With Lycra

I truly believe that the fabric was responsible for the failure earlier this week.  Perhaps that’s unfair. Fabric is manufactured with all kinds of qualities. Some is directed at the Home Quilting market, some for home dec, some for us garment sewists and some for those who are just looking for a bargain. It’s up to us shoppers to choose the fabric which suits out needs. Honestly,  I’m not always making the best match between fabric and pattern.   I used the first cut of the microfiber twill fabric in a blouse. It didn’t make  a wonderful blouse. It’s a good blouse. It’s wearable and looks pretty. But it’s always just a bit heavy and restrictive. So I thought, the fabric would be better as light-weight pants. That didn’t work out well either. While I blame the fabric, I acknowledge that I seem to be missing some knowledge I need to reliably make successful matchs between fabric and pattern.  With that in mind I chose not the rust fabric I want to work with, but a dark rose chocolate I know I selected from the suitings at Hancocks.  I think I was planning jeans rather than trousers.  Trousers require a bit of drape to wear nicely.  This is like 99% cotton and it’s pretty beefy. It makes a “large cone” as Fabricmart would describe.  That 1% Lycra is hardly noticeable.  To measure the stretch factor, I used a full 10″ and pulled hard to reach 10-7/8″.   I don’t mind this at all.  Having  more than 4X spread across my behind, my garment will finish with 4″ of stretch PLUS whatever ease is built into the pattern. I’m happily anticipating make the seams a little deeper.

I didn’t blow off the possibility that the new copy of my PP113 pattern had issues.  With the microfiber twill,  I was hoping just to tweak the fit and maybe the pattern. This time I’m double checking or hedging my bets as much as possible. I pulled out the Eureka pant to compare with this tracing of PP113.  The Eureka back was closer in shape to PP113-full back than my MSS and over-all more closely corresponds in size and shape. I did find significant differences in the seam allowances of the waist and crotch (both front and back pieces).  Once a pattern fits well, and I’m planning to use it again, I trim the seam allowances.  I like to stitch and finish the seams in one go at the serger. Just whoosh and done. I don’t like all the mess a serger can make. My solution is trimming the seam allowances to 1/4″ (the width of the serged seam) except for the waist and crotch seams.  Those seams are always finished at the serger but stitched together at the sewing machine.  The feet of my sewing machine are a scant 3/8″ wide. I trim the waist and crotch seam allowances to 3/8″.  But that’s when the pattern is finished. I realized that I should have stitched the failure (see above) using a full 5/8″ seam allowance. That definitely added excess ease everywhere.  I didn’t realize it. Didn’t even think about it.  This pattern is close to fitting, so I trimmed the tissue at the waist and crotch to 3/8″.   The other thing I noted was that the back crotch upright of my PP113 was taller, even after trimming the SA.  During fitting the first pair and 2nd pair, this too tall back crotch was an issue.  I know that if the upright is too long, I will have bubbles under the waist band or what I call feathers along the back crotch seam.  (Feather are two short diagonal lines that mirror each other on either side of the seam.)  So, I also shortened the CB by 3/8″


Total changes to the pattern are now:

  • Front inseam:  trim 3/4″
  • Front side seam:  trim 3/8″
  • Crotch height:  trim 1/2″ starting at CF and across front, narrowing to 3/8 at CB.
  • Leg length: reduce 3″
  • Front and Back waist and crotch seam allowances trimmed to 3/8

That’s it just two changes to the existing tissue.

I laid out and cut my fabric as usual.  I probably should have basted things together. But I stitched all 4 darts, the zipper, inseams and crotch at 2.5mm, the stitch length My Designer Ruby recommends for medium weight woven fabrics. I switched out the bobbin for a water-soluble thread (WST) and stitched the side seams and waistband into place.  I just folded up the hems and gave them a quick press.  One other issue I’d like to address is the 21″ hem.  I prefer a maximum of 20″.  Looking at the pictures of the first pair of PP113’s just confirms my preference.  Once I got past the close-up of the fit and could step back to get a general impression, I see a pyramid with my feet as it’s base.  A slimmer leg will help me look taller and slimmer.  To work on the leg width, I’m going to need those hems open and easy to change.  The waist is a little large for my TNT waistband.  I eased the pant to the waistband until I’m sure what needs to be fixed.

Oh joy, the pictures of the first try on showed a garment this garment looked much, much better, but a little large. I took the side seams in 1/8″. Still looked OK .

first Fitting

Take in another 1/8″ and whoops! Too tight in back but still too loose in front.

