Megan Nielsen – Brumby

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Hello everybody! I just got back from one of the most amazing places in the world (I’ll write a little post later this week about it!) and while I was away something happened – Megan Nielsen released her re-branded printed patterns and a new one has been added to the list too. Exciting!

First thing, have you seen how pretty are those new pattern drawings? Megan did them herself and I reckon she did an amazing job.

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Second, a Megan Nielsen Patterns App has been created and, once installed and a personal account has been set up, you have access to instructions, important pattern info and extra features right on your phone or tablet. Cool uh?

Third, I was lucky enough to be included in Megan’s pattern testing process and here it is my Brumby! The Brumby Skirt is “a gathered skirt with deep scoop pockets. The pattern features exposed zipper and contoured waistband, sitting on the natural waistline. Version 1 is above the knee and includes pockets. Version 2 is midi length, includes pockets and additional fullness. Version 3 is a basic knee length gathered skirt.”

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For this test version – I did variation 1 – I used some fabric I had in my stash, a medium weight denim with white polka dots. I love this pattern mostly because of its versatility. You can basically pick whatever fabric you want and it will work! From light to medium-heavy weigh materials, the sky is your limit, really. Plus, have you seen those deep awesome pockets? I mean, what’s better than this sort of pockets for hiding keys, phone and chewing gums?

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The zipper insertion, which by the way was the very first exposed zipper I’ve ever done, is pretty straight forward and the instructions are very clear. So fear not, exposed zipper are just rad like that.

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I also love all the top stitching involved, I think it highlights the lines of the skirt and the pockets also.

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Very little changes have been made to the pattern after the testing process, one being the adjustment of the waistband fit. I had to remove some of the width from mine, to get a snug close fit, and most of the other testers had to do the same so the pattern has been updated accordingly. I love my gathered skirts to sit at my natural waist and Brumby now does.

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But let’s stop talking and go get yourself a copy of this awesome new pattern! Also, if you’re curious to know more about the Brumby, check out Megan’s Blog for more info and details – from inspiration to fit and possible alterations. Loads of possibilities with this one! Gotta love it!

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Another shirt – B5678

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Hello everybody and happy birthday to me! Yep, today it’s my birthday :) I didn’t sew myself a special dress, but I’ve finished my new shirt instead. After all the toiles I made, it was about time, I say.

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My first try at shirt-making has been the Granville by Sewaholic, which turned out very cute, but alas, it didn’t fit me right. I tried to adjust the pattern, but after two toiles and any good result, I decided to follow another path. I searched into my pattern stash and came up with this Butterick 5678, a semi fitted shirt with shoulder princess seams, available in four different cup sizes.
I chose view A and after checking the finished measurements on the tissue, I decided to go with a size 10 – for a more fitted look – and a C cup. The chart in the instructions put me in the cup B range, but all my bras are Cs so I stuck with that and I’m happy I did it. I did a first muslin without any alterations, to evaluate the general fit and from there I started the moving/adding/removing fitting process. It has been a long and traumatic journey but I feel I’m finally getting somewhere. Of course, there is still a very long way to go and the more I look at these photos, the more I realize that.

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I really did lots of research about fitting issues and how to solve them: I read books, I took the Caftsy class Sew the Perfect Fit by Lynda Maynard and of course I scanned the Internet in search of how tos. I felt very confused at times, but I think I’m on my way to understand my body better and hopefully to be able to sew garments that actually fit properly and I feel comfortable wearing. I find it hard to understand where my problems are, above all because I don’t have anyone who can help me analyzing what I make and I’m also always prone to over thinking and make things more difficult than what they actually are. Fitting oneself is definitely not an easy process.

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Anyhow, here it goes, my B5678 in details.
I measured myself carefully, with Owen’s help, and compared my numbers with the measurements of the pattern pieces (minus seam allowances of course!) and started from there. As suggested in basically every book or article or blog post about fitting I’ve read, I started from the top and went down, so shoulders are first.

