The Chi-town Chinos

Hey guys! How are you? I'm doing alright. I'm starting to feel like my energy is back up to a more normal level, so I'm pretty happy about that. Currently, we are having an absolutely beautiful Fall day. It's sunny, the lake is quiet, and people are burning stuff in their burn barrels, so we have this gorgeous, wood burning campfire smell wafting in through the open windows. Our summer this year was down right sucky, it just rained and rained, but maybe it will have been worth it, if we have a nice fall.

Anyway, onto the subject at hand, the Chi-town Chinos! Well the Chi-town Chinos expansion pack No. 2. Are you confused? Let me explain. The Chi-town Chinos is this great shorts pattern designed by Alina Design & Sewing Co. And not only does the pattern come with a cute shorts pattern, it also has a very wearable skirt version as well.  All spring and summer, I watched these great photos of the Chi-town Chino shorts pop up around the blogosphere and on Instagram, and I just loved design. Every pair I saw looked like something I would buy in the store. So, being the pattern addict and magpie that I am, I snatched up the pattern right away. It was in my queue, but I hadn't had the chance to make it yet, when I saw that Alina had put a call out for testers of her soon to be released expansion packs (how did I find this out you might ask? Because I signed up for her newsletter).  Anyway, I signed up to test, thinking that I would be on a long list of people and not get picked, but much to my surprise, I was selected. So I tested Expansion Pack No. 2 which makes the Chi-town Chinos into trousers; Expansion Pack No. 1 is for a slim fitting, bermuda length short, which to be honest I was skeptical about, but all the versions I've seen so far are amazing!

Okay, now that we've cleared that all up, let's get on with my makes.

 I muslined up a size 12, and honestly, the fit wasn't too bad. They were of course a bit too long, and the back needed a bit of work around my bum and thighs, but that's not new for me. Pretty much every pair of pants/jeans/shorts that I've made has needed adjustments in those areas. The cool thing about pattern testing with Alina, is that she set up a private Facebook group for the testers, and we all posted photos of our muslins there (and later our final garments). That was insanely helpful to me, because Alina gave me some fitting advice (in pretty much real time, I might add), but so did the other testers, and it was so helpful to see what other people were doing to make their pants fit their unique bodies. I learned so much!

So I ended up scooping out the back crotch curve quite a bit, and then I did a thin thigh adjustment. When Alina suggested this adjustment, I was like, "umm what? Have you seen my thighs lady? They are not thin." LOL. But she assured me it would work, and it did!!!  It was a huge revelation for me, because it made the fit sooooooo much better. And once I thought about it a bit, it made so much sense to me. It's all about proportion. Because I have a bit of a thick waist/belly, and I have a bum, my thighs are thin in proportion to the size of the pattern. Does that make sense? Anyway, I should mention, that for the final version of this pattern, Alina ended up thinning the thigh because it was baggy for almost all the testers, and she lengthened the crotch curve slightly too, so bear that in mind if you decide to make your own pair. 

So this pair is made out of a grey cotton twill that was in my stash, but originally came from Hart's Fabric. It's a nice weight, but it looks a bit fast food uniform-ish, or even janitor-ish to me. Ha Ha! I'm sure that's mostly in my head, and it won't stop me from wearing them. I think the grey will go with lots of tops in my closet, and be great for Fall/Winter.

I should also mention that the instructions for this pattern are awesome! If you've never made pants/shorts before, the instructions are super detailed and have great diagrams. I had only made welt pockets twice before this, once on a pair of unblogged Thurlow Trousers, and once on my Rigel Bomber, and these ones turned out awesome!! The instructions made them really easy, and Alina now has a little sewalong on her blog too. So don't let welts scare you off. Once you've made one, you'll be addicted! 

Of course once I finished my grey pair, I was in love, so I had to make another pair right away! (And actually I've made a third pair already, which you can check out here.)

