sdBev's Pants!

Archive for April 2014

 

I’m sure the bolt didn’t say it was tent fabric. I’ve had it for so long that I’m pretty sure it was off a Walmart $1 table with content listed as “unknown”.  I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it would be perfect for tarps or tents either then or when I started these jeans.  5 minutes into pressing and I decided this fabric had to be softened or discarded. I ran it through 3 different hot, boiling hot washes to which I added a liter of coke and a cup of vinegar each time.  It took longer to pretreat this fabric than to sew the garment.Thankfully, the fabric did soften. But I will always think of these as my Tent Jeans made with my all time favorite jean pattern Trudy Jansen 906.

Once softened, I cut the the fabric and then embroidered the yoke, back pocket and front pocket

The embroidery file is used is half of the back pocket. I then rotated and clipped to make the other designs.

I have to tell you that I made no changes to the pattern since I used it for the pants in the March 19th post.  I’m not sure if it’s a fabric issue, or a dressing issue. At first I could feel the pants sitting too low. But then correcting that seems to have resulted in the pants being too high and tucking in between my cheeks.  After the harsh pretreatment the fabric has gained and almost velvety nap. It now feels like a brushed, heavy-denim. But it’s possible that some of the original stiffness is still inheritant and causing the pants to sit the way they do.

I will direct your attention back to the side view.  Well meaning people are always telling me to make a flat-butt alteration. I claim I do not have a flat butt and that picture is my proof.

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Before I even started fitting Pamela’s Perfect Pants pattern, I wanted to make the Magic Pants and the Grown-Up Leggings.  Today, I finished the Magic Pants and I’m in love.

It helps that I started with a wonderful fabric.  I think I bought this fabric from Fabricmartfabrics.com.  It is described as “Dark Brown Stretch Poly/Rayon Crepe… Maggy London). It is very similar to the Modern Gab stocked at Fashionsewing.com but  a lot cheaper.  It was a steal that I don’t expect to find again. Also, I couldn’t be 100%  sure how good  it was going to be like until I opened the package. Then it was too late to order more, or I would have.  This brown is so dark that I need to place it next to black or blue to tell the difference.

To make the Magic Pant, start with your already basic fitting pant pattern. Fold out the zipper placket and add 1″ to the top .  Pam likes to use back darts. She says she also like the look of the front darts and will use them; but says it’s your choice. Use. Don’t use. Whatever you want to do will work. I added another 5/8″ ease to the back pattern piece and covered all pieces with non-woven fusible interfacing.  I like to add non-woven fusible interfacing to my TNT patterns. It reinforces the tissue, preserving it from tearing and also grabs a little when placed on fabric.  Instead of chalking the needed change onto the fabric, I made templates that can be reused. for the templates, I copy the pant pattern from Hip HBL up to the waist. I mark the HBL and grain line on the template.  That makes it easier for me to realign the next time I want to use this template.  I copy the other lines of the pattern (darts, notches) onto the template and then add the changes. Once I’m sure the template has all the information I need, I trim the excess tissue.  For the Magic Pants, all that is needed is adding 1″ above the waist.  I also added a 1-1/2″ marker because I use both 1″ and 1.5″ elastic for pants waistlines.

In sewing I didn’t mark or sew any darts probably saving 10 minutes..  I serged the side seams and crotch using 1/4″ seam allowances.  I serge finished the hem and the waistline before turning up and fusing the leg hems into place.  Pam has you leave the waist unfinished for hours.  I serged because I know in the long run, that’s best for me.  I’ll explain in a sec. Pam has you try on the pants to determine the amount the side seams need to be taken in.  She says it is usually between 1/4 and 3/8″ but can vary with the fabric. Then wear the unfinished garment for a few hours to see if it needs to be taken in more.  I immediately stitched the side seams 1/2″ wide/deep.