Because I’m using WST the side seams are easy to open. Just spritz the WST, pick up the thread and rip. Out and gone. I offset the back and front so that I’m taking 1/4″ ease away from the front. The waist is equally too large both front and back.  I look at increasing the dart depth. One of the back darts is 5/8″ the other is 1/2″.  I’ve not had really great experiences with 1″ deep darts. They end up being bulky and difficult to manage.  Even when tailoring a jacked with humongous shoulder darts, I had problems.  I decided since the waist needs to be taken in evenly both front and back, I would reduce the excess ease along the side seam.  This changes the straight up and down nature of the side seam to a curve and no I didn’t do that for the Eureka or MSS.

Onto my next and final issue, the hem circumference.  I need to reduce the circumference a minimum of 1″.  I like to reduce it even more but I had a bad experience trying to reduce the hem width of my JSM which fisnished at 20″.  By bad I mean it fit perfectly until I started reducing the leg width, at which point it developed horrible diagonal wrinkles emanating from the knee and but! . So I know I want a smaller hem circumference, but I proceed with caution.   Each leg has 2 seams and each seam has 2 layers of fabric. The math is 1″/(2*2 or 4 for those of you not struggling with Core)= 1/4″ each seam.  This is a minor amount which I simply slice off by placing my ruler at knee on  the cutting line  and at the hem 1/4″ over the stitching line.  With that, I finish the pant.

Completely Finished!

I expected to snug this pant in more, that is make the side seams even deeper than they are.  In my mind that just says that 1% Lycra is still a pretty stable fabric. Except that the but! looks tighter than before.  I’m thinking that multiple full-steam pressings may have shrunk it a bit. Being  99% cotton, the fabric should relax curing wear. I also scooped the crotch 1/4″.  In the previous pictures the back crotch still looked a little short to me.  But it could be just that I’m more accustomed to an old-lady type fit.  Even 1/4″ produces the short diagonals along the back crotch seam. In the past, those diagonal have always indicated a too-long back crotch.  I also see that I have some diagonals above the hip. These perplex me. They are not repeated on the front which would indicate that the side-length waist-to-hip, is too long. Since they’ve been in all 3 pictures, I’m not inclined to blame the scoop or back crotch length.  Another thing I’m unsure about is the ease over the back thigh. Sometimes I think there is too much. Then I think, these are trousers/slacks they should have a little sitting ease.  Pam is right about over-fitting. I know I could end up with a pant in which I couldn’t move — like sit or bend.  Even 1% Lycra can only stretch so far.  When looking at the side, the waist seems to rise at CF. Shortening the front crotch is not an option–my lady parts start appearing.  The uneven waistline is at least slightly visible in all 3 pictures. The waist appears level in both front and back views and feels level during wear. I’m just not sure and decided to leave well enough alone.  My last critique, is a big smile for the hem. Just reducing the hem circumference 1″ in the lower leg  makes a huge visual difference and one that I like.


Total changes to the pattern are now:

  • Front inseam:  trim 3/4″
  • Front side seam:  trim 5/8
  • Crotch height:  trim 1/2″ starting at CF and across front, narrowing to 3/8 at CB.
  • Leg length: reduce 3″
  • Front and Back waist and crotch seam allowances trimmed to 3/8″
  • Side seams trim 3/8 at waist to zero 6″ down.
  • Leg, both sides between knee and hem  0 to 1/4″

*Note I scooped the pant 1/4″ but I don’t think that helps. I didn’t transfer the change to the pattern and did not include it in the list above.

I want to point out, all the changes listed above are minor changes. Tweaking to suit my preferences. Actually in the basic form and with the right fabric PP113 is good. 7 years ago I would have worn pants made from 113 without any further adjustments. I’ve gotten really picky the last few years.


PS Sorry if the pics create problems on your device.  For the first time, WordPress is not letting me control the display size.  Oddly the pictures are all the exact same size, but during preview WordPress is distorting the images. I hope that your device will take over and resize to fit your screen. It’s like yesterday my on-line banking made updates to the site which make banking easier. So of course, somebody else had to make life on-line more difficult.


Dairy of a Failed PP113

When I wrote this post, I was so disappointed that I decided to keep it to myself.  I’m publishing it now, instead of keeping it private, because it leads into my next project and upcoming post.

