The not so secret pyjamas

Monday 19 November 2018
Sometimes (actually quite often) subtlety eludes me - I'm constantly told I can be relied upon to tell it like it is, although I do try to be diplomatic!

So while everyone is talking about their secret pyjamas I just cut straight to the chase and made a pair of pants that essentially look like pyjamas, according to my family at least. 

wide leg mustard floral pants

Now that I'm getting used to wide leg pants after wearing skinnies for so many years, I'm enjoying the swishy feeling of striding around with swathes of fabric around my legs. This is a super soft rayon I bought from Spotlight after seeing @gabrielle_upsewlate make a pair of pants from very similar fabric (yes I am blatantly copying her!).

The pattern is Burda 5/2013 #117. I've cut out a larger size than I needed because I wanted these very loose fitting, which is why it doesn't look much like the pattern photo or drawing.

I've made this a few times before and it's really a simple pattern. It comes with the illustrated instructions in the magazine which I find a bit ridiculous since it's such a simple pattern and there are more difficult patterns in the magazine that could have benefited from the extra directions, but that's Burda for you!  I don't think I posted the last pants I made from this pattern last year - it's essentially the same as this project but just in blue rayon:

The only thing I don't like about this pattern is the waistband treatment - essentially the top is just folded over and stitched into a drawstring casing, which means the pocket bag, pocket side piece and front of the pants are part of the waistband. This is a bit bulky and messy looking, so I ended up cutting off the top and just sewing a normal rectangular waistband instead.

wide leg mustard floral pants

I only bought 1.5m of this fabric because I didn't want any small pieces left over to add to my overflowing scraps basket. It turned out this was the perfect amount but it didn't allow me to pattern match or properly consider pattern placement - it's rather obvious at the side seam and a little embarrassing at the centre back....

wide leg mustard floral pants

Oh well, I can't see the back so I don't care if I have a big flower on my butt! The pants are perfect for those warm days when I haven't been diligent with shaving or waxing and I can see myself wearing them quite a bit during our upcoming summer. And even better - I only bought this fabric last week so it didn't even hit the stash. Gotta love fabric that goes straight from the washing line and into your wardrobe!

New Look 6000 - dematernified*

Wednesday 14 November 2018
*dematernified: the act of refashioning maternity clothes into normal sized clothes.

Cleaning up my sewing room recently I found many unfinished projects (aka UFOs) once again piling up in random places. Every few years I seem to go through a cycle where I try to either finish them off or cull them but I never get them all done and before I know it I've added way more to the pile! Well, here I go again.....

In my UFO pile I found a dress I made around 7 years ago when I was pregnant with my second child from New Look 6000 (an old favourite). I held onto it not because I was planning to have another child but because I made it from a good quality ponti knit which is hard to find and because this is a favourite dress pattern and it deserved to be worn for more than just a few months.

To turn it into a maternity version in the first place I simply made it a size larger, added extra length to the front and placed gathers on both side (see this post here). To de-maternify it, I unpicked all the pieces and simply cut out the pattern pieces in the right size - and then it sat in my UFO pile for the past few years. No good reason why - I was just clearly distracted by newer and shinier projects!

On a recent sewing weekend away with some sewing friends it took me about 2 hours to finally sew this dress and now I have a new dress just in time for the warmer weather we're having here in Sydney. Honestly, at the end of finishing each UFO I always wonder why I left it for so long!

There's not much to say about this dress - it's a very simple make but is really flattering which is why a bajillion seamstresses have made it and the pattern is still for sale over at Simplicity. I've made this version with cap sleeves because even though I love the elbow length sleeves with button tabs they are impossible to get into jacket sleeves and it's so cold in my office that I definitely need that.

I guess the most obvious difference is in the side view - no more preggo belly (just a mum tum though).

In the photo above I was only 21 weeks and I grew much larger so it was lucky that there was a lot of extra fabric in the front. Check out the photo below to see how much larger I got - this photo was 5 days before I gave birth to a 4.5kg (9lb 14oz) baby:

Finally how awesome is the necklace I'm wearing? It's from an Australian company called Ruby Olive and this plain black dress is just perfect for showing it off.


