S1302: Mix’n’Match Tofino’s

Time for something easy to sew, thank you very much – there was a time not so very long ago I thought that if I even sewed a cushion cover in the next year, that would be too much, too soon. Couture techniques and hand sewing have been (temporarily) banished from the realm… and lets not even talk about this new law being 1 garment too late!

These are the Sewaholic Tofino pj pants, and there were gasps of shock at Social Sewing when I asked to use one of several overlockers hauled to GJs for sewing with on the day…. I’d honestly forgotten such a machine even exists!

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I’ve got a fair bit of Liberty in my stash, but criminally – I’ve yet to sew with hardly any of it. I got these gorgeous prints from Mill Rose in Ballan – they have easily the biggest range of Liberty I’ve EVER seen in person. They have virtually every print, in every colour way, on the shelf and readily available for petting. It’s worthy of a bit of hyperventilation. The front tie and the piping are from silk satin from the stash – there was the perfect amount of silk leftover from the cuffs on my silk robe, which matched wonderfully.

Crazy how here the silk looks like a dirty yellow... but more lime green on my robe!

I absolutely adore this print/colour combo. Crazy how here the silk looks like a dirty yellow… but more lime green on my robe!

Were it not for the fact that Sewaholic patterns are designed for a body shape that I’m very definitely not, that would probably be the end of this post. However, there was two full sizes between my hip and waist measurements. Really, I should have just bought a Vogue/McCalls pj pattern, but hey – I got caught up in the hype back when this was released and bought this against my better judgment. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have ever done that…

So because old habits die really, really hard (or in my case, not at all) – I wearable muslined them in a super cute cherry blossom print flannelette, with pink piping. Here they are, in a straight size 8 which according to the Sewaholic Size Table, I match from the hips down (I measured a 12 at the waist):

Sewaholic Tofino 4  Sewaholic Tofino 5

Desperate need for a Flat Butt Adjustment going on there. I think that photo just put to bed my life long dream of being a professional pyjama-bottom modeller!!! hehe.

Ahem. For my liking there is way too much baggy space at the back, and the wide-leg just a tad too wide for my shape.

So a few adjustments were in order.
- I shortened the leg length by a ridiculous number of inches (I did that before I cut the flannelette ones)
- I removed the widening taper of the side panel, so they are straight up and down (rather than getting slightly larger towards the ankle)
- I reduced leg width by taking out fabric from the seam between the side panel and the pants back… around about 4 inches all up. Probably about an inch too much, really. This simultaneously made the leg a little slimmer and fixed my need for a Flat Butt Adjustment.

Sewaholic Tofino 12 Sewaholic Tofino 13 Sewaholic Tofino 14

Confession time - so I may have lied a little about the overlocker thing. I overlocked the side seams of my cutesy flannelette pj pants… but I totally frenched the seams on my liberty pj pants. Guilty as charged.

I did a quick test on some scraps to make sure it would work with the piping in it – no dramas there so I moved on. It should be stated that making your own piping is boring prospect. I’d buy over DIY if you can!

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I think the amount of rise on these pants is just about perfect.

The instructions would have you tie your tie around the two non-functional button holes sewn into the waist band. I reinforced my buttonhole then ended up sewing the silk tie to that reinforced section so it can’t be lost in the wash.

Sewaholic Tofino 2

If I were to make these again, I would not sew the two tie pieces together, and instead sew them to my waistband reinforcing on the opposite side of the buttonhole… so there is zero strain on the buttonhole, like you see below. It’s a pretty long tie and has a surprising amount of weight to it.

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Otherwise, I now have three perfectly good pairs of lounge-about-the-house pants, doubling as pyjama pants when I need to stay overnight somewhere. Because I’m one of those people that would rather take the risk of getting caught out if there’s ever an emergency in the middle of the night…

P1003 & P1004: Plenty of Papercuts

After an extremely challenging start to this year and having nurtured some pretty bad habits as a means of dealing with it all, I’ve found myself a victim of mid-section blow-out and general blergh-ness (If you only click one link in this post, make it that one. Hilarious!). What better way to get back to being better than with some new exercise gear?

Unfortunately, photographing exercise gear is not exactly glamourous. Weather and minimal daylight hours have conspired against me at every opportunity for photos… I’ve been running and weight training in this outfit for nearly a month already! Count yourselves lucky it’s still mid-winter here so sweat is kept to a minimum…

Enter the Ooh La Leggings:

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And they are awesome.

