diyds (do it your damn self) : toddler pant pattern drafting

heyoooooo!!! i hope it was the most delicious baby momma day for anyone who has ever changed a poopy diaper! my brother just became a baby daddy! they gave birth to their mini me three days ago and it’s been bittersweet talking with him and seeing photos pop up in my inbox because it ursher hurts to be so far from him (new york) but amazing that our sibling relationship is solid enough that he shares his life with me. it was a great ma day in our flock. woke up to a single rose (picked from our garden by babby daddy but it was a good one) and a 3×5 index card with a beautiful scribble by seb and a lovey, sappy note from baby daddy. cuties. then we fam biked to pambiche for a cuban brunch of eggs, black beans & rice and sugary cafe con leche oh my. and then. then i put boopie down for a nap and got to hit the pattern table for the rest of the afternoon. uugghh. it felt so good.

seb is growing – we really need to stop feeding and watering that kid – and he’s in semi desperate need of pants and shirts for summer that fit him. i usually love sewing kid clothes out of 100% cottons but they are mad hot so i was thinking something in the linen family. i had the chance to hit fabric depot over the weekend. the buttonholer on my janome broke eons ago so i put her in the car wishful thinking that i would find time to make the drive out to 122nd & stark at some point. saturday we decided to hit the annual st. johns parade. god do i love me some lombard street and downtown st. johns. my brother and i were born and raised just off lombard street before st. johns and it feels like you’ve traveled back in time when portland was just a sweet, small town full of hard working blue class families who smiled at you for no reason. it was amazing. this parade is a big ol’ deal every year. folks already had their fold-up chairs ready and guarding front row seats hours before the main event.

st. johns 4

st johns 2

there were corn dogs and cotton candy and strawberry lemonade and a cowboy riding a unicycle and we just had a damn blast. seb rocked out at the st. johns swap n’ play table and leigh and i found hound and the hare, a sweet vintage shop where seb started typing out his memoir. i also finally had the chance to case out the menu at proper eats, a vegan diner and grocery i’ve heard about for years. it looks bomb. i’ll have to go back.

st johns 1

st johns 3

the parade crowd grew, it got hot and seb fell asleep in the car on the way home so we decided to keep driving alllllll the way to montavilla sewing so i could drop the janome off. bang. getting shit done. seb still asleep we kept on down the road to fabric depot. bang. getting more shit done. it’s been some time since i got to fall down the rabbit hole that is the depot and their buyer is doing big things. there’s a couple racks of delicious japanese linens that are luxurious and definitely out of my normal price range but it’s been so long since i made anything and the kid needs pants – what’s a concerned ma to do? so sunday after brunch, i kissed seb’s little baby forehead, closed the door for his nap, and hit the pattern table. i grabbed one of the pants he has that i like the fit of to copy. they’re knit and the linens i bought are wovens but that won’t make a huge difference.

to start, i grabbed some graphed pattern paper – i bought a roll of this here years ago and it’s lasted well beyond its price tag. i drew a grain line in red down the center of the paper. if i was copying a piece that had a consistent center front (CF) or center back (CB), then this red grain line would indicate the CF or CB. but in this case, i’ll place the front pant piece more or less over the center of this grain line, making sure it runs perpendicular to the hem, as this is a good indicator of straight grain hang when worn on the body.

pant 1

then i tacked down the front pant as flat as possible and used the tracing wheel to trace around the front pattern piece, making note of the knit cuff and the waistband situation.

pant 2

next, i lifted up the pant and penciled in the trace lines, smoothing and trueing out lines as i go. trueing just means to smooth out any jagged or jogged lines (lines are aren’t consistently straight or curved as you want them to be).

pant 3

pant 5

then i flipped the pants over and did the same thing for the back pant piece, starting with a fresh piece of graphing paper and a red grain line.

pant 6

pant 7

you want crisp 90 degree angles at crucial places, like where the outseam and inseam meet the top hemline/waistband, where the end of the crotch/stride line meets the top of the inseam and in this case, at the hem.

you can check if lines are making a smooth transition between where pieces will be sewn together by placing either the front onto the back or vice versa and look at your lines. the best way to do this is to trace your pattern piece lines on the opposite side of the paper so that you have ultimate accuracy. now you can easily look at your lines like the stride and waistband if shaped, as in this case.

pant 8

the back waistband is about an inch higher than the front (to account for bulky baby diaper booty) so i wanted to copy that shaping. i dropped the front waistband by 1/2″ and then using the side-by-side method, i could look at the shaping at the side seams and make any adjustments. to true up a line when you have your pieces layered on top of each other is to take your tracing wheel and create a new line that is smooth. the tracing wheel dots will show up on both pieces! keep fussing until you’re happy.

