Kimono sleeves on McCall’s 6436, times four

I’ve been admiring some of the awesome kimono-sleeved buttoned shirt patterns (like the StyleArc Blair – check out Kelli’s and Meg’s – and Deer & Doe Melilot – check out Katie’s) and became obsessed with Heather Lou’s self-drafted shirt dress, but the idea of fitting a new-to-me shirt pattern was giving me hives. I turned to my my old favorite, McCall’s 6436, and grafted on some kimono sleeves using my Helen Joseph-Armstrong drafting manual.

I made a quick muslin, and I was off to the races, making no less than FOUR variations of this pattern. In all versions, I finished the sleeves with a cuff.

First up was an aloha shirt in palm-print rayon challis. I had recently re-watched Romeo+Juliet and was admiring Leo’s Hawaiian shirt. This fabric was as close as I could
come this time around (as in, not very close at all), but I’ll be on the lookout for that perfect Japanese floral on a blue background from now on.

(I had to attempt the Leo smolder.)

But this shirt makes me really gleeful… | McCall's 6436 kimono | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

Next up was white linen, salvaged from an attempt at McCall’s 7325 that persisted in looking like a baptismal gown. The pattern pieces were large and rectangular, so the only adjustment I had to make was putting in a CB seam. | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

Bonus project: these are my denim Morgan jeans converted into trousers! | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeves and Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans altered into trousers

I changed the welt pocket placement a bit this time around. | Closet Case patterns Morgan jeans altered into trousers

Back to the shirts; after the first two versions, I was ready to lengthen the pattern into a shirt dress sewn in that magical thick silk rayon you saw in my jumper dress post! In order to add more ease to the hips, I added a back yoke and a CB pleat, adding 3″ total to the back width. Uncharacteristically for me, I didn’t end up liking the loose waist, so I added a drawstring. | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve dress | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve dress

I found myself wishing I also had a collared shirt version in the same fabric, and had juuuust enough fabric to make it happen. I finished this one shortly after my sis and I took pictures, but I thought I’d include it for the sake of thoroughness.

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These shirts are simple, but a wardrobe dream come true for me. They’ll be the backbone of my 2017 wardrobe. The sleeves are a little breezy for winter temps, but I’ve still been wearing them – the dress, especially – quite a bit. They also layer nicely under my jumper dresses!

These shirts have also proved to me how much I enjoy sewing iteratively. Once I have success with a pattern, I love to make slight variations in length and design details to max it out. Being immersed in the construction helped me sew these rather quickly (which isn’t always my goal but nice in this case.)


A shift into neutral and a grainline mystery

Every time I make some kind of pronouncement – like “Hey, I’m into sewing colorful fabrics now!” – I seem to go out of my way to defy myself. Well, it’s happened again. No sooner had I written that post did I sew a string of neutral projects.

The evidence is quite damning:

In addition to these nine (!) projects, I sewed a couple of grey pieces in March. One is a total success and the other a total failure that I could use some input on.

First up – the success! These pants are sewn up in a thick linen woven using Vogue 8909. | Vogue 8909 grey linen pants

I’ve sewn the pattern up three times before, blogged only once as part of a tiger costume.

This time, I shifted the front seams in by another inch and added 2″ of ease to the hips in the rear. I like my hip ease. I’d also shortened the rise by 1″ in an earlier iteration (and as you can see, they are by no means low-rise even after the alteration.)


I also lowered the back yoke line by 1″. These are my dream lounge pants, but nice enough (I think? I hope?) to wear to my casual-ish desk job.

And now, the fail: a longline cardigan based on McCall’s 6886. | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

To be clear, I think the pattern was a good choice for this project. I altered McCall’s 6886 to include a front opening and a low v-neck. I also think these photos of the cardigan look GREAT. | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

The fail is due to the fabric. I washed this 100% wool sweater knit on cold, and dried it in the machine. (Worth noting: I am cavalier with most fabrics. For a pre-wash, I machine wash and dry almost everything except coatings and lace. I baby my fabrics later by minimizing washings and line-drying, but I like to minimize surprises if a piece accidentally gets thrown in the wash.) No unexpected shrinkage, BUT the grainline shifted dramatically. The horizontal striations were now at a jaunty angle. After consulting with the fabric seller, I had mostly straightened it by dampening it and blocking it. So I cut and sewed it and was happy with it. As I wore it, the side seams began to skew but not so terribly that I wouldn’t wear it.

