Lost Sewjo and Fall Sewing

My sewjo is back!  I had been completely tapped out sewing wise the last couple of months, and was feeling lackluster about not only sewing, but also what has become my growing dislike of social media in general.  I also took some time to relax and focus on allowing my auto-immune issues to settle down.  Unfortunately one of the side effects of having an extremely high immune system.  My positive outlook to this is that I rarely get sick, but I very often require more rest than the average person as my body seems to be working like a war machine. 

My creativity was at an all-time low. I have discovered that I’m like most artists in other mediums, that if I’m not in flow, I don’t create my best work.  Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi wrote the premier groundbreaking book on the state of flow, a book that I read back in undergrad that I still reflect on often.  Like all things in life, your heart has to be in it fully, otherwise you’re just going through the motions.  Sewing is no different for me, which is why for my fall and winter makes I will finally be including some of my own designs.  I love sewing ready-made patterns, but I’m not just a sewist only, so it’s time I actually start showing some of my own work.  The designs that often come to me in my dreams are amazing.  A lot of those are further down the line once I start showing off the couture side of my designs.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Dolman Sleeve Button-up Boxy Top: Butterick 6898.  This is a new summer 2022 pattern from Butterick Patterns that was designed by Palmer/Pletsch, which honestly explains why I love it so much!  Palmer/Pletsch is considered one of the premier sources in pattern fitting instructions and have literally written some of the sewing bibles of fit. I currently own a few of their fit and sewing books, as they are well illustrated and proves great instructions.  This is listed as a summer top, but with the long-sleeve option of this pattern, I could definitely see myself making a few more versions even for Fall/Winter.  I will probably select a smaller size so it’s not quite as boxy. Despite the number of pattern pieces for this pattern, it was really a very quick sew.  This pattern included some of the best illustrated and through instructions I’ve ever seen in a commercial pattern, but then again, the pattern instructions were done by Palmer/Pletsch.  Overall this pattern is excellent, with no hiccups. The lines of this pattern are what makes it unique and different from any other pattern that falls into a similar category.

Twill Pants – Simplicity 8701.  This simplicity pattern came out some years back and was part of a series of hack-able patterns that Simplicity released with the fashion designer in mind I feel.  Their idea was to give you good solid basic patterns that you can use as a base for hacks.  There is a large number of amazing designers and sewist in the sewing community that have the ability to look at a pattern and use it to create something jaw dropping that I would have never imagined possible.  This is one of those such patterns.  The options are limitless with all the hacks you can do. I hacked this pattern to include pintucks down the front and single welt pockets in the back. I absolutely love pants with single welt pockets. It’s something that is done quite often in men pants, but not enough in women. With all that said, there is only one problem with this pattern.  The waistband was drafted off.  I oddly incidentally corrected this issue before I looked online and saw other sewists mention this issue.  One of the first things I do during pattern prep now, especially after my numerous issues this year with bad patterns, is to actually take the pattern pieces and line them up against each other. If I spot gaps and things that are out of alignment, then I know to fix the issue before I cut out my fabric.  Whether its pattern paper or fabric, the basic premises of pattern making is your pattern pieces should line up perfectly.    Oddly this skill comes down to math.  I remember one of my sewing teachers laughing when she told me that I of all people would choose a hobby that requires me to use my work skill set (accounting, math and numbers).  She was right.  A big part of sewing is math.  When you are doing pattern adjustments, grading and measurements you use quite a bit of fractions and math.  This is especially true in pattern making.  A wrong calculation equals pattern pieces that do not line up or fit.  When I went to line up the back waistband pattern pieces to the back of the pants, I noticed right off that the pattern was not as long as it needed to be.  So I decreased the seam allowance for the sides so that I could get the full length I needed.  Then the next glaringly obvious mistake was the difference between the right and left front waistband.  There is no point in having a left waistband pattern piece with this pattern as the length was drafted completely too short. I looked at the pattern piece and threw it away.  The right waistband pattern piece is the one to use.  So I cut four of those and used that pattern piece for both the right and left side front waistbands.  Everything then lined up perfectly.  The result was great fitting pants.   With the budget that the big pattern companies have, it’s rather head shaking to see such glaringly bad pattern issues.  Indie patterns who don’t have nearly the amount of money budget wise, do a far better job of this.

