Kitchen Sink Pants

New pants! Brace yourself; the following contains a lot of words but not necessarily a lot of information.

These are my kitchen sink pants (as in ‘everything but the’). Here’s a quick rundown of their features:

  1. A faced front with a center fly zipper.
  2. Elasticated back waistband.
  3. Back darts.
  4. Single-layer pockets with faced inseam openings.
  5. D-ring straps for cinching.
  6. Mild balloon legs.

Of that list, item 1, a jeans-style center fly opening-plus-faced front sans waistband, was the one that kept me up o’ nights. Ever since sewing a faced pair of paper bag pants I wondered how to actually get the zipper to go to the top and finish everything nicely. The answer: I don’t know. The result: somehow very, very tidy. ??!!?? Ordinarily when I have trouble describing a technique in words alone I whip up a technical illustration, but I felt my way through this process, and I understand neither what nor how anything I did. What a terrible start to a post, ha!

I sifted through a lot of internet to find this tutorial for a front fly/front facing. I read through it several times and then went ahead and sewed my zip the same way I always do, only to end up unpicking the top three or four inches of my topstitching (the center seam edgestitching and the straight vertical part of the ‘J’ around the fly extension) and redoing it after adding the facings. It’s not particularly obvious in this dark tone-and-tone thread, but follow the wise advice found at that link, because my way was bad. The universe graciously forebore and it all worked out, but there’s no particular reason why it should have.

The pattern is also uncertain – I smushed together my PA Morella trousers with my traced Madewell balloon jeans, but I didn’t use any specific lines from either. I laid them in a stack under some tracing paper and drew new lines based on my feelings, usually somewhere between the two. This is so contrary to the organized way I usually work, and I don’t plan on rebranding myself as an intuitive artiste, but I guess I’ve made enough pants for myself that navigating by feel was a reasonably effective process. Still, yikes.

The flat faced front/back waistband technique is all Morellas. I ended up cutting my front facings twice, because the center zip complicated the process. The first time I cut them without additional seam allowance at the center. When I went to attach them, it felt like a mistake, so I recut and reinterfaced with more SA, only to trim to the original size when sewing. Again, I’m expressing this poorly because I understand it poorly. I’d like to sew another pair of pants with this feature (it’s so SO so SO comfortable to wear) and maybe take pictures that time, to really get the practice cemented in my mind.

You might have seen the pin these were based on, by the way. It’s this one below – I couldn’t find any other images of the pants, but I tried to copy what I could see. I decided to add elastic to the back instead of relying entirely on the straps for cinching because I thought it would sit more evenly (I was throwing all my spaghetti at the wall anyway), so I didn’t get those pleats but otherwise – yeah?? 

In case you were wondering why darts + elastic (surely choose one), it’s because there’s darts in the picture! And that’s it!

The rectangle rings are leftover from my Raspberry Rucksack, by the way! I sewed the straps to match their measurements.

My single best innovation was adding a buttonhole in the fly shield so I could sew a button to the inside waistband and the layers would sit flat when worn. Game changer. I’m the Banksy of fly shields (no I’m not, but I am disproportionately excited about it).

Hopefully these interior shots will supplement my complete lack of explanation!

You can actually see the shape of the single-layer pocket bag there – that line of topstitching basically vanished completely.

I used 8 oz. denim (Kaufman per ush), which was light enough that all the hoopla at the waist didn’t get too thick, but perfectly suitable for pants. I almost bought 6 oz. but that would have been pushing it, I think. Anyway I’m very happy with the fabric. I used the selvedge on the edge of the fly shield and the edge of my pocket facings, which look like nothing on earth in a photograph, but function perfectly well!

Lest you think I think I am a pants savant, I forgot to reshape the hem allowance to angle outwards, so when I folded them up, the hems were slightly smaller than the diameter of the legs. I eased them together but the hems are *almost* gathered as a result. Tsk. I said tsk!

If you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding this fireplace: alas, this is not my apartment, but a very chic AirBnB (this one, well worth a look!!). These are the last of our vacation shots. Someday I’ll go on a vacation without needing a haircut. Someday!!

Anyway, I sort of expected these trouser-jeans to be clown pants but actually they ended up staid! But I really like them! I’m still nervous about *how* I made them (the word “mushy” comes to mind – mushy pattern, mushy understanding) but I’m finding them quite easy to wear.

And now I want to add hardware to everything. EVERYTHING.

Next up, July. Blergh. See you there!

Pattern: No pattern??

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??

Supplies: 2 yards of Indigo Washed 8 oz. denim, $25.20, Gather Here; 7″ zipper, 1.5″ non-roll elastic, $4.59, Gather Here; thread, rectangle rings from stash

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $29.75

Morella Pants

So that was quite a start to the year. Not exactly surprising, but unexpected. I’m talking of course about Joel Kim Booster’s saucy take on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me re: men sewing. Just kidding! My capitol got sacked! Anyway – pants!!

