DIY Bell Bottoms!

Bell bottoms or flare pants are my absolute favorite shape of pant. They’re pretty much flattering on every body type and super easy to dress. It’s a style of pant that I don’t think my wardrobe could ever part with. I’ve been in love with them ever since I was a kid. I could seriously stuff my closet full of them! I’ve purchased several store bought pairs but none of them had the fit I was looking for so I decided to make them to fit exactly the way I like. Follow this tutorial to make your own!

Skill level: Advanced beginner

What you need:

  • 2 yards of prewashed stretch fabric, more or less depending on your height (I prefer to use a brushed matte jersey)
  • a pair of form fitting stretch pants you already own (this will be your pattern guide)
  • sewing machine or serger
  • scissors
  • thread
  • tape measure
  • pencil or fabric marker
  • walking foot if using standard sewing machine

 

Cut your pattern

To get started, take your fabric and fold in it half with the fold parallel to the selvage. Take your guide pants and turn them inside out and fold one pant leg over the other and lay over top of the fabric. Your pattern should be laying flat with the seams lining up and the waistband folded under. I like to pin the legs, crotch and side seams of the pants together to prevent the fabric from shifting.

Once your pants are neatly lined up on the fabric, trace around your pants and add a 1/4″ seam allowance and a 1″ hem allowance. You can increase your seam/hem allowance to whatever you like if you have a preference. I like to begin with tracing the backside of the pant. If you’re using leggings as a guide, mark the pants where they hit your knee. From the knee point, flare out the leg opening in a ‘bell’ shape to your desired width.

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Once you’ve traced and cut the backside, fold the pants open to the front and repeat to trace the front.

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You should now have 2 front and 2 back panels.

Assembling your pants

Take your 2 back panels, pin and sew right sides facing  and down the crotch seam. Do the same with the 2 front panels and it should look like this:

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Pin like panels right sides together and sew.

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Pin together front and back leg panels and sew down the crotch seam.

Once you’ve sewn your panels together, open up the front and back, place them right sides together and pin at the crotch seam. Continue to pin all the way down both sides of the inseam.

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Pin together joining at the crotch seam.

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Pin the inseam together and sew.

Once the inner leg panels are pinned together, starting at the crotch seam, sew down one side of the inseam toward the leg opening. Flip the pants to the other side and repeat sewing down the other leg. I prefer this method rather than starting from one leg opening and around down to the other leg opening, in a horseshoe. I have found that the seams stay better lined up so you end up with a perfect seam intersection. Once the inseam is complete, pin and sew down the side seams.

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Fully assembled pant legs.

You will now want to try on your pants and determine whether or not you need to make adjustments. If you’re satisfied with the fit, its time to move on to the waistband!

Constructing the waistband

Take your pants and turn them right side out. Take the side seams and bring them together, pin and lay flat. Make sure your raw edges are not overlapping. Grab your tape measure and lay flat against the top raw edge of your pants to get your waist measurement.

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Measure the width of the waist.

My measurement was approximately 15″ across, 30″ circumference. To make the waistband, I reduced the width of the waist by about 1″, giving me a 14″ waist width. The height of the waistband is really up to your personal preference. I like a higher waistband so mine was about 8″ tall (unfolded). I like my waistband to hit snug at my true waist. Don’t forget to factor in your 1/4″ seam allowance for the all sides of the waistband.

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Place waistband panels right sides together.

Once you have your 2 waistband pieces cut and placed right sides together, fold the pieces over long ways or hot dog style.

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Grab your scissors and clip away at the top folded edge at an angle, gradually reducing the angle of the cut until you’re flush with the bottom corner. Do not discard the piece you just cut, you will be using it to trim away the opposite end. You should end up with a half trapezoid shape. The width of the bottom edge should stay the same. We are only reducing the width at the top. This is to create a curve that will hug your waist. I went in about 3/4″ at the angle. Adjust this measurement based on how snug you want the top of the waistband.

