MSS Fit 03-06

“Sleeping on it” has been one of my favorite ways to solve problems. Especially complex problems.  My left brain has a way of meandering through all possibilities while mixing in other issues of the day and a few scenes from whatever TV programming I’ve absorbed. The result in the morning is a clear course of actions and why.  So this morning I realized I had 3 major problems.

First the knock knee issue:

is improved but not entirely resolved. The red lines clearly point to the knees.

2ndly, but in the same picture, the back waistline is still noticeably dipping. While the hip balance line has straightened, it too needs more correction.

3rdly, There are subtle diagonal lines almost swag lines forming on the lower legs.  These are present on the back view but most clearly seen on the front/side leg:

To correct the swag lines, I slashed and overlapped the side seams of both front and back pattern pieces just above the hip balance-line by a mere 1/8″. That reduced the side seam length 1/4″.

Correcting for knock knees and waistline droop is a little more complex. Not shown in the photos is that the front crotch has developed a slight pouch. I feel it more than see it but know from long experience that the front crotch extension is too long.  This occurred when I let out the inseam.  I need the extra length in the back, but not the front. To fix these issues, I added a strip of paper along the inseam of the back pattern piece. Then I added 3/4″ to the width of the back-inseam. It is similar to my alterations for Burda pants patterns.

Actually, I would wear the pants shown above. By the time I put my top on and added a vest, the waist and hip line dips would be invisible; non-issues. The wrinkles in the back of the leg, could be attributed to posture. So I chose to use a fashion fabric to make my first wearable pairs of 11202, My Swing Set Pants.

I chose fabric. My first choice was a cotton/rayon blend that had been woven to imitate linen.  I felt it would be perfect. Nice drape, but lots of body; the look of linen without the wrinkles.  My kind of fabric.  Unfortunately when I started pressing out the wrinkles, my Rowenta had spitting fits. The first time was an area about the size of my hand.  I was puzzled because in the last 2 months spitting has never been an issue. I thought to look at the bottom of the iron and discovered a build up of toasted starch and a piece or two of cellophane tape. Ah yes!  The muslin that I starched and pressed multiple times had apparently transferred excess well cooked starch to the sole of the iron. The tape?  I slash and tape my patterns together with cellophane tape.  When not in use I carefully fold the tissues and place them inside an envelope.  They need to be pressed with a warm iron (and no steam) before using.  My guess is some of the tape I thought was on the pattern, transferred to the sole of the iron. OK so 15 minutes of carefully cleaning the sole of starch residue and tape and I’m ready to iron the rest of the fabric.  I marked the first spit up with a big pin.  Perhaps the starch would remove easily in the first wash, but I’ve had occasions when whatever the iron coughed up was evil and remained no matter waht removal efforts were made. So I planned to cut around the stain (after all I had 4 yards of this fabric.) Not more than 5 minutes later, the Rowenta hissed, spit and coughed up again producing and even larger stain. OK time to clean internally. I allow the iron the cool; then cleaned the internal system and started again—

on another fabric.  My second choice is a 100% cotton cord. This is not corduroy more like Bedford Cord or Dimity. There are two thin green warps and then a thick white warp. The fabric launders well, and is nice to wear but has no stretch. I know I bought this particular cut thinking of summer pants.  I’m starting with 3.5 yards of 70″ wide fabric. For those of you hoping that the new pattern would be more thrifty in it’s fabric use, well you’ll be disappointed. I ended up with 1 yard 17″ and two big ol’ pieces left over.  We talking here 70″ wide fabric and it still took over 2 yards. On  a 70 inch wide fabic, my TJ906 jeans or JSM trousers would have required a single body length, about 40 inches.

Once the fabric was cut, I transferred all the balance lines using a disappearing marker. I also serge finished all the edges.  I know CLD likes to serge the edges at the end as a finishing.  I like to control raveling especially when I anticipate having to try the garment on several times.

Long story short, I think I didn’t make enough of a wedgie when measuring my crotch.  It took 3 fittings which for me means: make a change; make a photo; check the photo and repeat. I have to run upstairs to check the photo and am always distracted by the ‘net. So it takes a while. Finally in desperation, I picked out the waistband. I shortened the elastic 3″ and turned the casing down an additional 1″.  There’s a bit of bulk around the waistline that will be reduced when I complete the pants. Also the casing is not finished. It is basted 1/4″ and again 2-1/4″ from the top fold/edge.  The hems have been turned up into place and fused with Steam-A-Seam but not stitched.

This is wearable. I wanted to show it without any analysis first and now for the lines:

The vertical grain lines are now flowing from top to hem. The horizontal balance lines are fairly straight including those previously confused lower leg lines.  There is a little wrinkling right at the knee and high up on the hip are a few diagonal lines.  I do see that the waist dips a little. In another fabric, something with a little stretch, I might not have any wrinkles.

First the side without any distractions:

I moved the camera position and marked the floor with a longer strip of masking tape to get a better side view. Now with all my redrawn lines:

When I look at the grain lines and the horizontal balance lines, I can’t be sure that they are correctable. This may be an issue with fabric rather than with draft and fitting.  Even the diagonal lines marked in red are slight. I could be over-fitting should I choose to attempt removing them all.

It is the back, of course, that I’m most concerned about.

I saw the pic above and said “she’s a almost there!”.

Once again, the horizontal balance lines are really good. The vertical grain lines are almost there.  The red lines I added really point out the drag lines.  My knock knees are still having an effect on the back.  There are new diagonal lines across the high hip. In previous photos the lines were perfectly perpendicular making me think it’s the effect of how the ease is distributed along the elastic instead of a fitting issue. Because it is a pull-on pant, I am expecting some gathering along the waistband and my back is the place where I can actually see that I have a waist.

