The Perfect Beginner Pants Sewing Pattern

Sew the Christine Jonson Perfect Pant Skinny (or Skinny with a Mini Skirt)

If you've NEVER sewn pants before and want to make your own, the Perfect Pant Collection from Christine Jonson Patterns is perfect. 

So many of our online sewing friends have made these pants without ever having made pants before (or not having sewn pants in 20 or 30 years!)

Why? They're drafted amazingly well! They have wonderful details that make them suited for everyday wear - including to the office.

  • Fold over stretch fabric waistband hugs you for a no-muffin look
  • Front & back seamed details add a polished look
  • Front inset pockets are chic and deep (large enough for the largest smartphone)
  • Available in classic wide leg, flare leg or skinny leg

Sew Along with the Perfect Pant Skinny 2018:

January 2-5:

Download the pattern, get your fabric and cut your size as per the Perfect Sizing Worksheet and the pattern envelope. We recommend 2 or 4-way stretch Ponte knit (4-way is better but more expensive). This pant uses negative ease to fit you - the pants are smaller than you are at the waist and high hip, so that they stay up without elastic. A fabric with good recovery (snappy recovery) is required. Use the Perfect Sizing Worksheet to help determine the right size based on the amount of stretch. 

Stretch ruler: download and print one here (with instructions on how to use it.)

Calculate your size:  Download the Perfect Sizing Worksheet™ (paper PDF) or

How to use the Perfect Sizing Worksheet ™ here

 

January 8-12:

Sew the pockets and seams

In this video, we show you how to sew the pocket and the front seams. It's EASY to sew these polished, deep pockets, large enough for your largest smartphone, your keys, ID and even a smaller wallet. 

 

January 15-19:

Sew the waistband and hems of the Perfect Pants Skinny and the Skinny with a Skirt

How it works: 

  1. Join the Christine Jonson Patterns Facebook Group
  2. Join the event in the pinned post to participate and see group posts
  3. Sew your Perfect Pants at home on your schedule, following along with videos that will be added to this blog post or LIVE on our Facebook page.
  4. Post on the group with questions or progress photos
  5. Post your finished photos when done!
These are the Perfect Pant Skinny samples we sewed in our Sew Along together. The top is the Shirred Top 426. The pants are in a pink 2-way stretch Ponte from SpandexHouse.

These are the Perfect Pant Skinny samples we sewed in our Sew Along together. The top is the Shirred Top 426. The pants are in a pink 2-way stretch Ponte from SpandexHouse.

How to sew a turtleneck/cowl neckline

Quick and Easy, good for one-off cowl turtlenecks:

  1. Sew up the tee shirt pattern as instructed, leaving out the neckline binding. If you're using Travel Trio One, omit neckline binding. If you're using Three Tees, do not finish the  neckline.
  2. To make a deeper cowl, you'll want to have the neckline lower than the typical tee shirt. Remove 1"  from the neckline all the way around. Continue to the next step

Hack an existing pattern for a cowl turtleneck, good if you want to re-make this turtle/cowl again:

  1. Using your flat pattern or a traced copy, Measure 1.5" below the neckline at the CF fold, the shoulder and halfway between. Connect these lines in a curve mirroring the neckline shape. Repeat for the back neckline. 
  2. Cut the pattern out 1/2" ABOVE the line you just marked (so you'll have a 1/2" Seam Allowance for the cowl.)  You'll trim off the top of the pattern piece at the neckline, so make a copy of the pattern pieces first.

For both methods:

  1. Measure the new neckline circumference after your tee is sewn, but BEFORE you finish your neckline
  2. Make a cowl/turtleneck pattern, using your measurement from Step 1 X 18".  We like 18" because it's nice and deep, and will make a 9" folded cowl when finished. You can adjust this if you wish - go up to 12" for a super draped cowl, especially in a soft knit. Make sure the stretch is going crosswise along the neckline measurement when you are cutting the fabric. You want the stretch to go around your neck (not up and down.)  
  3. Fold cowl/ turtleneck in half, right sides together, pin and sew back seam
  4. Turn the cowl/turtle out and fold in half, WRONG sides together, matching up the bottom raw edges and enclosing the back seam. Try on your cowl to see how you like the fit and depth of it. 
  5. Edge serge the raw edges together
  6. Line up the turtleneck back seam with the center back neckline of your shirt
  7. Pin around, pinning the raw edge of the tee and the edge serged edge of the cowl/turtleneck together. 
  8. Sew the cowl / turtleneck on to the tee using a serger, zigzag, or stretch stitch. Press seam down and edge stitch the seam allowance down with a long straight stitch to secure seam in place.

