Friday, December 7, 2018

Drafting Leggings

Sometimes it feels like everyone else in the world, except me, loves leggings.  I don't know why but I just don't like wearing leggings.  I find them totally uncomfortable.  For me there are a couple of problems - first they are not warm enough - I am always cold - a thin pair of leggings just does not cut it in the warmth department.  Then there's something about the way the fabric feels tight around my calf - though that one could just be cause I'm not used to wearing them.  But then they never stay up around the waist and I feel like I'm constantly adjusting them and hitching them up.

However I do love the look of a winter dress with leggings and boots and I would love to be able to wear something like that so I started thinking about why I don't like my leggings. Is it just that the ones I have don't fit me properly?  I only have store bought leggings most of which seem to be too small for me - even the 3XL pair I bought last time seem too small.   So maybe its time I drafted a pair of leggings that would fit my body!

To begin to process I grabbed a number of plastic bags and a roll of duct tape.  I then covered my body from my waist all the way down one leg in plastic and started wrapping the duct tape around and around.   Since I only had limited duct tape I figured I only needed to do one leg - I'm generally pretty symmetrical - at least for these purposes.  I just tried to make sure that I had good coverage around the crotch area so I could get that fitting properly.

Once I was all wrapped up I attempted to draw straight lines down the outside and inside of my leg as well as the back and front of the leg, and horizontal lines around my calf, knee, thigh, crotch and waist.  This was not easy by myself but I think I managed pretty well (It might have been easier if I could find a pen that would write nicely on the duct tape).

To get my duct tape double off I ran a pair of scissors down the outside of my leg (as I knew I wanted my leggings to be seamed down the outside of the leg rather than the inside).

With my duct tape now free of my body it was time to try and make a pattern out of it.

As I played about with different seam placements I ended up cutting the pattern down each of the vertical lines which I'm a bit sad that I did now as in the end I decided to go for just the outside seam and I think my pattern would have been a bit more accurate if I hadn't had to patch it back together.

The pattern certainly looks weird!

Once I had a pattern it was time to try it out.  I used a piece of burgundy lycra material with minimal stretch so I started with the pattern pieces as is - I didn't add any seam allowance just had the material taken out in the seam as negative ease.  Unfortunately the piece of fabric wasn't wide enough to fit my entire pattern on so I ended up cutting the pattern diagonally from crotch to the outside of the knee on the front of the pattern (the red line in the picture below).  I tried to add in a gusset too but that failed miserably.

I sewed up the resulting fabric pieces and found out it was still a bit too big so I had to go back and take out about 1" off both side seams.

So how does it fit - it seems to be pretty good, maybe a smidge tight around the calf, good around the thighs, but it does still have terrible wrinkles around the bum - I was really hoping to avoid them with this pattern but it looks like no.

 So I decided to try again.   This time with a piece of rayon stretch terry.  This time I cut the pattern diagonally from the crotch to the outside of the knee on the back of the pattern and no gusset in the crotch.

I added a bit of width to the calf and due to the seam now being at the back through the problem area those wrinkles diminished a bit - I think one more teak on that area and we should be all good. 

Having said that no one is ever (apart from these photos) going to see the bum of these leggings - they will always have some form of dress/skirt over them so I may just call it as it is.

 Now for the big question - comfort.  Well these are definitely more comfortable than the store bought ones.... They stay around my waist better with only a little bit of hitching up required (I've still never found a pair of pants store bought or home made that don't need to be hitched up every time I stand up) but I still don't like how they feel around my calf - and even the second black pair is still not warm - warmer yes but not warm.  during my last trip to the fabric store I found some sweatshirt material with lycra and I'm thinking that my next pair will be made out of this.  We shall see how that works out.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Two new pairs of pants

I've made two new pairs of pants to get me through the cold seasons.  I made both of these using the same pattern that I use for all my pants.  It started life as McCalls 9517 and has been modified again and again as I tweak it for fit and style.

