Cuteness overload

Hi there, how are your sewing plans?  Mine are all haywire. My to do list at the moment is

  • make more trousers, I’ve, err, cut them out. And nothing else. Oh, I managed stay stitching a week after cutting them out. But come to think of it I don’t think I’ve cut all the waistband pieces out. Sigh.
  • Make The Man another waistcoat for our wedding anniversary this weekend. Not started yet. Hmm, maybe for his birthday in March then. In my defence, he’s been around a lot convalescing.
  • Make a thing for The Girls birthday on Friday. For which the fabric I ordered hasn’t arrived yet so I’ve managed to … tape together the pdf and buy some buttons. Good job somebody else I know is making her something then (more on that later).

So, what have I been doing then? Mainly making sunhats like a mad thing. For no particularly good reason as they’re not exactly needed in Feb in the UK. But they are off my pile, so some brownie points there. Well, most of them were. Todays wasn’t. It was comissioned. Wanna see?

time tiny sunhat

teeny tiny sunhat

This is another oliver and s sunhat, in a size smaller than the smallest pattern size, acheived by printing it at the wrong scale (gasp) and then overlaying it with the pattern printed at the right scale to estimate what size it’ll be. This is meant to be 0-3 months.

obligatory inside view

obligatory inside view

My friend asked me to make a sunhat as she’s just become a grandmother for the first time and wants to take one with her when she goes over to Australia to visit her granddaughter. Except that you can’t buy them in the UK at this time of year. Her fabric guidance (over the phone, we live no where near each other) was “nothing pink and girly, something light coloured, it’s hot there”. So I dug out the leftovers from a top I made last year. It’s a kind of wrinkly cotton. Light coloured – tick, not pink and girly – tick. I’m slightly worried that the dots are too large a scale for such a small thing, but I think they’re ok.

check out the french seams

check out the french seams

I decided not to make it reversible and just do a lining for the brim. I figured that would make it cooler for the baby. But I wanted smooth seam finishes for a little head, so I french seamed the insides. Now, I don’t know if you’ve made this sunhat, but a quick internet search will confirm that attaching the crown to the sides can cause the air to turn blue, its a common phenomenon. I’ve made a lot of these hats in the past and I know the smaller the hat the harder it is. So, why I chose to french seam this on a very small hat, I don’t know. But somehow it worked. Yay me! I sewed the brim lining around to the main brim around the outside then slip stiched it in place by hand. Yes, me, handsewing. On the train (2 hour round trip to collect some lost property today, it filled the time).

kimono

kimono

I had more of the fabric left than I thought, just a narrow band of it, but enough to also squeeze out a purl bee kimono inspired by tea and rainbows.

ugh, yucky button holes

ugh, yucky button holes

This was fairly straightforward make, I’m not sure how practical it’ll be (it may well not even fit by the time it arrives), but it’s cute. The seam allowances were a bit random, an 3/4″ on the shoulder seam so you can french seam it without trimming (never come across that before) and then 1/4″ on the side seams.

see, really yucky

see, really yucky

You’re supposed to sew to poppers (snaps) on to fasten it. I decided to try button instead but didn’t stabilise the fabric at all, just tried a machine button hole on a single layer of cotton and the results were Not Pretty at All.

and gnarly, did I mention gnarly?

and gnarly, did I mention gnarly?

They took a lot of unpicking.

very cute button

very cute button

Then I changed the other side to be my top front to hide the mangled fabric where the buttonholes had been (which still looked a bit stressed after lots of steaming) and sewed a popper on with a cute button on the top. The button I bought when in Birmingham, it’s the same make to the ones on the heart cardigan and I have 6 left in my stash now.

inside the kimono

inside the kimono

I couldn’t find turquoise bias binding, I ended up using navy satin binding (I have given up making my own). I’m a bit disappointed with the colour but it’s ok. In real life it’s more noticeably darker and a different shade to the turquoise spots than the photo’s show.

grr, scruffy finish

grr, scruffy finish

Mainly I wish I’d ignored the instructions and applied the sleeve end binding after sewing the side seams, not before. It’d be fiddly, but neater. This is my least favourite bit of the garment.

hmm, they ain't never going to fit at the same time

hmm, they ain’t never going to fit at the same time

But overall, I’m pretty happy. They both look cute, but then things that scale usually do. Now to hope that my friend, her daughter and her granddaughter all like them too. Fingers crossed.

