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Comox Trunks Saxx Hack Idea (i.e. how to add a hammock pouch)

Whitney Decker Comox Trunks 2

Recently, Whitney Decker posted some great photos of her husband’s customised Comox Trunks to the Thread Theory Sewing Community Facebook group.  I was thrilled to see the fit she achieved as well as her detailed shots of the hammock pieces that she added to the front of the trunks.

Whitney Decker Comox Trunks

These hammock pieces are similar to what you might find in Saxx Underwear which are a brand renowned for their ability to keep everything in it’s proper place.

I asked Whitney if she might like to create a tutorial for the Thread Theory blog since I have received many requests for this alteration over the years…well, it turns out she had already gone to all the work of creating both a video tutorial and a photographed tutorial of both the Saxx hack and all her other fit alterations!  She posted these tutorials on the Phee Fabrics blog.

Whitney Decker Comox Trunks 3

Her video is very in-depth so I recommend watching this first and then cementing the knowledge you have gained by reading her tutorial next.  The video is of course useful because it details the Saxx hack but it would also be great to watch just to familiarise yourself with how the strangely shaped Comox Trunks pieces fit together.  If you are unclear on how to add length to the legs, how to change the width of the gusset or all manner of other alterations…don’t worry, her video covers them all!

 

Whitney even switches out the elastic waistband and replaces it with a comfortable Supplex waistband.  Supplex is a performance stretch fabric that is available at Phee Fabrics (the company which Whitney created her video and blog post for).  I hadn’t come across this fabric company before but I’m glad I have now!  They look like an excellent source for performance knits and underwear/swimwear fabrics.  Their blog features tutorials for almost every indie underwear pattern I’ve ever come across!

Whitney’s pattern hack uses a free pattern piece offered by another indie pattern company with a men’s underwear pattern: The Boxerwear Boxer Briefs by Stitch Upon A Time.  This pattern is similar in fit to the Comox Trunks with a few key differences: The pouch is one piece and shaped with a dart, there is a centre back seam, I believe the legs are finished with binding or a band, and the legs are quite a bit longer.  It’s wonderful that there is beginning to be enough variety available that you can pick and choose menswear patterns to perfectly suit the style and fit you are looking for!  Here’s a photo of the Boxerwear design followed by the Comox Trunks so you can compare the many differences and pick the pattern that suits your needs best:

Stitch Upon A Time Boxerwear

From what Whitney tells me, it sounds like the free Saxx-style hammock pattern piece is available through the Stitch Upon a Time Facebook group (please correct me if I’m wrong as I haven’t joined the group!).  I think it would be fairly straightforward to come up with your own hammock pattern piece by tracing the curve of the Comox Trunks front pouch and then drawing a straight line for the hammock edge.

Amy Lawson Comox Trunks

Amy Lawson did something similar and posted to our Facebook Group too.  Has anyone else tried this hack?

Have a look at the Comox Trunks pattern >


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Comox Trunks Pattern Hack- Lady Trunks!

Last weekend was the CREATE! event in Courtenay BC- demos, classes and vendors in the lovely Old House Hotel. Morgan and Matt had a table there and Morgan ran a couple of classes as well. She did some demos using the bag kit and an evening class for the Comox Trunks on Friday night. I was coming straight from work, feeling a little tired and rushed, but I was so glad I went. There were snacks, Comox Trunks Kits, and a very cozy atmosphere (though I feel bad for the people whose hotel rooms were beside the sewing room!).

There were about seven of us, including experienced quilters, Morgan’s mom, and an eleven year old girl. Morgan talked about the pattern, the fabric and the elastic and we all got to work. Every once in a while she would see most people ready to move on and she would introduce and demo the next step. It was fun being walked through and of course as an extrovert, I always love to turn this solitary activity into a party!create collage

The only thing was- I was feeling a little selfish. The bamboo jersey is so so nice, I wanted it for my very own tush. So I talked to Morgan about making them for myself. It turns out to be super easy- in fact it takes away all the tricky stuff at the beginning!  So in case there are others out there like me, who want cozy lady trunks, I decided to throw together a second pair, sharing the modification you make when you don’t need quite so much room in the…ahem.. pouch.

