Pant-o!

I made my first pair of trousers! Oh yes I did!

They were done in time to wear them for crewing the Panto at work, which was just as well, since my previous work jeans acquired some extra ventilation in the knee department a few shifts into the run of the show. For any non-Brits around here, panto, or pantomime is a very silly theatrical tradition, which is very serious business around this time of year. Personally, I’ve always hated panto, but I’ve seen it in a different light this year, and being backstage has been an absolute blast!

Anyway, trousers.

The Bryce Cargo pattern from Hey June Handmade was a great starting point. The PDF pattern was super easy to print and piece together, and the instruction booklet was excellent. Well laid out and easy to follow.

I made several modifications to the original pattern, including redrafting the front pockets from hip-slash to jeans-style, and changing the pocket bags to a pocket stay, omitting the pocket flaps from the back pockets (and the leg pockets, though I hadn’t intended to) and redrafting the lower leg to be longer and wider.

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The finished trousers are not without their flaws, but are perfectly serviceable for the job. I now want to make a second pair and eliminate some of the imperfections of the first.

The front pockets are fab. I might be tempted to modify the depth of the pocket bags, but the redraft worked very well, the openings are a good size and the pocket stay gives extra structure to the front of the trousers.

The back pockets really don’t need a flap, but the jury’s out on the cargo pockets. I quite like them as they are without a pocket flap, but I think they may look better with one. I intended for them to have a flap, I even made them up, but sewed the buttonholes a little too small for the buttons and couldn’t be bothered to redo them. They were also quite bulky once folded over and possibly a fraction too short, and I thought the buttons might stick out a little too much and be prone to catching on things when shifting stuff about at work. At the stage that they were due to be attached, I was worried about the overall fit of the trousers – they looked like they might come up too small, so I wanted to get the leg seams at least basted so I could check the fit – so I thought I’d leave the pocket flaps and come back to them later. Of course, once I’d sewn the leg seams, it was then impossible to sew the flaps without ripping everything out again! So they got left off. I think next time I would cut them maybe 10mm longer than the pattern piece and try again with the buttonhole, or perhaps go for poppers instead.

The biggest problems with these trousers is the fit and the length. Both of which are my own fault. Firstly, I need to trust the seam allowances. That would go a long way to sorting out the slightly baggy fit at the waist/hips. I may also do a bit of a fit diagnostic on the rise before I go again. Secondly, I need to get someone to help me measure my legs as it’s very difficult to do it yourself. I added half an inch above the knee, which is about right, but I only added one and a half inches below the knee to take it from a calf length to a full length trouser leg. And I’m tall! I think an additional two inches would not go amiss, and even that is possibly too little. I think I’d also flare the leg out a bit further for preference.

Both of my female colleagues have admired them and even requested a pair already. I’m sorely tempted to oblige them, as i know women’s workwear is hard to come by, but I’m definitely making myself a second pair first.

 

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Chop chop

Yesterday I paid a visit to my local yarn (and sewing) shop to pick up all the notions I need. They dont have much in the way of dressmaking fabrics, but they have a fabulous selection of quilting cottons with all sorts of fun prints.

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I chose one of these for my pockets – can you guess which one?

Today I have been placing, tracing and cutting out all of my pattern pieces. My many many pattern pieces! I’ve even omitted a few – I dont need pocket flaps getting in my way on my back pockets – but there was still a vast number of pieces. But they’re all done, and I’ve used almost a metre less fabric than the pattern stated, so I’ve got plenty left for another pair if I like these, or something else if I don’t!

I’ve started finishing the edges of the first few pieces using my overlocker this evening. I’m not going to have time to work on it for a few days now, but I’m pleased with progress so far. Next up will be the mindtangling process of assembling the pockets and getting everything to end up facing the right direction!

Pattern piecing

Today I assembled and started adjusting my pattern. The instructions for this pattern are very comprehensive and easy to follow. The taping took a little while to do, but was very straightforward.

