Hey everyone! Before we get into the fun part of this post, a couple things that bear mentioning but don’t quite warrant their own post:
– Have you signed up to join The Sewing Party yet? The party starts on November 8 (this Saturday!), where over 30 educators will be teaching a plethora of online classes – including sewing a tank top, bra making, intro to sewing knits, and cross stitch (those last two were actually shot here in Nashville, in the same place/same day I filmed my class! Check out Devon’s post if you want some ~insider info~). I’ll be participating with my own class – Apparel Zippers 101! In my segment, I’ll show y’all how to insert both lapped and invisible zippers, how to deal with facing/lining, and what types of zippers are suitable for what garments. The classes are viewable for 90 full days after the day of the actual party, so no worries if you can’t watch them all in one day! Who else is going to The Sewing Party? Have you seen the trailer for my class yet? EEP.
– Speaking of sewing classes – and Jennifer! – I’m excited to announce that I’ll be back at WORKROOM SOCIAL again to teach another round of the Weekend Pants-Making Intensive on March 21-22! YES! I am SO excited about this; the last class I taught there was ridiculously fun and I met so many awesome ladies that weekend (and, you know, crotch-grabbing). Can’t wait to come back and do it again (and hit up the Garment District while I’m at it, because, obviously.). You can see all the details of the class on the website, but the general gist – it’s a 2 day class, which includes snacks & lunch, use of all machines & tools in the studio, plus the tuition itself – where we we will be covering basic pants-fitting, installing the front fly, pockets and waistband, and little sewing tips and tricks for increasing speed and accuracy. It’s going to be INSANELY fun and I’m so excited! The space will fill up fast, so get your registration in before the class sells out! Who else is coming to our PANTS PARTY? :D
– US Readers – if haven’t already done so, don’t forget to throw your name in the hat for the Love at First Stitch giveaway! Entries close on Friday, so you still have time :)
Ok! Now for the make! This might qualify for one of the most random things I’ve ever made for myself (my hairstylist busted out laughing when I told her my plans for these – thank god she hadn’t started cutting my bangs yet! Ha!) – tights!
Not leggings or stirrup pants (I saw somewhere a couple of years ago that those might be making a comeback? Huh? Can someone please tell me if stirrup pants are about to a thing again?) – but, like, actual literal tights. Pantyhose. Whatever you call those things that completely cover your feet like there are socks attached to them. I MADE THOSE THINGS.
So why make your own tights? Well… why not? Personally, I wanted something with wool so that I could use them to layer and stay warm in the winter (either layered under my pants – like long underwear – or layered under a thinner pair of tights and worn with a skirt. I’m so cold-blooded that I’m practically reptilian, so I’m always looking for new ways to stay warm in the winter.). I love wool tights, but those things are expensive. Plus, you’re limited to the colors and styles that are available in stores – which, depending on where you shop, could mean you get a shitty selection. No thank you!
So I made my own. Surprisingly, they were REALLY easy and fast to make – the hardest part is choosing fabric, since you want something with a good 4 way stretch and a superb recovery (otherwise you’ll end up with baggy tights – this means no cotton or rayon, unless there’s a loooot of spandex thrown in the mix). For the pattern, I used the Rose Hip Tights from Seamster Patterns. I’ve been eyeballing this pattern ever since it came out – first, with curiosity (“Do I want to make something like that?”), later, with lust (“God, I wish I could just make some fucking wool tights!”), and last month I finally went ahead and bought it. I was apprehensive at first, because I had NO idea how these were going to come together – or if they’d even be wearable – but my experience with Mari’s patterns in the past have been nothing but positive, so I trusted. I trusted hard and Mari did not let me down.
First of all, the instructions on this pattern are crazy good. There were a few parts where I scratched my head for a couple of minutes before it made sense, but for the most part – everything is very clearly laid out, with great diagrams included. The instructions don’t just cover construction, by the way. They also cover fabric selection and alterations – finally, I could make tights that are actually the right length (can I get a halleluiah up in here?). For fabric selection, you need a knit with a 4 way stretch and good recovery, and your stretch percentage will determine what size you cut. There’s a little chart to help you determine stretch percentage, if you don’t know that for your particular fabric (I didn’t, nor did I know how to calculate it, so that was very helpful!). For this fabric – which is a lightweight wool knit I bought from Paron’s while I was in NYC in August – I had a 75% 4 way stretch, so I cut the size 2XS and shortened the legs. I don’t remember exactly how much I shortened the legs, sorrrrry (it’s been about a month since I made these), but I based the length off a pair of RTW tights that does fit me correctly. I also used maths, calculating my stretch percentage with the length. They ended up perfect. I am so tickled.
