Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Satin 1920s Tap Pants - HSM #3 Stashbusting

The third challenge of the Historical Sew Monthly is Stashbusting! This challenge requires you to make something out of fabric already in your stash.

I went with my original plan of making 1920s tap pants. This is my first challenge of the year since I never finished making the 1920s brassiere for Challenge #1 Foundations.

Many extant examples of 1920s lingerie are made from light, pastel colored silks and trimmed with lace and appliques. You can see more examples of 1920s lingerie in my Pinterest board and a discussion of tap pants in this post.

My tap pants are made with Folkwear's 219 Intimacies pattern. They are made from the same polyester pink satin as my 1920s dress. All of the seams are french seams. The narrow hem is handsewn with a slip stitch, and the bias binding was also sewn down with a slip stitch.

To reduce bulk in the crotch seam, I pressed one french seam to the front and the other to the back. This technique, which wasn't in the pattern instructions, worked very well and the crotch seam is flat and neat.

 They fasten at the left side with 4 snaps in a continuous lap placket. The instructions in the Folkwear pattern are for a placket designed to reduce bulk. I must've been running on just 3 brain cells when I was working on the placket because I could not understand the instructions! I couldn't figure out how to conceal all the raw edges of the placket. After 2 days of staring at the instructions, various tutorials, and vintage sewing manuals, I decided to use the placket and instructions from Vera Venus' Free Tap Pants Tutorial.

Folkwear 219's placket instructions. Note the shape of the placket.
My placket fail. I made a total of 4 test plackets before I decided to try a rectangular, continuous lapped placket.
The finished placket. The placket edges have been sewn down with a slip stitch.
The placket from the inside of the drawers. This was my first time putting a placket in a french seam.
Unfortunately, the pattern instructions, which cover french seams, neglect to describe how to put a placket in a french seam. The trick is to make a french seam up the point where the placket will be inserted; make a horizontal snip at the top of the french seam to free the unseamed fabric; trim 1/4 from the edge of the unseamed fabric; and attache the placket. This process is described in the Vera Venus tap pants tutorial.

I'm most proud of my handsewing on these tap pants! Look at the neat, clean lines of the bias binding waistband, and the sharp edges! I also slipstitched the binding along the fold where it was tucked in, for extra security (if that is unclear, feel free to let me know and I'll upload more photos).

The Challenge: #3 Stashbusting
Fabric: pink polyester satin 
Stashed for how long? I originally bought this fabric 4 years ago with the intention of making my prom dress out of it! 
Pattern: Folkwear 219 Intimacies
Year: 1920s-30s
Notions: snaps
How historically accurate is it? 90% ... I lose points for using polyester fabric, but snaps are a documentable closure on tap pants from this time period.
Hours to complete: 4 days, including 2 days of staring at the placket instructions while my brain cells fizzed into oblivion
First worn: not yet!
Total cost: about $2 for the snaps

I originally wanted to add lace trim to these tap pants, but now I'm not so sure. I love the clean, sleek look of the satin. My plan was to add narrow lace trim around the leg openings and lace bows to the sides, like in Vera Venus' example of tap pants. However, my lace is narrow, stiff, and very synthetic, and I worry it might ruin the elegant look of my tap pants.

Do you think I should add the lace to my tap pants like in this blue example from Vera Venus?


  1. Very pretty. I can see why you're wondering about the lace - they have such a smooth line.

    I ended up doing exactly the same thing with the French seams at the crotch of my early C20th closed drawers!

  2. Thank you for this post. You have saved me who-knows-how-many-days of fizzed oblivion. I'm doing my placket like you did yours. It is beautiful.

    1. Thank you very much! I consider myself rather placket-challenged, and I'm really glad I could help!

  3. Hello! I know this is an old post but I was wondering if you could shed a little more light on how you sewed the crotch as french seams! Which order did you do the seams in? Any more info would be greatly appreciated :) Lovely tap pants! Thanks :)

    1. Hi! First I sewed the inner leg seams as french seams, then I joined the legs and sewed along the crotch as a french seam. It took a bit of ironing to get all these curves to lay flat during the french seaming process -- using a fabric with a bit of give/stretch certainly helped!