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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sleeve detail on chambray button-down shirt

Epic chambray shirt

I watched the Craftsy class The Classic Tailored Shirt all the way through some time ago, but never felt motivated to actually make the shirt. Although I was inspired by the hand-stitched collar band process when designing and making my Tailored Dog Jacket.

When I watched The Gunman the other day on Netflix, the chambray button down shirts that some of the characters wore stuck in my mind. I decided I needed to have a shirt like that. These shirts were certainly not classic tailored shirts, but the class helped me get through the confusing pattern instructions that came with McCall’s 6649. That’s the button down shirt pattern I had from when I bought Craftsy’s One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses.

Process notes

  • used sloper from One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses class
  • used dark blue chambray fabric
  • only used interfacing on upper collar and neck side of collar band
  • yoke: I did it so the top stitched side faces out, so when I joined the shoulder seams to it, and slid the yoke piece down 1/8 in. for turn of cloth, it was too bulky inside and the outer yoke pulled on it. I compensated for this by pressing it with slight folds in seams to straighten things out.
  • collar band and collar: I got quite confused with this component, between which sides get interfacing and which pieces get pressed at 5/8 in. After doing some Googling, it seems like there are multiple ways to do this correctly, except that typically the non-interfaced collar band piece is the one that gets pressed up 5/8 in. And the important thing is to make sure the button hole is on the right side of the collar band.
  • cuffs: this was all kinds of confusing. I’m pretty sure I sewed the plackets in on the wrong side because of where the top stitching ended up being, and there’s a pinch in one of them, but they function just fine so I didn’t rip anything out.
  • using a double thread for sewing on the buttons was problematic for me, and I kept getting knots and mistakes, so I switched to single thread and it went much more smoothly

Results

What a feat! It took 3 big days of sewing, but it’s done. I’m SO glad I my sloper to make sure the shoulders actually fit me. And I’m glad that my sloper didn’t require changes to the neckline, shirt length, or sleeve cuff — making those adjustments on my first shirt would have been really challenging.

chambray button-down shirt

Next time, I’d leave out the interfacing all together because I like a softer more crinkly look. I’d also like to figure out how shirts get that rippled edge near the topstitching — not sure if it’s in the construction, or just happens after several washes or what.

And now that I’ve seen how the shirt comes together, doing some contrasting accents, like in the collar band, button placket, or cuffs would be cool.

Simplicity 1202 woven cap sleeve blouse detail

Wardrobe Architect Project: Cap Sleeve Blouse

The final garment to sew for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project was going to be the Simplicity 1693 blouse in a blue-and-white striped fabric. But I took a detour after:

  1. reading that the sleeve on that top was rather voluminous
  2. re-watching the One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses class and feeling inspired to draft my own custom design
  3. drafting my own  blouse from my sloper from that class, including cap sleeves
  4. sewing a muslin from said self-drafted pattern and getting totally stuck because the cap sleeves did NOT behave as I wanted (they were far too tight across my arm no matter what I did to try to remedy it)

So. I switched up my plan and instead went back to a commercial pattern. And I didn’t think that the raglan-style sleeve in that pattern would look very good with my original striped fabric choice (awkward things might happen where the angled sleeve joins the bodice), and instead subbed in a tissue-thin fabric of blue pinstripe plaid.

PATTERN

Simplicity 1202 cap sleeve blouse

Project features

  • raglan sleeves
  • keyhole opening with center back seam
  • baby French facing neckline finish

Process notes

  • skipped the muslin
  • made size 10, view A
  • replaced the facing instructions in the pattern with the baby French facing technique from Crafty’s Sewing on the Edge: Finishing Techniques class, with bias pieces cut 1 1/2 inches wide, joined, and folded in half
  • after trying the top on for fitting, took the underarm and side seam in by 1 inch (1/2 inch from each piece) and re-finished the seams/hems
  • removed the button tab because the neckline is large enough to fit without needing to unbutton it; stitched on a decorative button to hold the keyhole opening closed

Results

I just can’t win with sizing on commercial patterns! It’s becoming kind of a joke. This top is rather billowy on me, including arm holes that went down too low on my sides. I could have made the size 8.

