Super 130s Classic Pants

I’m beyond thrilled with the outcome from my second Couture Sewing School class.

I’ve grappled with pants a few times since I started sewing, and whilst I managed to achieve a good crotch curve fit on my own, it was getting the legs right that really proved elusive.

This was because of two ‘fitting’ reasons –  I have uber prominent calves and legs that don’t extend from my hips at the same angle as Ready to Wear pattern design. Pretty much every pair of pants I have ever owned, worn or sewn has had the grainline twist and distort the fabric from the knee down, where it both catches on my calves and is pulled away at an awkward angle. (You can read more about the fitting process of these pants here).

No more!

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I’ll admit to being a little anxious in the lead up to taking these photographs – in case the way I felt they looked (ie: magical) would somehow have the spell be broken when translated into pictures. Also, that so much has happened to me since I last took pictures of a finished garment that I would somehow be different, and that would be visible.

Surely I can’t be the only one harboring suspicions of the photographic process?!?

Moving on.

The fabric is dear to my heart – bought in Quito, Ecuador. It’s a Super 130s wool, amazing quality, beautifully soft, drapey but substantial. I lined it with an olive green silk charmuese from D’Italia.

They’re at once simple and elegant but also decadent.

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I can’t attribute the design to one specific pattern, as this really is a pattern mutt…
a) crotch curve courtesy of the Style Arc Flat Bottom Flo pants (If you are in ownership of a pancake butt like me, this is the crotch curve for you!);
b) Original leg pattern from the Style Arc Darcy woven pants, altered beyond any form of recognition;
c) Waistband design from Colette Patterns’ Clover pants; and
d) Side slant pockets and back welt pockets from Burda 6689.

Burda’s crotch curve is apparently famed – something about the curve having an appropriate amount of shaping at the tip, which many pattern designers leave off today because it saves on fabric in the cutting layout. And that this design change multiplied by many pants pieces saves a huge amount in fabric and therefore $$$.

Either way, if you’ve a more rounded rump – this would be a great pattern to try. You can see the difference between the original Burda (right) and my pancake butt adjustment here:

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The legs are courtesy of Susan Khalje’s fitting skillz, and I couldn’t be happier with the way the fabric sits, and how flattering the line is on me. I had rather thought such a thing was beyond my reach. You can read about that fitting journey here.

The waistband is underlined in calico, with the inner waistband hand-sewn down in the ‘ditch’ of the front waistband. The lining was then handsewn onto the waistband facing and centreback seam.

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The zipper is my first ever hand picked zip. I’m more of an invisible zip kinda gal, however I can see the significant benefits of this treatment. Namely when you forget to check alignment and end up with one side being slightly longer than the other…

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Whoops.

It certainly helped having a fabric that was conducive to being steam into submission – you’d never know now!

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The hem of the pants is catch stitched down to the fashion fabric, and covered up with a bias strip of lining that was fell stitched on top. A lovely little detail.

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I did what you probably know as a ‘double welt pocket’ on the back – a slightly new to me way of doing it under Susan’s tutelage as well. They’re not functional pockets, just something interesting to break up the expanse of fabric across one’s backside. The fabric behind the opening extends up into the waistband and is sewn down underneath the bottom welt, which will act to support the opening as time and wearing put strain it.

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You can probably expect to see a few more pairs of pants popping up on here now I’ve got this sorted, as I’m ever so curious to see if the Style Arc Antoinette Pants are something I can pull off.

I’m probably only about another 10 hours (!) away from finishing my next French Jacket – which I’m also head over heels in love with – and I look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Pants block for the win!

Couture Sewing School – Day 1 & 2: Fitting and Fabric

I ended up going in on the first day with two muslins – one made up of Burda 6689, and another that was a pattern mut of the Style Arc Darcy Pants (Legs of Darcy, Style Arc Flat Bottom Flo crotch curve, Colette Patterns’ waistband from their Clover pants, which I’ve previously made).

