Monthly Archives: January 2016

Coated Denim Ginger Jeans #JeansInJanuary

Unfortunately these pictures are not really going to show anything: coated black denim, winter days and Child 2 as photographer with a fashion tolerance of milliseconds do not a great marriage make! But trust me: the fabric is coated black denim, the pattern is Ginger high-waist skinny:




Can you see how thoughtfully I have accessorized this with my work key band? AND: Can you see the shocking lack of pattern matching on this RTW top, where the simply cut the pattern in half (well, just shy of the geometric middle…) and then inserted the zip. Quite, quite shocking, I’m sure you’ll agree. It wouldn’t have happened to us, ey?


Crossed over leg, hand on hair is what I have learned to be my fashion pose 😉

And just because I thought it might be nice to show a me-made garment where you can actually kinda make out some details, here is a picture with version 2 of my Copying a Statement vest (version 1 here)



This was make from a long-time stash resident, an acyrlic knit that I originally bought for a sweater, but then realised that the artificial fibre makes it very sweaty for me. A sleeveless vest seemed just the right solution to save this from the donation pile. This time the edges are simply overlocked. I didn’t even turn them and topstitch them down as this would have distorted the drape of the vest. As it happens you can hardly see the overlocking anyway.

So there, this is my contribution for Jeans in January. There are also these Jalie flares, but to be honest I made those in December. I also started some Ginger corduroys but ran into trouble at the last minute and got disenchanted with the project, so those might not get finshed this side of spring.

I am really please with the way the Gingers turned out, by the way. I used the skinny pattern but made the legs a bit wider below the knee so I end up more with a straight leg. I’ve already pencilled in some white denim from the stash for a second pair of straight leg jeans. Judging from wearing those Gingers for a few days there is not much to choose between them and my usual jeans pattern, Burdastyle 3/2014 #113, which there are many iterations of on the blog. So all things being equal I will make the Gingers again, because cutting is a lot faster with them (I never put the seam allowances on my Burda patterns and only add them when cutting, so that makes cutting a bit more time consuming). I doubt i will be able to finish the white pair in January, but maybe if I start them in January they will still count as a contribution to Jeans in January?

Have you seen the first contributions to Jeans in January popping in? There have already been some great ones, others are still in the pipeline.  If you are taking part, make sure you let me know in the comments if you have blogged about your jeans so I can make a compilation of them all in February.


Burdastyle 10/2014 #113: The Copying a Statement-Vest

Dear Reader,
read this first!

Ok, you are back? Good! Now, what you must know before reading this post is that I have an almost embarrassing girl crush on all things Gray-All-Day. I just love every single garment that Helena makes, I love the way she wears them, I love the way she writes about them. So it was only a logical step to copying her garments:



I hasten to add that I had wanted to make something drapey from this wool twill for a while and had narrowed down my choice to this pattern (Burdastyle 10/2014 #113) and one other one already. But when I saw Helena’s version and when she confirmed that it would equally well in a woven than in a knit (as specified in the pattern) the decision was made.


When I wore the vest for the first time I felt really strange as I don’t normally go for floaty clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of them, but I don’t seem to be able to carry them off – or even keep them on. Anything that’s not firmly anchored to my body seems to fall off in the course of a day. You would be surprised at the number of times one of my students shows up at the staff room, bearing a crumpled piece of clothing, saying (cue eye roll): ” You forgot your cardigan – AGAIN”.


So I was unsure about the vest at first – but actually looking at the pictures I love the way it drapes and floats and sways. So I guess I will just have to learn to wear it!


Well, no, this isn’t it, Chris!!!


Did you notice the cross-over-feet-position? I gather this is what you do in fashion pictures, because it makes you lower legs look half their size. Well there, I’m trying to up my modelling game 🙂

(Sorry, I had to laugh out loud even as I was typing this!)


Sewing this was really easy: There are just two pattern pieces, the collar is cut onto the front. I used French seams everywhere apart from the seam that attaches the collar to the body, I didn’t manage the the 3D- thinking that would have been necessary to make this a French seam, so I covered the normal seam in bias tape. Unlike Helena’s vest the edges aren’t sandwiched between bias tape, instead I folded the bias tape over and stitched it down. Cutting the bias tape from very, very slipperly rayon lining  was the only thing that took a long time, but if you use ready-made bias this is a very simple project indeed.

And guess what I found, this time AFTER I had made the vest, because I’m not a totally creepy sewing stalker: Look at this project from Lilysageandco: Debbie only also made a cream wool drapey cardigan! Can you believe I can be mentioned in the same breath as Helena and Debbie??!! I realise all this is a bit like when three friends wear the same clothes and there is always one that distinctly looks less cool in them – but still I am very happy and totally content indeed to be the hanger-on in this one!