I’m not making the pants I wanted to. I’m working an a rust and blue-aqua outfit that needs rust colored trousers. I wanted to use PP113 because of my last astounding success but I messed up my pattern.  I had altered my tissue per the changes in my last post about PP113. Then I realized, I didn’t want to make my alterations the way I did.    I was trying to shorten the crotch 1/2″ across the front  except the last 1″ (before the stitching line) would narrow from 1/2″ to zero. The tissue rebelled at being so contorted and developed bubbles.  I solved those by slashing through one of the darts all the way to the S/L line and allowing the tissue to fold over flat.  That made for a distinctive curve at the side seam and a loss of about 1.5″ at the front waist side; total 3″ front waist. Then I realized that wasn’t really going to work as I also needed to remove some the length from  the back to remove the bubble directly below the waistband. I tried undoing the alteration and making another. When I started walking the side seams, I became very confused.  This is one of the things that tells me I’m not a spring chicken any more.  I used to hold cutting sessions once every 6-8 weeks. I planned an entire outfit of 4-5 pieces and sewed it up over the following weeks.  I might mention, I sewed it up exactly as I planned it. Now, not more than a week after the first experience of PP113, I can’t remember what I did or did not do either the first time, the fitting or the alterations. I need Ginko. Lots of Ginko. In the end, I traced the size medium once again and made these changes to the tracing

  • Front inseam:  trim 3/4″
  • Front side seam:  trim 3/8″
  • Crotch height:  trim 1/2″ starting at CF and across front, narrowing to zero between back side seam and back darts.
  • Leg length: reduce 3″

I didn’t want to use my “real” fabric.  I did realize I might need to make a few more changes.  So I hunted through the stash looking for something light in color and pant weight.  I settled upon a light-grey, microfiber twill.  I used this same fabric in blue for a winter blouse.  While satisfactory, the blouse always feels a little heavy and despite the lovely drape,restrictive i.e. not really flexible.  I’m always thinking it would have made better pants than a blouse. So, voila the next microfiber twill  is going to be pants.   I realized that the previous PP113 I had removed 1/2″ ease from the pattern (not counting the inseam) whereas this time I was removing only 1/8″. I didn’t think 1/8″ ease would create problems

The first fitting was astounding and a bit ugly:

You’d never know these had been lightly spray starched and carefully pressed just before being worn for less than 5 minutes. They are too long. I’ve removed an extra 1/2″ length as my last fitting indicated and the legs are again dragging the floor. The back bubbles beneath the waistband. There is a bubble beneath each dart. I do not get bubbles at the end of my darts. I learned a long time ago to carefully mark darts and stitch all the way to the end.  I do not get dart bubbles. Now I’ve got 8. The side seam leans sharply back at the waist. The front is poofy just below my stomach. Reminds me of all the pants I had whose front crotches were way too long except this can’t be more than a 1/4″ too long. There are uncountable diagonal lines on all the seams making me wonder if I should have used a different sized needle (I am using a new needle) .

I sigh. I prefer to correct one issue at a time. So starting at the waist, I remove one 3/8″ front dart from each front; which should move the side seam to an upright position.  When I attempt to restitch the waistband, the pant is 3″ wider than the waistband. ???  I take in the side seam between the pocket and the waist 0 to 5/8″.  Could the waist have possibly grown that much?  I reattach the waistband but offset it 1/4″.  This will effectively shorten the depth all the way around the pant not just in the back where the 3 bubbles are.   I take new pictures:

I have to say I thought this softer fabric would benefit from a little more ease. but my impression is  over all excess ease. Did the whole pant stretch like the waist did? Should  I have made the smaller size.  I’m not a small. I really don’t think I’m even a medium. I buy Xlarge. I sew Large.  But this medium looks too big and I still have not removed enough length between waist and hip.  The dang pant is drooping every where.

Again prefer to make one change at a time, but I’m getting tired of this.  The pattern was near perfect the first time I made it. Why is this version  so contrary?  For the 3rd fitting, I stitch the side seams and waistband 1/4″ deeper.  Usually and with the very first version of PP113, I use a 1/4″ SA except for the crotch which uses a 3/8″ SA. I do this because then I stitch one time, serging, to sew seams.  I don’t have to stitch, trim and finish seam edges. I take pictures. Sigh. Sigh. Results of the 3rd set of garment tweaks.

The ease feels OK except the crotch now feels like it is cutting into me.  I have spray starched the fabric at least 4 times.  I have carefully pressed 4 times.  These look like I just got out of bed. They haven’t been worn at total 15 minutes.   I still have a poofy front, now paired with a tight rear. My underwear is shows. My rolls are showing. My cellulite is showing. Well at least the pants are now the right length.

I look at these and think about the lovely double knit blue pants which hang in my closet unworn.  I think I have once again mismatched garment type and fabric. I‘m going to finish these and put them along with the double knit pants into the Goodwill box. Hope somebody can get some kind of benefit from them.  It used to be that fibers could be recycled into rags, furniture padding, heat shields and a number of other things.  I don’t think that happens anymore.  I do hate to just throw things in the trash, but even donating to the Goodwill, I don’t think is a good solution for these. I put both the double knit pants and these unfinished microfiber twill pants into the trash. The thing I’m asking myself now, is

What should I take away from this experience:

Crotch depth – that distance between waistline and bottom of the crotch is still too long.

