We’re indulging in tulle talk today, friends. My growing infatuation with the fabric has been mentioned before, and the more I obsess over it, the more ideas for tulle I come up with and find in other people’s work. Here’s one idea…..
This pair of pants has been in my closet, unworn, for many years – in the double digits. Unworn because the pant hem seemed too high above the ankle; the capri pant had made it’s first appearance in the fashion world, and I made it a little too high in my enthusiasm — back in 2003. The upper fit was not that great, either. I hung on to this pant because I liked it anyway — loved it, from the teal silk duppioni to the silk organza underlining to the nicely installed back zipper.
In 2018: First, some fit adjustments were made, and I don’t want to go into them, hmmphhh; let’s just say I’ll never wear these pants with a short top. Then, I took a stab at lengthening the pants at the hem; letting out the hem gave me an inch, but I needed more. Creative thinking saved the day.
Sewing the Emperor’s New Clothes: armed with my unrelenting obsession with tulle, and with a dive into stashed decorative threads, I added length to my pants by creating four tulle strips (two for each leg), couched with wavy lines of rayon/lurex yarn and embroidery floss. So here they are, along with some tips (good or bad) on what I did to maintain the light, transparent, kind-of-organic look. Read on to find out why I referenced my favorite childhood read, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
- I made four strips because I wanted the existence of a side seam in the tulle. Important note: I doubled up each tulle strip rather than use a single layer; add an extra inch or so all around. The width and length of each strip depends entirely on the existing pant hem and how far down you want to extend it.
- To make a pattern for the couched embellishment, I made wavy lines on paper, using a plastic “wave ruler” – it has a wavy edge rather than a straight one. Trace the wavy design on stabilizer sheets with a black marker. Pin the tulle strips onto the marked stabilizer as above and start embellishing by couching the decorative cord and cotton floss to the tulle fabric. A word about stabilizers; it is essential that you use the water soluble kind, such as Solvy by Sulky. I tried the sticky washaway stabilizer on one piece and didn’t like the way it gummed up the needle.
- Then, I threaded the machine with “invisible” polyester thread (when they named this thread invisible, they weren’t kidding); set the stitch to a longish zig zag. This thread also required that I loosen both the upper and lower tensions to avoid breakage; but wait! I keep a separate bobbin to play around with changing lower tensions when needed; my machine dealer trained me to NEVER mess with the factory-set bobbin case tension. A change-out with the “play” bobbin, coupled with considerable loosening of the upper tension and I was set to couch the decorative thread to the tulle. This is where we crossed over to the Emperor’s New Clothes territory with the tulle and the invisible thread…. Lets just say I relied on intuition and memory more than sight. Could. Not. See. The. Thread. Well, it got done somehow – the pretty threads were couched, stabilizer washed away, the tulle strips ironed with a warm, not hot, iron.
- Attaching to the hem: open out the two seams on each leg about 2 inches. Sew each tulle strip to each opened out pant hem in a ½ inch seam. Press up toward the pant leg. Sew down the pant seams, following the tapered line of the pant leg to the end of the tulle strip. On my pants hem, I cut the extra tulle at the bottom close to the last line of couched thread — about 1/8 to 1/4 inch away. If the wavy design is not matching at the side seams, don’t worry. There are other, more serious things you can worry about after you get your pants done.
How do you finish the hem? You don’t; tulle does not ravel, and I kind of like the organic, halfway messy look because it has it’s own charm. Or, you can add a thin piping in solid fabric as someone suggested to me. Or, I think I may add some extra wavy lines at the bottom. At the moment, I’m enjoying wearing these pants, 15 years too late.
Happy Sewing Month!