Color Combinations with Penelope-esque Flair

I love color. Color, color, color. And I’ve always had sort of a “bit off” sense of color combining. People come up to me all the time and say things like, “Oh, I never would have thought to put that color of shoe with that outfit.” Now whether that means they like it or not, I don’t know, they usually don’t say.  But, that’s beside the point. When I watched Penelope, I instantly felt an affinity with her color combinations and such. That being said I thought it would be fun to share how I put together a colorful outfit and hear about what you do when you put together the same.

I start with the number 3. It’s kind of a magical number to me. Not too much, not too little. I’ve found that my favorite outfits usually consist of 3 colors. It’s not a rule, just something to think about. I do see that Penelope puts together even more colors sometimes and sometimes less. I think 3 is a good number to start out with.

I also find that I incorporate a neutral as part of the trio, but I like spicing up the neutral with a print or pattern. I think the neutral should incorporate a soft texture of some sort. For example, take my Naughty Secretary Dress. A colorful print on top, and then the skirt section is a neutral brown herringbone. A flair of fun without being too crazy.

And now for the fun part, pairing the neutral with two colors. Color pairing is fun, well, at least to me. I like odd color combos, a smattering of my favorites being:
violet & mustard yellow
purple & orange
leaf green & magenta
turquoise & lipstick red

I like to pick one of the colors as an article of clothing and the other color is fun to splash in with shoes and other accessories like hosiery, jewelry and hair pieces.

Just a little fun for thought about color combos with a little Penelope-esque flair. What are your thoughts? How do you pair up outfits? What are some of your favorite color combinations?

  • Karin - I recently made a purple and red dress. All the time, while sewing, I wondered whether or not this would become a ridiculous dress because of the combination, but in the end I loved the result.
    I like colours. But I also love neutrals. I do think that bolder colours look better on me than neutrals do, although I can completely fall for an all softer-tones-combination.
    I once heard someone say that if you don’t have one style, you don’t have any style at all. I hope that isn’t true. Because my style changes by the day, depending on how I feel at that moment :-)
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  • Uta - Color may be the most important part when I put together an outfit. If it’s too drab I often change. I found that I very often use this color formula: one dark neutral (e.g. black, dark gray), one bright color, often with golden undertones (olive green, terracotta, reddish violet), one light or pastel color (light blue, green, pink or white/cream). I couldn’t explain why, but it works for me.
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  • Tasia - I love your rule of 3′s! I’m just starting to be more adventurous with colour, the more I take photos of my work, the more I see how colour can be used to create interest or attract attention (hello, red!)
    I love turquoise and red as well together! I also love caramel or tan with a jewel tone contrast. I have a warm toffee-coloured jacket that looks awesome with magenta, ruby red, or teal blue. With sewing, you have unlimited possibilities to mix colours – thread colour, button colour, contrast belts, the list goes on and on!
    Accessories can play a huge role too. I have a pair of tiny turquoise drop earrings that I wear with red, with tan, with navy – they add just a little flash of colour. Can you tell I love teal and turquoise? Hehe.
    I’ve recently started collecting printed silk scarves from thrift-shops, the colour combinations are amazing and you can get away with something bold more easily in small amounts.
    Great post!
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  • Threadsquare.wordpress.com - Your color combos aren’t odd at all, but totally complimentary. I adore turquoise and red, violet and mustard, especially. In high school, I was known for wearing these whacked out, loud colors, but have noticed that my closet of today is so full of black, red and grey (along with old beloveds I can’t bear to toss, but no longer wear…refashion!!!). My current mission in the sewing room is to change all that!
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  • Just-chic.blogspot.com - Now that you mention it, I kind of also have the 3 color rule.
    Before my first visit to the US, my husband (boyfriend at the time) would prepare me for the differences between Europe and America. I felt like going to the moon:) I specifically remember asking him if I could bring and wear my orange pants and him almost saying no. He didn’t seem to notice people wearing bold colored clothes here :)) Should he have known then how colorful his future wife’s wardrobe would be :)
    btw Sunni, I have a surprise for you ;) http://just-chic.blogspot.com/2010/05/wow-i-feel-so-honored.html
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Stitching Spotlights 5.21.2010

Aren’t you so glad its Friday again? I am and I’m so happy to be feeling up to par. I really love bringing these spotlights to you every week.

