Sunday, 4 June 2023

Back to the Free Range Slacks

I was looking for the blog posts of the four versions that I made.  And I guess they fell into the window of time when I didn't post all my makes on Insta, but I also didn't blog them.  It is too bad as my changes were substantial and included the narrow leg version, and I really thought I had taken photos of them!  

So, I have been known to put these down in comparison to the Pomona Pants, but the truth is that they are two different pants, and you probably need both. 

My size is 6 - could have made 4 but I never bothered to reprint the pattern from my first makes.  My very first was wide leg, in heavy weight linen. I still have these and like them, but don't want more of this wider leg shape.  (See my post here). I then moved on to the narrow leg version.  I shortened the rise by about 1" and I shortened the waistband height to create a 1" waistband - a bit tricky as you have to fold down the waistband facing which is angled, but doable.  I find this is just less commitment to the waistband and I quite like that, especially when I remember to leave the elastic relatively loose (it tightens up with washing, and many of my pants have ended up really snug because of this.) 

I wanted to use the leftover chambray from my absurdly massive Bisque trousers (they have found a happy home, do not fret.)  That fabric was just so nice in trousers - it's lightweight, holds a press nicely, and a perfect colour. 

I didn't have enough, specifically, for the side pieces.  Two months passed while I sadly had no time to sew, due to bad life choices.  I was so ready to make these and be done with thinking about it.  I had set out some silk to use for the size pieces.  But then it came time to actually do the job, and I realised what I wanted to do was tetris tiny pieces of the self fabric to create those side stripes.  So that's what I did.  It took an extra 2 hours!  And it's kind of funny that the extra work is really invisible.  

 My new photo location is in direct sun, I am still looking around for better spots.


I am happy with these, but they are never going to beat out my ridiculous plaid flannel pair.  I wear those crazy pants SO OFTEN.  Maybe I should make another pair in something that looks like pajama fabric?  Also, I note in my photos that the butt isn't entirely shapeless all the time.  

Since I didn't document these adequately (regarding those previous makes) there is no blog post specifically ABOUT the plaid free range slacks.  But I dare you to find 5 blog post instances when I'm wearing them to model other garments...

Saturday, 3 June 2023

Papercut Patterns Axis dress, my turn!

I actually united this fabric with this pattern in my head a long time ago. It's nothing special, just a cotton lawn from Spotlight.  Not special except it is covered in *parrots*  I am a bird person, which you might not have known, and when Spotlight had a huge number of parrot prints I had to struggle and limit myself to 2 lest I end up with 37 bird prints in my wardrobe (the other smaller cut was made into my stunning success of a short Summer fling dress, here).  

I knew it wouldn't have any extra amazing drape etc but it seemed like a fun fabric to try out Axis with and because I love it there was a greater chance of my wearing it no matter what.  Frocktails was coming, I was about to travel and sewing-time poor, and this was likely to be my Frocktails dress because of timing limits on the other ideas I wanted to explore.

Rarely these days, this pattern has lots of blog reviews! Hurray!  I read Fiona's blog and based on that I did a bunch of pattern adjustments (possibly too many, arg.)

Cut size 2 at the top and tapering out to size 3 for the skirt, A line skirt (I'm no pencil skirt girl)  On this: really I could just have done size 3.  The armscye is a bit small.  Also the A line skirt is a joke, it's really practically a pencil skirt. 

Remove 1" from the waist of the top, and taper a little chunk out of the back strap to fix my sloping shoulders (that taper was a perfect fix, the shoulder fit is stupendous). 

I reckoned I would skip the little hole for the tie to go through.  It looked too airy and I'm happy to overlap.

So I made this for Frocktails.  I found the instructions surprisingly useless.  I found this to be far less fun than all those reviews suggest.  I had a lot of weird intersections that didn't line up.  I put together the top, fine, put together the skirt, ok, except it doesn't really tell you how you will finish it, so due to possibly a lack of foresight regarding the seam allowance, as I was folding over the waistband to hide my zip, it became uneven, and weirdly the folded over waistband had to totally diverge from a nice fold in order to meet the side seam.  This means no easy stitching in the ditch to get the inside held down.  On one side I hand sewed it.  On the other I left it flapping because there was nothing to attach it to.  

