31 March 2013

Jeans #9 (Part 3 - back)

Before I get into part 3 (which is pretty short), I'd like to answer Natalea's question about the weight of my denim.  I like to use denim that weighs at least 12 ounces with no more than 25% stretch across the grain.  My second pair of jeans are made out of thin, lightweight denim and they don't have enough heft for my taste.  If you are purchasing denim online, definitely order a swatch first and make sure the fabric is heavy enough!

Back (30 minutes)

This part is really quick and simple.  The directions say to press the seam toward the back, but I pressed and serged mine toward the yoke.  I wanted the bulk of the seam to lay on the left of the flange on my blindhem foot so that I can topstitch first line.

As mentioned before, the seam allowances in this pattern are 3/8", so I don't cut off any fabric when serging.  If I did, I wouldn't have much on which to topstitch.

When topstitching this part, the garment is to the right of the needle.  I don't find it too much of a problem to handle.

This is all I have for now.  Next up is the construction of the front pockets.  There's a slight delay with proceeding, though.  I forgot to wash the pocket lining fabric with the last load of laundry and the water heater issue has not been resolved.  I might just wash it by hand so that I can keep going. I am really, REALLY trying to be Zen about this, though my patience is wearing thin...kinda like my second pair of jeans.


27 March 2013

Jeans #9 (Part 2 - back pockets)

The instructions for J2908 are nicely divided into sections that feature the part of the jeans being made:  back pockets, back, front pockets, fly, side seams, belt loops, and waistband.  As I continue to document the process, I will follow this progression of construction and blog about each part separately.

Back Pockets (1 hour, 31 minutes)

Designing the back pockets of jeans is the most time consuming part of the process for me.  I spend a lot of time scouring the internet for images that I think are cool and easy replicate.  I've got some ideas about future pairs of jeans that may involve embroidery, hot-fix crystals, eyelets, and applique - not all at the same time!  Here, I only counted the time it took to physically draw the design, transfer it to the pockets, and sew.

1.  I made a copy of the back pattern piece and added seamlines (3/8").  

I also cut out a piece of transfer paper in the same shape of the pocket. This made it easier for me to ensure everything was lined up properly.

2.  Next, I free-handed a design onto the blank copy of the pocket and traced it with a serrated tracing wheel.

As you can see, I only traced one set of lines.  I used the guide on my presser foot to stitch the other lines. 

 3.  The fabulous Lisa of Sew On and Sew On posted a tutorial on how she preps and sews her back pockets.  I do mine a little bit differently.  Instead of stitching on the seamlines, I serge all of the edges and use this as my guideline.  The seam allowances on this pattern are 3/8" and while my serging is a bit more narrow than that, I don't have a problem folding over the necessary amount.  I also don't interface the top part of the pocket.  I haven't had a problem with the pockets stretching out, though this is something I will probably start doing on future pairs.

I didn't backstitch at the beginning or end of any line of sewing.  I know...I know...the horror!  I figure these edges are going to get turned under, pressed, and topstitched.  I think the stitches are pretty safe. =)

4.  Next I fold under 3/8" and press.  I am very generous with steam here because I want everything to stay nice and flat.  I also trimmed all of the loose threads.  Pin the pocket to the back at the marked dots.

5.  Whenever I topstitch, I use both a regular zigzag foot as well as a blindhem foot.  The blindhem foot has a little flange on the bottom that can be used as a guide along the edge of the fabric.  I sew the first line of topstitching with this foot and use the zigzag foot to sew the second line. 

To keep from having to change the foot often, I sewed the first line of topstitching for both pockets, then sewed the second line using the other foot.

6. I rarely put anything in my back pockets, but I still like to have a bit of security at the corners since they are points of stress.  To secure this area, I topstitch a little square through all layers.

7.  Finally I press both pockets with lots of steam to set the stitches.

That's as far as I've gotten with the jeans.  I still need to finish my Vogue skirt and whip up something for Faye's Top Sew Along.  Y'all know Faye hosts the best sew alongs, right?!

Time recap:

prep - 33 minutes
back pockets - 91 minutes

Total time:  2 hours, 4 minutes

Until next time, peace!


24 March 2013

Jeans #9 (Part 1 - prep)

That's eight pairs of Jalie 2908.  Eight.  What can I say?  I love making and wearing jeans.  

Currently, I only wear five of the eight because one pair stretched out so much that I can take them off without unzipping or unbuttoning.  The other two are too small because...well...chocolate happens.

So I'm working on #9.  This time around, I've decided to carefully document the time it takes to make one pair and photo the process as I go along.  Oftentimes people ask me how long it takes to make them and I never have an answer.  A few hours?  A few days?

