I was delighted to be asked to join the Book Tour, following some of my favourite sewing bloggers, for Wendy Ward’s new tome ‘A Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabrics’. This was originally scheduled to happen earlier in the year but was delayed whilst the book went to reprint, as the original run sold out within two days!
I made two garments from the book by way of a review… Read More
Hi all! You’ll have, in all likelihood, seen that Helen of Helen’s Closet has just released the brand new Avery leggings pattern? (And yes, these are the leggings I hinted at in my #2018MakeNine plans post!) They have a smoothing doubled waistband, a gusset for mobility and no side seam meaning this pattern would make a great base layer, yoga pants or your everyday leggings. I love pattern testing for Helen (see my Suki Kimono here); her ethos and work methodology rocks – she really does want to produce Patterns for everyday essentials drafted so they’re accessible for all both in terms of sizing and sewing skill set. Plus the other sewists in her pattern testing team are fabulous…I’m guaranteed to learn something from their collective wisdom and feedback in the testing process. So, yes! Spoiler alert : Read More
This make is still very much in the theme of ‘Summer Sewing’ as I made them to take on our family holiday. Even in the heat, I don’t want to wear dresses or shorts everyday. I wanted lightweight breathable casual trousers with pockets and preferably cuffed ankles, along the lines of the SOI Carrie Trousers but without needing to buy their online trouser course just to get that pattern. After some searching, I found Simplicity 1887.
These trousers have some nice features – whilst the waistband is elasticated, they have a flat central panel which is way more flattering. Plus there are several variations in terms of length – including the option to make shorts – a pretty waist tie and a very simple skirt pattern all in the same envelope.
Be warned : there is a spectacular amount of ease in this pattern! When I’m reunited with my sewing machine I may yet alter these again but for now they’re still getting plenty of wear. I made View A, with the elasticated cuffs in a lovely soft and reasonably opaque viscose.
So, following on from happily fitting my McCalls 6696 Shirtdress , I really wanted to fit a basic trouser / pant; I felt I’d learnt a lot about fitting the upper half of my body but that the lower half was still shrouded in mystery. I say ‘shrouded in mystery’, what I mean is shrouded in massively oversized RTW boyfriend jeans – or lets be honest, PJ bottoms. I had no idea just how littleidea I actually had about the size and shape of what lurked beneath!
I thought I was slim hipped, perhaps a bit short legged and with a backside not as pert as it once was (no doubt getting off it now and again would help in that department!) But that was about the sum total of my analysis. Just how hard could pant fitting be I blithely wondered? I’d found the perfect fabric; a gorgeous mid weight stretch cotton from a local shop and I was raring to go!
Well let’s just say I thankfully know more now than I did then. Now, straight off the bat, I have to say HUGE thanks to Anya (@anna.zoe.sewing) for helping me out so much. I’d emailed her a couple of very unflattering close up pics of my behind encased in my first pants toile (a #buttfie no less 😉 She sent back an incredibly detailed and helpful response. Gah, does that women know how to fit pants! If she ever designs her own range, get it!
A rather lessunderwearrevealing Instagram shot of my first toile than the one I sent Anya…which also garnered so many helpful responses!
Anya’s advice was spot on! She very delicately pointed out that I perhaps had ‘athletic calves’ which was leading to excess fabric getting stuck above on the thigh and gently let me know that some of the issues with fabric pooling under my backside was due to it being a tad low and flat.
She wasn’t wrong! I slashed one of my pant legs from hem to the top of my calf to see just how much extra width was needed there. Immediately the whole trouser leg just settled much better – I needed over an inch more!
And yes, my backside is indeed a bit low and flat. Anya advised that I needed to take out the excess fabric there and then add it back in at the widest part of my calf (so that front and back leg pieces remained the same length).
I’ve also learnt that my inner thighs are disproportionally smaller than the rest of my leg. My waist is generally in a higher size bracket (*tuts*) than my hip and I already knew I had swayback issues. Mmm tricky trickster in terms of fitting then!
Toiles 2 and 3 quickly followed. I was using the basic Cigarette Pant pattern from the Gertie Sews Vintage Casual book simply because I had it to hand and it’s such a basic draft. Altogether, I graded between three sizes overall, reshaped the back crotch, slashed a ‘Y’ incision in the back leg to create the extra calf room, moved out the excess fabric from under my bum and did a swayback adjustment to make the waistline at both pant back and front parallel to the floor.
Of course I also did a bit of online research into ‘low seat’ and ‘flat butt’ adjustments. Can we please just take a moment to look at the variety of recommended modifications out there for these two issues…from the simple looking to the not so simple!
