Thursday, February 29, 2024

Washable wool - repurposing stash fabric

Now that the Sewing Lawyer is retired, there are vanishingly few occasions for the wearing of anything resembling a suit, but (surprise!) the stash is full of wool that was bought over the years to match dreams of future office finery. But it's too nice not to use. So I've come around to the idea of more casual wool clothing that won't demand to be dry cleaned. 

My first foray in this field was making a shirt for my son for Christmas. He has recently taken to wearing wool shirts as a work alternative to a jacket and didn't reject the idea of a mom-made version.

I considered using this McCall's unisex shirt pattern from 2003 that I had in my collection but had never used. 

On taking a close look at its shape, I decided to look further. This shirt is seriously boxy, has back pleats and very wide shoulders. 

I spent some quality time with Google, looking for a suitable pattern with a more modern silhouette. I came across mention of the Wardrobe by Me Overshirt pattern. 

While it doesn't have a stand collar, its other features seemed just right. It's a clean silhouette with no back pleats, has a sleeve placket opening in a seam in the sleeve, and the hem is pleasantly curved with side slits. 

I showed my husband two lengths of wool suiting acquired from the stash of a retiring tailor. He thought my son would like the neutral windowpane check better than a length of dark blue that I would have chosen. 

I threw the yardage into the machine for a cold water wash on a regular cycle. It came out slightly fulled. Not only was the fabric slightly thicker, even after a really good steam pressing, but the windowpane lines were pleasantly blurry. It shrank more in the length than the width, so the windowpanes were shorter rectangles than previously. 

Then I was back in the world of matching plaid. Sewing this shirt was straightforward except for the placket opening instructions, which I think I fudged slightly. As usual, the stash came through for everything, except my button collection let me down. 

The shirt fits and he even likes it.

My next project with washed wool is a pair of pants for myself. I had this subtly colourful but very scratchy wool tweed in deep stash. It hardly transformed at all after being washed, to my surprise. 

These pants are the Open Studio Shop Pant. I learned of this indie pattern from reading posts on Instagram about the Top Down Center Out pant fitting technique. I liked the high waist, roomy leg and barrel shaped leg. 

I did all the fitting before Christmas and can barely remember the details, but from comparing the printed pattern with my adjusted tracing, I lowered the back waist and raised the front to fit my tilted pelvis, scooped the back crotch curve a smidge, and graded from size 2 (hip 37.5-39") at hip to size 0 (!!) at the waist. 
I also added 3 cm to the lower leg because I didn't want exposed ankles in these winter pants. They are still shorter than I'm used to.

On the inside, I used a cotton twill for the front pocket bags and fly shield and to face the waistband, which is straight except for a curved bit in the CB and fits surprisingly well. Part way through construction I decided the wool was too scratchy and loosely woven not to be lined, so I added a warm lining (kasha flannel backed satin from stash) to the lower leg seam. I threw this fabric into the washing machine too and can report that it survived the ordeal nicely. 

The resulting pants are very warm and comfy in this cold snap we are having today. 

I think the fit is pretty good. Backside photo as evidence.