Front Bubble – In the first PP113 pair, the front looked roomy.  In this pair, I have a distinctive bubble on each side of the zipper that I can’t get rid of.

Fabric- I need to be careful when selecting fabrics for pants.  This microfiber twill should probably be banned from my stash (I have several more pieces).  I dislike it both in blouses and pants which are the two garments I wear.  There’s no point in keeping fabric in the stash which makes ugly garments.



My TNT TJ906

I wanted new jeans. You can’t be dressed up (in my neck of the woods) unless you are wearing new jeans. I’ve been wearing my last pairs of 906’s until they have faded and are starting to fray. Since the old pairs seem to fit, I decided to whip up a new pair.

Then I pulled out my folder.  I have  my TNT’s including Trudy Jansen Designer Jeans pattern #906, in plastic, multi-sheaved folders. They are separated so that I can grab them quickly to compare with new patterns, or as today, make a quick garment. Multi-sheaved so that minor style changes that require new pieces can be kept with the master pattern. To my surprise, my folder contained 3 tracings of the 906 including a brand new never altered tissue.  I checked this blog and found the last time I’d used this pattern was nearly a year ago, March 2013.  No wonder all my jeans are faded and fraying!   I have no idea why I left the pattern in that condition. It is usual for me to keep the last old version ONLY until I have the new version fit.  I have this habit of changing sizes every few years. Don’t like it, but my solution is to refit favorite patterns and toss the others. So I’m looking at 3 versions and wondering why I have this mess.  Why did I have a new untouched tracing? Why didn’t I toss at least one of the other versions?   I thought back and remembered how horrified I was early last year, to find that I had lost the Christmas weight but gained inches.  I was refitting patterns at that time.  Why I didn’t finish, I don’t know. But hating the confusion, I tossed all but the untouched tissue.  I made minimal alterations, shortening the legs, and walked the seams.  Then I pulled out a non-stretch corduroy and cut a trial pair.

This is a score for me in one of my goals, that of using the older fabric.  This corduroy is 100% cotton and likely a Walmart purchase at least 20 years ago. I say likely because it was a 4 yard cut.  I quit buying 4 yard cuts at least 10 years ago.  I had been buying fabric in sufficient yardage to make both pants and a jacket or skirt and a blouse. Full outfits rather than coordinates.  About 15 years ago I realized I was going to be retiring. At the time I wasn’t sure how quickly but I could tell I had more suit fabrics than I would sew in my remaining 10 projected-years of work. As things happened I retired 5 years after deciding to purchase in smaller quantities. Even before that, I had developed a preference for a slight amount of lycra in my clothing. Lycra allowed me to fit my clothing closer without restricting movement. I didn’t discard those non-stretch fabrics because they are very useful for fitting new patterns. I much prefer to fit all my patterns, including stretch patterns using a non-stretch fabric. Then when fitting the stretch-fabric garment, remove the excess ease. This works for me, but may not help anyone else. You see, I prefer more ease in my garments. The much-lauded Style Arc line of patterns are a total waste of money for me. Style Arc is closely fitted for the young and trendy.  While I like the trends, I don’t like close fit.  But I’ve nattered on far to long

I practically zipped these together. I serged and permanently stitched everything except the waistband. Oh and the back pockets.  I forget to even cut them out. I top stitched the hand opening for the front pocket using my cover stitch machine.  I also used the cover stitch to create belt loops. I wasn’t entirely sure how this pant would fit until I tried it on.

Gorgeous! Just to prove it, here is a much lightened view:

Interestingly, the waist appears to dip in the full front view, but is level and horizontal from the side view. I won’t make any adjustments unless that continues to happen. I used only 1 hook and eye (the 4 piece set type) and placed it midway on the waistband.  I’m not sure if placing the hook and eye higher is the solution to the slight gaping  of the center front.  The waist band seemed wider some how. I could trim the waistband just slightly because it sits right at my natural waist. It should sit just below.   I did have an issue serging the back leg to the yoke.  I need either to trim the leg to fit the yoke, or make the yoke longer.  Since the waist fits and the waistband was easy to install, I think I’ll trim the back leg.  During wear, the thigh seems a little tight. Normally I make these jeans from 2-4% stretch denim which probably would take care of this issue. I’ll keep it in mind, but I’m not adding ease unless it continues to a problem.

