Tag Archive | Pants

Bad Habits – Cutting Corners And Skipping Steps

'Gee, I don't know. Can I see this in another mirror?'

I did something that I have not done in at least 15 years. I went to the store, picked out 6 pairs of denim pants in my size, took them to the fitting room, tried each pair on, selected the pair that had the most acceptable fit of the six, then purchased that pair of pants. This experience got me thinking about several things.

First, why was I buying Ready To Wear (RTW) pants?

As you can tell from the recent slow down in the frequency of my blog posts, life happens, and the only sewing that I have been able to do recently is a little mending here and there. Thankfully I knew quite awhile ago just when these life changes were coming.

life-change-aheadBecause of that I took the precious little sewing time that I still had left to make myself a couple of new pairs of work pants, but I did not get a pair of casual denim pants made before my time ran out. At the time, this was fine. It was still summer, and I was wearing shorts on my days off, but it’s starting to get colder now, and I need long pants to wear most days. Because of this I had to make a decision, either quickly whip up a pair of denim pants cutting as many corners as possible to save time, or to head to the store to  purchase a pair of denim pants. I choose the later.

My  first thought when I decided to purchase a pair of pants instead of making them was the famous minion refrain ”WWHHAATTT?!?” “You’re a seamstress! You have the tools, the fabric, and the notions! Get your butt in there and sew yourself a new pair of pants!”

'I knew there was part of the pattern missing!'

But, with the very little time that I had available to make the pants, I would have had to cut every corner possible to get them done in time. I would not have washed and pre-shrunk the fabric. I would not have finished the seams properly or completely, and I wouldn’t hem the pants to the proper length either. I would have just rolled the hem under and hope that it stayed with a quick ironing or a big safety pin.

This lead my next thought to be, “Is this really the way you want to sew something? Do you want to do a poor sewing job just to get the item done in the time you have available?” The answer was easy for me. No! I did not want to wear a pair of pants that were sewn that way!

deadlines-1p2cpw7There was a time long ago when I first started sewing that I sewed only for the end result, regardless of how poor of a job that I did. When I first started sewing, my mom, who is a advanced and skilled seamstress, trying to encourage me, would say, “Oh, it should only take 30 minutes for you to make that t-shirt”, or “You’ll have that dress whipped up in an hour.” She was trying to let me know that sewing was fun, quick and easy and, in no time at all that I would have a finished wearable item.

But, I misinterpreted my mom words at the time! I made sewing a timed event. When it took me 2 days instead of 2 hours to sew something, I figured I was a failure and that I was doing something wrong, so to compensate I would try to sew the item too quickly, cut corners, and skip steps to complete the project in the allotted time.

02d0fcf10d4a027a72e27973cf29abc7My goal was only to get the item finished in the proper amount of time. When I finally figured out that every sewing project did not have a deadline, and that I could take the time that I needed to complete a project properly, I enjoyed sewing a lot more. Sewing became fun and I began to enjoy the process, plus my finished items were of a much higher quality and they wore a lot better.

Another reason that I was willing to cut corners and skip steps to get the finished item completed quickly, was that when I was first starting to sew I grew tired and bored of a project. I just wanted it to be done and over with so that I could start on another project. I would often say “I should really unpick this and sew this again, but I’m not going to. I will just do better on the next project.” I quickly learned that when I did this, I was not pleased with the finished item, and I was not enjoying the sewing process at all because I knew I could have sewn it better.

SLIGHTLY Irregular Designer Jeans.

So, when it came to going back to poor sewing habits just to complete a pair of pants, I decided that I would rather use the little time I had to carefully sew a few seams on a current project, or thoughtfully plan a future project, or, if I just needed to sew,  I would just make a baby sleeper or two. For a needed pair of pants though, I would just see what the Ready To Wear world had available for me instead. I would leave the poor sewing in my past.

Hopefully, life will change again soon, and I will have more sewing time available to me in the future!

Until then, sew forth and enjoy the process on!

Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

Ollie the Rhino

DSCN0407Awhile back when I made my pocket pal monsters, I needed a pattern for horns. And so I looked at several patterns of different animals with horns. One pattern I looked at in particular was for this cute rhinoceros that stood on his hind legs and had suspenders. Even though I did not use this rhino’s horns for my monsters, this pattern made its way up my to do list, finally reaching the top and becoming my next amigurumi project.

