Back in the saddle, thanks to Sew Saturday

Sew Saturday - 17 October 2015

You know how sometimes, you just don’t feel like sewing? All the projects you’ve got planned seem really difficult or time-consuming, and you feel more like slobbing on the sofa or lurking on Instagram than threading up another bobbin. Well, I’ve had one of those fortnights.

It’s partly because I’m busy at work, and partly because I’ve let myself be distracted by the joys of knitting, but I think it’s mainly fear of failure. The next project on my list is my second version of the Thurlow trousers. My wardrobe needs these so badly it hurts – currently I don’t own a single pair of (non-denim, non-waterproof, non-workout) trousers. But I’m scared they won’t fit. Or that they won’t fit well. Even though I’ve officially labelled this next pair as the ‘second toile’, I’m still pressuring myself to make them perfect.

So Sew Saturday has provided me with a reason to give myself a kick up the backside, a stern talking-to and an excuse for spot of fabric shopping.

Sew Saturday - 17 October 2015
It’s today, and it’s worth getting off the sofa for

Sew Saturday is all about supporting local fabric shops – something we can all get behind. Sometime between 1990 (when sewing was deeply unfashionable) and depths of the credit crunch in 2009 (when high business rates and declining footfall made so many shops unprofitable), fabric shops started to disappear from UK high streets. Malvern’s fabric shop, Sherwoods, went online-only shortly before I moved here in 2010.

So if you have a great local fabric store, get down there and… er… cop a feel. There’s no substitute for holding the cloth in your hand and wrapping it round yourself to see how it’ll look.

It’s great to see new shops opening, too – especially those with an eye for modern design, and which really make an effort to connect with their customers. Exhibit 1: Guthrie & Ghani, where I went this morning to pick up some swoonworthy cotton lawn for the lining pieces of my Thurlows.

Teal polka dot lawn fabric hanging on a washing line to dry.
Sevenberry cotton lawn in teal spot, bought this morning in Guthrie & Ghani.

It’s already drying on the line, and I’ve just cut out the main fabric pieces. Funk. Officially. Over.

Pattern pieces pinned to navy fabric, ready to cut out
The main fabric is a navy twill I bought at Birmingham Rag Market. Sold as cotton, but very definitely polyester. It’s got a touch of the school uniforms about it…
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A Thurlow shorts toile – progress, but not there yet

Front view of brown linen shorts, unheeded

When I set out to make these shorts, I didn’t know if the toile (muslin) would end up being wearable. But I needed to practise some of the techniques, like the welt pockets and the fly-front zip, so I thought I’d make up a complete version rather than just a shell. And I’m nearly there – here they are.

Front view of brown linen shorts, unheeded
All clothes should include bulldog clips, I reckon.

I’ve still got some fiddling to do to get the waistband on right, the hook and bar fastening to add, and obviously I’m not planning on leaving the hem like this. (Unless this is how the cool kids are wearing their shorts these days?) Given the hours of wailing and gnashing of teeth it takes me to find a halfway decent pair of RTW trousers, I was expecting the fitting process to be a nightmare. It’s not perfect straight out of the packet, but I think the Sewaholic fit (pear-shaped, with larger-than-average thighs) is making things easier – I can get the toile on, at least!

Back view of brown linen shorts toile
We’ll see if adding to the rise (crotch depth) also adds enough length to the crotch seam.

As you can see, I need to add quite a bit to the rise/crotch depth to bring them up to the tummy button area, where I guess the waistband is supposed to sit. Once I’ve done that, I’ll be able to assess the crotch length, and finally the fit of the legs. The waistband feels a little large, given that it’s sitting lower than it should be, which surprises me. I didn’t expect it to come up large, judging by the size chart so this might be a symptom that something else is wrong. And I think I’m going to need a swayback adjustment of some sort too.

Side view of brown linen shorts
Wow – the side seam is leaning forward loads here. Why’s that, then?

P1100085

Would you suggest I change anything else?

Being brave

This was the week I took the plunge and started on my first pair of Thurlow trousers. It’s a pattern that crops up over and over again in sew-land, and as a pear-shaped person, it’s been on my to-sew list for a while.

I’d been putting it off for three reasons:

  1. I was scared of its welt pockets and fly-front zip placket
  2. I was a bit intimidated by all the awesome versions I’d seen around the web, like this and this
  3. I didn’t have enough calico to make a toile (muslin), and I was loathe to buy anything I knew I wouldn’t wear.

But earlier this summer, my lovely best friend sent my son a birthday present from Amazon, which came wrapped up in one of their brown gift bags. Five minutes with the seam ripper later, and I had just enough fabric to run up a pair of shorts – for free!

Gift wrapped presents in paper and bags.
I’ve used one of the large brown gift bags to toile a pair of Thurlow shorts.

So that was excuse number 3 out of the window. It was time to be brave and get over numbers 1 and 2 as well. I did say I was going to challenge myself this year and learn some new techniques… Lauren’s Lladybird blog has a great sewalong for the Thurlow, so I dived in on Monday, cutting it all out. I decided to aim for a wearable toile – and grab the chance to practise those welts and the fly-front – so I cut out all the pieces and dived in.

I haven’t quite got the waistband on yet, so I’ve not been able to assess the fit yet, but I’m very pleased with my first attempt at welt pockets. The sewalong instructions really helped, as the pattern instructions are a bit sparse in places, and Lauren’s included photos of every step which helps you distinguish which pieces are which much more easily than black and white drawings.

Welt pocket in brown linen trousers
Welt pleased with these!

The fly-front zip didn’t go quite as smoothly – I’ll confess there was a fair bit of unpicking involved. Seriously, how do I get the zipper foot past the zip pull without veering off course? Am I stitching too close to the zip, or is there some trick I’m missing that everyone else knows?! But still, it’s in, and I’ll take that for a first try.

Not bad for a first attempt?
Not bad for a first attempt?
Partially made shorts with waistband still to attach and hems to finish
Next step? Attach that waistband

Fingers crossed I’ll get the waistband on this week and then the fitting fun can begin.

Have you made the Thurlow trouser pattern? How clear did you find the instructions?