It’s a good pattern.  I love the center back seam in the leg.  This is the only pant pattern in which I don’t struggle with too much ease over the back thigh.  It’s the reason I wanted to change the Eureka pant into a 3 piece leg. (Epic fail).  TJ906 is superior in this regard than PP113, the pattern I’m really excited with right now. Without question, I will make 906 again and again.  I wanted to document my experience and possible changes here. My blogs are wonderful stores of information for me. They make it so easy to look up a pattern, see what I did and my thoughts, including changes, about it.  I want to work through the versions of PP113 and perfect the fit of that pattern before making more 906’s. When I’m ready, I’ll review this blog and know what I need to do for another perfect pair of jeans!

I also have aspirations of making a 3 piece trouser, starting with this pattern. But that’s food for thought for another time.


PP113 Final First Pant

ETA 3/22/2014 for wearing experience

Here it is totally finished:

I scooped a slice about 5/8″ deep in the middle tapering to nothing at the side seams which effectively shortens the front crotch length. When you look  at the side view, most but not all the wrinkles have been eliminated.  I was unable to hem the pants at the desired 2″ because of the tapered leg. The hem became rumply and bumbly as the very edge of the pant has a smaller circumference than the leg at the stitching line.  I prefer the too long leg to the rumply blumply.  I also had some concern about the seams. I forget what it is called but I a small vertical separation occurred at the waist. The fabric pulled away from the stitching at that point.  If it happens one place, it will happen at others. So I taped the side and crotch seams with fusible bias tape (could have used straight tape on the side seams) and then stitched again just outside the original seams. Even though it’s not much, maybe 1/16″, that does take in the seams and reduce the ease slightly. I finished the waistband using a man’s hook and eye I buy from WAWAK.  I ruined the first set I tried and admit to a learning curve with the next half-dozen. Now I’m at the point, I’d rather use this 4 piece closure because I can have done with much less time and aggravation than a button and buttonhole.

Even though this is the best first or wearable muslin pant I’ve ever made, I can see room for improvement. There is a fold on my rear that somehow I pressed in but was unable to completely press-out.  I’m not concerned about it, but I want you to know I see it and know what caused it. There are now faint upward diagonals on the back inseam and even a few on the front inseam.  I didn’t measure the crotch length, something I shall remember to do in the future.  I believe that the  original crotch length was correct for me but distributed incorrectly (for me, you might be OK).  I might need to return some length to the back crotch. This is a very unforgiving fabric.  A fabric with a little stretch, the kind of fabric I usually like to make and wear, would adjust completely.  I wonder if I’m being “old” because I look at the rear and think it is too tight right across my prominence. I think a younger lady would want the rear and thigh much tighter. Even though it shows my age, I  plan to just add a smidge to the back.   Even in this unforgiving fabric, the front clearly is too large.  Also while most of the side wrinkles were removed when I shortened the center front, there are enough left that I think I should extend the alteration across the front instead of tapering.

Planned changes to the pattern for the next version:

  •  Shorten leg length another 1/2″
  • Scoop the back crotch 1/4″ (This is normal for me. P&P call it an anomaly wherein the crotch doesn’t sit level or even to the ground but dips in the back. This change follows my physique and also will add the needed back crotch length)
  • Remove 1/4″ ease from the front
  • Shorten the entire front crotch length instead of tapering to the side seam, taper to back dart.

I’m really pleased with this pattern. I think Pam hit it out of the park!  But I acknowledge that I have 2 TNT pants pattern with which to compare. I chose the full-back, shortened the leg and trimmed 3/4″ from the front inseam before even starting.   I made those changes based on my TNT.  Had I not, I would have needed several more fittings.  I might even had needed to recut pieces (if I started with the regular back instead of full back.) I also think Louise Cutting is a step ahead of Pam, in that Louise recognizes that most mature women have a tilted waist. Louise adjusts the pattern for the tilted waist. Pam leaves it to you to discover and that’s the current issue I’m having with this version of PP113.  I’ll have one remaining issue that I won’t begin until I’m completely satisfied. My hem circumference completed at 21″.  For my height I prefer the hem to be no more than 20″. I’m forever looking for a slimmer leg.  I have a few similar patterns that work for me until I try to reduce the hem circumference.



The pant was comfortable to wear. I find that every garment whether it be T-shirt or tights feels good during wear if the fit is good.  I did have two problems.

First was the fabric. perhaps this is why Pam recommends against 100% cottons for your first pant. Would you realize that the draft is fine and the fabric is at fault?  Well, I did because I often wear cotton canvas and linen for summer pants.  Both will relax and stretch as my body warms the fabric.  How much varies with each different fabric.  These pants stretched at the waistline and hip enough to create a droop in back.  I won’t be able to control the droop at the hip but I can add belt loops and a belt to keep the pants up at my waistline and thereby minimize the droop.  As I said, I’m familiar with this fabric and satisfied with this solution.