It is really important to point out that the casing is unfinished. It is simply two lines of basting.  The CLD One-Seams would not sit perfectly until the casing was complete and the elastic channels stitched. Even the elastic was critical. I’m assuming the same will be true with the MSS pant. Oh and I am using Louise’s elastic. I’ve never found another source.

I’m at the end of the day now and really contemplating my next course of action. I’m not sure that lifting the back more is going to solve the under-butt wrinkles.  Pretty sure those diagonal folds are due to the knees. Again, I know that waistband needs to be nailed down for the pant to look it’s best.  But I’m calling it a day; a Good Day. Because should I decide to walk out the door in these, I’ll look fine. Even in the bank line.


MSS Continuing with Fit 2

I spent hours studying the photos posted yesterday; adding lines, comparing photos to photos of  previous successful pants and the Burda pattern I was just fitting. Oh, and to each other within the set of pictures for this muslin. I decided to make more photos.

Let me explain.

First off, this fabric lacks the necessary body to make a good looking slim trouser.  Maybe one of those wide, very wide, like 30″ wide at the hem trousers would be good with this fabric. It is opaque enough for pants. But very soft and drapes rather than having any stiffness or, ummmmmmmmmmmmmm body.

I’m also having an issue with static cling.  I have the static cling blues every winter.  I routinely stock cans of Static Guard in my closet, the laundry room and at the ironing board.  I generously sprayed the muslin first with Static Guard and then with spray starch before pressing again.

Next I kept looking at how the lower leg buckled at the ankle and decided just for the purposes of this fitting, I would raise the hem to eliminate leg length as the cause of  wrinkles.  Did I cut the leg off?  No, I folded up the about 1-1.5″ at the hem and pressed in place.

Finally, I have reason to believe that the mess of under-butt wrinkles has to do with the positioning of the widest point of my rear in relation to the pattern drafted rear. (For those of you that care, my reason is PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.)   I starched and pressed the pants yet again and then took photos of the front and back with the pants hanging in normal position.  Next, I photoed the pants pulled up and held up at the center back. Here’s the result:

This is the same muslin. The difference is that in the photos on the right is the muslin has received 2 more applications of spray starch and the back crotch has been pulled up to my natural waistline.

So what do these photos tell me?

Well first off the designer  was right about  not needing to add length to the back crotch!  The length of the back crotch is not the issue here. Something is preventing the back crotch from sliding up into the correct position. (Probably my rear, but let’s continue.)

2ndly, Did you notice that the diagonal side drag lines disappeared?  Yes there are diagonal lines, but now they start about hip level and lean forward into the waist and are more vertically orientated.  Previously the diagonals started below center front, traversed almost horizontally across the side and terminated in the center back.  Those are gone. (Perhaps revealing a new issue but that’s what happens when start fitting garments.)

3rd, I”m n0w clearly seeing the lines radiating from my knee, from my knock-knee behaving knees. These diagonal lines are more prominent between knee and hip but are present between knee to ankle (even though I have shortened the lower leg by at least another 1″ (At pattern alteration time, I shortened the lower leg 2″. Total 3″ shorter than the given pattern.))

The question is, what to do first?  Common fitting wisdom is to fit from top to bottom. But I know from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, that adding crotch length isn’t going to fix the under butt wrinkles; and scooping the crotch isn’t going to eliminate the knock knee wrinkles.

I opt to work on the knock knee wrinkles first, reverse order to common wisdom. I rip the crotch apart about 3″ on either side of the inseams.  The I let the inseams out the maximum which is 3/8″.  I press, basted the crotch seam together and press again.  Logically, I added 3/4″ ease (3/8 X 2) to the knee ease and the same to the crotch length. I’m sure the knees now have another 3/4″ ease, but to continue the crotch line in a smooth curve the crotch length gained only 1/2″ .  I then spray starched and pressed from the inside; spray starched and pressed from the outside and………………………………. took more pictures.  In the back of my mind I’m thinking I need to make another alteration so that the crotch can slip into the correct position. But I know, once again from personal experience, that every alteration I make will have an effect upon something else.  Before I make any uninformed, alteration decisions, I want to see the effect of the current alteration.

Please bear with me. I know I’m keeping you in suspense, but I need to think this through before making future alterations.

The side:

Part of the issues in this picture is that I over rotated the picture.  I”m not able to place my tripod-mounted camera exactly horizontally orientated to my posture. I appear to be leaning backwards as does the side seam and balance lines.  I urge you to pay more attention to the drag lines and wrinkles.  I know I’ve got 3 applications of spray starch but the lessening of plain old wrinkles is astonishing to me.  I am noticing those diagonal lines that used to run nearly horizontally from mid-front across the side and to mid-back are now lower on the leg. ??? Possibly the side seam may be too long. I’ll keep that in mind but not plan an alteration at this time.

The back is a joy to see

Not perfect,  but much much improved. The knee wrinkles are significantly reduced as are the under butt-wrinkles.  I’ve not re-drawn the balance lines but they have nearly straightened.  It’s also a pleasure to compare this version with the original.

Even with the error I made rotating the side-picture, the side is much improved.

..and the back is amazing!

Right now, right this moment, if I were to go down stairs and start sewing, I would add another 1/4″ to the inseam.  But that’s enough sewing for tonight. I need a break and a time to contemplate.


Of course the adventure continues. I don’t have  a wearable pant yet!



