sdBev's Pants!

I just had to know. Had to know if the alterations I made to Otto #11 5/2016 would be standard for all Otto pants. It would be wonderful, I think, to know that every time I trace an Otto pant, I can make the same corrections and achieve the same excellent fit.

So with that in mind, I traced #9, 5/2016,


the one-piece leggins in the size I used last, 48. (Otto recommends a 44 for me but I like more ease). I’m getting the hang of Peggy Sager’s fitting method and so I think CLD.  Circumference.  Well I did that by choosing the size.  Next L length. Judging from the last pant (Otto #11 5/2016), I make a .75″ tuck (1.5″ total length removed) just above the knee.  Now I’m working on Depth.  First depth change is at the hip.  Oh, this is one piece. Can I make the dart just from CB to an imaginary side seam?  It worked better (the end result was flat instead of crumpled) to slash all the way across from CB to CF; make the 1/2″ (total removed 1″) dart at the CB which automatically tapered to nothing by the time it reached CF. Next depth change I need to make is at the top of the inseam.  A 1″ dart needs to be made on the back inseam zeroing at the side seam; and repeat on the front. Oops. Cant’ do that.  I end up with a tent. Yes folding out a dart that zeros where I imagine a side seam to be (instead of where there really is one) on both front and back inseams creates a tent in my pattern.   I can’t smash it down. Oh it goes down but it’s a crumpled mess not a flat pattern. Can’t make a dart at the top of the inseam. How about a tuck?  That removes L (length) but does not effect D (depth). This needs to be a D change at the top of the inseam. I could slice from hem upwards and create a two piece leg.  Don’t want to. I want a 1 piece leggin.  I see no other possibilities.

I already have a Kwik Sew pattern to make long johns. Since what I’m doing will produce the same pattern as my Kwik Sew, I crumple all the tissue and toss into the trash. Until I get smarter.

I have to admit that the experience made me think back to other one-piece pants patterns that I’ve attempted and some off-the-record advice received. .  On rare occasions I can fit them in the mirror but later can’t sight of myself and wonder why they look so bad.  It’s because I’m curvy. I need more places to adjust for my curvy body. Other curvy women have commented that they never have true success with this type pattern. They need seams and darts to look their best.

I  made this quick blog post so that in the future if I’m tempted to use this pattern again, I will say “been there, didn’t do that because it won’t work” and I won’t waste my time.


After finishing the brown pair, I begin to wonder how quickly I could make pants using this pattern.  I selected a lovely black ponte from my stash. It looks good even when stretched 40% and recovers in a split second. Incredible fabric.  Hancocks has closed so I have little hope of ever finding it again. Again, lightly pressed and steamed then laid out and cut.  Did I mention that Otto 2016/5 #11 is incredibly fabric conservative?  I had 2 yards of this 62″ wide fabric.  I’m left with 3/4 yard –enough for shorts next year or a variety of neck bindings this year.

This could be a serger garment. I serged the inseams and crotch; serge finished the side seams. I stitched the side seams at 1/2″ double the 1/4″ previously used for the stable knit.  I felt that the greater stretch warranted a deeper seam.

I joined the elastic in a circle then serged it to the pant waist.  Turned down and stitched using a narrow zig zag.  I learned this finish from Pamela’s Patterns DVD.   She found it on a shopping trip to Talbots and therefore calls it the Talbots Waistband.  Since I learned it from her, that’s what I call it.  I love that it is quick, easy and beautifully finished.  The only issue is that the pant must fit at the waistband first.  I supposed you could rip it out, but I won’t.

After the waistband I added the cuffs.  I serged the seams, folded WST, lightly pressed and then basted the two raw edges together. 3 raw edges are difficult for me to keep aligned. Unlike that Hi-End Designer fabric, this Ponte stretched magnificantly.  The leg and the cuff serged together easily.   Time till done?  Includes finding the fabric, determining stretch, cutting, loading 2 machines with thread and all the sewing.  I did not do any fitting. Nope, didn’t stop even once to check.  Total time to pics: ONE hour, twenty MINUTES.  I mean these are pants I can have right now.  Going some place and need a new pair?  All I need is an hour and half (need 10 min for a quick shower).

Pic lightened 100%. This is really a dark, dark black.

Fit?  Still think I need to scoop the crotch just 1/4″. Also may need to increase the hip dart.  Won’t do that until I see what scooping the crotch does.