The first pair is made from a navy cord material with a metallic silver floral design printed on it.

The fit of these pants is fairly loose as the fabric has little to no stretch and I was looking for comfort more than style.  I have made two pairs of pants out of similar cord material over the years, both a bit more fitted around the hips and both have ripped in the bum region so I'm hoping that by making this pair a bit looser they will last longer.

For this pair of pants I eliminated the front seam down the leg, but kept the back seam for better fitting.

I added slash pockets that extend right across to the center front seam for a bit of extra tummy control.  The legs have been slimmed down through the thighs and some of the flare taken out.

 I added back patch pockets to the back of this pair which was probably a bit of a waste of time since they're barely noticable in this pattern but at least they are useful.

The front pockets are cut quite low which makes them super comfortable for standing around with your hands in your pockets.

  I also added a small waistband through which I threaded 1" wide elastic.

I really like these pants, they're comfortable, they're pretty but they are quite hard to pair up with shirts in my wardrobe. I have to find the odd plain shirt as they are so busy themselves.

The second pair of pants I made is from a mystery material I picked up at the local discount fabric store.  It was listed as a wool fabric but feels very much like a flannel.  Either way it's a beautiful warm fabric that feels great (not at all scratchy).

I started with the exact same pattern for this pair of pants with just a few minor variations.  I was working with a very limited amount of fabric - I think there was just over 1 yard.  This means no waistband and no back patch pockets.  In fact I even had to piece one of the back leg pieces on each side and the pocket bags just have a small amount of the actual material  in the open area of the pocket.

To finish these pants I just zig zag stitched the elastic onto the top and turned it over once and restitched.

There was certainly not enough material to do any pattern match ing. As such there is one panel at the back that is totally out of line with the rest of the pants - but hey - its a design feature!

I wore these pants and then washed them a couple of times and I found a few issues.
This fabric does tend to bag out over the course of the day, plus it seems to have shrunk length wise when I've washed it. I did pre-wash it but it seems that wasn't enough.

Since between the bagginess and the shortened length the pants ended up looking a bit...well daggy. I decided to modify them a bit.  I figured they would probably work better now as a striaght leg pair of pants rather than flared.

I tried just running the side seams and in seams in, but no matter how I did it it they never seemed to fit right.  So I took out the waistband elastic and then cut down all the side seams, inseams and the back seam - I figured since they were too big the removed fabric wouldn't be an issue and I really didn't feel like doing all that unpicking.

I then recut all the pieces so that the legs are straight from about the knee down, and the front piece is slightly tapered in - I used the leggings pattern that I've been working on to figure out how much each of the pieces should be cut down by.

I then sewed it all back together.  It only just fits through the hips now - I had to let all seams out to 1/4" through the hips, but otherwise the pants fit much better now and I like this style in this length much better.

So hopefully I have salvaged these slightly daggy pants - but it's been an interesting exercise in how fabric choice can affect the look of a garment.  Two pants made from the same pattern in different fabrics - two very different results.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Star and Brick Stitch Jumper

This project has been in the making for a long long time now.

About 2 years ago (September 2016 is the exact date according to my old emails)  my mother in law told me that her favourite woolen mill - Bendigo Woolen Mills -  was having a sale and asked if I wanted any yarn as a Christmas gift.  Oh course I said yes and I chose 2 balls of  of the Chestnut Collaboration and 1 ball of the Peacock Blue Collaboration (these are no longer in production but they are basic worsted weight 100% wool).  When the wool arrived the chestnut colour wasn't exactly what I had been expecting, but I figured I had it now I may as well use it and got to work.

I decided that I would really like a jumper with a lot of texture.  In my Ravely browsing I had come across the Tundra Jumper which I loved   The combination of the star stitch and  the brick stitch patterns were really cool.

