Flint Pants

A couple of Christmases ago, my lovely sister-in-law gave me a voucher for Tessuti Fabrics. I had just ventured into sewing and didn’t dare sew with “good fabric” yet. I was so excited to be able to choose this beautiful chambray fabric. I bought two metres and then lost the nerve to cut into it! So now with a bit more sewing experience under my belt, I knew it would be a good match for the Flint Pants pattern from Megan Nielsen Patterns. The flint pants are a wide leg cropped pants. This wide leg cropped pants with the hidden pocket opening can be called a classic in the sewing community. I decided to make View B of the pattern which has the cute tie closure on one side.

The chambray is buttery soft and has beautiful drape. I prepared it by putting it through the cold cycle in the washing machine and then air-drying it. I then ironed it once dry. Chambray might look like denim but it’s a plain weave cotton unlike the twill weave of denim so it’s great for floaty breezy relaxed items and a lot easier to wear in hot weather. I used a universal sewing needle and matching thread. The pattern called for 2.5 metres of fabric but I could comfortably cut the pattern pieces from the 2 metres of 150cm width of chambray that I had. 

My sizing for Megan Nielsen patterns sits between a size 12 and a size 14. My measurements are 33-inch waist and 39-inch hips. I decided to use the size 14 waist and graded to a size 12 in the hips. I could have also just sewn the size 14 straight, but I wanted the nice taper from the waist to hip before it flares out to the legs. I also shortened the rise by 5/8 inch. I’m finding it easier to adjust the fit with more experience which is making sewing my me-made wardrobe so rewarding. Another small change I made was to sew the button to the inside of the waistband. I wanted to put two buttonholes to the inside to make the fit more flexible. I’m sure I’m not unique in my weight fluctuating between sizes.

As usual, the instructions for the construction were easy to follow. I have always recommended Megan Nielsen Patterns to anyone starting out. I sometimes joke that Megan Nielsen taught me how to sew. It was one of those patterns that I couldn’t put down once I started sewing so I completed the pattern between binge watching The Crown on Netflix in one day. 

A sign of a good pattern is one that you want to sew again straight after you’ve finished! Also, I wore it out straight away to the Spring Festival at King’s Park. We’ve been having some glorious weather and the wildflowers are in full bloom.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Opal Pants

When I was looking for a relaxed fit pair of trousers for an upcoming getaway, I had initially dismissed the Opal Pants because I thought the tapered trousers would be a tighter fit and also, I didn’t want to sew something with a paper-bag waistband which is often styled with a shirt tucked in. I wanted something loose with no tucking in required. Basically, I was searching for the ultimate secret pyjamas! 

I started to do some research and was close to getting the Sew House Seven Free-range Slacks, but Megan Nielsen Patterns had a mid-year sale which made me have a closer look at the Opal Pants. I then realised that the paper-bag waistband was interchangeable with a normal elasticised waistband. The other reason I bought the pattern was that I thought I would get more out of the pattern in the future as it has more options than the Free-range Slacks.

My size at the moment is 33 waist and 40 hips. According to the sizing chart, I’m towards the 14 in the waist and size 12 with the hips. I chose to sew the size 14. As mentioned before, I was looking for a relaxed fit. I didn’t toile this make which can be a disaster, but I have sewn a lot of Megan Nielsen Patterns and I know my sizing sits well in the size 12 and size 14. I’ll probably sew this in a size 12 in the future as it’s very roomy especially with the elasticated waistband. Luckily, I had opted to include the belt loops and the belt.

There are different pocket options included which is always good because it’s these little customised details that make it more unique. I chose the in-seam pockets for this make. It would be interesting to have a look at hacking some cargo style pockets and to have back pockets too. I’m just lazy at ironing pockets so I went with the easiest ironing option!

In Seam Pockets

One little customisation that I added, which is not included in the pattern, was the cuffed trouser leg hem. I used the regular inseam measurements but shortened by 2 inches. I then made a pair of cuffs and sewed this on the right side, finishing with my overlocker. I then folded the cuff up and sewed the cuffs permanently in place by blind stitching on the inner and outer seams. I think it adds to that “relaxed” holiday look.