MSS_Fit 02

Universal sewing wisdom has it, that you fit starting at the “hang points” and “read the wrinkles”.  For blouses/dresses  that is usually the shoulder. For skirts and pants it is the waist. So my waist feels comfortable. I feel like there is perfect ease at the waistline i.e. not tight enough to cause pain; nor loose enough that the waistline drops below its intended resting place. (For this pattern, the intended resting place is the natural waistline.)

But as I look at the waistline, I see a distinctive dip at the back:

If we go with that wisdom, the first thing I should do is add enough length to the back crotch right under the waistband. But I’ve learned that reading the folds, drag lines, wrinkles is a bit like reading cuneiform or an Egyptian Cartouche.  I’ve learned that I must look not only where the issue is most prominent but also all around. When I look below the waistline, I find the same dipping, even more pronounced, at the hip balance line. The solution to both could still be adding back-crotch length immediately beneath the waistline. Then I look to the side of the back, at the sides and the front.

I’ve learned to respect the wrinkles to which  the red arrows are pointing.  In other fitting sessions I’ve learned these diagonal lines which start on the front, cross the side and end on the back; are indicative that the side seam is the wrong length. In other patterns, the solution has been reducing the side seam length between waist and hip

How contradictory.  I mean, the back says add the to the back-crotch length, while the side is saying take away from the the side-seam length.  How do I accommodate both?  Well I’m not done with my analysis. Remember the Egyptian Cartouche?  To my understanding, you read a cartouche noting the figures both before and after the main glyph (even glyphs a few before and a few after). Same with cuneiform. The marks before and after are just as important as the mark itself.  So I keep looking and find underneath the seat is a mass of conflicting drag lines:

Which practically disappear between knee and hem:

Here’s why I don’t just add length the back crotch and then work on the next issues (1) side diagonal wrinkles (2) massive under butt wrinkles (3) lower leg wrinkles:  PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.   Yep, I’ve spent years learning about my body. I’m no longer willing to discard everything I learned when a fitting guru appears on the scene. From personal experience I know that I am

 Plump -almost plus sized

 Short  I’m 5’3″, most patterns are drafted for the 5’6″ female.

 Pear shaped,

but I’m thick waisted  in front (my waist barely shows and I have a definite tummy)

while my back waist is nicely elegant (and a bit s@xy if I may be permitted to brag)

My waist is tilted i.e. when I stand up straight, my waist is lower in front and higher in the back.

 I have a  Knock Knee related problem. IOW my knees are not turned inward and my thighs do not meet along the inner line as would a clinically defined Knock Knee; but there is a pad of fat on my inner knee that causes the same effect as Knock Knees. Frustratingly, the space between my thighs totally negates the need for Knock Knee adjustment.

Derierre issues

 I haven’t completely defined this issue.  My rear is not flat, which tends to happen to the elderly. My rear is nicely rounded and I can prove it:

Pink outlines my waist and rear curves.

Nor does it seem low (hanging below the hip-balance line).

Balance lines are GREEN. Widest hip point is BLUE.

I can’t make an unqualified characterization of the positioning of my rear from this photo. The balance lines of this pair of pants are still unbalanced and I seem to have a 3/4 view rather than straight on side view.  But it does appear my rear is above the balance line and higher than expected. It is an  issue I still need to positively define.

Point today is, no matter the pattern, I must somehow account for my physical features. After all, DH loves them, why shouldn’t I?


I just realized this post is hideously long.  I’m wordy, but this is bad even for me. I’ll continue telling my adventure tomorrow.


After the break Fit 01

I began today by making alterations on the 3rd tracing.  The crotch length on the chart for a size large plus was the same as my own. Yippee Skippee  I didn’t have to adapt the crotch depth. But I still needed to tilt the waist. The designer recommends making a muslin and guessing how much to tilt. You read that correctly. She has you try on the muslin, pinch and guess how much is in that pinch.  Since I’ve been working with altering the other pattern, I elect not to make a WAG (wild-a$$-guess) but continue with a studied, logical method. I overlap the front crotch by 5/8″. I cringe again but leave the back crotch untouched.

Then I cut my fabric. You say I missed something?  Yes I did, but I didn’t realize that I had not taped the casing to the legs until all the pieces were cut out.  I briefly considered sewing the fabric pieces together and making some sort of calculation for the width of the waistband. Briefly because once I started thinking it through I realized I would be making changes based on this muslin. If the muslin is a series of guesses and off-the-wall calculations, how can the subsequent garment be right? So I trashed the fabric. Fortunately it was a bright strawberry-pink cotton.  I’m sure it was a Dollar Fabric because there were 4 yards.  I have a pretty good idea of how long I’ve had it and why I’ve never used it. Age?  Between 10 and 15 years.  Lack of use?  I’m a size 14P. I’m just barely not a plus size.  I see that pink; think of my body and I am reminded of this nasty comment I used to hear in the 60’s “it’s always the fat woman in the neon pink pants.”  I don’t wear that pink next to my face either.  When I do my friends ask if I have a fever.  Apparently it brings a bright pink flush to my skin. This fabric was on the way to the Goodwill.  I pulled it out of the box for this muslin because I wanted to make a real muslin not a wearable muslin. I wanted to use something that I would not be tempted to finish and wear even once.  And I just ruined the muslin. Tossed it and every scrap into the garbage can.

I taped the casing to the legs and began looking for another muslin fabric.  The next fabric was a cotton/rayon pique. It is not a good candidate for pants. Well maybe if you were making palazzos but not the slimmer pants of today or something requiring a little body.  It is soft and lighter than desired. It also woven with a strawberry pink weft and blue warp. It’s not old, but the color is just wrong for me.  It would make a great blouse. Today I’m making a muslin, Fitting Muslin #1.

