2011 Pant Obsession

originally published12/19/11

.The number of “jackets” I completed during 2011 stunned me.  I had no idea I had sewn so many 3rd layer garments.  I found that especially surprising since I declined to commit to sewing a jacket each month thinking I would never make 12 in a single year.  That number is even more surprising because my obsession is with pants.


Speaking of which I completed 35 pairs, including wadders, muslins and those pairs quickly discarded. I claim several mitigating factors.  One very important being that many of my clothes had simply worn out.  They don’t last forever and I’m quite fastidious.  Pants get worn and washed every time.  But 2 of those pairs of pants are PJ’s and several are shorts.  I didn’t count the 3 pair of leggings/long johns.  Both PJ’s and leggings are super simple to sew.  They are tight but stretchy and never seen by the public.  They therefore have no fitting issues or at least fitting issues of consequence.  Shorts however except for the leg length, require about the same amount of sewing.  Fortunately I’ve gotten very good at putting in trouser zippers. 3 lines of stitching + 3 strips of fusible web and I’m done in 7 minutes. My hemming has also improved miraculously.  Yes I do use the hemming foot but I never used to get such good results.  These days I can set the foot in place, stitch and hem in mere minutes.  My Ruby does such a fine job that, other than my coat, I haven’t hand hemmed a thing.


I was disappointed with linen.  I thought if I pretreated it like denim, it would wear well.  Unfortunately, mine shrank with every wash.  I made 3 pairs of linen pants all of which were later donated because within 3 washes they were too small. I probably won’t use pure linen for clothing again.  I loved wearing it, but I can’t dry clean.  That’s why I don’t have wool (other than my coat).  Dry cleaning is not easily available not to mention very expensive. (I’m the one who’s dry cleaning is sent to the next state.)  What that means is the pants I made for summer didn’t last the summer and had to be replaced very quickly.


I also recall quite clearly sewing shorts in May from Burda 2008-01-132. For summer.  Which did not arrive until August.  Then in August I discovered those shorts which were great during a 5 minute try-on in cold May were distinctly uncomfortable for all day summer wear.  Oddly, simply scooping did not correct the issue.  I chose a TNT, Burda 143 and made more shorts.  That worked but it taught me that Burda is just as unreliable as the Big 4 when it comes to pants.


Another important factor is my search for fit.  I keep reading about “miraculous” fixes that others have stumbled upon and I have to try those too.  I keep thinking that I understand more now and can take any old pattern and adjust to fit.  Well, I can adjust so that they can be worn, but not to fit.  I made at least 6  one-pattern piece (aka one seam) pants.  I have pics of OS pants that look good, but feel terrible.  I tried another pattern that after 5 fitting adjustments (same muslin) just wasn’t getting any better. I made 2 pairs of M6440 before realizing there had to be something “off”.


In the end I always return to my 4 reliable patterns:  JSM (Joyce Simmons Miller) trousers, TJ906 designer jeans; Burda 2010-08-143 slacks and Jalie 2908 stretch jeans.


Will I still be obsessed next year?  Well clothes do wear out so I know I’ll be making at least a few pairs.  I like nice new crisp jeans. So that guarantees 2 pairs of jeans every year.  I’m already planning to draft my own pattern next year – bet that guarantees a few muslins- and maybe a revisit to OS pants if I really learn something new. And I do remember that I hadn’t completely exhausted my ideas for the Clown Butt Alteration. Yep. Think it’s on for next year.


Would you like to see what 33 pairs of pants looks like?  Ta da:



Pants Fitting

originally published12/15/11


I’m taking today to thank all of you for your support when comes to fitting pants.  At this point, I think there is something wrong with me.  Mentally, I mean.  I keep buying new patterns from the same old companies who’s pants patterns didn’t fit me before.   I love the nuances in the new patterns.  I love all the designer details and wish I would think of things like that. I like to reward those people who shared their ideas with me.  But I probably should stop at buying the pattern. I mean, buy the pattern but never touch the tissue.  Presently, my best course of action is to start with one of the 4 patterns that fit me like I want them to and then morph the designer details onto my “good” patterns.

I’m very analytical and usually orderly.  You wouldn’t believe that if you could see my house.In my defense, I’ve learned to live with the disorderly and nonsensical because it allows me my most loved possessions, DH and DS.  But those analytical and orderly tendencies really exhibit themselves when it comes to pant patterns.  They just can’t accept that there is no logical orderly process to fitting pants. They insist there should be a set series of measurements, comparisons and steps-similar to what I do with tops- that will fit every pant in the pattern stage.  I do realize that I will probably tweak every pant I make because of fabric idiosyncrasies that can’t be known and exactly measured.  But I should be able to come close during the tissue stage.  It’s become a stupid obsession. Stupid because I keep doing the same things, the same way expecting a different result.  Not going to happen.