I wasn’t totally happy with toile 3 but figured I was now wasting my time, procrastinating and faffing as much as anything. And my toile fabric was markedly different to the stretch cotton I was planning to use, which I hoped would be fairly forgiving, so I figured I needed to just bite the bullet and get on with it. Quite frankly toile No 4 would have had the Men in White being called for. So I attached the pockets and pocket facings and then literally basted in all other seams to check fit. I was fairly happy so proceeded to sew them together properly.
The pattern calls for an invisible centre back zip and a waist facing. I put in the zip but drafted a waistband instead of the facing. I basted it on, decided it was too high and didn’t allow enough room for pasta binges and so drafted another. I left a fairly wide tab at the back so the waistband can be adjusted a bit too. Again, pasta. (I married a Sicilian!)
So there we have it. I’m happy enough with them. They’re super comfy and decidedly more flattering than my baggy jeans. Though they’re not at all perfect, I love ’em. They actually look better (less wrinkly) in real life than they do in these pics. I might tweak the pattern again (if I can be arsed, every pun intended) but I’m much more likely to try another. In fact I’ve got one altogether different summer trouser pattern coming to my cutting table (aka the dining table) very soon. And for the first time ever I feel I can justify making my own jeans…just got to decide on which pattern! A whole new world of sewing possibilities has just opened up now I’ve got a more considered view of myself and some idea of the techniques involved in altering pants to fit.
A few weeks ago I had no idea that missing from my sewing plans/pattern stash, nay indeed missingfrommylife, was a pair of culottes. I would have scoffed at any such suggestion. However, after reading the lovely Anya’s experience of pattern testing the Winslows and loving her versions, I began to find myself stalking this pattern online, quickly finding other gorgeous versions floating around the blogosphere. But it was a PDF only pattern which I had a long-standing aversion to. Don’t ask me why as I have no idea why. I mean, really, why?! PDF patterns are awesome! From that first rush of instant gratification on downloading the pattern, to realising, duh, that I wouldn’t have to trace it off. I always trace my paper patterns in order to preserve the original, a process I find incredibly tedious. The Winslow pattern is layered, meaning you have the option of printing just one size. Helen also stipulates which pages you need to print for which length as well, so there’s no need to print the whole thing. I found sticking the pattern together way preferable to fighting with huge pieces of tracing paper. I’m a total and utter convert.
As to the pattern itself, it’s brilliant. I could end this post here. Get this pattern. You too have a culotte shaped hole in your life.
But I’ll be more specific as I like, clickety–clack, typing away.
There are a few length variations, as you can see from Helen’s gorgeous artwork above, ranging from shorts to full length palazzo style trousers. I went for the midi length which is the view that captivated me from the off. A ‘skirt’ in which I can slouch indecorously with no danger of flashing my underwear? Yes please. The pattern states that it’s designed for the median height of 5 ft 6″. I’m 5 ft 3″ and a bit. Yes, andabit. I didn’t remove anything from the length though (apart from what my serger trimmed off).
Helen’s instructions, and accompanying Sewalong posts, are pleasingly detailed; they don’t just instruct you on what to do but explain how to do it as well. This pattern should hold no fear for inexperienced sewers (sewists? What do we call ourselves?) This make was also the first time I fully utilised my new overlocker/serger on a proper project. You don’t absolutely need one for this pattern but using one certainly makes a difference to the finishing. The construction is really pleasureable, something hypnotically methodical about constructing each leg piece (two front, two back, four pocket pieces and an interfaced waistband being the sum total of the pattern pieces) before bringing the whole thing together, then attaching the waistband and zipper.
Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes
Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes
This was my first time putting in an invisible zipper. Seriously. Feel free to roll your eyes. I watched a You Tube video from Aneka at Made to Sew . It’s nearly 43 mins long but, trust me, watching it is akin to having a private one-to-one lesson. By the time I went to insert it I was fully confident I’d do it. It was perfect and I had one of those fist-pumping moments, waving it in front of the husband’s nose, whilst doing my happy dance. He grunted appreciatively and carried on watching the TV.
Putting them on and doing up the zip, they fitted perfectly, sitting at the natural waist. The only thing that lets this project down is the fabric. And I hate to say that because I loved it when it first arrived. However pre-washing and air-drying it put in wrinkles that no iron can press out. Ever. Sad face. However it was inexpensive so I’m considering these a wearable muslin. I’m already sourcing more for my next pairs. Pairs, plural.
Helen has also blogged about hacking this pattern into a jumpsuit which looks incredible. I immediately had ‘the vision’ – you know what I’m talking about – so this will definitely figure in my sewing plans at some point.
Are you still reading? Buy this pattern already!
Until next time
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