Sunday, February 25, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Morgan Jeans

Today I'm adding several thoughts about the construction of the Morgan Jeans. I rarely even looked at the instructions for the jeans, preferring to construct the jeans according to Kenneth D King's and Angela Wolf's methods, as shown in their Craftsy classes.

Even with topstiching, the curve can stretch
These jeans are constructed with non stretch denim, however, the front pocket is on the bias, as you can see in the photo above.

Steaming muslin strip into a curve
Prof King suggests cutting a 3/4 inch (2 cm) strip of muslin on the crosswise grain just a bit longer than the arch, and steam it into a curve. Then baste the muslin into the seam allowance of the pocket on the wrong side. He also recommends grading the seam alternately, that is clip the denim, then the facing/muslin, and so on, so you get a smooth curve. Now the pocket will never stretch out of shape.  Do this also on stretch denim, this is one area that you don't want stretch.

I don't have a photo of this, but the Morgan pattern says to sew the front and back crotch seams separately, then sew the inseam in one continuous seam. That is the only time I have ever seen this. Everyone, but everyone, say to sew the leg seams first, then the crotch seam in one continuous seam. Why do the instructions say this? I can't figure it out.

Topstitching: the Morgan pattern has you do the conventional double topstitching. I went with single topstitching with two threads in the needle, except for the hem, on which I've used the triple stitch. I also did not double turn the hem, as it just adds bulk and is not necessary in casual jeans.

Another big change I made was in the fly. The Morgan jeans have the fly as an extension of the center front seam, but this is now on a slight bias. Especially if the jeans were made in a stretch denim, the fly could stretch out over time. So I cut the center front fly off leaving the seam allowance, and cut a new fly on the straight of grain, then inserted the zipper on the new fly.

These changes make just a small difference in each section of the jeans, but overall you have a much higher quality product, which should last much longer than conventional RTW jeans. Over the years as my skills have been growing, I've been much more obsessive about those little things. They are fun to do and you know you are building quality into the garment.

Happy stitching!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Morgan Jeans in Black Denim

Boyfriend Jeans
I just finished a pair of Morgan Boyfriend jeans by Closet Case patterns, in black non stretch denim.  I bought the fabric from Mood about a year and a half ago when I was in Southern California for my nephew's wedding. What are boyfriend jeans, you say? I had to look that up, they jeans cut in a more boyish way and resemble the jeans we used to steal from our boyfriends when we were in college. They are not stretch and do not hug the figure the way the Closet Case Ginger jeans or the Jalie 2908 jeans do.

I have three Craftsy classes on Jeans, Jean-ius by Kenneth D King, Sewing Designer Jeans by Angela Wolf, and The Perfect Jeans by Jennifer Stern-Haseman. The Jean-ius class focuses on copying a pair of jeans that already fit well and contains only nominal fitting information, but has a lot of nice techniques. Well, you would expect that from Professor King. The Sewing Designer Jeans focuses more on stretch denim jeans from a pattern, but Angela has some nice ideas. She advocates using fun fabrics for the pocket bags and colorful thread in the serger. Not that anyone would see these details, but they do make you smile when you get dressed. She does offer some fitting, which I found helpful. The Perfect Jeans class focuses only on fitting, which was very excellent.

Silk pocket bags! 
Since I had some red silk charmeuse left over from a red silk top (that I never blogged about), I decided to use it for the pocket bags in the photo above.

"Lined" yoke
Then I thought well, why not on the yokes? I basted to the top seam and turned the bottoms under and hand sewed the lining to the seam allowance.

And even the waistband facing
Before I cut out the yokes I made sure that there was enough for the waistband facing. I have to admit, it feels very good against the skin but I'm not sure how practical the silk will prove to be.  I did hand wash the silk first and boy, does that red bleed. I'll have to remember to add a dye catcher when I wash these. The silk left so much lint all over the jeans I had to go over them very carefully with a pet sponge.

Belt loop and watch pocket detail
As you can see, I had way too much fun with these jeans. I found the scroll stitch on my machine and decided to add it to the pockets. All topstiching is done with two threads. I had three machines set up, my Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond Royal for the seams, my serger for the seam finishes, and an old HV Designer I for the topstitching.

Back pockets and belt loops
Angela Wolf suggests adding a fun touch to the belt loops, so I added the scroll stitch used on the pockets to them. I cut one long strip of fabric, then stitched the scrolls, six scrolls for the sides and front loops, seven scrolls for the back ones which are crossed and therefore a bit longer.  The scrolls had about 1 1/2 inches between each group to allow for the turn under of the loops.

Can you see the difference between the hem and side seam topstitching?
Then at the very end I had taken the grey thread out of the D-1 topstitching machine, and thought I had used up all the thread on the bobbin (for the second topstitch thread), so I decided to use the triple stitch for the hem. I can see the difference, but if anyone else can while I'm wearing them, then that person is way too close. As I was cleaning up after finishing, I found the bobbin with the grey thread, of course.