FABRIC – I clearly absolutely love shopping in Downtown Los Angeles Fashion District, but more specifically my favorite store is a place called Angel Textiles.   They hands down have the best selection of cotton twill and denim, and usually charge anywhere from $2 to $5 a yard for twill.  I saw this beautiful avocado green twill that has a little bit of a cotton sateen sheen finish to it, and bought what was left on the entire bolt, since the width was only 45” inches.  The result is another matching set that is a great transition to Fall/Winter sewing.

STYLE – My usual style of gold hoop earrings, plus a pair of Michael Kors platform Mary Jane shoes in a suede brown that I bought from a consignment shop.

Bell Bottoms & Chaka Khan

It’s my first make and post of 2022.  I’ve been dreaming of sewing monochromatic looks well before Fall began.  Monochromatic looks are always a delicate balance of making sure you pull the look out without being absurdly matchy matchy.   I typically wear monochromatic looks on my lazy days, but I wanted to try to elevate that to a higher end look than my typical lazy matching sweats look.   The beauty of monochromatic looks is that you can go bold and make colorful statements or you can go with neutral classic looks.  There are literally a million different variations of monochromatic that you can pull off in any style of fashion possible.   I find when wearing monochromatic looks it’s a good time to add pops of colors or pull out your statement jewelry pieces to help bring the look to full circle.  This neutral look was no different for me.  Even more so, this look was inspired by none other than the Queen Chaka Kahn.  I’d had her song, What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me stuck in my head for weeks now, so it was playing in constant rotation as I sewed this look and was playing when I shot the photos. I needed to channel her powerhouse sound.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Statement Sleeve Top: Schultz Apparel’s Petunia Top is a new-to-me indie sewing pattern company that I actually stumbled across on Etsy.   When I saw the Petunia top and the sleeves, it was definitely love at first sight!  Like everyone else, I’ve been obsessed with all of these wonderful puffy sleeve tops that are on trend right now.  I’m not normally into trends, but this one I can fully support.  This pattern is easily wonderful, and a classic staple piece.  I can already see myself creating a number of tops from this pattern.  This pattern is designed for knits, so I took a chance with this double creped stretch woven fabric I used for this top.  Thankfully my fabric had just enough stretch to pull this pattern off while still remaining true to the designer’s intended look.  This is a beginner friendly pattern, but well designed and easy to execute. 

Bell Bottom Trousers – Vogue 1460 is a modern take and reminded me of the the 70’s bell bottom pants that my mom wore religiously back in high school.  I am a huge fan of 70’s sewing patterns.  Most of my vintage patterns are from that time period, so I literally did a somersault when this pattern dropped a couple of seasons ago by Vogue Patterns.  It appears to be currently sold out on their website, but no fears, this pattern can still be found in stores and online on Etsy or eBay.  My biggest modification was swapping out the waistband.  The original pattern waistband is straight. I switched it for one of my tried and true curved waistbands.  If you have hips or butt, this is usually a must, as straight waistbands create a terrible waist butt gap that most women hate.  This is a very common problem in ready to wear clothing.  This is where sewing your own clothes has an added benefit as you can eliminate these issues from the jump to create clothing that literally is custom fitted to your shape.  This pattern, while excellently designed does create that back waist gap.  So I also had to shave some fabric off the middle of the back yoke, which I then transferred to the pattern pieces.  I didn’t make a muslin this time around so I did what my sewing teachers over the years have taught me and fitted as I went along.  That’s not something I’d suggest for a beginner sewist, or if you’re new to pant sewing. The extra time spent to customize this back waist curve adjustment was easy enough for me and worth the extra time as the result is pants that now fit like a glove.  I did view B without any height adjustments, since at 5’7 I’m already only an inch taller than the standard commercial pattern height.  This isn’t the case for the average woman, so I’d suggest shaving off a few inches on the hem if you’re under 5’6 or going with View A, which is the cropped version.

