April 20, 2017

Sewing for climbing

People wear lots of different kinds of clothing for indoor climbing. Those who just come for a day out often wear their regular clothes while people who practice climbing as a sport usually choose some form of sportswear. There are brands dedicated to climbing wear too.

At the moment, I am usually wearing my old RTW sports trousers (sort of capri length). The trousers I made back in 2015 served me well for over a year but the fabric has suffered too much by now. I do usually wear some kind of me-made top though.
Because I know it can be hard to find the right fabric for sportswear (or outdoor stuff, for that matter), I thought I wouldn't mind buying new trousers for climbing.
And then I found out all you can buy are leggings... (and sweatpants, which are way to warm). Often bright, printed or shiny ones. And don't get me started about so-called yoga pants. Those are just leggings with a slight below the knee. I'm not sure I have pointed this out before but I really don't feel comfortable wearing leggings in a sport in which I am often suspended above any spectators...

Anyway, to make a long story short, I decided I would be better off trying to invent my own perfect version.
I sewed them up in a single evening and wore them the next. They're still on the washing line now, but here is a quick technical drawing:

I used a wide stretchy waistband which turned out to be way too loose (if I had not been wearing my harness, I'm not sure the trousers would have stayed on). I plan on cutting it off, making it smaller and inserting elastic for some added firm stretch.
The fabric I used for the rest is my favorite cotton/linen blend which is really comfortable but might not be durable enough for sportswear. 
I am very happy with the special climbing details I added: The long crotch gusset allows for an excellent range of movement and the pleats at the knees seem to work too. I may just pleat them the other way in the next version (they seem too tight the first time I bend my knees but are absolutely fine once they have been pushed open by that movement).
I will take pictures once the trousers are ready to be put on again...

April 12, 2017

Jeans!

A new pair of retro-style jeans, that's what I promised you, isn't it? 
Well, I finished sewing them before last weekend and I was quite happy with the result. All I needed to do was pose for pictures... 
Which I did, in a bit of a hurry, on Sunday. But sometimes pictures just don't turn out that great. The lighting is rather bad on these (they're just a bit too bright) , my apologies.

I used the pattern I drafted for my favorite calf length jeans. I just made them full length this time. And I adjusted the fit. I ended up taking in the side seams by a whopping 1.5 cm per seam at the hips and waist (so where-ever it is anywhere near close-fitting). 1.5 cm may not sound like much, but a it means loosing that amount on both the front and back pattern piece on both sides. So that's total circumference of loss of 6 cm. If you know that the usual difference in circumference between dress sizes is between 4 and 6 cm, that's a lot. Especially for a custom drafted pattern. Of course, the pattern is a year-and-a-half old and I have been very sporty in that time. Clearly, that made a difference.

I am quite happy with the finished product. I like the fit and the feel of the fabric. I like the retro feel of the design but I'm glad I didn't try to go completely   "period". Jeans with wide legs were worn in the 1940's but those would have a much lower crotch. Despite having the waistband at the natural waist, I went for a much more modern kind of fit. I've tried the vintage style and I kind of like it but I think I still prefer a fit like this. 

As usual, I used flat-felled seams on the back yoke, center back seam and inner leg seams and stitched those with thick, golden yellow jeans thread. 

It's a nice new shape which I am sure will be very welcome in my collection of trousers... 

April 8, 2017

Confession time...

Fellow sewing blogger Tanit-Isis has an interesting statement on her blog (it is written under her profile picture): "Sewing is what I do when I'm cheating on all my other hobbies..."
Nice, isn't it? I don't know how demanding her other hobbies are but for me, sewing was the undisputed first hobby for many years. I didn't bring any sewing with when on holiday and I could sometimes get distracted by machine knitting but overall I was pretty faithful. That is, until some point between now and about two years ago when a sport started to get in the way. I have never been the sporty type but I did really fall hard for sport-climbing (no pun intended).