Once the muslin fits, it’s time for a ‘real’ garment, right?


From my stash I chose a 2-year old Hancock fabric that was marked “High End Designer”.  It has a ribbed appearance but low stretch. However, I wanted the same stretch as the test fabric and it was perfect.  I will say when purchased,  I wondered about it.  Located on the same shelf as the bottom weight Ponte’s,  I wondered if it could have been misfiled but the weight truly was good for pants. Also might have made a very warm cardigan. Properly lined and interfaced, a great jacket. But as I said, I wanted to use it now because its stretch was 10.25%.  Like the muslin fabric, I could pull really hard and make that percentage go up.  I prefer to back it down so it looks like something I’d like to wear.  I don’t remember the fiber content. It does remind me of the Woolray yarn I bought in the 80/90’s for machine knitting pants. That stuff was wonderful. Good stretch. Excellent recovery. Priced so the home MK’er could afford a pair of Jill St John or similar hi-end designer pants. (Back then I think those pants retailed about $200 and we were paying $20 per cone.  Always needed part of a second cone, though).

I pressed lightly counting on the steam to help smooth out any bubbles or slight wrinkles. Partly that’s why I think it at least has a rayon content.  Polyester or acrylic does not cooperate with low temperature, light steam. At least in my sewing room it hasn’t. Laid out my 3 pattern pieces and cut fabric. I serged inseams, side seams and crotch but basted the waistband for the first try-on. To my delight, it’s darn near perfect.

I may want to scoop the crotch a little.  The CB dips down slightly and I feel it tugging on my rear.  I’m not surprised.  I’m the one with front/back crotch anomaly i.e. my crotch isn’t horizontal to the ground. Not just that the back and front crotch lengths are different but my front crotch is higher than the back. Typically, I need to scoop the crotch just a little.  Adding length under the waistband doesn’t help. Instead it will develop little dips.  Add at the hip and the back of leg mess recurs. Nope, the adjustment for me had got to be in the well of the crotch.

For the first time I added the cuffs which I think we’re calling ‘Lanterns’. What a pain. I had to cut a second set. Originally I had added 1/2″ to the cuff side seams.  I added 1.5″ and the cuffs still wouldn’t stretch to meet the leg.  I fought the issue with my serger, breaking a needle in the process and ripping out one half the leg seaming.  Finally eased at the SM and finished the seam at the serger. Finishing was absolutely necessary. Oh, I forgot to mention I’ve never seen a ‘knit’  that raveled like this one. Making me question if it really was a knit.  For the second leg/cuff, I got out the clear elastic and gathered the leg edge first before serging.  I also basted the two raw edges of the cuff together before serging because on the first leg part of the fight was keeping the 3 raw edges aligned with the differential kicked up to 2 and tugging to try to feed the fabrics. But I finished and I’m super pleased except for one thing. These are winter pants!  The fabric is that dang heavy. I won’t be able to wear them until sometime in November!

Note:  Leg width above cuff is 19″.  Cuff edge, with my 1.5″ seam allowancess finishes at 14″ .  Better try on that cuff before serging it to the pant leg.  Nothing like a pant you can’t pull up over your foot.

I’ve fit 3 Otto pants patterns but it’s always a struggle. Needed several muslins and at least one of them looked dreadful on me even after fitting. (The Carrot Pant.) But this latest issue 2016/5, had an interesting looking leg.  I’ve been looking for that slim leg which is not body conscious nor does it flare at the knee or ankle.  I also prefer a waistband either at or just below my natural waist–no plumber’s butt for me. I’ve seen a few patterns that come close, but they’re always issued by companies whose draft I can never fit (Kwik Sew, McCalls etc).  So when this Otto  design posted:

I knew immediately I wanted to try it but I wasn’t using my normal methods. Burda and Otto seem to like a closer fit than me; and since I’m in between sizes, I chose one size larger (48) than the recommended. I located Sheet C, traced the pattern pieces and extended the leg pieces as instructed.  I tried comparing the just traced pieces with  Eleanor, a knit-fabric,  yoga-pant, type pattern which fits me (it took 6 muslins).  Looking at the pics…

…should tell you why I always have to fit from scratch.  My crotch and legs never come close to looking like the new draft. I’ve found I can’t just transfer my crotch to the new draft. Found that out the hard way with lost time and precious fabric. Can’t just measure crotch depth, leg length or ease.  I know there are people out there who always transfer “their crotch” and claim the pattern fits perfectly.  I have 3 great fitting pants patterns to which I did little at all ( TJ906 The Eureka and Pamela Pattern 113).  Each of the crotches are vastly different but each somehow fits.  It is the “whole being much greater than the parts” type situation. I know a new pants pattern means I’m fitting from scratch and will need several muslins.

