23

Self-drafted Shirtwaist dress, and a sneak preview of the new Thread Theory pattern, the Thetis Undershirt!

I’ve always liked shirtwaist dresses. I don’t even know what is about them; perhaps it’s that they’re an easily wearable “vintage” look, along with the fit-and-flare silhouette that suits me so well. Regardless of the reasons I’ve always wanted a wardrobe full of them. Before I started sewing, they just weren’t available to me – the only ones I ever saw ran at about $200+ which was well out of my student clothing budget.

ImageI have tried sewing them twice before. The first, my Gertie’s Palomino Dress, was one of my favourite items for a while, but it has some serious fit issues; I successfully tackled the broad shoulder issue, but the bust darts are crazy. And I have several issues with the back – there is way too much fabric gathered into the yolk, and the shirred lower back results in some extremely unflattering gathers. I do still love this dress and get plenty of comments (including one elderly patient telling me that it took him back to the 60’s), but I don’t want to make the base pattern again.

ImageI then tried to use my princess seam bodice sloper and the Gertie’s pattern to draft a better-fitting version, seen here. The bodice of this one fit well, but for some reason the collar (which was borrowed from the Gertie pattern) is way too short; I dislike the buttons that I chose; and it ended up with an a-line skirt because I didn’t buy enough fabric. Looking at the photos, it isn’t as bad as I remember, but I think I gave this dress away.

It’s taken me a while to get the courage to try again… and I think I’ve almost cracked it

ImageI would go so far as to say I drafted this myself; although it’s based off several different patterns, I had to alter them significantly and have ended up with “my own” pattern. The bodice front used a combination of the Gertie Shirtwaist, La Sylphide, and my princess seam sloper. It started off with just one (vertical) dart and I ended up adding in a bust dart, by figuring out how much needed to come out of the side, marking my bust point on the muslin, and aiming the dart there (finishing 1″ before).

I then rearranged both darts to make the center of the dart parallel and perpendicular to the grainline (does it annoy you when the dart pulls funny when you’re forming it? I’d never thought about it before but figure the reason is that they’re off grain). The bodice back is the La Sylphide/my bodice sloper back piece, cut on the fold. Sleeves are from my sloper.

ImageThe collar is my only issue with the dress (GUYS THERE’S ONLY ONE THING I DON’T LIKE). I used the pattern piece from the Negroni shirt, as I think the Gertie dress uses a one-piece collar. It hasn’t worked and makes the back neckline gape weirdly. Although it’s not ideal, though, I’m perfectly happy with the whole thing because it still looks awesome and now I know. Next time I’ll draft or find a collar stand and collar.

ImageOnce I had the pattern sussed, I pulled out the only fabric in my stash that I thought would work… and realised that it’s a large scale pattern. I should pattern match. Crap.

I’ve never really done much pattern matching before – I used to not even be aware of it, and I often just bypass it on smaller print stuff. After my accidental-matching on my lobster dress, I realised how gutted I would have been if it was way off. So I decided to bite the bullet and do it.

ImageI did it! Because it’s buttoned up and not just a regular seam, I had to work out where the two patterns would actually meet. I marked the center front on the pattern piece, then cut out one piece (on the flat). I then folded the fabric under at the center front and laid it on top of the fabric, lining up the pattern – then lair the pattern piece down (in a mirror image), removed the first bit of fabric, and unfolded the center front. If you like pictures, Sewaholic and Bind The Seams both have pictorials. I’ve just clicked that “pictorial” probably means picture tutorial.

ImageBecause the dress is only buttoned to the waist, I added a lapped zipper to the side seam. This also meant that the buttons would be non-functional, so I decided to sew most of the front shut and sew the buttons straight onto it. The top button is still functional and I had a hell of a time with my automatic buttonholer, as it wanted to make a buttonhole 3x shorter than I needed (it’s funny how a malfunctioning convenience tool makes you so much madder than if you didn’t have it at all).

ImageI have so many zips, but they’re not very often the colour that I need.

