Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Day 2 – Sewing the Slash Pockets (Jedediah Shorts Sew-along)

Now that our fabric is all cut out, today we will be sewing the first step – the slash front pockets!  Today I’ve got a massive glass of cucumber water to keep me hydrated while I stand over the steamy ironing board and The Best of Van Morrison playing away in the back ground.  Here’s my fave (my mom’s song!):

To sew the slash front pockets, first of all, we need to attach the two separate facing pieces to each pocket lining.  Pocket Facing #1 will become the visible front of the pant when the pocket is complete and Pocket Facing #2 will be the inside edge of the actual pocket so that a person viewing the pants from behind won’t see the pocket lining fabric poking out.

I’ve prepared the facings by ironing the seam allowance (5/8″) under to make a finished edge.  Do this to the straight edge of Pocket Facing #1 (the large piece) and the longest edge of Pocket Facing #2 (the small piece).

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To attach the facings to the pocket lining, I laid the pocket lining right side up and pinned the pocket facings to it (also with right sides up).  I lined up  the raw edges with the raw edges of the lining and pinned it all in place.

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I’ve basted along the raw edges (within the 5/8″ seam allowance) and edge stitched along the folded edge of the facings.

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Now it’s time to attach the pockets to the front of the pants! To do this, I’ve placed the Pant Fronts right sides up and the pocket lining right side down.  I’ve pinned and sewn along the angled edge (that will form the edge of the pocket).

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Here is a close up of the angled edge.  All the other stitching you can see in this photo is the basting and edge stitching that was used to attache the facings.  The stitching we just did is along the left hand side of the photo.  I’ve graded the pocket seam to make it less bulky in the end, but if you prefer, you could serge this seam or even bind it so that you have no raw edges when you’ve finished your pants.

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Now that our pocket seams are graded or otherwise finished, we will under-stitch along this seam so that the pocket linings and facings don’t roll to the outside when the pants are being worn.  To do this, I’ve stitched through the pocket lining/facings and both seam allowances but NOT the pants front.  I’ve lifted up the pocket lining/facing in the photo below so that you can see the seam allowances hiding underneath…but in real life, of course, I would stitch close to the seam with all of the fabric flat on the bed of the sewing machine.

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Like so 🙂

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And another view of me under-stitching (this term used to mystify me when I was a novice sewist so I’m being extra thorough so that anyone who’s found themselves confused by written instructions explaining under-stitching need no longer be confused!):

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Once we’ve finished under-stitching we can press the pocket seam with right sides together.

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And this is how the finished, under-stitched pocket edge will look from the inside:

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After a quick water break…

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We are ready to finish the bottom edge of the pocket by sewing a french seam.  I’ve gotten my bearings before starting the process by folding the pocket lining with right sides together along the notched fold line.  When folded, Pocket Facing #1 lines up with the side seam as you can see from both the right side and the wrong side in the photo below:

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Next I’ve flipped the pocket lining in the opposite direction along the crease I just made and folded the pocket lining with wrong sides together.  In that position, the bottom of the pocket lining (the bottom edge in the photo below that includes both the pocket lining and the bottom of Pocket Facing #1) is ready to be pinned and then sewn using a 1/2″ seam allowance (visible on the left in the photo below).  The pocket pictured on the right in the photo below is attempting to show you the next step:  I’ve trimmed this 1/2″ seam allowance to 1/8″…super tiny!

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Now I’ve turned my pocket right side out so that right sides are together and I’ve pressed it all flat.  Then I’ve enclosed the raw 1/8″ seam allowance by stitching along this edge again, this time using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  And the french seam is done!

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The french seamed slash pocket is complete!  Sewing day #1…check!  If you have any questions, just leave a comment and we can all work together to help each other out 🙂

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Guest Sew-Along Post: How to Save Fabric When Cutting Out the Jedediah Pants

Meg, of Made By Meg was one of the test sewers for our Jedediah Pants pattern.  She was the sewer who produced this spectacular pair of denim pants (with musical themed pocket linings!):

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Not only is she a thorough and enthusiastic test sewer for us, she has also agreed to write a guest blog post to show you how she improved upon our cutting layouts…and saved a bunch of fabric!  Thank you, Meg, for taking the time to do this!  Without further ado, here is Meg’s very helpful tutorial to save you fabric when cutting out your pants or shorts for the sew-along!:

