Thursday, December 7, 2017

2017 roundup: some cozy flannels

Basically the moment we decided we were moving up to the Pacific Northwest, I knew I needed to make some cozy plaid flannel shirts for layering. There are a ton of indie button-up shirt patterns out there (most notably, imo, the very popular Grainline Archer shirt). I thought about using an existing pattern but decided I wanted full control over the fit and details - a tunic length that I could wear with leggings without it being a dress, an oversized fit but with enough shaping to keep it from being completely boxy. It was also a great opportunity to practice drafting a collar with band and sleeve plackets - things I'd drafted and sewn in muslin for class, but I hadn't practiced applying them to a real garment. The plackets make it easy to roll up the sleeves when I want to, and there are buttons on the cuffs to close them up when I wear the sleeves long.

sleeve placket + cuff details

center back collar, yoke, and pleat - I inverted the pleat to stick outward on my second and third versions, but I think it works ok both ways.

The shirt details (collar, sleeves, plackets) were all straightforward and by-the-book to draft. The biggest issue I had was with making the shirt a little more oversized - it turns out I've only ever drafted things that are well-fitted, so this was new to me! I compared to some of Tim's button-down shirts and made a few attempts until I got the right combination of dropping the shoulders and armholes in addition to bringing out the side seams. Eventually I got a body and sleeves that all worked well together and gave the look I wanted. I kept bust darts and a curve to the side seam through the waist, and I really like the gentle shaping that comes from those details.

Sewing without instructions is always interesting. Back in my classes, I took notes on some things like sleeve placket construction. But there is nothing telling me where to begin or the overall ordering, so it ends up taking a lot of focus and thought to make sure I don't miss a step. But I really enjoy this process, reminding myself that I can figure basically anything out if I'm left to my own devices, and eventually putting on the finishing touches and knowing I did the whole thing without someone else telling me how.

This is one of those designs that I don't think is very ground breaking (how many button-up shirts like this exist in either ready-to-wear stores or sewing patterns??). It's not something I'm really considering selling either ready made or in pattern form for various reasons. But it's been such a delight to make and wear for myself.

This shirt has gotten a ton of wear. I made it in June and it warmed up before long, but since fall weather has set in it's been a staple, one of those things I reach for constantly and have to convince myself to skip sometimes just to mix up my outfits. I worry the cheap fabric I used won't hold up super well through many more washes, but I'm going to keep wearing it to death in the meantime.

perfectly covers that leggings bum

And, I just finished sewing up two more - one in black and white buffalo plaid and another in a deep red herringbone - after working on those in parallel off and on this month. See below for an earlier in progress shot of the delightful Robert Kaufman flannels. I just need to buy and attach some buttons and sew their buttonholes - 22 across both shirts, eep. I'm excited to expand my cozy flannel collection by 3x and stay cozy all winter.

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017 roundup: some rejected paper bag shorts

This was the first thing I drafted after we moved to Portland this spring. Before that I'd drafted a few garments, but they were usually for classes, or I would squeeze a super simple knit dress into a weekend. After the move, I wanted to give myself some fun projects before fully diving into starting my business (because let's be real, I had so much to figure out about what I wanted that to look like, and still do honestly!). I wanted to give myself a challenge, as I often do, so I started with a photo I saw on pinterest of some trendy paper bag shorts (a style that wasn't covered at all in my pattern making curriculum) and decided to figure out how to draft and construct something similar.

my inspiration image - I tried to track down the original source but it's pinterest all the way down

Let's skip to the verdict: I'm pleased with how well I figured out the drafting and construction on a project so different from anything I'd made before, and it was a great opportunity to draft and sew my first zipper fly! That said, these shorts are not my style and I never actually wore them. What looked cute and intentionally oversized in the Pinterest photo is just baggy and unflattering on me, and I tried and failed to find a top in my closet that looked okay with them. I can't be too upset - they were a learning experience, both technically and in learning more about what clothing I just don't want to wear.

Drafting and Construction

I used my pants sloper from patternmaking class, cut it off several inches below the crotch, and then slash-and-spread from the waist down to the hem in order to leave room for those top ruffles and a wider leg opening. I decided to insert elastic across the entire back waist, and two shorter pieces in the front. There are waistband facings on the inside, holding the elastic in place against the wrong side of the shorts, as well as a narrower waistband topstitched down on the outside to hide the spots where the elastic is attached to the shorts and to create the front ties . All three layers are topstitched down around the entire waist. This was tricky! My elastic is fairly stiff, so trying to stretch it fully and sew through three layers of fabric right alongside it, without catching the elastic itself, was an ordeal.

I sewed a muslin that seemed to fit well, then went out and bought the closest thing I could find to rust-colored fabric - a kind of berry red cotton. I always think red shorts are a good idea and I always regret that choice later. I sewed the shorts up, tried them on, and ---- nope. The fabric was too stiff to give that nice slouchy look, the color was wrong, and there was just too much fabric everywhere, making it look almost clownish. (I failed to get photos of this pair on and just don't really care enough to do it now, sorry not sorry!)

I didn't want to give up, so I regrouped and got some more subdued and drapier fabric, took out some width in the shorts and added a fly to make sure I could still get them on, and sewed up another pair. This time was better, and I really wanted to like them. But they just weren't my style. They look too diaper-like in some light, and I'm not sure if that's the drafting (probably) or just my body with this style, but either way, I realized I wasn't going to wear these no matter how much I perfected them.

And as much as I hate these awful bathroom selfies, I think they really show the diaper-like drape of these shorts pretty well:


As for these shorts, I'm holding onto them for now - a reminder of something I figured out on my own, iterated and improved upon, but also a reminder that it's ok to make something and realize it's just not for me, that this is all a learning process, one that should get easier over time.