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Monthly Archives: November 2014

  • Muffin Top? What Muffin Top?

    Lately, I have been lamenting the muffin tops created by my store-bought jeans. Why didn't I notice the pouch when I was buying the jeans? Why did I decide to buy the jeans at all? What are they doing in my closet? As usual, Sally McGraw at Already Pretty answered my question as though she could hear my thoughts. It was eerie, but wonderful. Her November 10 post was titled simply, "How to Get Rid of Muffin Top." I hoped she wouldn't tell us to do more sit-ups, and she didn't. Instead, she offered this sage perspective: "In my opinion, there are two answers to that question [how to get rid of muffin top]: Buy larger pants, or buy differently shaped pants." Oh...okay....I can sew myself out of muffin-top land! And, Vogue 8859 pants are in my queue.

    She couldn't have muffin-top if she tried. She couldn't have muffin-top if she tried.

    I have a bunch of burgundy ponte knit from Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. I'm ready!

    Even though I look nothing like the model in my version of the pants, I'm going to walk you through some of the alterations I made. Because I love you, I'm even going to show you my rear in these pants. Here goes:

    I had some serious lengthening to do. I started with 1 inch above the knee and 3 inches below the knee, but re-trying the tissue revealed that I needed at least 5 extra inches below the knee. These pants have a design element right at the knee, which is a little tricky when your legs are much longer than average legs. The design element hits me at the knee when I'm standing, but not when I'm sitting. I had some serious lengthening to do. I started with 1 inch above the knee and 3 inches below the knee, but re-trying the tissue revealed that I needed at least 5 extra inches below the knee. These pants have a design element right at the knee, which is a little tricky when your legs are much longer than average legs. The design element hits me at the knee when I'm standing, but not when I'm sitting.

    The pants were super easy to sew. The only fiddly part was the fitting. The tissue fit pretty well in the width, so, after lengthening the tissue, I and sewed everything but the side seams. Then I pinned the side seams to figure out where to sew them and sewed them up. Then came the tricky part, which involves my derriere (sorry in advance).

    Yucky bagginess! Yucky bagginess!

    Less bagginess. I fixed it by first deepening the crotch curve (i.e. creating more space for my derriere), and pulling up the center back. Less bagginess. I fixed it by first deepening the crotch curve (i.e. creating more space for my derriere), and pulling up the center back.

    I had an elastic around my waist. I pulled the fabric up until I had everything hanging the way I wanted it to. Then I marked the top of the elastic all the way around. It was not parallel with the top edge of the waistline, and that's okay.  I had an elastic around my waist. I pulled the fabric up until I had everything hanging the way I wanted it to. Then I marked the top of the elastic all the way around. It was not parallel with the top edge of the waistline, and that's okay. 

    I did not make the pants as tapered as the pattern envelope photo depicts. I may taper them more after I see them in different settings. Today, I like them a little loose. One of the wonderful things about sewing for yourself is the freedom to do little alterations to ensure your clothes are flattering.  By making these pants my shape, I erased my muffin top without doing any sit-ups! Yay!

  • SEWING BETTER AND A LITTLE FASTER

    The temperature has barely risen above zero degrees fahrenheit for the past few days, which I have taken as a clear signal to stay inside and sew like a maniac!

    I am making two Islander Sewing Systems Jacket Expresses while following along with Janet Pray's Sew Better Sew Faster class on Craftsy. I love this class, and I made my first Jacket Express a year ago.  Although Andrea Jones was able to make my jacket look good in photos, it did not stand up to close scrutiny. The cuffs were not securely connected to the sleeves, and the facing did not lie flat. 

    Oh my aching back! Oh my aching back!

    I had some Cloud 9 dragonfly fabric and some Moda linen sitting in my stash, waiting for me to have time to make jackets out of them, so I had the “brilliant” idea of cutting them out together. I wanted to cut out the dragonflies as a single layer to improve the chances of pattern matching. I laid the dragonflies on top of the linen and cut them out on the floor, constantly smoothing along the way. It took FOREVER! Cutting out on the floor with scissors is terrible compared to cutting out with a rotary cutter on a lovely Martelli cutting table! Next time, I will cut things out separately on my table.

    While making these two versions, I followed along with Janet’s industry techniques up to a point. The way Janet starts construction is brilliant. Preparing and top stitching most of the pieces before constructions works great. Plus, I now have two sewing machines, so I threaded one with thread for construction and one with topstitching thread (I used the same color for both makes). It worked great!

    Sleeves, backs collars, pocket flaps topstitched and ready for construction! Sleeves, backs collars, pocket flaps topstitched and ready for construction!

    Janet makes the entire jacket without pins or basting. I was able to avoid pins and basting through the construction of the yoke, and even the sleeve insertion and the welt pockets. I knew from experience that the cuffs would need some pins, and the facing would need to be basted from the wrong side so I could topstitch it from the right side and keep it lying flat. I also basted the upper front pockets from the wrong side so I could see where to topstitch from the right side.

    The cuffs needed some pins to assure attachment to the sleeves. The cuffs needed some pins to assure attachment to the sleeves.

    The industry technique has you topstitch the upper pockets somewhat blindly. I decided to baste them from the wrong side, so I could see exactly where they were on the right side before topstitching. The industry technique has you topstitch the upper pockets somewhat blindly. I decided to baste them from the wrong side, so I could see exactly where they were on the right side before topstitching.

    .....And I liked the flatness and accuracy of the result. .....And I liked the flatness and accuracy of the result.

    I also basted the facing from the wrong side so it would lay flat and be marked on the front. I also basted the facing from the wrong side so it would lay flat and be marked on the front.

    Nice and flat and visible from the front. Nice and flat and visible from the front.

    The basting allowed me to confidently topstitch the facing with contrasting thread, which I think increases the professional look of the jacket. The basting allowed me to confidently topstitch the facing with contrasting thread, which I think increases the professional look of the jacket.

    The weather promises to remain face-stinging cold tomorrow, so I’ll get the buttons and buttonholes done before it’s time to go outside again!

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