906, JSM

More Thoughts on My Ciggie Pants

originally published 10/24/10



Actually, I rather imagine you scratching your heads wondering why I’m excited about the ciggie pants which obviously have short comings.  Oh and also I do want to document my thoughts so that when I get back to tweaking the ciggie pants, I’ll have good notes on what I want to do with this pattern.  So…. 


I was terribly, terribly pleased with the perfect pants created for my Autumn 2010 6 PAC:



Ah yes another back view because this is where the one continual, unsolvable error in my pants occur. Under the bum and above the knee run diagonal folds of fabric. I can solve every other fitting problem, but if the draft is incorrect, I cannot fix those folds.


Perhaps instead of showing you acceptable and perfection, I should show you the problem:


The Joyce Simmons Murphy block creates perfect trousers for me. I know that trouser, slacks and  jean patterns are very different. I assumed that the JSM block contained enough ease everywhere because my pants truly look nice.  Really nice.  As in I catch glimpses of my reflection in mirrors or store windows and say “WOW that’s me!” Or, people that I know suddenly ask what diet I’m on (OK I’m always on a diet but they’ve never noticed before). 


When I fit my JSM’s, I wanted to be able to use it with both stretch and non-stretch fabrics. So after the final pattern tweaks, I marked ALL the final seam allowances at 1/2″.  Let me explain.  I prefer 1/4″ SAs. A 1/4″ SA smoothly curves for both convex and concave curves. I don’t have to worry about being a “chicken clipper”. A quick clip across corners is more than sufficient.  Ugly wedges – which always show- are unnecessary as is clipping into the seam until fuzz is created for the purpose of ensureing a convex curve will turn smoothly.  As for a secure seam, well all swimwear is constructed with a serged 3-thread seam.  Wardrobe malfuctions due to a burst seam are unheard of – no matter how much flesh is squeezed into the swim suit.  A 1/4″ SA is cooperative.


So why a 3/8″ SA?  While I prefer the 1/4″ SA, the outside edge of my Bernina 1630 is just shy of  3/8″,  like one thread shy of being a full 3/8″.  There is a 1/4″ marking, but the stitch is more perfect if the foot firmly holds that nearly 3/8″ of fabric and draws it though the stitching process.  I have therefore set my serger to also stitch at nearly 3/8″; and when my patterns change to TNT status, the SA’s are altered to 3/8″.


Except for pants. Pants are frustrating.  The fit is too easily affected by the fiber or weave of the fabric.  For my TNT pants patterns (all 3 of them now), I need a “fudge factor”. I need to be able to adapt to the challenges of the current fabric.  Nearly always, 1/2″ gives me all the control I need. (Yeah, sorry, but I have had 1 fabric still uncooperative. Instead of pants that fabric is waiting for a suitable crafting project.) The black pants I said were so perfect, were constructed from a woven stretch fabric. At the fitting, I decided to increase the side SA’s to 3/4″ and the waistband to 5/8″.  A simple change of seam allowance width and my JSM block was perfected for woven, stretch trousers.


The JSM leg is about as wide as I would ever desire.  I think palazzo pants or Marlene pants are attractive on other people.  I never particularly cared for them on myself. A shorty, like myself, does have to be careful of final width and fullness of garments.  It’s is far to easy for an elegant garment to appear dumpy on me just because I’m too short..  I’ve also aged and now several times a day traverse a flight a stairs. Flowing, elegant garments become a safety hazard. So I don’t really see myself increasing the hem width of the JSM leg. BUT I would enjoy slimmer hems.  Several different slimmer hems are desirable to me.  I was eager to start working with Trudy Jansens Fitting Pants Booklet.  Oh yes I was very eager to start with a pattern which fit and adapted well to different fabrics and see if I could modify leg and hem fullness.


Of course I immediately made an important error. I traced the pefect JSM pattern.  Read the notes on the face of the old envelope and totally blew off the important ” SA= 1/2″ .  Totally. I can look at the resulting pant and realize that the incorrect SA was probably responsible for the wrinkles in the back under the waistband and towards the sides close to the back darts. In all probability, had I stitched a 1/2″ SA the front crotch would not be displaying a front wad. Although I totally believe Kathleen Fasanella about Camel Toes, I also know that this was not a problem before I altered the legs and sewed with incorrect SA’s.


I have already transferred both Trudy Jansen’s recommended changes and the fitting changes to my ciggie pants pattern. I’ve also marked the new envelope and each of the pattern pieces with SA=1/2″ in bold black marker. I like the fullness of this pant, but I’d also like to create trouers with 2 other somewhat less full legs. So next time I will  use 1/2″ Seam Allowances and still use fabric with 3% lycra.  When this version is perfect, I will work towards slimmer legs.  I know I may not be able to create an extremely slim leg.  My legs, while still nice, do have that lump of fat around the knees to which I prefer not to draw attention. But I do want to create as slim of a leg as I can.  I’m looking forward to this challenge– even if it means a few wadders along the way.