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I wore the Burda pants for fitting first – but whilst they are famed for their pants crotch curve, it’s not one to fit a lady with a pancake butt situation out the back. If you’ve got curves then definitely yes! It’s a much roomier crotch curve. Susan had a quick look at these before I threw on my pattern mutt pair – which she deemed a better starting position.

She raised the waistband slightly at the front, agreed that my ‘flat bottom flo’ crotch curve was pretty great, then had me rip the seams apart at the legs right up to an inch or so below the crotch.

I have really prominent calves – and getting the legs of any pants pattern to fit (meaning in this case – that the grainline hangs perpendicular to the floor) and not get stuck and end up twisted below my knee has been impossible for me to achieve so far. Susan repinned this from scratch, marking out two dead darts first which realigned the grainline, then pinning the side seams back together to leave me with delightfully straight  leg pair of pants!

Wish I had taken a shot before I got fitted!

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Front dead dart realigning the grainline below my legs. I believe this type of adjustment typically responds to a ‘knock knee’.

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Front and back dead darts, with new side and inner seams as a result. Previously the legs from the Style Arc Darcy pants clung to my calves and twisted around slightly.

 

Thank goodness for large seam allowances - look at all the extra space I need!

Thank goodness for large seam allowances – look at all the extra space I need!

Still carrying about an extra 10cm around my waist following my pregnancy - so a change in the waistband was required to accomodate the pooch.

Still carrying about an extra 10cm around my waist following my pregnancy – so a change in the waistband was required to accomodate the pooch.  Also a perfect profile of said pancake butt.

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You can see the new seam lines marked in red in comparison to the blue seam lines of the Style Arc Darcy.

I took the time to make a second muslin, which took up the morning of Day 2, so I could add in the details I wanted from the Burda pattern – slit pockets at the side, double welt pockets at the back. It was a winner. So by lunchtime I was aligning my pattern pieces and cutting out my fashion fabric ready to baste.

Speaking of fabric…

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I’m working with a Super 130s wool yardage I bought whilst in Quito, Ecuador – nearly 5 years ago! I’ve been wanting to work with this fabric for aaaaaaages and it’s just beautiful to handle. The lining will be an olive green silk charmeuse I bought locally.

And here I am… basting.

By the time the day was finished, I’d completed basting my fabrics and had already completed a practise double welt pocket – and was congratulating myself on picking a pattern with so few pieces :P

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The technique for completing this welt is slightly different to how I have previously been doing it, and dare I say it, easier to do and far easier to save if you don’t get your stitching quite right first go around on the welt lips. I’m pretty stoked with the result.

Here are some pictures of my fellow sewists, and a peek into what everyone else is sewing!

Margie, from Adelaide and with whom I did the French Jacket Class in Baltimore – is sewing Marfy 3022 (a jacket I’m part way finished and absolutely adore – I need to wait until I finish losing the last of the baby weight before I see if I need to adjust the fit!) in a really gorgeous floral print cotton matelasse:

Margie and Susan contemplate pattern placement

Margie and Susan contemplate pattern placement

Three ladies are all sewing Vogue 8333 – such a gorgeous and classic blazer. Sarah is sewing her’s in a wool/silk blend tweed in purple and red tones, Fiona is working in a steel grey wool crepe, and Sandra has a grey and green flecked tweed.

Interestingly, all three ladies had to add more height to the sleeve cap on this pattern – and comparing the way in with the Vogue 8333 I made drapes from the cap, I really needed to do this as well. The way the sleeves fit me on this make have been a niggle point for practically forever… I’ve even considered taking the existing sleeves off and redoing them. I’ll probably never do it though. It gets a lot of wear, regardless!

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Fiona and Sarah

Belle is sewing pants as well – Burda 6689 (I’ll be honest I stole that pattern suggestion from her!).

Sue is working with a Vogue Kay Unger dress pattern in a red wool crepe minus the collar; Jennifer is sewing a Vintage Vogue A-Line dress in a floral silk crepe de chine; Helen, who has joined us all the way from Perth, is doing the iconic Vogue ripoff of Rouland Mouret’s Galaxy dress; Helene has a gorgeous black floral on grey background fabric which she is turning into a thigh length single breasted coat from a Lisette for Butterick pattern.

