‘Tis the season…

Bike shorts!

To make bike shorts, apparently.

For once, I was not planning on jumping on the bandwagon. Beangirl made them for her kids. Joy made them for hers. But I was strong! I had no particular desire at ALL to make such a simple, prosaic item. Besides, my kids have lots of shorts and leggings.

But this weekend it was Syo’s turn to get a garment, and Syo wanted, of all things, bike shorts.

This is a piece of fabric that she picked out, herself, several months back, and has been patiently waiting for me to make up. “How about a nice dress?” I suggested.

“Bike shorts,” she said.

“A twirly skirt?”

“Bike shorts, mom.”

“It would make a really nice T-shirt.”

“MOM!”

Bike shorts it was…

First problem, of course, is that I don’t have anything resembling a children’s leggings pattern. Obviously I could’ve gone and found/bought/downloaded a kids’ leggings pattern, or just traced off an existing pair, but what fun would that be?

Enter Metric Pattern Cutting, a copy of which I tracked down in my panic after the disappearance of Modern Pattern Design. Although it doesn’t have quite as many nifty vintage details as Pepin’s, this book is amazing in its own way. All the usual dart-manipulation stuff. More blocks than you can shake a stick at. Information on standard sizing and grading, as well as drafting custom blocks. And it has directions for drafting knit blocks, including leggings.  Now all I need are the menswear and childrenswear versions, but anyway.

I managed to wrangle Syo into letting me take a ridiculous number of measurements, and then trotted off to attempt to draft up the shorts. The MPC draft is, of course, intended for an adult. Using it for a kid-size pattern is  not the smartest course, but I figured for something as simple and forgiving as leggings I would risk it. It wasn’t too hard to figure out where I needed to reduce the suggested measurements.

Leggings block and shorts pattern

Anyway, it took perhaps half an hour to draft up the pattern (including time to hunt down my yardstick, which had vanished behind the livingroom bookshelf). For once my square and French Curve were where I left them, which is a minor miracle. And, in comparatively short order, we had a pair of bike shorts. I did have to lower the waistband by a good inch/inch and a half, as the draft makes it at the natural waist, and my children will have none of that.

Of course, the evil monkey had to dash off to a sleepover before they were quite finished, so I don’t have pictures of them actually on her yet… Grrr… But from the in-progress fittings, I promise they fit very, very well.

In other news, I’ve been messing around with computer pattern drafting, too, (there is THIS free program by a Burdastyle member, which is all right but a bit fiddly, but you can do a fair amount just with Inkscape or Illustrator) and have been thinking of sharing some of the patterns I’ve come up with that way, as it’s a lot less work than trying to scan and trace patterns I’ve drafted on paper. Would anybody be interested in some of that? My big weakness, of course, remains grading, but I’m hopeful that Metric Pattern Cutting will help with that…

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “‘Tis the season…

  1. Oh no! Now I might have to make some too! Myra needs some green ones to go with th e tunic-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-dress and I’ve been avoiding it in favor of fun things (like bellbottoms) but if even you caved… sigh, I’m probably next.
    They are darn cute, and go you for drafting them!

    • On the plus side, even including drafting, I doubt we could’ve shopped for these in less time than it took to make them. I doubt I’ll be making a lot more, though… Though you never know…

  2. Modern Pattern Design is archived in the Wayback machine! If you hadn’t mentioned it I wouldn’t have realized the site was still down, or gone looking. The entire VintageSewing.info site is there :)

    • Is it working again? I’ve tried that site several times over the last couple of weeks, and sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t and then I fear that everything’s lost for good. :(

      • The Vintagesewing.info site is still down, but it’s archived. That’s what the Wayback machine is, a giant internet archive for stuff that would otherwise disappear. And I found it :D

  3. I’m impressed with your drafting prowess! Go you!

    Count me as one person who would love to see your patterns.

