Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waaay too much thinking about pants


I can’t help but try to mess around with any pattern I find; you should see my knitting results (big frown). Sewing has been more rewarding for going off-pattern, and these pants are definitely the result of too many nights reading Dressmaking books. Why not graft two pieces together to eliminate the side seam?

Well, plenty of reasons, but I have done my best to eliminate those troubles. There is a part at the waistband where the seam goes off-grain, and eventually that will make these pants start to twist and roll there. With kids pants, this isn’t often an issue because they either wear out or be outgrown before that can happen (washing #2345666…..). Topstitching by the waist edge will control this for the time being. If you WERE to adapt this idea to grown up pants (anyone I know?), you would need to make a separate waistband, not just roll the top of the piece over (and you could use the selvedge edge of the fabric for an applied waistband…)

Additionally, there is a front and a back to these pants. I could make it reversible, and run the risk of making them into clown pants. You can add or subtract ease for diapers and training pants (I have added it, and added the ruler at the crotch to aid in customizing the fit for different sizes of kids).

The pattern has been drafted with the intention of cutting it out on a table with a rotary cutter. You could cut out a stack of them if your cutter is sharper than mine. It’s not a fine-tuned thing by any means.

Now, those pants with pockets….

Trace a copy of the pattern. Cut it out per chosen size. Slice it up the middle on the side seam. Tape it back together making a U-shape for the crotch. Since you want the grain line to run with the front seam (makes the crotch run truer to grain, and eliminates twistiness) you are adding a lot of width to the pants leg. There will be some patching and adding of pattern here between the leg parts, but that's what the newspaper is for.

Choose a pocket shape (I vote for the droopy capitol D with the beer gut). It should be about the size of a kid’s open hand (hand tracing is a good idea here), and the finished opening should allow for hand with stuff in it to enter and exit the pocket; okay, you should be able to fish stuff out of it, as well as be able to check for stuff before you wash the pants (and now you’re thinking: does the kid need pockets, and what will those pockets hold? There’s a reason why my kids don’t get pants pockets until age 6). Make a pocket piece, and add it to the pants with the top seam at the lower stitching mark for the waist elastic (you can catch the top of the pocket in the waist seam to keep pockets facing front, or you can leave em swinging from front to back).

NOW you add the seam allowance.

I would make a waistband from the selvage of the fabric. The waist line is already off grain, and mostly because threading elastic into a tunnel with more than one obstruction is going to drive you crazy. It will make a stronger support for the use of the pockets…and now you know why I don’t make pants with pockets for kids. But it can be done.

Final words: Get a pattern making book out of the library. Ponder the different basic shapes and how they fit together. You are only limited by your imagination and your patience. It’s just as hard to sew for kids as adults, as patterns usually have the same number of pieces and seams, but kids require less yardage and fewer alterations. It’s a great place to start messing around. I learned how to sew for my dolls (the non curvy fashion dolls) and as I got older and my skills improved, my needs increased at a relative rate. Don’t be a slave to fashion; sew for yourself.

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Thanks thanks thanks. Together, we can make more better makes. You know what I mean, clever you!