Thread Theory

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


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Comox Trunks Prize Announcement and Parade

sew along poster-01Drumroll please…..

And the winner of our Comox Trunks Sew-Along Contest is: Catrinmanel of I’d Rather Sew! Congratulations!  I’ll be sending her our Comox Trunks prize pack straight away 🙂

I'd rather sew...

Her entry was chosen at random by gathering all entries (both through email and through comments on the sew-along posts), using a random number generator, and then counting down the list of entries.  People who submitted multiple pairs of Comox Trunks were only counted once.  Here’s proof of the randomness in case you need it! :P:

random number

I wish I could have given a prize to everyone as Matt and I were really pleased with how many entries there were and how enthusiastic you all were about the contest!  Now, for your viewing pleasure, here is a parade of the Comox Trunks you submitted!  The numbers correspond to links provided in a list at the bottom:

Parade-graphics-1 Parade-graphics-2 Parade-graphics-3 Parade-graphics-4 Parade-graphics-5 Parade-graphics-6 Parade-graphics-7 Parade-graphics-8

  1. No More Heroes Anymore
  2. Sakiko Jones
  3. Mrs. Toad Sews
  4. Kaisa (sent entry through email)
  5. Mazzy Girl
  6. Dressing the Role
  7. Artisinal Expatriate
  8. Genevieve (sent entry through email)
  9. Marilyn Scott
  10. Deadlycraft
  11. Sew & Illustrate
  12. Drawing by Sew & Illustrate
  13. Renata (sent entry through email)
  14. Nicole at Home
  15. Lena
  16. Lena
  17. TwoRandomWords
  18. Cookin’ & Craftin’
  19. TwoRandomWords
  20. Nothing New Treasures
  21. Mazzy Girl
  22. Mazzy Girl
  23. I’d Rather Sew…
  24. Steven (sent entry through email)
  25. Steven (sent entry through email)
  26. Steven (sent entry through email)

 

There were several other entries via flickr, Twitter and Instagram which included protected photos (they couldn’t be saved and shared directly on this blog).  Even though I can’t share these photos with you in this post, these trunks are totally worth checking out!  Follow these links to have a look:

  1. Fabri’cate
  2. Evergreen Living
  3. SoSewGirl
  4. susiemcdougs
  5. FennaB
  6. frau_fleur
  7. dan_grigg

 

Thank you, everyone, for being so enthusiastic about this pattern!  It has been really exciting to watch peoples entries pile in over the last few weeks.  I’ve especially enjoyed being surprised by people’s creativity – whether it be expressed through pretty unique modelling techniques or through pattern manipulation or fabric choice.  I hope to see lots more Comox Trunks in the future!  Even though the contest is over, I’d still love to see what you’ve sewn, so send us an email (info@threadtheory.ca) or post a link in the comments!

 


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Tutorial and Video by Seamster Sewing Patterns – How to skip hemming the Comox Trunks

Sewing Indie Month

Today, we have a guest tutorial for you, as part of Sewing Indie Month!  Mari, of Seamster Sewing Patterns, is not only the mastermind behind this month’s cornucopia of events, tutorials, and contests, she has also kindly taken the time to contribute a tutorial of her own to our blog.

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She’ll be walking you through how to dye fold-over elastic with food colouring and how to apply it to our Comox Trunks.  The tricks she will be showing you will allow you to avoid using the self-made binding for the fly and to skip the worry of using a twin needle or zig zag stitch while hemming the legs.  These are both of the steps that sewers found to be the most tricky during our Comox Trunk Sew-Along.  Thank you, Mari, for providing an alternative method to finishing these areas of the trunks!

Now over to Mari, who you can thank for making your Comox Trunk sewing life just that much easier!:Seamster Sewing Patterns

Hello Thread Theory readers! I’m Mari and I run Seamster Sewing Patterns. Today I’m going to show you how you can easily dye fold over elastic with simple ingredients you have at home, like food coloring. Then, I’ll walk you through attaching fold over elastic to the Comox Trunks.

Why dye fold over elastic when you can get a lot of colors online? It’s fun! Seriously, I find it really excited to see what colors I can come up with. It’s like finding a spare $5 in your pocket when doing laundry; the color you get can be a total surprise, but a really good one. Dyeing is also a great way to quickly customize a project, make it extra special, and get fun colors you won’t be able to find in your local fabric store.