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Take the piece you trimmed away and place it on the opposite side and repeat.

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You should now have a complete trapezoid shape.

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Unfold the trapezoid, leaving the pieces right sides together. You should now have an hourglass shape. Pin those pieces together and sew down the sides.

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Now that your sides are sewn together, take your waistband tube and fold the top raw edge over to meet the bottom raw edge, creating the trapezoid shape again.

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Once your waistband is ready to be attached, you’re going to pin it into quarter sections. Bring the side seams together and pin. Leave the band lying flat and pin the opposite ends. These pins will be your guide of where to place the waistband onto the pants.

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Attaching the waistband

Rotate your band upside down with the raw edges facing up. Grab your unfinished pants and pull the top of the pants through the tube, raw edge also facing up.

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Pin the side seams of the pants and waistband together first.

Note: Match up the side seam on the INSIDE of the waistband (the side seam that is touching the right side of the pants as shown above), not the seams facing outward. The inside seam is on the side where my hand is placed. When your band is attached and flipped up, you should end up with one continuous side seam.

Match up the front and back seam with your pin markers from when you quartered your band. After those 4 pin points are attached, find the midpoint between each quarter and add another pin. This helps the fabric to be evenly distributed and makes sewing much easier.

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Once your band is pinned securely and evenly, go ahead and sew it on!

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Hem the pants

You’re almost done!!! All that is is left to do is hem. Pin under the raw edge of the leg openings about 1″, starting at the side seams.

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Pin all the way around each leg opening.

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If you’re using a standard sewing machine, go ahead and sew using a zigzag stitch. I use a coverstitch machine to hem. I love the professional finish it gives!

Note: Always run a test strip before sewing your hem to make sure your tension is correct and you’re happy with the stitch length.

Once you have sewn your hem all the way around the leg opening, make sure to overlap your stitches to lock them in (if using a cover hem machine) or back stitch on your sewing machine.

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And DONE! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New beginnings…


It has been entirely WAY TOO LONG since my last blog post. After my trip, things got really busy on the home front and unfortunately I had to place my focus elsewhere. Now that the dust has settled, I AM BACK and ready to blog my butt off! I have managed to squeeze in a few projects for myself recently. I pulled off a cute turkey day dress, whipped up a cardigan and a pair of boho flares!

But what I am most excited about is the new direction I’ve taken in sewing in hopes to shift my skill set toward using more professional methods. One thing that has long piqued my interest in sewing was watching Project Runway. I had no idea what they were doing but it all looked so fascinating and intense! All the draping, pinning, measuring…I’ve always wanted to do all that and make those fancy garments with ruffles, pleats, and gathers. I sifted through some YouTube tutorials and found some videos on how to drape to create patterns. After watching one video, I knew I needed to adopt this concept now, like right now. I literally went to the store, bought new supplies, searched for professional dress forms (which I will be buying one now!) and went to my dress form and got to draping my fresh muslin to draft a sweetheart bustier. It was so completely satisfying, I cannot even tell you. It wasn’t perfect the first time and it took a couple drafts but it felt so rewarding! I totally geek out over this stuff, you don’t even know! When it comes to garments, I exclusively sew with knits so I am excited to finally incorporate wovens and really tap into my unused creative space! I hope to take this drafted bodice and turn it into a cute summer dress for fun events, weddings and date nights with the hubby. 

Day 5: Huntington Beach

The “Suit”

I’ve been pretty excited about posting this bathing suit because I am just obsessed with it! The color, the fit, design…everything! I love the feeling of achievement when I can wear something I personally made. After 2 kids, I feel pretty good about wearing a bikini made to custom fit my mom bod. I’ve been seeing this “wrap” design a lot lately and decided to create my own pattern.

I don’t know about other people but, I can speak for myself when I say, clothing shopping gets harder the older I get. I am much more picky about how things fit now that I have become more familiar with my body shape and learning how to dress it. Bathing suit shopping has ALWAYS been a struggle. When the top fits, the bottoms don’t. When I like the top but hate the design of the bottom. When I find the right size in the bottoms I like and there’s no top to go with…sigh.

