Friday, March 29, 2024

Purple Pants - two patterns, Leisl + Co Peckham and VikiSews Edna

Did I need two pairs of purple pants?  Or any purple pants at all? Not really, But I had some purple fabric in my stash and decided to work out a new pants pattern, the Leisl + Co. Peckham pants. With a number of changes I'm fairly satisfied with how they turned out - although the elastic waistband which is a feature of this pattern is what I actually eliminated in my version. 

Leisl pants 1

Here are the Peckham trousers, the fabric is a stretch woven, I think it has about 1 or 2% stretch and the pattern does call for stretch woven. 

Leisl pants back view

Peckman diagram

Changes I made to this pattern:
  • Raised the waist all around about 3/4"
  • eliminated the elastic waistband
  • added a seam in the waistband at center back.
  • shaved off about 1/2" on the upper side edge of each back piece
  • took in the center back about 1" after waistband was attached. 
  • due to my uneven hips, lowered the waistband about 1/2" on the right side tapering back to center front and center back. 
No changes in the legs or the crotch seam shape. In this pattern the inseam is moved forward which is much more similar to many ready to wear pants which I think fit better than most sewing patterns where the inseam is at the lowest point of the crotch curve. The designer has industry experience in ready to wear and it does show in the pants pattern of Leisl and Co. 

Now for things I don't like about this pattern:
  • 1/2" seam allowances.  Just my personal preference but I hate these, I am so used to 5/8" so I have to concentrate when I sew any other seam allowance. 
  • Elastic insets in waistband. In theory it sounded good but when I sewed up a test version they were just very bunchy and the waist was too big and needed a lot of adjustment. 
  • Zipper fly method - I prefer to use a cut on fly for trousers, reinforced with interfacing, it just comes out much better than sewing on a lot of fly pieces that add bulk. I changed it to a cut on fly.Test Peckham pants
This is my test version, I used some wool crepe that someone had given me during the pandemic - definitely not my color. I ended up taking in a lot of fabric when people were stuck at home and doing closet cleaning, figuring I would use it eventually for tests, samples, etc. but I think I need to start culling as even with making test versions of patterns I won't use up all these fabrics. 

Here's the pattern image. Why do pattern designers use print fabric to show the example on their pattern?? Which is another reason why I really don't look at the examples but just at the line drawing.
Leisl Peckham trousers image

Now for Pants pattern # 2. This one is the VikiSews Edna Trousers. I kept the same purple silk shirt on for these pictures and it is definitely a different shade of purple, plus if I didn't have my hand in the pocket that would be better. But anyway I like how these fit as well. 

VikiSews Edna purple1
This is actually the second time I have made these, I thought I had posted on the blog but I think only on Instagram about 12 months ago. This pattern calls for woven and this is a wool twill with no stretch. I think they would be fine with a slight stretch fabric as well. 

VIkisews pants back
Here's the line drawing for the VikiSews Edna trousers. I think it is a bit idealized, but the basics are visible. The useful thing on their website is to compare all the line drawings of the different pants they offer, looking at leg width, pocket shape, etc to choose one that I liked. 

Vikisews Edna diagram
Changes I made to this pattern:
  • this has a shaped waistband and I lie that better, but I did create a seam in the center back waistband so I can fit that area.
  • added seams in the waistband at the side seams, for additional fitting. 
  • I might have raised the waist in the back about 1".I can't recall but I think so as most pants are dip down at the back waist on me. 
  • printed it as a copy shop size file which has the seam allowances as 3/8" and it is easy to change that to 5/8" which just makes it easier for me to sew. 
What I like about all the VikiSews patterns, and the pants particular are the instruction which are outstanding. This is the only pattern brand that details the steam shaping of the pants legs and also has the crease line marked, which you press before you sew up the pants. I really like the width of the legs on both these patterns, perhaps the Leisl and Co Peckham pants have a slightly more fitted leg which makes sense as it is designed for stretch woven.  
Dislikes - can't think of any. These VikiSews patterns are really well designed. And they have the same forward inseam as mentioned for the Peckham pants above. 
Vikisews Edna image

So that's the latest on my pants sewing adventures. 
Another look at the Peckham pants.
Leisl pant front 2
And another look at the VikiSews Edna pants. 

