Ending A Rut by Breaking the Pattern

Hello, friends!

I’ve felt like I’ve done very little sewing so far in 2019, but counting my completed projects resulted in more FOs than I expected. All told I’ve made 8 things which, while more than I realized, is still pretty paltry given that we’re halfway through the year. But 3 of those projects were finished in the last few weeks, so my pace is finally picking up! I’m super happy with these recent garments, and those happy feelings have helped my blogging mojo tremendously! So what did I make? The Utu pinafore by Named, the Blair shirt from Style Arc, and a dress from McCall’s 6886. Seriously, they’re all total winners. To keep things from getting too long, this post will focus on my “Breaking The Pattern” projects and I’ll be coming at you with a joint post for the other 2 very shortly. ๐Ÿ˜€

The recently-finished Utu is actually my 3rd project from “Breaking the Pattern,” although it’s only my 2nd unique pattern from that book; the other 2 are both Ruska tops. I’m bummed that my Utu is now rather out of season, but it will get tons of wear come Fall/Winter. For the uninitiated, “Breaking the Pattern” is a book by Named Clothing (aka my ride-or-die fangurl sugar-stan pattern company) that came out last year in lieu of their usual twice-yearly collections. Naturally, the moment I saw they had a book coming out I pre-ordered it because ride-or-die fangurl sugar-stan. Almost everything in that book is something I want to make, even the ridiculous vented wide-leg elastic-waist pants–who am I?!?

But let’s go in order here, starting with my first project from the book: a Ruska knot tee!

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Knot tee, now with 100% more wrinkles!ย 

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I am not 100% happy with this top and it’s down to things I should have changed before I even started. Namely (lol) the neckline–it’s just awful for a t-shirt on me. If I had added sleeve roll-ups I could maybe get behind the quasi-James Dean, “Cry-Baby” drape gang vibe, but nah.

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The “Cry-Baby” drape gang is #squadgoals

The ties didn’t turn out great, but that’s because the design and instructions for them are fucking stupid and I didn’t read the latter until after I’d coverstitched the hems. (They have you do a double-turn hem around the tips of the ties, which then stupidly tapers to a single-roll somewhere along the way. Excuse me, but what?!?) The next time I make a knot version of this pattern, I will be cutting the tie ends down so they’re the right shape and seam allowance (for a single roll) all the way around!

I also had a problem with the stabilizer I used in the hems, which essentially removed the stretch from my fabric and coverstitching. (Apparently it washes out, but I wash my clothing very sparingly and haven’t washed this shirt yet.) Fortunately I hadn’t used it around the neckline, because I doubt I could get my globe-like head through the tiny head-hole if I had done that. O_o

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Single knot (I prefer 2…)

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No knot!

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No, I would never wear it like this. xD

I had high hopes for this top because of the fabric: a moire rayon/lycra jersey. But between pre-washing/drying basically eliminating the moire finish and the issues mentioned above, I didn’t quite get the “Wow!” I was hoping for. Ah well, at least my front seam looks fucking GORGEOUS.

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You’re welcome.

Next is yet another Ruska, this time with no knot and full sleeves. WARNING: The following is not appropriate for all ages!

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Behold!

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DO YOU SEE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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What I hope people will now think of when they stare at my t*ts…

Surprise tiger boobies!!!!!! Bet you weren’t expecting that, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, 1,000 bonus points to anyone who “got” the reference in the close-up caption. xD

My initial vision (god that sounds so pretentious…) was for a sheer navy turtleneck under my future Utu pinafore. I already had my suiting fabric and knew that was how I wanted to wear the jumper. It was hard finding a sheer navy stretch knit, though! Fabric Mart came through with some Halston fabric eventually, and for a good price. I bought too much, as is my usual M.O., and thank goodness: this is Mk II of this top.

I apparently over-stretched my neckband on my first version and I COULD NOT FIT MY HEAD THROUGH IT. Talk about embarrassing! I cut the band off and decided to widen the neck opening a bit, but had a little accident with my shears and yeah…the whole top had to be scrapped. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily I had enough fabric to recut the whole thing, and this time I took 1/4″ off each neckline seam and that was it. I didn’t use the shaped piece provided because I hate relying on neckband pattern pieces, but as a result my collar does flop and sit away from my neck a bit. (That’s also because it isn’t as tightly stretched as I normally do them, because of the first “oops”…) I could always take a dart out of the back of it I guess, but meh.