Sew a cozy draped front "waterfall" vest from Polar Fleece (with no edge finishes!)

This crazy-fast sewing gift is perfect for someone special on your list! 

We're working with the Drape Vest & Jacket from Christine Jonson Patterns in this video. The vest and jacket come in two sizes: 1 for SM and M and 2 for L and XL - any adjustments up or down can come at the side seams and under the arms very easily! In the video, we show how we made this a 2XL size by simply cutting the side seams of the vest fronts and backs with a wider side seam. You'd add the same to the sleeve edges if you were making sleeves, say, out of ponte, for this vest.

We're making this vest from red grid-textured Polartec from Mill Yardage in MA. Mill Yardage is the sister company to the folks that make the official Polartec fleece, the best fleece in the world! This grid texture red has a shorter pile grid side and a fluffier gridded fleece side. Both sides show on this vest, so choose fabrics that look good on both sides.

Because this fleece does not have stretch (Lycra) in it, we aren't making the sleeves. The sleeves on this jacket are slim fitting, long and scrunchable at the wrist, so you need a fabric with enough stretch to wear them. But the vest can be made from ANY knit fabric - including fancy fabrics like this fleece or faux-suede-backed faux sherpa too!

If your fabric ravels on the edge, you will need to bind, serge or otherwise finish all the edges. But the fleece does not ravel, and cut with a rotary cutter (which we recommend), it's a super simple and clean finish that looks fabulous. This vest is also perfect in Ponte knit, rayon-lycra jersey knit or printed/striped ITY type knit fabrics too. A single jersey will roll on the edges, whereas ITY or Ponte will lay flat. 

drape vest waterfall vest sewing pattern

Drape Vest Sew Along How-To Video (we sew this entire vest during the video!)

Sewing with Stretch Sheer and Stretch Lace Fabric - Easy Patterns!

Sewing with stretch sheer and stretch lace fabrics doesn't have to be scary! These fabrics, paired with the right pattern designed for stretch knits, create elegant and sophisticated details that work great for holiday AND everyday wear! In our video, we explore how everyday sewing patterns can be sewn with stretch sheer mesh and stretch lace details. These are not only for New Year's Eve, but Tuesday. Any Tuesday at all! 

Christine Jonson Patterns takes you through the right sewing patterns for sewing stretch lace and stretch sheer mesh. 

Where can you find these fancy fabrics?  Several online retailers carry them including SpandexHouse in New York City (online), Mood Fabrics (also in NYC). 

Pick One Make Two: A Fast Approach to Sewing a Capsule Wardrobe

By Ann Siegle, Christine Jonson Patterns

Ever stand in your closet each morning and think ‘I have nothing to wear?’ If not, please call us, we would love to know your secret! Seriously, most women have far too many individual clothes and not enough wardrobe. Sewing a wardrobe requires you to look at your wardobe, not just your fabric stash.

The cowl neck tunic makes a fabulous mini dress (worn backwards, here.) Black builds the base of your wardrobe. Layer up with Leggings 622 and the Drape Vest & Jacket.

The cowl neck tunic makes a fabulous mini dress (worn backwards, here.) Black builds the base of your wardrobe. Layer up with Leggings 622 and the Drape Vest & Jacket.

Threads Magazine (June/July 2011) ran a wonderful using Christine’s unique approach to wardrobe building. I you’re sewing a capsule wardrobe from scratch, that’s a great article and method for creatively thinking about wardrobe building. You can get back issues from Threads magazine.

Here’s another way to kickstart your wardrobe:

Pick One, Make Two:

Ideally, you will have a top, bottom, and a jacket as a complete outfit. A dress counts as a top and a bottom together.

If it’s warm where you are, your ‘jacket’ might be a vest or even accessories. It’s the combination of a final polishing layer that makes an outfit, so don’t ignore the third piece (it doesn’t have to be clothing if it’s 100 degrees in the shade!) In the winter, it might be a ruana, or wrap. It might even be a big scarf!

  1. Select one item from your closet that you like that fit you well, that you have not worn in the past 30 days.  They might be a top and a jacket, or a top and bottom (skirt or pants), or two bottoms (skirt AND pants.) or even an accessory and a bottom or top.
  2. Take that item over to your fabric stash.  Hold them up to the fabric you see in your stash
  3. Stash management: Christine has hers on rolls in the studio, you might have yours folded or rolled on shelves; this is the optimum way to display a stash as you can see what you have.
    1. Ann, our sewing marketer, bought an inexpensive bookshelf with doors from the home store and folds and rolls her fabric and places them so each roll’s front is visible.  The doors keep dust off the fabric.

