Category Archives: Trousers

Anima times two

Well hello. Bit of an unintended break there. I was sick for a week (sinusitis turns every little cold into a bed-bound week of hell), then had a trip away with work.

award

Two quite lovely sewing-related things have happened since I last posted – as well as some real sewing, below. First, I had an email (and a tweet from Jen!) to let me know that my lil’ space here has been nominated for a Bloglovin’ 2015 Award. I don’t know if the nominations were reader-voted or internally decided, but either way I can’t help but be extremely flattered and a bit proud. I know awards are always subjective and ultimately don’t mean much, but it’s a lovely boost to be recognised by a platform I use every day. If you’d like to see the other nominees and cast a vote, you can do so here.

Secondly, on that work trip we all had to give a short talk on what we’re passionate about. Guess what I picked, ha ha. Some of my colleagues already knew I sew what I wear nearly every day but some didn’t, and I had such a lovely reaction of admiration and support… plus about ten commission requests and the idea that I should start a ‘sewing for my colleagues’ blog series – we’ll see about that! Anyway it was really nice to share a big part of who I am and get a warm reception, and to find a few more sewing fans to have stitchy conversations with. (Hello if you’re reading!)

Anima pants

Right, on to some actual sewing. So I recently bought the Papercut Anima pants pattern as a PDF. I know, it’s pretty similar to the True Bias Hudsons and I try to reuse patterns rather than buy similar ones, but what made me buy Anima in particular was the faux fly front, which I’d never been able to wrap my head around how to construct.

Anima pants

They’re a quick and simple sew, a gentle single session type of project. The PDF was a manageable printout at around 25 pages and went together easily. I generally sew an S in Papercut but cut the M for these because I’m larger around the hips and wanted them loose. I think the S would’ve given me a closer fit more like the pattern photos – good to know I can just print it off again to try the smaller size sometime.

Anima pants

I sewed them per the instructions with no fit adjustments, except omitting the cuffs and just hemming the legs – I liked the ankle length finish and was hoping to go for a sort of soft tailoring look rather than full-on sweatpant. I’ve just rolled up the cuff a bit here for a peek of the slightly contrast inside.

French terry

The fabric’s a mega lovely French terry kindly sent to me by the newly opened UK arm of online knit fabric specialists Girl Charlee. I’d ordered from the U.S. Girl Charlee site before so was really pleased to see they moved to our shores too – no worries of getting stung by high postage and customs charges. Founder Mark Creasy let me pick a couple of fabrics to try, and this is the modal blend French terry . Ummm, I love this fabric. It’s insanely soft and has beautiful drape. I think it definitely helps these pants to look a cut above sportswear or loungewear – I had the Anima in mind when I ordered it and it was definitely perfect for this project. It comes in Sandalwood brown as well as this Deep Forest shade and it’s just £6.95/m. i’ll definitely be getting some more come the colder weather.

Anima pants

Given the loose fit I reckoned they would work as is in a woven fabric, so I cut a second pair pretty quickly in this gorgeous viscose I got in Chester’s Abakhan store.

Anima pants

I’ve been living in these since I finished them to be honest. They seem to go with all my plain tops (this is another Aster hack in linen) and are so comfortable – great for cycling and nice and light and breezy. I didn’t need to make any fit changes to make them work in a woven. Perhaps if you picked a snugger size you’d want to size up one to make sure they drape well.

Anima pants

I omitted the topstitching and drawstring this time for a smoother waistband. I’d love to try hacking around to make a flat-front waistband sometime too. Nice to have another TNT everyday pattern in the stash!

Black n blue 7017s, and how to fix a broken zip fly

Burda 7017 pants

From multi-camisoles to multi-pants: well, I needed something to wear with them, right? This post contains three pairs of my beloved TNT, Burda 7017, made over the last few months. Teamed with a cami or tee and jauntily rolled at the cuff they’re practically my everyday uniform right now.