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As you can see, the boxers fit just great, and you too can feel like a super hero (especially if you wear them over tights)

The first step would be to get the Comox Trunks kit, or whatever fabric and elastic you are using, and of course your Comox Trunks pattern. You can follow most of the Sew-along, except we are going to start a little differently. After you’ve cut your pattern and fabric, we are basically skipping the “Sewing the Trunks front” post, since that is all about the pouch.

1. You will not need the binding piece, nor Pattern Piece #2. When you’ve cut out your size, draw and cut a straight line down piece #3 as follows:

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2. You may notice the centre seam in the front panel in my above pair. For my second pair, I decided it would be nicer, and easy, to skip that seam just by cutting on the fold.

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3. Here I forgot to photograph this step (Bad tutorialist!). But just put the two pieces wrong side together and baste about the edge (i suggest 1/4″ SA so it doesn’t show when you to a 3/8″ seam to attach). After basting, we will attach to the legs just as in the pattern and sew-along

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And that’s it! I mean, obviously the trunks aren’t done yet, but that’s how simply the modification is. Follow the rest of the directions to attach the back, gusset and elastic and then you are really done. I have to say- with both pairs I’ve made, I look at the butt and I think “NO WAY” -they seem huge and saggy but they hug the body really well. Don’t worry, you are more three dimensional than the undies are.

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I used Anna Maria Horner’s Saffron Thistle fabric for the legs (which matches this shirt, maybe I will wear them together), which is nice and soft and sturdy. For the hem, I serged the raw edge, the did a scallop stitch in contrasting thread. I used the same stitch for attaching the elastic. To cover the elastic seam, I made a little tag of thistle and put that on the outside. No scratchy edges! The funny thing is, with the contrasting legs, from the back it sort of looks like normal underwear! You can see here, that despite looking weirdly big on the table, they hug the form quite well. You can also somewhat see that the front is flat where the original pattern would bulge out with a pouch.

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I swear, I am going to replace all my undies with these!!


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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:

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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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Looking for elastic for your Comox Trunks?

Happy Friday!  This post is going to be a little bit of an update on all sorts of things…our sew-along, an elastic shopping resource, and a look at what’s on my sewing table right now!

First off, remember to submit your entry to our Comox Trunks sew-along contest by May 5th for a chance to win this awesome kit of everything you need to sew an underwear drawer full of trunks!  You still have time (especially since it only takes a couple hours to sew these bad boys and the PDF download is instant.IMGP7128

Next on the agenda is something to further inspire you to sew those Comox Trunks: A source for awesome elastic!  I have noticed a lot of people mentioning that they have struggled to find nice elastics to add to their Comox Trunks.  Some people have even resorted to re-using elastic from old store bought trunks (an awesome idea but sometimes that’s the part that wears out first on underwear so that idea may or may not help you out…).  If you can’t find elastic locally, never fear, there are great online options!  And shipping is quite cheap too because elastic is so light and makes for a very small parcel.

One of our stockists, Mrs. Bao recently let us know that they have just added a whole selection of Comox Trunk worthy elastics to their shop.  Just have a look at these interesting options – all are a far cry from boring white or black!
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All photos link to the product so just click on them to check out more information.  I’m thrilled by the width of these elastics, the quality of the photos (it is easy to see that they all look to be quite soft and appropriate for underwear) and the reasonable prices (both for the elastic and shipping).  Even with shipping, most of these elastics are still cheaper than I would pay at my local fabric store!

Okay, now lets move on to the final update of the day – here is what is on my sewing agenda for Sewing Indie Month!

I’m providing a tutorial for Tilly and the Buttons later this month so I’ve been busily searching for inspriration and sewing her Coco pattern.

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I mentioned and showed you photos of my first version in yesterday’s blog post:

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I’ve got two more in the works which are inspired by Antrhopologie tops.  Aren’t these pretty?
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My tutorial will be posted on Tilly’s blog on May 19th, but in the meantime you can look forward to a tutorial by Mari, from Seamster, on this blog.  It will be posted on May 7th…not long now!

Have a lovely weekend everyone – hopefully at least part of it will be spent sewing some Comox Trunks!


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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.


