Drafting trousers using the block

I’ve got my block. On paper I’ve got the steps I need to take to transform it into a pattern for trousers. Let’s get to it.

  1. copy block
  2. decide on wearing ease for the legs. This is from the horizontal hip guide downwards, I’m not changing the wearing ease upwards. I have one pair of trousers, linen, and their wide legs are 56 cm in circumference. My block is 40,5cm. I’m choosing 45 cm, for a pair of linen Summer pants with a bit of flair. I’m adding 1,1 cm to each side seam (curving it to the original line at the inner side seams). Plus a seam allowance of 1,5 cm should I want more width.
  3. waist how high? I want it in my waist line, but only at the back. Decrease 2 cm at CF and sideseams. None at CB.
  4. facing or waist band? waist band. With my sway back it’ll be always a band. 4,5 cm high. Well, what do you know, the band is as high as the triangle I had to take out at CB to accommodate my sway back.
  5. darts. usual people can make them disappear into the waist band and the itty bitty left over dart can me ignored or transferred to the side seam. I’m not sure since my darts are still pretty long and pretty wide. I’ll leave them in and ask to my teacher for comment.
  6. front pocket. I drew in a standard pocket: 10 cm wide, 7 cm high. Below the waist band. Standard jeans pocket. Then I measured the pocket on my comfortable linen trousers and found they are 7 wide and 10 deep. I like the look of these, they are slimming. I’m changing my pocket. The pocket consists of three pieces. I folded away the dart that’ll be still in the outer shell.
  7. zip facing. Add 2,5 cm to CF, this goes under. Facing stays above the curve in CF, the zip will be a short one. I’ve got one from 11 cm long (measured the teeth alone), from an old skirt. It matches the length of the zip on the linen Summer pants I’ve been wearing for 20 years now. The 11 cm is just the length between the waist band and the curve in CF. Mark 2,5 cm on the inside of CF, this will become the facing. I’m just drawing it in the shape I see a lot on the internet, haven’t got a clue otherwise. Watch tutorial about sewing a faced zipper. Angela Kane is very good.
  8. back pocket. Not doing one.
  9. yoke at the back. Frontseam 4 cm, CB 6 cm. Fold dart into it. If any dart is left you can fold it away in the side seam and CB. I have a dart left of 5,5 mm wide and 2,3 cm high. I move half of it to the side seam and half of it to CB. O my, so many yokes are possible! It’s a real design feature, apart from making the dart disappear. I made a bit of a straight yoke, I’m afraid. By default I made the line cross CB at a straight edge. Not the most flattering look it seems. Shall I alter?
  10. belt loops. Make 5 or 6, on the waist band. Look online how. Study where to place them.

Now to true the pattern. Just making sure all the curvy bits share the same curves (yoke and back panel, yoke and waistband, pocket and front panel etc.) With all the copying a curved line is bound to differ from the mate it’s supposed to match.

Next: sew a practise garment. I’ve got some bright orange bed sheets left. I’ll sew for fit and to gain some experience. If fit is alright I’ll sew up a real pair of trousers in one of the linens I bought. (Here are some photo’s on sewing the yoke with a felled seam.)

My existing trousers have a different pocket shape from standard jeans:
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There’s even a front yoke. I like these trousers very much. The elongated pocket shape elongates my short figure. And the pockets are at a convenient height, I love to casual put my hands in them. In my pattern I chose the same shape of pocket but they are placed higher up since I didn’t dare to do a front yoke on my very first trouser pattern (and sewing).

Folding away the dart for the inside layers of the pocket:
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Weird dart on the right, at CB, for sway back. Luckily it falls right within the waist band:
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I’ve never sewn pants before. Only the muslin and the orange block toile. I’m going to watch tutorials about sewing pants from Angela Kane. She’s very good!

The Gendered Nature of Being Unencumbered

The Span of My Hips

If you ask almost any woman what she would change about women’s clothes I promise you “pockets” would come up about 95% of the time (other answers: sizing consistency, for fuck’s sake; quality construction; larger sizes not just being a size 0 sized up). When I think about my closet I can name four items of clothing with pockets, and two of those are essentially useless cardigan pockets. The few pairs of pants I own don’t even have pockets!