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Before we begin though, let’s go over a few dyeing basics. 

In this tutorial we’ll be acid dyeing nylon fold over elastic. Acid dyes are one of the easiest dyes to get started with. They involve the use of acid (nothing scary dangerous, just vinegar for this tutorial!) and can be used to dye protein fibers like wool or silk and often nylon. They will not dye cotton or polyester. That is why it’s very important to make sure you’re using fold over elastic made from nylon. How to find out if your elastic is made from nylon? Ask your local or online shop. I bought the elastic I’m using in this tutorial from Peak Bloom. They told me their solid colored fold over elastics are made from nylon, while their patterned fold over elastics are made from polyester. Keep that in mind if you order from them.

The reason why I’m not showing you how to dye polyester is because it’s difficult to do at home. It also necessitates constant, high heat, which would badly damage the spandex in your elastic. Acid dyeing with nylon also calls for heat, but is a little more forgiving. So, we must strike a balance between heating our dye bath (solution of water + dye) with maintaining a temperature below 105F (40.56C) so our elastic doesn’t degrade .

One more thing to note before we get started, you’ll see I’ve been very specific in the list below by specifying the use of wooden, plastic, or stainless steel tools. That’s because certain metals act as mordants, which can change the color of your dye.

Here is a quick reference “recipe card” that Mari made for you to refer to while dying.  She includes a detailed write-up and photos below, so keep reading before you begin your dyeing project!

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…And now the full tutorial:

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In order to dye we’ll need a few things:

  • crockpot (you could use a regular pot over a stove, but I find it’s easier to use a crockpot for consistent temperature and because it lets me walk away without worrying about burning the house down)
  • water
  • food coloring
  • distilled white vinegar
  • non-iodized salt (optional, it helps drive dye into fibers, but I only had himalayan salt on hand, so I didn’t use any in my experiments)
  • wood, stainless steel, or plastic stirring utensil
  • plastic gloves (optional, but great if you don’t want to scrub dye out of your hands)
  • glass or stainless steel bowl
  • plastic, glass, or stainless steel measuring cups and spoons
  • thermometer
  • dish soap or synthrapol (special soap used when dyeing)

Here’s my basic dyeing recipe:

  • 1 c water
  • 10 drops food coloring (you can use a couple drops less and still get a brilliant color; for a light color use just a few drops)
  • 1T distilled white vinegar
  • 1yd 5/8” fold over elastic or 2yd 3/8” fold over elastic

For the Comox Trunks I graded from a size 28 to a 34, for which I only needed about 30” of 5/8” fold over elastic to sew to the leg and cup openings. However, it’s best to give yourself a little extra, so instead of 30”, I dyed a full yard, although you may need to dye more.

Because my local fabric store doesn’t carry wide elastic made from nylon that’s needed for the waistband, I dyed an extra yard of fold over elastic to sew on top of my polyester elastic waistband for purely decorative purposes (Morgan: Nice idea, Mari!  What a great way to customize boring waistband elastic by adding strips of colour!).

In total, I dyed 2yd of fold over elastic, for which I doubled the basic dyeing recipe above.

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Here’s how to dye nylon fold over elastic:

  1. Fill your crockpot about 3/4 full with water and turn it on. (I set mine to high, but each model cooks at a different temperature, so you’ll need to experiment)
  2. Fill your glass bowl with water (going by the recipe above) and mix in salt if you’re using it.
  3. Stir in your food coloring and let the mixture heat. This is your dye bath. Once it has fully heated, take its temperature. If it’s well below 105F (40.56C) you may be able to bump your crockpot up to medium or high. If it’s above 105F (40.56C) lower your crockpot to medium or low.
  4. While waiting for your dye bath to heat, wash your elastic. This will get out any chemical residues that could give you an uneven dying job.
  5. Submerse your still wet elastic in your dye bath. It’s important that the elastic be wet before putting it in so that the color will take up evenly.
  6. Pour vinegar around, but not on top of your elastic. Thoroughly stir it in. As you pour in your vinegar you’ll notice your elastic quickly chaining color.
  7. Let your elastic sit in your dye bath until you’ve reached your desired color or until your dye bath is exhausted. Periodically check on it and give it a little stir to make sure it’s as dark as you want it. I usually let mine site for about 1-1/2hrs. A dye bath has been exhausted when the fiber has soaked up all the dye that’s in the water. My recipe is a little heavy on the dye, so there’s usually some left over. Since food coloring is cheap I don’t mind that there’s some extra dye being thrown away at then end.
  8. Wash your elastic. If dyed at high enough of a temperature, there shouldn’t be much dye rinsing out of your elastic. If you’re concerned about more dye leaking out, toss it in a washing machine. Let your elastic air dry.

