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The Kelly Dress

the cast!

This summer I was in a short film that my friend Kelly produced and also starred in, and we had a crazy amount of fun. Although me and Kelly have been friends for several years, this was our first opportunity to work together, and I appreciated us to getting to know each other in a new way through our “work” modes. Although short indie films almost always have a wardrobe supervisor, they tend to try and pull from an actor’s own closet whenever possible, which cuts down on costs and time since they won’t have to buy anything new for an actor and they know that whatever the actor brings will fit them and not need alterations. My character wore a cream colored pair of Ginger Jeans and a Grainline Hemlock Tee (it’s a free pattern!) pulled from my closet, of course, and Kelly brought in a white RTW button down dress that she found at the mall. I loved this dress as soon as I saw it on a hanger and I loved it even more once I saw her wearing it. It was a very simple design, but still not one I had seen out in the world very often. It had a fitted darted bodice with short sleeves attached to a gathered skirt, large buttons going down the front, and two big patch pockets on the sides. Needless to say, I immediately started dreaming up my own version!

You would think that such a simple silhouette would be an easy pattern to track down, but I had a really hard time finding exactly what I wanted (I made this dress several months ago, by the way), and ultimately it seemed easier to just hack something I already had. It took a while to figure out which pattern to use the bodice from- again, such a simple design and fit, but I couldn’t find a bodice that also had sleeves I liked. I decided to go with the Holly Jumpsuit from By Hand London, a pattern from my stash that I tried making for myself years ago with no success. I had issues getting in and out of the garment since it has a side zip that was still too short to accommodate my hips fitting through the waist circumference, and I wasn’t skilled enough at the time to know any other way to make it work. The bodice was exactly what I wanted for the Kelly Dress- it had a bust and a waist dart, roomy sleeves, and a front button placket opening.

I used a gorgeous pink silk linen from Blackbird Fabrics as both my fashion and lining fabric and got to work on making the adjustments necessary for the bodice- mainly I wanted the button band to be wider, which I also needed to adjust to attach it to a skirt that would also have a button placket (the original Holly Jumpsuit  design has a bodice that attaches to a closed-front waist). I sewed up the bodice first without the sleeves to try it on for fit and realized that the back was puckering up around my shoulders and neck (which it also did the first time I had made it!) so I had to add a small dart at the back neckline on each side.

Next I attached my sleeves and was really disappointed to see that they did not work on my body at all. The sleeves were super tight and the fabric was stretched taught across my bicep. Now, to be fair, I do work out, but to be even fairer, I only use like, 3 pound weights in my body sculpt classes, so I’m not the Incredible Hulk or anything! I am unsure why these sleeves were so tight since I have made other BHL patterns with no issues at all, and was stumped on what to do to fix them- I wasn’t convinced that giving the sleeves more width would resolve the issue since the sleeves were making the whole bodice sit awkwardly, even in areas where it seemed like the tight part of the sleeves wouldn’t affect it. I thought maybe the whole bodice needed some kind of adjustment around the arms/bust, but then I remembered that when I tried the bodice on without the sleeves, it fit almost perfectly. So I saved myself the headache and left the sleeves off the final version. Although I love the look of the sleeves on the dress, it wasn’t what originally caught my eye about the garment, so all was not lost.

Once I got the bodice looking how I wanted it to, I attached it to the skirt of the Jessica Dress by SewDef Patterns, a dress I absolutely love. It’s basically just three rectangles sewn together with a button placket in the front center, but that’s all I needed! In hindsight, I could have gone with a skirt that had less gathered material at the waistline (my skirt is fuller than Kelly’s, and I actually did take out some of the width of the pattern pieces of the Jessica dress for this hack and it still came out this full)  but I was too lazy to try and find another skirt in my stash that had this shape. I attached the big patch pockets to the sides of the skirt, sewed the top and bottom halves together, and then worked on my button placket.

Aside from getting the bodice to fit right, the button placket was the only other thing to give me a lot of trouble. It’s because of the silk linen I used, which was easy enough to sew regular seams with, but once it came to top stitching, the fabric had a hard time staying put. It would gather and gape and stretch and pull, even with my walking foot, and I had to take the stitching out more than once to get everything lined up and looking clean. It’s fine- not perfect, but fine! The stitching on the button bands is a little bit wobbly and it’s even more apparent because I didn’t use a thread that was super close in color to my fabric, but I’m not pressed about it- the 3 foot rule applies beautifully to this make!

