Lazy Pants

Did anyone else get called lazypants a lot when they were growing up? Well today I’m owning it! These lazy pants are one of the best things I’ve sewn all year and I am thrilled to write up this tutorial so everyone can share in the #lazypants magic!

Before we get started I have to admit that these are absolutely not my original idea; I’m pretty sure this is something I saw on Pinterest years ago. I’ve seen them sold in Hungary as Turkish pants; a commenter in a sewing group I’m in mentioned they look like traditional Hmong mens pants; if anyone knows anything about other origins please drop a comment! I googled a bit but it was hard to find any non-sales pages and I’m really curious.

So the pants are made of one piece, plus a waistband and two cuffs. And they can be made in three steps:

1. Find your measurements. You’ll need two measurements for these pants; one is easy to find and the other needs a bit more thinking. The easy measurement is the length (green in the pic below). Measure along your outside leg for as long as you want the pants to be. Don’t include the waistband or the cuff in this measurement (for these shorter pants, for me this measurement was 60 cm).

 

The second measurement is the leg and waist opening (blue in the pic above; on this pair for me it was 40 cm). This measurement involves a bit of guess work: you’ll need a measurement not too much bigger than your ankle / leg circumference, and also not too much bigger than half your waist circumference. And, if you’re sewing a woven, also big enough to fit over your hips, if they’re significantly bigger than your waist. Since not everyone’s leg circumference is perfectly 1/2 of their waist circumference, this may involve some fudging – the easiest way is to overestimate the opening a bit and gather in the excess to the waistband and cuffs, but read to the end for some alternatives.

2. Cut and fold your rectangle. Cut out a rectangle with the dimensions (length) by (length + opening + opening). For me that was 60 cm by (60+40+40) 140 cm. Mark a square in the middle of the rectangle – the length of each side of the square should be your length measurement.

Draw an imaginary line from one corner of the square to the opposite some and fold your fabric right sides together along this line.

Then fold the “legs” in to match and sew.

3. Add cuffs and waistband. Okay I lied, there is a tiny bit more measuring involved, but this is one you can totally just eyeball – how wide do you want your waistband and cuffs to be? How long they should be depends on if you’re using a knit or woven fabric. For wovens, cut the waistband and cuffs the same length as the opening, and add elastic (to the waistband at least; elastic in the cuffs is optional). For knits, you can also cut the waistband and cuffs to match the openings (and also add elastic if needed), or you can cut them smaller and stretch to fit (don’t forget to use a stretchy stitch!).

Optional: more fudging. An easy way to make the leg opening smaller is to make a dart along the outside seam.

Of course, the same thing can be done at the waist to make it smaller. To make the waist bigger, cut it into a deeper V . Curve it so that the point of the V is still 90° or more; a sharper angle will be harder to sew.

And where’s the pockets? Well the first version was really a lazy version, the second was just for the sake of photos, but never fear, the third version will definitely have them! I’m debating between patch pockets, or inseam pockets in the waistband seam. What do you think?

Also, what’s next? Should I make (a) matching lazy pants for the whole family or (b) a lazy pants jumpsuit?

Inkscape for croquis: Part 2

In part 1 we covered how to make a photo of yourself into a personalized croqui using Inkscape, a free drawing program. Now we’re going to add some clothes and learn how to mix and match them! (and Part 3 will be some finishing touches and extra tips.)

Open up the document with your croqui in it, and open the Layers options from the Layer menu.

Right now you only have one layer; right click on it and rename it to something like “croqui” or “base” or whatever.

Use the plus button to add a layer, and name it leggings (or pants or skirt).

Draw an outline of a simple leggings or pants or skirt. The open the Fill and Stroke options (Object -> Fill and Stroke) and use the Fill options to color your leggings,

You might end up with something like this. This is because the line you drew the leggings with isn’t one complete line, but a series of shorter lines. There’s no problem with that, in fact that’s how I draw most things because it’s easier, but we have to connect up all the small lines.