I’ve started reviewing my 2011 goals and making 2012 goals.  On that list is drafting a pant pattern.  I’ve been avoiding drafting a pant pattern from scratch because the way I read the instructions, you draft the pattern, make a muslin and then solve the fit problems. Gees, isn’t that what I’m doing now except without taking a bunch of measurements and making a bunch of dots and lines on paper?  I just know that’s going to add a lot of time to the process.  I’m going to do it though, just because the Trudy Jansen instructions  include some extra measurements.  Her instructions take into account tilted waistlines and also give help with just things as tilted hip lines (one hip higher than the other).   Most drafting instructions that are easily available don’t even talk about fitting problems. JSM recognizes that there are several common departures from the ideal; has you measure and make alterations to the pattern.

Thing is, I know that I’ll be drafting not one but probably 3 different styles: trouser, jean and slacks.  Sew4Fun did an excellent post of the difference between these styles.  I’m going to link to her blog post because she did such an excellent job.

Back to the drafting, I’m looking for a new approach to my whole pants fitting saga.  I’m hoping that in drafting my own patterns, I’ll understand the relationship between the measurements, dots, lines and angles; and the way the fabric then drapes on my body when cut into pant shapes.  In the end I’m hoping for a pants sloper like I use for my tops slopers.

I’m using the term “sloper” loosely.  These aren’t slopers like the industry means slopers, but rather tried and true basic garments.  I use different slopers for knits and wovens; set-in, raglan and sleeveless styles. I roughly trim the tissue to a new top pattern.Then take out a corresponding sloper and compare.  Usually, I need to shorten the back waist length, above the waist 1″ and I need to narrow the shoulders 1″.  Those measurements correspond with the basic measurements all pattern companies use to draft their patterns.  My shoulder is 1″ narrower than standard measurement the industry uses.  My shoulder is always narrower. Never changes. The industry however plays games.  By comparing my sloper with the new pattern, I can tell immediately if the industry has fooled around with the shoulder measurement and by how much.  I change the new pattern to correspond with my sloper.   I wish that I understood pants in a similar manner and could use a pants sloper similarly and just as easily.

Rest assured,  I’ll include you in my pattern drafting journey.  I appreciate your support. I welcome your support.  I may express a lot of frustration, but I’m OK…and getting better.

6440, template

Scratch McCalls 6440

originally published 12/14/11


In the last post the McCalls 6440 was now in the trash – still true.  I also mentioned that I altered TJ906 to have the same design feature, i.e. the 2 piece back pant leg and contoured waistband – no pockets, no back yoke.  What I didn’t mention was my confusion in choose the pattern size.  I have both a size 12 and a size 14 traced and apparently (judging from the notes on my envelopes) fitted. OK, both a size 12 and a size 14 can’t fit.  It’s got to be one or the other, right? I altered the size 12, cut the fabric (a charcoal stretch woven recently purchased from Fabricmart.com) and started sew.  I put the front zipper in permanently and then decided I should also serge the all the vertical seams.  I figured if I needed to let these out (unlikely) I wouldn’t have enough ease so why worry; also if I needed to take them in, well the seams would already be finished.  The waistband, facing and belt loops are basted into place.


I can  tell you I made the right decision. Also, that I remembered why I have a size 12 and a size 14 traced.  The size 14 is definitely needed for non-stretch fabrics.  And the 12?  Works perfectly with fabrics that contain stretch.  With apologies for the grainy photos this time a result of camera quality, cropping, software AND changing the exposure so we can see the wrinkles in this nearly black fabric:


I have a bit more to do.  In addition to sewing the waistband and facing in permanently, I also need to hem my pants add a closure (button probably) at the waist band and take in just a little in the center back leg.  I turned up the hem at 1-1/4″ it really needs to be 2″.  That’s what is marked on my pattern and I’m not sure why I didn’t follow my notes.  1-1/4 used to be my standard. But with experience I’ve changed to 2″ . 2″ adds just a bit more weight in the leg to help it hang nicely.  This pair will definitely be replacing 6440 sewn and shared previously.  It’s a much nicer pant because of both fabric choice and fitting but with the same styling.



I’m wearing my TJ906 styled as 6440 today. They are wonderful.  A lot has to do with the fabric itself; and I quickly learned that because of the width of the waistband/yoke, I really need to wear my 3″ wide belt. The 1″ belt just doesn’t hold them up in place.  The fabric is from fabricmart.com but I’m saying which exact fabrc—yet.  I love this fabric so much I want more.  I just can’t decided if I want 2,4 or 6 yards especially since there’s only 20 yards left!@@@@@


*** Just a note about the coordinating Vest Vogue 8756.  I got pics of the 4 Tucks!

The good is, it’s beginning to snug my body as I would like.  The bad is that the 4 tucks releasing at the waist look a little ugly.  I think I’m going to change the tucks to darts.  I’m not sure how long I’ll keep using this particular vest.  I like the style, but I think the length (ending just above my bu!!) and the fabric are both less than desirable.  For sure, I’ll keep it as part of this years Winter 6PAC.  But it could be gone next year.


