Sssssssay Sssssssewist; Sssssssome Ssssssuper Ssssssassssssy Ssssslackssssss? Sssssssenssssational!

Snakeskin stretch pantsFebruary’s Monthly Stitch Challenge is Smarty Pants where we try our hand at trousers of all kinds! badge As you may already be aware, trousers/pants are not the easiest thing in the world to fit.  So, for my contribution, I went with a fairly simple pattern, no pockets or front fly and used a stretch twill.  Not only is the stretch fabric far more comfortable, but it really is easier to fit.

snakeskin stretch twillI’ve had this super-fantabulous snakeskin print stretch twill in my stash and envisioned slinky, straight legged trousers sewn with it.  And, since February’s Stashbusting february stashbusting badge copychallenge is Love: sew for somebody you love or sew about something you love, it seemed only appropriate to use an animal print fabric since (I’m sure it’s no secret or shock),  I Love Animals!

February 1st was also Serpent Dayserpent day badge, a day to recognize all that our slithery friends do for us.  Many people seem to have an innate fear of snakes, but in fact, without them forests, parks and crops would likely be infested and destroyed by insects and rodents, which snakes eat.  Snakes also help to keep the natural ecosystem in working order and without them, the numbers of prey species would increase to unnatural levels and the predators that eat snakes would struggle to find food.  So, next time you see a snake on your walk, remember to say ‘Thanksssssssssssss’. :)

burda 7141The pattern I used was Burda 7141 since it had very little embellishments and would appear very simple and snakelike.  I measured the paper pattern and ended up adding 1.5″ (4cm) to the top, thereby lengthening from waist to hip.  The end result of this is that the front ended up being a bit too high and the back ended up being a bit too low.  I guess I should have taken curves into account.  So, next time, I will add only 1″ to the front and at least 2″ to the back.  I wasn’t sure what type of interfacing to use for the facing, but consensus of the ever helpful sewcialists on Instagram (thank you!!) was to use either Pro Woven fusible weft , which I did not have, or knit, stretch tricot interfacing, which I did have and used with the stretch going cross-wise.

Kitty aids in the fitting process

Kitty aids in the fitting process

I made the smallest size, 8, which did correspond to my measurements, but the pants ended up being very large even after I measured and adjusted the paper pattern.  This could have been due to the fact that my stretch twill had a large amount of stretch to it.  I had to take in about 2 cm (3/4″) of the entire inside leg seam and then put them on and ‘fit’ the rest of the baggyness by pinning the outer side seams to fit my shape.

Two darts in the back instead of one

Two darts are better than One!

I took in enough so that they weren’t baggy but I still wanted them to have some breadth.  My lovely sewing teacher at community centre sewing class, Natallie Chin, put in a second dart for me in the back, rather than just taking in more from the side seams.  This was a great idea as it gave the trousers shape instead of making them look like skin-tight leggings.

Invisible Zip Inside and Out vertical

Invisible Zip

Seam Finishes

Seam Finishes

The side seams were bound with an olive green bias tape.  Naturally, because this will make the snake feel at home in its natural environment.  I finished the inside leg and crotch seams by turning under the seam and zigzagging in an attempt to reduce bulk in this area.  And, I opted for an invisible zipper so that the fabric takes centre stage.

Stretch snakeskin trousers back

Stretch snakeskin trousers side

P.S. Have you voted for my March’s Miss Sew Bossy Patterns yet?  There are four patterns to chose from (pics of each included) and you get to boss me around as to which one I have to sew for March!  The poll is here, please drop by and vote!  Voting closes February 28, 2014.

Snakeskin Trousers Stretch Twill

The Hunt For Red October Finds an Innocent BHL Polly Top and…David Bowie’s Pants!?

Red By Hand London Polly Top and CulottesThe Sewcialists on Twitter began chatting about life, love and the pursuit of happiness, as you do, when out of that, came an idea to sew colours.  October then became Sew Red October, and here is the uber-fabulous badge that Gillian made:RedOctober Badge

Polly-By-Hand-London

Free Pattern – By Hand London Polly Top

I also discovered that the lovely ladies from By Hand London created a pattern called the Polly Top.  It’s terrific, a great stash buster, and I will be sewing it again in other colours, for sure.  And, it’s FREE!  You can find the link to download it here.  They’ve also included a how-to video so it’s perfect for beginners or anybody wanting to follow along with visual aid.

The smallest size was a bit too large, so when printing it out in Adobe, instead of selecting ‘actual size’, I reduced it to 94%.  I did not want to lose the length, however, so measured how long the smallest size would be, and added that amount to the reduced pattern pieces.

