Hi everyone! The past couple weeks have been such a whirlwind. After some bureaucratic wrangling, Joe is getting assessed by the school district to determine whether he might benefit from additional services when he starts kindergarten this fall. This is both wonderful and nerve wracking, and we've been scrambling to get to the appointments. Luckily, most people who work with special needs kids for a living are like, the nicest people on the planet and know how to get children to warm up, and Joe has been really cooperative. He reports that "I am SO GOOD at puzzles." Yes, yes, you are!!! Love it!
We've also had visitors and lots going on and I have been hopping busy at work (a generally good sign for my city). Whew!
So once again, I have actually been sewing plenty (it helps keep me sane), but blogging is taking a back seat. I'm here today to share a really exciting make, though - actual men's sewing, with an actual functional zipper fly!
Don't mind Steve's grimy shirt. He's a hard working guy! That's manly dirt right there. ;-)
For years I've wanted to sew something for my wonderful husband Steve, but ... well, I didn't. For a variety of reasons, including that he is a guy of simple but particular tastes. He likes his clothes to be just so. About six months ago, I asked him if he would like me to sew him a shirt, and he said "No, I'd like some pants. You know, like real pants." Um. I was like, "I've never made real pants. Not for Joe, not for myself. Like, never!" I showed him the Thread Theory website, and tried to steer him towards the Strathcona Henley but it was a no-go. He wanted pants. The Jutland Pants, to be specific, a pair of work pants with all the bells, whistles, and pockets a man could want.
So I bought the pattern, but then it sat for a really long time while I contemplated the zipper fly and all the little details. Then, earlier in June, I saw Meg's version of the Jutland, made as shorts for her guy, and a light went off. I was like, hmmmmm: "If I make these as shorts using some fabric from the stash, and they don't turn out, it won't be such a big deal. And Steve does need shorts! And I've been wanting to try a zipper fly one of these days!"
Sometimes when I'm facing an intimidating project, it helps to find ways to reduce the emotional/financial stakes associated with the project. It's an example of my perverse reasoning that one of the reasons I don't make muslins as much as I probably should is that I don't want to buy - or waste - a ton of muslin! I know, it's nuts and completely wrong-headed. I'm working on it. But it always feels good to use every last scrap of a stashed piece. So I cut out version 1 (with no cargo pockets and welt pockets in the back) from this maroon or burgundy (or according to Joe, pink) chambray that had been sitting in my stash for a very long time. I cut all the facings and pocket pieces from a soft plaid flannel. This turned out to be a mistake, as I'll explain later, but it was a thrifty choice.
Although it had been a pretty long time since I did welt pockets on a pair of Art Museum trousers for Joe, that project me taught that welt pockets are not something to fear, so I dove in again. These shorts were actually easier than that, because the welts were larger and less fussy to work with. Chambray also creases and irons really well, which makes welt pockets go together more smoothly. I am pretty proud of these lovely, deep, functional welt pockets, and I love how the tops of the pockets are neatly buried in the waistband.
After I sewed up the back crotch seam, I did have Steve try the pants on briefly. Based on that fitting, I carved out a bit more room in the seat of the pants to allow more freedom of movement. After years of doing this, it still always amazes me that increasing the seam allowance on the crotch actually makes the pants bigger! Weird. But anyway, I seem to have improved the fit with that one small change.
Finally, it came time for me to try my first zipper fly. I used a nice brown metal zipper I got from YKK Zippers (zipit on Etsy).
Did you guys know about this shop? My friend Mahriam told me about them
and it's incredible! Beautiful zippers at amazing prices! And the
selection puts my local shops to shame (sorry, but it's true!). You know
you've been sewing for a long time when you can get super excited about
zippers, but sure enough, I couldn't resist! I ordered a couple dozen
zippers (so cheap!), and they were at my house two days later! It was like zipper
Christmas! Check these folks out! They have really nice metal zippers and a crazy selection of every other type of zipper too.
I did a lot of internet research first, and read through several tutorials trying to wrap my head around the process of installing a zipper fly in advance. In the end, after reading several sets of instructions and several tutorials, I ended up following Thread Theory's video tutorial, which they developed for their Jedediah Pants sew-along. At this point, I'm such a newb that I cannot really weigh the respective merits of different methods for installing zipper flies, but that video is very clear and it really helps me to see the process in action. From what I've read and picked up from the online sewing community, it seems that there are several different ways to install a zipper fly, and it's probably best to identify one that you like and can understand, and then maybe do that every time instead of trying every different type of pattern instructions ... would you agree?
Okay, yeah, I'm pretty proud of myself! It turned out pretty well and I only had to unpick a tiny bit! Haha! For all of you sewists out there who feel like zipper flies are a big hurdle, I'm here to say, you can do this! Like so many things with sewing, the intimidation factor is the major hurdle. Once you sit down and start working and following instructions, it's not so bad at all. I had built this one up to be such a big deal in my mind (after all, zipper flies are not intuitive, and looking at a RTW pair or pants, I couldn't for the life of me imagine how it was done), that I was actually happily surprised at how easy it was! (In addition, I have never conquered the lapped zipper, but after this I'm thinking that's worth another try.)
It is possible that I jumped around and squealed a little bit after I completed this, much to the confusion and bemusement of my husband and brother. (Also, yes, i bound the waistband with brown double bias tape from my stash, which looks really nice.)
And they fit pretty well! There are a few things I would change (and I might go back and do a little post-sewing surgery), like the back of the waistband gapes a little bit and starts to sag after a few hours of wear. Basically, Steve needs the guy-equivalent of a swayback adjustment, to accommodate his (totally cute) bubble butt. (Oh, the things we we sewing bloggers are forced to write about! I am so sorry Steve!)
Other things I would do different - I'd pick a different fabric to line the front pockets. The flannel is too grabby, and wants to get all bunched up around the pocket opening. You can see that just a little bit in this photo, even though Steve had pushed the pockets back in right before this.
This must be why the pattern suggests "pocketing material" for the front pockets and why there was special discussion of this on the blog posts and sewalongs on Thread Theory, huh? I just figured, sure sure, "pocketing material" whatever. Well, the flannel seems fine for the welt pockets and the waistband, but in this case, I think a smooth and shiny cotton would have been so much better for those front pockets. Live and learn.
Having conquered the zipper fly, I am ready to make the Jutland pants (cargo pockets and everything) for Steve, as well as maybe some pants or shorts for myself! (Eeek!!) I'm super pumped to have picked up a new skill. Yay me!! In the meantime, Steve wore his shorts again yesterday, despite their issues, so I am feeling pretty good about these.
What are your "sewing hurdles" - any techniques that scare your pants off (haha, I am so funny)?