Monday, June 15, 2015

{Tutorial} High Waist Skinny Pants & Shorts: Part 1


Ok, maybe not. I need at least a 3 inch inseam to keep my under-cheek from slipping out of the back of my shorts. BUT - Even if my hem isn't super high, my waist sure can be!

Who should wear high waisted shorts?

  1. Petites, or those with proportionally shorter legs, who want to "grow" the perceived length of their legs. 
  2. Anyone comfortable rocking a short inseam. If you find 3 inches or less is scandalous, this isn't a trend for you. Shorter inseams balance the higher waist. 
  3. Anyone with a waist that is equal to or smaller than their hip circumference. I don't care if you're a "rectangle" shape or an "hourglass" or a "pear" - you just have to be comfortable drawing attention to your waistline.  
  4. OR, ANYONE WITH THE CONFIDENCE TO ROCK THEM. Seriously. Confidence is 75% of  any "how to wear trends" formula. Styling and well-fitting garments share the remaining 25%. So lets move on to fit now, shall we??
High-Waist shorts not your thing?? This is a great guide for FITTING your skinnies too. Skip the height addition steps and right to grain lines and fitting!

Ok! Let's do this thing! In addition to the usual suspects (scissors, notions, machine..) here's what you'll need:
  • Something to mark your fabric. Chalk, pen, a row of basting stitches, do your thing, girl! (I'm using craft tape for VISUAL PURPOSES ONLY. It was awful to work with, and you're not blogging a tutorial, so please use something else!)
  • Muslin fabric with the same stretch/weight/make-up as your final version. This is very important!
  • Your Skinnies pattern pieces. I'm including fitting suggestions here, so you can follow along with the relevant steps below for your first ever muslin. BUT if this is your first ever muslin, do not attempt the high waist yet. You need to know how the original pattern fits you before you can modify it here or with the flat-front tutorial
  • Tracing Paper, Muslin, something to trace your finished pieces on so you can make these over and over again!
  • A zipper. I used a 7 inch zipper, but I'm short-waisted and petite overall. When in doubt - pick up a longer zipper. You can always shorten it, but you can never make it longer!
  • Fusible Interfacing - for a crisp finish on your waistband.
  • Leggings and a slim fit tshirt. 
  • A working pair of the original Skinnies all sewn up. (High-waist modification only)
  • So, obviously, you'll need the pattern too! Puchase it HERE.
This is a lengthy project, so I've broken it into two parts... First up: Fitting!

Use your working skinnies to measure from the bottom/front/center of your waistband, up to your waist. Err on the side of caution, and add an extra inch to give yourself some wiggle room. (My number here is 6") Hold onto this number - you'll need it in a bit...
Lay out your muslin and your pattern pieces. You'll be cutting these at the shortest inseam line regardless if these are your original muslin or your high-waist shorts. (Tapering legs to fit is easy, it's the pesky hip/bum/belly/thigh curves that we need to get right, first!)

Observe the grain line markings on the pattern pieces. Make sure these lines are parallel to the selvage (finished) edge of your fabric. Working first with your front piece, line up your ruler perpendicular to the grain line (Making a T shape) at the tippy top of your side seam. Mark this line.
Now, take the measurement from step 1, the one from your front rise to your belly button, and mark another line that same distance up from the front rise of your pattern piece.

Now measure the distance between those two lines, and repeat this process using THAT number on the back pattern piece. The top line is your new cutting line, You'll draw imaginary lines from the pattern pieces straight up to this line.
Cut out your pattern pieces with a generous seam allowance (I suggest at least 1 inch). You'll appreciate having this wiggle room later!

"Great, now onto sewing??" Not so fast! We've gotta mark up these pattern pieces! I marked the right-side, because when I become a distracted sewist, I make goofy mistakes like that. You should mark the wrong side of your garment, and sew it right-sides-together, too. 

Remember that grain line I pointed out earlier? You're going to mark that first. And the perpendicular line that intersects it just about in the middle of the seat curve.
"What?? Why?? I've already cut my pattern!" Well yes, but we haven't FIT it yet. You don't think your mid section is so easily fitted with a shapeless tube of denim, do you? Of course not! We've gotta hug those beautiful curves of yours! You just go ahead and mark those lines and THEN you can get to sewing. We'll address how to use these lines in a bit.
Per pattern instructions, sew your inseams and your seat seam. NOT your out seam.
Now go get your yoga pants and fitted t shirt on! (If you're like me, you already had them on anyway!)
Looking good, you!!

Now behold the fitting process. We're gonna grab our muslin, and put it on diaper-style.
Not my best look, admittedly, but it's essential for a couple of reasons. Let's revisit those grain lines to see why:

Most people are familiar with grain lines, and cut their patterns accordingly. Maybe you've heard that cutting on the bias can cause garments to hang funny. Maybe you've sewn with knits a bit and know grain-observation is a REQUIREMENT for the garment to stretch the right direction and  FIT your body. But this is woven. And maybe in your tetris-like cutting layout, you think you can twist a pattern this way or that way to save yourself a bunch of fabric - grain lines be damned!

No sir-ee! That's not how this works. Where there are grain lines, the designer has carefully, mathematically, considered where your garment needs the ease, stretch, strength and stability. Failure to observe grain lines is a recipe for pant fitting disaster. Your garment won't stretch where it needs to, have stability where it needs to, and the seams will pucker and distort if they do not meet where the designer intended them to. (All those pesky placement notches are starting to make sense, eh???) 

When we're fitting our new high-rise version, we have to remember these grain lines as we go.

Pin your seat seam in the front and in the back. Use your leggings' seat seam as a guide when you pin, so you preserve your "center" seam as you pin the sides together.We may need to take our seat seam in, but its' way easier to move pins around than to experiment with a bunch of stitches we'll have to rip!

Now look at those vertical lines (blue ones, here). Are they curving in? Are they curving out? They should be perpendicular to the floor.
Mine is tilting inwards slightly. I'll have to let out the pins at my seat seam so my blue grain line will point straight up.

Adjust the pins along the side seam until all orange lines are parallel to the floor (even that one that's asleep on the job up there!) and all straight grain lines are parallel.
That's better!

So, why didn't I have you sew the side seams up and then do this?? Because, you might come to find that... while your hip circumference measurements put you at a certain size, your weight may not be evenly distributed from front to back. If you've followed along my Capsule Wardrobe Sew-Along, you know already what a revelation it's been to find my back side measures a full size larger than my front. Maybe you have a big booty like me. Maybe you have sporty quads. Wherever your weight, whatever your shape, your side seam should be perpendicular to the floor. Pinning your side seam bit by bit lets you pull from the front or the back, only as much as you need for YOUR body. You will trim off the excess when you go to trace your pattern pieces.
This process takes time, and a sense of humor, but it will be so worth it in the end! Think of all those print pants you will be able to line up, and how sturdy those seams will be when, say, you go to peel a swinging kid off their sibling. That's peace of mind, right there!

I'll leave you here for now! If you're sewing high waist shorts, we'll meet back here for phase 2 tomorrow! 

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