It wasn't really clear either exactly what goes on top: the skirt or the top? One overlaps the other, but how? I overlapped the top over the skirt.  When I put this on, either because of shortening the bodice, or because of the skirt actually being too snug, or for other mystery reasons, the skirt comes up to the small of my back.  I mean, fully.  So, unlike with everyone else, if I just tie the ties in the back, they cover my bra because they are so high up.  This therefore feels like a very enclosed dress.  In a good way, like wearing a snuggly outfit that is protecting you.  But strange, considering what everyone else says about it.  

Also I added pockets 

Which then immediately bagged out because - hips. So I had to sew them down, and they are mostly invisible, but initially I panicked a little.  Then, after all that drama, I forgot to take any proper photos, despite having identified the very sweetest spot in my house to take beautiful well, lit I only have the ones I took with my phone. 


After making this dress, including the emergency trip to The Fabric Store for contrasting fabric as I ran out, and all the thinking that had to go along with it, I was severely unenthused.  I did think it would do for frocktails (and it did).  I wore it to work to get some reviews, and people like it, but I feel strange in it, like I'm trying to hard.  A friend of mine who is very picky messaged me that she wanted it, so I decided to wear it to frocktails then send it on to its new home.  This has all happened and everyone is happy.

However I had expected to really like the Axis dress, and in the end I would not make it again.

Thursday, 1 June 2023

Merchant and Mills Jack Tar bag x 2

It seemed totally sensible to make two of these at once! I was going to make one for a friend then after that, make one for me, with a few additional clever modifications.  It did work out just as anticipated, except that in the end I liked the first one because the strap was subtly longer and I could wear it as a I sent the cute modified one to my friend.

This is really a 2 hour project.  I had the rivets from Merchant and Mills, two different scraps of oilskin - the grey is leftover oilskin, the yellow is dry oilskin, both are from Miss Maude.  The strap leather was bought awhile ago, it is the stuff in Merchant and Mills kits and in fact I possibly had bought one of the Jack Tar bag kits, very very thick solid stuff, I think good for bags but it feels rather unpleasant to start out.  One of the pieces was harvested from my previous little Merchant and Mills Field Belt.  I decided to replace that strap with an oilskin one because it was too heavy for the little bag.  

I didn't have any problems.  I used one layer of interfacing on the lining for the yellow bag and two on the 2-color bag.  I thought a lot about where to place the colours on the grey and yellow bag because I didn't have enough of just one colour, and I am happy with the results.  The 2-colour bag is much heavier though.  It has 2 layers of interfacing, plus I interfaced the internal pocket, and the normal oilskin is heavier than dry oilskin.  A heavier bag can be nice - it holds more and maybe lasts longer, but I was surprised, after all my efforts to make it my dream bag, to like it less than the simple one.  In the future if I made it again, I would stick with the simpler plan and lengthen the strap about 15 cm to make it a true crossbody - it is doable but tight as things are.  I will definitely use a bag more when I can wear it crossbody.  An external pocket is also necessary, and easy enough to add. 

I think to make both of these really took about 4 hours. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Merchant and Mills Box box dress, a review

I decided to make this as the final make before moving house.  It meant I didn't have a lot of bandwidth for anything complicated!  I would be easy.  Well, mostly it is as long as you choose a fabric that doesn't shift around too much.  Also of course just before moving I found the absolute best spot for taking photos.  Of course!

Started out with the size hunt.  Sadly no blog reviews of this up anywhere so I turned to Instagram where indeed lots of advice was to hand. Seems this tends to be big, and the drop shoulder made me immediately think about future sleeveless versions.  Because of the reviews suggesting it was pretty roomy, I went with size 8.  It was not a good choice.  Being snug on the shoulders "worked" in that my shoulder is within the drop shoulder, but it's not the designed fit and it felt uncomfortable.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I think you are fine to go with the size chart (I would have made 10) rather than sizing down, unless you are narrow through the shoulders. 