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Not even a handful…

While rather unimpressive on its own (let’s be real, even the t*ts are underwhelming ones! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), it really does make the outfit:

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Pensive office person

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I adore these shoes!

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Back view

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Don’t mind the mismatch at CF, I forgot to button my secret button for like, half the photos…

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Super stern business lady

I LOVE THIS DRESS SO MUCH!!!!!! The shell fabric is a stretch suiting from JOANN Fabrics, of all places. The plaid is just interesting enough without clashing with the double-breasted front or the snug fit. This Utu is one of my favorite sewing projects to-date, I think! (And that’s from someone who usually hates pinafores.) I might make another, maybe in a solid wool crepe! โค

For only having 3 pieces (okay, 6 if you count the lining) this pinafore took me FOREVER. Literal months. I made a really stupid mistake on the pattern that further hindered my mojo. Like, colossally stupid. I held the front pattern piece up to myself and was pleasantly surprised not to need any bodice length. Iย always need bodice length, even on Named. Well, genius here didn’t think about the bust dart, which removed about 1″ of vertical length once sewn. So lo and behold I cut my lining (you know, to be clever and get my lining done first) and sewed the darts, held it back up and realized that the darts were too high and the waist was DEFINITELY too high. Ugh!!

At that point I didn’t want to recut the lining–I really wanted this color for some reason and didn’t have enough to recut–so I slashed the pieces and added strips. My first front got slashed above the bust only, which I quickly realized was not the best idea; the other front and the back were cut in 2 places, one above and one below the bust.

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Hacked up front lining.

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Back hack job

After fixing the lining, I changed my pattern pieces by adding 1/2″ above the bust dart and 1/2″ below it. Then I cut my shell fabric. At this point I made a cutting error on one front piece plaid matching-wise, and had stretched the other front out somehow along the neckline. (Seriously, any and all possible mistakes were made on this 3-piece project. O_o ) I did fine on the back piece, so I recut my fronts and then set the whole mess aside for like a month and pouted. (During that hiatus I finished my Wool & Honey!) I came back to it after a seriously excellent sewing afternoon with Betsy, which reinvigorated me in a major way. From there it was all downhill until I got to the buttons!

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Buffalo horn buttons FTW

I asked my husband and sewing friends (IRL and Instagram ones alike) to help me choose buttons. ๐Ÿ˜€ My initial vision (ooh la la…) had been for horn buttons to emphasize the suiting fabric angle, but then I found these navy enamel/silver-toned metal buttons and couldn’t decide. Most people voted for the buffalo horn buttons–the appeal of which was because they came in the right size but also because THEY’RE BUFFALO!!–and in the end, I went that way. No regrets, they’re perfect.ย I did keyhole buttonholes, a first. Again, I wanted the hit the #suitingvibes angle. A couple of the buttonholes mysteriously got fucky and don’t have nice round keyhole openings, but nobody will be able to see that.

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Buffalo horn button up close!

Shiny, runner-up buttons! (Image property of Bennos Buttons)

(For the record, I’m not affiliated with either supplier linked above–just a happy customer.)

In terms of fitting, I did make a few small adjustments besides adding my 1″ of length. I removed most of the shaping in the high hip, and pulled the bodice in from the underbust through the high hip. The waist isn’t zero ease but fits a lot closer than the original shape. I didn’t take in my lining anywhere–it isn’t a stretch fabric and I knew I’d want that extra ease for comfort. If I’m being picky, I do wish the dress was a bit shorter but I’ll be damned if I’m ripping out my hems. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m pretty pleased with my pattern matching work on this: I was careful, especially when it came time for buttons and buttonholes. I did get a few buttons a bit further to the left than I needed to (I’m talking like, maybe 1/8″) but I can live with it. I did add that secret security button also, which took my plaid matching from “good” to “very good” by holding the CF line securely in position. I don’t know if I put it where it’s supposed to go, but I put it where I needed it and that’s good enough for me! I am very annoyed that I forgot to close it before we took a lot of the best photos of this pinafore, so you’ll have to take my word for it I guess! I decided early on not to worry much about keeping the plaid contiguous across the side seams; I focused on the CF and below-the-bust-dart horizontal plaid lines instead, which to me were infinitely more important. (And yet I got not 1 good photo of the side seams to show the horizontal matching! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ )

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Hiding. #nailedit

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Cheeky pose

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A thorn among roses. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Once I finished this dress, I figured I wouldn’t be able to wear it until Fall. But then I remembered that I actually had an occasion coming up that was perfect: a mid-May wedding! And a wedding at which I was performing, no less. My former band reunited specifically to play during the couple’s reception; it was a magical evening, both for us getting to be together (we ROCKED) and for the happy couple, who were radiant. โค It was an honor to play for two lovely people and their family/friends on such a special day!

