Shorts Or Swim Trunks? How About Both!

Sewing For Men, Episode 3

My husband isn’t often interested in patterns, or in being my model for a pattern test. 🙂  He did however, really like the line drawings for the new GreenStyle Motion Athletic Shorts.  Since he basically lives in athletic shorts, he was more than happy to let me sew them for him!

The Motion Shorts are designed for stretch wovens, with an optional liner layer made in 4-way stretch fabric.  The front pockets are deep and large, so no matter how big your phone, there’s plenty of room for that, and all the other stuff guys tend to carry!  The curved back gives shaping and is quite flattering on the booty.  And the side and back panels give an opportunity for contrast fabric and pretty top-stitching.

Motion back

The liner layer can be made of mesh for a traditional swim trunk style, or Supplex or other compressive fabric for support for working out.  I chose to use nylon/spandex tricot so Dan can wear his shorts for workouts and swimming.  Moisture wicking, quick drying fabric is key when making swim or workout wear.  I use the same Phee Fabrics tricot for my swimwear and dresses, and he’s lucky I had this khaki steel color in my stash and used it for him, rather than the dress I had intended to make with it! 😉

Motion lining

After I made the first pair of shorts, he requested that I add a “hammock hack” to the liner layer, so that they would fit like ready-to-wear Saxx, and all the underwear I make for him.  No problem sweetie, I can do that! ❤  Powernet is the fabric of choice for the gusset hammock, just as it is added to bras and swimwear, because of its supportive nature.

The hammock is a partial moon shape, with the straight edges toward the center, and the curved edges sewn to the center panel of the liner layer.  After cutting out the mirror image hammock pieces, I do a tight rolled hem on the straighter side of both pieces.  If you don’t have a serger, you can also use cotton swimwear elastic tautly stretched and zig-zag stitched to the straighter edges.  Lay the hammock pieces on the lining center panel and pin along the curved edge.  Then baste along the sides and across the top with a zig zag stitch set at 2.5 or 3.0.  Then stitch the dart at the bottom of the center panel.  Snip the top of the dart up to, but not through the stitch line, and press the seam open.  Then baste it in place.  Notice how having a larger curve on the hammock piece, compared to the curve on the center panel gives the wearer space to tuck everything in?  (I’m trying hard here to be descriptive without being too descriptive if you know what I mean!)  This is a family friendly blog!

Motion gusset

At this point, the center panel can be sewn to the liner pieces as per the pattern tutorial, and the shorts can be completed.  Here’s a photo of the inside of the finished shorts.

Motion gusset complete

The pattern has options for 5″, 7″, and 9″ inseam lengths, which is great because they can be customized to fit your needs.  Dan prefers the 7″ inseam, because he doesn’t like longer shorts that get caught on his knees when he’s working out.  If I were making myself a pair, I’d choose the 5″ length.  And yes, I tried his shorts on.  I’d need a smaller size, but they were pretty cute on me too!  The pockets are so much bigger than any other shorts I’ve made, so who wouldn’t want that?

Motion pocket

They are flattering from every angle, and I am so excited that the beach has reopened so we can go for walks along the shore again.

Motion right side

And no photo session with a guy is complete without plenty of silly poses for your viewing pleasure! 😉

Motion guns Motion buff

Obviously I need to make him a few more pairs, because he is loving the look!

I used stretch twill from Phee Fabrics as the main fabric, with a scrap of (no longer available) reflective chevron as a fun accent.  It’s funny how making them out of all one fabric color gives them a dressy look, while using an accent fabric gives them a more sporty look.  And I know that I’ve found a winning pattern when he starts asking me to customize and hack it for him! 🙂

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤

 

 

Baby Gowns With Fold-Over Cuffs

I’ve been sewing a summer wardrobe for my granddaughter, because sewing pretty things brings me joy while we’re all under “safer at home” orders.  I texted my daughter to see if she needs any baby gowns for Lila’s soon-to-be-arriving baby sister, and if so, what size she needs.  Since she only has one newborn gown, and a couple of 3 months size gowns, newborn gowns are definitely on her need list!

It would have been easiest to buy a baby gown pattern, but where’s the fun and challenge in that? 🙂  Hacking the Patterns for Pirates Wee Lap Tee into a gown was simple enough.  Adding 12-3/4″ to the length of the tee, and angling the pattern out from the bottom of the armscye, to 6″ wide at the bottom of both the front and back pattern pieces worked perfectly.  I also curved the bottoms up slightly at the side seam.

WL pattern

To keep baby from accidentally scratching herself, (and to keep tiny fingers warm at night) fold-over mitten cuffs were needed.  So I cut the sleeves at the normal hem cut-line and hacked some cuffs to add to them.  You need two pieces of fabric 5-3/4″ high x 2-3/4″ wide, and two pieces 9-3/4 high x 2-3/4 wide.  (The direction of greatest stretch is across the width.)  Use 3/8″ seams to construct the cuffs, rather than the 1/2″ called for in the Wee Lap Tee pattern.

