Black and Fourth

For my next pair of  jeans I didn’t want any denim that fell apart too quickly or was annoying to work with, so I took some advice from someone else in the Thanksgiving Jeans sew a long that you could get away with a little less than 20% stretch on the Liana and got a load of fabric samples sent to me from a very helpful woman at Ditto Fabric after reading Melissa sing praise to their denim on their Fehrtrade blog and eventually I ended up buying 2 stretch denims and a non stretch one, including some black stretch denim which I thought I’d whip myself up another pair of quick Liana’s in, but this time using the straight leg variation.



Quick, ha, I forgot I’d have to tape the straight leg variation together, trace new fronts and backs and it turned out a couple of missing pieces too. Oh well, at least this denim was a lot nicer to work with than the metallic stuff and whilst only time will tell how it wears, it certainly feels a lot better quality than the stuff I bought locally.

So, interesting things about these jeans. Number one, cool fabric gifted to me by visiting sewing friend that I aused for the pocket linings, inside waistband and fly shield and also used as inspiration for my back pocket design. I loved how this bluey grey colour went with my denim and this is a real secret personal touch (as it won’t be seen when worn) that makes making my own so special. Amusing story about this gift?  She brought more of the fabric with her, but decided at the last minute that she couldn’t bear to part with it all and took the larger bit back home with her. Gotta love a fabricaholic. And it was all for the best as I had just the amount I needed.


spot the topstitching

Fact Number 2, using upholstery thread instead of topstitching thread for the first time, another tip gleaned from reading the Fehrtrade blog. This made a big difference in how easy it was to thread my needle and worked well, apart from the epic fail of failing to notice that the charcoal grey thread I bought so exactly matched my not quite black (sold as grey) denim ,that my carefully chosen pocket design to pick out one of the seed heads (or whatever they are)  from the lining fabric doesn’t show up at all. Boo. Oh well, I know it’s there. Serves me right for not doing a test sample before sewing (in case you’re wondering why I didn’t spot this sooner, I made the pockets first, tracing the design onto paper and sewing through that and the denim before tearing the paper away).


No 3 – don’t skim read that bit about clipping the centre front seam to a point below the circle on the pattern, or you will end up with a zip fly with a hole at the bottom that you have to end up zig zagging shut.


No 4 – do not attempt flat felled seams with a half inch seam, not even if you find a tutorial saying it’s possible, not even if you try it on scrap fabric and it seems to work, or you will end up with unravelling inside leg seams that you need to mend with good old zig zags before you have even finished your jeans. (No, there is no pic of this, but trust me it’s ugly. Instead you have a pic of my waisband, after I had to rip it out and redo it as one side was significantly taller than the other. Now it is only slightly wonky. Note also, the prym popper thingy that I used so I didn’t have to mess with button holes.)


However, that all said, they are jeans, they are finished, they didn’t sit in the naughty corner for months, the fit is good (although if making the straight version again I might slim down the lower leg a little, they’re wide enough to flap as I walk which I wasn’t expecting), they don’t look “home made” (not unless you examine my inner leg seam anyway) and they go with so many things.


The moral of this story, if you’d like to make jeans, but it seems daunting, then know that it gets easier the more pairs you make and the hard work up front pays off as you start to be able to knock them out relatively painlessly.



Impulse Trousers (aka Unexpected Liana’s)


Ages ago I bought 2m of this lovely “gordian knot of tangled yarn in black on a grey melange background” jersey for myself with no particular plan in mind. It would make a great lady skater or a monata, but I’m not really a dress person.  I contemplated a maxi skirt or a full (circle?) skirt, but I’m not really a skirt person either. I kept thinking about making it into trousers, but I couldn’t find the right knit pattern. They were all to tight and jegging-y, or too loose and haremey, or too wide and palazo-ey, or too frumpy, or just plain wierd.