Although I hate fitting this style of pants, once that is done they are very easy to sew.  I still have some of good elastic and measure off 31″ (my waist -9 plus 1 for a 1/2″ seam allowance.)  First I want to say that I like how these feel. They are comfortable and not binding.  Neither do they feel too loose.  The instructions recommend folding out 1/4″ vertically on both the front and back. This would tweak the circumference. Personally I find folding an exact 1/8″ to be difficult.  I’m glad I don’t need to make that adjustment. Anticipating that I might want to take these on and off a time or two, I serged all the edges. I carefully marked, folded and stitch the casing down, leaving only 2″ open for threading the elastic through the casing. I pressed all seams open. Even those difficult to reach crotch seams. Even though I don’t plan on adding this version to the closet, I want them to look as good as possible (considering the fabric) so that I make the correct adjustments.

First I want to say I like the hem circumference:

I’m excited to think, this could be the pants pattern I’ve been look for, for months!

Ignore all the wrinkling. The fabric wrinkles like an elephant. It’s not meant for pants.  There aren’t many significant drag lines on the front between waist and hip:

In a different fabric, even just something with a bit more body that would shed the wrinkles, I could wear these. But then it starts going down hill.

Lines are radiating along the inseam between crotch and knee. The knee is not highlighted but there are deep folds along the side seams and above the ankle.  I’m considering that the hem should be shorter, except I really don’t like pants any shorter.

I checked the horizontal balance lines.

I note that both the waist and the hip horizontal balance lines seem to dip downward at the center front. The leg balance line seems worthless, but there it is.

Switching to the side view:

Despite the horrible wrinkling of the fabric, I note several things of interest. The horizontal balance line at the waist seems level and then drops to the center back. The hip line is a straight backward slanting line. The side seam however, waivers back and forth pulling forward just below the waist. The worst aspect of the side seam is that only between hem and knee does it bisect my body. The distance between knee and waist is markedly located towards the back.  Do note the red arrows. These are reminiscent of the diagonal front-to-side wrinkles I was trying to remove from the Burda pattern.

So lets look at the horror on my back:

The waist balance line clearly dips in the center and rises to both sides. The hip balance line only slightly dips. The hip line dip is much less apparent.  I have no idea what to say about the lower leg balance line.  It’s being so affected by whats going on above that I’m confused.   In this pic I also drew the grain line.  I drew the grain line on the fabric before removing it from the cutting table.  But my marker was a light, so I redrew it on the photo. It’s hard for me to tell how  the grain is hanging.  It seems to be meandering its way along the hills and valleys formed by the fabric  folds with no clear destination or even a gravitational effect.  The red arrows point to my knees. I was concerned about this even before the first fitting. There are no instructions for knock knees in the pattern.  I did ask but since an answer has not been given, I assume that there should be enough ease to eliminate knock knees as a problem. These folds may indeed be an effect of the mess beneath my bum.

So what to do. Well the designer is very busy. I’m not going to bother her. I’m going to proceed with tweaking the fit.  I’m going to work with this fabric a fitting or two  and then change to another. I hate to sacrifice one of my good fabrics. But I’m down to the point of not having fabric suitable for pants muslins.

So, the adventure will continue.




I was looking forward to the latest Louise Cu tting pattern My Sw ing S et. The top looks interesting but it was the side seam pant that I was eager to try.  With the designer’s help I fit the one-seams  but I didn’t make them often because I wanted a slimmer leg and they are fabric hogs. I use 2-1/4 yard cuts for pants.  I need 3 yards if I’m making one-seams. (BTW I know some tricks to conserve fabric and have made pants, for me, with 1.5 yards.) Even the widest width fabric won’t use less. In fact with very wide width fabrics, I’ll be left with an 18″ strip that’s approximately 3 yards long. So I was hoping for the same great fit, with a slimmer leg and less fabric yardage requirement.

Being me, making the new pattern was an unexpected challenge.  First, I was over confident.  In the past few days I’ve been fitting a different pattern and so felt I had a good handle on measurements and crotch tilt.  I scanned the back of the envelope to check for my size. The first size I found said make a Med+.

Considering this was a  C L D pattern, that sounded fine to me. I make shirts a size small in this line and could go down to the XS if using a stretchy material. So Med+ sounded fine.  I traced the pattern. Looked at it carefully and thought “this looks too small.”  Remember I’d been working in detail with another pattern. I’m pretty sure my butt has not gotten smaller over-night. So I look at the pattern and reach for my tape measure. There was no ease. I mean the hip line measure of the pattern exactly equaled my bodily measurement. So then I’m think “Zero ease? That can’t be right. Isn’t this supposed to be drafted for Linen”.  I pull out the pattern and look at the back of the envelope again.

First recommended fabric is Linen. That means it was designed for use with linen. A stable knit is one of the last and least recommended fabrics.

So maybe I chose the wrong size?

The chart clearly shows that I fit in Med+ until I look 5 or 6 lines higher on the envelope where it shows me  in BOLD TYPE that 44.5 is the finished measurement.

Well finished measures may be the new wave, but I prefer to use the system of recommended size to sew.  I like that because this recommended size to sew includes the ease the designer intended for the design (You know the design that caught my eye and I want to make. That design.)  So I look higher up the envelope. Ah there it is

For pants make size L. At 44.5 I’m in the middle of the L range.   For the second time I trace all the pattern pieces in a size Large.  After tracing I realize I could have retained the pocket and dart template from the first tracing. Oh well. They are only small pieces. Not much paper, not much time wasted.  I won’t quote the instructions but the next step was to adjust the crotch depth. I measure my crotch. I measure the pattern crotch on the 5/8″ seam line.  There is 3″ difference between the Large size pattern crotch and my own.  According to the instructions “I read” I divided the difference (3″) by 2 and then split the pattern along the hip line and added 1.5″ depth to both front and back.

