Thurlow Trousers: two muslins

I finally started working on my Thurlow Trowsers. As I was not sure of the size that would fit me best, I traced the pattern on some new tracing paper placing it on my living-room window. My measurements are the ones for size 6, but after checking Tasha’s picture and reading again Lladybird’s post, I think I should make one or two sizes less. I like my pants to be fitted. So I made a muslin for size 4 and… then for size 2, and these are the results.

For the size 4 the front looks decent. Not perfect but decent.

Size 4

But size 2 looks much better.

Size 2

The rear is ok too. I adjusted the center back seam in the size 4 a bit too tight maybe, I could have taken less but then the fit would have been worse (too lose). There are some wrinkles under the butt, what makes me think that even this size could be a bit too large for me.

Size 4

Size 2 looks a bit better, but I think I need more place at the rear. Good that that back seam has plenty of fabric. Still some wrinkles on my back legs, but I was naughty and I didn’t iron the muslin for size 2. After making the one for size 4 I was really impatient to see the effect of size 2.

Size 2

And if we pay a closer attention, the front of size 4 is in fact quite loose.

Size 4

After making the muslin for size 4, I felt incredibly lazy, but I knew that I needed to make one for size 2 to be sure. I was afraid of the crotch depth being too small on size 2, but that was not a problem (the pants kind of get inside your butt when this is the case).

After making size 4 I had bad thoughts of me not being really pear-shaped but just a monster with very thick thighs. I was worried about the legs of size 2 not being wide enough for my capoeirista’s thighs, but after making size 2 and walking, siting and crouching I can say that there’s definitely enough place for my legs there.

Size 4
Size 2

I apologize for the quality of the pictures. It’s what happens when you take them just by yourself with your crappy cellphone. I promise to take better ones when I use the real fabric.

What I have observed around 6 months ago was that my old pants didn’t fit me anymore. Well, they did, but they got kind of tight in the thighs. It’s what happens after some months practicing capoeira, that thigh muscles start developing incredibly fast. I hope this new pants will fit me for a very long time. I wonder what kind of pants the Incredible Hulk uses. They never break on his thighs or butt!

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmS_qan_JA0]

The Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge

After weeks of working and giving up, I can finally make my dress public. A long dress would have been preferable, but I knew that in such case I would never ever wear this dress again. I’m 5’2 and long skirts don’t really flatter my figure, and I suppose I would not feel very comfortable with all that fabric around, and let’s be honest, I would feel completely in disguise. So something short, let’s be a flapper and let’s get it over with.

I had this golden fabric since longer than I can remember, 15 or 20 years more or less. It’s from the time my sister used to sew, and thought I could learn, I was a member to the Spanish Tolkien Society and I dreamed of making cool Elvish dresses for the annual convention. Pity that at that time traveling on my own was forbidden by our personal dictator, aka my father. That was long before he left and suddenly all hell broke loose, he got several girlfriends and we started a new life.

As I was saying, I had this fabric in my possession for many years and it was waiting its turn to become something. Perhaps due to its color and quantity it didn’t succeed before, but a brown lace fabric finally convinced me to make a dress of it. I followed Julia Bobbin’s tutorial to underline the lace with my old fabric, and I sweated through it, because the lace kept stretching all the time, making me fear that my dress will in the end look baggy.

I wanted to make the dress a bit longer, not long long, as I’ve said, but a bit longer to be a bit more faithful to the challenge, but I had a few issues that prevented me from achieving it. First, the golden fabric I used for the dress was all I d, not even one inch more. I thought of leaving the lace longer with a scalloped edge like this one, but the stretchy lace was uneven and I soon discovered that at the back the motif was upside-down (ups!). Luckily it cannot be appreciated over the golden fabric.

And you, do you have your dress ready for the challenge?

Sisters

It’s very peculiar that when we were kids and teenagers, the “handy” one was my sister. I remember her making wonderful bracelets during her study hours, piercing her earlobes and even her belly button during those same study hours and later on cutting fabric and sewing like a madman on the floor of her room and using her knee to push the pedal, as if she had a stump instead of a leg. At that time I couldn’t be furthest from the handmade world, and the only artistic thing I did was drawing, which I abandoned overtime, like most  children.

