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?

Changing Seasons


It's still hot as blazes here in Pennsylvania, the sweating in your house sort of hot. The forecast is low 90's - high 80's for the next two weeks and I'm sort of tempted to ignore the fact that it's September and sew another summer garment. All that chiffon in the stash is still waiting.
Speaking of summer garments, let me just say a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Sundress Sew-a-long. As always I'm just delighted that anyone wants to sew along with little old me. Then I get the added bonus of looking at everyone's completed dress pictures. So many beautiful dresses, you are ALL amazing! (A couple of you might find you dresses missing and replaced with a bag of was the frogs idea.)

I'd probably be tracing off another short sleeve dress right now if it wasn't for my lizard brain. It's noticed that the daylight hours are getting shorter and has been complicating matters by screaming for Fall clothing. "PLAID, we need more PLAID!!! Maybe some corduroy and anything with apples on it. For god sakes women it's September!" Umm OK, but it won't be cold for at least another month. Don't you want to sew some florals? Lizard voice - "NOOOOO PLAID!"  Woah, Woah, just calm down there. How about we do some Fall planning instead? Hey look, it's time for the Fall Essentials Sew-Along again. Let's do that.

Some of you may remember that I did this sew-along last year and actually sewed/knit at least 3/4 of the things that were planned. That's a pretty good result for someone who gets distracted by new projects pretty easily. Now I'm not implying that I will be such a good sewist this year, because there are less real wardrobe holes to fill.  I'm back to "sewing according to my whims" status after having been in, "Need clothing to actually cover by body," for about a year. That seems to be how long it takes to resew/buy a new wardrobe after losing a dress size or two. Right now garment planning is more about trying to pair stashed fabrics with patterns than anything else. 

Fashionable Foundations
1. Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers.  I might have talked Lelia into making a similar pair of trousers last year and haven't stopped thinking about having some myself. Then a girl can pretend to be Katharine Hepburn and say witty things to Cary Grant. Be cool if I could also put some "cheek bones that will cut glass" on order.
Thanks to a local sewing store closing, the stash has yards and yards of navy wool suiting which will now become a pair of these pants. Maybe about 5 other things too.

2. Toying with making another Betsy pencil skirt out of black pleather. That might be a little too cool for my wardrobe. Maybe that's why all the pleather has been sitting around for 4 years. Pretty soon it's going to get itself adopted by someone who doesn't think a hot Saturday night is watching PBS and drinking tea.

Chic Chemises
1. Sew Over it Anderson Blouse.  I already have this one nearly completed because the pattern would not stop dancing around in my brain. "Pretend you're Gillian Anderson without the red hair or talent." I can manage that!  The blouse being sewn up in this stashed double georgette. Meanwhile I'm practicing my, "Don't make me hit you upside the head Mulder," type stare.

Fabulous Frocks
1. The Wiggle dress from Gertie's first book has been on my mental sewing list...since the book came out. I've been waiting for it to appear fully formed in my closet, but for some reason this isn't happening. Did my husband trap all the sewing mice?  Or did they unionize and decide to sew mouse sized clothing?  Did Froggie send them on an overseas trip because they were eating too many of his cookies? Whatever the reason it seems I have to sew this pattern all by myself.

Underneath it All
Remember this vintage slip pattern? Still wanna be wearing it, but still haven't sewn it. Froggie, get me a fluffy powder puff immediately. 

Tender Tootsies
Just like last year I have some wool socks on the needles that could be finished in this time period. Or they could sit there for a few more months while I cackle madly in the sewing area. Froggie's currently taking bets on the outcome.

Those Cozy Nights
Not planning to make any sleepwear this year unless some knits jump on the serger themselves. Stranger things have happened.

Baby It's Cold Outside
Last year I entered a weird groundhog day situation where I was always knitting a red beret but it never was finished to satisfaction. This year the goal is to finish the sew-along with berets on my head. No particular patterns or colors have been chosen yet because it's 95 degrees and I can't even think about it. Now an ice pack holding vest, I could get on board with that.

Those are all my fall sewing/knitting plans at the moment. I'm sure that new items will pop on the list as the weather cools or new patterns appear before my eyes. It's also possible that I'll find myself suddenly cutting out a sundress and this list will get tabled. All that's certain is that there is ice cream in my future. Nom, nom, nom.

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