Otto recommends adding 5/8″ equivalent to all seam allowances. I think that’s a waste at the crotch and inseam.  I added 1/4″ — enough for my serger seam– everywhere except the side seams. I added 1″ to both front and back side seams.  Knowing that I’m 3″ shorter than the standard figure, I shortened the leg above the knee by making a 3/4″ tuck (total 1.5″ length removed).

Also very familiar with my elastics, I cut a 34″ length of 1″ elastic.

I chose a remnant for my first test garment.  With 10.25% stretch, it just barely makes it into the moderate stretch zone. I can stretch 10″ to 11.5 if I pull really hard –but I don’t like to wear pants that are pulled really hard. I laid the parts out carefully and marked knee (both sides) and hip notches. Then I went to watch TV.

Not just any TV but Peggy Sagers 8/8/2016 broadcast on pants draping.  I paused, replays can be the best, to take notes which I’m happy to share.

Image is linked to full size pic which I think you can download or at least click and save.


I didn’t write down everything she said.  Some of her fixes don’t apply to me; others I don’t care about.  Also Peggy doesn’t cover every fitting variation. I don’t recall a single mention of asymmetrical hips, front-back low anomaly, etc , etc.  Pretty much she seems to think no matter the issue,  fix it during  musling.

So I cut my fabric; basted the pieces together, including inserting the elastic.  I can’t tell how pants fit on my body until the waistband is right.  To my delight, the crotch and waist both snuggled right into place. No need to make crotch adjustments, however I could see VPL.  My first alteration was to release  the side seams 1/4″.  With Fit 02  the front looked really good. Below the knee? Excellent. Butt was OK. Below my butt was the normal mass of wrinkles.  I pinched back there as best I could. Felt like the full width of my thumb. Peggy says you can do this yourself but it is difficult to pinch and look over your shoulder into a mirror and decide if you’re helping or hurting. I placed a pin at the furthest protuberance of my rear so I would know where to take my 1/2″ tuck. That was Fit 03.

I’m going to show all the pics of the back right now, but keep in mind Fit 01 (out of the envelope) is not pictured  and  still to share is Fit  3 and 4.

Fit 03, (2nd from the left and the 1/2″ dart across hip)  looked so good that I immediately pinched at the top of the inseam which also looked like a 1/2″ tuck was needed. When sewing I was reminded of a horse shoe and I’m calling it the horse shoe dart.  I started this dart at the front side seam gradually increased from 0 to 1/2″ by the inseam; continued stitching across the back decreasing to 0 by the time I stopped at the back side-seam.  I did this on only 1 leg, the right leg, Fit 04 (3rd from left, 2nd from right).  Fit 04 looked really good but not as clean as Peggy achieved. I pinched some more at the hip and again and the inseam but looking in the mirror, I just couldn’t tell. The only solution seemed to be repeat those darts increasing the depth.  Fit 05, I increased the hip dart to 3/4″. That’s it. I’d wear that leg (pic on the right).

Peggy recommends opening your muslin,making it flat and using that as your pattern. First off, you can see my muslin is still going to have wrinkles and bubbles. More important to me, my storage spaces already over flow. I prefer to have a very thin pattern to store vs that spongy, space-hogging, knit.  I transfer the changes back to the tissue. At that time I also trimmed the front, side, seam-allowance from 1″ to 3/4″; walked seams and filled in any gaps that occurred when the inseam was darted.  I’m thinking I can use this pattern for a stable knit and even a stretch woven. It might also be used on something like a ponte and slinky by taking in the side and waist seams.  I do want to share the differences to the pattern once it is fit. First will be the original. 2nd the fitted pattern.



I’m amazed at how much the angles changed.

