Ginger Made: Coco Jacket!

Hi, guys! I hope your week is off to a great start! One of my favorite things about sewing clothes is that you can find unique ways to make a style your own. For example, you can take the edgy, menswear-inspired moto jacket, but make it up in pastel lace,  and you’ve created a unique look that really shows off your personal style! Personally, I’m a really casual dresser, but I’m always looking for ways to dress up my everyday wardrobe a bit without looking too dressed up. So, I tried the classic Chanel-inspired silhouette, but in a casual (and extremely washable!) fabric that screams “me”!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

I knew right away that I wanted to use a plaid flannel cotton for my take on this look, and what better way to go than a classic buffalo plaid in red and black? So for my Mood Sewing Network project* this month, I used this flannel that I bought with my allowance a while ago and then didn’t end up using. I’m so glad I saved it for this project! My original plan was to quilt the flannel with a layer of cotton batting- wouldn’t that have looked cool?? But after further reflection, I started to think that the jacket might be too warm with the added layer (since it’s a cropped jacket with three-quarter length sleeves, I won’t be wearing it on very cold days). But I wanted it to have a bit more body, so I fused all the pieces to ProSheer Elegance Light, except for the facings (I used a medium-weight weft interfacing for them). I like the effect of this- it’s not as drapey and baggy as flannel is on its own, but it’s not stiff, either.

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

Now, there are quite a few patterns you can use to make a little French jacket like this, but I chose the Coco jacket by Schnittchen. Silke from Schnittchen kindly sent it for me to try out after I found her company during my autumn coat obsession. As a fairly rectangular person, a really boxy jacket can look pretty terrible on me, so I decided to use this pattern over a few similar styles because because it includes front darts and there’s a fair amount of shaping in the center back and side seams. Plus, I like the rounded corners at the center front- I feel like they help to keep things from looking too boxy, too. I really enjoyed putting together this pattern, and found that this two-piece sleeve gave me the nicest-fitting sleeves I’ve ever had in a blazer! Just for reference, I made a size 36 and didn’t make any alterations. This was my first time using a Schnittchen pattern and while the instructions don’t include drawings, I didn’t need them (and there is a step-by-step photo tutorial on her blog if you need it). Also, I just noticed that her PDFs are only 5 euros, (about 5 USD these days!), what?! I’m pretty sure I’ll give into temptation soon and order the Tina jacket & vest pattern! I’m thinking it will make for a very fancy sweatshirt! [Sidenote: have you seen Kelli’s version of this jacket? I’m hoping that I bump into her in a dark alley so I can just grab it and run!]

Schnittchen Tina vest

One thing I noticed is that for the sleeves to go in nicely, the sleeve seam and the side seam don’t line up- they line up with notches instead. One nice thing about this pattern is that the notches are numbered so you know exactly where they’re supposed to match up! Clever! Also, a tip if you make this pattern: when I go around curved edges like the center front, in addition to shortening my stitch length, I also sew one side with the facing up and one side with the jacket front up. This way you’re stitching the exact same curve in the same direction on each front (from top to bottom in my case, but you could also sew bottom to top). If you’re a very accurate stitcher, you probably don’t need to do this, but in my experience, my curves are much more symmetrical when I do this!

OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room… the PLAID elephant. GUYS. I totally failed to match the plaid at the side seams. Here’s the thing- I always use this technique to match the front, back, and sleeve pieces at a spot 2″ below the armscye, BUT, I completely forgot to factor in the dart! As a result, everything matches… between the armpit and the dart! Ack! I spent ages matching this and it doesn’t look I even tried! I didn’t have enough fabric to re-cut the front pieces, so I decided to just live with it and really, it’s not the end of the world… as long as I don’t think about it too much because HOLY COW SO ANNOYING!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

I lined the jacket with a Mood fabric I’ve had in my stash for a very long time. Now, I love me an animal print, so when I needed to buy some black lining, naturally I grabbed the black-on-black animal print! There is a bit of disagreement in my home regarding the exact animal we’re dealing with- the fella feels that it’s python print, while I’m CONVINCED that it’s a small-scale giraffe print because EWWWWWWW PYTHONS NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Obviously it’s a small-scale giraffe print. Wait, that makes me want to see a small-scale giraffe!!! Scientists, get on that! Remember the miniature elephants in Jurassic Park? I’m still waiting for that to happen!