It’s no secret that I don’t always follow the rules, and this holds true for the Jedediah Pants
Testing the pattern for the fabulous Thread Theory, I made sure to follow most of the instructions: I carefully flat felled my seams, cut with the grain, and even followed the exquisite directions to french seam the pockets – and I was glad I did! But there was one area where I differed from protocol: the cutting layout. When I got the A-OK from Thread Theory, I figured I’d share it with you! So, here is an alternate suggestion for a cutting layout:

A bit of background: While it is usually wise to follow pattern instructions (ask me how I know!), cutting layout is one area where you can sometimes take a bit of liberty. For one, manufacturers often have to do a one-size-fits-all approach to the cutting layout, and your smaller or larger pattern pieces may work in a few different ways than suggested. On the user side, you may have to make adjustments for different fabric widths, a directional print, or even need to make do with just barely enough fabric. This is where it may be a good idea to experiment with a few different layouts before cutting.

The Jedediah layout: For the Jedediah Pants, the cutting layout places one pant leg above the other, with the waistband running vertically next to the pant leg (illustration below). While this works great to make sure that the pattern pieces in any size will fit on your fabric, it takes up a lot of yardage (3 yards at least)! Furthermore, if your fabric has a one-way print such as pinstripes, a one-way print such as a plaid, or even a 2-way stretch, a vertically cut waistband will not face the same way as the rest of your pants.

Cutting Layout

The modifications: To save fabric and make sure my waistband stretched in the same direction as the rest of the pants (I used a fabric with 5-10% stretch), I rearranged my pattern pieces, squeezing them on to under 2 yards of fabric! Here’s what the new layout looks like, based on how I cut K’s pants (left) and what that line drawing might look like (right):

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In order to make the waistband modification, I cut the the waistband along the fold of the fabric. As shown above (bottom right-hand corner), half the waistband is placed along the folded edge of the fabric. When the fabric is cut and unfolded, you’ll have a full-size waistband facing the same direction as the rest of your pants! Now my waistband will better match the rest of the pants.

You might call me a slacker, but I just love little sewing shortcuts that save me some fabric space!

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Day 1 – Cutting out Your Fabric (Jedediah Shorts Sew-along)

Thanks so much for joining me for the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along.  I’m so excited, after all this preparation and after seeing how enthusiastic people have been about the pants pattern, to finally start sewing with you!  We will be doing a progress post on Thursdays to Sundays for two weeks (so that you finish your shorts while the weather is still warm!) and will be concluding with a parade of your finished shorts and pants photos on Thursday, August 29th.  If we are going too fast (or too slow) for you, don’t worry!  The posts will remain as links on our Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along page for you to refer to whenever you would like and we would be more than happy to receive photos of your finished project  (and show them off on our blog!) any time that you finish the sewing process…or can convince your wearer to model them!

Today we will be cutting out the pattern pieces from our fabric.  If you haven’t already assembled your pattern pieces or determined the size you will use, refer to these past posts for some tips and tutorials.  Before cutting out your fabric, be sure to wash and dry the material (using the same temperature and settings as you will be using when washing the finished shorts).  Iron your material and lay it out, folded in half with right sides together and the finished selvages lined up.  I like to pin the selvages together so that I don’t have to worry about the fabric shifting and cutting the pieces out off grain while I cut through two layers.

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Gather together your paper pattern pieces, your scissors or cutting blade and mat and of course some good music and a refreshing drink.

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To beat the heat today I’ve poured myself an ice cold orange juice with a sprig of mint and I’ve got the amazing Joan Armatrading, “Get in the Sun” blasting on my record player…awesome 🙂

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Now that we have everything gathered together and we’re pleasantly refreshed and focused, lets discuss what method we’re going to use to cut out our pattern pieces!  I’ll show you two options that I regularly use and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Option #1 is to trace your pieces and transfer markings using chalk (or any sort of marking device – a pencil works nicely if your fabric isn’t too dark).  Option #2 is to pin your pieces to the fabric and cut around them while the paper is still attached.  I often transfer my markings using pins if I am choosing to use this method but you could also use chalk just for the markings.

