This is a story about why it’s important to make a muslin in fabric similar to/the same as your final garment.
I made a muslin for the Seamwork shorts sewing pattern, Nantucket, with cotton seersucker. It was lightweight and somewhat stretchy.
My final garment, an olive poly-cotton poplin blend (link is to same fabric, different color) has ZERO stretch on the cross grain. None. The lack of stretch is downright weird.
When I tried on the olive version for the first time (sans waistband), I got worried. There was a lot of pantyline and stress on the bottom of the tulip leg seam. Drawstring shorts should be forgiving. These were not. I like my pants to gently hug my curves, not squeeze them into submission.
Sewing my Nantucket Seamwork shorts
Right now, my final verdict on this shorts sewing pattern is mixed, primarily because of my fabric choice. Here’s a look at how it went down (in no particular order):
Not my size, part I: I added an inch of length. The muslin was a little too booty-rific for me.
|Here’s a close-up of the bar tack (left). The red line on the right shows the vent I added.|
Not my size, part II: I stopped the leg seams about an inch short and added a bar tack for reinforcement. These vents increase my range of motion and let my thighs breathe (and who doesn’t need to let her thighs breathe, amirite?). These shorts are now A LOT more comfortable when I sit.
Not my size, part III: In a thrilling statement of the obvious, I should have sized up — maybe even two sizes. But I’m going to be real with you — I didn’t feel like tracing a new size, cutting out the pattern, blah, blah, blah. So I improvised. I unpicked the leg seam and resewed it, adding 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to each side. Bye, pantyline!
|Yay, welt pocket!|
Pack animal: I added a welt pocket on the right, because I need a place for my phone, random Lego pieces, and Kleenexes that I’m toting every day. (Mom life is glamorous!) I used the welt pocket pattern piece from the Prefontaine shorts. (Remember how I said I was going to put welt pockets in everything? IT’S HAPPENING.)
Sewing insurance: I reinforced the crotch seam. Again, no stretch in the fabric is a dangerous game for relatively close-fitting garments. I ran another line of stitching over the crotch seam. Before I did that, I was convinced I was going to tear out the seam if I dared to squat. Now I squat with abandon! (So ladylike, HA.)
All about accessories: I used rainbow chain maille as an accent on the ties. It complements the shiny and round brass eyelets. I originally wanted wooden beads, but I couldn’t find beads with openings big enough for my drawstring to pass through. We’ll see how the color on the chain maille holds up in the wash. After 2-3 washes, so far, so good!
Tips for sewing Nantucket Seamwork shorts
If you’re stitching this Seamwork shorts sewing pattern, try these tips:
Consider buttonholes: I made buttonholes on the muslin instead of installing eyelets. If I were to use a less weighty fabric for these shorts, I’d go with buttonholes and a skinnier, lighter-weight drawstring.
Go stretchy: I’m confident you could make this pattern with a heavy and stable knit (or you could size down with a stretchier knit). I’d like to try this pattern with an elastic waistband.
|My line of basting to ease around the curve while pressing.|
Ease into it: These shorts call for turning under and pressing the (curved) edges — first 1/4 inches, and then 3/8 inches (and topstitching). These narrow double turns are bulky around curves. To ensure the curved edges were smooth, I stitched a line of basting when I folded the 3/8 inch. Then I tugged on the bobbin thread to ease the fabric around the curve. This made my pressing look nice and smooth from the right side. Seamwork magazine could improve these directions by sharing this (or a similar trick) for hemming a curve.
Be biased: If I were to make this pattern again, I’d use bias binding around the leg opening curves. Getting those rounded edges smooth after turning them a total of 5/8 inches was tedious.
|Left is no Jean-A-Ma-Jig. Right is with JAMJ. The stitching dipped around each eyelet when I didn’t use the gadget.|
Jump the eyelets: To sew over the eyelets, I used a Jean-A-Ma-Jig. In case you’re not familiar, a Jean-A-Ma-Jig keeps the sewing foot parallel to the feed dogs and throat plate as you sew over beefy seams (like the seams you see in jeans). I have no idea how you could create decent topstitching without some gadget to keep your foot even as you pass over the eyelets. Seamwork could improve this pattern by suggesting a Jean-A-Ma-Jig for sewing the eyelets. And because I was tired of monkeying around with my Jean-A-Ma-Jig to sew over the eyelets, I omitted the edgestitching at the top of the waistband. This was a good decision, because the top part of the waistband is rumpled by the drawstring as the string is pulled to hug your upper hip/low waist. In short, the top edgestitching gets lost.
|The disappearing circle.|
Stay on your mark: The small circle mark that’s supposed to tell you where to end your leg seam stitching (see pic above) was entirely swallowed by the folds in the curved leg hem. If I make this pattern again, I’ll mark the circle with tailor’s tacks to see where it ends up.
Seeking comfort with Nantucket
|These shorts are quite low rise.|
The first time I wore these shorts for a day, they were less than comfortable. Not so uncomfortable that I couldn’t live my life, but uncomfortable enough that I noticed how soft and unrestricting my PJ shorts were at the end of the day.
After a few washings, these shorts are significantly more comfortable. I was on the verge of letting out the crotch, but now that’s unnecessary. I think my discomfort was because of my fabric choice. Poly mixes don’t soften the same was as natural fibers.
As I kicked around online to see how other sewists had made their Nantuckets, many folks said they had to size down for this pattern. Maybe I measured myself incorrectly? I measured as a straight 4 (27-inch waist and 37-inch hips), so that’s what I made… but obviously I should have sized up.
Over to you: Would you have made the larger size, or would you have altered your way to more room? How do you feel about drawstring waists? Yea or nay? Let’s hear it!
P.S. If you like this post, check out the other installments in my short triology:
Prefontaine shorts: A shorts story made long
Shorts pattern review: High-waisted Seamwork Weston
P.P.S. Next Thursday, I’ll be showing off my final pair of shorts in the shorts trilogy — Weston by Seamwork! Right now, I’m futzing with (surprise!) adding welt pockets, which involves redrafting darts. Stay tuned, sewing pals.