Thread Theory

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


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Day 5 – Sewing the Inseams (Jedediah Shorts Sew-along)

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Has everyone had a chance to catch up since Sunday?  I hope so, because today, with our cup of milky Lady Earl Grey and a little Otis Redding, we’ll be sewing our flat fell inseams.  It’ll be a nice, easy, and short day since we’ve already perfected our flat fell seams on the back yoke!

First, I’ve started by pinning the inseams together with the WRONG sides together.

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I sewed this seam at 5/8″ (you may need to ease a little bit as you sew so that the hem ends up even) and then carefully trimmed the seam on the Pants Back to 1/4″.  Don’t catch the other half of the seam (the one belonging to the Pants Front) when you are trimming!

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I’ve pressed the seam open (this will ensure your flat fell seam is crisp and even when it is done).

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Next, I’ve pressed the seam entirely to one side (with the narrow seam allowance laying on top).

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And here comes the fiddly bit: I’ve folded the wide seam allowance in towards the narrow seam allowance so that the two raw edges meet in the middle.  To do this I press as I go…keeping my fingers folding the seam allowances with one hand and following along with the iron with the other hand.

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I’ve then flipped this pressed seam allowance package over to the other side of the seam so that all the raw edges are enclosed and then I’ve pinned in place  (use lots of pins so your careful pressing doesn’t become a bit wonky!)

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Now I’ve sewn 1/8″ away from the loose edge, permanently enclosing the raw edges and creating a lovely (and strong!) flat fell seam.  Sewing along the pant legs is a bit tricky because they form a narrow tube (though it’s easier with shorts than pants!) but believe me, it’s possible…and you can do it if you take it slow and steady!

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And just like that, we’ve sewn our RTW worthy flat fell inseams and our shorts are beginning to look like shorts!  Now that you’re in the groove of things this week, we are ready to tackle the fly tomorrow!  Stay tuned because we have worked SUPER hard on this next post and think it will fully demystify the previously oft-dreaded fly sewing process.  I can’t wait to show you what we’ve done!

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Day 4 – Sewing the Side Seams (Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along)

Edited-2 This Sunday evening a glass of wine and some good ol’ Bill Cosby will accompany us while we sew our side seams.  This is my favorite of Cosby’s records and I just found  the entire thing, well recorded, as a play list on YouTube for you to listen to!  Woot woot! (My record is getting pretty scratchy so the YouTube version actually sounds much better).

Have your shorts or pants been coming along well so far?  Have you been able to keep up with the sewing or are you reading along so you’re ready to sew after the sew along is finished? I hope you are finding the photos and instructions clear!  If you are confused with any of the steps so far, just leave a comment and I will do my best to elaborate on them :).

Now, lets get ready to sew our side seams – a pretty easy and satisfying set of steps!  First of all, we’ll pin our Pant Fronts to our Pant Backs with right sides together along the side seam (the edge with the gradual curve). Edited-1 Then we can sew and press open the entire seam. Edited-3 Do you have your binding ready?  If not, here is my post on making binding from a vintage handkerchief to help you out, or you can simply use the store bought variation.  You’d be surprised how little fabric it takes to make a good sized piece of binding so you could always root through your scraps and use any 10″X10″ piece of thin woven material (make it easy on yourself and choose something that maintains a crease well!).  If you make extra wide binding like I did, then you will need four 10″X10″ squares worth of binding for the side seams (leaving you with a few extra small pieces that you could use later on for the zipper shield). Edited-4 Now we will pin the binding to one of the side seams (you can start with either the front or the back).  Place the narrower edge of the binding on the side you will sew so that the wider edge extends under, sandwiching the seam allowance and reaching farther towards the stitching than the narrower top piece.  This will give you a bit of lee-way when you sew to ensure that you catch the bottom layer of the binding. Edited-5 Edited-6 We can now sew the first edge of the selvage and repeat this process for the second edge (and also for the second leg.  Ta-da, beautifully bound seams!  Won’t these look impressive and colourful when the wearer is putting on his shorts? Edited-8 Edited-9 After admiring our bound seams for a while (and giving them a final press to flatten out the binding), we can take a few steps to strengthen the front pocket area. You can sort of see the finished side seam and the strengthening stitches below but we will zoom in for a closer look in a second. Edited-10 The strengthening stitches include a bar tack near the top and at the bottom of each front pocket as well as edge stitching down the side seam until 1″ below the pocket: Edited-11 Edited-12 To make the bar tacks, you can either use a very tight zig-zag (like a button hole stitch), or do what I did here and stitch for 3/8″ using a straight stitch and then reverse and stitch again…and again…and again.   I’ve placed my bar tacks 5/8″ from the waist at the top of the pocket and just below where the bottom of the pocket meets the side seam.  That way the pocket won’t split open or bag out when it is constantly under pressure from being filled with hands and change and keys. Edited-14Edited-13 I have edge-stitched, catching the back seam allowance, 1/8″ from the side seam along the back of the pants until 1″ below the pocket.  I then back-tacked for a long ways and reversed and sewed several times to echo the look of the pocket bar tacks. Edited-15 There!  That wasn’t so bad!  Now, I wonder if you will be tempted to bind EVERYTHING the way I am?  It’s so simple and yet so effective (and a great way to use up scraps!).  Do you like to make your own binding or do you tend to use store bought?  Have you ever used one of those neat little binding tools that fold the fabric for you as you iron?  I’ve never had a chance to try one but, since my binding never seems to turn out completely uniform, I certainly am intrigued.  See you next Thursday when we sew the inseams! Edited-17