Burda 7017 pants

Pair the first was made back in April; you might have seen them cropping up in my Me-Made May. I didn’t blog them at the time because they are pretty zzz, but I wear them loads so they deserve a place here. They’re made of a beautiful cotton twill from Cloth House in Soho. I think it was about £14 a metre and totally worth it as it’s so soft, lovely to work with and to wear. For this pair I converted the front pleats into sewn-down tucks. I tried to take some detail shots of the construction but black = nuh uh. They are very nicely made though, honest!

Burda 7017 pants

This second pair uses a poly from my Ecuador haul. These are kind of secret pyjamas: SO COMFY thanks to a bit of stretch in the fabric, and I love that they look like denim chambray. They look especially nice with this tan tee and shoes, non?

Burda 7017 pants

I used leftover ikat cotton for the inner band which I think looks super sweet and adds a bit of rigidity. I have to give a shout out to the fly front directions in this pattern again: it’s now my default method as it’s very fast and accurate. (Except these and my next pair both turned out the wrong way round, ie crossing right over left, man-style, which feels quite odd!) The facings are integrated into the pattern piece so you simply press them back and stitch the zip to each in turn – soooo easy. However, I did very stupidly pull the zip slider right off the top edge as I was testing it. I don’t usually cut the stops off until I’ve sewn on the waistband, and there’s exactly why. See the bottom of this post for how I got it back on.

Burda 7017 pants

Latest pair! These use a beaaautiful Marc Jacobs cloth that I bought from Mood NYC way back last October. I thought it was denim but working with it made me question that: it’s crosswoven with black and blue-grey yarns, frays a lot and creases/presses readily. A silk mix suiting perhaps? It’s perfect light pants weight and feels very luxurious to wear.

Burda 7017 pants

For this pair I hacked the pattern a bit, lowering the rise by 2″ or so and almost eliminating the front pleats. Having learned what I did on Alice’s class I would have approached this a bit differently now; it turned out ok but the tiny pleats left over look a bit silly so I should have transferred them into the side seams.

Burda 7017 pants

I put welt pockets into the back to break up the expanse of bum. I was a bit cocky and went straight into it without practicing, having done welt pockets once before but quite a while ago. Needless to say they are far from perfect – the corners aren’t nicely squared off and they gape pretty badly. I think I’ll sew them closed to prevent them tearing over time. This pair looks less good tucked in due to the low waist so my top will usually hide this mess, ahem.

Burda 7017 pants

The pocket bags and inner waistband are made from lovely tana lawn scraps. (I wore the pants with its matching cami the other day and had secret sewist joy that my inner waistband matched my top.) The fabric had a lovely pastel-striped selvedge which I’ve left raw on the fly shield and cuff.

Burda 7017 pants

I made the waistband a bit wider and added two buttons, as well as a concealed inner button for a snug fit. I’m going to add belt loops as well – I was feeling lazy after doing the welts so left them off but I miss them.

Fix a broken zip

Now here’s how to fix that pesky slidden-off zip pull.

Fix a broken zip

Locate the very bottom of the zip, just above the stop. Carefully (I used my sharp thread snips) snip out two teeth close to the stop.

Fix a broken zip

Do the same on the other side of the zip. Make sure you remove teeth evenly on both sides (ie two teeth up on each side), so the zip will match up when you slide it back on.

Fix a broken zip

Ease the slider back onto one side, pushing it just one tooth up – you’ll feel it ‘click’. Do the same on the other side.

Fix a broken zip

Slide it up a bit to check it’s properly aligned; if not slide it back off and try again.

Fix a broken zip

Now hand-sew a strong bar tack across the hole where you cut out the teeth.

Fix a broken zip

And quick, sew some bar tacks at the tops to stop you doing it again (which will be covered by your waistband). Phew, crisis averted.