Then I tried figuring out the waist tilt.  I overlapped the pattern side seams where and as instructed and then slashed from front crotch  to 1/8″ away from the back crotch.

Now I’ve been working on amount of the crotch tilt for days. Eons it seems. But what’s important are the current measurements.  1″ was definitely too much tilt. The other pattern developed camel toe. 3/4″ was much, much  better but not spot on.  So I chose to make a 5/8″ front overlap.  I cringed at not being able to add 5/8″ to the back crotch length but the designer was very specific. Stating that she’d used this same adjustment on hundreds of women and the bias of the back crotch length would adapt for as much as a 1.5″ front overlap.  She’s not only the expert, she’s been right about me personally before. I trust her. Except the pattern looks weird. Really weird.

So I go back and read the instructions again.  I think what is happened to me, is that there is too much information, some of which I read time and time again when fitting the one se@ms. Partly I’m overconfident and not paying enough attention. But partly you-guys have asked for so many numbers that my eyes glaze over and I go to sleep.  I blame you. As I reread the instructions I realize that I was not supposed to measure the pattern crotch. I was supposed to compare my bodily crotch measurement with the chart. #1 I’ve added way too much to the crotch length.  Also, I’m not supposed to make the size recommended on the back of the envelope but I’m supposed to choose the size from the chart on the instructions and piece #8.  #2 And that size would be Large Plus.

So for a third time I trace all pieces in a size Large+. Yes I traced the pocket and dart template as well.  Realizing that I was by now a little upset. I stopped for the evening.

The adventure continues.


148 Ver F

I’ve labeled my versions of Burda 12/2012 Style 148 with alpha characters. I started with the very first muslin made at the end of December.  By that reasoning I’m now on Version F.

On Version E ,I first started applying Lena (TheSewingSpace) method of measuring and checking a trouser pattern. I drafted my own waistband with Zero ease and then subtracted 1/4″ at the first fitting.  Then I discovered Lena’s suggestions for my figure problems.  Version F starts with the measuring and checking done, a waistband fitted to my own comfort and now adds the Knock Knee Adjustment of 3/4″ and the Balanced waists (+1″ to  -3/4″ back/front crotch lengths respectively). I wanted to see if/what a difference the new alterations made so I immediately constructed a new muslin.

I’m using a a very old stash fabric of cotton twill.  I know this is very old because I have 5 yards of a 68″ material. Initially when Walmart had their Dollar Fabrics I bought 5 yards.  In less than a year I realized I had “all these 1 yard pieces” sitting around.  I decided that 4 yard suit-making-cuts would be a better choice for me.  That this is 5 yards  tells me that I’ve had it between 15 and 20 years.   That it still here, tells me it has never been suitable for use. Why? I think it’s the color.  It is a tan with a greenish cast. Most greens make me look slightly ill and I avoid placing them near my face. With 5 yards I must have been planning a suit consisting of jacket with pants.  I”m no longer sewing jackets so I have 5 yards for pants. Pants in a greenish tan color.  I’ve decided to use the fabric as a muslin but it still has a sever short-coming.  No Stretch.  Burda says to use a fabric with horizontal stretch. On my first fitting I discovered why.  While I can stand up and walk around, sitting is uncomfortable. The pants definitely bind at the knees and back of the calve. At first I thought to discard the muslin as well. Then I decided it might be possible to pursue basic fitting with this shell.

So camera in hand I went up stairs to compare this muslin Ver F with the previous muslin Ver E:

This is the new Version:

For the record, I wouldn’t wear these even in the house.  I’m particularly anxious to see is how the two new alterations affect the pants fitting. So lets start with the front.

Version E (all the colored lines) contains a multiple of drag lines from the ankle, around the knee, the upper leg and side.  It’s also displays the  camel toe feature beneath the zipper.  The hem of version F has been turned up and basted at 2″ instead of the 1.25″ used on Ver E. That could account for the smoother lower leg. But look at the knees. The reduction in wrinkles is amazing. The camel toe is gone, but there are still multiple side drag lines and I don’t know why the fabric is following the contour of my abdomen.

The drag lines on the side are significant on side views. However there are many fewer wrinkles on the new version F (right). I’m surprised that the pant looks smaller. As I recall, I removed the tape from the previous crotch wedges and and carefully placed the sections back together in their original formation before proceeding with the knee and balance alterations. The first fabric is a soft corduroy with a little stretch. I serged the edges of Ver E together at the serger. I planned not to keep this VerF and basted the seams at the sewing machine. It is possible (even likely) that the seam allowances are wider and therefore the pant would be tighter.  Of significance to me is that on first glance I would assume the pant on the right was too tight across the abdomen. Whereas with the pant on the left, I assumed there was plenty of ease and start trying to find another answer.  So even though Ver F looks tight I will be making two adjustments, that letting out the side seam and raising it.

I want to look closer at the side seam of Ver F

The side seam is still leaning, this time in two directions.  AT the moment I’m going to assume that this fabric lacks the needed ease and is causing the bend at the knee. But I’m going to assume that the line leaning from hip to waist is an issued retained from VerE.  At the same time I lift the side seam I want to move it towards the back.  I know there is excess waistline ease in the back.  I plan to add a second, narrow dart in the back.

There is no doubt that Ver F back is better looking than Ver E still I don’t want to wear this pant especially while standing in the bank line. It shows the diagonal drag lines on the side as well as the back bubble which had nearly disappeared at the end of fitting 4 on Ver E.