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In the front and back pattern pieces, here it’s what I’ve done:
– I’ve done a 0.8 cm forward shoulders adjustment, pivoting the shoulder seam line at the neck and moving it forward at shoulder point.
– I then extended the shoulders by 1/4″, because looks like I’ve broad shoulders too. I’ve done it following this instructions here.
– In the back, I’ve adjusted the pattern piece for a 2 cm broad back. I followed this method here, which, for a shoulder seams pattern, has you to alter just the side back, instead of both center and sides.
– Probably because of all the above alterations, I had to redraw the front armhole, to get a better fit. I’ve basically took off a wedge around the pitch point as there was some extra fabric there.
– I then removed about 1/4″ from the underarm, at both front and back, to get a closer fit.
– Because in my previous toiles both forward and sideways arm motion were very restricted I’ve raised the armhole by 3/4″ to get a higher armhole, closer to the body and therefore allowing for a wider range of movements. Obviously I’ve adjusted the sleeve accordingly too.
– In my toile there was some extra fabric at centre back, so I’ve deepened the seams around my waist by a very small amount, not even 1/4″. I’ve done the same at the front and looking at the photos, I’ve probably could have skipped that.
– Lastly, but actually I’ve done it at the beginning, I’ve shortened the body pieces by 3 cm. To do so, I didn’t use the “shorten here” line drawn on each piece because it was above the waistline and I didn’t want to move that. So I’ve drawn another line a few cm below and shortened the pieces there.

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For the sleeves:
– I’ve cut the pattern a few cm below the underarm as I wanted short sleeves and added a faux rolled up cuff.
– Because of the forward shoulders adjustment, I’ve moved the sleeve cap forward by the same amount. To do so, I’ve drawn a line perpendicular to the grain, above the notches, slashed and moved the piece towards the front by 0.8 mm. I’ve then redrawn the sleeve cap to true the seams.
– The sleeve wasn’t hanging parallel to the floor yet and there was still some diagonal wrinkles from the front shoulder ball towards the back of the arm, so I’ve played a bit with the toile and ended up slightly changing the sleeve cap shape. I’ve let out the front sleeve seam allowance to accommodate my prominent bones, allowing the sleeve to drop and straightening the lengthwise grain. I’ve also modified the back armscye, removing some fabric instead. The photo below illustrate what I’ve done, if you can see it in all the mess!
– To match the body side seams, I’ve removed 1/4″ from each sleeve side, at the underarms and also raised the armhole by 3/4″.
– Finally, following the method illustrated by Lynda in Sew the Perfect Fit, I’ve altered the pattern for a cut-in gusset, adding 3/4″ in the underarm area.
And that’s it.

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I’m pretty happy with the fit I achieved in my shoulder and upper back area, but I’d like to perfect the pattern around my chest as there is some pulling there, as you can clearly see from the photos. I’ve to say, I’ve used a quilting cotton for the shirt, which isn’t very appropriate for this sort of garment, but it doesn’t justify the presence of those unwanted drag lines. Thought, maybe they’ll be less apparent in a thinner fabric. Anyhow, there are still loads of things that need to be fixed, but at least I can finally move my arms around in this shirt and wear it.

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I find the built-in gusset very comfortable and I think the added fabric is barely visible, but let me tell you, setting the sleeves in was a nightmare and took me hours to get them right. It’s the first time I try this method and probably I need to play around with this alteration a bit, trying to get a less extreme armscye curve and slightly smoothing the angle created by the gusset/extra fabric, so it would be less difficult to sew. Apart from that, I’m definitely converted and I’ll use the cut-in gusset again for sure. It really gives you more freedom of movement.

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Lastly, for the collar I’ve followed again the great tutorials by Sewaholic, I find the method Tasia uses gives wonderful results so I’m sticking with that.
Sorry for the long post, but I wrote everything down for personal reference too, so I can check what I’ve done with this shirt for future improvements.

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Now tell me, do you have any fitting secrets you’re keen to share with me so I can make this shirt better? What do you think I should further modify?