Judith is sewing a shift dress with a lace overlay (which she swears she’ll never wear, except maybe with white sneakers whilst she does her shop at Woolies!).

Two ladies are working with the Simplicity 2446 – Sharon in a really dramatic grey and black striped fabric, and Denise in a classic black crepe.

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Sharon aligns her black organza pattern pieces on her bold painterly striped fashion fabric.

It’s still early days but I’m feeling great about our work so far. Not to mention that with all this uninterrupted sewing I feel like a piece of myself has been rediscovered!

 

Things I’m sewing now I’m a Pregbot*.

Pregnancy is seeing me do things I would never normally do… like sewing with a plan. It’s refreshing to know that my loathing of shopping for clothes is ever so slightly stronger than my inclination to sew whatever I like whenever I like it. Whether or not I actually stick to the plan will be another story!

I’d love to hear from those of you that have been faced with curating a pregnancy wardrobe before – self-sewn or not – what worked? What didn’t? As I’m due in early-ish 2016, I’ll be dealing with a cold and windy Spring as it slooowly morphs into a Melbourne summer. Maybe we won’t even actually get that far? Come on, weather deities!

So, I started by pulling together patterns that make me smile.

MEGAN NEILSEN MATERNITY SURVIVAL PACK.
I feel a close affinity to Megan and her patterns, which is probably because we’re both West Australians. Ok, so she actually lives there and I merely claim that title by birthright, but still. She’s clearly the most go to pattern line for maternity clothing – I bought the survival pack and plan to sew up three of the four patterns it included – the Ruched Maternity Skirt (Erin), the Ruched Maternity Tee (Cara) and the Wrapped Maternity Top (Alissa). The pack had a leggings pattern too (Virginia) but I’m not really a leggings girl. Yet. Be prepared to get sick of me parading about in baby-con dress-hacks, tops and skirts, basically.

MN Maternity Survival Kit

BURDA MATERNITY PANTS 02/2012 #125
Initially I was hesitant to add pants into the mix. But… I bought this from the online Burdastyle – two others have made them up and they look both comfortable and practical, whilst still not appearing overly ugly. I’d heard rumours around the place that maternity jeans are notorious for slipping down – I’ve since bought a pair and can confirm that this is true, you just don’t get the same huggable fit. The pair I got have a similar stretch band over the mid-section to anchor them in place, so I’m hoping these will be just as comfortable as my RTW preggo jeans are. I’m also really grateful to past-Melanie for taking all that time to get my pants block up and functional. I won’t mention the fact that she was clearly too traumatised from that experience to then actually go and sew some pants. Poor past Melanie.

Burda Maternity Pants

Yeah, I wish my legs were this long!!! I’ll be chopping half of that length off, haha!

MARFY 9851 COWL TOP
An oldie, but a goodie – and still available on the mccalls site here. I have a wearable muslin thrown together from probably over two years ago that I found whilst cleaning out some boxes in my sewing room. Being already 90% complete, it will become an early 2nd trimester top that will ideally then morph into a post-partum/breastfeeding top, because the cowl is fabulously stretchy. Winning.

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STYLE ARC Harper Jacket
I’m delving into the world of unstructured garments here – totally uncharted territory for me. I originally had in mind the Nina Cardigan, with Harper being a runner up contender. I consulted with Lara – undoubtedly queen of the unstructured Style Arc pattern – her preference was Harper so that was that. The hope is that this knit outer layer will provide some warmth and match the majority of my co-ordinating maternity wardrobe during the early spring, and then be a staple post-partum also. I want it specifically in a pale grey (preferably marle) merino wool knit, but haven’t been able to find the exact right shade just yet.

Harper Jacket

DEUXIEME ARRONDISSEMENT Outerwear
I’ve developed a penchant for French sewing blogs in the last 9 months, and early this year stumbled across this pattern brand, which caters specifically for maternity. Whilst Megan Neilson covers all things stretch fabric in Maternity pattern land, 2nd District covers wovens for maternity. Now, I’ll admit I’m more team bodycon baby-con than team loose-and-flowy-maternity, but that’s because I’ve always felt really frumpy in shapeless clothing. But, I LOVE coats and jackets, so the fact that this pattern company has these triggered my clicking the buy button.

