“It’s alright for summer, cooler than cotton, that light wool. Anyways, it’s the only dark thing you own. I don’t care. If it was up to me you could wear scarlet. If they really believed in Christianity that’s what they’d all wear. It’d be all dancing and rejoicing – after all, they spend their whole life singing and praying about getting out of this world and on their way to Heaven. Yes. But I know your aunts, they’ll expect dark clothes, conventional to the last hair!”

Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women

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Had they nothing more to say to each other? Their eyes, certainly, were full of more meaningful talk; and as they made themselves utter banalities they sensed the same languor invade them both: it was like a murmur of the soul, deep and continuous, more clearly audible than the sound of their words. Surprised by a sweetness that was new to them, it didn’t occur to them to tell each other how they felt or to wonder why.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Burda Style 10/2014 #146: Trench Cape

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The trench cape marries the dramatic shape of a cape while maintaining the classic details of a trench coat. It’s a staple and a standout piece in one fantastic amalgamation of style. Sadly, this pattern only comes in children’s sizes – one of the few perks to being a petite/ “tiny little Asian” lady. Here, I wanted to focus on one challenging aspect of this pattern and break it down so that it’s easier to understand. And that would be the double welt.

The eight sets of double welts.

Not only are there many welts to assemble, but these welts come in unusual sizes: two oversized ones for the hands to go through and four tiny, short ones to thread the belt through. (And to think that buttonholes can be made via double welts!) Diane Deziel’s Youtube tutorial helped me make sense of the process, so you can watch that for reference. The following will explain how to assemble one set of double welts:

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 1. Mark the outline of the welt onto the right side of the cape as indicated on the pattern pieces.

2. Your welt pieces should be cut as specified in the Burda Style instruction with seam allowances included. Run a basting stitch through one longer side of each welt piece in accordance with the seam allowance allotted. With right sides facing, match that basting stitch with the longer edge of the outline.  Place pins at the starting and stopping point. Sew along the guideline. It is crucial that you start and stop exactly where the outline begins and ends. Do that for both sides. Oh, and remember to backstitch for all your stitches!

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3. Once both welt pieces are attached, carefully cut through the centre of the box – up until a point. Each end will finish off in a triangular shape/ duck tail. Cut to the stitch, not through the stitch.

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4. Turn the welt pieces to the inside and press the seams open. Fold each welt piece so that the folded edges meet at the centre and press. It is likely that you’ll have excess fabric, but that can be trimmed later on. You can also press the duck tails as a guide prior to sewing them down. This will help to ensure that the corners of the welts form a 90 degree angle. Stitch the duck tails to the welts. Then sew along the longer edges of the welt. I’ve used a zipper foot here to get as close to the pre-exisiting stitching line given that the bulk of the welt is similar to the bulk of a zipper’s teeth.

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5. Trim off excess seam allowances and neaten with an overlock machine. Alternatively, you can finish the edges using the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine or trim with pinking shears.

6. Flip it over to the right side and topstitch at 0.7 mm – as per instructions.

7. Multiply that by 8, and you’re sure to become an expert at assembling double welts.

DESIGN TIP: Select components of the trench cape for contrasting details. For instance, I’ve utilized both sides of the fabric. The main components of the garment and the welts are done on the “wrong side” while the collar, flaps, shoulder tabs, and the pleat underlay are constructed on the “right side”. To prevent the contrasting details from appearing top-heavy, I balanced the look with the belt done on the “right side” as well.

One-Pattern Pyjama Pants

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Yes, you read that, correctly! Only one pattern piece is required to make this pair of pyjama pants! One of my pyjama pants was long overdue for retirement as exhibited by the unpleasant signs of wear. (To my mommy friends, who recently purchased a sewing machine, here’s a good way to ease yourself into what will hopefully be a special bond between you and your machine.) By removing the out-seam (outside seam of the pants), we’re able to combine the front and the back, of each pant leg, into one pattern piece. Additionally, this is achieved by integrating the casing, home of the waistband elastic, into the pattern piece.