Oops, I’ve been sidetracked by tiny giraffes! ANYWAY, I’m really happy with this little jacket and am glad to have a little more tomboy chic in my wardrobe. I’d like to make another version in something fun and textured, like jacquard or a chunky wool knit! This is the PERFECT style to use up special pieces from your stash- it doesn’t take very much fabric, and will look really different depending on your fabric choice. I’m already planning a few more! Now, tell me, do you like to sew classic shapes in untraditional fabrics? What’s the most fun you’ve had mixing up a look? Jackie O sheath dress in vinyl? Classic trousers in quilted nylon? Peacoat in neon boucle? Do tell!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

PS- I’m wearing my Coco jacket with my new favorite t-shirt, the Megan Nielsen Maker tee! I’m so pleased to support this awesome collaboration between Megan and Freeset– read more about it here! I’m not even kidding when I say that when I wear this tee, I basically beg people to let me tell them about it! Fashion with a heart is so dear to me, so THANK YOU for for this opportunity to support women in need, Megan!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge!!!

Um, obviously, the second I heard about the Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge, I knew I had to join in! Cause… OBVIOUSLY. Really, I’m always looking for an excuse to fly my freak crazy dog lady flag! I love love love dogs, and love sewing, and any chance to combine the two is bound to be PURE MAGIC. OK, about the challenge… it’s hosted by Tanya, Carlee, and Sophie-Lee, and really, all there is to it is to sew something dog-themed, dog-related, or for your dog before March 15th. Easy! So, fellow freaks dog ladies, there’s plenty of time for you to play along! Get stitchin’! I already had the perfect fabric in my stash, this horror show digital print from Spandex House (they have a super weird website that’s really hard to search, but there’s a very similar dog print spandex here). I’ve had this fabric for a while and was super happy to have a nudge to sew it up! [Sidebar: Spandex House is the PERFECT place to go to when you’re looking in your closet and realize you don’t have any stretchy clothes featuring French fries/clownfish/bananas/guns AND roses… you can find all those prints there, as well as many more that no one would EVER want.] I mean, theoretically, it’s possible to love something without feeling the need to plaster it on your body, but I mean, if you CAN plaster the thing you love all over your body, it would be WRONG not to! So I figured leggings would use as much of the print as possible. I used the Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings pattern… I’ve made it twice before and it’s a piece of cake to sew up. I keep forgetting that I need to go up a size, but next time I really will. They fit just fine, but when I put them on, I hear the terrifying sound of stitches popping. But realistically, even if I split the crotch of these babies midday, that still probably won’t be as embarrassing as the fact that I’ll be a 32-year-old in puppy print leggings (ESPECIALLY if I use the leftover scraps to sew a matching running top… can’t wait to terrify the neighborhood!)! I’m already pretty sure these two don’t want to be seen with me: Moms are sooooooooo embarrassing, am I right? OK, friends, will you be getting your Crazy Dog Lady on? Any pug-related projects in the pipeline? Do tell!!

Ginger Made: RDC Gerard Coat!!!!!

You guys you guys you guys it’s a fuchsia coat!!!! Please pardon the idiotic levels of excitement… it’s just that I’ve been working on this for ages and it’s finally done!

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

I knew that I wanted to try a coat in this silhouette when I first saw one about a year ago. I’d planned to make one last spring, but couldn’t quite get things together, so I was determined to make one this fall. Well, it’s my December Mood Sewing Network project, but, I mean, December is almost fall, so, better late than never. But I’m glad I got it done now as we’re having a patch of milder weather and I’ve gotten to wear it this week, yay!

Pattern:

I used République du Chiffon‘s Gerard coat, a pattern I’ve had my eye on for some time. It’s a style that I’m really into lately and have been quite anxious to try out, plus every version of this pattern that I’ve seen pop up online has made me want my own even more (check out Jolies Bobinesthree versions!!!)! However, I should tell you right away that there are some things you need to know if you’re considering this pattern. First, the instructions are minimal and the translation isn’t perfect. There are two steps that aren’t translated at all, so you have to find your own way if you don’t speak French. Second, if you aren’t a person who’s really into PDF patterns, you’ll probably hate this one. The pages didn’t match up very smoothly for me, so I had to futz and futz with them to get them to line up. It’s been ages since I printed this out, so it’s possible I could have had a setting wrong or my printer was acting up… I really can’t say! But once you’ve printed out the PDF, you have to trace it because the different pieces are printed on top of each other (like a Burda magazine), THEN you need to add the seam allowances. Ugh! The seam lines didn’t match up correctly, so I had to fix or ease them so they would match up (probably exacerbated, if not caused, by the fact that the PDF didn’t match up). Also, the pattern pieces are hand drafted and they’re named and numbered by hand and in French, so you need to refer back to the cutting chart in the pattern to make sure you know which piece is which. It also helps to re-label the pattern pieces with the more common English terms (“top of inside facing’ = back neck facing, for example) so you don’t get confused.

So, this pattern isn’t for the faint of heart and requires a bit more effort than most. But on the plus side, it wasn’t very expensive (I caught a 20% off sale in the Kollabora shop, so it only cost $8, a good value for someone like me who doesn’t have access to cheap Big 4 pattern sales in chain stores). And the style is exactly what I wanted, so, for me, it was worth it to use this pattern, even if it was a bit of a headache at times.

