Creation Report: Hotpatterns 1026 Divide and Conquer Culottes (OOP)

HotPatterns recently hosted a Sew Something Saturday on their Facebook page, and I had a hell of a time deciding what I would make.  Originally it was going to be a Deco Vibe Delicious Dress – T&T; appropriate for work or a nice evening out; easy; and the forgiving fit means it would look good regardless of what happens with my weight.  But I just wasn’t feeling it.  I do a lot of instant-gratification sewing.  Quick, easy, and office-appropiate.  I guess sometimes instant gratification isn’t gratifying any more.  Sometimes, I have to heed the call of the epic make.

I don’t know how long I’ve had this pattern in my stash, but considering that the copyright date is 2005, I must have had it for quite a while.  I didn’t make them until now because they’re flamboyant and attention-catching and I often prefer to blend with the wallpaper; because I hadn’t mastered pants-fitting; because I didn’t feel my skillz were up to the task – with all those panels, if you’re off by even a mm, that error can add up to 16mm petty quickly, and in a slim-fit garment, that’s difference between fitting, or not fitting.

I’d had this fabric in my stash since 2008 – bought with this pattern in mind.

It’s nothing particularly precious or expensive – a loose-weave polyester houndstooth suiting with multicolour tweedy slubs all through it.  But it called out to me and had to be these culottes; nothing else would do.  And so it sat and waited.

And for Sew Something Saturday, I finally made it happen!  (Though I only just finished them; today is Tuesday.)  They are not quick.  They are not particularly easy (though not particularly difficult either, just picky).  I can’t decide if they’re office appropriate.  They feel more appropriate for wandering the desolate moor while pining after a lost love, then dieing of consumption, like a tragic Victorian heroine.  I kindof love them.  They’re swishy and over the top and really me, as opposed to the ever-appropriate face I generally try to present.  Also: they’re basically a skirt, but have a built-in chub-rub barrier.

As for actual construction, like I said, they’re pretty simple.  A center front, a center back, and a side panel that you cut 12 of.  Plus a waistband and fly.  And other than having to manage 3m of fabric flapping all over the place, they make up just like any other pair of pants.  I made my usual swayback, big bum, and big tummy alterations, and frankenpatterned in the countour waistband from a different pair of pants because straight waistbands tend to be uncomfortable for me.  The other design changes I made were to add a lining, and to lengthen them a little.  I think they were intended to be mid-calf length on a not-short person, so on me they were just above the ankle – I lowered the hem to just below the ankle.

Here’s how they turned out:

Pardon the lack of fancy styling to show them off.  You get the idea, though.

Also, because I am a masochist, I changed the hems from a 5/8″ turn-up, machine stitched hem, to a 2″ turn-up, hand-stitched one.  I’m so glad I didn’t measure before I started that hand-stitching: 4.2m of hand-hemming. Not gonna do that again.

But I do think I’m going to make a couple more pair of these – yes, a pair in black.  And also maybe something more summery.

Choir Uniform

My choir decided to go with a tighter dresscode, to give us a more “unified” look. Long skirt, or wide-legged pants that look like a skirt, plain top with 3/4 sleeves and a conservative round neckline. Fabric should be knit. (Previously, it was just: all black.  And people interpreted it as anything from sweatpants to eveningwear.)

Everybody is scrambling to find something as we phase in this new look… except me: I scrambled to make something. (It also didn’t hurt that Fabricmart was having a sale on ITY jersey at the time the announcement was made.) I made the HP 1190 Pull-on Palazzos (cut wider through the inner leg to be more like a culotte), and a straight-hem, extended-arm Shirt-tail T (HP 1189). I made the neckline of the Shirt-tail T more conservative by splicing in the neckline from Saf-t-pockets Simply Terrific T.

Just to be on the safe side – stage lights can make the most solid fabrics unexpectedly sheer – I lined both top and bottom with wickaway tricot.  This also helps with the unpredictability of climate conditions on stage, which can vary from frigid to tropical in the space of a single performance if you sing in drafty old churches.

I might change the top back to shirttails: in the photo I can see that it’s a little snug around the hips, which I didn’t notice as much in the mirror.

As if I needed another hobby


Many years ago, I got hooked on tropical fishkeeping.  And then I got un-hooked because it’s a lot of work.  First I gave away my big fish and went to a nano tank, and then I put my last two fish into the tank I kept at the office, and that was supposed to have been the end of it.  Except that now our office is moving and there’s nowhere to put a fishtank at the new place.  So guess what I got to take home yesterday…

I’ve already started fantasizing about critters to add: more rasboras? More zebra loaches? Amano shrimp?  A betta?

