Monday, July 22, 2019

Donovan Skirt // Helen's Closet // View A

Every year I bemoan the fact that I have nothing festive to wear on Canada Day, this year included, but I'm determined to make this year the last time this happens! I've decided to make myself a nice red summer skirt that I can wear for Canada Days to come - and any other day I please too!

I thought it would probably be better to get to work on this now, vs waiting until next year when it all happens again and the skirt never gets made.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to sew next, so I took a little time to play around with the My Body Model I made last summer, and sketched some possible future outfit ideas.  This was the one I knew I wanted to get started on first. The shirt is View B of the Elliot Sweater + Tee by Helen's Closet.  I've also decided that I want to put a little more thought into my footwear when outfit planning.

Donovan Skirt by Helen's Closet, View A

Viscose Linen Noil - 70% Viscose, 30% Linen, Red, 1.9 meters (should have had 2.2 meters according to the pattern, so this was tight!!


  • Added 4 inches to the length of the View B skirt I made a couple of weeks ago, which makes it 23.25 inches from waist to bottom of the hem
  • Raised the notch for the slit up by 3.5 inches

This fabric is a little tricky to work with. It seems to want to stretch if you look at it.  The softness and drape more than make up for having to take extra care when working with it though!  I quite like this skirt, and this view will likely be my go-to skirt pattern for drapey fabrics.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ashton Top // Helen's Closet // View B

After cutting the Maya Dress I suspected I might have just enough fabric left to cut an Ashton Top from my leftovers, and I did!  Well, barely, and sort of. I had to cut the armhole/neckline facing pieces on the wrong grain, but this fabric has almost identical stretch (none) width wise and length wise. So I figured I'd risk it.

I tried to get this Ashton sewn up in time to enter it into the Sewcialists Mini Challenge last weekend, but I decided to go to bed for the night on Sunday with the waist facing still to go.

Ashton Top, Helen's Closet, View B (cropped)

16, D-Cup

Blackbird Fabrics, Summer 2019
Washed Linen, Baby Blue
100% linen, 154cm/54 inches, 2.5 meters
Hand wash cold, hang to dry, iron low (reality: machine wash gentle, warm, machine dry low)

I lengthened the cropped version 1 inch to give me just a little tiny bit more coverage (enough to wear with high rise bottoms, but not enough for mid-rise (like the shorts shown)

I sewed the side seams at 3/8" again (after sewing it at 5/8" and deeming it too tight).

I will alter my pattern piece to add in that 1 inch in length more permanently and grade out at the waist by 1/4 inch.

Ashton Top by Helen's Closet shown with Lander Shorts, Zipper Expansion Pack by True Bias

A linen top always feels so luxurious to me, and this one is no different. I really love the colour, dimensions, and drape of this Ashton. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it. I will be making more in the future. I think adding an additional 2 inches would give me a good  length to wear with more mid-rise pants/shorts/skirts, but crops definitely feel more stylish and fun.

More than anything this is a note to my future self...I've added 1/2" to the front and back side seam pieces, as well as the front and back bottom facing. I also added an extra 3/8" seam allowance to the back facing piece, because I cut it as two separate pieces instead of on the fold, so it needed a seam allowance.  The grade out starts right at the bottom of the bust dart.  I also lengthened the pattern piece by 1" since I wouldn't make it shorter than that again. The blue linen top above has that 1" added.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Lander Shorts // View A // Mid-Rise

After making the high-rise Lander Shorts in my last post, I decided to start working on a more mid-rise pair.

I lowered the rise by 3.5 inches from the pattern as written (size 18 as the base, but holding the pattern piece up now, it looks more like the size 14 pattern piece width-wise). I made the height alteration using my previously altered pattern pieces.

I sewed up a quick muslin of the shortened front and back pieces, and quickly realized that I needed to add more height in the back of the shorts. They felt like there wasn't enough fabric and that they were going to fall off of me. There was no way I was going to be able to sit in them.

I slashed my muslin, and added in an extra 1.25 inches at the center back, which made a big difference. I ultimately slashed and spread my pattern piece 1.5 inches for the full butt adjustment to give just a little more room and comfort while moving around.

After the slash and spread I also felt like I needed to scoop the back crotch just a little more, so I scooped less than 1/4 inch starting at the spot 3 inches below the lower slash line.

I thought I would have to increase the dart width at the top of the shorts, but I'm so rectangular through my hips right now, I didn't end up needing to.

