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.
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:
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.