Prepping the Fabric (time not counted)

I always wash and dry my denim three times before I cut.  I learned to do this after my first pair shrunk considerably after I made them.   I like the hem of my jeans/pants to touch the top of my shoes.  This pair shows way too much shoe.  

I don't add any fabric softener or conditioners to the water.  After the third drying session, I immediately remove the fabric from the dryer and iron out all of the wrinkles.  I've found that leaving the fabric in the dryer causes some (most?) of the wrinkles to set.

I didn't time this part because I washed and dried over a couple of weeks.  I try to combine loads as much as possible so I only handled the denim when I had something to wash.

Cutting Out the Pieces/Prepping Machines (33 minutes)

Since I've made this pattern so many times already, cutting out didn't take much time.  The pieces are already prepared and altered to fit.  I still have to cut out the pocket lining and interfacing.  I'll add this in a separate section.

To sew jeans (or anything with topstitching), I set up three machines.  I usually sew the seams first, serge them together, press the seam to one side, then add a double row of topstitching. 

older picture of machine set-up for jeans sewing

That's all I have for now.  I started designing the back pockets and will share those details in the next post.   Currently I'm working on my last UFO (Vogue 8426) which I'm making in denim and including lots of topstitching.  I hope to finish that soon, but I think I'm getting sick so we'll see how that goes.

Until next time, peace!


21 March 2013

First Fabric Purchase of 2013

I held out until a week ago.  That's progress for me - seriously.  The temptation was definitely there.  Online carts have been filled and emptied and filled again...only to be automatically emptied after timing out.  I've been to fabric stores with bolts in hand, waiting at the cutting counter.  I didn't purchase a single inch until now and I'm happy about what I bought.

The first four fabrics are knits.  I have a bunch of knit dress patterns in queue and I hope to include some of these fabrics in my sewing plans.  Sure I have ITY on hand, but the lengths are too short for some of the dresses I'd like to make.

The last fabric is 1.5 yards of lime green linen and this is for another skirt with pintucks.  I made a skirt from Stitch Magazine (never blogged...bad blogger) that I really liked.  Unfortunately the invisible zipper had a run-in with the lining and the rest is a shredded mess.  The skirt is still wearable, but the inside where the zipper and lining battled looks terrible.  I suppose I could put in a new lining... =)



17 March 2013

Google Reader & Following Blogs

This week's internet buzz surrounded the announcement that Google is abandoning Google Reader.  I have a minor in Computer Science, taught programming with C++ and have no idea what this announcement means!  To stay current on the blogs I follow, I use the blog roll that appears on the right side of my blog.  It's updated whenever someone posts something new to their blog.  Rarely do I sign in to Google and check out the "reader area."  

I have questions!

1.  If Google Reader is closing, does that mean my blog roll won't be updated?

2.  I've noticed a few people switch to Bloglovin'.  What's that? =)

3.  Has anyone tried Google Takeout - the application that's supposed to let you save the names/links of people you follow and that follow you?



11 March 2013

Simplicity 1945 (UFO): Complete

Pattern love in effect!  This is such a great pattern with all of the variations in garments to be made.  From the cowl neck top to the dolman sleeve cardigan to the pleated wrapped top, what's not to like about this pattern?  

Fabric & Notions
  • a little less than 2 yards of rayon-lycra jersey
  • serger & thread

Alterations & Fit

I made a muslin out of some thicker rayon-lycra jersey that I had from an older project.  I cut and sewed a straight size 16 according to my bust measurements.  The top is a bit roomy in the back, but that's because I didn't do a swayback adjustment.  I didn't make an FBA or do any adjustments at all.  I think the fit is pretty good.  There are a couple of wrinkles near the bust, but I think that's to be expected since the sleeves are raglan-style instead of set in.


There's not much to sewing this pattern.  I didn't take any in-progress shots because it sews up very quickly.  There are five pieces:  bodice front/back, sleeve front/back, and the cowl.  If you've ever sewn a simple knit shirt, sewing this is just as easy.  

The cowl is HUGE and cut in a single layer of fabric on the bias.  Since I had enough fabric to make another top, I opted to cut this cowl on the straight grain.  The drape doesn't appear to be affected by this.


I love love love this top!  I wore it under my Vogue 1036 jacket.  My students wondered why I was so "dressed up" today.  Jeans and a denim jacket is dressed up?  I think I am officially OLD.