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Materials:

The fabric I used is a cotton/nylon bouclé from Mood Fabrics NYC that I bought wayyyyy back in March when Clare was visiting and we had a big group of sewers gathered together at the store. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I was WAY over-caffeinated and overexcited that day, so when I saw this bouclé with neon pink running through it, I lost my mind completely and bought three yards of it without even the slightest idea what I would do with it. I really find it odd that I bought it… it’s a weird color for me and I’m not sure what I was thinking. Let’s just blame this on Clare’s intoxicating presence! I used a total of two yards for the coat.

The lining and interlining were bought with this month’s Mood allowance. The lining is a stretch charmeuse, not something I would normally choose, but it was a perfect match to my outer fabric, so I had to have it! The interlining is a Theory wool-blend flannel, which I thought would add warmth without losing too much drape. I used 2.5 yards of lining and 2 yards of interlining.

Since the bouclé is so loosely-woven, I fused Pro-Sheer Elegance Light to every. single. piece. of the shell fabric to give it a bit more stability and opacity (weep for me, kids!). Then I used Pro-Weft Supreme Medium Fusible on all the pieces that the pattern suggested interfacing (collar, facings, etc.). [Sidenote: I am such a fan of Fashion Sewing Supply! I know I’ve recommended their interfacings before, but with this last order, their customer service really impressed me. They included a note with my order saying that the interfacing was about to go on sale, so they gave me an extra half yard to make up for the fact that I paid regular price for it! How nice is that?!]

I knew my big struggle with the bouclé would be to contain the fraying. Fusing all the pieces helped, but I also serged around every single piece for added security after this was suggested to me on Instagram by Brooke, Aunty Maimu, and Amanda. To recap, I cut out every single pattern piece in both the main fabric AND the interfacing, fused them all together, cut MORE interfacing for the parts that needed a heavier one and fused THOSE pieces again, THEN serged all the edges of each one of these pieces. This took approximately 9,853 hours.

The other difficulty with this fabric was that, because it’s a cotton/nylon blend, it’s not a huge fan of the iron. I had to keep the heat low and use a press cloth, but try to get the fusible to adhere to the fabric. And as you can imagine, with fabric that doesn’t want to press well, the seams didn’t want to stay flat, so I had to catch stitch them all open. This was tedious, but really improved the look of things.

Also, it didn’t even cross my mind until I’d finished sewing the whole coat that it would be impossible not to snag a bouclé coat on e v e r y t h i n g. Any tips for avoiding/fixing this???

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Construction:

I decided to work in a different order of operations than I usually would and construct the lining first to get it out of the way. Now, clearly I’ve been spending too much time around Puu and her little French jackets, because I found myself wanting a quilted lining! [Sidenote #2: I owe 1000 thanks to Puu for giving me SO many helpful suggestions, answering all my tailoring questions, and generally talking me off the ledge when I got overwhelmed and wanted to abandon the project. I couldn’t have done this without her expertise and cheerleading!] First, I cut out my interlining using the lining pattern pieces. Then, I chalked lines parallel to the grainline, 2″ apart across the width of each pattern piece, and quilted the lining to the interlining along those lines. Finally, I stitched all the way around each piece, just inside the seam allowance, to keep everything together. After that I assembled the lining the way I normally would, but, just like the shell fabric, the seam allowances didn’t want to press open nicely, so I had to catch them all flat. This was lots of work, but I really like the feel and functionality of the quilted lining, and I’m sure I’ll do it again!

Since I was already going a little overboard with this project, I decided to add a back stay (they’re used to stabilize coats through the shoulders). I used a bit of cotton shirting left over from my first Hazel dress and followed Tasia’s tutorial.  Hopefully this will help Gerard stand up to lots of wear!

I didn’t follow the pattern instructions for the lower facings and instead stitched them all together to form a lower facing unit that I sewed on in one fell swoop. I also changed the construction order a bit so it was closer to what I was used to (shoulders, side seams, sleeves, facings).

Since I wouldn’t be able to go crazy steaming the collar and lapels, it seemed important to tape the roll line so everything would roll over nicely. I cut twill tape a bit shorter than the length of the line and eased in the excess, which helps the lapel to roll, then I catch stitched it in place. Lisa has a great tutorial showing how to do this here! I wasn’t very sure how to find the roll line, so I assembled my shell first, then popped it on my dress form, saw where the lapel naturally wanted to roll, and chalked a line to mark it.

