sewing - making pants, part 1

a number of months ago, i decided to make a pair of pants. it was getting warm out, and i had not brought any shorts to kansas with me. i had four pairs of jeans, and nothing more. so i started thinking about what i would want to buy, and who and what i would be supporting by buying new pants/shorts. i looked at some 'eco' and 'organic' types of clothes, but they are way beyond my budget. and i kind of wanted something particular... so the journey began.

the need
what i needed, in my mind, was a pair of light, airy pants (i guess you'd call them capris, but i just call them pants) that came to just below my knee and fit snugly around the top of my calves. the goal in snugness is to keep ticks out - there are a lot of ticks around here, especially if you spend any time walking in tall grasses. and i do. i also wanted pants that fit low-ish on my waist, and kind of snug around my butt - who doesn't want their butt to look good in pants, if possible? so those were my criteria.

finding patterns
i looked online for sewing 'patterns' for these types of pants, but didn't feel very successful. the closest things i found weren't quite what i wanted, and i didn't really want to spend money to purchase and ship a pile of paper drawings when i would just have to alter them to suit my needs anyway. i decided to design the pants myself and figure it out as i went along. please keep in mind that up until that moment, i had only sewn pillows, very simple cloth wipes and menstrual pads, and a pathetic 'dress' so that i could look like a medieval servant for a high school project. all of this had been done by hand, i've never really used sewing machines. and i'd never used a pattern before - frankly, i find them very intimidating.

moving from dream to pen
once i decided to design the pants myself, i realized i would want to sketch out a pattern on fabric to keep separate from the actual pants that i made, so that i could re-use the pattern and alter it accordingly. i waffled around on this for awhile, visualizing the process and imagining how i would join the seams, the crotch area, how to do the cuffs at the bottom, and how to get the leg shaping that i wanted. finally in mid april i pulled out a pair of jeans that fit my butt nicely, grabbed the several yards of muslin i had purchased for making the pants, and laid them all out and got to work. i spent a long afternoon holding fabric up to myself, wrapping it around my calves and marking it, tracing the seams of the favored jeans onto the pattern fabric, and pinning things around my waist to try to imagine how the fabric would lay.

more waffling, then some action
the cut fabric sat around in my office for a long time. i would look at it, feel intimidated, and ignore it awhile more. then one day i decided to yank it out and start sewing. this required more analysis, as i considered which seams would have to be joined first and in what order everything ought to be put together. it was confusing, but i figured out enough to get started hemming the edges of each piece. this kept me busy for quite some time (weeks and weeks of an hour here, an hour there).

they're starting to look like pants!
towards the end of july the pants started taking shape. once the legs were connected in the middle, they really started to look like pants! just weird, open-sided floppy confusing pants. this, nonetheless, motivated me to keep moving forward. as july came to a close and august brought more hot days sitting around in the air conditioning, i finished putting all the pieces together...              and the pants were too tight. i don't know if it was because of how i joined the seams, or my general measurements/tracing, or some mysterious force from the sewing underworld. but they were decidedly tight. so i took out the stitching  that joined the outside seam of each pant leg, and sewed in a strip of my favorite fabric. and that actually looked pretty good! but then the waist was too big, so i added a few buttons to the front so i could fold the fabric in on itself, tighten things up, and also secretly cover up some of the seams (which turned out to be done way too heavy duty, and ended up looking awkward)

okay, after the first week of august, the pants were mostly done. the waist was okay, the legs were okay (though not as poofy as i wanted around the knees, but fine), and i just had to sew up the bottom cuffs. so close! finally, that was done, and then i had........

(*said in a hallelujah-like, awe-inspired voice of amazement and wonder)
paaaaaants! glorious, handmade, magical, i can't believe i made these paaaaants!!!!!
i wore those pants a lot. for days, out to the garden, and around town on my bike. i got a feel for them, felt how they loosened up after a day of wear, how they stretched and didn't stretch in certain places. after a few weeks i decided they would need modification, but that was yet to come...

to be continued.

the 'stuff to post about' list:
-herb harvesting/infusions/use of fresh herbs/tinctures
-making pants/making clothing
-growing herbs in the garden
-growing veggies, garden details
-my work vs. hogwarts
-burn salve
-the view from laundry day
-awesome natural builder blogs
-the search for land/money/building credit
-dental health/sustainable toothcare
-sustainable clothes washing
-sustainable home/dishes/cleaning
-embroidering project (jeans)
-recent crafts - stamps, giraffe puppet, clothespin bag