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If you’d like to know more about dyeing, check out Paula Burch’s All About Hand Dyeing site. It’s a great wealth of information. 

How to add fold-over elastic to the Comox Trunks: 

Now that we have our custom dyed elastic, let’s sew it to the cup and leg openings. Note that the Comox Trunk pattern calls for the leg openings to be hemmed at 5/8″. By binding the openings with fold over elastic the legs will be 5/8″ longer than if they were hemmed. (Morgan: You could simply trim off this extra 5/8″ if you would like to keep your trunks the original length.)

To show you how to sew fold over elastic to the Comox Trunks I made a video tutorial. The technique shown here can easily be used with other knit garments too, like my Yellow Tail Camisole. If you prefer reading over watching, below the video is a transcript with a few extra tips that didn’t make it into the video.

Video Transcript:

Hey everyone! This is Mari from Seamster Sewing Patterns. As a part of Sewing Indie Month, a month long sewalong and celebration, I’ve been working with fellow indie sewing pattern maker Thread Theory to bring you a tutorial on sewing with fold over elastic. 

Fold over elastic is a great way to finish the edges of knit garments. Today I’m going to demonstrate how to do that with Thread Theory’s Comox Trunks sewing pattern. 

For this tutorial I’m using less than a yard of 5/8” wide fold over elastic for the size 34 Trunks. Fold over elastic is like the knit version of bias tape. That means it will fold over on itself to encase the raw edge of your fabric. Before we begin, take a good look at your elastic. See the central groove running down the length of your fold over elastic? That’s the fold line where you’ll be folding your elastic in half. 

Also see how one side is shiny and one is plush? You can use either side. For these trunks I want the plush side to be visible, which also means it will be directly touching the wearer’s skin, while the shiny side will be hidden. 

I’m going to show you how to attach fold over elastic two ways. But if you’ve never sewn with fold over elastic before you’ll definitely want to practice first on a scrap of fabric! 

To begin with, we’ll be attach the elastic to a flat edge, in this case the cup opening on the Comox Trunks. To figure out how much elastic you need, lay the elastic in a straight line alongside the curved part of the cup to which it will be sewn. Your cut piece should be long enough to reach from each end of the cup opening. 

Now for the sewing! Use a wide zig zag stitch for this step. I like a stitch that’s 3 wide by 3.5 long. In this step we’ll be stitching the fold over elastic to the wrong side of your fabric, or what will be the inside of your garment.

Remember that the side of the elastic you DON’T want visible will be the side that directly touches your fabric; in this tutorial that’s the shiny side. Line up the raw edge of the fabric with the central groove in your elastic. That means half of your elastic will be sticking past the edge of your fabric. It’s also easiest to get started if there’s a little extra fold over elastic hanging past the end of the cup opening. That helps prevent your fabric and elastic from getting sucked down into your sewing machine. For easiest visibility while sewing, your fabric should be on top of your elastic and your elastic should be directly touching the throat plate on your machine. 

Once you have everything lined up, begin stitching the two together. Stop after you’ve sewn a few stitches, making sure your needle is still piercing your fabric and elastic. Now gently pull your fold over elastic. It is incredibly easy to stretch out your fabric as you attach your fold over elastic. Gently pulling your elastic helps prevent that and as long as you don’t pull too tightly it won’t gather your fabric. Keep stitching your fabric and elastic together, making sure the raw edge of the elastic aligns with the center groove in your elastic and that your elastic is slightly stretched out while your fabric is feeding through your machine at a normal rate. When you get to the more curved section of the cup opening you may wish to pull on your fold over elastic just a little bit more tightly. 