Grainline Studio – Morris Blazer

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Hey everybody, how are you doing? My week didn’t start exceptionally well as my throat is in flames and I feel pretty floppy, but I’m sure I’ll get better soon! Let’s talk about something more cheerful, shall we? Have you seen the latest addition to the Grainline Studio patterns? It’s the amazing Morris blazer which can be made up both in knit and stretch woven fabrics. I was very excited when I first saw it and I became even more excited when I found the right fabric in my stash. I bought this double knit on Etsy, from Miss Matatabi, and I love it. It’s extremely soft, has polka dots and on top of that is double face! Perfection, if you ask me. As you can see, I’ve chosen the navy side as the dominant color and used the ivory side as contrast for the collar and sleeves facings.

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I decided to skip making a muslin because I was using a knit fabric, but I know I’ve forward shoulders so I’ve adjusted the paper pattern right away. I’ve pivoted the shoulder line, moving it forward by 1 cm and also moved by the same amount the sleeve cap, so the notches would still match up, and I think it all worked out ok. I’ve also lengthened the body pieces by 2.5 cm because I like my jackets to cover my waist as I can’t stand getting cold around that part of my body. Apart from that, I cut a straight size 8. I’ve chosen the size that fit better my bust and shoulders area, even if my waist measurement fall in a size 6. I think the little extra room at the bottom doesn’t affect the look of the blazer and I’m happy with the fit.

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The sleeves are slightly falling off my shoulders, but I think it’s all fault of the stretch in the material I’ve used and I’m confident they’d look all right in a more stable knit or stretch woven. If I’m gonna make this patterns again in a knit fabric, I’m gonna stabilize the shoulder seams with some tape, which I totally forgot to do this time. I might add some if they keep stretching out of shape, we’ll see what happens.

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Sewing together this blazer was quite enjoyable and easy and the whole construction is very clever. The only thing I might do differently – above all if using a woven material – is sewing the sleeve facings and understitch them before sewing together the sleeve itself. I find the process of stitching small circumferences very annoying and I rather avoid it when I can. I’ve to admit I’ve cut deeper facings, as I wanted to roll up the sleeves to show the other side of the fabric, so probably it contributed in making that step even more ‘painful’. Anyhow, not big deal.

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As other bloggers already noted – see the cute versions of the Morris by Lizzy and Ginger – the front facings tend to collapse towards the bottom, probably because of the weight of the collar, creating some sagging lines. To avoid that, I’ve hand stitched them down and the problem was solved. I tried to use the sewing machine, but the two lawyers of fabric kept shifting creating even more unwanted ripples and it didn’t look nice at all, so catch stitching it was.

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I’m really curious to make a stretch woven version of the Morris, even if sleeves in less stretchy material are not exactly my best friends. I’m still trying to fix my shirt, which is now hanging in a corner, full of pins, waiting for me to become brave enough so I can deal with it. I really hope this pattern is gonna work for me because it’s the perfect shape/weight for this season in this sort of climate – not too heavy and easy to wear on top of t-shirts.
I’m on the lookout for a nice stretch linen in a sort of magenta/wine color but it looks like it’s impossible to find so I might need to direct my searches towards a stretch cotton sateen instead. Which means I’ll probably end up buying some more floral sateen. Whatever.

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Have a good week, everyone!

A Wee Quilt

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Happy Sunday everybody! How is your Anzac weekend going? Here in central Queensland the weather has been extremely good: blue sky, lots of sun and finally a nice temperature. Perfect for yesterday Anzac’s dawn service.

In the last few weeks I’ve been trying to fit a shirt. I’ve put aside the Granville and swapped it for B5678, which suits my body shape a bit better. It still needs loads of adjustments to fit me right and I’m on my third muslin right now, trying to understand what to change to make it better. It’s not an easy path and I feel quite overwhelmed and not up to the task, but I’ll get there eventually. I’m a bit demotivated and to get my sew-jo back I thought to make something fun and easy.

