Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eleonore Pants

When I was visiting The Boy in southern California I mentioned that my next sewing project would be something that would best be described as "jeggings." He allowed as how I was too old to wear jeggings. The young can be cruel. Truthful, but cruel.

These are the Eleonore Pull-On Jeans by Jalie (a.k.a. Jalie 3461). Jalie describes them as "stretch pull-on jeans with a wide waistband with yoke, faux fly in the front and patch pockets in the back. Fitted through the waist and hips, straight from the knee down." In other words, they're pull-on pants with jeans styling, designed for fabric with at least 20% widthwise stretch.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, just me trying not to look awkward. 
The most challenging part of this enterprise was finding a woven fabric with at least 20% widthwise stretch. Holy cow, I must have stretch-tested 60 bolts of fabric before settling on this stretch twill suiting. I found it at Hart's for about $11 bucks a yard. Let me just say how very lucky I am to live in the same town as this great fabric store. I can't imagine trying to find something like this on-line. It was so great to be able to yank on the fabrics to test the recovery and feel the hand, not to mention get a real-life read on the color.

Back view with pocket demonstration
The pattern uses faux pockets and fly on the front, but real pockets on the back There's an inconspicuous inch-wide strip of elastic zig-zagged to the top of the waistband and, sure enough, they pull on and off with no zippers, buttons or other closures.

These photos with top tucked in are for science only. In real life, I'll be wearing them with a longer tee or an untucked top. So no reason to tweak myself too much about the wrinkling at the rear.

Real life rear view
I've sewn Jalie's Women's Stretch Jean (Jalie 2908) as well, so I chose my size based on that experience.  I traced an S at the waist, grading to an R for the hips on down. I'd say the sizing is consistent from pattern to pattern and matches the numbers on Jalie's sizing chart very well indeed.

I have a cut of stretch denim upstairs that will end up as either another pair of 2908's or another pair of Eleonors, so let me do a little comparison of the two.

I haven't been a leggings kind of a gal since the 1980's, and The Boy is right; there comes a time when we must all put away childish things. But I must say they are insanely comfortable. I've given these a one-day test drive and they are as great for moving around in as they are for lounging. I almost asked The Man to get a snapshot of me with the legs rolled up as I scrubbed out the shower and washed the bathroom floor.

I noticed while writing this post that Jalie 2908 also calls for fabric with at least 20% widthwise stretch. Whoops - I bet my pair was made with a firmer denim. No wonder they feel somewhat more restrictive than these new Eleonores.

When I make the Eleonores again, I'll be tempted to leave off the faux fly and front yokes, especially since they'll be decently covered by a longer top while being worn. I did not enjoy sewing the tight curves on the fake front pockets, though the false fly was easy peasy to do. Boy, if you left off those fiddly bits you could churn out a pair of Eleonores in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

I do like the real front pockets in the 2908s, and I actually use front pockets on jeans. I like the flare leg of the 2908, but I also like the straight let on the Eleonore. But it would be easy to swap the leg back and forth between the two.

Oh, heck, I think both patterns fill a useful niche in my pattern stash. I'll use the Eleonore as a super-comfortable legging and omit some of the jeans styling. And I'll use the 2908 as a jean and go to town with belt loops and top stitching and pockets galore.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stash Enhancement

My friend Molly's parents are downsizing and her mother very kindly offered to pass along her fabric stash. And Molly very kindly thought of me.

This was just the kind of stash a sewist loves to inherit; only a few pieces, but each is very choice.

One cut was about two yards of batik. Very nice quality; looks like it actually came from Southeast Asia, rather than an American quilting emporium.

New Look 6598 in batik
The colors are soft, but not quite as soft as they look in the photo above. Here's an indoor photo, which I think is closer to the real colors.

Colors are truer in this photo
The Hart's ladies liked this fabric as much as I do. They got all involved in helping me pick the perfect buttons.

Perfect button
I didn't have a lot of fabric to work with, because the yardage was narrow. After faffing about in the pattern drawer, I selected New Look 6598, which just fit.

