Welcome to the next installment of the Making of Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'. In this post we discuss the making of the tap pants. If you haven't read part 1 where we discuss the making of the corset or part 2 which focuses on the making of the gown you should stop immediately and go back and read them now (or later, whatever, I'm not the boss of you).
I fell in love with the tap pants Evie Libertine uses in her Navy Beat act. The vintage look and the ease of removal were exactly what I wanted for my act. I started researching tap pants and came across a surprisingly large number of patterns available on Etsy. I went with a pattern from Mrs Depew Vintage which turned out to be a great thing because of the sew-along tutorial that is available on her blog. This blog post is very detailed with 5 posts dedicated to the tap pants alone.
The pattern is a pdf that you download and print. This is great because you get it straight away, pay less then you do for a paper pattern, and don't pay postage. The down side is that you have to print it out as several A4 sheets that you then have to tape together then cut out, which really isn't that big a deal. Because it is one size though you do have to resize the pattern to fit. This is easy though and explained in detail in one of the blog posts. If you are wanting details on the construction of the tap pants head over to Anna Depew's blog: A Few Threads Loose.
This was probably the most complicated piece I made for my costume. The reason is that it it the most structured piece I made. Other than resizing the pattern I made quite a few alterations. There is a V-shaped opening at the waist in the pattern which serves as the actual opening for the tap pants (see below). As with most vintage sewing patterns, a highish level of prior sewing knowledge is assumed and therefore there is no pattern for the placket for this opening. Anna herself advises against using the v-shaped opening and instead advises to simply create a new opening by drawing a straight line in the center of the v. Doing this will add 2.5" to the waistline and reduce the complexity of the placket required.
I wanted to maintain a flared shape to the pants so I opted to keep the opening as is. Also, because I was making the pants tear away the opening was actually going to be extended the whole way through (making the piece 2 individual pieces) so the placket would be fairly simple anyway. The plackets I made were simply 2 overlapping strips with snap tape sewn on each side. I sewed the snap tape on to the plackets before I folded and sewed them onto the pants. This ensured that there was no stitching visible from the outside of the placket.
The yoke piece is drafted slightly longer then the pants front it attaches to in order to accommodate the placket. I found that I had to extend it a fair bit more for the plackets I used. I did a complete toile of my altered pattern before I started cutting my final fabric, which is party satin from Lincraft. I chose this fabric because although it is a bit heavy for something like this it was the right colour and finish. The yoke is made from 2 pieces of the satin with the top one reinforced with a medium to heavy fusible interfacing. I attached the lace appliques to the yoke before I sewed it onto the pants. This meant the stitching from attaching the lace was hidden behind a second layer which acts as a facing. Attaching the lace to the yoke before sewing it had another advantage. Anyone who has discussed the topic with me before knows my disdain for hand sewing. Having the yoke unattached meant I could easily machine sew the lace on then hide the mess of crisscrossing stitching behind a facing.
The other alteration I made to the pattern was in the length. I wanted the pants to be tantalisingly short and show maybe the slightest hint of cheek. This was obviously limited by the gusset and required the hem be slightly angled. To add to the flirty hem line I finished them off with a rolled hem using my overlocker. Fortunately, the white thread I had for my over locker was fine to use and blended in with the pink fabric. And because I cut the pattern on the bias, another alteration I made, the hem ended up being a wavy "lettuce" hem. The final touch was to add some crystals in rose, light rose, and crystal AB.
Overall I'm fairly happy with the tap pants. They're hella cute and come off like a dream. I've found that leaving the bottom 2 snaps undone helps with a smooth removal and adds to the cute look of the shorts. However, I was expecting them to flare more and give more of a circle skirt shape like in the picture. I thought cutting them on the bias might help the shape but it didn't really make a difference. For my next pair (for which I have started drafting the pattern for!) I am instead going to base the pattern of a half-circle culotte pattern I found. That way they will end up looking a lot more like the drawing.
I recommend looking at the extensive pattern range available on Mrs Depew's Vintage on Etsy and checking out the blog as well. When it comes to using vintage patterns just be aware that having to resize them is likely and that things like plackets and facings will not be included. It is better to have a bit of sewing and patterning knowledge before you take one of them on.
Thanks for reading! This post is a little more technical then my previous ones but hopefully enjoyable none the less. Next week we will move onto part 4 which covers the making of the triangle bra. Also check out the bonus post to this series published on the Bombshell Burlesque Academy and Events blog. It's all about the lessons I learnt through the making of this costume. And while you're there check out the other posts from the inspiring teachers and students of Bombshell Burlesque!