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.
And now for a change of pace, let’s finally catch up with a project finished last year, but was waiting for the matching slim trousers which I just finished… This is the Indian anarkali tunic outfit kit I bought last year:
Loose weave Khadi shell fabric – this looks really similar to the raw silk gauze I used for Burda 2014-02-117 top (another one waiting to be blogged)
Poplin / Batiste lining
Originally I was going to leave this quite loose & robey as it vaguely reminds me of dreamy Pre-Rarobes. But Ms Practicality vetoed that idea. And I went back to something more like the original intended design. Ms Practicality also insisted that I make this tunic open front to maximise wearing opportunities. (Though in retrospect, the flared shape doesn’t really lend itself to being worn with front opened.)
Examining the marketing photo I saw that armhole bust darts were added to give the tunic a fitted silhouette. I followed suit & modified my Fitted Top Block to shift some of the bust shaping into a new armhole bust dart.
The bodice did not quite fit into the panels neatly. To minimize the number of vertical seams, I ended up removed the equivalent of one panel – front outer panel – at the side seam & kept the corresponding back outer panel for the underarm area – ie no proper side seams… kind of like in some tailored jackets.
Additional dart shaping (bust, waist, shoulder blade) were done at the existing panel seams with varied seam allowance widths.
For sleeves I used my more mobile Tunic Sleeve Block.
Hem were shorten for my less than modelesque stature (yielding scraps to squeeze out #2 Peplum Top below).
Ms OCD demanded that I redo the collar, chest appliqué, hem border, and lining “properly” the Western way. So…
Hem border reapplied after everything else was done (saving me a chunk to squeeze out #3 Bustier Top below).
Lining flipped to hide the seam allowance the Western way. (So far I find that the Asian garments seems to favour exposed seam allowances even when the garment is lined. Someone told me it’s to facilitate alteration in case one gains weight. It’s less pretty in side, but certainly quicker to let out or take in. I guess I better not grow sideway any further now that I’ve hidden all the seams!)
Hooks & thread bars were used for front closure to minimize visual disruption to the design whether worn open or closed.
Now can I just moan about hooks a bit? I thought all hooks are equal. Apparently not. I bought a bunch of Hemline hook & eye fasteners that you’d find in all the sewing shops here in the UK. Trusted brand right? Nope. Total fail. They won’t stay closed, because the bump at the base of the hook is too shallow to properly do its job of stopping the thread bar or eye from slipping off. Maybe if the garment has negative ease – eg in a bra band or bustier – then this won’t be a problem as the busting tension would stop the hook & bar/eye from moving about. But given the positive ease in my tunic, it’s wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Actually the hooks I recycled from old Victoria Secrets bras for my choli blouses also have the same problem of wanting to come undone. I only properly understood the problem when I examined a couple of custom made choli blouses I ordered from India: These have hooks with prominent bumps & are properly secure once done up. Annoyingly online shops don’t show profile photos of hooks they sell, so it’s impossible to tell which brand has the secure hook design with a proper gate-keeper bump.
1a. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Peplum Top
I wish I had scraps bigged enough to make Burda 2014-03-118 Square Neck Peasant Top. I didn’t. So I tried draping the scraps on Q to see if there’s even enough to cover Q’s modesty. Thankfully I did. This peplum top design is the result. The front, peplum, & back for each (L/R) half is one continuous piece of the excess length panelled hem from the tunic. The bodice sides & straps are from the tunic’s two excess front outer panels (minus length used for the shirt dress front opening facing).
As the fabric is loose woven & seemingly delicate, I will need to line the top. The lining scraps are not big enough, so a batiste from the Stash will have to be pressed into service.
While the neck opening is big enough to slip over my head, I want the waist to remain trim, so some sort of opening must be incorporated to make it possible to put on/take off the top. Back overlap with buttons perhaps?
Now I just need to figure out the construction… one day some day!
1b. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Bustier Top
The scrap hem border from the tunic just barely goes around my torso. As the embellishment is so lovely, it seems a shame to throw it away. Taking inspiration from a Dolce & Gabbana editorial & a Alexander McQueen F/W 2008 designs, I think I will turn this into a bustier. To bridge the gap in girth I’m going for a contrasting deconstructed aesthetic of exposed zipper, braided elastic, or hook & eye tape. To maximize wearability, I may add sleeves & peplum – or maybe make this a separate top to be worn under the bustier. I have nothing as fancy as McQueen’s silk tulle, so instead I’m going to use a plentiful cheap gauze from the Stash (formerly window drapes). Haven’t quite work out the pattern yet let alone construction. So yet another project joining the long queue.
Since the fabric is a stiff Jacquard, the usual Asian instructions for a drapier Churidar Trousers won’t work. So as you already know I turned this into a Western style slim trousers, doubling as wearable muslin for my new Slim Pants / Trousers Block to statisfy Ms Two-Bird-One-Stone.
2a. Churidar Trousers scraps ⇒ TBD
There’s enough fabric for something else… Something I haven’t yet decided, but probably a dress or a-line skirt because this stiff fabrc with no give needs plenty of ventilation.
3. Dupatta Shawl ⇒ TBD
This was readymade. But the rose coloured fabric is rather scratchy. So I initially added a dual-tone chiffon lining. But then it doesn’t drape as well anymore. So off the lining comes.
I think I will have to make this into something I may wear more often. I have way too many dupatta shawls for my Western lifestyle!
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!
You can’t see much under the tunic in the photo. So apart from a slim silhouette & capri length I had to make up the rest. I decided on fly front with button closure for a more yin-yan look. Would have added pockets and belt loop as well, but the fabric doesn’t have much give and frays badly. So I omitted this to keep the silhoutte slim and avoid tears during construction.
