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

Sad sacks

Now that I have a blog I like to give clothes a bit of a farewell tour before gifting/donating them. Sometimes this has the opposite effect of reminding me I like them. After trying this pair of trousers with 2 buttoned shirts, 3 tanks, and a tee, and rejecting most combinations, though, I’m reminded why I don’t wear these. So long, so pants!

These are a Burda Style pattern from 2015 and if you can find a link to them you’re a better woman than I. The pattern might even be quite good (for evidence, see this wickedly stylish pair) but my iteration is…poor. Is it weird if I offer to email you the PDF, if you want? They’re functionally un-buyable, but is that crimey? Is this the dark web now?!

It’s hard to express exactly what doesn’t work for me about these, style-wise, but it’s not hard to describe what I did wrong – the zipper, the facing, the front pockets, and the pleats. That’s most of the parts. And almost the back darts.

The back darts are meant to be sewn in two passes; first the diagonal lines right at the point, then the back pockets, then most of the rest of the pants including the back facing, and then the part of the dart that attaches to the waistline. I’d never come across something like before!

I won’t say I did it *right* per say, but I did it, and I guess it worked.

The front pockets are another story. The pattern pieces were shaped like an apostrophe that seemed to have no relationship to the front leg (taller than I would have expected, with a straight vertical top section and then a bulging curve). I didn’t understand what to sew, where, so I ended up with a couple short raw edges that I bound with a scrap of rayon.

Basically, I sewed accidental facing pockets, on top of the actual pockets. I’m sure that contributes to the weird pleat, but the pleats would probably be weird either way – I mean, that diagonal line!! I don’t even know WHY. It just IS.

The zipper appears normal from the outside.

It’s not, but I’m not taking responsibility. Here’s the deeply tragic block of instructions dedicated to the zipper. I apologize for the wall of text but it’s a good visual representation of what I was banging my head against. This is presented as is, by the way – without paragraph breaks, photos, or diagrams/illustrations.

Zip slit and upper edge: Press self-facing on slit edges to inside. Stitch along center front on the right and 5 mm before center front on the left. Stitch zip under left slit edge (underlap). Pin slit closed, matching center fronts. Stitch loose zip tape to right facing, not catching shorts piece. Fold underlap piece lengthwise, right side facing in. Stitch across upper and lower ends. Turn right side out. Neaten attachment edges together. Lay underlap under left slit edge and pin to facing. Stitch facing to underlap, close to zip attachment seam. Turn right facing to outside and pin to upper edge. Pin (upper) facing to upper edge of shorts, right sides together. On right slit edge, trim away facing allowance, along center front. Stitch along upper edge of shorts.

??WHAT?? If you can understand that, may I recommend Etruscan for a light read? I can sew a fly front, but I didn’t know how to finish the top edges without the facing also obstructing the zipper action. Reader, I winged it.

More rayon binding, and a definitely odd diagonal fold on one end of the front facing. Later, I purchased M7726; their directions have the zipper end below the front facing edge. If I did that here, though, the zip would be like 3 – 4 inches long. (Can I just say, as an aside, these pants are sapping my enthusiasm for ever making that McCall’s pattern.)

Unlike the petite French lady linked above, I didn’t have enough length for a punchy cuff, so instead I made a lackluster little hem on the outside.

 I almost forgot to mention the called-for sash belt, by the way! I made one, but I periodically lose it, including right before these photos. It usually turns up somewhere, sometime, but to heck with it.

There’s enough fabric in these trousers to remake them, most likely (Brussels Washer linen, by the way; hindsight says to choose something with more body), but I think I probably just kind of won’t bother. To paraphrase Fiona Apple in her song Paper Bag (written, I assume, about these pants), these are a mess I don’t want to clean up. I’d like to be Villanelle in Oxford bags (second season not a patch on the first, though the costumes are still tip-top), but I’m not. I’ve never even murdered anybody. How embarrassing!

Anyway, I’m altogether over these, and I can give them away as-is. Hopefully their next wearer will be more forgiving.