I’m not sure why I made the following mistake. I know that different elastic stretches different amounts. I knew I was using WAWAK elastic and Pam was using her special elastic. But I followed her instructions to use a 1″ elastic that was the length of my waist measurement-2″. It slipped up easily over my hips. It also slowly worked its way down to my butt. The biggest trouble with this is that I did not follow her instruction for testing the elastic and pant fit before attaching the elastic to the pant.  So I had cut my elastic, joined it in a circle and then using a wide long attached the elastic at the waist. This is why it’s good to serge finish the top edge: I had to rip out the zig zaging  in order to remove and shorten the elastic. Thank heavens it wasn’t serging that had to be ripped.   The WAWAK elastic needed to be shortened 2″ for my taste YMMV.   I also took the pant side-seams in another 1/8″ (each side). That’s a generous 1/8″ almost 1/4”.   I thought it was justified because even holding the pants up, they sagged below my butt and the front just looks — roomy.

I did not wear my pants for hours before finishing. Nope I immediately finished using Pam’s “Talbots Waistband”. (Fold down the elastand stitch-in-the-ditch along each seam and dart.)  Without  the darts,  4 stitch in the ditches was not enough to hold the “waistband” in place.  I also vertically stitched  half way between each of the previous.  It’s wearable. It’s OK but I think in the future I will finish the elastic differently.  I know several  cut-on-waistband finishes. It’s a matter of choosing one that works and looks good to me. (Which is odd because I never tuck my blouses. So why should I care what it looks like as long as it stays in place and will never be seen?)

I think I maybe at the point of scooping the back crotch.  I always have to do this.  Even the Eureka needed a small scoop.   I need the back crotch to be lower than the front instead of on the same horizontal parallel-to-the-floor plane.  That’s me. That’s the way I’m built. I know there are several others out there that have the same crotch shape. I’m also sad to see the back X’s developing. The scoop will help but truth is, my body is shaped the way it is shaped and I stand the way I stand.  The X’s, diagonal pulls crossing from butt-knee-calve, occur anytime my pants hem circumferences  are less than 19″. This pair finished at about 16.

 

Yes I shared pics before the pants are completely finished. I just need to scoop which will take care of the drooping back waist and excess ease under the butt. (Maybe even help those knee line drags). I also took these pics after carefully pressing but not wearing the pants. Being a woven stretch I’m sure they will continue to stretch while being worn. I’m really happy with this version even at this unfinished point. I spent more time fusing interfacing to the pattern and making templates, than I did sewing — and that includes ripping. I do think that future versions will take a few minutes longer because darts are warranted and I want to add pockets.  Still this is a good pair of pants than can be made in about an hour, maybe hour and a half.

Side and back view of almost finished pants:

 

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You know how you can overfit  a pair of pants until you can’t move while wearing them?   Well you can also over tweak a pattern and I think, that’s just what I’ve done.

I thought this pair of pants would be a quick check of the changes made on the previous pair.  I was so confident, that I wanted to make this confirming pair interesting. I decided to  cut the pieces for the MSS Pocket and  Pam’s contour waistband.  I planned to check the fit, add the pocket and then the contour waistband.   Should be a 3 hour job. Right

I selected a cotton/polyester fabric with the appearance of linen. It is not linen.  What it is, is the last of bolt of med-grey perfect-for-work-suits purchased many years ago. I didn’t buy the whole bolt, just the majority which I think was about 9 yards.  I did so because the first pair of pants were wonderful to wear and resisted wrinkling.  I looked almost as good at the end of the day as I did at the beginning.  It was fabulous fabric, but I’m down to the last 2+ yards. I tested stretch, something I’ve never done before with this fabric.  10″ stretched to 10″. IOW no stretch at all just like the first pair PP113’s made from  canvas. But I would not have used this fabric, if I’d known the following sequence of events.

For starters, I never had a 3 hour block of time or any large amount of time for working on these pants.  It was just like pre-retirement 30 minutes here; 10 minutes there.   Constant interruption and delay.  This wasn’t such a problem when I was younger.  But now, I don’t remember things so well.  If I’m taken away before I write things down, I may not remember what I’ve done at all.