This is a pretty great and easy dress to wear- although it was drafted to fit very closely to my body, the linen softens and relaxes very quickly so that it has a slightly roomy, loose fit around the waist without looking like it’s hanging off my body. I LOVE the big pockets and how they look on the dress, but they are SO big that the tops tend to collapse a bit, something that is also owed to the beautifully soft, drapey fabric I used. I keep debating whether or not to add buttons to the top of them and attach it to the skirt so they will stay closed, but if I do that, I won’t be able to stuff my hands in my pockets, which is pretty much the only thing I want to do when I wear this dress. Speaking of buttons, I bought these at my favorite store, Button Button, in Vancouver last year and I am so glad I found a great project to put them on! They are copper colored like a penny, and have a really cool graphic design on them, and I think they liven this simple dress up a lot.

These photos were taken at Hearst Castle when we took our friend Lawrence to the estate for the first time- he had never been before and Claire and I have gone multiple times, so we thought it would be a fun trip! We did our first night tour the day before these pics were taken and then took advantage of the daylight and stunning views for our second tour. I didn’t have a lot of makeup with me, I was tired, and I am generally uncomfortable taking pictures in front of random people, so these aren’t the best photos in the world, but when you have an unblogged garment with you at Hearst Castle, YOU TAKE THE PHOTOS ANYWAYS, lol.

Oh yeah, and a one good shot of my sandals that I made this past spring! I love these shoes- they have gotten looser over time because leather relaxes and because I was experimenting with this style and probably could have made them fit slightly tighter but at the time I didn’t know any better…but they are still super comfortable and pretty!

Thanks, Claire, for the shots, thanks, Lawrence for the fun road trip, and thanks, Kelly for the inspiration for this dress!!!!!

 

Molyneux for Vogue

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmpE1HvAoz0/?taken-by=jasikaistrycurious

I got this Molyneux for Vogue Paris Originals pattern for myself a couple years ago when I went on a vintage pattern rampage on etsy. I was drawn to the strappy back of this dress, but I think I was even more drawn to the illustration on the front which makes the dress look a little like a jumpsuit. It was an unconscious connection I think, but truth be told, I wasn’t all that inspired by the dress as-is, I was inspired by the idea of what the dress could be.

 

I recently went on a little purge of my pattern file cabinet and got rid of a few handfuls of patterns- mostly printed Colette designs from my first couple years of sewing, before I knew that their block was so ill-fitting on my body, a few Big 4 patterns that I made and absolutely hated (who can ever forget THIS mess of a dress?) and some vintage patterns that either weren’t in my size or just not to my taste. I get gifted lots of vintage patterns by people who don’t sew, which is AWESOME, but they aren’t always my style and I am just coming to the realization now that I don’t have to keep them just because they were given with love. Coincidentally this realization has happened right as I await a big box of patterns sent to me by an incredibly generous instagrammer who has amassed a collection of vintage patterns in my size- she bought them over the years because she loves the illustrations, and decided she would rather hand them off to someone who can actually make and wear them. I AM VERY LUCKY! But of course I also needed to make room for them! Anyways, as I was rifling through my stash, I came across this Molyneux beauty and felt re-inspired to put it in my queue. Aside from the misleading illustration that makes the design look like a jumpsuit, I noticed that I was also drawn to the crosshatch marks the illustrator used to create a vague print design on the fabric. It looks a little like plaid, or maybe just a textural tweed, and suddenly I couldn’t imagine trying to make this pattern in anything else.

As I attempt to ride out the rest of the year without buying any more fabric (not too difficult a task after having purchased so many cuts in preparation for The Fabric Store in LA closing its’ doors this summer), I am making good use of my stash and only choosing patterns for my queue that can be paired with what I already have…and it just so happens that I had a scant 2 yards of this gorgeous dark blue plaid that would make a great replica of the illustration on this Vogue envelope. The plaid, which reminds me of graph paper, seems to be a cotton blend of sorts. Initially I thought it was just a plain cotton but once I cut into it I noticed those tiny, nearly invisible threads clinging to my rotary cutter, so I thought it had a little polyester in it. Now that I have worn this jumpsuit around and I see that it barely wrinkles at all, I’m positive that’s the fibre content. I generally stay away from polyester fibers because they aren’t a very environmentally friendly material and polyester also tends to make me sweat like a mother, but since my armpits aren’t covered by the fabric, they are able to easily breathe,, and I sure do appreciate being able to sit down for a long while and stand back up without hundreds of pleats and folds criss-crossing my lap (I also like to use cotton/poly/spandex blends for stretch denim).