UFO Tally:

1.  Beignet (relinquished back to Area 51)
2.  Simplicity 2648
3.  Simplicity 1945 (needs coverstitching)
4.  Jalie 2559
5.  Vogue 8426 (on deck)
6.  Simplicity 2804
7.  BWOF 9-2009-134

Until next time, peace!


10 March 2013

Simplicity 2804 (UFO): Complete

I'm knocking these bad boys out of the park...or Earth...or whatever.  =)

This is a hybrid of the top and both dresses.  I used the lower band from the v-neck dress and added the cowl from the other dress.  The combination works well, though the top is way too big.  I have to take off about an inch and half from the side seams and reattach the band to make it look right.  In the photo above, this is how I want it to fit.  I tucked the extra fullness into the skirt to give myself an idea of how I want it to look.  Otherwise, it's a giant sack. 

I don't know if I'll wear this often.  I'm not feeling the print.  At all.   It's too...something that I don't like.

I used about 1.75 yards of ITY and constructed the top completely on my serger.  Aside from that, there's really not much else to this top.  I made the dress before and absolutely love it!  I also made the v-neck top and loved it at the time.  The neckline stretched out something awful and I haven't worn it since.

This is a good pattern, but it's now out of print.  If you happen to see one online or at Simplicity.com on sale, pick it up!

UFO Tally:

1.  Beignet (relinquished back to Area 51)
2.  Simplicity 2648
3.  Simplicity 1945 (needs coverstitching)
4.  Jalie 2559
5.  Vogue 8426 (on deck)
6.  Simplicity 2804
7.  BWOF 9-2009-134

Even though I still have a couple of UFOs to finish, I started working on another pair of jeans.  The last three UFOs weren't satisfying and I need something to keep my sewjo in effect.  More on that later!

Until next time, peace!


08 March 2013

BWOF 9-2009-137 (UFO): Complete

It's finished, but I don't think this pattern works for me - at least not in the fabrics I've selected. 


I made this back in 2011, but the fabric made the garment a disaster.  The amount of polyester in the fabric created unsightly wrinkles that were difficult to remove.

In theory, this is a cute skirt.  But in practice I'm 0-2 and that's enough for me to move on.

Fabric & Notions:
  • 1.5 yards of rayon-poly-lycra (O_o) woven
  • 1.5 yards Bemberg Ambiance
  • 7" invisible zipper
  • two strips of fusible interfacing for the zipper area
  • walking foot
  • 70/10 microtex needle

I know, I know.  I hate polyester.  It's true.  Polyester is the devil in fabric form.  However, this rayon-poly stretch woven is SO nice to sew.  I don't quite know how much polyester is in the fabric, but it must not be enough to cause problems.  This fabric holds a press well and doesn't melt at high temperatures.  Unfortunately the cream version of this fabric makes every wrinkle extremely visible.  Remember this?

Yeah.  Exactly.


I added a 1.25" wedge at the center back as a full seat adjustment.  I completely forgot to shorten the skirt before cutting my fabric.  Even without a hem, the dress is too long for me.  My solution involved lopping off about 2 inches from the bottom.  Meh.  I'm not a fan.  The proportions on this don't seam right:  there's a little flounce and a lotta back.  Not the look I was going for.

Seam Allowances:

BWOF magazine patterns do not include seam allowances.  Since I have to make adjustments to almost everything I make, this is actually a good thing.  You can make your alterations and true everything up right at the seamline.  I used half-inch seam allowances along the side seams and waist. I used a 3/8" seam along the edge where the lower and upper halves are joined. I found it much easier to sew this seam and didn't need to do any clipping.


I finished the raw edges on my serger first and then sewed the seams on my machine.  All seams were pressed open except for the seam joining the flounce to the back.  I used a rolled hem on both the lining and shell.  By this time I was over the skirt and ready to move on.


It's not a wadder...yet.  I'll give it a couple of wears and see how I like it.  Otherwise, someone is getting two cream rayon poly lycra woven skirts for free. 

UFO Tally:

1.   Beignet (relinquished back to Area 51)
2.  Simplicity 2648
3.  Simplicity 1945 (needs coverstitching and cowl)
4.  Jalie 2559
5.  Vogue 8426 (on deck)
6.  Simplicity 2804 (needs coverstitching)
7.  BWOF 9-2009-134

Until next time, peace!

05 March 2013

Wearing the Dress & Jacket (Photos)

Since I had an appointment yesterday, I thought it would be a good chance to get all prettified and snap some photos of me wearing the newly finished dress and jacket.  

I had to lighten the photos because the lighting in my hallway is terrible.  As I mentioned before, the dress is too big - so much so it's no longer flattering.  I might take it in at the princess and side seams.  Here, you can see part of my bra showing on the side.  Meh.