This has been an ongoing irritation for years, and one I’ve lightly thought about in feminist terms, but it’s only recently that I realized how profoundly (the lack of) pockets affects embodiment in very gendered ways.

Earlier this week I was walking from the bus loop to work, aware of the weight of my purse on my shoulder and my tote bag in my hand. And I noticed something interesting. All the…

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Self drafted sleeveless Summer Dress

A simple Summer Dress based on the one in the previous post: a shift dress with some shaping in both the side seams and the back. Pockets. And I did a new thing to add some shaping in the front: I gathered under the breasts with some elastic and two buttons to keep it in place.
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two long darts in the back, they’re more like princess lines. (one still wonky on this picture, I unpicked it and redid it)

To add some shaping to the front, to prevent “tent like appearance” I gathered some of the fabric right under each breast.
There’s a horizontal dart running across the front panel, it angles upwards near the sides (but not on the first picture, this sat awful on my body, I remedied it after the picture).
I threaded a double thread of thin elastic through the outer most 20 centimeters of this dart.
I gathered the elastic and secured it with a button on each side. So 4 buttons for the whole dress.
Zomerjurk met zakken en soort van empire waist line

Zomerjurk met zakken en soort van empire waist line

The buttons where first put in to anchor the elastic while I could still adjust it. Then I thought: why not keep the buttons?

It follows my own body shape: fairly straight outlines but quite curvy when seen from the sides.

(the folds in the lower part of the side seam are caused by the pocket)

Edges are bound of with a biais band that I found that matches the fabric very nicely:
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Here’s the solution I tried for biais band and getting it to sit right and being able to give it nice top stitching while securing the back at the same time.
Start from the wrong side. DON’T SEW ON THE FOLDED LINE.
Instead sew somewhere in the middle of the piece between the fold and the edge of the binding band:
Zomerjurk met zakken en soort van empire waist line
This step is meant to secure the band to the fabric.
Next you fold the biais band like it’s supposed to and you stitch very close to the edge, from the right side. If the band is folded properly it will catch the back side close at the edge too. The back side will not slip because it’s already secured in place.

For the hem I used my antique tool to keep the same distance all around. Fold under and fold under again. The second time I used matching coloured thread. I’ve folded the fabric so you can see the end result.
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I like neat topstitching so much, I tried it on the bust dart. I put on the dress and determined where and how it should be. Then I just pinned it down and stitched very careful.
Zomerjurk met zakken en soort van empire waist line
A top stitched bust dart.
It was prompted because I tried on the dress, determined where the dart ought to be and then had difficulty transferring that information to the inside of the dress and stitch it there.

An alternative is probably to put on the dress inside out and determine where the dart should be.

French seams. Including the pockets.
Zomerjurk met zakken en soort van empire waist line

And to end with the beginning: this is how I cut the fabric. I used the green dress as a template. Added a generous seam allowance along the sides for French seams. Added no seam allowance along the arm holes because I knew I was going to bind them in biais band.
Again with a brushy reminder to cut pockets.
Zomerjurk met zakken en soort van empire waist line
When I sewed the side seams and tried it on for fit I had to take out nearly all the curvyness: at the bust and at the hem. I had weird “bingo wings” flapping at the side seams there.

Bantam dress in linen.

Finished:
Started as Bantam shift dress.
backside:
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Two days ago I managed to prepare for yesterday’s sewing:

  • measurements of dress: bust 106; waist 98; hip 106 cm. Backpanel perhaps a bit less wide. Use green cotton shift dress as a template.
  • cut pockets right onto the panels
  • in the evening I made 8 m of biais band, following this tutorial that merely visualises The Dread Pirate Rodgers’ genius.

 
Making biaisband by hand

Yesterday morning I started with inspecting the biais band and fixing the last details.
Then I read through the pattern for Bantam Dress carefully, it’s in Merchant & Mills Workbook.
1. staystitching
2. hem
3. French seams
4. bind the edges
Oh how I love that measurements are in centimetres! Instructions are very clear, both in text and image. I especially appreciate that reasons are given for directions.
I live so much better when I understand the why.