The modifications took rather longer to get my brain around. The pattern contained instructions for modifying the pattern from a hip slash pocket to a jeans style pocket, which i thought would be more secure for keeping things in. I also used this tutorial for the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern to make a front pocket stay to give more structure and support across the front of the trousers. Modifications marked in red.

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Next up, i need to adjust the length and width of the lower leg to give more of a regular jeans fit. That’s a job for tomorrow, along with a trip to the local yarn and haberdashery shop for all of the notions I need – zip, buttons, and some funky cotton to make a secretly fun pocket lining!

Oh pants!

I need new trousers for work. I’m a theatre technician, so I need something practical, hard-wearing and with plenty of good size pockets. Oh, and preferably in black! I’ve been wearing an old pair of black skinny jeans in a thick denim up til now, but a.) they’re getting a bit snug and b.) I’ve got a lot more shifts than usual coming up (yay, panto season!) and so I need an extra pair to tide me over while those are in the wash.

At the Knitting and Stitching Show, I found some black denim on clearance and bought 4 metres. I also picked up a pattern for some men’s cargo trousers that was close to the style I had in mind.

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This week I sat down to start making them and spent an age trying to figure out what size to make as I gradually came to realise my mistake – a woman’s waist is a totally different shape than a man’s. I then spent ages comparing the pattern against a women’s trouser pattern (of a completely different style) and then against some of my existing jeans to work out if i could modify the waist, before concluding that I just needed an entirely different pattern.

So I have trawled and trawled every pattern site imaginable and yet still cannot find a pattern that matches what i want to make. I did find an amazing template of a pair of cargo/jeans that were exactly what I was after but it turned out to be a graphic design image template, not a sewing pattern. Gutted.

I toyed with the idea of using the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern from Closet Case patterns, but in the end, after a bit more googling, I found these Bryce Cargo Pants by Hey June Handmade. The picture isnt great. They’re more fashion style-y than practical looking, (and i certainly won’t be rocking up to work in high-heeled open-toed sandals) but the waist looks about right for what i want, which is the most important bit in terms of a pattern. They’re definitely too short, and a bit too fitted around the lower leg for my liking, but i figure it’ll be easier to modify a leg than a waist!  It comes as a pdf pattern, so no hanging around waiting for the post, and i think I’ll feel a lot less precious about chopping and changing the pattern, since i know i can just print it again if needs be. Mind you it’s about 30 pages, so took an age to print, and i still need to assemble it, but thats a job for another day.

 

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I’m still very much a novice when it comes to sewing, so i have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I’ll do my best and keep you posted. It could be an interesting challenge.

Right, where’s my sellotape?

Here’s a llama, there’s a llama

Well, I seem to be on a roll. I’d not been allowing myself to start any other projects until my Crazy Stripes cardigan was finished, but I had plenty of projects lining up in the wings.

You may remember this little pile of goodies from this year’s Knitting and Stitching Show.

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Well, in just three days, and with the help of my shiny new Singer overlocker, that llama fabric has become this.

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I added about an inch in length to the body at the tracing stage. Otherwise it’s the same as my previous pink one from the same pattern, though I possibly used less of the seam allowance as I was nervous about the overlocker blade slicing too much off the edges. I wpuld potentially attempt to alter the neckline so it’s not quite so wide, were I to make this top again. But in general, I’d say I’m pretty pleased with this make.

Now, what shall I make next?

Toothless flies again

Those of you who have been around for a while may remember the Toothless cake that I made for Pumpkin’s birthday a couple of years ago. He still loves How To Train Your Dragon, both the books and the TV series, so of course, having been Hiccup last year, he requested to be Toothless for this year’s World Book Day.

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Despite him giving me plenty of notice of his character choice, I of course left everything to the last minute and was only saved by the snow which caused the dress up day at school to be postponed by a week. In the end I still cut it ridiculously fine, sewing in the morning while the boys ate breakfast and pinning the wings on him as we went out of the door!

