Friday, 4 October 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Speedy Pants


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

There are, no doubt, many people who believe that life is too short to sew their kids' underwear. Clearly, I am not one of them. My argument for doing so is threefold: 1) kids' pants are an excellent scrap buster for jersey scraps leftover from other projects, and even really small pieces can be used, 2) if you have the pattern prepped already, you can easily cut out and make a pair in half an hour, which is wonderful if you want come away from a short sewing session with a completed item, and 3) your investment of sewing time and effort will be well rewarded by the hundreds of wears the finished item will get. 

My little girl has grown out of the pants pattern I previously used for her, so I was thrilled to discover the Speedy Pants pattern by Made by Jack's Mum, which is free when you sign up for their monthly newsletter. With boxers AND briefs styles included, this may be the only pants pattern you will ever need for your kids. Thanks so much to Made by Jack's Mum for sharing their hard work for free. 

(image source: Made by Jack's Mum)

Pattern type:

As previously stated, the Speedy Pants pattern download includes briefs and boxers styles. Both styles are finished with strips of fabric which form the waist and leg bands: no elastic required. Each pair could be made entirely on an overlocker, however instructions for using a regular sewing machine are also included. As you can tell, I only made up the briefs pattern, so that's what I'll be reviewing here today. The briefs pattern consists of a front piece, a back piece, a gusset, plus the dimensions to draft your waistband and leg band pieces. 


Sizing info:

Both styles are graded to a generous size range of 6-12 months to 12 years. The pattern file includes the layers function, which I always really appreciate, so you can select just the size you require which saves on printer ink. I tried making the size 2 and size 3 for Frankie (who will turn 3 tomorrow at time of writing!), and the 3 definitely fit him better. He's not potty trained yet, but we did have a day where he wore these during which I was able to assess the fit. Dolores (who turned 6 today!) fits the size 6 perfectly with room to grow. 


Fabric info:

The fabric suggestion for this pattern is 4-way stretch jersey. I'd go further and say that a decent elastane/Lycra/spandex content is essential for the bands so that they hold their shape over a number of wears, and generally advisable for the other pieces too for maximum comfort. 

I really like it when pattern designers encourage people to use scraps to make their patterns from, and this is the perfect pattern to do that with. As you can see, I went to town busting my scraps! I've made many pairs of pants for my daughter previously from a very similar pattern to this, so I've been able to do plenty of experimenting and collecting of data to see how different jerseys behave (or don't) over time. By now I think I've got a fairly good idea of what's going to work well have have a long life. I have an embarrassingly large tub of jersey scraps, so I began by dividing it into three piles: 1) good quality jersey (mostly cotton/elastane blends) that I know will be perfect for these pants, the band pieces HAVE to be made from this category, 2) other jerseys that will be ok for the fronts, backs and gusset, especially if they're combined with fabrics from the first pile, and 3) all the jerseys that were too thin and drape-y, or with poor stretch and recovery that are NOT suitable for this project. I then had a lot of fun making crazy fabric combos. 


Findings:

As you can probably tell, I'm so happy to have found this pattern! The wide size range should see most kids through to when they start to wear adult sizes (Made by Jack's Mum also sells adult versions of both the boxer and briefs style patterns). So if you have a big enough jersey scraps bin, plus sufficient will and patience, you may never need to look elsewhere for kids' pants again. Clearly, making these pants is addictive, but I must admit to getting fed up by the end! Pinning tiny leg bands into tiny leg holes can definitely start to get old. Therefore I advise against making a whole year's worth of pants for two kids within a week. 

The pattern itself is well produced, and the instructions are illustrated with step-by-step photos and easy to follow. I did end up making a couple of tweaks to the fit, however. For both Frankie and Dolores, I ended up raising the waistline at the centre back fold by 1cm, blending the curve down to the original waistline by the side seam. And for Dolores, I found that the gusset area was too wide: there was just too much fabric there. To amend this, I narrowed the front and gusset pieces by 0.75cm-ish where it was needed, therefore narrowing it by 1.5cm-ish in total. I found for Frankie that this wasn't necessary. 

As you can see, for a few of Dolores's pairs, I tried using fold over elastic instead of fabric bands for the leg holes. However, only one of those pairs has found their way into regular rotation, the others she's declared too uncomfortable. I found the patience to replace the FOE with fabric bands on one of the pairs during #alteritaugust. The only other point I'd just to add is to include some kind of label or loop of ribbon so they can identify the back quickly. 


Customisation ideas:

I don't have much for you today with this pattern, however:
  • Try adding seams to the front piece so you can include panels of super-tiny, awesome fabrics (I tried that with the black pair pictured above so I could include a teensy sample of vegetable print jersey)
  • I'm wondering if these patterns could be used with swimwear Lycra to make swimming bottoms?
  • If you have some thin and soft enough (see 'Findings' above), replace the leg hole bands on the briefs version with fold over elastic or special undies elastic


Would I make it again?

YESSSSS. I have already printed out the size 4 and size 7 briefs pattern pieces and stuck them down on cardboard so I can start making undies for both my kids in their future sizes. I'm hoping that if I can keep on top of making a couple of pairs every few weeks, I'll make even more of a dent in my jersey scraps tub. 

I gave Frankie the choice of which style I would make him. He chose the briefs, probably because he recognised that style as being the most similar to what his big sister wears. However, I'm hoping he'll let me try the boxer style for him too some day so I can have fun experimenting with that pattern too. If I do, I will of course report back. 
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