Another quick aside – we’re still all-masks-all-the-time over here in Somerville, and I’ve embraced that same shaped mask everyone sewed. Most recently I’ve added a piece of binding top-stitched onto the nose section, as a channel for a metal nose piece, but on cold days it’s still not quite enough to prevent my glasses from fogging. Any mask-and-glasses wearers out there with innovations for winter weather?

May your pleats hang straight and your underlaps lay under the left slit edge, pinned to facing! (Again, WHAT??)

Pattern: Burda Style paper-bag pants from 2015

Pattern cost: $3.00

Size: ?? unknown (pre-spreadsheet, sorry!)

Supplies: ? yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen

Total time: ?

Total cost: unknown, but too much, as it turns out

Red Jeds Redemption

A bit of a thud down to earth this week, from flighty capes to good solid pants. A quick aside: I’m writing this blog post the weekend before the US general election, and it will post a couple days after, so hopefully it won’t feel totally out of step with reality. I’m hoping, in fact, reality will be heading in a more benign direction.

In the meantime, how about a trip to Canada with the Thread Theory Jedediah pants? Well, the pattern is Canadian; actually, we’re in the park at the end of our street. This is the third pair of Jeds I’ve sewn this year, and the 8th…9th?…pair I’ve sewn overall. It was also the first fly-front trouser pattern I ever made!

I was so intimidated the first time – I’m not sure exactly how long it took me, but I carefully sewed my zipper fly, flat-felled or bias-bound all the seams, and finally, nervously, forked them over to Professor Boyfriend. I had decided to start with trousers for him because he’s a nice uncomplicated long rectangle, so I thought I could focus on construction and not worry about fitting; to which I say now, HAHAHAHAHA. There was something like 4 extra inches at the waist. I took them in (inexpertly) and they were still (unsurprisingly) baggy, but wearable. Professor BF loyally wore them until they fell apart anyway. So of course I rewarded him with a second pair that was far, far too small.        

I’d like to pretend the third pair was just right, Goldilocks-style, but truthfully I’m still tweaking these every time I sew them. Now I’ve flipped-flopped – I’ve practiced enough construction that I can whip up a pair PDQ, but I’m making incremental changes to fit. Is it possible, even likely, that his body is incrementally changing over the years, also, and that my pace is too slow to keep up with reality? NO.

Anyway, I’ve cut and taped and slashed and re-taped my initial pattern so many times that it no longer has a relationship to the size chart, but it’s in the range of a 32 waist, with a generous flat seat adjustment and slimmed legs. I’m not sure if my initial fit mishaps were due to measuring error (most likely), cutting/sewing error (second), deliberate pattern ease (third), or pattern error (least likely; I’ve been happy with Thread Theory patterns in the past). They were some goofy trews though.

The pattern calls for 3ish yards of fabric, depending on fabric width, which I found to be way too much.  I can make 2 pairs of full-length pants from 3 yards, and once I even eked 1 pair of trousers and 1 pair of shorts from 2 yards, so I think most sizes could safely buy less.            

The common area for adjustment seems to be the seat seam. It’s shaped like a “J” hook, with an almost right-angled corner; I didn’t do an ‘official’ flat seat adjustment (I didn’t know what one was yet) but I slapped a wodge of paper into that corner and smoothed the curve, and it improved the fit a lot. I may have overdone it, so I’ll scoop it a *little* more next time. If you or your prospective wearer has got das booty, you might not want to make any changes at all. I also shaved down the hip curve on the front and back, which necessitated scooting the pocket over a bit, so the hand opening would remain large enough.  

I now use the CC order of construction and fly zip method; otherwise I follow the Jed directions. By the way, this is the pattern that taught me to cut my notches pointing outwards, not into the seam allowance, which I now do for everything! Even though I don’t flat-fell these seams anymore (my serger has made me complacent), it’s nice to have the option. I also LOVE the front pocket construction – it looks so tidy and professional when done right. These, however, are not quite right. Instead of pocket facings, I cut the pocket lining from the main fabric (these were a q sew – pandy pants, if you will – and all my cotton scraps had been used for masks). Predictably, the openings stretched out a bit. It’s not horrible, but a nice stable cotton pocket bag would have helped.   