Vikisews pants front2

Enough purple for you?  I made that shirt using a silk that I bought in NY in October at Chic Fabrics. It does match quite well the first pants and I actually wore that outfit the other day. 

I think I will make some cotton sateen pants or lightweight chino in one of these patterns for spring/summer as an alternative to always wearing jeans.

I have a couple of in person classes coming up in April  
Copy your Favorite Shirt class with Hello Stitch Studio, April 13, details here. 

Make the Kalle Shirt or Dress, Weekend Workshop April 27/28, details here. 

Up next in my sewing, no idea. The weather has been so cold and rainy and I am ready for spring! We had a few gorgeous sunny days recently and I am ready for more shorts weather. Even with the chill I have been out in the garden quite a lot and things are getting ready to burst into bloom. 

Happy Sewing,

throwback photo for the garden, a dahlia from last summer. At the end of the season I put all the dahlias in a garden bed and let nature do what it wanted. Just the other day I saw the first shoots poking out of the soil so they are on the way. 

pink dahlia 2023

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Cloning Ready to wear, copying an interesting top

Last year my friend Heather bought a top from Universal Standard which was really perfect for office wear and fit well.  I think it came in only two colors so she bought both.  One day she showed it to me and said she wished it came in other colors, and actually in different fabric. I took a look and said I thought I could make a pattern from the existing top - without taking it apart. So I did!

Before I forget - we just scheduled a Garment Copy Class with Hello Stitch on Sat. April 13. I haven't done this class in a while and it was really popular back in the day so I'm glad we found a spot on the calendar. 

H silk top front

It's an ideal top as a layering piece, under a blazer or sweater. This version is of a silk that I think I got at a stash sale - I originally made a blouse for myself and still had several yards remaining.  I don't wear much navy blue but as you know if you read this blog - Heather loves it so it was great to use it for this top.  
I will confess that I had to make about 3 test versions of my clone pattern to work out the details of the neckline area. 
Here's a look at the top from Universal Standard. Currently on their website they have a similar one with long sleeves. 

US top all views
Here are the pattern pieces after I find tuned them, made sure all the seams sewed together precisely and with the seam allowances added. I used 3/8" seam allowances on this as that is what the original had, and it makes it easier to recreate that color which is an all in one facing that folds back at the neckline.

US copy blouse pattern piece copy

I think in my test versions I worked out the placement and angle of the dart, which is drawn in in pink on the above image. 
This side view shows the pleat that is facing outward. In essence that pleat is another dart creating some fullness over the bust. At first when I started playing around with the pattern I thought it was similar to a top I made last summer but if you look at that blog post which has the diagram, on that top the pleat opens to the center of the neckline. I prefer this one, it lays on the body a bit better. 

silk dot 8

Here is a closer look at the pattern pieces with the folds at the neckline shown, that's what creates both the pleat and the self-facing which turns to the inside and covers up the back neck seam. 

front pattern piece copy

Here's a look at the inside of the neckline before I sewed the "facing" down to enclose the seam. I did undo the seam on the store-bought top so I could see what was going on in there, and to measure the depth of the pleat. I noticed they had some lightweight interfacing on the pleat section, going a bit past the shoulder seams so I did the same on mine. I think it supports the soft and slippery silk fabric and makes the back neckline lay nicely against the neck. I also put some interfacing at the center front where the center front seam ended, to reinforce that area. I alway worry about over the head tops like this - that is the point of all strain when you are putting it on and the fibers can fray and cause a tear at that spot. So a bit of interfacing is helpful to avoid that. 

silk dot inside neckline

The top inside out on the dress form, the front area folds back and is attached at the shoulder seam, but underneath is the fold that is creating the nice pleat on the outside. 

silk dot4

Another look at the original.

