Robot Pants.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I made Little Brother some pants recently.  I'd hoped to get some better photos, but there's way too much going on these days, so I'm using what I've got.

These are the basic pocket pants from the book Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee.  I used some heavy twill that I bought as a JoAnn remnant, which has a nice herringbone weave, combined with a fun cotton-linen robot fabric from Japan.  I used a pair I found on the Small & Friendly blog as inspiration -- I love the way Carla used a print on the inner pocket pieces only as an accent for solid-colored pants.  Here are mine:

I love the look of this pocket design and shape.  The small strips of bias binding on the pocket edges work out perfectly.  The itch-free stitch lines around the seams are another great detail.

I will admit to having some fit issues with these pants.  Those may well be entirely my fault, as I did some squirrely things, but I'll mention them here in case it might help someone.  Having read a few places that these pants run big, I traced a 2T for my little guy.  But before I managed to actually cut out the fabric, I realized that my guy isn't nearly as little as I thought.  I decided to continue on using a 3/8-inch seam allowance (instead of 1/2-inch) and hope for the best.  I added a bunch of length (2 1/2 or 3 inches, I think?) based on some pants that currently fit.  Overall, that worked out fine, and the pants generally fit.

What I don't love about the fit is that the front is poofy and the back sags down despite the waist elastic being plenty tight (hello, crack!).  I knew the poofy front was a possibility -- Carla noticed that in hers, and after studying several pictures of sewn-up pocket pants, I saw that it seems to be pretty common.  I tried to compensate for this by changing the crotch lines ever so slightly.  I'm not sure if my changes made it worse, better, or had no effect at all.  I'm certainly no expert at fitting adjustments, so who knows.  And I hadn't heard about the saggy backside trouble before, so I probably contributed to that.  My fabric choice -- very stiff twill -- didn't seem to help with this either.  Next time I make these, I will definitely try something lighter, which should hang better and not result in extremely bulky seams where the bias binding attaches.

I should mention that I went ahead and tried out the itch-free method described in the book, just for fun.  I won't do that again.  I love the look of the extra rows of stitches, but it's a lot of extra sewing and extra time.  Tacking back the seam allowance on each side of the seams is tricky business and, in my case, I felt like it compromised the strength of the seams a bit.  I wasn't even confident that the crotch seams would hold (again, stiff twill may be partly to blame here), so I took out the stitching on the lower part of the front and back crotch seams, reinforced those crotch seams with an extra row of stitching right next to the original, and resewed those seam allowances to the side.  I would definitely recommend starting off this way, if you plan on going itch-free.  As for side seams, I tried several times to tack those seam allowances to the side and, after messing with it for nearly an hour, concluded that it's flat-out impossible.  Maybe with softer, thinner fabric this might be doable (still tricky though), but with this twill, I don't think anyone could have managed it. 

So, my final verdict on these pants:  I really like the pocket design, and I'd love to figure out how to modify them so they won't be poofy in front and sag in back.  If anyone has a suggestion about how to modify crotch/thigh seams for this, please leave a comment.  I hope the next pair will be a better fit.

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