Category Archives: Pants

Cake – Camel and Gray Pants

I need pants. Long pants, short pants, wide pants, skinny pants, work pants….so I am officially checking two pair off my SWAP in camel and grey.  These are basic but will be workhorses in my wardrobe, hence the ‘cake’.  I’ll get to some icing soon.

PATTERN

Both pants were drafted using my sloper with modifications.  I borrowed the leg shape and width from a pair of RTW pants that I like.  They have an invisible zipper in the back to reduce any lumpiness in front and they have no pockets, again to maintain a clean look under my ubiquitous jackets and sweaters.  The only differences between the two pair is that the camel ones have a contoured waistband at the hip, and the gray ones have a 1″ straight waistband at the waist.  I also stitched down the crease in the front of the gray ones which I think makes a nice line.

I just need to get on my soapbox for a moment and give a shout out to SLOPERS!  Heh slopers, you ROCK!  It has taken me years to come up with bodice and pant slopers that finally fit.  For the longest time I thought that you were supposed to take a published pattern and then adjust it to match the fit of your sloper. No!  I learned from my sewing instructor  last year that I can use my sloper to add ease and style lines and I’m done!  This is a major sea change in the way I think about patterns.  I don’t have that many and now don’t really need that many.  Sure I’ll buy or download a pattern to copy a detail like a collar or peplum  but I don’t use the whole pattern.

Really, how many pants patterns do you need once you have a sloper.  There is no need to bang our collective heads against the wall every time we take a new pattern out of the envelope to fit it.

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FABRIC

These are both made from Rayon/Polyester/Lycra (RPL) which has a fabulous drape.  Emma  One Sock stocks it in a decent range of colors.  Although they are suppose to be the same fabric, the two colors are a bit different.  The camel is a bit “spongy”, thicker, and stretchier than the gray.   Stranger still is that the camel has the greatest stretch lengthwise which the grey does not so I cut the camel on the crossgrain.  They even fit a bit differently due to the slightly different stretch factor.  I’ve worn the camel three times so far and sadly it’s already starting to pill.   We’ll see how the grey fares as I’ve only worn them once.

The jury is still out on RPL.  I have some in cream which is in the middle of becoming pants, and I have several more yards of camel for a jacket and skirt but I’m not sure I’ll buy more.  I typically don’t buy polyester for environmental reasons but I was looking for something with a bit of Lycra and the price was right.  Real wool gaberdine is pricey and hard to find.

CONSTRUCTION

Besides jeans these are the only pants I haven’t lined.  Any lining would need to have the same stretchiness as the fashion fabric which was a tall order so I didn’t bother.  The edges were first serged then sewn together.  The waistbands were cut on the same grain as the rest of the pants.  The RPL doesn’t take too kindly to iron-on interfacing so I used two layers of horsehair interfacing stitched together and it worked out OK.

Camel Contoured Waistband: Interfacing was laid in after the waistband was sewn on.  Then the top and bottom seam allowances were catch-stitched around the interfacing to keep it in place.   I then sewed the side seams and handstitched a facing made from Bemberg lining.  The final step was topstitching the top and bottom of the waistband.  I went back in and took in the waist a bit more and made a royal mess of the topstitching and facing.  I need to find a better way to make a contoured waistband that still allows me to adjust the side seams without too much hassle.

Grey Straight Waistband:  This was much easer than the contoured band.  I used a technique I found in Pants for Real People where the interfacing is stitched to the seam allowance of the waistband before being attached to the pant.  Brilliant!  I’ve probably said it before but Pants for Real People and Jackets for Real People, both by Palmer/Pletsch are the best sewing books I have.  (Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina comes in third.)

Hems were topstitched in a rush.  I usually do a catch stitch to some interfacing but couldn’t use it on this fabric.  Note to self:  Try blind hemstitch next time.

FIT

Pretty darn close to perfect!  The only change I will make in the future is raising the back waistband up about a 1/2″.  These are about as narrow as I can get before I start to get the dreaded under-the-butt wrinkles.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Just because you have a swatch of a fabric in one color doesn’t mean that it will be the same in another color.  Always order a swatch if you can’t touch it in a store.
  • Maybe topstitch the waistband before sewing the side seams for ultimate adjustability?
  • Invisible zipper foot on my BabyLock is a PITA.  Use the one on my Viking which is a sure thing every time.

