Next up, exploration of volume in baby steps… Because the cool kids are doing it? (You know – effortless, confident, got it & don’t need to flaunt it.) Or maybe because it’s getting too hot for a tight-fitting hug. Or just because too many tears were shed when I had to say bye to me-mades that no longer fit.
Anyway, as usual for me, my first attempt didn’t quite go as planned.
It was a case of being seduced by 3/4-view editorial shot. I did have my doubts that full frontal wouldn’t look as good. But nothing ventured nothing gained. This looked like it could be just a tad more interesting than the bog standard loose v-neck top – what with the lantern sleeves (in the photo at least).
Shorten bodice above bust (so front neckline won’t be indecent!)
Narrow sleeves & lengthen sleeve seams
Not sure if these changes qualify entirely as fitting changes given that it’s suppose to be a boxy fit…but I do know I’m short-waisted, plus there’s no way the front neckline would end above the bust like in the pattern photo if I didn’t make these changes.
I tried it on just before hemming & the mirror said No. I just couldn’t carry off the boxy style. The clingy fabric probably didn’t help. To salvage this I made the following changes…
Sleeve hems: added inverted pleats.
Shoulders: added pleats to narrow the shoulders & add a little bit more volume to the sleeve heads.
Added lining to bodice below the yokes.
Tried it on again. Still no good. I’m not liking the horizontal emphasis at the waist created by sleeves and bodice that are about the same lengths. Fishing scraps out of the recycling bag I added another change…
Added as much asymmetric extension to the bodice hem as the scraps would afford me.
This one was actually supposed to be a Burda alter-to-fit. But I gave up when it seemed like numerous non-standard adjustments would be needed. Plus the Burda version is designed for stretch woven and I’m using a bog standard woven suiting. And their sailor button front is an imposter bolstered by a side zip whereas I wanted to try out a functioning one. So my Block with Burda stylelines it is then.
Design: High-rise, F centred dart, B centred dart > princess seam, capri length, flared below knees, cuffed, sailor pants front flap (buttoned along princess seams – instead of Burda version’s faux front with side zip), no pocket, hem cuff.
Fitting: To accommodate lining bulk & my middle age spread, added ease by sewing a smaller SA instead of the 3/4″ SA added to the pattern for side seams & inseams (5/8″ inseams, 3/8″-5/8″ side seams). This gave me approx 1-1/2″ extra ease at the waist tapering to 1/2″ extra ease at the bottom of the legs, almost 1/2″ extra crotch length.
Facings were cut from lining except for the top front overlap. Lining pieces were cut from the same pattern as the shell, so there’s actually double layer of lining at the waist (facing + top of lining).
Interfaced waist facing & front overlaps. Extra interfacing for buttons & buttonholes.
Although the wool suiting doesn’t fray as much as the jacquard of the last pair, I still overlocked the pieces as soon as they were cut, including the lining which does fray a bit.
Stretched bias edges – inseams, leg side seams, back crotch fork. Much easier with the wool suiting than the jacquard of the last pair.
Because of the angles of my crotch points, it’s easier to sew the inseams first, then crotch seam. This does mean it’s not possible to fit the inseam as I sew (like suggested by Pants for Real People), though adjusting the fit at the side seam is still possible.
Sewed side seams & inseams with a smaller seam allowance instead fo 3/4″ added to the pattern. Originally tried even 5/8″ (1/2″ extra ease), but maybe because of the higher waistline, it felt a bit too tight when I fit as I sew. So I ended up with 3/8″ (1-1/2″ extra ease) at the waist. In retrospect this was overkill. I didn’t factor in that button closure has a bit more give than zipper closure. The pants ended up hanging lower than intended. I tried adding a hook at CF, but it doesn’t really help much. Since the problem didn’t manifest fully until everything’s pretty much done it’s now too much trouble to go in & alter the side seams. So this will have to be my post-Xmas-feasting pants!
Because the pants ended up hanging lower, I had to increase the height of the hem cuff to keep this capri length (just), and tweak the inseam & side seam to preserve the flare design (just). I ended up with 1-1/2″ extra ease at waist, tapering to nothing at knee, then widen back to same hem width as original design.
You can tell from all the wrinkles that Pressing is my least favourite part of sewing. Yeap, won’t be applying for a spot on the Great British Sewing Bee anytime soon. I mean can you just imagine Patrick Grant’s reaction to this pair? Shock horror. I do wonder though whether men’s trousers are easier to press than women’s, especially slim trousers given that women’s may have more curves than men’s. Mine definitely doesn’t lay flat.
