Sunday, July 23, 2023

My onesie is not a onesie

Once again, I fell for a new Closet Core pattern. This time it is the Jo Dress & Jumpsuit. The dress immediately appealed to me, but as I'm about to retire (no more office clothes!) I decided maybe I shouldn't be sewing a structured dress that I would have very few occasions to wear. So then, the pants...  

But an actual jumpsuit????? No way. 

I think jumpsuits and I passed each other on fashion street when I was in my 20s or 30s (?). I cannot actually remember but I know that I didn't want to wear them then either. Their immense impracticality is a deal breaker. 

But then I thought - I could make a top using the Jo pattern and some matching pants! Two pieces would be so much more versatile. 

So that is what I did. I had this linen print in stash and there was enough of it to make my outfit. 

Let's talk about the top first. It is, almost straight-up, the Jo bodice. 

In the olden days (long pre- pandemic) I would obsessively test every pattern before cutting it out in my "good" fabric. Somehow I've lost the desire for that, and have become more willing to live dangerously and prepared to adjust on the fly.

This was not a fantastic strategy for the top of the Jo pattern. Based on my measurements I cut a size 6 but I could easily have gone down to 4 or maybe even 2. 

There are two main pattern pieces - a front and a back. The sleeves are cut on. Because of this, you cannot really alter the size once cut. 

The top is interesting because of the way these pieces are connected at the top of the shoulders and centre front. The pattern describes the joining seams as "slot seams" but in my opinion they are not. A typical slot seam is structurally similar to a centred (non-invisible) zipper but instead of a zipper that's hidden, it's a contrasting strip of fabric. 

The seams of the Jo top do have a separate strip of fabric that connects the main pattern pieces, but the overlap, which is formed by bias binding, is very firmly stitched down to the strip underneath, rendering it all but invisible.

In the photo at right, you can see that the bias binding continues above the sleeve seam and finishes the front and back neck. At centre front, it curves again into another "slot seam" that continues down to the waist of the dress or jumpsuit (and to the hem of my top). 

You can't really try this on before it is all constructed, mostly because the centre back seam (a zipper if you are actually making the Jo pattern as designed) is the very last step. I wasn't sure I would need any kind of back opening to get this on as a top, and I was hedging my bets on this up until the end, i.e. until it was essentially fully constructed.

Oh who am I kidding? I could have slammed it together enough to try it on before I did all the bias binding. But what I could not have done was any serious adjustment at that point. Because, of course, the size and shape is pre-ordained once you have cut out the main pieces without alteration. So I continued on a wing and a prayer.

Only to find out that the neckline was HUGE. Too low and too wide, especially at the back. 

In order to make this wearable, I added the little orange linen triangles you can see in the photo above. These not only bring the deep V of the front neck up, and the wide Vs of the shoulder points in, they also stabilize those joins and keep them from spreading out. Since I had cut orange joining strips in the faint hope that a bit of orange would shine through my "slot seams", I am very happy with the aesthetics of these little triangles as well as with their functionality. 

I did not need a zip at the back. The pattern has a zipper there, and a ruler-straight centre back seam. I took a good 4-5cm out of the CB at the neck edge, tapering out to the original seam by mid back. This helped with the falling-off-my-shoulders feature of the bodice as designed. It's easy to pull the top on over my head. 

What else? I obviously lengthened the pattern pieces to top length and I ignored the darts in the front of the Jo pattern. 

I made the bigger sleeves (go big or go home?). The bias strip construction gives them lots of structure. 

The sleeve hem was far too wide for my frame. I sewed the underarm sleeve seam in by at least 5cm at the hem, tapering back to the original seam at the point where it pivots to become the side seam. 

If making this again (assuming I need more than one top shaped like this, maybe questionable) I would start with a smaller size, fold out some length in the upper bodice/sleeve at front, and shorten the sleeves by a couple of cm. As made, it tends to fall back at the shoulder. I think the upper front is too long. 

If I had thought about my experience over decades of sewing for myself, I ought to have predicted all of this. 

Onward to the pants.

The bottom of the Jo jumpsuit is a cropped pant with a flat front and elasticated back waist. The crotch depth is ... baggy (jumpsuit, another reason not to like them). I wanted pants with a similar look but that would actually fit me. Pietra to the rescue. I picked View B (the slim legged, cropped pants). 

I do not like clothes that are too tight, and it's a tiny bit possible that I think I am bigger than I am. So my tendency is to err on the large side, and then I have to adjust in the sewing once I can see how things are going to fit. 

My hip measurement these days is exactly in the middle between size 8 (94cm) and 10 (98cm) on the Closet Core chart. According to the pattern, the garment hip would measure 98.4cm, only 2.4cm of ease. Not enough for my liking, I thought. So I graded out to a size 10 at the inner and outer leg, and to size 12 at the hip (105.4cm finished). Which is what I got, and it was very baggy especially in the back. 

