Thanks for joining up on the Gimme Some Slack! Sew-a-long. We are on the final stretch! This is the second-to-last post. The final post will be one with the slacks modeled on a child. If I can find a child! I am looking for one.

gimme-slack

Today is going to be all about steam pressing and wonderful, slim cuff and waistband finishes. This is an image-heavy post – 53 images – not because the techniques are difficult, but because I want to show you in detail the exacting work required to get beautiful, wearable, and very comfortable results.

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. And in post five, we constructed a totally killer, low-bulk, and beautifully-finished fly front.

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.

Pretty soon we’re going to have something that looks like pants!

First, we will be pinning the outseam, sewing, and serging; repeat with the inseams. The crotch seams will be last.

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Serge these seams, and if you like, where the inseam meets the crotch, thread the tail through the column of looper stitches. Next, press the seam well.

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

It is looking like we’re about to have pants! Turn one leg right side-out, as shown:

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Slip the right side-out leg inside the inside-out leg. The crotch seams should line up beautifully (believe it or not, it is very possible to sew pant-legs up incorrectly – sewing the legs up separately and inserting one into the other is foolproof)! Next, sew that crotch seam all along the back center seam to the point at the center front we’d left off while making the fly. My crotch curves were already serge-finished (if you remember) – but if they aren’t you can finish them later. It isn’t a bad idea to have a second line of reinforcing stitches through this curve, either.

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Time for the cuffs! Sew the short ends of the cuff strips together. You may want to carefully measure the circumference of your hem at the raw edge, and make sure your finished cuff length matches perfectly. It is worth taking a little extra effort to do this.

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After the short edges of the cuff has been joined, press the cuffs with a lot of steam. Look, there’s a lot of pressing involved in this installment. Ain’t gonna lie. It’s how things end up looking so great!

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Slip the cuff, outer fabric (“right side”) to the wrong side of the pant hem, with the cuff short seam lined up with the inseam:

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Pin, easing them together. They should be a perfect match:

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Sew this cuff seam, then trim and grade it. I pinked it because I am a pinking fan.

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“Set the seam” – press as-sewn…

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Then flip the cuff to the outside of the pants and give another good press. You can handstitch along the inside of the cuff to the side seam if you like. But if you’ve measured and pressed well your cuffs will stay put.

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Now aren’t these looking great?

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Time for the waistband! Press all three waistband pieces in half long-ways, lining up the finished edges with the raw edges:

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Now, sew the two front waistbands to the back waistband. As you remember, I didn’t bother with exact measurements for the front waistbands – just made sure I had enough length to spare – but the back waistband needs to be the right length (you can measure your finished back length to be sure – I did). When you sew up the waistband short edges, sew as I’ve marked – leaving a reinforced (backstitched) gap in the middle of the inside half of the waistband – that is, the half that is finished with a serge or zig zag. Easier to show a picture, than to verbally describe (read below the photograph if you’re still uncertain what this hole is for):

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

You are going to be threading elastic through this hole once you’ve got the whole waistband together; make sure the elastic fits. Notice how the elastic is right in the middle of the inside half of the waistband. You don’t want the elastic butting against the folded edge of the waistband nor encroaching into the inside waistband seam allowance:

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Press this seam open and grade the seam allowance edges:

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Now, pin the entire waistband, with the raw (unfinished) edge right-side against the top right-side of the pants. Again, the back waistband section will match the pants back; there should be plenty of extra front waistband hanging off the edge of the pants:

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While pinning, make sure your darts and side seams are pinned into the correct position – both for comfort, and aesthetics:

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It won’t hurt to mark the front edge where the waistband and the fly edges line up. You will be stopping your stitching right there:

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I learned a trick from Kenneth D. King’s “Jean-ius!” class: and that is, to start and finish this first waistband seam with a baste (shown below – 4.0 mm). Stitch for a couple inches with a baste, switch to a regular stitch for most of the rest of the waistband, and end with a basted stitch:

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

(Below you see me starting out the waistband seam… Sewing with the waistband, or the pants, against the machine is a personal preference issue. Typically one might like to have the pants against the machine. I sewed with the waistband against the machine for two reasons: one, my IDT foot helps feed things smoothly including the slight ease of the pants – compared with the firmly interfaced waistband – and two, this makes it easier to insure that the darts and side-seams do not get disorganized while I sew. You will also notice I have about two inches of waistband extending past the pants front, but I’m starting my seam right where the two sections intersect):

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Now, why did we use a basting stitch for the beginning and termination of this first waistband seam? Simply because when you fold up your waistband, the very front of the pant often does not line up. This is one of those irritating things about making trousers and happens, often, no matter how exact of a stitcher one is. In this case, I did happen to get things lined up perfectly the first time. So then, I went back and stitched right over the basting, with a smaller stitch. But if your waistband fronts do not line up properly, simply carefully remove some basting and re-stitch. It’s a great little trick!

