Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well Written Patterns Mean Successful Modern Sewing

Last summer was the Chitown Chinos summer where you were treated to unlimited pictures and commentary about the skirts and shorts I made from that pattern.  I simply love both pieces.

Recently, Adrianna from Hey June Handmade put out the new Sandbridge Skirt pattern and I knew right away I wanted to make one.  It's similar to the Chitown skirt but the pockets are different and the back is quite different.  I had some leftover denim fabric I used in these shorts and I thought it would work well for this skirt.

As soon as the pattern was available on her website, I downloaded and printed it and in the sweltering humidity we had last week, I taped it together and cut it out.  I wanted desperately to make my muslin and get moving, but everything slows to a crawl when it's humid, so it took me forever to get going.

I actually made a muslin, and it was a very basic one with no finishing, no pockets, no zipper.  I just wanted to see if it would basically fit without any major adjustments.  I usually try to make wearable muslins but I needed to get down to business so I didn't bother.   My favorite part was that when I measured my hips and my natural waist, the  numbers lined up exactly to a size in her pattern.  So often, the hips are one size and the waist is another an I have to figure out which way I want to go, or if the difference it's enough to be bothered by it.

Note:  this skirt is not meant to fit at the natural waist, but that is a measurement that's in there.

The muslin seemed perfect and then it was predicted that it would pour all day yesterday, so I knew the stars were aligned to get going on this new skirt.  I love a short skirt, but the mini version is meant to be unhemmed.  I like a hem on my denim, so I added an inch, only to use that inch later as a hem.  That was a good idea because hemming the original length would have been pretty short.

This denim is not at all stretchy and that's a good thing.  As I made the muslin out of thin cotton, I noticed right away that this skirt needs a heavy material.  It needs structure.  In most of my Chitowns, I use a thin cotton for all of the inside pieces because I don't want the bulk at the waist.  Something about this pattern really needs that bulk so I only used a thin cotton for the pocket bags and fly shield.

I'm not sure how this would work with anything stretchy and I am pretty sure with a stretch denim, I'd go down a whole size.

This fit is just as I hoped it would be.  It sits right on my hip bones which is how I like all of my pants, shorts and skirts to fit.  The pockets in the front are great.  There's a coin pocket but I chose not to do it because  I can't stand coin pockets because I think they are useless but also because as you can see if you look closely, I lost the pattern piecing Jenga game.  I had juuuuuuust about enough fabric, all going the right way, but I had to either sacrifice the back pockets, use a different fabric for them, or use a different fabric for the front pocket facings.

Random material for the pockets in the back would have been too weird for my taste.  I thought the front pocket facings would be the best choice.

The back has a yoke.  I debated not making this pattern for a while because of that yoke.  Sometimes, it can make a ample booty look even ampler and I'm not a Kardashian, soooooo.....

I finally decided that the pockets would do enough to offset any largeness that the yoke might have accentuated.  I'm okay with them, but after learning how to make welt pockets on the Chitowns, I kind of resent any outside back pockets on skirts and shorts now.

I also feel like these pockets are quite low, though when I look at all of the testers, they hit in the same place.  When I put my hands back there, and I've recently discovered that I do that A LOT, they feel like they go to the right place, I'm just not sure I like the placement.

If I make another one, I think I might try putting the pockets just a little higher.  I'd love to try mixing the Chitown welt pocket into this but....

Here you can see the fabric I used for the pocket facings.  It doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as it would have if I had used the floral here and put the solid on the back pockets.

As with the Chitowns, there is a LOT of topstitching but I really like the details.  I feel like the topstitching makes it look well made but I also think it does a lot of hiding or straightening out any mishaps that might have happened along the way and I think it makes them last longer.  A lot of those pressure points need the reinforcement of the topstitching and bar tacks.

It was suggested that we use rivets and a jeans button but I'm not ready for that step.  Like coin pockets, rivets really bug me.  And I'm petrified of the jeans button because I often have to move a button and those can't be moved once they are installed.

Now for some details.

 I think this curve on the pocket and the topstitching I did on it might be my favorite part.

I put belt loops on this, though I haven't put belt loops on any Chitowns since the first one.  I'm not sure if I'd do it next time.  I'll never wear a belt with it and it just adds bulk when I wear a shirt over it.

You can see when I made the bar tack on the pocket I had a little issue but I think I figured it out by the time I did the belt loops.

The directions for the zipper were great until it started talking about removing zipper teeth and putting the stops back in.  I think I would just situate the zipper lower from the start next time so there wouldn't be any  need to remove teeth.  I didn't put the stops back in but I think the fabric is there to stop anything from falling off.  This was the only part of the pattern that I didn't like.  Probably because I didn't understand the purpose of not placing the zipper low enough so this step wasn't necessary.

I chose to use some bias tape that I bought at the thrift store for pennies.  It's very narrow and was a total beyotch to get on there, so I would definitely go wider next time.  The pink fabric for the pocket bags and fly shield make me happy and they go with the topstitching which is actually pink but not clear in any of the pictures.
Oh this?  This the other example of my failure at pattern piecing Jenga.  The back waistband is meant to be on the fold and you need two of them.  I did one on the fold and one not and then realized my error.  I had ZERO fabric left to play with and I knew I needed the heavy denim, so I flatlocked the pieces together and hoped for the best.  I think all will be well.  Only I will see it.  Right???

Incidentally, this was the only major mishap during this entire experience.  SHOCKING.

For this project, I used both of my sewing machines.  What a luxury to have one set up for construction and one just for the topstitching.  No rethreading.  It was a delight.

People say that when you're working with denim and the layers start to get too thick for their machines, they hammer them down.  I really should have hammered the belt loops.  Getting those bartacks done on the belt loops was really hard because it was so thick.  Even with my new Bernina 350.

This pattern is so well written, anyone could follow along.  There are pictures and very clear instructions.  People who fear clothing sewing because they "can't read a pattern" should try reading these modern patterns.  Unlike the paper patterns we buy at the fabric store, the details and explanations in these digital patterns are amazing.

Plus, you can always try to contact the designer.  Adriana got right back to me when I had a question about the waistband.  Try doing that with the paper patterns!

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