Planned modifications: altered outline of the pattern pieces (add some shaping, a different neckline because I like my bra bands covered and add pockets); sew some back darts after stay stitching and before hem.

Then I read this page about sewing with linen written by Carolyn from Sewing Fanatic
– remember to press linen with a cloth, otherwise it will shine.

CUTTING
I folded the fabric twice so the sideseams would be mirrors. I took the bust measurements (106 cm) as a guide. The fabric is four layers and 51,5 cm wide + a little extra for seam allowance.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

I put an odd item at the point where I have to stop following the template and have to cut a pocket.
Started as Bantam shift dress.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Two panels cut. Only room for pocket on one side.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

STAYSTITCHING
Started as Bantam shift dress.

PUT IN DARTS in the back. Freehand (after measuring and marking important points with red pins)
Started as Bantam shift dress.

CHECKING MEASUREMENTS before putting in FRENCH SEAMS. I have 1 cm seam allowance. That’s not much.
I pin precisely. Because I have cut precisely I can probably sew the two 0,5 cm seams.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

FIRST PART FRENCH SEAM. Following the last steps of Deborag Moebes’ tutorial about the pocket.
Started as Bantam shift dress.
trim where necessary and clip corners
Started as Bantam shift dress.

At the bottom of the side seams I leave a vent. I fold the edge under and again.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

FOLD HEM UNDER. First part. The fabric is already starting to fray, even though I do not handle it much.

PRESS ALL THE SEAMS. Trim and grade where neccessary.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

LAST PART FRENCH SEAM and HEM.
This happens so often with my French seams: bristles escaping from the finished seams. I ought to take my final seam allowance a little better. Or trim better before hand.
It’s because I work on an antique foot treadle machine: I can work slow and precise. That lures me towards too small a seam.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

SHOULDER SEAM and try it on for FIT
Ugh. Way too tent like. I’ll shorten the shoulder straps. Add more dart in the back. And a small dart at the bust because the armhole is flaring unflattering. The pocket is too deep, I’ll stitch it smaller (but won’t cut away the excess fabric because it lays nice and flat now).

I do get that free flowing feeling that shift dresses provide. I feel elegant and fluid.

Now I’ve amended the darts in the back, see how much extra I needed to take them in, I pointed both stitch lines out with my tools:
Started as Bantam shift dress.
These are not darts anymore, they are princess lines. They could even go deeper but I’m worried it will make the waist too small and I won’t be able to slip the dress over my bust.

BINDING neck- and armholes.
2 helpful tutorials on sewing bias binding by The Haby Goddess.
Make sure you catch the back.
Follow the curve.
Victorypatterns.com shows how important pressing is.

pinning the biais band around the neck hole. It’s very tempting to just stitch it on in one go. But this step is meant to determine the length and to close the loop.
For sewing on I want to press it properly, so it will lay flat.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

This is how far I got yesterday. All done except for the second arm hole. I just finished binding that.
How fast a finishing with biais band is! I really like that I made my own.

I still don’t understand biais band though. You cannot stitch in the fold of the back and then turn it over and expect the front to catch the back, if you like neat stitch lines close to the edge. Quilters promote to “stitch in the ditch” but how that catches both sides of the band is still a mystery to me.

I tried to solve it in the neckline with two lines but it makes the finishing look T-shirt like. Oh well.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

The split at the sides. Maximum usability.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

I still need to finish it properly: tuck away loose threads and give it one more press. But pretty soon the heat will be here so I’m slipping it on instead and enjoy my new Summer dress!

Shift dress based on Bantam dress
Shift dress based on Bantam dress

The measurements work really well, I only have to raise my arms and the dress glides right over my body. It wears very comfortable too, no need to tuck in my stomach (or keep a good posture… shift dresses might not be good for humanity after all)
I still look fatter than I am in it but who cares, you’re meant to move in a dress like this and the movement will flatter your body shape.

