To mix it up a bit, we thought it would be fun to feature some variations of our Raven Pants specifically with boys in mind. For our "Mad for Plaid" version, we'll introduce several new sewing topics: (1) removing the front pintuck called for by the original pattern, (2) sewing with plaid fabric without going mad, (3) adding warmth to the pants by basting in a flannel lining, and (4) adding side seam pockets.
That's a lot to pack in, so let's get going!
Removing the Front Pintuck
We can think of several instances when the front vertical pintuck featured on our original Raven Pants would be extraneous. In this case, the pintuck would likely get lost in the bold plaid and may even confuse the design. Thankfully, removing the pintuck is really simple:
Trace the pattern pieces directly from the original pattern, including the vertical pintuck line. Crease the paper pattern piece along the vertical line and fold it over 1/8" to one side (this narrows each pant leg by 1/4" total). Tape the fold down along its length. Now you'll need to remove the same amount from the front waistband piece in a similar manner. Try to make the fold at about the point where the front waistband piece matches up with the pintuck line on the front pattern piece to preserve the curve. That's it! Cut and sew the pants according to the written instructions, but skip the steps relating to sewing the pintucks.
Sewing with Plaid
Plaid is certainly a daunting design choice, especially for pants such as these. By following a few simple pointers, you can do it, I promise.
When cutting out plaid fabrics, subscribe to the woodworker's motto: measure twice, cut once. In other words, take your time and think it through before you cut!
First, you should cut out the two front pieces separately, rather than trying to fold the fabric and cut out both pieces at the same time. Ditto for the back pieces. Lay out the first set of front/back pieces on your fabric so that the corresponding notch points of the outside seams on the front and back pieces align at the same point on the plaid pattern. This will help to ensure that those points will align on the outside side seam of the finished pants.
Once you've cut the first set of front and back pieces, use those cut fabric pieces to cut out the second set of front and back pieces, rather than using the paper pattern pieces again. In so doing, you'll be able to directly align the plaids of both pieces before cutting out the second set.
Look carefully at the photo below--you almost can't see the original pattern pieces laid on top of the fabric! This is because I carefully matched the horizontal and vertical plaids at key points.
Here's where I should make a tiny confession--the plaid on my cut pieces did not align perfectly with the plaid underneath around the entire perimeter of the pattern pieces. Was the fabric wonky when I first made my original cuts or now with the second set? After a few frustrating moments trying to get it all to be perfectly aligned, I had an epiphany--certain areas of the sewn garments are more critical than others, so I should really prioritize getting the plaid to line up at those spots. For these pants, the center front and back seams and the two outside seams were the critical spots, so that's what I focused on. I also made a decision to not concern myself how the waistband lined up. I saved myself a lot of frustration and was not disappointed in the end.
Finally, as shown further below, when sewing these critical seams together, be extra careful to match up the corresponding plaid points. It helps to pin the fabrics together at each matched point and remove the pins just as you reach each of them with your sewing needle in order to prevent the pieces from shifting while sewing.
Adding a Flannel Lining
When I asked my son if I could make him a pair of plaid pants, he immediately thought of his most-favored flannel plaid pajama pants. Not wanting to disappoint, I promised him I could make them as warm and soft to the skin as his PJs. I decided to sew a flannel lining to the inside of the pants rather than have the lining hang loose. Given that the outer plaid fabric was a heavy twill, the flannel lining made for rather bulky seams, but JR doesn't seem to notice.
The lining pieces were cut from the same pattern pieces as the main pant legs, then stitched to the wrong side of the main fabric pieces using a 3/8" seam allowance and a slightly longer stitch length (3.0). The only change I would make in the future is to cut the lining pieces 1" shorter at the ankle and forgo stitching along that edge. This removes some of the bulk at the bottom hem, which gets turned up twice. Once you've sewn in the lining, proceed with the rest of the assembly as instructed, treating each layered piece as one piece.
*** Side note about the knee patches: The knee patches are largely intended to add some additional boy flair to the finished pants and are less about function. I added the knee patches before adding the lining for a cleaner look/fewer stitches inside the pant leg. Either way, you'll want to add them before assembling the pants because it is MUCH easier to sew around the perimeter at that point. I used a medium weight corduroy for its greater durability and simply zigzagged around the edges. I like the less refined look of raw edges, but you could certainly find a way to finish these edges. You could also add in a layer of quilt batting or several layers of knit fabric to add a bit more cushion.
Adding Side Seam Pockets
My final alteration to the original Raven pattern was to add pockets to the both outside seams. I find little boys love the thrill of stuffing their pockets with all sorts of urban detritus and watching what survives a run through the wash, so I offer these instructions with a fare bit of caution. (I should also add that this same pocket shape and sewing method works well for skirts and dresses with side seams.)
First, I sketched the pocket so that there is a good 1/2" seam allowance on the edge that will be the opening in the outside seam. I also ran the top edge of the pocket flush with the top edge of the front pant leg so that the pocket would be supported by the seam joining the front leg to the waistband and not just hanging down from the side seam.
Next, cut 4 pocket pieces from a plain muslin or similar soft, pliable fabric (even an old Tshirt)--nothing too stiff or thick!
Baste the pocket to all four pant leg pieces (front and back) with wrong sides facing.
When sewing the front and back pant leg pieces together, match the pockets and pant pieces together with right sides facing. At this point, you should also carefully pin the outside edges of the front/back pieces so that the corresponding plaid points align.
Starting at point labeled 1 in the picture above, sew around the pocket to points 2 and 3 with a standard seam allowance. At point 3 (on the 1/2" seam allowance), pivot your needle so that you can continue sewing down the outside edge of the front/back pieces. Note that the top of the pocket remains open.
Once you are ready to sew the top waistband to the pants, make sure the top of each pocket is pinned flush with the top of the front pant leg. Treat the pocket and front as one piece when sewing on the waistband. That's basically all there is to it!
We'll be featuring several more Boy Raven looks throughout February and hope you'll be inspired to try out your own version!