I've been using a drop cloth from Home Depot as my muslin fabric as a stand-in for the non-stretch denim I will use on the actual shorts, and I've found it so freeing to use the drop cloth - no pretenses of a 'wearable muslin' - I can't wait to get that itchy fabric off! I also don't feel bad cutting it apart and marking right on it.

Here's my little running tally of changes I've made from the original pattern so far -
  • shortened rise height (minus 3.5")
  • full tummy adjustment
  • full butt adjustment (1.5")
  • scoop front crotch (approx 1/4")
  • scoop back crotch (nearly 1/2"!)
  • lengthen back crotch length (3/8")
  • lengthen front crotch length (3/8")
  • reduced the pocket size by 1" of the width and 1" off the length

What I read into these needed changes is that my front to back width is larger than my circumference measurement would assume.  My front to back is wider than my side to side would indicate with this pattern.  That makes sense to me, because choosing the pattern size I did originally gave me shorts this were both too big side to side and too small front to back.

In hindsight, I should have chosen a smaller starting size, and made changes from there. I would have needed to make the same changes (although different amounts), but the side to side would have fit me better from the get-go and would have necessitated less fiddling.

I was able to measure the length of the area where the zipper is inserted, and found that I needed a 5 inch zipper. It was nice to be able to buy one and not have to worry about cutting it.  If I can stand an extra 1/4 length in height at the front of the pants, I'll add this amount to make the zipper fit perfectly.

I cut the waistband after I had completed the rest of the shorts, and made it about 6 inches longer than I needed. It's super easy to just cut off the excess at the end, so this is what I did.

My buttonhole gave me all sorts of grief on this pair of shorts. It took me 3 tries and it still isn't perfect! Of course, I did a test buttonhole on two layers of this exact fabric and it was perfect, tried to do it on the shorts, and it was giving me a long zigzag. Did another test, perfect, tried to do it on the shorts, and it sewed through half the buttonhole and then wouldn't advance the fabric any further, creating a big ball of fabric to have to remove. Did another test, perfect, tried again to do it on the shorts, and it got held up in the same spot for some reason (although more briefly before I noticed and yanked it through), so it is good enough.  I ended up running two tight little rows of zigzag stitches on the side closest to the center front to reinforce. I need to remember to make a longer buttonhole next time because it's really hard to get that button done up and undone.

I love these shorts. I feel like a million bucks in them. The only change I would make to them would be to add in a small amount to the back crotch depth (maybe 3/8"). Otherwise they are my perfect shorts! I'm planning to lie the pattern pieces over the full length pants pieces of the Lander Pants and make some full length pants using the changes I've made to the shape of these shorts. I would love to make some wide leg cropped Landers too...future projects for sure.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ashton Top // Helen's Closet // View B

Ashton Top by Helen's Closet. View B (cropped), with facings.

Size 16, D-Cup. My upper bust and bust fit into this side perfectly. My waist and hips did not. I didn't grade out, but I probably should have.

Lightweight 55% hemp, 45% organic cotton denim from Blackbird Fabrics in the summer of 2018. I cut this out of my leftovers from the Donovan Skirt (2 meters total got me both garments!).

3/8" seam allowance on side seams instead of 5/8".  I basted these seams at 5/8" and it was a little snug at the waist. I didn't grade the seam out because I didn't want to worry about getting it the same at each side. I think I should have more seriously considered grading out to the next size up at the hips/waist when I cut the fabric. The only reason I didn't was because it was recommended not to in the pattern.

In future versions, I'll probably just stick with the smaller seam allowance at the side seams instead of adding more width to the pattern pieces.

While the top is totally wearable with high waisted garments like the Lander Shorts/Pants and the Donovan Skirt, I would like to be able to wear future Ashton Tops with slightly more mid-rise garments, so I will very likely add 1 inch to the length of the top in future versions. It will still be cropped, but provide just a little more coverage.

I am really happy with the fit of this top. The shoulders fit great, the bust fits great, the darts are in the right spot. It is exactly what I wanted in a sleeveless summer top.

I had been fighting with the Springfield top by Cashmerette for the past couple of summers, and could never get the fit just how I wanted it. It always seemed wide in the shoulders, even when the fit was good. I think it was just never the shape I had envisioned, which makes me extra happy to have found the Ashton.

I also really love this fabric and could see myself with an entire wardrobe made out of it.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Maya Dress // Marilla Walker // View C

I'm taking part in my first Sewcialists 5 day mini challenge! I spun the wheel and landed on 'blue'. I immediately knew what I wanted to sew up! I'm making the Maya Dress in some ethereal washed linen in baby blue from my most recent Blackbird Fabrics order.

