Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tutorial: Making jeans smaller in the waist

After recently working on Chris' dress pants and making them smaller in the waist, it made me feel more confident in the pants department. Anyone else feel that pants are a little daunting? Possibly the contestants on Project Runway can attest to this by the ratio of pants to, say, skirts and dresses? Yes? I think so.

a handful too big

So. I've had these jeans for a long time. Think maybe since mid 2008. I have only worn them a handful of times. I think when I bought them I was having a really bloated day or something because they are just too big. So big in fact that I could just take them off without unbuttoning them. I mulled it over and decided to take them in at the back seam to make the waist smaller. I've seen a lot of tutorials about how to make jeans skinny, but not any on how to resize jeans to make the waist smaller.

Doing it this way means that your jeans will now have a center back seam in the waist band. Most jeans do not. Does this matter? No. My jeans even had a center back belt loop, so guess what, it gets covered up anyway.  Here's a before of the back to get an idea of what it looked like.

Start by figuring out how much you want to take them in. This method only works for making the jeans smaller, not larger (sorry). I put mine on and just roughly chalked how much I wanted taken in.
Also, change your machine needle to a heavy weight. DO IT. You don't want to break a needle!

I started by taking of the belt loop. Sharpen your seam ripper. Those guys are REALLY stitched on there.

In the above photo you can see I've got the belt loop off and I've also started seam ripping the center back seam. If you look closely you can see that on the left is what used to be a row of [gray] stitching going down the center. I've also started slowly unpicking the waist band.

Note: Now most jeans often look similar in the back, like mine do. You'll probably notice that yours has a back yoke and a solid waist band, like mine. However, I cannot say whether they are constructed in the same manner. Take time to look at how they are put together- this will help you later if you try to put it together in a manner that it wasn't made to go.

Here I have started to unstitch the waist band. You can see my roughly drawn chalk lines  on how much I want to take out. You'll want to unstitch slowly to make sure you know how it will fit back together. Unstitch both (if you have two) rows of topstitching (or just one if you've only got one) along the center back seam. It's serged  so you don't have to worry too much.

Note: The top of the waist band on my jeans was topstitched, but it wasn't stitched together. Basically when I unstitched the topstitcing at the very top, there was no inside seam holding the band and the band facing together. I had to baste these together for the next steps (sorry, no picture of that)

Open out the band like shown.

(For doing a lot of graphic design work, I'm surprisingly terrible at microsoft paint)

I made a little Key:
Green Dot: Waist band facing
Red Dot and Orange 'stitching" where the band and the band facing meet. On mine I had to baste them together after I took out the top stitching
Yellow dot: Waist band
Pink 'stitching': where you will stitch (depending on how much you are taking in)

Use long machine stitches to baste the back seam. Go slow when you do the waist band. It will be difficult because you won't have unstitched that much (you want to keep as much original topstiching as possible to keep it looking the same)

In the above picture I started at the crotch. I started on the serged seam line and gradually met my chalk lines.

After basting, try one. Take in or out. You will have to cut straight out at the back (where my finger is in the pic above) to make it lay flat. Only to this on the waist band and facing. The rest of the excess you'll trim off later.

I marked a few spots I wanted to take in a bit more.

Notice how now there is a seam line in the waist that wasn't there before? Good. Also notice how my back yolk stitching doesn't line up? Bad. This is why it's basted. Carefully line them up, pin and sew slowly to match them up.

Here's the inside of mine. I trimmed off the excess to about 1/4"-1/2" fabric from the inside where it was serged. I zigzagged the edge and then topstitched it down from the outside. I didn't take many more photos of the process because mostly I just had to finesse it. Luckily, it turned out very forgiving. (Make sure to press, press, press!)

Topstich using a heavy thread (I only had a thick brown and a regular gray. I would suggest getting some that match the original top stitching that way it blends in even better). I had to top stitch the top of the waist band, the bottom of the waist band where it met the yolk, and the center back. Then stitch on your belt loop and voila! Enjoy your new pants.

Often, mens' pants have a center back seam to make it easier to customize the fit, or if you've seen this post from Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing, you can see how she used the center back seam to better fit her trousers. (Do you know that I LOVE her blog?)

