Tag Archives: home sewing

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: part 1


pyjama sew along 2

Before you cut your pattern pieces out of fabric you are going to have to cut the tissue pattern pieces out and take some measurements to see if you need to adjust the length of the pants or the crotch depth.  So if you haven’t already pre-washed your fabric – get it in the wash now.

How to pre-shrink your fabric and when you should do it:

Whenever you sew clothing out of natural fibers you need to pre-shrink your fabric unless you only plan to dry clean them later.  Polyester and other synthetic fibers don’t shrink and blends that have a large percentage of synthetics don’t generally shrink either.  Cotton shrinks at first.  If you don’t preshrink it before cutting out your pattern you may end up with a garment that doesn’t fit you.

Wash your fabric with a like colored load.  I have not had a problem with fabric dye bleeding in years as most dyes are truly fixed but if your fabric is red or red is a dominant color in a print – I would wash it by itself to be safe.  Wash the fabric exactly as you will be washing the finished garment.  If you always use cold water and delicate cycles – do that.  If you wash on hot or warm – do that.  Dry the fabric exactly as you will be drying the garment.  Be sure to remove the fabric as soon as it’s done drying to prevent deep wrinkles from setting in it and iron it right away.

Cutting the tissue pieces out.

Unfold your sheets of tissue and look for the pants pattern which are numbered 8 and 9.  You will notice that they have included the cutting lines for pajama shorts.  If you want to make shorts instead of pants go ahead and cut along the lines for the size you’re making.  If you are making the pants – note that the shorts hem protrudes out of the side of the pants’ cutting line.  If you can eyeball cutting right through it go ahead.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing that here’s how to deal with it:

cutting out pattern 2Using a clear ruler (you can use an opaque one but it is much harder to see what you’re doing) connect the cutting line above and below the shorts hem and mark that line with a pencil.

cutting pattern out 1Now you can cut the whole piece out and the cutting line is unbroken and easy to see.

cutting out pattern 3Cut both pieces out.  Disable the steam function on your iron and iron the pattern pieces.  I can promise you that this is not a wasted step.  Crinkled pattern pieces can cause your fabric pieces to be misshapen and not sew well together.

Making fit adjustments for length and crotch depth:

Pattern companies can’t make patterns that fit every single person.  They work with averages and that might not be you.  So before you cut your pattern out of fabric you want to compare a couple of measurements and if necessary, make adjustments.

The easiest adjustment you can make is the length of the the pant.  You will need help measuring your inseam to see if you need to shorten or lengthen the pattern.  Here are some good instructions for how to get this measurement: 12 Ways to Take Measurements

To shorten your pants:

adjusting length 1This is my friend Chelsea’s pattern.   She is 3″ shorter than the pattern so I showed her how to shorten it.  She wanted to know why she couldn’t just take the inches off the hem.  If the pants were perfectly straight you could do this but they taper in from the top to the bottom and have a shaped hem.  So you want to adjust the length roughly in the middle of the pant legs.  This will preserve the proportions of the pattern the best.

Most patterns provide a line on the patter to show you where to adjust the length.  This one provides a line for adjusting the crotch depth but not the length.  You will need to draw one yourself.  use a ruler and to make sure it’s perpendicular to the grain line.

adjusting length 2

Fold the pattern up 1/2 the total amount you’re shortening the pants by.

adjusting length 3Once you’ve done this your cutting line will be messed up.  Use some scrap tissue from your pattern – cut out a piece that is about 2″ wide by about 8″ long.  No need to be exact.

adjusting length 4Use a ruler to match the pattern line above the adjustment to the pattern line below it and mark it with a pencil.

adjusting length 5Now you have a new cutting line.  Trim off the excess tissue following your new cutting line.  Remember that you need to make the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

To lengthen your pants:

adding length 2Draw a cutting line across the width of the pattern about half way between the waist and the hem that is perfectly perpendicular to the grain line (the long line with arrows running the length of the pattern).