I retrofitted them by taking them in at the hip by about 4cm. Back to a teeny bit bigger than size 8. Now they fit OK, although I think they would have benefited from darts in the back, and to have the elastic a bit snugger at the waist. 

No mind, they are comfortable. I can definitely see myself making this pattern again.

It remains to be seen if I will wear this outfit more than I would have worn the dress...

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Everybody needs new PJs, right?

I usually make my husband a pair of tailored PJs at Christmas, but for some reason I was sleeping in disintegrating non-me-made flannelette PJs (winter) or t-shirts and shorts (summer). I have a couple of trips coming up this summer and needed to up my game. 

I decided to make the Carolyn Pajamas pattern from Closet Core. Enter this Egyptian themed and weirdly badly printed fabric, pure cotton, that I bought years ago at the Fabric Flea Market. I had always earmarked it for PJs because ... well, that print! It's so strange!

Now behold, my new shortie PJ set.

When I make tailored PJs, I do it right with contrast piping (striped shirting from stash) and matching prints, even where the print is pretty ridiculous. 

The shirt pocket (totally redundant and also almost completely impossible to find) is at left. This set also has piping up the front edges, around the collar, and on the cuffs of both the sleeves and the shorts. 

I made the Carolyns once before but didn't use the pants pattern. This time I printed off the shorts pattern. It's interesting that there is a separate set of pages for the shorts, they are not just a "cut here" line on the long pants. 

Looking at the dimensions of the pattern, I decided to size up. Who needs snug and low-rise PJ pants? Not I!

My hips put me in a size 10 so I cut a 12 for width and went up to the size 20 line at the waist. 

It is kind of silly to have pockets in PJ pants, but these do. 

I can't see them in this photo. Take it on faith.

One thing that bugged me about my previous Carolyns (pictured at left) is that the collar and facings don't behave unless you iron your PJs. Who irons PJs? Not me!

They were made from light weight flannelette with the contrast piping and facings in quilting cotton. I interfaced everything (as per pattern) with an extra layer of the cotton. 

For this pair, because this cotton fabric is quite firm, I decided not to interface anything. The piping ensures the edges won't collapse. And I stitched the facings to the fronts, through all layers, so they will never flip up or fold back. 

As in my other pair, I added a deep back neck facing to encase the neckline seam. 

I wasted a bit of time treating this print seriously and trying to figure out which Egyptian personages are featured. No luck. Maybe one of them is the god of sleep... 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

This shirt is HUUUUGE!

I recently bought the pattern for the Phen Shirt, after seeing versions I loved on Instagram


How could I resist this crazy silhouette? The beautiful deep back yoke? The stitched down box pleat? The big, fat hanging loop? So fun!

The shirt is basically a big flat circle. The side seams slant from way out, below the extremely low armscye, and end up forming part of a big continuous curve to the hem. 

This means you have a big amount of shirt up top and a little amount below. If you tuck it in to create that fun back view, there is relatively little bulk to deal with. This seems clever. 

The sleeves are ridiculous too, starting way down on the arm and going from extremely wide to a quite narrow, curved cuff. They are (in theory) the perfect length for me, and the cuff is the perfect width for me. Which should be a warning to you, because I have short arms and am very small boned.

However, in the wearing, the Phen Shirt is not so beautiful.

Here it is tucked in, from the front.

That is a lot of fabric falling off my shoulders. The big pockets are sagging. And I made the smallest size (6) when my measurements put me in size 8. 

Maybe my fabric is a tiny bit heavier than the pattern can bear. It was a mystery fabric from stash which a burn test tells me is 100% cotton, but it's got a slightly sanded soft hand, and is the weight of silk noile. Handkerchief linen might have been a better choice.

But meh.

The back view is slightly better, but still more saggy than I would have liked.

All the photos I liked on Instagram (including the one up above) showed wearers with their arms out, but not too out.

So the shirt doesn't sag too much, but the shirt's other limitations are not evident either. 

Are there full length arms
in there somewhere?
See what happens when you really put your arms out in this shirt?

For all that ease, there's not a ton of room to actually move in this.

Also, can I talk about the collar?

There are 3 views - collarless (stand only), tie collar and the more standard shirt collar I made.

The stand is extremely curved, so much so that it actually doesn't stand up. It would lie quite flat around the neck, if left to its own devices. 

But it isn't left to its own devices if you want to make the little shirt collar.

Have a look at how curved the stand is, by comparison with the collar. 

The lower edge of the collar piece in this photo attaches to the upper edge of the stand. 

While the two pieces fit together, in the sense that the edges are the same length, the combination of curves makes for a collar that really does not ever want to be buttoned up. 

As you can see, the collar piece is straining. It is too short around the lower edge and too flat. But I'm never going to wear this shirt buttoned up anyway, so it doesn't matter.

This is a big shirt that can only be worn open, with the cuffs rolled up (if you want to be able to move in it). 

That's OK, but I'm saving my linen blend jacquard fabric for another pattern. 

It looks fine as an open over-shirt
That's the way I will always wear it!