Tag Archives: pants

Completed: Margot PJ Pants (+Love At First Stitch) (+GIVEAWAY)

31 Oct

Hey everyone! Today I’m joining the US masses to help promote Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking by Tilly Walnes, my friend and fellow blogger.

51Nr-WjrMQL

Most of y’all probably alreaddddyyyy know all about this, but in case you haven’t – Tilly is a fabulous blogger whose clear instructions and gorgeous patterns are perfect for beginner sewers who feel overwhelmed by mysterious sewing jargon and confusing instructions. She’s done so well, in fact, that now she’s got a whole book deal out of it! Which is pretty awesome! I was contacted by Roost Books to see if I’d like to help promote the US launch of the book – it’s been out for a few months now, but we’re just now getting it here! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m kind of over book reviews – but I want to support my friends in their business endeavors, so today you get a non-review-review ;)

Margot PJs

For my non-review-review, I decided to try out one of the patterns in the book – the Margot Pajamas! For someone who loves pajamas as much as I do, it’s kind of surprising to know that I’ve never actually sewn a pair of pj pants (those Lakeside Pajamas don’t count :P). I think pajamas are kind of a rite of passage for most first-time sewers, but not me, I guess! So it’s a first for me as well :)

Anyway, before we go too much into the pattern, I did want to talk a little bit about the book.

Margot PJs

Margot PJs

MOSTLY THAT IT’S FREAKING ADORABLE!

Everything is laid out with bright and clear photos (LOTS of photos, I might add – it’s like reading a really good blog tutorial, except in book form), and the book progresses to build the skills you need to get into dressmaking. Starting with threading the machine, to understanding how to cut fabric, to choosing a size – it’s very well thought out, very beginner friendly, and shit, I wish this existed when I was learning how to sew. Probably would have ruined about half as much fabric if that had been the case :)

Margot PJs

Each included pattern comes with sections to “Make It Your Own,” for customizing and, well, making it your own.

Margot PJs

There are also blurbs for making sewing a lifestyle, including this one that is my favorite – How to Behave In A Fabric Store. Haha!

Anyway, the short: it’s adorable, it’s well-written, and it’s great for a beginner. For those of us who are not beginners, the patterns are still pretty cute (you can see all the patterns in the book here). The only drawback is that the patterns are printed double-sided, which means you have to trace them. Boo! I imagine this was done to save $ on printing costs. Also, I just hate tracing. That’s a fact of life.

That being said, I did muster up the tracing stamina to at least make some damn pajama pants. Wanna see?

Margot PJs

SUP, MARGOT. How YOU doin’?!

I hope you enjoy this new background that is my living room! To answer your questions: Yes, we love America here. And, yes, that’s a creepy-ass painting behind me, and no, I have no idea who painted it. I found it at Goodwill for $7 and it had to come home with me because reasons. It’s painted on plywood and literally drilled into the wall. My mom hates it.

Margot PJs

Margot PJs

I cannot believe how long it took me to finally make PJ pants! They are SO easy and satisfying to make – even with my construction modifications (more on that in a sec). I am between sizes in the book’s size chart, so I spliced between the 1 & the 2, and removed about 1/2″ of length from the crotch (just folded it out horizontally across the middle), as well as 1″ from the length. I also narrowed the legs a little – mostly because I was short on fabric (oops).

Margot PJs

I admit I didn’t much follow the instructions – mostly because they were way too hand-holdy for my needs. However, pj pants are pretty easy to throw together. To match the plaid, I cut everything on the single layer and used my walking foot to feed things evenly through the machine. All seams are serged to prevent unraveling.

Margot PJs

I made a couple modifications to increase the comfort level of these pants. For one, I’m not a fan of drawstring-only pj pants. I prefer a little elastic! To do this, I cut a length of elastic (1.5″ wide, because that’s what I had on hand – and it also is the same width as my ribbon) about 8″ smaller than my waist measurement (enough that it almost came around my hip bones) and sewed ribbon to either end. I threaded it through the drawstring opening as instructed, being careful not to twist the elastic.