US top full view

H silk top back

Back view on Heather - you can tell she is not very tall as I made the length similar to the ready to wear, and it is a lot shorter on that probably 5'8" model. I actually made another version previously in a silk print we bought at Britex, here is that version. I think it works in solids and prints. 
Clone top silk print

So that's the latest on garment copying - it's something I really like doing, it's very satisfying to copy an existing item, for one thing you know you already like the length and the fit. Here's something I copied quite a few years ago - a denim jacket for my mom. And when she wore this pineapple jacket on the plane to Hawaii the flight attendants went wild for it!

Another link to my upcoming Garment Copy Class, on April 13, sign up on that link to the Hello Stitch website. 

Happy Spring Sewing, 

Another look at Heather in her silk top. This will stand in for my usual garden photo - note that I took that picture on Dec. 12, 2023, and looking at it now I can't believe how much color remained in the garden through December. 
H silk top front

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Remnant Fabrics to Coat: Part 2 Finished Look Burda 6845 coat

What is it about making coats that is so satisfying? I think they are my favorite item to make but I'm starting to think I'm getting to coat maximum - or at least my closet is saying so.  But if they are all as nice as this one I will keep doing it.  This blog post is a look at the finished coat, for lots of fitting and construction details see my previous post here.

Remnant coat on bridge
I still can't get over how nicely the colors of these various remnant fabrics go together. In my previous post I have links to the blog posts of the previous projects that resulted in these remnants. 
Photographing this coat has made me crazy, the colors looks different in every image and various times of day, sunny or cloudy etc. These photos in the park on what was an almost rainy day are the most accurate of how it looks in person. 
I lightened the shadows on this one to make the collar more visible. I used Burda 6845 which is an envelope pattern with princess seams and option of the horizontal seam which I used. If I was being really picky I think the lapels are a tiny bit on the narrow side but that's just my style preference. 
remnant coat 2

I wrote about fitting and construction details in the previous post so I don't have much more to say about that. But if I can give some outerwear sewing tips they are 1. plenty of interfacing 2. grade the seams and 3. press (with care).  Also I really like this photo which shows how it is the stitching lines that match on a sleeve, not the edges.  Confession time - I almost never do any gathering of the sleeve cap or press it to shape before I sew the sleeves in. Which is contrary to sewing wisdom but my method seems to work for me!
Inside sleeve

Coat on fomr
It took some time and concentration to get that horizontal color block seam to line up precisely when buttoned and I am very satisfied with the result. FYI,  3 buttons, probably sewn on a total of 8 times, on/off, move a tiny fraction of an inch, sew again, etc. The seams all line up as well which also entailed some unpicking and restitching with some tiny adjustments. But that is the point of this coat so it was worth the time. 

coat sleeve and pocket

For the lining I used navy blue bemberg rayon throughout.  I have done a coat with a color block lining to match the outside but as this coat was remnants I thought it was a bit silly to buy more lining fabric when I already had this navy blue. 
remnant coat lining


So that's about it for my latest coat project, a very satisfying one on many levels. We are in the midst of a big rainstorm but I think spring is right around the corner and I have a couple of new t-shirt patterns that I might try out next.


Happy almost Spring Sewing,

Today's garden photo, a camellia that needs a good trim once all the flowers are gone. But I can't do it now while all these beautiful flowers are on it. And the bees are in heaven. 

Camelia 2024 Feb

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Remnant Fabrics to coat, Part 1: fitting and details

Looking back I see that I haven't made a new coat for myself since April of 2021 so I feel a tiny bit justified in starting a new one. With the caveat that it is not often coat weather here and when cold it is likely rainy too so I will probably be wearing a rain jacket. But I was reorganizing my fabrics and realized that I had some sizable remnant pieces from other projects that gave me an idea to combine them in one coat. I am so glad I did as I just love how this turned out and thought it was time for a detailed blog post with some fitting details.

outer shell finished

Here's a look at the coat in progress (with a very good view of my rolling worktable behind it).  I had the navy blue fabric leftover from this project, the burgundy wool is from this project, and the tweed sleeves are from a blazer that I made myself last year, although I didn't put it on the blog. But the fabric is the same as this one I made for Heather. I liked the fabric so much I bought some at Britex for myself. 
Something about the 3 fabric color ways goes together well and if I were an artist I might understand why, but I just knew they complemented each other. 
Here's the pattern that I used, and envelope pattern Burda 6845 which  has lots of versions online and is a really nice pattern. And it had the two-fabric version already in the pattern. 