DSCN0409The pieces of this rhino crocheted up easily. His pattern is well written. The only thing issue I had with the pattern was the way he was stitched together. When I read the pattern the first time, I knew better than to follow its instruction but I did anyway. The pattern calls for the horns and ears to be stitched to the head as the head is crocheted. I have learned over the years that I prefer to crochet the pieces first, stuff them and then stitch the pieces together. I decided to go against my grain and stitch the horns to the head after completing the snout as the pattern instructions stated to do before completing and stuffing the rest of the head.

Nope!

It was not a good idea to do it that way at all! I found it very challenging to line the horns up where I wanted them to be without having the head completed. It was also difficult to keep the horn in place while stitching them on without the head being completed. I did not waste my time trying to attach the ears before the head was completed. I waited to attach them after the head was crocheted and stuffed. I had learned my lesson yet again!

DSCN0412This rhino’s little suspenders were simple to make. They are just a chain. It is surprising how such a simple detail can add so much cuteness to a project. I picked bright yellow buttons on his maroon colored pants for a little pop, to add even more cuteness to this guy. The buttons made him not suitable for an infant, but I am sure an older child would still like him just fine.

Upon completing this rhino, he was named Ollie. I debated about a couple of different names but I kept returning back to Ollie, the first name I had picked. He is very cute and was great fun to make. Ollie is now anxious to fine a good home and have someone play with him.

Until next time, crochet forth and charge on!

Ode To My White Pants

white-pants

Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
Oh how I love you so!
I wish you would last forever,
But then I’d have nothing to sew!
Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
I will miss you so!

Each year as Labor Day draws near, I weep. Besides the end of summer, Labor Day means it is time to return my beloved white pants to their rightful spot in the closet for another winter season. And as this Labor Day approaches, I weep even more for this is the last year I will wear this particular pair of white pants. They have been a tried and true friend for many a summer now, but they are starting to show their age and it is now time for them to go to the old clothes heaven in the sky. Or maybe just goodwill.

Some 15 years ago, I decided that my wardrobe needed some white pants. Now, I am very particular about the fabric that I use to make my pants with. Not just any old white fabric would work for these pants. I wanted them made in white denim. And it had to be “white” denim, not cream or egg shell, or an off white color. Also it could not have too much lycra in it. And it had to be strong enough to withstand the day to day wear and tear of work, but still not be stiff and heavy. It had to wash easily and well, because as you know white attracts everything. It had to be thick enough not to show any unmentionables that may be worn under it, but not so thick that it wouldn’t breath well on the hot summer days. After a great deal of shopping, I found my white denim fabric.

Basic_Baggy_White_Chef_Pants_11I washed and dried my white denim fabric throughly as I knew it would shrink. Using my good old pants sloper pattern, I made my white pants. And they were a dream! I loved them the first day I wore them. I felt and looked good in them.

After the first summer of wearing my white pants, I carefully cleaned them, and put them away to wear again the next year. Each Memorial Day, I pulled my precious white pants from the closet and wore them every chance I got through the summer months until Labor Day, when they again returned to their winter home safe in my closet.

After a couple of years, on one particular Memorial Day, I pulled the white pants from their resting place, only to find that the winter had been especially harsh to me. My lovely white pants no longer fit so well. Due to a little weight gain, the pants legs were now too high off the ground and were high waters. I let the healthy hem they had out and re-hemmed them with the shortest hem I could. The new hem was only about 1/4 inch, but this new hem allowed me to wear my white pants for that year.

4102_10914_Khakicargo_frontOver the years as my weight has waxed and waned, my white pants have hung in there. Some years they fit better than other years but I could always wear them each summer. On the years that I was waxing, I refused to dry my white pants in the dryer and often accused the husband of washing them in hot water. On the waning years, I did not pay as much attention to how they were laundered. I wore them through thick and thin.

As I have worn my gorgeous white pants this summer season, I have noticed that they are showing signs of wear. I was truly saddened by this but what could I have expected after 15 or so years of wear? The tiny hem they have is fraying. The white denim is thinning especially in the seat area from friction wear and the seams are starting to split out.

Throughout the summer, I have mended them several times, hoping that they will make it just one more day, and bless them, they have. I have worn them faithfully all summer long. But as I washed them for the last time this summer, I see that images-3it is time for them to be retired. There is no need on packing them away for another 9 months until next summer. They will not make it through another season. It is finally time to let them go.

