Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Warm Trousers for Winter

Small children's ankles can get very chilly in our climate, when their socks roll down, or their trousers ride up in a buggy or carrier. Last year I made an extra long leg pair of salopettes out of a recycled anorak for one of the grand-daughters who was suffering the riding up trousers fate. This year, her mum asked me, should I have the sewing machine out, whether I could make some cosy trousers that could go under a dress or jacket. (My daughter knows I always have the sewing machine out!) I had bought some nice midnight blue fleece a while back, and some stripey fabric a bit like ticking, and suddenly, here was the ideal opportunity to use them.

To find out more about how I made these warm winter trousers (and how you could copy them if you liked them), read on.

I turned this time to the Dana Made It Basic Pants  pattern, It is a free PDF, and comes in sizes 2-3T. An alternative, if you wanted a different size, would be the Sew Jereli pattern. This one comes in 18 months to 5 years, but is theoretically designed for pyjama pants. I've found it works perfectly well for trousers too. If you wanted a slimmer fit, you could narrow the legs a bit. If you want a free PDF pattern for a smaller child / baby, I also can recommend the ' Mystery Pants' pattern you can also print off in a couple of baby sizes (You'll need to use the back button and then look through her patterns.) (To find out why I call it the Mystery Pants pattern, see this post.) All of these patterns have a longer back crutch seam than front, which is how trousers should be. It really doesn't make them any harder to sew than ones which are made with an identical front and back, and the fit is SO much better.

Jane's trousers have been made to be reversible, albeit I think she will mostly wear them with the fleece inside. This is what they look like as finished. The fleece looks quite dark navy in the picture but it is actually more a midnight blue.

To make them reversible, I used the method (but not the pattern) from the Shwin and Shwin reversible pants. (You could also use their pattern but it only comes in 3-6 months, and it's also designed for knits, so will be smaller than a pattern made for non-stretchy fabric.) Their idea is to sew the bottom hems of the legs up first, i.e. attach the lining layer to the outer layer, so that you have a nice neat hem seam, ideal when you are making reversible pants, and especially if you want them to have a turn-up. I like to make trousers with a turn-up, as this allows for a bit of growth - you can just turn them down when the child grows!

You can see other examples of how I've used this method in these other posts on pyjamas, more pyjamas, and trousers.

I used the fleece for one layer, and the outer layer was grey and white striped ticking. I've used this fabric a few times, it has a tiny bit of ease in it - not fully stretchy but just a bit flexible.

In the Jereli pattern, there's only the one pattern piece, of which you need to cut 2. The Dana Made It pattern and the Mystery Pants pattern have a side seam. I cut my trousers about 1 1/2" longer to allow for a turn-up. I also cut the waist a little bit higher. I cut the pattern out twice, once in each fabric. So I had 8 pieces in total, 4 of the lining fabric (the fleece) and 4 of the outer fabric (the stripey material).  So because I was using the pattern with the side seam, the first thing I did was to sew all the side seams up so I now just had 4 pieces. If you use the Sew Jereli pattern you'll just have the 4. Next task was to attach the bottom hems together. This was right sides together, making sure I had the two matching ones. (i.e. fronts on the same side).

I pressed the seams on the outer layer fabric (the ticking), but went pretty gently on the fleece as I didn't want to melt or squash its pile. I then sewed up the inside leg seams, from the top of the outer layer down to the hem, and straight across and up to the top of the inner layer. I don't have a picture of this step from this project, but here it is on some reversible pyjamas. Fold each leg along the side seam, right sides together, and pin all the way along both layers.

I then turned the fleece layer inside the ticking layer. You've now got the two separate legs.

Next was the crutch seam of the outer layer. With right sides together, (and checking you have the two back seams together and the two front seams together), then, keeping the lining layer out of the way, pin the seam from back waist to front waist (or vice versa). Sew along this removing pins as you go.

With this method, you have to do the lining crutch seam in two halves. It's not difficult. I sew from (say) the back waist down to just after the inner leg seams; take it off the machine; and then sew from the front waist to just past the crutch seam, so I have overlapped the stitching.

At the waist, I turn and press in a seam allowance of about half an inch. I sew a first seam all around the waist at about 1 1/4" below that folded edge, then another one right at the folded edge, but with a gap at the back of a couple of niches. This is so I can thread elastic through. I used some elastic about an inch wide. Here it is threaded through and drawn up and pinned. You can cut the elastic to the child's waist measurement, and overlap by about an inch (so it is just slightly under tension). However, I usually cut it a little bit longer, until I can try it on and I'm sure it won't be too tight or too loose.

And finally, I like to add a little tag as I'm sewing up the gap to indicate the back. You can just see the tag below.

Already, Jane has grown, and rarely uses the turn-ups now. But that's why I like to make turn-ups. There's some room for growth! These are lovely and cosy, she'd live in them if they didn't need to be washed. Time to make some more after Christmas, I think!

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