Good thing I don’t really like the colour of this fabric. So no tears over the less than stellar fit.
But isn’t interesting (& maddening) how the same Block fits differently in different fabircs? A bit like Goldilock: Last pair was a bit too tight. This one a bit too loose. Hopefully the next one would be just right!
It seems like pants / trousers-making is on my secret 2016 SWAP / New Year Resolution list. Maybe I’ll even get around to making a pair of Ginger jean and/or Birkin jean this year WooHoo! But let’s not talk too much of plans lest the rebel in me finds out.
Actually, Burda 2015-11-116 wasn’t the trousers I wanted to make. The one my heart lusted was Burda 2015-11-106, which seems like its knit cousin & features a different closure treatment. But as this is only my second attempt at trouser-making in recent memories, I thought I give tissue-fitting another go. And of course tissues can’t stretch, so there’s no way I’d be able to tissue-fit a pattern designed for stretch woven. (I’m assuming there is slight difference in sizing since the instruction sheets called for different patterns to be traced.) So my logic goes: figure out what standard deviations I have in pants/trousers in general with this pattern for regular woven fabrics, then apply the same to the pattern for stretch wovens. So here goes…
And now a fuller set of mug shots…just to illustrate how difficult it is to know what a good fitting fitted trousers look like. Which wrinkle in what position is acceptable / to be expected and which really shouldn’t be there?
36, as recommended by the sizing chart.
I did say I was going to tissue-fit this pair didn’t I? Sorry but I didn’t take any research photos this time. Which is just as well since it didn’t really work that well. Fitting trousers by oneself is just PITA. Fitting fitted trousers with tissue paper is even worse: With only one side of the trouser it’s hard to tell if there’s just enough or it’s a bit anemic or just too much.
I think this first set of fitting photos were taken after the tissue paper tweaks that included:
full tummy: increased Front crotch length (at CF to nothing at side seam), & resulting increase in Front dart
narrow hip: decreased width at side seam from waist downward
torso that’s deeper front-back than side-side: increased Front & Back crotch lengths & scooped Front & Back crotch curves deeper at crotch level
wrinkles that points to inner thighs: shifted widths from side seams to inseams.
The result as you can see isn’t great. But by this point the fabric was cut, and even with 1″ seam allowances further tweaks were limited – especially any that involves tilting & removing/adding wedges. So my subsequent attempt trying out bendy-ruler crotch-curve tweak per instruction in Fitting & Pattern Alteration book was limited in scope. Which was just as well since I was too timid to try out the weird protrusion at CF from waist to hip that this method would have me do to accommodate my protruding tummy!
I have to say though, having multiple fitting books confusing distracting me with different miracle cures didn’t really help the fitting process! I tried & untried so many different tweaks along the way that I can’t remember what changes were made at what stage & advised by which books. So as this particular experiment in pants-fitting was rather inconclusive, I’ll spare you most of the gruesome details & skip to my final changes on this wearable muslin…
Final Fitting Changes
Full Tumy: as above.
Narrow Hip: as above.
Torso deeper Front-Back than Side-Side: added slightly less at inseam than before, also shifted some Front amount to Back so
that neither angle at the Crotch-Inseam point would be too extreme.
Wrinkles pointing to Inner Thighs: increased amount shifted from side seams to inseams & also increased width added at inseams.
Flat Droopy Bum: decreased Back Crotch Height tapering to nothing at side seam (ie remove horizontal wedge at hip level). Also reshaped
Crotch & Princess Seam curves above hip to match the hollow in my lower back / high hip so the bum area won’t droop so much & cause more
wrinkles below the bum. Front darts were also reshaped for the same reason, but I might have over done it a bit – the high waist now feels too tight to breath freely. Oops.
Short legs: shortened at knees instead of at hem for more flattering shaping.
Big Calfs: increased widths below knees at Back Princess Seams. Not sure this has done the trick. Judging from the final mug shots I wonder if perhaps I needed a combination of Prominent Thigh + Hyperextended Knee/Prominent Calf alterations (as shown in Fitting & Pattern Alteration) instead.