Margot PJs

Once the elastic was in place – centered and flat – I sewed down the center back seam with a straight stitch. This keeps the elastic in place so it doesn’t shift (and I don’t accidentally pull the elastic/ribbon out!). Since the ribbon I used is polyester, I burned the edges to prevent them from fraying.

Margot PJs

The finished waistband is much more comfortable, and – bonus! I can actually pull these off without untying the ribbon. Haha!

Also, ribbon bonus: Pretty sure that stuff came from the bouquet I took home from my BFF’s sister’s wedding last year. How’s THAT for recycling? ;) Even better – now every time I’m lounging on the couch in my comfy pjs, Landon will be reminded that I CAUGHT THE BOUQUET, HELLOOO??

Margot PJs

I ~made these my own~ by adding a pocket to the back – using my phone as a guide for the size (the pockets on most of my pj pants are too shallow, which I hate!). I cut the pocket on the bias for a little interest, and used my existing pj pants to determine the placement.

Margot PJs

The legs have a nice deep hem – partially because I love the way it looks, and also in case these shrink up more when they’re washed. The extra hem means I can let the length down if need be.

Speaking of which, isn’t that fabric glorious? It’s from Pink Chalk Fabrics, a lovely cotton flannel from Robert Kaufman (which appears to now be sold out – here are their other available flannels). When I say this stuff is lovely, I mean it’s AMAZING. It is SO SOFT AND SNUGGLY. I was seriously bummed when I finished these, because I wanted to put them on immediately but I knew I needed to wait to take photos (and have since not taken them off. They are the best!). Between this fabric & the polka dot chambray I used, Robert Kaufman is about to be my favorite fabric source, possibly. I kind of wish I’d bought more, especially now that I see they are sold out :(

Anyway, I wanted to do something fun with these photos, but unlike Tilly – I don’t have a cool ~retro~ phone to pose with.

Margot PJs

WHAT I DO HAVE, THOUGH, IS A COMMODORE 64.

Margot PJs

“Aw hell yeah, mom, this is the best Christmas present ever!”

Margot PJs

Don’t mind us, we are just having a moment here.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Anyway, if you read this far- congratulations! Let’s have a giveaway! Roost Books sent me two copies, which means I have one to mail to someone! If you’d like to enter the giveaway to win your very own copy of Love At First Stitch, leave a comment on this post and tell me which pattern you’re dying to make (again, you can see all the patterns here). That’s it! Because we are celebrating the US release of this book, this giveaway is open to US READERS ONLY (sorry, my international friends! I still love you! I’ll see some of y’all in London next month!). The entries will close one week from today, Friday, November 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM CST.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
If you’d like to go ahead and get a copy of the book anyway, you can either buy it on Amazon or directly from Miss Tilly herself (and unlike Amazon, she will even sign it for you!). Good luck, y’all!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Disclaimer: I was given Love At First Stitch for free from Roost Books, in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own.
From Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, © 2014 by Tilly Walnes. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.

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Sweaters & Skinnies for Fall!

24 Sep

Ok, I’ll admit – when I first started working on this outfit, the air was a LOT more fall-like than it currently is at the moment. Stupid fickle season, ha!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, I’m totally a trooper so I’m modeling this outfit for y’all nonetheless (photos taken early morning before the temperatures got too high, because, woof.). My first real cold-weather makes – like I said, it’s a little early in the season here, but I like to get a head start so I can actually start wearing this stuff when the weather cools down :) This outfit – or at least the skinnies – is also part of my London wardrobe. I’m officially less than 2 months out, EEEEEP! – so it’s time to really start cranking down and getting my wardrobe act together. Since I’m very limited in suitcase space, I’m trying to capsulate everything to mix and match. So I can bring less clothes, so I can bring home more fabric :) You know – priorities!

ANYWAY, I have a lot of ground to cover with these two pieces, so let’s get started! Sorry in advance for the big photo overload!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Let’s start with the sweater. I bought this fabric last month while I was in NYC. This was my first non-spring trip to the city, which meant my fabric shopping was focused on woolens and winter weights (instead of summer fabrics, which I am usually bee-lining for in March). I immediately found this star printed WOOL sweater knit, and promptly flipped my shit over it. It’s SO fabulous – and soft! Even softer than you can imagine, forreal. At $25 a yard, it wasn’t the cheapest sweater knit – but stars and wool? Totally worth it. Plus, it’s not like a sweater takes a lot of yardage – at least not for me. I bought a yard and a half (and I have some leftover.. hmm, what to make with?).

