These Are Clothes

Shout-out to Project Runway Season 9 Michael Kors, who used, “This doesn’t look like fashion, it just looks like…clothes!” as an insult, which inspired this title. 😉

Because I have a few repeat-pattern things to share today, I figured it was easiest to just throw them all into one post. And I’m just in time for the Sewcialists “TNT Month” theme, yay!

Ready? Here we go:

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I felt like I should have been on a boat in this outfit!

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…is this how people sit on boats?

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Frontal region

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#derpface

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#nowwith100percentmorederp

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A basic bitch in basic black…

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Yep, it’s a t-shirt!

These are my newest t-shirts! I made them with the Lark pattern, which is definitely my TNT for t-shirts. I love all the options, though I tend to stick to just a few of them (v-necks aren’t my favorite, either to sew or wear). I also love that, for a Grainline pattern, it’s quite long–I don’t have to lengthen it! The two striped ones are the drafted length (with about 5/8″ taken for a hem, I think? I don’t even know the pattern’s hem allowance…), but the black one was shortened about 2″ to make it more summery. One of these days, I will try making a more fitted version; I still feel frumpy in this weird middle ground between fitted and oversized! O_o

The navy/white Lark is bamboo/lycra jersey (Telio!), and the obnoxious yellow/navy one is a rayon/lycra jersey. The basic black tee is a tencel t-shirt knit that I previously used for an Inari a few months ago. I have to say that I’m not so pleased with how this last material is wearing: it pills very early into its life cycle. (And that’s from someone who will absolutely wear non-underwear things more than once before washing them whenever possible. O_o ) But that said, having a plain black un-cropped tee in my wardrobe again has been a lifesaver! Now I just need to make more, in a hardier material!

Meanwhile, I am putting together a list of “cool” knit top and dress patterns, because I feel like I’m wasting my bamboo/lycra jersey if I only ever make basic t-shirts with it! It drapes and stretches wonderfully, so I’m hoping to take full advantage of that with some twists and stuff. Ditto for the stash of wool/lycra jerseys I’ve built up. Watch this space! In the meantime, do you have any “cool” jersey top or dress pattern recommendations for me? I’d love to hear them!

And speaking of knit tops, here are 2 more:

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Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

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Loud-ass outfit

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How I feel about my tummy showing most of the time…

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It’s cooooooooooold

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Sulky Mads

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Back view, with an “oops”

These are Lexi A-line tops by Named (of course). Both are made from scuba knits, which I LOVE for cold-weather garments. I am always cold, and this shit doesn’t breathe: it’s like wearing insulation! 😉 You may have seen the lapis blue one with my TPC6 trousers, which is usually how I wear it. Even with my 1″ of length added at the bust, it’s just not long enough to wear to work with pants or bottoms that don’t come up to my waist. That’s why I made the blush version, which is 2″ longer (3″ longer than the draft of the pattern, because of my 1″ adjustment). Which brings me to…

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I’ve shown all the good front views for the tops, so here are some of the back!

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Close-up of the pockets

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Hems!

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Walking away

…more jeans!

That’s right, I made the ugly-ass pants in some of these photos, LOL! I kinda shot myself in the foot with these: I don’t think I’ll wear them much until Spring. To me, they don’t read as winter-appropriate and they’re kind of thin, but S/S18 will see them worn alllllllllllll over the place. I used my TNT self-made pattern, though this time I made a few tweaks:

  1. Enlarged those front pocket openings! They are now closer to the CF and cut down deeper as well. Much more proportional with the rise of the pants now! I made this change to the pattern itself.
  2. Shrunk the width of most of the pattern pieces above the full hip. This denim is really stretchy, and I knew if my last pair were too baggy at the waist, these would be a disaster! I actually made these changes to my pattern pieces, since they were needed after I cut the last pair anyway. I will have to watch out with future pairs, since stretch % is different for every denim!
  3. Despite 2., I still had to go back and take an additional inch out of the waist before attaching the waistband. O_o And they’re still a little bigger than I’d like in a couple of areas. But better too big than too small, eh?
  4. Omitted rivets and down-the-side bartacks and topstitching. I may go back and add these later, but felt the jeans were busy and tight enough to not need the embellishment. 😉
  5. Stupidly put the belt loops all the way on before finishing the waistband and facing. What I should have done is put the waistband on, baste my belt loops to it at the facing seam, and THEN sew on the facing, followed by topstitching the waistband and then bartacking the bottom ends of the loops to the jeans. I’m not happy with how the bottom of the loops look now and may go back and unpick them. 😦

Believe it or not, I bought this denim from Joann! I KNOW. I hardly ever find things there that I feel like I can’t leave the store without, in terms of fabric. (I am a spoiled USian, and prefer to shop online because #choices.) But my friend had this material and brought it to a sewing night, and I had to have it. The jeans zipper came from Zipper Stop, which I had shortened to 4″ for a fee. ($1 per zip, not bad.) The button came from either TaylorTailor or Wawak…I can’t remember!

