Sunday, August 30, 2009

Boy Shorts

for the 3 year old.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pants-along: The Hem

Not sure anyone reading this needs a tutorial from me on how I do this, but here goes. Try on your pants. If they're long pants you'll need to put your shoes on to make sure you get this right. Mark w/chalk or a pin the length you want them to be. When you go to cut your fabric, leave an inch for the hem.

Fold the fabric under 1/2" and iron in place. (I serged the edge, but that was totally unnecessary.)


Fold it under again 1/2" and iron in place.

Topstitch the hem, and woo hoo--you're done!!!!

Coming up soon: LINKS TO YOU! If you are documenting your pants-along progress on your blog, please email me (jojo at greatturtle dot com). I'd love to feature your blog on an upcoming post. Cheers!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pants-along: The Casing

For the casing, cut a piece of fabric that is an inch or two longer than the waist and 2-1/2" wide.

Fold the bottom edge of the casing fabric up about 1/2" and iron flat.

Starting at the back seam of the pants, pin the raw edge of the casing to the raw edge of the waist with right sides together. Leave some casing fabric on either side of the seam.

Sew on the casing fabric (using a 1/4" seam). Start sewing on the back seam. When you get all the way around, check to make sure you stop right before the seam.

Hold the two ends of the casing together, mark a straight line if you wish (not pictured), and sew the casing together (with right sides facing). Make sure to push the pants out of the way so you don't sew them by mistake.

Trim the extra from the edges, iron flat, and stich to close up the opening, if there is one.

Iron the seam open.

Fold the casing toward the inside of the pants, and iron it down.

Topstitch close to the edge to make the casing behave.

Use the chalk to mark where the eyelets will go. I measured 1" in from the pockets and about 1" down from the top.

Pull the casing up and out of the way, and insert eyelets according to the package directions. I reinforced mine with a piece of scrap fabric to ensure a snug fit. Insert two eyelets to the back of your pants as well. Use the placement of the front ones to determine where the back ones should go.

Now we're ready to attach to bottom of the casing. Pin it in place. Use a straight edge and chalk to mark where your topstitching will be. You want it to catch the fold on the bottom of the casing. Start at the back seam again and stitch all the way around.

Because I like to torture myself, I did another row of topstitching just under that one as well.

Now you're ready to insert the cord through the back eyelets and have both ends come out on the front side.

Next up: Hemming

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pants-along: Back Pockets

For the back pockets, you'll need two pieces of fabric that are 6" x 7". (Although in retrospect, I think these pockets look a little longish. If I do this again, I'll make them 6"x 6".) Make chalk marks 1" in on either side along the bottom.

Use your straight edge and rotary cutter to shape the pockets.

Iron all the edges toward the backside and topstitch approximately 1/2" in from the outside edge, and make any other topstitching embellishments you wish. Want to see some really cool pockets? Look at these. I KNOW, her blog is *awesome*. Look around, but don't forget to come back, OK?

Topstitch around three edges of the pocket to attach it in place.

Reinforce the top corners to keep them firmly in place.

p.s. What do you think of the shape of those pockets? I was thinking the slimming down on the bottom would make my bum look slim too. Ha ha!!! More likely, I look as if I'm wearing flowerpots back there. You can make your pockets any shape you want, OK? I will NOT be offended if you go out on your own. In fact, I will be very happy for you...

Next up: Casing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pants-along: Butt Darts

Now that your pants look like pants, try them on. Mine look baggy in the back, and I'd rather they be form fitting. I'm going to take them in 2" using butt darts.

Lay your pants inside out with the backside facing up. For each side, measure the center point from the side seam to the middle seam. Mark the center point and draw a line straight down that is 4" long. Measure 1/2" on either side of the center point and draw lines at an angle to meet the bottom of the first line.

Fold your pants on the center line of the dart (w/right sides together). The proper way to do this is to make sure both angled lines are perfectly lined up with each other on both sides by piercing it with pins. My fabric was very well-behaved, so I didn't bother with the pins.

Sew on the angled line. When you get near the end sew a couple of stitches on the fold--if you come in on too sharp of angle, your dart will be pointy and unattractive. No worries, though. It will be covered with a pocket later. :) Leave your thread tails long enough to tie in a knot.

Iron the darts toward each other.

Turn the pants right side out and top stitch the darts so that they BEHAVE!

Next up: Back pockets

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pants-along: Front Pockets

pocket measurements
For the front pockets, cut two pieces of fabric that are 7" x 11". Make chalk marks as in the picture above.

You can't tell from the picture, but I'm cutting both pockets at the same time.

Fold down the edges 1/2" and iron. Note that the top and side edge have been left alone.
If you wish, you may serge the pockets all the way around before ironing. I don't, but it's up to you.

Topstitch all ironed edges, using the 1/2" seam allowance. Note that the outside edges of the pockets have also been topstitched close to the edge.

