Gimme Some Slack

Hello my awesomesauce stitching fiends! This is our first get-to-it post! I am really happen to have you join me! Both of you! I jest, I jest.

Last month I posted the supply list and timeline so y’all should be ready to get going. Today we’ll be fondling fabric (a little) and doing some tracing (a lot).  Before we start, I’m going to talk briefly about what to expect in undertaking this project.

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.

A few items before we get started. I do not host sew-a-longs that follow pattern instructions. This means I modify patterns, use different techniques, or make separate pattern pieces, et cetera. I figure if you want to just follow a pattern you can do that; my sew-a-longs are for those who’d like to up their game (or learn a few different things).

I aim to take excellent pictures along the way. One sew-a-long “client” told me my photos were so complete she didn’t have to look at her pattern sheet once! What a compliment!

So, here we go.

Preparing the pattern is very simple. In looking over the pieces we’ll use, you will notice we are already deviating from the pattern. We will need to trace and/or draft the following pieces – several will be traced as-is from the Banyan pattern:

1. The front (traced with a modification)
2. back (traced as-is)
3. cuff (traced as-is)
4. slant pocket (traced as-is)
5. back pocket (traced as-is)
6. fly extension (drafted)
7. fly guard (drafted)

The pattern’s fly extension and waistband pieces are not needed – which will save us time. We’re designing our own fly extension/facing and fly guard/shield in this post . And for those of you read-ahead types of students, we will be tearing a crossgrain strip for the waistbands; we will also be tearing fabric strips to design the lined cuff.

Gimme Some Slack! Post 2

For pattern tracing, use whatever method you like. Me, I enjoy using tracing medium and a toothed wheel. At right you see the roll of paper I use (“project paper”, found at any Office Supply store). I pin the pattern on top of the project paper with a couple pins, then slide my tracing paper (the pink, here) face-down, and use the wheel to trace my size. I also pre-treat all my tracing paper by using clear packing tape on the back of the tracing paper – this preserves its longevity. I use this medium to trace on the fabric as well – we’ll see that next post.

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Above: tracing the pant front. Here is another illustration of the technique I described above. At left you see the pin that secures the pattern to the project paper below – I place the pins toward the middle of the pattern piece because I will be carefully sliding tracing medium, face-down, underneath whatever pattern lines I am tracing. You will definitely want a pin or two because tracing medium with packing tape on the back, is slippery! Move your hand a bit and the layers all shift. Annoying to line back up again!

Our first pattern modification: with regards to jeans or trousers, I don’t like a facing that is attached all-in-one to the front for several reasons. I omit this facing by drawing a seam allowance and tracing that. Don’t panic! I marked my pattern in red so you could see what I mean. Since I am tracing the exact middle of the size range (dotted lines, size 4/5), my pattern line is the dotted one. Thus my front pattern tracing line is simply one seam allowance (1/2″ in this case) from the marked center stitching line (the straight dotted line about 1 1/2″ above my tracing wheel). Here is a close-up, with my traced line in red:

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The termination of this center-front stitching line, marked here as a red cross, is going to be important for our front facing and fly shield.

Next, trace the back pattern piece exactly as-is from the pattern.

Now, measure the cuff before tracing it:

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My cuff pattern piece is about 12 1/4″ at the widest point (note red dots delineating my size 4/5), it is also 3 1/2″ wide (for every size, you note). You will need those numbers; you can write them right on your traced cuff piece if you like. Now – go ahead and trace the piece.

For the waistband pieces (there are three), we aren’t going to trace them at all. Simply measure them – their width and length, and add up the lengths. Mine were: left= 6 3/4″, right = 7 3/4″, and back = 13 5/8″; they were all 2 3/8″ wide. Write these numbers down; on your front or back piece is fine.

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Trace the slant and back pockets exactly as per the pattern sheet.

Now, we’re going to create the fly extension (or facing) and the fly guard (or shield). It can be confusing what we are doing, here. Briefly, the fly extension/facing is what the zipper will be attached to (instead of the front of the pant, and the guard is what will go behind the zipper up against the body. The guard/shield keeps the zipper from catching on clothing or bare skin. Both elements add structure and neatness to the finished piece.

In order to create these pieces, we will use the front piece to create the draft. And before we proceed, let me get two things straight:

1. The draft of a pattern or pattern piece, is the pattern shape without the seam allowance (the lines therefore represent stitching lines);

2. The pattern (or pattern piece), includes seam allowances (the lines therefore represent cutting lines).

This might sound confusing; to an experienced stitcher it is not. The reason I bring this up is, we are going to be creating a draft from a pattern piece that already has seam allowances. If your mind isn’t easily understanding the concepts, as long as you follow my instructions you should still be okay.

To create this draft of the fly pieces, we are going to draw a fly topstitching line on the front. I have done that here – the piece is 1 1/2″ wide which should serve you well. As you can see, the topstitching line curves into the bottom of the zipper -the area I’d marked on the pattern sheet above with a red cross. The draft shape is outlined in bold red here for clarity. This bold red piece is what we will be tracing onto fresh paper (you can see my tracing medium beneath this front piece), to make our two remaining pattern pieces:

Gimme Some Slack! Post 2

For the fly extension/facing, simply trace this piece including the grainline (the arrow, there), then add your 1/2″ seam allowance to all sides. Set aside.

For the fly guard/shield, trace this shape to fresh paper, then fold the fresh tracing along the longest edge, insert tracing medium face-up, and run your wheel back over the shape. Like so:

Gimme Some Slack! Post 2

Gimme Some Slack! Post 2

Now, add the seam allowance to all sides of this shape. I add the seam allowance to half, then fold and trace the seam allowance. It’s fast and accurate:

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Here are what your fly extension/facing (at right) and fly shield/guard (left) should look like:

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We now have all the pattern pieces we’ll need!

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And now – it’s time to prepare our fabrics and interfacing.

In principle, you pre-treat fabrics just as you’re going to treat the garment, and that should be according to what’s appropriate for the fabric. So if you are using fabrics that need to be dry-cleaned, you will be pre-treating fabrics and interfacings accordingly.

I wash most our garments and air-dry many – so that is exactly what I did with my European linen and the cotton remnant I’m using for a cuff lining. First, I serged the edges of the yardage (to keep it from fraying in the washing machine – which leads to a mess and often long threads tying up the fabric in knots), then I air-dried. I repeated the wash and dry one more time.

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Some fabrics – especially cotton and linen – shrink a great deal upon washing and drying, so it is always appropriate to wash and dry (by whatever method) two or three times. If you want to really make sure your fabrics won’t be shrinking further, then cut a piece 4″ by 4″, serge the edges, and wash and dry it – measuring and making sure the fabric is not shrinking any more. Wash and dry your garment yardage accordingly.

As for interfacing, we get into more controversial territory (if you haven’t joined – join now!). In general, I advocate you buy high-quality interfacing and follow the manufacturer’s instructions (I only use Pam Erny’s interfacings at Fashion Sewing Supply). My interfacing requires no pre-treatment, so all I had to do was wash and dry my fabrics.

I hang my fabrics over a door or shower rod to keep them from getting wrinkles, while I’m preparing to cut.

And – there! We are all done with this session. You have your work cut out for you! If you have any questions about tracing, or seam allowances, or anything we’ve covered, please let me know via comment, email, or whatever works best!

In two days we’ll be cutting and marking up fabric – that’s when things start to get real fun!