Moved Front darts more towards the sides to make the pin-tuck appear straighter. Not sure what body shape deviation caused the problem…
For fly front instruction, I’d recommend look elsewhere. Burda’s instruction was a bit useless because of the number of steps & all the similarly named pieces involved. I ended up referring to my Singer Sewing Pants That Fit book which has clear step-by-step photo instruction. But I complicated things by adding a lining, so some steps could not be performed before the lining was in place. Didn’t realize this at the time, so out with the seam ripper again. Oops. Maybe next time I’ll document the fly front construction as reference for anyone wanting a fly front with french fly shield for lined pants/trousers.
Burda instruction on front pleat tuck stitch doesn’t make clear if it should continue to the waistline. I continued mine because it looked better, but this may have contributed to too tight a fit from waist up. Oops.
Another oops happened with the hem. You know how they say to try it on with shoe height you’re going to wear with the pants to determine best length? Well I decided I wanted high heel & no break in the front, which meant uneven hem allowance & not enough in my lining. I had to patch on bias facing to the lining hem to hide this booboo.
Overall I have to say this pair is a Fail. While the final result doesn’t look disastrous, there’s definitely room for improvements. But it’s not the wrinkles that bother me the most. It’s not being able to breath in this thing! That and the fact that the pair of shoes I hemmed this for is impossible to walk in.
So I’m considering shortening this pair from both ends – chop off the high waist & shortening the legs…Possibly like these Alexander McQueen creations?
To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure about this sweater pattern. I can’t decide if it’s ugly or is it cool. The low-lying horizontal styleline might draw too much attention to my low-hanging boob / middle age spread. This + the curved shoulder seams also look a bit American footballer-ish at the same time constrictive – as I’ve learnt from a previous Burda cape project with similar shoulder shaping. But as I’m using a knit, & I’m not afraid to tinker with commercial patterns, I thought I’d give it a go. I can always test with muslin first.
With the above doubts in mind, I was merciless with the pattern tweak even before I sewn up the first muslin.
Muslin take 1
Final wearable muslin
Pattern for wearable muslin
Final pattern for reversible sweater
Shorten Yokes: Initially I remove an equal 2″. But when I made up the muslin, the styleline dip at the biceps & front. So I ended up shortening the front & sides further. Also, raising this seam lines also shortens them. As I was concerned about looking short-waisted & chunky – especially in a thick sweater knit – I opted to slim down the bodices & sleeves to match.
Raise armholes: Again, paranoid looking short, I raised the armholes on the bodice & slim the sleeves the same amount to match so it won’t look like I only have like 3″ of torso.
Forward shoulder adjustment: In the muslin the equivalent of shoulder seams definitely wanted to lie towards the back. So I move the seam slightly towards the Front (widen Back Yoke & narrow Front Yoke).
Flatten shoulder curve: The muslin also shows weird bumps at the biceps as if the sleeves were mis-shapened set-in sleeves. I rather it look like slouchy kimono sleeves. So I flattened the shoulder curves on the Yokes.
For my wearable muslin made in a rather unstable cotton interlock from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics I stopped here. For the final reversible sweater I made some minor changes:
For a more slouchy yet elongating look…Lengthened the bodices & sleeves, and exaggerated the high-low hem a bit more. I also smooth the transition of the hem at CF & CB for a less overtly edgy look.
Cut Front & Back bodices on straight-grain on the CF/CB fold. Not sure the bias in the original adds anything if you’re not using a fabric with obvious pattern for that symmetrical chevron look. For mine it would just gobble up precious fabric & leave me not enough for 3 garments + 2 accessories!
Because I want mine to be reversible & my fabric is too thick / spongy to double up, I cut the Yokes off at the fold lines.
Fabric & Notions Used
Fabric: 2.5 yd Mohair/Acrylic/Nylon Double-sided sweater knit from NY Elegant Fabrics ($59.95/yd)
For the Wearable Muslin I followed Burda’s illustrated instruction exactly. And I kind of regret it. The stay tape on the Back Yoke-Bodice seams feel restrictive when I slouch / reach forward. It may be due to my alterations, I don’t know. Anyway, this step didn’t suited me. So in my final Reversible Sweater I omitted the stay tape on the Front/Back Yoke-Bodice seams.
