Selfless Sewing Extravaganza! Pt. 1 (aka A Man and His Sweatpants)

Hello everyone, and Happy Holidays! I truly hope that you all had a great holiday season, whatever you celebrate. And now the New Year cometh…where did 2015 go?!? O_o I’ve got 2 posts planned to show all y’all my holiday sewing for 2015–this is Part 1. You’ve been warned!

I have made Tom something for each of the previous 2 Xmas holidays, and decided to go for the Three-peat in 2015. But what to do??? His Cooper bag from 2014 would be hard to top (he still uses it every single day and adores it), I knew that. I almost gave up on the idea of making him something and instead resigning myself to the safe, store-bought option(s)–goodness knows he had PLENTY of ideas–but then fortune smiled upon me in the form of the release of the Men’s Hudson Pants from True Bias in November.

I love the idea of the original Hudson pattern, which is designed for women: the dropped crotch, generous hip room, and slim legs with no ugly elastic ankle casings actually manage to make sweatpants look cool. Not to mention the opportunities for contrast fabric use (or adapting them for woven fabrics), which can really make them into something acceptable to wear out of the house. Not long ago, I could never justify using my valuable and rather scant sewing time on something silly like sweatpants. (I’ve heard of some sewers who don’t want to bother with t-shirts or underwear, so I guess it’s the same principle at work!) But a pair of good-looking sweatpants that could be customized and elevated beyond the “sausage leg” varieties that are so often what we think of when the word “sweatpants” is uttered? THAT is an endeavor I can get behind.

For Tom, I had exactly ONE fabric in mind for this pattern: french terry. (It’s one of the suggested fabrics for the pattern–hooray!) It’s made the rounds in the sewing blog world this year in a big way, and it seemed like a good way to turn the humble sweatpant into something a little more luxe for my love. Combined with the cool vibe of the Hudson pattern, I felt like this was a great idea. In order to maintain secrecy, I taped my pattern together at my parents’ house while I was there for a night and took a “sweatshop day” off from work so that I could have some alone time to get these done. (Aside: it is also highly beneficial that I am The Do-er of Laundry at our house–pre-washing secret yardage is never, ever a problem.) I mentioned a couple of posts back that I am now the proud owner of a serger, and I was determined to use it for these pants:

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Juki MO-654DE serger!

I didn’t get into details before, but not only is this my first serger, I HAD NEVER USED ONE BEFORE. As in, ever. EVER. I decided to cut out the pants first, and then run some scraps through the serger to see if I could get the hang of it; worst case scenario was to use my sewing machine for all construction steps, which is how the Hudson instructions are written anyway. A few test scraps and 6 hours later, I had finished pants x 2, fully serged:

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Inside of Hudson Pants #1

Is my serging perfect? No, but it looks pretty legit IMO. The only sewing machine work I did was to baste things in place and to sew the buttonholes and drawstring casing on the waistbands. Even the ankle bands were attached using only my serger, which is a big deal for me. (Sewing things in the round is ALWAYS a free arm exercise for me–I’ve never done that type of thing without a free arm.)

When it came to Tom opening his gift (his ONLY gift from me), I felt really, really bad: turns out he got me a stand mixer for Xmas, guys. And I made him sweatpants. And I opened my gift first. The whole situation was decidedly Not Cool on the “Miss Manners Scale of Reciprocal Gift-Giving.” But once he realized I made the pants, he got SO excited. He actually thought that I went out and bought him sweatpants!! (I guess that’s a testament to the professional finish a serger can provide on knits, as well as the general fashion-conscious nature of the pattern itself.) And then he tried them on, and now they are all he wants to wear. 🙂 I now wish I had taken a chance and used some black ponte for the pocket bands and ankle cuffs and waistband on Pair 1, because he would have LOVED that and has already asked for another pair with that fabrication. And you can be sure that his not-divorced wife will oblige him…this time.