I transferred the last changes to the pattern, laid out the fabric and cut the pair of pants.  I opted to serge finish all the edges before beginning. To my horror, the newly-inserted, serger needles puckered the edge. One of the things I’ve loved about my Viking S21 serger, is that it adjusts tension perfectly.  Every time. If the tension is off, something is wrong with the threading. Either the thread is not in the guides correctly or caught on something.  The tension is always perfect. But I could find nothing wrong.  I checked that the needles were fully inserted. That helped some.  I replaced the new needles with another pair of new never-used needles.  No help any at all.  I tried a different fabric . It serged perfectly.   I tried two layers of my fabric. Two layers serged without puckering.  Only this fabric in a single layer puckered. None of this fabric used previously has puckered. I made a jacket and 2 pairs of pants. I’ve run it through sewing machines and sergers. Never did I experience puckering with this fabric.  With reluctance, I decide, it’s not the needles; not the machine; somehow it must be the fabric.

At the SM (Designer Ruby) I put the zipper and darts in permanently the basted all the other seams including a straight waistband. For the first time, I didn’t need two darts in front. Oh I needed both back darts as usual, but only 1 front dart.  I thought this odd, but trusted my TNT straight waistband. My waistband is never wrong. So what went wrong with the pattern; or fabric?  In each of the previous pairs of pants I needed to take out ease at the waist and did so by taking in an even amount along the side seams.  I made that change permanent by trimming a scant 3/8″ from the back and front pieces between waist and about 6″ down. I’ll point out again, that the back with its two darts fit the waistband correctly, but the front would have been too tight. I let out 1 front dart on each side and basted the waistband into place.

I tried on the pants.  To my horror, both front side-seams puckered .  Not the back piece. Not the inseams. Nor the crotch. Nor waistband. Only the front side seams puckered like they were deliberately ruched.  I still had the short, diagonal lines right above each hip (as with the last pair of pants) and definitely, this time, the butt was too tight. I’d always questioned the ease across the butt.  The pants always felt comfortable, but in the pics looked — a little close.  Previously, I thought “my old lady eyes” were telling me the fit across the rear was wrong when in truth the fit was fine. This time, there is no question. This pair of pants is clearly too tight across the rear.  I can’t correct it. I’ve already stitched with 1/4″ seam allowances. I can’t let out any more.

I may know what’s wrong with those diagonals.  Pants For Real People (PFRP) say that the side seam is being pulled upward. Their suggestion is “yank it down”.  Mrs Mole said that ease is off . I think, she could be right.  Yes partly, ease is lacking across the butt. I know that because I can see it in the pics  and feel it on my body.  I also see the pant trying to push upward and gain ease from the leg.  So ease is a big factor. Then too, I believe the darts are in the wrong place.  Whenever my pants gape, they gape at center back. Not at the sides. In this pattern, the darts are moved more towards the sides.  I need to move the darts more towards center back . I probably could move one dart to the center back . That would give me a ski-jump slope along the center-back seam . An odd-to-me shape which  has fit more than one pant pattern to my back-side. I also think that I may have canted the darts. I took out 1/2″ crotch depth from center front and sides but only 3/8″ from center back.  That tilted the darts slightly. Maybe I should  un-tilt the darts.

I removed the side-seam basting to  add the pockets. The MSS pocket is really a wonder. Easy to add. Doesn’t affect fit. Can be added while cutting the fabric or like now as a separate piece. The top stitching shows on some fabrics, like the current one, but completely disappears with other fabrics.  I’ve used the MSS pocket at least a dozen times. OK maybe not a dozen, but enough that I felt confident to just sew without reading instructions. M-I-S-T-A-K-E.  Yeah, big time.  I ripped and re-stitched the pocket and side seams several times.  I never did get the front facings completely stitched into place. (Opted to finish with a little permanent bond. The stiff fusible web from Walmart). During the process, I restitched the entire side seams at least twice.  One of the front side seams needed trimming 3/8 length which then  un-ruched. The other?  Didn’t need trimming. It is still the same length. It appears to match the back, side-seam length perfectly.  It lays flat while stitching or at the ironing board.  When I put the pants back on, it is ruched! Gathered! Puckered!. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh  and crap!

