Saturday, January 28, 2012

Au Bonheur Jeans

Table of contents:

The Usual Stuff

Last week I tested the Au Bonheur jeans pattern in ponte. The only problem I encountered was the gaping front pockets (though I didn't test the back pockets).

I decided to forge ahead with the denim version. I found in my stash a piece of stretch denim that I had purchased from Fabrix and washed/dried several times. Unfortunately, it turned out that I had less than 2 yards of the fabric, barely enough, but I was able to squeeze them out.


  • Stretch denim from Fabrix. I believe it's 3-4% lycra. 5" stretches to 6.5", which translates to 30% stretch. The ponte stretches from 5" to 8.5", or 64% stretch. Because the ponte had more stretch, I cut the denim with 5/8" seam allowances at the inner leg and side seams, rather than 3/8". But I ended up sewing them with 5/8" seams, so I didn't need the extra ease.
  • The pattern calls for two rivets to secure the flaps on the back pockets, but I used 2 metal buttons, from Fabrix.
  • Topstitching thread. I used Guterman color #272, navy blue. Not sure I should have used blue, as it doesn't really show up.
  • 1" waistband elastic.
  • I did not use a zipper, or a waistband button, since I made the pants with a mock fly with an elastic waistband.

Alterations and Modifications:

I outlined the alterations and modifications on the previous post. There are a couple additional things I did for this pair:

  • The vertical pocket was gaping unattractively on the ponte pair. After much consideration, I decided to use an angled pocket. This echoes the other angles in the pants and creates much less gaping.
  • Closeup of fly front and angled front pockets
  • I wanted the look of a fly, without an actual fly front, so I used my favorite fly front tutorial, Debbie Cooks' Jeans Fly. I followed the instructions, but left out the zipper. This made the process so much easier. :) Since there is no zipper, the fly is quite flat.
  • Look Ma, No Zipper!
  • On the ponte version, I did not make the back pockets. I had just enough denim to cut one set of pockets. These feature a back flap and darts, so they are three dimensional. To be honest, I don't like the look of the flaps, but I didn't have enough denim to re-make them. I left them as-is for this pair, but if I use this pocket pattern again, I would leave off the flaps.
  • Back pocket pattern piece
    Left back pocket

The Dreaded "Mom Jean"

For a long time now, I've heard references to a horrible phenomena. One that women, past a certain age, who may or may not have borne children, should avoid at all costs.

The Mom Jean.

I've heard it referred to on numerous style shows, in numerous articles. But, to be honest, I had only a vague notion of what a "mom jean" was. Then, blogger Robin, of A Little Sewing, posted a 2009 article she found to Stitcher's Guild.

In this article, a woman took some mothers who were guilty of wearing "mom jeans" shopping for a better fitting, more youthful jean. This post generated a lively discussion on SG.

Evidently the size, position, and location of the back pockets has a large contributing effect to the "mom jean." Once I got to the point that the pockets were constructed and ready to be attached to the pants, I then carefully read the article.

Based on the article, as well as style shows I've seen, my understanding is that a Mom Jean has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • A light wash denim.
  • High waisted.
  • Muffin top.
  • Camel toe.
  • Pants that fit the butt poorly, contributing to a "una-butt" look, or a long flat butt look.
  • Pockets that are too high, or that are parallel to the back yoke and, therefore, point outwards to the "saddlebag" area, or that are too small, making the rear look big, or that are too far apart, also making the rear look big.

My take-home point from this is that the back pockets are important. I therefore spent some time playing with the placement of my back pockets, ignoring the suggested placement on the pattern. I moved them closer together, and made them parallel to the CB seam. There wasn't much else I could do as the pockets were already constructed and I was out of denim. Not that I cared that much, but I wanted to test the theories I had learned.

Do my jeans fit like a mom jean? Yeah, I think they do. Oh well. I don't really care that much. :)

What do you think? A "mom jean" sort of derriere? :)


I do like the funkiness of these jeans, but I would change the back pockets in future pairs - I am not loving those flaps. I really like the angled front pockets much better than the vertical pockets on the original pattern. I also might try using a contrast top-stitching thread to highlight the interesting lines of the pattern.

Originally, I was going to enter these jeans in the jeans contest on Pattern Review, but now I'm not so sure that they would stand out enough.