Where I really got confused in the pattern instructions was sewing the notched collar. There’s one hand drawing and a series of steps in French, but nothing in English, and I’d never sewn one before. I spent about three days procrastinating because I reallllly didn’t want to tackle this step. I kept researching and researching and getting overwhelmed. Luckily, Angela and Kelly both recommended this YouTube video in their Gerard posts, and I ended up following it and having good results (OK, I watched the part about the notched collar, beginning around the 15-minute mark, about 7 times, and didn’t watch anything past that).

As I sewed the collar, I catch stitched the seams open (the seam where the undercollar attaches to the back neckline, and the seam where the upper collar attaches to the facing). Then, to close the collar, I laid those two seams on top of each other and did a weird, loose catch stitch so they’re attached. Also, to properly sew a notched collar, you need to clip into the seam allowance all the way to the stitching line a few times, which terrified me, so I used Fray Check on the clips, and then got scared and went back and ironed a little patch of interfacing over them, so hopefully it won’t disintegrate!

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

One semi-stressful thing about this pattern is that it doesn’t give you the placement for the pockets or buttonhole, probably not a huge problem unless you’re majorly indecisive like me. I waited until I had assembled the shell so I could try it on and pin things in place (the only downside to this was that it was hard to keep the facings out of the way when I stitched on the pockets!). I decided to do just one button, and placed the buttonhole slightly below the breakpoint on the lapel (the place where the lapel starts to fold back on itself… sadly, it’s completely different from Point Break and has nothing to do with bank heists or meatball sandwiches). I angsted for the longest time about the pocket placement, but ended up with them about 3″ from the bottom of the hem and 2″ in from the side seams. I’m pretty happy with this, but I think the button looks a little dopey and should be a few inches lower. Ugh!

When I inserted the lining, I reviewed Grainline’s bagged lining tutorial since it had been a while since I’d last done it. I mostly followed this, but I also referenced the step-by-step photo tutorial for RDC’s Michelle blazer, since the lower facings were the same style. Also, Jen tells you in her tutorial to attach the lining to the shell at the underarm using a thread chain, which I forgot how to do, so this Susan Khalje Threads video was helpful.

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Shocking Confession:

Guys, I didn’t make a muslin for this. Idiotic, I know! For some reason after I’d gotten all my pattern pieces ready, I dove right into cutting the fabric. I almost wish I’d cut a size larger so this was slouchier (like Kelly did), but maybe that would have overwhelmed me. Dunno! I could use a bit more room through the hips, but this is totally wearable.

Dramatic Conclusion:

The whole time I was making this, I was really unsure about how the project would turn out. It felt like it had the potential to be a colossal failure! But, now that I’m done, I really like this coat! It’s not perfect, not even close, but it’s definitely workable and you know what? I just feel happy traveling around in a cloud of neon fuchsia! I’m usually pretty nitpicky about issues in garments I’ve made, but the imperfections sort of fade away when I wear this. It’s just a happy coat. Yay!

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

So tell me, what are you sewing these days? Making any outerwear? Holiday outfits? Do tell!

 

Ginger Made: Simplicity 1430 Blazer

Hi, dudes! Hope you’re all well!

I’m going to be honest: this project was a bit of a slog. After I finished my Ginger jeans, I’d planned to move on to more fun autumnal sewing, but I made the mistake of peeking at my UFO pile. I felt guilty and decided to finish up some projects before starting something new. I muslined this blazer back in April for an event I wanted to wear it to, then realized after cutting it out that were too many issues for me to make the deadline, so I bagged it and forgot about it. Do you ever do that? I’ve found that last-minute deadline sewing usually results in a UFO for me (read: the swimsuit that I cut out the night before I left for Iceland… yep, that’s still unfinished), so I’m trying to avoid it from here on out. It never ends well!

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

The pattern is the blazer from Simplicity 1430. I’m not surprised that it hasn’t popped up on many blogs (or even on Pattern Review!) – if you look at the pattern envelope, the details are obscured by the print the jacket is made up in, and they’ve filled in the line drawing with the same stupid print so you can’t tell what’s happening! Silly!

I cut out a size smaller than my measurements indicated since this style is so relaxed and made a quick muslin. I liked the overall fit, but the sleeves were really baggy, so blended from the size 10 at the underarm to the size 4 (the smallest size). Here’s where I got annoyed: the blazer is unlined (not a huge deal, but I don’t love drafting), and doesn’t include a back neck facing (um WHAT?!). The instructions want you to clip into the collar, turn the edge under between the clips, and turn under the neck edges of the front facings and topstitch all that down. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the benefit of this finish would be. It’s weird and ugly! When I figured out I would need to draft so many pieces, I jumped ship on the project and moved on.

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

Please ignore the dopey t-shirt… you get a lot of dumb free tees when you work on set!

