Tag Archives: patterns

Iris Shorts: A First Step Towards Sewing Trousers

Iris Shorts

Check it out! Shorts!

I tried on 20 pairs of pants at a thrift store the other day. Well, some of them I only tried on with one leg up to my knee before rejecting, so this wasn’t as time-intensive as you might suspect. Thrift store shopping itself is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. It’s like a treasure hunt, so of course you know going in to it that you’re going to have to sift through a lot of duds to find that special item. But pants, ai yi yi!

Iris Shorts Side

Hmm. Sorry about the t-shirt shots. Not much of an effort there, huh?

Iris Shorts BackI usually bring a tape measure with me to measure the waist of the pants I’m going to try on, as sizes seem to be so arbitrary, but I’d forgotten it and had to resort to holding up items and hoping I was in the right size range. As it turns out, I’m not sure the tape measure would’ve been that much help. The difference in rises was so different from one pair of pants to the other that it would’ve been hard to read a waist measurement on most of them. The ‘waist’ could really be anywhere from high hip to low hip and most likely not anywhere near your actual waist at all. Then there were funny fabric contents, odd leg shapes, and pockets and embellishments in the most peculiar places. It would have been demeaning if I hadn’t had a sense of humor about it. The whole experience was comical.

Iris Shorts Facing

I used some quilting cotton I had on hand for the facing and pocket lining.

I have had no desire to sew pants for myself in the past, but I’m considering taking the plunge after trying on so many pairs and thinking the only way to a good fit is to make them myself. I am bummed I missed out on Steph’s pants block service that she used to offer. I was in the middle of losing weight when I discovered her business, and by the time I reached goal she had moved on to other ventures. I’m excited about Cake patterns, and hope there’s a pants pattern coming up the pike so we can learn from her pants fitting knowledge!

I bought Kenneth King’s Jeanius course through Craftsy, but now my favorite jeans that I thought I would copy are way too big. I want to trace a pair of well-fitting jeans that don’t have stretch in them so I can reproduce them in corduroy and other fabrics without stretch. I’ll have to dig through some more thrift store piles to find a pair of non-stretch denims. It seems like everything has stretch in it today. Wow, I sound like a cranky old lady: In my day… he he. I’ll keep you posted on that project.

Anyway, since I’m on a Colette roll, I thought I’d try the Iris shorts as a way of dipping my toe into the pants-making waters. It’s a cute and simple pattern. I made the first pair in a solid navy cotton twill. They are comfortable and flattering, even on someone who’s not 20 years old anymore. When I look at these photos, I see wrinkles that might mean something to someone with more pants-fitting expertise, but overall I’m pretty happy with the fit for a first attempt. It’s closer than anything I found in the store, that’s for sure!

I traced from my wider waist size to smaller hip size when tracing off the pattern. I ended up pinching out an inch at the waist and tapering it down to nothing to get a nice fit in the front.

Changes I made:

  • Extended the pocket pieces up to the waistband so they don’t flap around loosely but are anchored at the top.
  • Made the pocket openings 1″ wider.
  • Lengthened the back darts 1/2″
  • Lengthened the legs the tiniest bit: 1/2″

I’m working on a second pair in gingham with the buttons on the pockets. This has definitely boosted my confidence that sewing a pair of trousers that fit could be possible.


Postcard: NYC Fashion District

Metro Textiles in Manhattan

Toto, I don't think we're in JoAnn's anymore

I got to spend a few fun days walking around NYC last week! Although we lived in the city for four years, I was a busy young mom then and didn’t find myself on too many fabric shopping trips—other than the now defunct Sew Brooklyn where I learned how to hand quilt.

During my last trip to NY in October, I found a few moments to pound the pavement in the Fashion District, but became easily overwhelmed. It took me a long time to find the stores I thought I wanted to visit, and some were closed or had moved. When I finally found Mood, I saw the floor to ceiling fabric and almost hyperventilated. Tim Gunn never showed up to calm me down and tell me politely to get a grip on myself. After circling the store in a daze, I left, not sure how one would ever actually buy anything there, even though other people were obviously doing so. I found some notion stores and bought some buttons and trim and called it a day.

For this excursion, I did my homework. I checked out some posts on patternreview.com, and scoured some of my favorite NY sewing blogs, like SEWN and Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, for tips on successfully navigating the Fashion District. These were some of my favorite stops this past week:

Metro Textiles – 265 W. 37th St., Suite 908 This was a great find, and I’ll definitely be making this my first stop the next time I go to the Fashion District again. Kashi was so nice and, once he knew what I was looking for, pulled out several options while I poked around. I got over my fear of being a nuisance for asking for something to be pulled out so I could take a better look at it here. The prices were fantastic. I actually left here and then came back for one piece later when I figured out that this store was a gem.

Paron Fabrics and Annex – New address: 257 W. 39th Street I didn’t understand the clerk who first spoke to me when I came in. I thought she said everything was 50% off the tag price here. It wasn’t until after I was at the cutting table that I realized that wasn’t so. It should have been obvious that only the bolts with the special 50% off tag (tricky, huh?) were 1/2 off, but I was on my own and like a deer caught in headlights for most of the day, so I’ll let myself off the hook for not picking up on this blatant clue. I ultimately decided to get all of my choices here, anyway. I would never find anything like those fabrics around here at the local craft store, and they were good prices.

SIL Thread – 257 W. 38th Street A little bit of googling will let you know that this store gets a pretty bad rap for poor customer service, so I went in expecting none at all, and had a fine time. I found the rare and endangered large waxed tracing paper sheets needed for the Craftsy Couture Dress and Bombshell Dress courses. Single sheets—yay! I also found plenty of marking tools here that I’d been wanting to try, thread and zippers. I didn’t need any cut, but they will cut them to size for you here.

I also popped into many random button and trim stores, browsed at the FIT bookstore on 27th Street (have to check out the museum next time!), found the elusive DCx1F serger needles I needed and all in all walked myself into the ground and had a great time.

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking that I live in a fabric shop desert, and I do. At home, I clutch my JoAnn’s sales flyer optimistically when I stop in for fabric—there has to be something in here that will work, right?—and 9 times out of 10 I end up disappointed. Truly, I’m often alarmed at the hideous fabric for sale, complete with the escalating prices of it. I don’t understand who the buyers are, and they obviously don’t understand me. The button selection as well is deplorable. I try to make the best of it. What I didn’t realize, however, was that I was lucky to have those 99-cent pattern sales at my fingertips! In New York, surrounded by store after store of gorgeous fabric, one- and two-dollar patterns are not to be had. That never occurred to me and makes me feel slightly less destitute…