Saturday, April 23, 2011

..and more jeans.

Burda 7738 with the bottom flare narrowed by 5/8 inch each piece, each side:

Front, make no mistake these are definitely your daughter's jeans - rise is an inch below belly button:

My sister calls me the fabric whisper after my habit of asking the fabric how it wants to be made up. I know this is a successful way of working with fabric for me, because what it necessitates is choosing the pattern on the basis of the qualities of the fabric.

When I made the last pair of jeans, it was because I liked the Ottobre pattern and wanted to try it, so I used some denim I had on hand. What I have since learned about denim, though, is that it varies tremendously both in look and feel. The thing about the denim I used is that it was slightly stretchy, thin, and a little shiny. That meant that every wrinkle was going to be very obvious. In short, this denim did not want to be made into mom-jeans. No ho ho. And let's face it - with its high waist and easy fit leg, that Ottobre jean is as mom-jean as they come.

I had enough to make another pair of jeans, and this time me and the demin had a good chat. Closer fitting, bootleg with a burnt orange top stitching detail. That is what is said. It also requested something cute for the pocket.

Burda 7738, fifth attempt, and good enough, but still not pants perfection. (if there is such a thing)

When I went to the Bernina shop to pick up the thread, I couldn't find anything even close to what I had imagined. Carol, the shop manager, told me to buy 2 spools of ordinary thread but thread the machine twice. You put the second spool on the back spool, thread as usual and because denim needles have a big eye, you can thread it with two threads. Amazingly it worked, with no tension issues, and suddenly a whole new world of top stitching has been opened to me.

I started off with two hearts but it was too strong a motif, so I made one a standard jean pocket and then curved off the second to form the heart. The top part was sewn first, before applying, so that the pocket is functional.

I would like to revisit the Ottobre jeans at some point. When I laid the Burda and Ottobre jeans patterns on top of each other, I found the backs were identical but there was a 3 cm variance in the front - Burda was a whole size smaller at the front. So there we go, what I suspected was true, but in rather a surprising way.

The Jalie jeans are not for me - they have negative ease and rely on your body filling out the fabric to eliminate wrinkles. This technique is refered to as "the sausage casing" effect. Whether you suit this looks depends on the nature and arrangement of your stuffing.

Righty ho, next up I'm going to belt out a couple of tee shirts and then I'll try and play catch up on the jacket sewalong.

Monday, April 18, 2011


"I cannot imagine myself as a designer of clothes that imitate catwalk trends. It would probably also be boring: who wants to design clothes only for young, slim and beautiful people - anything suits them."

I'm quoting from the head designer from Ottobre magazine. It makes me laugh at her design philosophy because what she's saying - in effect - is that she enjoys designing for old, fat and ugly people. Hey and I applaud her for it.

I didn't go to too much effort with these jeans (05-2007-10) - because I was pretty sure, this being my first run through them and my first real attempt at Ottobre trousers, that they would fit badly and end up in the recycle bin. I absolutely prefer to make test garments to muslins, because the proof of the fit is in the wearing. I have twice made jeans that look fantastic (standing up) but by the end of the day I have tingly lady bits. And you know, that can become a real hygiene issue in a humid climate. Just saying.

I have since developed the philosophy that the perfect fit is not that perfect. Without back baggies you don't have enough ease to bend, and without a little sag there is not enough length to enable you to sit in comfort. Some wrinkles are definitely worth having.

Having said that, these are too big. Comfy yes, flattering, not really.

So from this, I know that Ottobre jeans have more ease than Burda ones and that I can probably go down a size in Ottobre, something I wouldn't dare in Burda. I think my fabric choice had a bit to play in this as well - I used a medium denim with 2% elastane. A sturdier fabric would look and feel quite different.

I used a lining fabric on the pockets and rolled it slightly to the outside to create a piping finish:

I'm a little unsure where to go next - down to Jeans West for the "curve embracer" or another crack at this pattern, a size smaller.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nerdy, but noice*

Post editing note: after seeing yesterday's pictures I managed to let out the side seams enough to let off a little pressure. Here I am after my morning's shopping with son. I did full geek chic look with cord skirt and retro hand bag. I needed all the help I could get because we went shoe shopping, which for a little boy, is the equivalent of shopping HELL. For his mother, it is shopping hell with extra brimstone and sulphur on the side.

*noice = nice, spoken with a NZ accent.

Ottobre 05-2010-04 (renee top)

After I saw my sister's nerdy 'bots yesterday, I got nerd envy really bad. I really wanted to make myself a pair of civil servant shorts but I did manage enough of a grip on reality to tame it back.

And lo! Look at all the restraint I showed. First up, I bypassed a lilac knit for a mottled blue. I ignored the overwhelming desire to pile on the rosettes but made the puff sleeves instead.

The fabric is high performance merino sportswear, purchased for a few bucks at a liquidation sale. It's nylon waffle weave on the back and merino on the front. (The closest this thing will get to high performance is trying to drag my 3 year old out of the ice cream shop.)

In theory it's probably not the most flattering look for me, mainly because this knit has a firmer hand, clinging to every lump and bumb with a little more vigour than I'd prefer. Still, I lurve it because it brings a smile to my face. Some clothes can really make you feel like royalty, and me, I'm chanelling the Queen in this one.

The puffed sleeve in more detail:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Simple Sewing

If - as in the Buddhist tradition - difficult and challenging people are our best teachers, then I am being taught by pros at the moment. What this means is that I do not have the head space to complete a tailored jacket this month. I go into the sewing room, feel overwhelmed, and go to bed early.

I decided the only remedy was some very simple quick gratification projects, the kind that you wear to death and whip up in a couple of evenings. In short, knits.

This is Ottobre, 05-2007-12. Ottobre make it far too easy to back order copies, and what I was really after was the jeans pattern, but I got distracted with the promise of some easy sewing.

Ottobre knits fit me very well, and I love the fact that they use simple styles with small details to make them a little more special. This scoop neck top has balloon sleeves and side gathers. Here I am using up a piece of honeycomb merino I picked up last year at Global. You may even be secretly thrilled to learn I paid full price for it.

Balloon sleeve

Side gathers

I was going to make two of these actually - another in some black merino, which I picked up for a bargain price at Nicks (sorry about that) but one is enough. The final length of this top, which is quite long, actually limits what it can be worn with. Still, a top that can be worn with jeans is a mighty useful thing to have in this mum's wardrobe.