PR Hacks - The Nettie Christmas Dress


As usual in December I disappear off the blog due to a flurry of Christmas preparations and the germs my child sneaks home in his pocket. However froggie is happy to report that all the Christmas present sewing got done and he helped me wrap the last box up. Such a helpful amphibian. We also did some semi-behind the scenes sewing for this month's PR pattern hack column.  If you follow me on IG you probably saw several poorly lit muslins of this dress show up on my feed.  Finally the reveal day is here and I can show you some decent and seasonal photographs.
This month's hack was inspired by a vintage jersey dress that popped into my own IG feed. The original was a feisty leopard print and which of course grabbed my attention.  I thought it was a nice combo of a sultry silhouette paired with the practically of pockets and comfy knits. So I went to my trusty copy of the Closet Case Files Nettie pattern and hacked one for myself.  Now you can find out how to do it too over the PR blog.  Happy hacking and a slice of pie for you all.

Thanksgiving Outfit - Butterick 6285


This year the sewing fairy must have had a slow night, because she paid me a little visit to specifically dictate a Thanksgiving outfit. Usually my dressing concerns for America's favorite eating holiday are, A. Does it have an expandable waist and B. Will the sleeves accidentally fall into the gravy boat? Bonus points if fabric that doesn't readily show grease stains. Using these rules I usually put together an outfit without much fuss or pre-planning. The sewing fairy was having none of that and whispered in my ear that I "needed" to have a leaf print skirt for Thanksgiving.  It's Fall and leaves are festive....or something like that.  She probably knew I'd outright laugh at her if she suggested festooning myself with turkeys.
I did laugh at the thought of Thanksgiving specfic sewing anyway.  My desk already has a Christmas sewing list a mile long, like hell another item is going on there. The sewing fairy just looked at me and smiled slyly. "Of course my dear, do whatever you want.  You should probably stay away from that Etsy website after all. You know how you like to spend money on there." Say what now?! Wild horses could not keep me away from the Etsy site now.  I'll show you sewing fairy!!! And that's how I ended up purchasing 4 yards of vintage cotton with red/black leaves.
Once that yardage entered my house I felt contractually obligated to sew it up. Man that sewing fairy is a wily one! It's like she knows all my sewing weakness....or paid someone for information.  I'm looking at you froggie!  Well at least I could put that impulse buy of Butterick 6285 to good use.
Having been burnt by Big 4 ease in circle skirts before, I measured the waist area before tracing. Hooray for sometimes learning lessons from past projects. My ruler told me that Butterick had drafted this pattern with more ease than I'd like.  Two inches of ease has been added to the waist measurement for each size, so the size 16 with a 30" waist will have a 32" finished waistband.  My waist is exactly 30" so I dropped down to the size 14 and muslined up the skirt as is. That muslin did "zip up," but felt like it might grow uncomfortable as the day wore on.  Figuring it was a smart thing to do, I added 1" of ease around the side seam area......which made my final garment about 1" too big in the waist.  HAA HAAA HAAA, sob.   The waistband was left that way for Thanksgiving for obvious reasons.....specifically pie.  However I will HAVE to go back and take in the waistband because the skirt kept falling forward off my waist all day. It drove me crazy having to constantly adjust it.

One other thing to note about this pattern is that the CB seam and side seams are drafted with a 1" seam allowance and I'm not sure why. The directions do show you how to recess the pocket bags, sewing them at a 3/4" seam allowance so they disappear into the seam a bit better.  I do think this is a nice feature, but you don't need a whole 1" of seam allowance to do so. Dare I say that a standard home sewing 5/8" seam allowance is more than enough to accomplish the same thing. OK, my college prejudices of 5/8" SA being way too big might be showing. Let's just say that if you need to save some fabric you can always cut those areas down. Forewarned is forearmed or something like that.

Butterick 6285 - Skirt portion only.

Fabrics used
Vintage cotton, closer to dress weight than quilting weight.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. I went down one size and added an 1" of ease to the waistband.

2. Added 3" of length for a finished length of 27".

- You will want to stay stitch the skirt waist on this pattern immediately. I found it grew with even the lightest amount of handling.

- I'd meant to give you some photos of the skirt with a petticoat underneath and forgot to pack it for our trip to the in-laws. Anyway it's a nice look for the design if you want more fullness.

- The top in these pictures is a Nettie hack that is in no way ready for prime time. There's not enough ease for a faux wrap style and it's trying to gape open at every opportunity. In fact I'm going to rip it apart and turn it into a regular V-neck.

Husband Comment
"Oh did you make that too?  What's happening here with the extra fabric? Oh pleats? That's cool."

