Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pajama Party - Lets Begin Shall We

Hope you all are as excited as I am to have some stylish pantaloons. 
Is anybody sewing something other then the pantaloons? 
Please let me know so I can address your questions appropriately:)

Lets begin by pre-washing our fabric.  It can be in the wash while we prepare our pattern for cutting, which is my kind of multi-tasking.

You want to pre-wash your fabrics for a few different reasons.
  1. The key issue is shrinkage, you don't want your garment to become to small after sewing because you failed to pre-wash it.  Denims, flannels and homespun should be washed and dried at least 2x.
  2. Grain perfection is another key reason to pre-wash.  The grain of the fabric is distorted from being wrapped onto a bolt or roll, washing helps return the grain so that the cross grain is at a right angle to the lengthwise grain.  Why is this important?  Your garment cannot hang straight if the garment is not cut on the straight of the grain.  
Pre-wash and dry your fabric at the temperature suggested for the fabric type and the conditions you are most likely to use during wear.  For cottons this generally means hot water, and a hot dryer, for silks and rayon jerseys cold water, gentle cycle and line dry or air tumble.  

Now that your fabric is having its grain perfected, lets start our pattern work

I happened to have The Jammie pattern from Favorite Things in my stash from a class I taught years back, so this is what I am using to create my pantaloons, but any simple drawstring pant style will work.  Of course if you have a self drafted pant block(luxury) you can use that as well.

Gather supplies and information:

To prepare you pattern for cutting you will need:
The pattern
Tape measure
String or elastic to tie around waist and upper thigh
Personal measurement chart or scrap paper
Pencil and Pen
Rulers - I prefer C-thru quilters rulers, a 1x12 and 3x18 or larger.
Paper scissors
Iron and Ironing board

Taking Measurements - This is the information part.  Now if you have a current personal measurement chart you can just get your information from there.  If you don't I highly recommend you start one so that you don't need to measure yourself every time you start a project.  It does need to be updated yearly though.   Here is a chart to print

The Measurements:
  1.   Hip/ Seat circumference at the fullest part.  For some this will be at the abdomen and for others across the buttocks. 
  2. Pant Rise - this is the distance between your crotch and your desired waistline.  Tie a string around your desired waistline ( where you want the top of your pantaloons to sit).  Tie a string around your upper thigh, just below your crotch.  Now measure the distance between the two along your side. 
  3. Hem length - Measure from your desired waist line to your desired hem line, for Capri's mid calf or below, for pants measure to the floor. 

 Find your Pant front and Back pattern pieces and remove them from the tissue by cutting around them.  There is no need to cut on your size line at this time, just free them from the tissue. 

Press with a dry iron...yes press the tissue, it will not burn but steam might cause shrinking so be careful to change the setting on your iron to dry and press out all the folds and wrinkles.

Choose your correct pattern size by comparing your full hip/seat circumference measurement with the body measurements on the pattern envelope.  My full hip measures 38" which on the Jammie's patterns puts me at a Medium and on most commercial patterns size 12.  Now don't freak because this number is so different then the clothing sizes you purchase. 
Pattern sizing does not correspond to retail clothing, trust the pattern size....really:)

Now if you like the design on your pant pattern the way it is shown on the envelope you might be ready to start cutting your fabric.  Meaning the waist line is sitting where you want it to, and you do not want to raise or lower it.  You will need to check the hem length though by measuring along the side seam of the pattern from waist to hem and lengthening or shortening as required.  The pattern usually indicate a place along the leg where you can do this.  To lengthen you cut along the line and spread the pattern apart the desired length taping a piece of paper in between to fill the gap. To shorten you can fold the tissue up the needed amount. 

For my Pantaloons though I am lowering the waistline, and shortening to Capri length so lets begin making those pattern changes.

Begin by extending your grain line through the entire length of the pattern pieces.
Mark your crotch line by drawing a line perpendicular to your grain line and level with the bottom of the crotch line of your pattern. Some patterns already have this indicated for you.

Measure up from your crotch line to your new waistline at the side seam and mark.
Measure down from the original waist to that mark.  Mine was about 3"
Create your new pant waistline by marking that distance across the entire waist of the pattern piece.

Create your hemline/fold .  Starting at your new waistline measure down the side seam to your desired Capri, or pant length, mark and create a line at that mark and perpendicular to your grain line.

To create your hem allowance.  Measure down from your hemline 4.5" if your making Pantaloons, or desired hem width, say 2" for a standard hem.  The deeper hem adds support for the ruffles we will be adding later. 
You can now cut across your hem cut line.

Before cutting out the rest of your pant leg fold your pattern along the hem line/fold, and pin in place.  Now you can cut the rest of your pattern out.  Once the pattern is cut remove the pins and press the pattern flat once again.  Folding the hem before cutting insures that your hem is the correct width and will not cause puckering when sewing from being to small.

Repeat these steps for both front and back pant legs.  Although this took me several hours to post about it will probably take you around an hour, or under.

You can now cut out your pants following the directions on your pattern.  In addition to the pants you will need to cut  6 strips of fabric 2" wide by the 42" - 60"width of your fabric to create the ruffles with.

Next week we will make our ruffles:)

Please let me know if you have any questions or have progress pictures you would like to share.


  1. Lynne--I am working on a nightgown, possibly with bloomers, for this sew along. All I've done so far is wash and dry the fabric and choose a pattern that's already altered for me. It would be nice to get cut out...but I gotta wrap up summer school first!

  2. You know how much I love those bloomer:)

    Can you please send me photos of your fabrics along with the pattern you are working from?

    Looking forward to sewing with you


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