Monday, August 15, 2016

The Summer The Chino Bug Bit Me

So, I've been a little busy this summer with the Chitown Chinos shorts and skirt pattern from Alina Design Co.  I first saw something about it on instagram when someone was pattern testing and the look of the shorts was exactly what I like in a pair of shorts, so I bought the pattern as soon as it was available.  It was a little lengthy and my first foray into the world of pants.  I quickly figured out the length of the directions was just the great wording of the details and why each step was necessary for great results.  I really like how Alina wrote the directions because just when I wondered why I would do something, the next paragraph told me why!

The zippper was my biggest fear but the pattern explains how to do it so well, it's completely painless.

In case zippers really scare you, I'll tell you that in this pattern, you do it way before you've joined the front to the back, so you're only dealing with the two pieces of the front.  No bulk, nothing to move out of the way.

This pattern is something you should try if you have done some sewing.  If you have never sewn, I would not suggest starting here because it can look overwhelming with all of the many steps and details for the finished product.

I thought I had been posting all about these shorts and skirts all summer until I realized the only one I posted was this one, my muslin pair. I explain a lot about the actual making of them there.  I really liked this pattern right from the beginning, so after I made this pair and realized my ridiculous mistake with the darts, I went to Joann fabrics and bought several pieces of material to make some shorts and skirts.

And I bought the zippers to go with them which meant it was real.  No buying fabric and leaving it in a pile for later.

The best part of this pattern is that it takes so little fabric.  And for someone on the short side, even less fabric.  I think if I buy a yard, I have plenty leftover, especially if I use different fabric for the pockets and facings and if there is not right or wrong direction.  Directional patterns or pattern matching would take more fabric, I would imagine.

So, I give you my vast collection of Chitown Chinos shorts and skirts.

I saved my favorite skirt and shorts for the end, so if I'm boring you, just skip right down.  I'll have lots of anecdotes along the way, so you might miss out if you jump right to the bottom!

My muslin turned out very wearable and I have worn them several times even though the zipper became velcro and the darts don't exist.  I have enough of that fabric that I could probably make more, and maybe even a skirt, but enough's enough, right?

Plus, I'm holding out for a potential pants version which I could make into capris and that fabric would be great for capris, right?  Especially a wearable muslin capri.

I wore these to a "paint night" at the Cultural Center and one of the artists saw me in the parking lot and said "Oh, I see you've got your paint shorts on!"  I didn't know what she meant, so I kind of smiled and then later she said "oh, those are FLOWERS.  I thought they were paint smudges"

Not even sure how to deal with that comment.  I laugh every time I wear them now.

On with the show.  You can click on any picture to enlarge it so you can see some of the details.  That's especially helpful if you are thinking you want to make them but you aren't sure about some things. 

This was supposed to be a cute, whimsical skirt that I was going to make this way and then make another with the other side of the fabric because it was hard to tell which way was the right way.  It turned out to be a total beeeeyotch and would not hold a crease.  It's deceptively thick but also rolls, my machine wasn't a fan of it and when I couldn't get the creases to stay, I was furious.

I was even more furious when I went down a size, realized this fabric had NO GIVE WHATSOEVER and had to put it on my etsy to save my sanity.

I made another one in my actual size but I'm still not loving the fit.  I love the fabric color and it's cute but I will NOT use what I have left for anything in the near future.

I'm showing the inside and outside of each because I used different fabric for all of the pockets and on one skirt, I used different fabric for the facings too.  I love how the inside fabrics are a surprise and I feel so professional every time I see it!

On instagram, we call it #prettyguts.

Also, the thinner cotton or rayon reduces bulk.  Some of the fabrics are thick enough that pockets of the same material would have added a lot of thickness around my hips.

I try to avoid thickness at my hips, at all costs.

For each piece, I tried to find a button that either matched perfectly or added some detail.  I  have, like so many of us, a container of random buttons that I've found, cut off of things going into the trash or kept from purchased clothes that give you an extra button  just in case.  I'm happy to say I didn't have to buy a single button!

Since I now have On Aunt Mildred's Porch tags, I tried to remember to put one in every piece.  It's something I forgot almost every time and would remember at the very last second.  None of them are in straight, but they are all in, so that's a win.  They are sew in tags and can't go on after the fact, so I just have to get used to thinking ahead of time when I will need to put them in.

Adding a tag makes me feel like they are not frumpy and homemade.  The tags also confuse me and make me think the size will be listed there too, which is ridiculous.

 I ended up using a variety of sizes and I'm getting to the point where I can't remember which I did bigger or smaller.  So, I think "oh, I'll just look at the tag".

