I’m done. I finished the hand sewing on my shorts last night, and this morning I sewed on the button. I’ve even washed them and taken a couple of pictures of them hanging up to dry (including a close-up of the buttonhole). And tomorrow, Mama says she’ll take pictures of me wearing them.

I’m trying to decide what I should work on next. I’d like to start the orange and green pants, but I should probably have Mama’s sewing machine looked at first — it fought me every step of the way when I was making the shorts. (I love that that’s in the past tense, though. “Was making.” As in, “am no longer making, because they’re done.”) Tearing out seams because I’m still getting the hang of making a fly is one thing. Tearing out seams because the thread broke, or the bobbin tension changed without me knowing it, is something else. I don’t want to ruin my orange and green fabric the way I did my red blouse fabric.

Besides, the orange and green pants are part of a suit. I was originally planning to make both a pants muslin and a jacket muslin before I cut out the suit. But now that I’ve finished the pants muslin — that is, the shorts — I’m itching to start the pants themselves.

Well, I can’t start either of them today. I haven’t washed the orange and green fabric yet. I haven’t even bought fabric for the jacket. Or notions for either project. So I think what I’ll do is cut out the patterns for both of them, and make up my mind when I hit the fabric store.

I finished the waistband of my shorts this morning, so all that’s left to do is the hand sewing. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off me. They’re not perfect, but they’re done.

I think this part of the project was harder than the other three put together. First, I don’t like fusible interfacing, so I had to figure out a way of strengthening the waistband without it. The last time I made something with a fitted waistband, I used a second layer of fabric as interfacing. But I didn’t think to sew the two layers together, so when I folded them in half, the “interfacing” sort of crumpled up inside the waistband. I didn’t want that to happen again.

Second, I don’t trust machine-made buttonholes. (At least, not mine — they tend to be awful.) So I wanted to make a bound buttonhole, instead. Unfortunately, Mama couldn’t walk me through it, the way she did with the fly — she’s never made bound buttonholes. But she has made welt pockets, which are sort of like bound buttonholes that got in the way of a bad Engorgement Charm when they were kids. And I found some good directions online. (I’ll have to hang on to those.) And I just kept at it till I got it right. Of course, it took me a couple of tries. (All right — more than a couple.) But it was worth it — this buttonhole looks a million times better than my last one.

And finally, I had to sew the waistband onto the shorts. That’s what I did this morning. I had to do the buttonhole first — I found that out the hard way. But that meant I couldn’t alter the waistband on the fly — if I made the side seams smaller, I couldn’t move the buttonhole a little to the right to make up for it. That’s why it isn’t centered over the zipper, the way it’s supposed to be — I had to make the side seams smaller if I wanted to get the waistband on at all. I’ll have to remember that when I’m making the orange and green pants. (That, and that attaching the waistband is easier if you use a zipper foot.)

Still, I’ll probably finish the shorts tonight or tomorrow. I’m not going to let a slightly off-center buttonhole harsh my squee.

The first time I can remember keeping a journal is during my freshman year of high school. I had an English teacher who thought that timed writing was the greatest invention since the full stop, so every day she’d give us things to write about, and we’d spend fifteen minutes trying to look like that statue by Rodin. Or maybe that was just me. I’ve never been good at that kind of command performance. But by then, I was good at ignoring what I was supposed to be doing, so I actually have fond memories of that journal. I named it Parnassus, after the home of the Muses, and the first thing I wrote in it was Psalm 19:14 — “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” It’s been almost twenty years, but that still seems like the best place to start a journal.

This morning, I finished the third part of my current sewing project — the pockets and side seams. I followed Mama’s instructions on the left side, but I didn’t like having to clip the back seam allowance, so I tried something different on the right. I trimmed another quarter of an inch off the sides, and then (after I attached the pocket) I sewed the front and back together in a three-eighth-inch seam. I like the way it turned out, so I think that’s what I’m going to do when I make the orange and green pants. (And, as an added bonus, I won’t need to add a quarter of an inch to the side seams of my pattern — I’ll just need to subtract it from the waist.)

I finished sewing the fly of my shorts on Sunday — topstitching and everything. It’s sort of a first for me — the last time I tried to make a pair of pants, the fly is where I threw in the towel. I just couldn’t get my head around the pattern instructions. But this time I was smart enough to ask Mama for help, and she showed me how it’s done. (Of course, it still took me a couple of tries to get it right. Note to self: the stitching on the left-hand side of the zipper goes on the left foldline — that is, five-eighths of an inch from the center seam.)

When I was done, I tried them on again, to see if the changes I’d made to the darts had done the trick. Unfortunately, when I showed them to Mama, she didn’t think they looked quite right. I did some research, and it looks like I was supposed to take them in at the side seams, after all. So on Monday, before Mama and I got on the road for Greenville, I tore out the basting and re-drew the stitching lines for the side seams. And then yesterday, I basted along the re-drawn stitching lines and tried the shorts on for the third time.

Unfortunately, they still didn’t look right. I futzed around for a while, and I think what I need to do is take them in a quarter of an inch at the waist, and then another quarter of an inch at the hips. In other words, I could’ve used the same pattern I used for my first sample, and just added a quarter of an inch to the side seams. That’s probably what I’ll do when I cut out the orange and green fabric.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished the first part of my current sewing project — what the pattern instructions call the front and back. I sewed the darts on Monday and the inseams on Tuesday, and then yesterday I put in the crotch seam. When I was done, I basted up the side seams and tried it on. (Note to self: if you’re pinning two pieces together and they don’t quite match, the smaller one goes on top. If they do match, and they’re supposed to be the front and back of a pair of pants… well, enough said.)

Anyway, the shorts had plenty of room in the hips, but they were about two inches too big in the waist. I thought about taking them in at the sides, but I’m afraid it would get in the way of the pockets. So I’m going to try adding three-eighths of an inch to the darts, instead. (Three-eighths per dart times four darts equals an inch and a half.) As for the length, I’m afraid I added too much to the rise. Mama said it looked fine, but I might subtract half an inch (i.e., only add an inch) when I cut out the orange and green fabric.

Yesterday I finished cutting out my second sample for the pants I want to make. I started the first one back in January, but part of me knew all along that it wasn’t going to fit. I’m supposed to wear a sixteen, but when I cut out the pattern, I realized that it only had three and a half inches of ease in the hips. I had a feeling that wasn’t going to be enough.

So after I finished sewing the fly, I basted up the side seams and tried it on. And… well, I could just about get it zipped, if I didn’t mind holding my breath. So I’m starting from scratch with a bigger pattern. (I’m also adding an inch and a half to the rise — I’m not sure if the pattern needs more length or just more width, but I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry.)


Shaela Scanlon

May 2009

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