I’m sure she made lovely things at this age, but not the complicated things she made afterwards. At this tender age she just pierced her ears.

I think my feminine side (handmade stuff and maternal feeling) didn’t survive my most tender childhood, as you can see here, where I’m feeding one of my dolls.

Me feeding Senda. I was still wearing my pajamas.

I was good with this one. My favorite one just ended with its face completely covered with ink and another one was tied up several times because my grandmother told me that the dwarf (it was a Snowhite darf) was going to hit me with his hammer in my sleep because I didn’t want to eat (I promise I will find that picture one day).

Thinking thoroughly how to make the banana disappear without involving eating it.

I was far more interested in cars and technology, which developed later in my engineering studies and some other nerd preferences.

I used to be very proud of myself because I steered the “right way”, not randomly like other kids.

In the meantime, my sister daydreamed about becoming a fashion designer. She wanted to enroll in some classes about it but my father thought that some job about business and administration was going to be much more profitable, so my sister’s dreams ended up there and she never ever worked as my father expected, after spending two full years with her studies being the first of her class.

My sister, before daydreaming about becoming a designer.

Time passed and we somehow switched roles. I started crocheting almost 4 years ago, knitting 2 years ago and sewing just last year. My sister grew impatient and never finished a crocheted hat that wanted to make for her just born daughter (I guess having children doesn’t  help to be patient). And not only that, but during these last years my sister demonstrated a completely lack of appreciation for handmade things. It made me very sad because she used to be such a skilful and crafty person, and I wondered where all that had gone (I’m not only remembering skirts and dresses, but also a reversible bikini, hey). Happily she surprised me again by requesting a pair of handknitted socks this past winter and I think she loved the handbag I made for her.

Let’s see what my sister’s little girl has in store for us. Will she also be a crafty person?

Lost and found

I’ve been working for a couple of weeks on my dress for the Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge, but I run out of matching thread last Friday. Since I was also working on other projects, I took it as an omen and I decided to take a couple of days of rest from this dress and sew other things, like my first t-shirt and an orange skirt. We were tidying up a bit the apartment this weekend, and I decided that  if I was going to take a little break away from this dress, better to put it away than let it rest another two weeks on the table with the pattern pieces, my sewing machine manual, pieces of fabric and some other junk. Bad call! You know when something is in the wrong place, the place is a mess, but you know where to find everything? And you know when you decide to organize your things and the only thing you do is losing them forever? Well, that’s what happened to me… again (Koen and I are truly specialists at that).

After two days of agony (I realized on Monday that I lost it), I’ve finally found it today. Not in the drawer of the finished projects (I still need to decide what to do with the hem), not in one of the bags of unfinished projects, not anywhere I looked before; but just hidden under some fabric that I bought for a shirt. Lost and not even “misplaced” in the right place. Lost in the middle of our junk.

As I’ve said, it’s almost finished, just waiting to be hemmed. It’s just that this lace fabric is a pain in the back and I still need to tackle it down.

T-shirts!

I always wanted to learn to sew with knits. I love dresses and blouses, but as I’ve mention before, what I wear almost everyday are pants and t-shirts. Thirty-something and still dressing like a teenager. I guess some people of our generation never grow up. Because this and because I don’t have a serger, I decided to join the Craftsy class Sewing with Knits by Meg McElwee. The class was clear and Meg explained the key concepts (and beyond) to sew with knits, and after a slow start, the rhythm improves. If you also decide to take it, bear in mind that not all the material is necessary, but the walking foot and the twin needle are a must.

What I wanted to make from this course was the v-neck t-shirt. I’m sure the dress will follow soon, but I always wanted to make that kind of t-shirt because it’s very flattering. I have an old t-shirt like that that is almost falling to pieces and this was the chance to replicate it.

I had a knit fabric that bought I don’t remember when in a sale in Vigo and I decide to use it for this project. The fabric is not super cool and it is on the thin side, but it has nice drape and a beautiful color.

