Persephone and Mandy

Hello there! We are having a couple of warm and sunny weeks here in Germany and I wanted to check in to show you my new spring uniform: the Persephone Pants (by Anna Allen Clothing) and the Mandy Boat Tee (by Tessuti).

I’ve been wanting to make the Mandy Boat Tee for ages, but somehow never really got around to it. Then I was in Berlin in November and visited Siebenblau, a beautiful shop with organic fabrics, where I picked up this striped jersey with the Mandy in mind. I’ve been stalking them online and was very intrigued by their naturally coloured cotton. Shortly after, I came across the new podcast Reverberate by A Verb For Keeping Warm where in Episode 1 they interview Sally Fox who breeds coloured cotton and explains the history behind it. Definitely worth a listen!

In the shop I was warned that the fabric was warped due to the way it was wrapped on the bolt and that I should wash it and then stretch it in place. Unfortunately that didn’t really work. I stretched, I steamed and stretched but the fabric was still far from rectangular. My last resort was to pin it, while damp, to the wood wall of my bedroom and stretch it into submission. That worked reasonably well, not perfectly, but given the loose fit of the Mandy Boat Tee I decided to use it as it was.

The other struggle I had was the fact that I had only purchased one meter of fabric and with the warped ends even had a little bit less than that to use, so it was difficult to fit all the pattern pieces. In the end I had to piece the sleeves and shorten them slightly.

The construction process on the other hand was a breeze, thanks to the jersey being very stable. Another reason for being able to achieve a neat finish was that I finally purchased some flexible seam tape (I used the Vlieseline Nahtband Flexibel T15) that helped immensely with stabilising the neckline and the hem. Why have I not started using this sooner?

Excited about adding a new staple to my wardrobe I put it on but immediately realised that the sleeves were far too tight. Apparently the sleeve is drafted with a lot of negative ease and my fabric did not have a ton of stretch. Since I didn’t have any fabric left over to re-cut the sleeves I could only let out the seams a little bit. Now it’s wearable but still on the tight side. So next time I’ll definitely widen the sleeves. In terms of sizing, I used the new graded version of the pattern and chose a size 2 (S-M).

Despite all the struggles, I’m really happy with the final tee. The fabric is beautiful and lovely to wear. Now I finally understand why everyone loves the Mandy Boat Tee. It’s so easy to wear and I love the boxy fit. Once I have sorted out the sleeves I’m sure I will make more.

This pair of Persephones has been a long time coming. After I had finished my first pairs last summer I knew immediately that I wanted to make a denim pair. However, somehow I just couldn’t find a good heavy-weight denim neither in shops nor online. Then The Fabric Store had their sale at the beginning of the year and in addition to the merino jersey that I came for, I added a length of a 12 oz denim in Indigo to my cart. The fabric is actually perfect for the Persephones. The 12 oz weight is heavy enough to give them the needed structure but still thin enough so that my domestic sewing machine could handle it.

In terms of fit adjustments I made the same as for my first full-length pair (here the blog post with all the details). In summary, I sized down to a 10, shortened the front crotch, deepened the back darts and added a curved waistband with a centre back seam. When I basted them together to check the fit they came out bigger than expected. This was due to a combination of two factors. First, I had lost a little bit of weight after changes to my diet and second this denim, while being non-stretch, has some give whereas the fabric on my previous pair had none. To make them sit a little bit tighter I took them in through the inseam of the leg and some further through the back darts. They still sit a little bit looser than my other pair but they keep their shape nicely and are super comfortable to wear.

While I loved the construction of the original button fly, I do think a zip fly is a little bit more practical to wear. I could have probably figured out how to convert the button fly but decided to purchase the Zipper Expansion Pack that Anna just released. The construction is slightly different to what I normally do (which is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans method) but it came out beautifully. I love learning new techniques!

I also added some length to the legs. With a generous 5 cm double hem they finish just at my ankle. This makes them a little bit more practical to wear in cold weather, without the need for knee-high socks all the time.

Since I went with denim, I decided to go all out with the top stitching details. I chose an orange colour and loved adding all the details. I also incorporated the pretty selvage by using it as the belt loops. To top it all off I used a white bone button from Fringe Supply Co. The white button with the orange stitching makes me so happy!

So, another pair of Persephones down and I think I’m still not done with the pattern. I might make an off-white pair or one in khaki. I’m constantly inspired by the all the great versions popping up in my Instagram feed (just check out the hashtag).

Hope you are all getting some sunshine, wherever you are!

Summer of Basics Part 2 – The Persephone Pants

The whole sewing scene has been going crazy about the Anna Allen Clothing Persephone Pants since they came out earlier this year and finally I know why. It really is a magical pattern that looks amazing on everyone!

