Pattern Matching Tricky Bits! My latest Carolyn Pajamas…and a Giveaway!

I’ve sewn another pair of Carolyn Pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns! It’s been years since sewing my last pair and they finally gave up the ghost. I’ve sewn a few knitwear PJs lately (see here) but I really wanted another classic, more tailored, set. The Carolyns are a more involved sew which satisfies my itch to get deeper into a project; time that I know will be repaid in a garment that should survive years of repeated wash and wear!

(And yes, I really wished I’d cut out in the opposite direction! It really bothered whilst I was sewing them up – thankfully though, it bothers me not a jot in the wearing ‘cos at least the books are faced so I can ‘read’ them when looking down at my bottoms!)

My first two iterations of this pattern were sewn from the easier of the three Views (View A). This time around I wanted the full works – cuffs and piping! I chose this book print broadcloth fabric, or rather it chose me, as at the end of every day, I’ll declare “I’m off to bed to read!” Given the ‘busyness’ of the print, I wasn’t particularly bothered about pattern matching generally, however I did want to match the breast pocket, which is both cuffed and piped, so it wouldn’t look ‘off’.

I thought I’d share with you how I pattern match trickier pieces like this – taking photos of each step of the process to clarify how straightforward it really is – ‘strap yourself in’ though as there’s a few of them as I also thought I’d illustrate a closer look at how the cuffed pocket is constructed at the same time! In reality, the doing is a quick process, promise!

Piping and a pattern matched breast pocket
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Two pairs of Morgan Jeans … and a chat about Raw Denim

Hi! I’ve finally got around to writing this post having been bed-ridden for 9 days straight with the worst flu I’ve ever had – I say flu, but I really don’t know – it was the weirdest case of flu ever! But thankfully I’m back to normal now (‘normal’ being a relative term, obvs!)

Sarah Smith v Raw Denim, Round 1

[*EDIT : this post has been amended retrospectively to take into account, lessons learned since initially writing it!]

I’ve sewn a few pairs of skinny jeans in my time (using the Eleanore stretch pants pattern by Jalie – see here) but I really felt my wardrobe was lacking a relaxed pair; my last RTW ones having finally fallen apart! The Morgan ‘boyfriend’ jeans have a traditional coin pocket and button fly and are suited to a roll-up hem – in other words, exactly what I was looking for. PDF duly purchased!

Have you sewn jeans before? If not, are you intimidated by the idea? I’ve got to say from the off, in terms of actual sewing, making jeans is not difficult. And I found the Morgan instructions to be absolutely faultless; which of course helps – in fact, I find sewing jeans a methodical and therefore joyfully therapeutic process. All that lovely topstitching for example!

I will say, having the right notions and tools for the job really makes a difference though; I found my Hump Jumper / Bulky Seam Aid absolutely came into its own with this project, ensuring that my sewing machine foot navigated bulky seams with ease and ensuring that my topstitching didn’t ‘skip’. A seam guide (the 1/4″ mark is particularly useful) and a fabric marker (I used my Clover Chalk Pen) are also incredibly useful for marking your double topstitching lines so you can sew them equidistant.  You will also need good quality jean topstitching thread (choosing your colour is fun in itself!) I used these rivets and these ‘laurel wreath’ jeans buttons. (If you’re unsure how they’re installed; I use the same method as in my Snap tutorial – no hammer required!)

To my mind, the hardest part of sewing jeans is not the construction; it’s not even, technically speaking, the fitting of the jeans – it’s accounting for the particularity of your chosen raw denim. Raw denim, being 100% cotton, tends to relax substantially throughout the day  – so what fitted perfectly in the morning may be a baggy mess by the evening. Conversely, a pair that has marginal breathing room over breakfast fit beautifully come dinner  – or so I’ve found! Which can make ‘seeing’ what fit adjustments you need to make that bit trickier!

Using fabric scraps leftover from my Panda Pajamas for the pockets and waistband

The weight of your denim is really important then. I would say for this particularly pattern, you don’t want to use anything less than 10 oz. Mine for both pairs – was 9.5 oz – I didn’t think that half ounce would make a real difference but it does feel too lightweight for the cut of these pants  – if I sew this pattern again, and I’m sure I will with further mods, I think I’d be looking for something substantially firmer – between 10 – 11 oz, as these are likely to have less ‘give’.

Let me talk you through my experience – I’ve sewn the Morgans twice now with different adjustments – and I’ve washed and worn both pairs loads

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The Sallie Jumpsuit by Closet Case Patterns – Makes Me Feel a Sassy Lassie!

