Tuesday, September 15, 2009

monkey britches tutorial

when i started sewing, i sat down with my sewing machine manual, some fabric, and a whole lot of courage! i didn't know what i was doing. and man, did it show! because of my ineptness with the machine, the thought of adding a pattern to the mix was too overwhelming. so i taught myself to sew by tracing around existing clothes and studying the seams in them. i would then try to re-create what i already had. this really worked for me. i was no good, but my husband was so encouraging. i would come to him with my wonky shirt, feeling pretty discouraged, and he would tell me "you are one project closer to being the seamstress you want to be". that kept me going. it really did... so this tutorial is basically how i learned to sew. i hope it is easy to follow. it's pretty picture heavy, because that always helps me, so i figure one or two of you out there may find it useful! here goes...

(based on size 3T)
1/2 yard of fabric
flat elastic (not rolled)
safety pins
pajama pants

grab a pair of pajama pants that fit a little loosely. if they are a snugger fit, you will need to adjust to allow a larger seam allowance.

fold the pants in half and place on top of your fabric. you could also do this step onto a sheet of newspaper and make your very own pattern. trace around the pants. be sure not to taper in at the waste. you want to go ahead and make that line straight all the way to the extra inch at the top of the fabric. i have placed the selvage on top to make the waste band easier to create.

add an inch to the bottom of the legs (around the ankles) to allow for turning and hemming later on.

i do this step on top of a folded piece of fabric so i end up with two pieces when i'm done. do this a second time and you should end up with 4 pieces in total.

these panels look like they are different sizes in the picture, but they aren't. they are all the same size (or close enough!).
take 2 panels and put right sides together. sew around the curve in the crotch area.

you can see in this shot that i serged the crotch first. i later went back and did a straight stitch to secure it even more. after all, they are for a 3 year old boy! when you're done with the crotch it should look like this. take a minute to congratulate yourself on making something that looks pants-like! after you're done high-fiving yourself, do this to the other 2 panels.

place the panels right side together and serge the legs on the outside and inside. it doesn't matter which you do first- mix it up! go nuts! go back and do a straight stitch to make them extra strong (sidenote- i generally do all my serging at once so i don't have to change my machine back and forth). if you don't have a serger, no worries. just straight stitch that puppy all around.

after your pants are sewn together, fold down the waste band wide enough to house your elastic. in this case, i folded mine down about an inch. if i hadn't used the selvage side of the fabric i would have folded 3/4 of an inch, ironed down, and then folded one inch- you know, to make it pretty.

top stitch all around, but leave a small opening to feed the elastic through. i usually leave my opening near the side seam, but it really doesn't matter where you do it. at this point the waste band will be too large for your child. measure the child's actual waste and cut your elastic this size (i tend to cut mine a smidge smaller). put a safety pin on each end of the elastic and feed through the hole you left.

once you get all the way around, you should have the 2 ends sticking out. remove the safety pins and sew these 2 ends together. do a couple of stitches to ensure it is extra strong (i usually make a square).

tuck the elastic securely in and top stitch the hole to close it.

now you are ready to finish up by hemming the ends of the pants. at this point you may want to try the pants on your child to see if they are the right length. or, if you're like me, you'll just forge ahead! your pants should still be inside out at this point, so just go ahead and fold 3/4 of an inch, iron it down, and the fold over 1/2 an inch. top stitch.

and you're done! that was pretty easy, right? turn those suckers outside in and you've got yourself a cozy little pair of monkey britches!

to up the cuteness, you may want to make an applique t-shirt to match!

finished product- a gift for our little friend, hunter!

i hope this was clear. if not, please let me know. ask any question and i'll try my best to answer!


my friend brandi has started a new team blog called the family supper club. check out my newest post over there about shortcuts to a quick whole foods lunch!


nicola said...

cute cute cute! i love tutorials! (and ditto...i mostly have learned to sew by just doing it and making mistakes!)

ginnylove said...

This is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful projects and ideas on your blog, beautiful lady!

I always look forward to reading your newest post. :o)

Traci said...

What I love about Mandi's sewing is that she has the pride to share it! I am way too self critical of my sewing projects sometimes and Mandi..justs puts it out there with a big hug. Cheers to homegrown seamstresses without lessons! I too have never desired to take a lesson and I have self taught (well, my 96 yo grandma did get me started with a passion for it) with bags, pillows, curtains, children's clothing (a little bit...I have some fleece calling my name to make for all three some 'monkey britches') I have a stash of homemade maternity clothing that I cherish but am not totally confident always to wear in public. Again, thank you Mandi for your creativity. Love it!!! -tm

theblankiechronicles.com said...

love, love, love this-- as I'm in that place of attempting to trace already existing clothing and turn it into something sort of wearable;) Thanks so very much for sharing....and for the reminders that "every project is one step closer...." truly, that helps a ton in and of itself;)

Nicole said...

this is how i learn too!