Before you cut your pattern pieces out of fabric you are going to have to cut the tissue pattern pieces out and take some measurements to see if you need to adjust the length of the pants or the crotch depth. So if you haven’t already pre-washed your fabric – get it in the wash now.
How to pre-shrink your fabric and when you should do it:
Whenever you sew clothing out of natural fibers you need to pre-shrink your fabric unless you only plan to dry clean them later. Polyester and other synthetic fibers don’t shrink and blends that have a large percentage of synthetics don’t generally shrink either. Cotton shrinks at first. If you don’t preshrink it before cutting out your pattern you may end up with a garment that doesn’t fit you.
Wash your fabric with a like colored load. I have not had a problem with fabric dye bleeding in years as most dyes are truly fixed but if your fabric is red or red is a dominant color in a print – I would wash it by itself to be safe. Wash the fabric exactly as you will be washing the finished garment. If you always use cold water and delicate cycles – do that. If you wash on hot or warm – do that. Dry the fabric exactly as you will be drying the garment. Be sure to remove the fabric as soon as it’s done drying to prevent deep wrinkles from setting in it and iron it right away.
Cutting the tissue pieces out.
Unfold your sheets of tissue and look for the pants pattern which are numbered 8 and 9. You will notice that they have included the cutting lines for pajama shorts. If you want to make shorts instead of pants go ahead and cut along the lines for the size you’re making. If you are making the pants – note that the shorts hem protrudes out of the side of the pants’ cutting line. If you can eyeball cutting right through it go ahead. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that here’s how to deal with it:
Cut both pieces out. Disable the steam function on your iron and iron the pattern pieces. I can promise you that this is not a wasted step. Crinkled pattern pieces can cause your fabric pieces to be misshapen and not sew well together.
Making fit adjustments for length and crotch depth:
Pattern companies can’t make patterns that fit every single person. They work with averages and that might not be you. So before you cut your pattern out of fabric you want to compare a couple of measurements and if necessary, make adjustments.
The easiest adjustment you can make is the length of the the pant. You will need help measuring your inseam to see if you need to shorten or lengthen the pattern. Here are some good instructions for how to get this measurement: 12 Ways to Take Measurements
To shorten your pants:
This is my friend Chelsea’s pattern. She is 3″ shorter than the pattern so I showed her how to shorten it. She wanted to know why she couldn’t just take the inches off the hem. If the pants were perfectly straight you could do this but they taper in from the top to the bottom and have a shaped hem. So you want to adjust the length roughly in the middle of the pant legs. This will preserve the proportions of the pattern the best.
Most patterns provide a line on the patter to show you where to adjust the length. This one provides a line for adjusting the crotch depth but not the length. You will need to draw one yourself. use a ruler and to make sure it’s perpendicular to the grain line.
Fold the pattern up 1/2 the total amount you’re shortening the pants by.
To lengthen your pants:
Draw a cutting line across the width of the pattern about half way between the waist and the hem that is perfectly perpendicular to the grain line (the long line with arrows running the length of the pattern).
Cut the pattern in half.
Measure down whatever length you need to add from the cut edge of your pattern and mark it. Either mark it in a solid line all the way across the width or do a few marks with your pencil to help you tape the bottom of your pants back onto the top evenly.
Measure your crotch depth. Every time I say or read that word I think of “crotch rot!” and am thoroughly disturbed. It’s an unfortunate word but this is very important. So those of you who are new to sewing clothes – listen up! There is nothing worse than sewing a pair of pants and then discovering that the crotch hangs to your knees gangster-style or that it barely covers your pubic area.
Sit on a hard flat surface and use a measuring tape to measure the distance from your natural waistline to the hard surface (I didn’t have a hard flat chair so my friend Chelsea sat on my work table for this shot – whatever works!). Add 1 1/4″ to your measurement to allow for ease.
Measure the pattern’s crotch depth from the finished waistline (it is marked on this pattern) to the crotch line (also marked on the pattern). If this measurement is more than your measurement – you will want to shorten the pattern at the line provided (it’s that double line you see near my notations and you can use either one). Fold it up just like I showed you in the instructions for adjusting for length.
To lengthen the crotch depth:
You are now ready to cut the pattern out of fabric! My friend Chelsea and I have discovered that what was supposed to be 45″ fabric shrank to a mere 42″ for her and my own fabric is barely 41″. We are both sewing the XL size. The pattern indicates that you can lay out your pattern with your fabric folded lengthwise and it turns out that this is a big fat lie. If your fabric is truly 45″ wide or if you are sewing one of the smaller sizes you should be able to follow their guide.
Don’t unpin the pattern from the fabric until you’re ready to start sewing. Fold up your pieces neatly and put them somewhere safe.
That’s the end of the first tutorial. I’ll be back next weekend with the next set of instructions. In the meantime – please let me know if you need more clarification on anything in this post and I’ll answer your questions.