My New Favorite Pants: The Lazo Trousers

Pattern: Thread Theory's Lazo Trousers
Fabric: 1 1/2 yards Kaufman Bi Stretch Tropical Suiting
Cost: $17


Meet the Lazo Trousers, Thread Theory's second pattern for women and my latest pants obsession. I tend to really trust Morgan, who has a degree in fashion design and works with other really great professionals in the industry. She takes her time to make quality patterns, and in this case has been working on this pattern for over four years - it was inspired by her collection in design school and I first tested it back in early 2015! Even though she is a menswear designer, she worked really hard to fit women's curves, and for me these pants have been near perfection.

In the description, designer Morgan perfectly sums up my need for pants: slim trousers designed for a full bum and flat stomach that hug your curves without being too tight and uncomfortable. Her drafting is impeccable, and never have I had a pair of pants fit me this well out of the envelope! The back hangs perfectly from the fullest part of my bum, and the outer side seam slopes gracefully past my knock knees. A beautiful sight to see! In the photo below you can see the stretch fabric bag a little at the knee after wearing them all day, but they hang perfectly down the back and through the knee. Heart eyes.


Of course, this doesn't mean that I didn't fit them. I took a 4 inch wedge out of the center back, tapering toward the crotch, which is a major adjustment. It is a fairly common issue for me in pants fitting, as I am very pear shaped and often have gaping back there. Secondly, while the pants are drafted for a fuller bum, I found the top still pulled down in the back, meaning I needed to further increase the crotch depth. Morgan has a nice blog post with this and other fit adjustments for the Lazos. After making these changes to the center back, I adjusted the waistband to match. I brought it in at the sides, but later realized I need to reduce it in the back only - I need that extra room at the front after all those Christmas cookies!

You'll also notice that I shortened the waistband. While I like the wide waistband in theory, the narrower waistband was necessary for making some in-progress fit adjustments, and also has a more classic look that I like. I will try that wide waistband someday though! Notice also those little pleats for extra movement and style.



Other than the changes to the center back and waistband, they fit very well! I think making them up in a drapey fabric was key. These were made in a polyester/rayon/spandex blend from Robert Kaufman that has a slight bit of stretch and makes them suuuper comfy. The pattern is also similar to my pants block, with an L-shaped crotch curve and legs at the same angle, which helped them fit right out of the envelope.

I have so many plans to make more of these. On Instagram, I posted a pattern hack idea for Lazo Trouser overalls, and I would love to make up some more in various colors. In suiting I think they look great for work, and here I have them styled more casually as per this inspiration I've had pinned forever. I am also wearing my new purse that Mr. Made got me for Christmas which I picked out today, although you can't actually see the purse itself in any of my pictures (sad face). It's from Sven Handbags, locally made in Berkeley, USA from the softest leather.



I have so many more sewing plans in progress and on my mind, from a men's bomber jacket to completed motorcycle pants to more Pattern Magic goodness. But the semester is also starting, so let's see what I get done!

Presto! Popover Top

Pattern: Savage Coco's Presto Popover Top
Fabric: 1 1/2 yards ponte
Cost: $8


I'm not quite sure why this pattern hasn't gone viral yet (a la Archer or Ginger jeans), but I am in love with Savage Coco's Presto Popover Top. Sitting across from the designer at Tropisueno Restaurant in San Francisco last year, I knew I had to make one. Coco's is made from a beautiful dusty blue sweater knit, which I just may have to copy. Shams, sitting to my right, had also made this top to great success. If a small-chested 20-something and a self-described "50-something, uber busty funky loving sewist" can make and love the same thing, you know it's a winner.

This top, as marketed, is quick to make. Coco said her version takes about three hours, and mine was probably four after cutting and tracing the pattern. It has a really unique front construction that makes it so you don't have to finish the neckline. I made mine up in a ponte, which makes it perfect for colder winter days.

While the pattern is quick, I wouldn't recommend it for absolute beginners. The instructions are complete but without diagrams, and the sizing is only given for the bust. The construction at the neckline is also a bit unusual, but that's what makes this top so great.



