Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans A+B

Gosh it’s been a long time since I finished anything wearable. And even longer since everyone else made their Gingers! What can I say, I have a streak of the anti-fashionista, a refusal to wear a trend while it’s still trendy. Can we make that a new trend?

Anyway, converting my 0-ease Pants Wrap Block into one with ease took 1 step forward & 2 steps back. I needed gratification sooner & thought  making my first pair of jeans would at least put that 0-ease Pants Block to some use, ie by pointing to where I might need to alter commercial skin-tight pants pattern…like Ginger Jeans.

The Pattern

I actually bought this as a PDF bundle with 3 jeans patterns (Ginger Skinny, Ginger Flares, Morgan Boyfriend) + Sewing Your Own Jeans ebook + bonus back pocket top-stitching design templates (can’t remember how I obtained this, sorry). Too impatient to wait for paper patterns to cross the pond & be held hostage by customs!

As I’m a tracer & reuse back of old A4 printouts, PDF patterns don’t bother me, even if they run over 30 pages (view B). (Copyshop printouts not really an affordable option in London.) Having said that, because I’m a tracer, I would have preferred if the pattern pieces can be overlapped like on Burda magazine pattern sheets, so fewer pages would be needed. The other hairy moment is trying to trace the correct line when the 11 sizes merge or cross-over! It would have been great if each size was on a separate layer so you can hide the sizes you don’t need. I’ve suggested it to Heather. It’s too late for Ginger, but she said she would consider this for future patterns.

I’m not a jeans connoisseur. Apart from opinions about fit & practicality I don’t really pay much attention to the details. So Heather’s guidance was really helpful – lots of things I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise like back pocket positioning, etc. The pocket top-stitching designs came in handy too as I didn’t have enough brain cells to come up with my own. I did have to adjust these designs slightly though because they seem to be for generic back pockets rather than Ginger back pockets. I also took inspiration from one of my RTW jeans & worked the rivets into my pocket top-stitching design.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-3 Ginger B + Self-drafted Choli Blouse; 4-5 Ginger A + Self-drafted pre-embroidered Choli Blouse;

WORN WITH: 6 Ginger B + Self-drafted Stripe T-Shirt; 7-8 Ginger A + agnes b homme shirt;

WORN WITH: 9-11 Ginger B + Self-drafted Peplum Top; 12-13 Ginger A + Self-draped Crinkle Pleat Top ;

WORN WITH: 14-16 Ginger B + Burda 2015-10-109 Sweater; 17-18 Ginger A + Burda 2012-05-109 Lace AppliqueTop ;

Size Used

Size 4, as recommended by the sizing chart. For once I didn’t have to second guess the size recommendation. Yeah!

Changes Made

Fitting changes

Must say the combination of this pattern & the stretch fabric fitted me pretty well even without much changes (just 1 & 2 below for initial fitting). But as I’ve just completed my pants wrap 0-ease Pants Block, I thought I’d tweak the pattern anyway to see if I can get it to fit even better. Also noting Melissa of Fehr Trade‘s advice – she has sewn many more jeans after all – I aimed for a skin-tight fit down through the thighs to counter any future ageing denim sagginess.

  1. Shorten legs at knees
  2. View A’s Stovepipe leg width for both A & B to accommodate my bigger calves
  3. Crotch curve – initially just scooped more. Later tilted at bum crease level & shortened the inseams at the crotch in the process. Originally I thought maybe the negative ease (compared to my 0-ease Pants Block) should be distributed evenly between side seams & centre seams. But I get a little bit of bunching/excess fabric at the crotch – especially the front. I could pinch out a wedge at the crotch tapering to nothing at the side seams. I didn’t want the crotch length to become too short, so I took the wedge at the top of the leg/inseam. This also tilt the angle of the crotch curve / centre seams to match my 0-ease Pants Block more closely. So now the negative ease is at the side seams.
  4. Leg tilt – my knees seem to rotate inward slightly, so that my knee bulges are closer to the inseams & my calf bulges are closer to the side seams. I ended up slanting the front legs towards the inseam like on my 0-ease Pants Block, & bulge out the back leg side seam slightly at the calf level. Strangely my alteration is the opposite of the one recommended for inward rotating knees in the Fitting & Pattern Alteration book!!!???
  5. Skinny thighs – this only affected the back of my legs. I curved in the back thighs on both inseam & side seam. The front was left alone as my prominent front-thigh needed the full width. I think this help reduce the back thigh wrinkles slightly.
Design changes

