Sunday, August 23, 2015

The last post ever about my Strides trousers!

Good morning! Well, I'm done with the Strides pattern...for now anyway. I spent hours taking them apart and resewing them strictly to the pattern, size 14. 

And they were simply too big for me. It's particularly evident in the front. Baggy gone baggier. 

I put the pants aside for all of one day, knitted, read, and then messed with them some more. Took off the waistband (again), cut 5/8" off the top edge of the pants all the way around, and took in a total of 3.5" at the waist: 1.5" on each side from the waist cured to just below the pocket, and the rest at the center back. I also redid the back seam to adjust for the bubble caused by the scoliosis curve in my right hip. And reattached the waistband. Whew. I think I should have started with the size 12.

The belt loops and front pleats are just pinned in this photo. And the fit is much better. But now I'm sick of these pants! 

Before I leave them, I should mention some of the nice aspects of the pattern. The zipper instructions are excellent, and the zipper facing and opposite seam are generous. The zipper can be set without the teeth peeking at all. I love the shape and utility of the buttoned fly shield, and the way the multi-piece pocket is drafted. 

I like to draft a tissue template to topstitch a front fly...I just sew over it and pull it off. No way am I going to free-hand that bottom curve!

And I use my open-toe presser foot to do the topstitching, because I can really see where I'm going. I use it to stitch-in-the-ditch as well, for the same reason. 

I added a few fun bits taken from men's trousers - bar tacks on the top and bottom of the pocket, and at the base of the front pleat. Actually, they really do make the pockets and pleats lay down better, in addition to securing these stress points during wearing. Squint a little bit and you'll see them...

All in all, I think I would like these better with two front pleats.  They're very wide in the front (the side seam is almost an inch to the back), and the single pleat looks a little lost. I pulled out Vogue 8836, which I've had for a while, and flat-measured it against the Strides. The Vogue pattern has two pleats and two back darts (the Strides have one), and it's more suited to my hip curve. The Strides are pretty straight in the hip - but then they're styled after men's trousers.

Vogue 8836

I'm not in a hurry to make more pants! I'm finishing a dress I'm making for Ashley (a surprise), and I'm working on her Boneyard Shawl once again. She and Darrin were able to snag an October reservation at their favorite B&B in Salem, Mass. The shawl will be fun for her in that witchy place of all things Halloween...

Bye for now - Coco

Monday, August 17, 2015

Redrafting the Merchant & Mills Strides...

Well, I'm still working on my Strides trousers. That bit of bagginess in the back is bugging me.

I started over this morning with new tissue, drawn directly from the M&M pattern, size 14. And I re-drafted the back with a couple of flat seat adjustments. Ha! I never thought I have a flat bum, but actually I qualify. Oh, pickles. Since when is aging a synonym for dropping :-)

So I did another muslin, and I'm so happy with the result. I'm cutting out a full-length pair of Strides in denim later today. There are a lot of changes, so I'm starting here...

First: the fish-eye dart. This is the same kind of dart that is often drawn vertically:

And can be drawn across one's pant to remove bagging at the bottom of the bum:

I used a wonderful set of pics/mini-tutorial from Ann Rowley to draft the dart.

Finished, the fish-eye looks like this. Absolutely no relation to a fish's eye. It's a slash-and-move technique that impacts the grainline, the waistline dart, the crotch line, and the tissue across the horizontal:

Having done that, I cut and sewed my muslin. And I discovered new things. My crotch was a little tight, where it had been loose before! No!! Whiskers are not welcome.

So I moved to my second change - this is also a flat seat adjustment, one I've used before.

I scooped out the crotch at the bottom. I decided to extend it just a little into my front crotch curve, because my front crotch almost pouched on my first Strides. It didn't show in the pics, but I could see it when I put on the pants. Just a little bit.

I didn't incorporate any of the changes I made on my first pair of Strides.

