Monday, February 22, 2010

I sewed them myyyyy waaaaaaaaaaaay.

I cannot believe I am standing here in jeans and a t-shirt made by my very own loving hands at home. Of all things to make for myself, it's the one where I think, "couldn't I just have gone out and bought these???"

Burda 09-2009-113

I had a lot of help with these jeans so will try to credit all the fabulous people who have shared their expertise:

Adjustments - following this guide here which I found via Dawn's summary of jeans sewing on Pattern Review. I lengthened the back crotch length their way, and did the flat butt wedge their way too. I think there are fewer wrinkles this time, but it's not a perfect solution. I'm going to try the Palmer/Pletsch lift and tuck next time, I think.

The lovely professional top stitching you see chez moi blog is courtesy of foot number 5 - the blind hemmer/edge stitch foot. It looks like I am a sewing goddess but I am totally an imposter because you just run the barb of the foot along the edge for a precise line of stitches.

From Brian (the seamster formerly known as "rocket boy") I learned that you should use plain thread matching to your fashion fabric in the bobbin. The small gap between the stitches makes the contrasting thread really "pop".

From Palmer/Pletsch I learned that you needn't bother changing threads and needles for jeans. Just sew the whole thing on one set of threads. So I did! Also, because top stitching needles are a size 14, they're already a good size and strength for denim so I found the needle sewed through many layers with no problems at all.

Annette from the Bernina shop recommends "strong" thread, rather than "topstitching thread" for jeans sewing.

From my favourite RTW pair of jeans I copied this idea for a double back belt loop.

I used a scrap of cotton shirting to line the pockets because I was using heavier fabric than was recommended.

This denim has 1% lycra which equates to about 5 % crosswise stretch, enough to provide better movement and recovery but without the down side of unflattering shaping. It was enough to make me worried about how the waist might stretch out though so I taped it with cotton twill tape. From the Jalie jeans pattern, I learned that it is a really good idea to sew the bottom of the facing seam allowance so you can get the exact amount you need to turn for the waistband.No more burned fingers with the iron trying to iron them accurately, the denim folds on the stitching line like a warmed knife through butter.

Why sew my own jeans? Now tell me, have you ever seen a back pocket design like this? No? I didn't think so.

Now to answer a couple of questions in the last comments:

Helen asked why I had listed Burda 42 as a 16. Simple, if you take a big 4 pattern (vogue, butterick etc) and look at a size 16 you will see "waist 76, hip 102" - if you look at a Burda 42 you see "waist 78, hip 102", so the Burda is just slightly bigger. The real difference is wearable ease - the big 4 use 3-4 inches for a semi-fitted style, Burda uses 1-2 inches for a fitted style. That's why I prefer sewing with Burda, because I find fitted clothing more flattering. I don't know why the big 4 make so many semi-fitted styles. Vanity - because you go down a size because of all the extra ease?

Judy asked about my front adjustment. Look at the picture of the woman wearing her perfect fit jeans. Look at the front crotch. Look at how the line pulls tight and folds of fabric fall around it. Is that not the most unfortunate place for folds of fabric to gather??? I mean REALLY. It means the front crotch curve is too high, and you simply lower it as it comes round the bend. I don't always have to make this adjustment - the curve is on the bias and stretches anyway, I only have to do it with fabrics with little give.

Costings: fabric, denim from Global fabrics, $32; strong thread $4.50, normal thread $3, tracing paper, $2, rivets $2, zipper $1.50, interfacing 50c = $45.50

This post is dedicated to my dad, who most certainly made things his own way, and who died a year ago Sunday (yesterday) .

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This is great. I like it. I'll sew it.

Front detail Burda 09-2009-113

"When I see people dressed in hideous clothes that look all wrong on them, I try to imagine the moment when they were buying them and thought, "this is great. I like it. I'll take it." Andy Warhol

I was totally bummed about the failure that was the Jalie stretch jeans. Determined to learn from my mistakes I reflected on all the factors that contributed to their downfall.

1) I did not like the fabric.

2) The fabric was the wrong weight for the project.