Either way I decide to approach cutting out my fabric, I first lay out the pattern pieces on my folded fabric.  Here they are (pictured below) laid out according to the diagram in the Jedediah Pants instruction booklet but feel free to save fabric by experimenting with different layouts.  We were a little generous in our estimates in the instruction booklet because we hate the thought of someone coming home with 10cm too little fabric!

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I have set the pocket lining piece aside to be cut out of my pocketing material and will also cut interfacing pieces for the waistband and zipper shield after cutting them out of self fabric.

To make sure that the pieces are being placed on-grain (very important with long pant legs especially, as if they are off grain they may end up twisting like a spiral around the wearer’s leg!) I measure from either end of the grain line to the fabric fold or selvage (whichever is closest to the pattern piece) like so:

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Once I am happy with the placement I cover the pattern piece with all manner of solid objects (much more fun and certainly cheaper than buying pattern weights!) so that it will not shift while I am tracing.

To trace the pieces I use one of my favorite sewing tools, the spectacular Clover chalk pen.  Oona has perfectly described how handy and indispensable these little tools are over on her blog.  Check it out if you have any doubts – she echoes my thoughts and amazement exactly.

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To even further prevent possible fabric shifting (can you tell I really hate twisty pant legs?) I like to pin around the outside of the pattern through both layers of fabric so that the only thing I have to worry about while tracing is creating a smooth line.

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Once I’ve traced the entire outline and the markings, I set the paper pattern piece aside.  In the photo below you can see how I transfer notches using chalk.  To transfer the two notches at the top of the fly facing I simply drew a line outwards (away from the pattern piece) exactly where the notch was on the paper pattern.  When the paper pattern was removed I extended the chalk line down into the pattern piece for 1/2″.  That way I don’t have to cut into the paper pattern at each notch or awkwardly fold up the paper to draw the little notch line.

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I also wrote a big, clear “X” at the zipper placement dot by sticking a pin up through the fabric and the pattern piece, removing the paper pattern piece and then lining up the chalk “X” so that it’s center is where the pin is coming up through the layers.  Then I removed the pin and Voila my zipper dot is marked!

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Make sure to transfer all notches and markings to the other side of the folded fabric too so that you will have them when you cut out and separate the two pant legs (and other pattern pieces).  I tend to forget this step and it is frustrating and time consuming to have to line up the paper pattern piece with the unmarked fabric piece to transfer the markings when I am in the middle of sewing the garment.

Now, if you were using Option #1, simply cut along the chalk outline through both layers of fabric.  There is no need to cut the notches (and it is best not to if you  are planning to follow along with the sew-along and use flat fell seams – the whole seam allowance is needed to make these).

If you are cutting out your pattern using Option #2, line up your grain lines using the measuring trick already mentioned and then pin the pattern pieces down through both layers of fabric.  Since the fabric I am using is a mid-weight Denim with a grippy texture, I didn’t need to use very many pins.  Also, the stiffness of the pattern paper (since it was printed and taped together from a PDF) makes it sit nice and flat without the crinkles and folds I find tissue paper to be prone to.

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And then I cut out my pattern pieces, carefully avoiding the paper pattern (since I love my nice sharp new scissors so much and would hate to dull them on pins and paper!).

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When I’m choosing to pin rather than use chalk, I often like to stick to pins to transfer my markings as well.  This is the process I mentioned when I discussed transferring the zipper placement dot during Option #1, this time used to transfer all markings, including the pocket placement dots.

I stick a pin down through the center of the dot that corresponds to the size I am using, through the paper and both layers of fabric.

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I then turn the piece over so I can see the tips of all the pins sticking up.

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I place a pin going in the opposite direction exactly where I had stuck in the first set of pins.

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I then pull away the paper pattern from the fabric, like so:

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This removes the first set of pins I placed so I pick them out of the paper and stick them back in through both fabric layers.

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Then I pull apart the fabric layers so a set of pins stays with each layer, the head staying on the wrong side of the fabric and the sharp tips on the right side.

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I leave the pins in as I sew and use them as ‘markers’ when I reach the step I need them for in the sewing process.  I know this process of pinning instead of marking seems long repetitive but I actually find it very fast and easy as my pins are already on hand and I don’t have to refresh my markings as I often have to with chalk (as they wear off when the fabric is handled).  I also like how the pins serve as a quick reminder as to which is the wrong and right side of the fabric.