ImageLike my last few dresses (and another one almost finished), the skirt is an a-line gathered skirt, and for this version, both the front and back skirt were cut on the fold. And the hem is my first actual ever blind hem. Oh my glob guys, it is amazing – why have I never done one before? It only took a little bit more fussing with the iron and pins, and it’s such a nice finish. I’m going to be doing them a lot more.

ImageWowow I like this dress a lot, and apart from the collar it’s really comfortable (I keep finding myself tugging it forward a bit). It doesn’t even use up much more fabric than any other dress, so I’m hopefully going have my dream of a wardrobe half filled with shirtwaist dresses!! Just need to find the fabric for them first…

ImageI run out of poses, okay?

Image

I’m also going to count this as a Sew Dolly Clackett entry. She has made a few similar shirtwaist dresses, and although it’s not her classic style I did buy the fabric because of her inspiration.

Details

Pattern: Self-made, details in post

Fabric: Quilting cotton from fabric.com, about $30 after shipping

Notions: Buttons, 50c each. Thread, interfacing and zip from stash

Total: $31.50


 

I’d also like to show off another make: the Thetis Undershirt by Thread Theory.

ImageAfter some cheeky pointed emails to Morgan from Thread Theory, I was lucky enough to be able to test a soon-to-be-released pattern, the Thetis Undershirt. It’s designed to be a loose, v-neck for wearing as is, or under other clothes (such as a dress shirt – so many of those need a singlet to maintain modesty), and it will be released as a FREE pattern.

ImageIt’s a straight-forward top that uses very little fabric (I used an 80cm scrap piece of cotton-spandex). It is meant to be a loose style and I prefer Mr. Guy’s tops to be a bit more fitting so I did take it in at the sides a bit – Morgan recommends going down a size from your measurements if you prefer it fitted.

ImageI can see myself making a few of these; even though Mr. Guy said “I don’t need another singlet, I already have a black and a white one” he’s worn this one several times.

ImageI’m not 100% sure when the pattern will be released (it’ll be availble after Morgan and Matt get back from their USA roadtrip, I believe) but be sure to keep an eye out!

6

Jedediah shorty shorts

Okay, sorry to disappoint – they’re not really shorty shorts. Just above the knees.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070146.jpg

As soon as I had finished Mr. Guy’s first pair of Jedediah trousers (which are getting worn a lot), he asked for a pair of shorts. I told him yes, but he would have to wait for me to get some fabric… then after some thinking I very kindly used some stash fabric for him. This version is made up from a heavy weight cotton/lycra twill that was originally bought to copy this exact dress, to be worn at work.

I think now it actually would have been too thick/stiff for a dress (good for a winter dress but I work in a hospital that’s always the same temperature), and I really wanted to make him another pair, so it got sacrificed. The pattern actually use a lot less fabric than suggested, so there is easily enough left to make a skirt for myself.

Image

I don’t have much else to say about the construction of these. They’re the same size as the other pair, although I took a couple of cm off the waistband as he wanted to be able to wear his pants/shorts without a belt. Unfortunately (and obviously) the lyca in these means they fit a bit looser, and despite being interfaced, the waistband is more loose than the other pair.

He usually wears his pants quite low so it’s not too bad, but I don’t like him doing that so I’ll make sure I take it in even more if I use a fabric with stretch again in the future.

Image

Fingers over the photo because I was too busy perving, and Mr. Guy doesn’t like me taking photos of him so couldn’t re-do them

You can’t see much detail because of the black, but there isn’t much! Again the pockets have no decorative top-stitching. The side and inner leg seams are all flat felled and the seat seam is overlocked and stitched down.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070153.jpg

This time he got blue anchors for pockets (why would I use plain fabric?).

Again, the pattern itself is excellent and not too onerous to sew up – it took two evenings because there’s quite a few things to do. I once read it should take a full day to make a pair of pants/jeans, and I don’t imagine I could make these any quicker. I cut at the “shorts” line but shortened them by about 4-5″, where Mr. Guy wanted them to finish (he looks really odd with below-the-knee-shorts).

