Tag Archives: shorts

Hallowe’en Spotlight: lace-up leather shorts

Lace-Up Shorts

It’s been a Hallowe’en sweatshop around here for the last little while. Last weekend was devoted to, as Steph of 3 Hours Past has put it, sewing with hammers. I spent Sunday with the kids at my mother’s, working on the goggles, and also Syo’s lace-up shorts. Rivets and grommets and wire, oh my.

I was already using McCall’s 5312 for the kids’ tailcoats (more on that later), so I decided to use the pants also included in that crime of a pattern.

Cutest pattern ever?

OK, I’ve whined about McCall’s 5312 before. Despite their supremely cute illustration, these McCall’s “Sassy Girl” patterns are dumbed down almost to the point of not being worth the time, IMO. I hate dumbed-down, simplified patterns.*

On the other hand, that makes them perfect for costume patterns, right? This might be why I hate making costumes…

Anyway, since I had the pattern out, I figured it would be a good candidate for Syo’s shorts—basic pants, no pockets, no waistband to worry about.

Laces!

I traced off the size 7 as shorts, and cut them out from my fake leather. This was my first time working with vinyl, and not being able to pin really threw me for a loop. It’s funny, because I tend to think I don’t use pins much. Well, working on this high lighted every single instance I reach for them. Closepins were helpful, but not really satisfying. I made about half the shorts on my machine, and half over at my mother’s; her old Pfaff has one thing none of my machines have—a roller foot. It made a BIG difference in sewing with the vinyl, especially for the topstitching bits. Topstitching was essential since I couldn’t exactly press this stuff in any meaningful way. I also used a lot of Wonder Tape.

Back darts

I used a very quick ‘n dirty pants-fitting method for these where I sewed them up sans darts and then added the rear darts by pinching to fit. I skipped the front darts, which really don’t make any sense to me when fitting any kind of a rounded tummy—something I’d say about 90% of kids have. Though, I don’t think the darts I wound up sewing are hugely different from the original pattern darts. And, yes, they’re pointy. I’m not worrying myself about it.

Front view

To make the laced sides, I just folded over the edge about 2 cm (I ended up folding the front edges over a further 2 cm) to make the placket, topstitched, and added a “modesty panel” attached to the back side. She was not thrilled about this, having wanted “real lacing,” which apparently doesn’t have fabric behind it. She can deal, at least until she’s eighteen. Not that she would ever not be wearing leggings and tights underneath for a Hallowe’en costume. This is Canada, after all. And not one of the warmer bits of Canada. (Although comfortingly free of both earthquakes and hurricanes. I hope all you easterners are doing OK with Sandy.)

Grommets

We added the grommets last. Actually, Syo did the front grommets more-or-less on her own, since by then my fingers were so sore from setting the back ones (plus all the goggle-making). It took her a while, but she got them done, only one ending up a bit distorted. I’m not sure why I am always startled by her strength and coordination. You’d think I’d have it figured out by now.

Back View

I don’t know if it’s a “good fit”, but they stay on, come up more or less to where she wanted them, and the gap between the lacing is a good width. So, really, I should probably apologize to McCall’s 5312. It really came through for me this time.

Except that I just made two tailcoats out of the jacket pattern, and, well, I’ll go into that later. Not horrific, just dumbed down and predictably bad.

And, sorry for the fuzzy iPhone photos. My mom’s house has gorgeous backdrops but terrible light, and I keep forgetting to take my real camera along.

*Note: I have nothing against simple patterns, where simple is called for. What annoys me is patterns for intricate designs that are simplified to make them “easier”, generally at the expense of fit and style.

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Shorts for the shortie

Almost-undies

One of the things I traced off last week was Jalie 3022, a cute yoga-pants pattern.

In the shorts length.

In sizes for my kids.

This allows me to use up yet more teeny knit scraps, test out the pattern, and, in all probability, contribute to my children’s chronic habit of dressing extremely inappropriately for the weather.

So, over the last week, I managed, in approximately five-second intervals, to get a pair of the shorts together for Syo. I traced of the size J pattern, in shorts length, making no adjustments on this initial pair. This is the equivalent of the size 6, for my nearly-nine-year-old, but it matched her measurements and the fit is pretty much spot on.

I should, however, have remembered that Jalie drafts for the flat-of-butt. Syo’s derriere is not quite as J-Lo-esque as her older sister’s, but it’s still decently protruberant. The rise in the front is good, even a little high, but the rise in the back is a bit meager. And, while the shorts version is pretty short, I don’t actually think the bottom of her butt is supposed to be hanging out. And there’s a wee bit of wedgie action going on.