Fabric is a beautiful piece of plaid...Mind the Maker...tencel.  It has the best drape and dry cool feel.  It is shifty.  It has vertical stripes!  Did I mention above how I wanted something easy? 

Also, this has a facing.  I really hate facings.  It's a small facing, and you can attach it down in a lot of places, but it is still rife with potential for flipping out.  

So I cut out the dress with a rather lazy grain, and pleated my pleats which just would not line up, and then corralled them down, still not straight.  (I really like the z-lines that you sew, this bit is very fun and feels like wild cowboy sewing!)  The dress was a simple sew after that and I was pleased with my choice of button.  The fit is not terrible but it is too tight across the shoulders.  To salvage the pattern I would do best at this point to turn it into a tank top dress and cut out some roomy armholes.  


Of course with all those mismatched front lines no way could I keep this, it went to a friend who suits that colour more and isn't nearly as picky as I.  

I think it's worth making again.  The facing is not avoidable, you need the back button to get the dress on or the neckline is too tight, and a facing is the best way of dealing with the front pleats.  But it's not too substantial and I was happy enough with it staying in place.  The way the pleats open out into the skirt is really lovely.  It feels like there's a lot of volume in the skirt but it's flattering.  I will probably skip the sleeve, and then make the dress or top and cut down the armhole til I am happy with the coverage.  No immediate plans to go there, but some food for thought. 

La Maison Victor Lize tshirt dress (3/2019) in Pucci

Gah!  Where has the time gone?  I have been sewing a tiny bit but somehow not enough to finish a blog post?  For 6 months?  That's never happened before unless I was literally unable to get to a sewing machine. 

Anyway, I borrowed a few different editions of LMV a long time ago and traced a few patterns.  Here is this one.  Unfortunately the only way to access it is by finding a copy of that magazine. I was kind enough to my future self to add the seam allowances too, so basically the traced patterns were ready to go.  I've already made the Charlene sweatshirt which I thought was quite cool, though I sort of hate voluminous sleeves in real life.

This is a long tshirt dress with no remarkable features.  I had traced size 34, which I presume is my size, and I could see by the lines on the pattern pieces that I'd given myself a good 1 cm seam allowance.  I cropped the pattern as long as the length of my blue fabric.

I had schemed to use an amazing little tiny metre of Pucci first I followed the pattern and made this nice swan dress for a friend.  I was too lazy to add pockets.  The swan fabric is rayon and it's from one of my European binge shops about 18 months ago, I don't love it, so I was happy to offload it onto someone else.  I liked the fit of the dress, but it's SO A-line.  Too much for a tshirt dress. If you made it full length that would be a lot of fabric.  Maybe nice to swish around, but anyway.  Because of the higher neckline it does not Show All, unlike the Closet Core Ebony dress, but I would say it's only a bit less voluminous.  I didn't choose that pattern because I thought it would be harder to balance the pattern across the raglan shoulders, and because the wide shape is the point of the pattern so removing all that volume seemed like a bad idea. 


So I retraced the pattern flat instead of on the fold. I laid out my tiny metre of fabric on the floor (my kitchen floor isn't a great cutting space but unfortunately the carpets aren't crappy enough to rip up yet) and laid out my new pattern pieces onto it.  Then I proceeded to basically crop off the A line until it fit the fabric.  I cropped off a lot!  EEEK!  I played around with the fabric layout as much as I could but had to give in and use the geometric border, which I would have liked to avoid. 

I was overjoyed by the results.  I again didn't add pockets, this time because I didn't want to mess up the line of the dress.  I have stashed this insanely cool fabric for about 18 months and it's been on my mind the whole time.  I don't think another garment would have suited the heavy rayon drape and stretch as well as a tshirt dress, and it's obviously the best canvas for a print of this nature.  I also managed to keep things like mountain tips off my nipples, which is a grand success.  The geometric bits are all on the same side, and the other side matches up harmoniously.  Overall, a win for a special stash fabric.