Thursday, October 10, 2013

Achievement Unlocked: Fly Front Shorts

M5391 Thumbnail

So the fly front has bedeviled me for years.  Decades, even.  Something about it seemed so complicated, and it seemed to require more precision than I have the patience for.  I've read at least dozens and possibly hundreds of tutorials, but it has never clicked for me.

Hiking was the main activity I had planned for our Greece trip.  Since the only non-exercise shorts I own are my Adventure Shorts, I decided to add another pair to the stable.  And I also decided it was time to face my biggest fear:  the fly front zipper.

Elizabeth of SEWN recommended the fly instructions from Kwik Sew 3614, so I bought it at the last sale.  The instructions seemed good, although when I actually started following them I realized that step 4 is missing several crucial words and phrases:  "Move zipper toward as far as it will go without puckering underneath (edge of zipper is not even with extension).  Using a zipper foot, ."  I mean really, comma-space-period?  The missing word after "toward" I can maybe see getting by a very bad, very lazy proofreader, but comma-space-period is ridiculous.

EDIT:  Thank you, Elizabeth!  She supplied the missing text: "Move zipper toward right fly extension as far as it will go without puckering underneath (edge of zipper is not even with extension). Using a zipper foot, stitch only through zipper tape and right fly extension.

I also pulled up Debbie Cook's truly excellent jeans fly tutorial to keep Kwik Sew honest, though I had to mirror-image it in my head because a jeans fly is the same for men and women, while a women's dress fly is reversed.

Fly Opening

In the end, I don't know why I was so exercised about this!  I went slowly and completed each step without trying to think further ahead, and it came out perfectly.  I am always telling people that most sewing is not difficult, it just involves a LOT of simple steps.  There are a very few exceptions--I found bound buttonholes difficult, some origami patterns make my head explode, and sharp corners are extremely fiddly to execute--but most things are not that hard when you break them down.  And it turns out the fly is one of them.

For the pattern, I used the sloper developed in Annette Hickman's class.  She had to cancel the third session of the 3-session class due to a family emergency, so my pattern is not totally final.  The shortness of the shorts hides the fact that there is still a little bit of cascading wrinkling on the back legs.  Someday this will be solved.  Someday.  Also, the front needs a little more room over the belly.

Slant Pocket Construction

Another thing I faced was the slant pocket.   I copied the pocket and side piece as well as the leg width from McCall 5391.  I have never successfully made slant pockets that sit flush and don't poke out, and I didn't fully succeed here.  I interfaced the slant edge on the pocket, as instructed by M5391, but I should have interfaced along the opening edge of the yoke and then taped the seam when I sewed it, too.

Ribbon Stabilizer for Pocket

I retrofitted the pocket opening edge with ribbon for as far as I could reach after construction, but it is too little, too late.   The pockets poke out a bit in wearing and always will.






Center Back Seam with waistband




Redeeming itself from the typos in the instructions, I used the curved waistband from KS3614.  What fabulous drafting!  I will be using this waistband again and again.  I have been looking for years for a great curved waistband for my body (Burda's are ok but not wonderful for me).  Something about the way the grain is at CB it just snugs right against the body.  I taped the upper edge of the waist with ribbon to keep my very stretchy fabric stable.

Hike from Fira to Oia

The shorts star in another favorite photo from the trip, from our hike from Fira to Oia on Santorini.  Oia is reputed to have the best sunsets in the world, and there is a lovely cliffside hike from Fira (the main city) to Oia, where at some points you can see the ocean on both sides of the island.  Unfortunately, we didn't leave Fira until 4:30 so we had to hustle the 7 mile hike to get to Oia on time for sunset.  We made it in the nick of time! (You can see the photos from the trip here; the photos from this particular hike are here.)

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

25 comments:

Nancy K said...

I honestly don't know why you thought a front fly was hard. I've seen you do much more difficult and complicated designs! It's so easy once you get it down. I can knock one off much more easily and perfectly than I can an invisible zip.
Having met you in person I think that you have a forward pelvis issue with your pants. Look for instructions for fixing and see if it helps.

countrygirlcouture said...

Congrats on a successful (and perfect looking!) fly front! Isn't it amazing at how daunting it seems when taken as a whole but it's easy when you break it down? And yes, I love the Debbie Cook tutorial too, and pull it up every time I make a fly, and probably will until the page comes down. ;-)

LinB said...

Glad you've finally swatted that fly! Tear apart a few old jeans to replace faulty zippers, and you'll never fear a fly closure again.