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

The pattern I used to make this bad boy was actually suggested by Devra (who also bought some of the prized star wool knit, after I peer pressured her into it ;) ) – the SJ Tee from Papercut Patterns. I made a wearable mock-up before the real deal – which I will show y’all later this week – so I was able to figure my fitting before cutting into my precious wool knit. I cut a size XXS and took 1″ out of the center back. The length is the long version (aka, not cropped) and the sleeves are long as well.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I used rib knit to finish the neckline and cuffs – it was in my stash, I have no idea where it came from. This knit was way stretchier than the sweater knit, so I had to keep retrying the neckline to get it to lie flat. I ended up cutting the rib to half the length of the neckline and stretched the everloving shit out of it – it could still stand to be a little tighter, but this will do. The neckline also can’t stand to be a little lower, it’s already a little risque (which I LIKE!). The cuffs are a bit looser than I’d prefer, but I wanted to be able to push the sleeves up, like so.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I sewed the entire sweater on my serger – you could use a sewing machine (this particular knit does not unravel or shed), but serger is faster :) I did use a twin needle to topstitch the raglan lines, as well as the neckline & hem. Really loved topstitching this sweater; the stitches just sink right in and look soooo good!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

For the black skinnies, I used a really great stretch twill. I’ve had some hits and misses when it comes to stretch bottom weights – they tend to be a weird weight (either too heavy, or not heavy enough), and the stretch can bag out over time. One thing I’ve learned is that you need a pretty high spandex/poly content to get them to snap back into shape – 5-10% – and you need to make sure they are bottom weight. I actually made Heather Lou source this fabric for me, also in the Mood store. We were initially looking for black denim, couldn’t find a good one (I still don’t really know what constitutes as a good one- you’ll have to ask her! I just blindly followed, ha), and decided on the twill. We did end up finding a black denim, fyi, but not at Mood. Once I sew that one up, I’ll share more about it :)

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, this twill is great! It’s pretty similar to what you get with stretch RTW pants – thick enough for a bottom weight, but not tooooo thick (I still only used an 80/12 needle, so no heavy denim shit or whatev). The stretch is crazy good, and it actually snaps back into shape. I can’t give y’all a true verdict on a full day’s worth of wear – the weather jumped back up to hot, so I haven’t had a chance to wear these yet. However, I tried the jeans on a LOT during construction, and they haven’t bagged out yet. So that’s a good sign!

The only drawback to this stuff is that it attracts cat hair like a magnet. It’s not as bad in real life as it is in photos (else I would have lint-rolled that shit, I mean, come on), but it also doesn’t bother me that much. When you have a cat and you wear black pants, cat hair is sorta just a way of life, you know?

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

The pattern I used to make the skinnies is the Jamie Jeans, from Named. I’ve actually had this pattern in my stash for a few months – my friend Carla bought me these (plus a few other Named patterns) as an early birthday gift earlier this year. Then I was a total ass and didn’t do anything with them until just now :P Hey, it’s been too hot! Anyway, I’m glad I put these off because there is no way I would have had such stretch twill success if it hadn’t been for Heather doing that side of the shopping for me. So there’s that.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, this was my first experience with Named. My understanding is that a few things have changed since they initially released this pattern – for one, the instructions include some diagrams now (they used to be text-only), and the prices are a little more competitive. The pieces also aren’t quite as overlapped as they were the first go-round – because, ugh, tracing patterns, ugh. I only had to trace the waistband for these. Everything else was, thankfully, not super overlapped.

I started with the size 2, and made these initial modifications, based on my muslin:
- Added 1″ to the back crotch, for butt room
- Removed 2″ of length at the legs
- Removed 5/8″ at the center back yoke, blending to 1/4″ at the bottom (where the pants meet the yoke)
- Removed 1/4″ from the center back, blending to nothing

Once I started sewing, I ended up doing a few more fit adjustments. I don’t know why these weren’t prevalent in my muslin – perhaps my fabric wasn’t quite stretchy enough? At any rate, these are my additional modifications (and now you know why I pulled them on and off so many times!):
- Sewed the side seams at 1/2″
- Took a 1″ wedge out of the center back of the waistband, tapering to nothing at the bottom
- Removed an additional 3/4″ from the length
- Did some crazy witchcraft to reshape the crotch to be a J (again, NO IDEA why this wasn’t an issue with the muslin, but argh – at least I fixed it? Mostly.).