After assembling the pieces of the pattern I cut an XS size, since my bust is 33 inches. Those pieces seemed large and very long to me, but I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions before finishing the garment. This was my first time sewing with knits and I didn’t want to make mistakes by hurrying into modifications.

I found that following the instructions of using a walking foot and lowering the foot pressure worked for me without adjustments. I didn’t have any issue and it went perfectly smooth. Many people had problems with the neck band in this version of the t-shirt, but I got it right the first time. What looks less nice is the back of the neck and the topstitching. That triple stretch stitch doesn’t look perfect and I think the fabric stretched out a bit. Next time I’ll just do a zig-zag or I’ll use the twin needle approach (I think it can look nice if you stitch in the ditch with the right needle).

Overall I’m pleased with the result, but it looks a little bit too loose for my liking, so I think next time I’ll make a size XXS. Something I did modify this time was that I cut 10 cm (4 inches) from the bottom, because it was long long long. I don’t have an especially short torso, so I guess either this is by design or Megan has a longer torso.

Just look at the t-shirt. The rest is awful. I didn’t have enough sleep last night and I look like a zombie. The hay fever is here again and my asthma inhalers keep me awake at night. And you don’t see it there, but I got a new rash on one of my arms. I love Spring!

I’ve got fabric

for my Thurlow trowsers. I went to the fabric store on Saturday looking for a cotton twill and I must say that I expected to have more options. There were very few colors: white, black, navy blue, military green and grey. Some were 100% cotton and some were a blend. The black and blue looked like they were going to fade with washes, I didn’t want white and no way that I was going to buy military green, so I finally chose grey. It didn’t say if it was 100% cotton, I think it’s a blend. I found then some cotton for the lining that I liked a lot and I went home happy with my purchase. In total it was a bit more than 18 euros, so I don’t think it’s too bad.

I totally see purple bias tape for the seams!

I’m a sewaholic

After much thinking I finally confess: I’m a sewaholic. I’ve been browsing projects made using the Sewaholic patterns for weeks. There were two things that made me take the leap: the fact that these patterns are for pear-shaped bodies like mine and these gorgeous pants!

I was feeling a bit limited in my sewing since I’m only making skirts and dresses, and let’s be honest, what I wear most, especially during the cold months, are pants. One of my favorite pants broke recently. It’s was not from misuse, it was just that it was completely worn down; and it’s not easy to find bootcut pants nowadays! And after much experimenting, I know that this is the shape that flatters me most (the things I would wear if I had perfect legs…).

As the shipment from Canada to Spain is a bit expensive, I decided to purchase two patterns: this Thurlow Trowsers and the Cambie Dress. I bought both patterns on the 6th of this month and exactly 10 days later they arrived at my home. It’s my first time with tissue paper patterns and I’m very glad that all my measurements are in one column! Splendid, I’m size 6, period!

One thing I missed was a metric version in the printed version, but you can always check it online. It comes with written instructions and diagrams that I’m sure will be very useful. I can’t say more for the moment, since I haven’t even cut the pattern, but I’m planning to do it very soon.

For the ones planning on making this pants, please check Lladybird’s site. She’s made several of these and has published on her blog step by step pictures. I’m totally checking those out!

Tutorial: how to fix jeans pockets

You know how men stuff their jeans pockets. I guess it’s the collateral effect of not carrying a purse like we do, where you never know what you can find at the bottom. In their case what you can normally find at the bottom of their pockets are their keys. Koen carries around a gianourmous amount of keys: from our place, from his office, his lab, and I’m sure also old keys he doesn’t even remember. The result of carrying this around is a hole in one of his pockets.

I first thought I could darn it, but I then checked the other side.

And I realized this was beyond mending. The cleanest solution would be unmounting the whole pocket and replace it with a new one, but for that you need to reap part of the lateral pants seam and then sew it again, and I was not sure I was able to do that. Denim is quite hard and I don’t know how my machine would manage several layers of it. It could have worked out but I was so afraid of ruining a perfectly wearable pair of pants that I decided to take the middle way: I was going to reconstruct the pocket. I confess that I delayed this for a while, because I was not sure how it could result and whether I would be able to finish it in a satisfactory way.

