Lapped Zipper and Waistband

February 28, 2015 - 3:09 pm

Still working on the Brown Linen pants, at least here in blog land. In the real world I wore them out yesterday and they were awesome! 

So! zipper! I like side zippers on pants. I think a fly is distracting and adds lumps where they are not wanted. I always like a refresher on these things, so I went looking for a nice tutorial, and found Gertie’s instructions. They are excellent.

First was cutting 1” strips of interfacing for the seam allowances where the zipper will be installed: 


Then pressing them into the seam allowance. Note that I did this after sewing the side seam to the bottom of where the zipper will start, but it would have been better to apply the interfacing and then seam:


Ad then I got engrossed in the actual installation and completely forgot to take pictures. If you follow Gertie’s tutorial I pretty much did the same thing, until I got to the L shaped seam on the front side of the lap. Here I wanted to merge the zipper nicely into the top of the pocket, so I put in a little bar tack at the top edge of the pocket. You can kind of see it in the pic below parallel with the pin and near the seam: 


After placing the bartack I started sewing down the front side of the zipper tape in the way Gertie recommended, which was, of course, when I ran out of bobbin thread. There may have been bad language at this point.


Once I got to the bottom of the zipper I folded the pocket back over the bartack, and sewed the bottom of the L inside the pocket:


Then closed the pocket, and put another bartack along the pocket seam at the bottom of the zipper. I’m quite pleased with the final result.


Trial fit and front pleat adjustment:

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On to the waistband! I always cut waistbands a couple inches longer than I want them, and clip off the end once they are set onto the waist of the garment. I cut and interfaced the waistband in the first article in this series. 

First I sew up the end that will be on the inside, where the button will be attached:

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Then turn the waistband right side out, and pin it up to the top edge, starting at the button end. 

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 Then sew it up:

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 stopping about an inch from the end of the pants:

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 Decide how large of an overlap I want for the button hole, factor in seam allowance, and clip off excess. In this case about an inch:

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 Then sew up that end, and finish seaming the waistband to the top of the pants: 

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 Interfaced seams are basically impossible to turn into nice corners without clipping. Just a tiny triangle makes all the difference:

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 Perfect square corner!

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 To finish off the buttonhole tab I clipped the inside of the waistband where it would clear the zipper:

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 then tucked it in and pressed it:

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 And finally topstitched all around the waistband. Done except for the button, button hole, and hems!

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Brown Linen Pants, continued

February 27, 2015 - 6:00 am

I decided to sew up the new pants with “Byron,” my Singer 401a from about 1957, which was named after Lord Byron. I have lots to say about Byron and the Luddites, but that’s not how this machine got its name. When I started collecting vintage machines I decided they would need names, decided the theme would be women in STEM, and my first one was a Singer Rocketeer I named “Ada,” for Ada Lovelace. This machine was the model immediately prior to the Rocketeer I named “Ada,” so naming it “Byron” seemed appropriate, since Byron was Ada’s estranged dad, and this machine looks frumpy and old next to it’s sleek and racy daughter.


That’s “Margaret” in the background, which is a Morse Apollo from the early 70s. Morse named the machine in honor of the moon missions, so it only seemed fitting to name the machine after Margaret Hamilton.  I don’t know why sewing machines from the 50’s to 70’s had names inspired by spaceships, but hey. Who am I to argue?

So, pants! Last post I had gotten through all the cutting and prep, and was ready to start sewing. 

First up was putting the pockets together: 


Here they both are laid out after sewing: 


Except, uhm, there’s a problem. That is two right pockets. I need a right and a left. That’s why the seam ripper is out. This is better: 


Next I needed to transfer marks from the pattern sheets to the cut pieces:


I also write the piece names on each piece. This shouldn’t be necessary, but it really helps me not be stupid and connect the wrong pieces. It also makes it much more clear which is the right and which is the wrong face for fabrics like this one that are hard to distinguish. I honestly chose one face arbitrarily as the face since I couldn’t see a difference, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they looked different under some lights and from some angles. It’s prudent to make sure all pieces are cut with tops facing the same way on the piece, and keep track of inside and outside. This is proof against tears the first time I wear them outdoors in bright sun, which is where different nap and finish tend to show up most blatantly. 

Once the pieces were marked the next task was fixing the edges. I find this easier to do right off the batt before anything is sewn: 


You can see the little zig-zag stitches on the edge in that shot. If you look closely the machine is taking three stitches to the left and then three back to the right as it moves the fabric forward. I find this does a nicer job finishing the edges than a plain zig-zag, which tends to crumple the edge a bit.

I will also note that I hate this part. When I start sewing on a pattern I want to get started with the construction seams right away! but I’ve learned enough patience to zip around the edges. Again it saves me from tears later when trying to zig-zag an edge during finishing that’s tucked deep in a seam, or worse, having the garments start unravelling while I’m wearing it. 

Next I sewed the crotch seam and back darts on the back pieces: 


And then topstitched the back seam, to give it extra strength. I’ve had back seams pop open twice. Not a fun experience!


Next I marked the front pieces: 


Pinned up the pleats on the flutter/gauntlets:


Attached the pockets: 



Next up is inserting the zipper. I used Gertie’s write-up from Coats and Clark. I think I’ll end here for today and write up the zipper in the next post.