Now we’ll stitch the front of your elastic to the right side of the fabric. Fold the remaining half of your elastic over the raw edge of your fabric. Stitch it to your fabric using a straight stitch or a very narrow zig zag stitch. When stitching 1/8” or closer to the edge it’s called edge stitching. If you’re using a contrasting colored thread like me, you may want to break out an edge stitch foot if your machine has one. That way you can more easily edge stitch a nice, straight line. And that’s all there is to it!

Next, I’ll show you how to sew fold over elastic in the round to a garment’s opening, like a sleeve or neckline. In this case, we’ll be binding the leg openings of the Comox Trunks. 

Before we begin, we’ll need to determine how much elastic to cut. Lay your assembled trunks on the table. Like we did when cutting elastic for the cup opening, we’ll lay our fold over elastic out in a straight line, from each edge of one of the leg openings. Double that length and cut your elastic. Next, fold your elastic in half, right sides together. Using a 3/8” seam allowance, straight stitch the raw ends of the elastic together. Do this for each leg’s elastic. 

Your fold over elastic will be smaller in circumference than your leg openings. So, mark your leg openings and fold over elastic at four evenly spaced points. Then, pin the elastic to the leg openings at those marks. See how the leg openings are larger? It’s important to evenly pin the elastic and fabric together so that the elastic evenly stretches to meet the fabric. 

Same as before, we’ll stitch the fold over elastic to the wrong side of our fabric. What we’ve got to watch out for here is that the raw edges of the elastic’s seam allowance don’t peek out. Now, stitch the elastic to your fabric using the same 3 x 3.5 wide zigzag stitch as we did when sewing the cup opening. After you’ve sewn a few stitches, stop with your needle piercing your fabric. Then grasp your fabric and elastic where the next pin is and pull until the elastic is the same length as your fabric. Sew the elastic and fabric together, remembering to align the raw edge of your fabric with the central groove of the elastic. Keep sewing like this until you’re back to where you started. 

After that, switch to a straight or very narrow zig zag stitch. Fold your elastic over the raw edge of your fabric. I like to start stitching a little bit before the elastic’s seam allowance so that I’ve got a few stitches anchoring things down. Often when I get to this side the fold over elastic’s seam allowances will be peeking out. So, I’ll tuck them under. Using a seam ripper helps since the seam allowances are so small. Once your seam allowances are no longer visible, keep sewing around the garment’s opening until you’re back where you started. 

That’s it! Simple, easy, fast, no annoying stretched out edges.

To make your own Comox Trunks, go to threadtheory.ca, where you can also find another tutorial by me on how to dye your fold over elastic.

To see what other great tutorials and hoopla is going on around Sewing Indie Month, head over to SeamsterPatterns.com.

Thanks for watching and happy sewing!   

 

Thanks Morgan and Matt for having me on your blog! And happy Sewing Indie Month everyone!


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Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Photographing your Comox Trunks sans sexy model

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What’s that?  You finished your Comox Trunks and really want to put your name in for our awesome prize pack but don’t have a super willing and sexy model at your disposal?  Not to worry!  There are plenty of other ways to show us your Comox Trunks.  And even if you aren’t very skilled with a camera, you still have a chance to win our prize because we’re picking the winner at random and not based on how great your trunks (or your photos) look.

Here are some options to show us your Comox Trunks:

1. Grab a clothes line or a pretty patch of grass/sofa/carpet and shoot your shorts in 2D.  Just because your shorts aren’t filled in by a masculine body doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate your gorgeous fabric choice and careful top stitching!

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2. If you’re really set on showing us a ‘filled in and rounded out’ sample, why not have a look around the house for male models of the non-human variety?  Who is more loyal and helpful…Teddy? Dog?  We will soon find out!teddy in boxersdog in underwear

 

3. Recruit models from elsewhere!  I gave David Beckham a ring and he was more than happy to set aside some of his modelling time to help out in the Thread Theory studio:
David in Comox Trunks

***ahem…my Photoshop skills are rather lacking but you get the idea…***

Now all you need to do is snap some pictures and upload them to an area of the internet of your choice (your blog, Facebook, Kollabora, Burdastyle, Thread & Needles, Pinterest, Flickr…etc.) and then add a link to them in the comments section of this post.  Alternatively, email your photo to info@threadtheory.ca.  Do this by May 5th for a chance to be entered in the draw for our prize pack!  The winner will be drawn on May 8th.  Happy sewing and photographing!