Printing at 94% & Adding Length

Printing at 94% & Adding Length

The great thing about this top is that you can showcase a colour / pattern or fabric that you may never wear because you don’t like it on you personally, since the piece in front is small and doesn’t touch your neck/face.  You can use either contrasting or matching bias binding for the neck and armholes and I opted to make my own bias tape (my first time) out of the striped fabric.  I used a bias tape maker for this and it was very simple.

Making Your Own Bias Tape Using a Bias Tape Maker Tool

Making Your Own Bias Tape Using a Bias Tape Maker Tool

By Hand London Polly Top different anglesCulottes and Poly Top TwirlingVogue 8136I have always liked the practicality and the swishy factor of culottes, so wanted to make a pair.  I used a vintage pattern from the 1970s, Vogue 8136, which has a yoke, back zip and are high waisted, something I don’t normally wear, but I like the look with the yoke and wide leg.  I believe it is likely we will be seeing more culottes in fashion.  There are dozens of vintage patterns out there, or if you are interested in something more modern, Megan Neilson has recently developed the Tania Culottes.

Sewing Machine Needle Tip:  The fabric I used for the culottes was a tightly woven sueded polyester/microfibre and I kept getting many skipped stitches.  I was using a small size (75/11) Universal needle.  But, for this type of fabric you NEED to use a Sharp or Microtex.  The Universal needle has a slight ballpoint and it was not piercing and catching the fabric so the stitches were not taking.  As soon as I changed to a larger sized (90/14) Sharp, I had no more skipped stitches.  Culottes Gauchos Split Skirt I used the striped fabric from the Polly top to line the yoke and the pockets of the culottes.  So they do match the top, but since it’s all on the inside, only you and I will know it.  Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone. Lined Yoke and PocketsYoke and Pockets LiningThese culottes have quite the leg girth, so if you stand certain ways, It is difficult to tell if it is a skirt or trousers.  I plan on making them again but reducing the size of the leg pieces to emphasize the ‘culotte factor and make it more obvious.

Is It A Skirt??  Nope!! It Is Culottes.

Is It A Skirt?? Nope!! It Is Culottes.

–Do these trousers remind you of anyone?–

That's The One!!

That’s The One!! David Bowie in his infamous trousers designed by Yamamoto Kansai in 1973.

Today’s blogpost has been brought to you by:  The Colour Red!  While doing this Sewalong, I realized that I have absolutely nothing in my wardrobe that is red, except for one winter coat.  What about you?

Red, a primary colour that is the hottest of the warm colours, Rainbow over the Muldrow Glacieris the highest arc of the rainbow and is also the longest wavelength of light.  It is the colour of fire and is associated with heat and warmth. Coals-Heat-FireRed is the color of blood, and as such has strong symbolism as life and vitality. It is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.

Red is one of the first colours to be used by humans as art such as prehistoric cave drawings or body painting.

Cave Drawing Altamira, Spain

Cave Drawing Altamira, Spain

In an archaeological site in South Africa, Pinnacle Point, ochre coloured iron oxide tools were discovered dating back to 170,000 years ago.  Before synthetic dyes were created, the colour red was produced by drying and crushing tiny insects called Kermes Vermilio (hence, vermillion red).

Being the color of physical movement, the color red awakens our physical life force. It is the color of sexuality and lust while love is expressed with pink.  Red is a very emotionally intense color. Red is energizing.  It excites the emotions and motivates us to take action.Red Tag Sale

It signifies a pioneering spirit and leadership qualities, promoting ambition and determination. Red is the colour most associated with courage and can give confidence to those who are shy or lacking in will power.

It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. The color red can stimulate the appetite, often being used in restaurants for this purpose. It also increases craving for food and other stimuli.Red Dining Room Country Living

It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stop lights, and fire equipment are usually red.  It is the universal colour for danger.  Danger SignsRed brings text and images to the foreground.

source: Damir Sagolj Reuters

source: Damir Sagolj Reuters

In heraldry, red is used to indicate courage.  It is a colour found in many national flags (77% of all flags include red) and is commonly associated with socialism and communism.

Being surrounded by too much of the colour red can cause us to become irritated, agitated and ultimately angry. Too little and we become cautious, manipulative and fearful.