Also worth  mentioning: I am having a love affair with funky glasses lately. I've ordered a bunch of cheap pairs from Firmoo (I think the most expensive pair I bought was $39), and while some of them are better than others, I have been having lots of fun playing with glasses as an accessory. Anyway, in the next set of photos I'm wearing a pair that I really like, but I cheaped out on getting the anti-reflective coating (present-Heather is kicking past-Heather for not shelling out the extra $4.99), so they make my eyes look kind of weird in photos. Also, although I have seen Firmoo mentioned on a number of blogs, they did not send me free glasses for a mention. I did watch this video recently though, and it confirmed my suspicions that there is a massive mark up on glasses. Of course something that you cannot go without is severely overpriced. But let's not get me started on that. Back to sewing!

This pair of chinos is made of a mystery fabric that came from deep within the clearance department at my local Fabricland in Calgary. It doesn't look too bad, but it also doesn't have the nice J.Crew chino feel that I was hoping for. Again, still very wearable, and I love the colour, but I'm still on the hunt for the perfect twill. If you have any suggestions for me, I'm all ears.

I thought you might like to see a couple of photos with them uncuffed too (for reference I ended up shortening the legs by 2 inches). I am pretty much the queen of cuffs. I cuff everything. Last winter, I pretty much wore my gingers cuffed with short boots all winter. The only time you'll find me without cuffs is if I have my skinnies tucked into tall boots. I don't know what it is, I guess I like ankle cleavage. 

I didn't have the perfect matching thread, so I went with a light grey. I think it worked out pretty well. Years ago I took a beginner quilting class, and I remember the teacher said that if your quilt is kind of crazy or has a ton of colours, the best thing to do is to pick a neutral thread, like grey or brown, to quilt it with and then the thread will just kind of blend in. I didn't think brown would work in this case so I went with grey. The only place it really shows up in on the bar tacks. Quilting tricks for the win!

I cannot believe how much I had to say about these! When I sat down to write this post, I intended it to be a pretty quick, show you the pictures post, but it turned into a bit of a novel. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

What do you think are you ready to sew some pants?

More button ups...the Deer & Doe Mélilot

First of all, thank you guys all so much for your kind words and support. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful friends that I've "met" through the internet. You all mean so much to me. I've been kind of hiding just how bad I was really feeling in my online presence, so it feels good to just get everything out there. When I first started sewing, I really had no idea, just how much it would impact my life. It's been such great therapy for me, but it's also been such a great tool for connecting with some really fantastic people. 

Secondly, now that you all know what's been happening with me, you'll be able to easily excuse my terrible bed head in the next few posts. LOL. My hair looks okay from the front, but it's kind of a mess everywhere else. Sometimes dry shampoo can be a blessing and a curse. LOL

Anyway, let's get on to one of my favourite makes of the summer: the Deer & Doe Patterns Mélilot blouse.

I bought this pattern just after it was released, because I loved the short sleeve version. I love a good button up shirt, and this version looked like it would be perfect for spring and summer. I've made a couple of short sleeve Archers in the past, but I found them kind of masculine, like I was wearing one of John's shirts, or almost uniform looking on me. I think the cuffed kimono sleeve of this pattern, keeps the shirt looking more feminine and modern, so that's what really drew me to it.

Anyway, I was super excited about it when it came, but then it just sat on my sewing table for months. I think the idea having to muslin a new shirt pattern was a bit daunting for some reason. Anyway, that was super silly because this pattern fit me really quite well straight out of the envelope. 

I haven't made a lot of Deer & Doe patterns (even though I own a ton of them, and have heard nothing but great things) so I wasn't 100% sure what size to start with. I ended up picking a size 42 based on the Finished Garment Measurements. I love when designers include the finished measurements! It helps so much! 

I traced the pattern and compared the pieces to my Archer pattern. By doing that I knew it would fit, so I cut into some gorgeous pinstriped hemp chambray I had in my stash, which (of course), came from Blackbird Fabrics. (Do I shop anywhere else? I promise I do, but I feel like when I'm typing up blog posts, I'm always mentioning Blackbird. LOL. I'm a Blackbird Fabrics addict!) Anyway, it feels almost like linen, but it was super soft right off the bat like chambray. Thumbs up for natural fibres. 

