Thursday, 25 April 2013

Shirred Baby Pants Tutorial

Knowledge is dangerous.  Learning something new can really screw with your brain.  Like when you start studying medicine, suddenly everyone around you morphs into a potential patient, and upon shaking someone's hand, you feel their pulse.  
Since I bought some shirring elastic I've had to exercise restraint not to shir everything in sight.  Shirred lab coat - not so practical.  Shirred baby pants, however, are a fantastic idea!  They are pretty straightforward to make.  And here's a handy shirring tutorial.


You will need:
  • Fabric (woven).  Lightweight cotton is best.  I used 0.3m x 1m for a 7kg baby.
  • Sewing thread
  • Shirring elastic
  • Elastic for shoulder straps, about 1m
  • 10 domes or snap fasteners

1. I made my own pattern off a standard pants pattern.   Woven fabric will require extra ease to accommodate those little legs that seem to bend in all directions.  Note the longer crotch depth at the centre back.

Making the pattern
2.  Cut out the fabric.  There will be two pant legs, two 6cm wide shoulder straps, two 4cm wide placket strips.  
  

3.  To determine the length of the shoulder straps you will need to measure your wriggling, kicking baby.  Measure from the baby's belly button, over one shoulder, to the opposite side of the back of the waist and add 5cm.

4.  The plackets will attach to the inside leg seam, i.e from one ankle to another.  You need to measure the length of that seam to size the placket strips.  Use a tape measure or a flexi ruler.

5. With the right sides together, sew the centre back and centre front seams.

6.  Fold the top edge over twice, press thoroughly, stitch all the way around and press again
Press the top edge
Press again after stitching
7.  I neglected to mark shoulder strap placement on the pattern, tsk-tsk-tsk, so since I'm working on the top edge of the pants, now is a good time to make the markings.  You need to do this before shirring, otherwise it will be difficult to measure anything correctly.
Locate the sides by aligning centre front and back seams
Divide each quarter in half

Mark the pin placement with some chalk and remove the pins

8. Next step is attaching the plackets to the inside seams of the pants.  That sounds kooky.  Grown up pants don't have plackets there, unless they are stripper pants.  Fold each placket in half lengthwise and press.  You may want to tack stitch the layers in place to stop them from shifting when your sew them to the pant legs.  Next, fold each placket in half (across) to locate the centre point.  Match the centre point of each placket with the centre front/centre back seams and pin in place.  Then pin the ends together, and finally wriggle each placket to line up with the inside leg seam.  Sew in place.  
Attach plackets
 9.  Press the placket with the seam allowance folded towards the pant legs.
Press the plackets
10.  Top stitch the seam allowance in place and press again.  Yup, there's an awful lot of pressing when working with woven fabrics.  The domes can get stuck on at the end.
Nicely attached plackets
11.  Next step is shirring the top of the pants.  Start at one of the sides and sew a continuous line of shirring around and around the pants.  Keep the lines parallel by lining up the edge of the foot with the stitching.  You will end on the same side where you started.  I think I sewed ten lines of shirring here. Press the shirring with a steamy iron.
The pants will look rather small from this point.
12.  To hem the pants legs, fold the bottom edge under twice, press, stitch and press again.  You will have nice, crisp hems.
Press the hem
Stitch and press the hem
12.   The easiest way to shir the bottoms of the pant legs is to do it in a continuous line, instead of sewing each line individually and then having to deal with all the loose thread ends.  Do not sew over the plackets.  Press the shirring.
Continuous shirring in a zig-zag line
Press
13.  I should have marked the dome placement on the pattern, or at least on the plackets before they were sewn on, but I didn't.  It's important to match the placement of each pair, or else it will look atrocious.  I used a pointy end of a dome cap to poke holes in the fabric.  If you don't have a domer, you can easily sew buttonholes and buttons instead.
Mark dome placement
Carefully locate placement of the holes to get matching pairs
Dome one placket first and then the other.  Make sure they face the right way!!!
 14.  Lastly, it's the straps.  I make mine elasticated for a better fit.  They are sewn on at the front and domed at the back (so that baby can't undo them).
My shoulder straps don't match because I ran out of fabric
Fold the ends inwards about 1cm, fold straps in half lengthwise and press
Sew and press
Turn right way out and press again
15.  Pull elastic through the straps and secure in place on both ends
Insert elastic
Stitch across the ends of the straps to secure the elastic
  16.  Sew the straps to the top front of the pants, where the chalk markings are.  Dome the opposite ends.

17.  Clap excitedly as baby smears plum all over new pants.


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