I will say, though, I wish I hadn’t waited until day 5 to feature this suit because I like to eat, especially when I visit new places. Modeling a bathing suit after gorging on food is a probably not the greatest idea. Haha. Oh well.

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Here I am in all the tie dye glory!

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Standing in my true awkward form…

One of the best parts about this bikini is the coverage in the top. I also made the bottoms to have extra coverage in the front and just a touch cheeky in the back.

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I used a pair of string bikini bottoms as my pattern and with some modifications to the fit, I got the result I wanted. I self drafted the top using a bralette as a guide to make a pattern. While I was in the LA Fashion District, I picked up several yards of various swimsuit fabrics to get a tutorial out soon! Stay tuned!

*a huge thank you to my brother for hosting my stay and being my photographer for the week!*

Day 4: Hollywood/LA Fashion District/Santa Monica

Hollywood Hike

Day 4 was a big day and included two separate outfits. In the morning we did the Hollywood Hike to view the sign. It was literally a “hike”. Four miles to be precise and we didn’t even make it up right next to it! I had made a two piece outfit of pink crushed velvet that my husband so lovingly calls “funeral fabric”. Kind of morbid, but it also motivates me to make more velvet clothing to wear around him just so I can rub up against him in my casket clothes. Haha.

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Over the 2 piece outfit, I paired a reversible mesh tank and my favorite kicks for a more “athletic” look.

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Getting under the mesh, you can see the actual outfit even down to the accessory…yup, made that too! I have several photos of me from the late 90’s sporting the scrunchie on the wrist in case of a ponytail emergency but mostly because I thought it was cute. Still do. I made this outfit thinking it felt like a very “LA” style, whatever that is because I am from no where near Los Angeles. I’m just a sucker for velvet. Once I matched the shorts to the mesh shirt, I needed something to go under it and voila! there came the matchy tube tank!

Now, disclaimer on my photos, this is a pretty raw depiction of myself and my body. I’m not perfect, neither are my photos or modeling skills. I roped my brother into my being my vacation photographer which he was absolutely thrilled about *insert sarcasm*. So I’m kinda of left to do it all, be the seamstress, model, photographer-ish and editor. Maybe one day when I am legit and stuff, I can have a real photographer. Haha. But for now…

Walk of Fame

Now listen, one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the Walk of Fame was inspired by a photo of Katy Perry posing next to an empty star before she was ever famous. I’m a well known Katy Cat but I am little embarrassed that I didn’t do my research and came to find out my girl doesn’t have her own star yet. I guess I will have to come back for my long anticipated photo with her star another time. I did get a cute snapshot with Miss Minnie Mouse who was recently inducted this year and just so happened to be awarded her star by Katy Perry herself.

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For the Walk of Fame, I am wearing polka dot leggings which I made to pair up with various vintage style shirts and shoes. I am obsessed with this fabric. Its a brushed matte jersey and every time I go to the fabric store, I buy it. I don’t know why I haven’t bought a bolt by now or several because I am always keeping it on hand. It makes the perfect leggings and yoga pants and is also the same type of fabric I used to make the yoga shorts pictured in my Day 3 blog post.

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I had been dying to bust out this muscle tank to wear and I had been saving it for my trip. I bought it from a pinup artist on Instagram, meljo_jojo. Check out her work! It matched my leopard print mary janes perfectly. Yes, another pair of Hot Chocolate Shoes. I am telling you, they are gold! On my wrist is a zombie pinup wristlet clutch that I made as well. The hoop is also removable. Bonus.

LA Fashion District and Santa Monica

For the rest of the day, I wore the same outfit as the Walk of Fame. With the order of plans, I wasn’t able to wear the 2 piece to the Fashion District like I originally planned. The fashion district was so crowded, I wouldn’t have even been able to snap photos of what I was wearing anyway. The lack of selfie stick didn’t help. But after 3 hours of exploring, I was able to get my hands on some fabric!