Let's talk about fitting.  This pattern has plenty of seams which I like as it makes adjusting for multi-size a bit easier. I made a muslin in size 38 graded to 42 in the hip and then evaluated that for adjustments. 
One of the reasons I like using Burda patterns is that the neck/shoulders/armhole etc of the size 38 is just right for me and I only need to adjust a bit in the circumferences.

I give a lot of credit to new sewers because if I was starting out and tried on some muslin test garment I might say nope as the test version is always so hideous and you really have to use your imagination to know the final product will be nice. I skip the sleeves (which I do not advise but I know they will fit me already) but I do put in the shoulder pads since that affects the drape and bust location. 
To resolve those drag lines indicated by the blue arrow I split the front horizontally and added more length and width at the princess seam bust area. 

drag lines coat

Here's another look at this adjustment. Actually not the adjustment but cutting across the muslin to create space. I pin fabric in the gap created and then check again. The major change was to add more length across the front princess seam, also to add some width at the back hip.  Keep reading to see the changes on the actual paper pattern pieces. 

fitting on form coat copy

Explanations in paragraph below. 

coat mods pattern copy

Here are the upper pattern pieces for this coat. I added length and a bit of horizontal distance in the front princess seam, using a wedge that tapered to nothing at the armhole. Then I added the similar amount of length to the center front piece. I remade the muslin test version and decided that the front princess seam edge was a bit too long so I pinched out a small wedge noted with the purple arrow. This just removes some length along that area and made it sew to the other edge better. Then I added to the center back princess seam down to the bottom, particularly around the hip area. However when I sewed it up it in the wool was a bit to big and shapeless at the back waist but it was easier to take in that seam in the final garment. Lastly I shortened all the upper pieces shown in the yellow sections above. I think I shortened about 1.5 inches. The seam needs to be below the waist but not too low so think I raised up that seam by the similar amount that I lengthened the front. 

I spoke about a lot of the sewing details on Instagram and have saved the series in an Instagram Highlight called "Remnant Coat" so you can see a lot of the sewing and construction details there. my Instagram is:   beth_sunnygal
This coat has a particular sewing order and the dart under the lapel is incorporated into attaching the collar. Which for some reason I don't like and since I rarely read the instructions I almost missed it. Although it probably would have turned out just fine sewing dart and the attaching collar. But their method is smoother in the sewing so I'm glad I took a quick look at the instructions. 

Collar and dart instruction

collar seam instruc

When it comes to working with coating fabrics I think the trimming and grading seams is the key to a good finish. If there is any spot with more than 2 layers of cloth and it can be trimmed, I trim it. Even tiny corner squares like this one. 

trimming upclose

Interfacing inside coat
Inside before trimming and pressing. I think when you have some seams intersecting in two different wools like this then adding interfacing gives them a bit of structure and helps them to match together well and press similarly. Originally I didn't have any interfacing on either the blue or the burgundy around the horizontal seam but it just looked limp, particularly as compared to the front portion which had interfacing on the entire pieces. I had only machine basted it together just to double check fit so it was easy to detach some seams and add interfacing. Below shows the front with the silk thread tracing in preparation for the bound buttonholes, see how nicely that seam presses where the two colors meet. That was the result I wanted all around the coat so it was worth the extra time to go back and add the interfacing. I use Pro-Weft Supreme Light from Fashion Sewing Supply for almost all coat or jacket projects. 

thread mark for buttonholes

Coat starting to come together at this point and decided to use these buttons which I bought in NY in October at Pacific Trimming. I always make some test buttonholes and play around with size, plus see how the fabric behaves. Note that I sew two layers of interfaced fabrics so that simulates the actual coat front including the seam edge so I can really see how the real buttonholes will turn out. 


