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!!

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