A note about time involved, roughly 8 hours. It could have been less. Pinching fabric and looking over my shoulder was an insecure event. I may have spent too much time with my back side turned towards the mirror.   I always followed the mirror sessions with pics because that’s the only way I can really tell if I’m making a difference. A good difference, preferably. Every time I take pics, I run upstairs to look at them on the computer. I always seem to have short conversations with DH and just take a quick peek at what they’re doing on SG. I’ll admit that I might cut hours off the fitting time if I’d stay in the sewing/stash rooms but I enjoy the other 2 activities as well.

I’m really pleased with both Otto’s draft and Peggy’s fitting instructions. I had to see her in action several times.  I think it was the Aug 08, 2016 broadcast where she fit 4 different ladies, 4 different patterns; the entire time discussing what she was doing and why.  The notes helped me when I got into the sewing room.  I think that my knit fabric could have made fitting easier, however, Peggy did fit at least one of the ladies in a non-stretch woven.  I’m hopeful this is a process that I could use in the future.



1/4″ SA except front side seam 3/4; back side seam 1″

3/4″ tuck above knee

3/4″ dart at hip back only

1/2″ horse shoe dart at top of inseam

As disgusted as I was with YED2, I did not quit sewing. I switched instead to a TNT, the Style ARC Talia, and made shorts. I did want something super ease to sew and no fitting issues.

I’m still needing shorts. As I wore the survivors from last year, I found several that are too tight in the waist. Funnily enough, they feel fine in the morning but must be undone after dinner — if not before. I decide to copy the Talia and make a shorts pattern.  In past years I’ve simply folded up the leg. That doesn’t quite work.  I don’t seem to fold the same amount on both legs and then I’m ‘making it work’. … And I do. I do make it work but I prefer to avoid the frustration of ripping and stitching and pic’ing over and over to get it right. So I traced from waist to the knee notches.  I drew horizontal lines at 3″, 4″ and 6″ above the knee notch.  See I’m also not sure what length is right for me. Oh I know it when I look in the mirror but I’ve never measured. I can’t quantify; can’t assign a number to where the hem should fall for me. I’ll make this pair 3″ above the knee …. which will really be 4.25″ above the knee because I’ll make a 1.25″ hem. No pockets. I don’t want to twiddle with this.  No zippers but that has more to do with the fabric. And the simplest of waistbands the straight, elasticized.

My fabric is a rayon, fine-hounds tooth. The teeth are about 2mm. I use a similar fabric a few years back although it was a remnant from a failed blouse project. To my surprise, the rayon made a comfortable pant and the hounds tooth works well with nearly all prints. Somehow the eye doesn’t find the hounds-tooth jarring when placed against prints.  Especially a small hounds tooth, like this one. The eye seems to blend it into a grey; not reading a shape at all.  Downside is that like all rayons, that pair shrunk.   I was able to use it for 2 seasons but only after reinforcing the crotch.  Houndstooth will blow out in the rear.

Construction was really simple. I did the waistband first, but I’ll talk about it in detail at the end of this post. I serge finished the waistband then serged the front to back inseams. That gives me too big pieces to which I fuse interfacing along what will be a hem.  I serge finish the hem, then serge the side seams and crotch.  I reinforce the crotch at the sewing machine and hem the shorts by top stitching which disappears into the pattern of the cloth.

Onto the waistband

Talia has a two piece waistband.  Since I haven’t developed the expertise to join the two pieces without a jog, I’ve moved on to a much simpler waist treatment.  I measured the length of the two pieces, added together and subtracted 2 seam allowances. For me that equals 49″. No that’s not my waist. If you happen to follow my instructions, don’t use your waist measurement. The old waistband is 4.5″ wide. So I cut my waistband 4.5″ wide and 49″ long. I serge finish both sides before joining the short ends.  I fold the waistband in half lengthwise, press and set aside.  Don’t use your waist measurement to cut the elastic either.  I used a 1.25″ elastic cut 34″ long because when I put this elastic around me and pull, that is the shortest length that is also comfortable. Other elastics may require other lengths.  I join the elastic by butting the ends and stitching over a scrap of fabric. I zigzag once over each end and then once down the center where they abut. Then I Frey Chek the stitching and trim the excess fabric scrap. It creates the nicest, flattest, most comfortable join I’ve ever used. I have to credit Nancy Zieman for that one and I think she learned it from someone else. I quarter both my waistband and elastic; then snug the elastic into the waistband meeting the quarter marks and pinning through both elastic and waistband. Without removing the pins, I stitch about 3/8″ from the serge finished edges of the folded waistband first.  That joins those edges and keeps them from sliding around, changing the width of my final waistband.  I love the next part. Stitching through both elastic and waistband fabric. Technically, it doesn’t have to be done. Elastic is less likely to roll and fabric bunching less likely to occur if at least one line of stitching is made.  this time I’ve chose to use 3. 1 is 3/8″ from the edge of the waist band. #2 is 1/2″ below that. #3 is 2MM below #2.  When attached 2 & # will appear to be in the center of the waistband; #1 and the waistband will be mirrored.