This week’s creation comes to you from Stefi at Just Chic. I am continually amazed with her creations. Don’t forget to check out her tutorials either! I first noticed her on Burda Style and have been continually blown away by the fabrics she uses and the designs she comes up with. This skirt is one of her own designs and a perfect fit for any colorful wardrobe, I dare say. I’m quite sure Penelope would be rather proud. Beautiful job Stefi.

Have you read this article over at the Selfish Seamstress? I thought it was rather thought provoking and intriguing. I’ve thought about it a lot ever since reading it. I’ll say that I’m rather a sucker for feminine details and definitely do not think they should be done away with, but I will say that I’ve seen (and unfortunately, made) some rather atrocious garments with too much craziness going on. You know, just a little stitch for thought.

This week’s stitching tip is on pinning. Always pin. My mom said that my grandma always says this. A great rule of thumb. Sewing goes along so much better if one pins before they stitch. And don’t forget to use the right pins when pinning. Standard dressmaking pins are great, but don’t forget that for silk and knits there are extra sharps and ball points so as not to obstruct the fragile weave of the cloths for these types of fabrics. Here’s a great article on just this subject.

Image Courtesy of thenakedsnail on flickr

And that’s a wrap! Have a fantastic weekend!

  • Belly - Thanks for the links, Sunni. Have a beautiful weekend!
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  • Amy - I forgot to tell you on your Penelope post that I want her wardrobe too. I watched that movie twice in a row the first time I saw it. And then the BF came home I I immediately said that I wanted to dress like her.
    I love long skirts but I never know what shoes to wear with them.
    And I seriously hope that is actually your pincushion as that image is so gorgeous I want a print for my sewing room wall.
    Glad you are feeling better. Happy weekend!
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  • Tasia - You know what’s funny, in fashion design school they teach you NOT to pin. No pins allowed – since you’re learning to sew on industrial machines. Not only are they SUPER fast but in factories, they don’t sew with pins at all. Just line up the edges and step on the pedal! Imagine setting a sleeve without pins.. thank goodness we can use them for home sewing!
    Thanks for sharing Stefi’s lovely skirt, I love finding new sewing blogs to read and admire! And you know I love a good feminine frill here and there, I found that post (and all the comments) fascinating!
    Glad you’re feeling better! Have a lovely weekend!
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  • Just-chic.blogspot.com - Wow, what a surprise I had to find me on your blog :)You are a darling, darling girl. Thank you so much! and you know that the feeling is reciprocal – I always admire your work.
    I’ve always been a big fan of mixing vivid colored clothes in sometimes striking combinations. I feel like I’ve lost it lately, so I took the decision to come back to my style – this skirt was the first step :)
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  • Abby - I love Penelope’s clothes too! We all need some color and a break away from boring neutrals! I’ll have to watch the movie!
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  • Lorelai - Hello Sunni, well I absolutely love your blog, it’s very catchy. Right now, and because of you, I want to start sewing like a crazy again, I miss to do beautiful clothes. So please, I need your help, and well of everybody who have patient helping another: I want to make a dress!!!
    My first post about that is in my blog.
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - I wish I could say it was my photo of the pin cushion, it is gorgeous isn’t it? A lovely image found browsing through flickr.
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Now that is super interesting! I’ve actually been thinking about your comment all weekend and while in the midst of sewing I kept thinking how could I not pin? I assume pins are not required because of the fast paced work environment. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - It’s truly a beautiful and fun skirt! Always looks forward to what you come up with next!
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  • Threadsquare.wordpress.com - Ahahaha! I’ve never seen the film Pirates of Penzance – just a stage production back in another lifetime when I volunteered summers as an usher in order to see productions for free. I almost literally bumped into Kevin Kline’s chest a few weeks ago, when I moved up to volunteering at film festivals. “Oh, Kev! Sorry about that, but it really doesn’t matter.”
    I second Tasia…no pinning in the factories. My mom was a professional garment seamstress, and never pinned at work. She does now for quilting, and always encouraged me to do so. But until recently, I just couldn’t be bothered. Maybe I was ahead of my time (or skill level). Results are so much better now, but I also have racked up a few more hours in front of the machine.
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Color Coordinating With Penelope

Please excuse my temporary absence. I’ve still been battling what felt like a raging flu. Whatever it was, it did get the better of me. During this illness, I took the opportunity to catch up on some movie watching. I mean there’s nothing like feeling too sick to do anything but lay around with your eyes open and watching so many movies that your eyes become bloodshot. I mean….So yeah, I watched a lot of movies. And didn’t do anything else. Really. Seriously, NOTHING else.