ETA DH has weighed in on this vest as well.  He doesn’t like it because from the side view it makes me look like I have a big beer belly.  So I won’t keep  this vest.  He rarely makes negative comments on what I wear so I know it must have really caught his attention and I should pay attention too.  He’s my biggest fan and supporter.


McCalls 6440

 originally published 1 2/13/11


I feel like I’m obsessing about pants again. I devoted one of my sewing sessions to mending.  I didn’t have much – 2 missing buttons and a hem coming loose- but I like to get the mending done right after the laundry and keep the mending in a “not much” category.  The mending went quickly, as expected and I decided to tackle alterations.  I’ve added 4 tucks to the back of my vest.


My pic was taken after the first 2 tucks.  I don’t like my styling.  The vest is worn with tunic length Loes Hines 5202 blouse.  It’s a really nice blouse. I like the front view with the vest.  I guess I’m just not accustomed to outer layers being shorter than inner layers.  I find the style jarring no matter who wears it.  But the pic does show the vest beginning to conform to my body instead of rippling and sticking out. I put the last 2 tucks in and decided to wear it for a while to see if it was comfortable.  It feels good, I just need to get that pic.  It’s the only way I can tell if something fits my backside!


Then I started with the last pair of McCall’s 6440.  I opened the back waistband and removed 1/2″ from the leg tops.  I took pics (why didn’t I think to slip my vest on ??) and ran upstairs to check. No change in the baggy bottom. None!  So using a seam like a fisheye-dart, I removed 2″ from the center-back leg tapering to nothing at the hip and again at the knee.  More pics.  More disappointment.  If you recall, I’ve already removed 1″ from the side seams.  I’ve not yet touched the inseams.  But paused to consider.  I would have thought removing that much ease would have some effect on the rolling fields beneath my butt.  I put the hems in permanently.  The hem circumference is now 14″.  I don’t want it any smaller so anything else I do to the legs will “taper to nothing” a couple of inches above the hem.  Then I hung the pants in my closet while I think.



In some of the pics the wrinkles are worse than others.  I suspect my posture to be a factor.  In fact, I try to take at least one pic standing straight, with my legs about 2″ apart.  Before that pic, I pull the waistband up and resettle it into place; and smooth the rest of my garment.  I know I’m going to share pics and would really like some good poses, but I’m also looking for fit issues.  The straight posture is critical to eliminate it as factor for wrinkles and drag lines.


It could be just that I’ve made a very bad choice of fabrics.  I used to wear these soft double knits without a thought.  They were very comfortable and looked good from the front.  Until I starting taking pics, I had no idea how poorly pants fit me in the back.  But, these fabrics were popular at one time and did look good on other people.  I think I should be able to fit them to myself.   But then again, fabrics all have their best uses. Pants may not be a good choice for these particular fabrics.


I’m perplexed at the amount of fabric I’ve removed.  The pattern envelope lists stretch fabrics.  I’m expecting a pattern that is drafted with minimal ease; that’s drafted for stretch fabrics.  I’m surprised at the amount of ease I’m removing.  The recommended size for me is 16.  I cut a 14 front and 16 back.  I’ve removed 4″ ease from the side seams; 2″ ease from the center back leg; and 1/2″ from the crotch length.  These are still big.


It occurred to me that the grain line could be off.  I remember YLD’s recent problem with drag lines on her pants.  Eventually she solved the issue by locating the correct grain line.  I compared my traced pieces to the pattern. Yep grain line was copied correctly.  This is one place where I’ve always been a stickler and I’ve gotten worse.  I extend the grain line marking from top to bottom of the piece and I measure from grain line to the side in at least 2 places with my 24×6″ ruler.  To be more accurate I’d have to thread trace the grain on the fabric.  I don’t think I need to be more accurate because my current procedure has been working with all my other garments.


So I think some more.  I bought this pattern because it was very similar to Trudy Jansen 906.  It has 2 major differences 1) no back yoke 2) designed for stretch fabrics (TJ906 is drafted for non-stretch denims).  I pull out TJ906 to compare the pattern pieces.  Oh My!  OH MY!  I’m astonished.  The pattern pieces hardly look alike.  In the pics, TJ906 is always on the bottom and is darker than M6440.  I pinned the back yoke to TJ906 so that I could compare over all length and crotch shape.  I aligned the pieces on the Straight of Grain lines. Take a look:

The M6440 front is higher at the center front and adds a good 3″ of ease at the hip. Harder to see, so let me tell you, there is another 3/4″ ease over at the inseam too.


This style requires 2 pieces for the back leg.  I thought that would make it easier to fit. Pooh on me. M6440 is smaller than TJ906 – this would be the side seam piece.  M6440 also doesn’t have much shaping where TJ906 is working hard to add width across my butt. Strangely, even though the M6440 back is cut at a size 16 it is slightly shorter than TJ906.