I’m suspicious of the drafting based on the photos I’m seeing though… and will most likely be altering sleeves and shoulders based on outerwear patterns I’ve already made and like (*cough* Marfy *cough*).

The 7H Manteau – looks like a really cosy winter coat:

Manteau 7H

And the 11H Veste – perfect as a blazer and I think would really lift a comfy knit outfit into ‘smart’ territory. It also looks like it would be pretty simple and quick to sew, making it even more ridiculously attractive. It’s terribly ill-fitting on the model around the shoulders, though.

Veste 11H

I also rather like the 10H Tunic too… but these patterns and postage are expensive ($46 aud at the time for the both of them), and not knowing anything about them or their drafting I’m already taking a risk. Not sure I’ll even get around to sewing the coat, but ah well.

BUTTERICK 6894
ahahahahaha…… yeah, nah.

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INSPIRATION
One word – Pinterest. Except I’d completely stopped using it ever since they brought about the ‘Picked for You’ pins, which clogged up my carefully curated feed with crap I cared nothing for. Until Urbandon posted about an html hack he found that allows you to hide the promoted pins. It does make your feed look a little bare, but this I can handle!

A particularly bare section of my feed after enabling the HTML hack:

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Now I’m right back into pinning pregnancy style ideas. It’s been the main source of my ideas for pulling together the colours and styles I want to be wearing over the next 6 or so months. Which naturally leads us to…

FABRIC
Upon investigation, my stash returned 5 pieces of knit fabric, three of which co-ordinate quite well together (a total of 6 actually, but the last one is a beloved Missoni knit and I’m not sure I’m ready to sacrifice it for Maternity sewing. I change my mind like the weather in Melbourne though, so who knows what will happen).

I’ve since bought two new ones online – and been gifted two others.

Also, a first at chez poppykettle – buying matching fabric together with the intent to sew a capsule wardrobe for work. I scored these at the 50% off sale The Fabric Store had a few weeks back – four garments for $80! and I’m starting to see how sewing for pregnancy is super cost effective.

The Fabric Store purchases

Top to bottom – a merino knit for a Vogue top I plan to adjust for maternity, a wool/poly blend for the Burda maternity pants, some cream DKNY knit – which you’ll soon see made up as a Megan Neilsen Ruched maternity skirt, and a cotton/lurex blend for the 11H Veste.

My hope is that by sticking to the same patterns and not being so anal-retentive about finishes (except where it counts) that I’ll be able to get all of this done (famous last words?). With that in mind, I have safely stored my bolt of organza away (won’t be needing that) and will be sticking a post-it note on my Janome reminding me to switch to lightning stitch instead of its default straight stitch. I’ve already started and finished on the DKNY knit so progress is great to date.

Now – I need to hear your stories and experiences about pulling together a pregnancy wardrobe!!

*Pregbot(n) – a personal joke that I find particularly humorous and which originated from my disgust of the (both Australian and American) far political right taking action to erode the basic human rights of women who also happen to be pregnant, in many instances reducing their status from human beings to mere incubators of foetuses. Not cool, dudes.

117-08-2009 Serenageo’s Blouse

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Today I’m going to blab on about how much I love the sewing blogosphere. Everyone is just so awesome. Case in point – when serenageo of Burdastyle posted this gorgeous, floaty top from the August 2009 issue of Burda mag, I commented that I loved it so much that I was going to try and track that issue down. Turns out that issue is coveted by many a sewing-enthusiast, so my extended bouts of online searching went mostly in vain. When I logged back in a few days later, she replied to say she’d be happy to send me a copy of the pattern. Cue ginormous grin!

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A little while later, I received a package from Romania. Not only had she traced the pattern for me, but also written me a lovely letter and included a super gorgeous crocheted collar (which I’m planning to include in another top at a later date. It’s taken me nearly six months to get around to making this though, so don’t hold your breath!). 