My last Burda of the month project: Burda 9/2017 #103 the skirt that goes from summer to winter

Saturday 15 September 2018
After having a subscription to Burda magazine for the last 10 years and buying random issues for 5 or so years before that I've decided not to renew my subscription. I've always had FOMO thinking that the minute I cancel my subscription that Burda will release the best ever issue - and admittedly the October issue is looking pretty smashing.

But I've come to realise that with my extensive back issues that I already have a version of about 80% of the patterns in each issue anyway, and I can easily download any patterns that catch my eye. Plus I have a very long list of Burda patterns from past issues that I really want to make and will never get around to with a new issue arriving each month. But if I'm really honest the increasing lateness of each issue being delivered each month was annoying me terribly and contributed to the decision, which is very petty I know!

Anyway, all of this is to say that after many years I'm giving up on my Burda of the month challenge. I started that challenge as a way to make me sew something from each new magazine, but these days my Burda mags are the first thing I reach for when I sew so I don't need that motivation anymore. I will keep on sewing Burda, but it will be from my past issues and I'm instead going to focus on those older ones that I haven't used as yet.

So here is my very last Burda of the month project, funnily enough made back in January from the September 2017 issue, photographed in March and only just now being blogged. Better late than never I guess. The good thing about this project is that it works equally well in summer as it does in winter:

mid length linen skirt

This is Burda 9/2017 #103, which is a pleated, mid length skirt with a narrow waistband. Burda's version is made from sequins, but I think it works equally well in a daytime fabric.

pleated skirt sewing pattern

I've made this from a mid weight linen picked up from Lincraft of all places. I remember 15 or so years ago when Lincraft used to have an extensive range of quality fabrics but these days their offerings are pretty sad. So when I found this linen at 50% off I bought not knowing how well it would wash and wear but I'm happy to report that it has held up really well with no fading or shrinkage.

I really like this pattern - the pleats at the front sit fairly flat so don't add too much bulk at the waist and the plain a-line shape of the back keeps the silhouette fairly slim

mid length pleated linen skirt

mid length pleated linen skirt

It doesn't have pockets though, and I know how some of you absolutely obsess over pockets! I can live without them though - they just add bulk to an already lumpy area of my body. But they would be pretty easy to add to the sides if you wanted to.

pleated skirt

I did reduce the length a bit because I don't have the height of a Burda glamazon and instead just made it slightly below my knew. I think this length makes my legs look a bit stumpy and probably breaks all sorts of fashion rules about not ending hem lines at your widest part but as I'm getting older I've decided I don't care about those things as much any more. Plus wearing this length means I only have to shave a quarter of my legs which is a great thing all year round.

I replaced the singlet top with a turtle neck top and denim jacket and it was warm enough to wear on a mild winter Sydney day just recently.

So to everyone else who is doing their own version of a Burda challenge, whether you've been doing it for years or newly started this year best of luck to you! I've found that by doing this challenge I've made patterns that I wouldn't have normally considered and it did introduce some structure to my sewing so many good things came out of it. But it was starting to feel like a bit of chore that I had to get done each month before I could get onto making other things, so I'm looking forward to just making whatever catches my eye now.

Finally, a pair of pants that fit me!

Thursday 2 August 2018
I started sewing when I was around 19 which means that I have been sewing for more than half my life (explains the size of my stash right?). I have made lots of pants (trousers) in the last 21 years but I have never really achieved a very good fit thanks to my very pronounced pear shape and lumps and bumps around the bottom half of my body. In recent years I've tried pants patterns by nearly every pattern company, including the Sewaholic Thurlows that everyone lauds as the answer to pear shape pants, attended a few pants fitting classes and tried lots of adjustments without quite getting the fit I wanted.

When I was younger, as long as I could get on the pants and do the zipper and button up I was happy enough with the fit.  But now, what I really want are some pants that fall straight at the back of the legs without loads of wrinkles and no whiskers at the front. These latest pants are pretty good:

wide leg linen pants

wide leg linen pants

The pattern is Burda 10/2016 #113:

burda pants pattern

I've made these once before (here) that turned out reasonably ok so I knew it was a good starting point for making further adjustments. I left off the pockets, reduced the length by 15cm so I could wear these with flat shoes and reduced the width of the legs by 2cm because these really are wide leg pants. Look at how wide these legs are still after being narrowed:

wide leg linen pants

I also made significant fitting changes to the crotch curve which is what has improved the way the back legs fall.