Cuffed Hem

My fabric is a heavyweight textured slub linen which is an oatmeal colour. Oatmeal is such a great neutral. I have a pair of wide leg Pietra Pants that I’ve made with the same colour and it goes with everything. It would also be nice to sew this with Tencel or Lyocell (same but different) or even a cotton. Just making mental notes for a future make. I think if I was making the paper-bag waisted option, I would try a lighter weight fabric.

There are only good things to say about the instructions. As usual, Megan Nielsen Patterns are logical and easy to follow. I also appreciate the extra tutorials which are emailed to you once you purchase the pattern. It’s great to have those sew-alongs with photos and it’s all set out by category which makes it less overwhelming when you’re tackling a new project. I’ll enjoy having this included in my holiday capsule wardrobe! 

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Carrie Skirt

So many good things to say about this pattern! Where to start? The Carrie Skirt is a newly released pattern from Vanessa Hansen Studio. I find Vanessa’s patterns to be very fashion forward which comes from her background in the fashion industry. The Carrie Skirt has a fitted yoke which then flares out to a full gathered skirt. It comes in a high waisted version and a natural waisted version. She also added lacing to the back of the skirt as an option which cinches the waist in but gives the fit some flexibility.

Fitted yoke of the Carrie Skirt

The pattern is made for woven fabrics. Fabrics such as viscose, rayon, Tencel were popular amongst the testing team. I’ve used a very lightweight denim in my version. It really looks best with some drape but using such fabric will need a lot of stabilising for the yoke as the fit is crucial for the look of the skirt. I’m not an expert in fit so found the yoke to be quite challenging but Vanessa acknowledges this in the pattern and provides very detailed notes on fit. I took it slowly, followed the fit notes step by step and checked at each stage that the yoke was fitting.  Once that part is worked out, the rest of the sew was a breeze!

Lightweight Denim

A high point of my Carrie Skirt make was the instalment of the invisible zipper. Casting my mind back to my first invisible zipper, it had just been a relief to be able to get it on, but it was gaping, the sides did not match and it was clearly not invisible. You’ll understand then why I did a happy dance when I installed this zipper without having to refer to instructions. I did an extra happy dance when everything matched up when zipped up and works like an invisible zipper should!

Invisible invisible zipper!

My measurements fitted between size 12 and size 14 and I made the natural waistline version. I started by printing the pattern with both of those sizes. I really like it when PDF patterns have their sizes in layers, it really makes putting together the pattern easier. In the toile, I decided to cut the size 14 and followed the instructions to pinch and adjust the panels of the yoke. Another feature of the pattern is the option for topstitching. I haven’t included that in mine, but I love how a detail such as topstitching can make such a difference to the look of a garment. I’ll be trying it out in the future especially if I make it in a plain fabric.

This skirt can be styled in so many ways. I love how you can pair it with a t-shirt and a pair of sneakers in summer. Dress it up with a jazzy blouse and heels for a night out or boots and turtleneck for a cosy winter outfit. 

I don’t usually talk too much about personal life but the period during this pattern test was quite topsy turvy! I had a failure of confidence which was brought on by time pressures as I was also preparing to speak at a conference. Then as that weekend approached, covid visited my youngest which added to the stress (thankfully, fully recovered). What I was grateful for was Vanessa’s calming influence and reassurance. In fact, I was so surprised that I managed to finish the Carrie Skirt before the deadline which Vanessa had kindly reassured me that I didn’t need to meet.

I’ve really enjoyed sewing another beautiful pattern from Vanessa Hansen Studio and hope it does well during its launch! I was so happy to be able to complete this pattern even though I was sidelined in the middle of the testing period. Again, Vanessa is always so generous with her time and knowledge during the test and I felt that I learnt so much!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Soline Culottes

Kicking off the new sewing year with these Soline Culottes by Staystitch Pattern Co. has been a dream start! I was lucky enough to win this pattern by participating in the My Makes of the Month challenge hosted by Lou Sheffer of Sew Much to Design. This pattern promises to be, “… your new favourite wardrobe staple! They are effortlessly chic, comfortable, and stylish.” It delivers that in spades. I love the high waisted look with the wide leg profile of these culottes. It has the elasticised paper-bag waistband with drawstring which is so comfortable to wear. I love that the wide waistband sits just above the belly button. This helps to define the waistline and create a flattering shape. It can be styled in so many ways, but my favourite is to tuck a blouse into it. When the weather cools, it could also work well with a chunky sweater partially tucked in.