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An Italian friend is about to have a baby boy and mum asked me to make something for him. I initially thought about knitting a little cot blanket, but then I’ve seen this lovely circus themed fabric panel and decided to make a quilt instead. I find those animals so cute that I couldn’t resist!

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Needless to say, it has been a much easier project than the first quilt I’ve ever made. All I had to do here, was to chose a backing, sandwich a layer of batting in between the two pieces of fabric and quilt it. No need of joining any piece together, so it has been a very quick make too.

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I’ve used my sewing machine for the longest and straightest lines and quilted the smallest details by hand instead. It has been my first go at hand quilting and I’ve quite enjoyed the process: it’s obviously quite slow, but once you get the hang of it, stitches flow faster and faster.

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As you can see, there are a few ‘bubbles’ here and there. That’s all the fault of my sewing machine that decided to start changing stitch length by itself, creating very small stitches now and then. I couldn’t understand why – my sample came out perfect! – so I’ve decided to leave the stitching as is and call those bubbles a design element. Next week I’ll bring the sewing machine to the mechanic and see what happens.

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For the binding, I’ve used some poplin I had in my stash which matches very well the dark blue of the panel and the red and white polka dots of the backing. I really like all these fabrics together, I think they create a very happy quilt. So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately – plus a gorgeous red Ondawa on my needles. What are you making instead?

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Dad’s Pullover

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Happy hump day everybody! How is your week going? Mine has been pretty good so far. I finally got back to jogging, the weather is nice and slightly cooler and as I’m going nuts about shirt-making, I’ve finished a knitting project.

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I decided to knit my Dad a pullover with some leftover yarns I had around, so I could kill two birds with one stone! I really can’t stand wasting yarn, above all when it’s a precious one, so I’ve put together a sort of gradient scale with five different sort of greens and I’ve added a neutral to blend them all together. Also, I’ve mixed two different yarns, my ever favorite Cephalopod Yarns Traveller and Tanis Fiber Arts DK Yellow Label. They really knit up very well together and you can’t really tell the difference unless you look very closely. The weight is basically the same, Traveller is a bit softer thought.

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From the bottom up, I’ve used: TFA Spruce, TFA Olive – left overs from this zip up cardigan, CY Peaks of Otter – from my Oranje, CY What Cheer and San Francisco Bay – both from my Bluesand Cardigan. The beige one is a  CY Traveller custom made color: it complements nicely all the other green-aquas, highlighting rather than of overpowering them.

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As you can see from the photos, this pullover is way too big for me, but I’m pretty confident it will be perfect for my dad. Because I wanted to knit the sleeves in the contrasting color, I’ve knit them separately and then sewn them to the body. The last time I’ve constructed a sweater this way, it was ages ago, years even, and I’m impressed by how smoothly everything went together. I was worried I couldn’t do it and I was already ready to post the pullover home and let my mum put it together, but I did it! Even if the seaming came out pretty good, I’m not in love with the shape of these sort of sleeves. I prefer the look of yokes knitted in the round along with the body, in a whole piece, but that’s me. Anyhow, I’ve knitted the body in the round and then front and back separately and joined them at the shoulders with a three needles bind off. The sleeves have been knitted flat and then sewn to the body. Here it is a very clear tutorial on how to do that, on Knitty.com.

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I’ve added some stripes to the sleeves to echo the colors used in the body. I really wanted to avoid those sort of patchwork sweaters that you can guess from far far away that they’re made out of leftovers and I hope I’ve succeeded. I love every single color I’ve used and I like the fact they’ll always remind me of other projects I’ve knitted. As you can guess, I’m very attached to what I make!

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Now I need some very selfish knitting and I’m looking for the perfect pattern. I want cables, lots of them and I’m thinking to cast on Ondawa by Michel Wang for Brooklyn Tweed. Or maybe Chainlink by Norah Gaughan, again for BT? What’s on your needles instead?

