Fortunately, in spite of my reservations, these shorts didn't end up looking too much like something Steve Irwin would wear whilst pushing an airline drinks trolley. Bit of a relief, really, as the zookeeper said to the air hostess.
The pattern is BWOF 7-2009-113. I cut a 36, and in retrospect could have probably got away with cutting a 34 and adding a bit at the hips. In an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Great Wedgie Disaster of 2009, I redrew the crotch line deeper and added length at the top and bottom end of the crotch curve. I sloped the CB seam at quite an acute angle, shaving off about an inch of pattern to accommodate my sway back. In fabric, with the help of Maryanna-from-across-the-road, I also sewed the back darts considerably deeper. It's most excellent indeed having an expert seamstress friend living so handy - pin fitting those darts myself was a fiddly business, what with having no eyes in the back of my head n' all, so it was great to have help.
All in all, I'm really pleased with the outcome. For the first time ever, really, I have pants (well, shorts) that aren't pulled in like a paper bag at the waist with a belt. I'm really enjoying learning more about fitting - the only problem being that the more I tweak my patterns, the more picky I am about RTW clothes. I've always worn pants with phone-book sized gaps at the back and tops with bust fullness 3 cm or so lower than my requirements, and not thought all that much of it, but now I guess I'm getting fussier. In a different style, I think I need to take some fullness out across the back, somewhere - these back crotch of these shorts has stretched a bit in fabric, and while it's completely fine (and really comfy) for casual shorts, if these were funkier jeans type pants I think I'd want a bit less ease. In the photo of the back it looks like there's still some wedgie going on, but there really isn't - this was just the best photo of a bad bunch. There's also a bit of excess fullness in the front, just below the topstitching for the fly - I'm still not entirely sure what this is from, but I'm tossing up between needing to shorten the front crotch or take in the front inseam a bit. Any ideas welcome :-)
This project was also my first foray into using proper topstitching thread and needle - and my machine wasn't at all happy about the experience. There was something whacky going on with the tension and no amount of fiddling could get the machine to purr happily along. I love topstitching, but I think I'm just going to stick with regular thread. Not only was it a teeth-clenchingly stressful experience waiting for the machine to get irrepperably snarled, but changing needles and thread every time I needed to top stitch took up precious "getting it finished" time.
And the stingeometer: cotton drill, $4 (Nick's); Zipper from stash, but probably 25 cents at Geoff's at some point; interfacing from stash; button from Karen Walker sale, just a few cents. Can't complain too much about 4 buck shorts, I reckon.
Anyway, I'll definitely make another pair, at some point - I've just got a few more projects to tick off the list first. None of which, I hope, are inspired by croc-wrestling Australians.
One of the very loose sewing goals I set for myself this year was to sort myself out with some well-fitting, easily-assembled TNT patterns so that I can get a quick, stress-free sewing fix anytime. I've only got a couple of patterns so far in my stash that I've made more than once: a basic a-line skirt, and this one: Simplicity 3835. I've made it four times as a top and once as a dress, and have been pleased with the outcome each time (except for the wadder where I cut the fabric slightly off grain and tried to fiddle around with the sleeve shape. That one didn't last long before being biffed.) Anyway, I wanted to make something quick and easy, and since the weather has been so hot lately, a loose fitting t-shirt seemed like the answer. This style is only recently one that I've become comfortable wearing - I've previously been more of a stretchy-tight-singlet kinda girl; but I'm becoming quite a convert to the idea of wearing looser clothing in hot weather. The fabric is a beautifully lightweight cotton voile that I bought (full price! Gasp!) at The Fabric Warehouse in Auckland. Sewing-wise, there's not much to report - straight seams and a bit of overlocking, really. I'd had a bit of trouble previously getting an even amount pressed down around the neck for the elastic channel: this time, I staystitched the edge at 1cm, and used this as a guide to fold down the edge. I'm also very much infatuated with my seam gauge (a relatively recent acquisition, and well worth the grand sum $5 or so that it cost me) for getting hems even. I did a small swayback adjustment, and added a bit to the sleeve width to give me a bit more room to move my arms (what's that adjustment called?) but other than that, it was straight out of the envelope.
Next up: a pair of shorts from a BWOF whose number I can't currently remember. I'm stalled a little on this one, since the pattern/fabric combo that seemed so good in my head is coming out like some crazy hybrid of workshorts and an Air New Zealand uniform. You never know, though, do you? And anyway, "zookeeper/air hostess chic" could be the next big thing.
I've come to the realisation that right now, with two preschoolers at home, and sewing time limited to the evenings that I can be bothered getting off the couch, I need to focus on simple projects. I have a huge line up of coats and jackets I'd love to try my hand at, but the reality of the situation is that right now I have neither the time nor the energy to devote to them, and chipping away at something for weeks on end is not the type of sewing fix I'm in need of right now. I do need some sort of fix, though; and this is something that I'm really coming to realise after such a long sewing drought - I'm a far happier person when I make the time to sew. Soooo much happier - I don't go to bed resentful about the fact that I haven't done anything for myself (other than eat chocolate biscuits...ahem...) and so I'm an all-round more pleasant person for my family to be around. So...with this in mind, I traced out BWOF 09-2009-131. I used a buttery-soft stretch denim that has been maturing nicely in my stash for...erm....maybe about 12 years? I remember buying it for a Vogue pencil skirt pattern, on a huge city-wide fabric buying mission with my sewing friend Ange many years ago. I'm pretty sure the same fabric buying mission also saw us buying a whole lot of shiny black faux leathery stuff to make ridiculously tight pants for a party we were going to that night. Fuelled by far too much coffee (me) and far too many cigarettes (her) we sewed up 3 pairs: hers, mine, and another friend's, before heading out for a great night. It frightens me enormously to imagine what those pants would look like on me now.....
Anyway, enough of the trip down memory lane. The skirt sewed up easily, and would have been even easier (and looked more like the original) if I'd paid attention to the instructions and not presumed that I knew what I was doing. After I'd attached what I thought was a waistband facing, I looked at the diagram and realised that my facing was in fact supposed to be a contour waistband with belt loops. Oops. Anyway, it transpires that it fits as a facing too, so that wasn't a big drama. I also put the zipper in the centre back purely out of habit, but according to Burda, it's supposed to go in the side seam. Meh...
I cut a 36, and ended up taking in the sides at the waist by about an inch each side, tapering to nothing at the hip. The fit's ok, but I need to tweak something to stop my butt stealing fabric from the front and making the side seams pull to the back. It's not really noticeable unless you're a sewing geek, so it's really just an observation for next time. I edged the pockets with bias strips of a green japanesey print cotton I had in stash; and used the same fabric to face the waistband and line the pocket flaps. Since I accidentally ommitted the waistband, I played around with top stitching at the waist and hem to give the skirt a bit more visual interest.
All in all, a pretty good pattern; slightly strangely drafted in that the front skirt piece is wider than the front, meaning that the side seams are ever so slightly pushed towards the back of the body. I'm still undecided about buttons - you can see the chalk lines on the pockets where I pondered doing buttonholes, but I quite like the flaps unadorned.
Anyway, sewing-mojo-rehab part one completed. I've got a few more quick and easy projects in the works, so hopefully I'll be back in blogland on a more regular basis. Onwards and upwards!