But, as time went on, the fabric relaxed, especially in the arm scye. Back it went into the washer/dryer, after which the side seams skewed dramatically to the point where the buttons now form a diagonal line across my front. Not only that, but the button band edges now form a very ripply fold. | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

I’m not here to blame the seller, because I think every fabric care suggestion would tell me not to put wool sweater knit into a washer or dryer. But, I am curious – is this sweater knit intrinsically off-grain or did I make it so?

I have a yard or so left, and my thought is to sew something leaving the striations slanted and let the fabric do what it wants to do. I see quite a few RTW garments do that, so while it’s not my favorite look, I wouldn’t be conspicuous and the fabric wouldn’t go to waste.

Lastly, I shall leave you with a bonus project – the black tank I’m wearing with both of these grey projects! | McCall's 6886 black viscose tank top

It’s another McCall’s 6886 in black viscose, bringing my neutral sewing total up to twelve pieces. It’s quickly become one of my most-worn pieces as my two black RTW tanks (purchased in 2008 and 2011) disintegrate. I love the drape of the fabric.

Thanks for stopping by, and please do share any knowledge you might have about knit fabric grainlines!

Canada Pants | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I’m excited to share my Morgan jeans today! Since it would be weird to call your own jeans by your first name, I call them my Canada Pants. Not only were they are designed by Canadian Heather Lou, but I also found the fabric for them on a trip to Victoria, BC.

When Heather first approached me about this pattern, I was trepidatious about fitting without the aid of stretch. (I made a pair of non-stretch flares last year and while they’re comfortable enough, I just don’t like how they look.) I decided my strategy would be sizing up and sewing in a fabric with drape like a linen. Doesn’t it sound pleasant to billow around in roomy linen jeans?

But fate had other plans and I fell under the spell of a thick 50/50 hemp cotton denim in Victoria’s Gala Fabrics. (Incidentally, when I went up to the cutting counter, the owner immediately asked me if I was from Salt Springs Island. I said no and asked why, and he said that hemp and linen are very popular with the inhabitants there. If we were going on fibers alone, I’d say I’d found my people…) | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

So with my drapey linen plans delayed (but not abandoned!), I made a very traditional pair of blue jeans. And, in spite of my hesitance, they’re easily the best jeans, nay, pants in my wardrobe. For a few years now, the only jeans pattern I’d used was what I’d adapted from a Burda pleated pants pattern. I’m still proud of what I accomplished with that pattern, but these are better. The pocket design and placement is better. The balance between front and back is better. The booty curve is better. The overall fit is better. | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Let’s talk fit for a bit. I took the pattern’s suggestion to size up for thick fabric (I made a 10 waist / 12 hips instead of an 8 waist /10 hips) and made a muslin. Lo and behold, my muslin was already looking and feeling better than any other pair of pants I owned. I had a bit of excess fabric in the front thighs and under ye olde rump, as well as some smile lines in the back. After some research, I made the following fit tweaks:

  • scooped and lowered the rear curve (which removed the extra back volume)
  • scooped the front curve into more of a rectangle (which also removed volume)
  • removed excess from the back side seam starting under the widest part of my hips
  • removed excess from the back inner thighs
  • removed excess from the front inner thighs
  • moved the knee point up by 1″
  • took out 1/4″ total from the calves starting at the knee

I’m a tall person with short-person legs, so the ankle length was perfect on me.