So this is a straight size 42 with no adjustments. As you can see, the fit is almost perfect, but it's pulling slightly across the bust and it's a little tight across my upper back. It's doesn't look too bad everywhere else, although I do find it is a little snug around my belly as well.

Also did you notice my huge mistake? I put the buttonholes on the wrong side!! Oops! Not really a big deal, but it should be the opposite. Anyway, once this shirt was finished, I wore it for 3 days in a row (including one day with a hilarious button up failure), so I knew I needed to make another one right away.

For my second Mélilot, I decided to make a straight size 44.

I think the size 44 fits really well, but it might be slightly too long. I almost feel like I need a size 43. Something right in between the two sizes I made.  Anyway, it is a bit long for me, but I really don't mind. I think it will tuck in nicely to skirts at this length, and if I'm having a day where I want to be super comfy,  I can throw on leggings with it, and not feel super self-conscious because my butt is covered. 😜

This fabric is a gorgeous striped chambray, that came to me all the way from Bangkok from the lovely Meg. She made her husband a shirt out of this fabric, and I ooooo'd and ahhhhh'd so much about it, that she offered to send me some. We ended up doing a fabric swap - sewing friends are the best - and you can see what she made with the fabric I sent her here.

Anyway, I feel like this shirt is extra special because the fabric was a gift, not to mention that now Meg's husband and I have matching shirts. LOL. I'm super happy with how it turned out, and I have been wearing it a ton as well. 

I should also mention that this shirt is a pretty simple make. The mandarin collar, the fold over plackets (which I believe are called french plackets) and kimono sleeves make for a super quick sew. I think the thing that takes the longest is making all those buttonholes (well and sewing on the buttons, but I always do that by machine because I'm lazy). The pockets are totally lined, which is a cool little detail and helps you to sew the curves at the bottom much neater.

I love the shape of this blouse. I think the curves make it very flattering, and I can't wait to make a bunch more of them. In fact, I've already made a third one, and I'm planing a couple long sleeve ones for fall and winter too.

So what do you think? Have I swayed you to buy yet another button up shirt pattern? Ha ha! I'm a pattern junkie too. Anyway, if I did, you'll notice that Deer & Doe are temporarily out of stock, but I did hear (from the lovely @shar_bozz) that you can buy it from Pattern Review, and I'm sure there are other stockists too.

Thanks again friends! Happy Sewing!

A little about what's been going on with me...

I feel like I've been writing this post in my head for quite a while but for some reason, I just haven't sat down at my computer to type it all out. I can't believe it's been a month since I last blogged! Honestly, it's been a bit of a tough summer for me. I really haven't felt very well since we lost Quincie at the end of June. The energy in my house is so much different without her, and I miss her more that words can say. I know that you fellow animal lovers, and pet people will understand. And I think that you all know just how important my little fur balls are to me. I love all my pugs, but Quincie was a very special, not to mention high-needs pug. She demanded a lot of my time, care and attention, but for every little bit that she took from me, she always gave back twofold. I was very connected to her, and while she couldn't talk to me, she always seemed to know when I needed a little extra love and comfort. She was like this little beacon of light, always by my side, and always there to love me completely and to make me smile. She never let her handicaps get her down, and she was a true example of how will power and determination could get you past anything (well almost anything). Anyway, our little grumble is starting to get used to her not being around, and we know that even though we can't see her, she's still here in our hearts, but it's been tough.

And then, I got that huge flare up of (what I now know is) psoriasis which wasn't fun, but I didn't realize just how much impact it would have on my life. I thought it was just a rash, and with some medicated cream, it would clear up. Well, the rash did clear up, but because psoriasis is actually an auto-immune disease, it pretty much sucks all energy out of you (well it did me anyway). I have spent a lot of days just lounging around watching TV and feeling like I was carrying a 20lb bag of concrete on my back. There have been days where I felt like I wouldn't be able to make it out of bed to feed the pugs, let alone do anything else. (I am happy to report though, that although I felt like I wouldn't be able to get up and take care of them, I always did, even if it meant going back to bed or to the couch straight after). My joints have been sore, especially my knees, and the fatigue has been like nothing I've ever felt before. It's so strange to feel so tired and run down, with really no other symptoms. I mean, that kind of tiredness usually accompanies a cold or the flu, or jetlag, so you know what's causing it. We went home to Calgary last week, and I saw my doctor and she ran a slew of blood tests, but I don't have the results back yet. She didn't seem overly concerned, so who knows if anything will show up. It's probably just down to my immune response and the inflammation it caused. I'm sure it will get better.