As with any new pattern, I started with some recon over at Pattern Review. Kbenco has written one of the most informative reviews I’ve ever read, Katherine wrote fabulously about them too and of course, Melissa has sewn so many of these I can hardly cry for lack of inspiration.

Lucky me - I exactly matched the waist and hip measurements for the Size S. So I traced it off, cut it out, then machine basted it all together to see what was going on. This pattern has zero info on the amount of stretch your fabric of choice should have – and recommends a merino knit. Hmm. The basting was to test size, fit and fabric appropriateness. The second I pulled them on – a triumphant ‘YES!!!!’. They fit me fabulously*. Long legged peoples, Rejoice! This is a pattern for you! Sadly, I will not be rejoicing:

This is what a pair of leggings look like when they are 21cm too long for you.

This is what a pair of leggings look like when they are 21cm too long for you.

But hey, this is a standard adjustment for me. About the only time I don’t have to take pants up is if they began life as pedal pushers. I chose to use Melissa’s way of sewing in an elastic waistband – the pattern instructions do the old-fashioned ‘make a casing and thread your elastic through’ way. Yeah – no thanks, that never looks good!

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At first I made the elastic waaaaay too tight (like, bayonet tight!) so after unpicking that and making it a little bigger, I was good to go. Also, somewhere between the basting for fit and the actual sewing, I added in a turquoise band at the curved seam at the hips. Once finished, I quite literally pulled them on and went for a run.

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I will absolutely be making more of these in the future! Not being in possession of a coverstitch machine or an overlocker, I was worried about the seams being either irritating or uncomfortable. I’ve been exercising in these 4+ times a week for nearly a month now (yeah, I’m that far behind documenting finished makes!), and no dramas so far – but the fabric I used is really quite lightweight, and hey – it’s not exactly like I’m training for a marathon or anything.

Completely unintentionally, I sewed the side panels in reverse, and as the black fabric was shiny on one side and matt on the other, it created an effect I rather like. Here are some daring shots up close:

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I also made the Undercover Hood, the version of which you see here is my first attempt – very definitely a wearble muslin made with a double-sided wool/nylon blend (from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics). I cut the straight M as it was bang on my bust measurement, and was pleasantly surprised as how quickly it came together. But wow – its long! Usually I have to lengthen bodices, but this time I’ll be shortening it a bit and grading down to an S at the waist and hips (the S matches those bottom two measurements for me). The sleeves are also very long… I actually ended up leaving the cuffs off on this because a) The sleeve would have gone past my finger tips in that case and b) I sewed the cuffs on-grain by accident leaving them with no stretch for me to ease the sleeve into. Unpicking lightning stitch on knits is NOT fun! So I finished it with a twin needle. The result is a half-fitted, half-baggy rather long sweat top great for wearing to/from the gym and running in the chill evening air:

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Silly me cut the pocket out in two pieces, rather than on the fold. Oops! Next time I’ll be taking it up the length of the waistband, to get this length:

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It’s comfortable, warm and lightweight – but if I wanted to convert this from being sloppy-at-home-wear-only to something I could do the supermarket shop in, merino knit wouldn’t be my first choice. A terry-towling/sweatshirt fleece would be great for this, like what Zo made hers from. Additionally, the instructions call for the front pockets to be just top-stitched on – making it a little flimsy. I’d be tempted to at least understitch the topside first to anchor it down. Minor construction quibbles for what is an entirely practical top, really.

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*  bar some standard adjustments, naturally.

The Ooh La Leggings Stats:
00:30  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:30  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
02:20  Sewing
03:20  hours
Fabric Utilisation = 1.0m (only because I committed the cardinal sin of not laying pattern pieces out directionally)

The Undercover Hood Stats:
00:30  Pattern Preparation
02:55  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:00  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
00:00  Sewing
03:25  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.8m
Stash total remains = 80.9m (Goal = 50m)

P1003 & P1004: Hi-tech Fabric

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but in the last decade of so fabric technology appears to have developed in leaps and bounds. These days there are all kinds of sports-related garments with hi-tech fabrics spruiking various benefits, from the moisture-wicking quick-dry standard gym fare we probably all have, to compression undergarments designed to decrease muscle fatigue and aid in recovery. Or just suck in your gut, like spanx.

