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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ommmmm Pants

According to Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns, yoga pants are the new jeans. When I look at what women on the street are wearing, I can almost believe it. But in my heart, jeans can never be replaced. For me, yoga pants are the new sweatpants.

At one time, sweatpants were da bomb! a unisex trend favoured by males and females of all ages. Like yoga pants, sweatpants were worn as exercise and street attire. At their trendiest prime, sweatpant suits, aka track suits, went practically everywhere. It fuelled a huge label war, launching athletic wear firmly into the mainstream.

The current sweatpant incarnation is anything but  unisexual. Yoga pants are thin, stretchy garments cut to flatter and shape the female derriere, unlike thick, shapeless sweatpants. Guys still wear sweatpants, but not too many girls. Yoga pants are decidedly sexy. Sweatpants aren't.

Like any trendy garment that flatters the female form, yoga pants have transcended their original purpose. They've gone beyond exercise wear. Beyond leisure wear. In the right fabric, they're considered dressy and refined enough for work. 

Because they're so sexy, many schools are banning girls from wearing them.

When you examine them, what are yoga pants? A low riding pant, with a 2" elastic waistband yoke, made of synthetic fabric. Raise the waistband and narrow it by an inch and what do you have - good ol' polyester pants like my grandmother used to favour. Mind you, Granny didn't wear hers skin tight, and no one ever admired her butt in them.

Amazing what a bit of styling and lycra can do for an old trend....

Anyhoo, I decided to make myself a pair or three. I bought some fabulous athletic fabric (said to be from Lululemon) and was eager to give it a go. I used Peggy Sager's 3-piece Yoga Pants pattern.

Very easy to sew. The hardest part is picking the size. Peggy suggests taking your hip measurement and going down 1 size for 1-way stretchy fabric and 2 sizes for all-way stretchy fabric (like Slinky). Those who want their pant to skim, not cling, use the size indicated by your hip measurement.

I fall into the latter category, so I cut a size 12. The basted pant bagged rather than skimmed, so took in all the seam allowances, including centre front and back, as per Peggy's suggestion. It's at least a 10 now, maybe an 8. I found a level of fit that while it isn't what my daughters would wear, it isn't what my Granny would wear either.  

The only alterations I did were to lop off 2.5" inches from the hem and raise the waist. Yes, raise the waist. I have stretch-marks and fluff, I don't want my abdomen hanging out.

Are you a fan of the yoga pants trend?

                     - Lady T

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Apparently it's the fourth time that's the charm. I now have a T-shirt Master Pattern.

On the last (4th!) attempt, I took in the side-seams 1/4" then shaped them. The revised garment is flattering. Which is not the same as saying I love it.

In all honesty, I prefer my t-shirts more fitted. It's the inner 20-yr-old in me. Like my inner child, my inner sexy babe refuses to acknowledge the passing of time. Too bad my waistline doesn't.... 

Back to the newest t-shirt pattern. There's no more shaping to be had. The side-seams are as shapely as they're ever going to be. The only way I'm going to accomplish a closer fit is by:
a) going tighter (negative ease forces the material to curve to the body)
b) putting in a shaped centre back-seam
c) losing 20 lbs

The problem with:
a) it shows my lumps and bumps
b) it's the extra work plus the non-conventional look (although Banana Republic has done it)
c) - hahaha!

I may add that back-seam on special shirts, otherwise this is it.

The good news is the shoulder-seams sit where I want them, as do the armscye-seams. The sleeves are fitted, which I prefer. Loose sleeves add visual weight to the body and I have enough width without adding extra via floppy sleeves. A tiny bit of negative space between the sleeve and torso is much more flattering. Plus fitted sleeves stay pushed up better.

I owe this post some photos. All my new shirts are in the laundry basket. (I wanted to field test the last one before declaring the pattern a success.)

Pattern: Bianca Sweater from Loes Hinse
Alterations: 1) Moved shoulder seam forward 5/8" at armscye for forward round shoulder. 2) Took in and reshaped the side-seams. This pattern is designed with small tucks on the front, so I removed them at the same time. 3) Lengthened the body by 2". 4) Widened the back bodice armscye 3/8" for my prominent shoulder blades (aka angel wings).
Result: Well pleased with this version. It's my new T-shirt Master Pattern.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Love at First Sight?

Not love. Interested, maybe, as in the uncommitted but definitely intrigued level of enthusiasm. While the other t-shirt patterns in my stash are in no immediate danger of being tossed, they're probably quivering in their paper envelopes a little.

The body of the latest garment was baggy, especially in the back. While Version 2 of the Stretch & Sew French T was hooker tight, Version 1 of the Loes Hinse Bianca (forever to be referred to as Bianca 1 from this day forth) was shapeless and made me feel, well, dowdy. It wasn't flowy and drapey. It was just baggy and shapeless. Like a sweatshirt.