I've always wanted denim trousers. I think they are so cool. Like this inspiration pic from my Pinterest board - how fun are these!

Bye for now - Coco

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time to move on...

Thank you all for your comments and support on my last post. In the spirit of moving on and getting busy sewing, I've sidelined the post. Back soon with something made...Coco

Monday, August 10, 2015

Merchant & Mills Workbook - the Strides

What a delightful pattern! 

I had the best time with this project - all of it: muslin, fitting, sewing, tailoring, and, at last, wearing. I've always loved wearing trousers, and now I can make my own.

The pattern is marked for long pants and shorts. But I made this pair at a cropped length, with a finished out-seam of about 34". My fabric is a cotton/linen blend, and I don't want to worry over shrinkage in length. I cannot stand when long pants shrink above a useful length. And it's surely a liability with linen and cotton.

BTW, I made my muslin in the shorts length, in inexpensive broadcloth. After writing all over them during fitting, I tossed them. But they had lots of potential for very nice-looking walking shorts.

This was a four-day project. As others have noted, these pants are not a quick sew - they're fashioned after men's trousers, with all the implied detailing.

On the front:  A generous zipper and fly (a 7" zipper is used), two deep pleats, and slanted pockets.

I used 6 belt loops instead of 5 (I like the look and function of 2 loops at the center back). The pattern doesn't have back pockets - one could add them easily, but I don't put back pockets on my pants anyway. They bug me (except, of course, on jeans).


And back. And I'm very happy with the way the back fits.

I'm laughing now - I used two different belts in these pics, mostly because I wanted to see which one I like best. Since these are traditional trousers, the waistband is not over-wide. I fitted the belt loops to accept the widest belt I might use. It would be easy to redraft the waistband, if one wanted to use a wider belt. I think a wide belt would look nice on soft wool trousers, with a loafer-style shoe and a crisp white blouse. sigh. Sometimes I really miss having colder weather. 

Sewing notes - I did a lot of tailoring, starting with the size 14:

- On the back, I added a second dart to each side. 

- I made the deepest part of back crotch curve a little more shallow, by about 1/4", and lengthened it by 3/8" at the inseam.

- On the front pieces, I slashed the top edge and added 1/2" to the waistline  (basically moving the width of the additional back dart to the front). 

- The latter meant that I had to realign the front pleat to keep it centered over my leg. 

- I cut the waistband in two pieces and seamed them at CB. I like to do this so that any future change at the waist is easier to do. I also cut both pieces about 1" longer than the pattern. And I recommend doing this. You'll have more fabric at hand when you do the finishing around the zipper and the front fly.

After I attached the waistband, I could see that the pants were simply too high on me in the back and on the sides. They fit better when I hitched them up. So off came the waistband. I removed 1/2" from most of the top edge of the pants, pocket to pocket, and reattached the waistband. This simple change gave me a much nicer fit. 

On the subject of fitting: I'm very happy with the way my britches fit. The front is nice and flat, the pockets don't pull open, the waistband is perfect, and my back wrinkles are symmetrical! I decided that if I tailored them any more, they would start losing some of their character - they're baggy trousers, after all.

I'm making more! Ciao - Coco

Friday, August 7, 2015

Merchant & Mills Workbook and my Strides muslin

My Workbook arrived! And much sooner than I expected, it only took 8 days. I ordered from The Book Depository (a U.K. company) via Amazon. My cost, including $3.99 shipping, was $28.13.

The Workbook. It is beautifully done. The size alone is startling - it's A4 size, and it's over an inch thick. Opened to the inside: on the left is a heavy card folder, in which the folded pattern sheets reside.

While the patterns are multi-sized, they do not overlap one another in the manner of, for instance, BurdaStyle patterns, or The Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori, also in my library.

On the right side is the reading material, bound with stitching. Although I'm old enough to have had many stitched books,  I didn't expect it from a contemporary publication. What a pleasure.