More Pictures

Front knee

Back knee

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spring Vogues are Out!

Just in the last day or so I started stalking the BMV website. I figured the spring Vogues were due to be out soon. And there they were this morning!

I guess I am feeling spring, which is ironic because we've barely had winter.

Anyway, there are some gorgeous dresses for the demographic that my daughters belong to. I will leave those to other reviewers. (Well, kinda sorta...) For my demographic and my lifestyle, I see some nice patterns, too! Here are my favorites.

(By the way, what is up with some of the model poses? Some of them make it really hard to see the designs. For example, in the Betzina skirt, why is the funky hem mostly covered? Are they hiding something? Did the photographer/stylist not like the hem? I always look at the line drawings, but it's especially important with some of the pics from this spring collection, though most of the pics I've highlighted below are ok.)

Vogue 8795: Marcy Tilton jacket

Vogue 8793: Katharine Tilton top

Vogue 8792: Vogue Easy Options top

Vogue 1292: Sandra Betzina skirt with a great hem.

Vogue 8791. This very easy Vogue reminds me of a Mizono design and features a mock wrap front.

Vogue 1293: Anne Klein. I love the design lines on this jacket. Love. It would be amazing in a denim fabric or even a ponte. Think outside of the box. :)

Vogue 1294: Anne Klein. You know, I've never noticed Anne Klein patterns before, but I also like the lines on this top. I'd modify the flounce on it and lengthen the sleeves, but it has real potential.

There is also this Sandra Betzina top, but it would be a horror on me, I'm sad to say.

Vogue 1291

And now, because I can't stand it, here are a few completely gorgeous dresses. For someone else. :)

The BMV site is also having a sale right now. I am not buying any patterns this month, so I'll let you guys have the first shot. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Testing the Au Bonheur Jeans Pattern

(No, I did not make this silk jacket, I bought it second hand.)

I've been meaning to try this pattern since I bought it almost two years ago. Unlike some of the most recent Au Bonheur patterns I've made that use only 2 or 3 pattern pieces, these jeans require many pieces and I spent time translating the pattern and trying to get my head around the construction.

This pattern features top-stitching, contrast knee insets, front and back, front and back shaped yokes, a back patch pocket, front pockets with an inset vertical opening, a fly front and a contoured waistband. The front knee yokes and back pockets have darts to create unusual shaping. There is lots of top-stitching, some echoing seams and some more freeform/artistic.

I was unsure what size to trace off, so I finally decided to go with my hip size and I traced off a size 42, with no changes. I figured I could make any necessary changes after testing the pattern in black ponte. The alterations I made were minimal:

  • Omitted the back pockets - though I plan to include them in my denim version.
  • Omitted the fly front zipper - again, I plan to include this in the denim version.
  • Replaced the contoured waistband pieces with a rectangular elastic waistband. Not yet sure how I want to handle this in the denim version.
  • For the most part, construction was straightforward. However, when I sewed the front leg to the back leg, the pieces didn't match up. The front leg was approx 4" inches longer than the back leg. I chopped off the excess from the front hem and the resulting hem length was perfect for my 5'5" height. I could be wrong, but I think the pattern has a significant drafting error.
  • Omitted the more decorative top-stitching.

The only problem I had with the finished pants is that the vertical front pockets tend to gape, as you can see in the second photo below. This is a phenomenon I've seen on men's pants and it does not flatter the hips to have pockets that gape as you move. (As you can see in the third photo below, they do not gape if I stand straight and still.) Short of omitting the front pockets, or employing some sort of closure, such as snaps, buttons or a zipper, is there some other way to handle this gaping?

Closeup of front vertical pocket

When I move, the pocket gapes

Standing straight, no gaping

Input is welcomed. :)

I was surprised how well these pants fit! They have a good fit through the crotch, which has not been my experience on previous Au Bonheur patterns.

The back doesn't look so great on the hangar, but fits quite well. You can see the back knee inserts and the back yoke.

More Tablecloth Skirt Goodness

In other news, Tablecloth skirt pics continue to arrive in my inbox. The most recent offering is Kathryn O's beautiful striped version:

This, and all versions, are available in the Tablecloth Skirt Gallery (link at the top of the page). Thanks, and keep those photos coming!