My good old 7017s are real wardrobe winners, a bit more interesting than everyday jeans and so easy to wear and style. I hear a lots of sewists say they hardly ever make repeat patterns, but it makes total sense to me as you have all the boring pattern cutting and fitting done and can just enjoy the process of making and wearing. I am, however, going to put it to one side now and try out my block next time I make pants to see how it compares.

True Bias Hudson Pants

Hudson pants

Woo! I’m so pleased for Kelli of True Bias: her first pattern, the Hudson Pants, is now available, and it’s a cracker. I was fortunate to be asked to test for this pattern so I’ve already had time to sew up two pairs – you might have seen my first pair on Instagram right at the tail-end of Me-Made May. Trust me, if you get hold of the pattern you’ll be making multiple pairs of these babies too.

hudsonpantillustrationforblog_zps3dd20a9a

The Hudsons are a snug-fitting, low waisted urban jogger, with trimmed yoke pockets, a topstitched wide elastic waistband finished with drawcord, and deep ankle/calf cuffs. Perfect for work at home or out and about errand kind of days – of which I have a lot.

Hudson pants

My first pair is made from a double-sided ponte knit bought locally. I used the navy side for the main trouser, with some contrast at the hip and cuff using the lighter reverse side (Hudson is MADE for fun colour blocking). I think that ponte is a perfect choice for the Hudson, as the medium amount of two-way stretch makes them super comfortable but not bag out too much.

Hudson pants

Sewing these up is really fun and from cutting to sewing you could definitely make a pair in one session. What makes them intermediate rather than beginner is having to set the cuffs in the round, and the rows of topstitching on the waistband, where keeping the elastic uniformly gathered is key (I didn’t quite nail it on this pair, and there’s a bit of puckering). The instructions are excellent and well diagrammed so a confident beginner could easily tackle them, and they’d make a great introduction to the wonderful world of sewing pants.

Hudson pants
Hudson pants

Sizing wise, my waist measured about 3 sizes smaller than my hips on the chart, but Kelli recommends you go with your hip measurement as the waistband is elasticated anyway. The fit came out pretty good, just a bit tight across the bum so I might size up if I wanted a looser fit. The only thing I noted as a tester is that the ankle cuffs were a bit tight too, but Kelli has adjusted this in the final pattern to add a tiny bit more ease. I can’t imagine the shape would not work on anyone to be honest.

Hudson pants

I loved my first pair so much I made another a week later. My second pair is in a heavy terry-backed flecked jersey from Minerva.

Hudson pants

I cut exactly the same size as before but you can see a slight difference in fit: this knit has less widthwise stretch and hardly any lengthwise stretch. The result is a snugger, almost legging-type fit down the leg and a lower rise. I’m totally ok with this because I think it makes the pants a bit smarter; I could definitely wear them with a nice tee and loafers for work, whereas the first pair are a bit too casual for that.

Hudson pants

I’m already imagining more pairs – I want some calf-length ones for the warmer weather (perhaps even shorts length too) and also want to try them in a lighter weight patterned knit, which I think could create a loose drawstring pant kind of effect. I think it’s a pattern which really fills a gap for comfortable yet not completely slobby leisurewear, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it over and over.

You can buy the PDF download Hudson pant pattern for $10 right here.

I received a free copy of the draft and final pattern as a tester; views are my own.

Burda 7017 Spring trousers

Burda 7017 trousers

This outfit seems to be telling me spring is in the air – or it was when I took the photos last week, it seems to have dipped back into grey today :( I always seem to be drawn towards lighter, brighter colours as the weather gets nicer. I’ve even dip-dyed my hair lighter to celebrate. Alright, ignore the boring grey (non-me-made) tee, but the trousers are my new pair of Burda 7017s, and I really kinda love them.

Burda 7017 trousers

There are only six pieces to deal with in this pattern, and the fitting and style details are minimal but effective. Yoked slanted side pockets, front pleats, back darts, a button and zip fly… all very straightforward. (View B also contains hem cuffs and belt loops, if you’re inclined.) Sewing them up was fun and easy, and I got most of it done in one Sunday afternoon session.

