Wednesday 15 September 2021

Slub Linen Arden Pants

I wanted to drop a quick post about the trousers that I was wearing in my last post about the Lou Box Top, because I feel they deserve some attention of there own. These days I only buy fabric if I have a very clear idea of what it'll become. Sometimes I even have a specific pattern in mind, sometimes not. And when I do by some fabric, I really try (but often fail) to use it before long, so it doesn't become another piece of stashed fabric. With this linen, I DID manage to use it within a few weeks of purchasing. WIN! Zoe, 1 : Stash, 0. 


A few months ago, Fabric Godmother (where I work part-time) got in some lovely, slubby linen in navy with white flecks (sadly now sold out, sorry). It had such lovely drape and body and movement, but I reminded myself that I hadn't sewn up the last lot of fabric I bought yet, so couldn't justify buying more at that point. Then a couple of weeks later I saw my colleague Claire wearing a pair of Merchant & Mills 101 Trousers made in the same linen and they looked AMAZING. Claire has incredible taste and buys fabric only when she sees something INCREDIBLY special. I decided that if Claire felt this was some good stuff, then it would be an investment to get some for myself.

For a few years now I've been interested in creating 'summer jeans': bottoms that are really comfy and that will go with so many other items in my wardrobe that they get worn ALL THE TIME during the warmer months. I felt that this almost denim-y look linen might fit the bill. 


There are soooo many elasticated-waist woven bottoms patterns out there now that it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. But the one that instantly appealed to me the most (apart from the Luna pants pattern by Made by Rae, which I feel is more suitable to very drape-y fabrics) is the Arden Pants pattern by Helen's Closet. I was lucky enough to receive this pattern for free shortly after it was released and I've tried it a couple of times so I had a good idea of the fit I could expect and the size I should use. 

I love the elasticated ankle views included in this pattern, but I chose to make the regular hem that I wear turned up hoping they will be suited to a wider range of outfit vibes. The construction of these trousers is very simple, but with some nice details like topstitched seams that should ensure longevity. In hindsight, I should have added some stabilisation to the pocket mouths though, because I'm pretty sure they will stretch out over time. 

The only other issue I have with these trousers is that I can't decide if the waist should sit higher up near my natural waist (which I like to look of more), or lower on my hips (which feels more comfortable but I don't like the way my belly protrudes a bit over the top!). I'm erring to the former/higher position, but I need to tighten the waist elastic to stop them from slipping down. The pattern calls for topstitching through the waistband after the elastic has been inserted. I really like the look of that, but I find it makes the elastic less effective and looser after the topstitching has been added. For future pairs, I should probably overcompensate and make the elastic too tight to begin with. Or include the step to insert a cord or tie through the waist so you can tighten them up when worn.


In short: I have achieved my summer jeans! I have worn them A TON since making them (I'm wearing them right now, in fact). They look great with all sorts of casual tops, and I'm interested to see how far into autumn I can get away with wearing them before I feel too cold. I definitely plan to make another version or two of this pattern in the future, perhaps slimming them down through the hip ever so slightly. 

Sunday 5 September 2021

Lou Box Top Kit

A couple of months ago I was the grateful recipient of a kit to make the Lou Box Top pattern. The pattern itself is by Sew DIY, however, the kit came from Craft & Thrift, purveyors of vintage, thrifted and deadstock fabric. Amy, owner of Craft & Thrift, was a guest on my podcast Check Your Thread recently, so check out episodes 5 and 6 to hear my super enjoyable conversation with her. 

In the kit you get the printed pattern instructions, the printed pattern pages (you need to stick them together), 2m of deadstock jersey and a recycled rPET Gutermann thread. The particular kit I received included some lovely, slubby black viscose/poly/cotton blend, but they have many different colours available. This may depend on the size you choose to make, but I found you could make two tops from the fabric length included.

The Lou Box Top pattern has been around for a while, so there are plenty of other versions out there to check out. It’s a pretty size inclusive pattern, going up to 56” bust I believe. I have so much time for fairly basic patterns that feature different versions, that can be used over and over (as Amy herself can attest to!). The pattern includes two necklines (I picked the scoop), three hem lines (I went for the curved), optional patch pocket AND it can be made in knits or wovens. You need to add a CB seam and small button closure at the back neck if using woven fabric.

For yonks I’ve fancied a slinky, ever-so-slightly-sheer loose T-shirt. They look so effortless and comfy. I’m delighted that I now have one! I’m absolutely keeping these kits in mind as a gift idea for someone that is fairly new to sewing, or at least is new to sewing with knits. 

Friday 3 September 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Speedy Pants (Boxers AND Briefs Edition)

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult'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.

