Thursday, August 11, 2022

Chelsea Chinos

blue shorts from the front
I had the pleasure of testing the new Chelsea Chinos pattern by 5outof4 Patterns (affiliate link).  This pattern has shorts, capris and pants for woven, non stretch fabrics.  My intention was to make pants but the timing of the test was when I was living on the surface of the sun, so shorts was the best I could do.  

Cry me a river:  I live in an old house with no central air and the one air conditioner we have isn't near my sewing room.  The sun comes into the sewing room around 1pm and by 4pm in the summer it's an inferno.  It was especially hot during the testing weeks so it was tricky trying to get the fitting right while also dripping with sweat.  Have you had the joy of trying to put on pants or shorts that are slightly small while your body is extremely sweaty?  There were times I wasn't sure if they were too small or if I was just that damp!

Speaking of fitting, I guarantee that no matter your body type, you will have to make adjustments to get a woven pants pattern to fit.  This is to be expected with homesewn bottoms and I love that!  You should love the idea that the final result will look better than when you started.  Knits are very forgiving and will easily mold to your body even if the fit isn't quite right, but woven pants demand that you get the fit right.  It doesn't matter how well store bought pants may fit, when you're making them for yourself, you will notice creases here, pulling there, and you will want to fix these areas.  And you may become obsessed and rip out 50 times before coming to a fit you can live with.  

Make a muslin or toile and get ready to make several before you get the fit you want.  I usually use flat sheets for this because they don't stretch and they are usually easy to find at thrift stores.

And once you find that fit, you will never know how you lived in ready to wear pants and shorts for all this time.  I haven't found the perfect fit yet but I'm closer than I was and getting even closer with each new pair I make.

blue shorts seen from the back
In the tutorial for the Chelsea Chinos (affiliate link), there are some great suggestions for getting certain areas to fit.  You can also ask  for help in the 5outof4 PDF Patterns group on facebook (or any sewing group you belong to, I'm sure) and you'll get suggestions and usually people will share links that helped them.   

As with all 5outof4 patterns (affiliate link), the tutorial is fantastic.  There are drawings and pictures all along the way.  For kinesthetic learners like me, this is a dream come true.  I read it, see the drawing, then the photograph and then I can make it happen myself.  There is also a variety of options, like every 5outof4 pattern (affiliate link) has.  The lovely thing about the tutorial is the live links so if you want to make pockets, you click the link and it takes you right to that part of the tutorial so you don't have to scroll and scroll.  

blue shorts seen from back
You can make them with or without the front pockets and with or without the welt pockets on the back.  Some testers just did the one pocket on the back, like where you'd keep a wallet, maybe.  For me, I need both pockets on the back of chino style pants and shorts
because I feel like I need that visual distraction on my butt.  I also learned a long time ago that because I stand and watch people so much in my line of work, I'm always looking for that back pocket to rest my hands in while I'm standing awkwardly behind you, helping you with your computer :0   

You have choices for shorts in several lengths, capris or full length pants.  For me, the 2inch was too short but the 5 inch was too long.  I like my shorts to hit in between and most of my shorts are 3.5 inches, so that's what I did here.

If you've never done welt pockets, they are well explained in the tutorial.  They are one of my favorite things to do because it's so hard to believe when you start that the finished product will look so fantastic!  

There is also a great tutorial for the zipper.  This is a very different zipper installation than I've seen in other pants/skirts/shorts patterns but I really like it.  It's very secure, it's not at all awkward as you're putting it together, and unlike one of my patterns that has a zipper, I'm not getting this one frayed area that I always get with that pattern!  I might use this method for all zippers going forward!

waistband of shorts
My very favorite part of this entire pattern is the waistband.  Not only is it hitting me exactly where I want a waistband to hit, but it's the right width and I finally managed to take in the back just enough to help with my dreaded swayback.  I will be casting these waistband pieces in gold and using nothing but this waistband for the rest of time.  I also LOVE the way it goes together.  Some waistbands have had me practially upside down trying to get them through the machine, or with so many pins I say every naughty word I know and more.  This one is very simple but so effective.  There's an option to have it be a tab waistband but I didn't do that one.  I have found that two smaller buttons work better than one large one because the waistband finishes at 2 inches.  That's a lot for one button to handle, I think, without it gapping. 

I also chose to do the inside of the waistband with the same fabric as the pockets.  I'm a big fan of "pretty guts", making pockets and waistbands inside pants look pretty.  Plus, I usually use a thinner cotton for these which makes the pockets not stand out stiffly and it cuts down on how much actual fabric you need for the outside.

One of the hardest things for me to find is the right fabric for actual chino pants.  For shorts, I find that anything with more heft than quilting cotton works well.  Some testers used linen but linen and I don't have the best relationship so I haven't used it for any bottoms, ever.  I've made shorts in other patterns with a printed denim, with home dec fabric, with twill, and I find they are all good.  For pants though, I want fabric like you'd get if you bought quality chinos from known stores.  I can't seem to find that in my local Joann fabrics.  The twill I've bought there has either been kind of lightweight, or, in the case of these shorts, has more strech than I want.  I did find what I think will be a fantastic weight twill with no stretch from Blackbird Fabrics and I bought it for these pants but I can't even think about pants in this heat so I haven't made them yet.  If you find a good twill for the pants, please let me know where you find it! 

I know real waistbands and non strech fabrics are not very popular in these times, but I am still fan of them both.  I also know a lot of schools are requiring uniforms and these would make great pants to meet the uniform requirements.  You could also make the longer shorts to go with those dress codes that allow shorts but have a length requirement. (my 3.5 inche length is probably not dress code appropriate :) ) With sizes ranging from 25 inch waist to 55 inch waist, you're sure to find the right size for your student to look put together this year! 

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