Unfortunately for me, the event space was over 80 degrees all night; it was then I learned that my turtleneck, despite being sheer and scandalous, DOES NOT BREATHE. It felt like a sexy wetsuit. I was so hot I had sweat dripping down the backs of my legs. These AA-cup bra-less boobies had instant boob sweat. That’sย how you know it’s f*cking hot! ๐Ÿ˜‰ So after its first outing, this entire outfit needed a thorough rinse and steam but at least I looked and felt good in it. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Pre-gig selfie!

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Photobombing the dancing wedding party, cuz I’m classy…

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Post-gig old elevator Polaroid!

There you have it: my first projects from “Breaking the Pattern!” They won’t be my last, that’s for sure. I’m already planning a very special Ruska dress, as well as multiple Saraste dresses and shirts!

The next time you hear from this ol’ blog, I’ll be sharing my other 2 recent projects: a Blair shirt and a McCall’s 6886 dress. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! โค

 

New Year, New Tops!

Hi there! I want to start by saying “Thanks!” to all of you who read and commented on my 2017 Top 5 posts: I enjoy sharing a year-end recap, but it’s so heartening that people read them and take the time to leave a comment. And while I’m at it, a massive “THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!” to anyone who read or commented on this blog over the course of the past year! My sewing friends–online, on social media, and in real life–add so much joy and inspiration to my life, and I hope I am able to do even a fraction of the same in return. โค

And now, on with the show!

It seems that, for the second year running, I will be starting a new year of project posts with multiple knit tops! But unlike last year, all three tops in today’s post have something in common: stripes!! First up: the Molly top by Sew Over It!

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“Are you taking the photo now?”

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Back!

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Side, with poor stripe matching on full display.

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Tilt

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Sass

Sorry about these relatively boring (but still very high-quality, IMO) photos, guys–I vastly prefer outdoor shots, but the weather was far too cold and snowy for me to risk it this time. Tom was also messing with his lighting and flash options, which resulted in some unusually crisp shadows. (We don’t Photoshop around here unless we’re doing something really obvious–this ain’t a magazine shoot.)

This top is actually my final garment for 2017–I cut it (and the other 2 below) out on 12/30, and somehow sewed it up completely before noon on 12/31!! Not at all what I planned or expected, but that’s what happens when you’re up at 5:30AM*, even on days off: you get shit done! ๐Ÿ˜‰

*And you also have a serger

As basic as it is, this pattern was one that I was excited about, for a few reasons. First, because I’d never used a SOI pattern before–I was eager to see what they were like, how they fit, and how I felt about the resulting garment. Second, because I bought this fabric and wanted a different pattern to showcase the stripes. (Is it just me, or are stripes of this scale oddly difficult to match to a pattern choice?) I love my Lark tees–and totally intend to make one with what’s left of this material–but I wanted something that looked a bit more unique in stripes. Finally, I figured if I liked the top version of Molly, I would be able to crack on with a dress version eventually!

So first impressions: the pattern printed a little oddly for me, but not in any way that negatively impacted the scaling or fit. I think it’s more to do with UK vs. US paper formats, because even scaled at 100%, I ended up with a weird section of overlap on the edges of each page. But it was simple enough to just cut that section off, once I realized that it wasn’tย supposed to be there! My other first impression was that the pieces looked really wide compared to the not-at-all-oversized finished versions I’d seen people make. But I quickly realized that I didn’t know what the seam allowance was, and sure enough, a trip to Google revealed that it’s 5/8″. Mystery solved!ย And while we’re discussing first impressions, I should note that I got this pattern for free; I can’t remember where I got it, but it was from a link multiple months ago that I saw online someplace–again, I can’t remember as it’s been a while! Rest assured that 1.) this is not an affiliation thing and 2.) I came by the freebie legitimately, as far as I know.ย 

I had a heck of a time with this material! (It’s a rayon/lycra jersey, which I’ve used before with not nearly this much fuss!) No matter what I did, the yardage was distorting each time I tried to place and weight my pattern pieces. On top of that, fusing interfacing to my hems was awful! I actually had to stand there, pressing my iron down firmly and holding it there for 20-30 seconds or the fusible would not melt into the fabric. I have used the same knit interfacing many times before (from the same cut) and have never had this happen; as such, I am prepared to blame my fabric for this difficulty rather than my interfacing.