How about you, do you manage to stick to plans, or do you too get distracted?

The tale of the long awaited trousers

Hello. Would you like to hear a story? (I warn you, it’s a long story with lots of photo’s, so make sure you have the right specs on.) Well, grab yourself a drink, make yourself comfortable and I’ll begin..

Once upon a time there was a woman. Once upon a time there was a woman who couldn’t find any trousers that fit. She went in this shop and that shop, in her own town and other towns but still she struggled. Some were just too small. Some were too low cut and left her tummy flolloping over the top. Some went round her hips but had a 2 inch gap at the waist that the wind howled through. Some were too high cut in the crotch and, well, I won’t go into what that meant but it Wasn’t Good.

Finally she was left with two pairs of OK jeans in her wardrobe, a purple pair and a pink pair that fit pretty ok and she wore them A Lot, but she wasn’t sure what she would do when they wore out. Then, one day she ended up in IKEA and found some denim fabric with woven in mulitcoloured stripes that she knew would make some great trousers, so she bought some.

Behold the stripey denim in all it's glory

Behold the stripey denim in all it’s glory

Having once made trousers before, she was wary of patterns that looked like they were for proper trousers, but didn’t actually have a zip, or had facings instead of a waistband. So she spent some time looking at blog posts about trouser patterns but didn’t get any nearer to making them.

Then came New Years Eve and the children were behaving so badly that she’d had it Up To Here with them, so she stormed out of the house (leaving her ever capable husband in charge) and walked in turn to every shop in the city that could conceivably be selling trouser patterns, until she finally found one that was open and was selling a pattern she’d seen reviewed well online, so she bought it, intending to start upon it the very next day. Which of course, she didn’t.

Eventually, she did start a muslin. She measured and cut and sewed. She sewed one pocket on backwards, but decided that didn’t matter. She kept going, until it was time to insert the zip. The thought of inserting a zip in trousers that were never going to actually get worn made her tired, so she put them on one side. And there they lay. And then a forest of rose thorns grew around them until one day a hundred years later, a prince rode along and … No, hang on, that’s the wrong story. She put them on one side on a pile of UFO’s and tried to forget about them.

The summer came and she wore linen trousers and skirts. And still the trouser muslin sat on the pile. Then the autumn came and she discovered her pink and blue jeans were starting to fall apart and had mysteriously shrunk over the summer. So she made tunics to wear with leggings and found a okayish fitting pair of expensive jeans from a different shop than the fallyapart ones and wore them. And still the trouser muslin sat on the UFO pile. Then autumn turned to winter and the weather grew colder and now she was wearing the jeans nearly all the time (except when they were in the wash) and she really needed more trousers but couldn’t face shopping. And still the trousers muslin sat on the UFO pile.

Then one day she saw an advert for a trouser making course locally, so she booked on the course straight away. As the time for the course drew nearer she got excited that she was finally going to have some trousers and also she might be able to take part in February’s trouser theme month on the Curvy Sewing Collective. As her ever capable husband was less capable than usual, since he was convalescing with broken bones, she arranged a baby sitter to ensure that she could get to the course and was really looking forward to it. Then, less than a week before the course started, she contacted them to find out what she needed to bring etc, and found out It Had Been Cancelled.

What I found on the pile

What I found on the pile (in two separate places, cue mild panic for several minutes as I thought I’d lost the pattern)

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued and her legs feared greatly for how they would stay warm and decent in the long term. Then, she remembered that someone had just posted a picture of their trouser muslin on the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook and had received helpful sounding advice. She checked the post, it might even be of the same pattern. She dug out the pattern and amazingly her long lost UFO was also a Colette Juniper.