The main fabric, by the way, is a vintage wool (blend?) that came from some of my oldest friends! They have an ancestress who worked in a US woolens mill, and this cranberry piece was leftover from her stash of remnants from the mill! If I had made these out of lockdown I would have purchased coordinating thread instead of cobbling together some red odds and ends, but when you gotta sew, you gotta sew.

I love this pattern for smart-casual trousers! Professor Boyfriend reports that they’re warm, comfortable, and the wool doesn’t itch at all. I’m certainly going to make more, and more, and more – I’ll probably hem them a little deeper next time, raise the pockets a ½” or so, and maybe slim the legs even more. I’m not tired of sewing them yet, and he’s not tired of wearing them. So we’ll call it a match. 😎

Pattern: Thread Theory Jedediah pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ???

Supplies: vintage cranberry wool, gift; thread from stash; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.30

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $1.30

Denim Again-im

New pants!! I may look like a scarecrow or some kind of gigantic boy who eats soup and says “Gee!”, but I feel like a time traveler from nineteen-seventycute.

I actually know exactly what caused me to make these pants: I got chilly. I love the look of cropped pants but sometimes I want continuous coverage! This past spring I modified some patterns to make my own version of the Anna Allen Persephone pants, which I call my Perse-phonies, but this is my first time making them full-length.

I’m happy with them, even though they’re less structured than I pictured. I used Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed; it’s non-stretch denim but I wouldn’t say rigid. It’s pretty soft and drapey. It was lovely to sew, and wide enough that I could fit both legs side-by-side, but now I’m a bit baffled about what to do with the leftovers. It’s probably too heavy for a shirt but I don’t really want more jean shorts and it’s not heavy enough for a bag. I anticipated having to place the legs vertically, so I have a healthy piece left over. Any suggestions?

Oh, another note about the fabric – it has a smell when it gets ironed. I’ve encountered it in denim before, and it’s hard to describe. It’s musty. Not nice. It’s not awful, either, but it does sort of…exist, more than I’d like. This is after a white-vinegar wash, by the way!

I guess it’s not really useful to talk about fit when we don’t have the common touchstone of a shared pattern but next time I should probably adjust for a protruding seat and protruding front thighs. If I was just prioritizing one, I’d fix the seat, because while I don’t mind wrinkles under my bum I could live without the horizontal wrinkles between the darts.

I cut the legs extra-long so I could make a deep hem.

2.75” finished, and I could stand to round up to 3”!

You can really see the tension on the buttons here, by the way. A zipper distributes that tension evenly across l’estomac but I like the vintage flavor of a button fly with this silhouette. I used five buttons, as usual, and I stitched horizontal lines between the buttonholes, a good tip from Fabrics-store. I also topstitched the inseam from the hems up, stopping about 1” from either side of the crotch seam. It’s barely possible I could have done this in a single pass of continuous stitching. I stand by the easy way, though; it works!

My black pair of these has no pockets which is NOT COOL, PAST LIA but I patch-pocketed this pair right up.

One on the rear, which is in slightly the wrong spot because I placed it with the jeans on, accidentally pinned through the denim to my underwear, and then took out the pins so I could escape and thought “I’ll remember where it goes” (I didn’t).

It’s also oddly narrow! Ask me how often I look at my own butt, though. Never, except in these photos. So it stays.

And these notched patch pockets in front!

The notch was part of my initial vision and I’m not sure why; I go back and forth over whether they’re worse than a regular pocket or kind of cool. Is the process totally self-evident? I made some diagrams anyway.

You might argue – too many diagrams???

I also have a secret pocket! I’m calling it a protest pocket – not to be accessed during normal wear, but just the right size for an ID, a little cash, and a hand-written list of phone numbers. Mine is underneath my patch pocket, but you could sew it to one layer of a pocket bag, too.   

