Saturday, March 31, 2012

French fly, or waist stay; a tutorial

Thank you for so much enthusiasm regarding my French fly!  I am very pleased with how it feels to wear, as well as how it turned out.  By the way, I googled French fly and came up with zilch, so either it goes by a different name in (real) tailoring circles or there really are no other online tutorials on this feature.  Could I be the first...?  (omigosh moment)
So anyway, here is the lowdown on my own version of fitting a French fly to a pair of shorts with a waistband.
Firstly, I checked out the inner workings of my husband's beautifully tailored suit trousers, and saw this...
Basically, the inner button and buttonhole are situated on what is like an inside hidden "belt", something akin to a waist stay that one would find in a strapless dress with a boned foundation.  The belt is secured underneath the waistband and zip plackets, goes all the way around the waist and the button closure is level with where the top of where the zip pull sits.
Below is pictured the centre back of the suit trousers, and this is one of my favourite features of mens' trousers; how the centre back seam is all sewn in just one seam; back pieces, waistband, facings and waist stay, all together in one seam.  This means that any future adjustments for fit are very very easy, requiring just minor unpicking, re-sewing of just the one seam, and then either catch-stitching or stitching-in-the-ditch the waistband facing and waist stay again.  Incidentally, ever since I noticed this I have been using it on my own trouser and jeans waistband (and blogged about it in more details here); mostly because it does make for a massively easier fitting.
But on with my own experiments, French-fly-wise...
I cut out two pieces for the zip placket, applied iron-on interfacing to one.
Measure the length of the zip and sewed the placket pieces together to be the correct length to fit my zip, just like a regular zip placket.  The difference is shaping the placket with the "nose".  The point of the nose has to be at the same level to where the zip pull sits when it is closed.  Turn out the placket, finish the long raw edges together, and put in a buttonhole of a size to suit your chosen button.
Insert the zip placket and the zip, just like you would for a regular zip placket.
Attach the interfaced half of the waistband to the top edge of the garment, just as usual.
Cut two long pieces of sturdy woven fabric on the grain lengthwise to be the hidden "belt" or waist stay (I'm just going to go with "belt" from now on, OK?)  I used some rather nasty, densely woven, very tough black quilting cotton that I bought from Spotlight yonks ago, unusable for any real garment but that has been wonderful for all sorts of pocket lining, HongKong seaming, waistband facing, and a whole host of other hidden purposes.  I cut my two pieces to be plenty long enough to go around half my waist, plus extra, and the width should be double your desired finished belt width plus double seam allowances.
Fold both pieces in half lengthwise right sides together, sew together one of the short ends, turn right side out and press.  Press the whole length in half lengthwise.
Now turn in the waistband facing and hold in place to situate each belt in its right spot...  each with the stitched closed bit at the front and the long folded edge down.  The left front should be situated just over the stitching line of the placket, and the right front to halfway over the zip tape.  Pin to mark their placement on the facing.
By the way, if you planned ahead, you could have the left front of the waist stay/belt inside the zip placket and stitched down inside it along with the zip placket/zip seam.  Because I was still working it all out and trying to think each step through as I was going along, I did not manage to do this for this one (hey, it's my first) but I would definitely try it for next time.  It would take a bit more fiddling, but I think it could be done.
Stitch the belts to the waistband facing, keeping the front edges of the belts in exactly the position you had pinned previously.  Stitch all the way along to about 5cm away from the centre back seam, to allow for final fitting of the waistband.
Do the final waistband fitting and stitch up the waistband centre back.  Once this is done, measure the belt to fit, and sew the two together at the centre back seam.  If you are like me and always stitch a slanted centre back seam to fit a sway back, then you will have to stitch the facings and the belt pieces together on the diagonal to match.  Below is a very rough and somewhat exaggerated diagram to illustrate what I mean (obviously, the angles should all match), that centre back seam is sewn in a symmetrical arrowhead with the point at the central foldline.  I left out the waistband facing and belt seam allowances for ease of drawing, but they should be sewn with their own little opposing diagonals as well....  This is necessary to get them to sit nice and flat when they are all folded and tucked in place.  Once stitched together at the centre back, fold the centre back of the belt in half lengthwise and press, and stitch the remainder into place on the waistband facing.
Fold the waistband facing in right sides together and stitch the front edges, just as you would for a regular waistband.  Trim corners and turn the waistband right sides out.
Fold in and under the waistband facing seam allowance, and the belt seam allowance, and pin in place. Baste and stitch in the ditch all the way around to finish the waistband.
To complete securing the belt; stitch the left front down firmly, stitching along the same stitching as the placket/zip stitching.  Like I mentioned above, if you had inserted and secured this end within the placket this would not be necessary.  But when done like this, this stitching is essential.
Finally, try on the trousers/shorts to determine the placement of the belt button, and stitch it on securely.  It should be situated so that the front fly flap and zip sit closed and perfectly relaxed.  There should be no strain on the zip (which would mean the belt is too loose)  and no squeezing together at the top of the zip (which would mean the belt is too tight)