My Final Thoughts
I bought Butterick 6285 more for the kimono top than for the skirt, but really enjoyed sewing up the bottom portion.  I like the double pleats and the fact that the pattern comes with pockets.  Since only the waist area needs to be fitted, it's a quick pattern to bang out.  It took merely a week to sew both the muslin and the real garment. Guess the fabric fairy was right about me needing a new skirt after all. So if you'd like to add another cute circle skirt/kimono top to your pattern collection, then pick this one up during the next Butterick sale.

Pattern Hacks are Back


Those of you who have enjoyed my various pattern hacking posts in the past will be pleased to learn that I'm back to my old Frankenstein tricks.  As of today I'll be writing a monthly pattern hacking column for Pattern Review. Eep.

To start things out I decided to go super simple and modify the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio. The neckline was changed to a be much higher with a folder over facing.  The hem is also modified to have a facing with side seam split. You can get all the details here over on the PR blog.  And if you want to see this same shirt in a solid just take a gander at my previous post.
Going forward I'm hoping to write more complicated pattern hacks and to use various pattern companies, both independent and the Big 4. Just as long as inspiration cooperates with my plans. :)
If there's any sort of pattern hack you're dying to see in the future just let me know here or over on the PR blog.  Happy hacking my friends. :)

A FESA Non Complete


My freak out about Christmas sewing post probably clued you into the fact that the FESA list was not going to be finished before the deadline.  I couldn't in good faith sew more items for myself after being shocked at the number of gift crafting days left.  Maybe I am slowly making progress on my sewing procrastination problem.

So let's take a quick look at my planned FESA list and how much was completed. It's actually not that bad considering I'm a "Oh squirrel" sort of sewist.

1. Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers
The originally planned navy pair was completed in September.  I also decided to make a second pair in some stretch wool tweed without the cuffs.  (Confession, there wasn't enough fabric for cuffs)
The too big waistband was fixed on the second pair.  First I removed the extra ease added added to the CF. Then the pants were sewed at a 5/8" seam allowance instead of at 1/2" like suggested.  The wider seam allowances compensated for the lycra in the wool fabric.  I also did a last minute fit check by basting on the waistband and trying on the pants. All those changes yield a perfectly fitting waistband, huzzah!  

2. Betsy pencil skirt out of black pleather
After thinking about this for awhile I wasn't sure that a pleather skirt would actually get worn.  Instead I sewed a new Betsy out of some leopard denim in the stash.

3. Sew Over it Anderson Blouse
Completed in September and the blouse happens to go pretty well with the smooth sailing pants. Not that I have any decent pictures of it.

4. The Wiggle dress from Gertie's first book
Oh yeah, like you could forget that dress being finished. 

5. Vintage McCall's slip
Nope, didn't happen.  The pattern did get as far as being muslined/fitted so maybe I'll pick it up after the holidays are over. Maybe.

6. Leapfrog socks
Yes I did finish that pair of socks quietly in the background.  My cold toes are very happy about it.

8. Knit a beret.
Nope, still no new berets for me. I must don the ribbons of shame.....or take a beret pattern with me during our Thanksgiving visit to the in-laws.  Yes, YES! Beret redemption is within my grasp. Unless I eat so much that my free time is spent dozing on a couch.

I also sewed a couple of these tops where are a hack of the Grainline Studio Lark Tee.  More info on that later this week.

