black on black

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

Hey everybuddy! I know these pictures look suspiciously a lot like my last post - but I swear it's all new makes! I feel like every year around this time I get the urge to make myself a new pair of jeans - and once I go down the jeans making route, well, it's basically a straight shot to Wardrobe-Basic-Ville!  After all, one can make only so many fun dresses before you're left standing in front of your closet on a random Tuesday morning, naked, with nothing to wear! (No? Only me?)

So for this months Mood Sewing Network make, I bring you the ever-so-humble jeans and a t-shirt combo - in all black. Because black is always the new black. This was mildly inspired by the fact that earlier this month I listened to Just Kids by Patti Smith on audiobook, read by none other than Patti Smith herself. Despite the fact that I was already pretty familiar with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe's story (I'm pretty sure it's a requirement for every art school kid), it was still a pretty engrossing read... er.. listen? And it definitely led me down a rabbit-hole of image searches where I became pretty obsessed with Patti and Robert's grungy, rock & roll style.

But let's talk about sewing!

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

This is my fourth pair of handmade jeans (here, here, and the ones that started it all, here), and I swear they just keep getting better! For this pair I used a black, medium weight denim with a bit of stretch by Theory from Mood Fabrics online. Unfortunately this particular denim is now sold out, but I highly recommend the Theory denim. I've used it for one other pair of jeans and the stuff holds up well. I always like to order swatches of my denim before buying, because it's a bit hard to tell the difference online. That way I can pick out the weight, color, and amount of stretch I like best.  This denim had some stretch for comfort, but wasn't so stretchy that it didn't feel like denim, if you know what I mean. True confessions: I've actually been wearing these jeans for the past three days by the time I got around to photographing them, and the denim hasn't stretched out much at all!

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim

Also - distressing!!! Denim. Distressing denim. I feel like people generally fall into two camps when it comes to jeans: The Purists (I will take my denim raw, and dark, and made the way my forefathers made it) and The Fashion Followers (Colored denim?! Let's do it!! Printed denim?!?! Where do I sign up!! Denim so torn up and distressed it's practically a crime that their selling it?!?! Gimme some of dat!!!)(Also, I couldn't think of a better name for this camp, suggestions are welcome). And then there's those of us that fall in between. I appreciate some fresh raw denim, so stiff it'll chafe your thighs the first month of wearing, but every now and then I get envious of those cool kids with their store-bought denim all perfectly ripped and faded... 

So I decided to try my hand at some light distressing of my own. After all,  distressing denim is just a fun embellishment! Obviously for the home sewer, industrial distressing techniques are a bit scarce, but you'd be surprised what you can do with a few basic tools. For my pair I used a hammer and a metal plate to hammer each seam, then I took a dremmel tool to the edges to wear them down and fray certain areas. It was great stress relief! You know, in case the yoga and meditation ain't working - there's nothing quite like destroying something to cure what ails 'ya! 

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

For the pattern I used my ol' reliable - the Built By Wendy pants pattern from SewU, which is so altered at this point that I should just call it mine. On my last pair of jeans that I made I had some issues with the dreaded leg twist (that spoiler of all jeans-making fun!) If you're not familiar, leg twist is when one or both legs ... well... twist! It's mildly irritating both visually, and physically for the wearer. It's often the result of inaccurate cutting or sewing, and seems to be very prevalent with jeans due to the twill weave of the fabric - which tends to have built in warp - or skew (according to my google searches). So this time I took a few precautionary steps to prevent this: 1) I traced and cut all pieces on a single layer instead of folded in half (this also results in greater fabric yield) and 2) I made sure that all the leg pieces were cut from the same area of fabric - meaning I lined them all up, going in the same direction, horizontally across the fabric. I actually remembered to take a picture while I was working to show you what I'm talking about:

My yardage was wide enough that all four leg pieces could be placed this way. This way if the twill weave was to skew, they would all skew together! Anyway, it worked! Nothing but perfectly straight seams here! If you want to read more about leg twist - this is a good source.

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim

I realized I've never really shown you guys the insides of one of my pairs of jeans. Not that they're all that exciting, but I know how nosy all of us sewists are when it comes to construction! All of my topstitching was done in black topstitching thread, which unfortunately means that it's not super visible. This is a shame, because this just might be my best topstitching on a pair of jeans yet! Also, fun fact - I don't use a twin needle to do any of my topstitching. I've broken way too many twin needles during jeans sewing that I've just given up. I usually draw out my topstitching by hand, and use my chalk lines as a guideline.

I serged all the raw edges since this is stretch denim, and because I was too lazy to do flat felled seams. And the pocket lining is just some pretty floral fabric that I keep around for just such a purpose.

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

Because jeans sewing can be such a time-consuming project (especially if you're like me and only own one sewing machine - you're constantly changing out thread!) I wanted to pair it with an instant-gratification sew. And nothing says 'instant-gratification' to me quite like a knit t-shirt!