3) The fabric was the wrong colour both for the project and for me personally.

4) I made the mistake of assuming that the jeans looking good on other people would mean they would look good on me. (the old, "love it on the model," factor)

5) I ignored the fact that I do not actually like stretch jeans on me.

6) I was in too much of a hurry to get into the sewing room and start sewing without creating a space for critical thinking and reflection. Questions like "is making this a good idea?" did not get the space they needed to find their true answer, which in this case would have been "no". Don't get me wrong - I'm all for taking risks and wadders are a necessary part of the learning process, and I'd rather have wadders a plenty than not try something I really want to make. But really, more thought was required on this one.

7) I am someone who needs to see a pattern and then pick the perfect fabric for it, not the other way round. Using up stash does not work for me in this way, except as maybe fodder for wearable muslins.

I took some time off to do some research and spent an afternoon reading these books:

For Valentine's day, my husband gave me the best present - 6 hours uninterrupted sewing time. I traced the Burda jeans from the September issue 2009...and as a little momento from the Jalie jeans I used their back pocket pattern piece and put a x (kiss) and o (hug) on the back. (the burda jean has no back pocktets). I also chose some fabric from stash to serve as my "wearable muslin."

Check out the difference in the pattern pieces - both are cut to a Burda 42 (16) Jalie size "w" - although the burda pattern has no back yoke so it extends further up. Let's look at the "pour factor" - that's what 20% stretch looks like friends - the difference is what wants to embrace your little touche, and grasp your tender thighs. The difference across the hip, accounting for differences in seam allowance is 3 cms (an inch and a quarter).

I still am struggling with the fit through the back, more experimentation required, but I got rid of the front pooling by deepening the front crotch line below the zipper.

I totally love the front yoke and the pockets that slant off it. Sooo handy.

Now I am going out to buy exactly the right fabric and make these jeans again with adjustments. Watch this space.

Burda 09-2009-113
Fabric: lightweight denim in pewter, Nick's fabrics - $8, scraps of cotton and interfacing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jumping on the Jalie bandwagon.

When PR offered 20% off patterns for members over January I knew it was time to see what all the hype was about with Jalie patterns. Me and my neighbour, Jenni from across the road shared postage and ordered in 5 patterns between us.

I am having a buying freeze on material at the moment because - due to a number of circumstances - the leading one being greed, the second being fabric crushes that vanished soon after purchase, I have managed to fill my stash box. I am not one of those people who takes joy in owning a lot of beautiful fabric, I like to keep things moving so I thought I'd get onto a few things that have been loitering in my box. The only really suitable fabric for a first time run on these jeans was this cotton lycra which just squeaked in with 20% stretch. (this was purchased because it was on sale, I have since grown to really dislike it)

As I sewed these jeans (#2908) from Jalie a disturbing thought entered my head. Should a middle-aged woman really be pouring herself into stretch jeans?

Remember this from TS Eliot?

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

No, flared with 20% stretch apparently.

I really enjoyed sewing these jeans. The instructions absolutely rock. I learned a new way to sew a zipper - I really like the way they use bar tacks to secure the fly shield. I totally misunderstood the belt loop instructions though and put them in the wrong place. Oh well.

Because this is a stripe, and because this is a new pattern company for me with different sizing and different blocks, I thought I wouldn't waste my energy matching anything when the chance of first off success wasn't high. So I cut the pockets and back yokes on the bias to avoid unmatchy unmatchy unmatch. I also used my walking foot because of the stretch, which means my top stitching is not as straight as when I use the edge foot.

Fit wise they're OK - there's some kind of poufy business at the front that looks alarming like "camel toe" - I think I shouldn't have extended the crotch front length, a normal alteration for me.

After trying them on and showing them to my husband they got the big thumbs down. "They really excentuate the fullness in your thigh area." I was right to be worried about sewing stretch jeans. Would it be cruel to say if you are plus size you need to be young and fearless or if you are older you need to have chicken thighs to wear these? It never occurred to me that the only people I have seen successfully make these have been waifs.

