Update: Welt pockets for my denim pants

I couldn’t stop thinking about welt pockets, so after consulting about three sewing books from my library, I finally broke down and added them to the back of my already completed wide-leg 1940s denim pants from Simplicity 3688.

Welt pockets were so much easier than I thought! I plan to put them in every pair of pants I ever make.

The outside:

My first single-welt pockets!

My first single-welt pockets! I used vintage buttons and white top-stitching to match details elsewhere on the pants.

You can’t tell from this picture, but the pockets are really low. Not stupid low, but pretty low. My books said they shouldn’t cross a dart, and the darts were long. But after my pockets were complete, I examined a few suit jackets in my closet and found that the welt pockets cross right through seams and/or darts! Next time I make these pants, I’ll put the welt at least an inch higher up.

And the inside:

IMG_0969

I had to use scraps to sew the pocket bags, so they are smaller than they should be.

Although I was able to add the pockets after the fact, they would have been more successful had I done them during construction. I examined the single-welt pockets on my husband and son’s khaki pants and found that the top of the pocket bag extends into the waistband seam. I think anchoring them at the top would keep them from sagging, so I’ll try that next time.

Also, in some of the pants, the sides of the pocket bag were sewn BEFORE it was pulled to the wrong side, then they were sewn again to make French seams. They were very tidy inside.

Since I made these, I’ve been noticing all sorts of interesting variations in welt pockets. (Which means I’ve been staring pretty intently at a lot of butts. “Pardon me, I’m not a perv, just a seamstress.”) I’ve seen pocket flaps of various shapes, button loops, and different top-stitching details. Some of these variations will make it into a future pair of pants.

But I have several other projects to complete before I can even think about another pair of pants.

Vintage-style denim pants from Simplicity 3688

My second attempt at Simplicity 3688 is a success.

This is a distinct improvement over my first go at the pattern. Nearly two years ago, I tried (with a few tragically cut corners) a fitting technique that didn’t work out for me. I decided to go back to my favorite way to fit a pattern: Make a muslin and figure out what I need to change from there.

For those who aren’t familiar, here is the rather famous Simplicity 3688.

Simplicity 3688

Simplicity 3688.

It’s a reproduction of a 1940s pattern that is well-known among people who like to sew vintage styles. I’ve made the skirt twice.

For the pants, I cut the pattern a size smaller in the hips than in the waist, but that’s the only change I made before the muslin.

From the muslin, I determined that it was an inch too long in the crotch and that if I took that inch out through all the darts, they would end in much better spots. I also needed to add two inches to the length. That’s it.

I made the pants from a dark denim (that turned out to be stretch) with white top-stitching thread and a white vintage button at the waist. Here are some closeups of the details.

 

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Top-stitching on the waistband.

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Adorable vintage button closure.

Note that the buttonhole isn’t stitched with the usual satin stitch. The buttonhole was a new-to-me technique on my sewing machine. The Fancy Damn Sewing Machine has an automatic buttonhole function and fancy foot. You tell the machine how big your button is, set the wheel on the foot so it starts at the beginning of a buttonhole-sewing cycle, and press the foot pedal until your buttonhole is complete. Works like a charm (except on silk).

But I had told the machine I was sewing on heavy denim, so it changed the buttonhole stitch style from a satin stitch to Xs, and it wouldn’t let me go full automatic. I used a regular buttonhole foot. I had to hit the reverse button when the first side was long enough, then the machine made a bar tack and started sewing the other side of the buttonhole. When I pressed the reverse button again, it finished with a bar tack. Amazing.

The pants are very comfortable, and the fit is close, but there are some things I already know I want to tweak for the next time around:

  • I thought at first that the crotch was still too low, but then I realized that my waist is lower in the front than in the back, and if I fixed the pants to match, the crotch would fall where it should and the pants would hang better. I have already adjusted the pattern at the waistline to accommodate this.
  • The waist may need to be taken in. Since my hips have always been a size smaller than my waist, I am used to wearing pants very tight in the waist so they aren’t crazy loose in the butt. These pants have zero ease in the waist, but I may want a half-inch to an inch of negative ease. I’m going to wait on that decision until I’ve worn them a few times.
  • Somehow I made the pattern too long. I don’t think I’ll bother to change that, better to err on the side of too much length than too little.
  • I’d like to add single-welt pockets to the back. I’ve never made them before and am dying to try the technique. I actually could still add them to these pants.
  • The top-stitching length gets shorter the more layers I went over. I think I’ll need to lengthen the stitch in thicker areas so it all looks the same. I also think I should use a longer top-stitch length overall.

And here are the pants on me, with the blouse I most recently finished (and a new pair of shoes).

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

The finished pants.

I don’t normally wear blouses tucked in, so here’s how I wore the pants on my recent visit to the Legion of Honor Museum.

Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846. Photo by Robert the Husband.

Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846.

The blouse is in a quilting cotton whose print I couldn’t resist, so it doesn’t drape well, but next up is the same blouse in an adorable bicycle-print blouse-weight fabric.

And here are the pants on me a few days later, with a knit top, cardigan, and loafers. So comfortable! I’ll probably wear them like this most of the time.

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Mark the Brother.

A different way to wear the pants.

I really like the silhouette and comfort of these pants. I’m definitely going to make at least two more pairs in denim and dial in the fit before I eventually make a lined pair from the really nice navy wool crepe in my stash.