Mr poppykettle competing in the Shepparton Half Iron Man, 2012

Mr poppykettle competing in the Shepparton Half Iron Man, 2012

Open any of the cupboards at chez poppykettle and you will find all these things and more – and not just because I enjoy a bit of gut-sucking-in action, but because Mr poppykettle’s hobby is competeing in triathalons and IronMan competitions (he even has a wet-suit that purports to increase buoyancy by up to 40%, thus allowing you to ‘save’ your legs for the ride and run segments). The pictures above and below are him during his first and second 70.3‘s. A little gloating if you don’t mind – he completed last years competition (a 1.9km/1.2mile swim, 90km/56mile bike ride and then a half marathon – 21km/13.1mile run) in 4 hours and 22 minutes – just missing out on a podium finish by coming 4th in his age group, and 41st overall out of nearly 1400 competitors. Proud much? Just a bit! Unfortunately due to a stress fracture injury he’s had to pull out of his events this year, but still.

2011 Half IronMan

2011 Shepparton 70.3/Half IronMan

For me though, fabric technology began back in 1935 with the creation of Nylon. Like most fabric developments since its time, it was originally a military innovation. The thermoplastic polymers that make up nylon give it a ‘silky’ and smooth texture, and Nylon was designed as a replacement for silk which was scarce following the end of WWII. Likewise, viscose rayon, polyester and other synthetic fibres were also designed to mimic their natural counterparts.

Image via allposters.com

Image via allposters.com

Side tracking yet again – Nylon was first used for fishing line and toothbrush bristles – but ask anyone what you associate with Nylon and undoubtably the answer will be stockings! The original stockings made from Nylon were so strong and durable that they could be used to tow a trailer behind a car. In my world, that is just pure awesome. They were obviously a big hit with women as no longer did our fore-sisters have to worry about runs and holes appearing. Of course, this also meant that manufacturer’s weren’t selling as many units, because Nylon stockings lasted so much longer than their predecessors made from silk, wool and cotton. Big Industry sent their engineers back to the drawing board to decrease the life of nylon stockings – and so this product became the second documented instance of the manufacturing phenomenon called ‘planned obsolescence‘ – where products are engineered to fail. (The first was the humble incandescent globe – check out this info on the Pheobus Cartel if you’re up for a bit of conspiracy theory).

So the next time your $14 pair of Levante‘s ladder, tear or rip – you’ll know who to curse. Your friendly neighbourhood engineer.

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But marketing of fibres has of course moved on from stockings to sports fabrics that combine the technologies developed in the 20th century, and now it’s the turn of the high end stuff to get the high-tech treatment. ZZegna (the younger, more fashion-forward brother to Ermenegildo Zegna) has been including some pretty cool fibre innovations in his collections, like Microsphere – with which you can wipe off those pesky wine and mustard stains at the swipe of a damp cloth. Giotto New-Gen (an Aussie brand) have applied the slip slop slap mentality to their fabrics, launching Cold Black – a “special finishing technology for textiles which reduces heat build up and provides reliable protection from UV rays”. Presumably this will make wearing your favourite tux on a warm summers evening feel like you’re really just wearing a seersucker suit.

Or this rain jacket from ZZegna‘s Autumn 2013 Menswear collection which sports rubber bonded onto wool garbadine to keep your beau warm and dry:

via style.com

via style.com

Then you’ve got the flip side of fibre technology mixing with recycling – Sax Altman makes chino’s (Repreve) from cotton interwoven with recycled plastic bottle polymer strands; although this would help offset the rising cost of cotton I doubt you’d end up saving much. You’ve also got fashion houses like Martin Margiela perhaps taking the fabric/recycling cross over to the extreme – with this jacket made from recycled polyethylene garbage bags:

Many thanks to the article bty David Waters in the Qantas magazine for bringing these designs and fabulous fibres to my attention. But really, there hasn’t been to the best of my knowledge any new commercially significant developments in fabric since nylon, lycra and maybe kevlar. Actually, one day I’d really like to sew something out of kevlar. A wicked-ass biker jacket would be totally appropos made from kevlar! What we’re seeing here in sports gear and rubber rain jackets isn’t actually new, it’s just taking already existing technologies and combining them together to get the next evolution. Kinda like mixing chocolate, caramel and salt (all equally delicious in their own right) to get the mouthwatering creation of salted chocolate caramel. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

via mushitza

via mushitza

…. Sorry, I got distracted thinking about salted chocolate caramel for a minute there.