I love the jeans but still have to tweak the fit a bit on the next pair. But first up, a pair of pink jeans for my granddaughter. I will post as I make these using the tips in the classes and comparing the pattern instruction against the techniques I'll be using. Those will be fun.

Now, for a bit of wildlife biology: did you know bisons eat raspberries?

Yum yum!
They love them!

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Maker's Tote Bag

Binding my new tote
My latest project is a Maker's Tote Bag by Noodlehead, made during a class in the newest quilt shop here in Loveland, called Stitches.   I recently upgraded my embroidery software so I just had to add a design to the out pocket.
I made the large size
Once I saw this pattern and the sample bag I knew I had to make it. This bag has so many pockets it will be so useful.
Gusseted inside pocket
It has a gusseted inside pocket, interfaced and edge stitched to form a nice clean gusset. 
Inside slip pocket
 The is also an inside slip pocket. Our teacher had us mark each piece with a label, so we wouldn't mix pieces up, but I did anyway. I had to take out the pocket and put the correct one in. And that was after I reinforced the top edges with bar tacks.
Outside pocket
Here is the outside pocket, the one with the monogram. I sewed the right side of the inside layer to the wrong side of the pocket, so you can see the interfacing instead of the peachy pink fabric. Oh well, I'm not about to redo it. I can live with this mistake.
Outside zippered pocket
The outside zippered pocket was a challenge to get sewn in as I didn't trim the interfacing from the seams around the zipper as I should have. One of the other students decided to under stitch the lining to seam allowance before installing the zipper, just like you would on a garment facing. Brilliant idea! It looked very nice.
Clipping the binding in place
Not only did I have to clip the binding in place (those wonder clip are marvelous, aren't they?) I had to baste the binding to the bag just to get it sewn properly.
Magnet closures instead of a zipper
The pattern calls for a large separating zipper, but I decided to use three sets of strong magnets. They hold the two sides in place nicely.

The finished bag!
Here it is! I've already brought it to a stitcher's lunch yesterday and it received rave reviews. The bag is constructed with lots of interfacing to give it strength and stability. Soft and Stable is used for the outer portion, Decor Bond for the side gussets, and Pellon SF 101 for all the pockets and the straps. It is really well designed and I plan to get a lot of use out of it. The only thing I would do differently is to use a darker color for the two C's in the monogram. This shade is just a bit hard to see. After it was finished I took it outside and sprayed the outside thoroughly with Scotch Guard. I hope to keep it clean for a long time then I'll have it dry cleaned.

While I was going through my stash to find fabrics for this bag that actually coordinated, I came upon an interesting discovery. I could not find four fabrics for this bag, only three. That means my stash is slowly depleting down to manageable levels. I'm actually quite proud of myself.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Marcy Tilton Skirt Vogue 9283

First Finish for 2018!
Here it is, my first finish for 2018, Marcy Tilton for Vogue 9283. I sometimes refer to this skirt as the one from you-know-where, but I can't blame it all on the pattern. This past year I've sewn a few Marcy Tilton patterns, as they often have very interesting details.
Sorry I cut off the pattern number
The pattern calls for moderate stretch knits (35% cross grain) such as Ponte, Jersey, Knit Jacquard. I chose two bamboo fabrics from Elfriede's Fine Fabrics in Boulder, Colorado. The store is an hour's drive away, and is the closest fabric store other than the big chain store. The fabric is a four way stretch, which just about drove me crazy, as I'm not used to sewing with knits.
Non matching pattern pieces
This pattern has seven pattern pieces, but I used only six. Pattern piece 1 is for two pockets that are positioned inside the skirt at the front waist towards the side. As there was no way I would grope inside the front of the skirt while out in public, I omitted the pockets. What an odd design.

Here's the other thing that was very frustrating. All the seams were labeled with letters, see the two "G" seams on the pattern pieces above. However, there is no way in the world that the notches match up. Assuming the large squares on the right need to match, the notches are way off as you look to the left of the square. The "I" seams didn't match either. Luckily I encountered this fairly early on in the construction, and then I started basting the seams together. I also had to mark the seams with a piece of paper with the letter marked on it. I had been sewing the seams using the wobble stitch on my sewing machine, and saved all the overlocking for the end. I wanted to make sure the skirt went together properly before committing myself with the overlocker.
Wonky corner seam (top left)
With six pattern pieces this pattern has some odd seaming. On the top left corner of this photo, there is a corner seam, and another on the opposite side of the skirt.
Y-seam on the front
The front of the skirt has a Y seam, which is actually pretty easy.  Look at all the colors in the print! 
Typical odd seam
 Here is another odd seam, somewhere down in the back of the skirt.
My not so perfect overlocking
After the skirt was finished, I tried it on and it fit! Only then did I take it to the overlocker to completely sew the skirt together and finish the seams. With practice I should get better.
Wonderful Japanese elastic!
The nice thing about going to a really good fabric store is that the owner and employees understand garment construction and look for and stock good products. This is an extremely soft and lovely elastic from Japan that sews in beautifully. I measured the elastic to fit, pinned it to the top of the skirt, and used the overlocker to sew it to the top seam. I then turned the elastic to the inside and topstitched it in place with a zig zag stitch. This is by far the best way to insert elastic that I've found, but it does need to be the right size and you can't adjust it after sewing it in.