The Tundra jumper was going to take way more yarn than I had so I decided to just draft a basic jumper from scratch.  After some swatching to determine gauge I got started.  Starting with the chestnut colour I made the back piece, the front piece and started one sleeve before realising that I  wasn't going to have enough yarn.  I switched to the peacock colour to finish the sleeves, but that just used up all the peacock yarn too and I had nothing left to finish the collar and the bottom band.  OK back to the drawing board.  I shoved my half made jumper into the corner and basically forgot about it for a year or so.

Then this March my Mother in Law told me she was ordering some more wool from Bendio Woolen Mills and asked if I wanted anything.  I asked if she could get me some more of the yarn and she was able to - saviour!  I then just had to wait for her next trip to the US to get it off her.

In the mean time I realised that that small mistake that I had made half way up the front piece - that I had told myself at the time wasn't too noticeable - was in fact too noticeable, so the first thing I did when the new wool arrived was to start the front piece again from scratch.  I thought about just trying to rip out to the mistake but then trying to figure out what row I was on and decipher my hand written pattern was too hard so I just started it over again.

I then went and ripped out the sleeves back to where I had finished the chestnut colour and re knit those - so basically this jumper was almost entirely knit twice!  The only piece I didn't do twice was the back.

At the bottom of the sleeves and the front and back pieces I added a cuff in the brick stitch using the chestnut colour as the mortar and the peacock blue as the brick.  It just adds a pop of colour to an otherwise plain top,

I sewed up all the seams. Up until now I've hated sewing up knitting, it has never ended up looking good.  But after watching a few youtube tutorials I think I did a pretty good job with this one.  Some of the seams are barely noticeable.

The final step was the collar - to keep in line with the rest of the jumper I ended up doing this twice.  The first time I decreased too much and the neckline ended up being more rounded than I wanted and too tight so I ripped it out and did it again.  This time it's ended up a smidge too loose, but I can live with it for the time being.

The only other thing I wanted to mention was the shaping I did through the front piece.  The back I just added shaping in at the side seams, but for the front I tried adding in darts at the bust line and I was really quite happy with the way this turned out.  It gives a really good fit to the jumper.

When I finished off my jumper I realised that I still had quite a bit of yarn left over so I decided I would make a matching beanie rather than just stashing the small piece of yarn.

I thought about using the brick stitch again but then decided to see what else I could find.  After extensive Ravelry searching I found the Uljan Beanie.  For a change I just followed the pattern exactly as written. I really like the way this turned out.

I STILL had yarn left over so I figured I may as well have a pair of mittens too.  I decided I would use the same stitch pattern as the beanie and just made it up as I went along.  These ended up a smidge tight - I think I pulled the floats a lot tighter knitting these than I did the beanie.  But they still fit.

While there is still (amazingly) a bit of wool left over I've decided to skip the cowl for now!  maybe once I'm no longer totally bored of working with the same color combination I'll go back to it but for now I'll just enjoy my matching jumper beanie and mittens.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Finally a new Bathrobe

The last time I got a new bathrobe was just before my youngest was born.  He's now 9 years old so I think we can safely say that it's about time I had a new one.  I've been planning on making myself one for the last couple of years but never get around to it.

During out first cold snap of the year I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and get on with it.  I had a piece of black fluffy material in my stash that I had mentally assigned to bathrobe  but when I pulled it out I knew at once that there wasn't going to be enough material.

Oh darn now I had to take a trip to the fabric store.   I was hoping that there would be more of the black material but no such luck - so instead I bought 4.5 (or was it 5) yards of red and black buffalo plaid fleece.


The pattern that I used for the bathrobe was one I had in stash - Simplicity 1562.  I bought this a while ago and made my Mum a bathrobe for the birthday.  As I found at the time the sizing on this rob is VERY generous. According to my measurements I should have made a size L.  However I made a size S for my Mum and even this was huge, so for my bathrobe I cut the shoulders/neckline/arm hole to a XS extending out to a M under the arms.
It's still huge on me - Whilst I want my bathrobes to be big and fluffy this is just excessive.  3  sizes below where my measurements put me and I still feel like it's swimming on me!