So she determined to tackle the unfinished muslin. A quick measure of her hips (Colette’s stated key measurement for trousers) put her in a size 18, the same as the muslin, so no need to start again. Next she looked in the booklet and determined that previously she’d got to the end of p 16 in the booklet. To try the muslin on with zip but no waistband she only had to get through 4 1/2 pages to half way down p 21 and she got to skip the topstitching, how hard could that be? She pored some wine and gave it a go.

Embarrassingly, tacking (basting) in the zip as took her a mere 5 minutes, not even long enough for Great British Sewing Bee to finish downloading. She couldn’t believe the muslin had sat in the pile for over a year waiting for what proved to be such a quick job The side seams whizzed together quickly, although perplexingly the back pieces were 2 inches longer than the fronts on the outside seam but yet they matched perfectly on the inside seam. However her first ever muslin was try-on-able she was ready to assess the fit.

Muslin, finally finished, made in straight size 18 as per instructions

Muslin, finally finished, made in straight size 18 as per instructions

Her first thoughts were “wow, these are wide”* “and they’re long”** (the woman is 5’8″and they were easily 4-6 inches long (depending on which seam you looked at)). Fit wise they seemed to fit ok in the hip but even with her inexperience at trouser making she could see the crotch curve needed more room and also that they were dipping low at the front (making her think she needed to look at a “who ate all the pies” adjustment).

More technical feedback came from her Fairy Godmother and fellow Stashbusting Sewalong Juniper maker about the work needed on the front crotch. “See from the front how it’s tight, pulling down and wanting to camel toe? And then from the side the leg seam is straight, but at the hip and waist it pulls forward which creates that chevron wrinkle on the back pointing to your bottom. I think if you add to the front crotch length (not add height at the belly, but make that U that goes from front to back more l__l wide that will stop it from pulling fabric from the back toward the front, and allow the front belly height that is already there to lay in the right spot and come up higher. Does that make sense? I had to do the same thing on mine and it made a big difference.”

The woman looked at techincal blog posts about trouser adjustments, got a little intimidated and decided to try and fudge it by unpicking the top u of the inside leg seam and restitching it with less seam allowance (as the pattern has 5/8″ seam allowance so there’s room to play a bit). She also took a wedge out of the centre back and added the waistband to see how that worked.

top right shows the new seamline at the top of the inside leg (with the old seamline marked).  Bottom right shows the centre back adjustment on trousers and waistband. Left the slightly improved fit

top right shows the new seamline at the top of the inside leg (with the old seamline marked in purple pen). Bottom right shows the centre back adjustment on trousers and waistband. Left the slightly improved fit

She was impressed how much difference such a small alteration made, but was steeling herself to start over again with a Second Muslin when her Fairy Godmother stepped in again with yet more useful advice, to add a wedge shaped piece to the front pieces to extend the crotch seam outwards, tapering down into the inside seam. And the best bit of all, she suggested unpicking the seams a little and zig zagging a wedge shaped extension piece on rather than making the whole things again. The woman was amazed at the simplicity idea and was starting to think this whole Muslining Thing might not be as tedious as she first feared.

2 wedges added to the fronts to extend the crotch length and resulting improved fit

2 wedges of scrap fabric added to the fronts to extend the crotch length (top right) and resulting improved fit

Adding a small wedge to each front piece made a huge difference to the fit (although, in hindsight, she could’ve chosen her scraps of fabric more carefully and not have alarmed her husband quite so much, as when he saw the altered muslin he was worried she was hemorrhaging) and she transferred this alteration and the centre back one to her pattern, shortened the leg length by 2″ and decided to start on the real thing.

the next crisis

the next crisis

However, she did not get far before meeting another problem. The Wicked Witch of Geometry cast a spell ensuring her pieces would not fit on the fabric, no matter how hard she tried. Her Fairy Godmother tried to help her by uploading sketches onto Facebook, but it was no use, the Geometry was too strong for her magic.

Until the woman remembered that shortening the pattern pieces by 2″ was a conservative estimate, so as they were easily 4-6″ too long, she shortened them by another 2 inches and by having some selvage in her seam allowance she JUST squeezed them on. Hooray.