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Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Cutting out your fabric and preparing your machine

It is officially Day 3 of the Comox Trunks sew-along and today we are finally going to start working with our fabric!  Today we will be cutting out our fabric and preparing our sewing machines to work smoothly with thin knits.  By now you should have gathered together your pre-washed knit fabric, corresponding thread, a length of medium weight pre-shrunk knitted elastic (elastics will normally specify on the roll/packaging whether they have been pre-shrunk or not…if they aren’t it is advisable to wash them with your fabric as that’s what you’ll be doing when the trunks are finished, after all!).  You should also have picked your size.

If you have not yet chosen your materials, have a look at the fabrics and elastics I suggest throughout this post.

Okay, let’s begin!  Lay out your pre-washed fabric by folding it in half and matching up the selvages.  I like to pin the selvages together, especially with knits that are prone to curling, so as to ensure that all the pattern pieces will be properly lined up with the grain of the fabric.  See how the knit likes to curl?

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In the first edition of our printed instruction booklets, I have made fabric layouts that specify you should cut pattern piece 2 and 3 on a single layer of fabric.  We’ve since revised these layouts so that this is no longer necessary – simply cut them on the folded fabric along with all the other pieces so as to create two ‘mirrored’ versions of each piece.

The only pattern piece that needs to be cut ‘on the fold’ is piece 4 which is the back of the trunks.  Cutting this on the fold will result in a single fabric piece that is double the width of the paper pattern piece.

Also, if you are using a fabric with 4 way stretch which is a recommended fabric choice for these trunks (this means that the fabric stretches length-wise and width-wise), you don’t necessarily need to cut piece 6 (the binding) on the bias.  We placed the grainline in this manner so that you have the option to use contrast colours or prints for your binding regardless of if they are 4-way or-2 way stretch (or even a woven fabric if you are feeling adventurous!).

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When cutting out your fabric, mark notches by clipping triangles outwards our using chalk or a pin.  Avoid clipping into the seam allowance partly because it is quite small (only 3/8″) but mostly because some knits have a tendency to run when nicked (even after you’ve sewn the seam).

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Here’s a close up of the little notch I made:

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Now that all of our pieces are cut out, its time to set up the machine!

For this sew-along I am sewing one pair of trunks with my regular domestic machine:15

…And a second pair of trunks using my serger:

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This way, you will be able to see how to construct your trunks with any available machine.  It is well worth your while to play around with the settings on your machine with a scrap of your fabric until the machine works smoothly and your stitches are even.  My little domestic doesn’t have a huge amount of stitch options but I find the zig-zag stitch works well for the main seams with a narrow width.  Also, it really helps to adjust the presser foot pressure so it is lighter than normal.

Also, I like to use a ball point or stretch needle when using knits.  After all of our careful cutting of outward notches it would be a shame to cause a run in the fabric because the sharp needle has snapped some of the fibres!

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This next picture is not very clear but hopefully you can see how I played around with adjusting the width of the zig-zag stitch.  After creating a seam of varied zig-zag widths using two layers or knit I pulled open the layers to examine which width of zig-zag was the most invisible from the right side.  If your stitch is too wide you will see threads and ripples on the right side of the garment – not good!

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Here are the settings that I found worked best on the charcoal jersey for my machine (remember that the number scale and settings are different on every machine so don’t be tempted to blindly use my numbers….test test test on your scraps!):

When I use the reinforced straight stitch for seams that need lots of strength (this works well on some knits but it is too rough on delicate knits and can cause holes because the needle punches the same area three times):
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When I use the zig-zag stitch for major seams:

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81I didn’t take photos of my serger’s settings because it turned out that the stitches looked best on the Maple Leaf fabric that I used for my serged sample when I set the Differential Feed to “0”.  You might notice in the instruction booklet that I mention you should adjust the Differential Feed when sewing knits.  I think this wasn’t necessary for the Maple Leaf knit because it has very little stretch and acted more like a woven.

If you are confused about what I mean by Differential Feed, you need look no farther than this excellent blog explanation to have this dial de-mystified!

Are you raring to get sewing yet? We’ll get started on Thursday by sewing the trunk front which is the most fiddly bit of this really fast project.  Looking forward to it!