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!!!!

SSJ (19 of 25)


SSJ (18 of 25)

Side view: no twisting!

SSJ (10 of 25)

Admiring myself

SSJ (23 of 25)

Showing off the crotch?

SSJ (1 of 1)

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

Closer Seam

Close-up of the flat-felling on the inseam

SSJ (15 of 25)

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

SSJ (17 of 25)

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

SSJ (20 of 25)

Trying to hike them up!

SSJ (22 of 25)

Matching shirt + pockets!

SSJ (24 of 25)


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!


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:


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 Blockhead Makes A Block (aka Pattern Learnings for Smart-Making)

I’m baaaaaaack! I still haven’t taken my super scuba outfit on a test drive, but I plan to very soon. (It’s been “lapping flames of Hellfire” hot here lately, and if there’s one thing your intrepid blogger hates more than being cold, it’s being hot; bonus hate-points are awarded for being hot in head-to-toe polyester.) Thanks to everyone who left encouraging comments (aka told me I did NOT look like a total trollop in the skirt): your kind words have emboldened me to eventually leave the house looking super scuba fabulous! And now for something completely different…

I alluded to this briefly a couple of times, but I enrolled myself in another patternmaking class with Nina! Our last class was this week, and I’m excited to have a skirt and a bodice block to work from going forward. We started with the bodice in the first session, and oooooh boy…I STRUGGLED that first class.

Problem 1: It was excessively hot in the building. Having been told to wear something tight to class to ensure accurate measurements, I was clad in the eye-wateringly tight skirt of doom (yeah, that’s right: I actually wore that out of the house; to be fair to me, it was for science!!), a spaghetti strap tank top, a pair of tights, and a light sweater. This was too much body-con polyester and too many layers for the temperature of the building, and I removed the sweater–my one removable layer–immediately. As a result, I spent the rest of the evening feeling pretty self-conscious about how little I was wearing, and how tight ALL OF IT was. Problem 2: I did not have a partner for class. A couple of my fellow students signed up for class in conjunction with a sibling (awwww!) in order to be able to sew for that sibling and get a good fit. There ought to have been an odd number of us, and I was supposed to be paired up with someone who ended up not showing up. Nina had paired herself up with the other un-paired student prior to it becoming clear that the mystery student was not coming, which meant I spent a lot of time awkwardly waiting for her to come around to help me while simultaneously double-checking everyone else’s measurements. Problem 3: I am still a n00b at pattern drafting. The basic concepts took some time to sink in, and since drawing them out on the paper is a total DIY job and I’ve never done it before, I struggled and felt very UNconfident about what I was doing.

By the time we finished with the front bodice piece, the heat and math and drawing and confusion had gotten the better of all of us, and the back was a massive struggle. Due to the combination of Problems 1-3, mine was half-assed like you wouldn’t believe (well, if you’ve read here for a while, you might very well believe it!) and I didn’t feel great about how the muslin of it would sew up. The measurements seemed garbled and I had no idea how close it would be to my actual body. I knew the armhole would be FUBAR, as did Nina, but we were all totally over it by the time 9:30 came around so I just took home the pieces I had and went with it. Some crazy how, I have ended up with an excellent-fitting bodice! Some crazier how, the first iteration actually wasn’t very far off; most subsequent passes at the bodice have been little tweaks here and there as opposed to major overhauls.

Bodice block, version 1.0

Bodice block, version 1.0

Bodice block, final

Bodice block, final; note the decreased size of the front waist dart and the better armhole

I did learn something funny/sad about my bust at class: my bust apex is actually closer to my waist than to my shoulders. 😦 I have no tits!!!! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??!?!?!?* Grr. (*For the record, I know it’s totally possible to have a low bust point and be small-chested. I’m just bitter!) Fortunately, the skirt was so much easier than the bodice when it came to from-scratch drafting! And, you know, no morale-crushing surprises were revealed re: my proportions in that area, so you know, maybe that colored my opinion…

First attempt at the skirt block (aka a rectangle)

First attempt at the skirt block (aka a rectangle)

Final skirt pattern--much better!