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Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Attaching the elastic waistband

By the end of today’s post you will have finished Comox Trunks that are ready for you to photograph for your chance to win our awesome prize package (that includes everything you need to sew a whole underwear drawer of trunks).

Today we’ll be attaching the elastic waistband.

First, I will show you the method included in the instruction booklet to create an exposed elastic waistband as you would find on most store-bought trunk style underwear.

After that, I’ll show you my attempt at a fabric covered elastic waistband.  ***Full disclosure – I’ve somehow managed to avoid sewing fabric covered elastic waistbands my entire sewing-life and so am not sure if my technique is the best one available.  You might have some tips for me about how to make this process smoother 🙂 ***

Okay, lets get started on our exposed elastic waistband.  First, we need to form a loop by sewing the two narrow edges together.  I used a reinforced stitch for this but you could also use a narrow zig zag (and sew over the seam at least twice) or even a straight stitch if you sew over it several times to ensure that your threads won’t snap when the elastic stretches.

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And here is our loop after I’ve pressed open the seam allowance:

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I like to force the seam allowances to lay flat by zig zagging them to the main elastic.  This will help prevent them from being too scratchy.

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This is how the trapped seam allowances appear from the inside of the waistband:

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In the instruction booklet I give two options for attaching your garment tag (which comes with the paper sewing pattern).  I’ve gone with my favourite option.  While I am all for proudly displaying our brand on the exterior of our garments (lol I hate clothing with visible brand names usually but it’s a different story with my own brand :P) I prefer to place the tag over the elastic seam allowance.  Our tags are nice and soft so they’ll provide one extra layer between the wearer and the scratchy seam allowances.  If you don’t have a garment tag you could use a fabric scrap or ribbon instead.

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And now it’s time for us to add the waistband to the shorts.  This step is very straight forward (indeed, it can sometimes be a little confusing to people because they are expecting it to be more difficult!).  All you need to do is line up the trunks and elastic exactly how they will look when they are finished and then sew them in place!  Here is how to line them up:

 

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You will need to line up the right side of the shorts with the wrong side of the elastic so that the elastic overlaps the fabric 3/8″.  The elastic is the outermost layer.  Position the elastic seam at centre back and pin in place.  Also pin centre front.
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At this point, I like to divide the elastic in quarters and place pins where side seams normally would be.

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I then place pins between each of my four pins to result in eight pins that evenly distribute the trunk fabric around the elastic.9798

Here, you can see how this will look from the inside once you have placed your pins:

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And now it is just a matter of stitching the two layers together!  I used a zig zag stitch but you can also use a twin needle for a lovely professional finish.  You will need to stretch the elastic slightly as you sew to ease in the excess fabric.  Depending on whether you created a custom fit waistband or not (by wrapping it around the wearer to determine the length needed) will depend on how much easing you need to do.100

Don’t worry if the fabric looks a little gathered in areas by the time you are done (see mine below – especially in the front area) because this will stretch out when the wearer puts the trunks on and sit perfectly smoothly.

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I went over my zig zag stitch a second time for added strength.  You could even do this a third time if you wanted because of all the seams in these trunks, this is the one that is under the most pressure and is the most likely to snap.

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Once I finished stitching I cleaned up my seam allowance by trimming the fabric closer to the zig zag stitches.

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Wahoo! Our trunks are done! (Unless you are holding out for the fabric covered waistband of course).

Here is what I did to create a fabric covered waistband:

I sewed the elastic into a loop as I explained above (including stitching the seam allowances flat).

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Next I needed to create a fabric loop that could sandwich the elastic and still have enough seam allowance to attach to the trunks.  To create this, I cut two rectangles of fabric (you could cut one long rectangle if you only want one seam, I just didn’t have enough scrap fabric to do this).  The rectangles each measured as follows: The length of your elastic loop (i.e. roughly the width of your trunks)  plus two seam allowances + double the width of your elastic plus two seam allowances.

Sew the narrow edges together to form a tube and you will end up with this:
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And here is a better view so you can see how the fabric tube relates in size to the trunks:IMGP7176
Now sandwich the elastic in your fabric by folding the loop in half over the elastic (with wrong sides together).

