Indiesew.com | Sewing Patterns for the Modern Woman - Blog Post: Tori’s Sewing Journey

Tori’s Sewing Journey

By Tori Hall

Tori is a tall sewist living in southern California. She LOVES sewing dresses and wardrobe basics. Find more sewing inspiration at thedoingthingsblog.com.

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

My involvement in the Indiesew community started 3.5 years ago, when Allie reached out to me, asking me to do a guest post on the Indiesew blog (my FIRST indie pattern!). Looking back makes me realize just how far I’ve come since then, because I remember the exact post I had just written on my own blog when she emailed me…and it wasn’t very good. Haha. But Allie must have seen that I was making an effort and was serious about getting better at sewing, and she welcomed me with open arms! I will be completely grateful to her and Indiesew for a VERY long time.

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

Looking back at my earlier work is pretty painful, and I just cringe because I still remember the frustration… true and utter frustration I had at the beginning — and my beginning lasted for probably about 2 years. I felt SO LOST, as you do with any new hobby, right? I was pregnant and postpartum for about half of that time, so that made it hard to focus on fitting things to my body, and there were months when I couldn’t sew very much.

In those first 2 years, it took sewing roughly 20-30 full on garments to start “getting it”. Let that sink in if you’re a beginner, okay? I can count on one hand the number of things I’ve kept out of those 20-30 items, so let that sink in too. When I think about the frustration I felt, and how many times I threw things, or had to put something down for a day or two, I remember that I came back to it because I LOVED sewing. I was determined! And I wanted so badly to love it more and to not be so frustrated with it. I also remember how looooong it took to make those first things. In one of my blog posts for a simple knit dress with a gathered skirt, I wrote that it took me around 8 hours to make...Thankfully I can say I can shave a few hours off of that now, AND the dress will be much more wearable, AND I’ll probably use better fabric. Can you relate to this?

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

We are all at different stages of our sewing journey, and it’s so important to remember to pack some extra patience and grace for yourself some days. And sewing is such a broad craft that you could learn techniques and skills in forever! So unless you decided to stick with making one thing for the rest of your life, you are going to be a beginner in at least parts of your sewing a for a long time — like I’ve been for the past month! 

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

I made my FIRST pair of jeans last month, and when I was done I thought I was going to take a break from denim... but when I saw the amazing mid indigo denim in the Indisew shop, I thought “what the heck”, and decided to make a pair of Chi-Town Chinos (Expansion Pack No.1)! I’ve actually had this pattern and the expansion pack for a while now, and I knew I wanted to make these shorts, but I didn’t really have a plan for when. Thankfully Allie has her nifty blog post about fabric weight, because when I first looked at the weight of the denim I had NO idea what it meant! I saw on the chart that the denim was actually really lightweight since it was at the lower end of denim weight. I also recently asked the sewing community what fabric they love making their Chi-Town shorts out of, and the most popular answer was linen, but this fabric is 100% cotton, which is also really breathable for those hot summer months.

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

Before I cut the fabric, I washed and dried the fabric twice because I didn’t want to get blue hands and to make sure the fabric had shrunk beforehand. I think the dye is already pretty set in the fabric, because I didn’t have blue hands at all while making these. I noticed that the fabric was almost the exact same color as my Everlane jeans! Which is great because it’s a really good mid indigo (like it says) and I didn’t feel a need to bleach it for being too dark. 

After making a pair of Ginger Jeans, these were a little bit easier, and I got a few tips from the sewing community that made making these much smoother. Plus I was able to order the exact thread color (Mara 70 #488) to make these look more RTW without having to do any guess work, since someone out there has already figured it out for us! The main game-changers were to use a top stitching needle (as opposed to a denim needle) and to use Gutterman Mara 70 thread (much less thick than Mara 30 and your machine will appreciate it!).

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

My measurements are 32” waist and 41” hips, so I was going to make the 14 and grade to a 12 in the hips, but Alina has added a center back extension in case you are like me and are one size bigger in your waist than your hips. I think it worked pretty well, but I did notice that the center back extension makes the pattern more straight up from your hips to your waist and less curved, and after wearing my shorts for a day I think that makes my shorts more likely to fall down.

So there are a few different things I could think of to fix this. (Solution 1) I left the belt loops off to experiment with the look, but I’m going to sew them on and then I’ll be able to wear a belt. (Solution 2) I could take the center back extension in by about a ½” which would add more curve to the backside to help hold them up. (Solution 3) Next time I could make the size 14 and omit the center back extension, since it’s completely optional, and that would make the shorts less tight around my hips and curve up towards my waist.

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

One other thing I think is worth mentioning is that the Chi-Towns are a bit more low rise than pant patterns that have been coming out in the past few years. I like that they don’t come clear up to my belly button because during the warm months, I think I will appreciate the lower mid rise. But I do think I will increase the rise by 1” the next time I make them, just for my own personal comfort. Plus I am 5’11, so that might play into them being a little lower rise on me than someone who isn’t as tall. 

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

Now, you might recognize this pretty top! It is the Anza by Itch to Stitch, but the pattern is for a dress or jumpsuit, and I opted to make a top out of it instead! I just printed the bodice pieces and the facings to make it really simple, and I lengthened the bodice by 10”. I am tall though, so just make sure you measure from the shoulder to see how many inches you need to add to make it the right length for you. 

This beautiful fabric is a crepe rayon that is currently sold out (back in stock next week), but there are a few other fabrics in the Indiesew shop that would work really well for this pattern as well!

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

This goldenrod stripe is also a crepe rayon which I recommend to the more intermediate sewist. It was a bit of a struggle to sew since this fabric didn’t press very well, and I think my machine is having some small problems since finishing my first pair of jeans last month, and it needs some maintenance. If you are a beginner sewist who loves big prints and easy-to-sew-with fabric, I highly recommend this navy tropics rayon fabric that I made a Bonn Dress out of last summer.

For those who have been following me for a while, you know that I was on a dressmaking kick for a while, and now I’m diving into making really good wardrobe basics. So this outfit feels very me! I love making dresses so much, but when it comes down to it, I have a no frills, casual, comfortable style that I love! It may not be extremely trendy, but it’s what I’ve come to figure out that I like and that I will actually wear. 

indiesew.com | Chi Town Chinos by Alina Design Co. |  Anza by Itch to Stitch

Back then, looking forward to now, I never would have imagined that I would make jeans, shorts, and a top all within one month, love all three of them, and actually be able to and want to wear them. I hope this post inspires you or encourages you to keep going with your sewing journey, and know that we are all just trying out best and getting better at this skill one sewn garment at a time!

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It can take years to feel like a confident sewist, a story most of us can relate to. Read Tori's sewing journey on the Indiesew Blog! | Indiesew.com

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