Is it still unselfish sewing when you get the knowledge, even if you don’t keep the garment? Of course it is!
Finishing this project kept me on a serious sewing high for a good week. I made real, true pants!
Let me introduce you to the Jutland Pants, Variation 2 (cargo pants) by Thread Theory Designs, Inc.
I made these for my husband, and I think they are a success! I don’t measure success by perfection. In this case, success meant finishing the project and producing a wearable garment that fit well enough to be worn. I’ve made leggings before, but I’ve never successfully made fitted pants. I dimly remember an unwearable pair that I attempted for myself before I really got into sewing and an unfortunate craft fail, but this is my first finished pair of fitted pants that…fit.
So, let’s talk details. What I really wanted to create was an awesome pair of pants like these ones from Duluth Trading Company. The inspiration pants have all sorts of special features and although I didn’t include all the possible options in this first home sewn pair (like lining, knee pads, or a crotch gusset), between the pattern and the Thread Theory website, you can learn how to put all these cool extras into your pants. When I saw this pattern at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH, I knew it was one that I wanted. Thread Theory patterns are not cheap, but in making these pants, I felt that, more than any other independent pattern I have tried, this one offers great value for my money. This is something I couldn’t make up on my own, print for free off the internet, or easily find from another company. There probably are other cargo pant patterns out there and while I make many “Big 4” patterns, I was really glad to have the more individualized support that Thread Theory offers. They have a sew-along on their blog and in the two instances when I got tripped up and e-mailed Morgan (one of the owners), she got back to me and answered my questions.
As far as all the fabric and notions went, I bought duck canvas on sale from Joann’s for my main fabric. My original plan had been to get some really nice canvas, but then I thought that I ought to start with something cheaper for my first try. The lady cutting my fabric looked really doubtful when I told her I was going to use it for pants. She told me it was the kind of canvas you used to make bags like you might get at L.L. Bean. It really shook my confidence, but I got the duck canvas anyway. In the end, it worked out great! Encouragement, people! That really would have been preferable! I also got a metal zipper that was as close as possible to the size called for, but a little longer because I couldn’t find the exact size. I bought medium weight fusible interfacing and a jeans button from Joann’s. I had Velcro, bias tape, and something that I hoped was broadcloth or another suitable pocket material in my stash. I didn’t line the pants.
Unlike nearly every sewing project I’ve ever done, I actually made a muslin for this one. I had an old sheet that came in handy for this. I took all my husband’s measurements and then made up a sample without the extras like the cargo pockets, knee patches, and hem reinforcements. The added benefit of the muslin, besides checking the sizing, was that I could practice a few areas like the fly and the main pockets. It turned out that the muslin was mostly right, but after evaluation, we shortened the pants by about an inch and made a straight size instead of grading between two sizes.
This is definitely a complex pattern and I thought more than once that I was glad I hadn’t been the one who had to design it and then figure out how to communicate the directions for sewing it. You can tell that a lot of work went into creating this pattern. There were times when I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, so I had to turn the questioning part of my brain off and just follow the directions. Luckily, they didn’t lead me wrong.
Here are some “in progress” shots:
The two questions I wrote to Morgan about had to do with how to shorten a metal zipper (Could I really just use the waistband as the top stop rather than trying to remove teeth with pliers? Yes, thank goodness!) and if I was supposed to do a second line of stitching on the seat seam as pictured (You can, but you don’t have to and it complicates things if you are doing a lining.). For the zipper, she recommended leaving at least one metal tooth above the seamline and letting the zipper tape extend into the seam allowance by about a centimeter. At that point, you can cut off the excess. I hand-cranked my machine when I went over the teeth just to be safe and avoid breaking needles. This was a billion times easier than trying to take out teeth with pliers!
Concerning the second question, here is what Morgan said (I hope it’s ok to quote her–it will be more accurate and less confusing than if I paraphrase): “I didn’t end up including this in the instructions due to how it might complicate things when sewing the lining. I usually stitch the seat seam by clipping the seam allowance at the base of the fly just as you describe. I stitch rather than pressing the seat seam so that the seam allowances stay to one side. Depending on the fabric I am using, the seam just under the fly can look a little bit ‘warbled’. If this is the case, I clip one seam allowance a couple of inches below the fly so that they can sit pressed open rather than both pressed to one side.” I did the extra line of stitching before she was able to get back to me (because I was impatient) and while it was mostly ok, it did turn out a little funny, like she mentioned. After being worn a few times, though, it’s not noticeable any more.
When I finished, the most amazing thing happened. I was proud. I was so excited. But mostly…I was grateful.
I feel grateful.
I’m grateful that I get to sew. I know it’s a privilege that I have the time to improve my skills in something besides cooking for my family (let’s just leave housework out of this). We may not have a ton of extra money (we don’t), but we have been blessed enough that we have been able to make it, somehow, even though I have been home, and thanks to God’s blessing and the public school system that my kids are able to attend, I can do this. I don’t get all the housework done and, alternately, I don’t get to sew all day every day, but for this time in my life, I have been able to sew enough and have had the support and friendships to enable me to get my skills up to the point that I made my husband a complicated pair of pants. Maybe I won’t be able to sew forever or even want to, but for now, I’m really, really grateful to God, my family and friends, and now to Thread Theory that I made a pair of pants that my husband likes and wears.
I promise nothing about the length of my blog post when I finally make myself jeans. 😉
The icing on the cake is that sometimes, my husband wears this:
I made his shirt and pants! I’m so proud. Now to get over my fear of making myself pants…and to conquer bathing suits…and sew all the things!!!!
And don’t you think these need a clever leather tag on the back? I’m taking suggestions for what it should say! Leave yours in the comments!
- Just when you think you’re an INDIVIDUAL something like these awesome, AWESOME biker-style jeans comes along…and you just want to copy them. I want these jeans.
- Double Chocolate Banana Bread (recipe from Smitten Kitchen). I was skeptical, but it’s so good! If it’s from Smitten Kitchen, that will probably always be the case.
- More Christopher Walken. More Jimmy Fallon. More Will Farrell. More Cowbell!