But I’m here today to talk about sports fabrics. Because these innovations have trickled their way down into our fabric stores and even though I don’t spend upwards of 25 hours a week training like my beau, I’m not a complete couch potato either (well… maybe sometimes) – I’m in the market to make some gym clothes – I’m sure I can’t be the only one suffering with ill-fitting sports gear?

I’ve got my eyes on New Zealand’s Papercut Patterns: the Ooh La Leggings and the Undercover Hood.

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I’ve been looking high and low (not really, just googling from the comfort of my couch) for some high tech fabric I can get my hands on to make the leggings with, ending up with some 80% Nylon 20% Lycra black and turquoise fabric that looks and feels identical to the fabric my current Nike gym pants are made from, and some pink, grey and black striped unknown fabric with good recovery from a mystery bolt at Trimmings and Remnants.

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And some gorgeous textured blue merino wool/lycra blend from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics for the hoodie:

wool lycra blend fabric

Because hey, you can fiddle with fibre as much as you like but as far as I’m concerned, wool will always be the ultimate in high performance – and you don’t need a lab to create it. It’s renewable too! Keeps you cool in summer, warm in winter, sheds water to a degree (even if you do end up smelling like a wet dog) and most importantly to me – is breathable.

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C1019: Crimson and Clover (minus the Crimson)

C1019 Colette Clovers

Do you pick your fabric and then let it inspire what pattern it should go with? Or do you choose your pattern then go hunting for the fabric you’ve already envisaged it must be made out of? 

 

More often than not, I’m the latter. And I specifically went shopping knowing I wanted to buy fabric to make a pair of Clovers. Problems begin fairly early on with this approach though because I’m forever seduced by potentially inappropriate fabrics.

 

The seductive fabric in question is a duckegg twill coating – I spent forever in Tessuti umming and ah-ing over whether or not a wool coating fabric would be suitable, nay – practical – for a pair of pants. In the end, well – you know what happened. Wearing time will tell whether or not this was a smart decision!

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Because of the wool, I lined them with a white and navy blue polka dot silk. Who in their right mind doesn’t love polka dots? I’m a tad annoyed that the photos seem to emphasize things that don’t really come to light when looking at them in person, but hey, c’est la vie. 

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Surprisingly comfy to sit in for a pair of
very close fitting non-stretch pants!

I know that fitting this pattern has been a challenge for some, and I definitely didn’t get away scott-free. There’s a good reason why there hasn’t been a blog post on here for quite some time – I made FOUR practise versions of this before I got the fit right. Frustration quite literally was a moving target on this project. Changes made:
 - scaled up a size to take into account my non-stretch fabric
 - added small darts to the front & reduced the waistband to fit
 - reduced the length (…the capri version probably would have been perfect for me!)
 - increased the rise (I have an uber loooooong waist – hip measurement)
 - shortened the crotch length
 - made the crotch curve shallower (it’s a really deep curve!!)
 - tapered both the side and inseam hip down to get a straight leg fit

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to relax a little when it comes to fitting patterns – especially pants. There’s this idea in my head that if I get a pattern to fit perfectly (a fairly subjective thing when we get down to the minute details), I’ll somehow manage to overcome what irks me about my body shape. Whilst a good fitting garment is going to be more flattering than a badly fitting one, accepting that there is no pattern that is going to make my legs appear longer/straighter/slimmer/whatever has been a quantum leap for me. 

It’s a little liberating too though… my beau and I had a giggling fit at being able to recognise my rather distinctive leg shape on the pattern paper once I’d transferred all the adjustments across :)

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My smoothest yet invisible-zip-to-seam transition!

I also made a few little additions to the pattern – man style pockets at the front replacing the odd little coin pocket things that come with the pattern, and putting single welt pockets on the back. 

To do the front pockets I used the pattern pieces from Pattern Runway’s Sweet Shorts, which worked a treat. 

For the single welt pockets I used the same process as for my Sweet Shorts albeit adding in one extra step. For the pocket lining on my Sweet Shorts I used the same fabric as the rest of the shorts, so it didn’t matter if the welts sagged because you would only ever see the blue polka dot fabric. I didn’t want the lining fabric to show through on these though, so I needed to add a backing to the welt to keep the look homogeneous. 

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Single Welt pockets at the back…

As for the end result, I like them. Whilst the high-waisted pants look is something I’ll have to get used too, they are extremely comfortable. The original waist location of the Clovers was mid-way between my hips and waist which was horridly uncomfortable (I sat around in that toile iteration for a good half a day to convince myself of this), and reducing the rise back to hip level just looked wrong. Also, the man style pockets seem to be a great cheats way of getting a close fit with a non-stretch fabric, but still being able to sit comfortably because of the room for movement they allow. 