Finally she could start sewing. But it was not long until she got herself into a right mess. She had tried to cut the upper fronts so the stripes matches but hadn’t got that quite right, or maybe it was because she decided to French seam her pocket linings, but before she knew it her pockets were a hot mess of mismatched pattern pieces and gappiness.

cheering myself up with chevron patch pockets to distract from trying to pattern match at the front and messing up sewing on the pocket linings.

cheering myself up with chevron patch pockets to distract from trying to pattern match at the front and messing up sewing on the pocket linings.

She knew she should walk away and do something else, but she wanted to sew more of her trousers, so instead she distracted herself by making funky patch pockets for the back and binding the seam allowances in a nod to the meticulous finishes her Fairy Godmother was using on her Junipers.

The next day, with a little help from her mum, she unpicked the pocket linings, cut them a little better so they were approximately the same shape as the pattern pieces (something had clearly gone awry when cutting out pattern pieces straight from an old blouse), resewed them on the right sides and just about bodged everything to fit together.

She steamed ahead and finished the zip and then probably far too late she tackled the waistband, which she probably didn’t cut the best possible way and she also shortened the wrong piece which played havoc with her overlap at the front. The belt loops that she made like the coletterie tutorial came out well, but her placement was a little strange, due in part to covering up the fact that her waistband side seam didn’t meet the trouser side seam. However, before long she had some almost finished, wearable trousers, which she proceeded to wear for 3 days straight, even though the stitching wasn’t finished on one back pocket (due to a neadle breaking at 1.40 am which she took as a Sign To Stop), the inner waistband wasn’t caught and sewn down all along it’s lenth, there was a belt loop flapping about that she’d forgotten to sew down and they were held together by a safety pin instead of a button.

However, she did manage to make herself fix these last little things after their first wash before she started wearing them again. It only remained to get some photo’s on a non-rainy day. However, as her No 1 photographer was feeling too sore to leave the house, she had to rope in some less experienced help….

Hmm, somethings not right

Hmm, somethings not right

Maybe if I push things this way a bit

Maybe if I push things this way a bit

help, the walls are closing in

help, the walls are closing in now

Oh no, now I'm the wrong way around

Oh no, now I’m the wrong way around

Ah, that's better

Nope, the perspectives all wrong

 Nope, wrong perspective


Ah, that’s better

And that everyone, is the story of how the Woman found her Fairy Godmother through the Online Sewing Community and despite her lack of experience, apprehension and difficulties with classes locally, she managed to make herself a pair of lovely trousers, and it shall not be her last.

pocket detail

pocket detail

What’s that you say, would she make this pattern again? After all that trouble getting them to fit so well, you bet she will.

peep inside

peep inside

And how about you, have you ever been helped by a Sewing Fairy Godmother?

……………………….

*the packet describes the trousers as moderately wide, I’d hate to see their idea of really wide)
**the instructions say they’re cut long to give different length finishing options, but unless you’re 6 foot plus and/or planning to wear them with some serious heels, you may well find them long.

Oh no , not again.

Guess what? I made pants. Again. Ok, so I’ve also made pants American English style this week, well nearly, but I’ve been to busy wearing them to finish them and now they need a wash, so blog post soon. In the mean time, British English pants, yet again.

Not liking the stripe

Not liking the stripe

Spot the difference? Not an opening in sight. Because this time I followed Nicole’s tutorial and made them for me.

The back looks ok though

The back looks ok though

In theory this is so much simpler. Especially if you’ve already made them 3 times. But then again, if you will persist in wasting lots of time trying on fitting them onto some scrap fabric that simply isn’t quite big enough, then cutting the front piece too short so that you have to make that in a contrast too, then sewing the back piece on upside down, then unpicking one of the front seams by mistake instead of a back seam, then you too will not have an easy ride. As a bonus I discovered the back just fit on the last bit of the t shirt I bought for especially to make t shirt sleeves – there was just a sleeve left and when I cut it along the seamline the back fit perfectly.

I reckon if I hadn’t messed up so much they would’ve taken half an hour to construct.