Originally I was going to only sew the high-rise View B as I hate how low-rise jeans feel like they’ll falling off my hip. But having a Scottish wallet 😉 I was going to squeeze 2 pair of jeans out of >2m of denim da**it! So pair two had to be the shorter length View A.

  1. Shortened View A legs to Capri length – I do love my Capri length RTW jeans after all.
  2. Raised View A waist slightly – to minimise that pants falling feeling.

My Scottish wallet also demanded that I fit with my final denim rather than source a cheap substitute. So I cut the main pieces with extra wide seam allowances: 1-1/4″ for inseams & side seams, 2″ at CF/CB waist tapering to normal 5/8″ at the crotch fork (where the crotch starts to curve). I had compared the original pattern to my 0-ease Pants Block before cutting to ensue these seam allowances were enough to accommodate changes should I needed to alter the pattern to match my Block with minimum 3/8″ final seam allowance.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Both the instruction & the sewing guide were excellent.
  • I did deviate in places. Eg for the crotch seam I tried a trick suggested by Baste & Gather Birkin Jeans to get the top-stitching centred between left & right sides. If you just stitch as usual, press to one side, & top-stitch on that side, then the top-stitching would be slightly off centre.
  • The denim I was using is on the thicker end of the recommendation. So I also didn’t double fold the hems for the pockets. I was worried my machine would choke on so many layers, especially as the pocket hems are interfaced as well.
  • Clamps to flatten bulk quietly!

    To flatten bulky seams I had to use clamps instead of hammering because it would have been anti-social in my urban neighbourhood! It’s also quite satisfying to squeeze the bulk down hard! It helps to steam press the bulk first, & clamp asap. Also protect the visible right side with a scrap, otherwise the clamped area may acquire a circle of unwanted sheen.

  • Hazard of straightening denim – not enough fabric left!

    BTW, DON’T try to straighten your denim grain by neatening the cut ends along a crossgrain/weft thread!!! The weft threads will always be slanted. I didn’t know this & did my usual cut ends straightening. Ended up losing a bit too much of my 2m of denim to make 2 pairs of jeans, even after shortening my patterns & using the pocket fabric (instead of the denim) for the waistband facing. I had ordered more of this denim.

  • For waistband I settled for the denim + stretch interfacing + pocket fabric facing option. The pocket fabric does have a slight give crosswise. So I hope the waistband won’t be too restrictive. But also won’t stretch out so easily like my RTW jeans. Hate that falling pants feeling.
  • Because I don’t have an extra machine to dedicate to top-stitching & I didn’t want to constantly switch threads, I re-ordered the steps so I can do as much regular / top-stitching as possible in one go before switching threads (Jeans-Consolidated-Instructions.pdf). It does make for more confusion for first attempt at jeans making. But once I get the hang of it I hope it’ll speed up the sewing.
  • My top-stitching still need a fair bit of work. I couldn’t get consistent stitch length. Plus even with my thinner top-stitching thread, I had trouble getting the tension consistent, especially when going over humps or back-stitching. The top-stitching thread slacks & loops on the underside in places. I didn’t want to increase the upper thread tension since in other places the tension seems just right. Strangely zig-zag bar tacks didn’t cause me much trouble.
  • For shortening the metal zipper after sewing the fly, I followed the Zipper Ladie’s metal zipper shortening YouTube tutorial. Basically you clip the protruding teeth with Diagonal Wire Cutter then the teeth are much easier to pull off.
  • My button & rivet attachment skills also need a bit of work. I banged a bit too hard, causing the button shank to slant a bit. One was so bad I had to replace it. The ring rivets middle splits quite easily too even with the extra length of the backing tack clipped to 1-2mm. But I just couldn’t get the rivet front to attach to the tack without the heavy hammering. I wasted a few rivets trying to get it right. Eventually I found that if I dull the clipped tack tip by hammering it into a placeholder (ruined) rivet front first, then replace this placeholder with the real/final rivet front & hammer it hard, the rivet middle doesn’t split as much. Good thing I ordered a few extra buttons & rivets!

