gimme-slack

Aw yeeeeeah. Sh*t’s about to get real.

Our progress so far: last month I posted the supply list and timeline, and earlier this month I posted our preparations, including creating our pattern. On the sixth I posted our methods for marking, cutting, and interfacing our fabric pieces. For post four we constructed the darts, front and back, and the pockets, front and back.

Now before we get started, I ain’t gonna lie. This will be the trickiest session. We are putting together a TOTALLY BOSS fly front, using my favorite method. It’s gonna get intense, y’all.

Before we proceed: thank you to all who’ve participated, and emailed or commented suggestions and corrections to this sew-a-long. And remember – I am available to support via email, blog comment, and Skype! I will Skype support any stitcher through the months of June and July 2014.

So – let’s get started. The fly front for my method is completely different from that in the pattern. For one, you notice we omitted the fly extension/facing on the front, and we made our own fly guard. We will even be making our own zipper!

Full-disclosure. I learned the following fly technique from Kenneth D. King; specifically from his “Jean-ius!” class on Craftsy. It is a great class to learn a little more about jean and trouser construction. I highly recommend any of his classes.

First, we are going to line up our zipper along the center front, a seam allowance away from the edge. You will note I have lined up the zipper stop with the marked seam juncture of the fly. At the top of the zipper, I make two marks (shown in red here on the cloth tape): one at the top raw edge of the trouser, and the other 1″ down from that.

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I will be cutting the zipper, removing some teeth, and re-installing the top zipper clamp piece to the new location – the red mark lower down on the zipper tape. So first, I open the zipper and cut at that top red mark (actually, my husband is doing this and I am photographing it):

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So now we have the following:

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Do not, I repeat do not accidentally zip up this zipper. You will be filled with regret. It is any easy mistake to do, especially on subsequent steps here. I’ve done this so many times – pulled the head right off the zipper – that I’ve taken to pinning the zipper tab to the tape, to make sure I don’t. One benefit of this method here, is we will be installing a zipper top stop pretty much right away, so the risk of pulling off the pull is far less.

Next, we are cutting off the teeth in between the two marks:

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Finally – find the top of the zipper that we’ve cut away, and remove the tab that stops the zipper pull. Carefully pull it off, and re-apply it to the top of the new length of zipper:

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Voila! We now have a new, shortened zipper – with a top stop installed at right:

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Next, we are applying the facing/extension to the center front. As you can see, I am applying this to the left size of the trouser. You can apply your fly any way you like; be warned if you do it on the opposite side, you might have a little trouble following the pictures here.

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I pin these two pieces right-sides together, lining up the top edges, and pinning right at the marked juncture, which is a seam-allowance away from the end of the facing/extension piece. You can see, just barely, the pink mark of where I have pinned the two:

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Here is the other side:

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After stitching from the top to the dot, I make two cuts. The first cut is straight through the pant center front, right to the dot where we stopped stitching:

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The second cut is the facing/extension – Cut diagonally to trim away bulk – again, right up next to where we stopped stitching:

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At this point, for this ravel-prone fabric, I like to glue the serged finish where it has been cut – on both the extension, and the pant front. Be careful with fabric glue. Too much can feel uncomfortable to wear; it can also bleed through the garment and leave a slight stain. Exercise caution if you use glue.

If you want a “perfect” seam finish for the fly, you could also forestall serge-finishing the facing/extension, and both pant front crotch curves, and then serge-finish, knot, and tail-thread the three different sections of seam as the fly is constructed. Either way makes for a tidy finish:

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Grade the seam just sewn by trimming down the seam allowance of the extension:

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Press the extension back, wrong-sides together. Looking good! You will also begin to see why an interfaced facing/extension is a good thing:

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Next, construct the guard/shield by folding it in half and stitching the curved edge. You can fold right-sides together then stitch, trim, and turn and press. However, I liked the pinking effect and thought it made for less bulk. So I folded wrong sides together, stitched the guard with a very small stitch, and pinked the edge:

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We are now about to install the zipper. We will be doing the fiddliest bit first – using the guard/shield.