Oh so technical pattern alteration

Oh so technical pattern alteration

At Nicoles suggestion, I cut an ammended piece 3 on the fold (losing one part of it so it’s pretty much rectangular, she has really clear photo’s and description if you’re interested). I only cut one though as I couldn’t see the point in 2 of them – normal womens pants don’t have double layer front, I’m pretty sure it’s just for modesty in the mens version. I also amended the back piece so it was 2 inches taller at the centre point tapering to 1/2 inch at the edge. I also extended the edge of the side piece 1/2 inch to match, tapering to nothing. Oh the joy of being sort of the same size as your other half and being able to use the things you make him as a muslin before you give them to him (shh, don’t tell).

Apart from the mistakes the construction was simple. The slippery viscose and the old t shirt played very well together despite my fears that they would fight. Gold stars all round.

Nicole said she finds the front roomy, but I was ok with it. But I think if I did make them again I’d extend the legs of the shorts a bit at the back (assuming I can figure out how) as they don’t quite cover everything in the way I’d like. However, they were comfy to wear (I forgot I was wearing them, always a good sign with underwear I think).

I’m not sure I will make them again though. They’re comfy to wear but not any better than my other homemade ones and more pfaff to make. I also suspect they take more fabric. However, they use a different type of elastic so they give me more options.

OK, that should be the last post about underwear in quite some time. Trousers next. Assuming they don’t fall apart in the wash, I actually get around to finishing them and manage to get some half decent photo’s. Fingers crossed cos I’m really pleased with them.

How my children stole my cupboard (and inveigled me into making soft furnishings for it)

Once upon a time, long before we lived here, this house lost a small bedroom and gained some stairs up to the attic extension. As a result of this, when we moved in we found a strange shaped cupboard, part flat floor, part sloped floor, under the upper stairs in our house. It had neatly arranged in it the paint left over from painting various rooms in the house, all carefully labelled (bathroom ceiling, walls in small bedroom, etc). We left the paint there and also put the sleeping bags and bed rolls in there, lying against the slope floor/wall. And so it remained.

the cupboard

the cupboard

Until one day, when I was showing a visiting friend around the house (supervised of course by both children) and she commented that she bet the children loved hiding in there. It had never occurred to them. Until she said that. And then they began to hide in there sporadically, especially if friends were visiting. And we said “mind the paint” and let them (because, you know, choose your battles, don’t spread yourself too thin amongst many fronts, that sort of thing).

Recently, den building/making has reached fevered heights in this house and we’ve been saying “are you minding that paint” more and more. Until the Man had the genius suggestion of moving it to a different cupboard, to reduce both the risk and the strain on our vocal cords. We shared this gem with the kids last night and as a result, this morning I took them shopping for lights to go in the den (bought with their own pocket money, they opted for head torches, shame they don’t work, so we will be studying consumer rights in action this half term holiday!). Then I used den refreshing as an excuse to get the Girl to help me tidy up all her junk that was strewn across the landing (which is just a narrow strip but the density of junk was high) and hoover up the cotton wool that was felted into the carpet (the amount in the carpet was mind boggling, especially since the 3 cotton wool balls I’d given her (for a specific and as yet unstarted craft project) were still the same size that they were to start with).

inside

inside

Finally, we had the floor outside it clear and so could empty out the cupboard and measured the floor. Then I gleefully set to work making a beanbag floor cushion from some really horrid synthetic, textured, orange and blue stripey fabric – part of a bundle of stuff that a neighbour gave me after rescuing it when her friend was about to throw it out. Why gleeful? Well one of the stashbusting sewalong groups challenges this month is to use your ugliest piece of stash and this is mine, huzzah! It won’t win any prizes, but it is gone!

helping

helping

The bean bag was stuffed with the beans from the remains of an ancient beanbag (origins unknown) and some of a blue beanbag (stained, unwanted, denoted to me as a Known Horder of Useful Things) that were both languishing on top of the kids bedroom cupboards. This in itself was a blessing as the kids got them down the other week and I’ve not been able to fit them back properly since and they keep trying to fall down again or trap the doors open. Anyway, despite being helped, the new bean bag was finished and it fit and they don’t seem to have noticed how vile the fabric is. I left them to rearrange the sleeping bags and bedrolls whilst I decided to make a clean sweep of beanbagball chaos and top up the cube beanbag that was also on top of their wardrobe and fix the hole in the lining of it’s (not quite identical) twin.