Burda 7017 trousers
Burda 7017 trousers

I needed no fit alterations besides lowering the rise by about 1.5″ – it’s nearly natural waist height which is too much for casual pants and also unflattering with front pleats. They’re still quite high, but any lower and I’d have to muck about making the waist bigger. I had to angle in the back waist a little to prevent gaping: the directions have you sew this seam last so it’s easy to fix, but I don’t understand why any pattern comes with a straight rectangular waistband: surely that will fit no one with any hint of curves? Next time I’ll draft a curved band using the tips here. On the plus side I didn’t have to fiddle with the leg width or length at all, as I usually do; I really like the fit being loose on the thighs and slimmer down to the ankle.

Burda 7017 trousers

The fabric is Premier Prints’ Cameron, bought from fabric.com. I swear I ordered the twill but seem to have ended up with cotton duck instead. Duck is more often used for home decor makes as it’s tough and non-stretch. I think twill would have been more comfortable, but actually these feel fine too. They also feel nice and rigid so I don’t think they’ll stretch out much.

Burda 7017 trousers

The waistband is doubly interfaced and also cut a little smaller than the pants top and eased in, so I hope it’s not going to bag out. I overlocked all the seams for speed, but next time I’ll flat-fell and topstitch for a more durable, jeans-style finish. The fly front is constructed in a different way to usual: the facings are integrated into the front pattern pieces and turned to the inside, then the zip’s stitched to each side in turn, then the fly shield is stitched on. It seemed to make no sense as I was doing it, but I trusted the instructions and it was actually a really quick method and turned out nice and flat. I have no front-fly fear any more!

Burda 7017 trousers

I can’t wait to make these again, addressing my minor fitting issues to get them perfect. They may well become a TNT (tried ‘n true) pattern for me as I can envisage them in so many different fabrics, colours and patterns, the shape is good for me, and they are a really quick sew. I wore them the day I finished them before I’d even put the button on, and again the next day, which is usually the sign of a winner. Have I sold you on Burda 7017 too?!

Simple Sew Classic Trousers

Simple Sew Trousers

New UK-based pattern company Simple Sew offered to send me one of their patterns to review, and I plumped for the Classic Trousers. These are mid-waisted slim-legged trousers with front pleats, back darts, and a concealed zip at the centre back.

Simple Sew

The style lines are very simple: no pockets, fly, yoke, belt loops etc and as a result they’re extremely quick to cut and sew. That seems to be the entire premise of this pattern line, which promises everyday wardrobe basics to suit your style.

Simple Sew Trousers

I confess, I deviated away from the pattern’s simplicity a little bit to make the trousers more wearable for me. I moved the zip from the CB to the side as mid-bum-zips look a bit odd to me. Can we take a moment to appreciate that neato concealed zip? I’ve been practicing *preens*

Simple Sew Trousers

I also couldn’t help adding yoke pockets, which I drafted myself inspired by the single-piece pockets of Simplicity 1610 (which I’ve also just finished sewing and will share soon!)…

Simple Sew Trousers
Simple Sew Trousers
Drafting a yoke pocket

The single piece folds back on itself to create the inner pocket and the yoke all in one, very clever and hardly any extra effort.

Simple Sew Trousers

Anyway deviations aside I really like this pattern. The fit was pretty spot on with no adjustments and came up the same as my RTW clothing size. I was expecting the waistband to be higher based on the fashion sketch but it’s actually below the belly button. If you’re tall, you may need to add a bit of leg length as I’m fairly short and the length was good for me.

Simple Sew Trousers

I’m not sure this pattern would be suitable for complete beginners as I think the formatting of the instructions could do with being a little clearer in places. It took me a bit of searching to find out what interfacing pieces to cut, and I needed some additional internet support to remember how to get the concealed zip in. However, Simple Sew do offer full email support so you could always contact them if you got stuck. And I think they’d be a great first pants project if you’re already a pretty competent sewist as they are very easy to fit – I know that fit issues put a lot of people off sewing pants. To which I say DO IT, sewing pants is so much fun!

