Monday, February 4, 2013

Elastic Waist Pant Construction

Cutting Out Pants

Preshrink your fabric and then line up your two selvage edges.  Make sure fabric is on grain and there are no skew lines.

 Place pant back and pant front on fabric.  Pattern pieces must face the same direction if you have a one-way print or nap fabric.

Measure grain line at the pattern top and bottom, making sure they are parallel from the selvage edge.  Keeping the pattern pieces on straight grain will prevent the pant legs from twisting.  I like to place the patterns close to the selvage edge.  This gives me a larger scrap of fabric left over on the fold.

 Pin patterns to both layers of fabric.

When cutting out, be sure to mark all notch symbols.  You can cut the notch off and just snip 1/8" into the fabric, or cut out the notch like the second photo down.  If you are a beginner, it is always best to cut the notch shape out just like the pattern shows.   Those notch markings are easier to quickly identify.

TIP:  If your fabric looks the same on both sides, put a piece of tape on all your wrong sides.  This will prevent you from sewing two left legs, etc.

Sewing Pant Inseams

Take off pattern pieces.  Place a pant front with a pant back, matching the inseam and notches.  The pieces will not match any other place.  You will sew two of these.  If the leg is tapered, sew from the crotch to the hem, to prevent stretching the grain line.

Sew the inseams.

TIP:  I like to connect my sewing pieces, so when I finish one pant leg, I insert the next leg without cutting the tails.  This saves time and eliminates thread tails.

After sewing both pant legs, serge the inseams, trimming off 1/8" - 1/4"  off.  NOTE:  If you do not have access to a serger, you may do a seam finish on the sewing machine, with seam allowances together or with seam pressed open.

Press inseams flat and then press to the pant back.  Be sure to not let fabric create tucks of fabric at the seams.

I like using the wood clapper tool when pressing to get a nice, flat press.  It is one of my favorite pressing tools.

Sew Crotch Seam

Now you are ready to put the left leg to the right leg, right sides together.

Match them together, with the inseams matching.  Place a pin on the seamline.  Then place pins all around the crotch.

Stitching around the curve can be challenging for beginners.  My Bernina machine has a circle marking on the stitch plate right on the 5/8" line.  This is where you should look as you carefully move your curved fabric to keep a consistent 5/8" seam allowance.  Take your time and slow down.

"Stitch the Smile Twice" is a phrase to remember to stitch the curved part of the crotch twice for added strength.  In this photo, I forgot to take the photo of the double stitching until after the raw edges were serged.  The second stitch is with a contrasting thread color for visibility.  It is stitched from front notch to back notch.

You may clip your seam allowance at the top of the crotch curve both on the front and back crotch before serging.  This will allow the flat portion of the crotch seam to be pressed to one side.  Be careful not to clip through your stitches.

Serge the crotch seam.  Take your time so that the blade can cut off the correct amount all the way around the curve.

I try to spread apart the seam allowance where I clipped, allowing a little more "give" in the serger stitch so that the seam will be able to press to one side.

Now press the top of the front and back crotch to one side.  The curve part of the crotch will stand straight up.

Prepare Pant Hem  TIP:  This is optional, but I like to go ahead and press my bottom hems before the pant leg has been sewn into a tube.  It is much easier to measure and press.  Look at your pattern pieces at the hem area and it will indicate what the hem allowance is.  My hem allowance is 1 1/4".  First, I measured and pressed up the full 1 1/4" allowance.

Then I open up what I had pressed and press under the raw edge 1/4".  Keep hem open until after sewing the side seams.


Pant Pin Fit

Next, open up the pants to reveal the legs.  Put wrong sides together to get ready for the pin fit of the side seams.

Put the pins in 5/8" in from the raw edge, with the pins parallel to the raw edge, with the pin points facing down.

Try the pants on and see if the fit is satisfactory.  See if there is the right amount of ease desired.  If not, adjust the pins. You may sew a wider seam allowance if you would like less ease (fullness).

Sew Pant Side Seams

Now put pants right sides together and pin.  Sew the side seams.

Once again, I like to connect the two seams as I sew the side seams.

When finished, serge the side seams.

Now you are ready to press the side seam allowances towards the back.  Because the pants are now tubes, it is helpful to use some pressing tools.  Use the seam roll pressing tool or a long wood stick.  Insert it up into the pant leg and press the seam allowance to the back.

Elastic Waist Casing

Next, turn the pants right side out and try them on.  It is time to determine the crotch depth.  Roll the waist down 1 3/4" and see where the waist hits you.  If you desire to lower the crotch depth, roll the waist down more and see the fit.  Make sure that when you squat down, that the pants are not too low in the back.  Put a pin where you would like the top fold to be if you have lowered it more than 1 3/4".  Cut off the excess, so that you just have 1 3/4" left to roll down.

I like to use the pressing ham for this next step.  I use the pressing ham like a mini ironing board, and it helps keep the rest of the fabric out of the way.  It is also one of my favorite pressing tools.  : )

Turn the pants inside out again.  Place the ham inside the waist area, or place pant waist over the ironing board.  Using your seam gauge, measure 1 3/4" and press.  Do this all around the waist area.

Now open up the pressed area and fold down 1/2" and press.  This will give you a double fold, 1 1/4" finished fold.

Pin casing all around so that the fold does not come out.  Make sure to match seamlines as shown below.

 Start stitching at center back seam and stitch all around, stitching close to the edge of the fold.  Keep your stitches parallel to the top fold.  You may put a piece of masking tape on the machine arm to help guide you to sew straight.  (NOTE:  To find out which is the pant back, measure the crotch seams.  The longer crotch seam is the back one.)

Stitch all the way around to the back again and leave a 2" opening for the elastic.

 Edgestitch along the upper fold, very close to the edge.  This gives a nice, crisp edge to the pant top.

Measure the elastic around your waist or hips and cut off 1" longer.  Attach a safety pin to one end and insert into casing opening.

 Keep pulling elastic all around the casing, adjusting fabric ease as necessary.  Pull the elastic and pin through the opening and pin elastic together.  Try on the pants to check the fit.  You want a snug fit, but not too loose or too tight. 

 Mark the elastic, leave 1/2" extra and cut the rest off.  Overlap the elastic ends 1/2" and stitch through the two layers several times.

Make a fabric or ribbon to the center back casing to use as a back tag.  I cut scrap fabric on the bias so that it won't ravel, 1" X 3".  Fold it in half either right sides together or wrong sides together.  Fold in half, and have both raw edges matching at the top. 

Insert folded tag up into casing opening and pin together.

Stitch back opening closed, stitching over the fabric tag.  Backstitch at both ends.

Sew Bottom Hem

Pin up the bottom hem as a double fold hem.  Use the machine free arm if you have one.  You can either turn pant legs inside out and sew on the fold, or sew with pant legs right side out.  Keep your stitches parallel with bottom fold.  I start at the inseam and go all the way around and stitch over my beginning stitches to secure.  Stitching on the right side of the fabric will look nicer.  Keep your stitches close to the edge of the fabric fold.

Great job!  Your pants are finished!  ENJOY!!

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