To assemble each cuff, fold the 9-3/4″ high piece (the pink fabric) in half, wrong sides together, lining up the 2-3/4″ ends .  Lay it on top of a 5-3/4″ high piece (the flamingo fabric) that is right side of fabric up (but with the print upside down if using a directional fabric), aligning the 2-3/4″ ends at the top, like below left.  Then carefully fold the bottom of this sandwich up, until it lines up at the top, and pin the sides, like below right.

WL cuffs step 1

Stitch along the two pinned sides.  When you turn the cuff right sides out, the seams will be completely enclosed inside the cuff, and the mitten can be folded back as a cuff, or folded over like a mitten.  It’s almost magical when you try it! 🙂

WL cuffs sewn

Follow the pattern tutorial for basic construction, except you will need to sew the side seams and then set-in the sleeves, rather than sewing the sleeves in flat.  Personally, that is how I always sew sleeves, because I think set-in sleeves are easier and cleaner.  Keep in mind that it’s easier to sew the tiny cuffs to the sleeves, by leaving the sleeve right sides together after sewing the sleeve seam.  Slide the cuff inside the end of the sleeve, carefully quartering and pinning it in place.  You may have to wrangle the sewing machine foot inside the cuff, and slowly sew it on.  But the finish is so much more professional than having an unfinished edge on a basic cuff sewn on flat!

WL gowns top

I also chose to finish the neck edges by binding rather than banding.  But that’s because I now have a cover-stitch and seem to be binding everything I sew! 😉  I played around and did a reverse triple cover stitch on the neckline of the flamingo gown, using a variegated thread in the looper.

It was fun to try different methods of finishing the bottom of the gowns.  The white and teal striped gown was finished with a band.  It’s super important to use a fabric with excellent recovery if you want to do a band.  The main fabric was some old interlock from my stash, with poor recovery, so I knew I would need to use fabric with great recovery for all the finished edges.  I chose teal nylon spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics for the cuffs, binding, and band on the gown, and it worked out perfectly.  The 2-1/4″ high, by 13″ wide strip was folded in half, and the short ends sewn together to make the band.  The band was folded wrong sides together, and carefully pinned to the bottom of the gown at the quarter and eighths points, then sewn.  The band really needs to stretch to get the bottom evenly gathered.

The flamingo gown was finished with elastic at the bottom, stitched, then turned under and top-stitched.

The pink gown was finished with an envelope flap.  Mostly out of necessity because I didn’t have enough fabric! 🙂  The front was cut out as normal.  The back was as long as I could make it.  So the rosebud print fabric was folded in half, then half the opposite way, then the balance of the gown back bottom (plus seam allowance) was cut out.  The gown front was hemmed.  One end of the rosebud extension piece was sewn to the gown back, and the seam top stitched.  The other end of the extension was slightly gathered with elastic to keep the envelope flap from being floppy.  Then the elastic was folded under and top-stitched.

To complete the envelope bottom, with the gown back right side up, fold the back extension piece up, so that it is right sides together.  Lay the gown front on the gown back, right sides together, and stitch the side seams.

envelope seam

When you turn the gown right sides out, the seam will be enclosed inside the back extension.

WL bottoms

It felt good to use up the old cotton interlock fabric in my stash that really isn’t useful for anything other than baby and children’s clothes.  The stripe, pink, and rosebud fabrics are super old, and I couldn’t begin to tell you where they were purchased.  It’s pretty likely that the stores they came from are no longer in existence!  The flamingo fabric came from JoAnn Fabrics a few years ago, so you may still be able to find it in their Doodles line.

I hope that you are finding joy while sewing through your fabric stash, and using patterns you may not have tried before.  Being able to make something beautiful for someone who truly needs it makes me happy.  I hope that sewing to help others is making you happy too!

Lila & The LLK Kensington Dress

I did a bit of Christmas sewing, making microwavable bowl cozies for my Mom, siblings and family, and adult children, making a total of (I think) 22 cozies by the time I was done.

bowl cozies

We use our cozies all the time, whether cooking broccoli or oatmeal, or keeping our fingers from freezing while eating a banana split.  Not that we do that often, really! 😉

bowl micro

I also sewed a few things for Lila. ❤  I thought the Little Lizard King Kensington would be a cute dress, but I had to make a couple of alterations.  My daughter dislikes buttons.  She has disliked them since childhood.  Which presented quite a challenge when trying to find the collared shirts required at their elementary school!  (I didn’t have time to do much sewing back then).  So, she didn’t want Lila’s dress to have buttons.  Which meant I had to alter the pattern to use a zipper.  It wasn’t really hard to do.  I just found the center point of the back overlap, and instead of using the button placket, I reduced the width of the bodice back to just having a 1/2″ seam allowance.  I had cut only one skirt panel the width of my 45″ fabric, and put the seam at center back.

