Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Hack:  1. Someone in the film industry, usually a director, who works on projects solely for financial reasons, rather than creative reasons.   2.  a person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work.
edited from Urban Dictionary

I'm in danger of becoming a "sewing hack".   I'm churning out countless garments without stretching my skills or creativity.  It's time for a change.  Currently, I'm working on another pair of fly front pants.  Only this time, I'm using new-to-me techniques from Making Trousers for Men and Women (Coffin, 2009) and from Easy Guide to Sewing Pants (McIntyre, 1998). 

The first challenge was a modification on the hip yoke pocket.   I based my technique on that described in Easy Guide to Sewing Pants and I extended the pattern piece all the way to the cut edge on the fly extension. 

I've done this before and I'll use this modification again, but with a shorter extension. If I'm using self-fabric, the extension doesn't need to be as long as the zipper opening.  That just adds more of the bulk I'm trying to remove.  Another option would be to use the method described in Making Trousers for the front pockets.  The front pockets are made of lining fabric and faced with self fabric only where the facing/lining would be visible. This would also remove bulk.

Next, I wanted to reduce bulk at the waistband.  Coffin recommends petersham ribbon rather than self-fabric to face the waistband.  Real petersham ribbon (not grosgrain ribbon) wasn't easy to find in the local brick and mortar stores.  I found two online sources:  Judith M and Vogue Fabrics Online Store. 

The petersham makes a great waistband facing.  It's firm and provides a good deal of support.  I was so eager to sew, I didn't remember to shape the petersham at the ironing board first.  This resulted in a little wonkiness on the outside, but it's a negligible wonkiness. I like this technique too, but I need to work on it a little more.

I intend to up my game and try new techniques to avoid becoming a hack.   Maybe my mojo occasionally leaves me because it's bored.  Instead of blindly following the instructions, I need to look at every project and decide the best way to construct the garment.  A funny thing – when researching online for information on the new methods, I found references to books already on my bookshelf!  I had all the information I needed to avoid hackiness (hacknicity?), but I wasn't using it.  Sewing is a journey and I've been on the same road much too long.   I can continue to use familiar  methods over and over or I can challenge myself and actually learn something! 


  1. Not possible. You are far from doing "crap" work!! But I understand the need to challenge yourself. I feel that urge right now too.

  2. I think your work looks great. Challeging yourself will only make your work better. Have you tried to find the petersham at Fleishmans on 5th & Banbridge, they usually have everything.

  3. I have heard the petersham technique before too but have not found it locally. Thanks for the links. Your trousers look like they are coming along well. I really want to work out a TNT trouser pattern as one of my goals for 2011. I think you do really beautiful sewing. Best wishes on your branching out. Can't wait to see the new things you create.

  4. I have both of those books and the petersham waistband facing ala DPC has really become my go to method. It is very comfortable to wear. There is one more place to get the Petersham, it's a little different than the one form Judith M, it's all rayon and little softer, but really beautiful. Next time you come up to NYC you can get it at Pacific Trimmings. The price is good too.
    I have been feeling like you too as far as technique and all of my pants sewing has been with the goal of getting the insides to look better and more professional. It makes sewing something as utilitarian as pants more interesting to sew. You look like you've done that as well.

  5. Great post! We all have to challenge ourselves or we become stale. Kudos to you for stepping up to the challenge.

    Those pants look really good with your new technique. I love wearing pants where the pocket extension goes clear to the zipper. I think they fall better.

  6. Looks great. I think it is important to try new things. You never know if a technique will really make your final product better and if not, then really it's not a waste; you know it isn't for you!