And then I read about some most excellent looking Ponte Pants (not to be confused with Pont Y Pants, North Wales, nor indeed with Pontipines), or more preciesly, Pleather and Ponte pants. I remember that they looked fab and someone called Andrea had made them  with the Ginger jeans pattern (for stretch demin) that she already had in a beefy ponte and some plether but I cannot find the post now at all, so frustrating, I thought I had the link saved, sorry. Anyway they gave me enough confidence to  bite the bullet and try using my Liana stretch jeans pattern with my precious fabric. After all, I reasoned, I could always cut them down into leggings if it didn’t work, or wear them as pyjama bottoms. (A sensible person would make a toile before cutting into their precious fabric obviously, but you need a fabric with a similar hand, especially for a knit as they can handle so differently. However, my local fabric shops don’t have knit anywhere near as nice as this, so I’d have to buy more expensive knit fabric online to practise with, which seems a bit pointless).


Using the Liana pattern was a bit of a (semi) educated guess, as it calls for 25% stretch denim, so I thought I might get away with jersey without sizing down.  This is what I did, in case you’re interested.  I hesitate to call it a “tutorial” as that might imply I knew what I was doing (I didn’t, I was winging it).


In order to convert my pattern to jersey I taped the pocket facing piece behind the pocket cut out to create a pocketless pattern piece and I also folded over the fly, then I cut them out. I considered converting the back to one piece, rather than a yoke and a back piece, but I wasn’t sure how didn’t think it would be worth the effort, so I cut them out as they were.

I still wanted pockets in my trousers, because pockets, I just hadn’t thought that “proper” jeans style pockets would work in the jersey. So I took inspiration from the opening of the Domi short pattern, but tried to make them a bit more practical (as the round pocket option on the Domi’s is very shallow, as described in the pattern notes). To do this, I first traced the edge of my pattern piece and drew in the seam lines. Then I worked out where I wanted my pocket opening to start and drew round a handily sized lid to make a semi circle. I also marked another semicircle, half an inch wider, to show where the ribbing would end. I decided to have my pocket extend to the waistband and side seam, for added support and stability, and drew in the pocket line by eye. Then I cut this out and used it as a pattern piece to cut out two pockets. Next I marked a third (pink) semicircle on my pattern piece, 1cm smaller than the outer one, so that I knew where the seam line would be (yes, I want 1/2″ ribbing and I’m using 1cm seam allowance, that’s how messed up versatile I am). I cut along this pink line and then used the pattern piece as a guide for cutting out the indents on my fronts (lining the piece up with the top and sides, natch).

The “ribbing” was some black jersey. I cut a width approx 75% the circumferential of my semi circle, and the height was twice the finished ribbing width plus the seam allowance (so 1″ plus 2cm then!). This was pressed in half, then I matched the midpoint of the long raw edges to the centre of the semicircle (right side), matched the end points to the edges of the semi circle, stretched it o fit, pinned, sewed, pressed, turned it, pressed again, “coverstitched” my seam allowance down (because I thought that on the pocket the raw edges might show and also I was worried that the ribbing might fray). Next I lined up my pocket piece with my front and basted along the top and side in the seam allowance. Finally I “coverstitched” (a zig zag would do as well) the curve edge in place, from the back, so I could see what I was doing. And voila, a pocket. (And a pretty fine looking one if I do say so myself).


After that it was pretty plain sailing, sew the pieces together, starting with attaching the yokes. (I did the centre front and back seams next and then the inside leg, so I could “coverstitch” them all for extra durability and left the side seams for last, but any order you like works, even the one that always seems needlessley complicated to me where you do the centre seams last and have to put one leg inside the other).


I added a yoga style waistband as described in this tutorial (except I didn’t subtract only 1 1/2″ from my waistline for the length, as it was clear that my super stretchy rib would’ve been too big then. It was a tubular peice of ribbing  which I thought was the perfect size for my waist, so I used it as it was, ha. Then it turned out it was too big, so I went back later and inserted some elastic at the back).


Then it just remained to hem them. [and get some decent photo’s, but as mentioned previously my photographer seems to be on a work to rule so dodgy selfies it is).

So, in conclusion, sometimes it’s good to do something on impulse….

(but maybe not stealing flowers and propositioning strangers with them eh)

(I feel I have to add this to balance out the creepyness of the ad, just incase anyone decides to give someone tea on impulse, plus its a great video in its own right).

Lovely Liana

Did you spot the anachronism yesterday I posted about my camel jumper? Anyone?  There are probably a myriad of mistakes I overlooked, but the glaring error to my mind is that I said I had nothing to wear it with and yet I was wearing it with a pair of jeans it looked fine with. So, I’ll let you into two secrets. The first is, that post sat waiting for photo’s for over a week whilst I failed to take photo’s (top tip, if you put something on in the morning so you get a photo of it, don’t have an impromptu gardening session first and cover it in mud).