apparently they were clearing up at this point

apparently they were clearing up at this point

I managed this, with less mess and more noise as this time instead of helping they shouted and argued upstairs about the best arrangement of stuff in the den. When I finally got involved in negotiations I had a genius idea of my own. The cube bean bags can go in the living room (not sure why they weren’t there already, something to do with hubby I think) and make space for the sleeping bags to take their place on top of the kids wardrobes. Then I made a second bean bag cushion (more ugly stashbusting hurrah) for the slopey bit.

all done

all done

Peace has now resumed. Sort of. (They were fighting over the cube bean bags before I’d finished mending the second one). The cupboard is now officially A Den. Most of the beads are hoovered up (I’m realistic, I know I’ll still be finding them for weeks to come). I’ve used metre and a half of a full width of horrid fabric (Still just over a metre left, I’m putting it on one side for bag linings) and I don’t have to look at it as it’s shut in a cupboard, sorry den, hurrah! Hubby seems ok with this but is now muttering about having to up the priority of getting rid of the decrepid futon sofabed in the living room (which I’m fine with in principal, but is a little tricky to shift by myself and hubby is still broken).

close up of fabric, which is surprisingly photogenic, and the mitred corners to help give it depth.

close up of fabric, which is surprisingly photogenic, and the mitred corners to help give it depth.

So, I’m awarding myself double points for Making Do and Mending as well as Ugly Stash Busting with an added bonus as this was simple enough to do whilst alone in the house with the kids, thereby sneaking some daytime sewing in on a Saturday when I’d promised no post kids bedtime sewing (token romantic gesture due to valentines day, about all I can manage after nearly 15 years marriage). The only downer is that I appear not to have bought in a bottle of wine and chocolate pudding. But then, The Man is (in what is probably a romantic gesture of his own, or possibly a guilty one for being at band pratice all afternoon) actually putting the kids to bed by himself for the first time since he broke his rib, enabling me to write this post.

“Don’t cha luv it when a plan comes together?”

Stars Upon Thars

https://wonderyou.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/sneetches.jpg?w=585

So, I’ve been making more underwear. I’m aware I’m in danger of appearing like some kind of hardcore off grid sewing freak, but hey. I have no intentions of making all our underwear, I just don’t like to waste pieces of fabric bigger than my hand I guess, and when the fabric in question is knitted, there’s not a lot of uses I can put it to. So, I shall continue to make underwear unabashed while it interests me (I happen to know a boy who’s keen to have homemade pants too, he doesn’t like to miss out on ANYTHING) but I will doubtless pay the ubiquitous M&S underwear department a visit in the future too. Also, I like to make useful things, so I’d rather make underwear than a fancy dress I’d never wear.

“plus they’re really comfy”

interjects the Man. (He says the nicest things).

In case you can't tell, this is the front...

In case you can’t tell, this is the front…

This time, it’s more comox trunks with the scraps of some cool fabric I bought half a metre of for no good reason (darn you internet) and used in part to make The Boy a T shirt, plus the rest of a t shirt I bought from a charity shop (to make into contrast sleeves for my favourite t shirt).

...and here is the back

…and here is the back

But other than fabric choice, the difference to how I made these trunks before is twofold. First I used some “proper” elastic that I spied on the My Fabric website. Last time I used the waistband of an old pair of pants but I wont always be bothered that isn’t always going to be an option. The first time I used some ordinary elastic and it doesn’t quite look right and I suspect isn’t as comfy to wear. This stuff is great, really soft and strong, but I could only find it with stars on (or with zebra stripes or floral), so it won’t go with everything (I thought it would look incongruous with viking graffiti for instance). So yes, a large part of my reason for making this pair was to justify buying try out this elastic. I have since found some plain navy stuff locally and snapped a couple of metres up (the shopkeeper told me he can’t always get hold of it).

