Loving summer at home where my wardrobe needs are basic, but I still like to play at creative dressing. One summer design focus is ‘work’ clothes, a relatively unexplored category, for me as I tend to make things that are too precious or too dressy. It promises to be hot, and I’ve been craving soft light yet clothes with pockets in fabrics that make me feel good and at the same time that can stand up to daily home/work life in the country, where I cook, clean, sit at the computer, take photos, play with animals, and sometimes sew.
First on the studio list is to make soft, light weight, comfortable pants that are flattering and work with loose tops and tunics. This week I turned out 3 pair, one after the other, making these is kind of like potato chips, couldn't stop with just one!
The starting point; a pattern I already know and have made a number of times, Vogue 9193. I like that the pant is soft but not baggy, fits with not too much ease at the hip, tapers in the leg with slight bell shaping at the hem. It helped that I had made the pant right out of the pattern several times, so I’d determined the fit already. Making the yoke in a knit gives extra comfort and eliminates bulk at the waist and high hip…also makes fitting easier.
In Shadowfax Cotton Lawn, a lightweight border print.
In Dazzle Digitally Printed Linen
In Black Patchwork Cotton Eyelet
Make sure you have adjusted the fit and determined the finished length. I had to make a couple of pair to really fine tune the length but every pair works. Use the front and back pattern pieces shortened about 5 inches within the pant. This keeps the narrow width at the hem. Best to determine your best finished length and shorten that amount. My first version could be a bit longer, but that pant is still very wearable.Eliminate the drop pocket on both pant and yoke. I did not take out the bit of extra fullness on the pant front pocket, though you could. The third time is charmed! By the time I sewed the third version, the black eyelet, it only took a few hours start to finish. Now I have a master pattern to work from.
Cutting and Construction Notes
- Cut the yoke in a knit with the stretch going around the body.
- Instead of a double layer yoke as on the original pattern, use a single layer of a knit, less bulk. I used a rayon/lycra jersey with crosswise and engthwise stretch.
- I used the pattern piece as a guide, though it works fine to just cut the yoke as a rectangle with one seam at center back.
- Don’t be concerned about the width, it will be trimmed to fit your proportions.
- Cut the yoke 1-2” smaller than the measurement of the pant at the seam where the yoke joins the pant. It is better if the knit yoke is slightly smaller than the woven pant. Not TOO small though, you don’t want to form gathers in the pant, just a bit of tension…and you have to be able to pull the pant on over your hips.
- Construct the pants up to the point of attaching the yoke.
- Divide the yoke and pant into quarters and mark.
- Match the quarters and stitch then serge.
- Try on the pant. See photo
- Pin a circle of elastic snugly at your waist.
- Adjust the fit of the pant, positioning the elastic where you want the waistband to hit.
- Mark the BOTTOM of the elastic with pins at center front, back and side.
- Take off the pant and trim the yoke using the pin markings as a guide, adding for the width of your elastic.
Serger Elastic Waist
This results in a much smoother elasticized waist than the standard elastic waist where the elastic is inserted in a casing. I was nervous at first about using the serger to sew the elastic but it is easier than it looks. Once you try it and master this easy method it will become your default for all elastic waist pants and skirts. The elastic is encased in the fabric and does not show so it does not matter what color it is.
- I prefer 1” rib elastic, but this method works with the softer varieties too.
- Cut a length that fits snugly but not too tight around your waist plus 1” for a lapped seam. Most elastics stretch a bit when stitched, so allow for that. Once I determine the right length that works in a particular elastic I cut several so there is always one handy to grab.
- Lap and stitch the elastic in a circle.
- Mark the circle of elastic in quarters. I use chalk rather than pins. The quarter markings on the elastic will match with the center front, back and side seams on the garment.
- Pin the elastic to the garment matching at the quarter marking ONLY, with elastic on top.
- The elastic will be sewn on top, and pins removed as you come to them.
- Sewing the elastic on the serger: Stitch with the elastic on top, stretching the elastic so it is sewn evenly. Lengthen the stitch length. Work one quarter at a time, one section at a time, keeping the edges even and being careful not to cut the elastic with the blade. It is OK to trim a bit of the fabric away with the blade. Work all the way around the circle at the waist, going slowly---this takes a bit of practice, but is well worth the learning curve!.
- Pressing is key. First, press flat as sewn, steaming the gathers so they smooth out and loose some of the puffiness. Then, wrap the elastic to the inside and press so it is firmly wrapped inside the fabric. If your fabric is a knit, you can slightly stretch it for a smooth fit---you want to eliminate as much fullness and excess fabric as possible, and every fabric is different. You can pin to hold things in place. The pressing gets everything positioned for the final stitching.
- If you are going to add an inside drop pocket, do that now. See photo below. I use this pocket a lot, you'll find instructions on my pant patterns if the style does not include another pocket.
- Stitch from the inside of the garment as shown, using a wide zig-zag stitch, stretching as you sew, stitching around the waistline and encasing the elastic in the fabric. If your machine skips stitches, use a stretch needle. I mark the center back with a snippet of ribbon.
- Back to the ironing board for a final press which will flatten and smooth out the gathers. I put the garment on a tailor ham and use a combo of steam and light pressing---it is amazing how much fullness you can smooth out this way!
This falls into the category of things you might not have learned in sewing books or sewing school.
I've noticed that sometimes after stitching the inseam on pants the crotch curve develops a little bump. The fabric is on a slight bias here and stretched. I take the rotary cutter and trim it away so the curve is smooth.