For prairie length skirts, consider prairie length under wear. Basically they are pettipants just made longer. The major change is do not put lace above the thigh area because it will be too bulky for a slim fitting prairie skirt. There are many variables in this project. Make a practice pair in an inexpensive fabric with inexpensive lace or no lace to check the fit and the design.
Pantaloons will keep you much warmer when the halls are chilly in the winter. For summer wear select the thinnest of fabrics and keep lace to a minimum.
1. pants pattern - purchase pants patterns by the hip measurement. Look for tapered leg pants that have front and back pattern pieces. Choose a pair with a separate waist band, the waist band will be left off and the top edge folded down one inch. This will cause the pantaloons to fit slightly below the waist line, reducing the number of elastic bands around the waist.
2. Determine the length of the pantaloons. Measure the skirt length and make the pantaloons about an inch shorter. If this is too long they can always be shortened later. Fold up the bottom of the pants pattern leg to get the desired length. This will reduce the amount of fabric needed. Lay out the pantaloons on a spare piece of fabric to determine the yardage needed.
3. Silky slinky fabric will allow the skirt to slide over the pantaloons when you move. Look for thin tricot type knits and other underwear type fabrics.
4. Elastic thread - Purchase new elastic thread, this type of elastic especially prone to aging.
5. Twin needles, to be used when sewing the elastic thread, 2.0/80 is a good size. A single needle can be used but twin needles seem to hold the elastic thread more firmly. They also make a neat looking double line of stitches on the right side.
6. Two spools of thread - Twin needles require two spools. If you don't want to purchase two spools you can wind an extra bobbin and use it as a second spool.
7. ½ elastic for the waist line.
8. Lace - the amount is the decision of the seamstress. The elastic thread will cause the lace to ruffle so look for flat lace without a header. The pre-ruffled lace with a header is thicker and stiffer. The elastic thread will not be able to gather the pantaloons as well with that type of lace. If you really want to use a pre-gathered lace because it is the right color or style, you can usually remove the header. It is often sewn on with a chain stitch that easily pulls out once you find the right end. The amount of lace is a personal decision. It depends on how close together the rows of lace are and how far up the leg you decide to go. The lace proabably should not go higher than mid thigh because it would add bulk to the hip area under a slim fitting long skirt.
1. Lay out the fabric right sides together and cut out the pants. Don't bother to mark the waist darts because an elastic waistband will be made.
2. Pin the inseams front to back right sides together. The best way to do this is to place one pin at the crotch and one pin at the bottom. With the garment resting on the table slightly tug on both pins. Place the next pin at the mid point. The lower part of the leg will fit together smoothly, the upper part has two different curves on the front and back pieces. Hold the middle pin and the crotch pin and tug slightly, pin between these pins. Add more pins as needed. This will aline the front and back curves. Pinning this way keeps the back and front legs even.
3. Stitch the inner leg seams. For this stitching use a slight zig zag, 2 mm x 2 mm. Press these seams open and topstitch them flat, again using a zig zag stitch. This will reduce bulk and make sewing the elastic and lace easier.
4. Draw guide lines on the right side of the pants legs. Start at the bottom and work up. Make the lines an inch or two apart. The curve at the top of the inseam will make the lines bend when they get above the knees. The distance between the lines will depend on the width of the lace, the look you want and the type of fabric.
Mark the lines all the way to the waist edge or stop where ever you like. If you decide you need more elastic then you can just sew between the lines without marking. There are many different types of fabric markers on the market, choose the one you are most comfortable with. Do not use the disappearing type on this project because it takes a while to sew and the marks may disappear before you are finished. I usually use a #2 pencil. It makes a fine sharp line and I have not found any washable fabric that pencil doesn't wash out of.
5. Sew the lace on the legs. Start at the bottom and sew the lace along the lines. Use a long stitch length to reduce puckering, 5 mm or 10 spi. The lace can overlap or not at the choice of the seamstress. Do not go above mid thigh with the lace. Just below the knee is a good stopping place. It will rarely be seen higher than that. Lace farther up will add bulk to the thigh area.
6. Elastic thread - Your sewing machine manual will tell you how to use elastic thread in your machine. Look under smocking. The general directions are;
(a) Wind the elastic thread on the bobbin by hand. You need to make it smooth but not tight. Keep the tension even on the winding. At least two bobbins of elastic thread will be needed.
(b) The tension on your bobbin case must be changed or by-passed. Before you change the tension on your bobbin case very carefully mark the position that the screw is in now. Use a fine point permanent marker to make a small dot on the screw and the bobbin case. Loosen the screw about a quarter turn.
(c) If you have a drop in bobbin without a bobbin case you can by pass the tension by not putting the elastic through all of the thread guides. See your manual.
(d) You will need to practice on a large scrap to see the effect. Make several rows. When sewing rows side by side you must pull on the material to keep it flat so the gathering is even.
7. Twin needles These are not absolutely necessary but I think that they hold the elastic thread better and if you use contrasting color thread it makes a nice design. To thread twin needles grasp both threads in one hand, one on each side of your finger. Guide the threads as usual through all of the thread guides. Be very careful not to twist the threads. When you get to the needle separate the threads and thread each needle. You will not be able to use your automatic needle threader.
8. Start sewing - Sew on the right side of the fabric. Pull a long tail of elastic thread, about 3 inches. You want to make sure that the elastic does not pull out of the stitching. Always back stitch several stitches at the beginning of each row. Use a long stitch 5 mm or 10 stitches per inch. Back stitch several stitches at the end of each row. Leave long thread tails.
Do not get discouraged, the first few rows of stitching will not look like much. It takes several rows to get the full effect. Stitch on the lines, and if that does not gather the material to your liking, then make more rows of stitching between the lines. You can stitch along the top of the lace. If you have wide lace you can fold each row up and stitch under it. The stiffer the fabric the more elastic you will need. Don’t worry if the lines are not exactly straight. No one should be looking that close at your pettipants.
9. Reset your bobbin tension to the original setting.
10. Sew the crotch seams.
11. Sew the outside leg seams. Remember to use a small zig zag. Sew this seam twice to secure the ends of the elastic thread.
12. Fold the top over an inch to make a tunnel for some ½ inch regular elastic. Make sure that the seam allowances are pressed open. Sew ¾ of an inch down from the top edge all of the way around. At the back seam on the inside of the casing make two bar tacks.
To make bar tacks set your stitch length on zero and your stitch width (zig zag) wide. Position the opening of your presser foot across the back seam line on the top edge of the tunnel and sew 8-10 stitches. Then do the same at the stitching line of the tunnel. With your seam ripper pick open the stitches between the bar tacks. Insert your ½ inch elastic through this opening. Before you start the elastic, trim the corners of the leading edge to a rounded shape. It will slide through easer and twist less.
13. Hem the bottoms of the legs. They can have lace on the bottom edge or a casing with ¼ inch elastic or a small rolled hem.