FABRIC – My fabric hording self, discovered this medium/heavy weighted double crepe stretch woven fabric quite by accident.  I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I spend way too much time downtown in the Los Angeles Fashion District to the point that a couple of the shop keepers there know me on sight and often beckon me into the shop with fabrics they know fit my esthetic.   I was walking past one of my favorite fabric stores when one of the guys who worked there stopped me and was like, “I have just the fabric for you, and what’s even better is it’s only a $1.00 a yard.”  He already had me at a dollar, but as soon as I saw the fabric and touched it, I immediately bought seven yards.  The guy tried to get me to buy the whole roll, which now, in retrospect, I wish I’d taken him up on. This fabric was so high quality, that I knew immediately that he should have been selling this to me at a much higher price point, but I’m never one to talk my way out of a good deal. It washed up super easy, was easy to iron and work with that I wish I’d had a ton more.  Like with most of my makes, as soon as I see the fabric, the look starts forming on its own.

STYLE – I styled this outfit with my favorite pair of classic gold hoop earrings, and a chunky statement necklace that I’ve had for forever from Banana Republic.  These shoes are the newest addition to my closet this season. They are absolutely beautiful, comfortable and incredibly cute.  Needless to say I own more than a couple of pairs of Sam Edelman shoes for this same reason. I bought these Sam Edelman Mary Jane pumps at full price (which I never do with hardly anything!) because I loved them so much when I saw them.   

Return from Hiatus & Another Birthday

I’m back! And finally with something fully to show, ha.  It took my birthday (09/21) for me to finally rouse myself to posting on Instagram. I’d been lurking around for this last year, watching all the amazing makes, and actually sewing myself, but honestly it’s been a struggle.  I’ve spent this time since my last post seriously struggling with patterns, fit and design issues and I didn’t get my break through here recently until I made the executive decision to start making muslins (toiles).  Making muslins eats up extra sewing time, which these days is precious and few, but I’ve found this last year that I simply cannot get around this step.  It’s actually lead to me wanting to have some serious sit down talks to the major pattern makers in general about the pattern testing process (Do they actually pattern test these garments on real people?).  Mostly I’ve found myself having to put my own pattern making skill set to work.  I’ve also done far more pattern grading and pattern drafting than I’d cared to do, but all of this goes with tailoring and sewing, so while it can be time consuming, I have to admit it’s been an interesting and fun process.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Classic Button-up Top: Simplicity 1538.  This is considered a tried and true Simplicity pattern staple.  I’d had this pattern in my pattern stash for a while, but had never gotten around to using in until now, and now I’m a big fan.  I made the rookie mistake of not double checking the width of my buttons before I sewed the button holes and realized when I’d started photo shooting that I couldn’t button my shirt.  All I could do was laugh.  I will be switching the buttons out for smaller ones, just as soon as they arrive in the mail.  I plan on making many more versions of this pattern in different colors.  My next one, I will add a sleeve placket for a true traditional button-up.  Also if you need a great sew-along for this pattern, Mimi G has included one in the women’s Sew It! Academy.

FABRIC – For the top I used this Telio Tencel Pique Woven in Wine from Fabric.com. This has been in my stash since March of this year.  I saw the color and the fact that it was 100% Tencel and flipped head over heels in love with it.  Once it showed up in the mail I fell even more in love and knew it would make a beautiful button-up.  It comes in other colors, which I have also purchased.  The only down side is it can be a little delicate.  You have to be careful with this fabric, as you can over work it pretty fast in terms of ironing or sewing.  I had a few spots where I got a couple of runs.

High-Waist Trousers – Vintage (OOP) Style 2398.  I stumbled across this pattern incidentally on Etsy during one of my many vintage sewing pattern shop-a-thons.  I think it came up in my suggested items that Etsy put on your home page when you login.  I am so glad I bought it.  I made two muslins of this very easy pattern, just because I wanted to get the fit perfect, as I had a feeling at the first muslin that this was going to turn into a tried and true sewing pattern.  I liked it so much that I started collecting other vintage Style patterns and I hope those too turn out to be great tried and true patterns. I even hand sewed the hem, as I want these pants to be able to do double duty with work and casual. Buiness and more formal trousers typically have a blind hem stitch, so these pant got the loving hand sewn technique.

FABRIC – I bought this Latte colored 100% Tencel twill fabric ages ago from Joann’s Fabric, during one of my many “For the love of Tencel” runs, and it’s been there for a while, waiting for the right pattern.

