just call me crazy culottes

Mood Fabrics

Hey guys! Well, I know I said I wasn't going to apologize anymore for being a bad blogger, but here I am, feeling like a bad blogger and like an apology is in order.  For everyone interested in that Minoru tutorial I swear it's coming! I didn't mean to go AWOL on you this past month, but work got busy and so forth and so on... you know the jig. But I haven't forgotten about you!

In the meantime, here's a crazy new outfit to distract you from my bad blogger ways! Look! Pattern mixing!! *runs in the opposite direction*

Mood Fabrics

This outfit is my contribution to this month's Mood Sewing Network.  The top uses this Ralph Lauren Dazzling Blue/White Striped Viscose Jersey, and the bottoms are this Famous Designer Navy Geometric Cotton Woven.  Fun fact: the mysterious 'famous designer' is none other than Anna Sui, according to the print on the selvedge of this fabric which read "Anna Sui 2012".  I did my best to search Anna Sui's 2012 collections to see if I could spot the fabric anywhere, but no joy.  Perhaps it was used for a garment that went straight to stores? Your guess is as good as mine. But anyway! I've got Ralph Lauren and Anna Sui all in one outfit! Not too shabby for a nondescript Tuesday/Workday!

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I actually picked up both of these fabrics with zero idea of what to do with them.  I just thought the blue and white striped jersey seemed like a handy fabric to have on hand, and the print and texture of the cotton looked interesting, and I try to make it my policy, when funds allow, to grab fabrics that look interesting regardless of their practicality.  Generally speaking, however, I'm more of a "buy your fabric with your project in mind" kind of gal.  So this was kind of an anomaly that I went for two fabrics with no intended use in one order. Although it may also have been serendipity, because after my fabrics arrived (and after the standard time allotted for "oohing" and "ahhing" and petting and draping around my torso in front of a mirror that goes into every new fabric acquisition) I carefully folded each yardage and set them on top of my grotesquely disorganized fabric pile, one on top of the other. And it was like lightening struck my brain! Seeing the two of them like that, right next to one another, made me realize that they were meant to be worn together as an outfit.  More specifically, as this outfit, the image of which almost simultaneously came to me at that moment as well. Now if that doesn't sound like divine intervention from the Sewing gods than I don't know what does!

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I knew I had to make these two garments, if only to get the outfit out of my head and into reality! The shirt was first.  I used Grainline’s Hemlock Tee – a free, one-size, 3/4 length sleeve, slouchy top pattern.  This came together in no time at all. The Hemlock Tee is a great pattern for a casual top.  I didn't really follow the instructions on the Grainline blog, but just put it together the way I normally do knit tops. To match the stripes I just put a pin in every blue stripe.  It makes for a lot of pins to remove while I’m sewing, but it also ensures that everything is lined up perfectly.

The blue and white viscose jersey was super easy to work with.  I sewed this all together on my serger, using my twin needle for the hem and cuffs.  This jersey has a super smooth, almost silky hand with a slight sheen. It’s surprisingly weighty for viscose, falling in deep fluid folds, making it perfect for an oversized tee like this one (although I can also think of a myriad of other uses for it that would be just as lovely).

Mood Fabrics

Culottes seem to be very trendy at the moment, and I’m clearly guilty of being bit by the bug! For these I used Style Arc’s Erin Woven Culotte pattern.  I love the deep pleats on the front and the way the pockets mirror the pleats.  I also love the jewel bright tones of this cotton woven and how they give these culottes a very bohemian feel.  This fabric has a very loose weave and a slubby, almost jute-like look, though with a much softer hand and drape.  It’s a bit more substantial than what the pattern called for, but I like the body it gives these culottes, while still keeping them airy for our sticky southern spring.

As with all Style Arc patterns, the instructions for these are minimal, and I actually took issue with a few of the steps.  For instance, they instruct you to baste the pockets in place along the top of the pants before doing the pleats, which as far as I could tell would result in your pockets getting folded up in the pleats.  Not only would this be bulky, it would also render those pockets pretty much useless! So just a heads up if you intend to make this pattern.  I honestly didn't fuss with the instructions too much since I've made a fair number of trousers in my sewing days and I'm pretty comfortable with the order of construction, and confident enough to come up with my own methods if I think the instructions don't make sense. However if you're new to sewing pants, these might not be the best ones to start with!  Or, go ahead and make them, just don't fold your pocket up into your pleats!!

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Because of the loose weave, this fabric frayed like it was it’s job.  To combat this I serged all the raw edges as soon as I could, basically right after cutting, and I used fusible interfacing to reinforce the areas that I thought might lose some of it’s shape with wear – like the center back seat seam and the pocket openings.  I also bound the seam allowances at the waist and hems.  This was mostly for looks, since these culottes are unlined, but also to ensure I don’t start to unravel after a few wears.
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While the fraying may have been a bit of a headache, this cotton took heat and steam like a champ.  I just love how crisp those pleats are! And the stitches literally sank into the weave.  Honestly. Like, I was crossing my fingers I didn’t make any mistakes, because I don’t think I could have found my stitches to unpick if I tried!

Mood Fabrics

I'm glad I got this outfit out of my head and into my closet, if only because it's getting kind of crowded in there - my head, that is.  Although, come to think of it, my closet is a bit crowded these days too! But truly, that is one of my favorite things about sewing.  Before I knew how to sew I still had all these ideas for outfits floating around in my brain, and my only option for getting rid of them was to search the stores to find the closest approximation.  This wasn't particularly good for my wallet or my closet, as it usually ended with me impulse buying something completely different, and nowhere near closer to scratching that sartorial itch.

Although, if I'm being totally and 100% honest with you guys, I'm not completely convinced on the success of this outfit in reality.  I think my shoes and that kooky necklace that my Grandma gave me are really holding it together here.  But separately, I think these are really great pieces.  I've actually been wearing the top multiple days a week since I finished it earlier this month.  And I'm excited to try the culottes with a more structured or sleek silhouette up top - like a crop top or one of my Nettie bodysuits. Aren't separates the best?!

And speaking of handmade outfits - isn't Me Made May coming up??


*Disclaimer: As part of the Mood Sewing Network I receive a monthly allowance to spend on fabric which I sew up into anything I want, then blog about first on the Mood blog, then on my own.  The fabric for this post was bought using my Mood allowance.