The Maya Dress in this colour is the summer dress of my dreams. I can see myself walking on the beach in it.  The only issue, is that I don't want to make the version with buttons, which makes it totally breastfeeding unfriendly.  With that, I'm not sure I'll get much wear out of it this year, but I'm sure I will in future years.

Maya Top and Dress by Marilla Walker, View C

I cut a straight size 9

Blackbird Fabrics, Summer 2019
Washed Linen, Baby Blue
100% linen, 154cm/54 inches, 2.5 meters
Hand wash cold, hang to dry, iron low (reality: machine wash gentle, warm, machine dry low)

Length reduced by 3 inches
1 breast pocket instead of 2 hip pockets
Curved hem option
Stay stitched front and back neckline + neckline facing

I love this fabric so much! It's soft, floaty, perfect for summer. The dress came out fine. Some of the instructions were ambiguous and vague and had some weird things, like instructing you to sew a 2/8" seam...that should be 1/4".  The instructions also could have benefited from a few more clear pictures/illustrations.  It was a bumpier ride than it needed to be.  I'm also over pressing under curves for a while. There was a lot of that!

I think the dress would have had a more finished look had I hemmed at the end doing the straight hem, instead of the curved option.

Will I make it again? Nope.  Probably not.  Or maybe, haha. Who knows!?  This pattern has been around since 2015 and I am apparently the first person who didn't dig it according to everything I could find about it online. That leads me to believe it's more of a 'me' issue than pattern issue.  I'm grouchy and sleep deprived with a colicky baby and I know those things definitely factor in here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Donovan Skirt // Helen's Closet // View B

Donovan Skirt by Helen's Closet.

20. My proper hip put me in the 16, and my waist put me right in between the size 20 and 22. I thought about grading, but just up from my proper hip is my widest measurement, which put me in the 20 if I use that as the hip measurement.  It's pretty close to my hip anyway.

I figured there was enough ease at the waist, I could get away with cutting a straight 20, and cinch it up as I continue to (hopefully) drop a bit more pregnancy weight. I'm currently 7 weeks postpartum, so I'm guessing in the next year or two I might need to take advantage of the waist ties for cinching. If not, nbd.

Lightweight Linen (55%) and Organic Cotton (45%) Denim from Blackbird Fabrics, purchased in the summer of 2018. 2 meters.

The length of the skirt is 22 inches, but just above the knee for me is 19 inches, so I shortened the length (as instructed in the pattern) by 3 inches.

I split the waistband to add side seams.

I usually have my patterns printed in large format, but I had just done a big large format run with my local print shop a few days before I bought this pattern, so I have opted to print this one at home and tape the pieces together. I will likely get it printed in large format with my next run, as I find it much easier to store the large sheets vs taped together pieces.  I love that you can use the layers feature in Acrobat to only print the size(s) you need!

I finished off the skirt with a "Handmade" label from Kylie and the Machine. I ordered these in April and was really excited to be able to try them out on my summer makes.

The Donovan Skirt came together really quickly and effortlessly. It fits me well, is comfortable, and I know I will wear it a lot. The fabric choice was spot on for an airy, but not too airy summer skirt. I think the weight of this would also make it suitable for spring, but it's going to be my go-to in summer. I have plans to make a couple more, especially since I can get a skirt and an Ashton Top (also Helen't Closet) out of 2 meters of fabric. It just makes sense to make a matching skirt with every Ashton Top. 

I have some black Viscose & Linen Slub (65% viscose, 35% linen) that I'm planning to use for my next Donovan/Ashton combo, and I will also be able to mix and match those with these denim makes.

I'd also like to make the longer view at some point, but I'm not sure how much I'd wear it, so I'm not in a huge rush to try it. I wouldn't make any changes to future Donovan Skirts. It fits great and I don't think I could improve the fit at all.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Lander Shorts // View A // High Rise

It's been a while since my last post (and my last sewing project!!) I still have a couple of things to post about from last fall, but I haven't sewn anything since October 2018! I found out I was pregnant last August and almost instantly lost my sewjo.  Fast forward to last month...May 2, 2019, babe arrived and my sewjo is back with a vengeance!

First up in my sewing plans are the Lander Pants + Shorts pattern from True Bias. I bought this pattern last summer, had it printed in large format, and never went any further with it.  I'd really like to make myself a few pairs of shorts for this summer, while my body is still extra hard to fit into ready-to-wear postpartum.

I am still losing the baby weight, but my body had already mostly returned to it's overall shape.