Because I didn’t have much fabric to play around with, I wasn’t able to do any amazing pattern matching with this plaid, but thankfully it’s not super obvious because the plaid is actually pretty plain. The design of the original Molyneux garment is very simple: one long dress front cut on the fold, two back dress pieces, some facings, and the tie. I decided to chop the dress pattern pieces off at the waist (adding in seam allowance) to make the bodice and then use the Jenny Overalls and Trousers pattern by Closet Case for the bottoms. Closet Case is my go-to pattern company for pants that fit well and need only minor adjustments for my shape (if any), and although I hadn’t made this pattern yet for myself, I felt confident that they would work well.

I omitted the side zipper on the pants to match up with the back zipper required for the bodice, and I used the view of the Jenny pants with pockets. I also added about an inch of length to the front and back pieces of the pants to make it work with the hack. The Jenny pants design is drafted with a waistband,  but since I wasn’t using one, I needed to make sure the waistline of the pants was high enough to accommodate that missing pattern piece. After grading between sizes at the waist and hip, the pants fit pretty much right off the bat with just a tiny bit of adjusting at the waist, so next I went to work on my bodice.

I didn’t make a muslin for the bodice because I like to live on the edge, and I almost played myself! After constructing the entire bodice, facings and all, I excitedly tried it on and was disappointed to see that the bust area was HUGE on me. It sagged out so much at the side seams around the collarbones that you could see clear through from one side of the garment to the other, haha! The fix for this was easy, I just needed to add a bust dart dart to pull in that extra fabric, but that meant I had to undo the facings on the top side seams, cut them shorter, and then re-attach them to the underarm facings. It dragged out the construction, taking way longer than it needed to, but I am of course happy that I took the time to fix that area- without the added darts, the whole bodice would have looked sloppy and ill fitting. The construction of the facings and tie/straps were a little…strange. Vintage patterns are known to have strange instructions, but some of the technical tools and materials that were available back then are really outdated now, so I got thrown off a few times. Specifically the area where the strap/tie connects to the neckline of the bodice is bizarre, and the instructions require you to attach a strip of “binding” (I think that’s what they called it?) to the neckline over the gathered seam stitching before sewing the strap on. The strap opens up to encase the raw edge of the seam when it’s sewn onto the neckline, so I’m not sure why there needed to be an extra piece of fabric sewn there- maybe just to keep that area stable? Either way, it’s weird to follow instructions when you aren’t sure what you’re following them for, but I did it and it looks fine.

Instead of sewing darts onto the front piece of the bodice, I took inspiration from my $34 dress and just used pleats. I figured they would visually flow better with the gathered neckline, be more comfortable, and also give me a little room to play with in case I needed to adjust the waistline of the bodice once I sewed everything up to try it on. I was correct on all counts! This bodice makes me look kind of busty since it’s so full, but I’m in to it, and the pleats at the waistline are a lovely match for the neckline. Amazingly the back bodice pieces fit almost perfectly with the length of the back pants pieces, so all I had to do was mark where my zipper should go and sew it up.

Despite skipping a muslin and hacking two patterns together that I had never even made for myself before, this jumpsuit came together really quickly- it was completed in less than two days. I absolutely love the fit- it feels casual with the airy bodice paired with the wide cropped legs, but it also looks really chic and put together, and it seems like a pretty great transitional piece to move from summer (which doesn’t end here in LA any time soon) to fall. I think this piece will look really cute with a jean jacket or long coatigan and some booties. As I discussed in a previous post, I have found myself shying away from florals and bright colors lately and leaning towards a slightly conservative, neutral palette in shades I love (pastels) or interesting but subtle prints, like this cool plaid. When I bought this fabric I planned on making an Archer for the cooler months- nothing very exciting or new, but I just liked the print so much that I had to get it and couldn’t think of anything more interesting to pair it with. I love that I pushed myself a bit out of my comfort zone and went with a design that is totally unexpected for this print- less fear, more try!