This is the inseam and crotch pieces.  Again we see huge differences. Look at the angles of the inseam.  The inseam of TJ906 curves gently and is much more vertical than M6440.  M6440 swings out like I’m supposed to be as bowlegged as a prairie cowboy in the 1800’s.  On TJ906 I needed to add a 1/2″ wedge to the back crotch.  It just wasn’t quite long enough.  You’d think if the crotch needs to be longer, the length could be added to the top (at the waist). Oddly, that doesn’t work for me.  If I add length at the top, the top of the leg bubbles and the crotch still digs in and is too short for me.  I have to add the length where it is needed, down at the bottom.  Adding the wedge changes the upright crotch into a nice ski-jump.  But when I wear this ski-jump, it curves nicely around and between my biscuits.  I’m not sure if you realize from the picture, but the crotch is actually shorter on my TJ906 and the area above the thigh is narrower. I think the narrowness is a result of the side piece being wider. TJ906 seems to divide the back space fairly evenly.  Well so does M6440, but M6440 has a whole lot more ease in both pieces. I usually need the deeper/wider back crotch.  For years, just for comfort, I’ve added 1/2″ and more to the crotch tip.


I think the problem is, that I really don’t understand how to fit pants.  Yes I have the Palmer Pletch book, even bought some of their patterns.  I’ve resisted drafting my own pants patterns, because you still get a basic pattern which must then be tweaked. My JSM pattern also came with drafting instructions.  After you take your measurements and draw your pattern, JSM starts listing changes needed to be made for specific body issues.  Partly, I’m not sure of my issues.

    • I mean I can look at the measurements of a blouse and say my shoulder isn’t that long and my back-waist is shorter.  I make those 2 changes and tops fit me- almost invariably, top patterns will fit after I make those 2 adjustments.
    • But I can’t make the same correlation with pants.  I know my legs are shorter than the 5’6″ gal pants are designed for. I get this one.  I’m 5’3″.  3″ has to be removed from over all for clothes to fit.  I know from measuring that the difference is fairly even  1″ above my waist, 1″ above my knee and 1″ above my ankle.  Over all length wise, I get.
    • It took a long time to figure out  fitting waistbands. Even longer for contoured waistbands.  But in the end I realized, the garment (skirt pants etc) has to hang from the waist.  If the garment is bigger than the waist, it will slide down until the waist of the garment meets something that is larger than it is — and there it will sit.  My problem with the waist is that my waist doesn’t stay the same size all the time.  I actually make my waistbands about 1/2″ larger and then I wear belts.  I think men learned this long ago.  Adding a belt, makes for an adjustable waistband but your garment can always be held attractively at your waist.
    • Eventually I realized that I, like millions of others, have a tilted waist.  Mine is tilted forward.  That means that my front crotch length will be shorter than my back crotch length.  It took me years to find this out.  I even complained to sewing teachers about the front bulge I didn’t think women should have.  Would you believe they told me “Some pants fit like that.”  I was never satisfied with that answer, because if some pants don’t, why can’t I make all pants fit like the ones I like.  As I said, eventually I discovered my waist is tilted and starting making the right adjustment, usually removing a 1″ wedge across the front, starting just below the zipper and vanishing before reaching the side seam.  This works.  It does mean that I usually have to redraft pockets and front stays. But I’m OK with that.  I can fit the front.  My front crotch can be fixed.
    • My back crotch then becomes longer.  Whatever length is removed from the front needs to be added to the back so that the overall crotch length remains the same.  I love love love Louise Cuttings method of adjusting that on her One-Seams, but I can’t apply it to these 2 and 3 piece pants patterns.  But there are other methods.  I also learned that “My” back crotch needs a big ledge or deep crotch point.  I understand this.  I am as deep as I am wide.  It makes sense that I need a wide and deep ledge to sit on.   A little hook down at the bottom isn’t going to work for me.  With those type of pants, I always have the dreaded “Butt Vortex”.
    • It’s the X wrinkles below the tush. They run from below the knee, cross at the knee, and run across the thigh but not up the cheeks. There is one on each leg. Forming the famous X wrinkle

Some pants are worse than others. The one above is not the worst.  Sometimes, if the pant leg has lots of ease, I get wrinkles above the knee but not below:


I don’t understand what causes this or how to remove it.  There isn’t an easy oops do this that works every time. I’ve tried the “Clown Butt Alteration” helps some but doesn’t eliminate the problem. I’ve tried scooping and pulling the back up. Again helps some times, not others and doesn’t eliminate the problem. I’ve tried replicating my body crotch shape to pants crotches.  Nada – waste of time but fun, entertaining with a partner and very educational. I’ve also tackled this from a knee problem.  My knees don’t actually turn-in as a knock-kneed leg would be, but I have accumulated some padding on the inner knee which could be acting like a knock knee. However, the knock knee alternation never fixes anything in fact the few times I tried it, the wrinkles became worse.