I cut the sleeves to a size M and added about 3 or 4 inches to the length.  When sewing it all together  I turned the end of the sleeve under 4" and then turned back 2" to form a big cuff.  I thought about adding some elastic to the cuffs to keep them snug after reading a review of this pattern where they did this and liking the idea, but for now I'll stick with the cuffs.  I love that these are extra long and my hands can stay warm tucked up inside the sleeves at all times.

When I sewed the bathrobe together I did a mock flat fell on all seams.  sewing the seam with right sides together, trimming down one side of the seam and turning the remaining side over the cut side and stitching down again.  I then trimmed any excess off that seam making a nice neat finish inside.

I also stitched down the facing in the same way.

I cut the bathrobe to the pattern length and then didn't hem it to try and keep as much length as possible for extra snuggliness I like the full ankle length of the final robe.

I also didn't add the tie loops to the side seams as I hate ties that can be removed.  Instead I stitched the tie to the robe at the center back.

The bathrobe has huge patch pockets on the front which I love.  I didn't bother trying to plaid match or anything just popped them on with a double row of stitching.

I'm loving wearing this bathrobe around.  It's so warm and snuggly.  Now I just need a new pair of Ugg boots to go with it.  These one's are over 10 years old and getting a bit threadbare!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Boot Failure

This is a project that has been stewing in the back of my mind for quite some time, but the Refashioners contest pushed me to try doing it using all refashioned materials. Unfortunately it didn't work out quite as I had hoped but I figured I may as well blog them anyway so that I know what I did for next time.

So my plan was to make a pair of warm snuggly knee high boots - I have a couple of pairs of knee high boots that I love, but generally to get boots to fit around my huge calves they tend to be very wide around the knee - I wanted to try and make a pair of fitted boots that zipped up.

I was browsing my favourite shoe brand the other day Socofy.  I love their shoes but have never bought a pair - the problem being that when I look at their size chart I need a size 5 in length but a 9 in width so I just don't know what to buy.  But anyway I was browsing one day and found this pair of boots that I loved.  So of course I decided I needed to try and made myself something similar.

The black material in these reminded me of a pair of pants that has been sitting in my "to be refashioned" bin for a while.

These black and white paisley corduroy pants.  I loved these pants but the material did not stand up to the everyday wear that they were subjected to and I ended up with a great big hole in the seat of the pants.  I tried patching it, but once it ripped a second time I gave up......  But now I could see them being reborn as a pair of knee high boots!

I would have loved to been able to find some red leather to really emulate my inspiration pair, but that was not to be, so instead - for the leather portions - I used leather (or fake leather as the case may be) reclaimed from a pair of  old knee high boots, these were cheap and after a couple of wears the heel collapsed and they were so uncomfortable to wear.

A couple of years ago I took one of them apart with the plan to remake them but never got around to it.  So the good news is I was finally able to put them to good use.

I used the studded portion from the knee as the front part of my boot and the "leather" from the leg as the heel.  I was then able to get the little bits I wanted for the top of the boot out of the scraps I had left over.

The zippers for the boots I salvaged off an old suitcase that I was throwing out.

To make the boots really cozy and warm I lined the insides with some black fuzzy material that I had left over from making myself a cardigan.

I used a small piece of the leather as the undersole but I'm not sure it this was the best idea as when I went to glue on the actual sole I had a big problem getting the bottom of the shoe to sit flat against the sole and as such I've ended up with some big unsightly gaps around the sole where you can see the glue which I'm really not happy with,

I also find that despite making the ankle as tight as I could I still get sagging and rumpling around the ankle.  I'm still not sure what I can do about that.

I'm not totally in love with these boots.  There's something about the way the front of the boot sits that just isn't quite right - and I'm still not convinced that I didn't use the left front piece on the right boot and vice versa - it would explain a lot.

So I'm going to wear these for a while and see how they go and then I may have to try again.  I'm a bit sad that I've wasted this beautiful material but maybe I can salvage it if I can ever get the pattern to work properly.