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Day 3 – Sewing the Back Pockets and Yoke (Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along)

Edited-19 Today’s a big day (we’re sewing both the back patch pockets on and the yoke) so we’ve got some blueberry and lavender water and a snack to keep us going as well as Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” to sing along to as we work.  Don’t worry, none of this process is too difficult – we’ll take it step by step!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMq-8ObJhZg

Katie of The Creative Counselor, the skilled sewist who created this version of the Jedediah Pants, has kindly shared with us an alternative way of sewing the back patch pockets which results in absolutely no raw edges and a very strong pocket – both things that I want in a pocket, that’s for sure!  To see her guest post explaining how to use the Jedediah Pants patch pocket to do this, click here.

To create the version I’ve included in the Jedediah Pants instructions, simply follow along here!  With our stitching templates handy, we will first transfer the pocket stitching design.

Edited-17 We’ll do this by placing layering both pockets together (wrong sides together) and putting the template on top.   Choose one of the mountain-shaped stitch lines (I picked the highest) and place pins at the highest and lowest points of the line. Edited-18 Now flip over the three layers and place pins in through the other direction exactly where the first three pins extend from.  Pull off the stitch template and replace the three pins you pulled off with it. Edited-20 Pull apart the two pocket pieces, leaving a set of pins in each piece.  On the right side of each pocket, I’ve transferred the top highest stitching line using chalk and a ruler to ‘connect the dots’ between each pin.Edited-21 Edited-22

With only the top stitching line transferred, I like to sew along this line and then use the markings on my sewing machine bed to measure the distance to the next line.  You could simply mark the next two lines with chalk as well but I find it is trickier to make really straight topstitching when I am trying to follow a line instead of watching the measurement on my sewing machine and it’s relation to the presser foot.  You choose!  Either way, each stitching line is about 3/8″ apart.

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After creating the decorative top-stitching, we are ready to start sewing the pocket.  To begin this process, I’ve used two scraps of binding to finish the top edge of the pocket.  I’ve placed the wider side of the binding on the bottom and the narrower side on the top and then sandwiched the pocket piece in-between the two.  I’ve stitched, catching all three layers.

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To create the top corners of the pocket, we must fold along the notched fold line so that right sides are together and then stitch, using a 5/8″ seam allowance from the folded edge down to the edge of the binding.  Next, I’ve trimmed along this stitched line so that the seam allowance is 1/4″ wide:

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Once both pocket corners are trimmed, turn out the corners using something pointy (a knitting needle is good for this!)  and press under the rest of the pocket edges at 5/8″ seam allowance to match the edge created by the sewn corners.  Once done, you will have something that resembles a pocket front!

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All that we have to do to finish the back patch pockets is stitch along the top edge of the pockets, 1/2″ from the top and then place them on the pant Back pieces.  Here is how I ensure that the pockets are level and in the correct place (nothing worse than lopsided back pockets!):  First I pin them on using the markings that we made when we cut out the fabric to line things up.

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Here is a closer look:

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Then I lay the the pant Backs with right sides together and fold back the fabric to see if the pockets are sitting directly on top of each other.  If they aren’t, I adjust the pins and check again.

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Once accurately pinned, we can top-stitch the pocket in place.  I like to create a triangle of stitching at the top corner of each pocket for added strength.  I do this by beginning stitching 1/2″ from the top of the pocket, stitching on an angle to the top of the pocket, over to the edge of the pocket (1/4″ away) and then down the side, continuing to the other top corner and reversing the triangle process.  Here is a close up so you can better understand what I’m talking about (ignore the yoke above the pocket, we’re doing that next!):

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Phew!  We’re done the patch pockets!  Take a breather and then we’re on to the flat-felled back yoke (I told you it was a bit of a long day!).

