Making More of Your Patterns: Portia as Jeans (part one)

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This is another in the series of making more from your patterns. This time I wanted to use the Portia Trousers to make a pair of jeans. After making up the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans from Closet Case files and teaching the Jeans Making Course I have hankered after a pair of wide leg cropped jeans to wear with some new summer tops I’m planning.

In Part One I will show you what I did to alter the pattern, then in Part Two I’ll cover the sewing processes involved.

To give Portia more ‘jeans’ styling I needed to change the pattern a bit. This is a very straightforward adaptation that just involves a bit of dart manipulation. Don’t be scared, it’s easy – honest!

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This is what I did…

Reduced the depth in the crotch –

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I wanted these trouser to sit slightly lower than Portia, making them a bit more like the jeans I have already, so I drew a line about 3cm above the hip line straight across the front and back pattern pieces. I cut along these lines then overlapped them by 1cm to lower the waistline and reduce the depth of the crotch seam.

You may find that you need to take off from the top of the waistline to get yours to fit better. Practice and experience have taught me that this method works best for me and my shape. You may want to toile your pattern first to check.

(Yes I know I’ve already drawn on the yoke shaping – See this is what happens when you don’t have an Order of Work!!)

 

Added a back yoke –

The classic jeans styling includes a yoke across the back of the trouser to help with fitting. So I drew on a new yoke line. I measured the yoke from an existing pair of jeans and used these measurements to mark down the side seam and centre back on my Portia pattern.

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The yoke line fell just above the base of the back dart which was just what I’d hoped, as that made it easy to move the dart out of the way. You can either cut along this new line to separate the trouser back and new yoke pieces and add on new seam allowances or you can trace off the yoke piece to create the new pattern piece.

If you trace off the pattern piece you can combine the next stage as well…

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To move or close the dart on the yoke I just traced off the back part of the yoke up to the first line of the dart. Then I pivoted the traced off section over from the base of the dart so the drawn line was on top of the second dart line on the pattern underneath. I then traced off the rest of the yoke shape. See dart manipulation is easy!

Closing the dart at the waist kind of ‘flicks up’ the side part of the yoke creating a smooth pattern piece that still has the shaping because it has moved the dart to the side seam.

I’m gonna leave that there so you can ponder on it….but I hope you get what I mean?

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Because the side part of the yoke has flicked up, you can see that the bottom edge of the yoke is now rather pointed. That just needs gently curving off and then mirroring at the waistline. If you have just separated the original pattern you might need to add a bit of scrap paper under the waistline of the yoke and re-drew that in as a smooth curve too.

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Lastly not forgetting that the back trouser piece still had a small amount of dart left, and needed a seam allowance. As the remaining dart was so small I trimmed it off the side seam. I also added seam allowance onto the trouser part of the new yoke seam line. If you have cut up and separated the original pattern you can do this by adding in a bit of extra paper underneath and marking that in quickly.

Because I have traced off the yoke piece I have just added the 1.5cm seam allowance directly on to the original pattern and cut across that.

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Curved the front pockets –

Again I wanted to include more jeans styling so I re-drew the curved shape I wanted. You may need to add some spare paper under the front trouser pocket to fill in any gaps if you have already cut out your correct size. This alteration also needs to be transferred onto the inside pocket facing piece as well.

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Fly extension-

The Portia trouser fly is a traditional way of inserting a fly zip, but I preferred the way Heather Lou has created hers in the Ginger Jeans method. As denim can be quite a bulky fabric her way of constructing the fly uses fewer seams so I used the same method. That meant that I needed to alter the front fly extension on my Portia pattern. So I added 1.5cm onto the front edge and curved the bottom to echo the top stitching line that I had drawn on as a guide. I also marked in the dot that marks the end of the front crotch seam.

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Shorten the Hem-

I only took about 20cm off of the hem as I still wanted to have a deep 6cm hem allowance that I could top stitch for a bit of extra detail.

 

Curving the waistband –

I knew this would need altering as I had lowered the waistline slightly which meant that the waistband wouldn’t now sit flat to the body. However, I didn’t know how much to alter it by until I had made up a toile and tried them on.

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 You can see from the picture how the waistband is sitting away from my body and needs ‘pinching out’ to allow it to sit flat. Although I’ve pinched it at the centre back, it is better to ‘spread the load’ and take out smaller amounts in several places. You get a much nicer, smoother curve that way.

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Using the straight waistband pattern I marked on the seam allowances and cut it down to the correct width. I wanted the waistband to be 4.5cm wide when it was finished so needed to add on to that two lots of 1.5cm seam allowance as well.

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I then drew lines at the centre back and side seams and another point mid way between the two. I cut through these lines, but only up to the seam allowance. A snip through the seam allowance the other side enables the pattern to be hinged at the base but still overlap itself to create the curve I needed.

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The overlap was only 3mm but created at the marked points this would allow the top edge of the waistband to contract to fit around my waist.

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It’s much easier to work off a nice neat pattern piece so I traced off the new shape for the waistband and marked in the centre front lines at each end of the waistband. I also added a bit of extra length just in case.

That was the pattern altered, I just needed to cut it all out and sew it together!

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You can see what I did in Part Two of Portia as Jeans coming soon.

You can purchase your copy of the Portia Trousers ready to make you own jeans adaptations. The denim I used in the top picture is the Dark Washed 8oz denim from our store.

Jules x

 

Making More of Your Patterns: A woven Peaseblossom

 

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Hark! I can hear the sewing machine calling!

I wanted to have a section on our blog that shows you how adaptable our pattern really are and to help with some suggestions as to the alterations and adaptations you can make at home.

After overhauling my wardrobe and clearing out what I don’t ACTUALLY wear I have focussed my mind on to the shapes and styles that I do wear more of and one is a boxy top that I can wear with jeans or wide trousers – otherwise known as a Peasblossom!

This is one of my favourites to make up in different fabrics. Now Peaseblossom is normally known as the draped or cowl neck top, but Version 2 of the pattern is just a round necked style.

My absolute favourite fabric is the laundered linen we have in the store, so what better combination!  Peaseblossom in linen!

 

A Bit of Pattern Hacking…

I did alter the pattern slightly as I wanted the top to be a more comfortable fit over my hips but not too big across my shoulders and around the neck as there will be no stretch in the fabric I’ve chosen for this project.

So I cut the size up from what I would normally cut – to make it roomier over the hips. But I closed the neckline slightly to make it a bit higher – I wanted it to have more of a traditional T shirt look.

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I then drew on a box pleat 2cm wide at the centre front and back to take the shoulders back down to my usual size. This would be made into an inverted box pleat.

The top needed a bit more interest at the hem so I decided to add a bit extra on to the hem to make it deeper and included a side split. The split needed a facing to neaten it off so that led me into thinking of including mitred corners. They give a neat and clean finish to corners on hems and look great if they are top-stitched as well. So I had to add a bit extra onto the pattern at the side seams as well.

 

This is what I did…

  • Drew on the original hem line
  • Added an extra 5cm on from the hem line
  • Drew on the side seam allowance
  • Added an extra 5cm onto the side from the seam line
  • Marked the split to end about 8cm or 3” from the finished hemlineWoven T pattern hack spilt.jpg

 

I wanted to sew the hem by top stitching 4cm away from the finished edge to give a border to the hem and split, I thought it would look quite neat to have the split sewn with a gable (or point) above it. So I drew on the top-stitching line and created a gable over the split so the point of the gable was 4cm above the end of the split. I could then trim off the excess paper to give me the shape I needed.

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Now For a Bit of Cutting Out…

That was the pattern alterations done so it needed cutting out and making up.

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Ooops! Missed the timer!

The centre front and centre back went on the fold of the fabric and as there were only 2 pieces, that was pretty darn quick!

 

And a Bit of Sewing At Last!

Basic Construction

Stitch down the inverted box pleat by 5cm on both the centre front and centre back 2cm away from the fold.

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Open out the pleat and press into place. Sew/baste across the top of the pleat to hold it in place. (Not shown because I forget to take a picture! Oops!)

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Neaten the side seams and hems on both front and back separately.

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Sew the shoulder seams and neaten.

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Sew down the side seams to the end of the split and press open.

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Hem and Split

Then I constructed the mitred corners and you can follow our tutorial on How to Sew Mitred Corners to do this.

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Once the corners were completed I gave myself some guidelines for the top-stitching. I started at the top of one of the split gables so it wouldn’t notice too much.

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The hem and splits once sewn need a really good press – use a pressing cloth and plenty of steam if you need to.

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Neckband

Although the body of the top is a woven fabric I wanted to use something with stretch around the neck and cuffs. Luckily I had a bit of navy bamboo viscose jersey in my stash that would do nicely.

Because I had raised the neckline I needed to re-measure it to work out the length of the neckband. I’ve only shown measuring halfway around the neck in the image as it’s easier to do this then double the measurement, rather than to try and accurately measure all the way around.

