I’m sorry this is coming to you much later than expected! I try to keep my Friday mornings set aside for recording videos/posting updates on my Sew Fancy Pants 2020 progress but as you might have seen on my Stories, I couldn’t get around to it this week!
But I figured late is better than never, so today I’m bringing you my five beginner friendly tips for Fancy details to jazz up your Fancy Pants…
When I was asked to co-host SewFancyPants2020 I saw my role as introducing pants/trouser sewing to beginners because… well, I view myself as beginner. So with this weeks theme I thought I’d share simple ways to make your trousers that little bit more special. Don’t forget though, just by making your own trousers they’re already pretty darn special!
1. Pocket linings
This is a great way to make your pants super special without any extra work! You don’t need to cut out any extra fabric, which is a giant win for me as it’s my least favourite bit of sewing. All you need to do is cut out the pocket bags in your chosen Fancy fabric. Be careful to cut the pocket bags only and not any of the pocket facings which should be cut from the main fabric (basically only cut out the bits that are hidden).
The best thing about this is that it doesn’t take much fabric- so maybe theres a fabric you’ve been dying to sew with but is too expensive to justify buying for a full make? Or even better, stash bust by using those special scraps you’ve been saving from a favourite dress. I’ve got a stash of precious Liberty Cotton Lawn offcuts which work perfectly.
When I was making Taufiq a pair of cropped chinos- this was actually one of his favourite details- being able to pick a fun fabric which is hidden to everyone else. You can be brave and go for something really jazzy and only you’ll know (unless you give someone a cheeky flash of course…)
Another low-effort way to make those trousers a little more special is by adding a label! There are so many great indie companies coming out with super cute, funny designs. You can also get your own custom labels made if you fancy. It’s such a simple thing but can add a bit of quirkiness to a make and make them look more ‘proper’ (shop bought…if that’s what you’re aiming for!) As well as being a hidden bit of fun they can also be practical- something to hang your trousers from e.g. when your in the bathroom and only have a door hook, as well as telling the back from the front! I found that was a real issue with my Ninni Culottes where the front and the back are nearly identical. But with a label there’ll be no more wondering if you’ve got your trousers on backwards.
If you’re lucky enough to have a die-cutting machine and don’t like the irritation you can get from a folded label, maybe try some iron-on vinyl like Michele?
3. Top stitching
Ok, now we’re getting a little more difficult. This is a high stakes Fancy Detail but also high pay off. Top stitching can be really scary for a beginner but it’s one of those things that can really elevate your make. Now it’s a little more complicated when you get into topstitching threads. I’ll leave that to this great blogpost by Grainline Studios to explain, but whatever thread you use make sure you test it out on scraps of fabric.
If you’re new to topstitching maybe try a matching coloured thread rather than a contrast colour which will be less forgiving to any wobbles.
If I’m 100% honest I think I’ve only used top stitching for one make and most of the time I make do with the triple straight stitch using my normal thread. This is where the machine goes over the same stitch three times giving it a ‘thicker’ look. But be warned though, it’ll take up more thread so maybe not one to play ‘thread chicken’ with.
When it comes to getting an even line of stitching an edgefoot can really help. I think I used to use my adjustable blind hem foot which came with my old machine.
Until you get comfortable with lining up your sewing with the ruler lines on your needle plate I found physically moving the needle was the easiest way to get an even width when doing a double row of topstitching. I’ll try to post a video of what I mean…
For curved areas I would definitely mark out your stitching line with chalk/water removable pens to help give you a guide to sew along.
4. Bias bound seams
Similar in aesthetics to Hong Kong seams but probably more beginner friendly, binding you seams are another low stakes Fancy detail: if it’s a bit wobbly, uneven or misses a few stitches no one else but you will know!
Again, this is a detail I did for Taufiq’s Jedediah pants and really loved! I used a continuous bias binding tutorial to make some bias binding out of the same scraps I used for the pocket bags. It’s a nifty way to quickly make bias binding and again a great scrap busting technique. But if you’re cutting at 45 degree angles isn’t up to scratch you can always use shop bought binding. Go for a contrasting colour or interesting print.
It’s a little bit fiddly but is worth the effort (click here for a great photo tutorial)– especially if its the style of trouser where you might want to turn up your cuffs. As well as adding that pop of interest it’s practical too and will help protect the exposed seams giving you a more hardwearing garment. If you don’t have a luxury of a serger/overlocker it’s also a neater way to finish the insides.
5. Pocket design/embroidery
This is where you can really let your creativity go wild! Why not personalise your back pockets with an customised design rather than the standard ‘V’ shape? I’ve seen some great designs- from sewing machines illustrations, to people’s names. Maybe even use one of the unloved and ignored decorative stitches your machine has? Yeah we know you bought that machine with 90+ stitches and only use two! Go on, give it a go and you might find yourself adding flower borders to everything!
If your trousers don’t have back pockets why not add a little something special by adding some hand embroidery? I love the way Elisalex jazzes up her jeans. If having a full on garden of blooms isn’t your thing, just add one or two lazy daisy flowers…
So that’s it!
I hope the links and inspiration have been helpful to you. Remember not all details need to be big and flashy, sometimes little things just for yourself is all you need to make something “fancy”. And lets not forget that making your own pants is pretty darn fancy in itself- so don’t feel pressured to anything but follow the pattern if you’re new to sewing pants!
Don’t forget to check out my super talents gang of co-hosts for more inspiration and tips:
Now to get on with sewing my very own Fancy Pants!