This meant that rather than following the pattern tutorial, after attaching the collar and bodice lining at the neckline, the skirt had to be gathered and sewn to the bodice.  The zipper was installed (ending about 3″ down into the skirt).  Then the bodice lining, (which I had pulled up out of the way while installing the zipper) was sewn down into place.

LLK porch

The most challenging part of the pattern was the scalloped collar.  It wasn’t that it was hard to do, just very time consuming.  The scallops on a size 2 are rather tiny!  I took my time, and very carefully trimmed and clipped each scallop so that it would lay neatly when it was turned and pressed.

Another important consideration when using a fabric with an obvious pattern to it, like this Art Gallery Fabrics Evanescence Blackout, is to take your time when laying out your pattern pieces.  For a professional finished product, the design needs to line up and be evenly spaced.  Notice that the darker “stripe” going across the collar is the same on the left and right?  I also took care when cutting the skirt and bodice to ensure that the almost plaid-like design was evenly spaced where they meet at the waistline.  The print doesn’t have perfectly straight lines forming an even plaid.  It’s more of a pretty graphic design and loosely drawn and wavy grid pattern.  Although I tried to get the sleeves as perfectly aligned, the right sleeve lines up better than the left.  Oh well, perfection escapes me again!  Hahahahahaha!

At least my granddaughter is perfect, and perfectly adorable! 🙂

LLK yard full

And a bit of advice for photographing toddlers: always bring snacks.  Everybody is much happier when there is food in their tummy!

banana

Lila also got a rayon spandex dress, trimmed in stretch lace, hacked from the Ellie & Mac Grow With Me Pajamas.

LLK flat lay

I cut a strip of the stretch lace to half the width, and added it at the bodice to skirt seam line.  I shortened the skirt to make it dress length, and gently curved the hem so that it would hang nicely when on the body.  After gathering the lace (about 2-1/2″ yards worth), I zigzagged it onto the hem.  Lila likes the orchid color, and the soft, breezy comfort of the dress.

EM grow pj

It’s such a comfortable play dress, that she just didn’t want to stop swinging for photographs.

swing

It didn’t take long to whip up a couple of Made For Mermaids Hadley Hand-Tied Bows, and attach them to hair clips for a finishing touch.  Maybe I’ll make one of the larger bow sizes next time.  After all, Lila is a little southern belle!  😉

Hadley bow

She is also fun to sew for, and pretty much looks adorable in everything I make for her!  Now I need to sew up a couple more patterns for this sweet girl. ❤

The bowl cozies (link to tutorial here), Kensington dress, and bow, were all made with Art Gallery Fabrics 100% cotton purchased from Phee Fabrics.  The 13oz. rayon spandex was also purchased at Phee Fabrics.

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤

Sew Simple Tote Tutorial

Whether you’re participating in a Secret Santa or handmade holiday gift exchange, or just want a useful tote bag to have on hand, I’ve got a simple tutorial for you.  If you’re a bag maker, you probably already have some wonderful patterns.  But if you’re like me, and only randomly make bags when the need arises, this idea should work for you.

I was originally going to use an old McCall’s Crafts pattern I had in my stash.  But once I started digging through the tissue paper pattern, trying to find all of the pieces for the view I wanted to make, (with my cat batting at and biting the tissue paper) I decided it was easier to make up my own pattern!  Since all of the pieces are rectangles, if you use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter and mat, you don’t need actual pattern pieces.

The tote bag is designed to be reversible, with a row of pockets on both the inside and outer side.  You can use all the same fabric, two (or more) coordinating fabrics, or just use an accent fabric for certain pieces like I did.  Here are the measurements for all of the pieces you will need:

  • 4@ 12″h x 15″w for the side panels (you can make two of them in coordinates if you’d like)
  • 4@ 12″h x 5″w for the end panels (again, two can be coordinating fabric)
  • 2@ 5″ x 15″ for the bottom (one can be a coordinate)
  • 1@ 12″h x 15″w for the outer pocket
  • 1@ 11″h x 15″w for the shorter inner pocket
  • 4@ 2″ x 24″ for the straps (two can be coordinates)
  • You will also cut all of the above out of interfacing, (a heavier weight is better at stiffening the bag)

tote pieces Phee

I used Art Gallery Fabrics 100% premium cotton, (the AGF canvas would also work great!), and stretch twill that I purchased from Phee Fabrics.  This print is called Botanists Essay, and it is one of my favorite prints.  The stretch twill is actually navy, though it almost looks black in my photos.  I like the simple contrast of the solid twill against the floral print.