I love my normal high, hard, tight pants, but please welcome to the closet, my first pair of woven lounge pants. I sewed them in November (the week of the US election, in fact) and I’ve been wearing them indoors a lot, and outdoors whenever it’s warm enough. These are the Pauline Alice Morella pants. The only version of them seemingly anywhere is a terrific ramie pair by Heathery Makes. She was the first share-r of this pattern and a pants pioneer!

I find my usual pants totally comfortable under usual circumstances, but I was inspired to try the trend for comfy-waist pants because I had shingles. People! Yuck!! In addition to the skin stuff on my belly and back, my nearby lymph nodes hurt like a fresh bruise, and all my pants pressed on both. I sewed these post-shingles (I’m better now, whoo) but it’s nice to have variety.

I picked this pattern because the pockets both intrigued and confused me. I’m lucky that Heather made and shared her pair, because I followed her advice and also because it gave me faith these pockets would work out. I couldn’t visualize the process, not one little bit. That said, it worked great! The first pocket was a fun challenge and a journey of faith that took about an hour. I sewed the second pocket in half that time, and I didn’t need the directions. It’s a cool technique! I like sewing that uses precise measuring and clipping. It’s high-stakes. Perfect for adrenaline junkies. Jason Statham clips to but not through the stitching line, all day, every day. 

I still couldn’t describe precisely how it’s undertaken – definitely one of those things that’s easier to do than say – but here’s my notes. One, yes, you should construct the whole back of the pants first. It seems like a lot of extra fabric to have flapping around, but it’s necessary. Two, when matching the pants front + pocket to the pants back – you need to flip the pocket. I know that doesn’t make sense now, but hopefully it will at the time. It’s not exactly “The only water in the forest is the river”, but flip the pocket.

I sewed the pocket corners in a single pass (as Heather recommended), and I reinforced the corners with a second line of stitching before clipping. This will hopefully keep them intact for a long time to come, and also made it easier to see where to cut. My thread was a perfect match for the wrong side of the fabric. I often try to match from my existing thread rack, but just-right tone-on-tone makes me purr.

I had some uncharacteristic anxiety about the outseam where it meets the pocket opening (hint: it wasn’t actually about the outseam, cough cough election week). I stitched that last inch three or more times. I tried a vertical and horizontal bartack and unpicked both. Eventually I added a rivet, so I wouldn’t keep thinking about popping that corner. I know, rivets in a lounge pant? It’s like walnuts in a brownie (controversial!). But I couldn’t relax in these while plagued by visions of Murray Slaughter ripping off Ted Baxter’s suit pocket. Now I can stick my hands in my pockets worry-free. Next time I sew Morellas I’d like to topstitch the pocket openings, since that edge puffs up a little, but I used self-fabric for the pocket so it’s pretty inoffensive anyway.

The elastic waist was almost my downfall! My piece of elastic was 18” long, 1” shorter than my size called for. I tried several different installation methods, none of which worked (and I had the unpicked threadball to prove it), until I remembered the True Bias Emerson pants technique. It’s simply the best way of adding elastic to a partially-elasticated waistband (mine has a folded, finished edge though)! Plus, if you want to extend the usability of your pants, you can leave extra elastic poking out past the stitch line, un-stretched, hidden by the front facing, and have inches for later. Or you could tighten it later, though that’s never been my direction of change.

I didn’t have wide enough elastic so I zig-zagged two narrower pieces together along their shared length. Predictably, the elastic wants to roll and fold, but I put a vertical line of stitching at the center back, and that keeps it flat.

I also interfaced the front self-facing as per Heather. Excellent suggestion.

The only thing I had to find out for myself was fabric requirements – Pauline Alice only lists yardage for 54” wide fabric, and I really wanted to use this Essex linen/cotton blend (Driftless: Downstream in Roasted Pecan), which is only 45” wide. I sewed a straight size 44. Sidebar, I don’t have the faintest idea of how to grade this pattern through the waist/hips. Anyway, I bought 2 2/3 yards, and I have a good few extra inches. Since I cut the back waistband on the cross-grain, I could have squeaked this out of 2 ½ yards but better safe than sorry! The pattern pieces are a little cumbersome, so I have largish scraps leftover. This fabric is great for lightweight pants (and beautiful, in my opinion), but it might be a little scratchy for masks. I’ll figure out something to use the scraps for, though!

I’d like to make a pair of these in French terry, maybe with cuffs instead of hems. They’re sweat-pants-comfy already, why not add a little sweat-pants-cozy.

Anyway, I know the home sewist is spoiled for choice right now with elastic-waist pants, but I think this pattern has a little something extra. I recommend it! If you try it and you have questions about the pockets, hit me up. And stay comfy out there!

