Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hacking RTW for Joanne; culottes

Hacking - clothes not computers. I did get a reply in connection with my previous problem (previous post) and have been advised not to worry, ignore it. It'll go away after a while. Okay. At least,  I'll try.

Joanne loves a particular pair of shorts she has. They look like French knickers but are intended as outerwear. 

I forgot to take a photo of her wearing them!

The fabric is drapey and crepe-like and self-lined. I don't know what it is (the fabric content label is blank I assume due to repeated washings) . It is edged along the bottom of the legs with fairly heavy wide lace, caught between the bottom fabric layers, has a waistband, an in-seam pocket on each side and a side zip closure inside one of the pockets. There are no darts. These shorts are fairly easy fitting. She wears them a LOT. She has tried to buy a replacement pair with no success.

I have repaired them previously. I found it difficult to nicely repair the zip/pocket junction. 

Invisible zipper in inseam pocket
Tearing at bottom. Again. 

This has again come apart. I didn't previously replace the zip,  although it needed replaced,  as I didn't feel up to that task (also I would only have had them for the briefest of time) The crotch seam is also showing signs of the fabric separating and the zip doesn't pull up properly at the top due to distortion and fabric separation.  They are very much at the end of their life now and Joanne asked me if I could make her a similar pair.  

Zip opened. Zip and fabric distortion  clear

We decided to try to make a copy of these. There are different terms in use for this process. Reverse engineering. Hacking. Tracing. Copying.
The zip and pocket area will present me with the biggest challenge in both tracing and in making up.
I know that as these shorts have been well worn, it's likely that the seams will not be as they were.

When I made the hack pattern of my RTW potential MOB dress, I failed to properly true the pattern. I started to make up the dress and it isn't right. I need to go back to the pattern and measure and true up in general. Also,  with it I actually measured the dart pleated areas and reproduced. While these looked good on the patterned fabric of the original, they didn't on the plain fabric of my copy - they just looked as if I had got my measurements wrong as the distance between the middle dart and the dart on each side of the middle were different. That will need to be modified too. I had actually cut out the whole dress and its lining and don't know if I can salvage it. At least the lining is fine,  apart from some inequality in length but I need additional fabric at the bodice sides in the main dress. I'll modify the pattern and recut sometime... 

So with Joanne's shorts I can put some if what I have learned so far into practice, I hope. Joanne was here for the weekend and we traced out the shape of the shorts using pins/awl onto paper.
We had a bit of difficulty with the crotch seam which didn't lie equally on both sides so we lengthened on the basis that it's easier to shorten later than to add in.
We then measured the shorts and the length on the paper to check they were the same.
There were some seam distortions and we smoothed these out.
We added a 1. 5 seam allowance to all seams.

I cut out the pattern in calico to test for fit. No waistband,  zip or pockets.
Joanne wanted the shorts (I might call them culottes) to sit below the natural waist, as did the originals. Indeed she wanted an identical clone.
Joanne tried on the toile and was overall very happy with the fit. This was with the lengthened back crotch. 

Tried on inside out. Back higher than front. 

I later clipped the crotch seam - not done here- and that helped the way they lie. 

I thought the back was a little tight but J didn't want it changed
They were a bit too high at the back (?because I had modified the crotch seam) but okay at the front
We made the necessary adjustments to the paper pattern. I trimmed off at the top of the back seam tapering out to the side seams. I made sure all the seams were trued.
I thought the shorts were a little tight at the back but Joanne didn't want them any looser. I removed a touch at the waistline at the front crotch seam where they were a little loose.

Then I asked Joanne to draw out the pocket shape she wanted and I drew out a waistband. I've drawn patterns for both. I discussed with Joanne the various waistbands possible but we concluded I'd try to do it as close to the original as possible - invisible zip going right up through waistband. This was the zip treatment in her bridesmaid dress but future alteration are more difficult.

I have lots of books but one of the disadvantages of books is that when you can't remember what book has what you want, it's very difficult to find it. I wanted a method for sewing an invisible zip inside a pocket. I know I had one but could I find it! I used the internet and quickly found a good tutorial from the dot to dot studio link (sorry I tried to leave a message unsuccessfully). I've read it through a couple of times and looked at all the photos. I think I'm ready to give it a go.