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…Peek-a-boo pockets at the front :)

In the end what I really like about this pattern is that its so versatile – you can make them either dressy or casual. I do think it’s worth spending the time to get the fit right purely because the look is so timeless – I can definitely see myself making this pattern up again.

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French Seams for the Lining

Whilst away on holiday I agreed with myself that for every garment I sew on my return, I would take the time out to make it the best I could, and I’m really pleased with these, both on the inside and the outside. This means I’ll be posting on a less regular basis due to my new ‘slow-clothes’ mantra, but I figure seeing as ‘slow-food’ is so good then this has to be too :) 

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Zip end covering

I also seriously need to look at purchasing an overlocker. Colourful rayon seam binding does make me happy – but its such a black hole for sucking up all my sewing time!

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mmm… pretty seam binding

Oh yeah – I’ve also become a Pressinatrix. Do try it – the results speak for themselves.

V8774 Jeans 6

V8774: Turquoise Terror Jeans

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Say hello to my Turquoise Terror jeans! I’m head over heels for them, and whilst I can see plenty of room for improvement (both in technique, skill and knowledge) in the future – I’m deeming these entirely wearable. 

I went shopping last friday after work, and was sad to see all the autumn and winter stock that’s out and about – black, grey, dark brown and everything not in between. Adding salt to the wound is all the spring colour palettes popping up on the blogs of your northern hemispherers. This is yet another winter season I will blatantly disreguard the non-colours shoved down our throats by clothing retailers. I simply refuse to bow down to lack of colour in yet another upcoming Melbourne winter!!! How about a bit of fluoro yellow and brilliant turquoise to brighten the day?

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You can find my review and competition entry over at Pattern Review here, and whilst you’re at it, you may as well check out the fabulous entries by others in the competition gallery here. There are some totally talented people out there – I’m flabbergasted at the shear number of self-drafted jeans entries! My personal favourites are these amazing green jeans by velosewer of Clever Thinking 99, also using Vogue 8774.

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The fabric is a turquoise denim from Gorgeous Fabrics. I can’t believe I actually grimaced when I originally pulled them from their package – back then I lumped the fabric as being something for future toile’s. But over the weeks, it just grew and grew on me. It certainly fits in nicely with my 2012 promise to myself to start wearing more colour on the botton half! Although, I prewashed the blasted stuff 3 times and the dye is still coming out.

The rise of the jeans is a lot higher than any that I own – but I’m finding I really like this. I have a naturally long body, with most of the length between my waist and hips, so this additional coverage appears to be quite flattering, especially at the back.

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I’m about 80% happy with the fit, even after the numerous changes made to the pattern. I think this is because whilst I made my toile up in a woven, the actual fabric I used has some stretch. The changes made to my woven toile didn’t fully translate into stretch – I would have needed to exaggerate the darts I put in to reduce excess fabric and bagginess to achieve the same look I think. 

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Pretty Liberty of London leftovers for the pocket lining :)

As for the Vogue Pattern? Well, it has quite a few positives, but I had expected that a jeans pattern from Vogue would have the same features as a pair of RTW jeans – such as flat felled seams. Top stitching gives the look yes, but it isn’t a flat felled seam! I did the real thing (you can see my 101 on Flat Felled Seams here). Although, the jeans fly was practically identical to all the shop-bought jeans I own.

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Topstitching makes me nervous, so these jeans helped me overcome a bit of a personal demon :) I decided to go with a self-fabric design on the back pockets, which was completely, utterly and unashamedly copied from one of the numerous pairs of Sass & Bide jeans already in my cupboard. Imitation is the highest form of flattery?

 

I was wanting to try putting in a shank style jeans button (I even bought two different types) – but at the last minute caved in and went with a hook and clasp – like the pattern suggests. I’ve yet to try a buttonhole (other than a bound button hole) and was a tad nervous at the idea of trying for the first time with a finished garment. I’ll target learning button holes at a later date I think!

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Some of you might recall I was originally going to try and use a favourite pair of jeans that were no longer wearable as a pattern. Thankfully, I came to my senses. But then I got an email just a few days ago about a new Craftsy course…

Jean-ius Reverse Engineering Course by Craftsy – click here

Thank you, Kenneth King. I’m so totally in!