When they came out, I was immediately tempted to make them; however, I already have the Lander Pant pattern in my stash and the two patterns are very similar. I’ve already made the Lander Pants this winter but struggled to make them work for me (read all about it here). I could have probably experimented more with that pattern but in the end I decided to buy the Persephone pattern, based on all the amazing reviews.

These Persephones are on my Summer of Basics list since I’ve been searching for the perfect wide-legged trousers for ages. What I love about Summer of Basics is that it forces me to really focus on garments that I actually need in my wardrobe. The fact that the challenge is spread out over three months allows me to take it slow and make them with the attention they deserve.

With these trousers I knew I had to get the fit right, so I read a lot of reviews and decided to make the shorts version as a wearable muslin. Even though a lot of people had mentioned that they had to size down with this pattern, I decided to go with the size that corresponded to my measurements in the hips (a size 12) and take it in at the waist through the darts. While the shorts are comfy and wearable, they did turn out too big as anticipated, but at least I knew it would be safe to size down for the long pair.

I did not have a vision for the cropped version in terms of colour. Initially I wanted to make them in some navy twill I had in my stash but the fabric basically disintegrated in the wash. While I was annoyed at the quality of the fabric and the waste, I’m glad I realised the issue before sewing it up. Just imagine, it could have ripped while I was wearing it! Due to the lack of bottom weight fabric in my stash I had to go to the fabric shop (the usual in my home town) to find something suitable. And there it was, the perfect medium weight twill in the most gorgeous brick/terracotta colour; not too thick but slightly stiff, ideal! Lately I have been drawn to all the earthy browns which is a departure from my normal colour palette but works perfectly with the rest of my wardrobe.

The construction of the trousers was very straight forward. Since I had already sewn the shorts version I knew all the construction techniques and changes I had to make, which included the following:

  • going down by one size to a 10
  • deepening the back darts
  • removing 2 cm from the front rise
  • swapping the straight waist band for a curved one with a centre back seam

All these changes were easy to make, but massively improved the fit. The amazing thing is that this pattern does not have any side seams but still it was possible to make these fit on my pear shape figure. Amazing!

The construction of these are a lot of fun too (thanks to very detailed instructions). I love how the button fly front comes together. The only change I made was to add horizontal seams on the inside to give it more stability. The pockets hidden at the waist seam are such a fun detail! While maybe not the most practical to reach into, they are able to hold a phone (proof below).

Since my overlocker is currently in storage, I finished the seams with a zigzag stitch and top stitched them as instructed. The only mistake I made was to not catch the belt loops in the waistband seam (I was so focused on getting the waistband fit right) but it didn’t bother me enough to unpick it. The pocket bags are from a striped cotton and the buttons are the results of my laser cutting adventures the other week. They are frosted plexiglass and actually work perfectly for this style as they don’t add too much bulk at the button front.

So as you might have guessed from the pictures, or my spam on Instagram, it is love! This is one of these styles that I always admired on other people but wasn’t sure I could make work for me. In the end they feel very me. I love wearing them and even my husband doesn’t mind them too much. I guess that’s because they are more tight-fitting than my other “clown trousers” (as he calls them).

The fit, with only a few tweaks is great (at least in my opinion), tight enough through the hips, and no gaping at the waist! Also the fabric turned out to be perfect for the style. The outdoor pictures were taken after a full day of wear and the wrinkles aren’t too bad, the fabric holds the shape of the legs really well and most importantly they don’t bag out through wear.

I’m loving these so much that I have included them in my Summer 10×10. The idea of the 10×10 challenge is to choose 10 items of clothing and wear them in 10 outfits over 10 days (for my picks and more details see my previous blog post). I hope this challenge helps me to become more adventurous with styling my me-mades and better figuring out my style, which has been evolving a lot lately.

So, I’m probably the last one to get on the Persephone Pants train, but I’m so glad I did! I’m already planning another pair maybe in a natural white bull denim or canvas?

Landers and a cosy sweater

Hi everyone, it’s been a while. I’ve been struggling with the usual winter blogging issues: no daylight during the week and a lot of grey weekends which just didn’t give me a chance to get decent blog pictures. So today we finally managed to take a couple of pictures of a new outfit: an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of Lander pants.

Let’s start with the sweatshirt. When I was fabric shopping on Goldhawk road two weeks ago I came across this french terry at Misan West. I’m always on the look-out for cosy knits which are surprisingly hard to find. But this one was perfect, it’s super soft and the perfect ivory colour. It’s definitely on the lighter side, but thus perfect for summer and it works for layering in winter. My initial intention was to make a cardigan but then I realised that the fabric would be perfect for creating a copy of one of my favourite sweaters. It’s a white cotton cable knit sweater which I bought back in 2012 when I was studying in Copenhagen. It will have to be retired soon, but I adore the oversized shape which just always reminds me of the effortless Danish style. So I traced of the shape which is super simple. Basically it’s just a big rectangle for the body and smaller ones for the sleeves. It could probably be re-created by using the Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee.