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To keep everything lined up, you can baste the fabric loop closed along the bottom.  I used a zipper foot so that I could get close enough to the elastic to prevent the elastic from sliding around.

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Here is the elastic-stuffed and basted loop:

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Now I pinned the elastic/fabric loop to the trunks with right sides together and the seams lined up at either side.

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And I serged the entire loop.  This is more or less effective – the only problem is that you can’t get very close to the elastic edge with the serger so the fabric waistband looks a little floppy and loose.  The only way to create a narrower fabric tube would be to leave a hole in the tube and thread the elastic into it AFTER the tube is attached to the main trunks.

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I just used the reinforced straight stitch and a zipper foot to stitch closer to the elastic:

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And there we go, finished trunks with a super soft and comfy fabric covered waistband!

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I’m really looking forward to seeing your trunks!  Check back in two days to see my final post for this sew-along which will detail how to do a photo shoot of your trunks if you don’t have attractive and confident underwear model at your beck and call ;).


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Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Hemming the trunks

After all of the progress during the last sew-along session, today we’ll just be sewing the hem.  Easy peasy!  I’ve sewn the charcoal pair using Option 2 from the instruction booklet (a double fold hem finished with a zig zag stitch) and the maple leaf version is hemmed using Option 1 (a serged edge and a twin needle) so you can examine my process and choose which method you prefer.

For the zig-zagged option, start by folding up the hem about 1/4″ and pressing:

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Fold the hem again, this time about 3/8″ and press.  Pin as you press and don’t slide your iron along the fabric, instead, lift it up and press down – this way you won’t ‘drag’ the fabric with you and twist the hem (a common issue when hemming thin and stretchy knits).

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I changed the settings for my zig zag stitch slightly for the hem to make a larger, stretchier stitch.  I increased the length ever so slightly and increased the width to match the length.  This zig zag stitch will be very visible so it is nice to have a very even looking stitch.

I like to start sewing on a seam, especially one that isn’t very visible from the front, so that the back stitching doesn’t look obvious or messy.  In this case, I started on the back gusset seam.  As you can see, I chose to sew from the inside of the trunks so I could make sure that I was perfectly catching the folded hem.  This isn’t necessary if you are a perfectionist and have a perfectly even hem – you could sew from the outside and keep an even distance from the bottom fold and know that you are catching the top fold the entire time.  As you might guess from my approach, I don’t trust myself to have a perfectly even hem (especially with knits that like to shift around a lot!) and so find it saves me a lot of headaches and stitch picking to just sew it from the inside.

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And here is the finished zig zagged hem!  Super easy!

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If you choose to try out the twin needle hem, the key is to make sure your twin needle is functioning smoothly before starting to sew – test on scraps until it is jam-free and even.  My machine doesn’t really like working with a twin needle since my tension disks are quite faulty – it will be chugging along beautifully for a couple centimetres and then all of a sudden jam into the biggest snarl you could imagine…ug…regardless, I managed to sew the darned hem after starting and stopping a million times (don’t be scared away by my experience, I have had many snarl-free twin needle sewing experiences…just never on this silly machine!).

Many people like finishing their hem with only a twin needle since the stitch made by it forms a zig zag on the underside of the fabric that nicely encloses the raw edge.  Of course, this requires you to have a lovely even hem and precise stitching.  To save myself the worry that my raw edge wouldn’t be totally enclosed, I simply serge first and use the twin needle to stitch below the serging.

Here is my serged edge folded up once:

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And here is my funny little double thread set up!  I have two thread holders on the top of the machine but when I use both of those, the first tension disk doesn’t engage properly and I can’t get a single nice stitch.  Placing a serger cone of thread behind the machine seemed to work well enough though:

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The twin needle gives a lovely finish that is strong and very professional looking.  Voila:

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Well, that’s it for today and our next post will be the last one for the sewing segment of this sew-along!  Are you looking forward to finally finishing your trunks?  We’ll be adding the elastic waistband and I will also be discussing some ideas for adding a fabric covered waistband if that is more your style.  See you in two days!


