Sewing Vloggers

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Let's make a pants slip!


While this may not be the most attractive undergarment you will ever own (it could be) I guarantee you will get miles of use out of it.  I have really come to appreciate the value of pants slips. Why bother with pants slips?

                     *  They save sewing time. You don't have to line every pair of pants that needs 
                         a lining. Just finish your seams and wear a pants slip and you have all the
                         benefits of a lined pair of pants.

                     * They offer versatility. Sometimes, in my cold climate, I wear pants with tights
                        underneath AND a pants slip for extra warmth. The pants glide right over the                                tights with the slip.  Pants slips smoosh right down and can even be worn very                                unobtrusively with jeans, when you need just a little extra warmth in winter. 

                     * They give you choice. Sometimes, in summer, I wear my linen pants with a pants
                        slip, sometimes I don't. All depends on weather and such. 

                     * Because She said so! Who is she? Claire Shaeffer, that's who!  When I took my 
                        Chanel class with the great Claire,  one of the students, a college level textiles 
                        professor, asked about lining couture pants. Claire informed us that couture pants
                       were not lined and were always worn with pants slips. She said she wore pants 
                        slips for all her pants. That was the real clincher for me.

So, for those reasons, I am a pant slip aficionado and just made another pair. I'll go over here how I did that and my philosophy regarding pants slips. 


            I am aware that pants slips can be made of tricots and silks and decorated with the most glorious of trims. My preference is to have something that will hold up to frequent laundering and wear with minimal fuss. I tend to use two different fabrics. My first choice is Bemberg rayon. It is reasonable in price, usually readily available, and comfortable to wear. Research tells me that many people find it warm. I don't  and it is my favorite lining for most sewing projects. If I can't get my hands on it quickly, as in this case, one of those gotta sew it now moments, my second choice is an anti-static poly. I have used the version from Joanns and it has worked just fine, launders well, and I have not found it to be warm on my lower body. Just make sure the bolt end says anti static.  This is what I have used today. I don't add trims as I want to make these as quickly as possible and spend my creativity on garments that are on my public side. I also don't want anything on these, as in trims,  that will telegraph through to the public side of my pants. 

           The number one rule of making pantslips, IMO, is to have as little bulk as possible. Keep that in mind as you go through the process. 

The pattern:

If you use the two fabrics I mention, they will smoosh under your pants and not be noticeable pretty much most of the time. It is ok if the pantslip is a bit bigger than your pant leg. I used my pants sloper, which you can see above, to cut my slip. Most of the pants that I would wear this with are straight legged and cut straight down from the hip curve, so this liner will be smaller than most pants I will wear it with but still have room to move. Very important here--notice that the sloper has darts and there are two on the front and one on the back. You must have darts but you will not sew them!!! 

For your casing you will need, preferably and hard to find, elastic cording, the type being used right now in masks. If you can't find that, you can use beading cording, which is very strong and what I used this time or 1/8th inch elastic. 


To keep bulk down, all seams were pinked only and given a hard press. I don't iron these. I just pull them from the dryer quickly, hand press, and they are fine. That poly seems to remember where the seams are suppose to lay. The hem is serged with a three thread finish, folded up an inch and a 1/4  and given a hard press as well. 

I like my hem to end two inches above what any regular pant hem would be. 

Above is the waist seam. The arrow points to the tuck that is made from the dart in the pattern. 

Fold your darts into tucks that will lean in the opposite direction of the way your pants darts are ironed. Back to keeping bulk down here! 

Your waist seam is 3/4 inch wide. It is serged or pinked and then folded to the inside and stitched to make a small casing.  You may have to leave the side seams separate to get them to fold down without pulling. You will understand once you try it. It's OK.  In other words when you stitch up the side and crotch seam stop when you reach the casing area and tie off. This makes it easier to fold down the casing. 

The side seam where you want your opening slit will end about 6 inches below the casing. Make sure this measurement works for you  to get over your hips. In the pic above you can see that the slit is simply the pinked side seam pressed back and topstitched about a 1/4 inch away.  

Cut a length of elastic cord long enough to go through the casing and tie in a bow with a double knot. Don't make this too snug. You will rarely untie this. Run the cording through and your closure is done once tied. 