Fionaed Up

***I’m not proud of these photos- it took me FOREVER to muster up the energy to take several month’s worth of blog photos the other day and when I finally got everything set up, the DSLR was not behaving at all and I didn’t know how to fix it, so I had to resort to using my iPhone, which…well, as you can see, led to abysmal results. It was either these crappy photos or nothing at all, so please accept my apologies for the grainy, poorly lit images! Hopefully after this batch of photos gets posted I will have figured out how to get the right settings back on the camera!***

Closet Case Patterns came out with the Fiona Dress a month or so ago and I was immediately drawn to many of the features- I love the buttons all down the front of the dress, I love the open back in View B, and I love the princess seamed bodice. The dress as designed seems to combine utilitarian elements which is a nice change for a summer garment- not so frilly and romantic as what I am used to seeing on the market, especially when sewn up in a heavy weight fabric like denim. I really love the way it’s paired in some of the product photos with a shirt underneath, for a layered look that is appropriate for fall and winter, which I think will definitely be on my sewing roster for the cooler months. But for my summer version of this dress I wanted to play around with the silhouette a bit and add some frillier elements that suit my style.

The first thing I knew I wanted to do was change out the straps for something a little airier. I used to have a dress from ModCloth back in the day when I still bought RTW that I wore for some publicity interviews (I think I wore it to the last San Diego Comic Con I attended on behalf of “Fringe”). It was polyester so I sweat like a mother in it, but it had this cool design element of tiny spaghetti straps over the shoulders, and once I started sewing I always had the thought to try and implement that design idea into a make. This was the perfect opportunity- the straps of Fiona are thick enough that you could sub in three individual spaghetti straps in their place without messing up the fit of the bodice. I made 6 lengths of spaghetti strappage and then promptly hurt my wrist and gouged my finger with the pulling of the safety pin to turn the straps, which meant I had to pull out my wrist brace and wear it for the completion of this dress (which, as you can see in the photos, took a long time what with all the additional spaghetti straps I ended up making). But I’m getting ahead of myself!

So I marked where the regular straps fit onto the bodice and inserted my thin straps in their place, making sure the angles were lined up properly. It was really tricky to keep the straps from getting tangled and twisted around each other and eventually I learned that I needed to keep the front bodice edges closed with safety pins to avoid this issue. Putting the bodice together was straightforward and easy and the sizing was great for me- I graded between a size 4 at the bust and a 6 at the waist, but I ended up having to bring the waist in a tiny bit once I attached my skirt so I probably could have kept everything at a 4 and been just fine.

The only issue I ran into were the bands that go around the top of the bodice- and this could definitely be a mistake on my part because I HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO MAKE SEWING MISTAKES IN MY PAST lol. I used pieces J and K for the band for view B, but when I sewed them up together, they didn’t reach the full length of the bodice. Initially I thought this was because in my grading between the bust and the waist, it was hard to know which sizes of the bodice bands to cut out since the back bands went from the bust TO the waist, but when I cut out the larger size I was still short over an inch between the band and the bodice meeting at the back. I lined up the pattern pieces together and they also did not meet, but again, I might be overlooking something or I might have made a tracing mistake. Eventually I just had to re-draft and cut out new pattern pieces for K, adding about an inch or so of extra length to it, and it fit the bodice perfectly.

Aside from the piece that didn’t line up properly, the bands are a little tricky to piece together at first, or at least they were for me- it’s just because the pattern pieces are very similar looking in shape and size and it’s easy to confuse them with each other, and they also have to be sewn together in a certain way for the pieces to fit the bodice just right (this was made even more confusing since my pattern pieces didn’t have a wrong side). If J or K are sewn upside down or on the wrong side, they wont match up to the bodice properly, so for any other sewists who get turned around easily with this kind of pattern puzzle-piecing, it might help to label the wrong side of your pattern pieces with the letter of the piece and maybe some arrows to denote left/right and top/bottom.

