Grab your coffee (tea or whatever); find a good chair and make yourself comfortable. This is going to be a long post with several photos. I’m not dividing it into multi-posts. I been involved in a two-week project which resulted in near-perfect pair of pants:
(I promise I will lighten the rest of the photos so you can really see the fit.)
Several weeks ago I was intrigued by Jalie’s new pants pattern the Eleanor
It was Dawn’s post (Two On Two Off) that alerted me to the arrival of this new pattern. It comes with a cute back story here ; and is described as “pull on jeans… fitted through waist and hips, straight from the knee down. Very easy to turn into skinny jeans!”
OK jeans, so not trousers. Not loose at all. But I like a good fitting pair of jeans. Just not skinny jeans (although I do have one pair of skinny jeans). I hesitated to buy largely because of the international purchasing hassles I can run into, but also because I’ve recently struggled with several patterns and wasn’t sure I wanted to get involved in the pants fitting process. Pants fitting is usually a multi-muslin process which is also time-consuming. It is rare to be able to fit a pant pattern to myself with only tweaking fit. That’s why I loved Pamela’s 113 so much. My first 113 was wearable and subsequent versions have tweaked the fit but mostly been fun changes. When Pattern Review started carrying the Eleanor , I bought…..and started sewing and sewing and sewing. I have sewn 6 pairs of Eleanors in the last 2 weeks:
Insane? Thing is, every pair I made, I kept thinking I just needed to change one thing to have a good pair of pants and great pattern. The first pair (grey far left), I chose to use the recommended size (based on hip girth) and knit fabric with 20% stretch (the recommended minimum). I didn’t believe that this would publically wearable. I was thinking a pair of PJ’s to test the pattern. But it is skin-tight. Not a sexy come hither look either. More like “Why is she punishing me?” . I was expecting fitted (Butterick Ease chart) but this was almost negative ease. These are tighter than my actual, real tights. The first thing I did was mark the hip, thigh and knee position on my body with pins. I looked in the mirror and said “yep that’s were my rear sticks out the furtherest” and put a pin in it. Did the same for knee (Yep that’s the middle of my knee) and thigh. Took the PJ’s off, measured the location of the pins and marked the corresponding point on the pattern. (The pattern has knee notches, but lets you guess where the hip and thigh were plotted.) Now I could measure the pattern and chose a size based upon measurements (shades of Peggy Sagers. Eh?) To my surprise, the recommend size had 1/4″ of ease. That’s barely positive ease. Close doesn’t adequately describe it for me. I measured 5 sizes on the pattern sheet before having a brain flash and measuring my favorite DG2 jeans too. I went up two sizes over the recommended. Will you need to do the same? Not necessarily. I’m at the top end of the recommended size. I almost selected the next size up to start with because I know that I prefer a little more ease than RTW; but decided to trust Jalie because their stretch jeans are so wonderful (but come to think of it, I make my Jalie jeans one size larger.)
I made the second pair, also intended to be PJ’s, two sizes larger than the recommended size and using a firm rib knit which I suspect is 100% polyester. They are the light olive-green, 2nd from the left in my ‘Pantheon’ above. You’re seeing the unscooped version. When I scooped the back crotch nearly all the back leg wrinkles disappeared — also the slight front camel toe disappeared. Just from a 1/2″ scoop!
I thought: ” I’ve got it. These are going to be great.” I made the 3rd pair (3rd from the left) using a really good cotton/lycra twill after scooping the pattern’s back crotch 1/2″. Holy cow, these in the good fabric had more wrinkles than the 2nd pair in the crappy fabric.
Pair #4 in a light olive Ponte (4th from the left and 3rd from the right) I decided to incorporate Jennifer Sterns diagonal overlap alteration. These pants were slightly better. Jen’s alteration definitely improved the back wrinkles so I posted a question at Craftsy asking if there was a maximum the diagonal could be over lapped.
Side Note: I’m enrolled and have now completed Jennifer Sterns Craftsy Course “the Perfect Jeans”. This is a commercial class which is relatively inexpensive if bought on sale. I’m reluctant to quote her exact method because it may be copyrighted. However, Ann’s Pearls of Wisdom at Stitcher’s Guild, contains a very similar alteration in the Flat Seat Adjustment thread which can be viewed for free. There are differences between the two methods. Jen is very specific about where the change needs to be made and how deep; both of which are body dependent and highly individualized. You have to discover the depth and location on your own body. Which may be the reason why Jen’s method worked for me, but Ann’s Flat Seat Adjustment left me protesting that I don’t have a flat butt as evidenced here and no need for the FSA. This adjustment is something you have to work with. It’s unlikely that any set of directions will be spot on the first time. If you have the same back wrinkles as I do, I recommend trying Ann’s free method. If that doesn’t work or is not entirely satisfactory, then pay for Jen’s class.
Jen answered within 24 hours which made me happy. Her answer was to try scooping. Apparently while there is not an exact number at which you have to stop (2″, 3″ ?”of overlap) you want to minimize pattern distortion. I almost posted pictures at Craftsy but decided if I was going to take her time, I would follow all her directions. Kind of like going to the doctor. Why are you paying him, taking his time, if you won’t tell him the whole truth or follow all his instructions? Hence pair #5 – 2nd from the right.