None of which prevented her from bouncing up and down upon seeing them, squealing “Mommy made me booty shorts!”. She has also slept in them every night since, and worn them to school under her (very) skinny jeans because she forgot to take them off, so they must be fairly comfortable. It’s also why they look a bit stretched out and beat up in the photo…

As to the pattern itself…

The main feature that makes this pattern a little different is the additional vertical seam down the back. This allows for a bit more shaping in the butt region, not to mention lets me use even smaller scraps of fabric to make up the shorts. It does increase the construction time a wee bit.

I took some major liberties with the waistband, partly due to fabric limitations and partly due to not having a nice contrast-fabric to make the oramental panel on the outside. I just cut the single, inside piece, and folded it over around some wide elastic. This worked, but it didn’t produce a particularly nice waistband—partly because the waistband elastic I had on hand was a bit heavy for the purposes, and partly because my fabric is not overly stretchy, so rather than easing neatly to the waistband it’s pretty harshly gathered. it looks fine on, though. I have since actually read the instructions, and they make much more sense and give a much nicer finish, calling for a narrow, 1 cm elastic to be attached inside the top of the waistband. So don’t judge the pattern by the crap-tacle I made of the waistband.

I used a faux-athletic-looking stitch for hemming the legs. I will note this is the first time I’ve successfully hemmed this particular, rolly fabric without adding elastic or a band. I stitched the hem from the wrong side so I could flatten out the rolling manually as I went, and it worked really well, but obviously wouldn’t’ve been possible if I’d wanted to use a twin needle topstitch, for example.

All in all these are a quick, not terribly nicely-finished test piece. But Syo seems completely happy with them. I’m not sure how many booty shorts my kids need (they actually cover less of her butt than some of her underwear), but it’s a great way of using up spare fabric, especially little teeny bits. And yes, she wears them with the matching bralette from the photo.

I have a pair ready for Tyo, too, but I’ll do a separate post on them once I get her to try them on…

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Who wears short shorts?

Shorts! ...ulp.

Um, I do. For a very long time a 1″ inseam was my standard. And while I’ve gotten considerably more shy about my midriff over the past decade, my legs have stood the test of time up much better. They remain one of my favourite physical features. (Not to toot my own horn)

Of course, the last few years I haven’t had much opportunity to wear shorts, period. The summers here are, well, chilly by my standards (blame elevation or proximity to the mountains or just a run of bad luck); it only broke 30C once last summer. Add that to spending my days in an air-conditioned lab and, well, shorts just kinda got left for weekends and visits home. (The two or possibly three people reading this from my home town can protest all you like that your summers have been beastly the last couple of years. They were still better than the summers here.)

Lekala 5465 Sailor Shorts, pattern here.

Anyway, my shorts history aside, this seemed like a good way to tackle the fit of the Lekala pants block without sacrificing a huge amount of fabric (obviously I was not thinking in terms of topstitching- and machine-rethreading-time). I may also have been feeling kid-project-ed-out. Or possibly crack smoking was involved*. Anyway. For whatever reason (reason really played no role in this decision), the other day I found myself printing out the pattern (only nine pages!) and laying out the pieces on the denim remnant left over from my bellbottoms.

One bonus to this particular set of pants is that the directions on the Lekala website have, in fact, been translated to English. Now, I think translating sewing directions has to be one of the hardest things in the world, as the technical terms are both a) highly specialized and b) unique to each language (translating scientific stuff, on the other hand, is much easier, since most of the important words come from Latin anyway. I don’t speak a word of German but can still often pull the major details I need out of a German research paper. Not so a German issue of Burda.) All that being said, I made it to about halfway through step 6 before my brain blew out. I had no idea what they were trying to get me to do.

What exactly are you telling me to do?

So I stood there with my pieces, laying one on top of the other, this way up, that way up, trying to figure out what to do.

There was a slit involved. I knew that much.

In the end I didn’t do it exactly right—the piece which they call the “Fly Panel Facing” (this would’ve been more helpful if the names of the pieces on the pattern hadn’t still been written in Cyrillic) is supposed to lap out and make a little overlap on the front, which I didn’t get. I’m still not sure how you would make the bottom of that neat, by the way, without adding a crapload of bulk, anyway). But I did manage to get the fly panel and the four “inner front parts” together. I am too lazy to actually put together a tutorial for how I did it—if you really feel the need to make this pattern, I can do one, but I’d really recommend you make the 5742 pants into shorts instead. Or use this tutorial for creating a sailor-button look with a continuous lap placket. Or even pay for the Hot Patterns pattern (which I haven’t used but have seen some very nice pairs made up). Or, y’know, email me and I’ll do my best.

WTF?