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Set the seam and press the seam allowance up toward the fold of the waistband. Next, mark the termination of the waistband at the fly. On the right-side, I have this marked in chalk…

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

I finger-press it, and mark on the wrong side of the waistband as in the picture below. Then I fold the waistband in half along the pressed-lengthwise fold, and fold the inside seam allowance back on itself. You want that inside fold at the waistband seam to be about 1/8″ lower than the waistband seam itself:

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

I then stitch, firmly with backstitch, and grade: You will notice the 1/8″ difference I just mentioned, below. I have also clipped and graded all seams:

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Press as sewn, then flip the waistband right-side out, and use a tool – in this case, a bone folder – to press that corner nice and firmly into shape:

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Press everything, again. Repeat this terminal process with the other side of the waistband.

You have so many options for waistbands – sometimes at this juncture I pin (as shown below) and whip-stitch (or ladder stitch) the inside fold to the seam for an invisible finish that looks great on the inside and out…

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But in this case, I used some thin fusible web strip – 1/4″, and first fused the inside fold to the inside of the pants…

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Then I carefully stitched “in the ditch” of the public side of the waistband – leaving long thread tails at the beginning and end of this final waistband seam (to help secure the ends of the waistband). The 1/8″ difference in waistband seam allowance folds ensure that what is stitched invisibly on the front…

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Will catch the fold on the inside of the pants!

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Next, I use the long thread ends to tidy up anything on the ends of the waistband, tying invisible knots and pulling them into the interior of the waistband itself:

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Looking near-finished – but not quite. Time for elastic! The pattern has elastic measurements included, but I like to measure my own with a client. I do this by carefully measuring the entire center front, and then assuming a finished elastic breadth of the desired body measurement minus one inch:

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

I mark on the elastic the desired finished elastic length; then, I cut about 3″ extra on either end for the “adjustable” method of this back waistband:

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

Thread the elastic through the back waistband…

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This waistband method is pretty keen as you can make sure the elastic doesn’t twist up in that casing:

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Pin one end of the elastic firmly to the inside of the front waistband…

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Then, on the other side, double-up and tuck in the 3″ tail: sew right on top of where the elastic slides into the waistband “pocket”:

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Like so:

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Repeat on the other side – you know have a finished back elasticized, adjustable waistband! Very cute.

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Finally – the buttonhole. If you aren’t very sure of yourself, please practice buttonholes on an interfaced, doubled-over piece of your garment fabric. I always stabilize my buttonholes too, as I sew them. In this case, I simply slid a piece of copy paper under the waistband before stitching (yes, that is a 1950 Singer I am using for the buttonhole – I love the precision and strength of that machine!):

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After the buttonhole is stitched, any paper or stabilizer removed, I like to put a tiny bit of thread-glue on the back side of the buttonhole, and let it dry before cutting it open. As always, with fabric glue, be cautious: glue can easily seep through to the public side of the garment.

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Once dry, I cut my buttonhole open with a buttonhole chisel. I have used a seam ripper and even – gasp! – scissors. But a buttonhole chisel is very inexpensive and oddly satisfying!

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And it yields a far tidier result than scissors, razor blade, or seam-ripper:

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Finally: we need a well-secured button. I thread a needle with four strands of thread and wax it by running it through beeswax, and steam-pressing it. Very strong thread!

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6

I stitch the button on using an invisible knot to start. Two passes through the button holes, three-twists around the thread under the button, back through to the backside, and another invisible knot!

Gimme Some Slack! Post 6Oh my gosh! We have made a pair of slacks! Congratulations!

Now – I just need to find a child to model the finished garment, and that will be the last installment of this sew-a-long. Thank you all who joined, and all who find this sew-a-long at a future date. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there are any typos, errata, or confusing bits!