Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Promises, promises

Ok, so I didn't post about the lounge pants the next day, like I said I would. I got distracted by peaches and cutting out a new top and work and genealogy stuff and more peaches.

Our peach tree harvest is huge this year. Last year we had no peaches and this year we have 25 billion little peaches. Well, not actually 25 billion, but we did harvest a lot of yellow peaches...and the white peaches are right behind. Unfortunately the yellow peaches were very small, about apricot sized, which made it more time consuming to work with. We tried to thin the fruit and I know I picked off loads of unripe tiny peaches earlier this year to keep the branches from becoming overloaded and breaking, but I guess I didn't do a good enough job.

At least this year I did remember that the first peaches, the yellow ones, are freestone and thus easier to process as peach halves than the white ones, which are not freestone. So far we've processed 10 pints of peaches, squeezed a quart of peach nectar, baked a peach crumble, churned a quart of peach ice milk (no-cream ice cream), and ate a lot of peaches. And there are still more yellow peaches in the fridge and on the tree. And did I mention that the white peaches are nearly ripe? Knowing that they will get mangled trying to cut out the pit, I'm saving those for peach preserves and peach chutney. And more ice cream, which was yummy!

And now, the rest of the farm report:

The zucchini and yellow squash are still going strong. I have to admit that I'm getting just a little tired of eating squash every night. Just a little. The tomatoes are slowly ripening - I'm waiting for the onslaught of ripe tomatoes and the adjustment from squash-based dishes to tomato-based ones. Oh, but nothing beats a vine-ripened tomato. Eating one brings back memories of my childhood in NJ when we used to buy tomatoes (and peaches!) from the local roadside stands. The cucumbers and onions are still producing and providing us with a cucumber salad each evening. The bush beans are on their second wind - either they're supposed to produce like that or the extra watering is helping. We spotted two new pumpkins to bring our total to four - I'm ready for an early Halloween. We have about 4 or 5 cantaloupes that are growing bigger each day and there's one tiny watermelon trying to survive. We ate one ear of our corn and have decided to plant more next year. The rest of the stuff: peppers (sweet and hot), eggplant, beets...they're all chugging along. I went to the grocery store last weekend and didn't buy a single fruit or vegetable, which sadly I know is not an uncommon thing for an American, but my farm report here tells you we are well stocked.

So anyway...the pants. They still need to be hemmed but I'll tell you about them anyway, in more detail than you probably care to read so be prepared. It wasn't a big disaster, but not quite the simple, easy project I wanted to do after my not-so-simple orange summer top. I desperately need some new sweatpants or lounge pants to wear around the house, but just can't bring myself to buy any because the styles are either made for 16-year olds (low on the waist and too tight across my thighs and butt) or I just can't, as a sewer, pay money for pants when I have plenty of fabric to make them. And of everything I sew, these should be the easiest and quickest thing to sew, right? That's what I thought too.

I recently bought some cotton fabric from fabric.com that was labelled as "novelty." Just what "novelty" means is up for interpretation. I know what "novelty yarn" means - generally acrylic in nature and containing bobbles, tufts, metallic thread and usually made into scarves. But when it comes to fashion fabric, "novelty" can range from something that Vicki Lawrence might have worn on a Carol Burnett show skit to a really interesting fabric, that could be of good quality and just doesn't fit any other definition. The "novelty" cotton fabric I bought was actually pretty good. Here is a picture of it, "borrowed" from the fabric.com site:

I also bought it in navy blue. I originally had in mind making some sort of top out of the fabric (I only paid $1.95/yard for it) but when I received it I thought it would be perfect for some lounge pants. It's a bit thinner than sweatpants but is the same weight as some other drawstring pants I bought and wear around the house.

I decided to use this New Look 6730 pattern, which I used for a skirt last year:

I have not sewn many pants for myself because I fear the fitting process. Even elastic-waist pants can cause me grief. As I've been taught, I chose my size based on my hip size, which meant the ginormous size (yes, ginormous is now a word). I could have spent time measuring and altering the pattern but these were supposed to be easy, lounge pants, so I figured I'd just make them in the ginormous size and take them in where needed. I traced off the ginormous size, leaving the pattern intact in case I wanted to traced off a smaller one later (wishful thinking).

I washed the fabric and here is where I encountered the novelty part of the fabric. When I went to lay out my pattern I found that it got all twisted and off-grain. The fabric came as a large tube with the selvages serged together and maybe this caused it to twist in the washer. Or maybe "novelty" means you are to laugh at the novelty of a cheap fabric that gets off-grain when you wash it. Had it not been for the gray and white checks of the fabric, I might not have noticed. Word of caution: check your novelty fabrics (and non-novelty, for that matter) carefully for grain after they've been subjected to the punishment of a washer and dryer.

After much tugging and pulling and coercing, I got the checks lined up and cut out one back leg. One piece down, three to go. Due to the grain problem I decided to cut out the pieces on a single layer. However, with piece #2, I realized my fabric was about an inch too short. I thought 2.5 yards would be enough to lay out two pant pattern pieces next to each other: 90 inches long = 45 inches for each. But I've never checked my measurements and for the whopping cost of $1, I should have sprung for an extra 1/2 yard. I was probably trying to keep my order total from bumping me up to the next shipping charge tier. Thankfully, the fabric was wide and I managed to cut out the remaining three pieces without any creative piecing. Another word of caution (besides not scrimping on fabric): think before you cut. If I'd realized my dilemma I could have positioned the first piece a little better and gained more room for positioning the remaining pieces. This is why "cutting out" is my least favorite part of sewing - too much prep work and even when you think you've got everything figured out, something else happens.

Finally I had all the pieces cut out and could move to the sewing machine. I serged the leg seams and crotch and reinforced the crotch with a utility stitch on the sewing machine. I don't know what the stitch is called. It looks like a straight stitch but it is sewn with both forward and backward stitches. I think it works well for reinforcing stress areas like crotches and underarms. I used an elastic with a built-in drawstring for the waist. First I made a small buttonhole in the front of the pants for the elastic to go through. I wanted the drawstring on the inside, so I made the center of the buttonhole about 1/2 inch from the top. This is half the width of my elastic, which is 1" wide. If you want the drawstring on the outside of the pants, you would position the buttonhole down 1.5 times the width of the elastic. I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the elastic to the upper edge, folded the elastic over, and stitched it down, close to the bottom of the elastic.

Now the big try-on. Plenty of room in the hips and thighs, but the waistband was much too high and I could pull the pants up well above my waist. So out came the elastic and I trimmed off 1" from the top of the pants, put in a new buttonhole, stitched the elastic in, and now they fit ok. I do still have to hem them though.

The annoying part is that if I'd known I was going to lop off 1 inch from the waist band, I could have saved myself the grief I had laying out the pattern pieces on fabric that was just a smidgen too short. I didn't have any problem just cutting down the waistband. I noticed that the pattern was graded so that each next size was taller in the waist (had a longer crotch curve). Those kind of gradings perplex me. Larger people are not necessarily taller. I guess that's why I should pay more attention to the pattern before I cut.

Simple lounge pants. Yeah, right. Nothing I do is simple.

1 comment:

  1. Love the lounge pants, so comfortable looking. Ummmm, peach crumble. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE peaches?!?! hahaha, but seriously, if you have a lot to jar or any preserves, I would love to buy a jar to two. :)