We ended the day in Santa Monica, eating on the pier at The Albright. For dessert, CANDYTOPIA where all my sweet dreams came true! It is literally an art gallery made of candy and they give you candy. If it was 2010, it would have been a Katy Perry heaven.

Day 3: The West Coast

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Okay, so this day is kind of a wardrobe cheat. Before you start throwing tomatoes, hear me out! I planned this vacation to include as many handmade pieces as I could make and bring in ample time. For this day, I brought shorts I made but not shorts I necessarily made for this trip exclusively. One of my hubby’s and my hobby is disc golfing. We go nearly every day and cart our two boys around with us. It’s usually how we spend “family day”. So, while visiting my brother in Huntington Beach, which is home to the very first disc golf course, I obviously had to get him out for a round! I posed in front of the pro shop, wearing a pair of black yoga shorts I made, holding a brand new Innova Leopard disc. Eeek!

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Originally when I had made these shorts, the first few pairs were actually maternity shorts. I got into making my own maternity clothing during my last pregnancy because holy cow, maternity wear is so expensive and after going through one pregnancy already, I knew what I did and didn’t enjoy wearing. But that will be a whole separate blog post down the road! So back to this pair… I took the maternity shorts and drafted a new pattern. I brought the waistline back up in the front and shortened the waistband to a regular height. Other modifications were made to the fit and length of the shorts since I no longer needed to fit my pregnant body. My motivation for making these shorts was for the sole purpose of exercise. If I could motivate myself to make my own workout attire, then I would certainly be hopping to it and actually working out. So I did!

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The rest of the day was spent eating delicious food at local eateries and strolling up the coast to view the Pacific. Treasure Island is where I finally dipped my feet into the salty ocean water!

 

Day 2: Arizona

The fabric behind the garment I chose to wear in Arizona was actually inspired by the desert itself. I had picked up a remnant bundle of fabric at a local fabric store. The color reminded me of sandstone, making it the perfect color palette to choose a piece to wear visiting the Mojave Desert. Our first stop was to see the infamous Hoover Dam!

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I actually had 2 pieces to choose from to wear. I ended up going with these drawstring shorts. They are the perfect blend of cotton and stretch. I wore these in the car for several hours and the material didn’t lose it’s fit at all! That made these shorts my new favorite.

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Kingman, Arizona was our next stop. My brother and I stopped to visit with our grandparents for the day. We had a tasty dinner at a local steakhouse. Good thing the shorts have some give for all that food!

To make these shorts, I took a pair of my favorite comfy shorts and used them as a guide. I made a few modifications to get a better fit and added the drawstring. I think the drawstring really pulled together the look I wanted from these shorts. The cut and color of the tank, I feel, complimented the shorts as well. I could bear the desert heat just fine in this outfit and it would not be complete without my favorite pair of Teva flipflops for all the walking!

Day 1: Arrival to LAS VEGAS!

I originally did not have an outfit planned for Vegas to incorporate a handmade piece. I own tons of garments that could have been worthy for the occasion but, at the last minute, I remembered I had this harlequin knit fabric stashed away for a cool project. I thought a tube top would be perfect for the retro look I like to go for and the keeping the Vegas heat in mind!

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To use as a pattern, I took a tube top I already owned and copied the construction. This top also has a shelf bra sewn in for extra support and a more flattering fit. I top stitched the chest line and hemmed the bottom using my cover stitch machine.

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Piecing the front and back panels together.

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I paired the top with my super cute stretchy denim sailor shorts along with my tattoo print mary janes by Hot Chocolate Shoes. Seriously, check out these shoes! Adorably cute and comfortable!

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For one only night in Vegas and only having time to strut around the strip, I was overall quite comfortable and feeling vintage cute and confident in this outfit! It was a great last minute fashion decision!