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Clip the pant front to 1/8″ away from the dot – in this case, a 3/8″ cut:

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Now, fold wrong-sides together at that 3/8″ and press (there’s nothing magic about 3/8″ – we are just making a fold 1/8″ shy of the seam allowance which happens to be 1/2″). You can dot a little glue here at these trimmed raw edges if you like – again, I did this as I had a very ravel-prone linen to wrangle.

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Now, pin the zipper – in this case the right-side of the zipper –  to this folded edge. The folded edge should be about 1/16″ from the zipper teeth. The clipped raw edge should abut the end of the zipper. The zipper top should meet up with the raw edge of the pant front:

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Next, flip the works and lay the guard/extension down so that the curve moves toward the center of the pants, and the whole guard/extension covers the metal of the zipperworks:

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Carefully flip back and re-pin everything, so that your pins are now catching the guard:

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Applying a zipper foot to the machine, stitch 1/8″ from this folded edge, from the top, down to the bottom of this fold. Backstitch the top and bottom of this seam firmly. I usually stitch slowly, and slide the zipper pull up when I am halfway finished, so it doesn’t bug me while I’m stitching. So I start like this –

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And end up like this:

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XTREME CLOSEUP! Remember to carefully and securely backstitch at the end of this seam.

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Now: flip the works over, and carefully stitch down along the same line, about 1/4″ away. One should only be stitching the pants front seam allowance (shown below serged) to the nicely-folded edge of the guard/extension. I sewed top-down, again:

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Then, flipping this over, we see the very tidy-looking finish of this guard/extension; that will be up against the client’s body:

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Next, we are joining the two pants fronts together. We simply pin both pants fronts right-sides together. Sew (carefully) from the dot (the pink bit about a 1/4″ to the right of my thumb) down along the curve, making sure to leave at least 1″ – do not sew all the way to the inseam edge (so, stop about where you see the rightmost pin of mine). Backstitch firmly at both ends of this short curved seam:

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Now that the pants are joined from the bottom of the fly down, we have to secure the free side of the zipper tape to that folded-over extension/facing – and only the facing, not the pants front. First, we pin that guard out of the way:

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And line up the public front edges of the fly so they abut one another.

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Carefully holding the center front line together with one hand, place the pants wrong-side down on the workspace, and carefully fold everything back so just the facing and the free side of the zipper tape are resting together:

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Now pin these together. It is very easy for people to mess up their fly by somehow sewing the facing and zipper to the front of the pants. You should only have the facing and zipper pinned to one another here, and everything else should be folded aside.

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After pinning, you may want to gently fold the pants back, public-side up, and make sure the alignment looks good. Then, using that zipper foot again, stitch the zipper to the facing. I have stitched from the bottom of the zipper to the top, here:

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The very top of the zipper tape can get tricky, but as you can see having a custom-shortened zipper is wonderful and will be more wonderful still when we add our waistband:

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Next, we are drawing the fly topstitching on top of the public side of the pants front, and stitching from top to bottom. I must apologize here as it is very hard for you to see my white chalk line – or my topstitching! The important thing with this topstitching is that from the top down it runs parallel to the center-front, and that it catches the facing/extension underneath. It then curves just below that zipper stop to meet the seam. Once I get to the bottom of this stitch (minding the hard metal zipper base as I go) –

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I then switch to a firm, tight zig-zag…

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And turn my needle at a 45 degree angle, to stitch a reinforcing makeshift “bar tack”. This just adds more strength to an area that receives much stress. With a ravel-prone fabric like this linen, this is essential!

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I am finished with my fly front! Here is the finished result, without pressing, and with the guard/shield still pinned back:

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And here is the fly with the guard un-pinned.

Gimme Some Slack! Post 5Even if you did not do a perfect job, you probably did a lot nicer job than any ready-to-wear garment you own (go ahead and compare). The fly front on these pants is low-bulk, and both looks and feels better than on clothing mass-manufactured. You will come to see the difference when your client wears these pants over and over, takes them out of the closet over and over. I have about ten years watching my kids (and my friends and family) prefer my clothing than shop-bought – it’s a wonderful feeling!

Tune in next time! We are very close to finishing our slacks.

Please post any questions or corrections in the comments.