I got a big assist from my Instagram friends when it came to picking a topstitching color for these jeans. I couldn’t decide what color would work best, but you guys came through! 😀 It’s perfect!

That will do it for me today–that’s a lot of crap clothes crammed into one post! But now I am basically all caught up: the black Lark tee and the Lexi tops were all made back in August, but weren’t blogged until now, and the jeans are from September. And I have one dress I made this summer that I didn’t blog because I don’t really like it and couldn’t get excited about writing a post for it, haha! It’s not that I want to pretend I don’t have FAILs, it’s just that I genuinely am not excited to write about that dress. Maybe for Fail February it will come out to play. 😉

As is customary around here, I have some outtakes for you! (Warning: .gif ahead)

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Running for warmth!

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Not a terrible photo, for once!

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That’s more like it! 😉

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Punching myself in the face, or fixing my Very Important hair?

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When will I learn that jumping doesn’t suit me?!?!?

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Calling this one the “TNT Happy Dance”

I don’t know what I’ll be back to share next, folks; it’s Totally Unnecessary Holiday Outfit season, which means I will be working (what’s left of) my ass off on something ridiculous for a one-night event. *eyeroll* But depending on how that goes, hopefully I’ll be back again soon with something fun!

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_o 

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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! 😉 ) 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 so 90’s!

Pattern Notes

The pattern I used is the one I cloned from an old pair of Aeropostale jeans. 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! 😉 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 look 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 pointy 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! 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! 😉 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:

melikeybouncey

Maximum Effort

You’re welcome. 😀

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?

 

In Which The Blogger Applies for Sainthood, Pt. 2 (aka A Man and His Jeans)

Okay folks: are you ready for the second portion of my most recent bout of Selfless Sewing? It’s a doozy!

WARNING: much text and many photos ahead.

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JEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Fancy side bits, up close

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Obligatory Mulder Cameo

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Jeans on parade!

What do you guys think?!? They were definitely a labor of love. ^_____^ ❤

I started these in February and just now finished them–it’s MAY, for crying out loud. *facepalm* (There’s something very demotivating for me about sewing an involved garment for someone else!) I talk a big game about making things for Tom (and hoard fabric for all my harebrained Dude Sewing ideas), and even though it can be hard to stay motivated, I really do enjoy it. Tom really appreciates the effort and care that I put into my handmade clothing, and we makers know that isn’t always the case! He also never asks me to use my valuable sewing time to make something for him, and lets me do as I will when it comes to buying ALL THE FABRIC investing in my hobby. (Let it be known that I would not tolerate anything less than that: he’s not the boss of me.) So anyway, I am quite proud of these jeans, not least of all because I learned a lot during their construction. Are they perfect? No–definitely not. But they look great and are better-made than most jeans at our price point, and Tom loves them and knows they are one-of-a-kind (for better or worse).

The red denim I used is Japanese and very high quality. The color did fade a bit in the wash because I punished it with 2 hot washes and 2 high heat dryer cycles–my attempt to avoid post-sewing shrinking. According to my records, this red Japanese denim (which is not selvedge, BTW) is 10.5oz, which is not all that heavy as far as non-stretch high-end denim goes. (I have 13.5oz yardage in my stash, and I am now dreading working with it after this project!!) I think this is a great weight for all-season menswear jeans: not so light that the fibers will wear out easily (is it me, or do guys just seem to kick the crap out of their jeans?), but not so heavy as to feel like you’re wearing cardboard pants in the warmer months.

I bought this denim from Pacific Blue Denims, who I honestly cannot fangurl for enough. They’re an amazing vendor with a mind-boggling selection and an incredible staff. (Not affiliated, just very satisfied.) They’re a wholesaler, but they will sell to individual folks as well. It’s a very different process to retail fabric shopping, but it’s so worth it!

As for the pocketing fabric, I bought that from Mood (it’s a cotton voile that’s labelled specifically as pocketing). It was easy to work with and earned rave reviews from Tom for hand-feel. 🙂

Construction Notes and Blatherings

I used a very typical construction order for these jeans, as follows:

  1. Front pockets
  2. Fly
  3. Yokes
  4. Center back seam
  5. Back pockets
  6. Inseam
  7. Outseam
  8. Waistband, buttonhole, and belt carriers
  9. Hardware
  10. Hem

These bad boys got all the bells and whistles: rivets, contrast bar tacks, and plenty of flat-felled seams. There isn’t a single raw edge in sight in these jeans! 😀

During construction, I made two significant errors, but luckily for me most people wouldn’t even notice. MY MISTAKES, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.

  1. When I added my seam allowances to the pattern, I used different allowances for different areas. All flat-felled seam areas got 3/4″ seam allowance, and anything else got 1/2″. Well, I added the 3/4″ seam allowance to the bottom edge of the yoke pieces, but only 1/2″ to the top of the back legs! So I had to wrap the felled seams down from the yoke toward the legs, which is backwards. (Go ahead, check your own RTW jeans…I’ll wait.) Again, I am sure no one will notice, but ugh.
  2. I totally spaced out and wrapped the felled center back seam the wrong way by accident. It should wrap left over right, but I went right over left. And of course, the nature of flat-felled seams is that you trim the hell out of one side, so there’s no going back and undoing anything. Grr.

