woven drawstring sleep shorts drafted from ready to wear

Woven drawstring sleep shorts drafted from ready to wear

Pants (and shorts) fitting is an ongoing endeavor for me. One day at the mill ends and remnants fabric store, I picked up a couple of yards of printed fabric (meandering little duck footprints I think??) for cheap. My intention was to get fabric I don’t care about and sew some bottoms to see if I can zero in on a good pants block. At least it’s 100% cotton!

PATTERN

Self-drafted pattern from a pair of ready-to-wear shorts (also knit version)

Project features

  • self-drafted pattern
  • drawstring with casing
  • finished seam allowances

Process notes

  • finished seam allowances with serger
  • joined side seams and waistband on the serger, stitching and finishing the edges all at once, with 3/8″ seam allowance instead of the original 5/8″ drafted into the pattern
  • made drawstring from cotton twill tape

Results

woven drawstring sleep shorts drafted from ready to wear

These sleep shorts are feeling pretty good. I’m really happy with the construction, and it was nice to get more comfortable finishing seams on the serger.

My on-the-fly decision to use the serger on the side seams resulted in a narrower seam allowance than originally intended, so the shorts are essentially a total of 1″ wider around the body. That’s something to watch for next time I make a pair of these.

I was going for a boxer short style, but because of the way I did the fitting, they’re a little slimmer than a typical roomy boxer short. They’re also a little too long, and when I crouch down the front of the legs tug more than I’d like. Going shorter would help that.

The big challenge for drawstring woven bottoms is that on my body, the waistband is quite a bit larger than my waist in order to get the shorts over my hips. I don’t love that, but this was a good project for learning more about pants fitting.

I’d really love to switch to knits and make a pair of shorts like the American Giant Essential Short. I think my knit version of these shorts would be a good place to start!

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short sleeve scoop neck tee with rounded hem

Short sleeve scoop neck tee

After I made a long sleeve scoop neck tee from a pattern I drafted from a ready-to-wear tee, I was so happy with it that I knew there would be more of them in my future. And all of a sudden, it’s 100°. Meaning it’s time to make a short-sleeve version of it.

For a more polished look, I like a longer, slimmer short sleeve that comes almost to the elbow. I’ve also been wanting to do a rounded hem on the bottom, inspired by a tee in my closet that has a flattering rounded hem but is a little too small.

Process notes

  • used pattern from long sleeve scoop neck tee and constructed in the same manner
  • shortened sleeve length to match the boatneck tee drafted from my J.Crew top
  • rounded hem based on a tee from my closet
  • used red and white striped knit fabric

Results

Love it! It came together relatively quickly once the pieces were cut out. Eventually I want to get to the point of using the serger for the arm/side seams once the sleeves are attached.

The fit is great, and the rounded hem is a keeper. I could see going shorter with the sleeve, maybe something like this or shorter with a slight curve.

Update: After wearing this top a few times, I see that it could be a little longer, so I’ll try adding 1″ length to it next time. The scoop neck could also be smoothed out at the sides — it angles too sharply at the front center.

short sleeve scoop neck tee with rounded hem

blue knit drawstring shorts drafted from ready to wear

Knit drawstring shorts drafted from ready to wear

PATTERN

I drafted my own pattern from a pair of knit drawstring shorts (originally used for a linen pair) using the skills I learned in Steffani Lincecum’s fantastic Craftsy class Pattern Drafting from Ready-to-Wear.

Project features

  • self-drafted pattern
  • drawstring with casing
  • front patch pockets
  • twin needle on knit fabric

Process notes

Results

I keep forgetting that with knits, I don’t need to make the waist the same measurement as my hip measurement, so these are a little big around the waist. But with the drawstring it’s not a big deal.

blue knit drawstring shorts drafted from ready to wear

I learned a lesson about cotton twill tape: cut to length after washing and drying! My string shrank so much that I can only make a tiny bow at the waist.