I’m really glad with the pocket (keeping earplugs and cortisone pills handy) and my alterations. It wears so pleasant!
The fabric is very cool too. I wonder if this is actually linen… it doesn’t wrinkle much. Was I a gullible costumer?

finished: Green ’70s fabric skirt and Pink Practice skirt

A skirt with a waist band, fitting darts, silk interlining and a knotted pocket: (I ironed in those crinkles… they are not really in the skirt) Nice details and nice sewing. And a fun pocket! The darts are finished before … Continue reading

in progress: Green skirt with pocket

When I bought this cabin it came with all the stuff that was already in it. Furnishings, old calendars, gnomes. And lots of ’70s bedlinen.
I’ve treasured my favourite for years now and today I’m making one of its pillow cases into a skirt. With a pocket.

For this I used video’s from Corinne Leigh of Craftovision to draw up a simple pattern and to understand the sequence of steps. I threw in some haute couture sewing techniques and some things I learned from the previous skirts.

Corinne Leigh explained measurements and I drew them on my folded pillow cover and just cut two panels out in one go. Afterwards I amended the topline of just the front panel.
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This really is a pillow case! Look at the backside of the left over after cutting:

I hope to use this left over fabric for a pocket. The left over on the long side (on the left here) will hopefully give a waist band.

These are the measurements I used and I did them all in inches, just because Corinne did so too and my measuring tape has both centimeters and inches:

  • a quart waist = 8 5/8″ (this includes 1/2″ ease and 1/2″ dart)
  • a quart hip = 9 7/8″ (this includes 1/2″ ease)
  • length between hip and waist = 6″
  • the CF dips 1/2″ under the original horizontal line. CB should be raised half an inch but I didn’t want to waste the fabric.
  • total skirtlength 22″ (if you run straight down from the hips you’ll need a split or a vent. Or flare out a bit)
  • I know from previous skirts my front darts need to be no longer than 5 cm/ 2″
  • the back darts can be 10 to 12 cm (4 to 5 “)
  • I cut everything with 1/2″ seam allowance

In Dutch and centimeters:

  • kwart middellijn = 22 cm breed (met 1,25 cm dart en 1,25 cm ease)
  • kwart heupbreedte = 25 cm
  • hoogte tussen taille en heup = 15,25 cm
  • CF ligt 1,25 cm lager dan @sideseam voor voorpand. CB juist 1,25 cm hoger
  • voordart niet langer dan 5 cm, achterdart kan wel 10 cm lang
  • bij dit patroon zit nog geen naadtoeslag/seam allowance

I took the front panel and cut it again in pongé (habutai) silk as a lining/facing. Pillow cases from the ’70s tend to be see through…
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I did the same for the back panel.

This time around I’m a good little sewer: I’m pressing! I bought a small, light weight iron (HEMA, 10 euro). Still got no iron board here but some old sheets on this Ingo table from IKEA will do. Ingo withstands the heat well.
Only thing is: he’s a bit low. Ingo makes for back pain when pressing. Here one panel is still not pressed:
Either way: nice materials to work with. Pressing does make for nicer sewing.

Next, I sewed the silk to their respective panel. Using an extra sharp silk needle (microtex, a thoughtful gift from my friend Marianne) and a very small sewing allowance, just 1/8th of an inch or even less.
I pressed the seams but didn’t fold the cotton, only the silk.

This is a prelimenary step and now I will treat the double-fabric-panels as if they’re made of one fabric. This is all a trick to have a nice seam finish on the inside later on. That’s a good thing when you’re working with silk.
Here are the two panels. Still separate. One is turned right side out, the other one still wrong side out so you can see how small the seam allowance is I used.
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Isn’t this fabric GREAT?

Before I go further I need to refer back to the video because Corinne put in a stay seam at the top (clever couture technique!) but I don’t remember in which phase she did this.

