Friday, November 12, 2010

project : sweat pants

Well, I'd be a terrible fashion-major blogger if I never posted anything I made, so I'll start now. This isn't exactly going to be a "fashion related" post, but it's something that's so easy to make that I might as well share all the secrets!

My roommates last year loved to make fun of me for my lack of college-wardrobe staples in my closet ... the sweat pant. I can't stand them. Maybe it's the way people tuck them into Ugg boots or how they seem to be the new "appropriate" attire for the airport, but the main reason is the fit. It took me until this year to finally figure out the problem, when my current roommates poked fun at me for the same reason of not owning any sweat pants. So I went to my university spirit-wear store and tried on a pair and there were just so many problems. The crotch is always a mile lower than it should be, and then when you pull them up they're too short (and I'm tall to begin with, so this is a problem). I left, feeling defeated, and then it stupidly dawned on me, why haven't I made my own?

I started these this morning around 10:00, and with a good hour-and-a-half lunch break finished them by 1:00. Easiest thing ever, and it eliminated all the fit problems because I used ... my own sloper!

For those who aren't familiar with pattern drafting, a sloper is to a clothing pattern as a sugar cookie is to a chocolate chip or peanut butter or something-else cookie. It's the stencil of your body that you work from to get more specific garments. The fit of a sloper pattern, when sewn, will be like a glove to your body - you have a sleeve, bodice, pant, and skirt sloper that you can easily trace and then transform into a bishop (or dolman!) sleeve, an empire waist top, trousers, or a circle skirt, as long as you know what to do.

Left, a front bodice sloper, just for fun. At right, the brushed jersey - can you see the knit face and the fuzzy inside along the edges?

I used the standard brushed jersey for this project, about a yard and a half (I bought two though, just to be safe). Brushed jersey is, basically, sweatshirt fabric - a thicker knit fabric with the wrong side "brushed" to raise up the fibers and create that fuzzy interior that everyone loves. I picked red, because it is my school color (along with black).

My front and back pant slopers

As for the pattern, I barely modified my sloper. I remembered trying it on last year in class (with darts, of course) and thinking it was pretty close to perfect for a looser pant - just fitting in the hips with a nice leg width down to the floor. Since sweat pants don't have fit lines (any sort of dart or intake to make the fit closer to the silhouette), I simply traced out the sloper as-is, adding a little length at the bottom because I like my pants long, giving a half inch around the leg below the knee for a tiny bit more of a flare, and cut it out from there. A pant sloper will go directly up to the natural waist, obviously not where I want my sweatpants to go, so conveniently by cutting just below the darts (so darts taken care of), you now have a lower-rise pant that simply needs a waistband. I used the cut-off excess from the darted area as the waistband because the piece would already be trued to the pant (trueing is making all curves and lines within a pattern seamless, so they meet perfectly), and then simply folded it over, inserted elastic, and serged it. For the entire project, minus the hem on the legs, I used a serger machine - sergers are designed for knitwear. If you look at the seams inside your t-shirt or leggings, for example, you will see a more complicated loopy stitch that stretches, unlike a line of straight stitches. You wouldn't want to curl up in your new sweat pants and hear a stitch pop! It also creates a professionally finished edge within a garment. I ironed on a "U" and a "C" and was done!

Now that's how sweat pants should fit!

Moral of the story, you can do anything with a sloper. I wouldn't call this much of a tutorial, but it's a simplified walk-through of how this was done. I can't wait to wear these around and feel the brushed fuzzy inside! Hopefully next time I'll have a more fashion-related project to share.

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