Finding myself in the midst of a very complicated website re-do (my host company got purchased by another!), and with TOO many re-decorating projects on my mind in our new TN home…I NEEDED a SEWING DATE! Ahhhh…. to be in CONTROL! My dear daughter is within weeks of giving birth to my first grandDAUGHTER and I had agreed to stitch up another ‘nursing/lounging top & pant’ set. So, Sunday afternoon found me in my Sunroom Sewing Studio – my new light, bright, cheery ‘heaven’ . I completely understand that what I’ll be sharing is NOT exact, precise, ‘text-book’ sewing, and generally I’m quite more precise in my work, but this day, I needed it to be just FUN, EZ, and to GET IT DONE! That being said, ‘walk through the process’ with me in the Blog Post, and perhaps learn a few hints and ‘tricks of the trade’ as I share my experience.
Here’s the final result – a VERY low necked top with a large draped collar for discretion while nursing. She had purchased 1 outfit kinda like this from which I took some measurements. I utilized Butterick 5796 with adaptations as I’ll describe.
When we visited last, I had already made the aqua viscose knit set that she can interchange with this one. The top fit GREAT, and she confirmed it offered the ‘access’ and ‘hiding’ qualities she sought. She also liked the ‘Angel’ silhouette sleeves and requested some BIG ‘Palazzo’ type pants for this poly jersey print. I had taken along my favorite pair of dancing pants with wide legs which she tried on – and they FIT – even at 7 months pregnant, so she said that following those for the new pants would be great.
Measurements I took from my pants are recorded as shown below. Kinda ‘cryptic’, so let me interpret… Though sharing this will teach you what measurements are needed to ‘copy’ Ready-To-Wear such as this.
F cr L = Front Crotch Length – I just measured the front finished crotch length from seam at the middle of the inseams up to the top ‘Band’.
B cr L = Back Crotch Length – same for the back. ‘+sa’ reminded me to add seam allowances to these measurements.
Hem = 20. That meant that at the bottom of the leg, it was 20″ wide – BOTH front and back so a total of 40″ hem circumference.
‘os’ = outseam length of 40″ – and that I knew was from the bottom of the Band to hem.
‘is’ = inseam length of 33″ – the inseam length.
Top Band – cut on crossgrain measured 32″ in circumference + seam allowance
16″ of crossgrain fabric stretched to 24″ – so I knew my fabric had to have = stretch or I’d need to change some measurements of this top Band since she certainly needed that much stretch…though these modern mamas are wearing their pants BELOW their baby bellies I’ve come to learn…
Dbld+sa = that the band was 15″ tall, but doubled and I needed to add seam allowances.
Below is a close-up photo of that top Band which is doubled and VERY tall (15″) as you see it – so had to be cut 30″ tall. That is a fold at the very top. I’ve ben checking these out in my Snoop-Shopping, and generally there is NOT even ANY elastic in this knit cross-grain cut band! So – that’s how I did it. These black pants were done at the top with just 1 seam, but I had to have 2 side seams to get it out of the available fabric. The beauty of this top ‘finish’ for pants is that they fit – a WIDE range of tummies, and can just fold down to be whatever height you desire – alas, the ‘floating waist’ debate!
Below, then you see my Angel Sleeve, the top Band, and the legs of the pattern’s pants cut WIDER according to my measurements. Note that the silhouette/curve at the inseam and outseam of the Palazzo pant are the same for Front and Back. I laid the original maternity pant front on just to give you an idea of the changes made to achieve the silhouette I was after. NOT rocket science – believe me. I LOVE and use RED DOT TRACER for pattern creation like this that I know will be utilized again.
CUTTING & Design Tweaks
Even though I have a great Horn Cutting Table and 40×72 cutting mat (yes, I sell those in ANY size at www.londas-sewing.com), for this 4 yard length of fabric, I KNEW I had to support the extra length. I did that with a stool that was handy, but fully realize that something the same height would be even better. I did take a while petting my fabric to get it laying without pulls BEFORE starting to lay out my pieces for cutting. Believe me, this web-ordered fabric was NOT cut straight to begin with!
I thought I had PLENTY of yardage with 4 yards, but alas, I had to ‘eeek’ it out. That meant I HAD to reduce the width of the leg as you see below. I KNOW to do so properly would have been to take the needed amount of BOTH inseam and outseam, but it is a FULL leg, and no one would know – and I wanted to GET IT DONE – so I did as you see. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter. (Remember, I TOLD you this was pretty ‘down n dirty’ type sewing, so please don’t scold me in comments…).