Brown Linen Pants

February 26, 2015 - 6:00 am

Monday I made another pair of the flutter leg pants, which Hunter insists looks more like gauntlets: 

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That was my TRIUMPH! photo at about 10pm Monday evening, so I’m certainly not looking my best, but I am, again, thrilled with the pants. This time I took some process photos of the assembly. There are a lot, so I may break this into a couple posts.

First, I had to fix the pattern. I discovered when I assembled the silk pants that I had shaped the flutter/gauntlet on the inseam rather than the outseam:


That’s the pocket towards the wall and the crotch seam towards the front of the table, so you can imagine when I close up the triangle shaped pleats they are going to be on the inside of my legs rather than the outside. On the silk pants I solved this by slashing the fronts at the knee line and swapping left for right. It’s pretty much unnoticeable, and to the extent anyone ever does notice I assume they’ll think it was a deliberate style choice. 

For this go-round I slashed the pattern at the knee and flipped it over and reconnected it:


Then I started looking at laying out the pattern on the available fabric.

This fabric has no give in the direction of the warp— the long direction of the fabric— but does have some in the weft, which runs from selvedge to selvedge. I don’t want the pants to get longer but wouldn’t mind some give in the other direction, so I definitely wanted to cut the pieces with the grainline parallel to the selvedge:


Unfortunately because of the shape of the piece I can’t cut both left and right fronts from a single width of fabric. After some contemplation I realized I could easily cut a front and a back from a width: 


So I ripped a length of fabric adequate for one side of the pants: 


Flipped it over and laid it so it was right sides together with the main length, and trued up the grain for the back:


Pinned it:


Cut it:


And then repeated that sequence with the front: 



I had plenty of length to cut the pockets out of the remaining fabric, but chose instead to cut the pockets in two halves from the strip under the ruler in the above pic. I did cut the waistband from the remainder. So here are the cut pieces: 


But there was one more thing to cut. It’s important that the waistband has some structure, so I wanted to apply interfacing. I cut that to match the waistband: 


ironed it on: 


pressed the waistband in half, and was ready to start sewing! I think I’ll split this account here and put that in the next post.

All The Pants!

January 22, 2015 - 9:35 am

Well, not quite all. We ran out of light before the linen pants got their photoshoot. But most of the pants. First, the silk ones: 




As I mentioned, sufficiently tailored for business casual, but sufficiently funky for a fiber artist’s wardrobe. They have deep, deep pockets, which is wonderful.

Next, the silly bloomers:




Fun! Silly! Comfy.

Finally, the PJ’s:



Wonderful deep pockets! They are exactly the depth of the tips of my fingers.

They also make excellent yoga pants for chilly mornings:




Calcifer the kitten is helping me with my finger placement. 

And, of course, they are delightful for lounging and knitting:


An Eighth of an Inch

January 20, 2015 - 1:52 pm

I have pants! To be specific, a pair of natural linen pants, a pair of taupe silk pants, fleece pajama bottoms, and a pair of ruffly bloomers for under skirts. But to get the pants to work I had to refine the block I posted about. 

The silk pair are the last effort, and I believe a fully refined pattern. I’m thrilled with how they fit, and they have enough style and fun to amuse me while still being refined enough for more staid company. There will be pictures of all tomorrow, weather and time permitting, and a couple more pairs will get made up shortly. 

Today I want to talk about test fitting a block. Here are the first pictures taken after I had basted the seams on my first test cut:




Basically pretty good! Already far better than anything I would be likely to buy at the store. Notice that I’m trying it on inside out, so I can easily pin and adjust the seams.

But there are still a couple problems. The obvious one is the crotch- easy fix. There is also an extra inch that snuck in on the back leg below the hip. There’s an awkward bulkiness there that I corrected out; not sure how that curve got thrown off in the pattern, but a small correction fixed it. I just left it alone in the muslin, which was actually a linen, and got made into pants. The pattern comparison pic further down will show corrections.

The more interesting thing is small but important. Notice the waistline isn’t quite level. It’s lower on the right. I didn’t take a pic that showed a corrected crotch before I also corrected the dip, but it was more obvious at that stage.

The problem? My dart mark on the fabric was an eighth of an inch off, meaning the back right piece was 1/4” too wide at the waist. 1/4” was sufficient to noticeably throw off the fit of the pants. Trust me when I say that’s a very small percentage of my total waistline, but it points out how important it is to mark and measure carefully. Here’s the corrected back view:


The crotch still needed one more little tweak after this, but it was pretty close to the final. I should take a pic of how I keep track of muslin changes. Essentially I cut off excess and staple it to the pattern where it came from. That lets me easily track what bit came off where and recreate the final line in the pattern. Below is an overlapped layout of the original block from my measurements (green), the refined block in purple (though it doesn’t show the corrected back piece with the excess removed below the hip) and a complete pattern in red. It does show the hip correction, which has been copied back to the block now!

pants comparisons

Doesn’t that knee look funky? Wait til you see the silk pants I made from the pattern. 🙂 I’m thrilled with the fit. I also have patterns for pjs and bloomers, which I can share later when I have photos of all the finished pants.

Pants! a surfeit of pants! I haven’t had pants that fit this well, ever. 

Pattern development

December 23, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Today I drafted a pants block in illustrator. I wanted to use, but it’s not ready for prime time. So I looked at a bunch of online tutorials for the Illustrator skills, and found this blog post with pants block drafting instructions. 

I started here:

pants block start

Then added landmarks:

pants block landmarks

Then the pattern itself:

pants block all layers

Which ends up looking like this: 

pants block draft

And prints out and assembles into this:


Next up I will cut a muslin and test it!