As for the pros and cons of Option #1 and Option #2 – here is my analysis:

Option #1: Chalk

Pros: Chalk (when using the Clover tool) is extremely precise and, since the fabric is not lifted very often from the tracing surface, does not lead to the fabric shifting.  It is easy to cut exactly on the inside of the chalk mark so that the fabric piece does not end up slightly bigger than the paper pattern piece.  Chalk is a fast and easy way to mark notches.

Cons:  My chalk tends to rub off quickly and I often don’t notice this is the case until the marking is completely gone (this can get awkward if I am about to insert a zipper and no longer have a zipper placement notch!  Chalk also adds a little extra time because tracing tends to take me a bit longer than pinning.

Option #2: Pinning

Pros:  Since I already have pins on hand (all the time) I don’t have to rummage around for my chalk…which I always seem to lose 😛  It is very fast and I often like to leave my pieces pinned to the pattern pieces so it saves time later on in the sewing process too because I don’t have to examine the stray pieces of fabric trying to figure out which piece they are and which is the right and wrong side.

Cons:  It is less accurate because the fabric can shift slightly when being pinned and also later when cutting (with not chalk outline to ensure I cut correctly despite shifting).  The fabric pieces could potentially end up slightly bigger than the paper piece…especially if I’m very anxious not to cut paper with my new scissors!

Now that we’ve analyzed these two cutting out processes, choose the one you like best to cut out your fabric pieces from your self fabric and don’t forget to cut out the necessary interfacing and pocket lining using the same process.

You will need:

Self

  • 2 Front (shorts length or pants length depending on which variation you’ve chosen)
  • 2 Back (shorts length or pants length depending on which variation you’ve chosen)
  • 2 Pocket Facing 1
  • 2 Pocket Facing 2
  • 2 Back Pocket
  • 2 Back Yoke
  • 1 Waistband
  • 2 Zipper Shield
  • 3 Belt Loops

Interfacing

  • 1 Waistband
  • 1 Zipper Shield

Pocketing (strong, thin cotton or cotton blends)

  • 2 Pocket Lining

Now we’ve finished cutting out our fabric, we have a nice tidy pile of pieces ready to use when we start sewing tomorrow – wahoo!

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Tutorial: Grading between sizes for the Jedediah Pants

Yesterday Eadaoin posed the following question in our comments:

“Since this is a sew along :) , I have a question for you… My hubby has a waist of 39.7″-> size 40 but a seat of 42.5″ -> size 36. With the slash pockets, I can’t grade-in the hips or can I? What would you suggest! … Thanks”

I thought this was a good question because, with the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along beginning tomorrow, I am sure quite a few people are considering ways to create the perfect custom size!  Evidence of this is Elena of Elena Knits‘ recent post on adding width to the thighs and knees in order to better suit her athletic partner.

In order to help Eadaoin and others with any grading they might choose to do, I’ve illustrated how I would approach grading from a size 40 waist to a size 36 seat.  What do you think of my approach?  Do you know of any better way to do this?  Click on the images to see them full size.  The red lines indicate where you should draw new lines using a curved ruler (or eyeballing a smooth curve).  After drawing these lines you can cut out the pattern using the size 40 waistband, the graded lines and then the size 36 legs.

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I HIGHLY recommend doing a mock up of the pants if you choose to grade between sizes (or before you start to sew your fashion fabric regardless of if you have adjusted the pattern or not as you may find out that you would like to make some adjustments based on your mock-up!).  There are a few potential issues that could be created by grading the pants.  Here are some that I anticipate if your grading is quite extreme and a few suggestions on how to solve them:

1. The front pockets could gape a little too much: If you mock-up the pattern after doing your grading you will see if this is the case.  You can remove the excess fabric by creating a deeper seam allowance for the front of the pants at the waist seam and the side seam (flattening the front of the pants onto the pocket lining and facings).

