Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sewing for BOYS!

I constantly see the debates online between working moms and stay at home moms. I just chuckle to myself and sigh. As a work from home full time employee and mom to a child with special needs, sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel. However, as my little man found his rhythm and has begun to explore his world on all fours or shimmying around furniture, I seem to have found my rhythm as well. As I did, I found our budget is still tighter than ever and the stash of baby clothes from hand me downs and gifts has finally run out. My mother has been sewing nonstop for my little niece making her gorgeous little dresses and I felt frustrated that there aren't any fun patterns for BOYS! Searching through Pinterest one day, I found a few ideas and patterns and quickly came up with a marvelous plan.

Use DADDY'S old pants to make new pants for my little man.
We were desperately due for a laundry day so I thought it was a key opportunity to hunt through my husband's drawers. Whatever was left during this laundry famine was sure to not fit or be worn out. I pulled out 3 gems. 1 pair of jeans that he felt fit him awkwardly, 1 pair of Dickies that were uncomfortable, and 1 pair of wool dress pants that were used for a Halloween costume.

I'm sure this isn't an original idea and there are many blog posts on the web for this basic pattern and concept. However, I couldn't find exactly this simple process all in one place. So here it is.  I keep saying these pants take 30 minutes. I'm bet it's longer than that, but I made 3 in one evening after the little guy was in bed and still went to bed at a decent hour. They are literally one of the easiest things I have ever made. And since they are made out of 'adult' fabric instead of thin cottons and jersey knits, I can let him be a BOY and play in the dirt and crawl across pavement, etc. Not to mention the constant compliments I get on his great pants. No one believes they are hand made.

The key to the simplicity of these pants is that I use the hem line and inseam of the Adult jeans. This makes them look professional rather than 'home sewn' and greatly simplifies the process. So you only get one pair of toddler pants per 1 pair of adult pants. But if you were going to throw them out anyway or they were just taking up valuable storage space in your dresser, it's definitely worth it.

My first attempt ended up a little tighter than I thought, but it was an easy tweak for the next pair. They are basically a perfect fit so there isn't much room to grow. I was amazed to see how easily he can move in them. Since I did run into this problem, please keep in mind if you are using a jersey knit as a template to make pants in a stiffer fabric allow extra room to account for the stretch you have lost.

Let's get started.

What you will need:
Pair of pants that are in decent shape from the knee down
matching thread (I use a mustardy yellow for jeans)
fabric scissors
3/4" wide elastic
writing utensil- pen/ marker whatever is around
clothes iron
pins/safety pins

Step 1: Making your pattern: select your 'material' and a pair of pants that fits your child well to use as a template.
Take the template pants and fold them in half. Use the actual edge of the fabric for your actual pattern edge for the hem and side seam.
Add 5/8" to the interior edges to allow for a seam allowance. Leave about 2 1/2" extra at the top.
Step 2: Cutting: Now pin your pattern on the pants. I used 1 pattern for both pant legs, but if you choose to do it this way don't leave your brain behind. Because you will have to flip the pant leg and your pattern to do the opposite side. (I only say this as often by the time I have a minute to sew my brain has gone to bed hours ago.)
Step 3:  Sewing: Start by unfolding the two pieces and place them face to face. Then sew along the two sides as shown below. This will be the front seam and the back seam covering the bum.

Next fold your fabric so the fresh seams are in the center. This makes the shape or you pant. Clip the seam allowance along any curves so the fabric can lay flat and iron. Now go back in and sew the inner leg lines. Start at one cuff moving up to the crotch and then turn and go back down ending at the other cuff. Clip the seam allowance along any curves so the fabric can lay as flat as possible and iron. Feel free to trim down you seam allowances.
At this point I had a fitting. I turned the pants right side out and folded the top down to where it was similar to the template pair. I then ironed it so there was a nice crease and tried them on the kiddo. I adjusted as necessary and carefully placed a safety pin to mark the spot and took them off.

 To sew the waistband, You are going to have 2 folds that fold on the inside of the pant and end up being wide enough to fit your 3/4" elastic through. Make your folds and cut off any excess. I did my first fold as 5/8" and sewed it in place. Then I folded the second fold to cradle the 3/4" elastic nicely. I sewed this down right along the outside of the fold. Make sure to NOT meet your stitch as you come around the waistband. You need to leave enough room to thread in your elastic. Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic and feed it through you opening and around the waistband. When it comes out the other end I safety pinned it to the pant so I didn't lose the end and had another fitting. Put the pants on your little guy or girl and pull the elastic until it is not too tight and not too loose. Un-safety pin your other side and safety pin the two ends together at the perfect length. Remove the pants. Then stitch the elastic sides together. Make sure they aren't twisted. Hand stitch up your opening for the elastic and DONE.
My husband had the fabulous idea of taking the Dickies label off of his pants and sewing it onto the bum of the Dickies we made for Lucas. I love how they came out!
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