Over all I think the two alterations made a significant improvement in the first fitting.  I’m thinking that I need to carefully note the fitting alterations.  I had to take my own measurements. I know that means there were most likely errors. (You try measuring the distance between your ankles while standing upright.)  I’m really thinking I need to add the changes to the original calculations and use the total when fitting the next pattern.


New Muslin for 148’s

When I retired, I thought I’d be able to sew all day long any day I wanted.  What really happens is that I sew for 3-4 hours,about that many days a week. Writing my own blog(s) requires a surprising amount of time and then I follow a large number of blogs.  So I measured and adjusted the pattern on day 1. On day 2 I did my first muslin.

I began fitting at the waist.  Actually the waistband felt pretty good. It was drafted with Zero ease.  I like a waistband that hugs me and doesn’t slide either down or upwards. But I did think it needed to be just a smidge tighter.  I removed 1/8″ from each end, total 1/4″ length from the waistband. Ah just right.  Then I began working on the front/side wrinkles


These wrinkles occur with just about every pair of pants I make. Usually not so bad. In fact sometimes they are barely visible. I never know how to get rid of them. I’m always perplexed because they extend mid-front across mid-thigh

The side looks amazingly different and only 1/4″ has been removed from the top, at the side seam.

I always thought that I needed just a bit more ease across the tummy. This particular time though it was obvious at the start the pant has too much ease everywhere. So I begin smoothing the wrinkle in various directions and found that I could smooth straight up and into the waistband! The great surprise was that by smoothing away this front-to-side wrinkle caused the back bubble (which occurs frequently when I’m making pants)  to disappear

Here’s something interesting. On the right the pants are obviously too tight, yet the wrinkles above are nearly all gone. Unfortunately the wrinkles underneath are worse

The front/side wrinkle probably needs to be smoothed a bit more maybe all the way to the center back, but then my back and front crotch are obviously too short. Do I dare lift even more, even further?  So far I’ve been lifting only the side from about front dart to back dart.

To tell the truth, it actually took 4 fittings and photo sessions to get from the pics on the left to the pics on the right. In addition to smoothing that front wrinkle, I increased and decreased the side seam allowance; and while the front and side were improving the back wrinkles over the thigh were getting worse.

I had continue to read the blog at TheSewingSpace and found that Lena described in her blog posts her methods of altering for my figure problems: the tilted waist and knock knees.

Lena addresses my tilted waist through a process she calls Skirt Balance . She provides a great method for calculating the amount to adjust the balance and then shows the pattern alteration.  I followed her instruction.  While moving the top parts of my pants patterns into their new positions, I suddenly realized that her method would correct the front/side wrinkle, shorten the front crotch, and lengthen the back crotch in one adjustment. I prefer a single alteration to many. My method is to slash and overlap a front wedge; then slash and spread a back wedge.  Usually I tackled the back bubble, which shortens the back crotch then I need to scoop the crotch some more. This time I lifted the waist 3 times to smooth out the wrinkles.  Which took care of the side wrinkles and back bubble, but if you look closely on the side seam, you will see that my side seam is leaning forward.  I still need to do something to straight the side seam.

Granted, the entire seam appears to be leaning forward, but especially it veers forward sharply around the front/side wrinkle level.

Lena has a method of measuring and calculating the knock knee adjustment that I’ve never seen before.  I came up with a distance of 3/4″. This kind of makes sense. By tracing the back inseam of the next size larger (my usual method with Burda patterns) I was extending the back crotch and adding 3/8″ ease for the knee. Unfortunately that also added 3/8″ to the inner thigh and adds to all those back-of-the-thigh AKA under-the-butt wrinkles. I didn’t really follow her instructions for the alteration. I mean I couldn’t. Instead of the step-by-step process she used for the Skirt Balance, she provides a laundry list and a schematic. I think I maybe confused by all the numbers and labels  on the schematic and then a formulation at the end. Next time when I’m fresh, I’ll go through her Knock Knee adjustment again. This time I did the slash and slide method. I moved the bottom half of the leg towards the inseam 3/4″ and then trued the seam lines.

And now I’m ready for muslin #2.

I have lots of praise the The SewingSpace and Lena.  There is much free information and, available for purchase, the well written ebooks .


Pattern Measurements

ETA see last paragrah

In my last post I admitted that I needed to get smarter, more analytical about pants. It’s not enough to simply trust the sizing charts, even when I’ve previously had success with a chosen size.  The fabric has to be factored in the equation.  Stretch can be calculated. The effect (of stretch) should be able to be calculated. But I don’t want to draft a pattern. I don’t want to decide on the hundreds of details which make up a pattern, I just want to buy a commercial pattern and tweak it to fit me to my satisfaction. But how to get smart enough to make those tweaks.

Someone at SG made a comment about the The Sewing Space a blog by an enthusiastic dressmaker who sews both for herself and for others, owned by  Lena. I surfed to her blog and found this intriguing ebook “How to Adjust Trouser Patterns to Personal Measurements”.  She gives just a few hints as to the contents but that few hints was enough for me to want to download and read the rest. After reading I decided to try out her ideas.