As for finishing UFOs, the Beignet skirt is a wash.  I don't love it anymore and find no need to put any more energy into it.  Besides, I am so ready to start something else.  My next projects will be a simple 3-piece knit dress and another pair of jeans.  This will help me restart my sewjo after knocking out the rest of these UFOs.


03 March 2013

Jalie 2559 (UFO): Complete

Well...almost.  I need to topstitch the front and work the buttonholes.  I ran out of thread and I hate going to JoAnn's for something so small. The topstitching will make this look so much better on the front.  Until I get more thread, here are a couple photos:

The magenta fabric is silk charmeuse draped over my dress form. I envisioned making this into a magenta, grey, and cream collection.  I still may follow through on those plans for fall, but for now I want to focus on other things.  On with the review...

Sewing this jacket wins the royal PITA award, hands down.  Bad fabric can kill all of my sewjo, but I was determined to not be defeated by this one.  The jacket fabric is lovely, but the lining is just awful.  Awful I tell you!  It has too much static and shocks the shit out of me if I handle it too much.  I don't have ANY carpet in my house either.  

Fabric & Notions:
  • about 2 yards of charcoal gray rayon-poly-lycra woven
  • 2 yards of stretch polyester charmeuse for lining
  • 2 11" x 3" bias strips of cotton batting for sleeve heads
  • stretch fusible interfacing for facings, collar, and hems
  • size 70/10 microtex needle  

Alterations & Fitting:
I met Jeanne Binet (owner and founder of Jalie Patterns) during PR Weekend Montreal.  Upon asking her about the size I should use for tops/jackets, she took a couple of measurements and emphatically shouted, "Zed!  Zed!  Zed!"  I did not question her expertise and cut a straight size Z.  This size corresponds to my full bust measurement and the fit in the bust is spot on.  The shoulders are not too wide, though the upper back is a bit broad.  I fixed this by taking a slightly larger seam allowance in this area, tapering back to the normal seam allowance at the waist and hip.  As for other alterations, I made a 5/8" swayback adjustment and shortened the sleeves 1.5".  

Minor Tailing Details:
I talked about a bit of tailoring in this postReally, it's very minor!  I added a back stay for structure, fused interfacing to the jacket and sleeve hems, and inserted sleeve heads.  When I make this again, I will tape the lapel and collar roll lines.

Bagging the Lining:
Oh my gosh!  I had an a-ha moment upon following Jalie's instructions.  Finally, this technique makes sense!  The instructions call for a "partial" bagged lining in that the jacket hem is left open and both the lining and shell hems are finished by hand.   I started to finish the hem like this and realized quickly realized how uninterested I was in doing that much hand sewing.  Instead, I opened up one side seam on the lining, stitched the jacket hem and lining hems together using a 5/8" seam, and turned the jacket right side out through the opening in the side.  So.  Much.  Better.  I can handle a bit of slip-stitching in a place where no one would ever see it.  The hem tends to want to "unfold" itself, if that makes any sense.  I don't know what I did wrong there, but I'll figure it out before I try this technique again.

Changes for Next Time:

No interfacing in the seams
Now that I've worked with this fabric, I definitely know what I will do differently next time.  First, I will not include interfacing in the seam allowances.  While I like the heft that this particular stretch interfacing provides, it makes the seams way too bulky and hard to press.  Turning a nice corner was also difficult and did not produce good results.  The corners on the collar and lapels are okay, but can be much better without the extra thickness.

Flannel or fleece for sleeve heads
While the cotton batting is nice and not too thick, it just doesn't have enough stretch to prevent puckers.  Even after considerable amounts of steam, the puckers still show through.

No polyester lining
I'll have to find some way to reconcile the stretch of my fabric with the non-stretchability of my lining.  I'm willing to fight that battle if that means polyester lining is banished from any and all projects.  The static cling and persistent electric shocks are simply not worth it.

Finish edges and press seams open
The jacket will hang and press much more nicely if I do it this way.  It'll take longer, but I think this finish is worth the effort.

Jalie drafts are exceptionally great.  I recommend their patterns without reservation.  I can see many more versions of this jacket in my regular rotation.  Once I've added the buttonholes and buttons, I'll post photos of me wearing it.

Two UFOs down, five more to go!

1.   Beignet (almost done)
2.  Simplicity 2648
3.  Simplicity 1945
4.  Jalie 2559
5.  Vogue 8426
6.  Simplicity 2804
7.  BWOF 9-2009-134

Until next time, be well everyone!



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