Details

Pattern: Jedediah Trousers by Thread Theory

Fabric: Cotton-lycra twill, $18/m with 40% off = $10.80

Notions: Thread, interfacing, zip and button: stash

Total: $10.80

I’m going to have to keep my eye out for trouser fabric now; I’m sure I’m going tog get more requests as the weather gets colder!

 

13

The Monthly Stitch Knitspiration: underwear

(I’ve already posted about this pattern here, but have written a post for the start of next month’s The Monthly Stitch’s challenge – to sew with knit fabric)

 

Underwear is something a few years ago I NEVER would have thought about making. I mean, come on – make your own underwear? That’s ridiculous. Skip forward to today, and I haven’t bought myself underwear in about a year. I’ve made myself underwear from a few different patterns – Jalie 3242, and Ohhh Lulu’s Ginger and Betty patterns. I haven’t posted any pictures because they were mainly all made before I started my blog. So far they’re just plain cotton knit ones, but I would like to branch out into a bit of lace to make them pretty Because it uses such a small amount of fabric, you can make underwear out of scrap fabrics, or you can get several (3-4) pairs out of 1m.

And if you think it would save money to make your own underwear, think about mens underwear! In New Zealand, a nice quality pair of brief’s costs at least $20, and a nice pair of knit shorts costs >$25-30. When you consider how much fabric would cost US to buy, and then realise that these are being made off shore, and I’m 100% certain the fabric will cost a fraction of what we pay for yardage. It’s even cheaper if, like me, you were able to get sent a whole box of knit fabric scraps for FREE – thanks Levana!!!

ImageThe only issue is PATTERNS. For ladies patterns you have several options. There’s ones to buy, like those from the Big 4 pattern companies, Ohhh Lulu, and Merckwaerdigh there are vintage versions, free patterns like those from So Zo and Cloth Habit, and many others. For men, there haven’t been many options. Several months ago I had a go at making mens underwear, starting by pulling apart a pair of Mr. Guy’s briefs (I buy him briefs/gruts partly because they’re cheaper than shorts! Ha) and making  pattern. Lets just say that didn’t work well – turns out that particular pair didn’t fit him well in the first place, and the pair I made were terrible.

I then tried the Jalie 3242 mens brief pattern (you can see Male Pattern Boldness’s boxers and briefs here). I ended up making several different pairs, but they just didn’t fit well (even though I re-drafted the crotch piece 3 times) and I found the leg binding really difficult to look good. After that I kind of gave up, with the general idea in my mind that I would revisit the idea later.

 

Then, two weeks ago, Thread Theory launched their new pattern, the Comox Trunks. Dang it but Morgan and Matt know what we want, and the PDF pattern in particular is really cheap (only $7.50 CAD). I snapped up a copy and the next night I had a version made up:

ImageThis was the only knit I had in my stash, hehe. Original blog post here

This pattern is EXCELLENT, as can be expected with all of Thread Theory’s patterns. After my big box of knits arrived from Levana, and I got some more waistband elastic from Made on Marion, I quickly made up three more pairs (one pair has… disappeared).

ImageThe shorts only take me about 60 minutes to make up, including cutting, so they’re a great project if you want a quick fix or only have a short time to sew. I think I’ll end up cutting these out in bulk and having them pre-cut ready to sew up so they take even less time.

ImageUnderwear can be really difficult to get pretty; they’re quite a different beast from full-size garments. Mens underwear (and this pattern in particular) is designed to be easy to look professional, once you get used to stitching the smaller pieces (I find womens underwear much harder because of all the picot elastic etc). For these two pairs, there’s a couple of dodgy areas, especially when I stitched my twin needle over the waistband elastic… which then broke. The blue pair doesn’t have that seam top-stitched.