My other issue is the hem circumference.  I prefer a maximum hem circumference of 20″. Anything over that tends to overwhelm my figure making me look shorter and fatter. My Pamela’a Pattern  pant finished at 21″.  I’m sure that’s because of the 1″ added to the back inseam allowance.  That “just in case’ fitting insurance Palmer and Pletch recommends and which I needed to make the back crotch comfortable and fit nicely. I’ll be working on removing that extra inch and maybe more.  I’ve found on other pants patterns that trying to remove excess ease can cause other problems to develop most notably the diagonal lines under the butt.  Why? I don’t know.  I see the effect but really don’t understand how narrowing the hem creates diagonal lines under the butt.

After the Eureka pant I feel obligated to finish with a disclaimer. It works for me but that doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else. I’ve put lots of time and fabric into learning about fitting pants to my figure . I’m not confident I could help anyone else.  I am short and overweight. I am as deep as I am wide and have very narrow shoulders.  I am convinced that my crotch is tilted as well as my waist requiring both a shorter front crotch and a scoop in the back crotch. Even though I am short waisted, I prefer pants that sit right about my natural waist. I like “mom jeans”.  Furthermore, I prefer more ease. Style Arc patterns do not work for me. (I bear no resemblance to Kate M. Never did.)  There must be many women with figures similar to mine. Otherwise there would be no need for  the Eureka, MSS or  others which claim to be kind to the mature figure. I have no affiliation with Pamela’s Patterns. I’m receiving nothing for writing these reviews. I paid full price. Didn’t even have a code for a discount of any kind. Sigh, just saying, please don’t hate me if this pattern works for me but not you. 


PP113: Fabric and First Fitting

Pamela does a whole chapter on selecting fabric for the pant.  Her highest recommendation is a wool crepe.  I may have 2 wool crepe pieces of fabric in the stash.  Truth is, I don’t like to use wool crepe because I don’t want to do the required up keep.  I prefer to wash my garments after each use in warm water and then dry in a hot dryer.  I spray starch lightly. Press carefully and wear again.  I will use alternative home dry cleaning methods, but don’t really want to.  I haven’t dry cleaned anything professionally in years simply because there are no professional dry cleaners nearby.  Dry cleaning, for my town, is sent from South Dakota by truck to some city in Nebraska and returned the same way. They pick up the dry cleaning only when there is enough to justify a run to us.  They deliver when there is enough to justify another run.  It’s reliable but not exactly prompt. If I made pants from wool, I would get to wear them maybe once per season.

Moving on, Pamela cautions “stay away from the blouse weight fabrics”.  In fact she goes on to say if you wouldn’t or couldn’t buy RTW pants in that fabric, don’t take it home and try to make it into pants.  That does make sense. RTW strives to avoid returns, even though stores often promote their easy exchange programs.  RTW and retail know that they lose money when items are returned. It has become such an issue, that retail is starting to enforce more stringent return policies.  There is a reason why you can’t buy pants in all fabrics.  Pamela may have given us a great measuring stick for determining whether a fabric will make a great pair of pants.

For the first pair, the pair you are using to establish fit of the pattern, she steers you away from stretch fabrics, too. At the end of the DVD, in the last 2 chapters,  she helps you choose stretch fabrics for her pants variations: the Magic Pants and Grown Up Leggings.  Unlike many home sewists, I love stretch fabrics for pants and blouses.   Lycra makes for make comfortable, closer fitting and very flattering garments that still allow me to bend, stretch and move.  But I agree with her.  This pair wherein I’m establishing fit, I do NOT want stretch. Not a single percentage.  I truly like to use my patterns fitted with non-stretch to cut my stretch pants.  I sew zippers and pockets permanently and baste the remaining seams.  Then I take in the seams as needed for that particular fabric.  My personal experience is that the same fabric in different colors can  need to be fitted differently. Heck, I’ve had a few garments that were made from the same fabric but different bolts and needed different fitting. So I respect Pamela’s suggestion to steer clear of the stretch fabrics. My problem is that nearly all my pant weight fabrics have just a little stretch.