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Comox Trunks: Sewing the trunks back

Today we are going to make big progress with our trunks – I have this post labelled ‘Sewing the Trunks Back’, but really, before we can really call the backs of these undies done, we need to have pretty much the whole trunks assembled.  That may sound like a large task, but really it is just four curved seams and a quick rectangle!  Here comes the first two curved seams:

It’s time to attach the trunk Front to the Main Shorts – the biggest two fabric pieces in your pile.  You’ll notice that the smallest curved section on this piece has one notch.  This will line up with the bottom of the bound fly as I point out below:
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Pin the Front and Main Shorts with right sides together along this notched curve.  Here you can see the notch near the centre of the curve:

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And in this photo you can get more of a sense of how you will have to ‘reshape’ the Main Trunks curve when pinning it to the opposite curve of the Front:40

I sewed this seam using a zig zag stitch and then, for good measure and extra strength, sewed over my seam again. This is how the seam looks from the Main Shorts side:
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And from the trunks Front side:

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And this is what my multiple layers of zig zag stitch looks like!

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I like to trim the seams even though the seam allowance isn’t very big (only 3/8″) because it allows me to make everything tidy looking and even and reduces a little bit of the bulk.
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Now we need to attach the second Main Shorts piece the same way that we did our first piece:

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I pressed the seam allowances away from the front and didn’t finish them (aside from the trimming).  This light jersey doesn’t fray and the seam allowances tend to roll up tidily and softly so I thought that the less stiff thread that could potentially cause rubbing, the better!  If you are using a material that tends to fray you could finish these seams with a second wider row of zig zag stitching.
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To serge these seams, it is the same process as we just covered (minus the trimming).  Here is what it will look like if you choose to use the serger:

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When serging, it is perfectly okay to leave your seams looking like they do in the photo above, but I thought you might be interested to see the topstitching that I decided to do along these seams to ensure that the serged seam allowance remains pointing away from centre front and lies flat against the body (see photo below).  I ended up using a simple straight stitch because my reinforced straight stitch was causing the fabric to slide around and I couldn’t keep the top-stitching from wobbling all over the place.  On other fabrics the reinforced straight stitch worked really well for me and I find it is a great way to do top-stitching on many knits. I didn’t mind using a straight stitch on these trunks though because the fabric doesn’t have much stretch anyway so I don’t think Matt will end up with broken stitches when he wears these.

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And now we move on to attaching the Back piece!  This will attach to the other long curved edge of the Main Shorts:

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As you can see, below, the Main Trunks curve and the Back curve are opposite just like the front and will take a bit of pinning before they line up.52

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I sewed this seam twice again using the zig zag stitch.  Might as well make it extra strong!

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And then I trimmed the seam just like we did for the front.  I pressed the seam towards centre back.

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And now we have to repeat this process with the other back seam to create a closed loop!

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Would you look at that?  The trunks are starting to resemble trunks :).

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If you’re using a serger, the back process is again very similar to using a domestic machine:
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Now, the last step for today is to create and attach the gusset.  While the word ‘gusset’ might intimidate you a little but really, a gusset is just a piece of material that is sewn into a garment to make it wider or stronger (in the case of the trunks, our gusset performs both jobs!).

Our gusset is formed from two rectangle pieces that are double layered for extra strength:

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Pin the two pieces with wrong sides together and notches matching.

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Baste around the outside.  I used a zig zag stitch within the seam allowance but you could also use a long, straight basting stitch and just remove it after the seams are sewn.

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Now our gusset is ready to attach to the trunks to create wider legs!  Line up your main trunks so that the centre front seam lines up with the notch on the long edge of the gusset:
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I used two layers of zig zag stitching once again and then pressed the seam open.

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Now we can move on to the back seam!  This time the notch lines up with Centre Back.697071

And, once the seam is sewn, it again gets pressed open.  You can trim both of these seams if you like or you could finish them with a wide zig zag stitch.73

And here is how my trunks look at the end of today’s sewing session…now that’s progress!

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If you’re using a serger, you will still need to baste the two gusset pieces together with a domestic machine.  I used a straight stitch to baste because I knew it would be trimmed off by the serger in the next step so wouldn’t interfere with the ability of the seam to stretch.IMGP7165

And now we serge the two seams:

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I pressed the serging in towards the gusset on both sides:
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And then, because this is an area that is quite likely to be sensitive to rubbing, I topstitched the seam allowances in place to keep them flat (again, it is advisable to use a stitch that can stretch such as the reinforced stretch stitch or even a small zig zag stitch but I didn’t do this because my fabric really doesn’t stretch too much):

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Are your shorts coming along nicely?  In two days we will be hemming them!  And then it’s on to adding the elastic waistband and…the hardest part of the whole sew-along…finding a model on which to photograph your shorts for the contest ;P.  Happy sewing!