I am frustrated. I am perplexed. I am flummoxed but I’m also determined to learn what is causing the X wrinkles. I still think it may be a combination of issues.  Like maybe the wrinkles at and below the knee really do need an alteration especially since on loose trousers those wrinkles disappear.  They also disappear on my skin-tight Jalie Jeans.  Umm, the X wrinkles completely disappear with the Jalie Jeans. Maybe there isn’t enough fabric for wrinkles to appear?  That’s why I’m thinking of drafting my own pattern.  I’m thinking that would give me a better understanding of what needs to be measured and how the measure corresponds to the pattern.


For now, M6440 is in the trash. I traced the originals so they are still intact and I could give this another shot if I come up with another idea.  I do have to say having wasted 6 fabrics trying to fit one-seams and now 2 more on 6440, I’m tired of experimenting. I’d like to make some pants I can really be proud of instead of making pants that are tolerable for home use. Thank God, I have found 4 patterns which nearly fit right out of the envelope:  TJ906, JSM, Burda ‘143 and Jalie Jeans.In that vein, I traced TJ906 and added the back yoke to the back pants leg pieces. When I actually start sewing, I will need to tweak the idea a little bit.  But I’m fairly sure that I can produce a well fitting pant of stretch fabric with the same style features of M6440.


6440, template

2011 Winter 6 PAC Trousers (Garment 1) Done…

originally published12/5/11



This fabric is surprising.  I chose it for it’s color, beefy weight and knit type fabric.  It is a cotton-poly double knit.


It is comfortable but in retrospect, I wish I’d chose a Yoga Pant pattern instead of the more fitted McCall’s 6440.  I planned to fit it more closely…


…. until I realized that the fabric was clinging despite having a beefy hand.


Fortunately, most of the issues (pantie line, belly bulge) will be covered up because I always wear tops untucked.


I wrote almost done, because I really need to lift these wrinkles out of there.  I’m not entirely sure of their cause so I won’t be altering the pattern.  The back-thigh wrinkles are an issue I have frequently and with most pant patterns.  My “wearable” muslin pair, hinted at the issue forming.  I made a drastic change since the muslin. The muslin was cut 18 width and 14 length.  I’m short but a little on the wide side. I over estimated my width and spent lots of time removing 4 inches of ease.  On this pair I cut a 14 length and a 14 width for the front.  I cut the back a 16 width.  Initially I was concerned that I would need a 16 length in the back, at least where the pant joins the waistband.  The alteration for a big butt is similar to the full bust adjustment (FBA).  You have a larger ball and need more width plus length to cover the bigger ball (or balls in my case).  I opted to keep the 14 length for this pair because I was using a knit.


I have to say, I do like this pattern.  I believe it is designed for knits, but could easily work with many wovens.  Despite McCall’s advertisement, I do not think it is a skinny pant.  I’ve usually cut a 14 and use 3/8 seam allowances.  I had to use a 5/8″ seam allowance and I think there is still too much ease.


ETA on my next pair I will cut a size 14 everywhere except the back crotch.  I think the 16 crotch is right for me and that will be the next configuration that I try.  Got to get the rest of the Winter 6PAC done first.

6440, template

6440: Ciggies

originally published11/27/11


How do you take 6 photos and all of them bad?  Well  one way is to move just before the shutter snaps. Another is a ridiculous pose. Third poor posture. Fourth, oh why go on.  Point is I will be reviewing the fit, the pattern AND I will point out why the review is right and the photo wrong.


I just simply cropped my head out of this photo.  You can’t tell much about the pants from my pose anyway but I wanted to bring attention to the hem and it’s circumference.  I measured: the completed circumference is 16″.  My pattern was multi-sized 14 through 20 with an advertised hem circumference of 12 to 15.5 inches.  I cut a size 18. That alone should have made the circumferences less than 15.5 inches. Each size added about 1/2 inch to the width of each pattern piece.  I would be expecting about 14.5″ or less even if I had not further taken in the seams.  Having removed over 1″ from each of the side seams, my finished pant is somewhere between the size 14 and 16 and the circumference is still larger than advertised? I’m really disappointed in this inaccuracy.  I do not have ciggies or skinnies (as the industry wants to currently call this style.)  Although my pants are slimmer than my 143’s.   I believe my 143’s and Jalie Jeans (once I slimmed them) ended up with a 18″ hem circumference.  My TJ906’s are about 20″.