Once I picked this back up, it wasn’t very hard to draft front and back lining pieces. I added a 2″ pleat at the center back for ease of movement, and a 1″ jump pleat at the hem edge. I’m always nervous about ripping my linings! I drafted a back neck facing and then sewed it all up like usual. Since I cut out all the shell pieces so long ago, I didn’t remember that the collar and undercollar are cut from the same pattern piece. If I sew this again, I would cut a two-piece undercollar on the bias, and I would shave off 1/8″ for turn of cloth. I didn’t think to do this and it annoys me, argh! I also didn’t consider the fact that there aren’t any pockets in this pattern until I was too far into the project to bother with them, but I wish I’d gone back and added them. They’re just nice to have in a blazer, and when I wear this, I keep reaching for imaginary pockets! One final weird thing is that the instructions tell you to understitch everything to the facing below the waist, but the jacket wants to roll open, so you end up with visible understitching. Strange.

Let’s move on to a happier topic: fabric! I almost certainly would’ve left this project for dead if it wasn’t for the special fabric. It’s silk noile, and it was a gift from Carolyn. We were at Mood together one day, and I was admiring a wool crepe in a similar color when she offered to send this to me. She included the matching lining (it’s so pretty, ack!!!) and it makes me smile and think of her when I see it. I’d never seen or worked with silk noile before. It has a slubby texture, almost like a raw silk, but it’s kind of spongy instead of slick or slippery. It’s really fun and super easy to sew. It has a relaxed hand, and really works well with this slouchy silhouette.

I really like the shape of this blazer, but I’m still kinda irritated by how much work had to go into it to make it wearable. But, I did get it in a $1 sale when I passed a Jo-Ann’s in my travels, so I invested much more time than money in it. I bought two copies so if I ran into a major sizing issue, I could just cut into the second one and I’d only be out a dollar. I didn’t need to do this, so I added the second one to a swap pile and Suzanne picked it up and made an AWESOME buffalo plaid blazer that I really wish I could have (it’s unblogged, I think, but you can see it on her Instagram, @sewyorkcity). So there’s great potential in the pattern, again, if you don’t mind doing a little work.

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

I’m not 100% certain how to style this, and it’s definitely not my favorite garment (it’s kind of plain, but not plain in a goes-with-everything way). But I’ve been wearing it and I’m just glad to get it out of the UFO bin! I’ve been guilty of some major sins in that department in the past, but I’ve just finished up some mending and repairs and now things are pretty manageable. Phew! Now I can start in on fun stuff!

Tell the truth: do you have a pile of unfinished garments haunting you? Or do you finish everything you start? Any tips for those of us that struggle to finish things?

Ginger Made: Ginger Jeans!!!!!

Guys. I made jeans.

This is a big deal.

Here’s the thing. I wear jeans every day. Like, every single day. I’m wearing them now. I wore them yesterday. Honestly, I have no idea when I last wore something else outside the house! But I have to admit that I’ve never, ever, EVER wanted to sew a pair! They’re right up there with bras for me- I know some of you sew these successfully and beautifully, but I just don’t have the precision, patience, or fitting skills to do it myself.  Then, way back in May, Man Friend and I visited Montreal for his birthday and snuck in a wee brunch with Heather Lou (sidenote: if you want to see an example of saintlike patience, it’s Man Friend calmly and pleasantly eating while Heather and I talked and talked and TALKED about sewing on HIS birthday weekend). This is what went down:

Heather: “Did I tell you I’m naming my next pattern after you?”

Me: [super touched by this gesture]

Heather: “It’s a skinny jean”

Me: [@#$%]

Confession: I had zero confidence in this project the entire way through. Jeans just seem so… impossible! Annoying! Un-fun to sew! I didn’t think I could get them to fit correctly or to be tough enough for everyday wear. I thought they would break my sewing machine. I figured there was about a 97% chance that I’d quit midway through in a puddle of tears and snot… not a pretty thought! Spoiler alert: sewing jeans is totally doable!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Without further ado, meet my Ginger jeans! These look pretty gosh darn good for a first pair of jeans, yeah?

Let’s talk construction! I made view A, with the lower waist and stovepipe legs, which closely mimics the style of my favorite Levi’s. Everything I needed to know was covered in the pattern instructions. I’ve never made pants before, and I’ve only sewn a front fly once (in my Moss mini), so this was all pretty new to me. But I just took it one step at a time and everything went together smoothly. There were one or two things that were confusing to me, but Heather addressed all of these concerns in the final pattern instructions.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Jeans

