Project: Shorts

Sew Tunes: Sondre Lerche  (Pandora Station)

Pattern: Simplicity

Fabric Used: Sportswear Twill

New to Me: Shorts (that are not boxer shorts)…and as I was going through the steps, so many other firsts were revealed, like outside pockets and gathering.

Trips to Store: 2. Once to buy fabric, and back again to pick-up buttons. I wasn’t ready to commit to notions during the first trip.

Loved One: Jen Bond. When I moved back to New Orleans in early 2007, Jen was one of the first gals I met. Instant connection, and she has made New Orleans home to me.

Day by Day…

I had bought this pattern a few weeks back when Simplicity patterns were on sale. I put some thought into the fabric I was going to use. I thought back to a green dress Jen bought last summer at Anthropologie, otherwise known as her “Jesters fan dress.” I love Jen in green, so the color will definitely have to be green, complimented with some fun buttons.

While at the fabric store, I spent time feeling different types of fabric. Comfort is key. I came across twill and thought it a winner.

Twill? Martha Stewart always says it best, especially in her “Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts”:

“The term ’twill’ refers to a specific type of weave in which the weft threads pass over one and then under two or more warp threads (as opposed to a plain weave, in which the threads interlace evenly); the result is a distinctive diagonal pattern.”

I needed a yard and a half cut. It was nearing the end of the bolt, so the cut is short by 2″. I am hoping I can make this up in the way I place the pattern pieces.

Since this fabric is 100% cotton, it will shrink. I washed and dried the fabric (twice) before getting started. Before tossing it in the washer, I pinned a safety-pin to the backside of the fabric (my new trick) to help remind me what is the backside of the fabric and what side is the front. It’s difficult to tell with this fabric.

Saturday, September 3:

It’s a rainy New Orleans weekend due to Tropical Storm Lee. It looks like I will be spending a lot of time indoors which isn’t so bad since I didn’t have much time to start the pattern during the week. Let’s get started!

I placed the pattern pieces on the fabric (selvages together). Because the cut is 2″ too short, I was careful about placing the pattern pieces. There were seven pieces plus the “carrier” pattern piece (carrier = fancy term for belt loops). I initially did not cut the carriers but then decided to cut out the pattern piece; it adds a decorative touch to the shorts. I had plenty of fabric. I actually had quite a bit leftover.

Something interesting to note: The pattern piece for the front section of the shorts had the “ease.” This is the first time I have run across this term during my sewing experiment. So what is ease? Basically, it’s the added space in the garment to allow for movement. In other words, I am not making skin-tight shorts for Jen, so there is some ease. With this pattern, the total ease is approximately 6.5″. There’s still more to learn. For instance, there are two types – wearing ease and design ease. I came across a website that will help me “catch on to sewing ease.”

Sunday, September 4:

It’s still raining, and my biggest dilemma of the day (life is good!): green thread vs. white thread. I like the pop white thread would add, but shied away as white thread shows mistakes. It’s only week 10, and because of this, I opted for green thread.

Step 1: Stay stitch the back and front sections. Such an easy first step really sets the tone for the rest of the project.

Onto pockets. I pressed the hem along the curved edge of the pocket, tucking in the raw edges. I then stitched. Then, I pressed the hem on the other side of the pocket (the side that gets attached to the front of the shorts). I had a little bit of an issue with the curve, so I ended up eliminating the curve and creating a straight edge. I then stitched both pockets to the front sections of the shorts.

Once the pocket was placed, I thought about an idea for the next project with pockets. Wouldn’t it be fun to cut the pockets from a different fabric, something like this Alexander Henry print:

This combination of fabrics would have made for great fall shorts with 70s flare. Focus on this project, Jenn.

I darted the back of the shorts. I am completely comfortable with darting, thanks to this experiment. And I remembered the helpful hint from week 4:

“To prevent a ‘bubble’ at the point of the dart, make the last few stitches right on the fold and leave the thread ends long enough to tie a knot. Do not back stitch at the point.

I then stitched the front (of the shorts) to the back at the inner leg seam. And then stitched both front/back pieces together, creating a center seam that goes up to the waistline. Lastly, I stitched the back and front at the side seams, leaving an opening on the left side for the 7″ zipper.

This is where I skipped around a bit. Instead of doing the waist band next, I attacked the leg bands. With right sides together, I stitched the ends of the leg bands. I then basted the bottom of the shorts.

It’s time to gather. I pinned the leg band to the inner seam and the side seam, and then pulled the basting stitch to gather. I really want to make sure I gathered consistently with both legs. And I learned that with gathering, I just need to pull one thread. It took me a few tries, but I think I did a decent job. But there is always room for improvement.

On the inside, I pinned the pressed edge of the leg band over the seam, placing pins on the outside. The directions said to “stitch in the ditch of the seam.” Whaaaa? Thanks to Burda Style, I got the 411 on ditch stitching. And when I tried it, I didn’t exactly get in the ditch. I was about 1/8″ off. It doesn’t look bad enough to rip the stitches out.

Monday, September 5:

Backtracking to the waist band. I ironed the fusible interfacing on one piece of the front yoke, and one piece of the back yoke. I then made the four carriers by adding interfacing onto the backside of one side of the carrier pieces (two pieces per carrier – front and back), then stitching the two pieces of fabric together (right sides together), flipping inside out with a chop stick, then placed the four carriers the yoke. The directions called for top stitching of the carriers 1/4″ away from the seam (on all sides). I skipped this step for fear of making a mistake. I don’t think it is essential, plus the buttons will add plenty of fun to the loops.

I then attached the yoke to the shorts (right sides together) and stitched. I trimmed and pressed the seams towards the shorts. I then attached the non-interfaced yoke to the garment. This piece really is to finish the waistline.

Time for a little love fest. I don’t know what I did before pinking shears. I really love how the zigzag edge looks on the inside of garments. Makes it look totally handmade…with love.

When I went to finish the waist line, I used the pinking shears instead of pressing the hem up. The last step of the waistline was to stitch in the ditch of the seam from the outside of the garment. I am really happy to have a second chance at stitching in the ditch, and this time, I think I have it.

Almost there. I need to place in the zipper.  Because I skipped around, the zipper is close to the last step for me. Normally, it is step 15 of 24. I am a bit frustrated because I always feel like I am winging the zipper. I need some formal zipper training. SOS.

Keeping tabs…on the project. Similar to the carriers, I applied interfacing to one side of the tab, placed two tab pieces together (ride sides together), stitched, then flipped inside out. I applied them to the leg band, top stitched 1/4″ away from the seam, and added the decorative button. Speaking of buttons. I added a button to each of the carriers as well. Six buttons total were needed for this project. I feel lucky enough to have found these super cute La Petite buttons (7/8″). They are washable AND dry cleanable.

I have cabin fever after a long, rainy weekend, but the shorts for my shortie are now complete.

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • When position/stitching the waistline, everything lined up, and the carriers hit the pockets identically on both pockets, and were aligned exactly with the darts on the back. Awww, symmetry.
  • I learned new, valuable terms/phrases this project – ease and stitch in the ditch.

Not Sew Happy:

  • I wish I had the forethought to make the pockets out of a different print.
  • I didn’t have my pinking shears handy when I did the side and center seams so the finishing does not look as polished as some of my recent projects.

Helpful Hints (to self)

  • Keep practicing stitching in the ditch. Hey, that sounds like a Dr. Seuss book.