Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town Chino Shorts

I very nearly didn’t blog these shorts as I hate the photos but I feel like my blog should be a full reflection of my sewing and if that means I have to share some unflattering photos so be it. They also really could have done with a go over with the iron, which doesn’t exactly help. But oh well.

I originally bought this green sateen from Fabric Godmother with the plan to make Grainline Maritime shorts as I loved Josie’s pair. But then I saw a few Chi-town chinos popping up on my Instagram feed and I really like the trouser version from expansion pack 2 so I thought I would buy that instead.

I really enjoyed making these shorts. The instructions are so thorough and well thought through I think they’re a perfect first shorts/trousers pattern. You are talked through absolutely everything, from how to choose your size, to how to make a muslin/toile, how to sew French seams on your pockets and even how you can customise the pattern.

The instructions start by getting you to do all of your prep first, which I really liked. You apply all your interfacing, sew the belt loops, fly shield, back pockets and finish some seams. It means everything is ready for you when you get to that stage.

I’ve only sewn two fly zips, these and the one on my abandoned Ginger jeans and the instructions were very similar. I’ve seen a lot of people rave about the Ginger jeans zip instructions but I thought these were possibly even better. On the Gingers you have to mark your pivot point and stitching line for the front crotch but on the Chi-town chinos the fly extension interfacing is shaped so that the edge of it is your stitching line. A simple thing to be impressed by and others might not care but I thought that was such a good idea.

I’ve got quite a lot of excess fabric bunching on the front and they’re a little bigger than I’d like them to fit, except on my bum so I think for my next version I’ll size down but do a full seat adjustment. Though lowering the rise a smidge might help too. Mine are a little shorter than as drafted because I did a turned up cuff instead of hemming them, I thought it looked better on me.

I made these over a few days just before going on holiday and I really enjoyed the whole process. I love making trousers/shorts, it’s just the fitting I hate. They’re a great project to work on in small chunks of time because of all the little steps, which I really like. You also get to feel like a sewing ninja when you’re done even though it’s pretty easy sewing, just with a few more steps.

My topstitching is pretty wobbly and the zip bartacks didn’t go particularly well. I tried to use it to cover up some of my iffy stitching and it didn’t really work. I installed my first jeans button – probably not quite in the right place if this photo is anything to go but but I’m still pleased.

This is a dreadful photo but I thought I should show the back as well. I don’t think they’d look this awful if I’d ironed them. You can see where I had a bit of wobble when I was topstitching the waistband facing. I did find that part a bit of a struggle, without having a seam allowance marking to follow. I stuck a bit of washi tape to my machine but it’s not the same. The pockets are perhaps a smidge too wide set and a bit too high. I also didn’t finish all the belt loops.

The pattern includes a really useful waist extension at the centre back seam to give you some fitting wiggle room, which I thought was a nice idea. As part of the sewing process Alina also has you baste the shorts together and pin the centre back so you know if you need the extension or not.

The details

Pattern: Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town Chino Shorts (also a skirt included)

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 31

A0 file included? No, only US copyshop

Measurements: Waist 31.5″ – Hips 41″

Size made: 12

Alterations: None, except the cuff.

Fabric used: 0.9m Green Stretch Sateen

Another version?

I’ve definitely got a pair of the trousers planned. I’ve bought some beige gaberchino from Minerva for a wearable toile but ultimately I want a navy pair.

Any changes next time?

Yes, I’ll size down and do a full seat adjustment. I may lower the bum slightly too and I might change the front crotch shape. We’ll see. I’m working on some Ginger jeans at the moment and I’ve been learning a lot about fit that I will probably apply to all my future bottom half makes.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is just a great, thoughtful pattern, with loads of lovely little touches throughout the instructions and I’m looking forward to making the trouser version and getting the fit right.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

I’ve got a bumper two in one post for you today so apologies if it gets a bit long. The manfriend’s brother got married last month so I wanted a pretty dress to wear to the wedding. It was a gay wedding so I hoped to be able to make a dress made out of this incredible rainbow and unicorn fabric:

rainbow and unicorn fabric

But unfortunately it was a classy and respectable wedding so it was vetoed and I went for some less extravagant floral stretch cotton sateen instead. I still really need to own a dress made out of that unicorn fabric though.