Blue plaid woven cap sleeve blouse Simplicity 1202

Simplicity 1202 woven cap sleeve blouse

While I love the idea of pullover woven blouses, I’m struggling with them on my particular shape. My back sways in, and my hips and shoulders are the same measurements with my waist being smaller. By the time the top fits my hips and pulls over my shoulders, it’s gotten pretty boxy and isn’t flattering for my shape. I could belt this one, but I don’t like the way sitting with a belted top makes it puff out in front and pull at the back. I’m fussy that way.

Maybe shaping it along the back seam and side seams and adding a side zipper to pull it over my shoulders would help. Or that might just make a stiff, uncomfortable side seam. Not sure the solution, but I’m not quite ready to give up on casual woven tops all together.

I’m really happy with the construction (all of those School of Sewing projects paid off!). The baby French facing is a great technique, although I wish I had made the fabric 2 or 2 1/4 inches wide. It was really narrow by the time it was stitched to the neckline. After stretch pressing it I had to stretch it wider again so it wasn’t too narrow.

After sewing all of these garments I’m learning that I wear fabrics with stretch SO MUCH more happily than fabrics without stretch. Whether they’re stretch wovens, or knits, they’re more wearable in my life. I’d like to focus on those types of projects next.

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.

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants

Wardrobe Architect Project: Olive Ankle Pants

Next up for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project is sewing the olive ankle pants.

Pattern

Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit Pants

Project features

  • front zip fly with bar tack
  • hook closure
  • mock welt pockets
  • waistline facing
  • 4-piece waistband for fitting
  • slip-stitched hem

Process notes

  • made size 12 average fit
  • made a fitting muslin, then took quite a bit off of the crotch/inseam on the pack piece and lowered the front waistline a little
  • used a 100% cotton twill (no stretch)
  • omitted front pockets
  • omitted carriers (belt loops)
  • finished waistband facing with serger instead of bias binding

Results

I’m so glad I started with a fitting muslin on these pants, because it would have been really frustrating to make all of the changes necessary on the final fabric. On my first muslin there was a lot of fabric pooling under the “bum” as Kathy Ruddy puts it. I’m also really glad I had One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants to guide me through fitting. Even though it’s not a pants fitting class, Kathy provides excellent information on getting pants to fit well. I was able to use her instruction for seat fullness adjustments and for the crescent leg adjustment at the thigh. The pattern instructions for fine-tuning the fit would not have gotten me the fit I was after (or the fitted look as described on the pattern).

At a certain point I had to accept that this project was going to be slow-going. After spending pretty much a whole weekend on fit, it took me a couple of weeks to get through the final construction, sewn in little bits here and there. In the end, it was probably good to go slow because if I’d tried to power through making this pattern for the first time it could have led to frustration and exhaustion. Or a half-made-pants bonfire in the back yard.

I’m super happy with the final construction. Since I didn’t rush, stitching is clean and even, even where I had to stitch in the ditch around the waistband. The front zip fly took me a LONG time to get through, but it’s my first and it turned out well so I can’t complain. However, it’s awkward to zip them up using my left hand — the fly overlaps from right to left, but I apparently prefer pants that overlap from left to right.

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants waistband and fly

 

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants mock welt pockets
I sure hope those needle marks in the center back come out after washing…

My hope is that these pants soften and mold to my body over time. Right now they’re heavier and stiffer that I’d like or am used to. I really like pants with stretch, but I wanted to experiment with this twill to see how it went.

Adjustments for next time:

  • switch fly from right to left
  • lengthen the crotch depth on the back piece
  • use the lightweight stretch denim in my fabric stash
  • use a softer cotton for the waistband facing
  • continue fiddling with the fit of the back upper thigh area
  • finish the raw edges of the mock welt pocket flap

I’m also considering what it would take to turn this into my pants block, and using the fly installation technique from One Pattern. Many Looks: Pants.

City Gym Shorts in Chambray Double Cloth

Wardrobe Architect Project: City Gym Shorts

Since it’s ultra-hot here, the next priority for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project is sewing the City Gym Shorts.