I will take these pants in on the sides from hip to hem but just a little. I think many of the wrinkles are due to the pants having too much ease especially for this fabric. The waist is still just a bit too tight.  I let out each side 1/8″.  With 2 seams and 4 sides that means I added 1/2″ ease at the waist.  I’m going to cope with this for now because my weight has also gone up about 4 pounds.  4 pounds of hamburger especially at the waist will affect the fit greatly.  I also note that this fabric is a bit soft and suffering with some static cling.  It’s a seasonal disorder for my clothes.  I must remember to spray these pants when removing them from the dryer.  I also thought the pants were too short. Hemming was accomplished by serging 1″ bias tape to the edge and turning up only about 3/8″ of the pant fabric. I prefer my pants a little longer which means that they do generally have a few horizontal wrinkles in the lower leg caused by the pant “stacking” on my boots.  This becomes very evident when the static cling factor is added. Despite that, I’ve added 1.25″ to the pattern legs for the next version.


I’ve not adjusted the pattern at the waist.  I traced a size 14 front and 16 back for the next version.  I experimented with the concept of dual-sizing on my last pair of 143’s.  I was extremely surprised at how well that worked.  It’s too bad that I didn’t have the confidence to duplicate that experiment with this pair.




I’m content to discard the wrinkles below the knee as being the result of static cling, stacking and perhaps still too much ease for the soft fabric.  It is the diagonal wrinkles beginning to form on the back thigh that concern me.  I note that they are forming only on the inseam piece and only on the back side. Again, I know that I have a soft fabric, too much ease and static cling but the wrinkles are less than the first fitting. In the first fitting the wrinkles extended all across the back, the sides and slightly into the front. I did think that the wide, thick heavy seams were contributing.  The seams have all now been serged to 3/8″ wide. Curiously in the back view that I’m not showing (and the belted view), the wrinkles all but disappear.  It’s very odd, the waist feels too tight. There are wrinkles and bulges indicating that the waist is too tight especially in the front.  But when I belt the pants and pull the the waist up in the back most of the wrinkles disappear from the lower back leg or thigh area.  I might actually need some scooping which surprises me to no end.  One of the good things about knits it that they  should stretch around my rear instead of being pushed downward.  Sorry only someone with a rear like mine could understand that statement.


BTW, these pic’s were from the final fitting. I will make a few changes but I don’t plan to photo or review the completed garment. As mentioned, I’ve already traced the 14 front 16 back and added 1.25″ hem allowance.  I’ll finish these and wear them but it’s the next pair I feel excited about.  I’ve already chosen a similar fabric. Both this and the next fabric fall into the category of medium-to-heavy weight knits.  Both are a cotton/poly blend that was popular years ago for pants.  These are casual-dress fabrics.  Good for general office work, date night, or lounging around the house.  I wouldn’t herd cattle or show up for executive meetings wearing them but they will be fine for 99% of my life. As always there is more to come.

6440, template

McCalls 6440 Ciggies at Last

originally published11/14/11


I want skinny pants. I don’t buy into “straight from the hip” algorithm proposed by “What Not to Wear”. Nope I don’t. I am 5’3″ tall and weigh between 145 and 150 pounds. Pants that drop straight from my hips have a 24″ hem circumference and add 50 pounds to my frame, visually. Nope serious, such large flared pants or skirts make me look short and dumpy. I want skinny jeans but not leggings. I prefer clothing that skims and only hints at the substance below. I’ve been eagerly watching pants fashion evolve over the last 2 years. This year we again have ciggies skinnies.



I purchased 4 pants patterns, but the first up is McCall’s 6440:




This pattern is similar to my beloved Trudy Jansen 906 designer jeans.


I’ve made the 906’s many times from many fabrics and love how it fits.  I bought the pattern thinking that the two piece back would give me one more seam for fitting.  I’m not discounting that the yoke gives more fitting, but many jeans patterns have the yoke and I still couldn’t fit them to my body. To my surprise, Trudy got not only the fitting but the crotch perfect. I’m hoping that 6440 with it’s back seam gives me an additional fitting seam for stretch pants.


To construct the first pair, I chose a heavy cotton-poly knit in a dark forest green. It’s so dark, it looks like black, hence the pics which follow have been considerably lightened.




But I’m am absolute basket case trying to fit this pattern.   I don’t have a good feel for how wide and long the pattern pieces have to be.   I’m very definite that I want skim and not cling from my trousers. I did fit Jalie 2908 jeans, but only in stretch denim.  When I changed to cotton twill+Lycra, they couldn’t be pulled up over my hips. Change the weave and the pattern didn’t fit. (Denim is cotton. The fiber content is the same, only the weave and color were changed.)  Most of the time, my measurements fall right in-between a 14 and 16. Several years ago I learned that the smaller size should fit all the way up to the next given measurements.  So I usually cut a size 14, but use 3/8 seam allowances.  For blouses/tops this has been perfect.  (I did find that I prefer to cut the larger size for coats). But pant fitting is still a crap shoot.  In my last experiment I discovered cutting the width  a 14 front and 16 back (14 length) and then shortening another 1 above the knee was perfect. Unfortunately, I forgot all about that experiment.  So I cut a size 18 width (all pieces) and 14 length for McCall’s 6440.