Pin the pockets in place using the raw edges to line them up with the top and the side of the pants. Baste close to the raw edges to hold the pocket in place. Then you can remove the pins and topstitch close to the edge all the way around (OK, not ALL the way. Leave the pocket opening unstitched.)

I went a little crazy and added a fake fly. Just draw it on w/chalk and trace it with topstitching.

At this point, with right sides facing, sew up the side seams, serge, and iron them toward the back. Run a row of topstitching along the seam. If you wish to reinforce the pocket opening with topstitching, you can do that too.

Next up: Butt darts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pants-along: Getting Started


For cutting out the fabric, I'll be using pattern pieces 10 (front) and 11 (back) (from See & Sew 3886) along with pants that fit me well so that I can refer to the height of the waist as well the style and length of the legs. Since I'm making shorts this time, the leg component is simplified, but the method is the same.

You'll be doing this with the front and the back: Cut out your pattern pieces. Fold the pants so that they match up with the pattern pieces. Put the pants on top of the pattern piece, making sure the crotches (nice word!) are lined up. Fold (or cut) the waist of the pattern down to almost to the waist of the pants--you'll want extra at the waist for your seam allowance. When I made my rough draft for the pants, I found that the size 8 using the 5/8" seam allowance was a smidge too tight, so I adjusted by using a 1/4" seam.

Do the same for length, using your pants as a guide. Leave yourself 2 to 3 inches extra to make length adjustments and for the hem. Before pinning your pattern pieces onto the fabric, match them up at the crotch and make sure they are even at the top and the notches all line up.

If you're making long pants, line up the crotch of the pants with the crotch of the pattern piece, and trace onto your fabric w/tailor's chalk, leaving enough on the edges for your seam allowance. The important thing here is to preserve the shape of the pants from the crotch up. From the crotch down, you can make whatever modifications you jolly want to. Have I typed the word "crotch" enough? Crotch, crotch, crotch!

Fold over your fabric, and pin the pattern pieces on top. You'll be cutting two from pattern piece 10 and two from pattern piece 11.


I like to mark my fabric pieces "F" for front and "B" for back. This is especially useful when the fabric looks the same on both sides. Blah, blah, blah. I feel like I'm talking too much. Have another picture.


It's time to attach a front piece to a back piece. With right sides facing, line the fabric up from the crotch. As you can see in this picture, the bottom of the pieces are a little off, but I'm not going to worry about that right now, since I left extra for adjustments. Stitch the pieces together at the inner seam. Do this to the other front and back pieces as well.


Serge the seam. If you don't have a serger, don't worry about it--you can still make these pants. All the seams are double-reinforced from all the topstitching, so your seams will be strong, regardless. Iron the seam toward the front.


Top stitch on top of the seam to hold it in place. Take your time. This part is fun! Do the same w/the other leg.

Admire your work!


To attach the two legs together, line up the inner seams and pin in place along the curve of the crotch. I like to start sewing near the inner seam going one direction, and then flip the whole thing over and sew from the inner seam in the other direction. This ensures that the seams line up nicely, and it also reinforces the seam.


Serge the seam, iron it toward one side and topstitch it in place. Your pants are coming together nicely!

Next up: Front Pockets.

Pants-along: Inspiration

I'm so excited to say that the sample shorts I made from cotton duck worked great! The pictures have all been taken, and I meant to get started on the tutorial last night, but after the stress of a root canal yesterday, I decided to plunk down on the sofa and watch Slumdog Millionaire instead (not a great way to relax, although it was a great movie!). So here are the shorts I made. I love 'em. The stiffer fabric was actually really well-behaved and easy to work with. The thicker thread worked like a charm with the right needle (size 16). I was concerned that the drawstring part might not have a lot of give with the thicker fabric, but these pants are so fitted that they don't really need a lot of flexibility in the casing.

It's pretty amazing that once you figure out how to make pants, you really start paying attention to details in every pair of pants you see. Here are a few that have been inspiring me lately:

Yellow with white stitching and the cool button detail on the bottom. Graygoosie is my fashion hero.

These beautiful linen drawstring pants from Free People. I love all the topstitching on the outer leg, and the teeny eyelets on the pocket.

I like the shape of these too.

What's been inspiring you?

*****Alrighty. Tonight I'm not going to be a slacker. The pants-along shall begin in earnest!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pants-along: The Search for Fabric

Hi, I'm Melissa from Susie-Homemaker and Joanna has asked me to guest blog a post on sewing pants. Honestly I'm not sure I'm qualified to type this post, but like I told Joanna in my email, I really just sew by the seat of my pants and figure it out as I go. When I'm stumped, I consult Google, my shelf full of sewing books, and favorite sewing message board Pattern Review, but mostly I just wing it and learn from my mistakes.