Select all piece of your leggings (click and drag with the arrow, or press control + A on the keyboard), then switch to the edit nodes tool (under the arrow). Select two of the nodes which are close to each other and use the “join nodes” tool. This will join them into one. Continue around your outline and anywhere there are two nodes close to each other, join them into one. You’ll end up with a complete outline and be able to use the fill tool.

Or let’s learn another way! Hide your leggings by clicking on the little eye in the Layers options. Then create a new layer with the plus, name it shirt or top or whatever, and draw yourself a top.

Hide the layer with the croqui…

…and then use the fill tool to fill in any areas you want colored on your top.

Turn on all your layers again and admire your croqui in their new outfit!

One last trick for today: play with the arrows under the list of layers to move the layers up or down – for example, if you want your shirt to look tucked into your pants, move the shirt layer to under the pants layer. And if that ends up looking a little strange, don’t worry – part 3 will be about fixing that, and some other troubleshooting and tips.

Promising patterns: Haza Kaftan

Part one can be read here. Bit of a name change since part one because I’m getting more enthusiastic about being able to develop this into an actual pattern for sale! So to recap, this was the inspiration:

Printing Women Summer Loose Casual Irregular Floral Blue Dress - Buykud

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And at the end of the previous post I was about to use the lovely squares on this plaid version to see if I could reverse draft the pattern. I ended up with this shape:

Aha! This shape is familiar! This is loosely the same shape as every other similar garment from the previous post. My original cardigan:

And my twist-neck top (second picture from the tutorial I used, since I don’t know where my own pattern is:

This Burda dress is the same:

And back to the original:

The original front has an extra piece making the in seam pockets possible. But it’s just a flat seam, it doesn’t add any shaping. So I cut my pattern apart and made a tiny little muslin to see if the worked in practice as well as in theory:

Not bad! So I tried out a full-sized muslin. I didn’t take pictures, so this is just a shot from the video I made to look at the fit (not having a full-sized mirror nearby). The pieces were very big and very white, about which my husband in the background there had several choice comments: “What are you sewing?? Curtains? A tent? Sails for a ship? Her Majesty’s HMS Muslin?”

In the end I added darts to make the construction easier and to add more fabric at the front. And then it was time to print out this monster of a pattern…

… and sew it up! I didn’t want to invest a whole lot of money in a first version so I went with some cheap chiffon-y stuff. What’s worse than sewing delicate slippery chiffon? Sewing cheapo delicate slippery “chiffon”. It stretched and squirmed and gathered under my stitching; halfway through I gave up on ever getting a wearable garment out of this and just kept on to see the final result. BUT LOOK:

How great is that?? Even in this terrible, unpressed, puckery fabric it looks good; can you imagine how great it would look in a half-decent fabric?? In fact, I’m thinking that there aren’t too many things I would change to the pattern. Adding pockets, of course, and changing how I sewed some of the seams so that the insides turn out nice and neat. And NOT USING CHEAP CHIFFON. What do you all think, is there anything else that could be improved? And who wants to help me pattern test it??

Inkscape for croquis

Recently in one of my favorite facebook sewing groups the mybodymodel.com croqui-making service has been talked about a lot. Basically you put in a bunch of your measurements and then it gives you a custom croqui – an outline of your body which can be used for fashion drawings. It worked moderately well for me, but it couldn’t get my breasts right (I’ve seen several people complain that their breasts aren’t as wide-set / hanging-over-arms-y as My Body Model wants them to be) and I’ve yet to meet the pattern that can match my super square shoulders.

Version 1 and 2 of My Body Model, and my own croqui

And of course if you actually want to download a usable, un-watermarked croqui it costs $29 – a drop in the bucket for some, but I’m both stingy and living on a Hungarian teachers salary, so it’s a meaningful amount for me. However! My love of penny-pinching is balanced by my love of DIY-ing everything… so I made my own croquis!