I used the Sewaholic Cambie dress pattern but with a circle skirt and here is the dress in action in the stunning gardens of their wedding venue. (Sidenote: if you’re looking for somewhere to get married in Shropshire, The Hundred House Hotel is beautiful.)

sewaholic-cambie-dress-at-wedding

But before I tell you about the dress I have a top version to share. I worked hard on the fit of this dress. First making a rough toile and then a wearable toile peplum top.

cambie peplum top

My first toile had fit fairly well except for a lot of extra length in the front strap/sleeve bit and a gapey neckline, front and back. So I shortened the strap by 1″ and set to work on my pattern for the gape. The back was easy enough – I just cut a line front where it gaped to the back armhole and overlapped to get rid of the gape. But the front was a bit of a headscratcher and I ended up butchering my front bodice pattern piece so much that I had to retrace it. It was then that I noticed that my toile seemed to have stretched out of shape quite badly, with the sides being much longer than they should have been. The darts were also slightly too wide for me.

That gave me the idea of cutting 3/8″ off the centre front and adding it onto the side seam instead. So I gave that a go and I also stabilised the front neckline with twill tape to prevent it stretching out again. I used this tutorial from Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing.

cambie-top-back-and-side

My adjustments worked pretty well but the back neckline was still a bit gapey and there was a little bit of fabric pooling at my lower back. So I increased the neckline overlap and did a slightly overzealous swayback adjustment. Then cracked on with my dress.

sewaholic-cambie-dress-with-circle-skirt

Which I am super super happy with. I used the free Veronika skirt pattern from Megan Nielsen for the skirt part because the last time I tried to draft a circle skirt it went horribly wrong so I didn’t want to risk it. And fortunately the size 8 of the Cambie dress and the size M of the Veronika skirt had the same finished measurement of 30¼”. Of course that wasn’t leaving me with any ease whatsoever but I figured that the stretch in the fabric would cover that or I could use smaller seam allowances if I needed to. Luckily I was right and it fit great, without even needing to fiddle with the seam allowances. Hurrah for stretch cotton! It even coped with the amount of food and booze I threw at it.

sewaholic-cambie-dress

In terms of construction the dress is the same as the top. I again moved the zip to the side and stabilised the neckline with twill tape. I also did a horsehair braid hem to give the skirt a bit of weight and floof without having to wear a petticoat. It was not fun to handstitch.

cambie-dress-back-and-side

There’s not a lot else to say about it really so I’ll just bombard you with a few more photos and then leave you with the details.

cambie-dress

sewaholic-cambie

cambie-at-wedding

The details

Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie dress with a Megan Nielsen Veronika skirt

Measurements: Bust 37.5″ – Waist 30.5″ – Hips 40″ — Height 5’2″

Size made: 8 (dress) and M (skirt)

Alterations:

  • Moved the zip to the side
  • I shortened the sleeve pieces by 1″
  • Took 3/8″ off the centre front and added it onto the side
  • Overlapped the back neckline by about 3/4″ to remove some gape
  • A swayback adjustment (not sure by how much as I think I eyeballed it)

Fabric used: Just over 2m of 150cm wide stretch cotton sateen.

Another version?

Yes, I’m a little obsessed with this pattern now.

Any changes next time?

I want to use a non stretch cotton next time so I’ll probably have to use teeny tiny seam allowances or add a bit of extra room when I cut out. The darts possibly need shortening a smidge too. And I think I may also bring the centre of the sweetheart neckline down slightly as I lost some of the shape by cutting a bit off the centre. I’ll probably put a pleated skirt on it next time too. So just a few changes…

Non-clueless versions:

Final Thoughts

I love this dress. The fabric is gorgeous, it fits well and is perfect for twirling in.

spinning-cambie