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Oct 5, 2011

MPB Men's Boxers Sew-Along 3 -- Let's Start Sewing!



Good morning, Sew-Alongers and others eager to learn how to make boxers.  Today we are going to start sewing!  Yesterday I neglected to mention thread, assuming that everybody already had the thread they need.  As you can see above, I was choosing from among an assortment of potential thread colors, finally choosing...white.   Sigh.
Our goals for today are:

1. Prepare our sewing machine for our new project.

2. Attach two front pieces (left and right) at center seam (below fly area).

3. Sew our first (ever?) flat-felled seam.

4. Working on our two front pieces, create our fly.

1. This may seem obvious, but before I start any new project, I like to make sure my machine is ready.  This means cleaning out any fuzz that might have accumulated around the feed dogs from earlier projects, making sure the thread I want to use is in my bobbin and my needle, and that I'm using the right needle for the project.  For a tightly-woven cotton shirting like the one I'm using, I like to sew with a #9 or #11 needle.  I use standard Coats & Clark thread -- nothing fancy. 



2.  The first thing most boxer pattern instructions have you do is create the front fly, and mine is no different.  Are your instructions similar?



Rather than baste the two center fronts together (as illustrated), I simply pin them together.  I skip the part about reinforcing the edge by stitching on either side of the dotted seam line.  Can anyone explain how this helps?



Instead, I stitch my first seam, the center front, from the dot (which I've marked in pencil) on down.  The seam allowance on these boxers is just 3/8".   We then clip the seam allowance (on a slight diagonal) to the dot.  You really need to clip all the way to the dot -- sharp-tipped shears are a necessity.  Here's my stitch line (my finger is where the dot is):



Now I clip:



3.  We're going to finish this center front seam by making a flat-felled seam.  Working from the wrong side of the fabric, I trim the left front seam allowance down to 1/8".  I then fold the right seam allowance over the left.   (You can do this with an iron or more easily with your finger, depending on your fabric.)





Finally, I turn the folded right edge down, encasing the narrower left seam allowance, and edgestitch (or topstitch) along the edge of my seam, using my straight stitch foot.





The result is a very strong seam.



Usually on men's shirts, the flat-felled seams are sewn on the wrong side of the shirt.  On men's jeans, it's on the outside.  It doesn't make a whole lot of difference!

4. Now on to the fly.  There is no separate fly facing on these McCall's boxers.  Working from the inside, the left fly is simply that left front "extension" folded back along the designated fold line; the raw edge is folded under approximately 1/4", and stitched down.  NOTE: This stitch line will be visible from the front of the boxers.



The right front extension is folded back less deeply (just 1") and also turned under 1/4" and stitched.



I found finishing the bottom of my right extension cleanly to be a challenge.  If I made these again, I'd cut a separate, wider facing, which would fully cover the bottom of the right fly facing and be easier to finish cleanly.  Mine ended up looking like this and I think it looks messy, though the stitching isn't visible on the front of the boxers since the left fly is lapped over the right. 





My RTW Jockeys have a much cleaner inside fly finish.



It looks like the right front has a longer, deeper fly extension than the left (it's not a separate facing).  I'll address this issue in more detail later in the sew-along.  For now, follow the directions for your pattern.  If you'd like, you can even post them in our Flickr group, here!  I'd love to see how they're different from mine and how they address the inside right fly facing.

Finally, matching the center fronts (which were marked on the pattern), we lap left fly over right, and stitch through all layers.



Friends, that's it for today!  Tomorrow we'll move on, and I'll even show you how to cut bias binding!

Happy sewing, everybody!

5 comments:

  1. 'Stay Stitching' helps to prevent fabric from stretching at that point. It may not affect the first step, but subsequent steps may be affected by distortion. Check photo #3, those curved bits are nearly bias, so a lot of stretching can happen there. Also used to stabilize necklines prior to collar insertion.

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  2. It's a stress point so stitching before you clip gives added stability. Karen

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  3. I find that the thread matters, too. I gave up on Coates and Clark. I find that Gutermann works better with much less tangling and snapping...

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  4. Ditto for the thread. Cheaper thread gives me a headache.
    Stitching on either side of that dot gives you a definite point to clip to, and protects the curved fabric above the clip. I always do it!
    I've gotten behind, because I forgot to take my fabric out of the dryer and press it. Catching up today.

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  5. This weekend I cleaned & oiled my machine, wow what a difference it has made, much faster & smoother, no breaking threads and much quieter thank goodness!

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