I bought a very similar fabric to the one used in jeans pockets and I decided to cut the bottom part of the pocket, being careful to keep at least a an inch an a half of  the bottom from the side seam (don’t cut it too close to the side seam).

I used here an air erasable pen. I doesn’t really matter what you use here, since nobody will see it. Then you breath deeply  a couple of times and then you cut it following the line you previously marked. Yes, you cut it. Don’t be afraid.

Once you have cut the  bottom part of the pocket, just place it on a sheet of paper and trace the shape of the pocket.

Add then two inches of seam allowance at the top (where you cut) and a quarter of an inch at the bottom (where the seam is). In my example I made a mistake and added half an inch here, but I fixed afterwards.

You see that the upper line is not straight anymore. It doesn’t really matter. What happened here is that, as this line is on the bias, it stretched out a bit, but it will make almost no difference at the end.

Note that this goes on the fold. Once you have it, you just have to cut it out and place it on you folded fabric making sure the fold is parallel to the grainline (have you prewashed this cotton fabric, right?).

The bottom seam of a jeans pocket is very similar to a French seam. It’s overlocked with the right sides together and then sewn a quarter of an inch from this seam with the wrong sides together. I don’t have a serger so I just did a normal French seam, but you can experiment and see if you get better results with other technique. You pin the pocket and prepare it to sew.

Sew it then a quarter of an inch from the edge using a straight stitch of less than 2 cm. Think that we want tight and durable stitches here so use a small stitch length. Check the thread color used for the original pocket. In my case it was a bluish faded white, so I decided to use white thread. It’s Sunday, I have white thread and anyway nobody is going to see the outer side of your pocket.

Turn the pocket inside out, press it and stitch it again a quarter of an inch from the edge. Don’t forget to backstitch.

See how beautiful that French seam looks!

Leave one inch not sewn or you can just reap an inch at the end (the left end on the above picture). Only the second seam, leave the first intact.

Then turn this inside out and place it inside what is left from the original pocket. Pin it in place.

Stitch this with one inch seam allowance and pull this new part so that you have your pocket as it should be when you’re wearing your jeans. Re-stitch that last inch of the French seam going also over the original part of the pocket and finally apply a zig-zag stitch to both edges together. Here you can do the same as with the bottom edge and do a French seam instead or just a double seam. Remember that it needs to carry some weight and possible sharp objects.

Pull from the other side and admire your new pocket.

The color is not exactly the same but with some washes the difference will fade out. And again, who’s going to see the inside of your pockets?Well, only if you want to make clear that you ran out of money.

But you know, when you stuff your hands inside, they feel exactly the same!

Go out then and enjoy your new pockets, stuff things inside and you’ll wear a permanent smile because no one’ll notice it!

A-line skirt

I started a class about pattern drafting almost 1 year ago. My first project was a skirt of which I’m not especially proud. It’s an ok skirt, but it’s not exactly what it was meant to be, and now I feel some basic concepts were not explained during the class (or at least I was not aware of them). Because of that and because of my great behind I haven’t made any more skirts until very recently (dresses with circle skirts don’t count).

After a lot of thinking I decided to join this Craftsy class. It’s about designing and sewing your own A-line skirt. I was a bit afraid that I was going to pay for something that I already knew and that it was going to be worthless, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There were three concepts that were pretty basic but that also were eye-openers for me:

  • How to sew on a blind zipper without having puckers.
  • How to sew the facing to the zipper with the machine.
  • The importance of square angles at the sides (waist and hem) when designing the skirt.

After a couple of muslins this is the result:

I think the fit is quite good and those muffing pockets are adorable. I’m definitely making more of this for this summer.

Following the instructions of the class was very straight forward, simple and clear. Deborah Moebes makes everything look so easy, you just want to jump to your sewing machine and start sewing.

I confess that I had a bit of trouble designing my skirt due to my pear shaped body, but taking into account the square angles concept, I could draft a quite good pattern.

