Saturday, March 25, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Culottes - Butterick 6178

Pattern: Butterick 6178 (2016)

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted cropped culottes with waistband, side pockets, and back zipper.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes (14-16-18-20-22) I ultimately chose to make a size 18 according to my measurements.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Exactly!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, this pattern is so simple, three pieces, four darts, and a zipper.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the simplicity of the flat front and the sleekness of the pant style, which was needed for the length to work.

Fabric Used: 100% organic cotton 7 oz. twill from Organic Cotton Plus* in Nutmeg 160180T-NUT, Coats & Clark 7" zipper in Cloister Brown 56B, and Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Clove #590.

[This fabric was sent to me by Organic Cotton Plus and has a great feel. I pre-washed it in warm water and while it grew softer it still had a durability and thickness much like denim and would probably make a great pair of jeans or a jacket. However, the fabric arrived off grain and needed correction. More about this fabric and my solution can be found here on my blog.]

Before and After

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Even though I had checked the finished garment measurements, still wary of the fit, I cut this out in size 20. I basted the pants together on the inside seams and pinned the side seams. I tried them on and of course realized I should have just cut my size! Well, better to be safe than sorry. Hmmmm....

I started the habit of thread tracing all of my darts after marking with chalk for accuracy. It's much easier to stitch over thread than a blurry chalk outline. It also works if I find myself putting aside a project for a day or two (or a week!)

Next came the centered zipper and pocket insertion. There was a point when the instructions say to press all of the pocket seam allowances the same way where I found that just changing the direction of one seam allowed the whole pocket to lay flatter.

There was a part of the instructions I changed. When stitching the crotch seam, they want you to stitch the seam at 5/8" and then again 1/4" away. Because of where this seam sits I felt that was too far away, as the seam wouldn't lay right, so I went back and stitched at 7/8", notched into the seam allowance and then removed the 1/4" stitching.

I easily attached the waistband but unfortunately, there were diagonal lines radiating from the crotch towards the lower hip AND lines from the middle of the waistband out to the mid-hip. I was positively confused about a solution. But I'm not the only one, because I noticed it in photos from other reviews of the pattern.

Trying to figure out the problem, I tried altering the darts by deepening and lengthening the ones in front which eliminated most of the fullness in that area. I extended (by a smaller amount) the back darts too.

The only thing left to do was determine the best possible length. I chose to copy the look from the inspiration photo below and go about four inches above my ankles, which I found looked good with both flats and 2" - 3" heels.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? No, I will probably try another similar pattern in my stash. Unfortunately, the front crotch of this pant is too shallow and I think that was what made the pattern set funny on my body.

Conclusion: This project was fast tracked up my sewing queue when Organic Cotton Plus contacted me for a review; however, I've wanted to make this pattern since seeing Lisa's gorgeous version (above) on the Tessutti blog.

*Though the fabric was provided free in exchange for a review, all opinions are my own. Full review of the fabric can be found here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Fabric Review

Checking my email a few months ago, I was ecstatic to see a message from Organic Cotton Plus offering me fabric from their website. They deal in 100% certified organic fabric that meet Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Their range of products include different types of silk, jute, linen, and wool in knit and woven forms. In just their silk category, they offer hemp, "peace" silk, and a hemp/silk blend. They also carry in their online shop "green" laundry detergents, natural horn buttons, and both fiber reactive and vegetable dyes.

After looking through their site I was eager to choose my items; however, I had no idea how hard the decision would be. I found myself taking two days just running through fabric type, quantity, and color scenarios; if I bought two yards of their French terry, could I still afford anything else? However, I could afford four yards of their organic twill but then get just one color or split it between colors? I was also tempted with their peace silk but whatever I made with it would probably only be worn once because of my so-NOT-silk-friendly lifestyle.

I decided to end the indecision by thinking of the patterns already in my stash and what projects I had been wanting to make that were already on my project list. I then compared that list with which fabrics Organic Cotton Plus had to offer that would work with them.

Nutmeg brown and olive green

In the end, I choose two lengths of their 60" (actually 62"!) twill in two colors that are always hard for me to find; a strong green and a rich brown. I was so excited to get my hands on this fabric and in addition, by publishing my review, I would join the likes of Cut Cut Sew, Lladybird, Male Pattern Boldness, and True Bias in sampling Organic Cotton Plus fabrics.

How it arrived.
Unfortunately, both two yard lengths I originally received were off-grain. I contacted the company and they graciously sent another cut length. While better than the first, the new length was also stretched out of grain. Even though I knew in theory how to fix the problem, I took this as a research opportunity and looked through my 20-plus sewing books and found everything I could about straightening fabric grain. Out of all my books, the most detailed and complete instruction was found in my Vogue Sewing Book (c. 1982) on page 132. This was the only one that suggested soaking the fabric to relax the fibers.
Dampened with the selvages pinned together.
I first straightened the crosswise ends of the fabric by cutting into the selvage and pulling a thread across the width. After unsuccessfully trying to stretch the fabric into shape while dry, I decided to block the fabric. I soaked it in warm water, gave it another good stretch on the bias, and pinned the selvages together.
Still wet and coaxed into place.
Then similar to what is done with knitted projects, I laid the fabric flat, stretched, and pressed it into position to dry for a few hours. Before it was completely dry, I steam ironed it while continuing to coax it into place. This corrected the grain.

Ta Da, dried and corrected fabric!
While time-consuming, I am still happy with this fabric, the quality and durability is excellent. It also sews and presses well. However, I strongly feel that the company should do a review their manufacturing process, because somewhere along the way something is pulling their fabric off grain. In all, I received three separate 2-yard lengths from them and all were off-grain. Since I started this blog in 2006, I have been in the habit of checking the grain of every woven fabric before I work with them but many sewists (especially new ones) may not do this and that is were the harm would be.

Rated on a scale of 1 to 5:

Organic Cotton Plus = 4, with suggested due diligence.

Here's a sneak peek of my finished project made with their nutmeg brown 60" twill (#16018OT-NUT), the review is coming up next!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Hmmm, Which One To Buy?

  McCall's 7551

  McCall's 8164

I could also buy both and graft the perfect bib of 8164 to the adapted wider legs of 7551. But I don't even know when I would get to making these. Is it worth having another project breathing down my neck?

I am also the strongest advocate of practical dressing, so really, two pairs of overalls, aka Satan's playsuit? What is happening to me?

Update: As it turned out, while searching Etsy I found a copy of McCall's 7551 and put in my shopping cart while I was debating if I was even going to publish this post. Weeks later, it was still there and numerous searches on Etsy and eBay found no other copies of it available so I chose to see it as a sign and received it two days ago.

I don't know when it will happen but I no longer have an excuse not to make these. In fact, my copy is also a larger size, so I have no excuse ever.