And the second reason this pair are potentially interesting? Well, I had some feedback on the vikings, and The Man prefers my bodged I-Can’t-Follow-Instructions-or-Get-My-Head-Around-How-Men’s-Underwear-Works first pair – which have the internal access point underneath (if that makes any sense, I’m thinking there is probably specialist vocabulary for this) to the second As-Thread-Theory-Intended pair with internal opening on a level with the external opening but on the opposite side. (I believe he may have muttered something about Canadian Men being S shaped). So, for this third pair, I went for Planned-Modification-to-Openings-To-Mimic-Shop-Bought-in-UK-Pants.

In case anyone is interested in recreating/improving on/marveling at my method, it happened thus:

outer and inner front cup pieces (left and right respectively)

outer and inner front cup pieces (left and right respectively)

For the outer front cup, after first double checking with the wearer the preferred side to have the opening, I cut one piece 1A and one piece 2A in my star fabric and proceeded as directed to assemble then. For the inner front cup, I cut one piece 2A and one 2B in the navy (there wasn’t enough stars left) and joined them at the centre seam. Then I folded over the bottom edge by a cm, folded it over again and stitched it into place. Thereby making it an entirely unscientific about right looking amount shorter.

front cup basted together ready for pant assembly

front cup basted together ready for pant assembly

Then I basted the two pieces together as per the instructions, except obviously I only had one bound opening to beware of at the top and I didn’t need to baste the bottoms edges together. Then I assembled as normal. The result got a thumbs up from hubby.

Oh, I just remembered, I tried zig zagging up the hems on a wider stitch length this time and they came out just fine, no frilling, so that must’ve been the problem last time. Also, I wanted all of the elastic on the front, so I carefully attached the trunks on the inside to the bottom of the elastic with a zig zag, so I wouldn’t have to flip it. (If that last sentence makes any sense to you then your comprehension is surely better than my explanation.) The navy band at the edge of the elastic hides the stitches nicely. Good star elastic.

I have at least one more pair planned, but they will be a little different….

Upcycled Smalls….

Seeing as I have shown you upcycled underwear I made for my long suffering other half I thought it was about time I finally got around to posting about the pants I made for myself from old t shirts, to prove that I do unto myself as I do to others! I found an almost complete blog draft from May 2014 – it just needed photo’s uploading. I think I hadn’t finished it as I felt I hadn’t quite mastered the t shirts to underwear trick yet and wanted to perfect that first. But more on that later, for now I’ll hand you over to former me …..

frog knickers!

frog knickers! These make me smile so

I blame Philippa from Gloria and Me, she put the idea in my head before Christmas, so when I realised that I had a knicker shortage, instead of nipping to Marks and Spencers I followed her example and made some.

I looked at So Zo’s tutorial and at Cal Patch’s tutorial, scratched my head a bit, raided my overstuffed t shirt drawer for some t shirts that had got to that short and wide stage, and got going.

I decided to draft my own pattern, as I don’t like hipsters. I tried So Zo’s method, then switched to Cal’s as I found it easier, but I did draft it onto paper, rather than cutting the fabric straight away. This helped me make improvements for the second pair.

slightly modified draft

Second pair (with slightly modified draft) cut and ready to assemble. The front is on the left and the back on the right.

My first issue was working out what shape the back and front are supposed to be. It may seem obvious, but as the underwear I own has seams at the front and back of the gusset it took me a while to figure out that they actually join at the back seam, so the front has a long dangly bit that the back doesn’t. (The seam at the front of the gusset is created when the gusset is attached to the front)

Then I added seam allowance where the side seams would be and where the back and front are joined together and at the front and back of the gusset, but I didn’t add seam allowance at the top or around the leg wholes as the elastic is sewn straight to the edge.

part way through

About to sew the gusset, back and front pieces together (the front is hidden underneath). Please excuse former me’s appalling photo skills.