The first step is ironing the interfacing to the wrong side of all your pieces.  Of course I ran out of iron-on interfacing and instead had to baste regular interfacing to my pieces. 😦  Let’s just say that iron-on works better. 🙂

The next step is making the pockets.  Fold the pocket pieces in half, wrong sides together so that they are still 15″ wide.  Lay the outer pocket on top of one of the side panels, lining it up with the bottom and sides.  Baste the pocket to the side panel along the bottom and sides.  To form pockets, measure over 8″ from the left hand side and stitch, being sure to tack at the top of the pocket.  Measure 5-1/4″ from the right hand side and stitch, again tacking at the top of the pocket.  These pockets are sized to work great for your phone, a pen, your keys, etc.

draw out pock

The inner pockets are made in a similar way.  Lay the inner pocket on top of a side panel, lining it up with the sides and the bottom.  Baste the pocket to the side panel along the sides and bottom.  Measure 5-1/2″ from each side and stitch, tacking at the top of the pockets.  These pockets are sized to hold a notepad or tissues, and perhaps some gum or snacks!  Feel free to adjust the pocket sizes to suit your needs.

draw in pock

Now it’s time to assemble the tote bag.  Lay an end panel on the outer pocket side panel, right sides together and stitch along the side seam, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Then line up another side panel with the long unsewn side of the end panel, and stitch.  Then line up the other end panel on that side panel, and stitch.  Finally, line up the edges of the end panel and the pocket side panel and sew them together so that you end up with a rectangular tube.

To assist with sewing the bottom onto the tote, I like to mark the four corners 1/2″ from the edges on the wrong side of the fabric.  Line the bottom piece up with the bottom of one of the side panels ensuring that the 1/2″ markings line up with the seams, and that they are right sides together.  Stitch, being sure to back stitch at both ends.

tote bottom pins

Rotate the bottom so that one of the short sides lines up with the end panel, and stitch from one 1/2″ mark to the next.  The marks should line up with the seams.  Then rotate the bag again to line up the other long edge of the bottom with the other side panel, matching the 1/2″ marks and seams, and stitch.  Finally, rotate one last time to line up the final short side of the bottom with the final end panel, and stitch.  Clip the corners, being sure to not cut through the stitching line.

tote bottom sewn

Repeat this process of sewing the sides and ends together, then adding the bag bottom with the “lining” or inner side of the bag.  Then it’s time to make the bag straps.

tote straps

I used contrasting fabric so that one side of the straps are floral, and the other side is solid.  Place the two strap pieces right sides together, and stitch the two long sides.  Repeat with the other two strap pieces, and turn both straps right sides out.  Press and top stitch the long edges of the straps.  Measure 3″ from the seam on the side panels and pin an end of the strap in place, lining up the ends of the strap with the top of the bag.  Stitch each end of the strap in place, being sure not to twist the strap.  Repeat with the second strap on the other side panel.

tote sew layers

It’s finally time to sew the inner and outer layers together.  Turn one bag inside out.  Place the other bag inside of it, so that they are right sides are together.  Ensure that the straps are safely tucked between the two layers, and pin along the top of the bag.  Stitch along the top of the bag, leaving a 2-3″ opening so that you can turn the bag right side out.  Once the bag is right sides out, press and top-stitch along the top edge.

You’ve got a handy dandy tote with three pockets on the outside.

tote pockets full

And three pockets on the inside.  (Since it’s reversible, it can also be flipped so that the inner pockets are on the outside.)

tote reversed

 

To add stability to the bottom of the bag, I needed a hard thin piece of plastic to stick in the bottom of the tote.  Originally, I considered sewing a piece of plastic canvas between the two bottom layers.  Apparently my local craft store no longer carries plastic canvas, so that idea was out.  My husband came up with a solution when he mentioned that he had a couple of plastic lids in the garage that didn’t match any of the storage bins.   After moving and reorganizing the garage, he threw away the cracked and broken bins, but had kept the lids.  So I drew a 4″ x 14″ rectangle on one of the lids, and cut it out with some tin snips (my husband likes tools, and almost always has the proper tool for the job on hand!)  I sanded the cut edges to ensure that they were smooth, and slid the plastic in place at the bottom of the tote.

tote inner pockets full

The plastic insert can be removed and wiped clean, and the tote can be thrown in the washer and dryer in case of a spill.  I always wash and dry my fabric before sewing, so I never have to worry whether anything will shrink after making it.

And there you have it!  A simple tutorial and a new tote bag to use or gift.  Once you’ve sewn a tote, you can always personalize the size and shape and pocket formation of the next one to suit your needs.

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, patterns, fabric, creating, and design. ❤