Aside from my plan to make the jeans in linen, my other design idea was to expose the buttons on the button fly. I’m way into series of gold buttons right now. I omitted the fly shield and sewed my buttonholes directly into the jeans front. | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I also really wanted keyhole buttons. I remembered Kelly from Cut Cut Sew had hand-sewed hers and how lovely it looked. One evening when my husband was out, I turned on some music and got to stitching. | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Hand-sewn buttonholes are still not my forte, but these are infinitely more practical and beautiful than my machined ones! Consider me a convert. | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I also changed the pocket construction in favor of pocket-stays, instructions for which are included in the Ginger sew-along. | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Given how well these fit, I’m chomping at the bit to make a second pair. My love of jeans sewing has been re-ignited! I’m going to see how these wear before sewing another pair – the true test of any pair of jeans -and see if I need to adjust the fit or sizing.

Thank you for reading, and thank you, Heather, for both the compliment of a namesake pattern and for drafting that booty curve.

Flare bear

I was on a major flare high after making denim trousers, and was certain that a pair of flared jeans would be just the thing. So I made them out of this fantastically thick no-stretch denim I found at SCRAP and… meh. They’re fine but they’re just not the 70s jeans of my dreams. I wear them about once every two weeks. | flared jeans

I’m not really sure why they feel so underwhelming! They’re technically the best pair of jeans I’ve ever managed to sew. They fit really nicely. I just feel a bit frumpy when I wear them. Maybe it’s the thickness of the fabric? I also added a total of 1/2″ of ease to the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch* (and took them in a bit when I fit them), so it’s possible they’re more relaxed than I was intending? | flared jeans


They also don’t seem to work well with any of my shirts, most of which were sewn to partner with other jeans. Any suggestions on what to pair with these flares? Please? Help?


Let’s move on from my frumpy pants to wedding sewing, shall we?

Since finishing the wedding bra (pic at the bottom of that post), I’ve been building the dress bodice. On a lark, I tried inserting the molded sew-in cups I used on the wedding bra into the bodice directly, and they worked on their own! So, after all that, we’ll be skipping the bra. It’s a little bit sad, but it will prevent me the worry of having to secure the bodice to it. And, my sis has a completely custom super-sturdy white foundation piece to do with as she pleases. | wedding separates bodice

“Dress” is actually a misnomer now – I lobbied successfully for wedding separates instead of a dress, hoping my sis could repurpose the pieces more easily and maybe even dye the skirt. I lengthened the bodice into more of a bustier top that could be worn with skirts or even pants. Next, I’ll be draping the lace bodice overlay with the expertise of my friend Casey – who finally has his own blog!

* Edit: I completely forgot to include pattern info for the flares! They’re based off my moderate-stretch jeans block, which I used most recently here. I added width at the bottom, reducing to nothing at the knees. Like I mentioned above, I added a total of 1/2″ ease per leg at the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch. Thanks to Emma Jayne for asking!

Pants progress

My last post dealt with shoulder fit, but I’d like to take a detour to Pants Land (or Trouser Town, if you’re British?)

Last year I made my first two pairs of jeans. The first one was the best-fitting pair of jeans I’d ever worn, and an undefinable and wonderful (to me) style: fitted but not tight, tapered but not skin-tight, ankle-length. They bagged out a little bit with wear, however, especially after I put them on damp. | jeans
The original fit

On the second pair, I got overzealous and took 1/4″ out of the out-seams and tightened up the waistband. They looked good but, creature of comfort that I am, I really didn’t want to put them on. They stayed a dark indigo blue while the first pair earned that oh-so-delightful fading.

Over the year, the first pair started to feel more like the tight pair. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought it, too – I was outgrowing my jeans. Then I held up the first pair to the tight pair, and they were the same size! The denim had shrunk with washings and (very occasional) dryings. | Vogue 1367
The shrunken fit

Both pairs were lovingly folded up and given to my sister, who they fit as originally intended.

After giving the jeans away and a full Marie Kondo wardrobe sort, I was left with two pairs of everyday pants – a lackluster pair of thrifted jeans and my khaki pleated trousers. Right around this time, I’d been casting about for a project after finishing my coat but nothing sounded like fun until the idea of revisiting my jeans pattern occurred to me.

