Friday, August 3, 2012

Sewing: Basic Newborn Pants

Now that we don't have swim lessons at my house anymore, I've been able to ignore housecleaning in favor of sewing. :-D My sewing run continues with Made by Rae's basic newborn pants, which I mentioned in the tutorial roundup yesterday. There are a couple of newborns in my world right now and at least three more coming in the next few months, so this is a good pattern to have in my repertoire. I used this FREE pattern (woohoo!) with tutorial and "pimped" them *snort* with completely unnecessary but cute pockets and cuffs using her tutorial here.

Pants #1 in woven cotton. It looks like my husband is holding doll clothes. Love it!

Pants #2 in cotton knit. No pockets on this one. I just wanted to share that I love the modeler of this one, too. What a good sport, still in his jammies no less. :-) Also, I was able to rock the zigzag stitch on this pair of pants, especially to attach the cuffs.

All right, time for my usual process notes (a.k.a. sometimes rants):
This is a great easy pattern, and the pockets were also easy (I'm getting better at edgestitching), but can I just say that I hated very much disliked adding the leg cuffs (i.e. binding)? The thing is, if I had simply hemmed the legs, I would have run into the same problem: attempting NOT to accidentally sew all the layers together due to the narrow hems. They're so narrow that they don't fit around the arm of my sewing machine (even after I take the "free arm" part off). -- I'm half-dreaming now of getting a cylinder arm machine but *ugh* so expensive. -- I've had this problem on several other projects already but the previous times didn't seem as bad as putting the binding on the striped pants (Pants #1). It took multiple tries with different stitches (zigzag, narrow zigzag, edgestitch) and A LOT of frustration. The straight stitch was beyond me for a while, which is not a good feeling.

So: before working on the second pair of pants, I searched for and found a trick to making this task a bit easier (thanks, Internets!). It's the difference between this:

...and this:

Not sure why I didn't think of that on my own. You'd think after the 5th or 6th attempt sweating over the cuffs on the striped pants, with the seam ripper basically attached to my mouth while I sewed (Oh, you don't hold your pins and seam ripper between your teeth? Just me?), I'd have had the motivation to figure it out!

I worked with knit for the second pair of pants -- AND I decided to add cuffs to finish the legs even though I could have left them unhemmed since it's knit -- because I am a masochist like that. (Or a nicer way to put it is that I like challenges.) But also, I thought the print was super cute and wanted to see how well the pattern and embellishments would work on knit. They did work nicely in the end, BUT ... again the leg cuffs were a bit difficult for me: it takes so much fussing just to pin the binding in place. But maybe it's just me. Maybe you don't have the same problem? If not, you're a rockstar, and could you please give me some advice?

Anyway, one thing I found helpful after managing to pin the cuff in place was to sew the ends together first with a bunch of zigzag stitches (I did several passes forward- and backstitching). This wasn't in Rae's "pimping" tutorial but I think it's important to prevent the cuff from separating in the wash or something; after all, they're originally secured to each other at only one point. My method is not super pretty but it actually doesn't look that bad. (And you could always use one of the fancy decorative stitches on your machine if you have them.) Added bonus: you won't have to worry as much about keeping the cuff in place when you sew the rest of it. Win!

Final notes, just in case you didn't know:
  • When sewing with knit, using a narrow, longer zigzag stitch works better than a straight stitch. I set the width to 0.5 or 1.0 and the length to 3.0 (thanks to the Sewing for Boys book for this tip).
  • When using the zigzag stitch, remember to loosen the tension of your upper thread a bit (I set mine to -1 on my Singer Stylist and it worked fine). I had never done this before when using the zigzag stitch, but then I saw and read the appropriate page on my Singer instruction manual just as I was working on Pants #2. Oops. All's well that ends well, I guess!
xo, Gladys


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