Next steps:

  1. put zipper in sideseam. The teeth of the zipper will protrude above my panel top because there will be a waist band added which will match the zipper in height. Have to decide about height of waist band before determining where the zipper will end in the side seam.
  2. sew the two panels together at the sideseams, leaving a split at the hem for movement and on one seam a split of the zipper at the top.
  3. fit. If fit then estimate wether darts will be correct both in width and length. Press side seams open.
  4. sew and press darts.
  5. waistband: cut it, press it, sew it.
  6. fit. Estimate hem length. Mark it. Think about where the pocket will be and if reinforcement is needed. Attach this now if it’s needed. Soon the interior will not be accessible anymore.
  7. fold, press and sew hem.
  8. make pocket and attach it

I have my eye on a fun little pocket! With a knotted entry.

Wearing a skirt with pockets.

It worked! I now have a skirt with pockets.
Front:
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Back:
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In real life it’s more straight, I’m standing weird twice to take these pictures (and I may have cut the lower ends of the side seams a bit too flaring…)
Also: I did not press the skirt yet. I wanted to show it in all its natural behaviour.

Indeed, no extra wearing ease is needed when using the widest circumference in the method of Marina von Koening.
The darts work like magic. The fit of this dress is very good!

Look at how long those darts are in the back!
I cut the hem a bit round.
Pockets are neatly tucked away in the side seam.
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Excuse the laundry in the back…

The front (and more laundry). With short darts.
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Again the hem is cut a bit round. Next skirt I’ll cut the waist a bit round too.
In this one I thought I had to raise the back a bit because of the small of my back. You can see the difference between the front and the back panel.
In wearing I see this was not neccessary.

Pockets!
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The darts did all the shaping.
They are very short in the front, just 6 cm (2,3 inch). Because I have a belly.
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The darts is the back are very long! More than 20 cm. (8 inch!)
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Two darts I put in before putting bias band at the top. Then I found out I needed more. I just put in two more darts without altering the bias band. I’m practical. In a next skirt I’ll do all the darts first and then finish the waist band. I’ll even do a facing!

On the left -in above picture- you see the side seam coming in.
The front panel has less width than the back panel. Because I have buttocks.
But at the waist the front panel and the back panel have equal width.

When wearing the side seam is perfectly vertical.
Or perhaps not… but look at that fit!
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I thought the sideseam hung straight when I looked in the mirror. I may not stand straight in this picture. Or the seam might not be straight at all, after all it is weird to have the back panel wider than the front. Will check again.

goes to mirror

takes a picture

doesn’t alter it in any way, showing shamelessly the mess in “the wool room” and the ear muffles I wear most days and my handknit sweater.

And a straight side seam:
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I’m sure this mystery will be solved in the future.

Also: see how low those pockets are. I’m on a learning curve, I am.

I still have to finish the ending of the zipper. Really, I had no idea what I was doing when I put it in without a seam. Still don’t.
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Here are some other things I’ll do different next time:
– curve the waist band a bit
– no need to make the back higher
– a zipper without a seam needs a bit more planning than just slash & sew. Here are some good answers.. Ooh, here’s a good one too! With reenforcement in the back.
– make my own biasband. Found a lovely tutorial for people without a bias band maker tool.

I’ve already cut fabric for the next one. It includes a waist band facing. oooh, fancy
I found some nice tutorials how to put it in and get a nice finish at the top.
Tomorrow I’ll go to town to get a zipper (and bias band). And perhaps some more fabric for a next skirt? I dug through my stash today but there wasn’t really much fun fabric for a skirt. The good fabrics are all for dresses.
Really, I should just throw out all the fabric that will never make me happy… It would clear up at least 3 curver boxes.

Doing this skirt, I learned some new words that will help me in the future:
“exposed zipper”, I do not seem to mind them.
“in seam pocket”, I love those! I like them invisible too, with different fabric on the inside, like a little inside giggle.

One more illustration of my learning curve: the first run at the hem I thought I’d be smart, I’d stretch the fabric because it had to go round. Logic.
The result:
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Not smart at all. I took out the seam and redid it, very gently and not pulling at all. Now the hem is straight. Albeit a bit flared at the side seams.

All in all a good practice skirt and I will wear it. It is in sturdy canvas and I enjoy that fabric very much when working here in the woods. Still have to fix the end of the zipper though.