Things I will change for my next rendition:
- Need to remove some length from the front crotch – you can see that it’s slightly too long (it’s not toooo bad – I doubt anyone will point and be all “HA HA YOUR CROTCH IS TOO LONG HA HA!” But I know it’s there and hey, it bothers me, ok?). Maybe 3/8″ish.
- Rescoop that J a little more out of the crotch. It’s still not perfect, but it’s damn good considering that I did this while the pants were already mostly assembled (for those of you who are all, “Wtf is this J crotch you keep talking about?” Here’s the post where I talk about my pants adjustments, including J crotches. Also, in case you were wondering- those crotch rulers *do* work. I found one in Elizabeth’s studio last week, immediately stuck it on my crotch – and hey, there’s a J! Cool!)
- Need to take a little pinch of fabric out of the inner leg seam – maybe 1/2″

Despite my nitpicky fit adjustments, these aren’t so bad! I’ll still totally wear the shit out of them, at any rate.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Constructing these was REALLY fun! The instructions – honestly, they’re kind of useless about 70% of the time, but I’ve made enough pants to where I don’t really need them. The seams are all finished with my serger – except the crotch seam, which is flat-felled – and I made use of my edgestitching foot to get all that beautiful topstitching. For the waistband, I used fusible tricot knit interfacing – I fused both the outside and the facing, to give it some stability but retain that lovely stretch. The button & jean zip are both from Pacific Trimming in NYC.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I really love the back pockets! And hey, that double line of stitching at the yoke? That was done with a single needle, twice. No twin needle!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

For the hem, I used the lightning bolt stitch, so it would retain some stretchiness. It looks pretty similar to a straight stitch, but it, you know, stretches.

What else? Here are some sweater close-ups:

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

YUM!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

One last thing – here’s the little watercolor fashion illustration I made for this outfit. GOD, I love painting watercolors! So much fun!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Ok, I guess that’s it! Now if the cooler weather could please come back – I hate working up a sweat while I drink my morning coffee :) Oh, and in case you were wondering – that’s a fresh dye job you’re looking at, in regards to my hair! I love how neon electric is is :) Yay for fun-colored hair!

PS: Ralph Rucci V1419 Sewalongers – in case you missed it, there’s a new post up on the McCall blog regarding the sewalong. Just some general housekeeping, including blog buttons (yes!) and social media chat. The burning question this week – for general sewalong chat outside of our blogs, do y’all prefer to use a Facebook page or a Flickr Group? Trying to decide which platform to us. Let us know which side you swing!

Completed: Ultimate Trousers

14 Aug

Hey look, here I am again – with another pair of polka dotted trousers! Are you surprised? Would you be surprised to know that I have another pair of dotty trousers sitting on my sewing table as we type speak? Do you think I have a problem? I’ve never considered myself a polka dot trouser kind of girl, but these sewing numbers don’t lie!

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

This polka dot cotton sateen is actually an old spoil from the Mood Fabrics flagship store in NYC, which I bought while I was there in March. I knew I wanted to make pants with it – what pattern specifically, I couldn’t tell you, but pants for sure! I love using cotton sateen for pants as it’s usually a good weight with a nice, heavy stretch, and the colors are always so lovely and saturated. Plus – polka dots! Yesss!!

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

The pattern I eventually ended up using is the Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over it. I actually tested this pattern ‘way back when earlier this year, to help get it ready for it’s print debut. I was on a pretty tight deadline during testing, which meant that I didn’t end up with a finished garment – just a muslin and a loooot of notes. This is actually pretty typical for me as a tester; I don’t always finish the pattern to the effect that it warrants a blog post! Once I got everything back to Lisa, I put the pattern on the backburner since the summer heat was starting to ramp up and I couldn’t handle the thought of wearing pants in this kind of humidity.