Luckily, I am a fabriholic. When I found this perfect piece of white denim and turned it into such fabulous pants so many years ago, I quickly returned to the fabric store and bought enough for a few more pairs of pants. This fabric has been hiding out in the stash ever since then just patiently awaiting its turn to be my next beloved pair of white pants.

Now, I have my work cut out for me. I have just one short winter to get another pair of perfect white pants made before next summer arrives!

Wish me luck!

Until next time, sew forth and white pant on!

Goodnight Blues Clues! (Part 2)

Let’s see. Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah… Simplicity 2771, Blues Clues pajamas with piping.

IMG_0002Another reason I say this pattern is not good for a beginner is that it is also tricky to stitch the back facing on with the curves. According to the pattern guide, you sew the back facing to the front facing, flip it over to the back, then fold over the raw edge, and finally you stitch in the ditch along the piping while making sure to catch the facing in the back too. Sure it sounds easy enough, but not without a lot of pins holding things together and folding and ironing, and sweat and tears. On the straight parts of the facing, it was easy to stitch in the ditch on the front and catch the facing in the back right through the folded raw edge, but on the curves it was too easy to stitch too far into the facing and not along the edge, missing the folded raw edge so that when you were done sewing, the raw edge just folded back out. Because of this when you come to the curve, you must fold more in to make sure and catch the raw P1030206edge, but then you end up missing the facing altogether. So then you try to fold it back out a little more and then you miss catching the raw edge again, or, like I finally ended up with, and you barely caught the raw edge here and barely caught the facing there. ARGH! I don’t know if it is just a matter of practice to stitch the facings on more easily, or if I need to come up with a better way of stitching them on. I stitched and unpicked and restitched and unpicked and restitched until I was tired of the process so I called the wavy mess I had on the inside of the shirt good enough for this try and moved on. (I hate to see a beginner try a project like this, get discouraged and quit sewing altogether due to the frustration of it. I certainly don’t claim to be the world’s best seamstress as shown by the wavy seam on that facing, but I have had successes in the past and so I have built up some patience with my sewing as time has went on. )

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P1030158Here is where I ran into a little snag because I did not follow the pattern guide when I started this project. In the guide, hemming the shirt is the step you are supposed to do before starting the piping, so the facings are shorter than the front of the shirt because IMG_0001you had already shortened the front of the shirt with the hem before you added the facings. But because I had sewed the piping and facings first, I had to unpick the ends so I could do the hem and get the facings length to match. Luckily this was less of a problem than it could have been because it was on the straight part of the facings and not the curved parts. It was just a minor annoyance, and I had to take a much larger hem than I would have liked to since I like longer shirts. If I make this pattern again, and I probably will, I am going to cut the facings longer at the start so I can finish them differently. Because I had sewed this the way the pattern had called for on the hem and the finishing of the facings, it will be difficult to shorten or lengthen the shirt if I need to later. Plus the finishing of my flannel piping was a little bulky as I sewed through the 6 layers of fabric. If I had purchase some cotton piping, it would have been much less bulky to sew, but I still think it turned out ok and I learned a LOT.

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P1030159I had similar issues with the way that the pattern guide said to finish the piping and hem of the sleeves so I did it my way instead. I sewed the facing to the sleeve before I P1030162sewed the sleeve up. Then after sewing the sleeve, I folded the facing up and stitched in the ditch of the piping. Even though I was stitching in the ditch again around the sleeves, it is a straight line, so it was not that difficult to do. And by sewing it this way, if I need to shorten or lengthen the sleeve later, it will require less unpicking. It was a little tight stitching around the cuff, but I did it without any problems and I will say that practice make perfect. The second sleeve was much easier to stitch than the first one was.

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P1030192My third reason for saying that this pattern may not be the best choice for a beginner is the buttons. It took time and patience to get them placed down the center and looking in the right spot between P1030185the piping. There was no forgiveness on placement. They had to be centered or they looked funny. I won’t say I did a perfect job on the buttons but I tried.

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With the shirt finished, the pants were an easy sew to complete the pajamas. The pants have no pockets and no piping. I thought about putting some piping on the pants at the hem or down the side seams but decided not to. Four seams, some elastic at the waist and 2 hems and the pants were done!

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Like I said, I will probably make this pattern again and hopefully soon so that I don’t forget all I have learned, but for now on to more projects!