Mr. Guy tells me these shorts are really comfortable, and he reaches for them before his other RTW pairs. I wish I had some photos of him modelling them, but I’m not willing to share 🙂 You can see some lovely modelled pairs on Thread Theory’s blog

 


Thread theory is running a sew-a-long for the shorts starting Friday April 4th (today for us kiwis/Australians and tomorrow for those from almost everywhere else). To celebrate, until Friday night there is 30% off the pattern! Just enter SEW-ALONG at the checkout.


Close ups:

ImageImageDetails

Pattern: Comox Trunks by Thread Theory

Fabric: Cotton-spandex knit from Levana, free

Notions: Thread from stash, waistband elastic

Total: about $2 each

23

Don’t be a Dickie: Thread Theory’s Jedediah Trousers

Folks, there is a reason why Thread Theory was one of my top, all time favoutite pattern companies. Here I am with my first ever pair of trousers, and apart from a few tiny issues, they look just like RTW (particularly like Dickies brand pants).

Image I traced off this pattern yesterday, washed and dried the calico for a muslin, and made the muslin which I initially thought was going to send me into a spiral of fitting-doom. From Mr. Guy’s measurements I traced a 36 in the waist and 34 in the hips, but when he tried the muslin on there was all sorts of bagging and pulling, and to be honest I had NO idea where to start.

Then I remembered that he had told me earlier that he wore a 34 in RTW (why does he never remember that when we’re in shops?), so I went back and re-cut the pattern and muslin to a size 34 all over… and hey presto! Almost perfect fit. The waistband is still a touch loose so he will have to wear a belt (which he does will all his RTW anyway) and the back crotch seam needs to be lengthened; otherwise, that’s it! Thank goodness for him being a “standard” shape, I get enough fitting issues with my own clothes.

ImageI’m almost hesitant to say that the entire process of tracing, muslin, and making the pants only took me one day: I don’t want you all to hate me. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re all sickened by how many garments I’m cranking out; I would be too! I guess I’m just relaxed and, well, there’s not much else to do here once you’ve taken the dog for a walk.

ImageJessie-dog and Travis the cat love to tussle.

The quickness it got made* was largely due to the pattern itself though. All of Thread Theory’s patterns I’ve made so far (which is all of them other than the Goldstream Peacoat) have been so well drafted, with excellent instructions that include little tips to help with the construction. There is also a sewalong for the trousers/shorts on their website which is always helpful for the confusing bits, and Morgan did a video on how to sew the fly – which made it so easy I didn’t have time to be apprehensive about it!

*now I have Sublime stuck in my head..

ImageI will admit that I made the fly a bit too shallow (I’m not sure how to explain that better), and am glad that my fly top-stitching isn’t contrasting so you can’t see that it’s a bit too close to the opening. That, and a few areas where my topstitching isn’t so straight on the corners (and the inner waistband – must remember to sew it on back to front like the La Sylphide neck tie) are the only areas that I’m not completely stoked about.

Image

I pretty much followed the instructions for the construction. Both inner and outer leg seams and the yoke are flat-felled, crotch seam is overlocked. I didn’t have any bias binding or the inclination to make any, so the waistband seam is just tucked away and stitched.

ImageThis is one of those projects that, although I was there every step of the way, I can’t quite believe that I made it. I was looking at each leg when I had finished them (prior to sewing the crotch seam), just admiring how good they look – now that is a good feeling. Obviously sewing menswear is good for my patience in ensuring I do everything nice and proper. Now I’m keen to try making shirts and pants for myself, once I have the fabric (I have the Archer shirt and the Thurlow trousers patterns, and I’d love to try making jeans).

ImageOf course not everything in the pants is “proper”, I had to sneak some kind of personalisation in there:

ImageOut of my stash, Mr. Guy chose this lobster print cotton for the pockets (yusss). It’s almost a shame that the pants are so well designed and you can’t see the pockets from the outside! He’ll have to just pull them out to show people, and next time I might copy Meg’s first pair and sew the pockets inside out so you can see the fabric when the trousers are off.

