Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sewing Project: Simplicity 1879 shorts

I'm uber tired of waiting for my new camera cord, when I have projects to show you that I'm excited about. Does anyone say uber anymore? I'm so old.

You'll have to suffer through some less-than-stellar iPad photos of this project because I can't wait any longer! I made shorts! With a lapped zipper! And they fit! And now it's cold and rainy and I can't wear them. Isn't it always the way?


The pattern is Simplicity 1879.


And you know what? It's time for me to admit that the person who writes the instructions for Simplicity is not from the same planet as me. Maybe it's a problem with Lisette patterns, because I had trouble with Simplicity 2209 as well. It took me about two days to get through the first two steps in this pattern. I had a horrible time figuring out how to make those cute pleats on the front. The only way I managed was by staring at this photo on Flickr and mimicking what I saw. Even then, I accidentally made both pleats fold over the same way (left over right), instead of mirroring one another.

Front pleat detail

No matter. In the future, I'll ignore the instructions and fold it until it looks right. The fabric I used for these shorts is a fantastic grey chambray that I ordered from Fabric.com last year. I used less than a yard of 54" fabric (partly because I cut my facings from a contrast quilting cotton I had in my stash) and I may be able to eek out another pair of shorts for me, or at least some for AB.

Remember how terrible my experience was with my first zipper attempt? I think I've finally conquered my fear! Just look at this wonderful lapped zipper!

Lapped zipper success!

Here was another instance of the directions not working for me. The only way I pulled off the miracle of inserting this zipper was by following the instructions in this Craftsy video for lapped zippers. I'm the kind of person who likes to know all the steps ahead of time, and why I'm doing them, but with zippers I'd given up on that. I literally did each step exactly as shown in the video, without caring why or trying to "figure it out" and viola, perfect zipper. Well, except that my overlapped portion goes the wrong way. In the grand scheme of things, that's a minor detail to me. I put in a zipper y'all!!!

Something else I "accomplished" with this project was pretty insides as well as out. Confession. I hate finishing seams. That's part of the reason why I sew with knits. With wovens, I typically pink the seam allowances and call it a day. Laaaaaazy. With these shorts, I resolved to be a better craftsman and finish my seams well. I wasn't sure what would be the best method, so I turned to my previous two issues of Threads (February/March and April/May) because they were running a series on seam finishes. I read them over and decided on pressing under each seam allowance and edgestitching it down to itself.

Inside view

If that doesn't make sense, I recommend looking in the magazine for all the details. The only seam I could not finish in this method was the crotch seam, since it's curved. For that seam, I stitched a second row of zigzag stitches and then pinked it for good measure. It was tricky finishing the seam underneath the zipper, but I managed.

Inside view of zipper

I've made shorts before, for AB, and so I already knew that stitching in the ditch and catching the inside waistband facing was going to be hard for me. I decided to try my blind hem foot on my sewing machine. I think I read that tip somewhere, but now I can't remember? Maybe I had a stroke of genius?

Right side up of shorts. Waistband 
to the right of the needle.

If you look in the very center of this photo, you'll see a curved bump. This bump pushes the waistband seam out of the way just enough for the needle to enter underneath the waistband, or exactly into "the ditch" of the seam. I can't even tell you how perfect it looks. HOWEVER, I'm not positive that my machine meant for it to happen. I had to move my needle to the center position (normally it's at the left) and according to my manual,  with this foot I'm only supposed to use a blind hem stitch, not the straight stitch I used here. I tested it first by turning my hand crank and making sure nothing crazy happened. The needle just barely cleared the small bump, and a few times it went on the wrong side or hit the foot. When it came to bulky areas, I turned the hand crank rather than using the foot pedal and blazing through. If you try this approach, be sure to read your manual and test first. And maybe wear protective eye gear if you're terrified of a broken needle flying off in your face, like I am (does that actually happen?? someone tell me no).

I made these shorts partly as a staple for Me Made May, and partly as a warm-up for the Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers which I'm tackling next. At my first fitting, before inserting the zipper, I had some gaping in the back waistband when I bent down, and I didn't know how to fix it (the waistband was already on) without ripping the whole thing apart. So, depressed, I carried on without alterations, and magically it all worked out. With the zipper inserted, I had no more gaping and these shorts fit like a dream in a straight size six. BUT. Or should I say BUTT, with a cuffed leg they were SHORT.

Cuffed on left, uncuffed on right.

It might not look too bad in this photo when I'm standing, but if I bent over there was too much showing for me to feel decent. I measured the inseam with the cuff and it was a mere 2 inches. For reference, I found the smallest pair of RTW shorts I own and measured the inseam on those, and it was 3 inches. Unless I'm blind, the envelope doesn't list the inseam measurement anywhere, so don't say I didn't warn you! I ended up doing a large hem instead of a cuff. It gave me enough length to feel covered without going too far into dowdy-land. And I'm pretty sure there's a misprint in the instructions for making the cuffs, because they made no sense. But after the zipper fiasco, I'm thinking it might be me and my inability to speak Lisette-ese.

Also, when I hemmed them the legs ended up two different lengths. I made my hems the same depth but I guess I cut the pattern pieces slightly off. Be sure to measure your inseams and make sure they match before hemming. Lesson learned!

All in all, I'm happy with these shorts and expect to wear them a lot this summer. They don't have pockets, so that's a bummer, but the chambray looks fancier than denim anyway so the dressy pocket-less design works fine. Maybe next time I'll be bold enough to put a pocket into the side seam that has no zipper. Anyone else working on shorts? Should I give up on buying Lisette patterns?

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