Can't blog, Christmas sewing


Well that's not entirely true since I'm typing sentences as we speak. It's just that I might have looked at a calendar recently, did the math and then had a small anxiety attack. Where did October go? How is it that I got all of TWO things sewn and both of them were for me? Didn't I say last year that December is too late to sew plaid dresses and all things holiday themed? Oh god, I'm going to blink and it's going to be December. Who Is Speeding Up Time and knock that nonsense off right this minute!!! *Proceeds to rip hair out while staring immobile at the list of projects to get done before the end of the year. *
Ok, it's not that bad really.  This year I was somewhat smart and got all my holiday sock knitting done over the summer.  No last minute mad knitting jags that leave my wrists battered this year. I've also got the Christmas PJ sewing half done.  The only reason it's not 100% done is that the stash didn't have the right colored ribbing and I had to order some. That package should be here before the end of the month and then all the PJ stuff will be done in a day or two.  So no worries on that particular front as long as a certain child stops increasing his knit sock order.  Des -"I want 5 pairs of socks Mommy, Five.  One pair red, one pair green, one pair orange, one pair brown, one pair blue." Me - "You're getting one pair." *Cue melodramatic groan of disgust from the 5 year old*
I might have promised my sister a blazer last year and never come through....or maybe that's just the amount of time it takes me to process her "orders". (See winter coat that took me 2 years.) Good news is that I traced, muslin and fit the Bellatrix blazer last year.  One could consider the project half done already.  All I really need is for Froggie to beat me with the efficiency stick until it's sewn. "Get off the internet and cut some fabric Heather!" That "seems" doable if I don't spend my free time searching Etsy for novelty Christmas print fabric. *Guilty looks at open Etsy tab in browser*
About that novelty Christmas fabric, I kind of want some sort of kitschy skirt or dress to wear during the Christmas season.  Of course it's all gotten a bit late considering I have no fabric or pattern ideas at this minute. As much as I'd like to indulge my "theme dressing" whims it seems silly to completely stress myself out doing so. Oh why didn't past Heather sew something Christmas themed in July? It was too hot to think about that? Excuses, excuses.
So on the one hand Christmas sewing looks doable, but on the other I see my next month and a half scheduled and it makes me real twitchy. What plans? No wiggle room for crazy sewing flights of fancy? But what if I spent half the night looking at vintage Christmas cards and now I "need" a faux fur muff? Froggie says that ridiculous, you need your hands out to keep you from falling over since you won't wear flats anywhere.  Shhh Froggie, don't rain on my mental fashion parade, the sewing list is already doing that.
So how are you guys doing?  Do you love to Christmas sew and happily take requests from your family? Do you hate it and tell everyone "politely" that it's your hobby and you'll get them a nice box of candy instead? Do you do give in and sew for others this one time of the year because fabric is literally coming out of your ears and maybe you should see a doctor about that. No one wants ear waxy gifts.

Well I see that Froggie's gotten the efficiency stick out of storage, so I'd better chain myself to the sewing machine and get cracking.  If you don't hear from me in a month or so then send a fruitcake so I can use it to break a window and escape. Merry Pre-Christmas my dears!

P.S. I have a sudden craving for a black dog. Isn't that strange?  Tell my husband to make it a black Scotch Terrier with a plaid coat and an allergy to chewing shoes. Bonus points if the dog will wear mini berets and I get a matching one.

A wiggle dress years in the making


Have you ever had a garment on your mental "to sew" list so long that the very thought of sewing it becomes a chore? Shouldn't that dress already be hanging in the closet?  I've thought about sewing it so many times that it should have a corporeal form at this point. "Ta Da, I magiced this dress into to my wardrobe with my mind. It's amazing!!!!" - is what I'd like to be able to say. Instead I have to mutter, "Where did my scissors disappear to for the 40th time?  Oh they're under my butt...once again. Guess I have to make this dress now." *Heavy Sigh*
This might only be a problem for those of us who suffer/embrace the "Ooooo something shiny!" form of sewing planning. Once a pattern loses its shiny new patina it turns into work instead of fun. Those of you who are serious planners will have to let me know if you get tired of old plans eventually. Maybe you have a stronger work ethic towards the sewing list than I. If my sewing list isn't an open ended one like FESA then I'm more likely to sew something completely unplanned. I don't play by anyone's rules, not even my own. ;)

Enough about plans, let's get to the point of this post, the Gertie Wiggle dress from her first book. When I saw her green sample of this pattern it was love at first sight and I immediately preordered the book. Sometimes you know a pattern is going to look good on you just by looking at a photograph. When my copy arrived excitement was running so high that I did a very stupid thing when starting this project. I failed to consult the size chart for the patterns. Who knows what I was thinking at the time. More likely no thinking was actually involved in the decision, "I'm usually a 14 in patterns so I'll trace that one."
Spoiler, my measurements correspond with the size 8 in the Gertie book ,so my size 14 muslin was wrong in every possible way. Not only was it too big in the circumference, the torso and height seemed to be for a much taller/longer torsoed person than me.  The last thing I felt like doing was starting from scratch and tracing a new size.  Instead I moved on to the Shirtwaist dress pattern which turned into a nightmare of fitting alterations. That was enough to make me gun shy and the book went back to the bookshelf not to be opened again for quite a while.
Clearly those sewing traumas weren't enough to put me completely off the wiggle dress pattern. After letting it marinate for 2 years I finally traced the correct size 8 and muslined it up. To my surprise the dress fit almost perfectly straight from the "envelope." Who would have thunk it? In the end this was a super easy pattern to sew up with great results.

I did find two drafting errors on the size 8
- The front torso is 3/4" longer than the back.  I double checked the trace lines 3 times to make sure that the problem wasn't me blending different sizes. Nope, that sucker does not match up if you walk the seam line. My solution was to remove this extra length in the front so that the seam lines did match. I was lucky that this torso length also matched my body.