After more than a week of interruptions, false starts and wonky whatevers, I decide  to finish these pants. Just “get ‘er done” and move along.  I wanted to try out the contour waistband. You’d think that I’d have learned from the pocket fiasco to  check the instructions before starting. But I didn’t (learn or check).  It was not until I was trying to figure-out a front closure that I thought something might be off. Then I checked instructions which say

  • Unzip the zipper. Baste around the waist of the Pants about 1″ from the top edge and through the zipper. Cut 5/8 off the top of the pants, cutting the extra zipper length off.  This is necessary since the contour waistband sits slightly lower than the straight waistband.
  • Sew the back seam together for the waistband and the waistband facing.
  • Put on the pants and the fitting elastic. Make sure it is at you waist!
  • Wrap the waistband around your waist. Pin the top of the contour waistband to the top of the fitting elastic and the bottom of the waistband to the pants. Mark the key points as indicated in the DVD.

 

What?  I’m sewing and I’m supposed to stop and view the DVD? Huh?  Why is this so complicated?  Am I correctly reading these directions or dreaming this up? Why doesn’t the professional have an easy, simple way to convert for the waistband?  If I wanted complicated, I have several drafting and draping books that have been accumulating dust and disgust.  I want easy; straight forward; or at least understandable.  That’s why I buy patterns and allow books to accumulate dust. I want the pattern drafter/designer to solve these kinds of problems and give me a nice neat cutting line and pattern piece.  I can tell you, I am not stopping to view a DVD every time I want to sew a pair of pants. Not happening. I’m more likely to toss the pattern (and the DVD). So crapola!

I did it my way and … my finished waist is dropped about 7/8″ below my waist.  I have attached a reversed facing (i.e the facing is on the public side instead of inside),  but it is neatly and carefully done.  I really worked at making the facing even in front both at the waist and bottom of the facings where the ends meet and show on the front.  This was also an excellent opportunity to work with my cover-stitch belt-loop folder  (really truly wonderful).  Also, the designer, Pam, does make reference to the PFRP chapters  which show multiple waistline finishes. If I ever get the pattern adjusted for my body, I want to try every waistline finish, plus all the pocket and hem suggestions in those chapters. Funny, I’ve had this book at least 4 years and don’t remember these sections of the book.  I suppose, I’ve always been too focused on fit and missed these design suggestions.

Final Fit

By far, this is not the worst pair of pants I’ve worn.  They do feel a little tight across the rear.  I’m more concerned about the dropped waist. Not all contour waistlines are comfortable for me. They tend to feel like the pants are falling off my body. For care-free wear, I prefer the straight waistband which securely anchors at my waist line. Amazingly, this reversed-facing, waistline-finish look like a contour waistband without not nearly the amount of work.  I do think in the future, I’d prefer to finish at my natural waistline rather than below (aka dropped).  Truth of the matter is, once I’m fully dressed, this pair of pants doesn’t look half bad. Not perfect, but not bad either:

Dressed, Ready for what he day may bring.

Taking a break from this pattern. Not abandoning it. Truth is, 7 years ago, I would have been totally satisfied with the first fitting and never made any further changes. For now I’ve walked and correct the side seams; and added 5/8″ ease to the back (vertically dividing the back to add 5/8″). I may return the leg width to the 21″ hem circumference because successive 1/4″ trims between knee and hem create ugly diagonal lines. Obviously not the way to narrow the lower leg. Also need to check the back dart placement and alignment. Those darts need to be where my pants gape and need to be on-grain.