I didn’t actually do any decorative top-stitching on the pocket – should have just gone with the suggested stitching lines, but I want to have something really cool but couldn’t think of anything – plus I’m no good at machine embroidery. ONE DAY. The back patch pockets are also a bit small, too, as for some reason I only traced off the stitching template rather than the actual pocket piece!

Image See what I mean though? Only teensy tiny problems which aren’t even real problems. I’m getting a lot better at this sewing game!

Details

Pattern: Jedediah Trousers from Thread Theory

(I bought the PDF version a while ago, but just bought all the paper copies because I’m a fan girl ❤ )

Fabric: Cotton twill from The Fabric Store, 2m at $18/m (on sale at 40% off) = $21.60

Notions: button and thread, stash. Interfacing, $2

Total: $23.60

Take that, $90 pants (although mine aren’t wrinkle resistant or “stain release”, whatever that means).

11

New: Comox Trunks

So I’m obviously quite hot off the gun with these ones (Mr. Guy tells me that’s not a real saying). Thread Theory released their new pattern for the Comox Trunks on Monday evening, I had the pattern printed and in my hands at work on Tuesday morning, and Mr Guy was trying on the finished pair that night.

Please see the bottom of my post for information regarding a minor error in the pattern.

Image

Unfortunately there is no one modelling these photos – unlike Morgan and Matt I don’t have willing varsity students to strip to their gruts! Mr. Guy almost said I could take photos of him wearing them, but decided against it like I had expected.

I was so keen to make these that I grabbed the only suitable knit fabric I had in my stash – this red polka dot cotton knit. All the other fabrics are merinos and waiting for other projects. I was able to use the matching blue polka dot fabric for the binding on the front of the shorts. You’ll also note that the overlocking thread doesn’t match, because blue is the ONLY COLOUR I brought with me.

Image

These shorts went together VERY quickly. It took me 2 hours in total which included multiple try-ons and a 20 minute period where my dad (who is visiting along with my mum) stole my computer with the instructions on it.

Please don’t look too closely at the waistband; I didn’t have any wide elastic in the limited stash I brought up with me (Made on Marion is sending some up to me today) so I unpicked some from a pair of RTW that had seen better days – it works but it’s not so pretty.

Image

Even after making several pairs of underpants for myself (not blogged), I still struggle a little with keeping everything neat – underwear and lingerie has a whole different skill set to garment sewing, and it takes a while to get it looking nice. These have ended up being quite good except the only twin needle I have is 1.5mm wide (whyyy) and the fabric attaching to the waistband is a bit scruffy. Usually I would overlock the edge to the elastic, then fold and top-stitch down; on this pair I didn’t want the waistband to be permanently attached, in case it got too scruffy and I wanted to replace it.

Image

Although I can’t say that Mr. Guy has ever complained about the idea of a center back seam, the bum piece is quite nice. I do know that back seams can be annoying on ladies undies and we don’t have anything, erm, pulling the fabric forward.

In terms of fit, I made a straight size 36 (based on his waist measurement) and it fit well except for being too large in the legs. I’ll have to think about how exactly to fix that, whether I hack and the piece I have or just cut a smaller leg piece. They’re still comfortable, apparently, but aren’t as snug as they should be.

Image

The front opening makes them look professional, but the opening is a bit small. Does anyone actually use that? I imagine it would always be easier to just drop your trousers to go to the bathroom but IDK I’m a girl.

All in all I looove this pattern. I’ve tried making mens underwear before (using Jalie 3242) and even after several tries, I couldn’t get the fit right, and the crotch facing is always confusing. The Comox Trunks are easy peasy if you have any experience with sewing knits (even those who don’t would be able to as the instructions are very clear, but underwear involves smaller pieces of fabric which can be tricky).

 

Now, please note that there is a small error with the pattern as is: pattern pieces 3 and 4 should be cut on folded fabric so you have two mirrored versions. Follow the instructions as written, however step 3 should instead read “Lay the trunk front pieces on top of each other with one WRONG side facing one RIGHT side.”  From that point onwards, instructions are the same as before. This will mean that you’ll get self-fabric peeking out of the gap (unlike mine which has the white peeking through), but will have self-fabric on the bound piece facing the inside. This should make sense when you’ve got all the pieces in front of you.