Crotch depth and length
I have been watching hours of the very excellent Sarah Veblen Fun With Fitting Pants online class and making multiple muslins of the Eureka! Pants that Fit pattern and have finally realised that due to my wide and ample but low sitting derriere that pants patterns don't have enough length and aren't scooped low enough to fit my shape. All these years I had just been adding extra width to the side seams to accoutn for my saddle bag thighs but it turns out that I needed to add to the inner back leg seam to extend the crotch lenght and scoop the crotch shape so that it is no longer a "J" shape but more of an elongated reversed "L" shape.

The Eureka! Pants That Fit pattern is very useful in terms of fitting - it has all the horizontal balance lines marked and it has three options for the back pattern piece depending on your size. However once you've got the fit right you then need to make fashion adjustments to the pattern - lowering the waist line, adding a waist band or facing and adjusting the leg width depending on what you want. I decided to just transfer the fitting changes to the Burda pattern since the Burda pattern had the look I wanted instead of making further adjustments to the Eureka pattern.

I can highly recommend Sarah's online class, but this tutorial by Maria Denmark and this blog post over at 5 Out Of 4 Patterns are also extremely useful in figuring out the type of crotch curve needed for your particular body shape. I used a flexible ruler and four muslins to get that crotch curve close to what I needed. I didn't take a photo of the Burda pattern, but here are the adjustments I'm currently making to a pair of Style Arc pants (the crotch curve of Burda and Style Arc are very similar by the way) - the red pencil show how much I've added to the inner leg seam and the much lowered curve:

Forward tilting pelvis
Another fitting issue I always have with pants and skirts is that I find the front sits too high on my waist but the back dips too low below my waist when standing, and is even worse when sitting. I always thought that was due to my big butt, but now I think it may be because my pelvis is titled forward (hence my swayback). I now use the cut and hinge method to lower the front and heighten the back which seems to work especially well for pencil skirts too:

Again, the amount needed came from experimentation but I find that 2cm works for me to make the waist parallel. These pants are rather high waisted which is part of the look of this pattern, but this adjustment works well for lower slung pants and skirts too.

wide leg linen pants in rust colour

You can see in the photo above there are still some wrinkles - that's the hollow below my high hip and the top of my saddle bags but I think to get rid of that I would need to make these much looser fitting which I didn't want to do in linen since the fabric would relax after wearing them for a while anyway.

These are the fitting changes I needed to make these wide leg pants fit better, and I suspect that part of the good fit is because there's enough space to drape over my other problem areas! I'm finding it's a whole different story trying to make narrow leg pants - my extended calves and prominent front thighs tend to catch the fabric and cause all sorts of drag lines that I'm still working on reducing in a narrower leg.

wide leg linen pants

This fabric is a heavy weight linen from The Fabric Store in paprika and is one of those fabrics I bought just last week so that's 2 out of 3 now sewn - yay for me! I used the Sandra Betzina method of preparing linen - a hot iron, a hot wash and then a hot tumble dry - in the hope of minimising the amount of wrinkling. It is linen so it will always end up wrinkling after wearing - the photos below were taken after a normal day at the office and do show lots of wrinkles from sitting around but I don't think it looks too messy or sloppy:

wide leg linen pants

black and white top with wide leg linen pants

The top I'm wearing is made from OOP Vogue 2659 pattern that I've had in my stash for years. The fabric is a lovely ribbed knit that I bought in Japan that is so soft. I made this top back in May at the sewing retreat I went to with the sewing guild and it was a very quick sew. I've made this once before in a ponte knit (also black and white stripe!) but this version sits differently because the knit is a bit thinner - it's a bit lower around the back neck than I would like but I usually wear a jacket or a scarf so it's fine.

black and white stripe top

black and white stripe top

So my next challenge now is to make a pair of decently fitting narrow leg pants because while I like the wide leg look I don't want a whole wardrobe full of them! Fingers crossed it's not another 21 years before I achieve that....