2. The seat seam might not fit as well as it will the way the pattern was originally drafted: Grading between two sizes will change the curve of the seat seam.  If you are worried about opening the can of worms that adjusting a pant seat seam can be (ug!) then consider leaving the seat seam as is and only doing minimal grading along the side seams.  I know this isn’t the correct way to approach things but it is far less intimidating if this is your first time adjusting the fit of a pattern!  Only do this if you are grading up or down ONE size (meaning you only need a small adjustment).  If you DO need to grade the seat seam, try to keep the shape and length of the new curve as similar as possible to the old curve.

3. The thigh area might become too baggy or too tight:  To fix this, you will simply need to extend your grading down the leg further so that the shift between sizes is more gradual.  At the tight or baggy point, make sure to keep your graded line closest to the larger or smaller size accordingly.

If all of this has got you a little overwhelmed, consider buying a cheaper pants fabric and just sewing them up in the closest waistband size for the sew-along – even if they’re not perfect, they will be a good start and will likely fit as well as RTW pants do.  From that point on you will feel comfortable with the sewing process and more familiar with the pattern so you will be ready to begin your custom fit adjustments for the next pair!  Basically, what I am suggesting is – don’t freak yourself out and just let the sew-along pants be your wearable mock-up!

 

I hope this helps everyone prepare for the big day tomorrow!  I will post the first sew-along post in the morning so that you have all day to make time to cut out your fabric.

By the way, check out Andrea of Four Square Walls‘ not one but TWO pairs of Jedediah Shorts – they look wonderful!  I love the tobacco colored twill she’s used for her second pair!

Jedediah Pants Thread Theory 7


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The Strathcona Henley Photos!

Here is Matt looking dashing (I think!) in our photographed sample of the Strathcona Henley!  The pattern is out to test sewers so it won’t be long now until it is available for purchase in our online store (in case you are wondering…before the end of the month…wahoo!).

The henley is a nice casual top that is quick and quite easy to sew.  It is a great shirt for early fall camping and weekend mountain biking.  It can be sewn up in everything from rib knits (as I have done here), more stable medium weight knits, to woven stretch athletic materials.

I sewed up this sample in the most difficult, unstable rib knit I could find (Matt and I just loved the colour too much to pass it up) and despite its less than perfect top stitching it still compares for tidiness and precision with several of Matt’s go-to RTW knit shirts…so that’s acceptable for this particularly unruly knit in my books!

I look forward to making an athletic top shortly to display the pattern’s versatility and have a tutorial in the works for once the Jedediah Shorts Sew-along is over that will explain how to convert this long sleeve henley pattern into a classic short sleeved (or long sleeved) crew neck t-shirt.

By the way, as already tested, the Strathcona is great to steal from the closet and will likely become your favorite lounge-wear and night shirt!


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Meg’s Musical Pants

The third test sewer for the Jedediah Pants, Meg of Made by Meg, has posted about her finished pants over at her blog – and she’s hosting a giveaway!  If you would like a chance to receive a free copy of the Jedediah pants, go to her blog post and leave a comment…and while you’re at it, check out all her great photos and a review of the pattern.

Meg’s pants look excellent on her boyfriend and she has some adjustments planned for her next versions to make them even more custom.  I love how she has personalized this pair by adding musical instrument themed pocket lining.  She very thoughtfully placed the lining so that the instruments face the wearer when they are putting them on rather than being hidden inside the pockets.

So… Meg has created secretly musical pants and I’ve been adding vintage handkerchiefs as binding to my versions (the insides remind me of a summer picnic when they’re finished!)…what custom touches will you add to your Jedediah shorts?


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Showing off my pattern testers and a tutorial: Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

Thank you to everyone who has made the launch week of our Jedediah Pants such a success!  It has been very exciting to see so many people inspired to sew menswear.  To encourage this inspiration, I am happy to announce that Sarah, of Fabric Tragic, has cleverly declared August to be “Making for the Man” month.  She ambitiously plans to join in on the Jedediah Shorts Sew-along on August 15th, sew Colette’s Negroni shirt, and a t-shirt…all for her very lucky husband!

I’m eagerly taking part in Making for the Man by sewing up Matt’s new blue twill shorts for the sew-along and a sample of the Strathcona Henley (which we are working very hard on at the moment!).  I think my list will have to stay at just the two garments for now as making the initial sample while writing the instructions for a new pattern always takes such a long time.  Matt and I picked out some fabric for the Strath today – I will post about it next week!