Final skirt pattern–much better!

Despite the relative ease vs the bodice draft, the skirt waist was way off when I sewed up my first muslin. The biggest issue was that the center darts on the skirt weren’t lining up with the waist darts on the bodice piece. After tweaking the dart positions, I made a second version; that would have been great, except that I forgot to think about the waist measurement issue beforehand. I decided to see how close the two pieces were to fitting together and realized there was NO WAY they’d fit. To get the bodice and skirt sewn together, I just took in the needed extra width at the skirt side seams and marked up the muslin so I would know what to adjust on the flat. Here is the whole shebang together:

Fitting shell front view

Fitting shell front view

And from the side

And from the side

And the back

And the back, complete with sloppy-ass zipper insertion

The shell has seam allowance on each armhole, but not at the neck or hem. I need to take a wedge out of the CF neck and adjust the position of the side seams between my bust and hip (and transfer these adjustments to my flat pattern pieces), but apart from that it’s basically done! My zipper insertion is pretty grotesque–I just really wanted to see how everything fit–and is causing some of those ripples at the back. I used a 22″ invisible zipper ca. 1971 because it was the closest thing I had to being long enough. With respect to the fit, I wanted as little ease in the bodice as I could get away with–I wanted that part to reflect my actual body, in part so that I could use stretch knits or wovens without having to worry about excess ease or bagginess. I’d rather add ease than subtract it, basically. 🙂 And to be frank, my figure is pretty uneventful in terms of curves–my waist is really the only thing I’ve got going for me there, so if I make something fitted, I want to make sure it gets showcased to maximum effect. Although Tom did capture a really hilarious and awesome photo of me on our way out to take these photos, and it sure provides a nice optical illusion:

This is a lie. A nice, curvy lie....

This is a lie. A nice, curvy lie….

(Seriously, isn’t that amazing and disturbing?? I promise my ass is not nearly that impressive in real life, and I have no idea how Tom managed to capture that illusion on camera…)

I really want the core concepts of block drafting to sink in, because it will help me sew better not just for myself, but for anyone else I choose to sew for in the future. I kept the worksheets in case I ever need to draw stuff out again, but hopefully I can work from my block for any womenswear tasks. Nina gave all of us sheets of oaktag so that we can transfer our patterns, and once I make the adjustments needed to my flat paper pieces, that is what I will do.

Do any of you have blocks that you rely on for fitting or designing? Have you ever self-drafted?

One Million Muslins (aka The Great Coat Conundrum of 2015)

Hello again!

I have already failed at updating weekly while I’m taking my workshop–oops! But it’s because I’ve been beyond busy and am struggling to keep up: I still work 2 nights a week plus weekends at the shop, the workshop takes one other night each week, and we’ve had some house-related emergencies in the last week that required dedicated attention and time off of work (sump pump drain line frozen + lots of snow + thaw = Mads stays up ALL NIGHT and ALL DAY bailing water out of the sump pit BY HAND until a janky-ass workaround can be set up), so unfortunately my blog has been neglected. Hell, I’m lucky I found time to do my homework for tonight’s class!! Hopefully things will settle down soon and I can feel less rushed.

The title of this post is in reference to my homework for class each week; I feel like all I do anymore is make muslins/toiles of this coat and that it’s all I’m ever going to be allowed to sew forever. But my coat has enough fit issues (gee, maybe that’s because it’s for a 12 year old and my body is decidedly NOT that of a preteen…) that I have to keep making a fresh version each week so we can see if we’re getting close, so it is what it is. I think we’re pretty much there now, though, after my last practice version–it’s looking awesome and like a grownup coat for grownups! 😀 (Disclaimer: please ignore the cardboard box pile! Tom got lots of stuff for his studio and I am going to use the cardboard for pattern supports once I have a free evening to cut them all up.)

According to Tom, it looks like "a dirty lab coat." So helpful.

