In hopes that the next time that I need to make bloomers I don't sit around wondering how I did it before, I'm writing it down here where I can find it.
Thalia needed new bloomers for her school outfit. She needed bloomers once before, and when I asked about getting a pair I was given the (strong) suggestion to make some. Someone (the teacher maybe) said that it's basically a matter of making shorts and sticking elastic in the legs (which isn't true, which is why I think maybe it was the teacher who said that, since she doesn't sew). And the school dressmaker gave me a bunch of the fabric that's used for lining the skirts of the school dresses, which is a heavy acetate satin, dry clean only, ravels like crazy (a few weeks ago we saw her in a fabric store contemplating a different fabric which was washable and looked easier to work with, so she might have switched by now).
Anyway, this is how I did the latest bloomer iteration, having learned from past mistakes.
First, I went to JoAnn Fabrics and selected a stretch satin -- lighter weight, washable, not as prone to raveling. Also more expensive, but I had a coupon.
Next, find a pattern. Sheesh, we have a lot of patterns in our house for elastic waist shorts. I chose one with side seams, since that would give me more options in re-sizing as I made them. I came up with an out-of-print pattern, McCall's 2101, which is for drawstring pants and shorts.
I knew that the pattern would be too big around at the "correct" size because it would have way more ease than we need for bloomers. I also knew that the waist would be way to high. I decided to make up a test pair in some cheap remnant fabric I found in our basement in order to see what else I wanted to change. (This is what people mean when they say they're making a muslin -- it's a test garment that is then taken apart and used as a pattern.)
While cutting out the muslin I lowered the upper edge to the natural waistline, figuring that it would end up even lower when I folded it over to insert elastic. I also shortened the crotch length to about 2", plus seam allowance and hem allowance. I'd probably go smaller here for a smaller girl.
I sewed them up using machine basting, then figured out what to do with the legs. What we really want with this is something that's more akin to a baggy bathing suit bottom, which means that the front of the leg should come up higher than the back of the leg.
I cut off what I thought would be appropriate, then insert elastic in the waist and in a leg to see how it fit Thalia. It looked okay, so I took it back apart.
Here's how it compares to the original shorts pattern:
And I simply laid the muslin pieces on the actual bloomer fabric to begin cutting out.
Sewed up the seams, serged the raw edges of the seams (even though this fabric doesn't ravel as much as the acetate, it still needs some sort of finishing). Serged the raw edges of the waist and legs. Turn down 1 inch at the waist, 3/4 inch at the legs.
The leg hem needed to be eased to accommodate the curves. It was fairly simple to do since the fabric was stretchy and fairly light weight. I didn't care if it looked a bit wonky since it's going to be gathered with elastic.
Insert elastic. I used 1/2 inch for the waist, 3/8 for the legs, but narrower would've worked. I left an opening in each elastic casing so we can adjust the elastic later if needed. When I started sewing I tended to put too long of elastic in items, not realizing that it needs to be TIGHTER than, say, the natural waist, so now I like to leave an easy way to mess with the elastic later. I left the opening for the leg elastic at the side seams -- that way if we need to do an emergency pin-job during a show we're putting the safety pins at a more comfortable spot.
And, finished! SImple, as long as you know what you're doing. I stuck the muslin in the pattern envelope in case I need to make another pair. And then zipped off another pair in a smaller size for someone else.