The Verdict

As these are my first couple of pairs & I didn’t really stress-test at the fitting stage (eg by sitting etc for long period of time), they are really still wearable muslins. So I’m also cutting myself some slack for the less than stellar construction of these learning jeans. And boy were there plenty of oops. It got quite chaotic & somehow I ended up with one coin pocket practically hiding inside the right front pocket. Oops.

So if the stress-testing goes well, these will become my Skinny Jeans Blocks & I’ll have plenty of opportunity to improve my jeans sewing skills. I already bought enough denim over the last few weeks to make another 14 pairs probably! OK, maybe not all Skinnies – I still have Flares & Boyfriends to try out! Then I shall be victim of fashion trends no more mwahahaha!

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Ohhh Lulu Betty Retro Hot Pants

OK, I know I’m over the age for wearing hot pants. But ever since I collected these clippings I wanted one. No matter what.

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Besides, if I go for a slightly retro bathing suit style, and wear it only in hot sunny and beachy places like the Maldives, surely it’d be taken as modest bathing suit rather than skimpy short shorts.

This of course means rushing to make one before my holidays. Otherwise I might never get to wear it. Especially living in dreary London.

The Pattern

Again, I had a couple of patterns I thought might work. Both are actually billed as lingerie patterns.

I made ‘muslin’ of both and settled on Ohhh Lulu…Betty Panties this time. I’ll probably make the Burda Style one in the future as well. To wear around the house for my own pleasure if no where else. (Yeah, like many men, the Other Half doesn’t really get these granny pants. He calls my Betty Hot Pants “diaper” for chrissake! Rude boy.)

Style Shots & Mug Shots

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(Sorry, couldn’t resist showing off the lovely lagoon just outside our water villa in the Maldives. There’s not much fish on this side of the resort. But on the plus side the sand is soft to walk on without the prickly fresh corals. At low tide, you can walk across the lagoon to the sandbank. I don’t swim, so that was perfect!)

hot-pants-s2-1hot-pants-s2-3

Fabric & Notions Used

Off-white Knit Double Cloth from B&J Fabrics in NYC bought a few years ago. It’s a med-heavy weight stable knit that’s satiny on one side and a nice spongy double knit on the other. The two fabrics are held together with what looks like double-sided adhesive film. Unfortunately the satiny side is marred in places. So I went for the double knit side.

MaxiLock serger thread from Wawak (formerly ATS). 3/8” clear elastic for the leg holes. Decorative elastic (like the type found on thigh high stockings) from Macculloch & Wallis for the waist facing. Invisible zipper.

Size Used

XS per hip measurement chart.

Changes Made

  • Sway-back adjustment – shortened CB by 3/8”. You may have noticed I haven’t been consistent with my adjustments. My excuse is that I still haven’t quite worked out the correct back fitting yet. Anyway, this 3/8” was nowhere enough. Hence the horizontal folds at the waist in the photos.
  • Shortened the crotch length as the muslin was a bit baggy there.
  • Scooped out a bit more from the front leg curve to remove bagginess in the crotch.
  • Made the back leg curve more shallow to cover a bit more of my bum.
  • Added straight side seams to accommodate an invisible zipper. My fabric doesn’t stretch enough to pull over my hip while still being snug enough at the waist. It would be a bit weird if this was a panties or a proper retro swimwear. But as it’s hot pants in heavier fabric, I don’t think it’s weird to have the zipper.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is clear. But again I didn’t really follow it faithfully as I’m making this as shorts rather than panties.