In Eastern cultures such as China, red is the colour for good luck, prosperity and joy and is traditionally the colour for weddings.  In Indian culture it symbolizes purity and is often used in wedding gowns.  In South Africa, red is the color of mourning, representing death.  In Central Africa, Ndembu warriors rub themselves with red paint during celebrations.  red-roses-photoSince their culture sees the color as a symbol of life and health, sick people are also painted with it.  In Russia, the word for “red” means beautiful.  In the Middle East the colour carries symbolism of Danger and Evil.  According to Greek mythology, the red rose originated from the blood of the slain Adonis, Aphrodite’s lover.  Red became both the universal symbol of lovers, as well as nature’s cycle of life and death.

source: catholicpressphoto.com

source: catholicpressphoto.com

In the Catholic religion, cardinals wear read and its one of the most iconic colours of the clergy.

The colour red can provide:

Energy:  it boosts our physical energy levels, increases our heart rate and blood pressure and prompts the release of adrenalin.  Action:  it is fast moving and promotes a need for action and movement.  Desire:  it relates to physical desire in all its forms- sexual, appetite, cravings.  Passion:  it means a passionate belief in an issue or undertaking, including passionate love or passionate hate or anger.

root chakraRed is the color associated with the Root Chakra, which is the first chakra, located at the base of the spine and groin area.  This chakra deals with life at the level of practicality and allows us to be grounded and connected to universal energies. It is responsible for maintaining the body’s heat and has a relationship with the circulatory system.

Red-Green Colour Blindness Test.  Can you read this?

Red-Green Colour Blindness Test. Can you read this?

Many kinds of mammals, such as dogs and cattle, have dichromacy, which means they can see blues and yellows, but cannot distinguish red and green (both are seen as gray).  Some humans also have what is called red-green colour blindness.

Katherine Hepburn was a ginger

Katherine Hepburn was a Ginger

Red is the rarest hair colour and between 1% and 2%, or 70 to 140 million people around the world, have red hair.  It is caused by a recessive gene and both parents must pass it on.

Put some red in your life when you want:

  • increased enthusiasm and interest
  • more energy
  • action and confidence to go after your dreams
  • protection from fears and anxieties

Kitty has made no appearance in the photoshoot!!!!!  Fear not.  I have compiled collages of him as a baby kitten in a SuperKitty costume with a bright red cape!  Because that’s the kind of Kitty he is.Super Kitty

Kitty.  Super Sewing Hero.

Kitty. Super Sewing Hero.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Great Gatsby Sew-Along, The Cat’s Pajamas (One Giant Leap for Womankind)

Beach Pajamas By Tree2The phrase, “the cat’s pajamas” was coined in the 1920s in reference to the unconventional spirit of the female flapper (“cat”) and, combined with the word pajamas (a relatively new fashion in the 1920s), it formed a phrase used to describe something that is the best at what it does, thus making it highly sought after and desirable.Beach Pajamas and HatFor the Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge spearheaded by Miss Crayola Creepy, I decided to sew a pair of Beach or Lounge Pajamas from a Butterick 4177 Pattern.

Butterick 4177 Jumpsuit Pattern

Sewing Pattern I used: Butterick 4177 Jumpsuit

1920s dresses bird silhouette print

1920s dresses with bird silhouette print

Pajamas were the new lounge wear of the 1920s, no longer limited to actually sleeping in.

In the 1920s and 1930s, these garments, made of soft satin and embroidered “a la Chinoise,” became not only acceptable, but a chic, stylish item for women to wear to soirees in the homes of their bohemian friends.

Art Deco was also popular in the 1920s and fabric prints reflected this.

Art Deco Fabrics (Spoonflower)

Art Deco Fabrics (Spoonflower)

Great Gatsby Fabric

Fabric: Art Deco Inspired Print in an ultra-thin rayon challis and Bird Silhouette Print in a poly gauze

I selected an Art Deco inspired geometric print for the Beach Pajamas in a very delicately thin and airy rayon challis, 100% viscose (which was difficult to cut and sew with) and added a silhouette bird pattern fabric (also popular in the 1920s) for the collar and pockets, in a poly gauze.  PantsuitIn the years 1880-1910, the ideal female profile would resemble the letter “S”. Ladies would force themselves into corsets and squeeze their waists down to often below 20 inches in diameter. This would raise their ribcage producing a prominent chest or “pigeon front”. The sides would be pushed back and the rear raised or padded to produce the lower curve of the “S”.