I’m using Inkscape, a free and open-source vector drawing program. I think it’s a great program, very user-friendly and intuitive. So first step, go download and set up Inkscape.

Image result for inkscape logo

Next step: get naked! No, really, strip down to your undies and take a few pictures of yourself. Try to get shots from around waist-height – having the camera too high or low can distort your proportions. A simple pose is best, and try to make your background something that contrasts with your body.

Open up a new Inkscape document, and then File -> Import your picture. In this part of the tutorial I’m using, obviously, a stock photo.

Use the Zoom Tool to zoom out a bit and make sure your picture is on the page, and that it mostly fills the page. If it’s not, use the arrow tool to move it around and resize it.

There are two tools you can use to trace yourself, the Pencil tool and the Bezier Curve tool. Play with them a bit and see which is easier for you. Of course you can also use a combination of the two. In the image above, the shoulder on the left was drawn with the Bezier Curve tool, and the shoulder on the right was drawn with the Pencil tool.

If you double click on any line (path) you’ve drawn, you can see how the line is broken into segments, joined by nodes (the dots). You can drag the nodes to adjust their position, and smooth them out using the options on the top tool bar.

This nice white lady on a white background is pretty easy to trace, but if your picture is darker you might have problems seeing the lines you’re drawing. In the Options menu open Fill and Stroke. With the picture selected, lower the opacity until you can see a bit better.

How much detail you put on your croquis is totally up to you. I like to draw a simple hand, but I usually avoid doing a face because, wow, that is creepy.

When you’re happy with your tracing, go ahead and delete the photo. Then select all of your lines and use Object -> Group to make them into one object.

Last but not least! Go back to the Fill and Stroke options and play with the Stroke paint and Stroke style – you probably want to make the width of your stroke at least 1 mm, and the color should be as dark or light as you like – depending on how much you want the croqui to show when you start drawing over it.

And you’re done! Now you have two choices: print out a few, break out the colored pencils, and start drawing… or check back later for the next part of this tutorial, which will be about how to draw clothes and layer them up Inkscape. In the meantime, practice drawing more croquis! What about a half-side view? Or a back view?

Happy sewing (and drawing!)!

Promising Patterns: the Agnes Top

A few days ago this picture popped up in one of my facebook sewing groups, along with a long thread full of admiration for the pattern and discussion of how it might be made:

And it reminded me of a pattern I’ve had in the works for a while, the Agnes Top. The name will probably be changed, since I know there’s a Tilly and the Buttons pattern with this name, but in my head that’s what it’s called since I borrowed this great sweater from my colleague Agnes:

and took it apart (figuratively only!) to see how the pattern was made. Actually ridiculously simply; it’s just a front with a long extension:

The extension folds over on itself to make a tube, which is sewn up and around the neck. This idea of extension-tube-becoming-a-detail is the same way some other great patterns are made, most famously the knots/bows in Pattern Magic:

Image result for pattern magic knot dress

Also, if you’ve ever made this style of twisted-neck top, this is the same thing as my original sweater except the twist bit is higher and tighter.

Sorry for the over-exposed photo, but details on black are so hard to photograph!

But back to the original dress – unlike all the examples so far, the draped bit is smooth, without any gathering or cowling like the others have. Can you see what I mean?

So I started to think that the draped bit was rather a pleat, similar to the Papercut patterns Bowline Sweater:

Or like Studio Faro’s Shoulder Drape Tee:

On the Buykud website I couldn’t find the exact dress but I found another one from the same pattern; more on that in a minute. The way they described the dress as “irregular” made me think that the pattern is asymmetrical, and actually a combination of the two things I described above – the left part (the underlap) is a tube, and the right part (the visible overlap) is a pleat.

And for a while I was happy with that solution, but then I looked more at the other version. Same design, same pattern, different fabric – and what a difference the fabric makes!