What it basically came down to, though, is that you end up with a slash down the middle of each front piece, with the “Fly Panel Facing” making a facing for the inner side of the pants and the “Inner front parts” sandwiching the edge of the slit, some frighteningly narrow seam allowances (I had to re-stitch several of mine), and nothing but a bit of fusible interfacing reinforcing the bottom of the slit. And I’m not convinced there’s anything at all you can do about this with this kind of pattern, unless you incorporate a front seam (as they did in the 5742 pants) or add a seam from the bottom of the slash over to the side, maybe with a pocket in it. Maybe I’ll try something like that next time.

So that’s my issue with the pattern itself. On to my own failings.

Crappy topstitching AND buttonholing!

Partly because I was really unhappy with the slit feature, and partly because I was trying to slug away at the piece and get it done before I had to reathread the machine for a kajllion kids’ projects, I sorta gave up trying hard. My topstitching around the inner part of the front fly panel isn’t symmetrical. I didn’t place my buttonholes properly, AT ALL (at least the topstitching I can fix if I come to my senses). My machine really doesn’t like zig-zagging with the top-stitching thread, so the buttonholes themselves are pretty dodgy as well (I tried buttonholer attachment, machine’s proper attachment, and manual—it just really doesn’t like to zig-zag with heavy thread). I added patch pockets to the rear, mostly on the principle that my butt needs as much decoration as it can get. Those are actually all right, although I forgot to do any topstitching designs before I sewed them on, so they look a little plain.

So those are my issues, purely self-inflicted. I should’ve taken more time, been more careful, not expected to bang out a pair of jean-shorts in a couple of hours. One thing the instructions do emphasize is topstitching carefully and evenly.

On me: front

And in the end, I don’t really like the shorts at all, for a reason that has nothing to do with the design features, the construction quality, or the instructions.

I don’t like the rise.

Now, the pattern illustration shows a moderately low rise. It’s hard to gauge things like this from illustrations (or even other peoples’ bodies, rise being a fairly individual thing). And I like low rise. The problem is, I like low rise.

These are more like mid-rise. They fall just below my navel. This is at least an inch or two above where I like my waistbands to fall, as it hits right in the middle of my jubbly bits. I’d rather have my waistband lower, where my hip gets bony. I realize that this isn’t most people’s preference, but it works for me, with my particular narrow-hipped, short-waisted body.

On me: side view

The bright spot of light in this is that the fit itself is more-or-less perfect. I didn’t even have to make any kind of gaposis adjustment to the back, which I had to in both the Ellen pants and the Jalie 2908 jeans (granted I think the Jalie pattern is drafted to the flattest common denominator, possibly because they figured this was an easier adjustment to make than the flat-butt adjustment). The only alteration I made upon trying them on was to take in the outseam of the leg a little bit below the hip, so they are not quite so loose around the thigh.  Which is more of a style issue, again, than a fit issue. The illustration shows quite loose, slouchy shorts, rather than my sturdy denim version (and the fabric they call for is “sheer flax”, by which I assume they mean a lightweight linen. They use the word “linen” for fabric.)

I also used a smaller number of buttons than called for, because it “looked right” and I thought it would be okay on the denim. So there’s a bit of gaping that shouldn’t be there. Lesson learned.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the finished inseam wound up being about 2.5″.

Finished interior, with bonus threads. I'll snip those some time when I give a shit.

I don’t even know for sure that the rise will be an actual wearability problem, since I wouldn’t normally tuck a shirt into these anyway.

Oh, yeah… the pattern also calls for a zipper. I have no idea where this is supposed to go or why it would even be necessary.

In Me-Made June news, here’s yesterday’s outfit.

Me-Made June 23

This photo was taken in the glorious sunshine about five seconds before the clouds rolled in and the winds picked up. I was expecting one of our June thunderstorms, but it never quite materialized. Maybe today (if not tomorrow in the midst of the kids’ birthday party).

70s Tunic
Jalie 2908 CaprisHmm, tired of these yet? Obviously I need some other pairs… (and it just so happens I got some summery cream stretch twill at the Fabricland Canada Day sale yesterday…)

Oh, the earrings are a pair my mother and I put together back when we were making jewelry when I was in high-school. The bottom is a little malachine elephant a friend brought back from Zaire.
*Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I at any point, smoked actual crack. Or been been in a room where crack was being smoked. Or seen crack, except on a movie. I didn’t even smoke pot in high school, which is practically a rite of passage.**

**largely because my friends all smoked pipes and I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know how to use a lighter. Yes, those cheap Bic lighters. It wasn’t until I had been married to a smoker for several years that I learned how to use one. Mostly by practicing when he wasn’t around.

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