When I started this blog, it was almost exclusively about knitting. I always wanted to learn sewing and I’ve been doing some since last year, but getting my own sewing machine was the real starting point. The only problem is the invest of money a new hobby requires: acquiring the tools and knowledge. Between that and all the ideas flying in my head about future designs I’m getting a bit stressed. I think it could be due to the different nature of sewing compared to knitting. Knitting is a very slow process, so slow that you sometimes forget what you’re doing while you keep knitting stitch after stitch, it becoming an almost mindlessly process while you’re watching TV. With sewing it’s very different, because it can be very immediate; a skirt can finished in one or two days. And some of the process can’t be done in front of the TV. You need to get up from your chair, measure here and there; and the sewing machine is a lot more noisy than your knitting needles, even if they are metallic. I have the impression that it just takes more of my attention and it can become a bit obsessive. I’ve already had some insomnia nights just thinking how I’m going to make this or that, how I’m going to cut that fabric, how the final garment is going to look like.

I guess I just have to take it easy and try to switch between sewing and knitting to try to avoid becoming obsessed by any of the two. But you know, I’m queuing up so many projects in my mind that I could have a complete wardrobe. And I also would like to learn embroidery!

Note: I want to make clear that I’m not getting paid for writing this post. These are just my honest thoughts about the class.

Road trip

I haven’t been here for some days. You know, sometimes life gets in the way and one can’t find time to blog. Last week we had some days off and decided to take a road trip to the south. The plan was reaching Cádiz, but that was all. We still needed to get there, find hotels, come back and get lost in the way. Our first stop was Mérida, where we visited an old Roman theater which is still being used nowadays for its original purpose:

After that we continued South and visited Seville. It was getting warmer and warmer, but I’m always a cold girl and still needed my Bliss on.

The poor thing is peeling horribly, but it’s so soft, warm and comfy that I can’t stop wearing it. Well, I have to confess that I’m not wearing it right now because the temperatures raised a bit, which means I’m constantly wearing Freija, made from a bit thinner and also more durable yarn. It’s amazing how different Malabrigo Worsted and Rios can be. And talking about Malabrigo Rios, during the trip I had a chance to finish my Scroll Lace Scarf with Malabrigo Rios leftovers from Freija:

I was having doubts about either following literally the pattern or making it it in garter stitch. The border is clearly garter stitch, so after a couple of tests I decided that it would look more consistent just continuing like this. It also prevents it from rolling and I didn’t need to block it. In fact, after I finished it I couldn’t stop wearing it, admiring it, stroking it.

Yeah, and also making stupid pictures with my phone while it was Koen’s driving turn.

The whole point of this trip was visiting Cádiz, but I have to say that we felt a bit disappointed.  The coastline is completely ruined, since they built almost at the sea shore.

You cannot see it on the picture, but we were waking on a normal sidewalk, and just at the other side of the road there were ugly tall buildings.

The old part is a bit more beautiful, but it looks it was not really taken care of for a very long time.

The trip highlight was Tarifa, such a beautiful city at the most South of Spain and just across Africa:

You can see Africa behind us, and you can also see my beautiful Scroll Lace Scarf that I was not able to take off my shoulders. And also my very full and ragged handbag, but please, pay no attention to it. Koen is wearing a very strong sunscreen on his chin because of an accident he had some month ago with his bike, after which he got some stitches here and there. Luckily nothing too serious.

It was very windy there, and we learned it’s a location that attracts wind surfers. You can see Koen’s long hair blowing with the air. He really needs a haircut, but we recently heard that Maxi, the local vintage hairdresser died last January of a motorbike accident. He’s really missed by the rock community here.

Tarifa was not only beautiful and blindly bright, but it gave the impression of receiving a different tourism than the other cities we visited. It’s definitely more taken care of, with its beautiful fountains, gardens and white buildings.

And also funny street names 😉

We continued the drive and expected to visit Córdoba, but they were having the local festivities and it was so crowded that we couldn’t do anything but escaping from there.

And I continued with my knitting, this time working on a pair of Hermione’s everyday socks. I made this pattern so many times that the next one will be just plain vanilla socks. I swear it!

You can find more pictures of our journey in my Flickr.