After I tried the bodice on for fit and determined the length of my straps, I focused on the skirt. I self drafted a flared skirt using instructions from one of Gertie’s books but ultimately the skirt seemed less “flare” and closer to a 1/2 circle skirt. I knew I didn’t want a full circle skirt because 1. my linen (one of the premium lines of mid-to-heavyweight linen from The Fabric Store in LA, R. I. P.) was on the heavier side and I didn’t want all that fabric weighing the dress down and 2. I only had maybe 2.5 or 3 yards of this fabric which would not have been enough for the ankle-length version I wanted to make (which of course ended up not happening at all, but again, I’m getting ahead of myself!). So I cut out my pieces for the 1/2 circle-y/flare-ish skirt, basted the pieces onto my bodice and OH MY GOD it just looked BARF-O-RAMA. I’m not sure exactly why! But it just didn’t flow well over my body at all, and the waistline of the bodice didn’t match well with the silhouette of the skirt. I hated the way it looked, which was a surprise because this style of skirt tends to always look flattering on me (and everyone else I see in it)- it’s the whole reason I didn’t make a muslin, because who needs a muslin for a 1/2 circle skirt?? (eating my words now).

So! My skirt looked awful but I had no more fabric left to do anything significant with, so if I was gonna stay with the original vision of my skirt I had to cut new pieces out of the original 1/2 circle. I had one back piece and two front pieces and instead of just cutting brand new thinner pieces out of them, I decided to drape them on my dress form, something that only works because my form is padded out very closely to my measurements. The ribcage is still about an inch too big and the hip and butt areas are not the exact same shape as mine, but it’s a close enough approximation that garments on the form look almost the same as garments on my body. When I tried draping the front left skirt piece on the form, it clearly looked best when hanging on the bias, so I had to angle the piece a bit to get the most fabric from the cut. I lost significant length for the skirt at this point in the construction process, but I knew I would rather have a shorter completed dress than a skirt that looked a hot mess. I got the left skirt front to hang beautifully, but when I tried to drape the right front panel, something was way off. It took more fabric to hang in the same way as the left side, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I had cut my pieces out properly along the grainline and my fabric seemed to be true when I was cutting it, but here I was with a piece that didn’t want to lay as smoothly as the other side had. When complaining about this on IG, someone commented that they had read somewhere that horizontal and vertical grainlines have different biases, so if a piece is cut out facing one way and another is cut out facing the other (which mine was since I had such little fabric to work with), this might be why the bias is behaving differently. I don’t know if that’s what happened here but it’s the only explanation I can come up with, and it makes enough sense to me that I am sticking with it lol.

My dilemma at this point: a) do I cut out the right skirt piece the same as the left skirt piece even though they lay differently against the dress form? or b) do I cut out the right skirt piece larger so that it lays properly, even though it will be a different shape than the other side? Guys, knowing what I know now, the answer is definitely b, but guess what I actually did? YEP!!!! I a)-ed the shit out of that skirt piece, and the rest of this blog post, where things get REALLY interesting, is me trying to make up for this mis-judgement, haha!

I sewed my skirt pieces together, basted them onto the bodice and took a look in the mirror- the left side was PERFECT! It skimmed my curves just as I wanted it to, not too tight and not too loose, the skirt was flowy but not voluminous and it looked so flattering. The right side was another story entirely. I am not sure why it was so hard to capture in photos, but take my word for it- AWFUL! Everything looked great until around the midpoint of my hip, and then the seam got wonky, wouldn’t lay right around my hip, and took a hard turn forward- literally the seam starts off from the bodice going straight down the side of my body, and then juts towards the front looking as asymmetrical as you please. Of course this is because the skirt piece wasn’t draped fully on the bias and needed more fabric to complete the full silhouette, fabric that I had just cut off so it would be the same size/shape as the left side.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl6hpadgkNT/?taken-by=jasikaistrycurious