18 when normally 16 is too large?  Yeah, well the pattern envelope said “stretch fabrics” not 25% stretch or measure here stretch, but just stretch fabrics.  With no other guidance I panicked.  I decided it was better to cut these too large than too small.


I was wrong.


I’m making View C, no pockets. I moved the zipper to the front and eliminated the zippers in the legs. The front zipper was inserted with permanent stitching on the 3/8″ seam line.   I had to use a 5/8 SA for the center back seam of the legs. Otherwise, the back legs would not fit the back yoke. I tell you, I sweated that out until the first try-on with all the other seams basted at 1/2″. Whoa…. wouldn’t stay up but dropped to my knees.  I tried basting at 5/8″ just in the waist — I was thinking I’d fit the crotch and sides later.  But that didn’t even slow the rate at which my pants dropped.  I decided to be bold.  I determined what the seam allowances would have been if stitched at the size 14 seam line. 1-1/8″.  That’s  a big bulky seam.  I know because:


I can see them!


This is a s far as I got last night.  The pants felt too tight a the waist, which I think the front shows. I will be wearing these as shown in the back view:



i.e. with blouse untucked.  Unfortunately it’s not easy to read these drag lines because the weight of the seams themselves adds drag.  My plan though is to seam at the 1″ line and trim to 3/8″…. for this pair.


I’m particularly pleased with the back view between hip and knee.  I can usually tweak the fit of the waist, the crotch even and certainly the leg length.  It’s the back thigh area area, below hip and abovew knee, that continually stumps me.  So many patterns and nearly all RTW, on me, accumulate multiple wrinkles just in that 14 to 18 inches. I’m not the only person to have encountered this problem.  But we all say the same thing: It’s hard to describe the solution.  The solution is a combination of grain line, body space, crotch length, crotch shape, leg and inseam construction.  There are so many details that may look perfect but off just enough to converge and look like “a diaper load that dropped in the leg”.   I’m particularly anxious that my proposed fitting adjustments to this pair and my pattern alterations for the next pair NOT recreate the diaper load issue



….. I’ll be back.


Pants Using One Pattern Piece

originally published10/13/11


I desire to totally disassociate today’s post with the previous one, if possible.  My point today is:

why would this type this pattern not be my first choice when sewing my own clothing?

Why would someone heap praise upon a pattern; heap praise upon a designer and then completely reverse direction; completely disavow what was previously heralded as the promised land (er pants wise). Well lets think it through…


First my personal fit preference is:  Semi-Fitted.  I like clothing that skims the lumps and bumps. I like clothing that conceals all, reveals nothing but tantalizes the viewer with the suggestion of a figure… the suggestion of form…. the suggestion of beauty, loveliness, sexiness…


Too much fabric, as with loosely fitted garments, not only does not achieve my desired semi-fit, but often adds visual pounds to the figure. And that’s what happens to me with this pant. I look like I’ve gained 20 pounds overnight.



Mind you, I will chose the one-piece pant pattern when

  • I need pants NOW. I can actually cut and sew a shorts version of this pattern in less than an hour. These are not fabulous shorts, but they will do for the immediate occasion.
  • I want to make pants of a very RAVELY fabric. The fewer pieces that need to be handled, the more likely it is I can end up with a usable and probably fitting garment.
    • BTW with shorts, I’m likely to cover up over half the viewable portion of garment (i.e. the shorts.) Yep, I’m too heavy to wear short shorts, but I don’t care during triple digit summer highs. So a quick pair of shorts are perfect for a one pattern piece pant.
  • I’m using an extremely-drapey, astonishingly-drapey fabric. Oh yeah, they’re out there. Fabrics that cling to the body. Fabrics that need lots and lots of ease to look their best.



Today’s version was constructed from a very soft cotton.  For a cotton it does have an amazing drape as reflected in the front and side views.  Unfortunately the back view has developed the infamous puddling between knee and waist suggesting too much ease in that area.  I’m not sure if this a fabric issue or a fit issue.  The previous versions both used more substantial fabrics.  They also added 40 visual pounds instead of 20. But they didn’t suffer with the droopy drawers look. Their fabrics didn’t collapse into folds but stanchly stood in place. Of course, there is that little difference in distribution of the crotch length. Because the pattern is drafted for more of a soft, flowing look, I’ll add belt looks and pull the back up into place; and probably redistribute some of those gathers.When making up this pattern, I need to add belt loops and a belt every time.  I”ll always be conscience that the draft and this pant in particular does not meet my ideal, my preferred shape.


So why don’t I just ditch this pattern and go for something else, like my Burda 143s?