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I bought a plain black hoodie and jogging trousers as the basis for the costume. I marked out and cut a straght line up the back of the hoodie to insert the dragon spines.

I drafted pattern pieces on paper for the spines and cut them out of some leftover black jersey and used a bit of iron on interfacing to stiffen them a little.

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For the head of the dragon, I drafted the ears/horns on paper and again cut them from black jersey and padded them a little to get the right shape and make them stand up a little, and hand-sewed them in place on the top of the hood.

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I found some perfect green cotton fabric at the Knitting and Stitching Show to make Toothless’ cat-like green eyes. I googled to find out the best way to do the pupils and hand-stitched them using black embroidery thread and a satin stitch and was very pleased with how they turned out. I edged them with black jersey to help define the eyes and make them a bit more 3D and stand out a bit more and then sewed them onto the hood.

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The tail was the tricky bit. I didn’t want it attached to either hoodie or trousers as I thought it would get in the way, so I made up a simple belt using some fabric tape I had in my sewing box and a couple of hook and eyes. The tail itself was a long triangle of black jersey. I considered adding some spines down the tail but decided it was a bit fiddly and probably unnecessary, not to mention I was rapidly running out of time. I had just enough black jersey left to make one of the tail fins and cut up an old red T-shirt to make the other fin. I pinched a bit of fusible fleece from my lovely bestie to give them a bit of structure and filled the tail out with toy stuffing.

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A pair of wings was hastily chopped from a bin bag and safety pinned either side of the spines. It was a quick fix but they actually looked quite good, giving a bit of different texture, and I wasn’t worried about them getting snagged on things during the day.

With more time I probably could have improved on it a bit more, but as it was, I was happy and he was happy.

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Knitting and Stitching 2018

It’s been quite a week!

I have spent a larger than average amount of time crafting in one way or another. The costume bits for the musical involved a lot of hand sewing. I returned the set to the wardrobe mistress and she’s giving me another whole set to do this week.

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I bound off the sleeves of Crazy Stripes at long last and have begun the lengthy task of sewing in many many ends. Buttons and blocking will follow soon.

I moved my attention to costumes for the boys for World Book Day. The process was taking longer than I anticipated when I finally got round to it, but fortunately I was given a reprieve when school declared a postponement and then a snow day! It will be rescheduled for sometime in the next week and I still have a little work to do so I’ll save the details for another time.

I finally finished the alpaca hat just in time to give it to my bestie on the train this morning on our way to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia. She will need to attach the pompom on the top and I still have the scarf to finish, but it was good to get the hat done.

I went to Knitting and Stitching without much intention to purchase as I still have several projects in the works, and yet I still managed to come home with a fair haul.

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I picked up a couple of thimbles as all that hand sewing on costumes made me realise my fingers were in dire need of some protection. I nabbed a fat quarter for some details on Pumpkin’s Book Day costume. I had a rummage in a box full of assorted patterns and picked up three for a tenner that I thought would be useful to use with fabric I already have.

Actually, one of the three required new fabric, so I went in search amongst the various stands, but I struggled to find what I was looking for. Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani was immensely helpful and though she didn’t have quite what I wanted, she and her staff helped me work out what it was that I needed so I knew what to look for if I resorted to ordering something online. As it turned out, just as we were leaving, I spotted a stand that had a rack of various bolts of fabric for just 2.50 per metre, which included a bolt of black stretch denim, which was a perfect alternative for my pattern. At that price, it was worth it even if just for a practise make. I also nabbed a metre of blue jersey at the same price.

Finally, not being totally satisfied, I also bought a metre of this cute llama jersey which will become a top using the other pair of black sleeves that I cut when making my pink top.

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We had a fab day and I can’t wait to get working on some of these projects.

 

That’s what friends are for!