According to Tom, it looks like “a dirty lab coat.” So helpful.

Look at that straight side seam action!

Look at that straight side seam action!

My big girl shoulders are now accommodated by the coat

My big girl shoulders are now accommodated by the coat



So much better, isn’t it?? I’m very excited about how it’s coming together. The side seam issue (they were tipping toward the back the last time I showed this to you) was resolved by taking a slice of bulk from the front pieces and transferring it to the back piece at each side seam. Now they’re falling straight down as they should! We’ve done so many revisions on the shoulders of this coat, but I think we’re finally there (or close). I needed about an inch at each shoulder vs. the original width, which we added last week and which can be seen in action above. (Interestingly, I assumed my shoulders were likely wider than the average, but learned last week that they are EXACTLY average at 5″ each–I was very surprised!) Nina raised the neckline all the way around, but not by too much. She also added height to the sleeve cap, because we NEEDED it. When making my muslin for last week’s class, I noticed that I had a larger armscye than sleeve, which is not okay! Making this week’s muslin, they were pretty much the same size (which makes sense for the era of the pattern, since they weren’t into gathered or puffed sleeves/shoulders), with just the tiniest bit more ease in the sleeve itself, as it should be. I took it upon myself to lengthen the sleeve this week, since I know I’ll need it. There is a cuff and a cuff facing to consider, but I’d rather have too much length (and have to shorten) than to make my coat and end up with a 12-year-old’s sleeves on a 29-year-old’s coat, if you follow me. We scooped out the armhole some more as well, just for ease of movement and what have you. What do you guys think: does it look pretty good?? I am wondering if my upper back will require any extra work; I know I am broader at the upper back than at the upper front, but I’m not sure that I need any extra wiggle room back there.

Here are some photos of my previous muslin after last week’s class, and my adjusted flat pattern before I used it to sew up what you see above:

Nina split the sleeve open to show how much height we needed; the marker is to show me where a raglan would go if I wanted one.

Nina split the sleeve open to show how much height we needed; the marker is to show me where a raglan would go if I wanted one.

Previous muslin

Previous muslin from the front

Flat pattern with changes made at last week's class--doesn't that armhole look nice?!?

Flat pattern with changes made at last week’s class–doesn’t that armhole look nice?!?

Shoulder soulmates

Shoulder soulmates

Original sleeve tracing on the left, present sleeve iteration on the right

Original sleeve tracing on the left, present sleeve iteration on the right

Tycho demanded that I stop working and feed him immediately.

Tycho demanded that I stop working and feed him immediately.

I apologize for the lack of photos of the muslin prior to this one; ultimately, this current iteration is a big improvement! We meet for the last time tonight ( 😦 😦 😦 ) so we’ll see what Nina thinks! I haven’t done anything with my facings, collars, cuffs, or cape yet, but having the main body pieces to work from will help me figure out what to do with the rest.

To counteract the very beige nature of this post, here are some photos of some new vintage pretties that I got myself recently:

1930's jacket and skirt!!

1930’s jacket and skirt!!

1920's blouse--this will be fun!!

1920’s blouse–this will be fun!!



These look like fingerwaved hair and are thus some of my favorites.

These look like fingerwaved hair and are thus some of my favorites.



Gorgeous patterns, including 2 with coats/jackets and one 1939 wrap dress!

Gorgeous patterns, including 2 with coats/jackets and one 1939 wrap dress!

Close-up of THAT JACKET THO.

Close-up of THAT JACKET THO.

I got very generous Etsy gift cards for xmas from Tom and my older sister, so I put them to good use at last! And there may or may not be more buttons on their way… 😀

I haven’t made much progress on my pants–tracing the pattern isn’t even done!–and I have been trying to help a friend make a shirt for his 1-year-old nephew, which is coming along nicely. Kids stuff is so mind-meltingly tiny, though! O_o My sewing mojo (“sewjo”) has been kind of missing lately, so hopefully I can find something to make that doesn’t require much effort and that results in something wearable and awesome. I am so tired of muslin!