Anyway, we’ve got promises of cooler weather lurking on the horizon, which means it’s PANTSSS TIMEEEEE! Yay!

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

I did make a few changes to the pattern, both for fitting and general style. Let’s go over the fitting stuff first. Every time I make trousers, I end up doing the same adjustments across the board, especially if the pattern doesn’t include a front zip fly. I realize that trousers are kind of a scary subject for a lot of sewers, so I’m going to show y’all what I do in my fitting and hopefully that’ll shed some light on the whole matter (and even more hopefully – prove that they really aren’t so scary to fit!).

I don’t have muslin photos of this particular pattern, but I do have muslin photos from my archives (super unflattering muslin photos, I might add! Ha!) back when I made the Colette Clovers. Different patterns, but the concept is similar.

 photo CIMG0016.jpg
See all those horizontal wrinkles allll over my damn crotch? This is an indication that the crotch is way too long for me – so it’s wrinkling. The easiest way to fix this is to pinch out the excess into a long horizontal line, and transfer that to your pattern piece with slashing and taping. I’m petite, and while my torso is a pretty standard length, my crotch length is on the short side. So this is an adjustment that I have to make with *most* trouser/pant patterns. The amount can vary depending on the pattern – obviously the Clovers needed a lot taken out, and the Ultimate Trousers didn’t take much (and I just made a pattern the other day that I had to remove 2″ from!) But it’s a common adjustment for me, and this is what it looks like.

 photo CIMG0006-1.jpg
Same muslin, back view – see how tight the ass is? Like, not even flattering tight, just imma-bust-outta-here-like-a-jailbreak tight. This is fixed by adding a wedge to the back crotch depth pattern piece. How much you add will depend on how much room you need (the Ultimate Trousers didn’t need any, but the Clovers clearly needed a lot), but you can easily hack this alteration by just cutting a bigger size right there at the back crotch (this picture from Sunni’s Trouser Sewalong shows where to add length – right in that blue circle).

clover close-up
Here’s a pair of Clovers where I fixed the length issue, but now there’s some weird puffiness around, well, my crotch. Isn’t that flattering! You guys, this particular fit issue took me a LONG time to figure out because it seemed so weird – but it’s really not. Basically, my crotch requires a different shaped crotch curve than what is drafted for most patterns. I’m a J shape, and the majority of patterns I sew are an L shape. This is a stupid easy adjustment – you literally just redraw the curve, and once you’ve done it on one pattern, you can trace that curve to every pattern thereafter. For the first pattern, you’ll have to eyeball it (or find a pair of pants that fits and copy that crotch curve) and adjust until you get it right, which might take a couple tries. Once I figured that out – what it looked like, how to fix it – that really opened the floodgates of trouser making for me. Also, you should read this post on the Fashion Incubator.

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers
Here is my front pattern piece with the adjusted crotch shape – I’ve already redrawn and cut my piece out, but I put it back on the table so you could see the difference in the curves. For whatever reason, I don’t need quite as aggressive a crotch curve when I’m making pants that have a front fly – it’s just trousers with a smooth front (especially if it’s sewn in a stretch woven).

You can also see where I tucked out the length horizontally. I didn’t take a photo of the back piece, but I sliced that length to hinge, and the side front has the same removal of length with it tapering to nothing at the center back/crotch, if that makes sense.

So yep, those are my pants adjustments! I know they might seem confusing, and to be honest – I learned all this when I was going through my Clover saga a few years ago (never got those pants to fit right, but I sure learned a lot in the process!). It was a LOT of trial and error, but hopefully my notes will help a least a few people go through less trial and error :) As you can see, there aren’t a whole lot of adjustments needed to get a good fit on pants – but they all work together, and each one affects the other (and they are all adjustments that need to be made BEFORE cutting your fabric, which is why a muslin is SO essential when making pants!). For more fitting help, I strongly recommend investing in a copy of Pants for Real People, which is basically a pants-fitting Bible. So much good information in there, I use that book often!

Ok, now that THAT’S out of the way – let’s go back to talking about this pattern, and the style adjustments I made!