- The slash lines for the gussets are not the same length on the front and back. The slash lines on the back are longer and seem to fit the gusset size better. I made the front slash lines the same length and this worked fine for me.

So yeah, I'm still a little iffy about the drafting of patterns in the book. On this dress it was just some easy to fix errors that didn't impact my sewing enjoyment. Still that doesn't make me feel super confident about trying a different pattern. Will it be an easy to adjust project or will it end with me futilely trying to adjust the pattern for a completely different body type than what it was drafted for?  Who knows! To be honest I might just stick with Gertie's Butterick line, since they seem to have the standard Big 4 issues that I know how to handle. (Feel free to laugh at me when I sew another pattern from this book.)

The Wiggle Dress from "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing."

Fabrics used
Black cotton/linen? with a silver metallic lace design screen printed on top.

Pattern changes/alterations
- The height of the neckline is very choke inducing. I lowered mine about 5/8".

- Like on my Joan dress I put on the muslin and liked the length of the unhemmed sleeves and skirt.  1 1/4" of additional length was added to both the sleeves and the skirt.

- As previously mentioned I pinched out 3/4" on the front bodice only as it was drafted longer.

- Front gusset slash line was lengthened by a 1/4"

- The only thing tricky about sewing the pattern is putting in the sleeve gussets. Since I had two Advance 9441's under my belt I figured it wouldn't be all that tricky this time. Wrong. The gusset seam lines are drawn differently on the two patterns.  On the Gertie wiggle dress the seam lines are much straighter and closer together. I found this a lot harder to sew than the large and curved lines of the Advance pattern. (Photo comparison -Wiggle dress on the left, Advance 9441 on the right.)
Obviously I persevered and managed to sew all 4 gussets without giant puckers or leaving holes near the points. There was just a little more cursing at the sewing machine than usual.

- Just wanted to note that with the gussets the kimono sleeves are very close fitting. My upper arms just fit in there so you "may" need a width adjustment if that's an area where you carry weight.

- Confession, I did not reinforce these particular gussets.  My fabric felt sturdy enough to get along without extra organza added.

Husband Comment
"It looks nice on you and I like the baseball sleeve.  Hey is that fabric cracking?"

My Final Thoughts
Despite my continued reservations about the patterns in "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing," I'm glad that this pattern got sewn up. After all it was my fault the first time for not consulting the size chart and muslining a wildly inappropriate size. If you have a similar figure to mine, you'll find it an easy pattern to fit and not much harder to sew. Just get those gussets under your belt and the rest is smooth sailing.  This pattern is certainly a sexy number but it's also surprisingly comfortable to wear.  I feel like it has just the right amount of ease to show off your curves while still letting you move around like a normal person.  So if you like to gamble a bit with your sewing then this pattern might be for you. Just don't gamble with good fabric, muslin, muslin, muslin.  I SEE YOU IGNORING ME! :P Oh well, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.  See you guys next month with hopefully the last of my FESA list finished. I might have to stay up late to get that beret knit. Do you think Froggie would knit it for extra cookies?

Just going for a stroll - The Joan Dress


Hello all my sewing friends. Fall weather has finally found us in PA and I alternate between sighing with happiness and freaking out that I don't have enough warm clothing. Why haven't I been sewing wool clothing since August?  Didn't Past me know that Future me wanted some new wool dresses to shimmy around in before old man winter arrived? I hear her whining about sewing wool in 90 degree heat and all I can do is frown sternly at her lack of commitment to Sparkle Motion  Fall wardrobes.
In truth I can't blame Past Heather too much because planning has never been a strong point for any Heather, no matter what time continuum she's currently in. All we can do it put our forehead to the side of the sewing machine, sew like the wind and hope the weather holds. Which is pretty much all I did last week with the exception of getting some teeth filled, making my kid do homework and cooking meals for the family.  There's currently ironing strewn across the floor in the main part of the house and the bathroom hasn't seen the back of a sponge in two weeks.  Listen, some things need to be sacified for fashion.
On the flip side, procrastination does pay off when it comes to the release of new Fall patterns. If I'd been sewing in August who knows what this shiny piece of wool might have become.  Instead it was still sleeping in the wool box at the time Sew Over It released their newest pattern The Joan Dress. When it popped up on their instagram feed it was an immediate "Add to the mental buy list." I probably would have bought it right away if it wasn't for the surprise dental bill my teeth earned me this month.  I'm sure my cake consumption has nothing to do with those new cavities, nothing! The tooth fairy gave me a special dietary clearance and everything.