A wadder. Absolutely. But a good learning experience, and the moral of the story must be "favourable reviews from thin young people on Pattern Review should be read with extreme caution."

costings - Jalie pattern imported from Pattern Review - $20 incl postage; leftover cotton, cotton stretch suiting lycra from Smart Dress fabrics Mt Albert - $16 = $36.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kwik sew 3338 .. the latest mutation.

This time we have with puffed sleeve:

Drafted like so (3 x 3/4 inch in case you want to try it yourself):

But sleeve gathered onto a band which was not drafted but simply cut to the width of bicep minus ease.

Yes I sure do have a weakness for sparkly fabric but a big part of my recent sprarkly grey obsession has to do with the big sparkly greys in my hair.

My son has stopped having his afternoon sleep: by next week my hair will probably be white.

Now this top is a bit tighter than the others which just goes to show how different fabrics with different stretch fit differently. I mean that's a no brainer really but still the same pattern has produced a much snugger fit.

And now I must mind my manners and answer a few questions:

Katherine asked about the blind hem. Next time I use my blind hemming foot I'll take a few snaps. Super easy. You need a blind hemming foot though, it would be hard to do it without.

Sue asked the rivets. Oh rivets, how a love rivets and buttons and snaps. So much that I bought myself a set of Prym pliers for attaching them all easily. In Auckland the Bernina shop imports Prym products - so I don't have to order them on line or anything. Fingers crossed someone in your area imports them - each packet comes with its own tool and set of instructions so you don't need the pliers - they just take a bit of grunt out that's all.

Keiler asked about the back of the Burda denim pants - the front is much the same as the back, without the buttons, but with the same 4 piece shaped waistband finish - no pockets.

Several people were curious about "westies". "Westie" refers to people from the western suburbs of Auckland and the stereotype of people who live there. The stereotype has a lot in common with the "redneck" stereotype - but "westie" is affectionate and takes on the "loveable rogue" aspects of the stereotype. We use the word "bogan" to take on the negative aspects of the stereotype. Funnily enough, if I'd called the top "bogan" chic it would have seemed more of a snigger than a smirk.

Costings: fabric, polyester lurex $18, Global fabrics, thread leftover from another project.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kwik sew 3338, Westie Style.

With the leftover fabric from my last Kwik sew attempt, I made another one, but you don't want to see that because it looks exactly like the previous one, only smaller, because I cut the whole thing down a size.

This version, however, looks nothing like the previous kwik sew attempt. As soon as I saw the fabric I'm thinking it had Westie chic written all over it. For the non-cognoscenti, this from Wikipedia:

The westie persona:

...This stereotype depicts people from the outer suburbs as unintelligent, undereducated, unmotivated, unrefined, lacking in fashion sense, working-class or unemployed. Clothing such as flannelette shirts, Ugg boots, and leopard-print fabric are associated with the stereotype, as are the "uniform" of black t-shirt and ripped jeans.[3] Clothing associated with the female westie includes jeans with tassels and tight-fitting tops, often white.

And lo! Wearing a hat all day has almost given me a mullet.

To get the good fit you now see on this top, this is what I did to the pattern. I cut it to a medium and did a one inch FBA splitting the dart between the side, the armhole and the shoulder. This gave me a super tiny dart which I could then ease into the side seams without gathering stitches. For this top I manipulated the dart to the hem and then gathered onto the band. I cut 3 inches off the bottom of the pattern and doubled it lengthwise to form the band which I then neatened and slanted at either ends so it could be tied. I didn't remove the seam allowance, which I should have actually, because it's slightly too long - you can see it has rippled up on the back.

But please note, no back fat! (if a tee is too tight it'll cling to the rolls, yes sad but true that one must consider these things) So now the front and back of the tee fit well.

I twin needled the front band to keep the seam lying down, as well as the hems on the sleeves to keep them stretchy.

To complete the look, I'd need some white stretch jeans - just as well I'm expecting a parcel in the post from Jalie!

Costings: thread $3.80, tracing paper $1, fabric, $8, Global Fabrics sale = $12.80