Cut the pattern in half.

adding length 7Tape a long piece of scrap tissue that is at least 2″ wider than the amount you need to lengthen the pants by and is at least a couple of inches wider than the pants on each side.

adding lenght 8Measure down whatever length you need to add from the cut edge of your pattern and mark it.  Either mark it in a solid line all the way across the width or do a few marks with your pencil to help you tape the bottom of your pants back onto the top evenly.

adding length 6Tape the cut edge of the lower half of your pants pattern to the new line you have made on the tissue.

adding length 5Like so.  You have to draw a new cutting line on each side to smooth out the differences the lengthening created.

trim along new edgeTrim the excess tissue off.  Remember that you need to do the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

Measure your crotch depth.  Every time I say or read that word I think of “crotch rot!” and am thoroughly disturbed.  It’s an unfortunate word but this is very important.  So those of you who are new to sewing  clothes – listen up!  There is nothing worse than sewing a pair of pants and then discovering that the crotch hangs to your knees gangster-style or that it barely covers your pubic area.

measuring crotch depthSit on a hard flat surface and use a measuring tape to measure the distance from your natural waistline to the hard surface (I didn’t have a hard flat chair so my friend Chelsea sat on my work table for this shot – whatever works!).  Add 1 1/4″ to your measurement to allow for ease.

crotch depth 4Adjusting crotch depth: 

Measure the pattern’s crotch depth from the finished waistline (it is marked on this pattern) to the crotch line (also marked on the pattern).  If this measurement is more than your measurement – you will want to shorten the pattern at the line provided (it’s that double line you see near my notations and you can use either one).  Fold it up just like I showed you in the instructions for adjusting for length.

crotch depth 2Redraw the cutting line to match up above and below your fold.  Trim off the excess.  Remember that you need to do the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

To lengthen the crotch depth:

crotch depth 1If the pattern crotch depth is shorter than your measurement you need to lengthen it.  Cut the pattern apart at the crotch line.

crotch depth 5Follow the instructions for lengthening the pants – you will take all the same steps.  Remember that you need to do the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

You are now ready to cut the pattern out of fabric!  My friend Chelsea and I have discovered that what was supposed to be 45″ fabric shrank to a mere 42″ for her and my own fabric is barely 41″.  We are both sewing the XL size.  The pattern indicates that you can lay out your pattern with your fabric folded lengthwise and it turns out that this is a big fat lie.  If your fabric is truly 45″ wide or if you are sewing one of the smaller sizes you should be able to follow their guide.



laying out the pattern 1This is how both Chelsea and I had to lay out our pattern.  Pin your pattern down to the fabric to keep it stable while you cut it out.cutting out fabric 2Cut the whole thing out.

cutting out notchesCut out the notches – this is how you will match up your pieces correctly so it’s important.

Don’t unpin the pattern from the fabric until you’re ready to start sewing.  Fold up your pieces neatly and put them somewhere safe.

That’s the end of the first tutorial.  I’ll be back next weekend with the next set of instructions.  In the meantime – please let me know if you need more clarification on anything in this post and I’ll answer your questions.

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Introduction and Supplies List

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: First Steps

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 2

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 3

Polka Dot Shirt and Striped Pyjamas Show and Tell

all those polka dotsI said I was going to make myself wear patterns again.  I told myself that if people out in the world want to think a large lady shouldn’t wear polka dots or loud prints then let ‘em!  I’ve been hiding for so long now in shame because I hate my body so much.  It has deprived me of the joy I experience wearing patterns.  Especially stripes and dots.  It has made dressing a dreary affair.  My clothes are all exactly the same.  I look like I wear the same thing every day because I do.  I have 3 of every shirt.  Now, the pants I wear are still the only ones I’m going to wear for comfort.  I like them.  It’s a style I wore before I got really fat so until a day comes when I’m not this size I will continue to wear the exact same style in the same fabric.

However – I am making tops in patterns, as you have seen here already.  The Cannibalistic Hot Dog Over-shirt and the Sherbet Top with striped details have taken me way out of my comfort zone.  I photographed the cabbage rose smock too but lost them with the great computer erasure.  I will photograph them again and show you.  But today I am showing you the polka dot knit top I made.

new bold outfitIt looks much nicer on my dress form than on me but I don’t care.  I love this outfit.  I love this pattern of dots.  It’s from the Doodles line of junior knits.  I got it from Joanne’s.

polka dot top stitch detailI have been experimenting with my Pfaff’s knit stitches since I don’t have a cover stitch machine.  Zig-zag stitches give clothes a homemade amateur look so I don’t like to use them.  This is my favorite knit stitch on my machine.

