Saturday, January 25, 2014

Denim Slacks & Mini pocket tutorial

This is my first official entry into the SWAP 2014.

It is a pair of charcoal denim slacks. The fabric is from Gorgeous Fabrics and described as "Premium Designer Stretch Denim, Dark Wash." Hmmm... maybe my charcoal denim slacks aren't really charcoal. Oh, well. They are what they are and definitely are underway so they will be part of the SWAP. Guess I need to spend the big bucks and get the Pantone swatch card. NOT! I'd never spend that kind of money.

Disclaimer... I am not perfect and do a generally good job that passes for good looking pants, but there are ALWAYS little things that aren't perfect. If you see them, good. If not, know they are there.  In general, I am a self-taught sewer and many things I do may not be standard, and certainly aren't couture, but they do get the job done, and I've been making 99% of my own clothing for at least the last 15 years, and most people don't realize my clothing is self-made.

Anyway, these are my slacks. I have posted before that I love to use a quilting cotton for the pockets with a matching Hong Kong finish on my waistband. Since I have been using a self drafted pattern for a very long time, I don't have any sewing instructions so have made them up as I went along, finding tips here and there, and experimenting. I'm going to share the way I install pockets. I'm definitely not an expert, but these work really well for me.

Once you have your darts sewn and pressed, you will sew your pockets. I use a piece of pocketing that is folded along the inner edge as it's just easier for me. These are left over batik fabric from my Hot Patterns Plain and Simple Princess shirt made in August of 2012. I have the pants drafted with what I've been told is called quarter pockets, where the openings are about 2-2 1/2" along the waistband measuring from the side seam, (measurement depends on your size~ roughly one quarter of your front measurement hence the term quarter pockets.) The pocket opening goes down at a diagonal until they reach the side seam. A good way to check the opening size is to measure the width of your hand, laid flat and add a little extra for ease. Then mark that spot on your side seam remembering to measure down from the waistline and not the seam allowance. From your waist mark to the point you determine will be your pocket opening. You should have a couple of inches of pocketing below the place where the pocket connects to the side seam so your stuff won't fall out of your pockets, and I generally curve the seam down so the stuff stays in the bottom. Here's a picture of my pockets cut out.

I cut my pockets initially with a fold on the inside seam, and the outside seam the same as the pants would be if they didn't have pockets. I have a facing for the opening area that extends about an inch past the pocket opening so if they're open, no one can see your fancy pockets. Once the pockets are cut, you'll attach the facing to the wrong side of the pockets along the outside seam line, and again on the inside seam line. I have serged the interior seam before, but have found after a hundred or so washings, it will ravel anyway, so now I stitch at 1/4", then turn under before sewing to the pocketing. And yes, I do generally wear my pants until they wear out or my size changes, whichever comes first. :P}}

Facings pinned to pockets
Once you have your facings attached to the pocketing, trim the upper piece of the folded pocketing and mark one inch plus the width of your seam allowance towards the side seam from the interior facing edge, then trim that off. Attach your cut edge to the front pocket right side of front to wrong side of pocket. Stitch, press, press open first, then trim and turn.

Pocket Attached

Pocket ready to be trimmed and folded to the interior

Press pocket edge flat, using a clapper if you have one. Let sit until it has cooled. Topstitch along the edge.
Topstitching ~ Sorry looks invisible in the picture.

Now you'll fold the pocket along the fold line, matching the cut edge at the top and the side seam, with the facing showing at the pocket edge. Pin in place and baste along the topstitching line.

Pockets basted into place

Once you have the pockets basted in place, you will pin the inside of the pocket bags and stitch them together. Usually I use a small 1.5 mm stitch and the serge the edges below the stitching for extra strength. If you're usually hard on pockets, you could use a 3 thread back and forth stitch if your machine has one or one of the alternate stitches like the mock overlock stitch.
Once your pockets are complete, finish the pants and you're good to go!
I hope this is informative, and if you have questions, please let me know. Have a great sewing day!


Saturday, January 18, 2014


Happy camper, here. I finished my first 6-Pac within the allotted time frame and actually have 6 garments that will go (and some have already been!) into immediate rotation! Two jackets, two tees, a blouse, and a pair of slacks.

The final garment is my tee shown here and finished a few minutes ago.

