The bottom line in a coordinated ensemble is matching pettipants. This is an easy project but will take some time due to the repeated rows of stitching and the hand winding of the elastic thread on the bobbins. There are a lot of variables in this project and you can adjust as you go.
1. One yard of 44 inch fabric - light poly-cotton, cotton or polyester.
2. Elastic thread - consider getting a new spool of elastic thread. Elastic gets weak with age and elastic thread is especially prone to aging.
3. Twin needles - You can use a regular needle but the twin needles make a neat pattern and hold the elastic thread more firmly. Try a 2.5/80. That is 2.5 mm apart and size 80 needles.
4. Two spools of regular thread - It is better to use regular thread in this project than serger cone thread. Regular thread is 3 ply and serger thread is 2 ply. Sergers rely on multiple threads to make a strong seam. On this project the upper threads will be working independently. If your machine does not have two spool pins, you have an option of either using a thread stand or winding two bobbins and placing them on a spool pin.
5. Lace - optional - From no lace to all over lace. It is best to use flat lace. The pull of the elastic thread will cause the lace to ruffle. Use sturdy lace as you will be sitting on it and washing it frequently.
6. Pattern Paper - You will find this in the interfacing section of the fabric store. It makes creating your own patterns easier because it is marked with blue lines like graph paper. One yard should do.
1. Make a pattern You will need one yard of pattern paper and a pattern for a regular pair of pants (without a waist band) that fit you. Lay the pants pattern on the pattern paper with the crotch curves facing away from each other. Adjust the pattern pieces so that the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ lines are on the same line of the pattern paper. Next position the patterns pieces so that there is 4 to 6 inches between the sides of the pattern. Measure between the front and back center seams. Double this number. the result should be the desired hip measurement plus 4 inches. This is so the patten fits over the hips, if it is not big enough adjust the space between the pattern pieces. Now draw a line up one inch from the front and back center seams. Next draw a line between these two points, for the casing of the waist elastic. Adjust the leg length to suit you. Usually 5 to 6 inches for mid thigh. Cut your pattern out.
2. Cut out your fabric. If the total length of your pattern from the top of the back waist to the bottom of the leg is not over 22 inches you can lay the pattern out sideways with the bottom of the leg on the selvage edge. This will save having to make a hem on the leg. The salvage edge is usually not used in garment construction because it tends to shrink in the wash. In this case a little shrinkage will not be noticed, and is out weighted by the advantage of a finished edge.
3. Mark the lines that you will be using to guide the elastic and lace application. You must mark the lines on the right side of the fabric because you will be putting the elastic thread in the bobbin. Take a yard stick and make lines 2 inches apart up almost to the top. Don’t use air erasable marking pens because this project will take a while and the marks may vanish before you are done. Test your marker on a piece of fabric. Some markers will not come out of certain fabrics. #2 pencil will wash out of most fabrics.
4. Sew the front seam. Just the front, from waist to crotch.
5. Lace- How much is up to you. Use the lines for placement. If this is not enough you can go between the lines. When you get to the center seam just run the lace across from one side to the other. This may be a place to use your Ribbon Wizard. Use a 7 stitches per inch (4.0 mm) stitch length. Longer stitches sew faster and reduce puckering in trims.
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 5 stitches per inch. When you get to the center seam just sew across like you did the lace. 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 back crotch seam and the leg seams with regular thread. Be sure to catch all of the elastic threads in these seams, sew twice. You don’t want those elastic threads popping loose. Press open the front and back seams down to the last row of stitching. Tuck a 2 inch strip of fuse webbing under each seam allowance and press. This will keep the seam allowances in place when you insert the elastic.
11. Fold the top over an inch to make a tunnel for some ½ inch regular elastic. 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 more rounded shape. It will slide through easer and twist less.
12. Try the pettipants on before you cut the elastic. It does not have to be tight to your waist. The gathering of the fabric will cause the pettipants to shorten a little. It is fine if your pettipants are a little bit hip huggers, that will be one less elastic on your waist.