Well, during this movie marathon,  I decided to watch Penelope. I’ll have you know that this is not a movie I even really wanted to watch, but since you can watch it instantly via Netflix, I thought I might as well. A very sweet word is coming to mind right now, ummmmm….. SO CUTE! Loved it! The story line is rather darling and the set is quite breathtaking and Penelope’s wardrobe is to DIE for! Yes. So many ideas, so much inspiration, so much fun! If you haven’t seen this movie yet, and you are looking for some great wardrobe inspiration, I insist you watch it. Penelope’s eye for color coordination is out of this world. And there is so much color to be had. Amidst a world of so much black, brown, tan, navy, khaki and such, she is a bright little colorful star. Don’t get me wrong, she still wears the neutrals, but with so much vavoom! that you wouldn’t even know she’s wearing them. Yeah, she’s that good.

I think I’ve pretty much decided that my wardrobe is lacking color and its time to have some fun with giving everything a color makeover. I’m so jealous of every single thing Penelope wears. It must be mine! I love the way so many colors and textures make up an outfit. Those green shoes, that purple (with pink piping) coat, those sweet cardigans, sigh…..

This movie came out in 2008 and of course I kept wondering to myself, where was I? You may wonder that yourself after watching it. I googled Penelope’s wardrobe and found a few blog posts here and there of people trying to imitate her style by buying clothes. Someone even asked, “Where do I find clothes like hers?” There was the usual answers like Anthropologie and J.Crew and then someone said, “Become famous.” Ha ha ha. I snickered after reading that and wanted to add, “Learn how to sew.”  I very wickedly snickered again because I knew that I could imitate her wardrobe with a little stitch here and a gather there. Ha ha ha.

I most certainly hope you have enjoyed today’s lesson on why its so very important to know how to sew. Thank you Penelope!

  • Belly - I absolutely loved the movie. Hope you feel better now!
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  • Emilie - I’m happy to see you’re back! hope you feel better! I’ve never heard of this movie, but now I intend to see it… I love Penelope’s coat on the last picture…
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  • Jennifer - I never saw that movie! I will have to go watch it on Netflix tonight! Her clothes look fab!
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  • Tasia - Glad you’re feeling better! Thanks for sharing, I don’t remember hearing about this movie either but her outfits look adorable. You’re so right, that’s the best part about sewing – if you see something you love but can’t find it or can’t afford it, then hit up the fabric store and make your own! AND you can make it fit perfectly, too, much better than off the rack.
    Love the teal blue coat in the last photo as well, so pretty!
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  • lsaspacey - I wonder if one of the posts you read was mine? I loved that movie also, and the idea of getting a pair of statement colored shoes was the one I found most important. However, I’m still looking for them…
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  • Alice - I was beginning to wonder if you were OK and i’m glad to see you’re back among the living ! I watch that movie a while ago (waited for it to come out in France, but it never did, so I had to see it in a not-so-legal way !) and I love that wardrobe ! I believe I saw the movie in fall and I instantly make mental notes of everything she wears. Unfortunatelly, I’m not so good mixing rich and warm colours like she does and never quite succeeded with that, but I’m not loosing faith !^^ I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the colour coordination tough !
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  • Stacyverb - Glad you’re back and feeling better!
    I’ve never heard of this movie either, so thanks for mentioning it. I’m always on the lookout for movies with inspiring clothes in them.
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  • Just-chic.blogspot.com - you made me curious with this movie, I’ve just added it on my Netflix list. As I’m a big fan of vivid colored clothes myself and always trying to mix them in eye-catching combinations I’m eager to see the film asap :)
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  • phyllis - Oh yay! I’m convinced :) I have an antique doll I named Penelope and she is staring at me saying Um hm you need to watch that movie!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - You guys are the sweetest! Thank you for your well wishes about being sick!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - There are so many more great clothes from the movie that I couldn’t get a good snapshot of, so you have to watch it! She has the best clothing! The BEST!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - I totally agree! The fit is so much better when making it yourself. Sewing is so wonderful in this regard. I agree, the teal coat is to DIE for.
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Oh yes! Shoes are so very important aren’t they? I have a few pairs, one yellow, one orange and the other in red. They definitely add the much needed spice to any outfit. Now for some green ones!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - I completely understand! Believe me, I’ve watched a bootleg movie before, it makes you feel so dangerous….Thank you for your concern about my health!
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  • Wyvie - Thank you, thank you for recommending this movie! I don’t think it even got promoted here in Australia, so without your encouragement I never would have watched it. But it’s so lovely and sweet, and pure eye candy from both a clothing and design point of view. So, thanks. :)
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What I Found Out About Altering Pant Patterns

So I made those jeans for Mr. S. I made a muslin beforehand for those too, just to see about fitting issues I might have. I did have some. Surprise, I know.