Design: Mid-rise, F side dart, B 2 darts, capri length, Fly front, no pocket.
Fitting: To accommodate lining bulk & my middle age spread, added ease by sewing approx 1/2″ SA instead of the 3/4″ SA added to the pattern for side seams & inseams. This gave me approx 7/8″ extra ease at the waist tapering to no extra ease at the bottom of the legs, almost 1/2″ extra crotch length.
The Jacquard & lining both fray badly, so had to overlock as soon as the pieces were cut.
Stretched bias edges – inseams, leg side seams, back crotch fork – as much as possible, which is not much in this fabric with no give.
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).
Sewed side seams & inseams with 1/2″ seam allowance instead fo 3/4″ tapering back to 3/4″ at hem.
Not the most comfortable slim trousers thanks to the fabric. I reckon it’s synthetic. There’s also not much give. So despite being almost the same pattern as my Slim Pants Wearable Muslin 5 (apart from waistline), this pair feel more restrictive. Of course I would finish something a bit thicker & not so breathable just in time for a heat wave. I still have a fair bit of the fabric left. I think a skirt or dress with more ventilation may be a happier match.
My RTW jeans are on their last legs. So it’s Ginger Jeans time again. The last couple of pairs – my first jeans-making ventures – are great success judging by how frequently I wear them. But this time I need black versions. Actually I would have preferred grey. But the stores just don’t seem to want to sell me grey. So black it is and I’m hoping they’ll fade fast.
Crotch: There was slight pooling at the front crotch on last two pairs, though after washes the pooling disappeared temporarily. This time I tried taking a small wedge off at thigh level (1/4″ at inseam tapering to nothing at side seam). The tilting made the front crotch extend beyond the leg a little bit & I end up shaving this little bit (made Front Crotch shorter). Shaved off similar amount from Back Crotch as well for my thinner thigh.
Lower legs: The last two pairs twisted slightly & was very snug because of my big calf & how X are stacked. I widened Front Leg below the knee – a bit more on the inseam than the side seam.
I didn’t like the constantly falling down feeling of the low-rise jeans, so this time both pair were based on high-rise View B. But for one pair, I lowered the waist by 1″ for a mid-rise version. Front Leg (A) was shortened at the waist. Back amount was split between the Yoke (C) and the Back Leg (B).
For the mid-rise version I also added flaps to the back pockets based on one of my soon-to-retire RTW jeans.
For back pocket designs I used the Reinforced Straight Stitch (triple stitch) on my Husqvarna Sapphire to make the black-on-black design stand out a bit more.
For button holes I went with keyhole shape this time. The thick stem of jeans buttons didn’t like the straight slits of the Heirloom Buttonhole stitch I used on my last two pairs. (That is the stitch on my sewing machine recommended for Jeans.) They wore the stitches out too quickly. The RTW jeans all seem to have a slender tear-drop shape. I don’t have anything similar on my machine. So this time I went with a keyhole shape using a combination of Heirloom Buttonhole stitch for the straight portion of the keyhole & hand buttonhole stitch for the round hole bit.
My button & rivet attachment skills are still a bit rubbish. The button tool kit that came with the buttons I used this time did help with the button setting. But I didn’t have any tool kit for the ring rivets, so wasted several pairs when the posts went in slanted. Thankfully I didn’t have the problem of the post poking through the ring rivets that I had last time. These posts are less pointy, and maybe using the button die base to support the rivets also helped a little. I did also added a couple of scrap denim layers to deal with problem of the posts being too long instead of trimming the posts. However for some reason I always seem to have problem with the left front rivets. It came off one of my last batch, and same thing happened again with this batch during the first wash. Come to think of it, all the wasted rivets were for the left front too! Next time I’m going to try donut buttons & nipple rivets I bought from Citron Jeans in Japan (also available on Etsy). They both come with hand tool kits. If that doesn’t work better I might try DM Button’s Jeans Button/Buttonhole & Rivets service. – it seems like London’s answer to NYC’s Jonathan Embroidery Plus that the NYC sewing circle raves about.
Not so great. These new pairs are too tight! Because I did gain a bit of waist flab recently, I made sure to try these on before top-stitching the inseams & side seams. They were fine then. But after I finished them, threw them in the wash at low temp & line dried them, they came out too small. I couldn’t even button up. And this was before I even worn them once! Arrghhhh. (Yes I did pre-wash & even tumble-dried the fabric at least a couple of times before making these Gingers.)
After a few days of torture attempting to wear them in, I was able to slowly zip further & further up, and eventually button up. But I’m definitely getting the muffin-top with these, unlike with my previous Gingers. And they’re also not as comfortable as those old pairs either. These sit much closer to the body at the crotch giving me that constant wedgie feeling. Not sure if it’s the slightly shorter crotch or the fact that the too tight waistband went seeking for a smaller circumference further up (the waistline on these are not at the smallest bit of my waist), thus pulling the crotch up with it. The front waistband also twist a bit.
I think my woes may partly be caused by interfacing the wrong part of the waistband. Unlike last time, I interfaced the quilting cotton facing instead of the stretch denim outer. The quilting cotton is probably already stable (ie not stretchy) enough. This may have left the facing too constrictive & the outer unstable enough to twist.
Unfortunately there’s no easy way to alter these pairs. Because the waistband is cut with no side nor back seams, there’s no place to let out. I would have to replace the whole waistband if I want more comfort. Or do more waist exercise to lose the flab!
Note to self for next time:
Use the stretch denim for both waistband facing & outer, and interface the outer with knit interfacing. Hopefully even with top-stitching the stretch denim will be more accommodating than interfaced quilting cotton.
Cut waistband with CB seam to allow alteration in case waist continue to spread.