I have quite a bit of pant sewing experience under my belt thanks to my four children. I enjoy sewing for them because they are easy to fit. Me on the other hand, I'm still on a quest to sew pants that fit me perfectly. I don't fit the classic "perky thin 20-year-old-Barbie-doll body type model" that pattern makers draft for, but what woman does? A quick look around in any public venue and you'll see that body type does not depict your typical woman's curvy figure. I make a point to note this because sewing pants is the easy part, getting them to fit how you like, well that is another story and one I'm definitely not qualified to write about. Okay, on to sewing by the seat of our pants!

So what kinds of fabrics do you sew pants from? The easy answer is anything you want. Of course use this guide within reason. Most people don't sew pants from a sheer lightweight fabric, but if you really wanted to you could. Some popular choices for sewing pants include denim, twill, corduroy, and linen. If you're using a commercial pattern, you'll find a list of suggested fabrics on the pattern envelope. Definitely use that information as a guide because it will help you recreate the look you see on the pattern envelope ~ too stiff or too drapey and you'll ruin the look.

Fiber content is also something to think about when choosing fabrics. Natural fibers breathe well and allow airflow to circulate more easily (think cotton, wool, silk, linen). Man-made fibers, such as rayon, also breath well because they comes from a natural source (wood pulp in the case of rayon) and aren't chemically created. Synthetic fibers come from a chemical source and are chemically processed to create the fiber. Examples of synthetics include polyester, nylon, acrylic, and spandex. The major downfall of synthetics is they have no wicking quality and are often hot to wear. On the plus side, synthetics are machine washable, resist wrinkling, and usually hold their shape well. Want the best of both worlds? Look for blended fibers. A great example which many of us probably have in our closet is stretch denim. The comfort of cotton with the recovery of spandex makes for a fabulous pair of jeans that don't bag out the minute you sit down.

What about needles and stitch length? This all depends on the fabric you choose. A light weight fabric will require a small needle while a heavyweight fabric needs a larger needle that will penetrate the thicker fabric and not cause stress on the thread which can cause it to fray or break. As a general guide, lightweight fabric you'll use 60/9 or 70/10 with a stitch length of 1.5-1.7mm, a medium weight fabric 70/10 or 80/20 with a stitch length of 2-2.5mm, heavyweight fabric 90/14 or 100/16 with a stitch length of 2.5-3mm, and then a very heavyweight fabric 100/16 to 120/20 with a stitch length of 3-4mm. To ensure you're using the correct needle and stitch length, create a few samples with your fabric scraps before beginning your garment.

Another question that comes up regarding needles is what type. I found a very helpful post on the Sew Mama Sew blog so I'm going to refer everyone to that so I don't reiterate the same information. Worth adding is a little information about stretch needles. Stretch needles are actually a better choice when sewing fabrics with spandex (aka Lycra) because they have a deeper scarf that prevents skipped stitches. I have personally had skipped stitches using a ball point needle, but once I switched to a stretch needle the problem has been solved. Here is another helpful reference for choosing needles.

What about thread? For stitching seams, a basic all-purpose thread is perfect for most of your sewing needs. I typically use Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP which I buy at Joann's. When I topstitch hems or pockets, I use the same all-purpose thread when I want everything to blend together. Other times I want thicker topstitching thread to highlight those areas (hems, pockets, etc), so I use Gutermann topstitching thread (also at Joann's). While I don't recall the price of the spool, it has 110 yds and comes in several different colors including a nice blue jeans gold (#1870). When I topstitch, I have personally used a regular sewing machine needle, but after doing a little research for this post, I see I should really be using a topstitching needle because they are made for thicker topstitching thread (note to self!). Sometimes you'll have to loosen the thread tension to get the bobbin and the needle thread to balance out so it's best to practice on scraps first. Also, I personally use all-purpose thread in my bobbin when I topstitch because it feeds better (at least in my machine) than the thick topstitching thread. I think that you're really only supposed to use lighter weight threads in your bobbin case, but consult your manual or your dealer for what is correct for your machine.

Before I close, I'd like to share a few links of things you might find helpful for the sewalong. Here are two articles ~ Making Perfect Pants and Sewing Instructions for Women's Pants. And if you're interested in learning to better fit your clothes to your body shape, I highly recommend two books by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto ~ Fit For Real People and Pants for Real People. Lastly, there are two books I have in my sewing library that are great pants reference books ~ Easy Guide to Sewing Tops, T-Shirts, Skirts, and Pants & Sewing Pants That Fit (this one is a bit dated, but has good information on sewing and fitting pants).

Thank you Joanna for asking me to be a guest. I hope the information I shared will be useful. My best advice is don't think about it too much. I get caught up in thinking too much and sometimes I think the best things happen when you just roll with it and really just sew by the seat of your pant. Happy sewing!

Thank YOU, Melissa, for this super-useful information! :)