Just for fun, let’s break pants into two sections. The pant legs and the pant torso. The pant legs are the section that fit the legs and the pant torso is the section that fits the lower half of the torso. I only ended up making alterations to the pant torso. On the muslin the pants were too short in both sections, the pant torso and the pant leg. I thought if I just added more length to the pant torso, that would in turn add more length to the pant leg. As you probably know by now, otherwise I would not be writing a post about this, that is wrong thinking. Here’s why, or why I think it’s wrong:

Now that I have the pants made for Mr. S, I see what really happened when I lengthened the pant torso. By the way, I lengthened the front and the back pant torso 1 inch. Do you know what that did? By lengthening the pant torso, the waistline went up (the crotch stayed in the same place), but the pant leg stayed the same. Now that’s pretty interesting, I mean at least it is to me. What I’m really saying is this is a very very good point to keep in mind when you need to do this alteration to the pattern itself.

What I’m also saying is that you should think of these sections, the pant torso and the pant leg as two separate sections. What I should have done is alter the pant torso less and added a little to the pant leg. You know what’s kind of funny? The pattern will tell you to do this itself  indirectly as there is an alteration cutting line on the pant torso and the pant leg. Pretty fun huh?

So that’s what I learned about altering pant patterns. Maybe something you already figured out or knew, but just in case you didn’t, well, there you go.

  • Belly - I love learning those things through trial, it’s so gratifying when you realize you’ve finally worked out all those little quirks, isn’t it?
    Thanks for sharing, I’m no expert on pants, and every piece of info helps.
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  • Rachel - I have only just tuned into the making of the jeans, but I think they look fabulous! They hug him in all the right places – he looks hot!!
    I am making my first pair of pants now – will be sure to post any learnings I have (there have already been a few :-).
    You are so clever!
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  • Tasia - Thanks for sharing! I was thinking about your jeans later, and wondered if you made a muslin or a test pair. Did you have to do a lot of altering or just adding to the length? The jeans for my guy are on the backburner right now, but I did buy the pattern and some test fabric so I’m ready :)
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Tasia
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Forever In Blue Jeans, Babe

Um…. and you thought I wore the pants here? If you don’t know by now, this is my Mr. S. And I’m his Mrs. And we go together like peaches and pie. He he he. I’ve never sewn a single stitch of apparel for Mr. S and I thought it was high time. He was in desperate need of new jeans. I’ve seen the jeans bug hitting a lot of stitchers these days and I think for very good reason. Everyone wants jeans that fit really well, have a great wash, and make their…ahem…features stand out. I love jeans. Love them. I’m planning to make my own soon. Very soon.

When we go shopping for Mr. S, we run into troubles. The tall and thin troubles. You see, we can find clothing for tall people, but not thin people and we can find clothing for thin people but not tall people. Mr. S is a small boned dude and really he’s not that tall, but clothing companies seem to think that if you’re a small guy that means short and thin. There’s nothing beyond a 32″ inseam in jeans. It’s so rare to find a pair of 34″ inseam pants in a 30″ waist, and that in our price range. Is it crazy to anyone else that we spend (at least in the US) over $100 on jeans? Sometimes over $200. Um, that’s just silly. Do you even realize how much I paid for the fabric for these? The fabric wasn’t even on sale and it was still only $3.99 a yard. And I only needed 2 yards for this. Under $10 folks. Now that is really sick. I mean really.

I wasn’t emotionally prepared for the hunting of  jeans that don’t seem to exist this time around. So here is Kwik Sew 3504. Doesn’t look like much on the pattern cover, but these are jeans peeps. I’ll be making these again and again, I think. I don’t know that Mr. S is completely convinced that he likes them. But hey, these are my first pair. A few more and perhaps he’ll be swayed. Let’s get down to specifics shall we?