1. Take a large sheet of paper, and fold it half lengthwise. You probably already own a pair of pyjama pants, so grab one of your favourites, and fold that in half as well. Lay it onto the paper so that the bottom portion of the out-seam lines up with the folded edge of the paper. The upper portion of said out-seam will not line up with the folded edge with the paper due to the elastic. However, when you stretch it out, it will line up more or less with the folded edge. Additionally, you can add some ease to your garment by placing the pants about 1/2″ away from the folded edge. That will give you more room for wear.

2. Time to integrate the casing into your pattern. The width of your casing is determined by the width by your elastic of choice plus 1/4″. For example, the elastic I’m using is 3/4″ plus 1/4″; therefore, the width of my casing is going to be 1 inch. Note that the seam edge of the casing flares out from the fold line at the waist. To determine how much flare is required, fold the pattern piece at the waist fold line. You’ll be able to identify how much of that flare is included and which areas are excess.

3. You may notice, as you’re tracing out the pants, that the back and the front are not exactly the same. Designate one half as the back and the other half as the front. Reduce the curve of the crotch seam as well as its length on the front portion. For example, the length of the front crotch seam on mine is 1″ shorter than that at the back. I’ve reduced it accordingly, and consequently, made a 1/2″ reduction along the front pant leg for a more streamlined pattern piece. The curve of the front crotch seam was also reduced slightly (see “Note” below). I coloured the difference in blue highlighter for reference. (Because blue highlighter is such a silly idea. Who can read through that darkness?!) Unfold your pattern piece.

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NOTE: The areas that need to make a 90 degree angle are at the bottom of the pant leg and at the intersection point at the crotch seam. (This is why I had to cut into the curve of the crotch seam at the front because I lost that 90 degree angle when I cut away that 1″ from the crotch length.)

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4. Add your seam allowance all around – about 1″ for hem allowance and 1/2″ for all the other edges. You can do that before cutting out your pattern piece, or you can add the seam allowances afterward when you’re transferring the pattern piece onto the fabric. Whichever way you choose, you may now cut out your single pattern piece.

5. Lay it onto the wrong side of your fabric of choice. (It’s rather cold here, so I’m going with a cotton flannel. For reference, I’m 5’1″, so I only need roughly 1.70 metres of fabric to make mine.) Make sure that the straight grain (use the existing fold line of the pattern as a guide) of the pattern piece is parallel to the selvedge (edge) of the fabric. Cut out one piece, flip the pattern over, and cut out the other. You’ll need pieces that are mirror images of each other.

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6. For some neat seams, it’s handy if you have a serger/ overlock machine to finish the edges of the seam. Alternatively, you can use the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, or cut the pieces out with pinking shears. You only need to neaten the edges at the inseam and crotch seam (the longer sides of the pieces).

7. Take each pant leg and sew the inseam in accordance to the seam allowance you incorporated. You should have two tubes. Press the seam allowance open or to one side – whichever you prefer.

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8. Turn one of the tubes right-side-out and insert into the other tube. The right sides of each tube should be facing each other. Match the crotch seam and sew together in accordance to the seam allowance allotted. Press seam allowances open or to one side – whichever you prefer.

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9. Make the casing by marking the seam allowance, and mark the fold line at the waist onto the right side of your pants. You can do this via tailor’s chalk or use a basting stitch (ex. the longest stitch length on your machine). Turn in the seam allowance, and then fold over the waist line. Sew close to the bottom edge of the casing, making sure to leave a 2″ opening somewhere (ex. at centre back) to later thread in the elastic. Topstitch all around 1/8″ in from the top of the casing.

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10. The length of your elastic depends on how much it stretches without squeezing the life out of you. A good estimate is about 2-3″ from your natural waist circumference. Wrap the elastic around comfortably around your waist and make the reductions that you feel comfortable with. Add 1″ for overlap.

11. Thread the elastic through the casing. These handy threading devices (also doubles as a tube turner) can be found at your local sewing shop. A safety pin works, but it requires more patience. When you’ve got both ends of the elastic poking through the opening, overlap them by 1/2″ and sew them together. The most secure way to go about this is to sew a box shape with an X running through that box shape. Sew the opening of the casing closed.