So far, I have gotten compliments from my boss and friends. Again, it's such a crowd pleaser. I'd love to make it up in a sweater knit, and could see making a version for my mom as well. 

2016 in Review

Well, in the press 2016 is shaping up to be one of the worst years ever. But personally my year hasn't been all that bad at all. I completed the first half of grad school (1 more semester to go!), had lots to celebrate, and even got away for a few trips. Sure, there's not much money to spare when it all goes to tuition, I worked time and a half all summer, and there were some personal hardships, but overall I am declaring 2016 a success. I also managed to get some sewing done, in spite of it all. And while it may not look like it, I also knit a TON in class, which helps me sit still and concentrate. Here is my roundup of 2016 projects...


Tops


Pants


Outerwear


Dresses


Small Things



Gifts



As you can see, it turned out to be a pretty productive year after all. While there were long pauses during the semester, I had some nice little breaks after finals that allowed me to really dive in and work on things for days. I put a decent amount of time in to pants making, and experimented with some self-drafted versions as well as new patterns - Barb and Misty pants from Style Arc, and the Emerson pants from True Bias. Speaking of patterns, here's a roundup of the pattern companies I used this year:

I love BurdaStyle because their patterns are both affordable and expertly drafted. Plus, they have a huge selection, meaning I can usually find what I need if I have a specific style in mind. The only drawback are the directions, which I don't recommend for a complete beginner.

I also worked with some great indie patterns this year. I love the drafting and directions for both Megan Nielsen and Sewaholic Patterns - both are companies I would recommend. I also tried my first Style Arc patterns this year and really liked them! Style Arc has really innovative patterns and the fit works really well on a wide range of people.

Unfortunately, I also sewed up some duds from the indies this year. Both the Colette Sencha Blouse and By Hand London Anna Dress got bad reviews from me, and I most likely won't be sewing much more from these companies. It has become clear to me that many "pattern" makers do not have the formal training and expertise to create solid products. Both By Hand London and Colette re-released patterns this year due to fitting issues, and I don't think those were the only lemons in the bunch.

These sentiments are reflected in my most popular posts from this year.

 Here's where you can find them:
Together, these posts represent times I took things slow, worked on my fitting skills, and really analyzed the project. Of course, you'll also see in the roundup at the top of this post that I banged out a number of quick knit tops as well. Not everything I made was a success, but I got a lot of wear out of most of this stuff this year. And of course there's also the times I just needed a break and made something silly for Beatrix. Her aviator Halloween costume is definitely my favorite this year.

Finally, I joined Instagram in earnest this year and have definitely become a bit obsessed. Look for me at @MadeByMegBlog if we don't already follow each other!

Happy new year to everyone and here's to another happy year of sewing!

Mambo No. 5 Jeans

Pattern: frankenpattern
Fabric:  1 1/2 yds stretch woven
Cost:  ~$20 per pair



Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mambo No. 5, where I combine all my favorite girls into one great jeans pattern. Let me explain...

I like the sizing on my Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. I have fiddled with the waist to get them snug, and tapered the legs just so. However, they have a number of fit issues for me. This goes back to my thoughts on big Fit vs little fit. They fit, in that they are comfortable to wear and stay on, but they don't Fit in that there are little drag lines and imperfections that my other pants don't have.

That's where my other patterns come in. My Colette Clover pants have a really great crotch curve. It is L-shaped, which works well for me. J-shaped curves make it look like my butt is trying to eat the fabric - lots of diagonal lines going on there. However, the Clovers aren't my perfect pants either. The fit in the legs has always been a bit funky, most likely due to the fact that I need a knock-knee adjustment. They also slant a bit inward at the leg inseam.

So in comes a third pattern. I really like the leg shape of my Style Arc Misty Jeans/Barb Pull-On Pants. Compared to the other two patterns, they slant in the right direction to ensure that the side seams do not pull around to the front or the back. This is crucial to avoid that dreaded slanted inseam.