Bypassing the stash - the lightning quick project

Friday 27 July 2018
After many weeks of cleaning up my sewing room it's almost back to normal. We had used it for storage during the last 18 months while our house was being rebuilt so it was full of furniture, books, clothes, bed linen etc but now I finally have unimpeded access to my fabric stash once again. And while I continue to find my stash a thing of beauty, it turned out that the fabric I've bought in the last 18 months didn't quite fit into my shelves, and I knew I had to have a clear out. Here is my stash now:

shelves of colourful fabric

That's the stash after I've pulled out a big bag of fabrics that I love but know I'll never sew with and will instead give away at the next Spoolettes swap day / donate to the Fabric Cave:

big blue Ikea bag of fabric for donation

So keeping in mind that first photo, I really have no business at all buying more fabric. None whatsoever. But of course I did. I haven't really bought much at all this year and had done so well ignoring all sales at the various fabric stores that I would usually flock to at the merest mention of a sale until Wednesday this week. I happened to have a work meeting down near The Fabric Store in Surry Hills and I popped in to have a look at their sale on my way back to the office . I was however a bit restrained and only bought these three pieces:

pile of brown fabrics purchased from The Fabric Store

I haven't even put these into the stash yet - the bottom fabric is a medium weight linen that I'm currently prepping Sandra Betzina style (hot iron + hot wash + hot dryer to minimise wrinkling) to make into some wide leg pants, and the top fabric is a silk cotton that I'm going to hand wash this weekend and probably make into a dress. The middle layer is a medium weight knit that went straight into the wash on Thursday morning, line dried during the day and got sewn into a new top Thursday night!

black and gold print funnel neck top

It helps that I made a pattern that I've used twice before so I already had the pattern traced out, knew how it fitted and knew how to assemble it. It's also a super simple top with three pattern pieces - front, back and sleeves. This is Burda 9/2010 #121, a funnel neck top with super long sleeves:

I've made this twice before - once in a French terry fabric (blogged here) which I still wear quite a lot and another unblogged version. I found the original neckline is a little too tight to fit for my liking so I have widened it by 4cm and shortened it by 4cm which was pretty simple to do:

widening the neckline of the funnel neck top

Now the neckline sits wide open so I don't feel like I'm being strangled, but it comes up high enough to cover the back of my neck to keep me warm and doesn't sit too high either which is exactly how I wanted it.

I also shortened those sleeves by a huge 15cm to remove that scrunched up look that the original pattern is drafted for since I found readjusting those sleeves supremely annoying and this fabric is quite thick for a knit and it just wouldn't have worked.

Because that neckline folds down in half there's no fussing around with a neck band - all that it needs is to sew the side seams, sleeves and hem the bottom + cuffs and it's all done. It makes for a very quick project to sew.

If only I could make something so quickly out of all my other fabric purchases I wouldn't need to worry about the vastness of my stash! 

McCalls 7194 - cowl neck cosiness

Saturday 2 June 2018
One of the quick and simple projects I sewed whilst away on my sewing retreat was a cowl necked knit top from McCalls 7194. It's only been in the last few years since I bought a cover stitch machine that I've started sewing more with knit fabric and I can see the appeal - so quick to sew and pretty easy to fit!

It looks like this pattern is now out of print which surprises me because it seems very popular. Lots of people have made all the views and they all look really great. I made view A but used the long sleeves of the other views:

I've made this from a knit fabric I bought from Darn Cheap Fabrics on a trip to Melbourne more than 2 years ago (a relative newbie in my stash!) that has little gold polka dots. I'm pretty sure it's 100% polyester and is quite thin without much stretch to it but it's a good layering piece.

I particularly like the big old neckline. Honestly, some days I wish I could walk around like this:

Because my fabric is quite thin the neckline is a bit floppy and falls in on itself instead of rolling over nicely but I still like it. It's pretty cold here in Sydney today so I'm wearing this over another long sleeved tshirt which is causing that bunching around my shoulders but otherwise the fit is fine.

The back is pretty simple view - a bit of gathering around my swayback but more importantly it is long enough to cover up the waistband of my pants and keep my back warm when I was freezing on the sidelines of a soccer match early this morning.

I can highly recommend this pattern. Other cowl neck patterns I've made tend to be quite low in the front and show off too much chest area which can get cold and it's awkward to wear a scarf with it. But this one has a nice high rounded neckline that you can either show by pulling the cowl down like I have in these photos, or hide by pushing the neckline towards the back so it's more turtleneck like. Gotta love options!

And here is a photo from the actual sewing retreat, there were about 35 ladies there each with multiple machines. The room certainly was humming when all those machines were sewing and everyone chatting!