Will I keep up with it?  Will it become a repository of algae, snails, and shame?  Will a cat sit on the somewhat-flimsy lid and fall in?  Watch this space for updates!

On Creativity

Recently in my favourite online knitting/crochet/etc. group, somebody asked a seemingly-simple question: do you see your projects as art, and/or yourself as an artist?

First we got into the kyriarchal implications of the word “art” – how some forms of making are valued more and classified as Art, while others are not –  along lines of race, class, and gender.  The classic example would be cooking, where (largely) well-to-do white men are revered as chefs, but everybody else – no matter how skilled or inventive – is just getting a necessary (and low-status) job done.  Work that is traditionally associated with women – the fiber and textile arts being another major exemplar – tends not to be classified as Art, regardless of the level of skill and scope for self-expression involved.

Nonetheless, I don’t see my endeavors with fabric and yarn (and who knows what all else) as Art, nor myself as an Artist.  For one thing, I’m not skilled enough to deserve the title.  Plus I absolutely want what I make to be beautiful, but functionality takes precedence over whatever expressive quality it is that makes something a work of art and not “just” a useful item.  (As if such a distinction is relevant)

To be honest, I don’t see myself as particularly creative.  I don’t think anything I’ve ever made has been particularly original.  I’m good at taking bits and pieces of things I’ve seen before, and combining them in ways that accomplish my current purpose. I’m good at tweaking and improving small details of things.  And I really enjoy seeing interesting designs and trying to figure out how they work, and borrowing and re-purposing elements.  I would say I’m a maker, and occasionally kindof a textile hacker, but certainly not an artist.

I wonder if I’m setting the bar too high for what counts as creativity, though?  After all, I certainly do make things!  There’s a whole series of functional and aesthetic choices that necessarily has to go into any created object, and it’s entirely possible that my particular combination of choices is original – and even if it isn’t, there is a certain amount of creativity and skill involved in making all those choices.

I think what I have in common with Artists and other creative types, is the ability to see what could be, and the drive and skills to bring it into being.  I see the potential to become something else, just throbbing under the surface of every bit of raw material.  I love to look for what is necessary to a particular design, and what could be tweaked and how much that would change the result.

I once thought everybody did that, but apparently not.  There are people who see a crochet pattern and think they have to make it in the same yarn, in the same colourway, as the pattern picture.  There are people who think you have to always, always make a sewing pattern as drawn.  There are people who won’t make substitutions in recipes when they cook.  There are people who don’t even get that far, who decline to try with a mumbled “I’m just not creative…”  Maybe some people really aren’t?

I think what I am, is a person fortunate to have had (and continue to have) the leisure time to develop some skills to a point where I can not only execute many instructions towards the making of textile objects, but also make good judgment calls about which instructions to follow and which to ignore.  And somebody who gets pleasure in the process.

A Paean to HotPatterns 1189 the Shirt-tail T

Can I just say how much I love this pattern?  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made it, and at this point I can get one done from flat fabric to photo ready in under two hours.


It does what it says on the envelope: a dead-simple t-shirt, with some clever variations.  Great for showing off interesting knit fabric.  And no set-in sleeves to worry about, but the cut-on cap sleeves are long enough that I don’t feel self-conscious about my upper arms.

Here are just a few versions I’ve made:

hp1189-1 hp1189-2hp1189-3 hp1189-striped

I’ve got plans for (yes, another) argyle version – with contrast neck and sleeve bands, and possibly another directional stripe one in a lavender and white linen blend (if I don’t use it for something else).

And then Trudy Hanson, the mind behind the designs, made herself one with 3/4 sleeves, and posted a diagram of how to turn the cut-on cap sleeve into a dolman.  So I had to do it too!

hp1189-sleeves hp1189-sleeves2

Construction notes:

  • This top fits very, very loose.  The first three (swirls, space print, pink argyle) are a size 24, which I selected according to the measurement chart and my full bust measurement.  For the final three, I went down to a size 20 (despite the fact that my high bust measurement would put me in a 22) and I would say 20 is about right for my preferences.
  • The version with the directional stripes really, really calls for precision and pickiness.  Every tiny waviness in your stitching lines will show.