Now before you get too depressed, and feel too sorry for me, know that mixed in with those terrible days, I have had some good days too. Days where the tiredness isn't so bad, and days where I feel almost normal. So I have been able to get some sewing in, and even some cooking and jam making, but it seems like I have to really budget my energy, so blogging (and getting all prettied up and taking photos) is one of the things that really got put on the back burner. 

Anyway, I know that things could be much worse, and I also know that there are lots of people out there dealing with worse things, but I wanted to share what has been going on with me. I have been so grateful for my family (especially my super supportive husband), my view of the lake, my two remaining pugs to cuddle with, Netflix, Instagram (I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the sewing community is the best and all of you guys have been so kind and kept me going)  and sewing. Even when I only had the energy to sew for a few minutes, it always made me feel so much better (and still does). I am starting to feel a bit more like myself again, and I hope to get some more blog posts up soon. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

PS: I do have a post up on the Califabrics blog if you want to check it out. The post went live last week, but I made those pyjamas (and wrote the post) back in July, so it seems like a long time ago. The pyjamas have been getting lots of wear! Hooray for matching pyjamas!

Just a quick one....

Hey guys! This is just a quick note to tell you that I've posted somewhere else! I've sort of been keeping it on the down low until my post got published, but I have recently joined the Cali Fabrics blogging team. It's a really great group of bloggers, and the fabrics I've tried out so far have been fantastic too. Anyway, no pressure to, but if you want to go and check out my first post, it's there.

And if you don't want to go check it out, I'll just tell you quickly, that I made a beautiful (if I do say so myself) kimono for Katie (she just had a baby, so I wanted to make her something pretty), and here are some quick shots of it:

Oh also, in case you're wondering about the details, basically, I get an allowance (which doesn't include shipping - kind of a bummer for us Canadian bloggers because shipping costs so much) every 10 weeks, and then I get to choose whatever fabric I want, make whatever I want with it, and then write a blog post about it for the Cali Fabrics blog. As always, I promise to keep it real and tell you exactly how I feel about the fabrics, and if it ever gets to be more work than fun for me, I'll stop doing it. The owner of Cali Fabrics (which is actually a one-man show online fabric store), Ron, is a very down to earth guy, and he seems to be on the same page as me, which is why I agreed to join the team.

Anyway, I'd love to know what you think about this, so feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Happy Sunday!

Hot Patterns Weekender Boyfriend Jeans - The Quest Continues...

Hey Everybody!! How are you all? I'm doing alright. I'm still not feeling 100%, but I'm getting better. The dermatologist knew exactly what my skin issue was: psoriasis (I know right, yuck! And lucky me 😏 it's an autoimmune disease so when my skin flares up, I feel the inflammation all over my body with aches and pains). Anyway, it's kind of a relief to finally know what's going on, and the doc gave me the stuff to get on the mend, (and bonus: it seems to be working. Yay!). It's taking some time, but things are healing and I'm slowly getting back to normal. Phew!

So this post has been a long time coming.  John took these photos for me almost a month ago, but even worse, I made these jeans back in January! January people! Why haven't I posted them in the last 8 months??! I have no idea. Ha ha!

Anyway, these are the Hot Patterns Weekender Boyfriend Jeans, and I made them before the Morgan jeans were even released, and then once I made the Morgans, these kind of got cast aside. I was actually pleasantly surprised when I dug these out again, as I do like the fit. They need some minor adjustments that would make them even better, but really it's a very well drafted pattern.

