Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Sew Better Pants: 3 Tips to Improve Your Work

If sewing projects are mountains, pants are Mount Everest. Long, arduous, complicated. And maybe you'll freeze to death before you get to the end of your quest. Or something like that. Now that I've made quite a few pairs of pants, I find myself turning to the same tricks to make the process work better, so I thought it was time to share! For the purposes of this list, I'm referring to woven pants like Ginger Jeans or Hey June Seaforth Pants, not knit pants such as the Hudson Joggers.

TIP ONE: Reinforce the waistband

File this one under "things I learned the hard way". We've all been there. We've skipped interfacing entirely or we've chosen something too lightweight. The waistband stretches, or rolls, or bags out. It's worth taking some time to experiment with different weights of interfacing to get a feel for how sturdy one is over the other. In my experience, when in doubt use a strong weight, in the waistband AND the facing. 

Compare these two pairs of Winslow Culottes:

The top pair has a single layer of interfacing (it's a fold over waistband, but I only interfaced half of it). You can see from the photo that it collapses on itself, even just laying on a table. The pink pair, I interfaced the entire waistband before folding it over, resulting in a double layer of interfacing and fabric. This pair is MUCH sturdier and functions far better.

TIP TWO: Study wrinkles

This is a fun tip, because it requires you to stare at your butt and your crotch. You can do this in a mirror, but it might be easier to take photos and study them with a fitting resource. My first choice is the pants fitting guide from Closet Core Patterns, but Pants for Real People is great too.  Just remember that you'll never eliminate all wrinkles, that some must be there in order to give you the proper ease. Fit is a continuous learning process, our bodies grow and change and you will need to adapt to those changes. 

TIP THREE: Be okay with failure

This tip is tough to swallow. Making pants is a big investment in time and resources, and it's frustrating to spend time on something only to call it a failure. I went back to 2014 to pull the above photo, and frankly it's difficult for me to look at directly (those pants are SO BAD). The truth is, minimal progress is still progress, and if you learn even one thing from a pair of pants that is wearable, you've succeeded. I made countless pairs of jeans, over YEARS, before I had a pair I wore regularly. The truth is, if you want to get better at something, you have to fail first!

BONUS TIP: Take notes. Lots of notes.

Everyone has their own method for recording pattern changes...and sometimes that method is "Faulty Memory". Even if you cut or change your paper pattern, if you don't take notes on those changes it's difficult to let other sewists know what you had to do to get your fit right. When I'm being good, I use my Sewist's Notebook to write down every fit change I've made to a pattern (spilling coffee on it is optional). Not only does that help me with a blog or Instagram post, but next time, if I want to change things again, I know what I've already done. Filling out the notebook at the end of a project is the perfect way to wipe my mental slate clean and move on to the next thing.

What are your hot tips for making pants? Let me know in the comments below!

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