I now quarter the pant. I learned the hard way you can’t simply assign the side seams as a quarter point. Then match the quarter marks of the waistband to the quarter marks of the pant and stitch together. I added a little black tab in the back during the stitching.  I find it really helpful during dressing to have something which says “this is the back”.

Hmmm. Do I need to trim a few threads?

If you’ve measured correctly, the waistband and the pant will be the same length.  It’s just 1:1 stitching while fighting with the elasticized portion of the waistband.  (Not much of a fight).  Final step is ironing the pant and steaming the waistband.  After all that stitching the elastic is out of shape. Steaming allows it to recover nicely.


These are a nice, loose pair of shorts.  I think the fashionistas are calling anything with a little leg-ease “culotte”.  I don’t think my shorts quite reach that category but could have if I  added 1″ along the side seams and of course an equal amount to the waistband. (But not the elastic).  I don’t think fit is an issue. The waist is comfortable. The pants don’t fall off my waist. The legs are supposed to be comfortably loose not necessarily flowing. I do think the next pair I make should be 1″ shorter.  Just because it’s a better proportion for me. I’m not ripping the hem out and fixing the length because I can hardly see the stitching. I’m also planning to make a pair of cropped pants that will just cover my brace. As mentioned before, it’s now a part of my everyday wardrobe. The only downside I see with this pair is that I’ll be making these again in a year or 2 because rayon shrinks.

I want a second pair of jeans shorts. I also want to tweak the shorts pattern just a little, (legs are too long) and I want to try out a waistband treatment from my favorite Diane Gilman jeans.  From the outside my DG2  Jeans look like they have a typical contour waistband. In fact, I wore them several times before realizing it is a faced, cut-on waistband with top-stitching in strategic places.

I pulled out all the pieces from the jeans shorts just completed days ago.  I trimmed 2″ from the bottom on the leg. I think knee-length  dresses, tunics and shorts make me look shorter and stubbier.I think it’s just a proportion issue. Because I lengthen my dresses just enough to cover the knee brace, cut the tunics and shorts higher and the stubbiness goes away. Well, not completely because I am over weight and I am petite.

I traced the front and the yoke onto new paper and added 2-1/4″ (the width of my contour waistband) to the top of these two pieces:

I decided not to use front pockets, at least this first pair. I can get things ‘off’ with pockets so for a test garment I like to omit them.  But I do want to use top stitching to suggest there are pockets.  I traced along the top of the waistband and down the side seam about 8″.  Using my curve, I marked a hand opening.  then I trimmed along those lines to create this new piece:

After laying out and cutting my fabric, I align the new piece (now a pocket template)  with the side seam and waist of the front’s fabrics

and chalk along the bottom edge of the template:

I should mention, I’m already running the embroidery machine at this point.  I’ve found that I can maximize my time sewing if the embroidery machine can run while I’m doing other things. This combined with the lessor amount of embroidering I am doing, is becoming so successful that I may not need a stand alone embroidery machine.  I’ve chosen a leaf/vine like pattern and wanted more of a tone-on-tone effect vs the typical gold jean stitching. Of course I still wanted the embroidery  to show up.  My fabric is a dark grey blue. I chose dark blue grey embroidery threads but they read much brighter in the pics:

While the embroidery was stitching….

Normally, I would use the waistband pattern to cut both a waistband and a facing.  This time I needed only cut the facing. I also cut one interfacing.  I’m not sure that’s good or not. I prefer to interfacing both sides of the waistband and I won’t be doing that. I load sewing machine, serger and cover stitch with thread.  I serge-finish the side , waist and crotch before switching to the cover stitch and stitching along the chalked line of the fronts.  I proceed to insert the front zipper and stitch the two back pieces of the back leg together (I am using TJ906 with has a 2-piece back leg.)

