This was one of those ‘clear the fabric & pattern stash’ projects. But I wound up with some pants that will be great for casual days.
Earlier this year Simplicity released a bunch of ‘hacking’ patterns. These are basic design with several different detail options so you can make the project your own. This is especially helpful for people who are perhaps not creative, or they’re just not sure how to even begin changing a pattern.
Simplicity 8378 is the knit pants hacking pattern. There are two very basic pant options – narrow or wide legged – then you can crop, run an elastic through the ankle, angle the hem, add a slit, etc. The basic pattern is easy – two front pieces, two back pieces, 4 pocket pieces.
A black Ponte that I purchased a couple of years ago at Gail K Fabrics here in Atlanta. Gail K doesn’t provide any details on fibre content so it’s a bit of a guessing game. It’s quite basic, has a nice amount of stretch on the cross grain and no stretch on the grain.
These are stretch pants with an elastic waist which means you can make the pattern work without a lot of alterations. I wanted straight leg pants so measured carefully, especially the calf. (My left calf is 18″ because of a riding injury decades ago.) I wound up cutting an XL just to be sure it waist would be comfortable and my calf accommodated. The only actual adjustment was adding 1″ to the length of the pant at the lengthen/shorten line for my 32″ inseam.
First, I washed and dried the fabric in case there was any shrinking.
This is a total aside, but do you ever get a sniff of something and it takes you back? When I was folding the fabric out of the dryer, it had a very distinct scent that immediately put me back in the middle of Ant Hill Fabrics in Calgary, where I used to spend a lot of time in the late 1980s. Ant Hill had 2 floors of the most beautiful fabric in a funky old building. More than once I was short for the either the rent or the phone bill because I’d stopped at Ant Hill on the way home from work.
I laid out the fabric and cut using my small rotary blade. Because the fabric was shifting when I started to cut, I used my Wonder Clips to secure the pattern to the fabric as I finished cutting sections. I do use pattern weights, but sometimes there can still be some shifting, and I don’t like using pins on knits. The resulting cuts were much more precise than usual. This took no extra time, and it made it easy to mark the fabric afterwards.
After cutting and marking I stitched the inside seams and crotch seam, then basted the outside seams to check fit. The waist and hips were ridiculously large. I thought they looked big when I was cutting but then figured I was delusional about the size of my butt. Note that the pattern photo doesn’t represent how much gathering there is to be at the waist. I think I could almost have cut a medium. So I look in a good inch on each side from the waist down through the hip and thigh. The calf fit right (hooray!) so I didn’t alter anything below the knee. So that was a total of just about 5″ off of the waist 4″ off the hip. Stitched in the pockets, then stitched a line of basting at the fold line for the waistband.
I put in Eloflex thread to sew the waistband, and used the lightning bolt/stretch stitch. I don’t know what the issue was, the upper thread broke a few times and bunched up a couple of times. Frustrating because it worked fine previously and again later after being rethreaded a couple of times. Does anyone have any experience with this thread that they could share?
Remember the 1″ I added to the length of the leg? They wound up being way too long on so I cut it off. I serged the edge of the bottom hem then folded up 1/2″ and stitched the hem by hand.
Then I tried them on to admire my handiwork. They didn’t lie quite right in the front and pulled a bit at the back. I had sewn the in-seam pockets to the back. There was a point when a little voice said, “you should mark the back with a piece of tape” but noooo. I considered just wearing them as-is, but decided I should spend the time to unpick the waistband, flip the pockets around to the front and restitch. It was worth the effort.
1 Hours – cutting pattern and fabric
3 Hours – sewing including unpicking/resewing waistband and hand stitching hems
Excellent instructions for new sewers, and good ideas/directions for making minor hacks.
The pants are not what I expected. There is no negative ease, they’re simply stretch waistband pants, so I’ll always need to wear them with a tunic or sweater. The shape of the leg is nice, and the pattern fits me well.
Now that I’ve worn them a couple of times I do actually like them. They are just right over a pair of boots or shoes – more elegant than leggings, and more wearable for my age, lifestyle and personal style. Next time I would consider making them smaller through the waist and hips, and maybe using a Ponte with a bit more stretch. And maybe I would stitch a seam down the front to mimic a crease. Or how about adding a stirrup so they can be worn with boots? (More nostalgia!) I like having casual pants for wearing at home or on the weekend so will definitely be making more of these. But I’ll mark the front & back ;).