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  • Writer's picturegeriberman

Azuki Work Pants (by Waffle Patterns) with Stitched Shibori on Denim

The Azuki Work Pants pattern by Waffle Patterns has a gazillion pocket options for a cargo-style pair of pants. Ok, I exaggerate the number, but 9 options for pockets is a lot for a pair of pants. In addition, there’s also the option of a detachable holster pouch, which adds 3 more pockets. With a hammer loop thrown in as well, these pants are a carpenter’s dream.

For my version, I decided to opt for ALL the pockets to sew up. There are the compulsory front side pockets and 3 back pockets. The optionals include a flap pocket, a zipper pocket, 2 tool pockets and the holster pouch mentioned above. It was a dizzying experience cutting up these pocket pieces and making sure the right piece goes to the right place. And just in case the numerous pockets do not provide enough razzle-dazzle to the pants, I jazzed it up more by throwing in a stitched shibori experiment for the white denim fabric that I was using.

The fabric was gifted to me by Minerva in exchange for a post on their website. This is a Lady McElroy white pique stretch denim - 98% cotton and 2% of Spandex. The fabric is durable and easy to work with - perfect for a pair of work pants. Initially, I just wanted a pair of pure white pants, but decided to try some shibori techniques on denim for the first time instead. The high percentage of cotton in the fabric meant that it wouldn’t be a problem using Rit Dye for natural fibres on it. What worried me was its heavier weight compared to linen, cotton, silk and viscose. I’ve dyed all these fabrics before with good results but they were all lighter weight fabrics. The plan was to use folding, binding and stitching techniques for the dye resist, but the thicker denim might be a barrier for the folded underlying layers to get any colour at all. The solution I came up with was to execute these techniques after I cut out the pattern pieces. Usually, I dye a large piece of fabric before I do any cutting of pattern pieces, but I had to change my strategy here to maximise the penetration of dye colour through the bulkiness.

This meant that I had to serge all the pattern pieces after they were cut to prevent fraying and stretching during the dyeing process. And I also chose to thread trace the pattern markings on the pieces. This way I can jump right into sewing after the pieces came out of the dye bath - washed, dried and ironed. The total number of pattern pieces was around 40 since I was making all the pockets, and I ended up applying shibori resist techniques separately to all of them. That was the fun part - planning which shibori pattern to go on which pattern piece. Here's a picture of the fabric pieces just before they went into the dye vat:

It turned out that the new stitched shibori patterns that I tried out on the denim worked pretty well as long as it’s done on pieces of fabric that are smaller. It was a good move to fold, bind and stitch 40 pieces of fabric for better dye results. Changing the work order of the dye process did the trick. The fabric didn’t disappoint and soaked up the dye beautifully. And the lovely pique texture complemented the dye patterns as well. This is also my first experience with Rit Liquid Dye, and I chose the Denim Blue for this project. It’s very easy to work with and I used it in combination with the Rit ColourStay Dye Fixative which really helped to keep the vibrance of the colour and reduce colour bleeding.

My favourite stitched shibori patterns in this project can be found on the front right leg - both are checked patterns. In the pictures below you can see the stitch patterns, the bound fabric after stitching and the resulting dye result.

Stitched shibori involves stitching on a single layer or multiple layers of fabric. After stitching, the threads have to be pulled and bound tightly so that they create folds. These bound folds, together with the stitching become the dye resist that creates many different dye patterns. The following is a video of a short tutorial of stitching another shibori pattern, and it shows the process of how it’s done.

As for the Azuki Work Pants, I made up a size 36 with 2.5’’ removed from the length to adjust to my height. I also knew I wasn’t going to hem them up, and just leave them to fray. Since I didn’t make a muslin (naughty me, I should have), it’s only after the make that I understood some adjustments that would make a better fit. First, these pants don’t fit on the high-waist for me as suggested. It is sitting somewhere between high and mid-waist, and one more inch added to heighten the waistline would be required for the next make . Second, I worked with stretch denim instead of a non-stretch, so a size 34 might have fit better, or a graded 34 to 36 pair of pants. Nevertheless, I would still wear these pants to death. Besides helping me fulfil the dream of being a hippie carpenter, they might also get me cast in a Hair musical.

The instructions and drafting for Waffle Patterns are very good. I am excited to try out the other patterns, especially the extensive range of stylish outerwear that is available. That said, I think I might have messed up the front zipper - and I can’t quite figure out how it happened. Guess it occurred during one of those long sewing sessions when things start to be hazy. The placement of the teeth ended up too close to the opening so the zipper looks like a half exposed zipper. I was going to take out the seam ripper but decided that it wasn’t such a bad look and kept it that way. In other words, I succumbed to my laziness and labeled it as a stylish excuse.

The best bit about these pants is that they come with this holster pouch that can be detached with snaps (I use Prym snaps). It’s the cutest pouch ever! Sew up a shoulder strap for it, and it can be converted to a sling bag. Super rad!

I am thrilled with these pants, mainly because the shibori dye results on denim were smashing. They make me feel like prancing while I’m working. They lifted my spirits so much that I went on to make a matching vest, which is a hacked version of the Hampton Jean Jacket by Alina Design and Sewing Co. I feel a bit mad wearing this combo together. It is completely over-the-top, but hey, nothing that happened in the world in the last 12 months was subtle. So why should I be?

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