Like I said, the construction part was NOT bad! These came together super quickly, everything matched up, and everything fit. That’s pretty impressive! I used my serger to whip everything together – the only change was that I changed to a 3 thread overlock instead of my usual 4 thread overlock (I figured the 3 thread would be a little less bulky, and I was right!). I think these were finished in about 20 minutes. Forreal. Even the gussets were easy to sew, which – if you’ve ever sewn a gusset in something woven, you know that’s quite a feat. Fortunately, knits are very forgiving and you can just stretch them into submission if need be. Which is exactly what I did!
AND JUST LIKE THAT, I MADE TIGHTS.
There are some interesting design details in this pattern (I’d love to show y’all a photo of them without the skirt, but, um, last I checked, I get a lot of fetishists creeping on my site & Flickr and I don’t want to fuel the fire any more than I apparently already am SORRY GUYS); it’s not just a plain pair of tights. The foot is formed with the seam on top (so it doesn’t irritate your foot to walk on it – genius!) and across the toes, and then it V’s into a back seam that runs all the way to the top. There is a gusset at the crotch for comfort. The pattern includes options for a low rise, a high rise, and thigh-highs, plus the foot gusset means you can colorblock the hell out of these for some mega fun tights. I made the high rise version, and omitted the optional elastic at the waist.
For my second pair, I used this awesome printed lace from Funki Fabrics. I LOVE the way these turned out, at least appearance-wise. They are soo pretty, and since the lace is printed – they are very opaque and warm!
The print is too busy to really showcase the seams up the back, but, whatever. They’re still pretty cool!
Unfortunately, the fit on these is not as good as the fit on my grey pair :( This is 100% my fault, as I did not calculate the stretch percentage of the fabric before cutting it – I just assumed it would be the same. This fabric is very stretchy – but it’s not the same 75% stretch as my grey fabric. More like 50%. Because of this, the tights are PRETTY FREAKING SNUG. It’s like wearing shapewear! I would almost be ok with that, except that they’re also a little too short (again, stretch percentage calculation error on my part). I can get them on – but it’s a pretty intense struggle, and they really just aren’t comfortable because the crotch hangs too low :( It’s not the end of the world – I can gift them to my smaller/shorter preteen niece, or even turn them into thigh-highs – but, ugh. Learn from my mistakes, y’all. All knits are not created equal!
Anyway, I had a fun time sewing the second pair – the lace ones (well, I had fun sewing the gray pair too, but more in a ~learning~ sense). I took them with me to the Open Sewing Lab that I run at The Fabric Studio here in Nashville (I like to bring a simple project with me so I can be doing something if no one needs me – I always hated having teachers who breathed down my neck! Give me some space, lady!), and everyone was laughing hysterically at how small they were while they were being constructed. I mean – they do have to stretch a LOT to fit properly, but they still look insanely tiny when not on a body. At least I got them on when they were finished! Barely! haha!
I just love all the little details on these tights – especially how ridiculous the foot looks when there’s not a foot in it :)
So yep, that’s it! I’m anxious to try more tights – I’d love to have them in black, brown, and dark grey (the tight colors I wear most), and I’d LOVE to try these with something textured or cabled, or even a full-on sweater knit! Sweater tights! Yesss!! If anyone knows where I can get wool knit with a 4 way stretch of at least 50% (but preferably 75%), holler! Most of the merinos I have are only 2 way stretch :( I’m also curious to try some tights in super crazy fabric – such as this awesomeness?! I love celebrating Halloween year-round, ha! What about you? Would you ever make your own tights? Did I just change your mind? :)
Oh, and yes, that’s a Mabel skirt I’m wearing. I wanted to show y’all how it looks with a shorter tshirt – I think the overall balance of my silhouette looks MUCH better, don’t you think? A bunch of y’all were equally mystified with how to style these skirts, and so at least one answer! It’s amazing how much better it looks with the slightly shorter shirt hem, yeah? Also, I didn’t make that tshirt, although I did hem and size it down to fit me better (which is something I do with most of my tshirts, just because the out-of-the-box shape doesn’t tend to be very flattering on me).
Disclaimer: I received the lace knit fabric from Funki Fabrics in exchange for a review.