I may have called that pattern “self-drafted” at the time I wrote that post, but “self-cobbled” is more accurate. Now that I’m older and wiser/have read more Helen Joseph-Armstrong, I know that converting a pleated trouser pattern into jeans was nothing short of major pattern surgery! According to HJ-A, jeans have a higher back rise and lower front rise, which I did not take into account in my first two pairs. In fact, I’d reduced the back rise for the trousers. Add my ample rump into the mix and there’s just too much booty.

For this iteration, I added a full inch to the back rise, grading to nothing all the way to center front. I also added 1/4″ of ease to the front and back outseams to guard against future denim shrinking, which can apparently happen over the course of many washings. (I did wash and dry my denim twice this time but who knows if it was enough! I used the leftovers from my other two pairs so I’m suspicious that it’s waiting to do me an ill turn.)

Anyway. I love them. | jeans | jeans

I was inspired by Heather Lou’s Ginger sewalong to use pocket stays, which are amazing because of the extra room for my hands and the cozy stability across the entire front. | jeans detail

I was bolstered up by my success, enough to do some more pattern cobbling, and made a pair of stretch-denim flares with back darts instead of a yoke. I added 4″ length and about 4″ of flare on both sides of the legs. | flared denim trousers

Flares. Flares! Why did I ever stop wearing this wonderful silhouette?

I changed the pockets to a slant instead of jeans-style pockets. | flared denim trousers

And I got terribly lazy and left off back pockets (which are universally credited for “breaking up the expanse” of rump.) I had every intention of making some nice welt pockets, but my fabric was quite thin and I thought the visible outline of pocket bags might be equally distracting. I may still add some sort of classy patch pocket, if such a thing is possible on pants. There is some wrinkling on the back, but it may just be from sitting? I don’t know. This fabric is probably best suited to dresses and the like. | flared denim trousers

I would love to try my new flares pattern in another thicker fabric, possibly as jeans with a yoke. As-is, they have filled a wardrobe gap for me, which is nicer work wear (with a longer top, of course). I’d add another inch of length, too. | flared denim trousers

Hope you enjoyed this detour to Trouser Town! They’ve been a nice simpler sew while I muddle over the fit and design of my sister’s wedding dress… I’m documenting the process but I can’t decide whether to post as I go or plan to summarize at the end, in case it all goes to $hit and we have to buy a dress!

Cloudy Polly and the drama pants

I found myself with a hankering to replace my dissatisfying black pants during May. I found them at the thrift store a few years ago, and never loved them even after slimming the leg and cropping the hem but never hated them enough to stop wearing them when jeans wouldn’t do.

And, I’d always meant to use my altered-beyond-recognition Burda 7250 pants pattern, and the perfect fabric (or so I thought…) fell into my hands at Our Fabric Stash recently – black linen-rayon with a nice light-to-middle weight and drape. | pleated pants and Polly top


These were also the pants I used on my waistband finish tutorial. I love how they turned out, but they were giving me grief from the moment I finished the tutorial. Part of it was the unpredictable fabric – there’s quite a bit of stretch I hadn’t anticipated when I’d bought it, and the waistband was dramatically wider. I usually baste the outer waistband to the pants, staystitching the top, to make sure there are no surprises. I felt overly confident using a pattern I’d worked with before and stitched/understitched my outer and inner waistbands together. Taking apart and altering a finished waistband is the pits. And though it’s much better, the problem wasn’t completely solved by taking excess out of the waistband; the fabric grows quite a bit during the day. | pleated pants and Polly top


The silver lining to all this unpcking was that in doing so, I realized I’d only basted the outseams together! I’m glad I caught them before a tearaway pants moment occurred.

Oh, and I put in single-welt pockets in the back and forgot to take pics of them! I referred to Melanie’s wonderful tutorial again. I slip-stitched the welts closed as I never use back pockets for anything other than breaking up an expanse of rump. | pleated pants and Polly top

I love these pants (in spite of? because of?) the struggles and I’m not done with this pattern by a long shot.