I pulled out the last tracing of Burda 12/2012 #148 and began measuring and adding the balance lines Lena uses.  Lena says to use the seat line because it’s always drawn. Well, not on Burda Master Pattern Sheets.  There is a mark on the side seam that might be around the hip line but I think it is the zipper placement line. Fortunately, Lena includes instruction for how to manually calculate these lines with the caution they might be off since we don’t really know where the pattern cutter placed their seat line.   As expected, the Burda pattern met Lena’s standards with one exception. The grain line of the back piece does not bisect the leg hem.  It’s about 2″ off.  I feel if I took the  time to register for a class and attend (i.e. download the book, read and try out the instruction) then I really should follow through and continue to use teacher’s instructions.  When the class is over, I can always decide to return to my former ways. So for now, I drew the grain line where Lena wants it which parallels the Burda grain line but is separated by about 2″.  One thing that really concerned me is how angled the top of the back pant pattern piece is. I can clearly see that it juts out and almost lays over on its side.  Very unlike any jean, trouser or slack pattern I’ve ever used.  This makes me feel uneasy about the fashion design itself but I continue.

I continue by measuring all the places Lena suggests and a few more.  I add to the list of measurements my abdomen and it’s distance from the seat line. I also measure from center front to side seam across the abdomen and center back to side seam across my prominent rear. Since knees always are an issue, I measured my knees. Knowing that my waist is tilted, I measure the front of the crotch separately from the back and then added the two figures together for the total crotch curve.

Lena provides a formula to check the amount of pattern ease.  I started checking and realized I had traced the wrong size pattern!  I weigh the same today as I did on November 1.  I gained 3 pounds over the holidays and spent the last 2 months shedding the same 3 pounds. My weight is the same, but my measurements have drastically changed.  I’m need a pattern 1.5 sizes larger.

I chose to retrace the pattern using the size larger than my measurements. I redrew all the balance lines and checked all the pattern measurements.  Finally I calculated the pattern ease and started comparing the pattern measurements with my measurements. I found that even though the pattern is a half-size larger than I should use, most of the circumferences were correct when the pattern ease was added to my own measurements.  The waist is too large. I opted not to adjust the waist at this time.

I did measure the crotch. The total length is fine but when I compare front crotch to front and back crotch to back, the front crotch is 1″ too long and the back 1″ too short. Lena only address the total length.  I know if I do not fix this now, there is no way the pants will be comfortable to wear. They will ride up in front, pull down in back and the back will be cutting into my crotch i.e. the bu tt vortex. I contemplate what action to take. I’m unwilling to discard years of experience even for this new teacher.  It’s quite obvious from my side view that my waist is tilted.  It is seldom that I do not need to adapt for my tilted waist.  So with heavy heart, I changed the crotch adding 1″ to the back by adding a wedge up where the crotch line is straight and removing  a 1″ wedge from the front crotch also where the crotch line straightens. I know the instructions usually show drawing the wedges lower down, but then you must true the crotch curve. My making the adjustment where the crotch curve is straight creates little or no need to true the crotch.

One other observation on the crotch. For some time now, I’ve traced the back inseam one size larger. When do Lena’s measuring and comparing,  I realized that tracing the larger back inseam almost made the back crotch long enough. It might still be 1/4″ too short, which I then correct at the first fitting by scooping the back crotch. It was interesting to see and really understand what I was creating/doing instead of just doing something because it works.

I  compared leg measurements and was surprised to find that the seat to knee measurement was fine but the knee to hem line was 2″ too long. Because of all the wrinkling under the butt, I’ve thought for ages that my pant legs need to be reduced on both sides of the knee. Since the measures corresponded,  I made the entire change below the knee and  trued the lines.

At this point I added a front fly flap (the pattern is designed for a side zip. I want a front zip).  I added the hem and seam allowances.

I followed Lena’s lead and drafted my waistband with zero ease.  I like an under/over lap and so I added 2″ to the end of waistband. Then I clearly marked the waistband pattern with center back, side seams, center front and where I planned belt loop placement.

I have some reservations about this process.  Lena is providing a basic process that doesn’t address such things as knock knees, tilted waists and prominent booties.  I’m sure there are other physical anomalies that should be on the list. (See the ETA below)  The ebook will provide a draft that is the basically long and wide enough over all. I have slim hopes that this first version will make me proud. Nonetheless, I like what she’s written in the ebook. It is the beginning of a good pattern-measurement check list. I love the fact that I’m completing this analysis before even laying out the fabric. I’ve had patterns that were doomed to be wadders before I pulled them out of the envelope.   I love the fact that I’m making sure this pattern  has a ghost of a chance to be come a wearable garment. So even knowing my pattern probably still has issues, I whole heartedly recommend this little ebook ” How to Adjust Trouser Patterns to Personal Measurements” and commend Lena for her effort to create a logical, understandable process for altering trouser patterns to fit. Thank you Lena.

ETA: I’ve returned to Lena’s Blog site TheSewingSpace. She addresses my fitting issues of tilted waist and knock knees in blog posts. Also her ebook “All About Body Measurements” covers the tilted waist. Lena uses the term “Balance” to describe the tilted waist.  I would have had an even more favorable review of the Trousers ebook had I purchased and used the AABM ebook first. Lena seems to have the attitude that she need not mention those things in the Trousers ebook because she’s already written about it in the AABM. I bought the AABM. I think both books are essential. Interestingly she was inspired to develop these books and her method because she was frustrated at not being able to quickly and accurately fit commercial patterns.  Sound like anyone you know??  Her site is a wealth of information and does have a tutorials index tab.  Perhaps I should have explored her site in full before attempting to use the Trousers ebook.  

Next up is sewing and first fitting.


