Carolyn Pajamas!

Hi, guys! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and if you celebrated Canada Day or the 4th of July, that your weekends were extra festive!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

OK, while I have, overall, a really serviceable wardrobe that’s starting to reflect my style, I have to admit that when it comes to the “unseen” items, the situation is dire. Socks, underwear, pajamas… they’re all in sad, sorry shape! Since I began to sew very seriously a few years ago, I just haven’t had the interest in shopping, but it’s also seemed quite silly to spend time sewing things that will never be visible outside my house! So when evening rolls around, you’ll usually find me in a shabby t-shirt and a pair of nearly-transparent men’s pajama bottoms. Sexy stuff, I know! So when Gillian #sewingdare-d me to sew a pair of pajamas, I was excited! Just the kick in the pants that I needed to sew up some respectable jams!

I decided to make myself some fancypants PJs for the Mood Sewing Network*, so I picked out this crazy cotton poplin because, well, it includes: dogs, cats, cows, rabbits, birds, frogs, chickens, and farmers in straw hats! How could I say no to that? Then I opted for a bright lime-green shirting to use for the piping. No reason to wear boring pajamas!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is the Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas. The pattern was a gift from Heather– thank you!!! These are classic, vintage-style pajamas with a modern cut. The pants are fitted a bit more through the hips than other pajama patterns I’ve made in the past, and the rise hits me right where I like it to in pajama pants, so they are really a much nicer fit than any of my RTW pajamas. There’s a notched collar and chest pockets on the top, and slash pockets in the bottoms. You have the option to do cuffs with piping, if you like, or you can sew plain hems. There are short- and long-sleeved tops, and you can choose from pants or shorts. Because the pants are more fitted and less unisex, trust the size chart and don’t size down.

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

The pattern instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The notched collar construction was a bit different than others I’ve sewn in the past because there isn’t a back neck facing, and while I found it quite difficult to attach the collar neatly at the neckline (by “quite difficult”, I mean, I had to unpick the collar approximately ten times, no exaggeration!), but I finally got it done and it looks pretty good. If you haven’t done piping before, Heather walks you through the steps quite clearly. Let’s see… I used buttons from my stash and I went rogue, using 1″ elastic instead of 1.5″, because that’s what I had in hand. LAWS ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN! I made no attempt to pattern match because life is too short… they’re PAJAMAS. Oh! One last thing! I’ve never used a copyshop pattern before because they’re so expensive to print at chain office stores, but I discovered Flash Blue Printing in Brooklyn- you email them the PDF, and they print them out for $5/sheet, regardless of the size of the sheet. Even better, they understood me immediately when I told them I needed them printed without scaling. They’re pretty far off the beaten path, but it might be worth it to go when you have a few to print out at once. Definitely worth the price to avoid sticking together a million sheets of letter paper. And folks in other towns, try to find a blueprinting shop!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

Here’s the funny thing about the piping… now that I’m doing fancy upholstery, I spend SO MUCH TIME making and applying piping. So it’s kind of goofy that I would elect to do it in my free time, no? But instead I was excited to use the technique for a garment, kinda like when my job was sewing with faux fur and then I made a faux fur coat. Maybe I’m just nuts. ANYWAY, piping isn’t hard to do, but it does take some time. I made my own using cotton cording, which I covered in bias-cut strips of shirting. Don’t forget to pre-shrink your cording if necessary… it would be a real bummer if you went to all that work and then things went crazy in the wash! Also, there are special cording feet that you can purchase to make piping with, but personally, I just use the adjustable zipper foot that came with my Juki (it looks like this). You can stitch very close to the cording with it and you don’t have to worry about using a certain size of cording… one size fits all with the zipper foot! If you’ve never made your own piping before, I really recommend giving it a go- it’s fun to sew and it really adds a nice touch to your finished garment!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

Not gonna lie, now that I have these, I’m pondering a second pair of summer bottoms and a nice flannel-y set for the fall! I feel pretty fancy swanning around the house in them! Thanks for the pattern, Heather, and thanks for the dare, Gillian! Alright, guys, ‘fess up: what sad items lurk in your wardrobe, begging for an upgrade? Saggy sweatpants? Stained t-shirts? Come on… tell me I’m not the only one with dark secrets hidden in my closet!

Just add coffee!

*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. 🙂

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: Nettie Bodysuit x2 + Giveaway!