But overall, I think the jeans look really good! The topstitching lines all come together at intersections, and my flat-felled seams are really strong and look great, especially considering it was my first time ever trying them.

Among my more minor beefs with my work are the bar tacks; my machine did not care for the combination of topstitching thread + dense zigzag stitching, so I had to use regular thread. As a result, they look a little puny to my eye. My belt loops are decent, but one of them got a little crooked while getting the bottom edge sewn down without me noticing. The bar tacks really show their slightness on the loops, IMO. In retrospect, I probably should have just topstitched them down with the thicker thread. I kept the topstitching tonal (these jeans are already RED, you know?) and used contrasting gray thread for the bar tacks throughout to coordinate with the nickel hardware that Tom wanted. Speaking of hardware, I had some trouble getting the rivets in perfectly straight. Here’s hoping they hold on for a few washes, at least! O_o

The Fly

The fly construction was the most puzzling aspect of this entire project because I’d never done one. Thanks to a patient sewing friend, I got it…in theory. But after crankily ripping out the fly front and topstitching and lower front crotch seam for a third-ish time, I put the jeans in the naughty corner for several weeks. (Hence the 2-month delay in this post–can’t post about jeans that aren’t done yet!) I don’t know if I’ve ever been explicit about this, but I am not allowed to have UFOs: if my current project isn’t finished yet, I DO NOT pass “GO,” DO NOT collect $200, and DO NOT get to start anything else. Either I pitch the project entirely (only if it’s really not working out), or I buckle down and finish it. It’s for the best, believe me! I knew I was going to have to pick these damn pants back up if I ever wanted to move on with my sewing life, and that meant sorting out the fly.

While I pouted, I studied fly construction on Tom’s existing RTW pairs of jeans without disassembling anything, trying to learn their secrets. What did I learn? (Well, besides the fact that staring at the crotch area of a man’s jeans for a few weeks will teach you anything at all?) That I was way over-complicating it. To explain my method would make this post utterly unreadable (moreso than it already is), so I won’t get into it here. I will hopefully share it in detail eventually, though. But I DID IT. Yay!

Luckily, the rest of the sewing was very straightforward apart from the bulky areas and self-created drama! If you are looking for construction help with jeans, I highly recommend a visit to Angela Kane’s website and Youtube channel. I will note that, although I don’t use her fly method, I wholeheartedly recommend hers if you’re looking for help. (I did use her buttonhole method though, and it’s AWESOME!)

Pattern Notes

No commercial pattern here: these jeans are a rub-off of Tom’s favorite, self-proclaimed Best Fitting Pair of RTW jeans. Said jeans met an untimely end when husband had a tiny incident on his motorcycle and tore one pants leg all to shit. (Don’t worry, he wasn’t hurt.) He saved the jeans to wear on weekends and for yard work, but since they fit well and were basically ruined, he surrendered them to the great cause of Patternmaking. All I needed to make the pattern was one good leg anyway, so it worked out for everyone. I disassembled the jeans and traced off the pieces, and there you have it: jeans! That fit! I did have to make a couple of very small adjustments to compensate for the stretching out of his well-worn originals in some areas, but those were very simple.

Conclusion

These jeans were a long time coming, but we got there in the end! I have plenty of denim earmarked for Dude Jeans, so this isn’t the last pair I’ll make for Tom. I am thinking of buying Angela Kane’s men’s jeans pattern, which is designed with selvedge denim in mind. I also patterned two other pairs of jeans belonging to someone else (long story), including one selvedge pair, so we have lots of style possibilities now! But Tom has been warned that after this red pair, my sweatshop* is going back to its regularly scheduled programming: All Me, All The Time. I do have some of this denim left, and have promised to see if a pair of shorts can be squeezed out of it…I am sure I will regret that! 😉

Here are some more pics, just for fun.

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Dat Ass

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Birdies!

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Meandering

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Posing

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Fun with lighting in a tunnel

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Possible photo of Bigfoot.

Thanks for tuning in for my (mis)adventures in Sewing For Other People! 🙂 I have some sharks to make for some kids, so I’ll probably share those with you soon! And then I can get back to what’s important: clothes for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

What’s the most complicated thing you’ve made for someone else? Have you ever made jeans? How long are your average “sewing time-outs” for items that are giving you trouble?

*Term used ironically/self-deprecatingly/for laffs, of course. We here at The “Mads” House do not condone the dehumanizing and exploitative practices of actual sweatshops, which is partly why we do not buy fast fashion RTW anymore. The Sweatshoppe at Fort Kickass (as it is affectionately known), under the careful management of a no-nonsense Feline Supervisor, allows its lone employee ample break time for soda and pizza consumption; video entertainment is also provided, along with many opportunities for feline/human snuggles and naps.