The second is that whilst I was waiting for the photo’s I made jeans. But I don’t mind if you didn’t notice, I’ll just take it as proof that they look pretty professional 😉


These are Itch to Stitch Liana Stretch Jeans. There was a sew-a-long back in December, but I decided I didn’t have time to pfaff about getting jeans to fix back then.


More fool me as these are the size 18 straight out of the packet, no alterations, and they are the best fitting pair of jeans I can remember having (although there are wrinkles so might investigate alterations before the next pair, and there will be a next pair, but then again, I might just be lazy).


My favourite bit was topstitching the back pockets, such fun! (And yes, I have sorted those loose ends out now).


Now I’ve made them I understand why a couple of people I know have been raving about them. First off Kennis’s pattern is impeccably well drafted. See that coin pocket, there is a different sized one for each size of the pattern (and for the back pockets too) Seriously. And a pattern piece for the belt loops (rather than just cut a piece of fabric x by y). Oh and those pockets you see have pocket stays too. And there are three different leg options, skinny, straight or bootcut, I went for the latter.


The instructions (with diagrams, I love a good diagram) are really clear, including when to finish seams, when to topstitch, what to do if your machine doesn’t have a bar tack function and a great way of inserting the fly. It all leads to a very professional finish.


Can you tell I love them? There will soon be a pile like this again awaiting construction as my red jeans are on the mending pile with fabric failure, as for a while they were the only jeans I had so they’ve seen quite alot of use. I need to make a second pair of these before they go the same way…



Is it Sunday yet?

Yesterday was Finish Something Saturday over at the Stashbusting sewalong. I had plans. I had great plans. I did finish something, but something I started on Friday night and none of the planned sad projects that have been languishing a while.


  I’m dancing around manically because        IT WAS COLD and LSH was taking too long with the camera!

Today, however, I finally finished my purple jeans.  And the happy dance is partly due to the jeans, and partly due to the camper van in the background, which we just bought.


The reason that these jeans were languishing is because when they were nearly done, I discovered that there was a frankly obscene fold of fabric at the front. Which is odd because this is the same pattern I used for my foxy jeans, which have no such problem. Anyway, eventually, after sulking at them for a while, I unstitched the crotch seams and got my husband to pin them to try and get a better fit. Then I tacked and expectantly tried them on again. It was worse. Argghh. I ripped out the tacking and redid it a random way. Bit better. Then I got invited round to my friends to do some sewing with her. Aha. Along came the jeans. She thought I was going to help her, little did she know, instead she ended up repinning my crotch for me. Lucky me because the third time, if not exactly the charm, was at least wearable.

Hmm, this me removing a wedge that I’m pretty sure is almost exactly the same as the one I ended up putting in for the foxy pair to help with the fitting issues on my first pair. This fitting malarky makes no sense I tell you. We did end up taking more off the front than the back to help pull the creases out, that’s why my seam allowances don’t match up.


Anyway, all done now, phew and I’ve been wearing them today.

Out on a walk, admiring the details (like lining the pockets with the remains of LSH’s old pj’s).


Actually I’ve told a bit of a lie. Whilst they’ve been languishing I, err, misplaced the proper jeans button that I bought. So, as it’s Sunday I just wore them out with a belt, especially as my machine was eating buttonholes yesterday. But I will find the button or buy a new one and attach it and make a buttonhole soon. Promise. In the meantime, here’s more van!

Have you finished anything this weekend?


None of my peers sew, which means it could be a quite lonely hobby, but of course it isn’t. Apart from the friendly staff at my local fabric shop who are always happy to discuss fabric and projects, there is the marvelous online sewing community. Sure, sometimes it can feel a bit cliquey, but I’d still be sewing rectangles if it wasn’t for all the inspiration, tutorials, tips and encouragement out there.