Now, I also have a more demanding job than before, and my transformation into a climber is still going on. Lately, I have had even less time to sew because I have found something which combines my love for making things with my love for climbing: I'm learning to be a route setter at my local climbing hall!
For the uninitiated, route setters are the people who screw the plastic holds to the wall in artificial climbing areas. Each route is set in one colour and there are different levels of difficulty. And the routes are changed regularly (in this place, a route stays on the wall for about 6 months, unless there is something wrong with it and it taken down sooner). I've set six routes so far and apart from the first one, they are all still on the walls. And I feel like learning with each new one...

This is the card I made for the latest addition:


This blog's namesake! (and for those of you in the know: Here in the Netherlands, climbing halls use the French grading system. So this route would be something like a 6 in IUAA and a 5.10a in the USA) At this climbing hall, route setters do not only get to name the climbing routes they created, they also get to design a card for it. The card should include the route's name and grade but the design is completely up to one's own choices. Right from the start, I thought it would be nice to try and stick with vintage fashion as a theme for mine...

Oh, and please don't be too worried. I might cheating on my sewing hobby but I will never leave it. In fact, I have a new pair of 1940's style jeans to show you tomorrow.  

March 27, 2017

That matching bra

And this is the bra I made to match those experimental panties-with-straps. 


I used my tried-and-tested racerback design but I did make some changes: I used the higher shape for the band, the one which is adjusted to the shape of the underwires. I also cut down the center front of the cup a bit more. On me, this still doesn't look like much of a plunge but it is lower than what I used in my previous two racerback bras (you can see them in older blog posts: the first and second one). 

This may be the first bra I have ever made without lace... Ok, I think I have made a lycra and fold-over elastic bralette once but that doesn't really count. I used the opaque and sheer striped lycra, fold-over elastic and beige-ish foam. The simple look of the materials meant the sewing had to be extra-careful. I had to unpick and re-do the binding on the cups once because the lycra had shifted and bunched a little bit over the foam. It is really rare for me to have to unpick anything because of sloppy sewing work... I'm glad I did it though. The sloppiness of the first try might have put me off wearing this bra and now, I think I will wear it a lot. It is just as comfortable as this design always is. 

March 18, 2017

Panty party

It looks like my sewing is done on a "run or stand still" (this is a literal translation of the Dutch expression. I know it is not a common expression in English but this one doesn't become incomprehensible in translation) basis at the moment. After those nice clothes at the end of January I haven't done much sewing that is worth writing about. 
I made the same very basic t-shirt with cut-on cap sleeves in three different colour of jersey because I had noticed a lack of tops to wear under jackets or cardigan (at least, with the teaching job, I am actually wearing my jackets now). I shortened some second-hand belts to fit me. And I made two pairs of panties.
I may show you the first two projects in the next post but they are not that interesting so I may also not do it. This post is about the panties.


The first pair was made using one of my usual patterns. My self-drafted lace-back thong. I felt I kind of had to make these because when I looked at my lingerie supplies, I found one of the lace pieces already cut. I guess I had cut two pieces for the same side by accident while cutting a previous pair. 
I think I may have forgotten to add seam allowance at the front waistline but I think it will be OK (I really should be more consistent with seam allowance on my lingerie patterns...).


The second pair of panties is a new experiment, based on designs I have seen online, mostly on Pinterest and the Lingerie Addict blog. Basically, it is just my high-waist, low-leg pattern with a big chunk cut out from the waistline to about the height where the top of bikini style panties would be. 
The fabric I used is an interesting (but probably low quality) lycra with thin transparant stripes which I found on sale at the market. All the edges are bound with thin fold-over elastic and the waistband is a type of elastic I would also use for shoulder straps on bras.

I have not subjected this pair to the "wear it all day" test yet but I don't think it will uncomfortable.
It's funny: These actually cover more of the body than many other, more common styles of panties and yet, the strappy-ness makes them look kind of sexy. 
Now, I'll just have to come up with a matching bra design...
In fact, I have had some time to think about this and I will probably make a racerback bra in this fabric but without any extra straps (I'd like a new bra from that pattern but it doesn't lend itself well to adding straps) and keep thinking about the perfect strappy bra design...

March 8, 2017

...and a dress

And here is the last item of my early February sewing spree: It's a dress!
To be precise, it is a dress made from the same fabric I used waaaaaay back, for my last dress of 2010. I still have that dress although it is looking rather worn by now. It is looking worn for all the right reasons: I've loved it ever since I made it and I have worn it a lot. 