Normally I’d make it deep rather than wide, but I really wanted to use that selvedge!

I mean, right?

Oh and, US voters, don’t forget to make your voting plan! Register, request a mail ballot, donate to The Movement Voter Project, etc. I’m voting Biden/Harris. Feeling unenthusiastic? Professor Boyfriend (and literal professor of Political Science) and a friend (and leader of the CCR) have made this website which I highly recommend, whether you’re feeling a bit blah, or an engaged voter looking to motivate others!

In other news: I got a haircut and my neck is FREEEE, and I recently learned I’ve been spelling selvedge wrong this whole time (‘selvage’). What can I say, I keep busy.

I think that’s it, except that I almost rehomed this shirt but now I’m glad I didn’t. Later, dears!

Pattern: Perse-phonies

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ?? 31” waist, 43” hip

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, $32.60, fabric.com; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $32.60

Papao pants

Or according Professor Boyfriend, “Pa-POW!” pants. This is a rare picture of me standing regular in these, because they make me feel very FaSHuN like I should make angles with my body.

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A good feeling! These are the new Ready to Sew Papao pants, part of a collection of three patterns. The trio was released with eerie prescience, because they all look super comfortable and none of them require notions beyond thread. I might just surrender and buy the Patsy overalls, too. The patterns all call for natural, stable, lightweight fabrics, so it’s basically a tiger trap with my favorite sewing fibers on top and Paypal at the bottom.

Anyhoozle, big surprise, I love them.

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I had a little trouble sourcing an ideal fabric. The samples are sewn from 30€/meter hemp fabric and the designer’s self-dyed cotton bedsheet, respectively, both of which are inaccessible to me for different reasons. As those weren’t options, I wanted cotton twill. I had trouble scrounging up non-stretch non-polyester fine line twill (fan favorite Ventana twill is about 2 oz./70 g heavier than recommended), but I ended up finding it at Fashion Fabrics Club, a.k.a. Denver Fabrics.

Whether that name makes you shudder or cheer seems entirely up to chance. It’s a true gamble (try searching either business name + reviews, and strap in), but this Ash Brown Fine Line twill was as promised. The second fabric I ordered (cotton denim) was very much neither cotton nor a denim, but their return policy is deliberately obstructive, so I’ll bring it to the next Artisan Asylum’s swap and just tell myself I paid more per yard for this fabric which I DO like. Caveat very emptor, my shopping experiment is complete, I won’t order from them again.

I do love this color, it’s such a neutral team player, though when I make a second pair I want it to be bright pickle green. Send up the Bat-signal if you know of a fabric like that!! Pattern prep and sewing both went pretty smoothly. I obviously chose the view with the front pocket.

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Wide though not deep, a true pocket-of-all-trades! I graded from 43 at the waist to 45 at the hip (my measurements: 31” waist, 43” hips). I forgot to grade the facing pieces accordingly and cut them in a straight size 43, so the bottom edge is unfortunately a tiny bit short, and I have some puckers in the pants fabric here and there. Honestly the grading was unnecessary; if you’re just a few sizes apart, choose whichever size is larger. If your hips are larger, you could cinch the waist more, and if your waist is larger, terrific, the pants are meant to be loose through the hips anyway. And there’s generous crotch clearance!

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I have mega drag lines and I fully do not care. It’s a relaxed, body-friendly design, and a little extra fabric is all good.

This was one of those fun puzzle-patterns where I wasn’t totally sure how things would turn out, so I mostly followed the directions with a couple trivial changes.

1. I topstitched the ties.

2. There’s a ‘belt loop’ (more of a belt patch) on the center back. You’re supposed to sew two pieces right-sides together and then turn them right-side out to make a self-lined rectangle, but I think my corners look a little mushy when I do that. So I sewed the long edges of a tube right-sides-together, turned, tucked in the short edges, and topstitched. (Side note: that belt loop/patch is extremely helpful for identifying where to put my legs! Trickier than you might think!).