By the way, and on a completely incidental note; d'ya wanna see something utterly beautiful?  The inside of my husband's suit jacket...
These are three fully functional pockets.  I think I would die a happy woman if I ever managed to produce something even half this precise and immaculately perfect.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bitumen hued shorts, with French fly

Ta da!
New shorts!
The funny thing about these is that during one of my regular stash sort-throughs, I had picked up this bit of fabric, shaken it out, sized it up, done one of those quick mental assessments (I'm sure you're familiar with that) and designated it as a new pair of Burda 7723 shorts.  That was months ago.  Then distraction had set in  (I'm sure you're all familiar with that too) and I had all but forgotten about it.
It was only until this week, doing the one-week-one-pattern challenge, and I was starting to wonder which Burda 7723 thing I would wear today, which would be the privileged "double-up", so to speak, thus marking it as my favourite, when that potential pair of shorts suddenly popped into my head again.  Of course!  Now was the time.... I made these over the past few days, just in time to be included in the week of Burda 7723's.
The fabric is very lovely, a very soft linen/cotton mix that crinkles up beautifully from Fabulous Fabrics, with a woven-in pinstripe of motley charcoal and ivory giving the fabric a gentle overall hue of variegated warm grey.  The pieces are the leftovers from this dress (which was transformed into a mini later and given to Cassie, giving me some more fabric to play with) and we had bought even more of this fabric later for Cassie to make herself a pair of trousers, so there were some leftovers from that project too.  Just enough for me to squeeze out the pieces for this fantastic pattern.
These shorts are pretty much made straight up to the pattern, except that they have back patch pockets and are flared just slightly.  Also I incorporated a French fly, after reading and giving some thought to the Waves series on the superior finishes often evident in menswear and lacking in womenswear.  Thinking about it made me decide to have a go at working out how to put in a French fly.
I checked out some of Craig's really good suit trousers to get the general idea, and adapted the bare bones of the French fly principle to fit into my own pattern.  I did take some pictures during the process so I can do a tutorial if anyone is interested...?
The French fly performs the same duty as a waist stay.  Actually, it is the very same principle...  I know you cannot see any difference on the outside of the shorts, but I do feel like everything feels beautifully firm and pulled in.  What is more, the front of the shorts does sit a lot better with the French fly in place.  I've always thought the area right above the zip pull (meaning that bit you grab to pull the zip down) is the weak point on a pair of trousers/shorts.  The little bump of that zip pull, and the small empty space above it and just below the waistband, combined with the fact it is sitting right at the junction of zip/waistband where all the wearing strain is, often causes the shorts to bulge or gape a teensy bit at this point.   Having the French fly has pulled the shorts in nice and firmly right underneath that zip pull, taking the strain off at that spot and allowing the flap of the fly to sit down flat in a more relaxed way.

Shorts; Burda 7723, grey linen/cotton mix
Top; my own design, embroidered and cut-out ivory linen
Camisole (underneath); Country Road
Shorts; Bronx from Zomp shoes

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Just a splash of Colour...