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it was WAY easier to sew these with two sewing machines. I think this is the first project I’ve done with contrast topstitching since getting my Juki, and it was a breeze to stitch the seams on my Janome, serge them, and then topstitch with the Juki. I’ve done contrasting topstitching before, but I had to keep switching thread spools and bobbins and it was annoying. If you only have one machine, this is the perfect excuse to set up a sewing date with a friend and pool resources! Or just carefully consider your construction order so you don’t have to swap thread as much. :) Speaking of topstitching, I bought a 1/8″ compensating foot for my Juki which made it a BREEZE (and it was only $6… the benefit of your machine taking industrial feet!). Previously, my attempts at even topstitching have been… sad. So if you have an edgestitch/topstitching/compensating foot, this is a great time to use it! Or take a good look at the feet you do have and see if there’s one that can help you get straighter lines than your regular presser foot (I’ve heard that blind hem feet can be good for lining up with your seam/edge). It’s worth it to practice before diving in, especially if you’re using thread in a contrasting color.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

My machines didn’t break, and actually both performed like champs! I used denim needles on both of them, and they happily sewed through everything. The only problem I had was attempting to do bar tacks- I could have easily gone through the layers with my Juki, but it doesn’t do a zigzag. When I tried it on my Janome, with topstitching thread in the bobbin, my machine was like, “You’re hilarious. I’m not doing that.” [ETA: I did my topstitching with regular thread in the bobbin… I just thought I needed topstitching thread in the bobbin to do bar tacks). I can’t adjust the presser foot pressure, which might have solved that problem. I settled for backstitching a few times on my Juki. Fine by me! Otherwise everything was easy- I didn’t even have trouble making a nice buttonhole with my basic Janome! Yay!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Next up, materials. I used denim from Mood that I bought a couple of years ago. I’m not certain what the stretch percentage is in the fabric, but I compared it to a pair of Levi’s that has 2% Lycra and it felt similar to me, so it’s in the right ballpark. I used regular navy thread for the seams and a spool of Mettler topstitching thread. It was my first time using that heavier thread, and it looks really cool! I’m glad that I tried it! I had jeans buttons and rivets in my stash from Taylor Tailor (I used them for my Moss mini and my Romy anorak). I felt pretty bad pounding on the rivets (using a hammer and the back of my cast iron skillet)… my poor neighbors were probably wondering what on earth that sound was! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the jeans button on securely enough, so it popped off right as I was heading out to take blog photos. I decided to scrap the photo op and just take the jeans to Star Snaps so they could set the button, something Puu recommended to me (she told me it’s Kenneth King’s favorite spot for snaps/rivets/etc!). It cost me all of 45 seconds and $2 and I had a snug, secure button! I used scraps of cotton shirting for the pocket bags… actually, every single thing I used for these jeans I already had! Stash-bustin’ win!!!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

OK, let’s talk fit! This is the thing I was most scared about. I’ve seen many sewists discuss pants fitting, and they bandy about all kinds of terrifying terms (ex: “crotch whiskers”. I WANT NO PART OF THIS.) So I dove in with more than a little trepidation. My waist and hip measurements match the size 4 measurements, so I was able to cut a straight size. When I basted everything together, I noticed that I was getting some gaping in the back (a frequent issue for me… I used to have to take my RTW jeans to the tailor’s to have them taken in back there, ugh). So I pinned out a dart in the back yoke and altered the pattern piece by slashing and overlapping 1/4″ to remove the excess I took out in the dart. Then I took out a 1/4″ tuck in the same spot on the waistband, twice (once for each side since you cut two back yokes and only one waistband). If anyone needs a visual for this, let me know and I’d be happy to show you what I did. I could probably have taken out a smidge more, but I didn’t want to risk things getting too tight after a big bowl of spaghetti!  After altering the pattern, I just recut the yoke and waistband pieces and my muslin became a wearable pair of jeans! OK, full disclosure: I had to cut the waistband THREE times… once for the original muslin, once after changing the fit, and one more time after I accidentally sewed the pieces together upside-down, completely ignoring the instructions and notches WHOOOOOPS).

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Oh, you know, just relaxin’ with my hands on my head awkwardly so you guys can see the top of my waistband…

On my next pair, I plan to use flat-felled seams for a cleaner finish. Since this was a muslin, I basted the seams to check the fit, then just serged the seams and topstitched them down. I may give myself a little more room just through the knee so the fit is just like my favorite pair of RTWs. And, here’s where I could use some advice- there’s something a little strange happening at the front crotch (I don’t think they’re crotch whiskers… at least, I really hope not) but I don’t know what’s causing it. Too much length? Any thoughts? Also, I didn’t realize until I was nearly done with my jeans that the topstitching thread was getting all gross and birds-nest-y on the underside when my machine needed to go over something thick like a belt loop. This problem was easily solved by folding up a piece of denim and placing it behind the belt loop so the presser foot wouldn’t have to go over it at an angle. I’ll be sure to use this every time on the next pair! You can also buy a “humpjumper” (STOP SNICKERING) just for this purpose for a couple of bucks, so that’s an option if you want something more professional. :)

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a jeans sewing convert! I’m so, so impressed by this pattern, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to sew these up! I really appreciate the way that Heather has taken garments that are scary (swimsuit, jeans) and made them approachable and even fun to sew. Thanks, Heather, for the fun pattern, and for letting me be your muse! So if you’re thinking about sewing a pair of jeans, but you feel skeptical or nervous, I really recommend you give the Ginger jeans a try! I was so pleasantly surprised by how easy this process was, so much so that I’ve already planning a second pair [whispers] in a novelty denim! You can buy the pattern here, if you’re interested!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Guys. What do you think? Do these look like real jeans? Would you sew your own jeans? Have you already? If so, how did it go? What’s the scariest thing you can imagine sewing?