Printing Women Summer Loose Casual Irregular Floral Blue Dress - Buykud

In this version you can definitely see some cowling:

You know what you can’t see? Any sort of center front seam. Trust me, I nearly ruined my eyes staring at every image of the dress blown up on my screens and it it NOT there. Is that even possible?? I felt like I was back at square one and started trolling Pinterest to find similar dresses. Luckily Pinterest was, as always, over-ready with suggestions for me:

from Etsy

Купить Johnature Для женщин платье из джинсовой ткани 2017 Осень новинка зимы лоскутное хлопка халат v образным вырезом Винтаж Для женщин Повседневное карманов повязки Макси платья и другие товары категории Платья в магазине Johnature Store на AliExpress. maxi dress и women denim dress
source

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Red dresses long linen dress maxi sundress caftans plus size tunic

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And then I found this one. In plaid. In lovely, square, easy-to-see plaid:

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Okay so seriously how great is the plaid for seeing exactly how the design works? First of all – check out how the edge of the collar is basically a straight line from the bottom corner opposite:

Also, look at the bottom of the dress – you can clearly see at the side seam how the seam cuts across the plaid at an angle, and you can easily reconstruct what angle it is:

And look at the lines on the neck – it seems like the drape is getting wider towards the top. Not to mention the squares of the plaid can be used as a measuring stick basically to give you dimensions – ie the dress is 7 squares wide at the bottom, the drape is about 2 square wide, etc.

So… is it possible to draft a pattern based on the pics above? I’m not stopping until I can! Check back soon!

Baby block development (and a free block!)

Although Empty Hanger Patterns is mainly women’s patterns, there is one very important baby pattern I have in mind. So I’ve been working on a baby block. A block is a basic pattern from which patterns are developed; for baby clothes, which have the bare minimum of details, the block is nearly the same as the finished garments. For the pattern I’m developing I’ve made a full body block, which is a few pieces – a body, sleeve, and a gusset. Sounds simple, right?

Well no. First of all baby sizing is even more ridiculously complex than adult sizing. The USA, Canada, the UK, mainland Europe, and Australia all have their own sizing systems (and these are just English-speaking countries that I have info on). Even within the US, different brands size differently.

Image result for baby clothes sizes by brand

Another terrible point in the US sizing system is the reliance on age to determine size. Clearly this is stupid because not all babies are the same size at the same age. The European system is much more logical – sizes are based on height so a size 56 will fit a baby 56 cm long, a size 62 will fit a baby 62 cm long, etc. Easy peasy.

I started with the amazing Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear by Winifred Aldrich. The book was a great starting point for the basic shapes needed but her measurements included way too much ease. I had the same problem drafting women’s patterns from her instructions. Below on the left is a old, ratty, totally stretched out store-bought size 80 and on the right a brand new size 80 according to the measurements in Metric Pattern Cutting. In such tiny clothes, a few extra centimeters of ease makes a garment comically long!

So I began searching for other measurements. I raided my own baby’s closet and compared (luckily he has waaaay too many clothes in all kinds of sizes that don’t fit him). I trolled the internet looking for any kind of sizing info I could find and put it all together in a massive spreadsheet. I may even (ahem) have gone to a baby store in my town and sneakily measured some clothes there.

One of the biggest problems with the block was how to grade – i.e. how much to increase / decrease between sizes. Grading a women’s pattern is very logical – European sizes use a 4 cm grade, meaning each size is 4 cm larger all around than the size below. The pattern doesn’t grow much vertically since adult patterns are graded to a standard height (Empty Hanger Patterns are graded for a 165 cm or 5’5″ tall figure).

Baby patterns are a whole different story. Babies and little children grow rapidly, and their height (or length) changes much faster than their width. Standard EU sizes are based on 6 cm growth increments – after size 56 comes 62, then 68, 74, etc. So you might think that to grade a baby pattern you can just lengthen it by 6 cm and widen it by a bit, right? Almost, but you also have to take into consideration head size – the smaller the baby, the bigger their head in proportion to the rest of their body. A newborn baby (size 50 or 56) is 25% head but a 2-year-old (size 92 or 98) is only 20% head.

