Smurf Pants!
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June 4, 2003:

I had just finished repairing the mantle on Pete’s fighting helmet, and with less than two days left before I was to be at a medieval school demo, I had to turn my attention to an important matter of garb.

The garb that I had was woefully inadequate.  I had a tunic, and my armour, of course, but that was really it.  I needed a pair of hose and a pair of shoes.  I knew that I did not have time to make a pair of proper shoes, but I had to make a pair of hose.  Wearing a pair of jeans to the demo was certainly not acceptable.

True hose, however, was not a practical option for me.  The only way to keep hose from falling down (period wise at least) was to tie them to the drawstring of a pair of braies.  I do not have braies, and I really didn't want to tie a belt on under my tunic.
I decided that the best option was to sew a complete pair of pants with feet attached.  The pants could be easily and comfortably worn under a tunic yet appear to be a true set of hose.  Anyone familiar with the smurfs will know exactly what kind of pants I would be making.

The first thing I needed was a pattern.

Luckily, I had an old pair of track pant that fit like a pair of polo pyjama bottoms, and had grown too tight for me over the years.  The crotch seams had already split open, so I really wasn't too bothered by the prospect of cutting them apart.

For the feet, I decided to take an old sock with a grey sole, and cut it apart.  If the sock fit, wouldn't it make a good pattern?  (I would learn otherwise soon enough.)

By the time I had gone to bed on June 4, I had already cut apart the track pants, and the sock, and I had purchased a length of fleece to use for the smurf pants.

Disassembled Track Pants and Sock
The disassembled track pants and sock.

June 5, 2003:

The easiest thing to do would have been to copy the pieces of the track pants directly. Unfortunately, however, the track pants had a front piece and a back piece for each leg, meaning that there was a seam on both the left and right side of the legs.  Using this pattern would clash rather badly with the look of medieval hose, which only had a single seam running up the back of the leg.

So I went to a local dollar store, and purchased a couple of sheets of bristolboard.  Instead of tracing the outlines of the track pants pieces directly on to the fabric, I would trace the pattern on to the bristolboard, making the proper adjustments as needed.

Resolving the rear seam problem was relatively easy.  After tracing the shape of the front section of the track pants leg on to the bristolboard, I then folded the rear section in half, and traced the appropriate side next to the front section. The part of the rear section that was to cover my rear section was traced at its full width.

Next, the main section of the cut up sock was  placed at the bottom of the front section outline, where it too was traced.  The sole section of the sock would be traced as a separate template.

My complete tracing was then cut out, creating a template for me to use for both legs of the pants.

The Templates
The smurf pants templates

(NOTE: The piece of bristolboard that resembles a bon-bon is the pattern for the sole of the foot.  The piece of bristolboard in the upper right is just a leftover piece of scrap bristolboard.)

It was now time to get to the cutting and sewing. 

Thinking ahead, I decided to make each leg of the pants one at a time, just in case there was anything wrong with the pattern.  It turned out to be a very good decision, as you will soon see.

I traced the pattern out for the left leg of the pants on the fleece.  I was very careful to make sure that the fuzzy side of the fleece would be facing outward when the piece was done.  This would help to give the impression that the “hose” were made of felted wool, rather than a modern knit material.

I sewed everything together using french seams, and all seemed to be well.



OH NO!  A mistake!
A really bad mistake.

The sock I used for the pattern fit, but the pattern itself definitely did not!  The heel and arch were so tight that I could not get my foot into the foot I had made.  I had to cut the foot open before I finally got my foot inside.  (That hole you see was cut, not ripped.)

It was a good thing I decided to make one leg at a time.  Otherwise, I would have had two feet with this problem, instead of one.

I knew I would have to resolve the foot problem before proceeding to make the other side of the pants.  It was late, unfortunately, and the whole mess would have to wait until morning.

June 6, 2003:

Crunch time. I had only five hours until I had to be at the school demo, and my smurf pants consisted of just one leg with a ill fitting foot with a pair of holes in it.  I would have to fix the foot problem before I could proceed.

I put on the left leg, and carefully studied the problems...

  • The heel of the sole of the foot was in the wrong position.  The seam, in fact so far forward, that it would be under my foot when I walked, which could be very uncomfortable, if not painful.
  • The pattern from the sock was rectangular.  It fit well at the toes, but was too small at the ankle, particularly along the arch on the inside of the foot.
  • The seam behind the heel seemed to be the right size, and fit nicely  with the back end of the sole piece.  If the top of the foot was widened, this seam would have to be widened as well.

I set to work.

First I used a pencil to mark where the heel seam was supposed to be on the foot, then measured the distance from this mark to where the heel seam actually was.  This turned out to be a difference of 1 inch.  I lengthened the sole pattern by the appropriate amount, and subtracted the same amount from the back side of the leg pattern.

I measured the distance around my arch and ankle at the point where the left foot had been too tight, and discovered that I needed to widen it by three inches on the inside portion, and another inch on the outside.

Since the seam at the back of the heel was the right width, I had to to add a pair of triangles to the sides of the pattern to keep this seam the same width.

You can see the changes I made to the pattern in the photo below.

The Amended Pattern
The amended version of the pattern.

I proceeded to construct the right leg using the new version of the pattern.  When it came time to try this version, I found the ankle to still be just slightly snug as I put my foot through, but the fit was excellent once I had it inside.

I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Right Foot
The right foot fit well.

I now had two legs.  All I needed to do was sew them together, ...

... or did I?

Thinking for a moment, I remembered that the original track pants, from which I had made the pattern, had split in the crotch, because they were too tight.

I put on both leg halves, and, sure enough, the two sides would not meet.  If I had sewn them together as they were, the smurf pants would probably suffer the same fate as the track pants they were patterned after.

A tapering triangular piece of scrap fabric fit the bill, and I was back on track again.

With an hour and a half left before the school demo, I needed to finish the waist.

I did not have time to fold the waist down and add a drawstring as I had intended.  I was able to sew elastic in to it, however. 

Luckily, this proved to be more than enough to hold the smurf pants in place.

I jumped in the tub and got myself cleaned up.  Then I got dressed and headed out to the demo on my bike.  I was able to wear the smurf pants under my jeans, and found them to be very comfortable.  The fact that they had feet meant that they just looked like ordinary socks to the casual observer, and that I merely had to strip off my pants in order to be ready for the demo.  That made it much easier for me to get ready once I arrived at my destination.

The demo went well, and was very successful.  I was very pleased.

The smurf pants are still not complete, but all in all things went pretty well.

There are still a few things I would like to change in the pattern in order to make future smurf pants more form fitting, but aside from that it was extremely successful for such a quickly done project.

The Finished Smurf Pants
The completed smurf pants.

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