July 11, 2014

Dots of Fun. (A Linen Challenge.)

I mentioned when I wrote about my summer sewing plans a while ago that in July, I'd be taking part in a fabric swap challenge at Skirt Fixation. Today's the day for my project to go up (and no, it's not a skirt). If you'd like, you can check my post over at Skirt Fixation, too--the photos are slightly different, and voting is now open, until Sunday. I'd be honored to have your vote--just scroll to the bottom of the post for the poll. And if you're visiting here from Skirt Fixation, hi! Thanks for stopping by.

And this is also my entry for July's Monthly Stitch challenge, MonoSewn--in other words, sewing in only black and white. This project isn't completely monochromatic, but it's about as monochromatic as I'll ever get.
Anyway, though. Here we go:

So, I was chosen to take part in linen week. Back in June, I sent fabric to Jenn at A Jennuine Life, who made a super cute dress for her daughter (here). My other swap partner was Bonnie from Fishsticks Designs. She sent me some great spotty fabric--it's actually a 30/70 linen-cotton blend, which I think probably made it easier to work with and to wear without wrinkling, but it still retains a nice linen-y look and feel. I got one yard of black, and half a yard each of green and grey. As it turned out, I wound up not using any of the green, but I’m sure it’ll find its way soon into another project.

Initially, since this challenge wasn’t adult-clothing-only and, based on their introductions, I suspected a lot of the other participants wouldn’t be sewing garments for themselves (I'm one of the only ones that isn't a mom), I toyed with the idea of making something that wasn’t for me to wear.  But let's be serious. I don’t have a child that I sew for, and I don’t really decorate, nor do I need any more bags. And even if I did, that's not what I sew for. I feel like when you do challenges, you should stick to the rules and the theme, of course, but also be true to yourself. And sewing something not for me to wear, well, that wouldn’t really be me.
full 2
(Since this was an actual sewing contest, and one that I was actually invited to participate in, I made an effort and took photos outside. But the white wall is also very true to me, so I included one of those, as well.)
(And I managed to pull off these outside photos by getting up at 6 on a Sunday and biking down to the industrial district (which is deserted on weekends, even more so in the early morning) before work. All the buildings are painted different colors, because Portland. This is the first one I picked; the 7 a.m. shadows didn't work out for me that well. But I do think it's funny.)
So I made a pair of shorts with my linen--because where better to put a fabric that’s notorious for being wrinkle-prone? Actually I’ve been really impressed so far with the lack of wrinkliness. Again, I think the fact that the fabric's actually a blend helps quite a bit. The fabric is a great weight for shorts, nice and sturdy but not too stiff (although it would've been much too stiff for anything that needed to drape) so I think I made the right choice.
(The next building worked out better.)
My base pattern was, again, Simplicity 3435 (vintage, from the early 60s), although I’ve made so many alterations to it now that the finished product bears little resemblance to the original. I added pockets (front and back), lowered the waistband even further than last time and gave it belt loops, drafted fold-up cuffs and little tabs to hold them in place, and changed the closure from an invisible side zipper to a fly front. I hadn’t sewn a proper zip fly in a really long time, so I followed this tutorial from Oliver & S. (Apparently I still did something wrong, though--the cover isn't quite as wide as I think it should be. But it's fine.) Everything else, though, I just sort of put together as I went along. Cos that's also how I sew.
Speaking of the zipper, this might be the oldest one I've ever used. If the date on the package is the year the zipper was made (and not just the date the instructions were written) it's from 1942. Wow. It's white, because the only black zippers I had were thirty inches long--and I had two of them. No idea why I even have one thirty-inch-long black zipper, not to mention two. But anyway. This one works.
zipper packaging
I really like the two fabrics together--I arranged them so the grey accents the black, and the black, in turn, accents the grey. (I think. I hope that’s also what it looks like to other people.) I got lucky in that I was sent a fabric with a very small pattern repeat, but I still spent a lot of time meticulously matching up my pieces. There are a few whoops spots, but overall, I’m really happy with it--and especially with all the little details, like the back pockets.
back pockets
(That belt. I took it off and put it back on several times throughout the course of taking photos, but isn't it perfect? My sister gave it to me for my birthday--coincidentally right before I received this fabric.)
back full
These are definitely the most wearable shorts I’ve made so far. I think that with this pair, I've almost got the shorts/trousers/jeans? fit how I want it. In future makes, I need to raise the middle of the back waist which dips--or else I could lower it the rest of the way around; it's fine when I'm standing, but when I sit down, I've noticed the front comes up a bit far... I'll also make the leg openings a little narrower, and the front pockets--both the openings and the bags--wider. But that's really it. And with shorts, the great issue is really do they fit in the crotch? And they do. Very well. Yesss.
side full
Okay project details:
Fabric: 1.5 yards of dotted cotton/linen blended fabric from Skirt Fixation challenge swap with Bonnie, free
Pattern: Simplicity 3435 (barely) from SCRAP, used before so free
Year: early 1960s?
Notions: 7" metal zipper from stash, I think $0.45; a tiny bit of bias tape, let's say $0.25 worth; hook and eye from stash, not counting; 2 buttons cannibalized from an old shirt, free
Made before: yes
Make again: probably at some point, though maybe not this year
Sewing soundtrack: Lykke Li
First worn: Wednesday
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $0.70


  1. These are lovely shorts. The grey contrast bands are especially nie

    1. Thanks, Kaitlyn. I was worried about the bands looking weird and sort of patched-together, but I think in the end they came out well.

  2. Really nice shorts! How did you find cycling in them?


    1. Ah, cycling is when I decided the leg openings needed to be narrower. Neither the length nor width have bothered me any of the rest of the time, but for some reason when I'm pedaling, they seem to open up and gap more, and because they're so short, I feel I might be just a bit more exposed than I'd like to be. That said, I'll probably continue cycling in these (maybe just with a bit of the excess fabric tucked in next to the seat?) as everything else about them on a bike was just fine.

  3. These are so cute! I love the contrasting polkadots and you've done a lovely job with your fit, pockets & fly - gorgeous!

  4. Fantastic shorts! I really love the fabrics and the way you embellished with contrast. Also, I'm very impressed by the lack of wrinkling! These look great!

    1. Thanks! I'm very pleased with the lack of wrinkling, too!