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3. If you follow the directions, you end up with the short serged edge of the inner tie poking out of the front of the pants. It’s hidden inside the wrap, but I knew it would bother me, even when I couldn’t see it. Next time I’d turn the ends in, like I did for the belt loop. This time I had already topstitched and serged, so I tucked a little patch in between the front crotch seams, over the tie. Its finished size, after I turned in one long and one short edge, is about 1” wide by 2” tall; the seam allowance inside the pants is serged. I topstitched it in place to hide the serged end of the tie. And now I share my crotch secret with you.

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Is it really for motivated beginners, as the old song says? I’m not sure. It’s easy to fit and it uses friendly fabrics, but by the end I was manipulating a lot of fabric in the machine. But they also come together pretty quickly. And there are moments that delighted me, like flipping the facing over and finding the little strap openings really lined up! So something for everybody, I hope.

And I am deeply motivated to wear them! I actually like getting dressed (look at the rule-follower thriving on structure, bless), especially when my daywear is as comfortable as loungewear, and these pants are that comfortable. And I’m happy to recommend a pattern that accommodates waist sizes from 24” to 49” and hips from 35” to 60”. And I do mean accommodate; due to the wrap closure you can adjust this to be comfortable throughout the day (and I assume over the course of many days, but I made them, like, a week ago, so we’ll see).  

Now POSE!

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See you later, be excellent to each other!

Pattern: RTS Papao pants

Pattern cost: $11.37

Size: 43 waist, 45 hips

Supplies: 3 yards of Ash Brown Fine Line twill, $34.05, FFC; thread from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $45.42

Perse-phony

First, a plug: if you’re shopping for fabric or yarn, and you don’t have a local fabric store, may I recommend mine?

And now, a post! Pants!!

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What, pants AGAIN? So soon? Yes – not to be A Bummer, but my school is closed for obvious reasons, so I have some extra time. And, I find pants are substantial/engrossing enough that sewing them is a mental and emotional booster. So yeah – more pants!

Actually, while I’m proud of these pants, I feel a little weird about sharing them. Because here’s the thing: they don’t have side seams, but they’re not Persephones. Despite the fact that everybody looks like a vixen in that pattern, I don’t own it. Every time I thought about buying it, I hesitated, because I wanted to figure it out all by myself.

I also want to respect intellectual property and the hard work of a small business owner. I know an individual can’t ‘own’ a side seam (or lack thereof) but in my corner of the sewing world it’s impossible to separate this look from Anna Allen’s pattern. I decided once my experiment was done, if I found anything lacking in my draft that a simple tweak couldn’t fix, I would buy the pattern and learn from it. And if I was satisfied with my version I would obviously still credit her design! Introducing: my Perse-phonies!

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Thank you, Anna Allen, for an amazing design! I had a ton of fun trying to recreate it, and hopefully this will be accepted as a loving homage to a red-hot pants pattern. YMMV, but here’s how I got there.

My hypothesis: since seams are essentially darts, I could change the angles of the front and back crotch seams to have larger intakes, and remove the side seam entirely. I started out with two patterns I’ve sewn a number of times – the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, and the Peppermint Magazine wide-leg pants. I worked with my copies of the patterns, both of which had already been graded and adjusted for my shape. I used the Fern shorts from the crotch up, and the Peppermint wide-legs for the in- and outseams. Also, I removed the Fern pockets and all seam allowances for this experiment.

On the Fern short front, I removed the width of the front dart and the difference between the side seam and a straight line from the front crotch, changing the angle to meet the new center front. I did the same thing for the back piece, but I kept the dart. Then I butted the pieces together, and traced off the inseam and outseam from the Peppermint pants by overlaying the patterns at the crotch point. Finally I smoothed the waistline, added back the seam allowances, and I had a pattern piece! This lengthened the front crotch, but that’s fine, as it would hopefully have a similar effect as my usual full stomach adjustment (it’s not quite that dramatically slanted in real life, but I wanted the modification to be clear in a small diagram).