I also made another BHL Polly top! I scored this fantastic cloud-printed quilting cotton at – where else – Our Fabric Stash. One of my good friends, Jen, is getting interested in sewing garments, and we chose the Polly top as her first project. Of course, I had to be companionable and sew one up, too. | BHL Polly tops


This time around, I ditched the cap sleeves I’d made as part of my tiger costume. I revisited the fit, and concluded that I needed more length through the upper chest. I added 1/2″ to the pattern. I did a square shoulder adjustment as before, but added 3/8″ on the outside rather than subtracting it from the inside. Jen shortened her straps a bit after trying it on. I think this picture is a pretty good indication of how long I must be through the chest. | pleated pants and Polly top

It’s much more comfortable than my other version, but some pesky wrinkles crept in next to the armpits. (The wrinkles at the bottom were from wearing this top two days in a row.) It’s not too tight anywhere – any wrinkle-readers out there know what might have caused them? | pleated pants and Polly top

And I think it’s really time I started making swayback adjustments. I’ve been fighting this one for a long time. Any favorite tutorials out there? Or maybe I’ll just keep my back curved forward for now… | pleated pants and Polly top

Bias-bound inside waistband tutorial

If I’ve been learning anything from my MMM mini-challenge, it’s that two pairs of pants – my jeans and linen pants – aren’t sufficient for one unique me-made outfit per week! I do have a few skirts, but I really prefer wearing pants to work. I decided to move another pair of the pleated pants to the top of my ever-growing sewing queue, ahead of the husbo’s new jeans.

And, since one of you – you know how you are! – so kindly asked to see more about how I finish waistbands, I used this opportunity to write up a little tutorial on the subject. For fly-front pants that aren’t jeans, this is my preferred method as it reduces waistband bulk, adds visual interest, and somehow seems easier than folding the seam allowance of the inside waistband under. I first saw this technique used on a pair of j.crew pants and used it on my velvetine pants (out of rotation because velvetine weather is long gone) and Nathan’s shorts. | bias binding waistband tutorial

What you’ll need:

  • Your inside and outside waistband pieces, sewn together, with the seams where they meet trimmed and understitched
  • 1/4″ or 3/8″ double-fold bias binding; yardage = your waistband length
  • Marking tool or chalk
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pins | bias binding waistband tutorial


1. Trim your inside waistband. How much you trim depends on your seam allowance and the size of your bias binding. In my case, my SA was 5/8″ and my binding was 3/8″; I trimmed off 1/8″, which left me with 1/8″ of the SA not covered by the binding. If I were using 1/4″ binding, I would have trimmed off 1/4″ and still would have had 1/8″ not covered by binding. | bias binding waistband tutorial

2. Cut a piece of bias binding that is slightly longer than your waistband | bias binding waistband tutorial
3. If necessary, press your bias binding closed; one side should peak out over top of the other | bias binding waistband tutorial

4. Pin your bias binding to the inside waistband, with the longer side on the wrong side. Stretch the binding slightly as you pin, making sure that the fold meets the inside of the inner waistband. | bias binding waistband tutorial | bias binding waistband tutorial

5. Sew the binding to the inside waistband. | bias binding waistband tutorial

6.  Make sure the stitches caught the binding on both sides. Trim off any excess binding. | bias binding waistband tutorial

7. Pin the raw edge of the outside waistband to your pants, right sides together, and sew. (I like the machine-baste first, and then stitch after I’ve made sure my seams match up and there are no puckers.) | bias binding waistband tutorial

8. After pressing the seam you just sewed, trim and grade the seam starting 1/2″ from the edges of the waistband. (I find that not trimming to the edge makes turning the waistband easier.) Trim the zipper if you need to. | bias binding waistband tutorial

9. Fold the inside and outside waistbands right sides together. Pin the raw edges of the waistband together, folding the inside waistband up. Make sure the fold is a little lower than where the pants and outside waistband meet. Repeat for the other side. | bias binding waistband tutorial

