sdBev's Pants!

Archive for November 2013

When you saw my photo you either said “She’s ridiculous to be pleased”  or “She’s made so many better pants. Why is she pleased at all?”

I nearly ruined these pants.  No kidding at one point I thought I had made a wadder and I knew it was my fault.

I set out to “check” the CLA and waistline adjustments I’d made to the last pair of Eureka pants.  Then I decided that I wanted to add pockets.  Pockets are so handy.  When I’m first fitting a pants pattern I don’t like to use the pocket pieces.  My own experience has been that a pocket can change or disguise fitting issues. But now, with a couple of  good pairs in the closet, I want to add pockets for the pattern.

The back fits better than the front.

I also decided I needed to start adding real winter fabrics to the closet.  The temperatures are decreasing daily and we’ve already had our warning storm. (Usually sometime in Oct, Mother Nature warns us that winter is coming by unexpectedly dropping snow in all our yards.  That’s already happened. Twice and three times in some parts of SD.)  From the stash, I selected a grey moleskin.  I like to wear moleskin in the winter.  It is a beefy fabric and the 100% polyester is good a deflecting wind and rain.  Its satin back ensures any garment will slip over whatever undies I’ve decided are necessary for the day (when it’s 30 below you want layers and layers of thermal undies).  Generally moleskin has a tiny bit of stretch which also makes it a good choice because it enhances movement. But it can be a devilish fabric to sew with and, late last winter, I had one pair of moleskin pants that, despite a measured 10% stretch, I couldn’t sit when wearing.

So combine a forgotten 1″ seam allowances, a can-be-temperamental fabric, and a desire to add pockets where none have been before and the stage is set for disaster.  I decided to use the pocket Kathy Ruddy shares during in her Craftsy Class.  It is a pocket opening in the shape of a D cut out along the side seam, which is finished and then a pocket back is stitched to the pant front and behind the finished opening.  I’ve designed similar pockets myself.   Now Kathy makes no bones about this. She copied the design from a RTW garment. You cut the little D shape out of the side seam; roll that edge under and top stitch.   Did I mention, every moleskin I’ve used ravels horribly?  Well this one was no exception, so I didn’t just roll the edge under, I serge finished it first. Then I tried to roll under and top stitch. It wouldn’t roll. I had this ugly, wavy, terribly uneven cut out along the edge.  Then I realized, that didn’t matter anyway because I had forgotten about the 1″ seam allowances.  The pocket opening, that D, would be entirely within the seam.

After a head slap and an Oy Vey, I decided I should go ahead and check the fit.  Well the D was not entirely but mostly within the side seam.  There was a largish 2-3″ along the side seam that was not basted as I tried on the pants. The back looked fine, but I kept looking at the front and thinking could it really be the small unsewn areas that made the front look so bad?  I had no choice but to finish the pockets.  I did the typical side slant pocket opening.  It was sort of large because I needed to get rid of the failed D pocket opening.  I used bias tape to finish the pocket edge and as originally planned fixed a pocket back but not a bag to the pant front behind the pocket opening. (You’ve got to sew to understand).  Now I  measured and cut carefully. I want you to know that.  I also placed the pocket back carefully into place and fused it there with Steam A Seam; before double top stitching the pocket to my pant front.  I did both pockets. They were well secured when I realized somehow the pocket back had slipped at the side seam and was 1″ lower than it should have been.

I was totally shocked.  How could that happen?  I swear I was careful with each step of the pocket.  I fused because the fabric was slippery and I didn’t want the pocket to slip out of place during stitching.  I don’t know about you, but the SAS I buy is difficult to remove.  Once I’ve fused something in place, removing it is nearly impossible.  I’m more likely to spend hours wrecking the project.  I don’t have enough fabric to cut a second front.  I have to fix this or toss it.  So this is where this pair of pants almost became a wadder.  I aligned the front and back pants at the hem, knee and widest hip. I smoothed as best as possible from the widest hip up to the waist and had some of the back just dangling in air.  I basted side seams from hem to waist. (Zipper, inseams and crotch were previously permanently stitched).  Then I basted the waistband angling it across the top of the pant as smoothly as possible.  I tried the pants on. Holy cow, this was going to work!  I basted the side seams another 1/4″ in and decided this was good and enough.  I finished the pant and called it wearable (See first two photos. I think I’m as good as anybody else in the bank line).

I won’t make any changes to pattern based on these pants.  The back is really not all that bad.  I wish it were a bit tighter across the bum.  I do like a pant that smoothly flows over the rear and down to the floor. But this the  flowing that is “old lady butt”  instead of “healthy behind” flow.  I didn’t want to take-in the seam allowances any more because I was beginning to feel a little pulling as I sat down.  Above all else, I must be able to sit while wearing my pants.

My side seam is leaning backwards and I think the waist is rising in the front. I didn’t make any effort to correct the issues.  I figure the problem  was caused by my pocket application.  Besides, looking at the first two pictures in this post, I’m pretty sure no one is going to see the problems.  I also forgot how badly that kind of pocket opening can gape.  During construction, I stitched it into place using water soluble thread. During construction the pocket opening set nice and close to the body.  When everything was done, I spritzed the pocket opening with water; removed the WSS and took  pictures. That’s when the pocket opening gapped.  Fortunately as I normally dress (Pic 1 and 2 again), I think it’s not likely to be noticed.

