London is slowly waking up from lockdown. The ‘non-essential’ shops are opening and the streets are getting busier. It will be at least two more weeks before I can return to work and, as I don’t really go shopping (especially with no income at the moment!) it doesn’t feel like much of a change for me; I’m still feeling pretty locked-down. Two weeks will fly by though. I’m both excited and daunted by the thought of going back to work. I am lucky that I don’t have to travel far, or use public transport. The studio is big, light and airy. I just hope that after twelve weeks off work that I have the stamina to get through what will inevitably be very long and busy days. Seeing my clients (& of course my colleagues) again will help get me through it.
Thankfully, to help the fitness levels, I’ve been able to regain access to the hall I usually teach tap dancing in. Three times this week! So I have a few new dance tutorials posted on youtube and more planned over the next few weeks! The videos are a bit clunky, I’m still finding my feet with the process; learning to be camera man, sound operator, writer, producer, director and editor, as well as presenter! It’s a lot to take in – for me and my Macbook… we’re both feeling a little bit fried! It’s worth every hour put into it when I see the view count rolling up and receive lovely comments from not just my regular pupils, but tappers from all over the world.
I was due to be a part of the line-up for the return of ‘The Refashioners’ project this year. This was (justifiably) disbanded at the beginning of June as the world was shaken by the death of George Floyd and the growing Black Lives Matter movement. Taking a break (not just from blogging & Instagram – although I’m not doing much else atm) to read, learn and better understand, came naturally. With so much going on in the world I’ve found it difficult to get back into blogging & IG, but here I am now with a long and wordy post.
Before I get too far (…!!!) I should tell you that both the fabric I have used and the PDF pattern were sent to me for free. I was not asked for a blog post (or, indeed anything) in return and all opinions are my own. Thank you to both Olivier and David at Patrons Les BG for their generosity – and Vandana at The Delhi Store for her generosity and patience*! (I’ve included links at the end if you’d like to learn more about either supplier.)
*I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve had this fabric since last September. Vandana very kindly reached out to me to ask if I would like to sew with one of her fabrics, she even picked out three perfect options for me which made it difficult to choose! (I must admit, I felt very spoilt, this sort of thing doesn’t happen to me very often!). I chose this gorgeous blue linen; It’s a really fresh aqua blue with a very subtle white and yellow stripe running through it. It’s light without being see-through (which is handy for clothing!) and perfect for summer.
Part of the initial delay in sewing it was that I wanted to try out a technique that I’d read about that’s meant to help stop creases. (I’m going to get this totally wrong, but it’s something like; First you iron it really hot, then you wash it pretty hot, then you tumble dry it (quite hot?) but before it’s completely dry, you iron it again (… moderately hot…?!) then it’s ready.) The big problem I had was getting access to a tumble dryer. But then, as it happened, I had a very busy October, followed by my first Festive season as a freelancer (super busy!), then… some crazy virus struck the world, taking all of our focus! And then the news just got worse… I’m not making excuses, but, if I were…
In the end I gave up waiting for a tumble dryer and instead waited for the good weather to inspire me to use this beautiful soft linen. Like most good linens it was a bit slippery to work with so I was extra careful to interface all the relevant pieces. For extra security I spray-starched some of the smaller pieces before cutting them out, pockets, waistband etc.
Now, the pattern came more recently. Olivier and David at Patrones Les BG DM’d me to ask if I’d like to try their new bermuda short pattern, ‘The Playboy’. It is currently only available as a PDF download pattern, also the instructions are only in French for now. I knew straight away that this would be the perfect pattern to use with this lovely linen, so, undaunted and grateful I accepted their kind offer. (Now, if you only translate one section of these instructions, let it be the part that tells you which sheets to print for either the long or short version – don’t do what I did and print out the whole lot with nothing but fumes in my ink cartridges. By the time I got to page 24 my pattern was looking like a faint watermark and I only needed half the sheets I’d printed!)
The pattern has you bias bind most of the seams but I chose to french seam all but the back pocket bag and the seat seam. I would have french seamed the back pocket too but I hadn’t left myself enough seam allowance. I only did it once before to a back pocket and it was a fun process to get my head around, I’ll have to try it again next time it comes up.
Talking of bias binding; (forgive me for repeating myself; I posted this on instagram too). Usually I apply bias with the two stage method (where you sew it on, press it over and sew again to catch the underside) – Here, I took the time to shape my bias tape first, with the steam iron; I also off-set the fold slightly to give me a fighting chance of catching the tape underneath on the first pass.
The photo below shows the bias tape shaped to the fly shield, prior to sewing.
As I said, this fabric is perfect for the warm weather, so with that in mind I made a small adjustment to the pattern for extra hot-weather-comfort.
So that I could pull these lightweight shorts on without having to worry about the weight of a belt, I decided to elasticate the back section of the waistband. This wasn’t too tricky: With the shorts half made and the back darts omitted, I measured the back waistband length and drafted a new waistband piece. One thing I forgot to do was to adjust the curve of the waistband to accommodate the new waist shape. I didn’t notice this until it was too late, but a couple of ‘reverse-darts’ on the facing tidied it up again. I was reluctant to cut another waistband as I’m trying to save enough fabric for a matching shirt.
Once the waistband facing was attached, I measured a piece of elastic to match my back waist and sewed it to the side-seam allowances inside the waistband, before closing the waistband by stitching in the ditch.
They’ve ended up really comfortable, but maybe not really flattering round the back. I’ll be interested to see how the fit is when I make the next pair with the darts. Maybe I’ll grade the hip down a bit too, but I quite like the extra room!