Also – Heather and I both plan on sharing overalls in February, which she’s brilliantly dubbed “Over all this 2020 nonsense”. And I will amend slightly to add “And the first week of 2021 too”. Feel free to join us. 😀

Pattern: Pauline Alice Morella pants

Pattern cost: $9.76

Size: 44; elastic for the waist shortened to 18”

Supplies: 2 2/3 yards of Kaufman Essex cotton/linen; Driftless, Fern in Roasted Pecan, $35.91, Gather Here; thread, $2.09, Michael’s; elastic, rivets from stash

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $47.76

Ol’ Farmer Pants

My students have been known to comment on my outfits, never more so than when I wear overalls. I got a very suspicious “Why do you like those overalls so much?!” the first time I wore my Roberts dungarees. This pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees has been called my “weird old farmer pants”. One of my favorite so-called compliments, though I can’t remember which pair it applied to, was when a kiddo told me she liked my underalls. “You mean my overalls?” “No, I mean your shirt.”  (A lot of them are turning ten this year and every year they get more hilarious. I’m very fond of the hooligans.)

Anyway, despite the bad press, I’m still wearing these! I’m leaning into the farmer aesthetic, too, though anyone doing actual manual labor would laugh these right out of town – more on that later. I was hoping to wear this outfit to host a Late-November Gratefulness Eating Day for my parents (gratitude and stuffing are nice, Thanksgiving is iffy), but maybe next year, as we’re not doing any gathering. The smart money says I’m wearing jimjams right now but you never know!   

When I made this pattern in 2017 it was the only indie overalls pattern I found. Since then the options have exploded (outwards in two directions, towards loose wide bags and sexy little numbers) but this sits right about in the middle, a classic Osh Kosh B’Gosh shape. One benefit of that particular timing – 2017, not a lot of other options – is that it’s been blogged a lot. There are some truths universally acknowledged, like the included back pockets are comically small. I used the CC Ginger jeans back pockets instead, and I could have gone bigger; a non-fitted bottom means more fabric to cover.

They’re placed too far out and up, but that’s on me.

Another common change, it seems everyone agrees; two hip zippers is one too many! I’ve complained about invisible zippers in the past, but there’s not a lot of evidence of why we don’t get along, because I avoid using them. I used one here. Alright, deep breath. Here it is.

Come closer, my pretty. Closerrr.

It’s bad!! It’s bad at the top, where I couldn’t figure out how to neatly finish it! It’s bad at the bottom, where (I assume, this was years ago) my over-zealous unpicking ripped past the seam allowance and I bartacked a piece of scrap fabric to the wrong side! I admit fault at the bottom there, but I don’t feel totally responsible for the top, because the waist edge is finished with a single turn to the wrong side. There’s no waistband/facing/binding in which to hide that zipper end.

That edge is my biggest complaint about the pattern. The opening of the patch pocket is finished the same way, but that’s not carrying any weight. For the join between the bib and the pants, a seam that experiences a lot of stress, it’s a weak finish. It’s why I could never wear these to do physical work. And sewn in this lightweight corduroy, a single line of stitching with the seam allowance pressed down is basically a perforated line.

After several wears my bib started ripping right off at both ends! Originally I mended those edges with some discreet hand sewing, but that didn’t last long. So once again I popped a little piece of scrap fabric behind the rip and bartacked the crud out of it. Now that’s ripping too. I really like corduroy, but 21 wale might be for a good time, not for a long time; the pants I made Professor Boyfriend from this same fabric are nearly translucent on the seat. I guess 3 years of wear isn’t a terrible innings, but I might try to fix these one more time, if I can figure out how.    

I fit these on the fly! My 2017 spreadsheet doesn’t include the size I started from (weird thing to be coy about) but my best guess would be a 48, the largest available size, since I removed a lot of width from the legs. My fitting notes indicate that I narrowed the front leg 5/8” (cut the seam allowance off the outseam, basically), and reduced the back leg 1 5/8″ at the waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at the leg. Which is a lot. Nowadays I would start from a 44, and I’ve only gotten bigger & better, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Also in ‘mysterious choices from a  former life’ I extended the straps by a few inches, which was unnecessary, and then my extra strap ends were flapping around and bugging me, so I stitched them down (that line behind the rectangle slider dealie there), and now my straps are only pretending to be adjustable. The hardware is cute though!

Overall the pattern is pretty good, I think! That back seam is flat-felled, as are the inseams. My chest pocket is purely decorative since I stitched it shut, but I like it. I like the shape of the legs, too, though inevitably they bag at the knees. I’m wearing my Turias here with a Mélilot, which is a real get-along shirt pattern.

I still remember the nice woman at the fabric store helping me choose between these buttons and dark green ones, and eventually selling me on these by describing them as raisins! Which seemed appropriate for an Autumnal Food Party outfit. I hope you’re enjoying a meal, wherever you are, and having a safe, relaxing Thursday!    

Evenin’, all!  

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: unknown; let’s say the final size was about a 44

Supplies: 2 yards corduroy in Navy, $23.00, Gather Here; $1.50, zipper, Gather Here; $7.99, buckles, Etsy

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $41.49

Pattern: Deer and Doe Mélilot

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 42

Supplies: 2 meters mystery floral, $7.73, TMoS; $7.80, buttons, Gather Here

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $15.53