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Sewaholic – Granville Shirt

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Happy Easter everybody! Did the Easter Bunny pay you a visit yet? Here brought some chocolate, but you know how it goes, it’s never enough! :) Today I want to share with you my first go at the Granville Shirt by Sewaholic. It didn’t turn out as good as I wished, thought. I fell in love with this pattern as soon as I saw it and I decided to sew it even if I’m not pear shaped and I knew I had to make few alterations. As everybody knows, in fact, Sewaholic patterns are designed to be flattering on ladies with a more heavier bottom so, who like me, has a totally different figure, needs to modify them. Mind you, I need adjustments on patterns from other companies too, so I think it’s not a big deal. It’s nearly impossible for me to find a pattern that fits me straight out of the envelope and I guess it’s the same for most of us.

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I had a very hard time trying to decide which size to make. First of all because the finished ease for the size I was supposed to cut at the bust is quite a lot, considering we’re talking about a slim fit shirt. Looking at the photos of the lady modeling the Granville on the Sewaholic website, I can’t really see and believe she’s wearing a shirt with that much ease. Secondly, my measurements fall in three different sizes: my bust is nearly an 8, my waist a 4 and my hips a 0. That said, I traced a size 6 at the bust (and sleeves), grading down to a 4 at the waist and to a 0 at the hem. The Granville has a very accentuate waist curve and I thought that if I cut an 8 at the bust, it wouldn’t connect smoothly to the size 4 at the waist and look silly instead.

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The only adjustment I made before cutting into my fashion fabric, was to eliminate some of the fabric excess at the back, horizontally, where the waist is, because I know I’ve a sway back sort of thing. I’m also conscious of my forward shoulder/head and rounded high back, but I really didn’t know how to alter the back yoke without messing the armhole and sleeves placement so I left these adjustments out. Wrong, very wrong!
Anyhow, I took my time in sewing this shirt. I really tried to do my best on the topstitching and the collar and I think I really did a pretty good job. But, there is always a but. Once the shirt was finished, it didn’t fit properly. All my fault, I didn’t bother making a muslin and I basically sew ‘blindly’ until I was done. The reason? I’ve always avoided garments with sleeves because I know I’ve many problems in the shoulders and bust areas but I don’t really know how to correctly solve them. The main problem here is the fact that I can’t raise my arms without the risk of ripping open the back of the shirt. It also feels fairly uncomfortable. You can see what I mean in the photo below.

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Also, my rotated shoulders cause this unflattering pulling at the back of the sleeves and therefore the sleeve hem isn’t parallel to the floor as it should be. I think I need more fabric somewhere towards the front of the sleeve cap. Maybe. Plus, the center sleeve is not aligned with my shoulder line, and it looks like the shirt is falling off my shoulders, towards the back, so I need some more length there. In fact, the yoke front seam is on top of my shoulders, instead of being towards the front where it should be.

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At the back, there is still a little excess fabric at the waist and if you look closely you can also see the yoke seam is curving down at the sides. I think this is all fault of the rounded high back. I also know I’ve prominent shoulder blades, which this hearts print camouflage well, so I might need to fix this problem too. I suppose the pulling on the armhole is an effect of all these issues together. But I might be wrong, of course.

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Finally, at the front, you can see I might do with some more room on my boobies area. The button is under a slightly pressure and the side pulling from both upper arm and waist, point towards my breasts. Not enough room then. Also the dart is probably slightly too low, but you can barely see it as is lost in this busy print.

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I think I know the causes of all these fitting issues, the problem is I’m not sure where to start solving them. Should I go up a size at the bust and see what happens? Should I stay with this size/s and try to create the room I need for all my bumps? Any advice is very much appreciate.
Despite all these problems, I tried to be as accurate as possible in my sewing and I’m very happy with what I’ve done. This is my third collar and by far the best one. Tasia’s instructions are a bit different from what I’ve seen on other patterns and with the help of her blog posts, I was able to sew a very nice collar.