Remnant coat on a sunny day

So that's some detail on the fitting and construction for this coat. And a look at the meyer lemon tree outside my sewing room window. Next up I will post the finished coat. Then it's on to a new project - whatever that might be!  I just was given some really cute vintage patterns from the 60's so I might get started on a summer dress. 

I'm teaching a combo "Learn to use patterns / simple pattern fitting" class this upcoming weekend via HelloStitchStudio but I think it is sold out.  April 27-28 I'm teaching a shirt class using the Kalle Shirt pattern from Closet Core which we just listed so there are spots open. (Location is Bay Quilts in Richmond CA, they have a really nice classroom space).

Of course there is plenty to do outside now with all kinds of weeks popping up and plants needing attention. Plus I just ordered some new plants this morning  - they're like fabric, hard to resist!

Happy almost Spring Sewing,

Today's garden photo, taken yesterday between the downpours. A cheerful daffodil is so welcome this time of year. 

Daffodils 2024 Feb

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Upcycle Cashmere Sweater

This January I am in a mood to upcycle or at least repurpose a lot of the fabric and garments that I have held onto but not used. I've had an idea to use old cashmere sweaters as fabric and recombine them into new items. Over the the last few years I've put a few of my old sweaters in this category as well as some new to me ones found at thrift shops. However for my first project of this type I actually purchased something and remade it - also using remnants from the stash. 

sweater collar

I was in my local Savers thrift store before Christmas, looking for puzzles and happened to walk by the rack of men's sweater where this blue beauty was hanging on the very end of the rack. That color! how could I resist. So I bought it for $9 and figured I could use it for something. Also being a men's size L it was quite roomy and great for cutting out me-sized pattern pieces.

blue sweater original

The sleeves, sides, shoulder seams and neckband were stitched on so I unpicked all that and was left with a good amount of sweater to work with.  I decided to make it a polo neck sweater and use a Burda pattern which I have successfully used on a summer stripe cotton t-shirt. Burda Feb 2023 # 108.  You can see the pattern and original shirt in that linked blog post. 


I wasn't quite sure what I was going to use for the collar, at first I thought about a contrasting color harvested from another sweater but rummaging around in my stash I found a small piece of silk charmeuse and the color match was incredible, so it had to be that. 

test sleeve1

I put both lightweight fusible interfacing as well as some silk organza in the collar and collar stand to give them structure. Otherwise I just sewed it as I would with any knit fabric. The sweater held together well when cut so it was easy to sew. 

Blue sweater2

blue sweater back

The sleeve were a bit tricky and I decide to just sew them back on as it, with some minor adjustment at the seam allowance of the armhole. So they are a bit long perhaps but I generally turn back the cuff on all sweaters so they are fine. 

test sleeve2

I hand basted them on first just to make sure they fit the armhole.  All in all I am really satisfied with my first cashmere sweater remake and there will definitely be more in my future. I've collected a few sweaters in plum, lavender, and purple shades so perhaps some kind of color-block combo.

blue sweater front

blue sweater4

Worn with my favorite pair of Ash jeans. That pattern certainly has provided value as I think I have made 10 pairs at least and another corduroy pair is on the to-do list. 

I'm really happy with my slouchy, soft and very blue sweater remake. If you have been following me on Instagram you will know that I am doing another project that is in the reuse-recycle category. I'm making a coat only using remnants of wool from other projects. It started out just a personal challenge but is turning out to be one of my favorites and I will do a blog post soon on that. 

This weekend I'm teaching an in-person 2-day Chore Jacket class for Hello Stitch Studio. After that we are working on what to offer in the spring, any suggestions?

Happy January Sewing,

As you can see in the image above, the garden is pretty blah this time of year and involves a lot of weeding and raking of the never ending leaves. So here is an image of a summer dahlia to remind me of what's to come. Also I moved all my dahlia tubers to a planter box and I hope to have a nice concentration of blooms there in the summer.

red dahlia 2023