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I won, but I lost, but I won

Well after organizing and re-packing all of my fabric into fifty two separate boxes, the fabric in my stash is finally organized, pictured, labeled and put back in the closet, or at least mostly put back in the closet. Some of it just would not fit, so it is sitting in boxes next to the closet instead.

And with that my New Year 2013 resolution is finally complete! Yay!

Now that my stash is finally fully organized and under control again, I am very satisfied with the results and very pleased with myself for a job finally completed and done well. It has been a long time coming.

And I felt that it was time for some relaxation and what better way to relax than to check out Fabric Mart’s latest sale? And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than to make a fabric purchase?

Now, a small fabric purchase of a piece or two of shiny new fabric should do just fine I thought to myself. And the fact that it was on sale for an unbelievably awesome deal and that it would not ever enter the stash at all, but would instead be used right away should be a fine reward for anyone who had just completed a total reorganization of their stash, but oh no, not for me. Instead I ended up purchasing 45 yards of fabric on sale at Fabric Mart, for a grand total of 37 pounds of new fabric. Cheese Louise!

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But, but, but the flannel was only two dollars a yard and the wool was imported from Italy, and the pique is just right for the husband’s shirts and at just one dollar per yard how could I not buy at least 10 yards of it? That’s 4 shirts for just $10! Really?!? How could I not buy it ALL? REALLY?!? How could I actually go and BUY more fabric?

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After just spending almost 2 months of my free time reorganizing all of my fabric stash how could I possibly add more to it? Hadn’t I handled enough fabric lately to have grown sick of it? Hadn’t I just found so many pieces that I had long forgot I purchased so it was like a new fabric purchase to me anyway? Hadn’t I been inspired by all of the cool pieces in the stash to do something with them? Why oh why did I feel the need to purchase still more fabric? Now I will have to get more boxes. Now I will have to take more pictures. Now I will have to add more categories to my new stash organization system. When will I ever have the time to sew again?

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Although I can not answer all these questions right now, I can answer the last one. It is time to start sewing again after a two month hiatus. While organizing the stash I found two pair of pants for me already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. So that is next on my list to do. And I set out 4 pieces of fabric from the stash for baby sleepers. So that will be the second thing I put on my to do list. And I know exactly what piece of fabric I want to use for the husband’s next shirt too.

So let the sewing begin!

And perhaps I can stay busy enough sewing fun new things that my fabric addiction will subside, at least for a short time…  Or until the next great fabric sale that is just too good to pass up, so maybe I am safe for a week or two! I hope!

Black

I laughed the first time I heard my mom say it. Many years ago, but really not that long ago, I sat next to my mom at her sewing machine and she said, “I just can’t see black anymore.” What an odd thing to say. The black fabric and the black thread was right there in front of her. She was sewing just fine. Well, I am here to tell you that as I hemmed my black pants, I learned that I too can no longer see black. As I serged the side seams, I had a hard time seeing the sewn seam to keep the serging straight. I stopped sewing and laughed as I said to my husband, “I just can’t see black anymore.” 

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I bought these pants on a super clearance sale, paying far less than it would cost to make them. Of course, they needed hemmed, but the hemming turned into a little more than a simple seam around each leg. I took the pants with me when we went to see the parents so Mom could help me measure for the new hem. Mom helped me measure the pants but then showed me about measuring the outside seam on another pair of pants so I can hem other pants myself. I find it difficult to stand in front of the mirror, bend over, pin, stand straight, look at the length, bend again, pin again, straighten up again, look again… Measuring the side seams told be how long I wanted my pants for my waist to the hem. Easy. 

 

In the process of measuring,img_0879 we decided to take some of the fullness out the bottom of the legs as well. Mom then unpicked the side seams and show me how to take out the fullness but keep the side seams straight. If I had been left to my own devices, I would have just sewn the side seams in, but Mom pointed out that the front and back were not equal, and that the fullness needed to just come out the front, thus the unpicking of the side seams. Mom had the seams all unpicked and pinned where to sew when I packed the pants up and brought them home. I finally finished the hem and only had to do it twice. I let the fabric slip on the left leg as I sewed making it longer then the right leg so I had to try the hem again. The pants are now hemmed and ready to wear. I only have about another two weeks to wear them though before the weather here gets too hot for black, but they will be a great pair of work pants for next winter.