I was going to be a good girl and wait till next month to buy this pattern when an email from Pattern Review popped into my inbox. Would I like a copy of the Joan Dress pattern to blog about?  Are you guys reading my mind because I've currently staring at it with longing in my web browser. Yes, yes, please hook me up.  So Deepika emailed me a digital copy and I banged the dress out in a week.  What can I say, this baby was easy to put together, including that sassy collar.
Unlike my last Sew Over It project I didn't make any major changes to the pattern. This garment only has fitting adjustments and the sleeves/hem were lengthened a tad.  Am I the only one that puts unhemmed muslins on and suddenly decides the final garment needs to be the same length? It's like once my brain has seen the garment at that length there's no going back to the drafted hem allowance.  On this dress that meant adding 5/8" of length to the sleeves and 2" of length to the skirt. Oh and I did make one more change, I reduced the kick pleat high by about 5".  It literally started right under my backside and while I do like extra walking room, no one needs to see the much of the back of my legs.

Fitting notes - This pattern has a lot of darts in it which usually makes fitting easier for me. For example my wide upper back adjustment creates a shoulder dart. In this case the pattern already has a dart there, so I only need to make the dart bigger when adding the extra width. For the most part I plugged in all my standard fitting adjustments and the dress fit great. There were two areas where I had to make extra adjustments, the bodice length and the sleeve width.  The bodice length must be on the short side because I actually have a short torso and usually have to reduce the length of bodices. On this dress I lengthened it a 1/4" and probably should have gone for a full 1/2".  Something I only really noticed when trying to keep a belt on that seam while taking pictures.  As for the arms, those of you which sender ones will probably be fine with the sleeve width.  But if you carry a bit of fluff on your upper arms like I do you might need to split the sleeve open to add extra width for bending your arms.  On my dress I added a 1/2" along the whole sleeve width. I have this problem with some designers and not others, so it's more of a "second tier" adjustment for me.  You'll see all the alterations listed in the regular place in the review if you're interested.

Warning non-sewing tangent ahead:
Gillian's better pictures project has given me a bit of a kick in the butt when it comes to my photo routine. This year it's felt like I've been going to the same 3 places and doing all my standard poses. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially if you have to knock some blog photos out in a limited amount of time. Still I was in the mood to do something different this week and had a bit of fun choosing a new location in my favorite park. (The one that houses the white door patio and the rock wall. )  Over on this side of the park there is another lovely historic building which would be a great backdrop if it wasn't in full sun all morning. Drat.  But this Sunday I noticed the walking path next to it had a fair amount of tree cover.  Only problem, all that sunlight in the background messes with the camera's foreground brightness setting and I was coming out all dark.  Nooo what's a girl who doesn't really know anything about photography to do?  Answer - Mess around with random camera settings and accidentally stumble on a solution.  I shoot with a Canon Rebel T5i and here's the settings that were used. After setting the camera to Creative Audio mode I hit the camera button so I can see the "backdrop" in my view finder. Then I hit the Q button to get the additional option menus.
I change Flash firing to "Off", Background to "Max blurred", Ambience based shots to "Brighter" and finally Effect to "Medium." All other settings were left at their default locations. This brightened up the foreground so that you could actually see me against the backlit background. Now if you're someone who does know someone who does know something about photography and has a better way to do this then fill me in. I would love to know.

(P.S. I thought some of you might like a photo of the dress without the hat and gloves to get an idea of how it would look in a more modern wardrobe.)

The Joan Dress from Sew Over It.  PR offers all the Sew Over it Patterns as digital downloads and if you're a PR member, which I am, you can get a nice little 10% discount.  I often go that route when it comes to UK based patterns so that the "Paying for shipping money" can become "buying fabric money."

I sewed a 12/14 combo but easily could have sewn a straight 12. I found the lower half to be plenty roomy.

Fabrics used
All fabrics were rather old purchases that have been lurking in my stash.
Gray/metallic silver/lycra wool suiting, originally from
Poly acetate lining, origially from

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Lengthened bodice 1/4".

2. Dropped front dart 1" and increased back dart intake by 1".

3. Added standard 1/2" wide upper back adjustment.

4. Dropped armholes 1/2".

5. Made 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment to the bodice shoulder and the sleeve cap

6. Split the sleeve down the middle and widened it by 1/2"

7.  Lengthened skirt by 2".

8. Increased back skirt dart by 1" to match the bodice.

9. Cut down kick pleat length by 5".

- The lycra and metallic content of the fabric made pressing a bit of a challenge especially in the collar area.
I got around this by spritzing the collar with water, then folding it over and holding it with small binder clips. The collar was left to dry overnight and then removed the clips. Essentially I wet set that sucker.