So with Ginger, Clover, and Barb, I set about drafting my perfect pair of pants. All the names remind me of the ladies in Mambo No. 5: "A little bit of  Ginger in my life. A little bit of Clover by my side. A little bit of Barb is all need. Really great pants is what I see." Haha! Ok a bit silly but you get the point. I guess I could have also called these my All-Spice pants, because using Ginger and Clover sounds like I'm baking and not sewing.



Anyway, back to pants drafting. Another feature I wanted in my perfect jeans was a wide seam allowance. While I drafted most of the seams with a standard 5/8" seam allowance, for the side seam I gave a generous 1" seam allowance. This is because pants REALLY vary with the amount of stretch in the fabric. I have never had the same pants pattern sew up the same way in a different fabric, so I wanted to give a generous allowance to account for different stretches and weaves. I can simply take it in a bit for a pair with good stretch, and let it out for a tighter weave or less stretch. This little feature would have saved me a lot of heartache over the years, and I highly recommend all you pants-makers do the same.

So how did they turn out? Not bad! Mr. Made agrees that the back is my best one yet. The only lines you see in the back are the little horizontal lines under the butt. While you could draft those out, in tight-fitting pants they are necessary to allow ease of movement. However, what you don't see is diagonal lines or other puckering, meaning my crotch curve is working! On the front, I also extended the curve a bit to try to eliminate some whiskers there. My first version is the black pair.



For my second version, in brown, I made a few minor adjustments. First, I needed to true up the side seam by 3/4 of an inch. While I measured the seams when drafting, I forgot about the yoke! D'oh! Next, I removed a wedge from the front and another from the back, as both were drafted too long and sagging a bit. Finally, I did one last 1/2 inch knock knee adjustment. While I tried to build it in, with all the other changes I was making it was hard to tell if that change was going to transfer over. That got rid of a little bit of bunching around the outer knee, although some is inevitable. However, I may have compensated a bit too much. I think I need to decrease the width at the knees instead of make a bigger knock knee adjustment.



The fabric for my first and second pairs were beautiful stretch wovens from Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley. When I first started sewing pants several years ago they didn't carry much in the way of bottom-weight stretch wovens, but since then I have been finding more and more great things there. I also finally met the owner last time I was in, and she's a total sweetheart. I will definitely be checking back more regularly for pants fabrics, as I much prefer to inspect them in person than blindly order through the mail.

On  my second pair, I also modified both the front and back pockets. For the front, I added a pocket stay, which keeps the pockets in place as you take the pants on and off. I may have to recheck the drafting on this though, as I think it may have contributed to some wrinkling in the front.

You'll also notice I drafted some welt pockets instead of patch pockets. If you're interested in making your own welt pockets with perfectly finished seams, I've got a tutorial up on the BERNINA WeAllSew Blog.




While I am just frankenpatterning things together, altering these patterns to fit me has taught me a lot about pants fitting. Four years after making my first pair of pants, I feel like I am finally able to diagnose fit problems and know how to fix them. While no pair is ever perfect, I am working on it slowly but surely...


Staying Cozy!

Pattern: Style Arc's Genevieve Coat
Fabric: 3 yds sweater knit from Mood
Cost: $60


Merry Christmas everyone! Hope your are staying cozy. We took a trip out to the desert last week and had an amazing time hiking around, playing music with friends, and watching movies from a projector. And a few days ago we flew out to visit family in Texas. While the weather has been warmer over in Texas (75 degrees today!) in the desert temps were in the 40s. To stay warm, I brought along my new Style Arc Genevieve coat, made up in a decadent sweater knit. 

To accommodate the fabric which was both stretchy and in limited supply, I made a few modifications to the pattern. The Genevieve Coat has some great seaming, which I got rid of in favor of a simpler coat. I also shortened it, and eliminated the facings in favor of bound edges. I also extended the zipper a bit farther up the shoulder because it was long enough and why not. Someday I'd like to make this in a woven as intended - it looks beautiful.

What I like most about this jacket is its warmth and versatility. It can be worn zipped up, halfway down or left open. And for those wondering about my shirt in the first photo, it says - A woman's place is in the house and the senate. It's from Redbubble and I love it! (Not as great as handmade though of course).

Stay warm and have a merry Christmas!