Pattern: Colette Patterns Juniper
Difficulty: Easy…the fitting and the unexpected problems were hard!
I would definitely suggest this one for someone who has never made pants before (like me) because the directions are easy and you learn about pockets. Plus the website has a cool tutorial on adjusting for long waist (like me) or short waist and some troubleshooting suggestions. Which I definitely used because I ran into a little trouble with fitting, since these are the first pants I’ve ever attempted. In fact, I wore them today for the first time and I really think I should use the belt loop tutorial because the waist is still a little too wide for me.
These pants are so cute I couldn’t wait to dive in. I had a cotton woven that was just perfect. I’m enough of a newbie I’m still not sure what I used, but it sort of looks like a lightweight twill, and it sure looked like pants fabric to me so I went with it.
First, like with any woven, the edges of the pieces needed to be finished. I chose a zigzag because it’s quick and easy and I just don’t like pinking shears very much. After finishing the edges of the pants pieces, I followed the directions and constructed my first ever pants pockets. I’ve been doing patch pockets for my purses, which are easy. Patch pockets are what they sound like- you cut out a square, hem it, and sew it on the surface of your fabric, patching over top. These pockets are different- they have two sides that are attached to the front of the pants and then had to be sewn together. I chose this cute little purple ditzy flower print that Grandma had given me long ago. It’s probably a leftover from a sundress she made. It was perfect!
The back was sewn to the little piece that fits over the hip. The front was sewn to the leg. Then, the pocket pieces are sewn together. Taking both sides of the pocket, front and pack, I stitched them together with right sides facing.
It was neat, because I never realized that it was so easy to do pockets that way. Then I attached the pockets to the front of the legs and at that point, my zipper was going in. It took me several attempts, but eventually I got the zipper where it needed to go.
In the photo, you can see the pockets together and the front hip piece is folded down over them. When they are worn, it will be upright and attach on the waist band.
Putting it Together
Construction with these pants went pretty fast; leg seams are long and straight and that was awesome.
The back of the pants had a couple of darts, which went in surprisingly easily. Sometimes my darts end up not quite the same length and I have to adjust them. I’m not sure how I do this, I try to be careful….but it doesn’t always work and my marking seems to end up inaccurate sometimes. I used my hem gauge (think little bitty ruler with a sliding stop to mark your spot) to make sure they were the right length after marking and I think that helped. You’d think it would be obvious, perhaps, to do that checking, but remember, I’m still kind of new at this whole sewing thing…and I do some really dumb things in my eagerness to make cool stuff!
Once I had the main body of the pants together, the waistband was next. Like a lot of sewing projects, a little interfacing was required to stiffen up the waistband. The waistband was seven parts, doubles of the left, right and back, with interfacing cut from each, too, sandwiched in between. Every pattern I’ve worked with seems to take a different approach to the order of work and the best way to construct something. I really liked the instructions on the pattern because I think if I were to approach it without them, this is how I would go about the waistband. Sew the side seams of the front portion of the left, right and back, and do the same for the back portion, and then attach some fusible interfacing by ironing it on. Then sew along the top, lining up your seams to match, fold over and iron it down. I wish I’d taken some photos of this process, but you know how it is- you’re in the zone, and you just go until the process is done.
Trouble in Paradise
When the waistband was together and I pinned it in place, and then tried them on…uh oh. There was this detail I had forgotten. I am what we call “long waisted” which means most pants don’t fit me because there are a lot of inches between my waistband and my crotch seams. This is part of the reason I’m making pants in the first place. Off the rack pants and I don’t get along too well- in fact, all my pants come from two stores and two stores only, because nothing else fits. Heaven help me if those stores go out of business!
Being long-waisted is tricky and I forgot to account for it. Naturally, I had already sewn most of the pants together.
What I should have done was measure myself and then compare to the length of the pant waistband and crotch on the pattern, before cutting any fabric. Then I could have cut the pieces apart where they needed lengthening, which was between the crotch and where the waistband attached. Then added a strip of paper for each leg piece, thereby adding inches by taping the paper strip on in the middle of those cut pieces, making it longer where it counted.
What I did to fix my stupid mistake (remember, first pair of pants! Learn from my mistake!) was took them apart at the crotch seam, re-cut them deeper in the crotch, to accommodate my length, and basted them back together. Basting has nothing to do with turkeys, by the way, it’s what we call quick stitches with a hand sewing needle and thread to hold something together temporarily and it’s more reliable than pinning, because pins like to fall out when you try your garment on. Then you step on them and wonder why you didn’t baste when you should have.
The only reason this fix worked was because the legs were so long I was going to need to remove several inches from the bottom anyway. Lucky, lucky me that it worked.
I then moved on to the waistband at last!
The pinned version looked a trifle plain, so I decided to add some 1/4″ navy bias tape that I had from an earlier project that I never used the tape on.
The tape was not so easy to attach, as I am somewhat inexperienced with this kind of trim. After a false start or two, I basted it on the pockets, and then carefully sewed it on with the machine. I did that so the trim would stay put and I could put it on without disaster striking. So far, so good. I did some decorative stitches around below the tape, inspired by blue jeans. I did the same thing around the top of the legs and hips, before I attached the waistband. Going well….until the very end when my material got pulled into the feed dogs by the needle, which happens sometimes. Feed dogs are these gear-like things on the sewing machine that move your fabric through, under the needle, and out the other side. My fabric got pretty stuck; the trim was in there, the waistband and the lower portion of the backside of the legs. I carefully extracted it, and then inspected the damage. Oh, no.
There was a hole in the butt. Big enough to be obvious and let the world know what color undies I was wearing.
I studied the hole. It was only 1/4″ from the waistband I had just about finished attaching. I was so close to the finish line I could just about weep.
I tried a needle and thread, to patch the hole. I had successfully done this on a dress strap that had snagged on a nail hole before I had renovated my studio. When I got done…you could still tell it was a big ugly hole that had been patched. I said some cuss words.
There was no help for it. I took the waistband most of the way off, picked apart the crotch seam, the left leg on both sides, inseam and outer, and moved the whole back side of the left leg up to cover the hole. That was a lot of work, but it did fix the problem.
I reattached the bias tape, the waistband, and then made a few more adjustments to the fit. Whew.
Finally, I hemmed the pants. My hemming method is pretty easy- I take the pants I already own and that are right length, and compare them to the ones I am working on, and then pin them up to where they need to be. The pattern suggested hand sewing the hem, so I did, and it does look nice. I removed about 2 inches of fabric to shorten them to the right length. You always want to remove the excess fabric and leave yourself about an inch or two for your hem. You aren’t going to get taller, probably, and won’t need to make them longer. You should ditch that extra fabric to reduce bulk once you’ve got your hem length figured out.