Misses' Polonaise Costume, from Butterick's Delineator, September 1883

Misses’ Polonaise Costume, from Butterick’s Delineator, September 1883

Before the twentieth century, women were technically not allowed to wear pants because it was deemed a masculine item, and they were ostracized if they opted to do so.  The Women’s Suffrage movement gained its greatest victory in 1920 when the 19th Amendment prohibited gender discrimination in the voting polls. This political gain opened a decade of many radical changes in the perception and presentation of women.  One of these changes was the change in the oppressive and sometimes health detriments of women’s fashions of the time.  Dress reformers in the 19th century tackled this issue of female oppression by fashion by promoting social improvement in practicality over trends, for health and comfort over convention, and rationality over conformity

Paul Poiret harem pants

Paul Poiret harem pants

The arrival of World War I (1914–18) gave many women jobs as men went to join the military and many women wore trousers and overalls to work in factories.

Eastern culture inspired French designer Paul Poiret (1879–1944) to become one of the first to design pants (trousers) for women. In 1913 Poiret created loose-fitting, wide-leg trousers for women called harem pants, which were based on the costumes of the popular opera Sheherazade.

Thelma Todd in a late 1920s early 1930s Beach Pajama Ensemble

Thelma Todd in a Beach Pajama Ensemble

Fun in Beach Pajamas1920’s fashion trends were all about rebellion. The 1920’s were a time of backlash. People were lashing out at the rigid formalities of the Victorian era and defying the restrictions that came with the Prohibition era.

1920s Sewing Pattern

1920s/30s Sewing Pattern

1920s Beach Pajamas McCalls Pattern

1920s/30s Beach Pajamas McCalls Pattern

Lounging in Lounge PajamasUntil the 1920s, pajamas were only worn as sleepwear, then sometime in the 1920s, they made their way outdoors as a cover-up over swimming costumes on the beaches of the French Riveria.

Beach Pajamas La Cote D'Azure

Beach Pajamas La Cote D’Azure

During the 1920s, Coco Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet promoted silky, luxurious pajamas as evening wear to wear initially in private after which Coco Chanel began to wear trousers herself in public.  This was a new, ‘masculine’ look that offered loose, sailor style trousers for women to wear at home and at the beach. These ‘beach pajamas’ were an early form of the pants suit.Walking in Breeze in Beach PajamasLe-Sourire_1933

When crepe beach and lounge pajamas were first worn at the seaside, trouser wearing women were a rare sight and still very much confined to only beach and promenade areas while in public.  Society still did not want to accept women in this new role.1926 photo Ready to Strut My StuffBeach Pajamas and Great Gatsby BookFinally, by the late 1920s, beach pajamas appeared outside the bedroom as swimsuit cover-ups on the beaches and boats of the French Riviera, then quickly moved on to the streets of Britain and spread across the globe.

1920s Beach Pajamas PosterThey are comfortable.  They are stylish.  They are cool and breezy.  They are practical.  They are leaps and bounds above corsets, petticoats, cages and heavy long skirts.  Long Live the Lounge / Beach Pajama!!

Kitty Wants

Kitty Wants

Also, don’t forget to enter the Wellington Pattern Pyramid, here.  The last day for entry is this Friday June 7, 2013.

Resources and Credits:

http://www.swingfashionista.com/tag/beach-pyjamas/

http://www.ehow.com/info_8110935_did-women-dress-1920s.html

http://fashionbloglife.com/1920sfashion/

1930s beach and lounging pyjamas…how I love thee

http://weeklysilence.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/research-paper-pants-phenomenon-the-switch-from-skirts-to-trousers/

http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/Modern-World-1930-1945/Trousers-for-Women.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tove-hermanson/women-pants-politics_b_541555.html

Fearless February Project: Burda Style 7441

I am currently at work on my Fearless February Project.  This sew-along was started by Victoria, and her blog, Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing, is based on the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In the book, Gladwell expounds the value of the “10,000 Hour Rule”, where success and mastery of something can be achieved but requires 10,000 hours of practice.  It makes me feel really motivated and positive about my sewing since as a beginner, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all there is to learn.  But, with this idea in mind, I believe that I can achieve success in sewing!

I’m a fan of Gladwell’s writing and if you have not checked him out, he has published several books and they all infuse a fresh twist into the subjects of modern psychology and philosophy.

Okay, with that in mind, here is the Fearless February Project:  Burda Style Pants 7441.Burda 7441 Pattern  I began this project last year before ever having sewn a thing, and it was far too overwhelming.  And, in retrospect, it was not a good choice for an absolute beginner for several reasons: 1) The pattern is a Burda and I have been told they can be notorious for not providing the most detailed or complete instructions.  2) It is rated as a 3 out of 4 on a difficulty level.  3) Tailored pants are more difficult to sew than a simple skirt or top.  And, 4) These pants have a lot going on including, two different styles of pockets, darts, pleats, zipper.