Simple Sew Trousers

For once I went for a plain fabric and sewed this pair up in a ‘Panama’ polyester that I grabbed on a Spoolettes trip to Lewisham last weekend. I had to google to see what Panama was but it just means basketweave: it’s light, drapey and crease-free so ideal for woven pants. It was also only £2.90 a metre so these were some mighty thrifty trousers. The fact that these are woven and non-elasticised means they’re a touch smarter than my beloved Burda 07-2011, but have the same ease of wearing.

simplepants

All via Zara

I think the best thing about this pattern is that it’s suitable for loads of types of fabric and would really help to build up some diverse staple pieces that you couldn’t really tell are from the same pattern. I fancy a chambray pair already (with a metal zip at the centre front), perhaps black peachskin and grey flannel. And they’d be a great canvas for my beloved prints – I have some indigo ikat that’d be just dreamy for these.

Thanks again to Simple Sew for sending me this pattern for review. It’s a winner for me! What do you think, are simple patterns sometimes fun to make and wear or do you always like a bit more meaty detail to your garments?

Operation knit-stashbust, and overlocker tips

I’m on a bit of a fabric-busting mission at the moment: matching up all my stashed-away fabrics to appropriate patterns and getting them sewn up. I get a bit antsy when there’s too much stuff accumulating in my house, and my fabric pile(s) are getting slightly out of control. I now have a Google spreadsheet so I know exactly what I have and how I want to use it, and I promise I won’t buy any more until it’s significantly reduced. Apart from that Goldhawk Road visit with the Spoolettes last weekend, ahem.

The main things in my stash are printed jerseys (thanks to a few binges at Rolls & Rems, Girl Charlee and Fabulace), and awkward sub-1m pieces left from other projects. Naturally jersey is easier to think of projects for and is also a large component of what I wear day to day, so I’ve been whizzing my way through this pile. I don’t have all that much to say about them though, so I thought I’d dump them all together here. I also thought I’d jot down a few tips for working with knits/an overlocker, in case anyone find it helpful.

Franken-Anna dress

First, a simple elastic-waist frock in a rayon knit from Fabulace. The skirt part is Simplicity 1800 again, like my favourite feather dress, and the bodice is By Hand’s Anna with minor alterations. In retrospect the large geometric print wasn’t the best choice for Anna as it gets chopped up by the waist pleats and you can’t really see the ‘blossoming bust’ detail, but I really just wanted to see if it worked in a knit.

Franken-Anna dress

I had to take a large dart out of the centre back to compensate for the stretchy fabric. Next time I’d do this before actually cutting the piece out, I had to kind of fudge it afterwards. To be honest, this was one of those ‘it’s 9pm on a school night but I really feel like making something NOW’ kind of projects, so it’s a bit rushed and wonky in places, but I still like it a lot. How nice is the green with the black and white? I need more green makes, I think.

Burda 07/11 pants

Next, another pair of Burda 07/2011’s (see more here and here), made in another rayon jersey from Fabulace. Jazzy prints are apparently my Achille’s heel.

Burda 07/11 pants

This time I made a waistband with encased elastic rather than the folded-over ribbing band the pattern recommends. These are basically a copy of a pair of RTW trousers that I wear all the darn time for work-at-home days, and they’re just about outside-acceptable too. Right?!

Hemlock tee

A Grainline Hemlock using some slubby grey knit from Minerva and a scrap of a darker grey. Lovely pattern, takes like an hour, will sew again and again.

Peplum tee

Here’s a peek at what’s been my little project since the new year: a totally self-drafted peplum tee, which I’m going to make available as a free PDF download very soon. I’ve made several during the process of drafting the pattern and think this plain black one is my favourite, even though it was an earlier version and the bust still isn’t quite right. Watch out next week for the pattern release if you like it.