Constructing the Soline Culottes was so easy and enjoyable. The instructions from Staystitch Pattern Co were very comprehensive. It’s forty-five pages long but there were a lot of extras included and many pocket options. Most of all, I loved the order of construction. As a self-taught sewing enthusiast, this sort of pattern is very educational and the way the instructions have been written could be followed and completed by someone with very little experience.

I started the make with the selection of in-seam pockets. The other options for pockets were a gusseted pocket and patch pockets but I was looking to keep the front and back panels flat to highlight the paper-bag waistband. I really enjoyed the way the inseams were constructed as everything came together so well. Putting together the paper-bag waistband was the final stage and probably took most of my time but again, instructions were well written and logical. It was fun bringing it together.

Sizing was also easy with the positive ease built into the fit. I decided to make the size 10 as my hip measurement of 38 inches was closer to the size 10 fit of 41 inches. My waist measures 33 inches and the size 10 fits 31 inches. Figuring that my slightly larger waistline will be accommodated by the elasticised waistband and seeing that the finished measurements were 45 inches and 45.5 inches, this confirmed to me that the size 10 would be a good fit. 

The fabric I chose was a beautifully soft lyocell linen blend from Spotlight Stores. It comes in 55-inch (140 cm) width and the colour is Brick. It’s a brown with a reddish hue, a lovely part of the colour spectrum. It is a heavier weighted linen so it’s great for a bottom piece. The lyocell in the blend gives it a super soft feel. I used just under 2 meters of the fabric.

This ticks off a first make from my Make Nine Challenge chart under “Casual Trousers”. I’ve decided to use my make nine slightly differently this year. I’ll include more details in a future post and on my Instagram @emsewhappy. Looking forward to another year of fun, learning and sewing.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Palisade Pants

Featuring: Cotton Lyocell Drill from Maai Design

Getting more experience with sewing trousers has been high on this year’s agenda so when Maai Design contacted me about their Cotton Lyocell Drill, I took it as a sign and jumped in. I received a beautiful package from Maaike, with all it’s personal touches. When I opened the package and felt the fabric for the first time, I was surprised at how soft the Cotton Lyocell Drill felt. Drill is usually a lot coarser and associated with workmen’s clothes, but with the blend of Cotton and Lyocell, it’s still really strong but has a softer feel. It also felt a bit more lightweight than the usual full cotton drill. Back when I had just started sewing, buying fabric online was quite overwhelming. Maai Design has a very easy website and best of all, there are YouTube videos accompanying each type of fabric. You can find out more about the Cotton Lyocell Drill here.

Feeling how lightweight this Cotton Lyocell Drill was, I was tempted to make another Kalle Shirtdress or Pietra Wide Leg Pants, but I had the Palisade Pants from Papercut patterns in my stash. I was excited to try sewing those unique pockets and I wanted the challenge of a closer fitting pair of trousers. 

The first step in any sew is to wash the fabric. Being made of natural fibre, I made sure it was washed and dried on a cooler cycle. There wasn’t any obvious shrinkage or any loss of this beautiful pale mint blue colour. I love the colour-ways of the Cotton Lyocell Drill in the Maai Design collection! There are nine altogether and it was very hard choosing but I think this mint blue is great for the summer.

When it was time to cut, I made sure that all my pattern pieces were running the same way, paying close attention to the grainline because drill has a diagonal weave. Drill has a smoother side and a side where you can see the diagonal weave more obviously. Most people would consider the smoother side the wrong side of the fabric, so I just put a pin on the wrong side to make sure that I didn’t accidentally mix this up! Cutting the Cotton Lyocell Drill is very beginner friendly. It doesn’t shift like rayon, and it doesn’t fray like double gauze. I would say, it’s a great fabric for beginners.