Today I'm writing about a free pattern that I've road tested and written about before, nearly two years ago in fact. I've also included it in a number of free pattern round up blog posts, plus I spoke about it in episode 4 of my new podcast, Check Your Thread. It's such a great pattern, and potentially so useful for parents/carers who like to sew, that I'm not even sorry that I bang on about it so much! We are, of course, talking about the Speedy Pants pattern by Waves and Wild (formerly Made by Jacks Mum). You can access the pattern by adding them to the cart on their site (you won't be charged), as well as via the Waves and Wild Facebook Group (I believe) and at the bottom of their regular newsletter, which I've subscribed to. 

My previous post about this pattern can be found here, a lot of which I've copy-and-pasted into this one. However, I talked about only the briefs style in that post, and now that I've had a chance to try out the boxers style (both are included in the pattern, see spec drawings below), I've included more details about that version in this post. Thanks heaps to Waves and Wild for making this gem of a pattern available for free. 

(image source: Waves & Wild)

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. 

The briefs pattern consists of a front piece, a back piece, a gusset, plus the dimensions to draft your waistband and leg band pieces. The boxers pattern is one main pattern piece that is cut on the fold at the centre back. There is also a front gusset piece (not seamed in the centre like the spec drawing above suggests, however), and the dimensions to draft your waistband and leg band pieces. 

The pattern files consist of instructions, print a home pattern pages, A0 pattern page as well as projector files. The print at home version (I haven't checked the A0) features the layers function, so you can print out only the size you require. 

Sizing info:

Both styles are graded to a generous size range of 6-12 months to 12 years. I've made countless pairs of these undies now across a variety of sizes, and find the fit pretty accurate, age-wise. That said, looking back at the original post I wrote about this pattern, I've realised that most of the pairs I made for my daughter when she turned six are still in regular rotation close to two years later! I think that the fabric bands tend to 'give' more than the traditional elastic used in undies-making, particularly over time with repeated wear and laundering. Therefore, these undies might have a longer lifespan than shop-bought undies.

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 for more than a handful of wears, and generally advisable for the other pieces too for maximum comfort. As I highlighted in my Favourite Scraps Projects podcast episode, this is an excellent pattern to use if you have scraps of jersey to use up.

Because I've made so many pairs of undies using the briefs version of this pattern, 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 and have a long life. The way I approach selecting fabric for this pattern is to begin by dividing all my jersey scraps into three piles: 1) single jersey with great stretch and recovery (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. Then I see what I can use up and what fun combos can be made. However, as you can see, most of the pairs I've made using the boxers version so far consist of only one fabric all over because I had some larger pieces in my stash to use up. The boxers pattern doesn't lend itself quite so well as the briefs version to scrap busting because of that one main pattern piece. However, I have made side seams in a couple of these pairs so the pattern pieces could fit on smaller pieces of fabric. 


As you can probably tell, I'm so happy to have found this pattern! The pattern itself is well produced, and the instructions are illustrated with step-by-step photos and easy to follow. The wide size range should see most kids through to when they start to wear adult sizes. 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 that making a massive batch in one go can get a bit much. Pinning tiny leg bands into tiny leg holes can definitely start to get old. Instead, I would recommend making a pair or two every now and again, as a palette cleanser between larger sewing projects perhaps. That's one of the reasons that I always make them a size or two in advance: so there's no need to panic-batch sew a whole stack of pants.

My little boy hasn't started wearing these boxers yet so I haven't had any feedback, but I wonder if hemming the leg holes rather than finishing them with bands might be more comfortable. I know my husband didn't like a pair I made him years ago that had a banded hem. I think for future versions I'll try lengthening the legs of the boxer style pattern and hemming the bottom edges instead of the bands, which will reduce the fiddle-iness also! 

For my previous pairs using the briefs version of the pattern, I made a couple of tweaks to the fit. 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. 

The only other point I'd suggest is to include some kind of label or loop of ribbon so they can identify the back quickly.

Customisation ideas:

  • Try piecing together smaller pieces of really small pieces awesome fabrics until the sections are big enough to cut the pattern shapes out of (I think this would work better for the briefs style)
  • Use swim Lycra to make swimming trunks or bottoms
  • If you have some thin and soft enough, replace the leg hole bands on the briefs version with fold over elastic or special undies elastic
  • As mentioned above, consider lengthening the legs of the boxer style pattern and hemming the bottom edges instead of adding bands
  • Use width, soft elastic around the top edge instead of a fabric band for a more 'shop-bought' look, if that's what you're after

Would I make it again?

OF COURSE. I have already used this pattern to make what feels like a trillion pairs of little undies. And now that I've busted out the boxers style as well, I have renewed interest in making heaps more! 

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