Understanding Undies Part 3: Cloning Fancy Pants
In Part 2, we looked at cloning comfy pants, this time we turn our attention to cloning fancy pants, or at least pants that appear to be a little more complex on the surface.
Take a look at my favourite fancy pants. They're not that fancy, but they are every day fancy. These are from the mecca of undies to many women in the UK - Marks & Spencer. Marks and Sparks is a British institution and although I haven't lived there for over 10 years, I still pop in to Marksies whenever I'm there for a couple of pairs of knickers. Marks and Spencer is as traditional as fish and chips, as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and as a wet Bank Holiday weekend.
However, my opportunities to go to the UK are getting few and far between these days. And my favourite fancy pants are starting to look a little weary, with the elastic in the lace starting to break and look ragged. Time to replace them with themselves.
These pants are a Brazilian cut, showing a bit more cheek in the back. The amount of lace in both the front and along the buttocks makes them look small and sexy, but they are still a surprisingly substantial pant.
Closer inspection, not visible on the photo, shows that the gusset is connected to lace at both the front and the back. This lace is 2" wide and extends from the centre front where it joins the gusset, up over the hips and legs, to rejoin the gusset in the rear. Above the lace, both front and back, there is a small triangular panel of knit fabric. This is an interesting construction. Generally, a gusset is pulled around the body by elastic around the leg openings, but the scalloped edge on this lace doesn't allow for it. Additionally, as this lace is narrow, merely pulling up the pant to curve the gusset would put a lot of strain on the lace and could result in tearing or a misshapen appearance. Another solution had to be found - more on this later.
To clone fancy pants, you adopt exactly the same approach as for our comfy pants in Part 2, you choose a sacrificial pair and, using seam rippers and scissors, deconstruct the pants into it's component parts. Then establish stretch percentages to ensure good fabric choices, before pinning, tracing and adding seam allowances where required.
Here, I had the gusset, 2 lace strips for the front, 2 lace strips for the back and 2 fabric triangles. A length of elastic at the waistband - the stretch lace providing the contouring around the leg openings - and two small strips of elastic on either side of the gusset.
I carefully removed the elastic from this area and measured it, finding it to be 1/4" shorter than the sides of the gusset. On reconstructing, I found that by stretching the elastic just this short amount, there was enough pull to pre-curve the gusset ensuring a good fit.
Once the gusset was made, the lace strips at the front had to be joined. Careful pattern matching is required to create a seamless flow along the scalloped edge. I had purchased my lace from my local fabric store. It's a cavernous place with a stack of lace in a dusty side room, I have no idea how long some of this lace has been lying there. So imagine my surprise when I got home to find that the lace I had purchased was identical to the lace already on the undies. What are the odds of finding Marksies lace in a Calgary fabric store?!
Once the lace fronts had been seamed, the same was done for the back. The fabric triangles were attached to the lace using a zig-zag stitch. I used a blue fabric here which has the same stretch as the original fabric. To ensure correct placement on the gusset, I measured the distance from the top edge of the original gusset to stitch marks where the original lace had been; and replicated this on the new pants.
I used fold over elastic on the waistband and, as with my comfy pants, gave myself a little extra length for comfort. I then finished them off with a little black bow.
Easy peasy fancy pants. I love them. Being able to replicate these pants doesn't mean I won't need to go back to M&S when I get the chance - as I said at the beginning of this post, a trip to Marksies knicker department is a tradition, but it will tide me over until the next opportunity arises.