If the front didn’t bag at the inseam knee, I’d say these pants are fine. Yes I wish they’d enhance my butt just a little better.  But they are the right length. No VPL, no nasty fitting issues  There is less excess fabric over the back thigh.  I’d like to reduce that a little more, but I am pleased with my progress.  I added belt loops this time.  The Stretch Velvet pants which fit beautifully at home, stretched at the waistline while out and about.  It was really annoying to be pulling up my pants through-out the day.  I was in public, far from home. It was really, really annoying. With belt loops, that won’t happen again.  (I will say I was surprised at this wear issue and blame it squarely on the fabric.  The other pairs of Eureka’s pants never do that to me and I wore the Grey Eurekas during that trip.) But back to this pair, I made the waistline a non-issue.

I have already worn these pants.  I’m pleased to say they were comfortable. They may not be “the perfect pair” but they are good and enough for all my activities.

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CLA is the abbreviation I’m using for Kathy Ruddy’s “Crescent Leg Alteration”.  I’m really thrilled with this alteration and while I’d normally write about my pant first,  I’m so excited I want to share the alteration first.

Kathy Ruddy details the CLA at the end of Lesson 3, Refining Fit.  For me, it was the most significant alteration in the entire lesson.  Kathy details several important alterations which often receive little or no attention and therefore women remain unsatisfied with their pants because they don’t know what to do.  Kathy gives lots of good information, but the CLA was a new-to-me concept accompanied by absolute relief at her assertion that you should not expect to make the same alteration equally on front and back or even both sides. Indeed if you are asymmetrical (which she also explains) you will need 4 separate pattern pieces and will need to alter each differently.

But back to the CLA.  Before this lesson, I could fix all my pant fitting issues and still have excess ease over the back thigh.  If I tried to take the leg in an equal amount front and back, the front started looking nasty.  If I tried to take in along the inseam, the crotch and knee started looking bad. For the most part, I prefer to wear slacks and trousers with a little ease.  So for a trouser, I would say “it’s a trouser” and ignore the extra fabric over the back thigh.  For slacks and jeans I  kept fussing with the pant’s leg, never finding the solution that would remove the extra fabric without making some other part of the pant look bad.

I will not detail the CLA here.  Kathy deserves your money for this.  But I will say she leaves one issue unclear and that is exactly where do you make this alteration.  She uses a pivot and slide procedure and tells you that the alteration point is somewhere between knee and under the bum.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of territory on my body. In the question and answers following the lesson, she answers more specifically. In case you can’t find or miss that section, I will describe her answer here.  This is a “it depends” situation.  It depends upon your body.  The way to determine your alteration point is to fit your basic pant pattern and solve all the other issues; winding  up where I am now i.e. everything solved but still have extra fabric floating around over my back thigh.  With the fitted pant on your body, grab the deepest  place of “too much fabric”.  Mark it somehow. I used a safety-pin.  Then identify that area on the pattern.  Mine is about 4″ below the crotch HBL but your place could be higher or lower.  I laid the pant and pattern on my cutting table trying to make them exactly across from each other.  Then made a mark on the side seam that  corresponded to my pin. Kathy recommends starting with a 1/2″ deep mark. So from the side seam I moved my mark to the interior 1/2″.

Kathy says the amount of the alteration can vary by person and gives as an example someone who needed a 1.5″ deep CLA.    I’ve already found that the depth of the alteration can also change depending upon fabric.  My first fabric, the pant I’m sharing today, was a no-wale corduroy with 25% stretch.  The depth of CLA for that fabric was 1/2″ . My next fabric (pant to be shared in a future post) was a satin backed moleskin.  I started with 1/2″. Basted the pant together and took pics. It wasn’t enough.  I had to make another 1/2″ alteration (total of 1″) to remove the excess fabric to suit my aesthetics.

Now, onto my Eureka.  I felt that the muslin was coming up over my tummy and ending on my midriff instead of sitting at my waist.  But my pictures said the muslin was fine.  My first pair of Eureka’s also felt too high at center front.  The fitting pictures continued to show the pant sitting at my waist even though it felt like it was higher.  However the final, side view, made when all the seams have been serged and the waistband nailed into place, did clearly show the CF rising.  I didn’t want to rip everything out and besides, I always wear my blouses and tops untucked so this error wouldn’t be visible to anyone.  So I did nothing to that pair of pants. But for this version I trimmed the pattern  from side to center front  1/2″.  I drafted the 1/2″ CLA but cut the pants without it.  I chalked the CLA onto the back leg and started construction of the pant.

I sew the zipper, pockets (if desired), inseam and crotch with permanent stitches. But I use water-soluble thread and baste the side seams, hems and waistband into place.  Then I take pictures and tweak the fit.  I know that no matter how many times I’ve made a pattern, the chosen fabric will make a difference.  Usually, my garment can be adapted for the fabric by adjusting the side seams slightly.  For today’s pants, I eventually trimmed 3/4″  across the top of the pant from the back dart, across side seams and across the center front.  I’m really happy with the final fit.  Unfortunately the only pictures I can find is the full front (posted on sdbev.wordpress.com).  But I can share the nearly-there Fit03

I’m happy with this pair of pants and don’t have any real complaints. I’m pleased at how the waistline seems perfectly horizontal and for the first time, it feels right.  That’s important to me.  I once had a pair of pants which “felt” wrong however the pattern designer refused to work further with me because they looked perfect to her.  For me, if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. I made only a 1/2″ CLA ( which is reflected in this fit).  Looking now I think that another 1/2″ could be in order. But the pants look so much better in the mirror, as well as the pics, plus they feel terrific.   The rest of the drag lines smoothed out after the final stitching and pressing.  I could take new pics — after the pants are washed and pressed.  Yes these are already in the laundry basket. I like to wear new garments quickly because that’s the only way I can be 100% sure that they fit the way I want.