All the pages are sturdy, heavy-weight paper. And they are liberally filled with drawings and instructions for each pattern. 

For each pattern, there are reverse-image line art drawings and tables of measurements, fabric requirements, and so on.

Throughout the book are sepia and gray-scale photos of the garments being styled and worn. Quite nice. The entire book reflects the persona of the Merchant & Mills online site. Somewhat vintage, with an 19th century vibe. The Workbook does not disappoint. It's lovely. I would be happy just to own this book, and I now I want the Merchant and Mills Sewing Book for my library as well.


So what to do first! The Strides of course, the ones in the last photo. It's also described as the most demanding of the patterns that make up the collection. Well, OK, I'll work backwards!

My understanding is that 'strides' is a casual reference to trousers and has its roots in Australia. Kind of the same usage as the term 'britches' in the South. They are my favorite style of woven pants. 

Wednesday morning, I spent about 3 hours developing my first draft of the tissue. I have high hopes for this pattern, so I got out the measuring tape and verified my own measurements (no changes) and did lots of flat-measuring and note-taking on the pattern sheets. At last - my muslin in broadcloth. 

This morning was dedicated to sewing, ripping, and fitting the muslin. I only made it as long as the shorts, because I knew the fitting requirements would be well above the knee!

I'm ready to sew for real, using this substantial linen/cotton blend fabric. I plan to make these cropped, not long, because of the 'shrink and grow' nature of linen. Too short out of the dryer, too long after one wearing :-)

And it's now early Friday evening. I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend - 

Bye for now, Coco

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Knitting... the cardigan grows

Quick Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

I've been off my sewing game lately - lots of wadders and use of my ripper. So I've retreated to the living room and have been reading and knitting instead. The Quick Sand Cardigan has really grown. I have only 12 more rows to do on the body, then I can move on to the sleeves. I get so impatient to start a new area! sometimes I cheat, slip stitches on a yarn scrap and move on to some other part. Then come back to finish the unfinished.

That's one of the nice things about knitting top-down.

I love my knitting basket! It was a touching gift from my daughter-in-law. It's a Vera Bradley beach bag, but has never seen the beach. It's perfect for holding a knitting project, yarn, instructions, and so on. And it looks so nice.

To go with, my knitting bag - where I keep all my tools of the trade. 

I designed and made it a couple years ago - literally stopped in the middle of a project and got it done. I'm kind of obsessive about storage and organization, and having my needles and little things in a drawer was driving me nuts.

When it's tied, the bag is about 9.5" x 13". The ties are secured to the bag, wrap around it, and keep it all nice and closed.

When opened, the front outside wall has 11 slots that hold all my double-point needles, a pair of embroidery scissors, and a pencil. And there's one empty slot - I used to keep my crochet needles in there, but they slip out really easily. So I keep them in a zippered pocket in the knitting basket now. I have size 4 through size 10 DPN's - that's enough! If I do socks, it will be on 2 circular needles. Knitting in the round on DPN's is not my favorite thing to do...pretty much limited to caps and the thumbs on mittens.

Behind the front wall, on the inside, are two 'hanging' pouches with 12" zippers, perfect for storing my circular needles (by size of course, 16" or less, and longer than 16"). The pouches are only attached to the side seams of the bag.

I have lots and lots of circular needles, because I don't knit on straight needles that are over 10" long. But circular needles can be so unruly! It's nice to contain and tame them.

My straight needles live in the bottom of the bag. There's lots of room in there, and 10" needles fit perfectly.

The back inside wall has a fixed 12" zippered pocket, home to all the small stuff that tends to disappear like socks in the dryer - markers, yarn needles, cable holders, needle point guards, etc.

And the front inside wall has an open pocket, where I keep a small memo pad for notes, my needle template, and a small measuring tape.

Closed and tied, the back view:

So - do you have a favorite way to tame your knitting!?

I'm keeping my update notes for the Quick Sand Cardigan in my Ravelry project files...

Ciao! Coco