Analyzing Burda 12/2012 Style 148

Since I’m struggling with fit, yet again, I’ve decided to reevaluate this amazing style.  I made the first pair shortly after the magazine landed in my hands.  I have been hunting for a slim legged pant in Burda plus sizes.  Once I discovered the solution to fitting Burda pants to my figure, I’ve been totally enamoured and avoiding other brands.  Unfortunately it seems the Burda philosophy is that plus sized ladies, whom they note as “Women’s Sizes” should only wear trousers with wide legs. Granted, trousers and wide legs are easier to fit but they are not really attractive.  Me, the pear-shaped women, look like a short, wide bell. My weight visually increases by a few hundred pounds. Wide legs are not the plus womans friend. (Neither are jeggings but that’s another story.)  So I set about fitting for me this style:

In retrospect, I do see many leg wrinkles on this lady, whom I’m sure is not wearing a women’s size. (Also pretty sure she is taller than 5’3″)> But Burda, being Burda, has put her in black with an eye-catching tan vest covering her from shoulder to nearly the knee. Also, a back view is never shown.

Even so my first pair of stretch, wide-wale corduroy, didn’t turn out all that badly.

Version 1

Not really horrible, but I do know that I can fit pants better.  The worst on the back is the excess fabric between butt and knee.  There is some pulling at the knee. The side indicates the excess on the back thigh, buckling (like the knee problem is too long a leg), and a few horizontal pull lines at the top below the waistline.  The front view has me thinking, once again, that these are simply too long. I’m seeing horizontal folds beneath the waistband but the pants feel like they are too long in the crotch (as well as the leg). Overall, my pants have less wrinkles than do Burda’s model.   Still I don’t like publicly wearing pants with those drag lines on the back of the leg.  I decided these could be for house wear and, as it was winter, worn outside under a car coat.

A short time later, I completed pair #2

Optimistically, I converted the pattern to pull on pants by removing the front zipper flap and ignoring the darts.  I shortened the leg another inch, scooped out the crotch again and added just a wee bit of ease to the side seams at the waist.  I felt the pair above bordered on excellent.  Most of the back wrinkles were gone. There is some pulling at the knee still; and something still going on just below the waistband. It could be resulting from using my standard waistband which finishes at 1.5″ instead of the recommended 1″.  Unfortunately I did not add enough ease at the waist for a pull on pant. Also my elastic was terrible. It would not recover properly.  I wore these several times before cutting the the 3rd pair:

I shortened the leg another inch and took 1/2″ out of both back and front crotch length.  These look good although I think I’m beginning to see a need for ease around the tummy. I think all the back wrinkling is originating at my knock knees.  The torso still looks too long, but I can’t shorten the crotch again or it will be too short. So something is going on between hip and waist but I don’t know what it is or how to fix it. I made this pair from an expensive  satin-backed moleskin. I added the zipper and belt loops.  I’d felt that Ver2 was really good and Ver3 would be near perfect. However, when I sat down the moleskin didn’t stretch enough and the leg would rise to mid calve -not a look or feel I like.  I could not wear them a second time. I blamed the fabric and looked for something in my stash with substantial stretch.

My 4th version is constructed from a cotton/lycra twill.  I think it’s lycra.  The fabric has been in my stash for some time.  If it were the old rubber stuff, it would have hardened, cracked and flaked by now. It stretches from 4″ to 5.5″ which is 20+%.  Burda says only to be sure to use a pant weight fabric with horizontal stretch.  I do wish they’d be more specific.

When I stitched this fabric together, my machines complained.  I could hear the serger pounding away.  I changed the needles to a size 14 Elx705.  No help. I decided to serge the edges, single layer and complete the remaining construction at the SM (Designer Ruby).  Ruby complained. I had frequent “motor overload” messages.  I changed from a size 12 to 14, to jeans 14, to 16.  Basting the waistband was nearly impossible. Belt loop plus interfaced-waistband plus dart was simply too much.  I didn’t think this fabric was particularly heavy or thick. Not like fleece, fur or wool blanketing. But it’s construction is so tight I will not be finishing the fitting.  I’m also not sure the following issues are pattern or body fitting problems. I think the fabric has a tremendous effect on:

Version 4

While reviewing the 3 previous versions and also all the Otto 5/2007 #16 versions, I noted that the side seams were not bisecting my side. There appeared to be more front fabric than back fabric.  The seams didn’t lean. They were straight up and down, it was more like I was not correctly positioned in front of the camera– in every side view. OK I may miss once or twice, but I’ve got both the floor where I stand and the camera position marked so I can set up the photo shoot the same every time. I decided that it’s entirely possible I need the back side to be one size larger.  I’m already tracing the inseam one size larger,  what happens if I make the entire back piece one size larger? That’s what is seen in Version 4.  I also added 3/4″ ease to the front pattern side between hip and waist.  Looking at those pics of Otto 5/2007#16 I was pretty sure I’m needing more ease at the front waist.  It’s only been 2 weeks between the construction of Ver 3 and Ver4.  I’ve not gained a full pound during that time. So why does this pair look like it has so much less ease?  Has to be the fabric. Ver4 has the worst combination of too tight rear, excess back thigh ease, knee wrinkles and pull lines beneath the waistband. I’m more than tempted to lay it all on the fabric. Considering the issues at the serger and sewing machine, who could blame me?  But I also realize I need a better way of evaluating patterns. I used 4 different fabrics, all with measures of stretch, and I have had 4 different results. I’m not ready to quit on this pattern. I just need to get smarter.


Analyzing Otto 5/2007 #16

Preplexed about emerging fitting issues, I did a full post comparing the most recent versions of Otto #16 5/2007 with the first successful version completed in Dec 2012.  The important thing to note is that a few pounds (3) and suddenly the old X wrinkles in the back have returned with a vengence.  I’m also seeing evidence of a pudgy belly that was not visible on the  Dec version.  To read the full analysis click here.

Just the pics?


Pin Strip Jan 2013

Brown Canvas Feb 2013:

Photo Lightened 100%

3 pounds did all that? Had to be the effect of fabric as well.