Well I do find this type pattern handy for the previously stated uses.  Also I’m contemplating and will be adapting the pattern with other ideas. The belt loops and belt looks like a permanent change.  I kept the length as calculated throughout the fitting process.  I used the measurements of myself in my flats, which is the most likely shoe wear for me.  I personally prefer a pant which skims about 1/4″ above the floor.  I’ll be adding to the length about an inch because that’s my preferred length. This is an each-to-his-own decision.  The calculated length is not unattractive. It just not me. Over all my conclusion is, this is not a pattern that will flatter me without any thought. It’s not like the 143’s, with their back crotch 3″ longer than the front,  that have looked good regardless of the fabric I’ve selected.   BUT using the right fabrics it can be a fabulous garment EVEN for me.  I’ll keep this pattern and  keep experimenting with this draft.  It is, after all is said and done, an ingenious idea.  An idea that deserves contemplation and further development/usage.


One Seams Prototype: 3

originally published 10/12/11


I’m pleased. I not only finished these, but wore them all day long. They are tremendously comfortable.



I need to stop right here and thank the people who insisted Louise’s elastic was entirely different and a substantial improvement over any other elastic for sale. They were right. Ummm, they ARE right. This elastic is well worth the cost and effort to acquire. Purchasing in 10 yard rolls makes it economical both in regards to the postage costs and most effective use. By purchasing 10 yards, I get 3 and nearly 4 free waistbands as opposed to buying 1 yard packages and throwing away 9″ from each. Using the joining procedure Louise Cutting recommends, that nearly a fourth becomes a full WB with the next purchase. I’m not a greenie, but I do like knowing that this purchase strategy nets me free waistbands.


I’m really pleased with this pattern. I love Louise’s instructions for fitting. Should I be asked, I would direct any and every -one to buy this pant pattern first. For one thing, an early success will have a new sewist eager to tackle other sewing projects. Once the average sewist has worked through the fitting instructions, I believe they have in their hands a pattern than can be pants in under 2 hours. Yep, do believe that the average sewist – once fitting issues are resolved – can start and be finished in under 2 hours. Within the envelope, are instructions for changes which will create seemingly different pants–all from the same fitting. If the sewist will develope a knit version, a shorts or a cropped version, they have in their hands the perfect tool for filling out their wardrobes; reclaiming all the orphaned tops in the closet; and creating coordinates out of the chaos called “My Closet”. This is an excellent pattern. Louise Cutting deserves all the praise and awards she has received……………………………………………………………… and a few more.


Update: 143’s 46/48

originally completed 10/10/11

I had the pleasure of wearing the completed dual sized pants all day (46 front with 48 back) today:

… and must confess they are not done.  I hemmed these at 2″ and they are still too long. The pant hems touch the floor.  Certain moves drag the hems along stair and floor surfaces. I will rehem, rising the hems another 1/2″ after the next laundry.  (I’ll also mark the pattern -yet again,,,like time number 3- for the higher needed hem…. much needed.  I’m in the habit, enforced by 40 years of office life, of hemming my pants 1/4″ above the floor.  Once I don pants and shoes with some type of heel, my pant hems would then have been at least 1″ above the floor.  My retired life utilizes mostly a house-shoe of some type.  My previously normal hem is just not appropriate.  You’d agree if you’d seen the nasty edge of my pants.

But this post has more important information than the revelation of my short status and need for higher hems.

My fabric falls in the category of none-to-slight amount of give.  Usually the amount of “give” is expressed in the opposite manner i.e. slight-to-none. I deliberately reversed the expression to emphasize how unforgiving this fabric really is.  Thankfully it ravelled but slightly. The final serging trimmed 1/2″ and longer strings, but the strings were spaced 2 or more inches apart.

Wearing these pants, especially all day, was surprising.  If ever there is a time when ill-fitting garments will make their existence known, it is during this activity: my 2 hours spent sitting in the doctors’ office. This is an activity guaranteed to induce fidgeting in the nearly everyone. But fidgeting is especially prevalent when wearing ill-fitting clothing.   These pants were comfortable all day long. I checked the pants in the mirror at the beginning of the day.  The pants hung nicely, very nicely. I wore them with the fabulous CLD Ebb blouse completed in May 2011:

This is a winning combination, elegant, comfortable, casual-but-not-lazy/careless. Fabulous.

But back to the reason for today’s post, because this is very important.  This is extremely important.  This is so important I cannot emphasize enough:  this fabric with no discernible ease was comfortable all day long. Let me repeat: ALL DAY LONG. The comfortableness of these pants, can only be due to only one thing: the perfect draft of the pants.

Now look, I spent years thinking I was weird.  Somehow my body, while it looked “normal” was different from “normal”.  It was only a few years ago that I learned, well I was shocked to learn that 99% of the population does not come anywhere near to “normal” measurements. 99% of the population is “weird”.  So while I’m sure that what works for me won’t work for probably 50% of you, I do encourage you to consider the idea of using different sizes for front and back.  You only need to try it once. You might find, as I did with my Burda pants, that the perfect draft, is TWO drafts.