thought that some detail in that yoke seam was essential to make the top work for me. When you’re curvy as I am, you need a detail at the shoulder to balance out a look that would go all boxy otherwise.

I played around with piping that seam. I had some faux leather piping, but it looked a bit much with the red. Same with some black satin piping. But white piping made the top look a bit preppy, which is a whole ‘nother look I am trying to avoid.

Then I found some white twill tape in my stash, and I thought, “Why not?

OK, here’s why not: twill tape is pretty thick, has no stretch or give at all, and just isn’t the sort of thing meant for such a treatment.

So of course I had to use it!

I basted the twill tape onto the yoke pieces, lining up the tape so that the seam would hit at exactly the middle of the tape, where the chevron of the weave breaks.

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Twill tape taking one for the team

I then sewed the seam and topstitched 2 mm above the seam so that the twill tape would lie properly. I like that the tape has this texture and isn’t flat but rather has a bit of movement in the seam.

Let’s talk about fit issues, howevs.

I did a 5/8-inch hollow chest adjustment and a 1-inch high round back adjustment to make this top lie correctly. It sits nicely against my back, but I should have done something to correct for my uneven shoulders. Also, a forward shoulder adjustment could have helped even out the hem line – you can see how it dips up slightly in front.

Overall, though, I like this more than I thought I would. This was a “wearable muslin” top meant to try the fit out. I am planning to make another in a striped white shirting.