Truly, I LOVE this pattern. It was so easy to put together and the results are great and much more fashion-forward than your usual sweats. I felt that the sizing was appropriate vs. Tom’s usual RTW size as well, although I did follow True Bias’s advice and measure before choosing a size. I used the best-fitting pair of sweatpants Tom had in his dresser for comparison and settled on the size 32, which is his jeans waist size; the only adjustment I made was to add about 1/4″ to the inseam at the calf. I also cut the elastic so that the finished circumference was 28-29″, like his existing sweatpants. And now for photos! (They’re bad because *I* took them, so don’t expect much, LOL.)

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Goofing off

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Attempt at a side view

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Back view (he wears them a little low)

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The pocket details and side seam show up better here!

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These pants are great for Puppy Play Time, obviously.

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These two, tho…

So there’s Part 1 of my holiday sewing bonanza; coming soon, the story of a Girl and her Shark.

Supplies

2 yds french terry, this Etsy shop; I have about 3/4 to 1/2 yard left
2 yds french terry (same Etsy shop); different color, same amount of leftover yardage
2 yd bundle of 2″ waistband elastic, Joann’s
10 yd bundle of black drawstring cording, this Etsy shop
4 x  cones of MaxiLock from Wawak

Newcastle Cardigan – Phase 2

I’ve made a little progress with Tom’s sweater since last week. The front and back portions of the cardigan are now sewn together, and the seam allowances thereof have been topstitched and secured. I have to say that, having been scared of the “home-sewn” look of a zig-zag topstitch, I really love how that detail has turned out so far. I feel like the sweater looks very RTW, in a good way. (And of course I do not have a photo of the details at this time, but I will share one sometime soon!) The plackets are pinned in place, and I will be sewing them on tomorrow sometime, followed in short order by the facings. There is no way in hell this is getting done by xmas. =(

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Sweater front with plackets pinned in place (right sides together)

In other news, I’ve gotten a lot of great sewing-related gifts in the last week:

The Gift of Knowledge: I had a class last night at a local quilting shop (which came with my sewing machine as part of the prize), wherein I learned that I have been threading my machine incorrectly this entire time. I was embarrassed and mad (at myself AND the directions in the manual), but now I know what I’m doing. I’ll have to test on scraps to make sure the proper threading doesn’t impact my thread tension, which I lowered for the stretchy knit fabric I’m using for the sweater. I also learned a lot about all the stitches that come with my machine and how to clean it properly, and really felt like this trip was a valuable use of my time. Plus this shop has endless bolts of quilting cottons in just about any fashion you could want, so I’m sure I’ll be back for some shopping.

The Gift of Notions: My lovely friend/co-worker gave me an entire mason jar full of vintage buttons (still on the cards–OMG!!!) for Christmas, along with a dressmaking guide from the 30’s/40’s! Buttons are one thing I do not keep around–I buy only what I need for each project, which can be stressful and frustrating. I’ve always wanted to go button hunting at a flea market or antique mall, but just never find the time. I can’t wait to make use of all of these, and already have some favorites that will likely inspire a few garments!

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Just a few of the buttons I got, plus the dressmaking booklet!

The Gift of Storage: My dearest BFF got me a wonderful sewing kit for xmas, complete with several notions and tools hidden inside. I feel bad that she got me so much stuff! I’ve been using a tackle box (which works really well, actually) but I’ll be re-purposing that and moving all my sewing stuff into this case.

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Beauty AND function! (Featuring my very filthy ironing board cover–yikes!)

I have one mystery gift under the tree, and assuming that it isn’t a sewing machine cover, that’s something I really want to get soon. (I know, I know: I could just make one. Maybe. In some parallel universe where I have a shit-ton of spare time. Or if I can’t find one I don’t hate–that would be a good excuse to buy a cool quilting cotton!) Getting gifts is awesome, but more than anything, I’ve been reminded what wonderful people I count as friends, and I was astounded by their generosity and thoughtfulness on my account. (My co-worker had been acquiring those buttons for MONTHS, resisting the urge to give them to me early.) I’m lucky, and I hope I can be even half as wonderful to them in return.

Today is my 5-year wedding anniversary, so rather than spending my evening off (!!!!!) sewing, I’ll be spending it getting a nice steak dinner and enjoying some quality time with my husband. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with love, laughter, and good food!