My initial muslin for this was a bit of a joke. Besides having bucketloads of ease, clothing in general that is straight up and down just doesn’t suit me. Unless you like the bag of potatoes look. So I took in a lot of ease, added a bit of shaping to the seams, a dart above the bust and cut back the ‘sleeves’ for a more flattering fit. The top itself was a breeze to put together – I even found two perfectly matching buttons to go at the front so had the added indecision of deciding which one to go for. From Buttonmania, naturally.

I finished the armscye with some self-fabric bias tape, but it ended up stretching and just generally looking a bit lame. So that got tucked under and sewn up:

BEFORE                                       AFTER  .
 
I made it with a cotton voile called ‘Then Smell the Mauve‘ from Tessuti. The fabulous thing about this fabric is its so light and breezy – but it’s almost impossible to tell the wrong side from the right side – perfect because the frill detail is single sided. I made this plus bias binding for around the frill edges.


All this from a meter of fabric – another meter is soon to be on its way to Romania for serenageo, so I hope she likes it as much as I do. So thanks Geo, you’re one totally awesome dudette!

The original Burdastyle photo:

 

The Stats:
00:00  Pattern Preparation (all thanks to Geo!)
07:30  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:50  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
03:55  Sewing
12:15  hours

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone – hope you all have a wonderful, safe and happy break!

Melanie xo

07-2011-131: The Lace-but-not-as-you-know-it Dress

07-2011-131 Burda Dress 1

It’s lace, but not as we know it. And that’s why I love it!

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I fell hard for this geometric styled lace when I saw it on the Tessuti blog (they also have it in black), back in January. I hot-footed it in there pronto to get some!

07-2011-131 Burda Dress 3

 

Totally inspired by the black lines in Chanel’s Spring Summer 2012 RTW collection, in which this lace featured (see here), I wanted to create a bit of an ode to this collection, using the #131 dress from Burda Magazine issue 07/2011 (also available as a down-loadable pattern here). 

 

Along with the lace at the front panel, I used a wedgewood blue stretch cotton from Clegs, and some black piping inserted strategically in the seam lines and also by cutting up the dress panels to get a diagonal line at the back. 

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Lining, Underlining and seams finished with rayon seam binding

I wanted a dress that I could wear during the cooler months (of which there are plenty where I live) and also I didn’t want my stretch cotton to pucker and crease every time I wore it. This fabric is the same type as the one I used to make my Green Peon-y, and it rather likes to get itself creased! I underlined it in a baby-blue 100% cotton flannelette which proved a solution to both quandries! 

After using a thick silk satin fabric to line my Vogue Suit, I was hooked! I used the same fabric again in black (also from Clegs) which should also insulate quite nicely :) I used the mat side of the silk satin to create the piping by cutting bias strips (same way as you would for making bias tape) then using my regular zipper foot (it’s the only foot I have that lets you get the needle position right to the edge of the foot) to encase the cord in the bias strips. 

07-2011-131 Burda Dress 6

I really love the square neckline of the dress, and the split at one of the sides. My only bother with this pattern? No seam allowances. I would happily pay a bit extra for the pattern if it included these! I made the ultimate mistake when sewing my toile – I forgot to add them. My bad, but an annoying thing none the less.

As other sewists have discovered, the neckline on this pattern is low. I’m usually all for the occasional showing of a bit of decolletage, but even I needed to raise this a little! Using the selvedge of the lace to go over the seam edge also provide a bit of cover up. 

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I used silk thread to baste the lace to the backing so it can’t move independently of the dress. I’m over the moon that I happen to have enough lace left to re-create the gorgeous top below I pinned a short while ago – sadly it will have to wait until I get back – as by the time this post goes live I will be in Ecuador!!! Even better – I made up Pattern Runway’s Sweet Shorts which I am over the moon about – they really are gorgeous! So all I need is some on location photos… coming soon! :D

I’ve even got enough left over lace to make something else… I’m loving the look of this triangular lace panel top!