Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blue Danni

I made another Danni!

June was the second annual Indie Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch, and the inaugural Indie Pattern Month (announced here, and blogged all over the place). While I'd disagree strongly with the sentiment that the only good pattern is an indie one (of course no one said that, it's just the impression I got from some very passionate pro-indie blog posts), there is undoubtedly much to love about indie pattern companies. Personally I love how they engage with, encourage and promote the people who sew their patterns, and I appreciate the different aesthetics and body types (I'm paraphrasing Mari here) they cater for.

Most of the bigger name indie pattern companies aren't really for me though. I'm waaay too old for cute or mini, I'm not short or particularly curvy, I don't exercise, I'm not a hipster and I'm not a beginner sewist.  I have a huge pattern stash ranging over many decades, so I've probably already got something similar to any straightforward pattern that gets released. Oh, and the Big 4 patterns already fit me pretty well when approached with a standardised set of adjustments.

Having said that, I'm as enamored of beautiful branding as the next sewist, and I really like the idea of supporting local companies. So this June, although you didn't see any indie blog posts from me, I was doing plenty of local indie sewing using StyleArc and Papercut patterns: Danni in stripes, my Denim Pleated Pants, and this Blue Danni:

The Danni Dolman dress is described on StyleArc's site as follows: "This Dolman sleeved dress features a slight boat neck, there are 4 tucks falling from the left side seam softly over the hip line making this dress easy to wear and such a simple dress to sew. Suitable for all seasons." 

That mural in the first photo is fun, but I know you couldn't really see the dress against the blue background. I've lightened these photos taken against a less exciting concrete backdrop to try to better show you the way the tucks look in the ponti fabric, and the way the dress flatters rather than flaunts in a ponti, but dark blue is hard to photograph.

I liked the look of my Danni in stripes, and jersey IS the recommended fabric for the pattern, but I don't feel confident wearing something that feels so clingy, so pretty much as soon as it was sewn, I started Danni #2, with a nice firm ponti di roma from the stash. I think this fabric is 2 or 3 years old, and bought at Lincraft before I knew much about the joys of fabric shopping (that's why it's such a sensible fabric). 

Switching to a ponti fabric, the dress loses the super cling factor; much more suitable for corporate life, and becomes warmer (yay! cosy!). However, when I sewed this up initially the ponti looked loose rather than drapey in the top, so I took the dress in from the waist up (side seams from the waist to the dolman sleeves around elbow level, also centre back seam from the waist up) to make the top more fitted to my curves. It clings to my tummy, but I do have a tummy! The dress was also lengthened a few centimetres (I'm about 5'8").

I think I showed you the pattern last time, but to save you flicking back here they are again:

Yes, I like this one, it's a keeper... 

Thanks for reading, and see you soon.

- Gabrielle x

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Denim Detail: Papercut Patterns Pleated Pants

After a ridiculous amount of procrastination and many substitution projects, I started making these Papercut pleated pants a couple of months ago.  I'd been delighted to win the pattern last year in a giveaway held last year by the very lovely Juliette (yes, all giveaway holders are lovely, but she seems particularly lovely) of the Crazy Gypsy Chronicles; I was mad keen on pleated pants - still am - and desperate to get the pleated look as seen on the cool pattern envelope.

It's a gorgeous package: recycled paper, cool graphics and photography, and a clearly drawn and instructed pattern. The pattern is described as "A pleated pant with a slim fit leg, wide shaped waistband, fly front opening, back darts and side pockets" and that's exactly what I wanted - I wanted pants just like the ones on the pattern envelope!

There was a problem. You know how the sizing of these pants is really huge, and everyone has to take the pants in by 2 sizes to get down to the size they intended to make? Yes? Well apparently that problem got fixed! I had no idea. Unfortunately pattern companies don't do version control, so when you buy a pattern you can't tell if you're getting the pattern that everyone reviewed last year or an improved version...

[Hmm, why don't pattern companies use version control? Wouldn't it make sense? And wouldn't it be great for the pattern buyers of the future to be able to tell whether they're getting the limited edition first print run, or the original release, or the revised and improved version?]

Anyway, suffice to say having read all the reviews I could find, and having checked out all related photos, I very deliberately cut the pants out 2 sizes smaller than my measured size. They looked small, but many had gone before me, so I was utterly confident I was on the right path.
Until I couldn't even get them on!

And so a design feature was born of necessity. 

I'd cut the pants out of my good denim (bought from Minerva fabrics last year - and boy was the delivery from the UK speedy!), and there was no back up plan (arghhh, I need to learn a few tricks from risk management). So I measured the extra width to grade UP 2 sizes at the hips, and upper inner thighs. I had enough length of fabric for 2 continuous rectangular strips for my outer leg seams (this is just the reverse side of the denim), and I pieced some smaller pieces of fabric to make continuous narrow rectangular strips for the inner leg seams (same side of the denim so as to keep this extra detail less noticeable).
I like how the contrast strips on the side seams bring the pockets in from the side; they feel like they're perfectly placed for my hands in this position.

But can you see why the design feature is also a problem of its own?

It's entirely my own fault - with that extra width, the pants have ended up too wide at the ankles. As I'm sure you know, legs are more of an upside down skittle shape than a rectangle, so if you're adding width to grade up a leg size, you shouldn't grade up by the same amount at the hip as you do at the ankle.

Overall the fit is pretty good for "out of the envelope" - the compensations I made took the pattern back from an XXS (!!) to about an S, which is the size that corresponds to my waist and hip measurements, and the excess lower leg width is largely (hehe) my own doing.  There is some pulling from the back - the fit on my backside feels too snug compared to the loose comfort of those pleats in the front - but then again I wasn't able to add width at the crotch seam to grade up this part of the patternThe leg length is OK for my height (about 5'8" with a short body), though I don't have enough length for a deep cuff.

Oh and I used too long a fly zipper and my zip comes up onto the waistband, so the (3) hooks and eyes that go over it make for a very secure waistband, but I find this interesting and unusual rather than problematic. I don't have a photo of this, but I'll try to take one and add it for your interest and amusement :).

So what I have now is some really cool pants that I just don't love. I know these photos make the pants look good, but the pants do NOT look that good when I wear them in real life. I do like the pattern, and I'm thinking of making the pants again, this time in the correct size and without any extra ankle width, but this pair have ended up just a bit too wacky... 

 Hopefully some time in the magic wardrobe will make me love them more?

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

- Gabrielle x

PS A few of my Instagram friends have been waiting a long time for this blog post - thank you for your patience guys!

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