Elastic-Waist Pants for Pear-Shapes

Like everyone else during this pandemic, I've gotten super into elastic waist pants. My favorite style is the one that has a flat front and elastic in the back. That way you can at least pretend they're grown-up pants, there's less bulk, and they're actually a bit more comfortable this way. 

Pattern: Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants
Fabric: chambray and cotton
Cost: $20 (jeans), $40 (wide-leg)

The most popular pattern for this style is probably the Closet Core Pietra Pants. I own that pattern and like it. But if you have a high waist to hip ratio/are pear-shaped, the pattern doesn't work as well. You either have to add more gathers in the back or add a closure like a zip. 

So I started looking for an alternative and found one in the Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants. It's very similar to the Closet Core Pietra in that it has a front pattern piece, a back, and a side piece where the pocket is folded in. The difference is that the Pietras are elasticized on the back only, while the Palisade Pants are elasticized in the back and side. This means they can stretch wider over my hips but still fit snuggly at the waist. You could modify the Pietras to do this, too, but the Palisades are especially designed for this with their double slanted pocket which ingeniously allows the pants to expand a bit as you put them on. 

I fell between size 3 and 4 and ended up cutting out a size 4. I'm glad I sized up because I saw some complaints online that the pattern is graded a bit snug at the hips. I ended up grading the pattern down at the waist but keeping the hip size and it worked well for me. I also cut the elastic much smaller than recommended, but I imagine elastic varies a lot depending on the type you're using. 

I made up my first pair in chambray and they were quickly my favorite pair of pants. They are easy to wear and pair with everything. I added back pockets for even more pockets and an elasticized cuff for funsies. I will note that I cut the front pockets a bit differently than recommended to make them single layer - less fabric and less bulk. 

The one disadvantage of the Palisade Pants compared to the Pietra Pants for me is that they only have one cut, whereas the Pietras offer both a wide-leg and a narrow option. I widened my pattern pieces myself based on other wide-leg pants I liked and made myself a second version. I also cut a single pocket rather than double front pockets to switch it up. The fabric is a really beautiful yarn-dyed cotton that feels really summery. 

So I can basically throw out all my skinny jeans now as this is all I wear. If you've been eyeing this style and are pear-shaped, I recommend checking out the Palisade Pants. 

Beach Life

Shortly after Memorial Day, we left our beloved apartment in Oakland for a new adventure (and a new house!) in Santa Cruz. After the terrible year that was 2020, I have really enjoyed being closer to family, daily beach walks, and having more space (and house projects!). Being near the water has also meant more outdoor adventures. After rafting the Rogue River in Oregon this summer we bought an ocean kayak that we can walk to the beach from our house!

Bikini top: Greenstyle Creations Power Sports Bra in nylon spandex
Bikini bottom: Stitch Upon a Time Bunzies in nylon spandex
Rashguard: Greenstyle Creations Waimea Rash Guard in nylon spandex
Shorts: Closet Core Patterns Pietra Pants in ripstop nylon
Cost: $30

There is something really powerful about making your own performance wear. I wore these pieces for an entire week river rafting. We were out in the wilderness so they really needed to hold up without the ability to switch them out or make repairs. They held up beautifully, kept me comfortable, and protected my skin from sun and water. I felt like superwoman!

Probably the most interesting part of this outfit to make were the board shorts. I wanted something that would be quick-drying and protect my legs from sun and the rubber of the boat. I decided to use the Closet Core Patterns Pietra pants/shorts. They have a gathered/elastic back and flat front, so they gave me all the ease of a pull-on short but look pretty good for rafting! The fabric is rip-stop nylon from Harts Fabric and I think the quality is better and it dries faster than another one I ordered online. 

Rather than gather the back waistband and run elastic through it to create the elasticized waist, I didn't cut ou the waistband fabric and just used the elastic. This gave me less bunchy fabric to deal with, as the elastic sits flat (photos of the back farther below). The front waistband is "lined" in elastic - I essentially ran the elastic through the front without stretching for added stability as I didn't want to risk trying to do iron-on interfacing on this plastic-y fabric. Of course, this is all a deviation from the instructions but worked out well after some fiddling.

I also added a zipper to one of the pockets (pictured above), leaving the other one open. I can store things in there like chapstick or a key - they get wet but won't float away. After testing these out I kind of wish that I'd given both sides a zipper as the non-zippered one tends to balloon full of water more easily. But it doesn't bother me enough to fix it. 

The other crucial element to this outfit is the rash guard for sun protection. I'm not sure the fabric is UV-rated or anything, but it helps a whole lot just to have my arms and torso covered. This was my first time sewing the Waimea rash from Greenstyle Creations and it fits well and is easy to put together. 

Underneath it all is a Greenstyle Creations Power Sports bra and Stitch Upon a Time Bunzies - two underwear patterns made as a swimsuit. The Power Sports bra gave excellent support and comfort wearing it all day. The criss-cross straps in the back are super cute and also prevent them from slipping off my shoulders. 

