When I think of the crossover time between the decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s, what tends to come to my mind are the classic historical features for the time – “flower children”, the “Space Age”, “peace and love”, calls for freedom, and (in fashion) loose, flowing, romanticized dressing in all man-made materials. I hate stereotypes for history, but in this post I will combine all of them into one new, different, and amazing project from 1972 – the “Wrap-and-Go Pantskirt”.
NOTIONS: I needed none to buy, but all that is needed is thread, a small cut of elastic, a hook-and-eye, and about a yard of ribbon.
PATTERN: Butterick 6720, year 1972. As far as I can tell, this pattern was perhaps released originally in 1971, but for one reason or another, it was re-released 1972 with a different cover to the envelope.
TIME TO COMPLETE: I only spent about 2 1/2 hours to do my finishing, but I can’t imagine it taking too long for my mother-in-law to do her part of the pants (I’ll explain more of this later). What takes the longest about making these pants is the large amount of fabric that is close to being a single cut. My new Pantskirt was finished in mid-June of this year, 2015.
THE INSIDES: This polyester does not fray, and the whole garment is supposed to be loose and flowing, so the edges are appropriately left raw.
TOTAL COST: Zero for me. I will explain the reason why in the paragraph below. Just to estimate fabric amounts, the pattern does calls for about 3 yards for the long ankle length version, and about 1 5/8 for the short version.
This project is most unique in the way it is really a combined family effort. My mother-in-law recently hauled out her fabric stash for me to go through. Digging around in the boxes of fabric scraps one night led me to find what I thought was a large cut of classic 70’s polyester in an even more classic bright and floral print. When I opened it up…hello! It was actually a half-finished project. I immediately recognized it as the “Wrap-and-Go Pantskirt” and my mother-in-law recognized it as a project she set down years ago. The only reason I knew about such an unusual piece was because just the week before I had intended on buying the pattern for the wrap pants, only to pass them up and consider buying at another time. In lieu of buying the pattern, I was overly recompensed and excited by my mother-in-law letting me have the pants to finish and wear.
The pants had been pretty close to being finished when I received them. The crotch seam was stitched closely and clipped well, making for a nice and stable support for the whole project (just lettin’ you know she did a nice job). The back half of the waistband had also been completed, with elastic in the casing and a large hook and eye to close at the back. All I really had to do was a few things to make the pants wearable. I hemmed the bottom up 4 whole inches, I brought in the back waistband elastic to make it tighter, and ran a grosgrain ribbon along the front waistband casing. The last thing the project needed was a really good overall ironing job to get out the creases set into the fabric from a few decades of being folded and smashed in a box.
First, you find the back elastic waistband and hook that closed behind you with the crotch seam raw edge facing in against your skin. The rest of the garment is either on the floor or, if you hold the front waistband, in front of you. Your back half has an open slit flapping in the breeze below where it’s hooked closed.
Then, in order to wrap it around you, find the front and the crotch seam, and put these through and between your legs towards the back of you. Now your front half looks like pants but the behind is still open.
Finally, the front waistband is wrapped around from the back and tied together in the front middle. I adjust the gathers along the ribbon belt so that most of the fullness is towards the back because I like the behind to have extra room and my belly to look flat (who doesn’t).
That’s it! When worn, these pants remind me of a pair of 1930’s beach pajama bottoms. They are wonderful in every way imaginable. The only way they could possibly be better would be if they weren’t in 70’s polyester…but then they wouldn’t be 70’s pants, would they? The wrap part to the front also sort of flies open as one walks making the pants feel so very elegant and comfy, even in the heat of summer. For beginners wanting to make pants, I would think the “Wrap-and-Go Pantskirt” would be perfect because it is a wrap, and there is forgiveness in the fit and design which doesn’t require perfect tailoring. Minimal sewing and only one real seam make this pattern super easy for the novice seamstress (or one who wants a simple project) while still seeming complicated on account of the style’s design. Tricky thing! What more could I ask for but more reasons to wear these out and about.
However, when nature calls, it is even more of a creative process to try to go use the facilities in a public place without picking up everything disgusting off of the floor and back onto yourself. For this photo shoot, I couldn’t really show you how the project goes on very well in any public place, and there is too much fabric with not enough light to take pictures inside. So, to go with the whole “hippie” and “flower child” idea and give me people-free room to partially undress, we shot our pictures in a field (forest out cropping) filled with Queen Anne’s Lace flowers. Little did I know that demonstrating the Pantskirt would also scoop up a generous amount of pests – skin sucking Chiggers, as a matter of fact. The pictures are perfectly what we hoped for, but, oh…was I stupid. Sweeping the Pantskirt open then wrapping it closed in a field was equal to laying out a buffet right in front of the pests, then tucking them in so they’re nice and comfy to stay awhile. I am still scarred from their generous bites and I itched for a week. The things I do for a good picture! Freedom, peace, flowers (and bugs) all seem to have their time together when mid-year kicks in!
I am missing out on the skimpy wrap bandeau top by not having the “Wrap-and-Go” pattern, but the same thing can be achieved with a large square scarf. I will be having a post about vintage inspired scarf ideas, showing the various ways a large 36 inch square was worn from the 1920’s to 1950’s, and a bandeau top like on Butterick 6720 will be in there.
Knowing that freedom is celebrated in many countries in the beginning of July, here’s hoping everyone had (or will have) a safe and happy Independence celebration.