I used a stretch denim for these, which was murder, complete murder on my machine, and did a gold denim topstitching thread.  Having read the Selfish Seamstress’ posts on her jeans and Petite Republic’s post on her jeans, I knew just where to find the rivets. Give that an ebay search. Surprisingly, jean buttons are just at your local fabric store, usually, so those were pretty easy to get and then I took a look at Brian Sews tutorial for how to make these puppies work. After all was said and done I tried distressing the jeans. I’m not sure that these really worked out that well and I don’t know if that’s because of the stretch in the denim or not. I tried bleaching these and sandpapering them and giving them a few bleach pen streaks. Google “How to Distress Jeans.” And they are still not quite right and I’m not really happy with the result. And by the way, I tore up my fingers pretty good with all of these methods. Best tip if you are going to try this: wear gloves! Oh well! Let’s get back to the pattern.

The pattern is actually quite good. There are a few tweeks that still need to be made for next time, but overall I’m happy with the fit and the construction. The instructions are great and quite straight forward. Totally recommend!

And that’s that. Sigh. I’m ready for a really easy sewing project next. What say you?

  • Belly - Wow, that’s impressive. I must admit that just thinking of me sewing jeans gives me paranoia – I’m so sure It will be a fiasco.
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  • Stacyverb - I think they look great! The thought of sewing jeans has always sounded crazy to me, but lately I’ve seen some really impressive ones on people’s blogs that have me reconsidering. Hmmmmm.
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  • Tasia - Oh they look fantastic! Totally professional, they don’t look home-made at all. Love the back-pocket stitching. I know, it’s crazy what people will pay for designer jeans these days. Congrats on making your own budget-friendly version that still look amazing!
    I haven’t started my men’s jeans yet, but now I’m inspired again. Great job!
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  • peter - Wow! Those look great! He’ll love them soon enough.
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  • Janey - Wow, they are really impressive, the fit is great and the extra touches you have added make them look really professional. on first look I thought they were jeans you’d reblogged from a catalogue or something. Mr S is pretty too, what a lucky girlie you are!!!
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  • Cricket - gorgeous and inspiring. No one in my house can wear store-bought pants without a lot of “best I can do” and bad alterations. I’m getting ready to tackle that problem. Muslin for me is all tweaked and ready for the appropriate-weight trial garment, which I hope will be wearable. Next, pants for girls, after that I’ll have to see whether we move on to jeans for anyone, or go one more set of pants for hubs. Eventually, though, jeans, and these are lovely. Glad to know that very uninspiring Kwik Sew did the job. They get my vote of confidence after getting me through girls bathing suits with no serger and no bathing suit experience, though.
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  • Angela - Very nice! Hehe.. I have yet to make something for the hubby… I don’t think jeans would be my first choice they’re too intimidating. :)
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  • Brian Remlinger - I think those Kwik Sew jeans are an awesome beginning! Good job!
    I think this is the most telling photo I have from my Kwik Sew 3504 experience.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/1ePT-ILdEiNVeWLwwGbVNA?feat=directlink
    It shows the difference between the Kwik Sew and a the pattern I made myself by doing a rubbing of Levi’s 514.
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  • KayY - Those are amazing! Mr. S. is a very good sport to model them for all of us.
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - These really aren’t too bad. I was actually quite surprised with how easy they were. Go ahead, give it a try. I’m sure they’ll work out great!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Totally do it! I’m sure they would turn out fabulous!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Oh thank you! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Ha ha ha! Thank you! Mr. S is definitely handsome even though I am a bit biased I think.
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Thank you so much Brian! This is really amazing, the contrast between the two jeans. I was completely struck by the curve of the Levi’s. Very cool!
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  • Just-chic.blogspot.com - Wow, you blew me away with this :) I came across one pair of cool pants and I was thinking that would be too much for the moment, even the idea of trying to sew pants makes me think of a failure…and here you come with an awesome pair of jeans! and you say it’s not as difficult as one might think…..hm :)
    Congrats!!
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  • frk.bustad - Wow, I’m really impressed! Topstitching jeans and sewing through all those layers just keep me frightened… These pair of jeans look very professional! Well done, Mrs Cupcake!
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  • Carol - I’ve made this pattern many times now for my bloke and I agree, it is a winner. I have the opposite problem; a short man. Shortening the legs and getting the knees hitting at the knees was a problem. That and fitting overdeveloped thighs! I actually have rather enjoyed making his jeans and have a pair cut and ready to sew for myself. I love your pocket design; I went with something far more boring.
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  • juebejue - wooo! they look real nice on your guy!! he’s a lucky one to have a second one coming soon :) i LOVE LOVE the top stitching on the back pocket!
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  • Adin B - Oh boy! I am not sure how it will turn out if I were to make jeans?!?! It will be interesting to make one and find out. That is very impressive, indeed!
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