Since I struggled to get the fabric to lay still and stay on-grain easily, I didn’t do a great job matching stripes in the end. My sleeves look pretty good though, and I LOVE how the neckband came out! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not too bothered by the poor matching at the shoulders and side seams, though perhaps I’d have done better if I took a break from the project instead of forging ahead with the cutting. #YOLO

The only alteration I made to this pattern was to add a little bit of extra hem allowance. I think it’s meant to be longer, but I am glad I left it as-is: tunic-esque tops feel awkward on me. My only real complaint about the pattern itself, apart from those seam allowances (have you ever tried to serge rayon/lycra jersey with 5/8″ allowances?!?!?!? It’s soooo annoying!), is the length of the lower sleeves–they come up a bit short on me, and I’m not in possession of particularly long limbs. But going by the sample garment photos at SOI’s website, it actually looks like this is the length they intend for them to be, but having a free pattern-only (no instructions or line art) version, I can’t be sure. But that aside, I love my Molly top! I might make the dress version, although I’m not sure how much I’d love it in a solid fabric–it would be pretty plain. I would really like to buy the Heather dress pattern next, as I love the front panel with integrated pockets; I also think that pattern shines in solids, whereas Molly probably looks better in stripes since the dolman sleeves are the only real design lines. That’s my $0.02, anyway!

Next up is a pattern I have made once before, but not for a few years: the Tamara top from Style Arc!

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Always Be Primping

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Front view

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Back view

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Side!

This one is quite a bit more tasteful than my first version, LOL! I had enough of my striped bamboo jersey left to doย something with it, but not quite an entire garment. (THE WORST!!) Luckily I remembered this pattern! I have a few yards of a (slightly darker) plain navy bamboo jersey, so I decided to use that for the angled pieces. Speaking of which, the passage of time really made me forget how annoying those shoulder insets were to sew, haha! They definitely aren’t identical but I’m hoping non-sewers won’t even notice.

Style Arc assumes you’ll use the same material for the front bodice piece and the neckband, but I wanted plain navy for the neckband instead. (There were plenty of stripes already!) And I forgot about the sleeve construction, so my genius intentions to put the sleeves in flat didn’t work out–they had to go in round. Luckily SA understands that you don’t need 2″ of ease in a close-fitting knit sleeve cap–more like 0″–so they went in with no trouble at all, just like last time.

Finally, I made a Hemlock tee!

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Seems legit (Also, damn my bangs are getting long!!)

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So much fabric!

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Side (stripes match decently this time!!)

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Yikes.

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“Chop chop buddy, I don’t have all night!!”

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Always Be Primping, Round 2

This is a freebie pattern from Grainline; I’ve had it for a while but hadn’t made it yet! I used the same fabric for this tee that I used for a different Grainline pattern, the Lark, late last year. I added maybe 1/2″ of length to the body pieces here, but that’s it. The pattern has 1/4″ seam allowances, so it’s perfect for zipping through a serger. It’s a really comfortable and relaxed tee; I actually think it would make a nice pajama top. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Otherwise, there isn’t much to say!

Here are some outtakes for all y’all, as is customary:

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Angry stretchy shirt

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Abb’s Abs

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Dancing?

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Senior Portrait Pose

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Giggles

There you have it: 3 new tops, all in stripes! (Have I mentioned that I love stripes? Because I do.) I have 2 other projects to share with you also, and that post is coming very shortly. (And one of them is also striped…) I’ve been busy and have plenty of plans for more Winter sewing as well; I’m thinking of putting together a planning post to share my ideas with you all, but who knows if I will do that or not. (Perhaps my focus should be on just sewing stuff, rather than navel-gazing about sewing stuff. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Have you gotten off to a running start with your sewing projects in 2018? How do you feel about stripes? Do you find that sharing your ideas or plans helps you solidify them?ย 

 

OMG, Finally! (Jeans!!!!!!!!!)

Hey everyone!

I meant to share another post entirely, but we took photos for everything at the same time and I am so excited about this project that it jumped the blog queue. (The other post is coming soon, promise!)

What’s got me so damn excited? JEANSSSSSS!!!!

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JEANSSSSSSSSSSS

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Side view: no twisting!

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Admiring myself

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Showing off the crotch?

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Overexposed to try to show the black fly topstitching…not super successful!

Closer Seam

Close-up of the flat-felling on the inseam

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Closer look at the side; sorry for the awkward hand intrusion!