- Instead of hemming the skirt and lining as one I kept them separate. This was more of a personal preference in construction issue. Doing it the way described in the directions will give you a prettier finish on the kick pleat.

- The metallic fibers in the wool really seem to show A Lot of drag lines.  Other than the bodice length I do think the fit of this garment is correct and most of the lines are just from posing. I did put a non-stretch lining in a stretch woven shell which could be a source of some of the problems. Need to add some stretch linings to the stash in the future.

Husband Comment
"You look like you should be in a black and white movie. Swinging your curves around the pool hall...or maybe courthouse."

My Final Thoughts
I'm grandfather clausing this pattern into my FESA list since it wasn't released when the list was drafted. Otherwise I would have put this on the top of the Fall sewing list. Something about Fall weather just makes me want to sew sexy wiggle dresses. Meow!
Pattern Review provided me this pattern free of charge for a blog post. Which means you got to see it this month instead of in November because I was making this baby no matter what. 

More FESA Makes - The Smooth Sailing Trousers


Pants.  We've had a long and somewhat traumatic history. I think my pants fitting rant was the first blog post that was written purely for "laughs."  Laughs really meaning cathartic venting/sobbing into my sewing machine.  Two years later my pants fitting has improved all that much when it comes to fitted pants. The perfect crotch length/depth ratio seems to be an elusive number that forever tap dances out of reach. So I did the only sensible thing, stopped wearing pants.  OK, maybe not sensible, but it was an effective way not to have to deal with pants fitting for awhile. For the most part being an exclusive wearer of dresses and skirts has worked out just fine.  I've got my emergency pair of RTW jeans in the dresser for really dicey weather, but wool tights get me through most of winter.

Being a happy dress wearer does not stop me from occasionally having sexy pants daydreams.  You might be saying, "Listen Heather, we all daydream about sexy men in pants sometimes. I mean have seen Tom Hiddleston dancing?"  Oh yes I have and I'm a strong proponent of his "snake hips", but that's not really what I'm talking about here.  The kind of pants daydreams I have are of completed outfits that are not actually in my closet. Red capri pants are featured heavily, but it seems planning outfits in your head does not make them magically appear. My window for red capri pants is quickly closing so I decided to put the second most wished for pant on my FESA list, a pair of wide legged cuffed pants.
For several years if I put on a pair of pants, it was a close fitting capri or jeans style. But Vivien of Holloway's Swing Trousers got me thinking about wearing wide leg pant. So roomy, yet elegant!  I toyed with just buying a pair, but my inner seamstress was very adamant that saving money through sewing was the way to go.  "You know there's a shit ton of wool in the stash. Sew that stuff up!!!" OK inner voice, you win this time.
There's a couple of nice wide legged pants out there but I decided to go with the Smooth Sailing Trousers from Wearing History.  They were the closest in style to the Vivien of Holloway pants with the waistband at the natural waist and a seam seam entry.  The Smooth Sailing Trousers use a zipper instead of buttons, but that was just fine with me. I can confidently say that I don't need more "visual interest" in that particular area of my body.

So pants fitting, how does that work out when you're making wide leg pants?  A lot better than it does with fitted pants!  Only the waistband area is supposed to be close to the body so it's a lot more like fitting a skirt than pants.   I did need to lengthen the back rise because hello big butt.  It might still be too long or too short, I honestly don't know.  There might be some sort of black hole vortex thing going on back there bending time/distance so that no rise will ever be right.  But I do know that you don't have to worry about under butt wrinkles in these pants. Huzzah!
See? And any wrinkles there I can just use the excuse, "It's how I'm standing." Muhaaa, Big Pants!

As a sewing project these pants were pretty boring.  While a good wardrobe staple, plain navy wool is enough to put anyone to sleep. This lead to a lot of procrastination, especially since they needed to be lined. My brain knows that skipping lining is a bad bad move that I will forever regret later. That doesn't make it any more fun cut and sew.  I need to hire some lining elves or to promote froggie to linings. He says he needs a pay raise for that and a cake every Monday morning.
But enough about my frog contract negotiations, let's get back to pants for a minute. During the boring sewing I kept telling myself that once these babies were done I'd be pleased a punch.  Happy to report that this is 100% true.  The Smooth Sailing Trousers pattern was exactly what I had in mind when daydreaming about big wide legged pants. Now I can finally get my 40's vibe on and/or climb things in a reckless fashion.

