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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Making shorts on the road

As I said in my last post I needed some shorts. On the road with me was some 100% white cotton twill and this Simplicity pattern, that for some reason at some time I was going to make pants from. Well I adjusted the size a la Nancy Zeiman, basted and tried them on.

Your basic drawstring waist pattern of which there are a hundred patterns (hey do any of you wonder about the future of Butterick? It seems to me that those offerings are slimmer every season and since the same group owns Vogue and McCalls it wouldn't surprise me if they got fazed out). Of course drawstring pants and elastic waist pants are always a mistake IMO because you get all that pleaty volume around the waist that looks particularly bad if you are wearing a T shirt or anything over it, so I was not surprised that I didn't like the look of these ones, even for vacation sewing.

I was also not impressed with the below the belly, way below the belly waistline, which is a) dated thank god and b) just not all that comfortable.

What I did find interesting about this pattern though was that the yoke, into which the drawstring was supposed to fit, was cut on the bias and was of course, even in cotton twill, quite stretchy. This got me to thinking of some ready-to-wear pants I have seen and one pair I actually ripped apart to look at the construction in the interests of science.

So I decided to build a waist high yoke, cut on the bias and sloped in quite a bit at the waist. The original pattern piece was your old rectangle cut on the fold, one for the front and one for the back. I added about 2" to the depth of the yoke and took in about the same amount each piece, for a total of about 4-5" at the top. And to retain the bias I had to cut two pieces, one for front of the yokes and one for facings for the front and back and seamed them together at the top.

This was really interesting because of course what I was doing was making a yoke that I could try on and off before it was attached to the shorts, to make sure it stretched enough to go over my hips but snug enough around my waist. When I got there I then stitched the yoke to the facing and stitched a slightly stretched piece of 3/8" elastic to the inside of the seamline through all seam allowances, as a stay really not to gather them in, as I had seen in my ready-to-wear pair, flipped it all over to the right side and understitched the seam allowances to the facing.

The next step was just to stitch the yoke to the shorts.

I am really pleased with the results which give a nice flat, just as easy as an elastic waist, waistline that is comfortable and smooth under even a tight T shirt (I probably wouldn't wear this particular T shirt with them but wanted you to see the effect). I have also, at the risk of offending a family audience lifted my shirt enough for you to see how this rides on my three baby body.

I think there is some potential here for a comfortable, easy-to-sew slick waistband. I think this would work with any pants or skirt pattern if you placed the yoke just at the point of the bottom of the waist darts, which afterall are where the shaping in to the waist from the hips starts. You wouldn't even need a yoke pattern if you started out with a front and back yoke piece that = the width of the top of the pants/skirt at that point and was as high as you wanted it. With some self-fitting of angling the side seams of the waist in and trying it one yourself it would be pretty easy to adapt the yoke to fit your body and the stretch that the particular fabric was giving you. I used a fairly rigid cotton here cut on the bias and am looking forward to picking up a real stretch woven, probably a poplin, to explore this further.

I realize that these pictures are not the best, no real iron here and the yoke looks heavy and would be much better in a finer fabric if I had some (this is very funny because of all the fabric I have at home - but maybe the necessity of invention will be good for me).

What do you think?


a little sewing on the side said...

wow, that is a great idea- drafting a yoke on the bias. It does look nice and smooth with your red top. Very trim!

kbenco said...

I want to try this. What a good idea.