Life’s been rather busy here of late. Suffice to say I’ve not had much time for crafting and even less for blogging. I’ve rehearsed and performed one show already this year and I have a musical nearing curtain up.

I’ve done a spot of flower arranging; my cardigan just needs binding off, buttons and blocking. The alpaca hat and scarf for my bestie is in a state of perpetual WIP – I’m not sure they’ll be done in time for wear before the weather warms up. Soz, C! I’ve missed Unravel Festival for this year, although I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching Show with my bestie in a couple of weeks time – excited, much? Thanks, C! (Anyone else going?) I’ve just been given a stack of costume bits to sew for the musical. But looooook what my bestie just brought back from holiday for me…

Ain’t she just the best!? Just gotta find time to knit them now…!

Good times!

I do enjoy Christmas. The run up is always a little crazy with school nativities and activities, parties, planning and shopping, decorating, preparing and wrapping. I’ve had rehearsals for two different shows as well as taking part in my church carol service – learning the harmonies for various carols has been a particular highlight!

I also ended up with various creative projects on the go too. Along with the apron for my nephew which I showed you last time…

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There was a fair isle hearts hat for my niece. I used the TinCanKnits Clayoquot Toque pattern as the starting point, but changed it up with a folded brim and my own design for the hearts.

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And a wheat bag for my sister in law, which I made from a little corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop. I used my mum’s sewing machine to sew it – she’s got an all singing, all dancing Janome machine that took a little getting used to, but sewing machine aspirations right there! – and filled it with wheat and homegrown lavender.

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There’s also been a fair amount of baking. Vanilla shortbread and slightly experimental apple and cinnamon cupcakes with caramel buttercream (I’ll be making those again!). My first ever meringue kisses made in a hurry to use up some egg whites before we went away for a few days, and my first ever Christmas pudding which fed the family on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Christmas itself is a time to chill out and spend time relaxing with family and generally not doing too much except eat and wash up and eat some more and keep the kids entertained!

When we travel up to spend time with my family, Mr Jack and I like to spend time on the journey reflecting on the year past. It’s been a good one, with lots of things falling into place following the last couple of years of upheaval with house hunting, moving, school uncertainties etc. The boys are well settled at their new school, and we feel better rooted in our new house and town. I’ve surprisingly become a runner over the last year. I’m loving parkrun, and though I didn’t quite officially meet my target of a sub-30 minute 5k parkrun by Christmas, I have done sub-30 training runs and I’m not far off that at parkrun. I’ve also shed nearly 2 and a half stone thanks to Slimming World. I aimed to be at target by Christmas and was just a couple of pounds away. Technically that’s within the target range anyway, so I’ll call it a win! I feel very boring going on about food and pounds but ultimately I feel so much better for having done it and just for me!

I’ve been involved in some great theatre this year too and am so excited for what’s lined up for next year already. My first turn in  Shakespeare in February followed by a fun musical in March and then I’m booked to see both Harry Potter and Hamilton in London during April.

Then of course there’s also Unravel in Feb and the Knitting and Stitching show in March too. Plenty to be looking forward to.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy a few more days of food and family and a chance to not do much. Maybe I’ll manage to get this second crazy sleeve done before the year is out. Now that would be an achievement!

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Tricky sewing

My nephew’s Christmas list this year included an apron. I’ve been keeping an eye out for one in the shops with no joy, so when I spotted this cute fabric whilst buying black jersey for my sleeves, I decided to make him one instead.

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It’s a pretty simple make and I just used Pumpkin’s apron as a template. The challenge was in dealing with a rather tricky fabric. The shiny vinyl surface sticks to any other smooth surface which makes it tricky to keep it moving through the sewing machine. I used a little washi tape on the under side of the foot and a piece of fabric wrapped around the bed of the machine to help keep it from sticking.

The fabrics also can’t be pinned as they leave puncture holes. I just creased the edges as much as I could and hoped it would stay in line when I sewed.

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Overall it turned out pretty well. Hope the nephew agrees!