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers
Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

This pattern is designed to be worn cropped (or as shorts), with a faced waistline. I have learned that I really don’t care for faced waistlines, so I decided to add a waistband to my pants. I didn’t draft a waistband – I just used the facing pieces and flipped them to the top as waistband pieces (and cut two, so I could face the waistband, as you do). I think, for me, these are a little more wearable with a proper waistband. For interfacing, I used tricot fusible, which I looove because it stabilizes the fabric but doesn’t compromise the stretch of the fabric (which is what makes the darn pants so comfy to begin with!).

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

I also kept the length on the longer side, which means I can wear them full-length in the winter (with cool socks!) or fold them up to make them cropped. This length is straight out of the pattern, by the way – I didn’t shorten anything, and I’m 5’2″. Just fyi!

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

The one major design change I made to this pattern was to sew it in a stretch woven, as opposed to the firm woven (non-stretch) that the pattern calls for. For one, my muslin was a firm woven and I plain just didn’t like the way they felt! They were too restrictive! I like wearing stretch woven pants, ok. Also, it’s hard to find a good pants-weight print that isn’t a stretch woven, so there’s that. I think these are fine in the stretch fabric, although I should probably go back and size them down a little because I think the legs look kind of loose. I was trying to avoid the stovepipe legs look, just to try something different, but I think these do need a little less ease. These are a size 8, by the way!

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

So that’s it! Thanks Lisa (and the Sew Over It team!) for letting me test this pattern, and being so patient with me taking months to make a finished wearable garment :) Londoners, if you’re still afraid to tackle the trousers, there is a whole class for making these (with tea and cakes, omg I wish I was in London) if you still wanna try them!

Those of y’all scared to try trousers – what are your thoughts? Do you think the process looks any easier? Are you going to throw caution to the wind and try anyway? Y’all – pants are fun!

* Oh yeah, and I cut my hair! I hope you like it! Well, I guess it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it – it’s not like I can stick it back on my head lololol

Project Sewn: Hello, Dolly!

4 Feb

All right, dudes and dudettes – Project Sewn is up and running! This first week, the theme is Style Icon.

I’m just gonna be real with y’all – as soon as I saw that challenge, my personal motto started rolling through my head. The thing is – I don’t have a style icon. I honestly don’t have a person (or designer, or whatever) who I use as inspiration for my outfits. I mean, I like the way lots of celebrities dress and I’m no stranger to the siren song of a good Joan Holloway outfit, but as far as picking a particular person… naw. I don’t even know, y’all. In the end, I decided to go with someone who I admire as a person who just happens to have amazing style….

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Dolly Parton!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I mean, who doesn’t love Dolly, amirite? She’s such an incredibly smart, funny, generous – and not to mention talented as HELL – woman… a true icon in my book. Speaking of books, have you ever read her memoir, My Life and Other Unfinished Business? Or heard about her program Imagination Library, which sends free books to kids to get them excited about reading? Or, hell, have you been to Dollywood?? This woman, she is amazing. She’s not just a style icon for me – she’s a real life icon, the kind of person I want to emulate.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Plus, Dolly (specifically circa 60s-70s) was no stranger to an overly decorated/borderline tacky western shirt. And, dammit, I wanted a western shirt! I’ve actually been looking for an excuse to sew one for years.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I made my entire outfit, obviously, but let’s talk about the shirt first. My fabric is a tiny check gingham seersucker from Mood. I used the Archer as my base pattern (lol, poor Jen, probably never thought her pattern would get used to make this sort of monstrosity SORRY JEN I LOVE YOUR PATTERN THO), and made a few modifications, beyond my normal ones of changing the sleeve placket, narrowing the side seams, and a different method for attaching the collar and collar stand. There’s quite a bit of piping, since we all know it’s not a real western shirt without gratuitous amounts of piping.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Adding the piping was really fun, and definitely adds some pizazz to an otherwise plain shirt. The piping at the back yoke and top of the sleeve cuffs was easy – I just sewed it along the seam allowance before attaching the other pieces. For the front yoke, I had to do a little bit of drafting and figuring out – I ended up tracing the front piece and cutting off where I wanted the yoke to hit (right above the pockets) and then drew my scallops with a french curve. To attach the piping, I first sewed it to the bottom of the yoke, clipped and trimmed and pressed and it toward the wrong side, and then laid the yokes on top of the front piece and topstitched along the piping. The raw edges of the piping are enclosed inside the yoke, so the inside of the front of the shirt is perfectly clean except for a line of topstitching. I think it worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Once I had the shirt entirely assembled, less the pearl snaps and hem, I hung it on a hanger and stared at it for over a month. What to do next? I liked the way the effect was going, but it clearly needed some embroidery at the yokes to give it that western flair. I realized at the point that the tiny gingham check was working against me – any embroidery was going to get lost in all that action.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I had my epiphany right before I fell asleep one night – APPLIQUE! That would show up against the check, and it would still allow me to involve some of the embroidery I so desperately wanted. I knew I still had a piece of vintage barkcloth in my stash that would be perfect (I used the majority of it for my birthday dress a few years back, and have been hoarding the remaining yardage ever since!). I painstakingly cut around each rose and leaf, arranging the pieces so they would be mostly mirrored at the front, and attached them with fusible web to the yokes. Then I hand-embroidered around every piece – partially to keep them attached to the start, but mostly because I just loove the texture of hand embroidery!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I am pretty freaking THRILLED with how it turned out, what do you think??