At this point, both pockets have been embroidered. These faster embroidery machines are wonderful. I finish the pockets which involves hemming, and attaching to the back of the pant at the cover stitch machine. I use SAS to turn the edges under neatly and secure for the cover stitch machine.  I wanted to work on making the stitching at the point crisp. My bright idea was stitching to the point. Stopping and pulling the thread to the underside and repeat on the opposite side of the pocket.  Then tying the loose threads at the point and sealing with a drop of Frey Check on the underside.

I think it worked really well.  It is an extra step. Sometimes an extra step is worth taking.  I continued my usual construction routine with a few minor changes. I made my belt loops at the cover stitch as usual but I cut them 4.5″ long instead of 3″ so that I would be able to place them exactly as desired along the faux waistband. I also discovered that somehow in adding equal amounts to the top of the front and yoke made the back side longer than the front.  My first thought was I had put the yokes in backwards i.e. the deep end goes to center back and it’s not unusual for me to put the deep end on the side seam and have to rip it out. But, no, the yokes were correctly stitched.  I wondered if I did the calculation of how much to add correctly  (waistband width – seam allowances at leg top and waistband edge). I added the same to both. It shouldn’t change the overall length.   Did I trim the same amount of length from the leg bottom when adjusting leg length?  This is a close-fitting pant. My pattern pieces are really shaped. The excess, about 3/4″,  is not in the lower portion of the leg. It is between yoke and hip.  So I eased the front to the back

placed the leg over my pressing ham and steamed well.

Not perfect, but really good.  It perplexes me.  I used the same fabric and essentially the same pattern.  My only other thought is I had somehow stretch both side, back pieces. It’s something I need to watch for when I makes shorts again.

I added the facing and then top stitched through the denim and the facing fabric approximating a contour waistband.



Note, I didn’t develop an overlap.  I’ll be wearing a belt, so these will probably stay up and closed. But I’m always uneasy about that and also added a tap and button to the inside:

Fit surprised me. I needed to increase the side seams 1/8″.  Why this time?  I used the same fabric last time and 3/8″ SA on the side and back leg seam.  This time the side seam needed to be 1/2″.  Other than that, fit is about as expected:


Which I know you can’t see because they are so dark.  Trust me, they look and feel pretty nice. I think the SOG should change on the yoke. It just didn’t feel right when sewing. My real issue is that all the top stitching I did, doesn’t really show up. I didn’t achieve the desired result i.e. copying the DG2 Waistband. My shorts look like a cut-on waistband. DG2’s looks like a contour waistband.  Maybe if I had used gold jean thread it would have been more apparent. I was copying DG2 as much as possible and she used the blue thread.  So for next time I’m purchasing jean thread in jean blue or jean black.  Also I think I also want to increase the tension so that the cover stitching tunnels just a little.  I think that would add to the illusion.

Every warm day we’ve had since April 1st, I’ve been testing my summer clothes from last year.  Do they still look good?  In need of repair?  Do they still fit.  While bust and hip have remained unchanged the last few years, my shoulder slope has increased and my tummy seems to have grown.  My shorts made with elastic waists are still wearable but the jeans shorts just aren’t cutting it.  Time to replace. I don’t want to fuss a lot with fit so I’m using my all time favorite pattern Trudy Jansen’s Designer Jean #906.  I took the time to make a copy and cut it off at the knee notch.  Not having any denim remnants, I selected and cut into a very nice stretch denim.

Loading 3 machines with thread is time-consuming.  I can understand why some dressmakers look around their room and ask ‘is there anything else I can make that needs this color thread?”.  I loaded my sewing machine and serger with dark blue thread.  In the cover stitch, I used a dark grey for the looper and jean-gold in the two needles.  If you don’t want a cover stitch for any other reason and you sew jeans, you need to buy a cover stitch.  It made all the top stitching simple and quick:

I do have a little issue turning acute corners.  Guess I need to practice more.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a little machine embroidery.

The whole design is on the back pocket.  I just trimmed portions for the  front pocket embellishment.

Truly, you have more designs than the number of files in your directories.  It’s up to you to look and say ‘what can I do with this?”