STYLE – Almost zero styling here, since I was just trying to get some quick photos.  I had on a pair of Steve Madden burgundy colored sandal heels, which are scheduled to go to donations since I never wear them out anywhere.

Stopping to Smell the Roses

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Whew!  What a hell of a few months of this New Year we’ve been having right?  While everyone has been shut in due to the corona virus,  I’ve been still having to go into an office and work.  I can’t lie, as an empath what’s going on in the world has been wiping me out energetically and my sew creativity has been super low.  I’ve been having to do a lot of self-care to keep my nervous system from bottoming out and I’ve been taking plenty of time to rest.  I’ve finally just got back into the mood to sew, and so I knew I definitely wanted to make a pair of pants.

PROJECT DETAILS:

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PANTS – Mimi G Style Simplicity 9114 . I knew as soon as this pattern dropped that I was going to be making these.  I love Mimi G patterns and the fit is always spot on, taking into account women curves.  These pants are no different.  They are a high waisted pants with a super comfortable fit.  I have plans to make many more in all types of fabrics and colors and have actually already cut out the fabric for the next three pair I’m going to make.  My only recommended modification would be the length of the pants.  I’m 5’7 and they still were a tad longer than where I wanted them to hit so I increased the hem width to still give me that cropped pants look.

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SWEATER – McCall 8070, View A #AidenMcCalls

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FABRIC –  For the pants I choose this beautiful Mood Exclusive Ethereal Verdure stretch cotton sateen Item #MD0459 from their new Serengeti Collection.  It’s a dream to sew with and has great recovery.  The sweater fabric is PFD (prepared for dying) French Terry that was gifted to me by a fashion company I used to work for.  I used Rit Dye to dye it to this hunter/dark green.

STYLE – Shoes from Ked’s ; Sunglasses – Prescription glasses from Zenni.

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The Great Trouser Hunt


I’ve been on The Great Trouser Hunt.  In the last couple of months, I’ve been sewing like crazy and have actually made quite a few different items. The vast majority I found rather unflattering on me once made, but alas, such is the plight of a sewer.  One of those many makes have been pants/trousers.  I’ve been searching rather dutifully for the last year or so for my version of the perfect pants pattern.  I think I finally found them!  I’d been making item after item and was feeling rather defeated and disappointed with my makes which were primarily from the Big Four patterns (McCall, Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick).  I know that pattern alterations are often called for, and it’s one of the many benefits of sewing your own clothes, but I simply have been at my wits end when even the simplest of patterns have been requiring a great deal of alterations.  In my quest, I decided to look more at the indie pattern makers, as I’ve found that the fit of their patterns tend to be more refined, as they do way more pattern testing and take into account things like curves and the fact that not everyone is the same cookie cutter size and shape.

PROJECT DETAILS:

TROUSERS – Modified Sammi Woven Pants from Style Arc – I love pockets, and unfortunately the pattern did not come with pockets.  I modified the front pattern piece for side front pockets and created two additional pattern pieces.  One for the pocket facing and the second pocket lining.  It was a simple and quick modification that took a matter of minutes.  In all this is a fairly quick and easy sew and is designed for an intermediate sewer.  My only issue I ran into was based on the finished measurements, the size I cut was actually still too big.  I had to alter my pants a full size down.  My next pair of these will be in a full size smaller.  The great benefit to this is that Style Arc also provides you with the size above and below the size you purchase too, so you wind up with three sizes to either modify up or down depending on how things are fitting.

FIT – The fit of this pattern is the real winner.  These were created in the classic traditional work trouser silhouette, which elongates your legs and provides an instant slimming look.  The waist band is curved so that the back waist gap is almost non-existent and back pattern piece includes darts.

FABRIC – This delicious pebble double crepe woven fabric has been in my stash for quite some time and came from Michael Levine.  It’s a nice heavier medium weight crepe, with such a beautiful drape.  I only had 2 and 1/4th yards of it, but thankfully it was 60” wide and with a little pattern tetris, I was able to eek out these pants with just a smidgeon of fabric leftover. The buttons came from Mood Fabrics.

STYLE: Heels from Nine West, Top from ASOS, Earrings from Ankara & Lace.