Friday, August 30, 2013

70's gym shorts... and altering patterns




I'm on a roll here this week with the blogging. I have a lot of ideas but not so much time to get them down! This one will be quick, though.

Starting with turning a regular pair of shorts into Lift & Separate, I've been on a bit of a derby shorts kick. I have made a couple of pairs of high-waisted Lift & Separate shorts from scratch (one of those ideas I have a post planned for, but not completed), and then I saw these 70's gym/roller-rink shorts that I wanted to try. This is a good tutorial for constructing the shorts, because it's slightly different from typical shorts construction- basically the seams are sewn in a different order so you can add the trim. However, it just starts with pattern pieces in hand, so I thought it might be useful to show how to get those shapes that fit together just right.

When I have a piece of clothing I love, I often will just trace the pieces and add a seam allowance in order to recreate it. So that would be one good place to start, if you have a pair of derbyskinz that fit you just right. In this case, however, I'm going to show you how to start with a pattern. I'm using a basic Kwik Sew Yoga Pants pattern (3443) that I picked up at my local Ben Franklin.

Start out by reading the pattern and determining your size. This pattern seems to run pretty big- I wear a medium in nearly everything but I ended up using the XS waistband on this pair of shorts. When I am making changes to a pattern, I always trace it, in case it doesn't work and I need to use the pattern again. In order to do this, I darken the line I want to trace with a soft lead pencil, then lay blank newsprint (I get roll ends from the local paper) over top and then just trace it. Every once in a while I lift up the newsprint to make sure I'm on the right line. You can see in the photo below that the first time I traced this pattern, I made a medium- but I had to give those away!



To turn pants into shorts, you just have to decide how long you want your inseam to be- that's the seam that runs from your lady parts to your inside ankle. Or for shorts, not so far. I measured down 1.5" from the corner that is the crotch seam. I figured that with a 1/4" seam allowance and a 3/4" trim, that would give me a 2" inseam. And truthfully, that might be a little long for derby shorts, they might bunch or roll a little in there when I wear them. When I do this again, I'll probably try 1". 

Once your pattern is traced, you really need to label it really, really well. Because sometimes you might put a project down for a few days or weeks and then come back to it and HAVE NO IDEA which piece is which and how they go together. Ask me how I know. You should always write on it:
  • originial pattern & number
  • pattern piece (front, back, waistband, etc.)
  • size
  • cut instructions as listed on the original
  • grain of fabric and stretch if indicated
  • any pattern markings you need to line pieces up



You can see here I marked the corners, but not the shape of the leg opening, because I knew I wanted to curve it like in that first tutorial. So for this part, I just looked at the pieces in the tutorial and winged it.





I think if I were to do it again I might add a little less on the bottom and cut that corner off a little more.

I traced the front piece exactly from the pattern, although I later made it drop a little more in the front after I tried it on. I did this by just making the front center 1" lower than it originally was, going from that point to the side seam with a straight cut. I should really fix my pattern piece to reflect that change now! And then I traced the wide waistband, but reduced it to be 9" tall, leaving a 4.5" waistband. I didn't want too much extra fabric, it just makes me sweat. I then assembled the shorts according to the directions in that original tutorial. I didn't take any photos of this process, but I think the tutorial does a good job there.

And here they are! The photos aren't great, but you get the idea. I actually think I need to make the waistband even a little smaller around- I like my high waist shorts to act like Spanx! In these pictures, the waistband is almost fully folded down over the shorts.




And one final note- sewing spandex often results in skipped stitches. Make sure you are using a new, ball point needle, preferably one labeled especially or elastic fabric. You also may need to ever so slightly stretch the fabric when sewing to prevent skips, or you can lay tissue paper over the top and then tear it out. And use a narrow zig zag stitch or a stretch stitch. But you knew that.


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