I opted for a trouser hook and eye.  My jeans buttons just dont’ seem to stay attached. With its metal backings and fabric piercing flanges, the trouser hook is done and stays done.  Sewing was simple.  For fitting, I added 1/4″ to the center front of the contour waistband.  Fit, while could be tweaked, is about as expected and impossible to see unless the pics are tremendously lightened as I’ve done here:

This jean short was one of those experiences that enforces my love of TNT’s.  I was able to do fun stuff (i.e. the embroidery and top stitching).  Fit adjustments were minimal; and I had a nice wearable garment in about 3 hours.


I’ll not give many construction details as this waistband is most commonly used on jeans. Instructions abound in many patterns and on-line tutorials.

However fit is a subject I’ll weigh-in on.  I grew up in the time of Bell Bottoms and Hip Huggers. Before TJ906 I struggled with fitting this waistband.  OK, I also thought my body was wrong and the pattern was right.  It’s only been the last few decades that I’ve been embolden by the Home Sewing Community with the concept “the pattern is only the beginning”.  TJ906 includes detailed instructions on what to do to make this waistband fit. I needed to make several darts in the contour waistband pattern piece. I placed  the wide end of the dart on the upper edge (waist side). I understand others (those with big waists and narrow hips), do just the opposite, ie wide end of dart is on the hip side of the waistband.  You can also slash and spread if the waistband is just not long enough and of course make tucks if it turns out to be too long completely.


My pattern calls for placing the center back on the fold.  I’ve added a 1/4″ seam allowance and cut the center front on the selvage. It find the on-the-fold cutting layout is a fabric hog. I’ve also seen two -piece contour waistbands i.e. a center back cut on fold and a front cut double; then all the pieces seamed together at the side seams.  I may develop and share that version just because it is really fabric conserving.

Whichever style is cut, 2 are needed. One for the waistband and one for the facing.  I also cut 2 sets of interfacing.  I like a firm waistband.  I have not but understand others tape the upper edge.  I fuse interfacing to the waistband and then recut to match the original pattern piece.  I’ve been satisfied with that procedure but have had a few fabrics that would have benefited from the addition of stay tape.   Belt loops and belts saved those pants.


For fabric conservation practices, i.e. I’m cheap and like to buy the smallest length possible, I cut the facings from a second piece of fabric.  I find this to be a good use for remnants especially if I’m able to use a slightly lighter weight fabric like the dress linen in the photo above. (Quilting cottons and shirtings are my other favorite choices.) The lighter weight makes it easier to fold the facing and wrap it around.  I also prefer the triple zig-zag stitch for under stitching.  It may indeed be the reason I don’t notice the lack of stay tape.  To understand the superiority of the triple zig-zag to the usual straight understitching, well, you have to try it yourself.  It really does seem to persuade the facing to roll and stay on the inside; and while it allows a little stretch that upper edge is firmed.

Finished and attached:

Style Arc’s Talia pant pattern has interesting details beyond the fit. One being the 3 piece waistband.  I’m calling it “3 Piece” but it has only 2 pattern pieces.  A shapely front piece and a long wide rectangle for the back.  Here’s the pieces from my first Talia shorts, cut and with the fronts interfaced.

Also needed is 1.25-1.5″ wide elastic in a suitable length.  So far that length for me has been between 16-18″.  Depends upon the stretch.

Note:  I like the idea of this waistband but I’m not entirely satisfied with the finished product. In an attempt to improve the finished waistband, I’ve already begun slightly altering Style Arc’s instructions.  I expect to further alter the instructions and even the pattern pieces as needed until I can produce a waistband of which I am proud. I know you may say “Why so an@l?” After all, my waistbands are seldom seen because they are covered by my blouses. Well, even if you can’t see it, I would know.

The front and back waistband pieces are cut  the same length as the top of the front and back of the pants respectively. Being the same length makes it really easy to sew the waistband to the pant. Fit is assured due to the elastic.

I interface both front pieces because my tummy would cause the front to compress and fold.   I also use a weft interfacing trying to stiffen and further support the front waistband.  Most waistbands I would also interface the back.  This waistband will always have elastic inserted.  Elastic is a far better at support than interfacing .

Next I prep the back. On the inside, I draw horizontal line dividing the width evenly.