Recently I joined the Sew-A-Longs & Sewing Contests facebook group, which is “a place to find the latest (as well as the past) sew a longs! Discuss, show off your marvelous work, rate them! Whether they be garments for any age, bags and purses, quilting related or home decor”. My sewing fairy godmother is also a member and we were planning on following Lladybirds Thurlow Sew-a-long together (I bought the pattern last month when said Fairy Godmother pointed out that Sewaholic had a sale on. Bad Fairy Godmother). A couple of other people wanted to join in with other but had other patterns, so it broadened out to a trouser-a-long. We’ve been supporting each other with the intimidating process that is fitting trousers, a kind of online self help group. We’ve been discussing muslins and processes on the facebook page and have set up a flickr group so that we can post photo’s of our rear ends and practise reading wrinkles and diagnosing adjustments. If you’re interested head on over to the facebook page to join in – you have to request to join but it’s a painless process.

Along the way I got sidetracked (ok, confession time, I kept failing to buy printer paper to print out the Thurlow pattern) and I’ve actually started making the curvy fit trousers from Ottobre 2012/5 (no 10 on the alldesigns pdf). They’re designed for stretch cordroy/denim. Expect more posts on them soon, because I couldn’t find any on the blogosphere (please let me know if you come across any). In general I find their magazines great value and I love the size range of the models, but the instructions are rather minimal, so I thought I’d share my mistakes as if it helps just one person it’ll be worth it!

Have you got any top tips to make the most of the wealth of information that is the online sewing community?

70’s vibe

So, I finally finished the latest t shirt – whatdyathink?

No idea where the golden glow is coming from

I have no idea where the golden glow is coming from in this photo.

I’m pretty pleased with this one. I’m glad I went with the navy sleeves, I gave up in the end and bought a t shirt especially for the purpose in a charity shop. £3.50! The metre of 70’s stylee fabric was only £4.99 I think, so that’s not really a bargin for much less than a metre of usable fabric. Still, I now have half a navy t shirt in my stash, just in case.

The sleeve, this is a picture of the sleeve, ok

The sleeve, this is a picture of the sleeve, ok

Can you tell the photo’s are all selfies? I decided to use them anyway for your amusement. Plus I haven’t had chance to get anyone else to take a photo and now we have relatives staying, so that’s unlikely to happen for a few days and in the pre guest arrival tidy up I even packed away my sewing machine and ironing board, so now I’m blogging to try and keep me going until my next sewing fix (I’m fantasising already, but just realised that the fabric needs prewashing and I can’t easily access my stash right now, argghh).

Anyway, the t shirt is another one of Maria Denmark’s Birgitte basic tee (which my mind has accidently renamed a less glamourous sounding Bridget in my head, sorry if that’s slipped out in in text anywhere, I’m afraid it might have). This time a scoop neck, which I like but I wouldn’t like too many like this, I’m used to a higher neckline. The length is as on the pattern and it’s perfect – I’m so pleased to have a fitted t shirt that doesn’t risk exposing me to the world. I tend to find in shop bought clothes, baggy mens style t shirts are long, fitted womens ones are short. Hurrah for being able to make my own clothes.

a bit of puckering on the neckline, but I can live with that

a bit of puckering on the neckline, but I can live with that

And my adjustment to the pattern? Would it surprise you to know I did a full bust adjustment, as per Maria’s instructions. So, this time, I traced the pattern, found my bust apex as before by measuring the distance between my bust apexes (yup, that is as weird a thing to do as it sounds, just makes sure no one walks in on you holding a ruler up to your chest), marking a line on my pattern piece half that distance from the centre front (parallel to my centre front), then holding the pattern piece up to my body and marking the apex on it. I do the hold and mark a couple of times and then use my brain’s in built statistical analysis algorithm (a.k.a. eyeballing it) to mark an appropriate looking depth point on my line based on my splodgey marks.

So, apex found, I followed the instructions add in lines (handily that line parallel to the centre front is one I already need), slash, spread and tape extra bits of paper in place. Not too bad.

Then to eliminate the dart that’s been added. Originally Maria suggested just pinching it out and ignoring the bulge, but I realised when making this t shirt that she has since updated her advice on include how to remove the bust dart. My initial thought was “noooo, more complicated steps”, but in for a penny, in for a pound – and not too long later I had an adjusted pattern. I find the steps that look complicated when you’re researching them are actually easier to get your head round when you have the piece of paper in your hand to manipulate, maybe that’s just me?