The fabric is a peculiar material: I would definitely describe it as 'mystery fiber' with quite a bit of synthetic in it but there is no static cling. There is a serious bit of stretch but it is along the length of the bolt (which is why now, like back in 2010, I have cut my pattern pieces on the cross grain). The base of the fabric is a beige-ish knit with black corduroy-like ridges on the good side. It is quite stiff and has basically no drape at all. The wrong side is sort of scratchy but in a nice way.

For a long time, I thought I would just re-make that first dress but somehow I never did... Maybe it just didn't feel quite right to do that.
I'm glad I finally made another dress from this material (and I think I even have enough of it left for another one...) 

Because the fabric is nearly back, it hard to show the details in a picture. So, I thought it might be better to include a technical drawing. 

The new dress has long raglan sleeves, a fitted bodice with princess seams and kick pleats at the back and a casual sweater-style short zipper and collar.

And I have to say it is just as comfortable as the old dress. 

March 4, 2017

Skirt tutorial!

When I posted some pictures of my blue skirt on the We Sew Retro Facebook group, some commenters asked about the pattern... 

I usually mention that my clothes are self-drafted but I forgot to add that this time. Of course, like all full skirts, half-circle skirts are easy to draft. And splitting the skirt pattern into gores and adding a pocket aren't exactly rocket science either.

The starting point for this skirt is simple (and very similar to drafting a circle skirt). You only need one measurement: the waist (with any ease you may want added to it. If you want your skirt to sit below the natural waist, use the measurement of that point on your body. Just keep in mind that a straight waistband might not work so well in that case).
To find the radius of your half circle, use this formula: (waist measurement x 2): 6.28
It's the formula you use to calculate a circle skirt, times two. Use this number to draw the waistline of your skirt.
Measure from the waistline down to determine the length of the skirt

If, like me, you have used the corner of a piece of paper as your starting point, you now have a pattern which will give you a custom-sized half circle skirt if you cut it on the fold and add seam allowance at the open edge. 
I usually don't cut skirts like this in one piece, it's not very economical. I normally split the pattern in half and cut one half on the fold and the other half in the other direction along the selvedge (which gives me a skirt with sides seams and a center back seam). 
Using this fabric, I had the nap to think of though (and piecing skirts which are segments of circles changes the grainline which influences the drape of the skirt) so I halved those to pieces again.
Four pattern pieces, for a skirt made up of eight gores.

And then, there is the pocket. Adding pockets to a gored skirt is simple: Just take one of the gores (which now becomes the side front) and draw a line where you want the top of the pocket to be. I like to place it at an angle. Also determine how deep you want the pocket to be and draw its bottom edge.


To make the fold-back flap, first draw it in where you want it to be in the finished product (the blue lines). Then, mirror it over the pocket top edge.

If you have done this, you just have to cut the pieces correctly: You should end up with a top piece/back of the pocket (top of the gore, down to the bottom edge of the inside of the pocket, to be cut from your fashion fabric), a bottom piece with flap (lower part of the skirt with what will become the underside of the pocket flap, fashion fabric) and a piece for the inside of the pocket and the flap (I usually split this piece. I cut the flap and a little bit more from the fashion fabric and interface that. The rest of the inside of the pocket is cut from a lining material) 

When sewing the skirt, you will have to decide whether or not you want to sew the flap into the seams (I did this on the front seams). In that case, you only have to sew the bottom edges of the flaps. If you want free-hanging corners, you also have to sew to side. Sew it to the exact point where the flap ends and clip the seam allowances to that point. That will allow you to turn the flap right-side-out while still having normal sides for your skirt seam.

And of course, you will need to finish the waistline. For a skirt which is worn at the natural waist, I like a straight waistband of about 4 cm high. If you want to wear the skirt lower, that might not work so well. In that case, you could also finish the top edge with a binding or make a shaped waistband.

I hope this description helps if you want to make a skirt like this. As usual, if you have any questions, just ask (just remember to give me a way to reply to you directly or you'll have to check the comments to this post regularly) and if you make something using this tutorial, I'd love to see the result!