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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