The construction went really well, which I’m happy about. And the fit is relatively good, too. The only thing I’m not wild about is the color, but it was what I found at the remnants and mill-end store, so it is what it is ;)

neckline detail on red and white scoop neck tee

Long sleeve scoop neck tee

I’ve been meaning to make some copies of my Loft long sleeve scoop neck tees for ages. I picked up several of them a few years ago, and for some reason they’ve all developed little holes in the front, around the area where the waistband of jeans would rub. They’re such a wonderful wardrobe staple, and drafting a pattern from them for my stash is a no-brainer.

red and white scoop neck long sleeve tee

Process notes

  • used red and white striped knit fabric
  • moved shoulder forward 1/2 in.
  • modified the shoulder slope to be a little flatter in the top-back, and sharper in the top-front
  • constructed with lightning bolt stitch, 2.0 width & 3.5 length
  • neckline:
    1. did not use tricot interfacing at neckline
    2. stay stitched at scant 3/8″
    3. cut single fold collar band 1 1/2 in. x 34 in. and pressed in half
    4. stitched collar band, right sides together, raw edges aligned
    5. top stitched seam allowances towards shirt, using stretch twin needle.

Results

red and white scoop neck long sleeve teeAbsolutely thrilled with how this tee turned out! The shoulder is great, the length is good for regular pants (not so much leggings), and the scoop is a great size.

I’d love to turn this into a short sleeve tee as well, but with a curved shape at the bottom instead of straight across. I’m hoping that makes it look more feminine and not so unisex.

I think this sleeve will be a good model for my knit pattern block.

Boatneck long sleeve tee in navy

One of my favorite tees is a hip-length black and white striped tissue tee with 3/4 sleeves and a boatneck from Loft. It’s a great fit — roomy enough to be super comfy, yet slim enough to look polished. For this project, I drafted a pattern from it and sewed it up in a nice, soft, navy knit.

navy boatneck long sleeve tee

Process notes

  • lengthened 3/4 sleeve by 5 in., bringing it to a full wrist length
  • 7 in. width at wrist end of sleeve pattern
  • neckline:
    1. neckline is constructed to include the shoulder seams right in the boatneck shaping
    2. for binding cut (2) pieces of same fabric 1 5/8 in. x 20 in.
    3. fused 1/2 in. wide tricot interfacing along neckline
    4. stay stitched at 3/8 in.
    5. aligned binding along the stay stitch line and stitched 1/2 in. from it
    6. trimmed off 3/8 in. (most of tricot interfacing got trimmed off)
    7. turned binding to inside and topstitched with stretch twin needle
    8. slightly overlapped shoulder areas and top stitched together
  • used 5/8 in. seam allowance to join arms, but 1/2 in. at side seam
  • added side vents

Results

I got lucky with this fabric — it’s very comfortable with a nicely balanced amount of stretch. We’ll see how it wears. I got it at the mill ends and remnants store where fabric content is unknown.

The first thing I noticed after trying it on was that the back shoulder need reshaping with a gentler slope to account for my forward sloping shoulders. But I do like how the boatneck works on this pattern, with a smoother overlap compared to my pattern drafted from my J. Crew tee.

The shaping along the sides and the overall length are good, although the bottom hem wants to flip up. This might be because of the side vents.

Next time, I’d lengthen the sleeves by 1/2 to 1 in., and adjust that shoulder curve. The adjustments are minor — overall it’s a winner.

Black knit lounge pants (not quite yoga)

After sewing another Coco, I moved over to some personal sewing projects drafted from ready to wear. I have several patterns in my pattern stash from this technique. (It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Craftsy class, but Pattern Drafting from Ready-to-Wear is so great because of the versatility of the skills learned.) There’s a lounge pant drafted from Gap yoga pants blended with a lycra Nike workout pant, a hip-length boatneck tee with 3/4 sleeves from Loft, and long sleeve scoop neck tee from Loft.

I’ve had better success making garments from this type of pattern — vs. using one from the big pattern companies. I know the original fits, and I’m able to make some fit refinements when making the pattern.

Pants have proven tricky for me to get right. Not the construction, but the fit. I don’t have a basic pant block that fits yet, so each project is another learning experience in pants fitting. The learning continues with this pair.

Process notes

  • used black rib knit fabric
  • after constructing, went back and trimmed a bit off the inside seam at the crotch
  • the front and back leg lengths don’t match — need to research this more
  • used elastic instead of drawstring

Results

They’re not terrible, but there are definitely some fitting areas I want to address. The front rise is too long, and the legs are too wide. I wanted something a touch looser than the original yoga pant, but this was too far. And the waistband needs to be taken in more to achieve more of a slim fit. They hang pretty well in the back though.