Lander Pants + Shorts by True Bias, Lander Shorts + Pants Zipper Expansion

18 - my hips fit into this size (while sitting), but my waist is bigger regardless of sitting/standing (see alterations section below).  I tried Cashmerette's idea about measuring hips and waist while sitting, for times you are making fitted non-stretch woven garments, and I'm trying it here.

Conclusion after making these shorts: stick to the standing measurements, even with a non-stretch. These were really big on me, even with no further alterations to the width of the hips. I probably should have cut the 14 or 16 and done a full tummy adjustment and crotch alterations to that size. 

My non-sitting measurements put my hips between a 14 and 16 and my waist 1/2" larger than the 18.  The finished measurements are not large enough for my sitting measurements, even with zero ease.

Added 3/8" to side seam on front and back pieces at the waist and used my french curve to blend back to the original pattern width at the notch on the hip.  The side seams have an extra 1/2" seam allowance (1" total), so I'm using that extra 1/2" to increase the with along with the added 3/8". I am very "rectangular" shape-wise.

Conclusion after making these shorts: this added width was unnecessary (even though my waist width is wider by several inches while sitting).  I ended up chopping off a full inch from each side of the pants (4 inches total) once they were sewn up.  I have a 39-39.5 inch waist while standing and a 43" waist while sitting, to give you an idea of what can fit into a size 18.

Added 5/8" at lengthen/shorten line to make the height of the shorts come up to my natural waist (which is pretty high up since I'm super short-waisted).

Conclusion after making these shorts: uh...I forgot to factor in the they were an inch above my natural waist once I attached it.  Even with the pants at my natural waist, I found this to be a really uncomfortable height for me. I am super short waisted, with only about 2 inches between my under bust and natural waist, which means these come up REALLY high on me.  I found the thickness/stiffness of the fabric to be unsuited to a rise this high on my body.  It is A LOT of fabric.  I thought it would be fine, because I like leggings to hit me at my natural waist, but the fabric makes a huge difference!

Added 1/4 inch full tummy adjustment.  My front rise needed 7/8" of length added and my back rise needed 5/8" added, so I added 5/8" to both front and back pieces at the lengthen/shorten line, and took care of the remaining required length needed at the front with a full tummy adjustment.

Conclusion after making these shorts: as mentioned, I didn't need such a huge lengthening of the rise. As well, the additional full tummy adjustment resulted in the front of the pants sitting quite a bit higher than the back.

I scooped the front and back fly both a little more than 1/4", which worked out well. I also added 3/8" to the back crotch depth.

Conclusion after making these shorts: all good adjustments! The crotch and butt fit well. Those are the biggest challenges for me, so I am very happy with how they turned out.

Instead of turning and hemming the shorts, I ran a line of stitches around the leg, 3/8 inches from the bottom and threw them in the washer for a raw edge look (just had to do a bit of trimming of long threads once they were dry). The line of stitches makes it so they don't unravel too far (I took this idea from a pair of GAP shorts I have).

Pattern Alterations After Version 1

  • I removed 1 inch from the side of the front and back pattern pieces, so I can just sew a 1/2 inch seam allowance next time.
  • I removed the 5/8 inch rise increase from the lengthen/shorten line.
  • I slashed and 'unspread' the front waist height to bring it down in the front so it won't sit way higher than it should at the center front as a result of the full tummy adjustment. 

Final Thoughts
These shorts might sound like a big fail, but they most certainly are not!  The construction went so well! The instructions were great. I had never made pants with a fly before, and I think this was probably one of the smoothest makes I've done.  I would highly recommend this pattern as a first pants-with-fly pattern. 

The butt and crotch fit great! I don't think I could improve the fit here, which is a huuuuuuge success!

I'm hoping that with washing and wearing the fabric will soften up a bit more and become more comfortable at such a high rise.  If not, they're still a great example of a fine pair of shorts and what I can accomplish through sewing.

I do plan to make another pair of these shorts, but I will re-trace my current altered pattern pieces and lower the rise. I need to reduce the height by about 4 3/8 inches to have them sit at a mid-rise level on me.

I would be 100% happy with these shorts if I could just chop the top off...which I know I can't do, and I know that's not how to do the pattern alteration, but gives a good idea of how I feel about these shorts.

On the bright side, I think I might have just enough of this fabric left over to make a lower rise pair of shorts.

Curvy Sewing Collective Full Tummy Adjustment
Lander Pants + Shorts Sewalong
Lander Pants + Shorts instruction booklet