Readers, I’ve gone down the bodysuit rabbit hole. In my defense, it’s not entirely my fault. When a favorite blogger/seamstress (Heather) makes a hot new pattern inspired by another favorite blogger/seamstress (Wanett), I’m basically hooked. Add to that the fact that everyone who’s made one looks super-duper mega-sexy, and, well, I couldn’t help myself.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Just in case you haven’t seen the pattern yet, this here is the Nettie bodysuit.  For my first version, I chose the scoop neck/medium scoop back/short sleeves combo, and used a soft, stretchy cotton-lycra blend from Mood Fabrics NYC. This fabric was crazy easy to sew, and feels amazing on. I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, but sewed up a straight size 8 and it totally works.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Action shot!

I sewed this entirely on my sewing machine, using a narrow zigzag stitch (1.5mm wide x 2.5 mm long) for seams and a slightly wider zigzag (2.5mm wide x 2.5mm long) for topstitching. Yes, I have a serger, but sometimes serged seams feel kind of scratchy to me, and I definitely didn’t want something this close-fitted to be itchy. So if you want to try this but don’t have a serger, don’t be afraid! Dive right in!

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I tried to use a scrap of silk as the crotch lining, but I just couldn’t get it ironed into a nice, clean rectangle, so I scrapped that and used some grosgrain ribbon that I had lying around that happened to be the right width. This is probably a little stiffer than desired, but it works and the snaps are concealed nicely.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I never, never, NEVER wear anything this fitted (honestly, I just don’t wear fitted knits… negative ease WHAT?!), but I feel really comfortable in this.  When I slipped this on and added the skirt (it’s from American Apparel and I’d had it in my wardrobe for YEARS, but haven’t worn it much because I just don’t have anything that looks right with it) I suddenly felt so, so chic. I immediately thought of Sophia Loren and started swanning around like a crazy person, much to Man Friend’s chagrin. I don’t know why, but the scoop neck and back just make me feel so feminine and pretty, in a weird dress-up way (WHICH I’M TOTALLY FINE WITH).

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

So, I fell in love and immediately wanted another Nettie in my life.  This is where things went off the rails a bit.  I made a trek to Spandex House, lose my mind completely, and bought an armload of very questionable prints. I mean, I think I did pretty good considering that I didn’t come back with any jewel/bullet/glacier/pot leaf/French fries/guns AND roses/skeletons on surfboards prints when I had the option for all of those.  I stand by my choices and love them all, but I’ve officially entered Man Repellant territory.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I chose my favorite print of the bunch (you can find it here if you’re desperate for the same print) to dive into and sewed up another version, this time swapping out the long sleeves for three-quarter length. This is a four-way stretch nylon-spandex blend, so it definitely feels less like normal clothes and more like weird sportswear (I keep rubbing my belly when I wear this because I feel like I’m petting a marine mammal or something).  It definitely feels tighter and less breathable.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I sewed up this puppy on the regular sewing machine, making sure to use a stretch needle (rather than a ballpoint). I used a scrap of cotton in a coordinating color for the lining, which worked really well.  It was a super quick sew and again I didn’t need to make any adjustments.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Something to think about when you’re sewing up something like a bodysuit is the stretch of the fabric. This is probably pretty obvious for most people, but if you’re new to sewing with knits, you may not realize how much fabric choice affects the fit.  I sewed both of these in the same size and modeled them on the same day, but the printed one feels much tighter than the other because of the varying amounts of stretch in the fabric. If you’re on the fence about if your fabric is stretchy enough, definitely refer to Heather’s post about fabric here. You don’t want to waste time sewing something you feel sausaged into!

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

One thing I’m not happy about with this bodysuit is the styling. I planned to wear this with my grey Moss mini skirt, but I forgot how low the skirt sits on my hips. It looked completely silly with it! I’m really not loving this with my tight jeans, but I’m not sure how else to wear it! Should I make a skirt similar to my AA skirt (worn with the blue bodysuit)? Or wear it with wide-leg jeans, definitely running the risk of looking SUPER 90’s? Sallie’s bodysuit/jeans pairing looks super sexy, but it’s just not working on me.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

A word of warning: as I alluded to before, this sort of garment elicits STRONG feelings from the menfolk in my life. I got the worst review ever from Man Friend:

“It’s a monstrous garment. It’s not your fault. No one should want to wear it… unless you’re about to ride the pommel horse in the 1996 Atlanta games”.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Monstrous? You meant fabulous, right?