If I can muster the patience, making a pants block that fits right would be an excellent step. Between One, Pattern Many Looks: Pants and this blog post about pants fitting, I could make real progress in this area.

boatneck tee drafted from ready to wear

Boatneck tee drafted from ready-to-wear

contrast yoke boatneck tee from JCrew painter tee | amylamp.com

original ready to wear boatneck tee
The J.Crew boatneck tee that I used as a source

There’s one short-sleeve tee in my wardrobe that I depend on as my go-to tee. It’s a boatneck tee from J.Crew from several years ago with sleeves that come just above the elbow, a flattering shape, interesting overlapping shoulder construction with buttons, and the perfect color. Whenever I put it on I feel more put together yet still comfy and casual. It works with all of my pants and shorts, it’s not too thick or too thin.

Sadly, it won’t last forever.

Happily, I know how to draft a pattern from ready to wear.

boatneck tee drafted from ready to wear
My version of the boatneck tee, with side vent and contrast yoke

The previous patterns I’ve made from some of my favorite clothes have gone very well. The 3/4 sleeve white tee and linen drawstring shorts are not without room for improvement, but the fit is pretty good because I started with something off the rack that already fit. Fit has been my biggest challenge by far when it comes to sewing my own clothes.

Project features

  • knit binding on stabilized neckline
  • twin needle hemming
  • side vents
  • contrasting yoke
  • button detail on neckline

Process notes

  • used a reclaimed tee for the striped lower portion of the shirt
  • added a contrasting yoke
  • for the neckline, used techniques learned in Sewing on the Edgestabilized the neckline with fusible tricot and stay stitching, then sewed on the binding by aligning one raw edge with the stay stitching line, trimmed off the excess along the neckline, folded the binding over to the back, and topstitched in place with a twin needle.
  • flipped the sleeves around so the flatter slope was in the back and the sharper curve was in the front
  • added vents in the sides
  • even though the pattern was drafted for 3/8″ seam allowance, I reduced it to 1/4″ for closing up the sleeves/side seams because the striped fabric didn’t have much stretch

Results

I love this color combo! My only regret is that the striped fabric isn’t very stretchy, making the tee rather snug and difficult to put on. If the bottom were as stretchy as the top, it wouldn’t be a problem. I also used a straight stitch to attach the yoke to the bodice, which was a mistake. The first time I put it on, that seam ripped, so I had to go back and use a stretch stitch and pull out the original stitches.

The neckline finish is awesome, and I’d like to use that technique again — as long as it doesn’t need to stretch over my head. The boatneck worked fine, but since the fusible tricot prevents that edge from stretching it wouldn’t work if it were a typical crew neck. I think it’s going to be an improvement on the original tee because that one gaped at the back of the neck and this one appears to be sitting closely against the back of my neck nicely.

boatneck tee drafted from ready to wear
Neckband detail, with overlapping shoulder seam and button

Switching the sleeves from front to back appears to have worked just fine. It bunches up a little radiating from the under arm, which would be nice to remedy, but I haven’t yet found the trick to that.

Pipsqueak getting in the picture
Pipsqueak, dancing for attention while we were shooting the photo

Next time:

  • make the neckline binding 1/4″ wider
  • use a stretchier fabric or increase the size of the pattern to accommodate
  • attach yoke with stretch stitch
  • lower armhole at side seams about 1/4″
Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear

Wardrobe Architect Project: Linen Drawstring Shorts

My Summer 2015 wardrobe project originally include a chambray gathered skirt. But my test muslin was far from flattering, so I called an audible and switched it to a pair of linen shorts.

Linen drawstring shorts next to the original ready to wear pair
My linen shorts on the left, with the original off-the-rack knit pair on the right

PATTERN

I drafted my own pattern from a pair of knit drawstring shorts using the skills I learned in Steffani Lincecum’s fantastic Craftsy class Pattern Drafting from Ready-to-Wear.