However, with some experience under my belt, a slew of practice hours logged and a variety of projects completed, I felt ready to tackle these pants again.

All pattern pieces have been cut out, including lining and interfacing.  Pants Pattern Pieces Cut Out

The very first task (after sewing the back darts) was to construct the back welt pockets.  Wow, these were difficult to understand, the directions and pictures were not very explanatory and there seemed to be a few placement marks missing on the pattern pieces (i.e., sew lines for piping and pocket attachment).  But, with the help of my sewing teacher, and a few tears, I have now completed the back welt pockets!!  Back Welt PocketBack Welt Pocket InsideThere was a definite learning curve, and, one pocket looks better from the outside while the other pocket worked out nicely from the inside.  So, for the next pants, I should be able to construct a pocket that looks good from both the outside and inside.  I am now on to the front of the pants.  Wish me luck!

Sleeping in Style (with Monkeys)

So, this years Christmas gifts were….wait for it……sleepwear for everybody! YIPPEE!!

Father and Son Coordinating PJs

Father and Son Coordinating PJs

Pajama bottoms, a matching camisole and nightgowns.

Run Little Mister Monkeypants Run!!

Run Little Mister Monkeypants Run!!

Green Nightgown with Coordinating Fabric (and monkey fabric yo-yo on the front)

Green Nightgown with Coordinating Fabric (and monkey fabric yo-yo on the front)

I did not make the jersey t-shirts (I’m still working on inserting sleeves as well as learning to sew with knits), so I bought T-shirts and just embellished them with monkey appliques and matching fabric appliqued on.

Little Mister Monkeypants

Little Mister Monkeypants

The green Jammies set were all based off of the Monkey fabric, so they all coordinated with camouflage patterns, shades of green and monkeys.

Pajamas and Nightgown in Coordinating Fabric

Pajamas and Nightgown in Coordinating Fabric

I also added coordinating fabric to the hems and waistbands of some of the pajama bottoms as well as to the chest pieces and straps of the nightgowns.  And note the blue monkey slippers that match with the blue linen nightgown.

Blue Linen NIghtgown with Embossed Paisley Pattern (and coordinating monkey slippers)

Blue Linen NIghtgown with Embossed Paisley Pattern (and coordinating monkey slippers)

Nightgown in Blue Linen with Embossed Paisley Pattern

Nightgown in Blue Linen with Embossed Paisley Pattern

Who doesn’t love monkeys???!!!

Matching Pajama Camisole Top and Bottoms

Matching Pajama Camisole Top and Bottoms

Coordinating Pajama Camisole Style Top and Bottoms

Coordinating Pajama Camisole Style Top and Bottoms

Red and White Stars Cotton Pajama Bottoms

Red and White Stars Cotton Pajama Bottoms

(photo courtesy of The Guardian-uk)

photo courtesy of The Guardian-uk, of a kitty sleeping in style, with a monkey.

How to Construct a Waistband Casing

A waistband casing consists of a tunnel sewn to accommodate a drawstring or elastic at the top of a skirt or pants and at the waistline of a dress.  A casing can also be used at the hems of sleeves and pants.  You will need to fold the fabric towards the wrong side and press about 0.75 cm (quarter-inch), then fold down again the width of the elastic or drawstring, plus about 1 cm (half an inch).  Sew the casing closed, all along the garment, leaving a 4 cm (2″) opening.  Optional:  You can also edgestitch all the way around the top of the casing.  This flattens out the gathers at the hemmed edge and neatens the look.

Bodkin with Drawstringand Safety Pin with Elastic

Bodkin with Drawstring
and Safety Pin with Elastic

Using either a bodkin or a safety-pin attached to one end of the elastic or drawstring, thread the item through, being careful not to pull the opposite end into the casing.  For an elastic, overlap the two ends about 1 cm (half-inch), sew together and insert back into casing.  Adjust gathers and sew the casing closed.  For a drawstring, you will need to insert two buttonholes, approximately 2 cm (1″) apart at the front of the garment, within the casing, in order for both ends of the drawstring to exit and be tied.  The buttonholes can be placed so that the drawstring exits at either the inside or the outside of the garment.

Waistbands with Elastic Casing (left) and Drawstring Casing (right)

Waistbands with Elastic Casing (left) and Drawstring Casing (right)

You can also add a casing of different fabric, instead of folding down the fabric of the existing garment.  For this, you would do as above, but instead of adding the amount you calculated for the casing onto your original fabric, you would measure this amount onto the new fabric and cut it out.  You will also have to add another 0.5 cm (5/8″) or whatever is your seam allowance, as you will be attaching the casing to your garment.