The Bunzies are a nice underwear pattern to have in your stash - they have a few options ranging from cheeky to full coverage. I used the pattern variation without elastic - you simply add hembands to the leg openings and waist. I was worried it might make them a bit loose but it worked out well and meant I didn't have elastic cutting into me all day. The one modification I made was to lengthen them so they sit at my natural waist. 

This has been the perfect summer "capsule" bathing suit wardrobe that is super comfy and functional. Here's to the beach life!

A Jumpsuit for Stepping Out

This jumpsuit is made for showing off. Its sewn from bright red linen, has hand-embroidered flowers, and shows just a flash of skin. It is also very much a product of the pandemic, made from fabric I ordered online and couldn't think of any other use for and hand-stitched embellishments that took me over a month to create. Today, two weeks after my final vaccine, I'm ready to celebrate! (Safely, of course.) 

Pattern: adapted from McCalls 7789 and McCall's 7719
Fabric: 2 yds Robert Kaufman Essex Linen
Cost: $40

For this piece, I think I spent about as much on embroidery thread as the fabric itself. Kaufman linen is fairly cheap (which is how it ended up in my cart) and I got two yards for less than $20 online. However, when it arrived it was much brighter than I had pictured, and I just wasn't sure what I would use it for. As my stash dwindled during the long months of lockdown, I finally decided it needed to be sewn up. 

The fabric told me it wanted to be bright red overalls like the Closet Core Jenny Overalls. But while I liked that pattern, I also wanted something that could be worn without a shirt underneath - maybe something more like a pinafore. I eventually ended up mashing together the pants from McCalls 7789, which I've sewn twice during lockdown already, with a bodice from McCall's 7719 squared off at the neckline. It required a fair amount of adjusting as I sewed and I think the bust darts ended up a bit high, but luckily the embroidery hides that and I really like the final results. I really like the overall shape and that it provides enough coverage while still giving the pinafore/overall look. 

So back to the embroidery. To temper all that red, I thought it would be fun to add some flowers to the bodice. I was also running out of knitting projects and needed something to do while I watched TV, so this was the perfect activity to occupy my time. As I've only done a few embroidery projects every, I used this as an opportunity to try out a bunch of different techniques and had a lot of fun browsing the internet for different petal and leaf designs. 

The one thing I have a hard time with in embroidery is picking out the color palette. So I looked around for a curated palette of colors. Sublime Stitching sells some amazing ones but they were almost all out of stock at the time. I finally found this fall palette I liked on Etsy. I really wish more sellers did this because it makes everything feel much more cohesive. I did run out of a few of the colors but was able to just order more of the single color online now that I knew what to get. The colors are give it a really vintage feel that I like. 

The jumpsuit has a low back and I really wanted the straps to cross in the back. However, the length of the straps coupled with the size of my hips meant I could barely wiggle out of it. I left the project alone for the night and came back the next day to uncross and re-sew the straps. As it's already a bit of a delicate garment, I really didn't want to strain it every time I needed to get in and out of it! I had to use the bathroom several times the first day I wore it and I was glad for the change. 

It also has pockets, so despite its delicate touches it is really almost a practical garment.

While the fabric purchase felt like a bit of a mistake and the process for making this was very experimental, I am so happy with the final result! The color, shape, and embroidery all come together to make a happy garment ready to step out in.  

My Parklet Jacket

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you may be wondering why I'm posting a heavy jacket in the middle of May. But it was 55 degrees and windy last night in San Francisco as I did some outdoor dining and I can assure you that this jacket will get a LOT of wear. In fact, I've been wearing this every weekend since I finished it earlier this month to outdoor meetups with friends. 

While I am hopeful that COVID is winding down for now in the Bay Area (and I am now fully vaccinated!), we have been doing most of our socializing outdoors. It's been wonderful to connect with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in many months. And amid all of this I realized that the cute tops and dresses I've made over the past twelve months were not going to cut it for a chilly night in a bar parklet on Telegraph. So my parklet jacket was born. 

Pattern: McCalls Misses' Unlined Jacket #6531
Fabric: 4yds Robert Kauffman Big Sur Canvas in Canyon Brown
2 yds Minky Luxe Cuddle in Heather Henna
Cost: $125

I went all out with this jacket. Stonemountain was having a sale on their Robert Kauffman Big Sur Canvas so I ordered a few yards of that along with matching thread, snaps, zipper, cording, and cord stops. The matching thread felt like a real treat as I almost always just sew with black/white/gray. I'm glad I did it though as I did lots of topstitching and the matching color gave a really professional finish. And the option to have them match it for you when you order online takes all the guesswork out of it. I only wish I'd realized that they send 200m spools - I needed to go out and pick up some more. 

For extra warmth and luxury, I decided to line the whole thing in sumptuously soft minky fabric. I've always wanted to use something like this for an extra cozy jacket and I'm glad I did. It feels like wearing a teddy bear. 

For the pattern, I dug in my stash and came up with McCall's #6531, a loose-fitting, unlined jacket that has a sporty/parka look with rolled sleeves and the option to cinch the neckline, waist, and hem. It wasn't until I was ready to cut it out though that I realized I had a larger size range than I needed. I think I must have gotten this pattern at a swap and either didn't notice or didn't care. Luckily, the pattern pieces were pretty basic and I was able to grade down one size. Because it's a loose-fitting style, I wasn't particularly worried about getting the fit just right.