These are a size 14 and they are made out of a 10oz stretch denim. I'm not entirely sure where it came from as I didn't mark it down in my notes, but it's leftover from a pair of jeans I made John. The only real adjustment I made to these was to shorten the legs by 2 inches, and I straightened out the front crotch curve slightly. As you can see, the front crotch is a little to long for me. I really love the rise though, it seems to hit a little higher than my Morgans, but still comfortable. Anyway, if I make these again, I'll just pinch that extra depth out. Lauren has a great photo of  that adjustment here (it's close to the bottom of the post), if you're interested.

I do see in my notes (yes I keep notes for every project I make, and I'm so glad I forced myself to make it a habit) it says that I tried these on without the waistband, and they were a little bit too baggy, so I increased the seam allowance at the side seam by 1 cm (3/8"). So I probably could have gotten away with making a size 12. 

The other thing I did, was distress them a little. This was the first pair of jeans I tried distressing on, and I didn't actually decide to do it until they were already assembled. So I just took the sandpaper to the legs, which gives them a bit of a worn in look and also softens up the denim. I think they came out well.

So there you have it. FINALLY! It's hard to say which of these boyfriend jeans I like better (these or the Morgans), because I like different things about each one. The Hot Patterns jeans, have very minimal instructions, but you could easily just follow along with the Ginger Jeans sew-a-long and your jeans would turn out just fine, so don't let that scare you. I think the Morgans are a bit more of modern cut, and I know that both of these are called "boyfriend jeans" but honestly, they're really just what they used to call a relaxed fit jean. Super comfy and super stylish. I've been wearing my Morgans pretty much non-stop (my second pair) and I'm in the process of making myself a white pair. So maybe that's your answer. I seem to be reaching for the Morgans more often. 😉

Also, I should mention that I'm wearing a Union St Tee here too (scooped neck, elbow length sleeves in size medium) made from more gorgeous cotton jersey knit (the exact colour seems to be sold out, but it's just like this one) from L'oiseau Fabrics

Anyway, do you like boyfriend jeans? Have you made a pair yet? Which one's your favourite?

Ogden Cami & Emerson Shorts: Pattern Testing for True Bias

Hi Everybody! (Does anyone else hear Dr. Nick's voice when they read that?) How's your week going? I gotta be honest, I've been better. I am fighting some kind of skin thing (yes like Grandpa Simpson in the previous clip, I have skin failure). I'm not entirely sure what's set it off, but it's some kind of allergic reaction or something, and I am finally going to see a dermatologist on Tuesday for it. Anyway, it's been really sucking the life out of me over the last couple days, hence all the references on Instagram to having a Stranger Things marathon. It's not just because that show is frighteningly addictive, it's because I just haven't had the energy for much else. Anyway, lucky for you it's not too noticeable in these photos (the camera has a way of smoothing out my skin somehow), so let's get on with talking about the TWO new patterns from True Bias.

Before we go too far, I need to let you know that Kelli did end up making a few adjustments to both these patterns before they were released, and the garments in these photos are made from the tester versions of the patterns. I believe Kelli added a tiny bit of length to the cami as well as a little bit of ease at the bust, and she added some length to the crotch curve of the shorts/crop pants. 

So let's start with the Ogden cami. I knew I would probably need an FBA, but I was hesitant as I didn't want to add a dart. In my experience, if I choose my size based on my Full Bust Measurement, then the garment always ends up being much to big in the shoulders for me.  I knew that with this pattern, the shoulder fit would be quite important so that the straps wouldn't be too far apart and constantly slipping off. Anyway, I wanted to keep this a nice and simple cami, so I looked up a couple of tutorials on how to do a dartless FBA, and it just looked like too much work for this lazy sewist. So I decided to try another cheater FBA (like what I did with my Sway Dress). Basically, I chose my size based on my upper bust measurement, a size 10, and then graded to my full bust measurement on both the front and back pieces, keeping the size 10 armhole height, and then back to the size 10 for the waist, hip and length. 

I'm really happy with how it turned out. The fit is pretty much perfect for me. I love the shape of the neckline, and I feel like I can wear this cami on it's own and not feel overexposed. With a lot of camis, I feel like I have too much cleavage and skin showing when I wear them on their own. This one is light and breezy to wear, but gives enough coverage that I don't feel like everything is hanging out. Apparently, I'm getting quite modest in my old age. Ha ha!

