Two weeks ago in this space I noted that crafting isn't any cheaper than shopping, and that sometimes your materials add up to more than you would spend to buy a similar garment already made. I didn't get into any of the global economic realities or the emotional satisfaction of you get from creating things, but comments to that post---and the similar discussion started by the pattern-maker on her own blog---made me think more about what I'm spending on supplies and allowed me to evaluate why I enjoy making things.

Without consciously setting out to make a project that was cost-effective, I did it this week. I made pants for Gram from a pattern and fabric that I already had. The fabric was from an old suit coat from Jim's thrift store lawyer days. It was taking up space and it was completely useless. Here it is on him the other day before I took scissors to it:

He wants me to point out that yes, he's growing a beard again, and also that jackets like this are always very cheap at thrift stores, sometimes as little as a dollar each, and that often the really huge ones are the cheapest and they provide the most fabric. That doesn't really matter to me, because for a decade he's been buying up suit jackets in crazy prints that he will never wear. I have enough suit jackets to keep Gram in pants until he starts kindergarten.

Gram grows out of clothes pretty quickly, and his pants seem to be the first things to get too tight or too short. I loved the way that his oliver + s pajama pants came out, and I thought that with a non-pajama fabric, the pattern could be used to make regular pants. I was right! Here they are:

Starting with the oliver + s pajama pattern, I omitted the trim at the bottom of the pants. Rookie Moms has a free pant pattern, which I haven't tried, but I bet you could make similar pants with their instructions.

Placing the pattern on the coat and cutting it out was the hardest part. Suit coats have lining and various layers inside, so I had to mess around with the coat to take out the layers I didn't want (I left some of the lining). I cut the coat so that the original side pocket would be a pocket on Gram's leg, and I used the bottom hem of the coat for the bottom of his pants so that hem was already finished.

I could have easily made two pant legs with pockets from the jacket, but let's just say a critical cutting error meant they ended up with a cool asymmetrical look.

Sewing the pants together was pretty easy. Just as I was just finishing them up, I got a visit from my personal Tim Gunn, who brushed the hair from his eyes and fastidiously looked over my garment. I should now note that my stay-at-home father husband wasn't too excited about having kids back in the day and it was only after I promised him he could dress his children like Edwardian street urchins and teach them to speak like Dickens characters that he really softened to the idea. Well, apparently it was time to pay the piper.

Jim pleaded with me to put patches on the pants. Hobo couture, he said (he went through a hobo phase back in 2002-2003). I was reluctant and ready to go to bed, but relented (not unlike what happened on a certain fateful night back in May 2004) and got out my fusible interfacing and appliqued some patches on the pants.

I just learned how to applique using fusible web last week (for an upcoming project) and wow, it is incredible and I am adding wonder under to the list of things I love.

I sewed a zig-zag stitch around each patch, which would have been much easier if I'd done it before sewing the pants together, but it worked out fine. I only sewed the legs together five times. Thank god for seam rippers.

It was exciting to make little boy clothes. It wasn't until I sat down to cut that I realized how sick I am of pink. And I have to hand it to Jim -- the patches make the pants. And the best part about hobo couture is that when someone notices loose threads or lopsided stitching, you get to say, "Of course, that's intentional."


  1. Unknown // February 5, 2009 at 8:06 PM  

    I Love these pants. You are inspiring me to sew again.

  2. RookieMom Whitney // February 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM  

    F'ing cute.

    Also, men's sweaters make great baby pants, especially if they aren't even vintage, just a dull Banana Republic castoff that has one or two stripes. Jim probably doesn't own any of those, though...