From then on, it was pretty straight forward to construct. Oh, I altered the sleeves to be a little puffy – I’m not sure it’s that noticable but at least I learnt another new pattern adjusting trick. And I pilfered the ribbed collar from an old polo shirt to make the neckband, which maybe I shouldn’t have done as it’s a little stiff, but it’s ok when I’m wearing it I think.

awesome fabric

Close up of my awesome fabric

The fit of this Birgitte is much better than the last one because this proper FBA adds width further down the t shirt too, unlike the easy method, and that is width which I clearly need (try as I might to deny it).

Hmm, not sure

The last Birgitte, for comparison, although it’s a slightly unfair comparison as the fabric on the 70’s one is stretchier and generally a bit better

So, I think I may have got myself a tried and tested basic t shirt pattern, well at least until I go and change shape again. Woohoo. Now my easily distracted brain will want to figure out something more complicated. But for now I award it a Certificate of Basic Competence in FBA’s on Jersey.

Going round in circles

I’m in a bit of a sewing slump. I’m 3/4 way through making another full bust adjustment with a “proper” (as opposed to bodged) Full Bust Adjustment. It just needs hemming at the bottom and the sleeves and a neckline added. So I tried it on. The shoulders and bust fit fine, but I messed up the fit on the rest of it. I’ve worked out why, but I’m struggling to motivate myself to finish a t shirt that will be unflattering.

I’ve also started a t shirt for Mr Green eyes from the left overs plus some of the other riduculously small pieces of lovely jersey print that I bought to make up for the fact that his sister got an extra t shirt.

But mainly I’ve been wasting my time dithering. You see the start of autumn in these parts has reminded me of some lovely wool blend jersey I bought at the beginning of the summer.

cityscape wool blend knit and sooo soft indigo/black needle cord

cityscape wool blend knit and sooo soft indigo/black needle cord

I had no idea what I’d do with it, but it was half price (I think £4/m, can that be right) and I loved the skyscraper windows at night effect of the print, although I hated the border print. A friend pointed out that the border print is just fine on it’s own, it just doesn’t go with the main print.

After buying it I thought I might make a tunic dress that I could wear with boots and tights/leggins or possibly over jeans. They have been fashionable in these parts a couple of years ago. But I did nothing at the time due to the hot weather.

Well, now is my time and I’m well and truly dithering. A Victory Patterns Lola Dress? I have been stalking that pattern on the internet, searching out every last blog post about it (it started by trying to find someone more my body shape in one, but then I got a little obsessed). But how will I cope with FBA in princess seams? Plus a couple of people have commented that they started out puzzled how the pattern pieces matched up so how will I manage to cut it to pattern match on a gradiated colour print? Maybe I should make a plain version first. But all the suitable fabric I can find and like is over twice the price of the stuff I have, which seems a bit much for what I hope will become a wearable muslin. And do I really like the shape of that high/low waistline?

Then I started wondering about a simple t shirt dress – I could adapt a t shirt pattern that works for me. I found a couple of tutorials. But then I started worrying, will it be too much and stretch the fabric out. Plus, because it’s a border print I want to cut it at right angles to the “grain” (jersey doesn’t have a grain, does it, but it does have differences in stretch, so direction matters). Also I’d have to finish the half finished t shirt and make an improved version first, before I have a suitable t shirt pattern.

So I’m kind of stuck, going round in circles and obsessing. I even found myself trying to work out the details of a dress similar to what I want being worn by a stranger queuing next to me at a food stall. I hope she didn’t catch me staring. (Her dress was 1 piece at the back. I think 1 piece at the front, but with little tabs at the waistline and pockets, like skirt pockets, underneath).

Oh and I can’t work out what sort of neckline I want, or sleevelength, or even if I plan to wear it with anything underneath.

So all in all I’m going round in circles. But I have started a pinterest board with my thoughts and useful links Follow Rosemary’s board Knit dress obsession on Pinterest. (I’m a bit of a newbie to Pinterest, still getting my head around this).

Please let me know if you have any top tips for getting out of a sewing rut, motivating yourself to finish a blah kind of make, or deciding what to do with your special fabric, or what would work well for a knit dress (can I cut safely cut it at right angles to the “right” way? Surely they must think I will as it has a border print though?).