This is simple, neat sewing, no fuss.  You can make a pantslip easily in an afternoon or less. While the casing area looks ruffly, it will smoosh out of the way and you won't know it is there. I like my open slit on the side, even if there is a center front fly because it keeps the tummy area smooth. You will also find the pants slips slides right over your hips for those bathroom moments as you pull down your public pants along with it so you are not dealing with any closure. 

This simple project can really make getting dressed and your sewing easier and more productive. I hope you give it a try. I have really enjoyed having these in my wardrobe. I am going to make another this week, an anti static out of gray. A supply of these in neutral colors is a great addition. One caveat-----brush up on your seam finishing skills. With unlined pants, you want the seams to look great and be well finished to hold up over time. I recommend Hong Kong seams whenever wise. Let me know if you give this a try or if you already have.....................Bunny 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

McCalls 5239, A Kathryn Hepburn Trouser, maybe?


I love classic pleated wide leg trousers, just love'em. They are my favorite style pant and now that they are back in style it was time to give them a go. Pfffft, you say, she can't wear these! She's only five feet tall! Well, Pffft, to you! I wear them and love them anyway. They are comfy and feminine and that is good enough for me. We all need to wear what we love and feel right in, right? 

I have recently developed an aversion to jeans. I don't know where it came from but I am just so sick of them. I took a pledge to wear them absolutely as little as possible.  My attempt at finding a  workable casual wardrobe has led me to decide to keep the damn jeans out, OUT I say. I have a fair amount of bottom weights in my stash and have been planning various pants and top outfits, all with a bit of interest and not jeans. I wanted them all casual. I really think this approach has upped my day to day dressing a lot. Now that these are done I am concentrating on corduroys. So let's get on with what was a very interesting sew, to say the least. 


Some stash digging brought out some 100% cotton chino fabric. This is not the greatest fabric for this style of pant but I am looking for every day wear here. I've always like working with chino and the vibe it gives off, a bit classier than a denim but still every day. Dress it up, dress it down, boat shoes or black jersey and dangles. Chino cotton crinkles but doesn't hold the wrinkles  badly. It is stiff and stands out on it's own as well. I just accepted that. This was my first use of this pattern and the goal was  my idea of a true trouser and a "trouser" fit.  There is no lining and no interfacing except in the zip area.  The pocket stay is a 100% cotton batik, a nice, tight weave.

pardon the slipping out top


I was looking for a high waisted, front double pleated pant with slanted pockets and volume in the legs from the hips down. I think I got that here in McCalls 5239. My original plan was to use my pant sloper and start from scratch with a new tissue. Then I started digging through my patterns and found this:

It had all I had in mind in View C, the red version. This is Palmer Pletch's pants fitting pattern from 2006 and now OOP. I looked at the measurements on the back and lo and behold, they were almost exactly like my own/sloper  in the size ten. The waist was a half inch off and that would be easy to fix but how would the crotch curve be? I took the pieces out and overlaid my sloper and it was pretty dang close. I just needed to adjust that crotch curve a tad and would be good to go. Now I didn't have to make a new tissue, etc.  View C was it! 

Washed my chino again, third time, and started laying out the pattern. But wait, we have some issues here. 

                   *  There were two pleats either side of the zipper. The pattern showed the  pleats for the four sizes on either side and none were marked, no sizes and very confusing. What went where and for whose size?  No reference in the instructions, either. I winged it. 

                 * The instructions tell you that all seams are one inch wide, for fit insurance, with one exception, the waistband piece, which is 5/8ths. Since all the circles on the leg pieces are on the one inch line at the waist and you later connect this one inch seam to the 5/8ths inch waist band seam which has interfacing stitched to that 5/8ths seam allowance,  not the band, it gets pretty crazy. I'd never seen anything like it. Don't get me wrong. I am always up for new techniques, as you know, but give me a reason. This did not make sense to me. 

I cut my waistband one inch wider so a half inch wider for each side.  This way it sat higher like I wanted. 

The legs are 22 inches wide at the bottom. 

Anyhoo, I got it all laid out and cut and proceeded with the construction. 