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Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Sewing the trunks front

It’s time to get sewing!  It’s nice to have our machines already set up after the last post so that we can get right into the fun part today!

Firstly, we have to prepare our two strips of binding.  For my charcoal pair I went with self binding but for my Maple Leaf pair I used a contrast dark red – feel free to experiment with different combinations!

Start by folding each long edge into the middle and press:

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Fold this segment almost in half.  I like to make one “half” just a touch wider than the other so there is less chance of me missing the bottom layer of the binding sandwich in the next step (because that is SO frustrating…especially since knits are a bit tricky to un-pick).

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Once your binding is pressed, pin it to both Front 1 sections along the sharp curve.  Keep the narrower side of the binding facing you so that when you sew along the edge of it, the wider binding will be underneath the fabric and will be caught easily.  In the printed instruction booklet I state: “DO NOT treat the two Front pieces as mirrored pieces.”  Since we revised the cutting layout, as mentioned in this post and in the errata section of our website, you will now be treating these as mirrored pieces.  Sorry for the confusion!  The PDF pattern has been revised so if you are using the PDF instruction booklet, align your Front Pieces as illustrated (mirrored).23

Now it’s time to sew the binding to Front 1.  Before I show how to do that, I have a handy little tip that has saved me much sewing strife.  It is a good habit when sewing both knits or wovens to start a seam with your needle down in the fabric.  I must have lost this good habit somewhere along the way (I remember being taught to do it!) and so was continuously frustrated when I began to sew knits because my machine seemed to “eat” the knit at the beginning of seams about 50% of the time!  It would suck the thin knit down into the bobbin chamber and create a huge mess.  This problem was eliminated when I put my needle in the full “down” position before I even get my foot near the peddle to start the seam.  If this tip helps save at least one person the frustration I felt when beginning to sew knits I will be thrilled to hear it!

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And here is our attached binding.  I used a zig-zag stitch for this version but you could also use a straight stitch or reinforced straight stitch as the binding itself doesn’t need to stretch:

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Here you can see a close up of the stitching:

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The binding is a little longer than the curve (especially if it has stretched while you sewed it.  Just trim off the little bits of excess:

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Now it is time to attach Front 1 to Front 2.  Align with right sides together and pin along the long curve.  From this point onwards I will include photos of both the charcoal pair that I’ve sewn with a regular machine and the Maple Leaf pair that I sewed with a serger:

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Note that I sewed the binding to the front of the serged pieces after I sewed Front 1 and Front 2 together – you can sew the binding on either before or after, whatever you prefer!

By the way, look at my Maple Leaf placement!  I was chatting with Sophie from TwoRandomWords about how I had forgotten to worry about pattern placement when I cut this pair out and was sad that I wouldn’t end up with the Canadian version of the classic fig leaf across the trunk fronts…to my surprise, luck would have it that the leaf lined up almost perfectly!

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Now that the two layers of the front are assembled, we can sew them together to create the right exit fly.  In the first version of the printed instructions the cutting layout would lead to front sections that are sewn with WRONG sides together (a nice way to eliminate a raw seam from the inside centre front of the trunks but this will lead to the wrong side of your fabric peeping out of the fly).  Our revision instead instructs you to sew the two fronts with RIGHT side facing WRONG side.  Here is how it will look:

 

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When you go to baste these pieces together, remember to ensure that the bound edge is curved out of the way as much as possible – the hole needs to be open wide enough to allow for use ;).

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I zig zagged within the seam allowance around the edges.  You could also use a long straight basting stitch but then you’ll probably have to remove this stitching later on so that the seams can stretch without snapping threads:

 

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I used a straight stitch for my serged version since it would be trimmed off by the serger later anyways:

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And just like that, our fronts are done!  We’re moving on to sewing the backs in a couple days and before you know it they will actually look like underwear (not much to try on for fit now!!!).  Please feel free to ask any questions, especially if you are confused about the changes we made to our cutting layouts after our first print of the instructions.