Now, Heather, PLEASE don’t release a bra pattern because I really, really, REALLY don’t want to sew one! ;)

Ginger Made: Undercover Hood + Hudson Pants!

Hi, friends! Hope everyone’s had a wonderful weekend! Question for you: those of you who blog, do you find it hard to blog basics? I often find that I start wearing them right away, and once I’ve worn something a few times it feels kind of silly to blog about it! I’m also not sure if people are interested in reading about basics- too boring, maybe? But I decided to finally share these garments as I wear them ALL the time and it just doesn’t seem polite to ignore them.

Let’s start with the pants! These are the True Bias Hudson Pants. Kelli is a blogger I’ve admired for a long time- her style is just so cool. I kinda want to break into her house and steal everything out of her closet (and her daughter’s… Kelli’s made her some awesome clothes!!!).

I tested this pattern when Kelli was developing it, but these pants were made with the final pattern (I made two pairs during the testing process, but the fabric I had in my stash was earmarked for my sister, so I sent them to her. Then I somehow lost or threw away the test pattern, so I printed out the new one when I made these up). I am one size smaller in the waist than in the hip for this pattern, so I went with the larger size since it’s fitted through the hips and the waist is elasticized.

There’s not much to say about constructing these puppies! They’re very straightforward and quick to sew, and the end result is really cute. I’ve also made the Papercut Patterns Anima pants (Kelli and Katie developed their patterns independently at right about the same time, coincidentally… great minds think alike!), and compared to those, the Hudsons are a much slimmer fit (here are my Animas for comparison). I used a thick, strange knit from Mood. It’s definitely something synthetic as it feels almost… squeaky?… against my skin, but the print is so cool that I couldn’t resist it! I really like how they look in this print!

The top is the Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood… minus the hood! Katie sent me the PDF as a thank-you for testing the Anima pants, and I was really happy to check it out. It’s got the option for a hood (obvs) as well as a kangaroo pocket, and there is a cropped version, too, but I decided to do a basic pullover this time around. I used a wool jersey from Mood, an end-of-bolt remnant I’d had in my stash for a really long time, so I was glad to use it up! I made this for our trip to Iceland in July and it was absolutely PERFECT! We spent most of our time outside in kinda crummy weather, and it kept me nice and warm layered over a buttondown and under a waterproof shell. It was nice because at the the end of the day, I could take off my jacket when we sat down to dinner and I actually looked pretty presentable and not rumply and gross. I wish I had taken some photos of it in Iceland, but I think I had my rain jacket on the whole time! You’ll have to hop over to Cashmerette if you want to see awesome handmades-frolicking-in-Iceland photos. :)

I’ve worn the grey sweater so much that I decided to make another! I’ve had this grey and white stripe in my stash for a while and was planning to make a Breton-style dress with it. But let’s be honest- I’d wear that dress every once in a while, but I’d wear a pullover constantly! So it became another hood-less Undercover Hood! (Lladybird made a dress with the same fabric… cute, right?)

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

Here’s where fabric is funny: the striped fabric is stretchier than the wool, so the sweatshirt felt way bigger. Strange, right? After sewing it up, I took off the cuffs and hem band, shortened them by 2″ and 1″ respectively, and it looked much better. It was just a bit too slouchy before! Sidenote: is there a way to perfectly match stripes on a raglan sleeve? I just. couldn’t. do. it. Ugh! Hopefully it’s not too noticeable.

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

Now, this fabric is a really nice weight, and I didn’t want the little bit I had leftover to wither away in my stash, so I did what I had to do: I sewed a pug sweater.

I know.

I’m sorry.

Milla Milla Dog Hoodie & Sweatshirt | Ginger Maes

Somebody isn’t happy about his new sweater.

Pretty sure I’ve now officially entered Crazy Dog Lady status. I didn’t want to fuss around with drafting a pattern, so I downloaded one from Milla Milla, a Japanese company that offers PDF dog sewing patterns. It’s Very Purple Person‘s fault! She made matching shirts for her son and her dog that turned out really cute, so I downloaded the same pattern. Pugs don’t fit well into regular ready-made dog clothing because their proportions are different. Hear me out! They have thick barrel chests and basically need dog FBAs (OK OK OK I know I’m crazy!)! But this pattern was drafted specifically for French bulldogs  and since they’re also squat, chesty dogs, I thought it would be perfect!

