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.