My next issue was how to join my three pieces. For some reason I couldn’t get my head around the instructions. In the end I worked out to put the front and back pieces right side together as if just sewing the joining seam with the two of them. The front one needs to be underneath, right (out) side up and the back piece on top wrong (inside) side up. Then lay the gusset piece on top, matching the back of the gusset and put it wrong side up.

misaligned gusset

misaligned gusset (sewn down)

After seaming I added a step to grade my seam allowances, I trimmed the front piece seam allowance a lot, left the gusset seam allowance and trimmed the back piece seam allowance to half way inbetween before opening the front and back pieces out flat and flipping over my gusset. Then I topstitched that seam, before folding over the front end of my gusset and sewing it down.

Now, you may have noticed that my gusset doesn’t line up to my front piece. This was not deliberate. I trimmed them to fit each other after this. I took more care with the second pair and it happened again. On pair number 3 I cut my gusset rectangular (right length, but extra width at the side, if that makes sense) and then cut it to match the front piece after sewing. This may not be the best technique but it worked best for me!

attempt number one with Fold Over Elastic

attempt number one with Fold Over Elastic

I hadn’t used fold over or knicker elastic before and found both easy to work with. The fold over (on the red pair) was marginally easier to use but the knicker elastic (on the purple frog pair) looked “more normal”. I didn’t pin my elastic and I stretched it slightly as I was sewing. I like the look of the triple zig zag (a stitch designed for sewing stretchy things like elastic) in a contrasting colour against the elastic. I found I got a better finish if I sewed the side seams before adding the elastic to the leg holes.

Back view

Back view – with an upside down logo that was on the bottom of the t shirt in case you’re wondering (Morris dancing related, so now I have morris knickers)

So, was it worth it? Economically, no probably not. I used a whole 2m pack of elastic each time (for approx size 16 knickers, so I guess someone else might need less, but as I could only find it in 2m packs that wouldn’t help much), so one pair cost me £1.60 and the other £1 (as that pack of elastic had been in a bargain bin, a trick I’m unlikely to manage to repeat) which is not really a saving (and I haven’t factored in thread and electricity). It did cross my mind that I could unpick knicker elastic from knickers that were about to be binned and reuse it, but I’m not sure that I have the patience to do that. I also tried looking online but I’m not sure that buying a bundle of different elastics that I might not use all of and paying for postage is a saving. I really want to be able to buy the elastic on the roll, but that’s not possible where I live.

Stylistically they’re not going to win any prizes. When not on, they look like an old t shirt that’s been cut into a knicker shape – they don’t sort of scrunch up the way shop bought knickers do as they’re made from thicker fabric. They do look better on, but I’m not posting a belfie to prove it.

Comfort wise they’re just fine. My second pair is better, partly as I altered my pattern slightly and partly as the first pair were cut in a rush and ended up slightly unsymmetrical. But I have worn both all day and forgotten I was wearing them.

But the sheer satisfaction of knowing that I can and have made usuable underwear is great. And it’s good too to recycle a much loved t shirt that I haven’t been wearing and get more use out of it.

…………………………………………….

Spot the bike?

Spot the bike?

So, that was the original post. Afterwards I wanted to experiment with “non knicker” elastic. I made a third pair, from a much loved t shirt (that was also thinner fabric, more like that used in shop bought t shirts). I bought some frill edged elastic from a roll, but it didn’t save me any money. And I pulled it too tight as I sewed so they cut into my legs and I’ve never worn them. Boo hiss. They were the best looking pair. But I can’t face unpicking triple stitch at the edge of t shirt fabric.

I have an idea to modify the pattern put a seam allowance around the waist and leg holes and then use normal 5mm elastic, with the fabric folded over it to encase it. The aim is use of cheaper elastic but then it’s hidden. However, this has been my plan since last May so don’t hold your breath!

Any top tips on where to source cheaper knicker or fold over elastic? Or how to use normal elastic?

Guest Blog Post by the Girl (because, anything he can do….)

I made a blanket.

finished

finished

    How to make it:

First I chose some fabric. Then I cut out two rectangles. After that Mummy drew some lines on it – first it went down from the edge and then around. Then I put pins in it. Then I sewed across the lines. Next I ironed it. Then I turned it inside out. Then I pushed a chopstick into the corners. I ironed it again. Finally I sewed up the hole.

concentrating

concentrating