Smooth Sailing Trousers from Wearing History  (I bought the PDF version.)

Fabrics used
Lightweight wool suiting and poly blend lining.

Pattern changes/alterations
- To accommodate my tilted waist, the front waistline of the pants was cut down 1/2" and graded out to nothing at the side seams.

- Added 1" of length to the crotch.

- Straighten out the front crotch curve to give an additional 1/4" of ease on waistline at the CF. (For cake babies and such.)

- Shortened the leg length by 3/4".

- To line the pants I used the same pattern piece but shortened the pants length an inch.

- My muslin showed I needed more waist ease. Then my real pants were a little too big in the waist.  Curse you muslin! (Or maybe I need to start putting zippers in muslins. Sigh.)

Husband Comment
"Wait, did you make those? Really? Pants?   They're BIG."

My Final Thoughts
Swishing around in giant pant legs is weirdly addictive and I might.....might have to make another pair. Or maybe I'll wait until I've got my child labor trained.  Sew Desmond, Sew! No, put the scissors down! On second thought child labor might be more work in the long run.  Sigh.
P.S.  I finally did my Better Photos Project homework and scoped out a new photo location near my house. Or how the police might term it, "Trespassing on a local law office for inexplicable reasons." Don't worry though, I'm non threatening enough that no one pays attention to me dancing around on a lawn....
other than one very loud squirrel. I almost started hollering, "Go eat those nuts loudly somewhere else!!" Blog picture taking is much more important than your winter preparations Mr. squirrel. ;)  Anyway lighting was a little dicey here and I wound up trying out 5 different angles. Took so many pictures that I fully depleted the camera battery and had to hope some of those shots were OK. Thank the sewing goddess that several of the pictures were fine.  Meanwhile Gillian has far surpassed me and is taking street photos. Oh My Lord how cool is her last post?! 

Seriously Gillian, you're too cool for school...which might make your job hard to do. ;)  Thanks for having me on your blog pal. I'm looking forward to next month's Better Photos Project posts so I can learn a thing or two.

In which I pretend to be a 40/50's era Gillian Anderson


Last year my husband and I decided to watch season 1 of "The Fall" together.  It was an enjoyable if super creepy time until the end. At that point I might have shouted, "You Bastards!" at the cliffhanger ending. (I come from a long line of TV yellers.)  My take away from the the series was, A. My brain will always be semi scared of poor Jamie Dornan, who I'm sure is actually a lovely person. And B. Who ever was dressing Gillian Anderson needs to take me shopping.  If you've never watched "The Fall", it's about a serial killer with Gillian Anderson playing the detective trying to find him. Her wardrobe is full of tailored suits paired with silk blouses of various colors. She comes off as professional but coldly sensious, which seems to drive some of her male co-workers a little crazy.
Obviously I wasn't the only one taken with her collection of silk blouses since Lisa Comfort decided to design a pattern inspired by the show.  When it was posted on the Sew Over It instagram feed last year I was sobbing lightly after reading it was only available in a class. But I wants the precious and I don't live in the UK. *Sniff, sniff* Thankfully all I had to do was wait and now the pattern is available as a PDF for those of us who reside across the pond.
I'd classify this pattern as beginner level blouse pattern since there's no darts, collars/collar stands, button bands to deal with. The cuffs do call for button holes, but having to sew two is a lot easier than making a standard button down shirt. So here's the thing about me and beginner level patterns.....I can't leave well enough alone.  At first I'm all like, "Oh and easy project that I can zone out on." But I never really do that. Instead I start redrafting the pattern because I'm not a beginner and I'm dangerously equipped with "textbook" pattern drafting knowledge. That said, there wasn't any major redrafting done on the Anderson blouse. I think this pattern has a solid base, but there were one or two details of the drafting that weren't to my liking. Then add to that my usual personal preference changes that have nothing to do with the draft of the pattern. The things you change because it's your garment and you can. So here's a breakdown of what I liked and didn't like, and what was changed just for my tastes.

Things I liked about the pattern as drafted
- The back neckline is finished with bias binding that is slip stitched down.  This gives you a pretty clean edge that won't flip out like a facing would.
- The fronts are finished with fold over facings. I found these to be drafted wide enough that they weren't prone to flapping out the neckline.

- The sleeve caps have just the right amount of ease. Just a little for movement, but not so much that you have problems setting the sleeves pucker free.  I'm also like the width of the sleeve itself. Feel like it would have been easy to stray into 80's puffy sleeve land, but these perfect.

