Linen-cotton Carolyn pants (2018 FO-20)

Non-pj Carolyn pants (2018 FO-20)

When I sewed my striped Carolyn pajama pants last month, I noted — and many of you chimed in — that they are surprisingly polished and 100% street-worthy, so I vowed at the time to try them in an equally street-worthy fabric. I still fully intend to make the navy-and-black piped linen pair, but these jumped ahead in the queue, and here’s why. Ever since relying so heavily on my black linen pants while traveling this past year+, and after seeing Martha’s natural linen pair on her recent trip, I got it in my head that I wanted to make myself a pair of Carolyns in natural linen — but I also didn’t want to buy fabric. Then when I was compiling and sorting my stash for the (ongoing) sewing room cleanup, I discovered just the thing.

Last summer, when ordering the fabric for my button-up, I had also bought two lengths of a linen-cotton blend that I assumed would be sort of a light shirting weight. I’d never unwrapped it or washed it; just added the tidy, ribbon-tied bundle to the stash. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was heavier than I thought. And after a wash, I was convinced it would work for these pants. Once I realized they’d be just the thing for a certain photo shoot last week, I somehow whipped them out one night in a fugue state. And then Hannah snapped this photo of me actually grinning at a camera. (I know.)

So what do I think of the pants? Here’s the thing: They have a lot of structure in terms of the pockets and the faux fly, and no part of that wants to gather really, once you install the elastic. (True of the pj-weight ones; even more so with a heavier fabric like this.) So what happens is the gathers collect in the little space between the pockets and the fly, almost like pleats. And in this light-colored fabric, that can wind up looking a little awkward in the crotch. In this photo, I’m conveniently striking a pose that counteracts the issue. It’s not terrible or a deal-breaker, but it does make them a Like rather than a Love. Still, it won’t deter me from making the navy pair!

Pattern: Carolyn Pajamas, view A (size 12, no mods, 2″ hem)
Fabric: Half Linen Solids from Miss Matatabi

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The ivory aran-gansey (FO 19)

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Hipster painter pants (2018 FO-12)

Hipster painter pants (2018 FO-12)

If you feel like you’ve seen these pants before, you have and you haven’t. These are the replacements for the previous natural pair that sadly shrank in the wash.* I’d been sorely missing having them to lean on all spring, and am thrilled to have a version back in my closet! They are both better and worse than the originals, in various ways. There’s no match for the incredible Huston Textile Union Cloth the originals were made of: Woven in California on a smaller loom, that cloth is chunkier and airier at the same time, and the fiber was CA-grown, climate-beneficial wool and organic cotton. Exquisite stuff. The ones above, on the other hand, are in some generic undyed canvas I bought at Elizabeth Suzann’s garage sale last summer for $2/pound (meaning these pants cost me about a buck), and it wears and hangs completely differently than the Huston cloth did. I feel great about the fact they’re 100% cotton remnant fabric, and even better about how genuinely not precious these are. I had said that I was not going to treat the originals as precious, and I’m saying the same about this pair, but it’s easier to feel that way when the fabric is, in fact, not precious! What I love about these pants in natural canvas is they’re like stylish painter’s pants, so that’s how I’ll be treating them.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I modified and sewed my waistbands on all of these “toddler pants” of mine, since I don’t use the Robbie waistband (or pockets). So I’ll do a write-up on my waistband method for The Details. After which, I’ll show you this sweater, as soon as I can get it written up! Details on the ikat tank are here.

By the way, happy #memademay! Are you participating in any way? I’m at a point where every month is me-made month, in a sense, so I’ll probably be pretty loose about how I chime in. Definitely, absolutely not taking 30 selfies. ;)

Pattern: Robbie Pant by Tessuti (reuse No. 5)
Modifications: self-drafted pockets, assorted tweaks, modified 2″ waistband
Fabric: remnant/unknown, 100% cotton natural/undyed canvas

*The fabric had been washed in hot water before it was given to me; I did not re-prewash, and I paid the price. And yes, I washed the finished pants on cool/delicates and air dried, despite their prewash. They shrank anyway — these things happen sometimes! The world carries on.

Idea Log: Not quite harem pants

Idea Log: Not quite harem pants

I have a longstanding longing for a pair of utterly perfect drop-crotch pants. Something slouchy and cool. Understated — not overly harem-ish. Definitely not Hammer pants. The other day I ran across the image above (middle left) on Pinterest, linked to a page where someone had dumped a ton of images with no credits, so I have no idea who designed them or was photographed wearing them or anything, but they are pretty damn dreamy. The mutton-leg shape is just the right proportion between the upper volume and the lower leg width, and omg those pockets. But even if I could locate and order them up, they’re still a little bit more voluminous than I probably really want to wear. They’re just such a polished example, something to strive for! My friend Kate alerted me to the Straight-Cut Sarouel Pants pattern pictured above (middle right), from Happy Homemade Sew Chic, and they look pretty promising. Especially this slightly modified pair. But basically I’m looking at these, my toddler pants pattern (modified Robbie) and Folkwear’s Japanese Field Pants pattern, and imagining what sort of hybrid I might be able to cook up. I have a few lucky yards of this lightweight fabric made from recycled denim that’s begging to become … these.

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: The pre-Spring sweater

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2017 FOs 14-16 : Pants and more pants

2017 FOs 14-16 : Pants and more pants

The most momentous thing for me this year, as a person trying to make most of her own clothes, was deciding to make pants as a part of my Summer of Basics. I think it’s at least as life-changing as having decided to make sweaters a few years ago. (Note that I’m saying “deciding” and not “learning” — making pants is sewing, and making sweaters is knitting. They are just different applications of those skills from what I had previously done, and it’s genuinely more about simply deciding to do it than anything else.) Up until a few months ago, the one giant piece of the wardrobe puzzle that I felt I couldn’t exert control over was pants. And that’s a big one for me since, A) I wear pants about 98% of the time, not being much of a skirts/dresses girl, B) I have fit issues with pants (most women’s pants don’t fit me) and C) I am incredibly picky about the shape of my pants. So to have such a key and complicated aspect of my wardrobe be at the mercy of others has been a lifelong challenge. And to have cracked that nut is enormous.