10. Using your chalk, draw a straight line where you want to stitch your inner and outer waistbands together. I use the edge or fly shield (or zipper edge, if you don’t have a fly shield) as a guide to make sure my line as straight, and move it a little closer to the raw edge to accommodate for turn-of-cloth. Stitch on the line you drew. | bias binding waistband tutorial

11. Turn your waistband right-side out and make sure it came out straight; if so, you can trim and grade if you like. (I recommend Lisa G’s tutorial on perfect waistband corners.) | bias binding waistband tutorial

12. Your bias binding will be turned toward the inside of the waistband; this is correct. Start folding it open so you can see it from the inside of your pants after the zipper, and press where the binding folds. Repeat for the other side. | bias binding waistband tutorial

13. Making sure none of the inside waistband is showing from the upper edge of the outside waistband, pin the inside waistband to the outer from the outside, along the seam between the pants and the waistband. | bias binding waistband tutorial

14. Check your pins and make sure they’re above the top edge of your bias binding | bias binding waistband tutorial

15. Stitch in the ditch of the waistband seam, removing pins as you go. | bias binding waistband tutorial

16. Make sure the folded part of the inner waistband was stitched down. All you need now is a closure, and you’re done! | bias binding waistband tutorial

I’ll be back soon to share the pants that this bias-bound waistband is attached to!

And, in case you’re in or near Seattle, my favorite thrifted fabric store, Our Fabric Stash, is having a one-day sale event this Saturday!

Wedding guest… suit?

Dearest readers, thank you so much for your thoughtful replies to my last post on taking a sabbatical. It was heartening to hear how many of you have had similar thoughts or made a similar change; if so many of us want to trade some income for more creative and living time, I think our working culture will change. If you feel in need of some inspiration, I highly recommend reading through the comments.

In other news, I’ve unintentionally joined Coletterie’s Wardrobe Architect project. Initially I thought I wouldn’t, because I think I sew pretty realistically for my lifestyle and tastes. As I read more of Sarai’s posts, however, I found myself mulling over the some of the topics even after I’d finished reading. The worksheets, questionnaires and mood boards were the final straw.

I’m pretty sure Wardrobe Architect influenced my latest projects. I felt like making something for our friends’ wedding this past Sunday, because it had been awhile since I’d sewn anything dressy. I was planning on making a dress, which is default wedding wear for women, but I knew I would have to wear tights to stay warm enough. I hate tights. My knees and calves are comparatively small for my waist and hips, so I always have to make a choice – sausage waist or pooling legs? Neither, please!

I started thinking about a dressy outfit centered around pants that I could make in black velvetine from my stash. I recently made a croquis of myself last fall so I could iterate through silhouettes more quickly. Here was my initial drawing: | croquis drawing

I had a bustier top pattern in mind, used here and here, and I figured I could alter my stretch jeans pattern to omit the yoke and front pockets for some super simple, streamlined dress pants. Here’s how it came together! | McCall's 6325

I figured I’d make a kimono similar to this one to wear over my outfit, and I wanted to make sure that the fabric I used was festive to balance out the black. My stash yielded nothing, so I haunted my favorite second-hand fabric store. Days before the wedding, I found a gorgeous bright floral rayon. This is going to sound nuts, but I’ve only sewn with floral fabric twice in my entire sewing career (and once was my grown-up flower girl dress.) A loud floral really does keep one entertained during the sewing process! | self-drafted kimono

I can’t seem to resist unfurling my kimono wings… Here’s a more normal pic of the entire ensemble. | kimono, bustier and pants

I felt comfortable and festive throughout the wedding. And, I noticed that a lot of the stylish older women were wearing cool kimono-style garments as well, some of them with awesome embellishments. I stole furtive, admiring glances their direction.