Milla Milla Dog Hoodie & Sweatshirt | Ginger Makes

This is the Hoodie & Sweatshirt pattern, and it was surprisingly complicated! Once I watched the video showing how to sew it up, it was a breeze, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how the pattern pieces went together before watching it. Fellow pug owners, if you’re looking for the right size, just select “FB” from the drop-down menu. There’s also a version drafted specifically for dachshunds… it even comes in two sizes! So Anne, Juli… you’re covered!

Now let’s play a little game of “Who Wore It Better?”! Feel free to cast your vote!

I have no idea how to wrap this post up so I’m just going to stop talking. What’s on your sewing table? Have you ever sewed for your dog or cat? Be honest!!!

Ginger Made: Little Pink Ninot Jacket

Hi, guys. Thank you so much for your kind comments about my grandma. No matter how much time we have with our loved ones, it’s never enough, but it’s nice to share happy memories about them. So thanks for listening and for your sweet words.

This might be a little weird, but when I heard the sad news, I sort of buried myself in this jacket project. It ended up being way more hand-labor-intensive than my sewing projects usually are, but that was really soothing. It was nice to have something absorbing, but not difficult, to keep me occupied.

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

But I’ll back up and start from the beginning. This is the Ninot Jacket pattern from Pauline Alice. I downloaded it a while ago, thinking it would be easy to fit long-distance (I sew up a muslin and mail it, then my mom or sister texts me photos and I try to identify any fit issues). The relaxed fit made it quick to adjust- I just did a 1/4″ broad shoulder adjustment and that was it (I’d planned to lengthen it, but my mom liked the shorter length and she wears higher-rise jeans than I do, so it works on her). I realized later that I’d used the size I cut for my sister, so if I’d used the proper size for my mom, I wouldn’t have needed any additional width.

muslin!

The pattern came together easily, except for a small problem with the sleeve. The upper and under sleeve pieces didn’t match along the seamlines (the undersleeve was shorter by about 7/8″), so I re-drew it and trued the seams. I alerted Pauline to the problem, so it may be fixed in newer versions, but it’s worth checking before you cut into your fabric. Otherwise, I liked the pattern. It’s a bit more bare bones than most indie patterns, though. For example, I would’ve liked lengthen/shorten lines, and for the pattern pieces to be labeled with which fabric should be used (self, lining, etc.), but it’s not the end of the world at all. It was easy to use and the end results are nice.

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

The fabric is a Marc Jacobs cotton/linen blend that I ordered online from Mood when it was one of their deal of the day fabrics (it’s still available here if you like it). I ordered it as a backup when I was making my runway-inspired two-piece set back in February, so I’m happy to get it out of my stash! The fabric is loosely woven, so I serged all the edges to keep them from ravelling, even though I knew they would be covered by the lining. This jacket better last a long time!

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

I used medium-weight woven weft interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, leftover from my Colette Anise jacket, and it gave just the right amount of stability to the jacket. Even though the fabric pressed well, the seam allowances were a bit thick, so I took my time and catch-stitched all the seams open so they would stay nice and flat. I wouldn’t ordinarily go nuts with something like that, but it was very meditative to do something repetitive and it was just what I needed. Similarly, I installed the lining by hand on my 12-hour car trip back to the Midwest, and while it took about 88,000 stitches, it was nice to have something to occupy my hands on the trip. The lining was a cream-colored acetate from my stash, purchased eons ago from Mood NYC. More stash-busting!

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

OK, finishing touches: I didn’t do everything the hard way- I took the coat to Jonathan Embroidery and had them do the buttonholes! Call me crazy, but for some reason I don’t really like the look of bound buttonholes, so I had keyhole buttonholes done instead. Since there were only three buttonholes, that only set me back $3- not bad! I used covered buttons (covered by my brother, heeheehee… gotta put ‘em to work!) for a cute and classic look. The buttons and the welt pockets are basically invisible in this busy print, but they’re there, I promise.

I think this looks pretty cute on my mom. She has a fun personality and doesn’t take her wardrobe too seriously, so I knew she would enjoy a pink print. She’s a very casual dresser, but she likes styles that are classic or slightly vintage, so I thought this cropped swing jacket would be just the thing for her. Plus it was nice to be able to give her something happy at a sad time. I think she likes it, don’t you?

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

I did nothing to prompt this move. Modeling just runs in the family!

OK, what about you? Do you enjoy hand stitching, or are you a speedy machinist? What’s on your sewing table these days?

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