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I sewed a pair of shorts as a wearable muslin, and actually it went great! I just had to widen and lengthen the darts by ½” total, and scoop out the bum seam a little. Meanwhile, the front was surprisingly perfect! :O Or, well, with one exception – I used the button fly directions from my Morgan jeans pattern, but I was a bit cavalier about buttonhole placement and they are SO DEEP under the fly overlap, I have to mount a spelunking expedition to button myself in and out. I sewed the shorts from some leftover scraps of Cone Mills denim and you will definitely see them some sunny day (if I can find the buttonholes again).

Since I didn’t add pockets, these came together shockingly fast. I can see why people make multiple pairs. They’re like the chocolate chip cookies of pants.

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I didn’t necessarily need another pair of black pants right now, but it’s the fabric I had on hand at a time when that’s an even more valuable consideration than usual, and it was always destined to be pants someday! The fabric wasn’t perfect for this experiment because it has a small amount of stretch, but I interfaced both sides of the waistband and all the crotch facings/shields. It’s sturdy. It’s practically armor (what sublimated feelings?)! It’s no longer available at Threadbear Fabrics, but it’s a true black USA-made denim with scanty stretch and the magical ability to pick up all the white fluff in my house. And I think it worked!

They’re a little loose, but I might sew them again in a non-stretch denim or canvas and then reevaluate. Luckily this shape is easy to adjust – I’d just remove a skinny column from the center of my leg pattern piece (probably about 1/4”). The big surprise was how LONG these were! I must have used my adjusted Peppermint pants piece (the one where I added 4” inches to the length), because these pants have a 2 1/8” double-fold hem and they’re not that cropped! I described them to my sister as “just cropped enough that you wonder if it was on purpose” and I stand by that! I could have trimmed, but nice deep hems are luxurious.

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The fit around the front crotch is a-ok, but I did make the front button placket (do you call it a placket on a crotch?) ridiculously long. I can get in and out of these pants by undoing the waistband and three underlap buttons, even though I sewed four, and I have a vestigial fifth buttonhole way down deep. I thought about tacking the overlap down in a couple places, but since these have broken in a little the overlap doesn’t want to pop open as badly as it used to (this is popped with encouragement).

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Speaking of broken in, I’ve worn these like 4 times in the last 10 days. What, nobody’s gonna see!

If you have some bottomweight yardage, interfacing, and a handful of buttons, these are a great q sew (Prof. BF and I calling this time ‘the q’, which I know sounds flip but for some reason we find it comforting)! These are things I usually have on hand, as opposed to pocketing and zippers – I’m always out of zippers – and I’ll definitely repeat this project. Maybe even this q. >_> We’ll see. 

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How do you feel about recreating patterns? Obviously most people would agree it’s different when copying a corporation versus an individual, but what about design? Do you feel differently if it’s complex or simple? Specific or universal? What if the business serves an underserved or underrepresented community? And what if a pattern is only available as a PDF and your access to printing is limited by a global pandemic (for example)?

I don’t have clear feelings about these questions myself. Well, I do have one clear feeling – a wish for you, your families, and your communities to be safe and well.

Pattern: Uhh…?

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 10 at waist, 14 at hip (sizes synthesized from a mélange of patterns)

Supplies: 1.6 yards stretch denim in True Black, $24.40, Threadbare Fabrics; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $24.40

Business Forest

For a week+ in January, I had something flu-ish. I wasn’t stoic. Exhibit A: I am still complaining about it. (I’m so lucky that I could take sick time and that thanks to Professor Boyfriend, I had literally no responsibilities beyond choosing my next mug of tea. One lucky couch potato.) Anyway, I couldn’t focus on books and I got sick of TV, and eventually, despite feeling lousy, I turned to the sewing machine for a change. These are my flu pants.