I think I just got fashion cudos by association (aka FCA, which is very much a thing just as TFAD is, as you will find out in this post 😉 )

What are your favourite sewing-related acronyms?


My Jeans in January Debut: Jalie Flares

Well, to be completely honest, I cheated a little bit – I completed these jeans around Christmas, but I thought given that I’m hosting Jeans in January I should step up and show you a pair of jeans early on in January.


So here they are: the mother of all flared jeans patterns, Jalie 2908, high-rise version. I made those last year in a non-stretch denim and wore them exactly once as they proved far to tight and uncomfortable. This time I learned and used a medium-stretch denim (marked as 3% lycra, but a LOT less stretchy than my 3% stretch corduroy) and the pattern cut in the same size as last year came out quite roomy.


I’m a pear shape and so theoretically, the flares should balance out any extra weight around the hips. I’m not really sure this theory works for me – at the very least I would need to wear serious heels to achieve the leg-elongating look. But then I work standing up, serious heels simply are not an option for me.


(Disclaimer ahead of the next picture: May I ask my reader Mia to avert her eyes as there is a major vpl-situation going on here. I do realise, but I’m afraid if it’s thong v. vpl, vpl will win in my case…)


Here’s the arty shot that the photography on this blog is famed for 😉 : me next to some art.

In this version of the flares I had a major face-palm moment when I realised a mistake I had made last time round. I had somehow managed to use the front leg of the low rise version together with the back leg of the high-rise version. Don’t ask me how I had made those to match up at the side seam, but I did manage it. This time around I amended that mistake, used the high-rise version all around and magically, the fit is a lot more comfortable.

And now, not because I’m uber-critical or because I’d like to make an ablology, but just because we all live and learn, let me draw your attention to what happens if you go against Chris’s 9th rule of sewing jeans and put the button in the wrong place:


Yep, it’s zipperband-gapeage! If the button is too far towards the corner of the inside waistband it will distort the waistband when closed and the button band will gape. And that makes you look as if your jeans don’t fit when in reality they do. And that’s never a pretty thought, don’t you agree?

Overall I’m not too sure what to make of the flares. Sewing-wise I’m pleased how these turned out, they fit well and are very comfortable. But fashion-wise I just don’t know, I still feel a bit frumpy and dated in them. Strange, on others I kinda like the retro-vibe of the flares, but on me I’m just not really convinced. I have been wondering whether they might look a bit more fashion in a lower rise so there isn’t quite so much jeans fabric overall. But then I suffer from tummy-flab-anxietiy-disorder (TFAD, it’s a condition, you know?!), so low-rise jeans are a thing of the past for me.

However, inspite of my reservations about flares, if you are enamoured of the trend, you are in luck: Heather Loo just published a flare extension for her Ginger pattern, so if you want to make your Gingers into flares (and properly stylish ones at that), you can do so in time for Jeans in January!

If you are taking part in Jeans in January, how are your sewing plans coming along? Do say in the comments!
I almost finished my first pair of Gingers – I say almost, because I realised I had put on the waistband bottom-up (so that the smaller curved side is attached to the body of the jeans and the larger curved side now stands away from my waist – a truly comical look). Major face-palm moment! So all of that has to come off again, including belt loops and button for a second attempt. Next time, I’m not gonna do this after midnight, though. Live and learn, live and learn!

Burdastyle12/2012 #104 : The Russian General Coat

Let me show you my last project of 2015 – and probably one of the favourite ones of the entire year – I would not be surprised if this made it into my top 5 of 2016 as an early starter. May I introduce: The Russian General Coat


I have to add a little disclaimer straight away: I have no idea at all what Russian Generals actually look like, but I fancy myself all War and Peace in this. Do you think I make a convincing impression of surveying the length and breadth of the Russian taiga?



Wait, the Russian taiga needs a scarf (disclaimer again: I have no idea as to the usual temperatures in the Russian taiga, nor am I really sure where or what exactly it is, but the clichee in my head has it it’s coooold out there):



And off I walk into the distance! Watch how I disappear into the fog with only those shiny gold buttons to be seen…

Do you know those cool big city bloggers who position themselves in front of some crappy half derelict walkway and shoot the coolest photos that make that crappy walkway look urban chic and somehow really enticing?

Well – this is not working for me:



Yep, still just looks like a crappy derelict gate – but at least I tried 😉

But enough of this frivolous talk, here comes the science bit:

I used Burdastyle 12/2012 #104, a pattern I had fallen in love with when it first came out but didn’t have the confidence to try an make it at the time. Three years later  and with a lot more sewing experience everything went really well.