This is the first of my makes under the umbrella of this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer Challenge (if you missed Suzy’s review of the Zadie Jumpsuit, you can catch that HERE )

I opted to sew the Sallie Jumpsuit by Closet Case Patterns for my first jumpsuit pattern; I’m something of a fangirl of CCF, so it seemed an apt place to start. However, the resultant make has proved to be somewhat of a divisive garment in my household! The verdict is split strictly down the middle between the sexes – my daughter and I love it; in fact when she first saw me in it, she insisted that I demonstrate it by strutting my stuff, catwalk-style, across the Lounge! But my son’s verdict was “it’s a bit weird” and my husband said he wasn’t sure he liked it. Does this split-verdict make me feel differently about it in anyway? No, it does not. Frankly it almost feels immaterial what I do or don’t look like in it, or what anybody else thinks about it because, in wearing it, I feel absolutely bloomin’ fantastic..

… a totally empowered Sassy Lassie, if you will!

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Getting Crafty Again! Sewing a Machine Cover for my Serger / Overlocker…

Ah finally the six weeks of bedlam and mayhem that constitutes the summer holidays are over! The minute the children were shooed on their way back to school, I took a sweeping look at the devastation left in their wake and took to frenzidly cleaning, tidying and organising the house. And, of course, once that was sorted, my attention turned to my sewing space!

It’s not that long ago I assembled my ‘bijou’ sewing area – the beginning of the year in fact. But, like my middle-aged waistline, the area has continued to expand! It seems I’d consoled myself with having my sewing time curtailed during the school break with planning; buying a shedload of fabric and patterns, as well as a number of new sewing tools.

So my sewing space got a bit of a makeover too! And as part of that I decided to get crafty and sew myself a new machine cover for my serger, using the free downloadable pattern from Closet Case Files. Read More

Carolyn Pajamas : Sewing the Collar & Lapels – a Photo Tutorial type thingy!

I’ve sewn two pairs of Carolyn PJ’s to date with a third pair in my sewing queue. I think it’s fair to say my love for this pattern has been well documented both here on my blog and over in my Instagram feed! A few of you have commented that you’re keen to sew them up too but are perhaps a little daunted at the prospect of constructing the notched collar/lapel. I know I certainly was at the start!

So I took photos of the main steps in the process of sewing the collar and lapel when I made my second set, which I thought I’d share here in case anybody else would find it useful. And, let’s be honest, as an aide-memoire to myself in case my ageing/befuddled brain forgets everything by the time I get around to the third pair!  Seriously! Certainly it’s not meant as a substitute for the pattern instructions or the really useful post on the Closet Case Files blog, which are both really excellent. I guess I’m hoping this just aides what you will find there; I’m a very visual person so the more photos or diagrams from different perspectives that I can study when approaching a new technique, then all the better! If you’re the same, then this is for you! :-))

Enough waffling, let’s sew already!

1. You’ve already part constructed the collar. Now comes the part where you join the bottom collar to the shirt. Take care to match notches and circles. Just take it slowly, stop occasionally with your needle down, lift your presser foot and adjust your fabric as you sew so your seam is nice and neat.

Collar lapels Carolyn Pajamas closet case files sewalong

2. At the centre back neckline, you want to make sure that your top collar slightly overlaps your just-sewn seam so it’s completely hidden. Topstitch.

Collar lapels Carolyn Pajamas pyjamas

3. Pin and baste each side shirt neckline/top-collar seams.

Sewalong tutorial closet case files collar lapels

4. Once you’ve finished the raw outside (straighter) edge of your lapel facings as directed in the pattern instructions, pin lapels to shirt fronts, right sides together, being ultra careful to ensure you are again matching circles. Pin and sew from the bottom. You will need to curve your lapel when you reach the top to join your previously basted side neckline/collar seams. Make sure you STOP sewing when you reach the shoulder seam.

Closet case files sewalong tutorial Carolyn pajamas

5. Notch and grade seams and turn right side out. When you press make sure your seam lines are pressed away from the visual front to the underside. Remember, on your lapel, this changes at the point where the first button will go. use your button guide pattern piece to determine where this is.

Sewalong tutorial Carolyn pajamas pyjamas

6. Then wrap under the raw edge of the remaining lapel ‘flap’, placing it over, and matching up with, the line of the shoulder seam (securing in place with WonderTape helps), then stitch in the ditch from the outside. It’s also worth noting that when you sewed your shoulder seams earlier on in the construction process, the pattern instructions don’t mention finishing the seam. But, do! 

Carolyn collar shoulder seam.jpg

Tada!!!! All done!!! You will enclose the lapel facings and topstitch around the entire edge of the lapels and collar at the very end (if you’ve got an edgestitch or stitch in the ditch foot, all the better!)  There’s nothing else fiddly or head-scratchy with this pattern, honest!

Let me know, was this in any way useful?!

If you’re wondering how to pattern match the cuffed breast pocket of View B & C, I also have a tutorial on that here.

Until next time,

Sarah X

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