As to pocket gap, Sandra Betzina recommends laying your pocket yoke and garment front over a pressing ham to pin them into place for sewing together. The ham is curved, as is one's body (unless something is desperately, desperately wrong). Adjust the garment front or pocket yoke until there is no gappage, then pin in place. Your seam edges as cut from the pattern may not align exactly, so mark the new seamline and/or cut off the excess. Sometimes as little as an eight of an inch can bring you "no more pocket gap!" joy; sometimes you'll drag it over as much as an inch. Just depends on your particular body.

Little Hunting Creek said...

I just had an idea-what if we stabilized the slant pocket edge with clear elastic, ever so slightly stretched? Because I always have thst same problem.

SEWN said...

THat is soooo weird! My instructions are complete for the fly zip.

#4: Move zipper toward right fly extension as far as it will go without puckering underneath (edge of zipper is not even with extension). Using a zipper foot, stitch only through zipper tape and right fly extension.

Call me next time! :)

Meigan said...

Congratulations on tackling the fly front! Your shorts look great.

McVal said...

What great shorts! Good job tackling something you were afraid of!

Clio said...

These look fantastic - congrats! I think you are absolutely right about sewing not being difficult and really just being small, organized, simple steps. For me the only task that has proven to be as challenging as I thought it would be is the welt pocket. I should get back on that. ;-)

Adelaide B said...

Nice shorts!

I'm still afraid of pants. The fly zipper is part of it, but mostly fit and finding the right fabric. I don't want to iron pants or get baggy knees. Or dry clean. Or wear knit pants. I have some patterns, but have yet to crack into them. (I made a couple of pants years ago, but never really dug them.)

T. Sedai said...

Hooray! I know you have written about wanting to do a fly front for a long time - I am so happy for you finally making one! Your shorts look awesome too. Very practical for a vacation wardrobe.

badmomgoodmom said...

Oh, wow. What a great hike and trip. And nice shorts. I need to learn how to do a proper fly front, too.

Ripple Dandelion said...

Oh, good for you! I have that same (secret, shameful) fear of fly front zippers. Compounding the problem is my belief that the fly front configuration isn't the best or most comfortable over my rounded belly--thus lessening my motivation to master it. Your shorts look wonderful!!

Kyle said...

So I was wondering what happened to that pants class you took--that's the one that was at 8am on Saturdays or something, right? The fit looks really good. And fly fronts really aren't so bad. I still can't figure out in my mind how they go together, but I just follow the steps one after the other and voila, fully functional fly front zipper!

Paola said...

Congratulations on sorting out the fly front.
To do a fly front, I follow instructions from a Pattern Review course from a while ago , Build Better Pants. Even though I've done quite a few fly fronts now, I ALWAYS have to follow the instructions, otherwise I lose the plot very quickly.
I really felt for the contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee a few months ago who had to make a fly front pant. A few had never done a fly front. I don't know how they managed!

Kristy said...

Your travel shots are breathtaking! And those short shorts look really good on you, quite different from your usual dresses and skirts - you should show off your legs more often!

KayoticSewing said...

Fantastic picture!! The fly zip looks neat!

I don't really get the idea behind why women and men dress pants have different fly directions whereas all jeans have same type of fly. I've read somewhere that it should really be based on whether you are right handed or left handed for ease of use. And it does makes sense.

Dilly said...

That photo is AMAZING. And the shorts are super too! Your fly front is fly yo. Sigh, that made no sense. It looks like you've made them many many times before! I don't have a fear of fly fronts, but I do have a fear of trousers/shorts in general, so I am very very very impressed that you have made yourself some super fitting shorts. They look great on you!

Kelly said...

That photo is wonderful - you're such an explorer! Congratulations on getting the fly front down!

catspec said...

Nice job on the shorts and the fly tutorial was great. Thanks for that tip. :)

Lisette M said...

Congratulations on the fly front! The shorts look great.

emadethis said...

Congratulations on your first fly! The first couple of times I was super confused about them too, but now I can do a fly in 3 minutes. You'll be a pro at them in no time.

Joy said...

You're absolutely right about sewing being (mostly) a bunch of small steps. And some boring ones - like interfacing (:

I consider the fly front to be one of my most useful achievements, hehe.

Your fly looks perfect; seeing all the other complicated things you sew, it seems to have been more of a mental hitch than a technical skill hitch, though?

Anonymous said...

I just saw this re: the pocket...I've had the same problem myself.
http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/2013/10/one-garment-two-stay-tapes.html
JenL

Sue said...

Fabulous shorts, fabulous photos! I am with you the fly front strikes fear in my heart and I am dong my best to overcome it!

AngelicaSews said...

Those are some great shorts, awesome job! I had troubles with fly fronts for a long time until I saw Sandra Betzina's method. There is a video of it on Threads: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3831/video-an-easy-flat-fly-front-zipper
Seriously, her method took me from an hour of frustration to five minutes on the first try. If anyone is having troubles with that kind of zipper they should check out that video.