I use a ‘purple pen’ the disappearing ink kind. It not only divides the width in half, but I can see it when placing my elastic. With the recommended elastic width,  I want multiple rows of stitching to attach the elastic to the waistband. That gets a little dicey for me since the stitched areas want to roll and fold differently from the unstitched.  I start by aligning my elastic along that purple line and then making a vertical line of stitching at the center and both ends.

This first stitching attaches the elastic to one half of the waistband. You can see the elastic pulls and folds the waistband.  Next step for me, is to fold the waistband wrong-sides and lengthwise edges together.  Then I baste the long raw edges together before stitching however many rows of stitching I desire.

At this point, it can look a bit wonky.  I steam it, allowing it to draw up which often also causes it straighten and lie flat.  I may still need to trim the short ends (potential side seams), which I will do, to ensure they are neat, even and flat. The back waistband will never look better than it does now. If it’s a loser now, proceeding will ruin the garment. Trimming a bit from the ends is a small price to pay to assure a nice finished waist.

I trim any excess interfacing from the front pieces

and, RST, stitch  the long, top edges.

I confess, I don’t remember exactly Style Arc’s instructions. Up till this pair of shorts, I trimmed top seam allowance to 1/4″ and ran it through the serger. I pressed flat and then to one side before understitching. But I kept getting jogs where the front and back waistband is joined and decided I needed to do something different.  One time, I top stitched a scant 1/8″ from the edge which I think makes a nice, sharp professional finish all the way up to the nasty jog at the side seam. So, no more top stitching the waistband.

Instead of serging, I stitched RST and 1/4″ from the edge before carefully pressing that seam flat; open;

and finally WST. At that point, I carefully placed together the back and front side seams

before folding and pinning the front waistband over the back waistband. I made sure the top edges of the front and back were snugged as close together as possible.

I stitched a 3/8″ side seam; opened up carefully and discovered yet another nasty jog.

WB is upside down

OK that didn’t work, how about leaving the last 1/4″ of the top waistband open and inserting the back waistband into the seam

Eh, No

usually I grade the corners and seams after the seam is stitched. How about trimming the corner before stitching?

… Jogged again!

WB is upside down.


Yeeeeesh. Apparently, there’s something I basically don’t understand about constructing this waistband; or maybe this construction will always have a jog at the side seam? The only thing I know for sure is that I have yet to achieve a nice smooth top edge at the side seam with this 3-Piece Waistband.


Temporarily defeated, I serge finish the entire raw edge. Stitched the pant legs together and attached the waistband by aligning RST of waist band and legs before straight stitching at the sewing machine.

If I could just conquer the jog at the side seams, this would be an incredibly nice waistband. It’s also fabric conserving as it can be cut from a largish scrap. The back could be pieced (attaching the elastic would completely hide the piecing!) The front’s curve is a nice fitting touch also contributes to avoiding that folding and scrunching previously alluded to and for which interfacing was added.


I’m sure I will be updating these instructions. I’m not sure if I will replace this post with a new post or if I will keep this for historical pieces. Sometimes it’s good to know what you did even if it didn’t work. That at least tells you not to do that again.


I don’t do very much with pants. Style wise, I mean. That’s because I am and have always been very conscious of my pear shape.  Yes, even as a pre-teen I thought I had big hips.  So I’ve always looked for ways to minimize the hips.  A very good method is keeping the clothes on my bottom half very plain; even stream lined. So I don’t do much, style wise, with pants, yet making the same exact pattern over and over would be boring sewing.  For that reason, I’m always looking for slightly different pockets and waistband and the occasional … um… refreshing hem treatment that doesn’t shout “look at my big rear end” but is interesting. Or at least different.

I want/need  an easy reference and instructions I can understand. Sort of a place where I can ask “What can I do different this time?”; browse quickly and pick something.  I do have one book Waists and Waistbands  however it’s far from a complete  wiki. I thought I was lucky to have purchased  on sale (thereby not wasting much money) because I didn’t see anything new or interesting (to me YMMV). I’ve decided to start a Category here, my pants blog, to collect Waistband treatments.  I’ll also add pocket and hem collections but not necessarily on this blog. Nor will you see them in the immediate future. Making blog posts takes time.  Including instructional texts and pictures, even longer.

Like my Cover Stitch Blog, I think there will be many waist band posts initially. Then number of posts will taper off and probably be rare within a year. But by then, I’ll have a nice collection to refer to when I need another pair of pants but can’t bear to make the same ol’ same ol’.