 

White Skinny Jeans – Burda 7863

Finally! A pair of pants completed, white pants, at the end of August.  I worked on my pants sloper on an off with my sewing instructor for about 6 months.  We got the sloper worked out for a standard pair of narrow (not skinny) pants.  The concept is that I can use the sloper to draft any other kind of pant but when dealing with a stretch fabric the whole pattern basically needed to be narrowed in the X direction inlcuding the pockets and crotch width.

I threw caution to the fashion winds and wore them to work today — way after Labor Day!  😛

White jeans are on my SWAP by the way so yeah me!

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PATTERN

I used Burda 7863  as the basis of design.  Basically I used the measurements of the pockets and back yoke.  The top of the jeans is about 1/4″ lower than my sloper.  For the next pair, and there will be several more, I won’t lower the back at all and will dip the front by another 1/2″.  The legs here are much narrower than the Burda pattern.

The pattern calls for a straight waistband but I made a contoured band instead with seams at the sides to allow for adjustments. It’s a bit bulky but I am always tweaking.

The one thing I messed up was the pocket placement on the rear.  It was fine until I started taking the sides in and now they are too far apart.  I’ve put the pants back in the sewing room for the winter  in the hope that I ‘ll get inpired to move them by spring.

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And yes, those are houndstooth Connies!

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FABRIC

I struggled a lot with the nature of the stretch denim which I am guessing has about 3% Lycra.  I think I got it at NY Elegant in NYC.  I prefer 2% Lycra but I had a hard enough time finding a white that was also thick enough to avoid show through.  The pretty floral waistband and zipper guard is actually the last of an old set of sheets.The pocket bags are just a buff colored quilting cotton purchased specifically for this project as I didn’t want anything to show through.

IMG_0313FIT

These are fresh out of a hot dryer for the photo shoot, but they loosen up in after an hour of wear.

I took them in at the waist, hip, and even reduced the crotch extension to accommodate the stretch properties.  I also narrowed the legs for style purposes.

The only fit issue that bothers me are the wrinkles below the derrière. My sewing instructor says that they need to be there if I actually want to SIT in my pants. Bummer!

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CONSTRUCTION

I’ve made jeans before so there was nothing new for these.  I always have difficulty at the ends of the waistband though where there is a lot of bulk.  Need to work on that. Jeans button and rivets are from Joann’s and were easy to intall.

The topstitching was done with white jeans thread which worked just fine.  I had my serger and two sewing machines running for this one so I didn’t have to keep changing the thread.

LEASONS LEARNED

  • Take fabric stretch into account when drafting the pockets.
  • Attach rear patch pockets AFTER fitting the waist and hip.

BurdaStyle 06/2013 #111A Shorts

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These shorts were part of my St. Lucia vacation wardrobe. The fabric was leftover from a failed pair of pants. It’s a lovely fine twill weave of wool and silk in a warm brown with silver undertones. It looks sturdy but is actually rather delicate and doesn’t like to be stressed so we’ll see how long they last. I downloaded this pattern (06/2013 #111A) because of its relaxed look, faced waist, and width.

As designed the shorts have a side zip, faced waist, rear vent pocket, and rolled cuffs. They sit slightly below the waist. I omitted the useless and potentially lumpy back pocket and moved the zipper to the back. I also changed the bulky facing to seam binding and omitted the roll up hem. 

IMG_9859I laid the pattern out over my almost done pants sloper and found that the side seam sits towards the front.  I know this is an optical trick to make one look slimmer from the front but wasn’t sure if or how to translate that to my sloper.  Then somewhere along the way I lost an inch in width on each side!  Must have been late at night.  Hmmm….this is a design opportunity!  I added a 1″ strip down each side using the back side of the fabric which is a grey/silver.  It looks a bit crooked at the top but I won’t be wearing my shirt tucked in anyways.

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In the end I am quite pleased with the fit.  I need to work out the bug with the stripe but I will be making these again.  They definitely suit me!

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LESSONS LEARNED

  • Take your time.  Don’t sew under time pressure.
  • My pants sloper already rocks! (Thanks Astrid!)