  4. Patterns? From you? Well, yeah, I would be interested. How could I not?

    Funny that you are posting about leggings and bike shorts today. Just yesterday I came to the conclusion that Sarah really needs some leggings for this summer. And I have been thinking about whether I wanted to sew them or just buy them. Hmmz. It’s such boring sewing ofcourse. On the other hand, it’s instant gratification as well. Oh well.

  5. What is it with girls and leggings (short or long)? Meg wears them with on their own and with everything – under shorts, under dresses, under skirts, under school uniform. I guess they must find them comfy and liberating. I made up a few pairs for Meg a few weeks ago in between coat making. Fortunately I had a pattern though.

    • I remember when I was seven very sadly concluding that I needed to give up wearing skirts to school, as I liked going upside-down on the playground more than I liked wearing skirts. It was a harsh realization. Obviously what I needed was a bunch of bike shorts, too…

      • Somehow, I can’t remember bike shorts being available for general wear, at the time you were seven. I think they were probably perceived to be the domain of competitive cyclists, and probably only came in shiny lycra.

        • No… there were definitely leggings, though I don’t know that I had any at that point. My favourite was that little dress-and-bloomers set, for just that reason. :)

  6. Lucy

    Ooooh, Inkscape is wonderful, isn’t it?! Possibly my favourite piece of software on my laptop! I feel quite contrite that I had to be bullied into getting it by my fourth year project supervisor last year. Function Plotter and TeX-text were/are my primary needs, along with a compunction to make everything neat and un-pixellated when importing into LaTeX.

    But I digress. I too have considered pattern drafting using it, although at the minute my hatred of printing and taping is outweighing my love of Bezier curves. It is good for blog diagrams.

    (/geek)

    • I still prefer pixel-based programs for the most part, but for stuff like this, Inkscape is pretty great. I even like it more than Illustrator for a lot of things. (I find Illustrator pretty but often counterintuitive.)

  7. As our weather is getting colder I am feeling the leggings love for myself too! I drafted my own pattern, custom fit to myself a while back. Incidentally, you are the first person in blogland who has referred to ‘blocks” instead of the ubiquitous “sloper”. We use both terms here interchangeably. Interesting!

    • I think it depends on what I’ve been reading most recently :)

      In my head there’s a bit of a distinction between sloper (a personalized, easeless pattern) and block (a draft for a particular style, eg. jacket or dress or trousers, still lacking particular style details), but I suspect that distinction is entirely inside my own head. ;)

  8. I just ordered the children’s version of Metric Pattern Cutting but it hasn’t arrived. I have a couple of ideas I’m trying to bring to fruition. I’ll have to order the adult version, too. I’ve heard good things about it.

  9. Joy

    Bike shorts is a very gratifying bandwagon. I’m about to cut out some more pairs because my girls think they are SOOOO comfortable! I just made myself jeggings. Something I never thought I’d do. But they are GREAT!

    I have the children’s and women’s version of the metric drafting books. They’re very fun. But the more I draft the deeper appreciation I have for the good commercial patterns (: The one complaint I have of the books is that the slopers seem to have more ease than you’d expect – not as bad as 1980′s, but at least 1980′s. My “negative ease” t-shirt draft was hardly even fitted.

    • That’s good to know about the drafts. The leggings turned out very snug, but then that’s an (almost) adult amount of negative ease on a much smaller amount of fabric…

  10. Oh yes, I would be interested in your patterns ! I’m also trying to improve my drafting skills, so I am perhaps even more interested in your process. It’s really hard to find someone who wants to talk about dart manipulation !

  11. may i say, in my most loving tone, you are batshit crazy?

  12. Amy

    I’m curious about grading, I have no idea where to start. I’ve never used Inkscape but use Illustrator for other stuff and taught myself how to draft patterns in it. It’s so fun! Total computer nerd here. (If only I didn’t have to paste all the sheets together!) I use the Lydia pattern as my block and manipulate it into all sorts of other things.

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