Tag Archives: Thurlow

Sewaholic Thurlow shorts – my Made Up pledge

If you haven’t come across it yet, The Made Up Initiative was launched by Karen of Did You Make That? to raise money for the National Literacy Trust. The idea was that when you made a donation, if you wanted, to also make a pledge to make something by September 10th. My pledge was to finally make some Sewaholic Thurlow shorts after all the toiles I made last summer. I didn’t quite finish them by the deadline, but am not bothered by that as I’m happy to have finally made a wearable pair, which I probably wouldn’t have done without the pledge! If you would like to donate, you still can at the Justgiving page.

Blue Thurlow shorts front view

These shorts are my most involved make so far with lots of new techniques, which I enjoyed working through and highlighting by adding some top stitching around the pockets and waistband. There are plenty of little things that I think I could do a bit better next time, but I’m still very happy with the overall finish of these.

Blue Thurlow shorts side view

I went for the cuffed short version although being tall, I lengthened the legs so the finished length is probably similar to the straight version of the pattern. One good thing about not making these up until now is that I was able to make the back pockets bigger in order to fit the larger phone that I now have. I love that sewing my own clothes gives me the flexibility to do that!

After cutting out I realised I’d marked the right and wrong sides of the fabric incorrectly, but this turned out to be a happy mistake as it reversed the fly zip and I prefer it this way round as it is the same as all my other trousers.

Blue Thurlow shorts back view

The fabric is this stretch cotton from the Sew Over It Islington store. It was my first time working with a stretch fabric and think it was definitely a good idea as it helps the fit be a bit more forgiving. This fabric is a nice weight for shorts, light enough to be comfortable in warm weather but sturdy enough to cope with the wear that shorts will get.

Blue Thurlow shorts

In terms of construction, the instructions are pretty good and I consulted Lladybird’s sewalong when I wanted a bit more guidance. The main new techniques for me were the welt pockets and fly zip, but by slowly working my way through they came out quite well. I was a bit concerned with the welt pockets when I first turned them out as there seemed to be a big gap, but some careful pressing was able to sort that out.

I did deviate from the instructions a little bit: I only interfaced the waistband facing, but think the finish would have been better if I’d interfaced both sides of the waistband as instructed – despite grading the seam allowances you can see a bump on the outside. I didn’t sew the back extension as instructed as I found it hard to get a smooth finish on the back waistband edge, so instead sewed the waistband together before attaching. The belt loops seemed very long so I cut them down to be more in line with the waistband width – not such a good idea as they are now too thin for any of my belts! And after checking my ready to wear trousers can see that the belt loops are usually longer than the waistband – I’ll know better next time!

Blue Thurlow shorts welt pocket

Despite all the fitting work of last summer, I did a bit of unpicking after trying them on to remove about 4 cm from the back inseam legs as there was way too much fabric there. While I do think these are wearable, the fit is not right yet – both back and front crotch curves could do with some adjusting. I have some ideas on how to correct these, but really I think it is time to admit I need some help with this, so I’ve signed up for the Sew Over It Ultimate Trouser class. Hopefully with the help of an expert I’ll be able to get a trouser pattern that is well fitting and then as it is a simple trouser shape I hope to be able to use that as a block to create different trouser styles from. I’m already pondering whether I’ll be able to hack the pattern in between classes to add some pockets!

Back to the Thurlows, I’ll leave you with my favourite photo – showing the contrast check fabric I used for the lining pieces. It might sound a little strange, but I really enjoy seeing pictures of the contrast linings that sewers often use, especially when they are fun prints. I’ve already got a colourful elephant print cotton pegged for that purpose in a future garment or two!

Blue Thurlow shorts fly zip and lining

A whole lotta toile

We had been having a lot of hot and sunny weather this summer in London and I’ve found that I’m happiest and most comfortable wearing shorts in such weather.  So since I’d been admiring the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers/shorts pattern for a while it seemed time to take the plunge and make my own shorts!

This pattern has a couple of key new sewing features that I was keen to learn (welt pockets and a fly zip front) and I really like the style of these trousers – I cannot imagine making shorts or trousers that don’t have good functioning pockets – so was excited at the prospect of making many different versions once I had the basic fit right.

Getting the fit right proved a lot more challenging than I expected!

I of course started out making up a toile (muslin).  This looked pretty good from the front straight away, but the back was all kinds of wrong.  Around the seat it looked like my bum was eating the trousers, but just above I had excess fabric causing an unsightly bulge.  I referred to LOTS of online resources on trouser fitting (Lladybird’s Thurlow sewalong is a great starting point for this) but was left feeling rather confused as the fabric eating seemed to imply I needed a longer centre back seam, but did the excess fabric higher up imply a shorter centre back seam was needed???

Thurlow toiles

To cut a long story short, four toiles, copious notes and plenty of help from the fitting lesson of Craftsy class “One pattern, many looks: pants” later I was finally getting towards a pattern that fit.  The key adjustments I needed to make seemed to be full seat and dropped seat (this is how Kathy describes them in the Craftsy class) but I also took in the centre back seam a lot (I think this was probably due to starting out with too big a size) which then meant adjusting the side seams on all relevant pattern pieces to get the balance back.

This might sound like a lot of effort for a pair of shorts, but during this process, I came across a few articles on the topic of learning which felt very relevant.  It seems that many of us as adults can be prone to giving up on learning something because we feel stupid for making mistakes, it is getting too hard or we just get really frustrated.  I particularly liked this post by Tara Mohr on Giving yourself permission to learnI’d forgotten — or maybe never fully realized — how much effort and failure is involved in learning anything“.  Being conscious of this, I gave myself breaks when I needed them and was determined not to give up.

When I finally had a toile that was looking decent I found myself putting it on a few times just to check that I hadn’t dreamed it!

Since I was making quite a lot of changes to the pattern pieces, I made up a fifth toile and this time included most of the details for some practice.  Funnily enough my first welt pocket looks better than the second – my attempt to streamline clearly didn’t work so well.  It took me three goes to get the fly zip installation correctly aligned so I’m very glad I practiced that and I’m now finally ready to make up a proper pair – just as the weather is turning and starting to feel like autumn!

Thurlow toile welt pockets

Thurlow toile fly zip

While I may not get much more chance to wear shorts this year, I have a few ideas for trousers I’d like to make so shouldn’t have to wait until next summer to feel the benefit of all this hard work.