2010/5-20, Yoga

Ottobre Design Style 20, Issue 5/2010

For a time, several (15) years ago, I had one pair of yoga pants which I loved dearly.  Loved as in as soon as they were washed and dried, they were worn again.  My weight changed; my body changed;  and I believe  you should dress for the body you have now.  So, with great sorrow, I passed the pants onto another via Goodwill. Why was I fond of these pants and reluctant to let them go?  They were as comfortable as sweat pants but looked nice enough for business casual wear. No kidding. Mine was made of an expensive rayon/poly blend that skimmed the curves; never wrinkled; and laundered easily.  Travel? Oh yes, they could be worn on the plane all day, matched with top and a little bling to be worn for evening cocktails.  While I prefer to send my clothes out for laundering, this pair of pants also took well to a basin of water and dried overnight (usually). They were a great pair of pants.  Why did I not have more?  I purchased these in RTW.  Never had a pattern. Only years later did I realize I was kidding myself about any RTW pants really fitting.  Once I started taking photos of my pants, I realized none, not a single pair either RTW or self sewn, fit my rear.  My initial search pants patterns were for pants which could be tweaked to fit me using woven, non-stretch fabrics.  Knit and woven stretch fabrics were an entirely different nightmare.  I always intended to seek out a pattern for yoga pants and finally, they found me in Ottobre Design Issue 5/2010 Style 20.

I looked through this issue without crediting the photos highly.  Otto has a real ability to make the best patterns look disgusting.  Hey, it’s not just me.  Other sewist who recommended Otto to me warned me that Otto’s fabric choices and photography were woeful and not to be trusted.  I barely glanced at the action shots.  I was unimpressed with these pants until I saw the line drawing.  Then, very pleased, I said “Yoga Shorts!”.  With that, this pattern went into my sewing queue for spring, summer and fall 2013. Here’s the problem. I envisioned shorts. These are not shorts which is clearly shown on page 32 (I think).  They are Capris.

Firstly I can’t create good proportions for myself with Capris.  Partly it’s my figure and partly it’s my choice of lengths for my tops.  The best pant lengths for me are hemmed between mid-knee and  2″ above. A second good range is between my ankle and 1/2″ above the floor. As soon as I focused my eyes on the picture of the model in these pants, I realized I would need to shorten the legs.

I’ve made two other pairs of Otto pants. It wasn’t easy.  One became an immediate donation to Goodwill.  The other was finished and worn after multiple scoops, tucks and as I recall an insertion here and there. Also, the skill for  matching appropriate fabric to the pattern eludes me.  So I’m cautious about proceeding.  Usually I trace an Otto pattern as the sections relate to my body, plus 1 size.  What that means, is the Otto sizing chart says I have a size 42 bust.  A 42 bust is always too small.  It also says I have a size 44 hip. Nope, I can’t even pull my pants up or tops down if I trace a size 44.  After tracing multiple Otto patterns, I’ve settled on a scheme which works fairly well for me:  neck/shoulders 38; front bust 44, back 46; waist and hip 48.  I use a french curve to create the armscye and smooth out the side seam curves after I make my 1″ back waist length adjustment. But this time,,,, this time I threw that all out the window and traced the largest size given.  Here’s my delimna. First off, as explained, the size they say fits me never has enough ease to cover my body. Never.  Next, everyone complains that the American Big 4 pattern companies have way too much ease…. except for me.  I find that I need to narrow the shoulder and trim some off the front bust as well as making the BWL, but over all I don’t think they give me enough ease.  Partly that’s because of my fit preferences.  I like garments that skim my curves and give me a feminine shape but don’t reveal how really overweight I am.  I like the “Skims everything; Reveals nothing” ease formula. AND then there is my final issue, which I admit is totally self-inflicted:  I never seem to choose a fabric with the same stretch-factor as the fabric Otto chose when drafting the pattern. That can be a killer. It has caused me real heart ache time and time again.

I chose again to sew from my remnants.  Pants are difficult for me to fit. I prefer the first pair to be, at the most, a wearable muslin.  The pattern calls for a knit with 10% stretch.  I have nothing like that in my remnants.  I chose a medium weight, interlock, cotton/poly, knit with 25% stretch.  If this works well, I have another pair of shorts for late summer and early fall.  If this is bad news, I’ve made good use of a remnant and moved it out of the stash.

Oh I said “shorts” and the description is “Capri pants”.  After tracing the largest size, I added 1/4″ seams. I found and marked the straight of grain and hip line on both front and back pieces.  Then I compared with my MSS shorts pattern and folded the legs up to end at 1″ above the knee. I added hem allowances with side seam shaping so that I will have above the knee shorts with side-vents.

Next I aligned the back and front pattern pieces so the hems were even and the hip seam lines just touched at the side seam.  I measured.  From looking at the tissue I expected to split the back and front in half vertically and add more ease. But, my measurements say there should be enough fabric to construct these shorts with woven, non-stretch fabrics.  I also compared the crotch curve with the MSS shorts. The curve is slightly different. Not quite as deep or angled. But a crotch for stretchy fabrics should be a little different.  I’m leaving both crotch shape and ease alone for now.  I expect (I hope, hope, hope) that I will be taking in the side seams and even shortening the crotch uprights.  My plan is to baste all the pieces together, excepting the elastic.  To hold during fitting the elastic is going to need sturdy stitches.  But the rest can be held together for a quick photo session using 2.5mm stitch lengths and water-soluble thread (WST) in the bobbin.

I have to admit this decision was partly based on following evjc as she altered a jacket for herself using good fabric and basting stitches.  This is not necessarily a quick or easy fitting method. It is a reliable method if you start with enough fabric and if you apply a little patience to the procedure.