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I’ve started the back yoke by pinning the Yoke piece to the top edge of the pants Back with WRONG sides together.  The widest part of the yoke is towards the center of the pants (where the sharply curved seat seam is).

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Now, lets stitch this seam at 5/8″ and then grade the pant seam to 1/4″.  Be quite precise in this grading as it makes the next steps easier…and be sure to leave the yoke seam at a full 5/8″!

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Next, we press the seam open – this will help to create a crisp and straight flat fell seam.

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Now, we press the seam towards the yoke:

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And then we fold the 5/8″ seam down so that the raw edge meets the raw edge of the 1/4″ seam in the centre.  This is a bit fiddly – careful not to burn your fingers!

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Next, we flip the whole package over so the seam allowance is sitting on top of the pants Back (not on the yoke) and the raw edges are hidden.  I’ve pinned it carefully in place so my ironing doesn’t get uncreased as I move the pants to the sewing machine.

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Lastly, we edge stitch along the folded edge to create the flat fell seam – doesn’t it look nice?  And it’s super strong!

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The back pockets are done, the yoke is done and our snacks are done…and tomorrow is an easier day during which we sew the side seams!

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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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Our Very First Stockist!

Today we are proud to announce that Thread Theory Designs Inc. officially has a pattern for sale with it’s first stockist!

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We are so excited to have our patterns available for download on Stitch 56, a skillfully curated selection of “beautiful sewing notions, tools, patterns and other necessary items.”  The website is Australian based and sells an excellent selection of indie sewing patterns (we are the first downloadable pattern, the rest of the patterns offered are currently printed patterns) as well as the traditional and very manly sewing tools from Merchant & Mills which we absolutely LOVE!

In other news, Matt couldn’t wait for his blue Jedediah Sew-Along shorts since it has been so wonderfully hot lately…so in order to stop him from wearing his ancient cut-off Dickies every day I whipped up a simple version of the Jedediah shorts with no cuff and an extra short (hipster?) hem.  Matt loves them and has received compliments on them already.  He wore them after a swim at a local lake yesterday so we took a few quick shots while he was still drying off!


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Preparations

sewalong button

Now that our Jedediah Pants pattern is out to test sewers, Matt is eagerly anticipating putting on his pair of “Dream Shorts” after a successful sew-along!  In case anyone might be interested in a little back story:  The Jedediah Pants pattern was named after Jedediah Island, a spectacular boating destination in the Straight of Georgia off of Vancouver Island, B.C.

Since the Jedediah pattern was designed to produce Matt’s DREAM pants and shorts, the name Jedediah is only fitting since this island is where he proposed and became engaged to his DREAM girl!

My grandparent's little sailboat, Teal, (snuggled up in one of Jedediah's cozy bays) that we borrowed to sail to our favorite island back in 2010.

My grandparent’s little sailboat, Teal, (snuggled up in one of Jedediah’s cozy bays) that we borrowed to sail to our favorite island back in 2010.

In preparation for the Jedediah shorts sew-along I thought it would be helpful to include a post that would provide everything a sewist needs to buy their fabric and notions in time for the sew-along start date on August 15th!  Below you will find the materials required page straight from our instruction booklet PDF, as well as the garment and body measurements for easy reference.
Materials Required

Measurement Clip

I have purchased my fabric already (a sturdy but soft coloured denim in royal blue) and today I prepared my bias binding.  As you can see in the materials required chart, I have estimated 5.5-6 meters.  This is a very generous estimate as this is how much you will need if you are binding all major seams (aside from the flat-felled inseams).  If you plan to just bind the outseams you will likely need something closer to 1m per leg.

 

To make my binding, I used a vintage handkerchief (part of a collection given to me by my great grandma!) and Colette Pattern’s amazing and fabric-saving tutorial to make continuous bias tape.  This method is perfect for making seam binding because it doesn’t use very much fabric but, because of this, also results in binding with a lot of seams.  These seams might not look very nice when used as trim on the outside of a garment, but they aren’t really noticeable when used as binding on the inside.

My handkerchief was a 20″ square before I cut it up and made 4.3m/4.7 yards of bias tape.  Instead of cutting 1″ wide strips of fabric as the Colette Pattern tutorial suggests, I cut 2″ wide.  This made 1/2″ wide binding which I find to be less fiddly to use.

You don’t need to make your own binding for the sew-along as store bought will work nicely…but I love how the possibilities of prints and colors are endless when you make your own!

Good luck fabric shopping!  I was overwhelmed with the enormous collection of twills and denims at my local Fabricland…I hope you have the same huge choice of summery fabrics!