I sorted through my choices to find good pant weight fabrics with no stretch. I don’t think Pamela would approve of my final choice.  It is a cotton canvas.  She extols the virtues of fabrics with drape and recommends against stiff cotton fabrics.  This part of her demonstration was a bit visually lacking.  She didn’t really show fabric drape. One of her fabrics was a dark color and another a very light color (nearly white).  These extremes normally don’t photo well. I’m always complaining about Burda using dark navy blue and black in their photographs.  I really can’t see the garment details or the nuances of fit in Burda’s photos. I certainly could not see the beauty of Pamela’s fabrics because black and white just don’t reveal enough in pictures. In person, they may have been more informative. But, I’m not there in person. I’m sitting in my living room watching the DVD on my HD TV.  I’m pretty sure that about $20 of my purchase was not pattern  expense but for the instructional DVD. (Granted as far as DVDs go, that’s not out-of-line. )  I really want to understand the instructions provided in the DVD; and I want the visual material to be visible.  Overall, I think Pamela had some worthwhile information to share about fabrics. I’d love for her to have expanded this section and to have used more photogenic fabrics. Myself, I’m working from stash and with a bit of trepidation, chose to go ahead with the non-stretch, pant-weight, cotton canvas.

Because this is a fitting exercise, I cut the backs, fronts and straight waistband after ironing and laying out my fabrics. Pamela shared a wonderful way to line up the cross grain without trying to pull a thread. She handled a 2.5 yard cut with ease.  I struggled with my 2.25 yard cut and finally resorted to my time-honored method.  My way works, but I wanted to try her way. I can’t describe her process well. You do need to watch the DVD. She holds up the fabric folded in half lengthwise and with cut ends together. Then she raises or lowers the side whose selvage is falling away.   I told you I couldn’t describe it. Anyway, I couldn’t do it either.  BUT, I will try again.  I think it is ingenious.

I also was impressed with the elegant way in which she aligns the pattern pieces along the fabric straight of grain. She lays out the fabric. Lays out the pattern. She measures at one end of the pattern from selvage to grain line; places her pattern weight to hold the pattern in place.  Then she slides the ruler down to the other end and brings the pattern at that point in alignment with the ruler. You can’t imagine the circus act I’ve been performing. Let’s just say, I’ve been measuring, checking moving several times or more instead of this simple 2 step process.  Her method is a natural.  I’m a changed woman.

I serge finished the waistline and crotch of the fronts and backs and stitched the back darts. I ignored the front darts but did my usual 5 minute zipper application.  Pamela does share both  excellent dart and zipper construction methods.  I ignored them.  Several years ago I figured out how to install a zipper perfectly the first time, every time in less than 5 minutes. I don’t use invisible zippers or zipper guards. I’m not that impressed with invisible zippers.  I was present for their introduction back in the ’60s.  Invisible zippers are old hat to me and I actually prefer a nicely installed and visible zipper. In the back, the visible upright stitching line of the zipper is slimming!   I’m impressed by a hand-picked zipper especially if it is beaded at the same time.  Both hand picking and beading are beyond my range of skills.  As for the zipper guard, I’m old-fashioned.  I wear granny panties everyday beneath all my clothing.  My tender skin is not in danger of being pricked by a zipper; nor does the zipper threaten to pluck my pub!c  follicles. I don’t need a zipper guard and prefer to invest my sewing time and efforts in other sewing skills.   Of course, YMMV and so I mention that in the DVD Pamela shares these two skills.

It was not until I was serge finishing the waistline and crotches (prior to inserting the zipper) that I realized my fabric was not at all stable. In fact, it was raveling faster than I could serge. So I intended to permanently install zipper and back darts, then baste side and inseams, crotch, hems and waistband — but didn’t.  I installed the zipper then placed right sides together and serged the side and inseams.  I added interfacing in the hems. Something I always do because I think it makes the hem look better when the garment is not only new but during its lifetime. I fused the hem in place. I stitched the crotch as I usually do — one long seam from center back to just before the zipper.  I interfaced the waistband. Then asked myself why I was fitting the waistband from scratch when I had a perfect fitting straight waistband.  I transferred the side seam and center front marking from my TNT straight waistband to the PP113 waistband and started to pin the PP113 waistband  to the pant waist. It was then that I discovered I needed the front darts–at least for the first fitting.  I basted front darts in place and pinned the waistband in place.  The waistband was still smaller than the top of the pant waist. I placed the pant waist against the feed dogs; waistband on top;  and eased the waistband to the pant waist with a basting stitch.  I folded the waistband down and pinned it into place for fitting.

Now I have some incredible photos to share.  The front and back, at the first fitting:

Back and Front of PP113, First Fitting

Aren’t they amazing!  My pants fit better at this first fitting that the final pants that Pamela fit and shared in the DVD. From these pics, I’d say only the leg length still needs to be corrected and the front side seam needs to be a little deeper. Not the back. In fact whatever I take off the front, probably should be added to the back.