It’s no real biggie and Morgan will be fixing the PDF version and sending it out to those of you who bought that version, and will be adding an errata to all the paper versions.

 

 

13

Self-less sewing

Thank goodness for Thread Theory. Finally, an indie company that makes classy, well drafted patterns for men. It’s especially good for those men who are in to a more traditional/RTW wear look – as much as I love the shirts Mrs C makes for her husband and Malepatternbaldness makes himself, my husband would not go for them. I made him the Newcastle Cardigan in August, and had planned on making August a month to sew for my husband, but it didn’t work very well. I had planned to make him several pairs of undies from Jalie 3242 (isn’t the styling amazing) but didn’t have the fabric until last weekend, and so August ended up being (like most months) dedicated to completely selfish sewing.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040475.jpg

Since I started sewing I have pretty much only ever made clothes for me (plus one outfit for my niece which I think was worn once D: and my sister-in-laws bridesmaid dress ). I just don’t find it particularly rewarding – all that hard work for someone ELSE to wear it? Plus I always get a lot more concerned about the construction, which can be stressful. I have some lovely merino-lycra waiting to become a pair of leggings for my mum and I’m too scared that I’ll f*** it up, that I haven’t cut in to it.

But, sewing for my husband is surely like sewing for ones children – what they wear reflects on you (sort of. That sounds very old-fashioned). So far I’ve made him three t-shirts, all disappointingly not-quite-right in some way or another.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040474.jpg

The pattern is Thread Theory’s Newcastle Cardigan in a black textured merino-lycra-spandex blend from The Fabric Store. It was $8/m and I got 2m – which ended up being way too much, perhaps again because their bolts are so wide (ONE of the reasons why I love The Fabric Store and Fabric Warehouse). This means that I get to make myself a matching cardigan, woohoo!

The pattern (once assembled from about 33 different pages) was lovely to use – well drafted, and the instructions were a breeze. I cut and sewed up the bulk of it in 2-3 hours, then the finishing took me another couple of hours. Up until the point where I realised I had no buttons, so had to wait until the next day to buy some. It’s sewn mostly with my overlocker, with a double needle on my regular machine for the hems. After this experience I HIGHLY recommend Thread Theory’s patterns!! I am also wanting to make the Jedediah trousers, once I get some suitable fabric – he needs some more black pants and I’d like a lighter tan colour too.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040471.jpg

I love this jumper, and I think I’ve made it really well. One issue with the fit is that Guy has rather broad back/shoulders, so when it’s unbuttoned it swings back a bit (the balance is off, Thanks British sewing bee), so I’ll have to figure that out if I make it again – Mrs. C is going to make one with leather accents on the shoulders, and I’m going to copy her. Also note to self – do not use white interfacing with black fabric. Even if it’s the only thing you’ve got and you really want to get on with it, you will regret it. It doesn’t show through, but when the jumper is open the facing sometimes swings around and you can see the white.
Silly man didn’t come and check the button placement like I asked him, before I made the button holes – and consequently he doesn’t like them. I think 5 buttons is definitely the right number, as the pattern suggested – but there weren’t any suitable buttons big enough at Made on Marion and Mrs. C’s husband convinced me against plain black (Guy’s lucky he didn’t end up with floral, or some absolutely gorgeous pegasus pewter buttons – but that’s probably more because they were $7.50 each and I only had $9).

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040477.jpg

Details

Pattern: Thread Theory’s Newcastle Cardigan, $8.50 CAD = $10 NZD

Fabric: Merino blend of some sort, Global Fabrics, $8/m = $16

Notions: Interfacing ~$5, buttons $12.60 (Made Marion), Thread (stash) = $17.60

Total = $43.60

including the pattern, which I will make again, and enough fabric spare to make myself a cardigan.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040472.jpg

Almost forgot my FAVOURITE bit, the tag:     https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040478.jpg