Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Making a Copy of My Stepmother's Favorite Pants

My stepmother lives in Hong Kong, and turned 96 years old this year. She is healthy, alert, and free of meds. She has lived a very unusual life compared to mine. I am amazed at her survival abilities, and her ingenuity. My stepmother never went to school, and is barely able to read except a few words. With this disadvantage, she still managed to learn how to memorize bus routes, and do basic math. She also knows how to repair stools, cook precisely, and sew her own clothes. (Just to name a few...)

On my sister's last trip to Hong Kong, she brought home an old pair of cotton pants that my stepmother made completely by hand. This includes the measuring, cutting, and hand stitching. My sister gave me the task of copying these favorite pants of hers, and creating a new pair.

My stepmother's original handstitched pants.
 To the left of her pants is red elastic she used as a drawstring. At the waist, my stepmother left an opening where she could pull the elastic through to adjust her waist size. By using elastic, it made for more comfort and customization. The pant looked simple enough to transfer.

A while back, I created a large, long cork board to use for transferring ready-to-wear clothes into paper patterns. Here is the board, which fits nicely on my small fold out table.

I placed a large tissue paper underneath the pants, and used push pins to hold the pants steady. I took a sharp dowel, which has a rather large point, and poked little holes around the outline of the pants.
I only had to do one pant leg. Then I added seam allowances.

My stepmother's pants do not have side seams. So the side seams are placed on the fold. Basically, there's only three lines to stitch to piece it together: the front and back of the seat, and the crotch line. Pretty brilliant design huh? She pretty much perfected it after 30 or 40 years of sewing these pants.

Here's my pattern all sewn up. I used a cotton stretch poplin. It is slightly heavier, and great for cool Summer wear, and it gets pretty hot and humid in Hong Kong. These are similar to Kung Fu pants which have a wide crotch. These allow for a lot of movement and stretch. Squatting is a common resting pose.

Close-up of the tie in the front. I created a similar elastic waistband, except I attached the same cotton fabric to the end of the elastic piece. The cotton fabric is sewn together, so the strap never gets lost in the pants.

See how the strap is one complete loop, and she never worries about losing it in the wash?

I created button holes on the inside waist to pull the tie/elastic through. I also secured the elastic at center back so the strap does not slide around as much.
I think it turned out pretty good for my first try. I might copy this pattern and make a pair for myself. They look really comfy.

Here's my 96 trying to smile with her mouth full. Happy sewing everyone!