Sorry for another hanger shot, but I will get some pictures of things on me soon. This one is a pattern you have seen in multiple iterations. It's my Pamela's Perfect Tee, this time with a V neck and 3/4 sleeves. This is my go to pattern for tee shirts as it's the only one I have found with darts, and I believe that voluptuous women NEED darts in their tee shirts so they don't look like a big wall of fabric. Hopefully the geometric print helps too. :P}}

Kind of a stash fabric, as it's been in the house since January of last year. Perhaps bought for last year's SWAP that got set aside for other more pressing issues.

It's a Marcy Tilton fabric called Square One French Knit. Noted as "French viscose/spandex knit." It was on half price sale, so it's a big win!

I did use a full width front and back for cutting the pattern flat because of the print. Only notions used were fusible tricot on the hems. I have learned the hard way with rayon knits that an inch to an inch and a half piece of fusible tricot at the hem line makes all the difference in the world in the way it looks and holds up after laundering.

Neckline was done using a technique I learned from a Stretch and Sew Pattern years ago that they call French Trim. It is Pattern #326, and the pattern is called "City Tees."

Here's How if you're interested: Cut a piece of fabric with the stretch going the length of the fabric, 2" wide (5.1 cm) by 31 inches long. Place a pin 3 inches from the center back on each side.  Place a pin 3 1/2" from one end of the strip. Match the pin on the strip to the pin at one neck edge, sew the strip around the front neckline with a 1/4" seam, (.6 cm) stretching the trim ONLY just enough that it starts to cup a little bit. When you get to the other side of the back neck with the pin, stop. Trim the strip 1/2" past the center back of the shirt. Miter the corner by placing the ends , right sides together diagonally and stitch from corner to corner. Trim and press open. Stitch the balance of the back seam. Press towards the seam, then leaving the seam allowance as is, fold the strip over the neck edge leaving about a 1/4 to 3/8" seam, and stitch in the ditch to complete. Trim close to the stitching.

I did it slightly different this time by having my strip 2 1/2" wide, and sewing it doubled like you would a normal piece of ribbing. Then I did the rest the same way, leaving the inside of my tee with a nice folded edge instead of the raw edge.

This makes a marvelous self binding without lots of hassle. I will admit that not being a quilter, it took me a long time to figure out the mitering and get it right. I can't tell you how many I did backwards before I finally "got" it. But now I do it perfectly almost every time.

Here's a pic of my completed Winter 6 Pac:

Count me as one happy sewer today! Now on to the SWAP. First garment will be the charcoal denim trousers as I want to wear them next weekend!

More later!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways. I initially found this pattern on Pam Erny's blog, and figured if she liked it, it had to be good. I consider her one of the best shirt makers I've ever seen! Here's Pam's initial post: There is such a wealth of information on her site, you could spend days! Scroll down to 12/03/06 and you will see a two part tutorial on how to sew this collar. Blue Mooney also did a tutorial on the collar and references Pam's tutorial on July 11, 2010. Another website with a wealth of information!

To date, I have made four maybe more, of these shirts, and I see many more in my future. I love it so much. I love the collar. Although difficult to do correctly with a 5/8" seam allowance, following the tutorials and being careful, it comes out just lovely. If you trim the seam allowances to 1/4" it makes it much easier.

I love the princess seams! I think on most of us who are voluptuous they offer so many opportunities for fitting that it just makes life so much easier. I also love that these are shoulder princess seams, so with my narrow shoulders, that is such a fitting bonus too! I think Hot Patterns are drafted with a slightly larger cup size than the big 4, so the bust alteration is much easier. I love the shirttail hem. It is a narrow hem, with just a fold up that winds up being slightly less than 3/8" when you start at the facing with a 5/8" seam. In addition I find the narrow hem to be extremely flattering.

This is the pattern:


Image 1
My friend Kathleen commented that she'd looked this up on Pattern Review and all of the comments mentioned that the collar was done differently and referenced Pam's tutorial. If you are a beginner, or not proficient, (note it says Advanced Beginner) I think you could complete the collar using the tutorial and taking your time. Other than that, I find it an easy sew.
I will be making one more of these for my SWAP 2014, but think this one may work as one of my wild cards if needed!
The unveiling:
Sorry it's just a hangar shot for now, but I'll try to get a better picture later in the week if I can. I lightened it a bit so you could see it easier, (which dulls the colors and the teal doesn't show up much) but think overall it will go with almost anything I wear.
Hope you're getting things done too!
Now I'm off to the next tee!
More later!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Two to share and a teaser.