    2. If you do use bins, folding then rolling them into short tubes the height of your bins and having the short tube ends showing helps as you can then open a bin lid and see all the fabric in the bin.  Stacking fabric on top of one another in a closed container means you need to dig to see what you have, and it’s easy to forget you have 9 cuts of black ITY knit in your stash.
  • Select two or three fabrics that you like that coordinate (they do not have to match, only coordinate, e.g. brown looks great with blues, pinks and burgundies, blues look great with coral and lime, grays get punch from reds and sophisticated black goes with everything.)
  • Take these coordinating fabrics to your pattern stash. There are a lot of ways to organize patterns. Our Sewing Marketer, Ann, keeps large 5” D ring binders organized by garment type (top, skirt, separates.) You might have yours in file cabinet drawers, with similar labels.
  • If you have a jacket or top and need a bottom, go to skirts and pants. And don’t forget your separates section too, pants and skirts from those separates, such as  the Christine Jonson Travel Trio series, are wonderful companions to your closet items as single garments, too.
  • Select two patterns that might work with your outfit. Evaluate them against your fabric selections and your garment.
  • Look at proportion – a boyfriend jacket works with a slim pencil skirt or slim pants, not an A-line skirt. But an A-line skirt, looks wonderful with a fitted top or fitted jacket.  A dress might need a shorter jacket, if it’s a longer, fuller dress. If it’s a short, slim fitting dress, a longer, looser jacket will work well.
  • Create at least two combinations with your two closet items and the pattern/fabric combos. 

The hardest part is picking just two items to sew. The inspiration that comes out of this process does the following:

  • Gets you to think outside the box of your pattern stash and fabric stash
  • It forces you to evaluate the items in your closet first, and on a regular basis. If it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it, it shouldn’t be there
  • It allows you to take a garment from your closet that you love but haven’t worn AND utilize it more
  • Stimulates your creativity and desire to sew!
  • You can add new capsules that coordinate with this one by picking one item from THIS capsule to start your next one

Above:  From sketch to swatch, here's how we plan our capsule wardrobe!

How to fashion sketch when you're not an artist:

Back in design school in the 1980s, I had a professor who said "tracing is the advertising designer's secret!" Back when we drew most of our illustrated artwork by hand (or used photography), I learned the art of tracing. To trace a fashion illustration to  your size is pretty easy. You'll need tracing paper, OR a bright window. If you use a window, you'll be holding up the pattern envelope or printed cover and a piece of standard office paper over it. 

  1. Trace the left side of the garment's fashion illustration or technical sketch
  2. Slide your paper over a bit to the right to create 'space'  - the relative distance between the left and right halves that you think that your body most closely represents
  3. Trace the right half of your fashion illustration or technical sketch
  4. Create connectors at the hem and neckline (note, you may want to ANGLE your trace so your 'neckline' doesn't get bigger, but your body area of the drawing does. 

In our video (shown live on Facebook in November 2017), you'll see how we plan our capsule wardrobe and what garments from the closet we have selected them to pair with: 

Go forth, right now! Take your tablet / iPad with you with this article open to your closet and follow along!

With these easy steps, you’ll expand your wardrobe's potential in no time! 

Sewing a thumb-hole cuff on a knit shirt or top

Crafting a thumb-hole cuff on a knit shirt or top is a popular addition to both active wear and casual tops. We show you a completely unique, and foolproof way to craft this thumb-hole cuff, in our tutorial.

See this pretty cuff? It's easy to sew and offers your thumb more room to move than merely leaving space in the side seam for your thumb to emerge.

See this pretty cuff? It's easy to sew and offers your thumb more room to move than merely leaving space in the side seam for your thumb to emerge.

The thumb cuff in ready-to-wear and sewing patterns usually consists of leaving an extra-long sleeve with an opening in the side seam. Though, this presents a challenge, as the hole left in the side seam usually gaps open or pulls against your thumb if your arms are longer than average. The thumb cuff is an ingenious way to craft this, and add on an easy-to-sew method for keeping your hands warm and your fingers mobile. 

A video tutorial is available here: Thumb Cuff Tutorial in the Facebook Group Christine Jonson Sewing Circle

Download the Thumb Cuff Tutorial