Obviously I needed to add the wedge I had cut off back onto the skirt panel, but that wedge would no longer do the job I needed it to since it would be missing the seam allowances necessary to sew it back on. But perhaps more than that, I was very uninterested in having a random plain wedge stuffed onto the side seam of the skirt. I thought it would look too much like a mistake if I didn’t take this opportunity to spice up this area a little bit and have some fun with it (famous last words). So instead of piecing together a wedge from my scant pile of scraps, I started making more spaghetti straps out of them- at some point I ditched the safety pin route and used this weird plastic strap turner thing I bought years ago but never use, and it worked in a fraction of the time and was a lot less stressful on my wrist. But it STILL took forever, and I definitely wish I had used it fro the beginning. Anyways, I liked the idea of incorporating the detail I loved most about the garment, the bodice straps, somewhere else on the dress. I had an image in my head of straps that took up the space of the wedge while providing some peekaboo glimpses of my leg at the same time. And I also thought it would be cool if the straps were placed close together at the point of the wedge near the top of my thigh and then were spaced further apart as they went down my dress. I unpicked the seam of the dress from the point where it pivoted forward at my hip, folded the seam allowances under, and attached a set of straps, from short to long, all along the seam, angling them across the wedge for visual interest. As I said, in my head this seemed like a cool idea, and in all honesty I actually don’t think it ended up looking that terrible, but my issue was that the straps weren’t stable enough to hold their shape across the span of the wedge, so they just drooped down and looked like ripped fabric. If they had been stiff and held their shape straight across the skirt, I would probably have been totally into this look.

So back to the drawing board. Except I wasn’t completely over the spaghetti straps- I loved the thought of creating a new kind of fabric by manipulating the straps in a cool way. What if I kept the same idea of the straps filling up the wedge, but instead of having negative space in between them, I position them very close together so there is no peekaboo and the straps look like more of a textile? Risky….but at this point, what did I have to lose?! I spent a few hours making about 2 million more spaghetti straps, cutting them into the proper lengths and then positioning them so that they formed a large wedge that would fill up the gap in the skirt. Once I had them all positioned correctly I hand-basted the edges together just so that I could move the wedge as a whole to my sewing machine. Next I sewed down the lengths of each side and then I serged the edges together (this was important because linen unravels like mad and I needed to secure all the tiny strap edges).

I placed the triangle of straps on the inside of the dress and then edgestitched the length of each side of the wedge onto the seam. Laying flat on my table, the straps looked amazing. And when I tried the dress on, well…it was certainly better than the peekaboo leg look I had created in the previous experiment, and it was definitely INTERESTING looking, but something was still off for me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. When Claire came home and I tried it on for her, the first thing out of her mouth was “Pocahontas” and I thought ‘BINGO!’. The spaghetti strap wedge, particularly in this coffee color, looked like decorative leather, almost like fringe. Having the straps positioned very closely together helped maintain some of the shape I wanted, but gravity still weighed most of the straps down a bit so they continued to swing a little low. The result was costume-y and not at all in line with the romantic and casual summer dress I was initially going for. I think that in general this “leathered fabric” look could be really cool and I loved the effect of creating this a new kind of textile, but for me, the wedge just wasn’t in line with the design of the rest of the dress.

I considered sewing vertical lines of stitching across all the straps to hopefully make them more stable and keep them from drooping down, but I knew that if it didn’t work, unpicking all that stitching was going to be a nightmare and would probably ruin all the straps. I also considered weaving in more straps vertically and I even tried it out with some of the extra fabric scraps I had lying around on my sewing table, but I wasn’t impressed with how it was looking. And then Claire asked if I had any other colors I could use with the wedge. I had to think for a minute. Well, actually I did happen to have the exact same weight of linen in a light pink color. That pink yardage of linen had come out of it’s pre-wash months ago with splotches of blue dye speckled across it, probably bled on from something else that was in my pre-wash, so I hadn’t been able to use it for the project I wanted and instead had used it up as linings for dress bodices, a pair of shorts, binding, etc. The pink and coffee colors were actually very beautiful together and not too bold. What the hell? I asked myself. If I am not in love with the dress as it is I might as well keep trying to make it better. My worst case scenario was that the entire skirt would be ruined by all this experimentation, but I knew I could save the bodice by just attaching it to a skirt of a total different color of linen, which honestly would have looked very cool and I’m probably gonna do that on purpose at some point in the future.

SO! I cut out MORE SPAGHETTI STRAPS, y’all. MORE! Out of my pink linen fabric, and then I wove them through the brown straps already sewn onto the dress. It looked strange with one strap woven in, and only a little better with two, but once I wove three pink straps through the horizontal brown straps of the wedge, I was loving it. To permanently attach the pink straps to the wedge of the dress, I used Fray Check on each edge of the strap to keep it from unraveling, and I slip stitched the edges to the strap either above or below it, depending on which part of the strap I was working on. The pink straps keep the horizontal straps flat, stable and not droopy, and  they add a very subtle pop of color and visual interest. I was afraid the wedge would look a little too much like a woven basket when all was said and done, but ultimately the full effect looks fun and unexpected- it kind of mimics plaid, or the way woven fabric looks very close up.