I've made this top a few times before - looks like I got it way back in 2002. Heck, practically vintage! I'm not wild about the fit of the sleeve on this pattern, but I do enjoy my sleeveless makes. This time I finished the arm scythe with bias tape instead of the facings included with the pattern. I like this finish much better; those pesky facings keep popping out on my earlier versions. I like the clean look of the collar-less neckline and it's a nice canvas for cute cotton prints. I have one iteration that's covered in coffee cups.

Side view
I couldn't do too much about pattern matching, given my limited yardage, but I think things worked out pretty well. At least I don't have any totally awkward flower placement going on.

Not really watching a bird, just trying not to  smile like a serial murderer
My pattern review is on here.

Oh, and my new stash includes two dress lengths of what I'm pretty sure is Liberty.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Scout Tee

The Grainline Party continues at my house. Next out is the Scout Tee. Designed for woven fabrics, the pattern describes the top as fitted at the shoulders, falling into a loose shape below the bust.

I'd say that's just how my version turned out.

I wear a lot of tee shirts. As a retiree living in easy, breezy Santa Cruz my style is way over to the casual side of the fashion spectrum. Mostly I wear knit tees, but it's nice to have a few woven options in the closet. Sometimes I want to avoid the cling factor that's usually part of a knit top, and when the weather is hot something loose on top is very nice indeed. Plus there are so many cute woven prints to play with.

I've used McCalls 8050 for a woven tee-style top, and Gertie's Portrait Blouse is another option to consider. Both have cut on sleeves though, and I was interested in trying something with set in sleeves.

McCall's 8050 - probably the oldest me-made item in my wardrobe

Gertie's Portrait Blouse - love that neckline
For this Scout I used a burn-out fabric that's probably some kind of cotton blend. I found it at Crossroads Fabrics in Watsonville. I have a nice piece left over, but I'm not too sure what to do with it. It was a bit of a pain to sew because my needle thunked every time I went from burn-out to solid and back again. I'll see how it holds up in wearing.

Rear view
 I made a size 6, which I think is about right for me. The shoulders look like I wouldn't want to go down a size, right? Speaking of shoulders, I put the sleeves in flat and tried to be as careful as I could, but I still got a bit of puckering. I have another Scout in the pipeline and I think I'll try to reduce a bit of the ease in the sleeve head for that one. I'm kind of excited to see if I can figure out how to do that. I've been pointed to a nice tutorial at Green Apples. Too bad the Stitchy Witch doesn't blog anymore. Hers was one of the first sewing blogs I stumbled over and I picked up a lot of great tips from her.

Side view
Here's a side view so you can see that the tee does, indeed, fall into a loose shape below the bust. I think you'd want to use a pretty light, drapey fabric so the top can move with you a bit. It feels very nice and floaty while wearing; just right for a hot summer day.

Tucked in view
When you want to look a little more button-down, it's also cute tucked in to a skirt or a pair of high-waisted trousers.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Morris Blazer

Once I finished my plaid flannel Archer I caught a bit of Grainline fever. Jessica and I stopped at Stonemountain in Berkeley on our way back from Sonora and they had a bunch of Morris blazers made up that were cute as all get out. We both decided we had to jump on the train to Morris Town. My friend Martha is working on one too. There must be something in the air.

The pattern recommends fabric with some stretch, either a stretch woven or a stable knit. I used a fairly light weight ponte that I got at Britex years ago. At the time it was the most expensive fabric I'd ever bought, and it's still pretty much at the top of the heap, cost-wise. I thought about using it for a Renfrew, but turns out it's a nice weight for a light jacket. And I could fit the Morris onto my yardage - shazaam!

I made a size 6 for my 35ish inch bust. There isn't much ease in the pattern. You do want some stretch so you can move your arms comfortably.

I look a little Incredible Hulk-ish here
The pattern was easy to follow and everything fit together very nicely. It's a Best Pattern of 2015 on, so you know it has to be solid. My only moment of confusion related to attaching the bottom hem facing. Luckily, there is a tutorial for this pattern on the Grainline site that clears everything up.

Hem a bit flyaway in the back
If I'm going to be picky, there are two things that bug me a bit about the blazer.