So now I needed to find some suitable fabric. I have some black single crepe but is too thick as the fabric is doubled. I wondered if it needed to be doubled? The fabric isn't underlined as such as the pockets sit between the front fabric layers - but they are joined at the bottom as lace is inserted between the fabric layers. I thought I might use a lighter weight fabric such as cotton batiste which would be cooler. Joanne knows I might have to make some changes for this first version - she plans many more!

I asked advice at my sewing class.  Dan thinks the closest fabric type is georgette. We decided the single crepe wouldn't work doubled and was a little too transparent to be single. She advised me on likely construction order and picked up that I had drafted my waistband incorrectly so I redid that.

When I got home I ordered some double georgette fabric and some guipure lace trim from Minerva. That has arrived and I've pre-washed the fabric and lace trim. The fabric looks pretty good but seems slightly crisper than the original - but that's been washed over and over again.

The lace against a double layer of fabric
I can't start the shorts just yet as I'm away for a few days on golf duty (not playing) but hope to get them done, when I get back, for Joanne's birthday which is in August.

She'd initially asked me to make her a kimono like I made for Helen (she decided that as I was making the shorts no to the kimono but I'll do later)
Longer than original pattern

Joanne likes this fabric. She'd also like a big,  bold but not necessarily colourful fabric
 I'm happy to do this;  it's a simple make.  More difficult will be finding suitable fabric. The  local choices are far from inspiring so I’ll have to look further afield. A bold pattern. Cotton? Joanne and I had a look online but didn't see anything suitable so I'm putting this off until after my next trip to London. Possibly the Knitting and Stitching Show in September (that's where Helen got her kimono fabric) - I'm not sure yet as I prefer the Harrogate show in November. Joanne would come with me.

My older grandson’s birthday is the day before Joanne's and I hope to make him a shirt (which I’d enter into the PR contest ) but I need to get some sizes first. 

I'm doing view C shown here. 

I do have the fabric which I bought last year but didn't get around to making up. I bought a pattern, burda 9419, last week, see above. I've made a shirt before - for my college course - and Rory says that one was absolutely fine and so I'll have no problem doing a shirt for J. Hopefully. Note that one didn't have nice seam finishes, just overlocked edges.  I've never done a proper shirt with good finish.

He's visiting next weekend and I will have a toile done. Nothing fancy,  just reached together to check for chest size, neck and length. I'm making age 9.  He'll be 7 but is very tall. My husband thinks the size looks good but the size 8 may be better. I don't have recent measurements and he and his brother have shot up each time we see them.

Toile started. 
The making up instructions don't talk about the types of seam finishing required. I'm thinking that shirts usually have fell seams? This is a burda pattern and looking through the instructions, I'm a bit confused though hopefully as I start to construct each stage it will be clearer.

I found out what the syllabus is for our level 3 class in September. Exciting!  I'm looking forward to it. This won't be through the college as the college isn't running a level 3 course;  Rory will be running this from her studio, with Dan's help. It won't be a certificated course with lots of irrelevant (to us) content,  just the practical techniques, as all of us on the course last year would have preferred.

Thank you for stopping by.
I'd love it if you'd leave a comment.


  1. Don't know if this will help but in one of my more recent posts I made a pair of cropped wide legs pants (mimi g simplicity pattern). Anyway, if you look at that post you will see I inserted an invisible zip into a side seam pocket. There is an entire video tutorial to sew those pants up (by mimi g) which includes how to insert the invisible zip into the pocket. Check it out.

    1. Thank you, Manju. Yes, this is it exactly. The only complication is that I am using two layers of georgette - effectively underlined most of the time, but the pockets fit between the two layers and the lace is attached between the two layers at the bottom. So like a lining at those points. Between this excellent video you have recommended, thank you, and the tutorial with photos I link to above, which is pretty good, hopefully I will manage this. I can't think why I didn't comment on your post at the time btw. I may have missed reading it as I don't remember seeing the pocket/zip reference.

  2. You are an awesome mom! Love learning about what you are making and the process -- I always learn something new!

    1. Thank you, Annie. I do enjoy learning new things. I'm really looking forward to these new projects.

  3. You have certainly picked up the technical aspects of sewing well. Looking forward to seeing the progress. Glad the computer situation sorted out - once the nuisances realise you are not being hoodwinked, they will go away.

    1. Thank you, Sarah Liz - and happy birthday! (I've just had a Facebook notification). The numbers of hits is already down a lot. Getting back to normal!


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