I have some notes on the construction and fit of the top and pants. Starting with the bustier, which is McCall’s 6325: | McCall's 6325

I underlined the bustier bodice with cotton voile to minimize the stretch of the velvetine, and lined it with a scrap of organic cotton sateen left over from my quilt. I underlined the peplum-ish part of the top with black silk habotai (also a scrap) to minimize friction against the velvetine pants. The buttons are gold-colored metal.

I went through a muslin with the bustier but I don’t think I have the fit quite right. I took out too much ease from the bust when I was fitting it and had to mess with some of the side seams, make the button plackets wider, and add a hook and eye to prevent gaping. I’d like to make a summer dress from the bodice part, so I will probably revisit fitting the pattern. | McCall's 6325

You can see on this black-and-white photo where there’s some pulling and twisting through the bodice. Since the velvetine sucks up tons of light, it’s normally not visible enough to prevent me from wearing it.

On to the pants: | velvetine pants

These fit almost identically to my jeans. Lisa G noted recently that getting a better fit at the top of her CB rise reduced how curved her back waistband had to be, and I think I will experiment with that the next time I use any variation of this pattern. My super-curved back waistband ensures that my pants stay up, but I think there is some extra ease that could come out of the top of the CB rise. I used Debbie Cook’s fly tutorial again. It’s just the best.

So far, I’ve worn the kimono every day since I’ve finished it, and I’m banking on the other two pieces finding their way into my limited dressy rotation. | bustier, kimono, pants

The other Wardrobe Architect by-product? I decided the closest things I have to style icons are Alexa Chung and Sophia Coppola. Thirty Pinterest-filled minutes later, I was walking to the bathroom in a trance-state to cut some bangs…


I’ve been stepping out on my coat project with… jeans! | jeans

I have three excuses.

One, after I finished up my denim trousers, I had a strong hankering to see if I could adapt my pattern by removing the pleats. (IT TOTALLY WORKED.) I told myself that I should act while my pants knowledge is fresh.

Two, I have two pairs of jeans, only one of which *should* be worn out of the house. I actually retired those grey stretch jeans I wore with the kimono last year, only to start wearing them again when the thrift stores didn’t yield a replacement. They look ok from afar, but every time I wear them, they get a little saggier and a little more translucent.

Three, Sallieoh. Nough said. | jeans

So I did it – I made jeans. I wanted to document my process, because it involved quite a few steps. None were terribly difficult!

Pattern changes
The reason I stuck with my trouser pattern was fit: I’d spent months working on perfecting that pattern and I figured small changes to it would get me further than starting all over with a jeans-specific pattern. Instead, I adapted elements of the pants pattern from Built by Wendy’s Sew U book. | jeans

Here are the changes I made to convert my trousers into jeans:

  • folded out the excess fabric for pleats
  • converted the back darts into a yoke
  • made the pocket to a curve, using a pattern piece from Sew U
  • added back patch pockets (also from Sew U)
  • created a new waistband pattern

Once I’d updated my pattern, I still wanted to check the fit and make sure I hadn’t made any errors. Also, I was using my thrifted stretch denim and wanted a tighter fit than my trousers. My method was pretty quick and dirty:

  • cut out front leg pieces (without removing any fabric for pockets)
  • cut out back leg and yoke pieces
  • baste back leg and yoke pieces; press
  • sew legs together
  • try on pants without waistband; turn inside out and pin out any excess from inseam and outseam
  • mark front and back pocket position on pants
  • mark changes and pocket position on pattern

After marking my pattern, I took out my basting stitches and cut my pieces down using the updated pattern pieces. (I’m guessing an expert would tell you to use new fabric to make sure the grainline was correct and the fabric wasn’t warped from pressing.)

After fitting, I constructed the pants as suggested by Sew U: I sewed and topstitched the back (yoke, pockets, crotch) and front (slant pockets, and fly) before joining them together at the inseam. After top-stitching the inseam, I sewed the outseam.

Once I’d completed sewing the legs, I started working on the pattern for my curved waistband. I started out with a rectangular waistband, basted it onto my pants, and then darted the excess in the back. I used that piece to drafted a new curved back waistband and left the front as a rectangle.

