Brown Dillingers: Upcycling and seam finishes

Hi guys! I want to write about these pants but I’m also super double dog tired and want to go to bed (it’s Monday night; we heavily avail ourselves of the ol’ autoposter around here during CTB). So there’s no tutorial or anything but I will say a few things about how I made these nice little brown pants for E which have since become his most-worn item of clothing (yes really!). 
Before I made the Dapper Dillingers I posted about last week, I wanted to make a test run before I cut into that nice fancy fabric. I didn’t know exactly what size E would need in the pants so I couldn’t be sure that all that effort (and fabric) wouldn’t be wasted. I had a old pair of Mr Rae’s pants that he had thrown out for some reason or another and the fabric was soft and unworn most everywhere. Perfect.
from whence they came
It’s important to me when sewing from an older garment to do as little work as possible. So instead of harvesting fabric from the center of the legs or butt or whatever, I try my darndest to get the new item of clothing to share as many elements with the old item as possible. In this case, I used the cuffs of Mr Rae’s pants for the cuffs of these (no hemming!), and also the outer side seam of the legs. That last thing was a little tricky to do since Dapper Dillingers are actually a four-piece pant (two front pieces, two back pieces), so to do this I took the seam allowances off of the front and back pattern pieces when I traced them and taped them together to make a single pant piece for each side. In other words, I placed the side seam of Mr Rae’s pants where the side seam would have been had I sewn it. Here’s a shot that shows what the pant legs looked like after they were cut out:
One of the things that makes these pants so fun to look at (in my opinion) is that they have extra stitching on the seam finishes and the pockets. These can add interest to any garment that is one color or otherwise boring. I used the pocket facing pattern piece (which is normally in the inside of the pants, unseen) and cut two pockets from it and two linings. After sewing them together right sides sides facing…
I turned them right-side out and pinned them to the pants where the divot in the front is (where the front waistband attaches). 
And then topstitched them to the pants with a double row of stitching. It’s not perfect but it really takes them up a notch in the Looks Dept.
Since the pockets were turned through their tops, that had to be covered up, and the waistband did the trick quite nicely.
Another thing that makes these pants look great is the seam finishing (called for in the pattern, I think. Too lazy to get up and look):
This fabric was oddly fray-prone, so it was a good thing that all the inside seams got finished so nicely. Otherwise there would have been mending by now (hate!) Better to spend a little extra time up front to insure that I won’t ever have to have these on my machine again. 
How’s that for an upcycled pair of pants? Would you guess they’d been recycled? Not me. 

You can see the pants in action in this post and this post!

22 thoughts on “Brown Dillingers: Upcycling and seam finishes

  1. I love them! I just got this pattern for free from Shelly for doing the romper tutorial. Score! I can't wait for a free minute to get started. I think I'm going to have to go digging for some old pants today;) Thanks for the inspiration and short cut tips!

  2. love them!! i had wondered if you made the pants too, when you posted the billiard tee. oh how i love a good upcycled pant!

  3. These look so cute on your little man. Thanks for the "aha" moment tips for using as much of the original garment's line as possible.

  4. I don't know why I never thought to do this for pants for Ella. I have so many worn-through pants that have perfectly good cuffs and side seams. I can't wait to get going on some of my own!

  5. Amazing. My son is one and without fail I put him in the same few outfits over and over. I should just give all the rest away! Those pants are at the top of my to do list, though my sewing skills are on a way way way lower skill level:)

  6. That's so cool. I wondered how to make that one piece for the back and front legs. Ingenius. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Rae, you rule. I have never wanted to make so much cool stuff in my whole life.
    it is truly a pleasure to read your site filled with so much awesomeness.

  8. Knitting is my best hobby. I really like it very much. I am very impressed with your blog, such a informative.

  9. Rae, those are adorable! I am no where near accomplished enough to attempt something like this, but I do love them.

  10. Awesome pants! I particularly like using dad's worn out pants…such a great reuse of material!

  11. Those are some super stylin' pants! I have a stash of my husband's pants that I want to do this with 🙂 And most of his are Patagonia, so they have the added bonus of being organic!

  12. these pants are great. could you share the pattern that you used? i am new to pattern sewing and would love to know. thanks, neeleymartin(at)yahoo(dot)com

  13. These are great. I love the outside pockets on them. Am thinking of making them in a seersucker… I also added them to my link love today. Thanks!

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