Of course the main feature of the coat are the shiny gold buttons which took forever to find. There is only one large button shop (that I know of and that does not price the buttons according to their weight in gold) in my area, so I went to buy those online after more search time than it would take to march through the Russian taiga. At least I was really pleased with the result, though. They are really heavy and very shiny indeed.


There is also a little bit of piping around the lapels and collar. I also make bound button holes that I forgot to photograph. But at least there is an inside shot


Inside of the bound botton holes on the right and the facing to cover them on the left.


I made my own shoulder pads and because they turned out a bit less substantial than I had wanted I added quite a hefty sleevehead. At the moment it’s a bit robust, but I think it will wear down a little bit over time and then be just right.


As an afterthougt I added an inside pocket, which was a bit of a nightmare to attach, because the lining had to be partly sewn on already. It did all end well in the end, but it was a bit of a long job. But then, a march through the Russian taiga would be long and arduous, so there’s a metaphor for you!

With this make I bow out of 2015. In fact, I had a very productive holiday break with lots of sewing, to if I get a chance to write some posts, I can show you a few more things hopefully really soon.

Update: I just checked: the Taiga seem to be largescale woods that do indeed exist in Siberia. So yes, it would be coooold there. Whether Russian Generals would waste their shiny uniforms in order to march through hundreds of miles of woods or indeed whether Russian Generals march at all I don’t know, though…

Three Shirts for Christmas


Well, here they are: matching Christmas shirts for the men in my life that I spent half of December making. Of course, only two shirts to be seen, these pictures were taken on Boxing Day when it was still impossible of prize the suit jacket off the shoulders of Child 2. It’s nice when one’s sewing is appreciated. And rest assured, there is a matching shirt underneath.



Aren’t they coming across all Ocean’s 11?


It’s Child 2’s birthday today – he is a teenager now, and a rather smart one at that, don’t you think?!

My Top Tips for Jeans in January

I can’t even believe I’m writing this… How can I even assume I could give sewing tips to anybody? After all, I had no sewing training whatsoever, all the tips I’m going to share here are little things I picked up along the way through trial an error, not through superior knowledge. So please, if you are a seasoned jeans sewist, move right along, there is nothing to see here. However, if you are considering your first pair of jeans, maybe one or two of the tips may help.

So here we go: My top tips for Jeans in January

1. Read the Ginger Sewalong

Honestly, it’s just the best! If you are making Gingers, you have the excellent instructions at your fingertips anyway, but even if you don’t, the Ginger Sewalong is still a great resource! If you are scared of the fly front: do what Heather Lou says and you’ll be laughing your way through it!
I understand that the sewlong is now availble as an ebook in an expanded and improved format – I don’t know it, but I’m sure one could do worse than invest in this!

2. Use Stretchy Fabric

If you are making skinnies and go for fabric that is “really very stretchy” (this is my technical term, I believe that works out as ca. 4% lycra), the fitting is a little easier, I find, because you can simply make your jeans a little tighter and they will snap to fit all the same. So a little wriggle room, as it were, is built into the fabric. If you choose a dark wash, the danger of the dreaded sausage-in-tights-look will be much reduced.

3. Don’t Use Stretchy Fabric

Oh the fickleness of sewing advice! Use stretchy fabric but don’t use stretchy fabric? Chris, what are you on about? Well – the trouble with fabric, but stretchy fabric in particular, is that it may expand with wear. Body warmth, the mechanical stress of wearing your jeans, frequent laundering etc. will all make your fabric expand, thus making your jeans looser than originally intended. I have found that it’s impossible to predict, how much a fabric will relax just form manipulating it in this yardage format. So what I do to try and find out is this: I baste the jeans together (see tip 5) and wear them around the house for a good few hours until I feel the fabric relax a little bit and only then I assess the final fit. I’ve still had surprises with jeans that relaxed even further and became bigger than I wanted to (for example, I like to wear my jeans without a belt, so if they are too loose and fall down, that is not a pleasant sight for any party…), others have not relaxed as much as I had hoped, but over all my baste-and-wear-method has worked well.

4. Don’t Worry About the Topstitching

I can’t tell you how often I’ve read “I’d like to make some jeans, but, oooh, all the topstitching!!!” Well, if you can sew a straight seem, you you topstitch. Many sewists use two sewing machines, one for normal seems, one for the topstitching in order to be able to avoid rethreading. However, I never do, although theoretically, I have a backup machine, because I don’t thing rethreading is that bad. I never change out the bobbing thread, and rethreading the top thread doesn’t take all that long if you are using a jeans needle with a bigger eyelet. In my totally scientific way I’ve calculated that if you need your topstitching thread 20 times over a pair of jeans you need to rethread 40 times. Even if each rethread took you 1 minute, that would put 40 minutes onto the total project length. Now considering that  making a pair of jeans is going to take a good few hours I guess 40 minutes is not that much (and it certainly takes me closer to 30 seconds to thread, thus halving that time. Plus, if you switch between machines, there must be whole seconds that you loose in that process, thus again reducing the time cost of the one-machine-method).