I bought some orange knit fabric to match the orange in the skirt, but have yet to make it. The nice thing about the skirt is that there are many opportunities for coordinating tops and jackets. I haven't worn this yet as it is fairly light in weight and it is January here in Colorado with snow on the ground.

See my review on Pattern Review!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Welcome 2018!

Hello everyone!  It's been a whole year since I've blogged, and I'm really ashamed of myself for falling down on the job. I have no excuse, except that we watch our grandson all day and granddaughter after school, so we are pretty busy.  We also get them up and the older one off to school so we have fairly long days. Plus, having a two year old around means that not much gets done.

I have sewn quite a bit over the last year, and hope to sew even more in 2018. There is a wonderful blog called Goodbye Valentino that is hosting a ready to wear fast for the whole year. I've signed up, so no clothes buying for me this year.  I don't have serious plans, other than the following.
  1. Charity sewing: Tote bags for a women's shelter, I hope to make six over the next few days.
  2. At least one knit top to coordinate with an awful-to-make skirt I just finished and will blog about soon. 
  3. Finish two quilts, and maybe start (and finish) another. Mr CS and I have decided that we just don't have enough quilts around here. 
  4. A wardrobe for a short cruise to come in May-June. 
  5. A nice dress for the SAGA convention in September. I'm now on the Board of Directors so that gives me an extra incentive to look nice. 
Back in 2016 I purchased a Pfaff 4.0 Coverlock during a Black Friday sale, and have spent quite a bit of time learning its capabilities. Last October I took a three day "Serger Boot Camp" which gave me so much confidence in threading and using it. During the class we used Babylock 8 thread sergers, quite a bit more advanced than my 5 thread Pfaff, but the class was still valuable. We learned a great deal about which stitches to use for different applications. Of course Babylocks are a breeze to thread with the air threading system, and now the newest model even threads the needles. But at a price tag of over $10,000, I think I can thread my own serger. 

I plan to document some of the clothes I made last year, along with my new items. Stay tuned and Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First Finish for 2017

Brand new PJ's
The first project for 2017 is finished, two pair of PJ's for my granddaughter. These are the only photos, as my granddaughter took them home yesterday and wore the pink pair to bed. I put piping on the pink, but not the blue.

You can tell I forgot to bring the fabric with me when I picked out buttons. If I had remembered, they just might match the fabric. Oh well, she loves them.

This fabric is from Chadwick Heirlooms and is absolutely lovely to sew on. For her first two pair I used Joann's fabric and I can really see the difference. The Joann's fabric is thicker and ravels more easily but the Chadwick is softer and finer, and presses beautifully.

Next project: pants! I've lost enough weight (25 lbs now) that nothing I own fits me. I have a big pile for Goodwill and am literally down to one pair of jeans, one old pair of brown slacks, and some baggy sweats and yoga pants.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My new toy!
I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are having a Happy New Year. I'm recovering from last night's celebrations (ironing fabric while watching Twilight Zone) by watching the episode "Once Upon a Time" with Buster Keaton. It's hilarious.

I got a wonderful Christmas present this year, a Pfaff Coverlock 4.0. Actually, I got it during the Black Friday sales, so I've been using it for a month now, and already have had to empty the fabric catcher. Once I took the Jean-ius Craftsy class I realized that it would be a real help to my sewing efforts.

I know I haven't posted in quite a while and I do have a good reason. My daughter started a new job shortly before Thanksgiving and commutes to Denver each day. So we go to her house each morning, get the kids up and the older one off to school, then bring the toddler home, pick the older one up from school, monitor homework, feed them dinner and keep entertained. Her parents don't pick them up until after 6:30, so we are pretty exhausted by the end of the day. At least she can drive with her husband, who also works in Denver.

Great PJ pattern, I might make some for myself
I've done some sewing lately, and will post about it as I can. Right now, I'm working on two pair of PJ's for my granddaughter, as the ones I made in 2014 and 2013 are half way to her knees. I used the same pattern, Simplicity 2771, and even the same size. I just added 5 inches (13 cm) to the legs, and 2 inches (5 cm) to the bodice and sleeves.

Serged seam allowances
I've stitched the seams on the sewing machine, serged the edges, then topstitched the seams. I'm not ready to sew the entire garment on the serger.

Beautiful topstitched seam
My serger lessons begin on January 27, and run for three sessions. I was able to thread it on the third try, so I'm pretty happy about that. I was originally a bit nervous about the difficulty of threading it, but I finally realized that I've written more complicated procedures in past jobs. So I figured that I could handle it, and I have. Of course, I've only threaded it once, and only used the four thread overlock stitch. But I'm looking forward to trying the other stitches.

I'm trying to formulate plans for 2017, and will publish them later in the week. In the meantime, Happy Stitching in this New Year!