Wearing a paper bag

Marina von Koenig has an excellent tutorial on her website Frabjous Couture about why regular skirts don’t fit the human form.

Hip and waist circumference do not tell where the protruding parts are. Resulting in skirt patterns that have to accommodate for people with big hips or round buttocks or a tummy. Fitting neither of those individuals very well.

Her solution is to determine the widest overall circumference and accomplish fit through darts. Individually determined darts. These virtual ladies have the same circumferences but very different body shapes:
pic by Marina von Koenig

So I went looking for a piece of carton to wrap around me:
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I have no carton in the cabin but what better to use than the sturdy paper bag my fabric from Dublin came in! Murphy Sheehy, a lovely shop.
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I cut open the bad and wrapped it around myself.
hm.
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I’m a big wider than I thought…. I had to look for additional carton.

Sorry Sisley.
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Here it is around me, a tube that indicates my widest circumference. I keep the top aligned with a piece of elastic that I tied around me. This is my natural waist and the line that any skirt will creep up to. So better make it the waist band of my skirt.
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I marked the circumference with pencil on the tube. This will be the width of the pattern pieces. Marina says no positive ease is needed with this method… I wonder.
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Now I am determining where my protruding parts are. With a pencil I mark areas where the carton cannot be folded inwards. My stomach, my hips and my buttocks all have these areas.
These are the areas where the skirt will not be altered in width. Above these areas there will be darts. The darts will end in the area.

I marked everything on the carton. Including CF, CB and Sideseams. Then I unrolled the tube and cut it at the sideseams.
I converted it to some pieces of fabric. I chose a slightly elastic fabric because I have to find out for myself that no wearing ease is needed with this method.

I cut the backpiece a little higher than the front piece. Because the small of my back grows really narrow, upwards, I’ll have some major darts there. Meaning the fabric has to travel further to reach my waist than it does at the front (hardly any darts needed there thanks to my tummy).

Then I cut some pockets. Because this whole idea of a skirt was started because I want a skirt with pockets.
Sew the pockets to the fabric. Then sew shut the sideseams, following the curves of the pockets. Then I’ll have a fabric tube and can start determining the darts.

Pockets are sewn to the front panel. The first run was with the good sides together. Then I flipped open the (half) pocket and run a seam along, for sturdyness and to make it lie flat inwards and not peek out.
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but first I’ll have to darn…
both pockets are sewn upside down to the front panel. Even though I looked and looked and then looked once more. Upside down picture:
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“no scissors for you!”

I’d really like a chatelaine.
So I bought this keyring:

Nice start!

only…. these are no real scissors.
They are a solid cast.

There’s another keychain with exactly the same scissors. Which are scissors.

But I liked the keychain on mine better so that’s what I ordered.

I should have known, it says so right there in the title: “Scissor Design Double Ring Keychain”

Who would need a keychain in the shape of scissors without actual scissors??
Ironic sewists? Knitters with sharp teeth? Anyone with a lasercutter on their other keychain?

Well, should you want a scissorless keychain, get yours here

Here’s who’d like this keychain:

Wriggle Dress: 2D versus 3D

huh?
the back is much smaller than the front:
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must have occurred when I had to take in the darts in the back so much. I think the sideseam was still in the middle though…
but now I am sitting here, with the front pinned to the back, and I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m sitting in my halfmade dress because, as I was pinning the seam allowance for the side seams, I felt the desire for pockets well up inside. I hunger for pockets!
So here I am, surfing instead of sewing. Sewaholic has a nice tutorial: sew the pockets close as you sew the side seam. One seam. With a nice roll over to hide the inside of the pocket.

But what fabric to chose for my pockets? My cotton lining fabric is mighty flimsy. Won’t hold more than a hankie and I don’t plan on doing any crying in this dress.

The interliningfacing fabric a.k.a. the sheet is very sturdy. It might distort the soupleness of the dress. And/or show through the fabric and the lining.

Using the fashion fabric for the pockets will surely show…

Perhaps I need to excavate the room where all my fabrics live…to search for something appropriate in weight and colour. A fun pocket, hiding.