Which, PSHAW, everyone knows that only dudes use the pommel horse, so, I mean, who’s obviously wrong here?  Of course, it’s no secret that Man Friend Criticism (MFC) just empowers me to go as far as I can in the direction of the loud, tacky, and generally ridiculous, so bring it on, mister!  #CLOTHESBEFOREBROS

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

In other news, today is my third blogiversary! I never thought three years ago when I wrote my first post that anyone would be interested in reading my blog, and I definitely didn’t know how passionate I would become about sewing! Thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog, to everyone who blogs, and to all of y’all who just generally make the internet a happier, sweeter, and more well-dressed place! You guys are the best!

Also, as I was typing this up today, I noticed that this will be my 200th post! Dang, I talk a lot! So, I think a giveaway’s in order, huh?  Leave a comment below if you’d like to win your own copy of the Nettie bodysuit! Because I’m nosy, tell me what fabric you would use for your Nettie!  I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, so I’ll close the comments at 12PM EST on Friday 5/16. Yay!

So tell me- bodysuits, yay or nay? And wild prints- yes? No? Maybe? How would you style a bodysuit?

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I made a swimsuit… whaaaaaaat????

I can’t believe I made a swimsuit!  I mean, I guess it’s not that surprising since everyone and their mother is making a swimsuit this summer (has anyone made one for their mom?  I’m guessing my mom would love it… but don’t give her any ideas or I’ll be running a swimsuit sweatshop… my sister already has her eye on this!), but the thought of sewing swimwear has always made me say, “No way, Jose!”

If my photos look a little nicer than usual today, it’s because my bro-in-law was on the camera and my sis was calling the shots. Thanks J and B!

But, along came the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern from Closet Case Files to tempt me into sewing swimwear!  It’s a very flattering suit with a lot of coverage, perfect for those who don’t feel like baring it all at the beach. This has been a super popular pattern this summer, so I’m definitely not the first person to sing its praises, but it’s pretty fabulous.  Not gonna lie– this is the first one-piece I’ve had since I was about 10 years old, so it’s kind of a change of pace for me, but there are definitely occasions when a bikini is a bit too revealing that this will be perfect for.

I thought this would be fiddly and difficult to sew, but it was actually really easy!  Stretch (not ballpoint) needles are a necessity, and a simple zigzag stitch is your friend.  The fabric isn’t slippery at all, so it was very easy to cut and sew.  Because the main fabric is gathered and ruched, then attached to the lining, I used my walking foot to help keep the layers and gathers even.  Heather Lou’s sewalong posts are packed with helpful tips and photos, and she covers everything you need to know!  This was the perfect pattern for my first swimsuit sewing experience.

I bought this fabric at Mood Fabrics NYC for my July Mood Sewing Network project. It might surprise a few people to know that they sell swimwear fabric, but yes, they have lots of it! I planned to get a solid color, but this print had a fun retro appeal that I couldn’t resist. It’s a nylon/lycra blend with a matte finish and a fairly loose weave. The suit is fully lined with a champagne-colored mesh-like nylon blend. Both fabrics are four-way stretch– definitely what you want in a one-piece swimsuit!

My sister insisted that I include this shot, even though (well, probably BECAUSE) I look like a big dummy!

Swimsuits are one of those things that I hated buying even before I sewed.  Even if you find one that you love and it fits, they always seemed so expensive considering how little fabric they used!  This project was very economical– I used a little over a yard of fabric, a half a yard of lining, and a couple of yards of swimwear elastic, and it was a fraction of the cost of a similar RTW swimsuit.  I just cut out a bikini using less than $10 worth of materials!

Don’t forget your sunscreen!

I think this swimsuit looks really lovely on girls with an hourglass or curvy figure.  Since I don’t have a very defined waist, the ruching kind of obscures my waistline and makes me feel a little boyish in this style.  I’m also a little on the fence about the print paired with the pattern– I’m pretty sure I’ve made a swimsuit that my grandmother would love!  But these are minor concerns and overall I’m really happy with the suit.

This is my sexy fish face.

If you’re on the fence about sewing a swimsuit this summer, give it a go!  You can totally do it!  I think you’ll be really pleased with the results, and you’ll love telling your friends “I made this!”.