Certainly sewing jeans was a big effing deal, but these “toddler pants” (as I really need to stop calling them) have had a way more dramatic impact on my closet. And they’re so simple to make! Hence why I’ve now made 4 pairs of them. My lifelong preference is for wide-leg — I watched a lot of Katherine Hepburn movies when I was in high school — and that’s obviously a thing that comes and goes from stores. So I’ve always had to stock up when I find a pair I like. Which might also explain why I immediately cut out 3 more after making the first pair.

These are all essentially the same as my olive-green modified Robbie pants. To recap: I use the leg pieces from that pattern, with a few fit tweaks (noted below and previously), but with my own pockets and a 2″ waistband. Barring any dumb mistakes, I can cut and sew a pair in about 3 hours, so I’m tempted to cut up a lot more of my stash into these exact same pants. The exaggerated shape and utility pockets are both really current and really always-me, and the elastic waist suits my life. Not only do I do a lot of bending, lifting and hauling things, squatting or sitting crossed-legged on the studio floor shooting photos, etc., but comfort is just really critical to me. If I’m not comfortable in my clothes, I’m distracted by that, and with my daily to-do load I can’t afford to be distracted. So for all of those reasons and more, these pants have been a godsend.

2017 FOs 14-16 : Pants and more pants

FO 14: DENIM
These came right after the olive ones and are identical. After marking a change to the pattern to lower the waistline in the back, I forgot to actually do that when I cut them out. Whoops! I also bought stretch denim by accident (at Fancy Tiger while I was there) but just went with it. These are currently my favorite pants, but they are rather heavy in this heavy-weight stretch denim. Next pair will be lighter and non-stretch.

FO 15: NATURAL
When Kristine Vejar was in town to teach in September, she brought me the most thoughtful gift: a length of Huston Textile’s Union Cloth — climate-beneficial California wool and West Texas cotton, woven in California — that happened to be exactly enough for a pair of pants. It’s incredible fabric, unlike anything I’ve ever owned. And as you may have seen, I was sewing with it on the day of the Climate Beneficial Fashion Gala to console myself for not being able to be there — cruising along, feeling pretty pleased with myself … when I absentmindedly attached my waistband to the wrong side of the pants. And serged the seam allowance. If you’ve ever worked with fabric off a smaller loom like this — where there are fewer, larger strands per inch — you know how shreddy it is. And of course I had used a nice tight stitch. So ripping out the construction seam was a painstaking operation, done a little at a time, and then I had to actually cut off the serged edge to separate the waistband from the pants. So these wound up with a 1.5″ waistband instead of 2″, and they’re slightly lower waisted. But they’re kind of perfect, for all that. As special as they are, I’m going to try not to treat them as precious.  Although you probably won’t find me cross-legged on the studio floor in them …

FO 16: CAMO
These were the third to be cut, and their whole reason for existence is so I can wear my beloved old camo pants much more sparingly for however much longer they manage to last. These don’t begin to hold a candle to those spectacular old dears, but they’re pretty great. For this pair, I did lower the back waistline about an inch and I also trimmed away some of the “excess” fabric in the butt and legs (due to my flat ass). So the fit of them is a little more traditional, but I really prefer the baggier ones. This fabric is the dead opposite of the natural pair as far as origins — it’s made in China, purchased from JoAnn online. It’s also on the thin side for pants, despite the product reviews on the website. If anyone knows of a more earth-friendly, heavier duty camo source, please let me know!

To see copious pics of the denim and camo pairs on me, in combination with my other garments, see my 20×30 outfit recap. The natural ones up top are pictured with my Channel cardigan.

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Idea Log: Side pocket pants

Idea Log: Side pocket pants

I’m fixating on an idea that might not even be a good idea, I don’t know, but I can’t stop running scenarios in my brain. The final pick for my third Summer of Basics Make-along piece remains undecided. I still want it to be some kind of simple pants, but can’t quite decide what exactly. And of course I’m complicating matters by dreaming and scheming something that would require pattern work on my part, rather than just picking a pattern from the thousands out there. But the idea I’m locked onto at the moment is a pants version of Purl Soho’s Gathered Skirt for All Ages. (Which I’ve made twice unsuccessfully, in different ways — here and here— through no real fault of the pattern.) As we head into fall, my top sartorial priority is figuring out the cool-weather version of my black linen pants I’ve been wearing nonstop since April, so that’s what I want: easy, wide-legged, elastic-waist pants, but in a nice flannel or melton. (I have a lot of charcoal melton at my disposal.) And I love the pockets on that skirt. So I’m trying to work out how to pattern that. This is all slightly complicated by the fact that I’ve never sewn pants so don’t have any reservoir of knowledge or experience to draw on as far as pattern modification. But here’s what I’m thinking:

Couldn’t I take a really simple elastic-waist pants pattern — such as Sonya Philip’s Pants No. 1 — join the front and back pieces into one big flat wraparound piece, and from there work out how to carve out the center strip for the side panel/pocket? Or maybe those pants are square enough, straight-sided enough, that it would be even more straightforward than that to figure it out.

The real question is whether I have enough time for this little project to be part of my SoB 3 … I still have a lot to do on my fisherman and my Archer.

UPDATE: Savvy commenter @jddietrich has pointed to the Tofino Pants from Sewaholic that look like they could be the perfect starting point for this.

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

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