Free Range Slacks: Part 1

An hour-by-hour update of my progress making the Free Range Slacks by Sew House Seven.

Sunday, 12th April 2020

12pm

I begin by highlighting around my size on the last pattern I got printed before lockdown: the Free Range Slacks by Sew House 7. According to their chart I’m a size 6 in the waist and between a 2 and 4 in the hips, so I grade between the two. Highlighting makes it easier to spot which line to cut, especially when grading between sizes.

12.48pm

I’ve finished cutting out all the paper pieces (decided against pockets at the back). Decide to cut out the pockets and waistband in the pale blue chambray fabric I have leftover from my very first me-made garment (the ruffle sleeve top) and the rest from some petrol-blue linen-feel cotton.

Time to start ironing those odds and ends of chambray.

1.32pm

Ironing complete, it’s time to start cutting my first pieces of fabric. We begin with the pale blue. I use a rotary cutter as it’s so much faster than scissors.

1.48pm

Finished cutting the pocket and pocket facing. Realise the grainline for the waistband facing is the other direction to those two, and my offcut of fabric isn’t wide enough. A little rummage through my fabric stash and – phew – I do have a piece wide enough. Cut out the waistband.

2.44pm

I’ve finally finished ironing my very creased linen and aligning the edges to ensure the grainline is at exactly 90 degrees to the selvedge (the ‘finished’ edge of the fabric that stops it fraying). Getting the grainline right is important for these slacks so the fabric doesn’t look or hang weird.

I move onto cutting out all the remaining pattern pieces from my dark blue fabric.

3.24pm

All the fabric pieces are cut out and are ready for sewing. I’m a little nervous about getting started – my first pair of trousers! Fortunately as they have an elasticated waist they should be a little more forgiving for a new sewist.

5.07pm

I begin work on the pockets, getting confused along the way about which is the front and back of my fabric (forgot to mark it at the start, thinking it would be obvious!).

The strange-looking pocket facing confuses me for ages, the spatial awareness part of my brain is not firing on max today! I place it in every conceivable direction and finally pin it in place. Only when I move onto the other side do I realise I’d still managed to get it wrong. Fortunately I’d only pinned it, and not sewed it!

I use my chalk to rule a line of where to sew around the pocket edges. For a moment I consider using a contrasting pale blue thread on the dark fabric, then decide against it. Still working on that top stitching! Good decision – the dark thread is much more forgiving.

6.52pm

It takes me a while to get my head around the side panels. It feels as though we’re about to French seam them, then things get a little funky, with a lot of folding, pressing, cutting and top-stitching. I wonder whether to ignore the instructions and French seam, but not confident about the ease in the pattern. I’d be so annoyed if my legs ended up not fitting into the trousers!

9.02pm

Finished all the weird side panel seams. Regretting the decision to do the pockets in a contrasting fabric, as the lines are a bit wonky. Really wishing it was a French seam as my top-stitching looks all over the place! Unusually for impatient me, I even unpicked two sections and re-did them. Even so, it really makes them look so much less professional when the stitching isn’t straight.

Things I never knew

Side note, before I started dressmaking I had no idea of two things:

  • Firstly, how little sewing is involved in what we call sewing.
  • Secondly, how hard it would be to sew in a straight line. (And I haven’t had a thing to drink tonight, promise)

Calling it a night

I’m calling it a night at the sewing table, but I can’t resist reading ahead in the instructions to find out what tomorrow will bring. It looks pretty tricky – it’s all new to me!

So I head on over to YouTube and watch an experienced sewist nail the whole thing in four hours. Mind you, her machine is incredible – so quiet, and a speed of 3,000 stitches per minute (that compares to my machine, which runs at less than 1,000 at full power). She’s not really explaining what she’s doing so much as recording herself doing it while having a chat with her (then) live-stream viewers. Still, it’s slightly useful to see the process done by someone much more experienced.

That’s all for today. Final day of Easter break tomorrow, and I hope to have a pair of trousers that fits to wear for work the next day!

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