  1. The front facings don't seem to lay super smooth. Might be due to my somewhat droopy fabric, though I've seen others have this issue over on PatternReview
  2. The back flares out a bit more than I like at the hem. Again, my fabric may be partly to blame. Next time I may take the back in along the center seam towards the hem. Note to self: Self, remember to adjust the hem facing if you do!

When I first saw these pictures I was a little tweaked about these two issues. Now that I've worn the blazer a few times my enjoyment of the shape and the comfort is enough to outweigh a quibble or two.

There's this cream and black knit at Hart's. I can't get the idea of a Morris in that knit, but with black lapels out of my mind.

My pattern review is on here.

Next up, the Grainline scout tee.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sewing School

I just got back from the best weekend ever. My friend Jessica and I did an intensive sewing workshop at the Sonora School of Sewing and Apparel Construction.

Sonora is a cute little gold mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, about 50 miles from Yosemite National Park.

The town has less than 5,000 residents but there's a lot going on. Maybe because they have thousands of people passing through on their way to view Half Dome. The place was jumping even on a rainy January weekend. We ate at a couple of very nice restaurants and grabbed snacks at the haunted cafe (Sonora Joe's)

and the Candy Vault (delicious salted caramels)

And, of course, there is the sewing school. It was founded in 2011 as a non-profit to teach traditional methods of clothing construction and apparel design to at risk youth in Tuolumne County. How cool is that? They also offer courses to the world at large.

It's well worth a visit, even if you don't have time to take a class. It's housed in an old building a few blocks up N. Washington Street from the heart of downtown. The front of the school offers some very nice garment fabrics with an emphasis on natural fibers.

Antique machines to balance the modern assortment in the classroom
The rear of the room is a pretty, well-lighted teaching space stocked with a variety of sewing machines and sergers, including some industrial models.

Scary industrial machines
Our teacher for the weekend was Megan. She has a degree in fashion design and knows her stuff inside and out. And she is the sweetest, most encouraging person in the world.

Megan, the best sewing teacher in the world
There were only three of us in class, each working on different projects and coming in the door with different interests and experience. Megan managed to jump from person to person very gracefully, keeping us all on track.
I guess you could say there were 3.5 students because Peabody accompanied us
My chosen project was to alter the pattern for my everyday pants; Burdastyle 10-2013 #127 - straight pants. I love these pants and have made them at least six times. They're comfortable and practical, but I wondered if I could tweak the pattern for a less droopy rear.

This involved making my first ever by-gosh muslin. I've read about this process but I never would have had the chutzpah to walk through it if I hadn't had Megan doing the pinning and talking me through the alterations.

Tracing those well-loved pants
Jessica wanted to create a pattern from a favorite pair of Ann Klein pants that were almost ready for the scrap heap. Megan helped her trace out the pattern, make and alter the muslin and produce a perfect copy.

Izzy was our delightful fellow student. She was looking for instruction in setting up a machine and basic sewing skills. She caught on so quick she opted to start a miniature Sherlock Holmes trench coat for her son.

Now that's how to ease those raglan sleeves
Just the buttons left to choose
I can't believe it, but she got from Go to a finished coat in two days! She is the most accurate sewist I've ever met; probably that's her secret. Her son is going to be the best dressed almost-three-year-old in Mariposa County.

A beautifully serged seam
Peabody supervising at the sewing machine
Pants and a knit top, all in two days
Here we are with our finished projects
I highly recommend a sewing weekend at the Sonora School of Sewing. I learned so much! Besides actually doing pattern alterations, I got great tips on pinning, hand sewing and even bobbin winding; things that will make my sewing easier and better every day.

Even the drive up is beautiful. It only took us 3 hours from Santa Cruz. It would be even quicker from the Bay Area.

Car snaps, sorry for the blur
You can stop in Oakdale on the way and treat yourself to a top notch picnic and some locally made Gouda cheese (yum)

And as far as my altered pants, I think the rear view is much improved!

They're still comfy enough to crawl around on the floor to cut out a pattern (we tested this with the muslin) but I think they look a lot sleeker.

More sewing geekery on the alterations on here.