Despite my lack of Manila legging photos, I am officially 2 patterns down on my #2016makenine list today. Continuing with leggings, I went for the Aires Leggings from Seamwork Magazine (affiliate link) next. Just as a recap, before we get to the nitty gritty, Seamwork is an amazing monthly digital publication from Colette Patterns. It provides me with constant inspiration and 2 new quick sew patterns each month. If you are a new subscriber, you can save 50% on your first issue with my link above. So $3 for your first 2 patterns! Now they even allow you to choose any 2 from their collection, not just the ones from the issue you purchase. I’ve been subscribing from the start and the only thing I wish was different, was that I had more time to sew!
Not only were my leggings a big fabric learning adventure, this was also my first project to officially put my new coverstitch machine to use! The pattern feature in the January issue of Seamwork used a hilarious cat face print. I’m not even a cat person and I felt like I had to have them. Another awesome feature of Seamwork: Swatch Service. They tell you which fabrics they used for their samples, where to get them, and make other suggestions as well. Since I don’t have great options for shopping for apparel fabric in person, this is a priceless feature. So I go to order cat fabric…but they have puppy fabric!!! WITH POMERANIANS. Fabric ordered immediately (It’s a Poly/Spandex blend from Spandex World). Coverstitch machine purchased shortly after, and then everything sat and waited as usual.
At nearly 5’9″, I am used to adjusting patterns for my height. I wanted the Aires leggings to end at the bottom of my calves, so I added 1″ to the top leg piece and 4″ to the bottom leg piece, choosing to not adjust the mesh at all. My first attempt turned out exactly as I wanted, but I think I will try my next pair with the standard pattern and see how I feel with them ending just below my knee.
According to the pattern, the Aires leggings should take approximately 3 hours. Not including cutting the pattern or fabric but adding time for watching tv and having snacks, I want to say mine took about 3.5 hours. Not too shabby. I’ll blame the extra time on the fact that I may be a pinning junky with knit materials.
I was surprised how easy the mesh was to work with. I was a little nervous, but it goes through the overlocker just as easily as any other fabric. Pressing seams down was a silly task I didn’t put too much time into since Poly/Spandex doesn’t really like being pressed. Instead, I put the effort into pinning the seams down.
A few years ago when I first started sewing with knits, I tried a twin needle finish as suggested by a pattern. I was not impressed. At all. I had the delusional thought that it would be comparable to a coverstitch finish. So I avoided patterns that called for a twin needle or stretch hem. This year, a Janome CoverPro 2000CPX joined my crew of machines. A couple practice pieces, and I felt confident to use it with my dive-right-in-no-muslin attitude. I am so pleased with my results and so proud of myself. The machine is simply magic. I love a wide double stitch, so I removed my middle needle for the 6mm space between stitches.
What I learned from my first CoverPro project: I totally want the transparent foot for the machine. Especially for mid-garment topstitching like this.
From making cuffed pants/shirts, my favorite serger trick is turning the garment inside out and not trying to wrap your skinny circle around the machine. Can’t have too many pins for a coverstitched pant hem, right? (Maybe I will be investing in the foot that folds the fabric for me too…)
With a stretch hem, you want the left needle to only hit one layer of fabric while your right needle stitches through the folded hem. You want the back stitching to enclose the hem to prevent rolling. To do this, I put my hem under the foot wrong side up and line up the needles, then use washi tape to mark my seam guide. Like my fancy washi tape since I was out of a solid color?
I also learned that when a seam is going to be stretched while being worn, you want to stretch it slightly while doing the overstitch. Right leg (left in photo) was the first one, unstretched. Left leg (right in photo), stretched while stitching. See the slight bubbling on my right leg? I’m still saying this is better than the quality of most RTW, even with this.
Things I LOVED about this pattern: The enclosed 1/4″ elastic waistband looks so smooth on. (Sorry, no belly photos). The rise fits me just perfectly. The waistband it wide enough that it smooths the mommy pooch without digging in at the wrong places. The back waistband pocket! OMG this was perfect for my phone and car keys as I ran the boys around this morning. Learning so many new techniques and going outside my comfort zone with fabrics (cotton junky).
Things I didn’t love: Other than my constant complaint of being too tall for a straight off the printer pattern, this one can’t even totally be faulted for that. Colette patterns as always go into great detail of explaining methods and techniques so I had no questions or doubts while putting together the pants.
If you want to try and make the Aires Leggings or any of Seamwork’s other great patterns, remember you can save 50% on your first issue by using my link. Let me know what you make! If you already made Aires leggings, I want to see them and hear what you thought of the pattern.