Things I didn't like as drafted
- If you make this blouse as instructed then the sleeve slit is part of the underarm seam. When scanning the directions I saw this and said NOPE.  On the good side it will take you all of 10 minutes to move the pleat, add a slit and draft a piece of continuous binding. (Steps for this are under the Confessions/Advice section.)
- The bottom of the blouse is cut straight across and finished by sewing a casting and inserting some ribbon to gather it up. As someone who has always had a "large for her frame" butt, anything that gathers around that area sends me into a fit of hives.  I did some brainstorming for alternate finishes and didn't come up with anything that would look all that great if the blouse was worn untucked. So I procrastinated another day and then decided that I didn't really want to wear the blouse untucked and finished it with a rolled hem.

Things I changed just because I'm picky about clothing in a way that drove my mother crazy when it was her job to clothe me.
-  Instead of gathering the shoulders I turned that area into pleats.  It's more of a 40's look which appeals to me, but might not appeal to everyone.
- The pattern comes with a narrow cuff. After making a muslin I didn't care for the narrow cuff and widened it to the same width as some button down patterns in the stash.
With my mods I'm pretty pleased with this blouse. It's got a bit of a vintage-ish vibe when paired with a pencil skirt that is gonna work great with my wardrobe. Now on to all the review details!

Sew Over It's Anderson Blouse

Fabrics used
Double silk georgette (This was purchased from Tessuti fabrics years and years ago. Sorry because I know a lot of you like it.)

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Standard 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment to the sleeve and shoulder.

2. Took the shoulder width in 1/4".

3. Changed the side seam from a straight line to a curved one to remove a bit of the ease at the waist. Removed around 1/2" on the quarter for 2" of ease removed at the waist through the entire garment

4. Changed the gathers to pleats.

5. Redrafted the sleeve to be a standard shirtmakers sleeve with a continuous bias binding.

6. Increased width of the cuff to a finished width of 2 1/4".

7. Sleeve length was reduced 1" since I'd increased the size of the cuff.

- The sleeve redraft is super simple because the only thing missing is the cut line to make the slit. I converted one side of the pleat to the cut line and moved the pleat.

1. The left side of the pleat will be converted to the slash line so first we will move the pleat to the right.  Measure out the 1 1/4" from the right pleat mark.

2. Cross out the old pleat fold marking and draw in an arrow over the new pleat location.

3. Go back to the leftmost mark and extent to up to the length you want the sleeve slit to be.  Mine is 2 1/2" finished. (So 2 1/2" plus the 5/8" seam allowance for the cuff, 3 1/4 total.)

4. Last step is to draft a rectangle to be the bias binding for the slit.  The rectangle should be twice as long as your slit length plus seam allowance.  Mine is 6 1/2" line.  The width depends on what seam allowance you will use to attach the piece and how wide you want the finished binding to look.  I sew sleeve bindings on with a 1/4" SA and like them to be around 1/4" finished. My binding piece is drafted to be 1 1/2" wide.

- I was a dum dum and transferred one of my slit markings incorrectly to the cutting paper. Didn't notice it until I'd cut the slit in the fabric and tried to sew the binding on.  So on this blouse the sleeve slits are 3 1/2" instead of the drafted 2 1/2".

- In my humble opinion this is not a blouse to wear untucked. Here's my photographic evidence. Having it tucked into a fitted bottom makes all that ease look good. Hanging on it own....not so much. Tucked in though, it's sooo good.

- Want to convert the gathered area on the shoulder to pleats like I did? Here's a look at my pattern.
The 3 pleats are around 1 3/8". There's a bit of fudging here to make everything fit in the marked out gather area. Between the pleats is 1" so that they don't stack right on top of each other.  All the pleats were folded towards the neck.

- I used the old stiffen it with gelatin trick on this double georgette and had a very pleasant sewing experience. Here's a link to the Threads article which explained it to me.

Husband Comment
"Ooooh, blousey. That's a cool fabric."

My Final Thoughts
Even with my anal retentive tweaking this project sewed up really fast. It took me only a week even with the time suck of cutting silk between paper. Speaking of silk, this is the perfect pattern for using some of those long stashed lengths in the stash. I'm thrilled how great this almost 5 year old georgette looks sewn up and how the blouse pairs with my collection of pencil skirts.  I'm pretty sure another Anderson blouse is in my future.
So that was a good start to my FESA sewing. Froggie thinks that the Smooth Sailing trousers might also pair well with an Anderson blouse. He's probably right, but I started another pencil skirt instead.  Trouser fitting will wait for another day or until someone prods me into doing it. Please someone prod me a little. Or come sew some pant for me. I have cookies! Please?
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