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

Black Dungarees

I used to prefer navy blue to black, but over the past few years I’ve learned to love the clean simplicity of true black. That said, it’s no friend to the blogger, is it? But if you peer into the shadows you might just see my new dungarees!

This is view B (modified) of the Marilla Walker Roberts collection, which you really can’t beat for value. Even ignoring the dress view (as I do, because dresses are not my preferred flavor of jam), that’s three hip, comfy patterns for under ten bucks American. I wish I did like dresses, because the lines of their Isca dress are just gorgeous. And look at this sweet collection! The directions aren’t the greatest in the biz, but I love the designs. Okay, that concludes Marilla Walker aesthetic appreciation hour, back to the dungas.

I reworked this pattern something fierce. Under the influence of tiny YouTube waifs who swan around in airy shapeless jumpsuits made in under fifteen minutes with 96 cm of linen and no pattern, I drafted out the tucks and the front waist seam. Directions below:

  1. First, remove all seam allowances.
  2. Treating the pocket and front leg as one piece, draft out the tuck. I like this Megan Nielsen tutorial.
  3. Butt the bottom of the front bib against the new waist seam, making sure to match the grainlines. Trace as a single piece.
  4. Add seam allowances.

I added an additional 5/8” seam allowance to the outseams, just in case, because I decided to omit the closure. The button tab directions were confusing, and a try-on of my existing jumpsuit from the collection made me think I wouldn’t need one. (The extra seam allowance turned out to be unnecessary, as I’ll discuss later.) The original front bib pattern piece was now just a front facing, so I cut 1 on the fold instead of 2. The back and back facing needed no changes, except the added SA.

I made the straps 8” longer because I wanted to use a knot-and-loop fastening for the bib. It turns out a single knot doesn’t require an extra 8 inches, but I kind of like the excess! The loops are a little wider than the straps, and I tucked them between the front pieces and the facing and sewed over the junction several times for security.

This pair of dungarees is heavy – I don’t mean warm, I mean physically heavy. I was worried having all that weight resting on relatively thin straps would be uncomfortable, but it hasn’t been a problem. The knot stays put in the loop, too, even though they’re load-bearing. The fabric is a thick, coarse linen/cotton blend, which helps everything hold!

I wish I had done something a little differently in the back – made the back bib either wider or narrower, or criss-crossed the straps, maybe. It just looks a little unconsidered back there. The facings are already stitched down at the side seams, so I won’t be editing this pair (unpicking black thread on black fabric? No thank you).

Also, I extended the legs by 2” from the bottom, but I shouldn’t have bothered.

Super wide cuffs to the rescue!

Since removing the waist seam meant removing the slash pockets, I added two patch pockets. They’re about 7” wide by 8” deep, finished. Initially I planned on having them both on the back – I measured placement by draping the back piece over myself and patting my butt, by the way – but after sewing the first I lost interest in matching them symmetrically. In my defense, 90°F/32°C heat gives me a serious case of the good-enoughs. So instead I popped the second one on the opposite front (now with the scientific technique of patting my thigh).

Why yes, they ARE functionally invisible, thank you.

Let’s talk fit for a minute. The Roberts collection has a dropped crotch, so there’s plenty of room to move. But I just read about girth measurements in the latest Threads, and I recommend the article if you find your jumpsuit/overall/dungarees patterns need more vertical space.

Vertical, check! I overdid the horizontal, though. Back to that extra seam allowance – I didn’t need it. In fact, probably because I didn’t staystitch the curves (it was VERY hot that day) I ended up removing 1.5” from the waist at each side, so a 6” total reduction in circumference. I reduced the thighs by stages, too, until I got a fit I liked. The magic numbers seemed to be: remove 1.5” from the waist, and 1.25” from the thighs, reducing to nothing 17” up from the hem (and I trimmed the facings to match). It was a lot of pants-on, pants-off, but I’m actually pretty thrilled with the final leg shape. And it was a quick sew even with the adjusting.

And in case you’re wondering, you’d really have to work at it to peer down the side and see my underwear (fair question).

I realized after the fact that I accidentally recreated this Workshop pattern. So, no points for creativity! I’m still happy with the result, though! Time will tell if I can wear the dungarees in the fall – I expect they’ll be okay with boots and a flannel. Don’t tell summer, but I miss fall, okay?

Oh and, a new friend is moving into a local mural – how snazzy is that shirt?

You inspire me, snazzy shirt man. See you next time, buds!

Pattern: Roberts Collection dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 4, with changes, above

Supplies: 2.5 yards of black linen/cotton blend, $12.48, Sewfisticated; thread, $1.99, Sewfisticated

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $14.47

Raspberry Rucksack

Oh hellooo! This may become an annual tradition – it’s the second April running that I’ve posted a backpack. The difference between my Making backpack and this is that this is a furbelow, a frill, a bibelot, and a trifle. Maybe even a bagatelle. I love it.