The fabric behaved beautifully throughout. As I mentioned, a little starch on the curved cuts-stopped them from losing their shape as they were handled. The finished shorts feel so light and cool, perfect for the warm spring we’ve had in London (and for the hot summer we hopefully have to come!)
It has been said that Patrons Les BG patterns can come up a bit on the snug side. Personally, I think they have taken a more modern approach and used less traditional amounts of ease throughout their drafting. I suppose this is more apparent if you’re used to using patterns by some of the main companies, where I sometimes find there is so much extra ease added, it’s simpler to trace out the smaller size than make all the adjustments necessary. These are modern patterns, drafted this decade… that being said, I’m not in the market for skin tight shorts so I not only checked the measurement chart but I also measured the pattern pieces in strategic places to help get the right fit. Interestingly, in most patterns I fit into one size bracket, with these shorts I measured closest to a medium at the waist, a small on the hip and a large thigh (… all that tap dancing…?) so rather than make a pair of convex shorts, I ignored the hip measurement and blended out from the waist to the thigh. The finished shorts might look a little wide on the thigh, but trust me, when I sit down, those tap thighs fill up any excess space!
Now I really have to get focussed, I’ve got a busy couple of weeks ahead. I need to plan for my return to work (pre-consultations, scheduling, stock ordering etc) … I’ve got two ‘refashioners’ projects which I’d still like to finish (although that’s got harder since the deadline was removed) … Hopefully I have enough fabric left over to make a matching shirt for these shorts, that’ll be ‘Summer Set Part II’! (I’m thinking ‘popover’ shirts for work this summer) and I’m planning a few more linen garments for the salon, as it’s going to be hot; hairdressing in gloves, mask & visor.
Thanks again to Patrons Les BG for the PDF and to The Delhi Store for the fabric. Here are the links if you want to learn more…
Patrons Les BG: Website – Instagram – Pattern
The Delhi Store: Instagram – Etsy
Take care, Sewists and Happy Sewing!
Notes to self;
- Use spray starch before cutting out to help smaller pieces keep their shape.
- Hurry up and make the shirt!
- Start picking the pace up, it’s too late to get fit but it’s not too late to get organised!
These look great 👌
I hope returning to work is going well. My best friend is a hairdresser and after some anxieties over lockdown was happier when he’d opened a waiting list and the list grew very quickly.
Can you recommend a straightforward shorts pattern for someone who only made one pair 19 years ago? I’m thinking this one may be slightly on the technical side..?
Hi thank you! I hope your friend is feeling as reassured as me now, that we still have a career as hairdressers! I’m on my 3rd day back and it’s feeling surprisingly comfortable now!
When it comes to shorts patterns there’s not much difference in ‘difficulty’ (unless you go for elasticated waist/ no fly/ patch pockets) – the trickiest bit of these is the double welt, which you could easily omit or swap out. When it comes to instructions, I’ve always found Thread Theory’s the easiest to follow, so you could try one of theirs or just read their sew-alongs!
It feels like we’ve already had summer, but I hope we get another one!
Indeed he is, he had visions of going part time while sharing the salon space but the demand is through the roof!
Thank you, I think I will just take the plunge then and have a go, although I did manage to order the thread theory Fairfield shirt pattern so…now there’s a choice to be made lol.
Your shorts looks nice and comfortable. I have using elastic instead of interfacing in my waistbands for a while now. I even have gotten good at it, in my attempts to replicate some rtw clothing that is made in bengaline with elastic treatment in the waist. The waistband lays flat no gathering, but the waist has 4 inches of stretch, so more then enough comfort. I haven’t used 100% linen in years (since the 80′) because i alway look so creased and a mess at the end of the day. I switched linen/cotton/rayon blends so my clothing stays neater. I hope to get my sewing workspaced fixed up this yr with white paint, new work tables and white/beige sofa sectional. i have the big screen tv and great sound system for listening to music and watching tv while i sew. I added a new bernina 740 sewing machine last december as my chirtmas present to myself, this year upgraded serger with air threading and a babylock coverstitch machine. I have even gotten better at online fabric shopping but still prefer purchasing fabric in person since i like to touch it feel it, look at the drap and visualize what i can make with it … I hope your lockdown experience has been positive.
Love that fabric, great choice! You have some good tips, starching the small pieces is genius.
Thanks Sue xx
Like the look of the shorts ,great on but never tried linen because of the creasing, Nice to see your latest makes again.
Thanks Bill. I don’t mind the creasing so much, linen is so cool in the hot weather 👍🏻☀️
How lovely to see you in my inbox this morning. Welcome back Andrew! I love working with Linen and your fabric is really gorgeous; sure you will get plenty of opportunity to wear your shorts now there is a promise of some summer weather – not so much up here in Durham!!
May I ask, I rather love the look of your pins…………where did you get them from?
Take care and looking forward to your next post.
Hi Marysia, thank you. I’m looking forward to getting some more linen and making some more of these (maybe the longer version for work?!)
The pins are ‘tailors Seville magic pins’ (I’m not sure what makes them magic… but,) there’s a link to them in my amazon storefront (#ad!)
All the best,
Your back!! I was wondering where you’d gotten too 😉 Never actually worked with linen but have you tried Terial Magic to stabalise slippery fabrics/ Its really good, makes it all stiff while you cut and sew than then washes straight out again ;D
Love the shorts .. they look a perfect summer addition to your wardrobe. I think my boys would like them longer in the leg maybe. I have got on of Patrons Les GB patterns but i doesn’t have seam allowances included so that kinda put me off as far too lazy to add my own lol
I don’t mind adding the seam allowances so long as I don’t have to do it on the floor! – these come in a longer length too, but I went for the short ones (should’ve probably said that!)
I’m planning a few more linens so I’ll look into terial magic, thank you!