I inserted the zipper first. Then sew up the side seams, followed by the side-front and side-back seams. Because my fabric is bulky but still slightly translucent – like most whitish fabrics – I had to spread the seam allowances apart, top-stitch along both sides, and trim close to the top-stitching. For the leg hems I stitched the clear elastics to the wrong side so that when I turn the hem in and top-stitch, they’d be hidden. For the waist I stitched the decorative elastic to the right side, turn in, top-stitch, then tack the lower edge of the wide elastic to all vertical seams. Again, I turned to my trusted walking feet and stretch stitch for almost all of the sewing.

hot-pants-d-1hot-pants-d-2

Would I sew it again

Hmmm…maybe one more Hot Pants in black. Then as granny pants as the designers intended. I’m feeling old enough to retire those skimpy panties that give you the wedgie. Ouch.

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Made myself an Endless Dress

The rabbit hole has been a pit of sweat shop lately. I’ve never sewn so much. Not that I’ve gotten any quicker. There was just about time to tidy up before I had to move on to the next one. You see, I’m sewing for a dream holiday in the Maldives. So there was no time to rest.

endless_s1_4First off the assembly line…An Endless / Limitless Dress / Skirt / Asian Pants.

Because it’s suppose to be easy. And because as a convertible I’d have options even if I don’t manage to finish anything else.

endless_s2_4
endless_s4_6

The Design & Inspiration

So this is the one I saw in Threads then stumble upon the instruction online by chance. The very clever Marybeth Bradbury had came up with the instruction for her Endless Convertible Dress after being inspired by the Limitless Convertible Dress by Danish designer Emami.

original_1Actually, I had came across Emami’s Limitless Dress before. Friends who were into fashion had discovered it years ago. I thought it was really clever. But as it was expensive, I didn’t buy one.

This time, I did feel pangs of guilt and wonder if I should buy one. You know, to support independent designers who come up with clever design ideas. For the art of this garment is in the wearing instructions, which Emami provides video demonstration for on their website. As Marybeth’s instruction shows, there’s very little sewing involved. Plus the price seems to have come down.

In the end I made one instead of buy one. Because the colors Emami offer were a bit too drab for my current taste. Sorry…

The Making

OK, so this is suppose to be dead easy. Depending on fabric you should be able to get away with 3 seams and probably finish in an hour or two. But as I’m fairly new to 4-way stretch fabric and to using a overlocker, it took me a bit longer. Also, being a visual person, it took me a little longer to follow Marybeth’s verbal instruction and quick sketch.

So here are my learnings. Maybe it will be helpful if you decide to make your own Endless dress.

Fabric & Notions Used

Mustard color Viscose Cotton Lycra 4-way Stretch Fabric from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics. I ordered 3 meters, but probably got like 3 m 16 cm because I had enough left over for a separate bandeau top and a sleeveless cowl neck top. It was the lightest 4-way stretch fabric I had and it has a lovely soft touch and fabulous drape – perfect for a dress like this.

Skin color lightweight Power Mesh from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics for the underlining.

Gutermann polyester thread, and some woolly nylon I got in America long time ago. 3/8” clear elastic.

Size Used

It’s kind of a one-size design utilizing full width of the fabric. Depending on your fabric and your waist measurement, it’ll come out differently length-wise.