The pants have the classic slanted side pockets which means you are dealing with a bias edge.  One good thing about this pattern is that it has a pocket stay that extends into the fly zipper, something I planned on doing anyway. Pocket stays are great for keeping the tummy area looking good and if in a firm fabric can even hold that tumtum in a little bit. There was no interfacing or stay strip planned for the pocket edge. They suggested topstitching to prevent a "puckered" edge. As I always do, I cut a strip of selvage from the batik used to make the pocket stay. It was very thin and did not budge when yanked. I used this to stay the pocket edge. I always try to cut it  a hair short of a 1/4 inch shorter than the length of the seam needed and pull it and pin until the pocket edge is evenly distributed. You can see the little bubbles in the seam below the strip. This goes a long way toward preventing stretched out bias pocket edges.  The pocket edges and pleats were topstitched with a stitch often mistakenly used to sew knits. It is the one that sews over itself three times, nasty for knits, great for topstitching! It lays down a nice heavy line of thread. 

Zipper, Oy!

I found the zipper instructions not the best. The illustrations are far from clear.  I highly recommend searching out a better fly zip installation if you use this pattern. At first I thought "maybe it's me". So I got out a few patterns to compare. I picked pants that had the same double pleat, slanted pocket fly zip style. In the end, I trusted the ultimate expert, Claire Shaeffer and her couture pants pattern, Vogue 7881. Now I am not making couture pants here but she does set the bar. I found that Claire's pattern was so very clear and so very simple to understand. There were three steps for her zipper installation in the couture pants and so simple and this McCalls  Palmer Pletch fly has 7 steps, 2 tips and one "note" and very unclear drawings. 

The Waistband

I still don't understand how they did this waistband. 

                *  connecting a 5/8th inch waistband to a one inch pant seam. No reference to this in the instructions and confusing illustrations.

                * a method of sewing the interfacing to the 5/8th seam allowance, folding it over into the waistband and stitching to the one inch pant seam, I THINK. I still haven't figured it out.

                * making the waistband 6 inches longer  than the waist measurement. Yes, it needs over and underlap but 6 inches? 

                * a very odd addition of two small blocks of interfacing folded over the already interfaced waistband, at their ends, on the interior waistband. Let's add some bulk here just for the heck of it. 

                * The only reference to trimming the seam allowance on the waistband is to trim the little short waistband ends down to a 1/4 inch.  No mention of trimming or grading anything in the waistband seams.  I don't love me bulk in my waistband. 

All in all, this waistband installation is quite odd and filled with bulk that need not be there.  I spoke with a very accomplished career seamstress who took the Palmer Pletch week long course to "improve her skills."  She was blown away by this ridiculous waistband installation when she took her course.  I know many swear by their methods but despite sewing for decades I always approach my sewing and reviews from the standpoint of a new sewist and how would they interpret the instructions and tissues.

My own thoughts on the instructions in this pattern:

                *  The construction seems overdone at every step of the way. This will not work for new sewists and I can see them throwing it in the can and giving up on pant making. Making pants, not the fitting part, is really quite simple and it upsets me that it has been made so complicated. 

                *   Basic skills are not shown and bulk is added at every opportunity. What happened to grading seams?  Again, not for the newbie sewist who would be learning how to fit and likely buying this pattern. Emphasis is needed on  time proven sewing skills as in the waistband and fly for the less experienced sewist but you will have to go elsewhere to find that. It's not in this pattern.  

                 * Just make it easy on yourself. If the pattern measurements fit you, go for it as I did, then get yourself a great sewing book  or video and follow that on  how to make pants. Anyone from AD Lynn to Sandra Betzina, Nancy Zieman, Reader's Digest Sewing Book, and the Singer Pants sewing book will work just great.  

In Conclusion

I love my Kathryn Hepburn style trousers and will make more of them. I will  use my sloper and morph out to a 22 inch leg and add pleats and slanted pockets. I know that I didn't choose the ideal fabric but it is great for everyday casual and I also know these pants would shine in a wool crepe or 4 ply silk. Maybe when Covid times end, I will have that need and will invest in a pair out of such lovely fabric. 

I wear these mostly with white leather sneaks and a tucked in shirt. They have pointed out my need for a new great white shirt, one that will tuck in neatly.  Most that I own are too full to tuck in nicely. 

There are things we wear that are universal, a good pair of classic trousers, a pencil skirt, a button down shirt,  and more. Be aware that any decent sewing manual and some good yutubers can pull you through making them all quite nicely. If you find a pattern that fits you well, don't be afraid to dump the instructions and search other resources for your directions. It will serve you well. 

Also, and last but not least, you do not have to look like Kathryn Hepburn to wear a good set of trousers. It's all about what you like and what you are comfortable in. 

Who owned this pattern?

Recently I've had the opportunity to charge ahead on a long anticipated project, searching down some great thrift shops. This has not be...