My only regret is not being able to put pockets on the front, as the dress is originally designed with, but I just didn’t have enough fabric to make self-fabric pockets, and they would have probably competed too much with the weaving on the side anyways. I considered adding pockets in the side seams but didn’t want it to bulk up the silhouette at the hips, which is a big pet peeve of mine.

All in all….this of course is not the dress I intended to make- I wanted a simple, casual, easy summer dress, and this is much fancier and eye-catching than I intended. How do I feel about it? I’m not gonna lie, I think the pink weaving technique on the side looks pretty cool but I definitely miss the length I lost when re-drafting the skirt- I was ready for a swishy, ankle-length dress! And on top of that, I’m just not sure if it’s ME! Will I pull it out to wear for a special occassion, and will I feel good about it when I do? Only time will tell. But I am really proud of myself- I didn’t have to make too many compromises to save this dress- it’s still in the general vicinity of where I wanted it to land, and the detour I made was challenging and really fun, and I learned some interesting things about manipulating fabric! I have lots of garments from my past that didn’t work out for some reason, and trying to save them would stress me out, give me anxiety dreams, and often not end up as a wearable garment. So comparatively, this is a huge success!

 

 

Sasha Trousers

I was over the moon when Closet Case Patterns released their Sasha Trousers at the end of last year, and not only because I had struggled through the process of making so many poorly drafted or not-suited-for-my-body pairs of pants of late. In chatting with other makers and talking about how not all indie pattern companies are of the same caliber, I have realized that there are some real standout designers for me in the indie sewing community and that there is no shame in sticking with what I know works best. CCP is definitely one of those companies. The amount of time and attention that goes into each pattern release is palpable, and I feel like just as much energy is focused into the instructions, techniques, and drafting as the styling and photographing (I used to be such a sucker for a well-styled pattern release, but I keep getting burned by beautifully styled designs that are poorly drafted!) You know you’ve found a good pattern brand when they release a design that isn’t necessarily your personal style but you buy it anyways because you know the integrity of the brand is so strong that it’s still going to look great on you. True Bias, Grainline, and Deer and Doe are a few other companies who seem to excel at these points, and as such I tend to be a loyal customer to their brand.

While I hadn’t been considering making a chino-type pant anytime soon, I basically dropped everything I was doing sewing to make these Sasha Trousers because I knew I would learn a lot, I would have some fun in the process, and I would end up with a great pair of pants that I would never have found in a store that fit me well. That’s actually one of the reasons I never considered this kind of pant before- I have lived an entire life free of well-fitting chinos, so eventually I stopped even thinking of them as a viable option in my wardrobe. Enter: Closet Case Patterns to the rescue.

Here is what I have always hated about the ill-fitting chinos of my past:

  • they gape at the waist
  • the slash pockets also gape out at my hips
  • they are too tight in the thighs
  • the back welt pockets always add extra bulk to an area that is full enough on it’s own, and those pockets also tend to bunch up in the back because the pants are usually too tight

As you can imagine, attempting to make a regular pair of chinos work for me, even with the ability to make the fit adjustments I needed, is a pretty tall order. As soon as I saw the pattern, I knew that View B (without any front or back pockets) would probably be best suited for my tastes, but I wanted to give the pockets a try anyways, just to see what a properly-tailored pair would look like on me, plus I loved the prospect of getting to try out CCF’s techniques- sewing practice is always welcome!

I decided to make a muslin, which I was hoping would be wearable, out of some fabric that was given to me when I got my Bernina sewing machine as a bday gift a couple of years ago (the woman who sold the machine to Claire included several yards of a stretch woven fabric in a light taupe-ish color that has served me and my muslins very well!) I graded between sizes, used my already-adjusted curved waistband from my Ginger Jeans (these two designs sit at different places on the waist, but the Ginger waistband still worked perfectly) and got to work with construction. As always, the instructions were incredibly thorough and fun. Having only made welt pockets on jackets and coats, it was really exciting to create them for pants, and the front fly was a piece of cake after having made so many pairs of jeans with a similar method.