Topstitching, fly, button, rivet
The details that really say “jeans!” to me are the topstitching, fly, the jeans button, and rivets.

I used topstitching thread and stitched 1/8″ and 3/8″  from edges and seams, with the tension cranked up. Thanks to Gail and Stephanie for answering my call for help on Instagram when my topstitching was looking ugly!

For the fly, I used a combination of Grainline’s tutorial and Sew U’s instructions, with mostly good results. Since jeans are so top-stitching heavy, the order of operations is really important. I hadn’t realized I would want top-stitching on the edge of the fly opening until I saw the jeans on myself. By then, it was too late for me to connect my top-stitching to the center-front: | jeans

I think the top-stitching is fine and will escape the notice of people who don’t spend tons of time staring at jeans for construction tips. That said, I will confess that I was so excited about these jeans that I immediately started a second pair (sorry, coat!). Whilst looking for jeans-specific fly tutorials, I came across Debbie Cook’s. There was no guesswork, no fudging. Here’s how my second pair looks, inside and out:



Thank you, Debbie!

I bought rivets and jeans buttons from Taylor Tailor and read his instructions on installing them. I made the mistake of pounding one rivet into carpet (the pointy part of the back of the rivet came through the rivet cap) but otherwise was able to install them without any problems once I moved to a hard metal surface.

In summary | jeans

These are by far the best-fitting pair of jeans I’ve owned. The style is somewhere between skinny and straight jeans and the rise is just where I want it. I may have a bit more perfecting to do with the rear/back pocket area, but nothing that will prevent me from wearing these daily.

When I first started sewing, I imagined that pants, let alone jeans, were not worth the trouble and probably nearly impossible to construct. I’m glad I overcame that idea, because this project was incredibly rewarding!

Now… how to break the news to my coat that I have another pair of jeans in the works…?

Pants v4


This is the face of a smug, smug person who has pants that fit.

As I mentioned before, I found yards of this denim at SCRAP (a very cool creative reuse store in Portland).  I couldn’t believe my luck! I’ve probably got enough left for at least two more projects.


I started these puppies right after my olive linen pants, and I’m happy to say that the welt pockets were perfectly symmetrical. So much was going right until I attached the waistband. I eased it in to the waist too tightly, cut off the back ends and had myself a really tight-waisted pair of pants. And then I just kept on going – I sewed and understitched the waistband lining, added bias binding. Unsurprisingly, none of that made the waistband looser.

So…. I had to remove the whole waistband and start over. A tight waistband is way worse than 15 minutes of seam ripping. It was particularly unpalatable because I’d already graded and clipped all of my seams. But it worked and I breathed a huge sigh of relief (facilitated by the new waist ease). | waistband

I suppose I’m grateful for the chance to practice turning nice points and bias-bound inside waistband. The new one does look nicer than the old. And I discovered I’m a big fan of binding instead of turning the inside waistband under – it’s less bulky, looks nice and I get to use a contrasting fabric on an otherwise plain project. I cross-referenced this Coletterie tutorial with a pair of J.Crew pants.

And maybe 10x nicer than the waistband from my first version?


The welts are sewn down to prevent drooping. The pocket bags are also really short, as I never use them, but I think I should have extended them as their outline is faintly visible. Oh, the efforts I will take for fake pockets! | welt pockets

I took the side seams in a bit since the fabric was thicker – 1″ total out of each leg. I think the olive linen is closer to the ideal weight for this fabric, but I still like these pants immensely.

I also made this shirt from Maria of Denmark’s free Kirsten kimono tee. I might lower the neckline a bit next time but otherwise it’s a great little shirt that fits very true to size. I think of this as my Fabric Tragic outfit because I’m totally copying Sarah. | Burda 7250

I’d make another pair of the pants when the need for something dressier arises – maybe in a boring black or a in wild print or texture. Now that I’ve altered the pattern beyond recognition (curved waistband, slanted pockets, new leg shape, lowered rise, added fly shield), they’re dream pants!