The construction was quick and easy. I assembled the pieces with a stretch stitch on my sewing machine and finished the seams on my overlocker. The sleeve hems are just overlocked and then rolled up. The bodice hem and the neckline are finished with bands using the loopy side of the fabric, to mirror the rolled up sleeves. The neckline did need two tries to sit nicely. As the fabric is not very stretchy my first attempt of the neckline just didn’t lie flat. I decided to re-cut it with a slightly shorter length but twice as wide. Once attached I folded the neckband under and secured it with top-stitching around the neckline. This gives the neckline a nice structured look due to the 4 layers of fabric.

The final sweater has a lot of volume which I love but I do have to roll up the sleeves quite high to make sure I don’t dip them in food etc. So for a future iteration I might play around and slim them down a little. All in all this sweater is very close to its inspiration and will be really good replacement. Isn’t it great how sewing allows you to copy your favourite clothes? That way it is slightly easier to say goodbye to well-worn pieces.

Now let’s talk about these trousers, the True Bias Lander Pant. When this pattern came out it was love at first sight and judging by the reaction of the sewing community I wasn’t the only one. However, in real life our relationship turned out to be a little bit more complicated… But let’s start at the beginning. I picked up a 3 m remnant of this khaki green twill at a trousers fabric wholesaler in my hometown over Christmas. It’s not a colour I usually wear but I realised that it goes very well with my colour palette (especially my many blush pieces) and I thought it would be perfect to test the Lander pattern. The fabric is a medium weight with a little bit of stretch, which the pattern doesn’t call for but I thought it couldn’t hurt as I read a couple of reviews where people struggled to get the fit tight but comfortable. According to the size chart my waist was slightly smaller than an 8 and my hips slightly larger than a 12. I decided I could get away with a 12 in the hips due to the stretch in the fabric and that I could always adjust the fit in the waist through the side seams and the waistband.

The construction was really quick and straight forward thanks to the instructions being very thorough. The button closure really saves a lot of time compared to a full zip fly. And the exposed buttons are really a nice feature. I love the brass colour of my jeans buttons against the green. The only thing slightly odd was the construction of the front pockets. You are supposed to line them by attaching the lining right side to right side to the pocket pieces and then turn them inside out. Then the whole thing is being top stitched to the front. While this helps with neat corners and pocket edges, it requires a lot of precision for the lining not to show at the seams. I did read the instructions in advance and realised that ideally I would need a lining in the same colour of the fabric. As self lining would have been too bulky and I couldn’t find a lining fabric in my stash in the right colour, I went with a scrap of ivory silk in the end, making sure to be extra precise with the pockets.

Then came the fitting and this is where the struggles started. Kelli includes a 1″ seam allowance at the outer leg seam, which in theory should make fitting easy, but in my case the trousers turned out way too big. Not only through the waist and hips but also in the legs there was a massive amount of volume. In combination with the colour, they gave off a serious army trousers vibe that I didn’t like at all. To avoid any rash decisions I decided to wear them around the house for a couple of days to see if I just needed to get used to the volume. I also went through the #landerpant hashtag to see how it was fitting on other people. The trousers are definitely intended to be loose from the hips, but I realised that I was most drawn to versions that were closer fitting through the thighs than mine. I also realised that my fabric was potentially too thin, which led to fabric pooling below my bum which probably would not occur in a very structured denim or twill like the samples.

So there was no way around it, the trousers had to be taken in. I took out as much as I could from the side seams but was restricted by the back pockets, which I cut out in the medium size. I also slimmed down the legs through the thighs but let them flare out again at the hem. I used the original straight waistband but could have benefited from drafting a curved waistband as it’s gaping slightly at the back.

Then I had to decide on the length. I had cut the full boot length without adding any additional length. While I am an average 1.70 m I have disproportionately long legs, but since the pattern called for a very wide hem, I thought I would have some wiggle room. Once it came to hemming though it turned out that even with a narrow hem, the trousers would be slightly too short (the story of my youth). I still hemmed them to see if I could get used to it but it just didn’t look intentional. After letting them sit for another couple of days I decided to shorten the legs a good 6 cm by just folding up the hem twice and top-stitching it. Now they are probably closer to the ankle length view of the pattern. I’m still not 100% sold, but I have worn them out and they turned out to be great for a rainy day, no water creeping up your legs.

So what’s my final verdict? It’s definitely a great pattern but it took a lot of work to get them to a stage where I would actually wear them. Unfortunately it’s not love, yet. I will see how I feel about them in summer, with some lighter shoes and bare ankles. When I make them again (I’ll definitely make the shorts, no leg drama foreseen there) I will size down and use a thicker fabric. I’ll also use the smaller size back pockets and a curved waistband. Then I might get closer to my original vision for these trousers, the perfect retro, high-waisted trousers. Until then I’ll just live through all the cool people out there, that are rocking their Lander pants. Until next time.