I was really impressed with how well they fit, and I didn’t need many adjustments at all- I think I brought the knee and ankle seams in to make room for my thick calves, and I might have adjusted the crotch seam a tiny bit, but other than, the make was straight forward and didn’t need much tweaking.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdwjhIJHHJZ/?taken-by=jasikaistrycurious

But as I had imagined, the front slash pockets did not work for my tastes. To be fair, they were still the best looking pair of chinos I had ever worn, and when I was standing up and being still, the pockets stayed in place and looked great. But as soon as I took one step, the pockets gaped out and needed to be coaxed back into a flat silhouette. I stitched up a bit on the top and bottom of the pocket to keep it from gaping out from the side seams of the pants, and of course I used stay tape on the seam of the pocket, too, but…they’re just not for my body. I think it’s very possible that no one else would notice the gaping because it’s so minimal and it probably wouldn’t bother the majority of people out there if their pants were doing the same thing. But the simple fact of the matter is that I don’t like the way slash pockets look on me, and that’s totally okay!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdyPJPhH5lP/?taken-by=jasikaistrycurious

I was thinking of next time omitting the slash part of the pocket and turning them into pockets that go into the side seams, but the other thing that didn’t work for me about my muslin were the pocket bags, which were totally visible through the legs of my pants (which you can see in the second IG pic above). My muslin fabric was a nice medium weight and my pocket bags were a lightweight cotton, so I don’t think they showed through because of the textile choice- it might be because I like my pants to fit closely in the thigh so they don’t look too baggy. They feel comfortably loose when I am wearing them, but they might be tighter on me than the pattern was intended, thereby not giving enough space between the pocket bag, fabric and skin? Whatever the cause, it was an eyesore, and since I knew I wouldn’t wear these pants with a gaping pocket in the first place, I cut my beautiful pocket stays out and sewed the slash pockets closed. I also wasn’t crazy about the back welt pockets: construction-wise they look terrific, but they added all the bulk to my booty that I imagined they would. I could have kept the design detail of the welt and just cut the bags out but I decided not to- the back pockets didn’t bother me nearly as much as the front slash pockets did.

So, my wearable muslin was a success! But I still opted to make my final version without any pockets, just as I expected that I would. I’m so glad I gave myself a chance to check out the details on my own body instead of assuming that certain things wouldn’t work for me. It’s nice to revisit apparel design elements with a different perspective, whether due to changing tastes, bodies, or ideals.

For my fashion fabric, I chose a mustard ponte (I think it’s a ponte?? Jury is still out but I’m like 90% sure) purchased from The Fabric Store. The Sasha Trousers calls for a woven fabric with a little bit of stretch, and this ponte, while not super stretchy, definitely has more give than the fabric I made my muslin in, which in turn made the fit totally different. I haven’t worked with ponte very often and never with trousers, so when these came out fitting way more snug than my muslin, I was totally surprised, but not at all displeased. I love the sleek look of these, and I think that the color and the fit take them out of casual territory and put them in a slightly dressier arena.

Omitting the pockets was super smart, especially because the fit of the mustard pair came out so much different than on my muslin- the bulk created would not have been a good match at all. I like the ponte in this design because they don’t feel tight at all since the fabric has so much give. I am worried that the fabric will start pilling eventually, but so far I have worn these several times and there is not a pill in sight. I am careful about what I wear with these pants and what I sit on, though- no velcro or abrasive textures get near me when I am in these- so hopefully they will last a long time!

I love how these pants came out, and I love that I was able to create such different looks with the same pattern- the light taupe muslin pair are such a nice alternative to jeans, and I wear them throughout the week when I am running errands or chilling at home. But the mustard pair works well for when I am jujhing it up and feeling a little bit fancy. I was worried about how to hem the legs of these pants because I wanted a very crisp edge on the bottom, but I knew that this fabric wouldn’t behave with just a simple folded hem (this plush fabric didn’t take to the iron well at all). Instead, I folded the hem up and edge-stitched at the very bottom it so that the fold looks very crisp and tight and I am pleased with the effect.

Overall this is a terrific pattern to add to my arsenal, and I am excited to make more! Thanks to Claire for the photos, and FYI I am wearing a Sointu Kimono by Named Patterns in a thick, soft merino wool from The Fabric Store.