Sunday, September 16, 2012

More on those pants

The long hiatus on the V 7881 pants was due in part to work getting in the way of sewing as it occasionally does, in part to the need for yet more tweaking.   The test pair in the striped polyester showed that I had completely forgotten to check the front rise length and that it was WAY too long.  In the end, I shortened it by  about 3 cm.  The test run also showed that the fabric was full of static, which explains why it was so cheap.  It clung to my ankles despite oceans of antistatic spray and I feel no aesthetic regret at binning the test pair.  I do feel guilty on environmental grounds, but have decided that the lesson is to make my test pieces in natural fabrics that can be used for cleaning rags or composted.

And on to the first ‘real’ pair of pants.  These are made of black Bengaline (polyester not silk)  and intended for work. 

As far as I’m concerned, all real pants need pockets and my favourite style is the hip pocket.  I made the pocket pattern this way:

1 I traced the pant front.

2 I drew the pocket on the traced front.  I began by sketching the sort of curve I wanted, then marking the lines for the pocket itself ensuring that they didn’t get in the way of where the fly extension would sit.  I tidied up the lines using my French curve.  This gave me the basis for the pocket and the pocket facing, since both would follow the curve, the side seam and waist seam lines.  You can see the pocket sketched (faintly) and the final curve (darkly) in the picture of the pants front pattern below.  Incidentally, it’s done using Vilene which is cheaper and more robust than tissue. 

2 I just traced the pocket adding a seam allowance at the curve.

3 Since I knew I did not have a lot of fabric, I decided to cut the pocket in two and make the hip area from the Bengaline and the pocket bag from lining fabric, so I retraced as two pieces adding seam allowances again.  This is how the separate pieces looked when I had finished.

I made the pants more or less following the pattern directions for view B (the non-couture version). Because Bengaline has lengthwise stretch they are cut on the cross grain. This made  it a bit hard to ease the front to the back above the knee, and in the end I  didn't ease it, and just cut  the excess from the fronts at the hemline.  Because my overlocker is being repaired, I did a Hong Kong finish on the seams.  Lots of practice at stitching in the ditch was very good for me, though not exactly fun.  I also added a fly underlay, which stops me zipping up bit of underpants or worse, bits of tummy, as I do up the fly.  

The end result, which you can see below, wasn’t perfect. I hadn’t been quite generous enough with the hip area fabric so that the lining shows a tad when I move.  More seriously, the back waist band rises in a peak!  But it will always be hidden, so I decide to live with it, just altering the pattern piece a tiny bit to smooth the curve out. 

 The pants are very comfortable and I like the pattern much more than my previous TNT pants.  After a couple of wears, they too began to slide just a little towards my hips.  This is, I think, not fixable with pattern tweaking; it’s because of my shape. There is a simple though unstylish fix-  a little bit of elastic sewed to the waistband at the side seams grips enough for security and is not visible because I never tuck tops in these days.

 With one reasonable pair made, it was time to take deep breath and cut into some seriously luxurious fabric – plain grey Italian wool flannel.  This time, there was enough  fabric for the hip area and  pocket to be cut as one, so I just made the pocket facing in lining  fabric.  I took my time and worked as carefully as I could.  The only embellishment is top stitching on the pockets (shown below) and fly- done with the sewing thread and using the triple-stitch.  The topstitching of the fly was nerve-racking!   It took three goes  and unpicking triple stitch is  painful  when you  dare not just rip for fear of leaving little holes in good fabric. But the fabric was beautifully behaved- no issues at all with easing. When it was done I felt  that I  was a real clever clogs. 

The end result (shown below in a very poor  shot)   is really nice to wear.  My only regret is that spring is here already and I won’t be able to show them off till next winter!

The next project for this pattern is to revert to something closer to Claire Shaeffer's  straight-legged design lines, trialling  the style in worn out sheeting.  If it  doesn't make me look too short I might  then try these trousers in some nicely drapey grey crepe- more polyester, but this time not cheap.  Instead of hip pockets, I might use  plain inseam pockets.  After that, who  knows what I  might do with this pattern.  I'm learning heaps using it!

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