I knew the front crotch was too long when I was working with the tissue.   It feels fine which echos what Pamela’s two models reported. My crotch not only feels like it fits, it looks like it fits — until I turn to the side:

I think this is the first pant pattern I’ve worked with that looks great from the back but the front needs work; AND only the side front appears to need work.  I know from experience these wrinkles are a result of the pant being too long between waist and hip.  Nearly all these wrinkles will disappear when I trim the top of the pant effectively shortening the front crotch length.

Good and enough for today.  Tomorrow I’ll return after

  • Shortening the pant front crotch 1/2″
  • Shortening the leg length 1/2″
  • Finishing all seams.
  • Adding hook and eye at waistband

I’ve only got 2 thumbs and I’m pointing both of them UP for this pattern!!


Pants Perfected -Tracing and Altering the Pattern.

Pamela, the lady who built the perfect T shirt for millions of women (including moi), has released a pants pattern

When I read the announcement at Stitchers Guild, I couldn’t get fast enough to Pamela Patterns site and buy both the pattern and DVD.  I’ll give a full review of the DVD later. Right now I’m  entangled in the siren song of a new pattern.

Using the patterns instructions I selected a size medium. My 43.5″ hip puts me smack in the middle of this range. Usually, I’m a large. I am. I know I am. But I’ll play along with whatever sizing a designer wants to use as long as they clue me in. I traced the size medium.  I trace all my expensive patterns as well as magazine patterns and some of the Big 4.  To my horror, I change sizes every few years. It’s actually easier to refit a previous TNT than it is to start with a new unknown pattern. But I digress, I traced the size medium and the full back.  (Does that make me a football player?)  The Eureka Pant’s full back had been such a delight that I decided immediately to take advantage of the option on this pattern.  I also traced all the pocket parts and both waistbands.  I think it lovely that I can fit this pattern once and end up with 5-6 different versions.

Pamela recommends Tissue Fitting per Palmer Pletsch methods but she also encourages you to do what works best for you. Tissue fitting is a nightmare for me.  I don’t have any help. I must fit all my garments using tape measure, mirror and camera.  A tissue pattern disintegrates before I get anywhere near a reasonable fit. No tissue fitting for me, but I do some checking and pattern alterations before hand. For this pattern, I chose to compare with my TNT MSS pants pattern.  I loved the MSS pattern.  Most of my changes consisted of adding ease to the back and removing the same amount from the front.  It only took 1 pair of MSS pants to start producing good looking summer shorts. I like the Eureka but its full back is so different from any other pant pattern  I’ve used (and I have been able to fit a fair number of pants patterns).  I just think comparing such a different draft wouldn’t be fair and maybe not accurate.

Once I’ve fit a pattern I trim the seam allowances to 1/4 and 3/8″ inches. The PP113 (Pamela’s Pants Perfected) uses 1.5″ hems, 1″ side and inseam and 5/8″ SAs everywhere else.  To be comparing apples to apples, I dotted the PP113 along the crotch waist and inseam so that the cutting lines of the MSS should be the same as the dotted line of PP113. I compared the front first.  I was really concerned about the front crotch.  Both pants fit in the DVD are either too long in the crotch or suffer with a bad draft that causes camel toe. Neither are attractive features.  When tracing the front I noted that the front hook was rather long.  By comparing the 2 patterns, I realized that the length was strictly a result of making the inseam allowance 1″.    The leg needs to be shortened 2.5″. I need to trim 1/4″ from the crotch, and side seam. The waist is about 1/2″ too high (even subtracting the 1/4″ seam allowance difference).  I’m not going to trim that until I get to fabric.  I believe my eyes. It’s just that I’d rather wait until I add the waistband to make the final crotch height adjustment.

The backs were pretty similar. I’ll need to trim the 1/4″ from the crotch and side seam, 3/4″ from the inseam and 2.5″ from the leg length, but the crotch is short almost a full inch (not including the 1/4″ difference in seam allowance.)   This is sort of a surprise and makes me uneasy.  Pamela recommends offsetting the inseams to gain the extra needed crotch length. Still uneasy, I pull out the Eureka back and compare. Well, holy cow. These two back are nearly identical. According to the Eureka back I need to shorten the leg 2.5″ and trim 1/4″ from the side seams.  I believe in the Keep It Simple theory, so for now, I’m using the changes shown in the Eureka/PP113 comparison.  I shortened the leg length along the designated line.  Normally, I shorten that much in two different places. However the leg tapers at a steady, small rate and I think that shortening in one place followed by truing the side and inseams will work.   One other note. Both the MSS and Eureka, as a final fitting measure, were scooped in the back crotch.  As of now, I think that may not be necessary in the PP113.

I’m having problems charging my camera so no pictures at this stage.