Mood Fabrics Black viscose jersey tee

After seeing Heather Lou's super sexy version of Deer & Doe's Plantain Tee I decided I had to jump on that bandwagon. Also, free t-shirt pattern!?! Yes please! I used this drapey silk viscose jersey from Mood, and, man oh man, is this stuff ever luxurious to wear! Silky and smooth and light, with a lovely fluidity. Even though this pattern calls for a more stable knit, I felt like the drapey quality of this silk viscose would actually pair well with the subtle flared shape of the Plantain tee (and, also, I was copying Heather... duh... clearly I can't get enough of that girl). I stabilized the shoulder seams with a bit of clear elastic, and sewed all major seams on my serger. The sleeve and shirt hems were both simply folded under and finished with a double needle.

Mood Fabrics Black viscose jersey tee

And to thank you guys for putting up with another extra long post, I'll leave you with this gem:


Not really sure what I was going for there! But ya know... I like to get a little crazy for the camera every now and then. And yes, this was in front of a stranger's house. A stranger who came home while I was taking these. I have no shame...

Well, anyway! I've been wearing both of these makes a ton since they came hot off of the sewing machine! I think that's a sign of a great basic! What about you guys - got any wardrobe basics planned for the near future?



ooohh nettie...


You guys had to know this was coming.  There was no way I was going to let a pattern designed by one of my all time favorite people, and inspired by one of my all time favorite people pass my little ol' blog by!! Yes, this is the Nettie bodysuit from Closet Case Files.


I'm sure a lot of you can relate to my rather sordid history with bodysuits. I believe I had some fun flowery numbers that I wore as a preteen in the grungy 90's (accompanied by an awesome choker, no doubt). But then full on puberty happened and I grew some boobs, and things just kind of changed all over and there was no way I was going to be caught dead in skin-tight anything!

Fast forward a few years, and some body-confidence-building later and I was ready to try bodysuits again. I had a job as a bartender at a questionable corner bar in Philly and relied heavily on my male customers for tips (hey, it ain't glamorous, but it's the truth!) So I bought one of those American Apparel bodysuits and wore it with mini skirts. To this day I regret that look! That bodysuit somehow managed to hug me in all the wrong places!

So after that I just sort of assumed that bodysuits were better left to the preteen set, and the svelte ballerinas among us. No harm, no foul.


That is, until I met Nettie. When Heather told me she was making a bodysuit pattern I admit I was skeptical as to whether it would be for me or not, because, as I said, I'd been burned before! But because I have implicit trust in Heather, I went for it.


To say I was pleasantly surprised is a total understatement! You guys, I was stunned!! Like, pick-my-jaw-up-off-the-floor-stunned! Not only does this bodysuit hug in all the right places, but I swear it actually makes me look curvier through some sort of Heather Lou voodoo! 

Plus, it was a super fast sew with lots of different sleeve length/neckline options which makes the possible variations of this pattern virtually endless! I went with the scoop front and medium back so I could wear my regular bras with it, but still get a little sexy back action, and the short sleeves because summer is coming.


I made the size 8, in boring, basic, black cotton lycra (I bought this stuff from Girl Charlee - it only took one yard!!) because I'm always looking to add basics to my wardrobe (and because I still wish I was a svelte ballerina). This fabric has great stretch and recovery, and was softer and drape-ier than I expected. I love the fit I got with it - tight, but not too-tight. I actually love the fit so much, I'm planning a couple of pattern hacks to turn it into some easy, feminine dresses for summer.


Heather is such a clever minx and designed this pattern using self-fabric bindings for the neckline and leg holes. This gives a nice, clean finish, and the bodysuit hugs your bum without giving you that dreaded "quad-cheek" look. My bodysuit actually fits a bit differently through the hips and butt than what is pictured on Heather. I get a bit more butt cheek showing (I think this might be because my bodysuit is a smidgen more roomy in that area than intended). I'd post a picture, but it would be NSFW (wink).


She also includes instructions for adding an optional snap crotch, which is freaking brilliant!! Not only do I not have to get nekkid every time I need to pee (which is a lot, by the by) but I also giggle at the thought that I'm basically wearing a giant baby onesie! Joy!!

However, I feel like I need to just come right out and say that my snap crotch turned out... fugly. Let's call a spade a spade here, folks. Blame it on the fact that I was sewing late, and fiddly pieces of silky fabric was just beyond my motor skills by that point, but whatever. Let's just say I'm glad that part is hidden where, literally, no one by myself will ever see it (and now the entire internet. crap.)

But heeyyy,  check out those nice, even bindings, whydontcha? I will be the first to admit that sewing with knits are not my strong suit, but Heather's awesome instructions for attaching the bindings resulted in what is quite possibly the best looking bindings I've ever stitched! So, hooray! 


So far I've just worn my bodysuit as you see here, with my jeans, and I'll throw on a cardigan when I'm indoors. However I'm excited to try it with different skirts in my wardrobe. I think it will probably be most flattering with skirts that hit at my natural waistline.

Well, what do you guys think? Are you bodysuit lovers? If you're unsure about the look I definitely suggest you give the Nettie a try - she made a convert out of me!