Hot! ‘Waialua to Wellington’ tap pants

When the ‘City Inspiration’ came up as an upcoming theme, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  It was brilliant, it was perfect.  Also, I didn’t have the time to make it.  Neither did my wardrobe have space for another garment like this.  And I’m determined not to add stuff to my wardrobe for the sake of Sew Weekly, nor to stress myself out.  So, darn!  Not making that right now.

So I dithered about the challenge all week, and made something I did need, and then realised that it was actually a perfect city inspiration, I just made it subconsciously.  So here, sadly belatedly, are my ‘Waialua to Wellington’ tap pants – from deepest country, to coolest little city in the world.  The only problem with them is that I’m not willing to put pictures of me wearing them up.  The internet may be full of images of me in what is technically underwear, but these are really underwear!

1950s soft nylon lace in palest blue. With bows!

 The story:

I love tap pants.

You might think that is because I live in Wellington – one of the windiest cities in the world, where the Southerly gales lift your skirts over your head if you are lucky.  If you aren’t lucky they are lifting your feet over your head!

Or you might think it is because I am into vintage clothing, and dress like an early 20th century fashion plate half the time.

However, my love of tap pants goes back much further than this, to my childhood.

I’m kama’aina – Hawaiian born and raised.  And in Hawaii, people love shorts.  People love shorts so much that little girls wear shorts under their skirts, and bigger girls do too.

You know those emails that go around that go “You know you are from _____ if…?”.  The one for Hawaii says “You know you are from Hawaii if you always wear shorts under your skirts.”

Yep.  Tap pants are a part of my culture!

These are my favourite tap pants pattern – they work perfectly under any skirt, are super comfortable, and are (if I do say so myself) pretty darn adorable.

This particular pair are also the perfect melding of Hawaii and my life today – the fabric is a sumptuous stretch silk crepe given to me by Mrs C (of Made Marion) shortly after we met.  The palest blue vintage lace and the contrast binding are things I inherited from Nana.  The pattern is one I’ve been tweaking for myself for years.  They tie together my childhood, the amazing group of friends I’ve assembled, my New Zealand family, and my work.

The tap pants, front

Lace appliqué

Hook and dome fastening placket

I love how smoothly they hang over the hips

French seams at front and back, and bias bound waist

The back of the tap pants

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1 metre of stretch silk crepe

Pattern: My own

Year: ca. 1938

Notions: blue bias tape, vintage domes (snaps) and hooks, vintage lace.

Hours: 2.  Super fast and easy.

Techniques used: French seams, lace insertion.

Will you make this again? Yes!  I make tap pants all the time.

Total cost: Free!  Fabric was gifted, lace was inherited, so were the domes and hooks.

And the inside?: French seams all the way.

And I love them.  How could I not?  The fabric is ‘the colour of a sigh’.  The lace has bows on it!  I got to use contrast binding on the outside!  And every single seam is perfectly finished.  Happiness!



Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


Comments are closed.

  1. They are exquisite. That wind is unbelievable – didn’t know how bad until I left it! Isn’t that always the way?

  2. I grew up wearing shorts under my skirts, too! I grew up in Miami, though – hurricane country.

    Your tap pants are just lovely… and am I understanding correctly that you did the lace insertion yourself? Wow!

  3. i have a kind of silly question about your lovely tap pants. i really like the idea of wearing these under skirts, but they look very loose (and comfortable!) do you still have to wear regular panties under them or is this all you wear?

  4. That lace is, as Trish says, exquisite! There’s just no other way to say it! Fabulous job.

  5. I just considered buying some tap pants at a department store. You’ve totally changed my mind. I’m making a pair now. Yours are marvelous! What a perfect reason to buy short lengths of silk!