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Also, my coming-down-with-something shirt! I’ll zip through the shirt – it’s a Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck in cotton knit, and it’s definitely snugger and stiffer (oo-er miss) than my original poly sweater version, but I could use a hot steamy iron (oo-er again?) so I was happy. I bought the fabric at Gather Here so I was able to get the exact yardage – 1 3/8ths yards – and I was impressed, it was spot on. I sewed it pre-Nyquil, and have nothing further to report. Except that you can’t see in the long shots, but in the details, it’s neon Funfetti! Yay!

Okay, flu pants: the pattern is Simplicity 8842 and it’s an Amazing Fit pattern. I wouldn’t ordinarily go for pants that sit at my lower-natural-waist, so I was trepidatious, but in the end I found the fit Good Enough. I have sewn so few Simplicity patterns, none actually spring to mind, but I decided to sew size 16 (lowest size in the bigger envelope). My measurements put me in size 18 but I didn’t notice until I was almost done tracing; that’s the kind of precision and quality control you can expect from the rest of this project! But the outseams and the back seam at the waist were all 1” wide, so I bargained on using that wiggle room.

So why S8842 in the first place? I wanted pleats!

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Prior to sewing these I thought pleats on pants were some kind of arcane rite performed upon the most deserving of legs. These taught me that it’s just a bit of fabric you fold over. I guess I could just pop them onto any trouser pattern. Huh.

See above – my biggest mistake! The fly is weird! It’s so much weirder on the inside, but I am inside so I cannot show you. Can you see the vertical line of stitching just to the left of the fly overlap? That’s holding a hodge-podge of seams sort-of in place because I either skipped steps or added new ones and either way it got strange. Also, it’s teal because I ran out of green thread and felt too crummy to go to the thread store. Exhibit B, same as A: STILL COMPLAINING.

By the way, I used the ‘curvy’ fit pattern piece for the back – it’s got extra side-to-side room for the tush and a second dart per leg.

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I don’t think this pattern makes the most of my rear view but I’m ideally situated not to see it anyway!

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Because this is an Amazing Fit pattern, you add the waistband before baste fitting, and adjust everything simultaneously. I removed a ¼” wedge from the center back but didn’t need to change the side seams. I trimmed the 1-inch seams to be ½-inch before permanently constructing them, but I suspect my trimming was less than perfect; I probably cut off more like 5/8ths in some places. I was worried that I had overfit these. Luckily the corduroy relaxes with wear so it’s alright!

My only “design” change was making the curved pocket openings into straight pocket openings. I used a scrap of gingham from one of Professor Boyfriend’s shirts for the pocket bags, which makes sorting the laundry pleasantly confusing. I was new to some of Simplicity’s terminology; what I would call a “pocket facing” they called a “yoke”, and so on, but the directions were clear and the pockets are nice and roomy.

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The back ‘pocket’ is just a flap! I constructed mine differently than the pattern instructs. You’re asked to interface the flap, fold it right sides together, stitch, turn, sew it with the raw edge up towards the waist, then fold it up and topstitch in place. All those interfaced layers folded over each other felt way too hard and structural. I just cut a rectangle, turned the short edges to the wrong side, and folded it in thirds the long way. The top edge is the folded edge, and the raw edge at the bottom is caught in the topstitching. Lemon squeezy.

This pattern gives you a lot of flexibility width-wise, but not a ton length-wise. I wouldn’t have minded a little more height in the back rise, or an extra inch in leg length.

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I just want to cuff without fear of ankle breezes.

I’m happy-ish with the finished pants – kind of a mori boy meets businesswoman feel – but I don’t think I constructed them well. Also, the first time I wore them the back seam split open, which feels like a personal criticism. I’m used to sewing with love and attention to detail, and I sewed these because of boredom and coughing, with a headache and several bottles of seltzer. My attitude when sewing has a bigger effect on my feelings about the finished garment than I realized! That said, I’m glad I have something to show for my downtime besides catching up on Spidermans.

Maybe it’s the first pancake phenom! 2/3rds of my January 2019 sews were giveaways, and at least I’m keeping these.