So on what is yet another sunny sunny day (yeah, we do get lots of them here) I would normally head straight for the shadows away from that notoriously harsh Australian light that drains all colour and detail from my clothes and everything, but I knew these cheerfully intense colours were strong enough to stand up to the full force of the early morning sunlight.
I have been asked many times before if I touch up my photos or alter them, and I admit that in a photo like this I certainly do look as if I've stepped straight into cartoonland, but let me assure you right now that this is not an altered photo in any way.  Apart from my usual cropping, that is.  I like my photos to be square.  Yeah yeah.  Square, just like me....  :)
The second to last day of the one-week-one-pattern challenge, and I have worn all of my garments from the pattern Burda 7723... or have I??  
Hehe, stay tuned.... I might just have a surprise up my (voluminous orange) sleeve....

Top; Vogue 1247, orange shot cotton, details and my review of this pattern here
Shorts; Burda 7723, hot pink linen, details here
Sandals; Misano from MarieClaire shoes

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


O, hai, peops!
(drum roll) another pair of Burda 7723 shorts.
This is ma "greige" corduroy pair, that gets more appreciation as the cooler autumn weather rolls around.  The pattern modified in that they are longer, and substantially flared.
Colours, or lack thereof; well, but monotonality pleases me.  I like beige (what can I say, 80's girl and all that) and I like that when one removes the obviousness of colour from the equation, then the textures and the flavour of the fabrics are allowed to shine.
The soft velvety furriness of the corduroy shorts, against the matte translucency of my net cardigan, and the crisp and simple cleanliness of the white cotton top with its self scarf.  The subtlety of these textures and the individuality of the fabrics can really be appreciated in an outfit of just one shade of soft pale neutrals.
This week is feeling remarkably like a me-made exercise, is it not?  Except that it is much much shorter  :) and much much more restrictive  :(
And I am finding it a very interesting experiment, just the same  :))

Top; Top "a" from Unique Clothes Any Way You Like, by Natsuno Hiraiwa, white cotton, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723 modified, grey/beige corduroy, details here
Cardigan; my own design, coffee and white net, tutorial to make a similar one here
Sandals; Misano, from MarieClaire shoes
Nail varnish; BYS Fool's Paradise

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Today I'm wearing (Surprise!)  shorts!  :D
But great colour, yes?  In a fresh and cool shade of acidic citrus yellow, like a shot glass of limoncello, that wickedly delicious stuff that is to my mind another synonym for "summer evening".
So, OK.  Playing one-week-one-pattern is fun, but I am feeling like there are no surprises here.  Nothing new, only a small pool of Burda 7723's from which to choose.  So I apologise for the repetition and lack of suspense happening here, and can only offer a (hopefully) quite nice outfit in a photograph of a (hopefully) pleasing perspective, colour and composition.   I have no idea whether or not that I am successful in this.
But I can only try.
Would you like to know the definition of a reeeeally funfun day?  Doing two hours worth of mind-numbingly dull accounting, only to suddenly wake up and realise you have been entering the year 2011 into Every.  Single.  One.
Hola!  (time to check out the actual limoncello situation, I reckon...)
In the meantime; the funny below gave me a big chuckle, so please enjoy...
Later peops!

Top; my own design, made from an old pair of chartreuse linen trousers, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723 with modifications, lemon yellow embroidered cotton, details here
Tassel and chain necklace; made by me, details here
Sandals; anna, from MarieClaire shoes
Nail varnish; BYS Fool's Paradise