With jeans, it's about the stitching: top stitching is what makes jeans JEANS. Don't be intimidated if it seems like a lot of steps. Any intermediate sewer is definitely capable of doing this. Mostly it's just figuring how it goes back together.

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In love with this dress.

 "Jillian made her own wedding gown, including the pattern for it.  She deconstructed a vintage dress to make the pattern for the bodice, sewed it, and then began to work on the doilies.  It took three weeks and over two miles of crochet yarn to complete the effect."

I found these photos through a variety of links, but the source is this amazing website by Gia Canali. Sooo many beautiful things to look at. 
I'm swooning so hard.

Anyone want to attempt making a dress like this with me?

Monday, November 8, 2010


So I just thought I'd share these wonderful vintage glasses that I rediscovered in an  unpacked box. A long while I got these glasses as Savers in Orem, UT. That's how long ago it was. I couldn't pass them up. When I got them they had some serious coke-bottle lenses in them. I fell in love with them so much I wore  them in the car home. Was that a good idea? No, not at all; but it didn't stop me. I ended up just popping the lenses out and wearing them as is. They're wonderful silver cat eyeswith lil flowers in the cat-eyeness-part. So great.
Just so you know, it's really hard to take pictures of said glasses while wearing them, for obvious reasons.

Trust me, my hair looked better earlier.  I got the idea from the Peacock and Pear blog, and did a wavey thing, but it kind of limped out.

I really feel like these glasses would made Gertie proud.

Like  I said, it's really hard to take a good picture of them while wearing- it ends up looking like this. HAHAHA. Ugh. Hah.
(I love them enough to post this.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hey There! Remember me? And a blue skirt.

Remember how I said I'd be back? Well I finally got a picture of a recent skirt. I've been on a skirt kick lately. Go figure!
Do you remember my white skirt from a few posts back? You guessed it...its' the same McCall's pattern. I really am in love with this skirt. For starters: it's navy blue!, it makes me look like I have a waist, it was easy to sew, and the length is short enough to be modern but long enough to still meet my coverage needs. Definitely loving it.
It has front pleats, which I was apprehensive about at first, but now realize that they are very flattering.

Is there a back drop behind me? OH  wait, that's just how beautiful Kentucky is... (ignore my weirdy face)
And this last one just because I like it

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm a mess!

I haven't posted in nearly a millenia. I've got so many things brewing though, that I rather ought to be. I'm back home in Kentucky right now until the 1st. I promised myself that I'd upload some posts so soon. I even wrote it down in my day planner. I've just been procrastinating in the putting it all together. But no fear, I will make a grand re appearance shortly.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mens patterns, or the lack thereof

Is anyone disturbed by the amount (or lack of) patterns for men? What's a girl supposed to do. Perusing the men's pattern market= slim pickings. And I'm talking about a  real  pattern.
I flat out refuse to make my husband anything that has both genders on the cover, or labled "unisex" . Gross. Like these:

Hahahaha. Hah. Ha. Seriously? No.
But the only honest looking things I've seen are these:
This one from McCall's
and these from Vogue

Unless you want to make a vest. Then there's a bazillion patterns. Who knew they were in such demand?

Wait wait wait...I forgot about something....

Erica B blogged about an outfit she made her husband from some Kwik Sew patterns and it looks like they have some reasonable ones. And from what I've read apparently they're sizing is reasonably accurate

So I guess as I've done research (can I call it that) to write this post, I've stumbled upon more than I thought I would. Hallelujah.

On a lighter note... don't worry because I was able to find this "robe"

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Okay, not much to update. We're here. Not much going on. Just mostly hanging around the house. The past few days have been very cloudy and hazy so beach time has been less than ideal. Also, the waves are large. I tired to surf on Chris' short board but I could barely paddle out ( 1. huge bunched up wetsuit, 2. short boards are a lot harder than long boards and 3. the size of the waves were terrifying me and it took loads of courage just to get out there)
As far as sewing goes....well I haven't done any! I know shame on me.
Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about my summer sewing goals. I got some fabric yesterday which I'm planning to use on a dress. Do you ever feel like the patterns you have just aren't quite good, interesting, or challenging enough? I'm starting to feel that way about all my sewing patterns.A little discontent.
I also decided to pick up some Fimo clay. I know it's not sewing related, but I thought I'd try making some earrings. I've never ventured into the world of polymer clay, avoiding some hokey-ness that can happen....
I'm going to break out the ol' sewing machine and if I've got time, try making some earrings.
But until then, lasagna for dinner!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