And the obligatory Oops: This would have been a really quick make had I known ahead of time that the zipper wasn’t going to work with my sweater knit. The invisible zip worked fine in my Wearable Muslin (though I don’t seem to ever wear it unzipped). But for some reason the reversible zipper I used for the the final make was too stiff for the fabric. I did put it in, then had to take it out & redo the seam like on the other side. So in the end my Reversible Sweater has a symmetrical funnel neck. And I should have sewn in this order…
I like the sports lux feel of the final make. It reminds me of Alexander Wang aesthetic. Looking at the photos, I’m still not 100% about the silhouette. But it certainly feels very cozy & comforting to wear! And I got a slouchy-day wearable muslin along the way. I wear that like other non-office-workers wear their sweats. It most certainly is in heavy rotation around here 🙂
I think my fitting/design tweaks worked well.
Moving the styleline away from the fullest part of my upper torso was definitely the right thing to do. While my middle is still short & wide (in the side view), at least this sweater isn’t shouting about it.
And slimming the bodices & sleeves down in the process was a plus. It still has a ‘Relax-fit’. I can’t imagine how huge this would have been if I hadn’t done this. Maybe the original width would have worked in a drapier fabric. For my fabric however I think this sizing is just about right.
Lengthwise I probably have added back most of the length I removed from the Yoke to the hem, except in the CF. This does look a tiny bit short. I might lengthen CF next time. (This could also be due to the fact that I didn’t make any FBA. But I still haven’t decided where I sit when it comes to FBA on a slouchy oversized design – would it make the garment way to big?)
So yeah, overall I think it’s a pattern I could make again – when these two went to garment heaven, or if the perfect fabric comes along.
The fit of that Teal/Brown jacket was a little bit off in the back neckline with a bump of fabric just below the CB neckline. Seems like the CB was too long & back neckline too wide. Removing the equivalent of a vertical CB neckline dart + horizontal fish-eye dart seems to fix this (see photo illustrations above). The back neckline in the collar areas of the Center Fronts were shortened to match.
The back collar wasn’t sitting right, exposing the back neckline seam. Pivoting at the shoulder-neck point & effectively increasing the length of the outer / bottom edge of the collar seems to fix this.
Although the waistline is technically correct where it was, my low-hanging boobs & short-torso above waist make this placement look unbalanced. My intention to lengthen the bodice got lost in the piles of pattern alterations, so I had to extend the narrowest bit of the bodice down a bit instead. Still look a bit off though.
Narrowed back waist a little bit for a less-boxy fit.
Zip closure on both sides
Fabric & Notions Used
Fabric: 2.5 yd Mohair/Acrylic/Nylon Double-sided sweater knit from NY Elegant Fabrics ($59.95/yd)
Again, apart from the general sewing problems I had with this fabric, the other main tricky bit are the zipper princess seams. I did these the same way I put in the zipper on the skirt – with mock flatlock seams that are essentially overlocked edges to fake the flatlock look, then zipper & princess seams assembled with hand fell-stitches. The rest again is fairly straightforward, though the shoulder – back neckline – shoulder seams were much harder to flatlock than the teal / brown jacket because of the spongy fabric.
And the Oops?
Well, I forgot that the two zippers should be one on each side of the reversible jacket. I was so smug having neatly inserted both zippers on the orange side – it looked so satisfyingly symmetrical. Thank God I basted & tried on & discovered I couldn’t zip both zippers this way. Rip & redo time!
The other drama came in form of zipper tape choice. Originally I was going to use the tape from Quest Outfitter’s waterproof one-way separating zipper. This has one presentable shiny side which I thought could do away with the need for something to hide the zipper tape & finish the collar edge on the reverse (black) side. Unfortunately separating tapes always has the slider on the left side of the teeth. So I couldn’t reverse it & still get the same look for left & right sides of the jacket. I had to go back to a standard separating tape that looks the same on both sides of the tape and petersham ribbon to cover the zipper tape / finish the collar edge on the revers (black) side. All this added lots of extra waiting time & shipping costs. Bah.
It’s OK. I would have liked the jacket a little bit longer. And I was all out of ideas in terms of styling. But I know I’ll wear it plenty. Just like I wore the Teal/Brown version plenty. It’s so comfy without the usual tailoring that goes into a standard jacket. And it’s got just the right amount of lux (thanks to the fabric) & edge (thanks to the pattern) to keep me happy.
But I think next time I want a biker style jacket I might try a new pattern. Two of this huge collar one are probably enough for a while. Maybe when these two are ready to go to garment heaven then I might make this pattern again.