tunic pants unironedMy tunic pants.  I usually only wear them in black and brown.  I cut this pair out at least a year and a half ago but never finished them.  I finished them yesterday.  On all my previous pairs of tunic pants I’ve left all the hems as serged edges.  While I like this look it allows the hems to shred over time which makes my clothes look shoddy.  Doing knit hem stitches on my machine is tedious – it goes very slowly – but I’m now making myself hem everything so it all looks nicer and lasts longer.

striped pyjamasRobin wanted to see my striped pyjamas.  Here they are!  The sleeves aren’t different lengths – I promise.  I just didn’t adjust the shirt well before taking pictures and didn’t notice until I was editing the pics.  So – the pants are the same pattern than I use for my tunic pants but without the skirt.  Very comfortable.  I may end up wearing the shirts as clothes and make two more pyjama tops that aren’t polyester.  I made a huge error, one I rarely ever make, and thought this fabric was a rayon with spandex blend (95% and 5% respectively).  I know I looked at the bolt end but somehow I got it in my head that it was rayon.  I don’t wear polyester.  Polyester is an awful fiber.  It doesn’t breath, it’s essentially made of plastic chips (I got to see polyester in its original state in a fiber exhibit years ago), it will not break down in a landfill until the earth explodes, and if you get caught in a fire wearing polyester it will melt onto your skin.  Your skin will not recover from that.

close up striped pyjamasBut I have two of these shirts now and I don’t have much of a fabric budget so I will wear these.  The summer weather is arriving early this year, though, and sleeping in a fiber that doesn’t breathe is NOT NICE.  I do love the way this stripe looks.  For my real pyjama tops I’m going to buy some cotton t-shirt knits online.  Cotton breathes much nicer and so is better for sleeping in.  Well, it’s better for everything.

Today I’m going to cut out new tunic-pants in black since all of my pants are full of holes and the hems are pitifully shredded.  I love the look of my pyjamas so much and they’re so comfortable that I think I’m going to make a few pairs for day-wear and then make some drapey tops to throw over them.

If you have any projects you’ve just finished – show them to me!  Link them in the comments so I can see!

Cannibalistic Hot Dog Over-shirt

hot dog shirt necklineThere’s little hot-dog men eating hot dogs while their olive-headed wiener dogs loaf around, as they do, and I have to wonder if the hot dog the hot dog is eating is ACTUALLY a barbequed dog?  Or some third-party wiener?

I think of these over-shirts I’ve been making as smocks.  Philip doesn’t like the word “smock”.  He prefers “over-shirt”.  Both the over-shirt and smock are ideal words to describe a garment meant to hide my formidable ass but I like “smock” better because it’s a word of action where-as an over-shirt is an inherently lazy garment.  You put a smock on to DO things in, often creative things.  You put on an over-shirt just to cover yourself.  hot dog shirt front

I think, however, that most people feel that a smock is not a garment you wear out in public whereas I have every intention of wearing mine in public.  So let’s call it either and be done with it.

Again – remember that my dressform is much smaller than me.  My shirt is a little less roomy on me.  From the last version I have added some width to both the front and the back and made the shirt a couple of inches longer.hot dog shirt cuffI cleaned up some pattern issues and changed the back.  This newer version comes together more smoothly.  I trued all the seams – a really important step in pattern drafting.

hot dog shirt buttonThese particular buttons aren’t vintage but are part of my stash.  No button buying for me for a long time.  I’m on a use-what-you-have button diet.

hot dog shirt problemsThis picture illustrates the issues I’m having with my pattern in the front of the shirt.  I need to fix this so that the curves match in the overlapped part.  I also might need to move this button so that it holds the top and bottom more closely aligned.  It’s an easy fix and I’m pretty lazy and not likely to keep the top button buttoned so fat chance I’ll fix it.

hot dog shirt backHere’s the new version of the back.  I definitely considered doing away with the contrasting fabric but my desire to see the hot dogs next to the polka-dot won me over.  I like contrasting fabrics.  I’m happy with this.

hot dog shirt back detailI now have 4 over-shirts done (I’ll do separate posts for the other two) and I have the two linen ones left to do.  Then I have pants and pyjamas to make and I’ll be done sewing clothes at least for a little while.  Which is good because I’m quickly exhausting all the Midsomer Murder videos my video rental place has.

