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.

2 thoughts on “With Lycra”

  1. Your back hip drag lines tell you that the extra fabric wants to be more in the center where you need it. If your waistband was removed, you could open your back dart and slide the extra fabric to where you need it. The back crotch can be lowered and the back thighs can use a fish eye dart in the paper pattern like Kenneth King recommends to shorten that area and get the grain lines parallel with the floor. If you pin out this area horizontally now, you will see where to alter the paper for future pants. I make pants for one client, one pair per month and no matter what fabric she chooses, tweaks have to be made in different areas depending on the weave and content…even after 24 pair of pants this is still needed and continues to be a challenge. Good luck!

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