Of sewing pleats and sweater(ish) progress

The pants are nearly at a point where I can start constructing them normally. But since several of you have expressed interest in how I’m putting these together, I thought I’d share how I ended up adding the pleat to the front. At this stage, they’re looking really good, so I’m excited! (And fervently hoping they still look this good once it’s all together.)

As mentioned in the last post, I cut a long, stretched out trapezoid to actually sew the pleat in. So this is the super-extra wide legs with the trapezoid in the middle.

I also stuck a scrap of silk organza into the seams on the inside, to help reinforce/stabilize the eyelet buttonholes I knew I’d need to make.

I understitched the seams, pressing them towards the trapezoid, to give it a nice clean finish later. The pants are box-pleated, so I figured it would be ok to stitch along the inside edge where the pleat insert is.

The buttonholes were the first serious obstacle here. I played around with several different things. The eyelets were too small for the cording I have and I couldn’t make them much bigger, the stitched circles seemed too flimsy, and while the metal eyelets would give a cleaner finish, I didn’t trust them to not pull out. Especially since they weren’t really going in that well in the first place. So I ended up having to actually hand-stitch all 24 of those little round buttonholes! Mostly. I used the circle stitch to give it a nice edge to work from/mark the placement for me. But that took about 3 days of all the sewing time I had.

I think it was worth it in the end, though. Look how clean and pretty they look!

Next step was making the actual pleat. I’d already turned and pressed the seam edges before I did the buttonholes, but I re-pressed those edges to reinforce it. After playing around a bit, I decided that it would work better to just have the edges meet in the middle all the way down the leg, rather than to press the same amount in all the way down and leave a wedge of the inner pleat fabric showing. More Anthropologie and less the effect of ripping a slit up the front of my jeans and sewing fabric in to make instant bell bottoms, like I did for Spirit Week one year in high school. So I carefully folded and pinned the whole thing down, trying to keep it as centered as possible….

…and then I flipped it over and pressed it on the wrong side so I could keep the iron right by the edges. I didn’t want to accidentally melt the pins into my nice linen! The other thing I did was to use a trick I found in the linen section of Claire Schaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide– apparently pleats set better in linen if you spray it first with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar. The pleat came out pretty crisp, so I guess it worked! (I guess the real test will be after the first time I wash them….)

And here’s how it looks right now– a nice pleat going all the way down the leg, which I imagine will show the flare from the inside of the pleat as I walk. Hard to tell with just one floppy piece of fabric hanging near my leg, but that’s how I envision it working.

The other slow project is the tank top I’ve been knitting. But I’m almost done the front! At least, until I have to deal with neck edging. I have the second half of the top front to knit up, but the good thing is that taking the stitches off the holder and getting the knitting going with a new ball of yarn there seems to have worked pretty well. I obviously haven’t been working on this a whole lot in the last several days, namely due to buttonholes and a concert I was playing in that had rehearsals every day of the weekend. But the one half knit up pretty quickly, so I might be able to get this part done if I just sit down for a night and do it.

And here’s a closeup. It’s supposed to be wavy ribs like that. I kind of wish I’d gotten this done earlier this month, because this would have been a perfect shirt to wear for Independence Day, with the rich blue color and the reddish/blueish metallic stripe that runs through the yarn! Oh well, maybe next year…. I should have it done before THAT, right?


4 thoughts on “Of sewing pleats and sweater(ish) progress

  1. Shame the eyelets were too small – the metal made a nice contrast on the linen. The handstitched eyelet holes look good too – lots of hard work going into these trousers.


  2. The metal eyelets probably would have been an ok size, it was the actual sewn ones that were too small. The problem with the metal one was that about a third of the back was left sticking up after I'd installed it. I did my best to get it to lie flat, but it wasn't really wrapping around the edge well. So I was afraid they would pull out of the holes/tear my cording to shreds.


  3. That's quite the hand sewing! Too bad the metal eyelets didn't work out (my success rate isn't too great!) but the handsewn ones look very rustic, in a good way.


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