Santa Rosa better get ready because I’m putting this shirt on right now to head to the store!

The Sherbet Over-Shirt

shirt pattern

I need some over-shirts to cover my fat ass and they need to have pockets so I can take the dog for a walk without having to bring a bag.  I get overheated easily and can’t wear sweaters or jackets for walking.  Searching for a pattern to work with was predictably (and ridiculously) hard.  I wanted set in sleeves and a loose fit and long enough to cover my ass but not fuddy duddy and golf-y looking.  Forget it!  As usual I realized I was going to have to make my own design.  I don’t have slopers for my size and it would just depress me to spend tons of time making them (plus, I lack an obese sized dress form – and I only know how to make slopers using dress forms).  I needed a pattern to alter.  This is the one I chose – I thought it matched most of my starting needs until I got it home and saw that the sleeves aren’t set in.  Drat!

started out as

It was on sale for $1.99 so I didn’t have to worry about cutting up the pattern.  I set about making it wider at the hems in both the front and the back because I am always larger on the bottom than the top (even when I was a regular-sized person).  I lengthened the sleeves a little because I wanted them long enough to roll the cuff up.  Forget about those side vents.  I also drafted pockets (3 tries and I still have to alter the ones you’ll see below) and did away with the collar.

pattern work

This shirt has already taken up quite a bit of dot paper and my re-draft will take even more.  I have to either order it online or beg some off of my friend Autumn who owns the corset company Dark Garden.  Dot paper is the perfect weight for drafting – it’s light enough to allow pleating and folding and then also using to cut fabric from but heavy enough that you can trace around it and it doesn’t tear easily.  The markings on it are  in a grid making it easy to line things up and use your ruler to good effect.  I want a whole roll of it but it weighs a ton so shipping is really expensive.

the sherbet shirt

So here it is!  It bears almost no resemblance to the original pattern.  I’m happy with the front, though I still need to make the hem a little wider.  This looks much better on my dress form because she’s several sizes smaller than me.

whale of a back

That pleat is there because of a pattern problem.  I do NOT like the contrasting back panel.  I’m also not a fan of my curve line there which is not flattering on me.  When I try this shirt on the front looks okay but in the back I look like a whale-backed Alfred Hitchcock shaped sherbet popsicle.  I’m already short-waisted so that curve should be the other way around – or the seam between top and bottom should be straight.

back and cuff detail

I am very pleased with the cuffs.  Though on the next version I think I will make the contrast piece much longer so I can fold up the cuff and still have some of the contrast be on the inside.  I’m not sure how to explain that.

pocket detail

I have rarely intentionally worked with directional patterns for design effects.  I was pleased with this even though my stripes don’t match up perfectly.

clean stitching

Pardon me – this picture is superfluous.  I only include it because I like looking at that clean stitching and how I managed to sew that facing in without this recalcitrant fabric puckering or bunching.

front and button detail

The buttons are vintage.  My button holes are a little shaggy.  My sewing machine (Pfaff 2046) doesn’t like doing button holes so I have to cajole and trick it.  In every other way than that my machine has met my expectations.

facing and button detail

That is my favorite detail.  I’m so pleased with the facing.  I love a stripy surprise!  I often find facings tedious to sew but this one I made myself and it came together so well and I actually enjoyed sewing this one.  It was tricky (as I mentioned above) working with the wrinkly gauze but I managed it.

So it’s back to the drafting table with this pattern.  I will do the next sample in a black with white pin dots and then I will buy some yardage for another couple of them.  I need about 3 of these guys for my wardrobe.

Also finished this week: 4 knit shirts with different hem stitches (I think I’ll post those too)

Still to make after the over-shirt project is done:

1 pair knit pyjama bottoms

1 knit pyjama top

2 pairs knit pants with no over-skirt

2 pairs knit pants WITH over-skirt

2 more knit tops (tunic length this time)

1 coat

That’s a big list.  But it’s necessary.  All my clothes are full of holes and looking embarrassingly shabby.  For me to concentrate on writing and gardening and exercising I need to not have to be depressed about my clothes.  It’s been a long time since Stitch and Boots had any stitches posted on it!