Museum Visit — High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection

Another wonderful costume exhibit has arrived in San Francisco, so my Museum Girlfriends and I headed out to The City on a beautiful spring day.

This month, High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection opened at the Legion of Honor. The architecturally stunning museum is situated high on a hill in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park, with postcard-worthy views of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge.

The Legion of Honor Museum. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

The Legion of Honor Museum.

High Style showcases more than 60 costumes from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit captures key moments of 20th Century fashion design, from 1910 to 1980.

In this post, I highlight a few of the costumes that I found particularly interesting. The first to draw me in for a closer look reflects the brief period in the early 1920s when wide hips accompanied the familiar dropped waists.

Jeanne Lanvin, 1923. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Jeanne Lanvin, 1923.

This silhouette will be familiar to fans of Downton Abbey. Lady Rose sported similar styles in the recently concluded Season 5.

Lady Rose MacClare.

Couture gowns feature hours of hand crafting, as the exquisite beading of this gown shows.

Jean-Philippe Worth, circa 1907. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Jean-Philippe Worth, circa 1907.

While some of the intricate beading on display seems out of reach for an amateur seamstress, the look of the bead detail on this bolero jacket could be emulated with machine embroidery.

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1940. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1940.

There was an unexpected vintage movie treat in the form of this costume.

Fontana, 1954. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga

Fontana, 1954.

Ava

Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa.

This American day dress from the 1940s was one of my favorites because of its graphic punch and timeless style.

Madame Eta Hentz, 1944. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Madame Eta Hentz, 1944.

I don’t know how the crossover detail was achieved, but I’d love to figure it out.

This dress features beautifully constructed seaming with gold trim inserted.

Elizabeth Hawes, 1936. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Elizabeth Hawes, 1936.

I have always loved this poetic and dramatic blouse style. It reminded me of a favorite movie costume.

Norman Norell, circa 1970. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Norman Norell, circa 1970.

Lauren Bacall in 1953's How to Marry a Millionaire.

Lauren Bacall in 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire.

Below is my favorite garment in the collection. It’s fun and makes me smile. My companions and I decided this bubbly bubble dress would not work very well for a sit-down dinner. It’s strictly stand-up cocktail attire.

Arnold Scaasi, 1961. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Arnold Scaasi, 1961.

The last portion of the exhibit was devoted to Charles James, which I appreciated because although I was in New York during the last week of the James exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I just didn’t have time to go.

This James dress features three different kinds of fabric in similar colors so that it looks different as light hits it at various angles.

Charles James, 1947. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Charles James, 1947.

I loved this charming sketch from James because it’s so relatable. It looks like it’s right off a legal pad!

Charles James, 1956. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Charles James, 1956.

James was known for his elaborate garment understructures that turned clothing into architecture. The showstopper garment below, along with the rest of the Charles James costumes in the exhibit, is not on a full mannequin like the other displays. This shows how much of the shape is within the garment itself, rather than from the form it is on.

Charles James, 1955. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Charles James, 1955.

The room that houses the red dress also had monitors with fascinating computer animations showing flat pattern pieces turning into James’ three-dimensional designs, X-rays showing boning and other structure within dresses, and bisections of dresses to show how skirts are supported.

As I said, this is just a small portion of the garments on display. I don’t even get into the striking hats and glorious shoes. If you’re a fan of 20th Century fashion and within reasonable distance of San Francisco, it’s worth the trip.

The accompanying 250-page full-color exhibition catalogue, High Style: Masterworks From the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, features most of the garments from the exhibit and many, many more. It’s a great deal at only $35.

High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection will be on exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum through July 19, 2015.

Creative detour into machine embroidery

I’ve never been one for seasonal decor. Even the minimal Christmas decorations I put up have me feeling claustrophobic by Jan. 1. But I realized last year that by ignoring the holidays, I was missing an opportunity to recognize the rhythm of the seasons.

I decided that this year, I would at least have a nod to the time of year with some mantle decorations and changing out of the tablecloth on my dining room table. (The table is never bare. Too many Girl Scout troop crafts have happened there. There’s a swash of glittery blue something in one spot.)

I thought it would be nice to center the mantle decor around a seasonal framed picture. As charming as that sounds, it also sounds expensive. Instead, inspired by a recent experiment with machine embroidery on an ill-fated sewing project, I decided to get one matted frame and embroider a new seasonal picture to put into it about every month.

I’m really pleased with how the first embroidery file (from Embroidery Library) turned out:

If you look closely, you'll see jump stitches I didn't trim and the spot where the thread got tangled and I didn't back up the stitching enough to redo all of what was missed. But I still love it!

This pretty design is roughly 5 inches square. 

For it being my first serious foray into embroidery, I’m pretty happy with it. It took more than an hour to complete, and if you look closely, you might see jump stitches I neglected to trim and the spot where the thread got caught and I didn’t back up the stitching enough to redo all of what was missed. But it’s all part of the learning process, and I love it!

Here it is on the living room mantle:

The Valentine's Day mantle.

I think this is subtle enough not to be overbearing. 

The embroidery file cost $5.49, and the matted frame was on sale for about $10 at Jo-Ann’s. The flowers cost $3.99 at the grocery store. That seems reasonable to me.

Between Embroidery Library and Urban Threads, there are so many beautiful and intriguing embroidery patterns, it makes me dizzy just thinking about them. I have to figure out some creative ways of using them.

Meanwhile, I’m back to sewing. I’m in the middle of a project right now and have everything I need for the one after that.

%d bloggers like this: