The beauty of making your own clothes is that you can mix ‘n’ match to get exactly what you want to wear. A pleated Desdemona would look fabulous with a button up front, and it’s easy to swap the gathers on Version 2 for the pleats of Version 1
Using the Pleats with the Button Up Front
You might notice that the skirt shapes on both Version 1 and 2 pattern pieces are slightly different. This is to cater for the button placket down the centre front on Version 2. The easiest way to combine the two is to use the pattern pieces for Version 2 but with the pleat marking from Version 1.
To transfer the markings line up the two front skirt pattern pieces at the side seams. Not the centre fronts as they will be different because of the button placket.
The trace through the pleat lines either with a pencil or a tracing wheel, so you have them on the Version 2 skirt front.
You can sew the pleats into place following the instructions for version 1, then carry on making the skirt up as for Version 2.
Sometimes we all fancy a bit of a change and it is very easy to alter the appearance of your Desdemona by simply changing the pleats. After all this is one of the reasons we make our own clothes – to wear what you want!
Changing the Inverted Box Pleats to Knife Pleats
Knife pleats are just pleats that all face in the same direction. So to change the inverted box pleats already part of the Version 1 Desdemona Skirt, to knife pleats is pretty straightforward.
First fold out the pleat lines on the pattern to create the inverted pleats.
Crease along the pleat lines and fold them into the centre. When you unfold the pleats in the paper pattern you’ll notice that you have creases that go up – peak folds and creases that go down – valley folds.
To make the knife pleats lead away from the centre front/back, (working from the centre front/back to the side seam) leave the first pair of peak/valley folds as they are. The next pair of valley/peak folds change – so the valley becomes a peak fold and the peak becomes a valley fold. This swaps direction of the pleat and turns both pleats into knife pleats. Repeat this for the second group of pleat lines.
If you wanted to change the direction of the knife pleats just fold them so they lay in the opposite direction. It really is that easy!
If you have the paper pattern folded the way the pleats are going to sit it will make it much easier to transfer this onto your fabric to make knife pleats all around the Desdemona Skirt. And you can just double check the pleats are in the correct position before you sew them in place.
You can also topstitch a short section along the leading edge of each pleat to help them stay flat too.
If you’ve ever seen us at a show then you will definitely have seen our mannequin dressed in the brightest Kate Dress imaginable (with coordinating Infinity Scarf). Now before we get to the matter at hand, if you’d like the fabric that this Kate is made up in then you can. It’s Laundered Linen Sulphur. Now onto the frill…
Take 2 x rectangular pieces of fabric. Depth approx 12cm (or however deep you want your hem plus seam allowance) and width approx twice the width of your hem. Measure your hem at front and double it, then measure the width of the back hem and double it.
Pin the short ends together. Hem one long edge by either overlocking and turning up by 1.5cm or turning up 1cm twice. This will be the bottom of the frill.
Sew two rows of gathering stitches around the top of the frill with your longest stitch length on the machine. Sew one just inside the seam allowance and one just outside.
Find the Centre Front and Centre Back and mark with a pin/notch. You can then pull the gathering stitches to fit around the hem of the dress. Pin the side seams and the Centre Front and Centre Back, then gather in between, pin and sew. Finish the seam and press.
This is a wonderfully retro adaptation to both versions of the Iris Pattern, and is very easy to do.
You will need to extend the centre back of the back pattern piece so it can overlap to do up the buttons. This is called the button extension. And how much you need to add on depends on how big the buttons are that you want to use. A rough guide is to go for an extension of about 1.5 – 2cm. In this example I’ve used a 2cm extension as the buttons I want to use are about 2cm in diameter.
Altering your pattern
Draw in the centre back line on the back pattern piece. Add a piece of paper wider than your button extension and stick that to the centre back seam allowance. I use proper pattern cutting paper with the dots and crosses on. It makes it so much easier to get nice straight lines and right angles. You can order yours by the metre online.
Personally I prefer to use Prittstick instead of tape, as it won’t melt onto your iron, but feel free to use whatever method of attachment you desire.
When the buttons are sewn onto the back of your top and done up, you need to have the buttons sitting down the centre back line. So place your button on the centre back line of the pattern piece to see how much of an extension you are going to need. Roughly an extra 0.5cm – 1cm past the button should be fine.
Mark this onto your pattern piece and draw in the new centre back edge.
Now add your seam allowance onto this. I’ve used 1.5cm, but you can use 1cm if you prefer.
That is the extension done but now we need to draw in the facing to neaten off the centre back opening and support the buttonholes.
The back neck facing already does the job of finishing the neckline, so all we need to do is curve that out and extend it so it continues all the way down the centre back.
Lay the back neck facing on top of the back pattern pieces and match everything up. Trace around the back neck facing so you have the shape on the back pattern piece.
Draw in the new back facing line parallel to the centre back, about 6cm from the original centre back line. Take it all the way down the centre back.
Curve the new line in to meet the original back neck facing line. Make sure to blend it in so the new line is a smooth curved shape.
When you have marked the new back facing shape onto your back pattern piece you can trace off the new back facing pattern piece.
Cut out the new back facing and mark on the grain line parallel to the centre back line.
Because you have taken the new pattern piece directly from the bodice pattern everything should match up beautifully.
Sewing the Button-up Back adaptation.
When you make up the Button-up Back Iris, just make up the facing in exactly the same way as before and neaten the whole of the outside edge, from the centre back hem all the way around to the other side of the centre back hem.
And when you attach the facing again just sew it together in exactly the same way as normal, pivot at the corners and continue to sew down the centre back edges. Trim the corners, snip into the curved neckline seam allowance and understitch as you would do normally.
Marking the Buttonholes
Evenly space the buttons to mark out the buttonholes. Make sure the top buttonhole is not too close to the edge of the neckline.
If you want to create horizontal buttonholes make sure to start the end of the buttonhole on the centre back line. Buttons will always pull to the furthest end of the buttonhole. So rather than marking the button hole equidistant over the centre back line so the button sits in the middle, make sure you mark it on the centre back line. That way when the button pulls to the end of the buttonhole it doesn’t gape and pull open.
Measure the end of the button hole so it sits on the centre back line.
Sew the buttonholes in the correct places then mark and sew your buttons on the centre back line.
And now you have a brand new version of the Iris Top.
Kate is just the most perfect dress for hot weather as it’s infinitely hackable.
This is how you can adapt the pattern to make a sleeveless version just right for the long hot Summer days.
The pattern needs a little bit of tweaking as the armholes are designed to take a sleeve.
First of all a I drew on the seam allowances around the armholes and across the shoulders. This makes it easier to see where and how the alterations need to be made.
The shoulder point on the pattern needs to be brought in slightly so the arm hole sits better over the ball of the shoulder.
As the Kate Dress has a visible binding to finish the neckline this works well around the armhole too. But it means that the edge of the paper pattern will be the finished edge of the dress, with the binding wrapping itself around the cut edge of the fabric. Something to bare in mind!
First I matched up the shoulder seams to make sure that both the armhole and neckline alterations were nice smooth flowing curves.
For this dress I wanted to widen the neckline slightly too. So I made a mark 1.5cm in from the neck edge and then redrew the neckline curve blending it in to the original line.
The shoulder point was moved in by 3cm and as it is going to be an open armhole I wanted to raise the underarm point a bit too so it would be too gapey.
I raised the underarm point by 1.5cm so it was level with the cut edge of the pattern piece, then re-drew the armhole from the raised armhole point on the front to the new shoulder point, and around to the back underarm point.
I cut the pattern through the new armhole and neckline while the paper was still pinned together to make sure the lines followed true.
I also lengthen the pattern by 10cm to make it more dress length than tunic length. I did this directly on to the fabric as I pinned out the pattern pieces.
Making it up
The Kate Dress has two options for the front of the dress. Plain and simple or with a bit of gathering at the centre front neckline.
As I am more than amply catered for in the bosom department I usually opt to go for the version with a bit of extra gathers just to make everything a bit more comfortable around the bust. You can do a Full Bust Adjustment too if you prefer.
Gathers are a form of ‘suppression’ and like their confederates; pleats, tucks and darts, basically just suppress the extra fabric to create a 3D shape. They can be interchangeable too.
For this dress I wanted a flatter finish at the neckline but to keep that bit of extra fullness in the fabric. So I turned the gathers into an inverted box pleat, a bit like the one I created in the Woven Peaseblossom Hack
The additional fabric is marked on the Front pattern piece and I marked this onto the fabric.
I measured down 20cm as I wanted the opening of the pleat to be just below bust level, and marked this as the base of the pleat. I stitched along the new pleat line and then pressed the pleat open evenly to create the inverted box shape.
It can be a little bit fiddly doing it on one this little but it’s worth getting it neat.
The rest of the dress was made up in exactly the same way as a normal Kate Dress. The pockets were bound across the top edge and sewn in place.
The armholes were finished in the same way as the neckline. I measured the armhole first to work out how much bias binding I would need.
I used a visible binding finish, to matched the neckline. And it was sewn in exactly the same way as the neckline and pockets.
This is a simple and easy pattern hack to do. I hope you give it a go and make several Kates for the Summer.
When I design patterns I nearly always find ways of altering them and adapting them in some way. I guess I just don’t like to play by the rules, or be told what to do – even if it’s by myself.
So with the Julia Top, although I love her hip-length, as she was originally created, I have found myself preferring her a bit longer.
Most patterns will have lengthen or shorten lines on them and Julia is no exception. These marks let you know the best place to add in extra fabric, or to reduce the amount of fabric, in the best places so as not to alter the lines of the pattern too much.
With the Julia, and her integrated pockets, proportion is key. So while I could just slap a bit of extra paper on the bottom of the pattern it’s going to leave the pockets rather high in proportion to the new length of the garment.
This is why I cut across the Front of the Julia pattern ABOVE the pockets. This way I could insert another 15cm of fabric to lengthen the top and keep the pockets in the correct place. The back was easier, here I could just slap on another 15cm to the hem of the top. And by “slap on” I do, of course, mean carefully measure and ensure the added on paper is parallel to the existing hem.
Now I have to confess I am a Prittstick fan. I know it’s easier to use tape sometimes, but when I go back to use my patterns again, (and being the slightly obsessive person I am about patterns I need to press them to sit flat after being folded away), I find it tricky to avoid the tape with the iron. And you really don’t want melted sticky tape on the base of your iron – trust me!
This is why I prefer glue. Once glued on you can sweep the iron over added-on paper or other pattern alterations without having to worry about becoming stuck – literally!
With the Julia’s I have in a heavier weight sweatshirting I prefer to have a slightly higher neckline too. To do this I draw on the shoulder seam allowance on both the front and back pattern pieces.
Stick a bit of extra paper under each of the pattern pieces, but make sure to keep them as individual pieces otherwise you won’t be able to separate them afterwards.
Then overlap the shoulders, making sure that the seam lines are on top of each other.
Now mark on your new neckline. I didn’t really want mine higher, just not quite so wide. Remember to factor in the width of the neckband as this will reduce the size of the neck opening too.
Now is a good time to measure out and calculate the length of the neckband. I explain how to do this over on the Woven Peaseblossom tutorial.
Once you have the pattern altered it will make up in exactly the same way as the original pattern. You should be able to overlock this together really quickly, in fact the only bit of actual ‘sewing’ is the seam across the front to create the pockets. But if you’re pretty nifty on an overlocker you could even do that seam on one as well.One tip I will share is that you can use a twin needle to finish off the neck band. It just ensures the seam lays flat and sits neatly. Just to prove contrary I haven’t actually done it on this new yellow one because I quite liked it just as it was.
But I have on one of my older ones.
Although, I have acquired a new coverstitch machine and this will do the job as well. (I just have to get mine out of the box and find some time to play with it.)
To finish off this pattern hack I decided to add a cuff at the hem. Remember when calculating how deep to make the cuff you will need to double that measurement as the finished cuff is a double layer of fabric.
If you are using a proper rib it will usually come as a narrower tube of fabric. So for this Julia I chose to make a cuff 8cm deep. So I cut two strips of 18cm – 2 lots of 8 + 2 lots of 1cm seam allowance.
Open up the tubes so they are two long pieces, one for the front and one for the back. These pieces will be loo long to fit onto either the front or the back so they need to be trimmed down.
I made this one 14cm narrower than the body so it will bring in the hem slightly to create more of a ‘sweater dress’ kind of look.
Join the two ribbing pieces into a loop and then fold in half with the right sides on the outside. The bottom cuff then attaches to the hem in the same way as the sleeve cuff. Use the side seams on the cuff to match up to the side seams on the top. Then you can match up the centre fronts and centre backs of both the cuff and top.
This is my latest Julia Hack. I hope you have a go at hacking one too.
You can always join us for a Julia Workshop if you would like some support and expert tuition to help you get yours hacked.
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 showed you what I did to alter the pattern to make it have more of a jeans style.
Now in Part Two I’ll cover the sewing processes involved. You’ll notice that I’ve used a paler denim for some of the images in this tutorial. That’s because I made up the dark pair first to see if it would actually work and then loved them so much I’ve made another pair in the paler denim and photographed how I made this pair. The denim I used was the 8oz washed dark denim and the 8oz washed pale denim from our store. It is a pretty long tutorial as I’ve tried to cover everything I did, so I hope you stick with it.
Cutting Out –
I laid out the pattern pieces in a single layer. This may seem a bit long winded but it will make a difference to the way your jeans hang and sit on the body. The nature of the twill weave in a denim fabric means the fabric naturally wants to follow the weave and can result in the fabric twisting. By reversing the pattern pieces you minimise the risk of the fabric twisting the trouser legs. So it is easier to do this by cutting as a single layer.
I placed the pattern pieces on the fabric first to arrange them in the most fabric efficient way (the technical term for this is called getting a “tight lay” and always makes me snigger, childish I know) before pinning them in place temporarily while chalking around each piece.
Once cut out I marked out all the notches and pattern markings.
Using the correct needle and thread –
The seams on a pair of jeans can get rather bulky with all the layers of fabric used so a good quality Jeans needle is a must!
I used Schmetz Jeans size 90 for this project. The thread used for the basic construction can be normal sewing thread, but if you want the top stitching to show up a contrasting top stitching thread is much better as it’s slightly heavier than normal sewing thread. As I’m using a dark denim for these jeans I wanted a lovely bright yellow top stitching thread to use to really show up. I also used a specific top stitching needle too to go through all the thicknesses of fabric.
You can cheat slightly if you want to create nice flat seams without the extra bulk of a proper flat felled seam by sewing a normal flat seam then overlocking both seam allowances together to neaten it. Press the seam to one side and sew a row of top-stitching a couple of millimetres from the seam line on the right side through the seam allowance underneath. You can sew another row about 6mm from that if you would like a double top stitch feature. This was the method I used for the seams on my jeans, not particularly authentic I’ll admit, but much quicker!
Jeans Construction –
To be honest most of the processes involved are the same as the Portia Trousers. However I prefer the Closet Case Files method of putting in the zip. I have tied to batch things as much as I can as it really does make sewing up a garment that much quicker.
First of all I attached the back yoke pieces to the back trouser pieces.
Although it was only one seam, I could then overlock all the pieces I needed in one batch which included the back yoke seams, belt loops, across the tops of the back pockets and around the edge of the pocket back facings.
Now I could press everything flat. In this pressing batch I also pressed over the top of the back pocket, the coin pocket and pressed the belt loops into thirds ready to top stitch.
I top stitched across several pieces in one batch – the back yoke seam, back pocket, belt loops and coin pocket.
Now I could press the sides of the back pockets and coin pocket in place ready to top stitch again.
The easiest way to get your topstitching perfect is to line up the edge of the foot with the edge of the pocket and then swing the needle over to the right a couple of clicks. You can then use the edge of the foot as your guide. On the coin pocket I started at the base of the pocket stitched up then counted the stitches across the top (4 at stitch length 3.5) before sewing back down the other side. On the second/ return row I used the edge of the foot along the first row of sewing as my guide.
On the back pocket I started where the horizontal rows of stitching were instead of right at the top. This meant that once I had gone all the way around the edge of the pocket and back up to the top, I could count the stitches to sew across the top (4 at stitch length 3.5, same as the coin pocket) and then come back around the pocket the other way using the edge of the foot against the first row of sewing to create the inside row of stitching. I counted the stitches across the top again before coming back down to meet the start of the stitching.
Back to ordinary sewing for this batch. Join the two back trousers.
Make sure to sew up to the blunted off point on the centre back seam allowance at the crotch. It’s easy to miss this and it will throw out the inside leg seam if you do.
And attach the back pocket facing to the back pocket lining.
The pocket facings are just sewn straight on top of the lining.
And I also stitched across the base of the coin pocket. Although if you make you pattern piece the correct size in the first place you won’t need to!!
Still with on ordinary sewing I attached the front pocket facing to the front pocket lining and hopped up to press the seam down quickly.
The front pocket is placed on top of the front trouser sections with the right sides together and stitched around the curved pocket opening. Snip into the seam allowance to release the tension in the curve.
This isn’t obligatory but because I was using the Portia pockets rather than normal jeans pockets I wanted to understitch the pocket seam. So I sewed through the pocket facing and seam allowance close to the seam line.
This made it easier for the pocket facing to sit flat and hidden underneath the edge of the pocket. You won’t see the understitching from the right side and it won’t interfere with the top stitching, but you could leave it out if you wanted to.
Still on normal sewing I attached the two front trouser pieces together along the centre front seam. Use a long basting stitch from the waist down to the mark for the base of the fly extension, then reduce the stitch length to normal, reverse a few stitches and carry on to the end of the seam.
Snip into the seam allowance to the stitching line at the base of the fly extension.
Now I can do a batch of overlocking as I need to go back and neaten the centre back seam…
…as well as the front crotch seam…
And the left hand side of the fly extension.
Back to a bit of topstitching and I can now sew the rows of top stitching around the edge of the front pocket.
I can also push the centre back seam allowance over to the left and top stitch through that.
YES!! The topstitching matches! That is so satisfying!
The centre front seam allowance is also pushed over to the left (I know it looks like the right but it’s the left if you’re wearing the trousers) and top stitched all the way around the seam.
This is the method of inserting the zip that Closet Case Files use and it is really easy.
On the wrong side of the jeans place the zip face down onto the right hand side of the fly extension. Make sure that the zip teeth are about 6mm from the seam line and the zip stopper is about 1.3mm above the end of fly extension. This is to make sure it’s out of the way when you come to topstitch the fly. It doesn’t matter if the zip comes up above the waist of the jeans, you can deal with that later.
Pin in place but only pin through the fly extension NOT the trouser front.
Fold the right trouser front out of the way so you can sew though the zip tape and the fly extension. Sew close to the zip teeth using a zip foot.
Fold back the the zip so that the fly extension is pulled back from the zip teeth. Top stitch through the fly extension close to the seam line.
Flip out the left hand fly extension and fold over the zip so it lies face down on top of the left fly extension. Pin in place through the zip tape and fly extension.
Flip back the end of the zip tape if it hangs below the fly extension and pin in place out of the way. You can catch this in when sewing the next step.
Sew down the left side of the zip tape close to the zip teeth. Then sew a second row close to the edge of the zip tape. This helps to strengthen the zip. Fold back the rest of the jeans so the zip sits nice and flat along the centre front.
From the right side mark where the metal zip stopper is. You don’t want to accidentally hit this when top stitching a break a needle!
Use a template to give you the guide for top stitching the curved shape for the front fly.
I marked on where the zip stopper was to make sure that the inside row of top stitching would miss it.
Top stitch around the front fly following your guide line. Then sew the second row using the edge of the foot along the first row as your guide. Make sure to stop at the centre front seam and not to cross over onto the right hand side of the jeans front.
Sew across the bottom edge of the fly facing and trim it back by half.
Turn the fly facing to the right side and press it flat. I prefer to overlock the open edge now ** but you can leave it and do it at another step further on.
Undo the basting stitches that have been holding the centre front part of the zip together.
On the wrong side lay the fly facing over the zip so that the folded edge lines up with the overlocked edge of the fly extension.
Sew along the overlocked edge of the fly facing through the zip tape and the right hand fly extension. You could have left overlocking the edges of the fly facing until now instead of doing it earlier. ** You could overlock now through all the layers trimming off the excess front the fly extension if you wanted to. I think it’s quite tricky trying to get all the layers under the foot of the overlocker, so I prefer to overlock the fly facing first then just machine it in place, but it’s up to you and your overlocker.
Then I trimmed off the excess fly extension close to the stitching so it won’t show.
From the right side sew a bar of satin stitch at the base of the zip and on the curve of the outer row of fly topstitching. Sew these through the fly facing as well.
This helps to secure the zip and keeps the fly facing in place.
Now I can finish the front pockets. You could do this earlier on but I don’t think it makes a lot of difference and I can batch things more now.
Lay the back pocket on to the wrong side of the trousers so that the right sides of the pockets are together. Pin and sew around the curves edge of the pocket bag only, lifting the rest of the jeans out of the way.
Baste the top edges and the sides of the pockets to the trouser fronts to hold them in place.
With the right sides together match up the crotch seams and pin and sew the inside leg seam. I just used a normal closed overlocked seam and pressed the seam to the front before topstitching it. But you could use a proper flat felled seam here if you prefer.
Then I pinned the outside leg seam with the right sides together. Now is a really good time to try the jeans on and make any adjustments you might need. This will really be beneficial if you’re using a fabric that has any stretch in it as you will almost certainly need to take in the side seam a fraction to account for any stretch.
Also don’t forget that denim will ease out during the day as you wear them so you may need to account for a bit of that too when deciding how close you want to make them on the waist and hips. As you can see I needed to take these in just a fraction.
Overlock the seam and press it towards the back.
More jeans detailing means top stitching though the side seam only as far down as the pocket bag. So feel through the fabric layers and mark the bottom of the pocket bag.
Now is the time to make any adjustments to the zip. Measure down the seam allowance and mark that with a pin.
Now for a little bit of sewing dentistry! You can pull off the unwanted zip teeth with a pair of pliers quite easily. Make sure you have pulled off enough so they won’t get caught when sewing on the waistband. Just DON”T PULL UP THE ZIP NOW. There is nothing to stop the zip head flying off the end of the zip!!
Interface the outside waistband and then sew the two waistbands together along the top edge.
Trim the sew allowance down by about half then press it open. This helps the seam to sit right on the edge of the waistband when it’s turned round the right way.
Press the waistband with the wrong side together so it sits nice and flat.
Starting at the centre back pin the interfaced side of the waistband around the waist of the jeans. It should be longer than the waist of the jeans so you can trim some off later.
Sew around the waist making sure that you stitch right across the ends of the fly. Then press the seam up towards the waistband.
I wanted to give the inside waistband an bit of decoration so I pressed up the seam allowance to give me a guide to sew on some pretty bias binding. I folded out the bias and pressed it flat before sewing on to the waistband lining up the creases as a guide.
To neaten off the ends of the bias and to make it tuck up inside the waistband neatly I angled the start and finish of the sewing line.
Fold back the waistband so the right sides are together and sew across the ends in line with the centre front on one side and the fly extension on the other. Make sure that the bias binding sits just over the waist seam. Trim off the excess waistband and turn it through to the right side.
Fold over the waistband and press it all nice and flat. Tuck under the bias binding so just the decorative edge is showing. Pin it vertically so you can sew over the pins if you need to. Just make sure the pin heads are well out of the way of the stitching line.
From the right side top stitch across the waistband just above the waist seam first to secure the waistband. Reverse at the start and finish to secure your stitching. If you are super careful you should see the top stitching just on the edge of the inside waistband above the bias binding. Then it’s easier to top stitch around the rest of the waistband pivoting at the corners. You can use the edge the foot along the edge of the waistband as a guide and swing the needle into the correct position.
Attach the belt loops and the centre back, side seams and in line with the front pockets. Do this with a small satin stitch to really hold them securely.
Mark and sew the buttonhole. I used a rounded buttonhole as I like the look of them as opposed to a normal square ended one, but you can choose whichever you prefer.
A proper jeans button will usually need a hole punched into the waistband first to make it easier to insert the button. There are kits available that will have a punch as well as buttons and rivets.
I inserted the button back, lined up the button then flipped over the waistband and hammered the two together. It’s really easy!
I did the same with the rivets at the sides of the pockets. I used the punch to make the holes through all the layers of fabric then the rivet sat in the die while I hammered it in. I think it’s worth adding these little details, they do make all the difference.
So this is my second pair of Portia as Jeans. I really enjoyed making them and I can’t wait to wear the paler version now as well.
I hope you decide to alter your Portia Trousers and make them up as jeans too. It really isn’t difficult and I’d love to see how you get on.
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!
This is what I did…
Reduced the depth in the crotch –
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.
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…
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
You can see what I did in Part Two of Portia as Jeans coming soon.
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.
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 hemline
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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now For a Bit of Cutting Out…
That was the pattern alterations done so it needed cutting out and making up.
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!
Stitch down the inverted box pleat by 5cm on both the centre front and centre back 2cm away from the fold.
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!)
Neaten the side seams and hems on both front and back separately.
Sew the shoulder seams and neaten.
Sew down the side seams to the end of the split and press open.
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.
The hem and splits once sewn need a really good press – use a pressing cloth and plenty of steam if you need to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To keep it all neat and tidy I used a twin needle to topstitch around the neckline through the woven fabric and seam allowance.
Give the neckband a gentle press to steam it into place if it’s stretched out a little bit in the sewing.
I was really pleased with the way this particular hack turned out, and I’m planning another one already.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Transfer the seam line on to the back.
Method 1 – Lay the front pattern piece on top of the back.
Use a tracing wheel to trace along the line and through to the back piece.
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.
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.
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.
Separate the back pattern pieces and the front pieces by cutting up the new seam lines.
Add seam allowance on each side of the new seam lines. Add a strip of paper to each side of the new seam lines.
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.
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.
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.
Do the same for the two back pieces but use a double balance mark or notch to indicate that this is the back.
**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.
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.