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

The last thing my shirt needed was a little bit of pearl snap action! I got mine from Cowgirl Snaps on Etsy, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall experience. I actually bought both red and black pearl snaps, but once I got the shirt finished, black was the clear winner. Also, I just really love hammering shit in my sewing room, ok.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Ok, now let’s talk about the pants! I used a Theory stretch denim from Mood and my pattern is McCall’s 6440. This is my first version of this pattern (you’ve already seen my leopard pair, ooh la la), and I went through a BIG fitting curve with these. I initially cut the size 8, based on the finished measurements – and they were huuuuge! Pretty much every thing about them sucked except the crotch curve, basically. I spent an entire evening trying on, pinning, basting, trying on, repinning, basting, trying on… ad nauseam. I’m happy that they worked out in the end – they are SO fun to wear, and look super pin-up, yay! – but getting there was a process, plus the insides are full of thread tails from all that basting. Oh well!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Some gratuitous butt shots for ya. You’re welcome.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Oh, yeah, and in case you were wondering – I can also wear this shirt untied with the sleeves rolled down, like a proper Archer, which makes it much more wearable in day-to-day life :)

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Now at this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Ok, fine, but where the hell are you going to wear that thing, anyway??” Guys. Guys. I live in Nashville. I’m not so stuck up my own butt that I’m not above rolling down to the tourist district and getting my Honky Tonk on. Let’s be real – Honky Tonkin’ is the best part about living in Nashville, as far as I’m concerned. OF COURSE you can go dancin’ in normal people clothes, but why the hell not throw on your best western digs and cowboy boots and dress the part? This being made of seersucker is even better – it’ll be much more comfortable come summer, compared to my RTW black cotton western shirt, especially with the looser style.

I’m also going to wear it just for the heck of it because, well, it’s awesome ;)

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Also, in case you were wondering – I DO have cowboy boots! I just thought this outfit needed a little tone down from the ~country~, hence the Keds :)

Ok, hope you’re ready for some detail shots… I took a million :\….

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

The waistband of the pants is faced with more gingham seersucker. I love when my pants match my top, even if it’s only on the inside!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Don’t look too closely, but the embroidery on the front yokes is actually not a perfect mirror. Since the flowers weren’t printed to mirror, I had to get super creative with my cutting and appliqueing on one side, but I think it worked out quite nicely!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Sleeve placket + pearl snaps + piping = ♥

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Yokes

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Embroidery – the flowers are outlined in a 4 thread split stitch, and the leaves are outlined in a 2 thread chainstitch. I love the effect and textures with the applique and embroidery – it’s just a little bit Alabama Chanin.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Snaps to anyone who sat through this entire post! I have one gift for you, which I found while I was trolling the nets for Dolly inspiration (click for source):

dolly parton style inspo

NOW do you see why I chose her as my inspiration? God, I love that woman.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Now head on over to Project Sewn and see what everyone else has been up to! Don’t forget to vote for your favorite!

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