Whatever method you chose: You don’t need a special presser foot for topstitching. Your align the side of your presser foot with the seam line, change the needle position so that the needle moves to the visually pleasing position and sew the first row of topstitching, and then alingn the presser foot to this first row in order to sew the second. I certainly know of people who use a double needle for topstitching, but given that I think double needles are the work of the devil, I have never considered trying this.


The way jeans are constructed, you will assemble the front without being able to try it on. I then baste the back crotch and all side seams and go back to tip 3/6 and wear the basted jeans for a few hours. Only then do I assess the fit and can make changes to crotch curve or width as appropriate.

I use my machines’s basting stitch on its largest setting and this means I don’t even have to use a seam ripper – I simply rip the basted seams open by pure force 🙂

6. Wear Before You Sew

Yep, I’ve said it twice, I’m going to say it a third time: Baste and wear your jeans for a few hours before you commit to the final fit. I think it’s really important to not only baste, try on and make changes immediately, but to wear the jeans long enough to let the fabric relax  (see tip 3). I even do this a second time after I’ve put on one side of the waistband, because I like a snug, belt-free fit. So if the waistband has relaxed a bit too much I can still take it in a little bit before adding the facing side. But make sure you stay-stitch the top of your waistband if you are leaving it exposed for any lenght of time, otherwise it’s going to stretch out of shape.

7. Cut the Waistband With a Seam in the Center Back

Most patters specify a waistband cut on the fold across center back. I have a swayback and I find the center back fold doesn’t work so well, because I need the top of the waistband smaller than the bottom. So I simply cut a seam at the CB that I then angle in slightly – I can fit this as I go along.

8. Use a Curved Waistband

Talking about waistbands: Unless your jeans are very low waisted I would really consider making a curved waistband rather than a straight one. Some patterns have you cut a straight one cut on the bias, which should adapt to body shape through the stretch differnential built into the bias, but for me that has never worked as intended.

The Gingers have a curved waistband to start off with, if you are quite curvy, you can make the waistband more curvy by adding a few darts to the paper pattern.

If your pattern only has a simple straight waistband, go and use a curved waistband off some other trouser pattern. If you cut the CB with a seam (see tip 7) you can cut it a little larger as intended and fit it as you sew and simply cut off the excess at the cb.

9. Put the Button in the Right Place

I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone wrong at the final hurdle! I put on the finished jeans and mark where the button should go – and then put it in the wrong place. Of course, if you are using an old-school jeans button, you pierce the fabric and hammer the button in, so it’s basically impossible to replace (I hammer with aggression, so my jeans buttons don’t come off for hell or high water 😉 )
So the correct position of the button is this: Look at the zipper teeth and follow this line up into the waistband. The button should sit along this line – if you’re putting it further in or out you will distort the line of the fly front.IMG_2683

A good example here: The waistband looks as if it is straining, but honestly, it isn’t, there is plenty more room there. But because the button is a little bit too far out the fly front opens just a little and that creates the one-pie-too-many look (more than the one pie too many that without a doubt has been in the game too 😉 )

So here we are, my top tips for sewing jeans. I hope some have been useful for you.

What are your top tips for sewing jeans? Do write them in the comments!

Happy New Year – Now with Instagram Account!

A very happy new year to everyone! I hope your celebrations were as healthy as they were happy – may 2016 bring to you much joy and lots of good sewing.
I have started as I mean to go on and made an Instagram account for myself today. I’m still feeling my way around it, but have managed to start following a few of you and have even written a comment or two and posted a couple of pictures. If you want to follow me, you’ll find me as Said&Done Chris! And don’t forget, if you’re taking part in Jeans in January (oops, suddenly that means “Jeans NOW”…) the hashtag is, of course, #jeansinjanuary !

I’ve been very wary about Instagram in the past, mainly because I don’t understand all the privacy implications, but also because I’ve heard it mentioned that Instagram makes people read blogs less. Now, I absolutely love reading blogs and thought anything that systematically decreased blog readership, and consequently blog authorship, must be the work of the devil. But then many of you have sung the praised of Instagram and so I promised I would look into it. So there!

This has jumpstarted me into action and I have now assembled the Ginger PDF (creating the worst dog’s dinner of pdf assembly in the history of pdfs), cunningly trying to combine the stovepipe leg version with the high-waist of the skinny version. I’m making the muslin as we speak – you will see the results on Instagram, of course!