Monday, March 26, 2012

Peachy keen

I knew I should attempt to work this jacket into at least one day of the one-week-one-pattern challenge.  And today is the coolest day forecast for this week (27C) so I decided that today just had to be that day.  But confession time; I was a bit on the toasty side in this thing...  
But that one teensy gripe aside; my satisfaction with today's ensemble is pretty darn high.  Today I am feeling like the selection of Burda 7723 for my one pattern was real inspired; since on a day when I arbitrarily just fancied going a bit more dressy/pretty I could do so without breaking my own rules.  A big Yay! for sportswear patterns!  
Actually I do not wear this jacket enough, and I was glad of the excuse to pull it out again.  It is quaite naice, is it not? and I love its pretty peachy pinky colours.  Not to mention that it actually turned out to be a nicely-made jacket, if I say so myself; that I wouldn't even break into a sweat over another seamster having a close-up squizz at... :)  It went together easily, with all the seams meeting up just where they should.  And the sleeve caps are set in perfectly; my own personal barometer for judging how well a jacket or a shirt turned out.  The innards look as neat as the outer, and it all fits me very comfortably.  
This should all add up to the perfect little jacket; but for some reason I just do not wear it very much.  Maybe because the long-sleeved, cropped and fitted style feels just a tad "classic".  Office-y.  Am I the office-y sort...?  er no.
But push up those sleeves, problemmo solved!  Not only am I cooler temperature-wise, but Ah'm coooooler too.
You can tell I'm an 80's girl  ;)

Dress; Burda 8071, of ivory broderie anglais cheesecloth, see this dress style in 6 different ways here
Petticoat worn underneath (not seen); also Burda 8071, of champagne satin, details here
Jacket; Burda 7723, raw silk, details here
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes

Sunday, March 25, 2012

White as white...

I'm pretty good with laundry.  These shorts are a testament to that, since I made them over two years ago, the first pair of shorts using this week's pattern Burda 7723; and despite being subjected to rock-climbing, hiking, camping (just so you know, the rural dust here is icing-sugar fine and red) and generally plenty of gettin' down n' dirty with whatever mother nature has to offer they are still as brilliantly white-as-white-can-be as the day I sewed that last stitch and snipped that last trailing thread...
Well.  They're not toooo horrifically off-white anyway....  :D
so I hope you enjoy reading this care label.  It certainly gave me a laugh!

Top; top "b" from Unique Clothes Any Way You Like, white cotton, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723, white linen, details here
Shoes; ??  given to me by Mum, cast-offs from one of her friends
Ultramarine Scarf; new!...  made by me, from the leftover pieces of jersey knit from this top, and using this method

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Get shorty

This week I am taking part in another cool online sewing community project; the One Week One Pattern project set up by Tilly... yay!  I love join-in stuff like this!
So the idea is that we choose one pattern and wear our stuff from that pattern for a week.  For someone like me who uses and re-uses their patterns to nigh on death (poor wee tattered things) then this a fabulous opportunity to assess my wardrobe and my pattern collection again to see which patterns are really working for me.  
I did have more than a few choices  :)  
But after a bit of dillying and dallying I chose Burda 7723; for a few reasons.  
Firstly; I have a good selection to choose from, since I have made myself five pairs of shorts and one jacket using this pattern.  So I can mix it up with a different outfit for (nearly) each day of the week, which is great.
Also; we have another quite warm-ish week ahead.  So shorts are weather appropriate.  I would have loved to be showcasing say, Vogue 7303, an old skirt pattern which I have used tonnes of times, but half of my options there are winter-y and I would die if I wore them during the heat of the day.  Seriously  ;)
Plus, well, shorts fit into my life nicely this week.  Yeah.  Let's just say my calendar is not full.  It is the opposite of full.  I think walking my dog and thinking about where to take a picture is going to be just about the highpoint of each day  :D  
Well, OK, I do have one very nice soiree to look forward to, for which I will don my new red dress But I will be wearing something Burda 7723 for most of that day.

Top; my own design, made from an old pair of charcoal, linen mix, three-quarter trousers, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723, made from an old charcoal gabardine skirt, details here
Sandals; Misano, from MarieClaire shoes
Nail varnish; BYS Mint Condition
random graffiti seen on our walk...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun with Photoshop

I've got a version of Photoshop with which to experiment, and I found a really fantastic ombre tutorial here.  This photo has a single gradient layer added; (33.3% (Gradient Fill 1, RGB/8*)* ... er, I don't really know what that actually means, but and I fiddled with it to have white at the bottom at 10% opacity, through violet, and khaki at the top at 70% opacity.
Soooo, tres moody and sorta apocalyptic, oui?
As we were...