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I hope you’re all beating your colds out there! And if you’re in the middle of one, I hope you can enjoy some couch time!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 1 3/8 yards of Speckle cotton jersey in Natural, Gather Here, $20.63; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $20.63

Pattern: Simplicity 8842

Pattern cost: $9.42

Size: 16

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Forest, fabric.com, $18.62; thread, zipper, rivet from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $28.04

Copying Cat

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Well, I went ahead and ‘borrowed’ this make from Cat in a Wardrobe. I guess the word I’m looking for is ‘plagiarism’? And also, maybe, ‘an escalating pattern of behavior’, because a few weeks ago I posted about my first pair of V8499 pants; those were directly inspired by Eli’s, but these are just plain copied. Except, I’m thicker and in flats!

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I referenced her sweater styling, too. Originally I was disappointed in my finished pants; I had hoped to wear them with fitted shirts tucked in (I was picturing a black knit camisole), but I didn’t like these with any of my tees or tanks. But pop on a squarish, pill-y, navy blue RTW sweater and we’re cooking with gas. I recently won the MN Jarrah in a blog raffle and I’ve got high hopes for view A – make-and-replace!

I had to adjust the pattern to better reflect my inspiration sources (i.e., copy more good). To guarantee safe transport past my juicy hips, I widened the back leg pieces. They join with a perfectly straight seam that’s parallel to the grainline, so I added an additional 3/8” seam allowance to each piece, for a total increase of 1.5”. Since the back facing is grown on that should have required no further adjustments.

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I ended up recutting a separate back facing since somehow while sewing I just lost the height there. I could have used narrower elastic, but I needed it to hold up all this railroad denim, and I had extra fabric anyway. Technically you could omit this back seam and cut the back leg as one piece, but I changed stripe direction there! My stripes alternate; center back = cross grain, side back = straight grain, side front = cross grain, center front = straight grain. So nowhere did I have to sew two parallel stripes together.

I also extended the legs by 4” so I could have big deep cuffs.

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The front leg pieces, as well as the back, are divided by vertical seam parallel to the grainline. The inseams and outseams narrow towards the hem, with a convex extension at the hem for turning. Here’s my technique for extending the leg:

Leg Adjustment

I lost some of the taper, so this pair of pants is straighter, wider, and less cocoon-like. I changed the angle, by the way, starting just below the knarts on the front side piece.

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My topstitching is a punchy blue. This was Professor Boyfriend’s idea! We were talking about potential thread colors over dinner (as you do), and he suggested neon. Michael’s had neon pink, orange, and yellow (all of which looked pretty rad, but none of which would play nice with my shirts), and also this super-saturated blue. I like the effect, though even after sewing with my double-stitch function, I mainly just catch a glimpse of blue from the corner of my eye.

The seams are all French-seamed and topstitched (I was surprised on re-reading the directions that Vogue doesn’t actually instruct you to finish your seams, but it’s so technically easy on this pattern! There’s 4 perfectly straight lines!). My denim was borderline too thick for this finish – flat-felled probably would have been better, but who feels like it? At the crotch point where all the thicknesses intersect I topstitched to within an inch of the intersection on each side because I wasn’t looking to die that day. So many layers! The gap is very much situated at my undercarriage so no one will ever have to know. I SAID NO ONE.

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Each of these pockets can fit a paperback novel. Or I guess, keys and a phone.

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I have a new pin! It’s a void chicken from Stardew Valley. Cute li’l red-eyed cluck-cluck laying me void eggs, gonna cook some Strange Buns with all that void mayo.

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Not pictured here: spring is creeping in, one yellow-green bud at a time. Don’t let my desaturated butt be the most colorful thing in the landscape, New England!

Pattern: V8499, view C

Pattern cost: $0.00 (second usage)

Size: 14, with added width and length

Supplies: 3 yards of 10 oz. railroad denim, Fabric.com, $31.29; thread, Michael’s, $1.25

Total time: 9.25 hours

Total cost: $32.54