12. Lastly is to finish the hem. Turn in half the hem allowance, and then turn it in again. Sew closed.

At this rate, I may have to have a closet designated just for pyjama pants because they’re so simple to make. It only looks like a lot of work because I am trying to be as thorough with the instructions as I can. Any constructive feedback, to improve future tutorials, is much appreciated.

For a cozy bottom-half, I hope this gives you an idea on how to fulfill that. The basic design also allows for you to customize it in other ways such as adding patch pockets in the back. You can also keep the out-seam by cutting the pattern piece in half at the fold line and then adding your seam allowance. This is awesome for when you want to add inseam pockets. And as always, I would love to see your results!

Patchface: A Collaborative Design Venture

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Do you want to make a Halloween costume? Initially, I didn’t think he was serious. I usually get the feeling that people just nod to be polite when I talk about my interest in clothing design. To be fair, though, I am still a nobody. So you can imagine the pang of excitement alongside the uneasiness that followed.

Jester Design

A tidal wave of irrational fears rose: I’ve yet to design something to fit the male body! There are so many components to the costume and multiple odd shapes to work with! I’m still a rather rookie designer! What if I fail to meet the expectations?!

But I should take the opportunity when such doors open, as they are very few. Especially for being a rookie. Especially for a place like Edmonton. So I did, and what a delightful surprise it was.

The costume turned out wonderfully. An opportunity to build relationships with other like-minded and creative individuals was developed. The vision came to life splendidly, thanks to pooling in the talents of these wonderful folks. It’s ventures like these that wear me out, but they’re also the things that energizes me and fills me with a sense of purpose that I can be proud of.

48 hours (over a span of a couple months)
11 yards
7 different fabrics
10 jingle bells
14 buttons
2 zippers
6 snaps
1/2 metre of wire
& way too many pieces to count.

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Credits
Concept, Model, MUA: Evan Wong
Costume Designer: Ann Hoang
Photographers: Kalan Wong and Tye Eldridge
Photographs viewed here: Tye Eldridge
I also want to thank thewarriorprincess for the inspirational tutorial on making a jester hat.
Special thanks to Michelle Giles of MAGI for the recommendation. Want custom leather goods in Edmonton? She’s got the finesse!

Burda Style 6/2014 #145: Bucket Hat

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A guilty pleasure, that I will publicly confess, is that I am hooked on the monthly issues of Burda Style magazine. There are tons of patterns to choose from – complete with sewing instructions and beautiful photographs – for roughly the cost of buying a pattern envelope at the local fabric store. It’s practically a steal, and the unique designs really help to challenge and develop my understanding of pattern development and construction techniques. Fun fact: Ports 1961 also accredited her understanding of pattern design by working with Burda patterns (Burda Style 10/2014 p. 27).

Although the bucket hat is comparatively uncomplicated, I was challenged with finding an alternative method regarding lining attachment. The suggestion was to sew it on by hand, which I did until my cousin asked me to include straps so that she can tie the hat onto her daughter. That would mean having to remove the lining in order to sandwich the straps in between.

I wondered how I could sew the lining back on via machine (with minimal hand-sewing). The solution was quite simple, and I was surprised for not having thought of it in the first place. This created a more durable and professional-looking finish. However, I wouldn’t have bothered to deviate from the instructions had I not been met with a deviation from the pattern provided.

CHIN STRAPS
This can be as simple as using pre-made bias strips and sewing the open edge closed then attaching it to the seam allowance of the shoulder (where the crown joins the brim) prior to sewing in the lining. Alternatively, you can make your own straps to match the fabric you’re using.

LINING ATTACHMENT VIA MACHINE (MOSTLY)
Match the right side of the lining to the right side of the crown (upper part). The seam allowance of lining should line up on top of the seam allowance of the shoulder. Sew the pieces together, leaving about a few inches of room to subsequently turn the hat inside-out.

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Backstitch the opening closed by hand. This not only a sturdy stitch, but bringing the thread back on itself will also ease any “excess” fabric – meaning no puckers! (One of many tips my mother shared with me back in her sewing hey-day.)

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