pant 9

pant 10

i also try to notate pattern pieces as soon as i make them. helps in the sanity department down the road when you want to make another of whatever you’ve just spent hours patterning. for notation, here’s what’s what:

– date
– name of garment (either a made-up name or if using a commercial pattern, the company name and style number of the pattern)
– size
– name of pattern piece (top front, bottom front, pant front, pant back, waistband front, waistband back, top front side, top back side, etc…)
– how many to cut (x2, cut 2, x4, cut 4 – however you want to notate that)

so a complete notation would look like this:

5/10/15
Sebe summer pull-on pant (if i wanted to indicate that it had an elastic waistband)
18 months
front pant
cut 2

then, before you go any further, do what i hastily in all my rusty, over-excitedness forgot to do: double-check the flat paper pattern measurements against the garment you copied to make sure you’re on the right track. had i done this, i would have realized i forgot to double the waistband amount (since it gets folded over to form the elastic casing) and i wouldn’t have cut and sewn pants whose stride was too damn short. whoops. no worries. it was nice practice and i’m sure my boo-boo pair will fit a kiddo somewhere. and i love/hate making mistakes like this because they’re always a good reminder of the process. i’ll show that alteration in a bit when i make the second pair of (better fitting! gah!) pants. but back to where we were.

now that you have everything measured and trued and pretty, it’s seam allowance time. i chose to go the industry standard 3/8″ most everywhere except places like the waistband and the cuffs, which get their own special situation. when drawing in seam allowance, remember to make crisp 90 degree angles at those crucial places where one piece will be sewn to another piece. there are exceptions to this rule but generally, this will do you right.

pant 11

after putting in all your seam allowances, throw in a couple notches where you need them. for this garment, i wanted a notch at the outseam and the inseam. you want notches wherever you’re matching up curved pieces – will make your life waaay easier when you go to construct the garment. i chose to put the outseam notch 6″ up from the hem on both front and back pieces.

pant 12

and a notch at the inseam 3 1/2″ down from the end of the stride. for measuring curved lines, i use my indespensible clear flex graphing rulers. they are the absolute bomb. i always cope mine at columbia art and drafting at se 15th & burnside. they always have them in stock and they’re cheap, as they should be.

pant 13

a single line works just fine for indicating a notch. you can go back after you cut out your pattern and actually notch those with a notcher.

pant 14

the last piece i drafted was the cuff. i just measured the cuff on the sample pant, did some fold-over measuring and voila, the easy rectangle cuff.

pant 15

i cut out all the pieces.

pant 16

i started with the knit cuff – just happened to have some light grey medium weight sweatshirt jersey in the closet stash and thought that’d suffice.

pant 17

next up, the pant pieces, out of the fancy yummy japanese linen (since we don’t have a washer/dryer, to get rid of shrinkage, i always dunk new fabric in hot water with a pinch of soap and set it out to air dry before making anything with it)

pant 18

first, i tore a small strip across the top cross grain so that i could match up both the grainlines and the cross grainlines when folding the fabric in right sides together. place pieces on top, making sure both pieces were going in the same direction as the cute little animals on the fabric. (one of the pieces is flipped onto the other side so that it fits but this is totally fine! as long as the main grain line is going in the direction of the animals on the fabric, as it is. boom.

pant 19

to know that the paper pieces are placed exactly on grain with the fabric grain, i place the ruler three times down the red grain line (top, middle, bottom) and measure from the red grain line to the edge of the fabric. like this.

pant 20

pant 21

pant 22

now i can and cut them out and clip the little notches i made. and start putting them together. i did these the traditional pant way, sew front to back outseams first and press.

pant 23

pant 24

sew inseams and press.

pant 25

place one pant leg inside the other pant leg so that whole stride can be sewn and pressed.

pant 26

pant 27

sew in cuffs to hems.

pant 28

fold over waistband and sew closed, leaving one small space open. thread elastic through. sew ends of elastic together. for a final sporty touch, i sewed another line down the middle of the elastic.

pant 29

try on boopie! realize that they’re cute but that something went awry in the fit because crotch is too small and tight. curse quietly to self. regard pattern and sample pant. see what went wrong. vow to remedy that for next pair. still make boopie wear too-tight crotch pants to new seasons. just for my hard-on of having accomplished something at the sewing table.

pant 30

i’ll put up the tight crotch alteration soon! go make some pants! love you mean it!