Tuesday, July 1, 2014

These Pants are made for Travel...

Travel is a billion dollar industry - so much attention paid to finding the best hotels for the price, where to dine for the best meals, what airlines offer the best fares, etc. - there are so many websites screaming for your travel dollar, it makes our head spin. We love to obsess about how to pack and what to wear while at the same time we being smart about our itineraries and finances.

Inspiration from Anna Sui, NYC

Whether you're a beginning sewist or a seasoned veteran, you need not cry out "What am I going to pack!" We've got a few ideas on fabric choices and some simple garments for the right styles and fabrics for your travel adventures.  Let's start by focusing on pants, the "no-brainer" travel wardrobe garment.  This must have item can be easy to make and there are tons of great fabric choices - don't over think it!

LINEN (for casual pants, short and long!)

I could plan a whole summer wardrobe in linen - it's a natural fabric like cotton, so it's cool to wear on the warmer days. And here's the bonus - linen is great for travel because it comes in so many colors and it's lightweight. You can get a lot of linen garments in a suitcase and not worry about that irritating 50 pound limit! Even though our mothers obsessed about wrinkles, but we think that soft linen wrinkles are part of it's charm.

Last summer, we made several pair of linen crop pants using the Sewing Workshop's Ikina Jacket & Pant Pattern elastic waist pant. Naturally, I am still loving them.


Now, let's talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: SHOES!
While I was in New York I was inspired by the trends being seen on the street. One style that I noticed in particular were flat shoes. Ballet slippers, sandals and even flat ankle boots looked so chic with the dresses and skirts of all lengths being worn in New York City. This is a style I'm excited to wear for seasons to come for comfort and sophistication.

This summer, I chose a new pattern for a longer length linen pant: New Look's 6273. We'll use buttons as a decorative detail at the bottom of the side seams, three on each side. We continue to use the same pre-treatment ritual any time we're working with linen to make it soft and yummy - Read about Sandra Betzina's pre-washing technique to minimize wrinkles on our July 2013 post.

One of the things that I love about my seamstress Laurel is that she's not afraid to tell us her lessons learned while sewing my garments, even though she has been sewing for years.  She shares our "wins" and "losses" so that you will learn to make better garments yourselves. Laurel laughed that she's been putting together pants forever, but just figured out why some patterns instruct you to sew the inseams together first, then the crotch, then the side seams.

 "Yes, Laurel, if you do it in that order, all the seams are able to be pressed flat!"

These relaxed pants are designed to ride about an inch below your waist and feature both elastic  AND a drawstring.   The dropped waistband has two buttonholes for the drawstring to come out in the front of the pants.  With linen or any lightweight fabric, it's a good idea to put some interfacing on the back side of the buttonhole to stabilize the fabric. Isn't it wonderful how the new machines and their attachments make such pretty buttonholes?

When making a drawstring, especially a narrow one, ironing the fabric folds before you sew can simplify the process.

Once we added the elastic and threaded the drawstring in the waistband, we're thinking it might be a little overkill since it's a little bulky. We'll decide if we need both at another fitting. That's the beauty of sewing your own garments - you can make adjustments as you gain more experience in what works and what doesn't.

Love my new silk knit top, Burda 7645 from my Work That Stash and Cool Sumer Tank post, to go with these great linen pants!

KNITS (for leggings and soft capris)

Fabrics in the knit family travel especially well. The New Look drawstring pants above would be awesome made up in a soft rayon knit...perfect for a long airplane or car ride.

But what about a pair of leggings to wear under a tunic or short dress - Remember Ladies: Leggings are NOT pants! It can be a scary thing to see leggings stretched over an ample backside worn with a crop top - you better have a dynamite figure or be 4 years old!

We recently got this cool Christine Jonson pattern in at Stonemountain. It's part of her BaseWearOne Collection No.622 and includes a tank top and a yoga bodysuit as well. These simple designs are created especially for Lycra blend fabrics. We're using a cotton and Spandex fabric for the leggings and we chose black...of course!

Cotton and Spandex blend fabric is tightly knit, and like any knit, it has the "knit" side and the "purl" side of the fabric. Traditionally, the knit side of the fabric is the "right side," but when a knit is this fine, it's hard to see the threads. If you can't tell which is which, a closer look through some sort of magnification is in order.

When we say easy we mean it...ONE PATTERN PIECE!
Christine's pattern directions are very clear and easy to follow.

All of the seams are serged, if you have one, otherwise just use a stretch stitch. But be sure to test it out on the fabric first. Christine warns, "Don't stretch the fabric as you sew."

Laurel used a zigzag stitch to sew on the elastic as well as hem the legs. She did adjust the presser foot tension on her Viking to ease the movement of the fabric over the feed dogs while sewing.

In a little over 60 minutes flat...DONE!!!

Check out our new class on making Leggings with Terry McClintock for further support!

Try your hand at either of these two simple pant styles in linen or knit - both will be a great addition to your travel wardrobe. Consider solid colors and pair them with a tank or tunic in a splashy print or plaid!

Creatively Yours, 

So much to look at and to BUY! Just wait till you all see the shipments coming in over the next few weeks!


  1. Zan you are so cute! Miss you and I love the look of the blog especially the tittle/header thing!

  2. Ahhhhhh!!!! Sweet V! Star sister!!! I miss you too! We were just talking about you and envisioning you reading our newsletter and blog :) Reaching out with a big hug! New York was a blast - bought all kinds of lovely fabrics! xoxoZ