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I also nearly got all the hearts matching on the pocket, apart from the side where the dart is, obviously.

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The print was screaming for orange accents, so I made sure to cut the inside yoke and collar stand out of some orange poplin. Also, I hemmed the shirt with orange bias binding – I find it easier than folding the hem twice and stitching it in place – and used orange thread for all the topstitching and button holes.

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And of course orange buttons!

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One last thing, as you can see I’ve gone for short sleeves. I don’t really wear long sleeve garments here, so I’ve just decided how short I wanted them to be, cut the pattern there and added faux rolled up cuffs. I really like the look.

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It’s not perfect, but I love this shirt, maybe because of all these hearts, or better because wearing fitted button downs is just so nice. I really want to get this pattern fit me right and to do so I’ve already enrolled a Crafty course on fitting and started on my muslin. I’ll let you know what happens!
Have a sweet Easter Everyone!

McCalls 6760 as Culottes

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Hey everybody! Another week is gone and Easter is nearly here. I think I’m gonna spend the few days I’ll have off sewing and hopefully eating loads of chocolate! What have you planned instead for the holidays?

Last week I’ve shown you my first pair of culottes, today I’ve another one! I’m in a serious culottes-mode at the moment and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Butterick and Vogue patterns for more options. Here in Australia we are a pattern season behind and I’m itching to buy the new releases!
For this second try, I wanted something with a bit less flare than the Tanias, just to play a bit with the width of the legs and also with a different shape. I was curious to see how I’d look in a slightly slimmer culottes, so here they are. As you may guess, I’m still trying to understand which style suits me the best.

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This is an adaptation of M6760. It’s a jumpsuit pattern, but it wasn’t hard to modify to get a pair of culottes out of it. I’ve basically traced the leg pattern pieces and shortened them by 31cm, slashing and overlapping so the bottom is still the original width. I then trued the side seams and that’s it.
To get the fit right, I’ve done a 2 cm sway back/flat derrière adjustment, removing the excess just below the back seam allowance, tapering to nothing at the sides. Also, as I chose the size based on my hips measurements (size 8), I’ve narrowed the seam allowance to 1 cm at the side seams at the waist, gaining the 2 cm total I needed there. I’ve also left out the inseam pockets as I really don’t use them a lot and I prefer the look of classic trousers pockets better.
Looking at the pants spread open, I probably could have reduced the crotch length of a few cm. As I said, this pattern is designed to be a jumpsuit and therefore the crotch has to be longer to allow for movements, when joined to the bodice. If I’m gonna make another pair, I’ll give this modification a go.

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For the waistband I’ve used the BHL Charlotte Skirt pattern piece as I l really like its width. When I sew it in thou, it was gaping a bit so I’ve stitched a dart in correspondence of the side seams, creating a sort of shaped waistband. You might also have noticed – or maybe not because it should be invisible! – that I’ve moved the zipper to the side. This was completely a boo boo, as I’ve accidentally sewn the center back seam close and serged it. Instead of removing all the stitching, I’ve moved the zipper. Not a big deal, I think.

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For a neater and nicer inside, for the first time, I’ve used some bias binding to finish the edge of the waistband facing. Why I’ve never done it before?? It looks so professional! No more trying to blindly catch the folded facing while stitching in the ditch from the right side for me, thank you very much.

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The fabric I’ve used is a floral cotton sateen left over from my BHL Georgia Dress. I really like the print and it is the perfect weight for bottoms. This sateen holds beautifully the wide legs shape, without collapsing and draping too much. To accentuate the width of the legs even more, I’ve hemmed the culottes with 5 cm horsehair braid, which I was able to find in this lovely matching gray. I bought it online from a millinery shop and they carry all the colors in three different width and I was really tempted in buying every single one!

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I’m very happy with the look of this culottes, but I probably prefer the Tanias. Maybe I could try to sew them up using this kind of material and see how they look. I’ve another cotton sateen with big blue flowers that would be perfect. What do you think? Too much body for the Tanias? Tell me.

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