Project features

  • self-drafted pattern
  • drawstring with casing
  • front patch pockets
  • bartacks

Process notes

  • traced the pattern pieces using Steffani’s techniques
  • before making the muslin, added to the side seams to accommodate a woven fabric (the original shorts are knit), and adjusted the shape of the crotch seam to be more like an “L” than a long shallow curve, based on Kathy Ruddy’s One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants class
  • after making the muslin, increased the length of the back center seam by raising the waistline at the center back and smoothing to the side seams to accommodate the shorter length between the legs (this was a problem I ran into on my olive ankle pants and didn’t realize it until I started wearing them and they rode down in back and pulled at the front when I sat down)
  • made the drawstring from lightweight chambray, double-folding and stitching down the length, making clean finishes at the ends (I use this clean-ends bag strap method all the time)
  • the single buttonhole for the drawstring didn’t work — the chambray strap didn’t slide when I tried to cinch it closed because the linen had no flexibility like the knit casing does — so after assembling the shorts I ended up cutting two slots next to the center buttonhole and dabbed some fray block on them (I’m not entirely optimistic that this will keep the holes from fraying though, but I wasn’t about to rip out the finished waist band and do it again)

Results

The construction went very well (except for that drawstring buttonhole) and I’m really happy with how they look. The fit is good, although they’re a little bit loose around my body and I didn’t need to add as much to the side seams as I did. When I cinch the drawstring around my waist, there’s a bit of extra bunching up with the fabric requiring some shuffling around to even things out. But they are comfy, which is one of my priorities.

Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear

I love the pockets! The stitching came out nice and even, and they help add interest and functionality. Without them I think these shorts would be quite dull.

I want to try this pattern with knit fabric, too. Especially since the original pair I bought is starting to fray apart because I wear them so much.

Tee drafted from ready to wear

T-shirt Sewing Mission: Shoulders

As an addict of online courses (Craftsy and Creative Live in particular), I enjoy learning what different platforms have to offer and how they differ from each other. There are many Craftsy classes in my library, so when BurdaStyle opened up a new sloper class, I wanted to see how that platform works as well. I own the Craftsy course Sewing with Knits: 5 Wardrobe Essentials and it has been tremendously helpful for getting me comfortable sewing with knits. The first tee I made was from the pattern that comes with that course, with my adjustments for square and broad shoulders. But the adjustments didn’t pan out:

White tee from Sewing with Knits
The shoulders are too square and it’s too tight under the arms

The square shoulder adjustment was totally wrong for me, and the shoulder seams were too short. It was also too tight under the arms and there are pull lines on the fabric (and I can feel it pulling uncomfortably). After seeing how square the shoulders were I pinched out some of the fabric and re-sewed the top of the sleeve/arm hole seams but it didn’t fully solve the issue. When BurdaStyle opened up their Draft Your Own Personal 5 Piece Sloper Collection for May enrollment I jumped on it. Through this course we learned how to draft slopers for the bodice, sleeve, pant, dress/torso for wovens, and the sleeve and torso for knits. One of the great things about the course is gaining familiarity and comfort with the drafting process — drawing over and over helps me feel like it’s no big deal to rip off a sheet of tracing paper and get to work. After drafting each of the woven slopers I sewed up muslins to see how the fit was going. I learned that just because the sloper is drafted from my measurements, it doesn’t mean the garment will fit right out of the gate. The shoulder area was challenging, especially once it came time to add the sleeves. I fell pretty good about where the woven bodice/torso slopers landed, but we’ll see what happens when I eventually draft a pattern from the slopers. I was really excited about the knit sloper. But when I constructed a tee from mine, the arm holes and shoulder placements were off.

White tee from sloper class
Shoulders are too wide and it’s too tight under the arms

It’s also too short, but that’s an easy to fix in the future. After these two experiences, I was looking for a win. So I drafted a pattern from a tee from my closet that I know fits me well following the Craftsy class Pattern Drafting from Ready to Wear. I love this class so much. It takes a lot of the mystery out of garment design and construction — not in the sense that it teaches how to design and construct garments, but rather by reverse-engineering the pieces of the garment it demonstrates that it wasn’t created through magic.

This tee turned out much better, and I’m pretty happy with the fit. I think the under arms are still a bit too small, and the neckline in front is a little high. There are several more tees in my closet to copy — my goal is to get a good basic fit to which I can apply different necklines, hemlines, and sleeves.