One reason I chose this pattern is that it has cut-on, loose-fitting sleeves. They are kind of a batwing or dolman style. Because I was using a bulky lining, I knew this style would be better for accommodating all that fabric than a traditional, close-fitting set-in sleeve. The pattern does not include pieces or instructions for adding a lining, but I found it was easy enough to do by cutting out the regular pattern pieces except for the collar and cuffs, and shortening the hems. 

Before I make up a new pattern these days, I like to read Pattern Review to see what others recommend. Many said they ended up sizing down, but I was glad that I cut the size (or close to it) for my measurements. This gave me enough room to add the bulky lining fabric and not worry about whether I'd still be able to get it on. Funny enough, many people also said the sleeves were too short and they had to lengthen by two inches or more (!). I'm not sure if it was because I was grading down from a larger size range or if I just have short arms, but the sleeves were plenty long enough for me!

One fun thing about this jacket is that it is designed so that you can roll the sleeves up. I knew that mine wouldn't roll quite so nicely in thicker canvas, but I still like the option for the hours before the sun goes down. I cut a facing from the canvas so that the minky lining wouldn't show through (and it meant less bulk). My one gripe is that the cuff closure for this jacket is just made by overlapping the cuff pieces. I think this could have been done more elegantly, but oh well. I also wish they included more snaps in the notions list for the cuffs (they recommend buttons instead) and for the pockets. I luckily had a few extra snaps in my stash for the cuffs so was able to add them here. 

Now I have the perfect casual jacket for the lake or a parklet bar. The only problem is the Mr. has one in a lighter shade of canvas and is a little annoyed that I had to have one for myself ;)

Shoulder pads??

I am not quite old enough to have worn shoulder pads the last time around. To me, they remind me of my mom's old 80s blouses or the polyester shirts we'd turn our noses up at in thrift stores. Shoulder pads were the first thing I'd rip out of vintage finds, and it actually took me years to learn to put them IN blazers to give shape to a garment. 

So imagine my surprise to see them popping up in garments and sewing patterns all over. And I'm even more surprised to say I gave them a TRY. I can't say they worked out in every instance, but it's fun to experiment with something out of my comfort zone.

Pattern: Grasser Knit Jumper 810
Fabric: 2 yds knit
Cost: $12

First up is the Grasser jumper. This is a new-to-me pattern company from Russia and what drew me to it was a wide selection of really interesting patterns. This jumper in particular had such a different construction and shape that I was really excited to give it a try. 

The instructions are complete and include some pictures, but the translation is a bit off and the sleeve construction involved some trial and error on my part. But in the end, it all came together mostly as designed. The shoulders are supported with "roll fabric;" I used some light quilt batting to give it the extra shape. 

I did make some updates to the pattern before cutting it out. One, it's cut from a stable jersey rather than a thicker sweater material, so my version has less structure than the pattern. Because of this, the sleeves collapse a little rather than holding their shape, but I don't mind. And while I kept the sleeves the same, I updated the main body by eliminating the princess seams and changing the neckline to a regular crew neck. I got this idea from a few people on Instagram who had done the same and I find it works well on this less-structured version. Sometimes putting too many seams in jersey is just asking for wonky seams. 

It is admittedly not the easiest shirt to wear. It doesn't fit easily under sweaters, and is a bit of a new shape for me. But I actually like it more than I thought I would and have been wearing it a good bit. 

Next up is the MadeIt Patterns Eight Tee. This is part of their No Frills line, which is the same style and fit as their regular patterns but without detailed, step-by-step instructions. I found the information to be more than adequate, with full sizing information, technical drawings, fabric recommendations, and one page of instructions with a few illustrations for the more involved steps. 

Pattern: MadeIt Patterns Eight Tee
Fabric: 1 yd jersey
Cost: free - remnant

This top and the Just Patterns Claudia Tee have been really popular on Instagram this past month. I chose the MadeIt version because I liked the shoulder/sleeve construction - it folds under to create the shoulder line in a really unique way.  The top can be made with or without shoulder pads and, despite the name of this post, I chose to make it without. Even without the pads, it gives an exaggerated shoulder line for the same look. 

While the original shirt has a very boxy construction, I wanted something with a more exaggerated shape - wide shoulders and a nipped-in waist. To do this, I cut the shirt off at the waistline and added a narrower band. I then pleated the top into the band at the side seams. I also experimented with adding a waist tie. Mijke from SewItCurly did a similar alteration, but by sewing the shoulder "pleats" together rather than adding a hemband. 

I'm not yet sure how I feel about this top. It's definitely interesting, but I'm not sure I like the silhouette on me. Perhaps the original silhouette would have been better, but with my small shoulders I do feel like I'm swimming in it a bit. 

Either way both of these tops were really fun to experiment with and I'm glad I tried a new trend.  I've also been playing with wide-leg pants, another trend I've seen popping up, but I'm NOT ready for the return of low-rise jeans. 
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