Changes Made

endless_pattern

  • My fabric curled at the selvedges, so I cut off about 1-1/4” at both selvedges. I forgot to adjust the 30” measure to the center of the waist hole. So this leaves me with a slightly shorter skirt at the sides. Thankfully, the dress style make the mistake less noticeable.
  • I used one of the selvedges to make a matching spaghetti cord instead of buying separate cord.
  • My waist hole is slightly bigger because my fabric doesn’t seem as stretchy. You need to make sure the circumference of the hole for the waist will stretch to fit your hip so you can pull the dress / skirt on. But don’t make it so large that the skirt slips down while you wear it. It’s knit, so you probably want 0 ease or even negative ease at the waist (ie your waist measurement or smaller). I also reinforced the waist hole with clear elastic in the hope that this will prevent the waist from being stretched out of shape with wear and becoming too loose. We shall see if it works over time!
  • I made my waistband taller / longer thinking that I can then wear the band as a strapless tube bodice. Now having worn the dress I can tell you that it’s a bad idea. The weight of the skirt will pull the band down leading to wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson. (Luckily I was wearing the draped part of the skirt as a haltered front at the time.) Separate bandeau top is the way to go.
  • I also added a layer of lightweight power mesh as underlining to make the waist band less flimsy as a tube top. This turns out to be a bad idea again. I didn’t tack the underlining to the fashion fabric at the fold. So when I wore it, the underlining wouldn’t stay up and instead bunched up near the waist.

When I get home, I’ll probably reduce the waist band to Marybeth’s original suggestion of approx. 6” finished height and tack the underlining or remove it completely.

Verdict on the Instruction

Marybeth’s instruction is a bit sketchy, so I think you do have to have some sewing experience to know how to finish the garment. It’s not difficult, but if you’re someone who like each step to be spelt out in details, you’d struggle a bit. I’m happy to muck about with pattern drafting and improvise the sewing, so it’s not a problem for me.

You can see how I interpreted her pattern instruction in the diagram above.

Sewing-wise, I used mostly my sewing machine to give me better control over the stretchy fabric. I’d sew on my sewing machine first with reduced pressure foot pressure, a walking foot, and my machine’s basic stretch stitch – a kind of narrow zig zag stitch. For the waist seam I then sew on the clear elastic, again on the sewing machine. For waist band center back seam and waist seam I then reinforce & clean finish on the serger with a 3-thread overlock.

The hem / casing for the cord is simply folded over twice and edge-stitched with the sewing machine basic stretch stitch.

For the rest of the skirt, I did consider doing a rolled hem. But the experiments on scraps weren’t promising. The fabric was stretching into lettuce edge hem which I didn’t want. It also made the hem stiffer which doesn’t work well with this drapy dress style. So in the end I left the hem as raw edges – as implied by Marybeth’s instruction. The fabric doesn’t fray, so the unfinished edges aren’t a problem.

Would I sew it again

Probably not.

While I do love the idea of convertible garments, the ones I tried so far have all been a bit uncomfortable to wear. The threat of wardrobe malfunction is always on my mind as nothing is firmly anchored.

It can also be difficult to make the garment look good from all angles. I love how this dress look in the front. But with the styles I’ve tried so far the back always seem to look the same and not reflect the lovely style promised by the front.

Here are the styles I tried on holiday. It was really too hot to experiment more.

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And here’s one taken before I went on holiday. It’s my Buddhist Monk look! 🙂

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I need to experiment more with the wearing options. In any case, making and wearing this one has given me ideas on styles that would look great with this fabric (hint: lots of drapes). And it goes to show beautiful garments aren’t always about complicated design and sewing. Simple can be just as beautiful.

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Make yourself an Endless Dress!

When I saw this red convertible dress in Threads last year, I Googled the Virtual Earth looking for it. But there was no cigar to be had. Not even close.

So imagine my delight when tonight I accidentally found the blog of this elusive “Marybeth Bradbury”!

This is her interpretation of an Emami convertible. And lucky for us she has shared the instruction for making yourself an Endless Dress. So what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

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Lovely free cowl neck dress pattern

This one is too nice not to shout about:

Eva Dress

designed by Eva of The Opulent Poppy blog,
available free at Your Style Rocks site

I can’t remember how I found this one. But thanks whoever it was who pointed me to this. I just downloaded mine. I really like how it looks fitted in the bodice, but still has sufficient drape in the cowl neckline. Many other ones I looked at either look anemic in the neckline or baggy in the bodice. I’m looking forward to making this one day…even though I have a little bit of a dress-phobia. (Not because I’m butch, but because I can’t commit!)

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