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Exciting pocket/butt shot, sorry y’all. O_oย 

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Trying to hike them up!

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Matching shirt + pockets!

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Hem

I have been planning this project for AGES now, but could somehow never make jeans for myself a priority item. My first sincere attempt was undone by fabric that was too stretchy (which is apparently a thing? Who knew! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but I came back to these in August, determined to make them happen. Apart from a few little things, I am THRILLED with these!

I wanted to keep them versatile, so I stuck with black topstitching and gray bartacks and nickel hardware. I got stuck with a tacky bright gold zipper though, LOL! Unfortunately, the topstitching gets lost in the denim, but that’s okay. And my back pockets look more like cousins than twins (I don’t know where I first read that phrase, but it perfectly sums up my experience with sewing exterior pockets). The denim I used is from Fashion Fabrics Club, and I’m pretty sure I got it for like $4 a yard. It is stretchy but firm and substantial, and really perfect for skinny jeans. Plus the “smoke black” color is soย 90’s!

Pattern Notes

The pattern I used is the one I cloned from an old pair of Aeropostale jeans.ย While the original cloned pattern was very low-rise–requiring a 2.5″ zipper!–I altered it to be high-rise. I have come around to that look and feel in jeans…mostly because I am super into cropped tops right now! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was naughty and went to Madewell and J. Crew last year to try on–but not buy–their jeans, since I was curious about the higher rise by then. I took some measurements from a few pairs of 9″ skinnies, which I liked best, for science. I compared those measurements to my original pattern, and made my alterations from there.

I know I could have just started with a high-rise pattern, like View B of the Ginger Jeans pattern, which I bought right when it was released. But in my opinion, the proportions of that particular pattern are “off”: they’re just too tall overall IMO, plus the zipper is weirdly long and the yoke always looks too tall. (And that’s to say nothing of some other bug-bears I have with that pattern draft-wise, but this isn’t the time or place to get into that!) In order to get the proportions right, you have to distribute any extra rise height correctly in the front AND back. What I learned from the RTW jeans was how best to do that and achieve the lookย I was after. I think my pair look proportional with my body; they don’t look “high-rise,” they just look like jeans.

I mean, look at them:

That’s a Madewell pair of 9″ rise skinnies on the left (original photo is property of Madewell). The proportions are pleasing to the eye and not exaggerated in height (i.e., no mile-long zipper). Success!

Now as I said, I would change a few things about these jeans. For instance:

  1. The waist is too big, despite my taking out almost 3″ already. This included unpicking the top of my flat-felled back crotch seam to take a big-ass wedge out there, plus another 1/2″ at each side seam. Boo.
  2. The front pocket openings need to be larger/deeper, both for visual and practical purposes.
  3. I could stand to take about 1/4″ off the length of the front crotch. I am not terribly worried about the lines you can see above–those are caused by my stomach-slash-pubis area being too flat versus my pointyย comparatively prominent hip bones and front thighs. I might fix it, but I might not. Whatever.
  4. Maybe narrow the lower legs a bit for a closer fit, a la J. Crew’s “toothpick” cut.

Construction Notes

Putting these together was pretty straightforward, since I’ve made jeans before. I followed my own notes on the fly front, and flat-felled the inseam, back crotch, and yoke seams. I forgot to put my belt loops on before sewing the waistband to the jeans and its facing, so those could be cleaner next time. Once again, I used Angela Kane’s buttonhole method; seriously, I don’t think I’d ever do that any other way on jeans!ย I did all my sewing with a 90/14 Jeans needle; over any big bumps, I folded up some scraps of denim and put them under the back of my presser foot and that was a big help. Finally, I used true Topstitching thread for all of the topstitching EXCEPT for the gray stuff. My machine will work with that heavy-ass thread, provided I tweak my settings properly and don’t try any bartacks!

Conclusions

So here we are, one pair of self-made jeans down with many more to go! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am so excited that these turned out to be wearable, and am feeling good about making lots more pairs. Goodness knows I’ve got the denim to do that, LOL. Before I go, here is a hilarious .gif Tom made of the two shots we got of me trying to hike these pants back up where they belong:

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Maximum Effort

You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ˜€

I will be back VERY shortly with another post featuring the outfit I made to wear to our most recent band gig. (Spoiler alert: one of the pieces was in some of these photos!) See you soon!

Talk to me: would you ever bother making jeans? What’s one thing you’ve always meant to sew for yourself but can’t seem to prioritize?