Pattern

City Gym Shorts from the Purl Bee

Project features

  • bias binding
  • elastic waist

Process notes

  • made the 35–37-inch hip size
  • used Robert Kaufman Double Cloth in chambray and plaid
  • made the double fold bias tape by hand instead of with the 18mm bias tape maker
  • used 1-inch knit elastic instead of braided elastic
  • separated the double cloth and only used the plaid piece for the binding and waistband

Results

City Gym Shorts in Chambray Double ClothThis is such a fun, retro pair of shorts to wear — I can definitely see making another pair of these. The waistband is a few inches below the natural waistline, making them fall in the perfect place for me. And I was nervous about making the 35-37 size because my hip measurement is actually 37 1/2, but they fit great with no pattern adjustments.

 

 

Simplicity 2215 blouse detail

Sewing the Simplicity 2215 Sleeveless Blouse

While not typically not a dress or skirt person, I’m open to becoming one some day. And at a recent $1 pattern sale, Simplicity 2215 struck me as a classic-yet-modern option that just might work for me. But first, I dip my toe in the water with the blouse.

Project features

  • collar
  • facing
  • bias tape facing
  • darts
  • buttons

Process notes

Simplicity 2215 Cynthia Rowley Blouse, Skirt, and Dress

Instead of using the pointed collar that comes with the pattern, I drafted a Peter Pan collar. This was a nice blouse to try that on because it doesn’t have a collar band.

After making a size 8 muslin to test the fit, I made some adjustments:

  • omitted the front waist shaping darts
  • replaced the arm hole with the size 12 arm hole
  • added about 3/4 in. to the back side of the armscye (broad back/shoulder blade adjustment)
  • shaved 5/8 in. off the neckline

For the fabric, I used some of the mystery challis from my stash because it has such a nice soft feel. I love sewing with regular cottons, but they tend to have a stiffer shape in tops that I don’t care for. I like my tops to look polished, but not stiff.

Results

Simplicity 2215 sleeveless blouse with Peter Pan collar

The challis feels wonderful, but it’s tricky to sew with — it wants to slither around quite a bit. And I think it’s going to be snag city with this particular fabric. Just during the sewing process some little snags appeared, causing little hiccups in the fabric pattern.

I’m super happy with how the collar turned out. It was challenging to figure out where exactly it should stop in front, but I lucked out big time. Some of my Craftsy classes were a huge help for getting me through this top successfully: 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know, One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses, and The Classic Tailored Shirt. And I’m sure if I watch Sewing on the Edge again I’d pick up ways to improve the arm hole binding process.

The arm holes ended up being too large, and the broad back adjustment could have been reduced by about half. On the plus side, this top fits over my head if the top button is unbuttoned, which gives me some good direction for designing a popover blouse.

Somehow the fabric got uneven on the bottom front — either when the facing was attached or when the buttons were sewn on. I’ll have to watch for that sort of thing in the future.

This top would look wonderful with slim navy pants. And on that note, perhaps making the skirt from this pattern in a navy is the way to go.

Adjustments for next time:

  • make size 10
  • shorten the length of the back neck facing a little bit to lie smoother

Simplicity 2215 sleeveless blouse

 

Bias facing detail on Simplicity 1364

Sewing the Simplicity 1364 Retro Sleeveless Woven Top

I love a classic top with a bateau neckline. And this pattern is fairly simple, with just a few pieces. But the lapped zipper in the back and the bias facing in the arm holes did make things a little trickier.

Project features

  • lapped zipper
  • facing
  • bias tape facing
  • darts

Process notes

Simplicity 1364 retro blouse pattern

For fitting this top, I used Nancy Zieman’s book The Busy Woman’s Fitting Book. After experiencing Joi Mahon’s pattern fitting techniques, it seemed like a good idea to give the pivot and slide method Nancy teaches in order to compare the two.

I chose the pattern size based on Nancy’s front width fitting chart. It’s hard to say how effective this method was because the pattern needed to be made wider at the shoulders and narrower at the bust. I started by doing the wide shoulder adjustment (adding 1/2″ to the shoulder width) and the square shoulder adjustment (moving the shoulder up 1/2″), then made a muslin to test fit.