This skirt was the last one I made, so I had learned a few things by then.  It is a twill and probably the heaviest, stiffest twill I have ever touched.  I realized there was no give at all, so I went up a size in this and that was a great decision.  This also has a very specific direction to the nap, like a corduroy, so I had to be careful about making sure I got it right.

Also, it's a magnet.  I have managed to collect every thread, cat hair, piece of grass imaginable.  I'd like to think over time it might soften and somehow attract less cat hair but I suspect this skirt will label me a crazy cat lady. 
This is the only piece where I used the same lighter fabric for the waistband facings and the pockets.  There was no way that a) my machine was going to like going through so much bulk at the waist if I used the same twill or b) my waistline was going to look good with that bulk.  This was a GREAT decision.

I also went a little longer with the length and did a double stitch on the hem.  I did a great job with the topstitching on this, I'm not afraid to brag, but it matches way too well, so no one will notice my precision.

What I love about this pattern is the details.  It takes longer and you might question why you are working so hard at something that people might not see if you don't tuck in your shirts (because I rarely tuck them in) but it really makes them sit different and look really good.  DO NOT skimp on all of the details in the pattern.

When I bought this denim fabric, I expected it to be heavier, and even when I felt it, I thought it was heavy, so I bought "jeans thread" to go with it.  It's that certain color you see in RTW jeans that you can't seem to replicate with the regular yellows, and it's a little thicker.

This fabric did not need a thick thread, so it wobbled a lot and wasn't so great on the inside.  The outside is fine.

I haven't shown you any backs but on all of the skirts, this is  how I did my pockets.  I was going to put flaps like I did on all of my shorts but I can't remember why I didn't on the first one, and I just kept them off for the rest.

I'm sure it was a bulk thing.

I also didn't do belt loops on any of the skirts but I did on all of the shorts.

These shorts are a great color but the fabric isn't as heavy as I think it should be for this style.  It's a bottom weight from Joann but it's almost like a linen.  It really wrinkles by the end of the day.

On all of my shorts, I did flaps on the pockets with contrasting fabric on the inside of the flaps, just as I did on the insides.

And now, my favorite pair of shorts.  The weight of this denim is just perfect and they are slightly darker than they look here.  When I first saw the flowers, I wasn't sure it was going to look that great.  

I think I had jeans like this when I was in elementary school which I later thought were stupid, but as shorts, this fabric is fantastic.

For all of my shorts, I did a 3.5 inch hem.  I think the pattern suggests longer, and I've seen them longer on some people on instagram, but this is the length I prefer in my shorts.  I took a pair of RTW chino shorts that I love and used them to figure out the length.

It's here that I need to tell you a funny little story.  I have read this pattern now a million times.  Before using it the first time, I went over it with a fine toothed comb.  Every time I put in a zipper, I thought it was so strange that one side was never mentioned.  I managed to sew it down along the way, but in one pair, I had to go in and whipstitch it by hand because it was swinging in the breeze.

With all of the details that were so great, I couldn't believe this side of the zipper was supposed to just go free.

And then, on the very last skirt, I happened to see this paragraph at the top.  Explaining how to do that other side.

How on earth I missed it, I can't tell you.  And how I managed to secure every zipper by accident,  except for one, is also a mystery.

If there wasn't some ridiculous tidbit every time I show you something new that I've sewn, you'd be reading the wrong blog.  It's kind of my job, I guess.  Screw it up somewhere along the line and tell you so you don't do the same thing.

Here are some pictures of how they look on me.  And from what I've seen, how they look on everyone else.

And now, for my favorite skirt.

This is a print I've seen on instagram several times, and only after I had it at home did I realize it had a slight stretch.  It's a sateen.  I'm told there's also a linen of this exact print, but I hadn't seen it.  And I'm not always a lover of linen because I make it look like I've slept in it about 3.5 seconds after I've put it on.
Had I realized it was slightly stretchy, I would have actually gone down a size.  By the end of the day, it's fairly loose at the waist.

All of my skirts are 8 inches from the bottom of the zipper except the black twill one.  That is meant to be 9 inches but I think it's more like 8.5.  Some hems are fairly wide like this and some are narrower, like my black one, depending on the mood that hit me at the time and how much length I had available. 

So, I have made a promise to my wallet that there will be no more shorts or skirts for a while.  I have no need, my closet is full.

If I added up what I spent in total, I'd say that I spent no  more than $10 per piece because I got some good deals, there isn't a lot of fabric necessary and all of the inside fabrics, buttons and most thread were already in my stash.

But if those pants get released, I'll be all over it.

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  1. These are so cute!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  2. You did a great job with the shorts and skirts!
    Thanks for sharing at our Monday Cooking and Crafting with J & J.

  3. This was AMAZING!!!! Love all the fabric choices and the practicality of the basic colours!


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