Overlocker tips

Now, here are some of my top tips for working with jerseys, as I know a few people got overlockers for Christmas so might find these useful.

Cutting

Overlocker tips

I use my pleasingly matchy-matchy weights and rotary cutter to cut. I find using scissors and pins can cause distortion and a ‘hacky’ uneven edge, and you want to be as accurate as possible to make life easier when sewing. I only have a small cutting mat, so I have to move it around under the pieces as I cut.

Setting up

Overlocking tips

Buy the big cones of thread in packs of 3 or 4 depending on how many your machine takes (my machine can take 4 but I usually sew with 3). eBay and Jaycotts are good sources, they can be tricky to find in shops. I’ve only ever needed black, white and a medium grey, which seem to blend into nearly everything I’ve made (telling, huh?!), and they last forever – over a year and counting for mine and still nowhere near finished. Rotate the spools often, because the lower loopers use more thread than the upper needles.

Once your machine’s threaded up, you never need rethread it, even when changing colour. Simply snip the threads at the top, tie on the new colour and knot securely. Snip the loose ends short then run the machine in short bursts to pull the threads through, stopping when they get to a tension dial and manually helping them through. You’ll find the lower loopers feed through first as they use up more thread, so I usually run the machine until they are done then pull through the top needle thread manually and rethread the needle (or both needles, if using four threads). This takes under 90 seconds when you’ve done it a few times. Andrea has done a photo tutorial of basically the same technique I use. I can make a video on my process if anyone would find it helpful?!

Sewing

Overlocking kit

If you’re a bit scared of the overlocker, there’s no harm in basting your seams first with a regular sewing machine. Either stitch close to the edge so the stitches are covered by the overlocking, or further in so you can easily pull them out later.

Always do a quick test run on a scrap of fabric before starting each project. Tension can vary quite a bit between different jersey weights.

Sometimes I remove the knife from my overlocker, trim down the seam allowances if necessary (but leaving an allowance the width of the overlocked stitch, in my case about 5mm), and stitch my seams without using the blade to cut off any excess. This can be handy when going around tight corners so you don’t accidentally slice a bit off, and can also create a more stable seam at shoulders as the fabric bunches a little into the stitches. It also means you can unpick and re-sew if you make a mistake!

Unpicking overlocked seams is quite easy – quicker than regular stitching, I think. Here’s a tutorial.

I use Clover wonder clips instead of pins, as I’m terrified of what would happen if I accidentally ran a pin through my overlocker blade *shudders*

A walking foot is a great investment for sewing with knits on your regular machine. Mine is a cheap unbranded snap-on one and does the job fine.

Overlock tips

To finish an edge where an overlocked end is left loose (as opposed to being covered by another seam), I thread the tail ends onto a large darning needle and weave it back into the overlocked seam, cutting after an inch or so and securing with a drop of Fray Check or a small bar tack.

Hemming

Feather dress

My usual technique is to finish the raw edge with the overlocker, fold up once anywhere from 1/2″ (on a sleeve) to 2″ (on a dress hem), press, and stitch directly over the overlocking using a walking foot and zigzag or twin needle stitch. A double-folded up edge can look bulky on some jerseys and affect the drape. You want to catch the very edge, or even tip over, the finished overlocked edge so your seam won’t flip unattractively to the outside. I also love to do a machine blind hem on jersey dresses as it won’t ever flip outside, looks nearly invisible, and doesn’t affect the hang or drape. Press well after stitching.

Neck and cuff bands

Feather dress

I sometimes use this Megan Nielsen technique, which has you stitch the neckband to the inside (wrong side) of the garment, then press to the outside and topstitch. This has the benefit of giving a bit of stability, but can look a bit poor in lighter or loopy knits as the topstitches will just sink in. Or you can sew a band straight to the right side and press upwards, like this tutorial.