I finally got the button and actually finished the jacket. So that's here:

I like it pretty well, it's warm, and does the job. I have already made some alterations to the pattern that will be completed prior to the next version being sewn. I have been really ogling my garments to see if and where other alterations should be done to make them fit my body the way I like them to fit. As I was scratching my head over this one, I realized I have a jacket pattern that I started several years ago and have done about four versions, each one getting tweaked a little more. The arm/shoulder/sleeve fit on that one is really close to perfect IMO. So out it came, and I redid that area on this jacket pattern. I cut the armscyes in both front and back at the base of the arm so I don't have excess wads of fabric there. I fixed the sleeve so it should be just right for me. And I remembered I have that other jacket that I can just add lapels and a collar to and have a well fitting blazer. So I'm a happy camper right now.

After all the work on the jacket, I did a quick instant gratification tee as a palette cleanser. It is made out of a fabric that I bought sometime last year ( I THINK) and when I saw Bea Jay's tunic realized I had the same fabric and it would fit well with my Winter 6-Pac. So without further ado:

This is my standard TNT Pamela's Perfect Tee pattern. I love it and have made probably 50 tees in various sizes and fabrications. The only problem I have with this is it reminds me of a melting hot fudge sundae and makes me want ice cream! ROFLOL
The teaser is the next top up. I was going to work on my tees for my SWAP, and then realized I had lost my mind and nothing had been washed and dried as yet. So instead, I pulled out my HP Plain and Simple Princess shirt and some fabric I've been wanting to make up since 2011, and got that going while I waited for laundry completion. Now it will be a few days until I get back to my SWAP, but I'm happy I'm using this fabric. Here's a quick peak:
It's a piece of quilting cotton, and judging from the color ways indicated along the edge, looks to me like it will go with almost anything I care to put it with. Hopefully I'll have this to show in just a few days, but it may be the weekend again before I get it completed.
As always, more later!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

5 Days Into 2014 and I'm moving forward with my SWAP - sort of!

I am trying to post more frequently, but sometimes sewing or reading other people's blogs and Stitcher's Guild takes over, I get involved and run out of time to keep myself updated. I find everyone else much more entertaining than me! LOL

I am working on my "wearable muslin" for my Stacie Jean Jacket. I read somewhere, either on some one's blog or on Stitcher's Guild that a sewist didn't understand the need for a wearable muslin. I'm happy for her, but she's either a much more accomplished seamstress than I am, has a more conforming body shape, or just isn't as picky as I am. I seem to always find things AFTER completion of my garment that I would have liked to change. That doesn't mean I won't wear the wearable muslin, it just means it isn't my final pattern or garment.

If you've been following along, you've seen my initial muslin of the Stacie to check shoulder width, and circumference. I used a compilation of my SFD sleeve and the Style Arc sleeve so I wouldn't have to deal with circumference on the arm issues. However, as I am aging and sitting way too much at a computer, I am noticing that my shoulders are moving to a forward position much more rapidly than I would prefer.

Several years ago in a sewing class, I was told to move the shoulder point back in the armscye by 1/4" to get it to fit correctly. Today's is 3/4" and I'm not positive that is exactly enough, but it sure makes a huge difference!  I do try to exercise that area but I'm afraid gravity and age are making more of an impact than anything else. Because I've been noticing a tightness at the back of my sleeves with a little too much fullness at the front, that is one area I have been very concerned about getting right.

So now you get a sneak peak at my progress. If you're looking askance at some of the things like the collar, it's not done yet. Early in the process I realized my wool herringbone was going to be itchy on my tender skin, so am doing a full lining. To that end, the collar is attached to the outer fabric, but the inner collar will be attached to the lining and stab stitched to the actual jacket along the seam line. This photo shoot was to check the placement of the sleeves in the armscye and I think I got it pretty well set for my body.

Enjoy my progress. I hope to have finished pictures of this in a few days!

Pocket flaps

Looks a bit odd before sleeves are added! The blue is my "padding" on my dress form.


I think the sleeves are in the right spot! Not clipped or pressed yet though!

This will be a good addition to my Winter 6-Pac and I think in the teal silk that this wearable muslin precedes will be great for my SWAP! I can see this jacket becoming a TNT.
Have a good Sunday, and as always, there will be more later!