At the sewing machine, I just made sure my machine had a 90/14 needle in situ. I then checked to see that I was using a stitch length of 2.5mm. The next thing to note is that the seams of the Palisade Pants are sewn at 1cm not the usual 5/8 inch. Once all the various interfacing pieces were attached, I started to put together the pocket pieces. I found that the fabric was a bit bulky once each of the pocket bag pieces were layered so it was better to use these quilters clips. (They’re also handy for delicate fabric where you don’t want to pierce the fabric). Piecing together the pocket requires a lot of accuracy so I ironed at each stage to get crisp lines.

Once I worked out the pocket bags and how to attach that to the side leg panel, the rest came together quite quickly. I attached the back panel piece and then the back waistband. This part had me a bit worried because I didn’t know if the Cotton Lyocell Drill would tolerate the partly elasticised waistband. I was afraid it would have that puffed up look that some lounge pants have with elasticated waists, but to my relief, because it has a little bit of drape, the fabric sat flush when the elastic was inserted. The rest of the sew went smoothly, and as usual, papercut pattern instructions were great to follow.

Some sizing notes, I made the size 5 to fit my 33-inch waist and 38-inch hips. When I first pulled on the Palisade Pants, I noticed that I was getting a few horizontal folds in the front and some bagging out along the front panel. I’m a real novice when it comes to pant fitting, but it was curious because I had toiled this before making. (Apologies for not taking photos of these fitting issues).

I was using thrifted fabric for my toile so there were two factors I forgot to take into account. Firstly, there is no stretch in the Cotton Lyocell Drill. Secondly, in my toile, I did not make up the full pocket bags which probably took up more of the ease leaving me with not enough ease around my hips. To adjust the fit, it was an easy case of letting some of the seam out at the hips. The flaring at the front was also simply solved. I realised when I looked closer at the pictures on the pattern that the length of the trousers was slightly cropped at the ankle. So, I removed an inch and a half from the bottom of the hem which made it sit better.

Overall, sewing with the Cotton Lyocell Drill was an eye opener. Maai Design has stocked it in a beautiful array of fun colours. It’s a finer quality drill which is lighter weight than normal drill and it has a softer feel which is great against the skin. My Palisade Pants will be getting a lot of wear in summer! It’s soft and breathable and doesn’t wrinkle as easily as linen.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Full Disclosure: The Cotton Lyocell Drill fabric was kindly gifted to me in exchange for posts on Instagram and a blog post however all opinions expressed are my own. 

Pietra Pants

Just for something different, I thought I would write about my sewing process. I first came across the Pietra Pants by Closetcore Patterns last year and hadn’t really tackled sewing any trousers. Sewing pants is intimidating because of some of the fit issues that I’d read about but it was recommended to me because it has a fitted flat front look but fit issues are less of an issue because of the half elasticised waist. This is Version A and is the cropped version.

So, the sew starts with the interesting pocket construction. When I sewed this last year, I felt like it was a bit of a puzzle or origami but seemed straight forward in this sew. This is about the fourth time I’ve made this pattern so I should’ve worked it out by now.

Once the pockets are attached then it’s a simple matter of attaching the two front panels together.

This is then added to the front waistband which is made up of three pieces.

We now then move onto the back panels and sew them together and then attach this to the back waistband. At this stage, I was a bit panicked thinking that I had chosen to sew the wrong size as it looked rather large but just remembered that it is elasticised so most of the volume will disappear!

The next part is to attach the front panels to the back panel. I’ve taken a few more pictures of the waistband here because when I first sewed this, I had to read the instructions about ten times. I’m still not sure I have it exactly correct but it worked out so I’m happy. Also, when you attach the elastic on, just remember that to check that you haven’t accidentally flipped it causing a twist in the elastic.

The elastic is then encased in the waistband with some blind stitching. This used to freak me out because when I first started sewing I had a very basic machine without any speed control. So, I would line up the seam and hang on and pray for a straight line. Now, I’m blessed with a new machine my husband bought me for my birthday (that I dropped about a hundred hints for) which comes with speed control so I just take it very slow here. To help get a neat finish I also hand baste the waistband.

Finally, before hemming the pants, I sew up the elastic as pictured. Definitely not something to skip because it helps to shape the back of the pants. 

So excited to have this in my Spring/Summer wardrobe! I’ve paired it here with my Frankie Tankie. It’s going to be a great staple especially in this neutral colour.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em