New Look 6251 – Khaki Cargo Shorts, and Jalie Tee

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This is one of the Tees and shorts that I took with me to St. Lucia.  The top was made in January and the shorts, well, I thought I made them last summer but when I pulled out the pattern I saw they were made in 2011!  It was actually in the 70’s yesterday so we took Olive for a special walk at the nearby agricultural high school.

THE TEE

The shirt itself isn’t terribly exiting but I post it because it’s one step closer to a t-shirt sloper and I must say this is pretty darn close!  I started with Jalie 2566 except used the shoulders and sleeves from my bodice sloper. The fabric is very light-weight cotton with a bit of a slubby texture.

Construction was mostly done on the serger.  The sleeve hems have a band of matching fabric attached.  The neckline has the same band except it’s stitched to the inside and then turned to the outside and stitched down covering the seam allowances.

The hem was done with a coverstitch and I think that is the last time I will attempt it.  GRRR!  I have a 5 thread machine that can “convert” to do coverstitching, chainstitching, 5 thread safety stitch, etc.  In theory it’s great, but in reality it takes 20 minutes to switch it over and back again.  It also HATES to coverstitch over the thinnest tiniest of seams.  Even a hump-jumper doesn’t help.  In hind sight I should have bought a 4 thread serger and a separate coverstitch machine.

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THE SHORTS

I see that there is a new New Look 6251 out which is for a sweater or top and NOT cargo pants.  I have no idea how old this pattern is as I couldn’t find a copyright date anywhere.  I can’t believe they need to recycle the pattern numbers.  I bought it used online I think.  I’m a sucker for princess seamed pants and these have the seam down the front.  The brilliant detail here is the way the cargo pockets are set into the vertical seams at the front and side. Cool huh?  The only design change I made was to leave off the belt loops.  I don’t wear belts very often and they just add bulk at the waist so why bother.  I also used a button at the waistband instead of a hook and eye.  Buttons seem to prevent the vertical edge of the fly from sticking out and gives the illusion of a flatter tummy.  (I see you rolling your eyes mom!)

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Just to ease your fears, I would NEVER entertain the cropped version!

The fabric is a super stretchy cotton/lycra weave with great recovery.  The pockets work great for doggie bags!

Since the waistband is a contoured band, I stabilized the top of the band with twill tape.  It doesn’t work terribly well as the top of the band cuts into my waist.  It’s just not very comfy.  I want the waistband to move and stretch like the rest of the shorts but I have to add SOME structure to it so they don’t stretch too much.  I figured if I added a bunch of interfacing to the waistband it would be too stiff.

The fit is just OK.  I made a number of modifications and they are still a bit short in the crotch and a bit snug at the waist, nothing I can’t fix if inclined to do so.  In spite of their ‘short‘ comings these are the shorts I pull out most often on the weekend.

I have been taking sewing lessons for the last few months and our number one priority has been a well fitted pant sloper.  As of Saturday we. are. almost. there. and then it will be PANTS CITY around here!  Once the sloper is in place I’ll try this pattern again.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Don’t add twill tape to a waistband if the fabric has a lot of stretch.
  • In a wash’n wear garment pocket flaps need fasteners.

Burda Style 02/2013 #129 Pleated Shorts

20140321-172057.jpgShorts in winter?  Not really.  These shorts were a quick make done last fall so I only got to wear them a few times before the snow came.  I’m always a season behind!

Pattern: Burda Style 02/2013 #129 Pleated Shorts.  I  moved the zipper from the side to the back to allow for future adjustments, and I reduced the waistband to a 5/8″ finished width.  They seem to run a bit large as I had to take them in by a few inches.  They have some generous pockets for pocket fans.

Fabric: Cotton?  I had been looking for horizontal stripes and found them at the ASG convention last year in DC.  The waistband is a scrap of Ultrasuede left over from a jacket.

Construction: I used the tutorial by The Sewing Lawyer to match the stripes and it worked like a charm.  They are not lined.

Hmm.  They look better with lighter colored tights than these brown ones.  The outfit needs something bold on top to balance the print on the bottom.  Maybe an orange scarf.

20140321-172117.jpgLessons Learned: Make more!