Below is a pic of the collar. As I cut, I often make design ‘tweaks’ – as you can see I did here, cutting the center back of the collar a bit wider with the available yardage that was there anyway. I did the same at the center back hemline of the top – cut it a bit longer. I find doing this is EZ because I use a rotary cutter whenI cut – with a Roll the Gold Titanium Blade. LOVE IT!
STITCH IT UP
I decided to make the TOP first, since it was more ‘difficult’, and I had limited time. So while I was ‘fresher’, I attached the harder piece first, knowing that later with brain fatigue, I could still whip out the pant without much thinking.
The front is really a tank top underneath in the front, topped with the collar that attaches at the back neckline, then is finished separately down both upper neckline edges and then the width of these are gathered in at the side seams. I put Lastin Clear elastic in the back neckline AND the front Tank neckline – but did NOT stretch it a bit as I teach in my ‘Clean Finish’ necklines in my knit DVD and patterns. Consult DVD: Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How. The reason I did NOT stretch it, was that I knew for this purpose, Carmen would need to stretch it out for ‘access’ while nursing. Yet, I wanted it to have some retention – so I still put it in. Since this top was a print, I saved time and just finished off these turned under edges by first fusing cross-grain cut fusible interfacing along the edges, then turning and zig zagging instead of a cover hem or twin needle stitching as I usually do. Sewing with my phone/camera close by, I always just snap photos as I go, AND to help me ‘remember’ machine settings. My zig zag width was 4 and length was 3.
Speaking of NOT exactly correct, I did decide to serge it, and my serger is badly in need of a replacement fixed blade, so I could NOT get the tension correct. I did NOT let it bother me. The edge is ‘finished’, and unless you knew how it is supposed to look, you’d never know – eh? To correct this, the upper looper needs to be looser and the lower looper needs to be tighter, but doing so did NOT fix it. So – I let it be! Let it be known that I’ve ordered myself new Fixed AND moveable serger blades. These are easily replaced by YOU, so if you need new blades, just contact me. I’ll bet I can get them for you and YOU can save some money too by DIY.
While I’m at it – another confession, one of the side seams turned out to NOT match at the hem. I realized this AFTER serging, and I wasn’t about to remove the serging and re-do it since it seemed to be hanging OK anyway – so my fix was – as you see below, just ‘trimming’ it off to fit. NOT couture sewing, indeed. But then, that’s not what I set out to do on this afternoon.
Mind you, Sometimes you MUST rip and fix. That was the case that was painfully obvious on this pant leg that didn’t turn out even. I KNEW they were cut right, and in my sewing haste, I made ‘waste’ of time. If I’d left this, obviously the leg would have forever been twisted. I feel that having fun and creating garments you’re proud of wearing and giving is a balance of knowing WHEN to fix, and WHEN to ‘make it work’.
When stitching on the upper Band, I needed to gather it in just a tad to make the upper ‘waist’ edge of the pant fit the band which I’d seamed together, then folded at the top wrong sides together. See that slight gathering in the first photo below. After stitching it on, I PULLED crosswise to actually MAKE the stitching pop – break. Then, I stitched it AGAIN, with a slight zig zag stitch AND STRETCHING as I stitched with one hand in back, one hand in front. I did this to make SURE that this upper seamed edge had ample stretch, give in it for the after-baby-belly it would be worn on. I want my new mama girl comfy after giving birth!
This edge was then serged. While doing that, I decided to identify the back of the pants (nice Mama that I am) with a little love tag. Serging tails really need to be properly ‘tucked’, and I love the large ‘Double Eyed Needles’ that I sell on my website for this purpose. Fold the thread tail to get through the big eye, then BACK that threaded end in through the serging, pull out and cut. WALA.
As I write this, I wish I had a few more pics to add, but it is shipped off to dear daughter for her hospital suitcase and one more thing she can cross off of her ‘nesting’ list. I’ll add a photo (Lord willing) of my granddaughter and Mom enjoying this outfit. It’s pretty cool – the last thing I stitched in my old house in IL was maternity clothing, and the first real garment I’ve stitched in my new TN home is this one. God is good – shared with my prayers (and I hope yours) for the safe (1 month early is expected) arrival of my first granddaughter!