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It’s my Raspberry rucksack, in the size “little”. Arguably, “li’l”. It’s SO li’l! I’m inexperienced at sewing bags, making it an act of blind faith until each step is complete and I actually understand why I’ve done what I’ve done. So I was initially surprised at the size, even though I made paper pattern pieces (the pattern gives measurements). While planning, I thought the Little Raspberry would be a cute accessory that could carry exactly 1 bag of granulated sugar; after sewing I thought I accidentally made a child’s backpack; now, post photos, I’m back to cute accessory.

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It was quite a journey (especially compared to the signal lack of journeys it’s actually been on – we’re staying home, pal).

Okay, where to start? Maybe with the pop-up pocket. It’s so tiny.

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It’s useless. Again, adorable. But it’s so much work to go fishing for the zipper that I probably won’t bother. My furbelow has a furbelow!

The sew along with photos was a MUST. I used it faithfully, except I ended up unpicking one line of topstitching, the one that delineates the zipper-covering flap from the “roof” of the pop-up pocket. I thought it was too wobbly and an eyesore, but that’s probably why my pocket is more floppy, less boxy. I am glad I sewed the pop-up pocket either way. It was a fresh and exciting process, and I kept trying one more step just to see what would happen!

Next, the main zipper. I didn’t understand how this would relate to the backpack front at all. (I promise I read the whole booklet several times before starting – it just wouldn’t attach to my brain!) Now I wish I had done a better job sewing my curved corners, and probably made the curve larger and gentler as well. These are traced-a-thread-spool curves, I would even go up to roll-of-tape curves.

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There was NO WAY I was ready to attempt Sew North’s clean finish hacks, but now I’m super interested! I don’t actually mind the zipper tape edge (or the bias bound finish), but I like trying new things. And conversely, I like repeating patterns. So I could do both.

May I brag on myself for a moment? Thank you. The result is concealed under the main zipper flap, but I actually shortened my bag zipper the right way, by moving the little metal stop thingie with a pair of pliers. It is so tidy. I like it very much.

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The inner and outer fabrics are Ruby Star canvas. They’re nice and strong and cooperative and fine to unpick, which I for SURE took advantage of. I topstitched the main zipper several times, since I kept stitching tucks into the tape.

I changed thread color all over the place with this project – three different spools (outer color, lining color, strap color) and bobbins. Since I didn’t need a ton of any one color, I cleaned out a lot of odds and ends. I was beaming with gratitude that I had the right leftovers in my stash, since my only thread source right now is the hardware store and they have about 6 colors. I feel like one lucky ducky!

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Finally, the straps and hardware. These were a pain! I found the zippers locally at Gather Here, but I couldn’t turn up 1” wide strapping in any colors that worked with my fabric. I had 1” wide natural-colored cotton strapping in my stash, though, so I figured why not try to dye it myself!

I decided on yellow onion skins because I was open to a wide range of yellows, and because it was

  1. Free.
  2. Non-fugitive (unlike my other contender, turmeric, which fades over time.)
  3. Food safe, so I could use my existing pots and pans, which kept it
  4. Free.

It went fine! I made an absolute dye BONANZA, pints of it, but I only soaked my strapping for about an hour, then I dumped the rest down the sink (like a dodo, because there were dishes in there). I used this and this tutorial, neither of which mentions that while the dye is simmering, your kitchen will smell like warm B.O.

This yellow isn’t perfect, except that it was a perfect match for my thread, so I guess it was perfect after all. Phwew!

A curious thing about my strapping: I dyed WAY TOO LITTLE of it! The pattern calls for 100” for the arm straps, 18” each for the handles, and 3” each for the connectors. I dyed 100” TOTAL. I didn’t have enough for the fancy crossover situation, obviously, so I sewed my arm straps the way the Making backpack pattern calls for. They’re juuust long enough, but it definitely contributes to the child’s-backpack flavor.

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I had a heck of a time finding 1” sliders, which I eventually got on Etsy. I used sliders instead of rectangle rings for the connectors to save a purchase. Intensely Distracted linked to her webbing and hardware sources, also on Etsy, and I wish I had seen it sooner since she found two US-based shops! If like me, you’re struggling to find 1” webbing and hardware, 1.25” or 1.5” actually seem like they would be fine, too. I’ll report back if I try it!

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I learned so much sewing this, I want to turn right around and do it again. Sourcing fabric is an issue right now, so I need to wait – and obviously I don’t need another backpack instantly – but I really want to apply what I learned! And it might make a good gift! And, okay, I don’t normally end with a geyser of photos, but it’s so cute!

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It’s just so cute!!

Pattern: Sarah Kirsten Raspberry rucksack

Pattern cost: $10.50

Size: little

Supplies: 3/4 yards of Ruby Star Society canvas in Brushwork, Teal; 3/4 yards of Ruby Star Society canvas in Circles and Lines, Amethyst, Gather Here, $21.00; 30″ double-sided zipper, 10″ all-purpose zipper; Gather Here, $8.15; 4 1″ sliders, LIKEBAGS (etsy), $6.63; thread, strapping from stash

Total time: 8.25 hours

Total cost: $46.28