This should come as no surprise. The sides of the pattern are ruler straight. Loes Hinse usually recommends heavy drapey fabric for her garments, and I'm sure heavy drapey fabric would hang and droop in a way that would mold to the body. Think slinky knit. My cotton/spandex knit was perky and bouncy and held its shape. No hanging therefore no shape.

So I ripped it out and tried again. In an attempt to give the back more shape, I took in the back an 1/2" along the side seams but that pulled the side seams to the back.

So I ripped it out and tried again. (I get a lot of entertainment value for my fabric dollar, playing with the same piece over and over like this.) This time I took in both sides equally - 1/4". Better. But still frumpy.

The front is okay. It's the back that bags and sags. This is a common problem for me with loose t-shirts and it's not flattering.

Several times in this quest for the ideal t-shirt pattern, I've thought of adding a back seam for shaping. But it seemed weird, as well as a lot of extra work. Then I saw a Banana Republic t-shirt with a back seam. Hmmmmmmm.... Maybe not so weird?

The fabric in Bianca 1 has provided enough entertainment value. Any more play and I'm in danger of wearing it out. The t-shirt is totally wearable, but it doesn't have the look I'm envisioning.

For the future Bianca 2, I'm going to morph the shapely side seams from French T Version 2 onto it. If that doesn't work, then Bianca 3 will have a back seam.

Do you have a favorite t-shirt? Is it shaped or straight sided?

               - Lady T

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Three Strikes?

A wrinkly Version 1 waving hello
Three strikes and you're out? Or third time lucky?

I'm on a quest to perfect my t-shirt pattern. I love wearing knit tops. They're comfy and versatile. Every season, the pattern books come out with fun variations for this basic garment - ruffles, crossovers, color-blocks, peplums. Ripped, fringed, laced. If I had a TNT (tried 'n' trued) pattern, then tweaking it to accommodate the current trend would be easy-peasy.

Twice I thought I had it.

First time, I managed to lose the pattern. Unthinkable, I know, but there were extenuating circumstances (involving flood, week of Christmas, houseful of guests, lightning speed emergency deconstruction then snail speed reconstruction of entire lower level of house, ie my sewing space).

Second time I thought I'd found my TNT, I realized the sleeve cap was too small for the armscye.

Any sane person would just rework the sleeve cap pattern. But for some reason, that option had about as much appeal as mouldy bread. Vague unspecified displeasure with the pattern perhaps?

Falling for "the grass is always greener" line of thinking, I grabbed the old Stretch and Sew French T's pattern. I've always liked it, and many moons ago, had tinkered with it a bit. So back I went.

Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns recommends using finished garment measurements from your favorite similar-styled clothes when choosing a pattern size. I have an old, old Gap t-shirt that I still wear (but not in public) because I love it so. I measured it - 39.5". It came smack between the S&S medium and large. No problem; I traced between them. I moved the shoulder seam forward 5/8" for my forward shoulders, an alteration I automatically do.

Adjustment for prominent shoulder blades - the red striped area
For Version I, I used a lovely cotton/lycra with good stretch and recovery in a heathery carnation pink. (Photo at the top of the page.) The result was fabulous - except the shoulder area needed tweaking. Narrower front and prominent shoulder blades adjustment, then on to Version 2.

For Version 2, I used a lovely heathered charcoal cotton/lycra knit with excellent stretch and recovery, thicker and stronger than the fabric used in the pink version. Again, the result was fabulous and the fit in the shoulders was looking good. Only problem.... it was tight in the body. Not too tight for a teenager ... but too tight for a grandmother. Especially one with a belly.

Version 2 - cross with itself for being too tight
It took me all day to admit it was too tight. After all, that's akin to admitting you're, er, well, fluffy. Plus the pattern fit on 60"/150cm wide fabric so nicely - less than 1 yard/metre yielded a short sleeved t-shirt.

For some crazy reason, I grabbed Loes Hinse's Bianca Sweater pattern to compare. When I laid Version 2 over Bianca, I nearly fell over. The shoulder/armscye area from Version 2 (which I'd so painstakingly altered) matched the shoulder/armscye area of the Bianca perfectly!

About the body width. <sigh> It was wider - much wider. Approximately 3/4"/2 cm wider per seam - 3"/8cm total. I traced the Bianca, size L, with a sad, yet hopeful heart that this would be The One.

Just so you know I know: 
1) I could've added 3/4"/2cm per seam to Version 2 but Bianca had all the adjustments already built in.
2) Different knits have different stretch and drape, and maybe Version 2 would've worked with a different knit. After all, Version 1, with its slightly stretchier fabric, squeaked through the tightness test. Sandra Betzina recommends having 1" side seam allowances to adjust for the varying stretches of knit fabric. Version 2, with its tiny seam allowances, did not have any "just in case" extra. I will not make that mistake again, even though the short sleeve version of the pattern will no longer fit in 1 yard/1 metre.

For fairness, I'm using the remainder of the heathered charcoal knit from Version 2 to make up the Bianca.

So, is the third the charm? Or am I going to strike out?

                         - Lady T