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Here is one of my inspiration boards from months ago – I can’t wait to get sewing this!

 

Now, back to the Jedediah Pants, we have the highly anticipated results in from two of our test sewers – and they are GREAT results!

Lisa G. of Notes from a Mad Housewife sewed up some really classy twill shorts for her husband and did a spot-on job of top-stitching.  She posted a great, in-depth review of the Jedediah Pants pattern on both her blog and Pattern Review.    She also has a very relevant tutorial on How to French Seam Pocket Bags that will be an excellent visual to use when you are ready to complete that step in the Jedediah Pants instructions!  Thank you, Lisa, for your excellent pattern-testing services!

 

Lisa G of Notes from a Mad Housewife's cotton twill shorts.  Perfectly "casual with a dressy edge"!

Lisa G of Notes from a Mad Housewife’s cotton twill shorts. Perfectly “casual with a dressy edge”!

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Lisa’s addition of top-stitching along the slash pocket edge is a great idea and will make the pockets even harder-wearing.

Katie, of Creative Counselor sewed her version of the Jedediah Pants in a gorgeous recycled hemp and organic cotton blend (drool!).  She did a thorough job of mocking up the pattern and adjusting the fit of the legs to exactly match her husband’s vision of the perfect pants.  It is great to see the Jedediah Pants turned into a boot cut – they look great and it shows how, while the fit of the waist and seat is still the same, a simple adjustment to the leg width can create endless style variations!  You can read Katie’s review of the pattern here.

Kathryn of The Creative Counselor's recycled hemp and organic cotton pants.  She has altered the leg width to create boot-cut pants!

Katie of The Creative Counselor’s recycled hemp and organic cotton pants. She has altered the leg width to create boot-cut pants!

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A great fit – and great fabric!

In celebration of the Jedediah Pants pattern release this week I have made up a quick visual tutorial explaining how to lengthen and shorten the pant leg pieces of the pants to help you along the way to a totally custom fit.  This process would apply to any pattern that needs adjusting!

Supplies you will need:

  • For Lengthening only: Paper or tissue the width of your pattern piece (a normal sheet of Letter size paper turned horizontally easily matches the pant leg width)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • A measuring tool – either a ruler or a tape will work fine

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1) Determine how much length you need to add or subtract from your pattern by measuring the wearer (their inseam, their back length, their arm length or whatever area you are concerned will need adjustments) and comparing this measurement to the body measurements included in the pattern’s instruction booklet.  If the wearer’s inseam is 34″ for instance, while the pattern has a 33″ inseam (despite the fact that they fit the waist measurement), then you will need to lengthen the pattern by 1″.

2) If your pattern includes a “Lengthen or Shorten Here” line, simply cut along this line, separating the pattern into two pieces.  If you have not been given this line, you can make your own by using a ruler to draw a horizontal line along the part of the pattern with the least amount of flare or taper.  Make sure, if lengthening the body of a garment, to lengthen all corresponding facings and plackets so that the pattern pieces will still fit together later on in the sewing process.

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3) For Lengthening: Using a ruler or other straight edge, draw a line on your blank piece of paper or tissue so that you can use it as a guide to extend the grain line and thus ensure that your two pieces are being lined up correctly.

For Shortening: Overlap your two pieces the amount you determined in Step 1 and line up the grain line so it forms a straight line.

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Draw a ‘grain line’ onto your blank piece of paper or tissue.

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Lay the paper down with the pattern pieces on top of it and line up the pattern’s grain line with the one that you drew.

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The grain line that was drawn on the blank piece of paper (now underneath the two pattern pieces) is lined up perfectly with the grain line of the original pattern piece. The gap between the two pattern pieces measures 1″.

Step 4) Tape your pattern pieces down to the paper (or, if shortening, to each other) and blend the curve or straight edge to connect either edge of the pattern.  Cut off the excess paper.

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Cut off the excess paper. Make sure to blend the new edge smoothly.

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Your lengthened pant leg – 1″ longer than before!

It’s as simple as that!  The only tricky part is making sure you’ve remembered to do this to all the pieces that need adjusting (you don’t want to forget a shirt button placket or something and accidentally cut it out of fabric while it is still too short…can’t say this has ever happened to me…ahem…)

Happy sewing!