Anyway, blathering aside, it was a super interesting project. After weeks of measurements and math, the block is ready. And after all the work I put into it, why am I sharing it for free? First of all because it’s “just” a block. It’s not a pattern; it doesn’t include seam allowances or facings or snap placements or anything. If you want to develop your own patterns from it, excellent! I hope you will! In return I ask two simple things – first, that you’ll do the ethical thing and give credit to where the block came from. And second, I’m hoping that you’ll comment here, link back to this post, or email me about how the block worked for you and your baby – because even though the block is ready doesn’t mean it’s finished, and every bit of feedback I can get will help me continue to develop and improve it.

So here it is. It’s a pdf file saved in google drive. I’m also more than happy to share it in another format if you need, just send me an email or leave your email in a comment here. Happy sewing!

Alma Skirt – call for pattern testers!

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The latest Empty Hanger Patterns creation is almost finished, and it’s this  fun and comfy knit skirt! I’m so thrilled with this skirt; I’m seriously going to make a bunch and live in them. For work: navy ponte. For a night out: gold sequins. For everyday: ALL the colors and stripes!

Want to help test the pattern? It’s for women in EU sizes 34 to 48. The pattern is beginner-friendly as long as you have some experience sewing with knits, and only needs 1 meter of fabric (and even less for smaller sizes).

The testing will start Monday, Jan 14 and go until Monday, Jan 28 (two weeks). You need to be able to sew the skirt in this time, as well as take at least 4 pictures of it on you (or whoever) in natural light, preferably outside. If you’re interested, send me email at emptyhangerpatterns@gmail.com. I can’t wait to see all the awesome Almas you make!

 

Frankenpatterning: spaghetti strap Tomi Dress

Frankenpatterning: the act of cobbling together parts of two or more different patterns to create a new pattern.

At the beginning of the summer I sewed a pair of sleeveless Tomi Dresses. It was as simple as leaving off the sleeves and drafting an all-in-one facing. I could also have used the original neck facing and finished the sleeveless armscyes with just folding and stitching, but I chose the facing to make adding a center front zipper easier.

2018.05.03

But as summer wore on and the temperature crept higher I started dreaming of an even lighter version – a strappy version. What if I could blend together the straps from a basic camisole with the flowy body of the Tomi Dress?

This was an easy Frankenpattern: I took my camisole pattern (a really old, slightly cat-chewn free pattern from somewhere on Pinterest) and my Tomi pattern and removed the seam allowances from both. I drew a line where I wanted to join them: across the bust, right at the armpit.

From the camisole I used the part above the line: I traced out a separate copy of that bit. From the Tomi Dress I used the part below the line: I folded the rest down out of the way.

This was a particularly easy Frankenpattern because the line where I was joining happened to be exactly the same size (the benefits of drafting your own patterns from your own block!). What if I wanted to join the patterns at another place, maybe the waist? You can see that the camisole pattern is bigger than the dress, because the dress is more fitted than the camisole.

If I wanted to join these patterns at the waist, I would have to decide whether I wanted the looser fit of the cami (first picture) or the closer fit of the dress (second), and draw a smooth line between the two. In a case like this, it would probably be worth tracing the whole thing on a new piece of paper.

If you want to add back seam allowances to the pattern, you can trace it onto new paper. Otherwise, make a note on the pattern to add them while cutting!

Here’s how my new Tomi turned out: I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the pieces on a true bias so the chevrons are less obvious than I hoped for. But still pretty good, if I do say so myself, and the shape of the dress is exactly what I wanted, swishy and cool. Just in time for the summer-ending cold front they’re predicting for this weekend 😀

spaghetti strap Tomi Dress