Pattern Pics

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday Night Notes

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

We finally got some rain in San Francisco - it's been a dry winter, so far. And, of course, rainy days encourage one to stay inside and get creative.

I've been working on another Au Bonheur pattern and have the "muslin" (black ponte) version almost finished. This pattern has one squillion pieces - something is not quite right and I haven't yet figured it out. So stay tuned.

I've also been doing some dusting and cleaning on the blog: I've deleted 11 blog posts. Don't worry, I am not deleting anything that people would care about - I doubt anyone would even notice had I not mentioned it. This effort has allowed me to delete some of my Picasa photos, freeing up quite a bit of space. (In the early days of my blog I was storing pictures at very high resolution unnecessarily.) I've also reorganized some of my Picasa albums.

All this cleaning feels good. :)

From time to time I think about some of my favorite blogs that don't seem to have a lot of visibility. I think about highlighting them, then I worry about all the other blogs I might overlook. This is one of the reasons I don't participate in blog awards - it's too stressful. Nevertheless, last Tuesday I started thinking of which blogs I would like to highlight, planning a post on the subject and making a mental list.

At the top of that list was a great blog, Rhonda's Creative Life. So, I am musing along these lines on Tuesday, and then, on Wednesday, Rhonda published a post highlighting my blog! I decided to wait a bit before posting about hers.

Let me tell you why I like Rhonda's blog:

  • Every Friday (or thereabouts) she posts a free pattern or tutorial. These usually involve a piece of clothing created using simple shapes. She has posted some very interesting and cool designs. In fact, one of her designs was highlighted in the January 2011 issue of Threads, called the "Spin Around Top." (I couldn't find an online link to the article.)
  • She highlights blogs and other resources on Wednesdays.
  • Beginning this March, she is highlighting a sleeve pattern every Saturday. Based on her preview, it seems that she will be using sleeves from vintage patterns. It looks to be quite interesting.
  • In January, she posted an invitation to folks interested in following the Artist's Way, which includes daily morning pages and weekly artist dates. I was interested, but haven't made the time.

I recommend adding Rhonda's Creative Life to your blog list!

I'm tickled, because in May, I will have a chance to meet Rhonda. She invited me to come see the Haute Couture Fashion Show in Chicago and I'm planning to attend. I'm really excited to visit Chicago and to meet some fabulous sewists!

I was sewing recently with the television tuned to PBS, and I saw an episode of the Red Green Show. I thought this "Handyman Tip" on making cutoff shorts was cute. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Au Bonheur Knotted Tee

Worn with my Style Arc Laura Leggings.

It's high time I made another Au Bonheur pattern! I actually made this top over the three day weekend. It took longer to alter than to make - it's a quick and easy sew. I was planning to make a second one, a non-black version, easier to see on the blog, but I couldn't identify a fabric I wanted to use, so here's the black version. The fabric is a very stretchy rayon-lycra from Fabrix.

Even if you don't have a stable of Au Bonheur patterns, many of the creative ideas, such as the hem on this tee, can be applied to other patterns.

This pattern is a simple tee, with four knotted points at the hem. It is sleeveless with a scoop neck. The four points of the hem are formed thanks to a pattern piece they call the Coté. Coté translates to "side", but I would call this piece a gusset - to me a side piece would extend up to the armscye. But, and get this, the gusset is shaped like...

the Eiffel tower! How French is that?!?! So cute!

I traced off the largest size, a 54, and then made several changes:

  • I preserved the scoop neckline, but I traced the shoulder, armhole, and width for the front and back from the Style Arc Adele. This meant that I ended up with a bustline that had 4" of negative ease - it's less boxy than the original. I like negative ease with a highly stretchy fabric.
  • I used the long sleeve from the Adele.
  • I left the hem raw.
  • I used the same finish on the neckline that I used on this Liberty pullover.

  • I shortened the sleeves by 1.5" and hemmed them by hand.

I really like this simple and easy tee! I definitely will make more, once I have identified more fabrics.

One other thing I wanted to mention. I created a separate page, French Sewing Resources and Au Bonheur Gallery. I want to keep these resources alive and, in fact, added more clarifications to the glossary when I made this top. This page is available at the top of every page in my blog, along with the Tablecloth Skirt page. Enjoy!

More Pictures