I should also mention that I realize you can see a lot of bra in these shots, but I think that might actually be because of this bra style. Currently the only bras with black straps I have in rotation, are my newest Marlborough bras. And I think I actually need to adjust that pattern a tad. The straps are quite far set for me, and as I wear them more and more, I am finding that I wish the straps were a little closer to the centre of my body. The straps actually dig in a bit right at the spot where my arm joins my body, so if I made a small adjustment, the straps would probably blend in a bit better with this cami (and be much more comfortable). Anyway, maybe I should do a bra making post one of these days, but I digress.  I can honestly say that the Ogden cami is a great pattern, and I see many more of these in my future. It's a quick sew, and doesn't require a ton of fabric, and it will be a great wardrobe staple for me year round. I'm also thinking it would make a great slip, if you lengthen it a bit, and I've also been thinking about what it would take to make it in a knit. Hmmmm....

Okay onto the Emerson Shorts. You wanted to see a close up of my bum right? I thought so. The photo above is a tester photo I sent to Kelli, but I included it so you could see a close up of the fabric. It's so lovely but I think the colours muddle a little in the distance and I wanted you to actually see the print. It's a gorgeous rayon voile from LA Finch Fabrics, and it sooooooo soft!! Perfect for the Emerson shorts, and I have a little bit leftover which may turn into a matching cami too. Hello summer pajamas! I should take a moment to give a shout out to LA Finch Fabrics. This fabric (along with a couple others) was my first purchase from them, and the service was great! The shipping was speedy, and all the fabrics I ordered were exactly as described (great quality and beautiful!!). So if you're looking for some lovely fabrics, go check them out!

Wow, I'm just blabbing all over the place today, aren't I? Anyway, I ended up making two pairs of Emerson shorts. The first pair, the rayon, are super soft and lovely, but as I've mentioned before, I am not a pro when it comes to sewing slippery fabrics, so while I was super happy with how my first pair of shorts turned out, I wanted to make a second pair in a slightly more stable fabric to make sure I was really giving this pattern a thorough testing. Plus I need shorts, so I knew it wouldn't hurt to make another pair.

Both pairs are the same size, a size 10. I chose my size based on my hip size, which is what I normally do with elastic waist bottoms. I really like how both of these fit, but I think a size 12 would have worked well too. I think one of the best parts about sewing, is you can play with fit and ease to get different looks. I do have plans to make another pair of these and I might make a size 12 just to compare. 

I scooped out the back crotch curve slightly, which is pretty much a standard alteration for me with any type of pants/shorts. And by the looks of that last photo, I really think I should try a Full Seat Adjustment one of these days too. I read this post by Anya after I finished these, and I was like, what? I need that. Lightbulb moment! Anyway, back to the shorts. I really love how the pleats turned out in this crisp, cotton seersucker. I think they look really sharp, and I've found that these shorts just get comfier and comfier as the day goes on. Hooray for cotton!

I've had this fabric in my stash for years now, and I don't know why I saved it for so long. It's super cute and perfect for summer shorts. It might be a bit hard to tell, but it has cute little pink skulls embroidered on it. It came from, and sadly, I don't think they have it in stock any more, but they do have some similar fabrics if you are interested. I really love these shorts and I have been wearing them a ton. I have plans to make the crop pants as well, but I'm still deciding on the right fabric. Anyway, the shorts (and the cami) are a quick and easy sew. You can easily whip them up in a day, and as always, True Bias pdfs go together like peas and carrots. 

This is quickly becoming my summer uniform. It's started to really warm up around these parts, and having light and flowy pieces to wear is perfect!  If you were to drop in on me, you'd probably find me wearing this outfit or one of my pairs of Carolyn pajamas. Yes, some days I stay in my pajamas all day! Hope you all are having a lovely week, and if you are looking for something to binge watch and get all nostalgic about the 80's and Winona Ryder with, watch Stranger Things! (But maybe do it in the daytime, while sewing, or cuddling pugs, if you're a big scaredy cat like me.)