In San Diego, and a free bin dress

We made it. We're here. It been sunny and warm, but refeshingly cool in the shade. I have to adjust to the aridness in the air, I'm so used to thick bogs of humidity. We're going to explore the city today and run some errands but I though I'd post a dress a did a couple of weeks ago that I wore yesterday to church.

I found this wonder in the magical free bin. You know I love that thing! I just stumbled upon it. It was kinda weird looking but then I saw the front part which reminded me of this


I know it might be a stretch, maybe i was just thinking of the color and the pin tucks in front. Either way it had potential.

The first thing that needed to go was the lace around the neckline, too dowdy!

Overall this was extremely simple. Most of my sewing in the last few weeks has been quick projects to make a piece of clothing fit better. I took in the sides. There were pockets that I cut out when making the sides smaller but I was in a rush to pack up and thre them away, so I guess I won't be putting them back in. I Hemmed it up a few inches to make it more appealing on me and voila! a new dress. I was going to cut it down into a shirt but I'm in need of some summery dresses. It gets pretty warm here and a dress isjust what I'm in th market for.

I love the little ties that attach with a button. I pulled them around the back and then tied a little bow in the front. I really like how it turned out.
Chris wanted me to show off the braid I did in the front of my hair. I don't have any close pictures of it though.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Moving Day!

It's finally here: our moving day! Tonight we'll be heading back to San Diego.
We've been so busy packing, hence why I've been slacking on both posting and my summer sewing goals. Fret not though, becuase I'm going to be back on target soon. I can't wait to use my serger! Did I mention that I left a serger at Chris' parents house? Well that and my sewing machine. (which, let me tell you, only has two stitch functions: straight and zigzag.) I know those are the two most important in sewing basic clothing though, but also things like jersey-stitches and blindhems and buttons holes don't hurt! Big big big thanks to Adele for graciously letting me use her sewing machine while I've been here in Hawaii. I'm sad to go, but excited about the new phase in our lives. Look for my updates soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Sewing: Bow Front Bag

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about my Summer Sewing Goals? Well. Here is another one I can cross off.
I started with this shirt from... you guessed it...the free bin. I liked the ticking pattern, but when I put it on it was so shapeless. I thought about just trying to tailor it....but I don't need anymore shirts right now. What do need is a spiffy purse!!
You can see above the front of the original shirt with lots of pin tucks.
Basically I made two rectangles, rounded off the bottom corners, made a long strip and sewed it in between the two sides. I'm gonna be honest: it was kind of all over the place. Not my most thought out project, but still fun.

I used a yellow and white plaid Cotton for the lining. I had lots of bits of this in my sewing stash (yes, I have one). You can see in the above picture what I meant about making two rectangles, rounding off the corners and then a long strip to sew them together

You ready for the finished bag?
Here it is in it's sewn glory::

(Do you like my photography skills?)
Let me just say I'm kinda in love with bows right now.

The back of the tote. I used a pocket from the shirt to make an outside pocket on the bag. I could have sewn it on a bit better though.
An up close of the sublet yellow plaid lining.

Only three more days until our big move!
Once we're in San Diego you can expect me to fulfill the rest of my summer sewing goals.

Oh an if you're interested, I found these very cute bags on craftster.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Super Easy Maternity ReCon

I think I can scratch off  a little bit from my Summer Sewing Goals as I tailored this shirt sitting in my refashion pile
It started out as a cute, but frumpy maternity shirt. It also had a whole other layer underneath from the bust gathers down....I've never been pregnant, so I'm not sure of the function that this plays? Keeping the belly button  a little more subdued under two layers? Fill me in.

(doesn't actually have any kind of stain)

I started by cutting that out, since, well, that would be quite warm.All I did after that was just reshape the sides and the bagginess in the arms.
I told you it was super easy!