Mark on the seam allowance around the neckline. Then measure out from the seam line the width you wanted for the neckband, I’ve used 2cm here.

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Then I measured around the neckline 2cm away from the seamline. This will be the length of the neckband.

If you think about concentric circles we want the inside finished edge of the neck band to sit flat against the body and then the raw edges of it to stretch out to fit the woven edge of the neckline. So that’s why the neckband is shorter than the actual neckline.

The strips of neck band and cuffs are sewn across the short edges to create a circle and then pressed in half to create the double layer.

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I have found the best way to sew on the neckband is to match up the centre backs and centre fronts on both the neckband and neckline and pin those with the right sides together.

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Then I use my little fingers and ring fingers to stretch out the neckband and hold it in place while my other fingers and thumbs manipulate the fabric and neckband into position.

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It can be a bit tricky at first, but it’s all just practice.

Overlock or machine stitch around the neckline. You can see from the image is that the inside edge is flat and the outer edge of the neckband is stretched out to fit the neckline. You can use the same method for attaching the cuffs.

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To keep it all neat and tidy I used a twin needle to topstitch around the neckline through the woven fabric and seam allowance.

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Give the neckband a gentle press to steam it into place if it’s stretched out a little bit in the sewing.

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I was really pleased with the way this particular hack turned out, and I’m planning another one already.

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Here Are Some of the Details…

This is a very straightforward Pattern Hack to achieve and I hope it shows how easy it is to adapt a pretty simple pattern to include a few interesting details.

If you decide to have a go let me know how you get on.

Jules x

Making More of Your Patterns: Peaseblossom Colour Block

img_0109The Peaseblossom T is a wardrobe staple and I have quite a few of them in different fabrics and various adaptations.

The simple boxy shape lends itself to colour blocking and this is an easy to follow tutorial to show you how to adapt the pattern.

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The front and back of the Top are basically the same shape so to make life easier you can transfer the lines from the front on to the back.

I have used a coloured pen to make it easier to see but when adapting patterns yourself you should always use a really sharp pencil to ensure you’re as accurate as possible.

Decide where you want the seam line to separate the two colours. This is really up to you and the proportions of colour you want to use. I have decided to have a horizontal seam 8cm down from the front neckline. But you could also use vertical seams as well.

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Draw a line across the front at right angles to the centre front. It is very important to make sure that the new seam line hits the centre front at right angles.

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The centre front or back is a line of symmetry, so imagine a mirror reflecting whatever is on one side on to the other. If the new seam line is slightly off 90° you could end up with a ‘peak’ or ‘valley’ in the middle of the new seam line.

Peak or valley lines with dotted lines as the true horizontal.

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To make sure this doesn’t happen use a set square, quilter’s grid or specialist Patternmaster that has 90° lines on it to use as a guide.

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Transfer the seam line on to the back.

Method 1 – Lay the front pattern piece on top of the back.

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Use a tracing wheel to trace along the line and through to the back piece.

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Lift off the front and there will be the tiny prick marks made by the tracing wheel.  I have tried to show these but they are really too small.

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Use these to draw in the new seam line.

Method 2 – If the paper is thin enough lay the back over the front so you can just see the new seam line on the front through the paper of the back. Or you can mark the centre front point and the sleeve point and just join the two dots.

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Double check that the new seam line on the back hits the centre back at a right angle by using a ruler with 90° lines on it to use as a guide.

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Separate the back pattern pieces and the front pieces by cutting up the new seam lines.

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Add seam allowance on each side of the new seam lines. Add a strip of paper to each side of the new seam lines.

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The seam allowance on the Peaseblossom is 1cm so you can either continue with the same or if you prefer to use a larger seam allowance add 1.5cm.

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You can use the grading lines on a Patternmaster or quilter’s grid to make sure the seam allowance is parallel to the stitching line.

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Add in balance marks (also called notches). Match up the two front pieces with each other and add in a single balance mark or notch. This will ensure that the two pieces match up correctly when sewn together.

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Do the same for the two back pieces but use a double balance mark or notch to indicate that this is the back.

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**In pattern notation a single notch is always used for the front and a double notch for the back.

The pattern pieces are now ready to cut out and make up in your chosen fabrics.

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This is a really easy pattern hack to do just remember to keep an eye on those right angles.

If you are making your top from a woven fabric have a look at our How to Sew a Clean Finish Binding tutorial it gives a really neat finish to the neckline.

Happy sewing!