The test fit revealed that there was way too much fabric in the bust, waist, and back, and not quite enough at the hip. In addition, the neckline in the front was cutting into my neck a bit, the darts on the front were too long, and the arm holes were too snug. I really liked how the neckline looked though — the bateau neck was crisp and flattering.

After seeing the fit of the muslin, I made further pattern adjustments:

  • dropped the front neckline by 1/2″
  • lowered the bottom edge of the arm hole and blended it into the upper part of the arm hole
  • brought the side seam under the arm hole in and blended it down to the hem (small bust adjustment)
  • widened the hip at the hem
  • shortened the dart by 1″

Then came the difficult decision of which fabric to use! A remnant of lightweight indigo chambray was calling to me, and for the bias facing on the arm holes a white and navy stripe was a good complement.

Results

Simplicity 1364 Retro Top

Striped bias facing on Simplicity  1364
Striped bias facing on the arm holes

With the exception of the shoulders and shoulder blade area, I’m super happy about how this top turned out. The fabric is soft, lightweight, and has a good drape. And the design of the top is crisp and polished, but casual as well. The long zipper in the back makes it feel purposeful and put-together.

The ends of the shoulders at the arm holes are just a bit too high, making them pop up when they should mold to the shoulder better (this is less evident when my arms are bent like in the photos). And I learned a valuable lesson: if there’s a poorly-blended curve in the pattern, that will show up in the final garment. Makes sense! These areas are now fixed on my pattern.

I’m on the fence about whether a bit of a broad shoulder adjustment would help me or not — my concern is that adding fabric to the back will exacerbate the sway back fitting issue, but I’m consistently wearing tops that pull at the upper torso/shoulder area. That’s something that will continue to evolve for sure.

I also learned why some sewers like to stabilize the fabric before attaching a zipper. My fabric kept smooshing downward as the zipper got stitched on, causing wrinkles and puckers. If I had fused some interfacing on before folding and stitching, it probably would have alleviated this issue.

Exposed bias facing on the Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns

Sewing the Sorbetto Top

When I was compiling my sewing curriculum I became familiar with the Coletterie blog and found an excellent article on How to Build Sewing Skills if You’re an Absolute Beginner (The Art and Science of Skill Building). I connected with Sarai’s story of ambitious sewing adventures: getting in over her head (been there) and the frustration that ensues when things don’t go right (definitely been there). Since she seemed to speaking directly to me, it seemed wise to start with garment sewing the way she recommends: with a pillow (check!) then the Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns.

After exploring the enormous fan club of sewers who’ve made their own Sorbettos I put it at the top of my garment-sewing list.

The Sorbetto is a great candidate for getting familiar with garment sewing because it’s very basic, with no sleeves or closures. And it features exposed bias facing. I have a mild obsession with making my own bias tape. There are just so many possibilities when it comes to choosing colors and patterns to coordinate with the main fabrics, I feel like I could spend a lifetime just exploring that one element.

Sorbetto Top in muslin

Since my goal right now is to learn learn learn, I made my top out of muslin to take the pressure off in case it didn’t turn out well. The thought of gambling with my treasured stash was too much to handle. I also decided not to do any pattern fitting for this project, and sewed the pattern as printed.

This really was a great pattern for getting more comfortable with garment sewing. It’s not complicated and the instructions are clear. I’m happy with my binding around the neck and arm holes, but way the finished shoulder and side seams peek out from under the bound edges bugs me. If I make this top again, I’d like to find a way to improve those areas.

And some pattern adjustments would help it fit me better:

  • shorten the bust dart so it’s not going all the way to the apex
  • lengthen the top
  • lower the bottom edge of the arm holes
  • decrease the width at the bust line to reduce gaping under the arms

Making this top is a big milestone for me — it’s been on my mind for months, so actually getting it made feels like an accomplishment. Next up is pattern fitting with Joi Mahon’s Craftsy classes, Fast-Track Fitting and Fast-Track Fitting: In the Details.