Thursday, 16 July 2015

Obsessive sews: lady boxers x2

Do you ever get into the situation where you suddenly, out of no where, become completely and utterly OBSESSED by something? That you find image after image of a piece of clothing being worn all around the world, and you know you won't be able to stop until you have several numbers of them in your wardrobe?

I got like that last week when I decided that I just had to make a set of summer pyjama shorts. It started with stumbling across a tutorial for sewing bias binding over at Grainline Studios. Clicking around, I discovered their very cute sewing pattern, the Lakeside Pajamas.  There are *so* many gorgeous versions of this pyjama set around on the internet, my favourites including this groovy printed set, this snakeskin crepe de chine set, this blue dotty set and this blue printed set. That's a lot!

I knew that I wasn't going to buy the pattern however, as although I love the look of the set, the cami with the cross-over back is not for me. So I wasn't going to pay $14 for a pattern for a pair of elastic waist shorts when I knew could draft them myself. Additionally, I really wanted this project to be a stash-buster, using fabric scraps and haberdashery I already had and costing me nothing.

I used a (self-drafted) pattern for some elasticated-waist men's shorts as a starting point, and referenced a pair of my boy-friend's boxers for proportions. I made a super-simple pattern with only an extra curve in the fork for the CB seam; the front and back were otherwise the same. Well, it's been a while since I've done any pattern drafting, so let's just say that things weren't quite as breezy as I'd anticipated!

I'd hoped to make a wearable toile, but my first attempt was flawed by the fact stupid me forgot that the boxers I'd measured were made of jersey, and I was working with woven cloth! I couldn't get them over my hips! I added loads of ease and made other adjustments: raising the front waist, shaping the hems, adding more to the back than the front. There are no straight lines on the body, and patterns should reflect this. The shape I came up with was far more sophisticated than the unrealistically-basic boxers that I'd originally drawn up. I was sad about wasting the black gingham on the toile, but definitely glad that I'd made one!

This was my first version of the boxers, using leftovers from a dress I made 6 years ago. The beautiful floral print cotton voile was originally bought at Cloth House in Soho in May 2009! I'd been unable to throw away the offcuts as the fabric was so expensive (around £16/m) and now I finally put them to use. I used vintage turquoise bias binding from my stash, and followed the aforementioned tutorial for binding the side. Or at least, I tried to: whilst I absolutely appreciate this free tutorial which saved me a bit of head-scratching, it's a little confusing that they chose to make the tutorial using fabric with no discernible right and wrong side, and bias binding the exact same colour. They also refer to the side seam as the inseam throughout, which is incorrect…The tutorial is helpful for figuring out how to do this technique, but I'd recommend reading it whilst doing, or you might get thrown off.

The bias binding gives this shorts a really sporty look which I wasn't quite anticipating. My boy-friend enjoyed the contrast between pretty & sporty but I wasn't quite so sure! The fit of the shorts was far better than the toile, but I wanted more room across the bum. So obviously I had to cut another pair out the next day…

…more florals! These shorts use scraps of beautiful fine Swiss cotton, with a print intended for export to the Japanese market.  It's from one of the shops on Goldhawk Road, bought in 2010 (!) for another summer dress. It turns out that those awkward corner shapes left over from cutting circle-type skirts are perfect for lady boxers!

I added to the back pattern on these shorts, but my stupidity came back into play here as I forgot to minus that amount from the front! These shorts are a little too breezy as a result, but perfectly fine for wearing at home. I left off the go-faster stripe on the side seam as you can see, and I'm happier with the look. The black bias binding was in my stash but was stiffer than the vintage one, so I'm looking forward to the hems falling more softly once they've had a wash.

Construction-wise, I did French seams throughout, and I love how neat and clean they look on the inside. I've only very recently become enamoured with French seams, after sewing for 10 years. Now I keep looking at old, zig-zagged seam allowances and shuddering. I want to French seam everything!

A little hanging loop out of - you guessed it - stash-busted ribbon finishes them off, and marks the back.

I'm so happy with these PJ shorts, or lady-boxers as I keep calling them. They are great to sleep in, as loungewear when I'm working from home (like right now), and even to wear underneath full-skirted dresses!

Project details:
Lady boxers
Pattern: self-drafted. Grainline Studios Lakeside and Tilly & the Buttons Fifi are very similar.
Fabric: stash-busting cotton voile from Clothhouse and Swiss cotton from Goldhawk Road. 
Haberdashery: vintage bias binding / black bias from stash.
Cost: £0, just a lot of figuring-out! 

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