Wednesday, 13 January 2010

My First Pants! (that I made)

With my March challenge less than two months away and alot of garments to create, I decided to get cracking starting at the foundations: pants! If you are not interested in making pants yourself and are just stopping by to see what I've been up to lately, I thoroughly recommend you skip to the bottom (ha! nice pun) of this post to see the goods, I won't hate your for it.

Since my initial post on handmade undies, I have continued to absorb what I can of the ol' tinternet on the subject. I have seen some ladies produce some very nice pants using normal elastic, but I decided to investigate the elastic produced specifically for pants. An eBay session later, I was in the possession of several types of undies elastic, two of which I decided to try out first:

Both these elastics appear to have a 'right' and 'wrong' side with a decorative edge along one side, one is scalloped and the other is satin-y.

For the pattern, I traced one of my oldest and comfiest pairs of pants using a method similar to this method, but I made a paper pattern rather than cutting straight into the fabric. I ended up with three pattern pieces: Front (which extends right down under the crotch), Back and Gusset to line the crotch area (check your pants).

Let the sewing commence! Using my overlocker, I neatened the front end (which may or may not be curved) of the gusset. The next bit of construction took some time to get my head around, althought the link above (Cal Patch's pants making method) also explains this very well. You have to attached the Back, Front AND Gusset pieces at the crotch seam, but you want the stitching and seam allowance hidden inside. Check Cal's explanation and have a look at your own pants, and if you still need help, let me know and I'll do a how-to. Once the pieces are all attached, I folded the gusset over to where it needs to lie, and pinned the edges inline with the edges of the front panel. Now I had to attach the elastic around the leg holes (at this stage, the pants are ONLY attached at the crotch seam, the side seams are still unstitched).

I did some practicing with scraps of fabric and decided the elastic with the satin edge was easier to use (I found the other too stretchy). After staring at many of my manufactured pairs of pants, I realised this type of elastic can be used in two ways: 1) so just the decorative edge is peeking out or 2) so the whole elastic lies on the right side of the fabric. I decided, what with this being my test pair, to try both methods. For the leg holes I tried the first method, only after LOTS of attempts on scraps of fabric first, obviously.

One thing I found trying to stitch these elastics to my fabric, it is easier if you place the elastic at the bottom in contact with the feeddog of the overlocker and flatstitch machine, and position your fabric on top of the elastic. So placing the RIGHT side of the elastic up, with the decorative edging facing away (to the left) I then placed the edge of the leg holes WRONG side up, so the edges of the fabric and elastic were flush together. I then overlocked them together. I must also say at this point that I didn't stretch the elastic at all when sewing, I just allowed both the fabric and elastic to sit flat. I HATE pants that feel like tornaquet's at the points where my legs join my body.

When I had done both leg holes, I switched to my normal flatlock machine for the next bit. Still with the elastic underneath but with the decorative edge facing inward (to the right), I folded the fabric back so the RIGHT side was showing and you could only the decorative edge of the elastic was showing. Using a three-stage zigzag (didn't know I even had one of these until this morning) I carefully topstitched along the fabric like this:


I'm not sure my mum would approve of my showing my crotch on the internet, but this is what the inside looked like at this point:


Then I attached only ONE of the pants side seams together with my overlocker. Time to approach the waistband elastic. This time I decided to try the second elastic attaching method where it sits of the outside of the fabric. I did this on my normal flatlock machine with my new best friend, the three-stage zigzag stitch. I simply laid the elastic face down with the decorative edge towards the inside (towards the right) and positioned the edge of the fabric also face down (or WRONG side up, same thing) on top of the elastic, but not quite flush, about the width of the shiny part away from the elastic's edge. Now for the tricky part. I stitched them together trying to maintain this position whilst also stretching the elastic by pulling gently on it as I went. This is to make them slightly snug when there are on the body.

Now I stitched together the reamining side seam with my overlocker, threaded the loose ends through the seam with a wool needle, and ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa:


I finished these about an hour ago, and I'm wearing them now, so I'm not quite ready to give a full evaluation, but first impressions are good. The overall fit looks and feels nice and comfy, but I had a little concern that maybe the elastic at the leg holes may rub against my skin a little. This may be because the overlocking I did to initially attach the elastic and fabric is a little rough, OR because the elastic itself is a little course (some elastics sold for pants making has a plush 'furry' side to sit nicely against the skin). I will evaluate this, make the necessary adaptions for my next pair and duly report back. Over.

10 comments:

Tuppence said...

I love your color choice. You had me giggling at your comment about wondering what your mother would think.

Drop Stitches Not Bombs said...

These are totally awesome - thank you for sharing your pants with the internet! I found a pair lurking at the back of my wardrobe with a faded slogan heralding the coming of the Millennium, so perhaps it's time to pimp my pants collection too...

ShannonAshley said...

ha! Loved the comment referencing your mother! ANYWAYS, Undies are my favorite piece of clothing and as such I spend entirely too much buying them! I have purchased a few patterns in the past but never had the gusto to try them. Perhaps when I inherit my mothers over-locker in the coming months I will try. erm, don't worry though - I'm inheriting it because she never uses it, shes not sick or anything... ;)

Lee-Ann said...

Those pants are fantastic! I love the Superman colour scheme.

Kat said...

very cool! I would save myself a lot of money if I could sew my own undies. I need to master sewing stretch fabrics first though. And maybe buy an overlocker.

Sewing Notebook said...

I never would have thought that these was your first try at sewing undies because they looked so well made!! I loved the techniques you used please do make a tutorial when you have time? Your blog is wonderful!

EmilyKate said...

Your pants are amazing! I love that colour combination!!! And I've seen your matching cami-singlet too, what a lovely set!
That is really interesting that you say it is easier to sew the elastic to the fabric if its on the bottom instead on on top... I have never tried it, I shall have to give it a go next pair of undies I make!

Karin said...

Pretty! Love the colour-combination...

Summerlea said...

Realize I've come late to the party, but you can encase elastic that's scratchy or doesn't match your fabric. Simply sew it to the edge on WS, fold under so it's enclosed and zig zag it down again.

I've started sewing my undies too and so far have done fine without my serger. I prefer less bulk in the seam allowances.

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