I carefully measured and followed every one of Jen’s directions. The 5th pair incorporates only three tissue changes. I added 3/4″ to the side at the back hip, folded 2″ length out of the leg above the knee; and added 3/4″ width along the entire back inseam . The length between butt and knee is an area that Jen specifies measuring. Her explanation was not entirely clear to me but I think she says the incorrect length from crotch to knee can create wrinkles because the fabric cannot move freely where it needs to move. I added the 3/4″ to the back inseam because I used to be able to fit Burda pants patterns with the same alteration and it was the key to the easy fit of Pamela’s Patterns #113. On all the previous versions, I could see the stress wrinkles Jen was saying means add length to the crotch; also I knew sooner or later I was going to do something about my knock knees. This is a known, a tried and proven solution for both of my issues. Why not do it now?
To my shock Pair #5 was fairly close to fitting at the first try-on. During basting I noticed that I was stretching the front inseam to match the back. Huh? I thought the inseams should be equal in length or sometimes a designer would make the back inseam shorter, not longer as it obviously was. Could I have traced incorrectly? Sure, but I’ve never made a half-inch tracing error without realizing it. When I place notches and dots, the misalignment becomes obvious. I had “taped like I meant it” so there was not much checking I could do without destroying my working copy. I did compare my back and front tissues and discovered that my front inseam was definitely shorter than the back. I still had my very first two-sizes-two-small tissue which had not been altered in any way and I compared them to each other and to the original pattern. Sure enough, I’m coming up with the back inseam is longer than the front. Why did no one else using this pattern notice or say anything? Well, it could still be my error. I tend to repeat my errors and need a second person to draw my attention to where I’m making my mistake. But also, this pair and this pair alone was made from Bengaline and was cut crossgrain. That means I had width wise stretch but not vertical. Most knits would easily disguise that 1/2″ difference. This unyielding Bengaline wouldn’t. I scooped the crotch on pair #5 and called it wearable before proceeding to …
Pair #6, the near perfect pair. My fabric is “stretch Silhouette Double Knit” 98% polyester 2% lycra. I’d buy a warehouse full of this fabric. It is spongy and thick. Reminds me of Slinky but doesn’t have quite the same amount of droop. I know people who hung their Slinky for 24 hours before cutting and another 24 before hemming just because they loved everything about Slinky except it’s tendency to grow length-wise during wear. I, myself, threw away my first slinky T-shirt because the crew neck line of the morning, turned into bosom-baring by lunch. But back to the Silhouette Double Knit, I’m looking for more because while it does bend and flex and yes grow a little, but over all it is the Slinky I always really wanted.
Pair #6, has the 3/4″ added to the hip back side seam; 3/4″ added to the entire back inseam; and the 2″ fold above the knee — all as in pair #5 and as discovered during Jen’s measuring process. Additionally I folded a 1/4″ tuck above the knee ( back only). This removes total of 1/2″ length from the back between butt and knee. I did not make a corresponding change to the front because when I walked the side seams I found the 1/4″ tuck made them even. Apparently my back had been longer than the front (and I’m still claiming responsibility for the difference). I added a 1/2″ length at the back crotch. I felt (rather being able to see) the center back dipping while standing. Another good Craftsy class is Plus Size Pant Fitting by Kathleen Cheetham. I’m not quite a plus size but I have issue that I haven’t been able to solve with normal-sized-people directions so I looked elsewhere. I finished Kathleen’s course too and was most impressed by the short lesson for the girl with the full seat. Kathleen is again very specific about adding more crotch height by slashing at the hip line. When that is taped into place, she points out the divot at the side seam. I’ve always done the slash where ever I wanted and ignored the divot. Kathleen makes this into an opportunity to add width right where the full-seated need it. This is a great lesson to view, if you need it, and worth the cost of the entire course to me. I easily added another 1/4″ (total now of 1″) right where I need it. I’ve got to tell you, that I’m ecstatic about this. I know from my bodice fitting that I need more ease across the back at the hip. It doesn’t work, not on my body, to split the addition between front and back. What I end up with is a flaring front and a back that hugs my butt. Placing the ease where I need it, over my full seat, allows the bodice to drape beautifully and the side seams hang vertically evenly dividing front and back.
Then and only then when all other tried, tested and found-to-be-true alterations were complete, did I do Jen’s 1.5″ Diagonal Overlap. I had pinched this out on Pant #5. So I knew where and about how much. When slashed, overlapped and taped into place the side seam is shortened. I removed 1.5″ length on the side seam, now I had to add 1.5″ height at the top of the side seam and re-draw the line between side seam and center back. Again, I followed Peggy Sagger’s lead. I aligned my curve with the original top-of-back-leg line and then pivoted to meet the new height. I also had a weird side seam between hip and knee. I used my curve to redraw the side seam which added a little ease to the thigh. The inseam was sharpely peaked outward entirely due to the amount of the overlap. It’s part of the distortion Jen was trying to warn me about. I used my curve to smooth out the inseam which removed ease almost exactly across from where added when I smoothed the side seam. Finally, the crotch had been pinched where it was slashed and pulled down that 1.5″ to form the overlap. I used my curve but instead of trying to align with the previous crotch curve, I rotated until I had a nice looking curve. I stepped back and said “Hey, that’s the same curve as TJ906”. Makes me wonder if Trudy Jansen discovered and kept to herself the fact a number of us need less length over the back thigh.
I serged the first version (first and far left in the pantheon above) but like the succeeding versions, I basted Pair #6 together using a 3mm stitch and water-soluble thread. I was stunned at the first try on. Just stunned. I had a few bubbles along the back side seam and that was the worst fitting element. Every way I turned and then in the pics was flowing smooth fabric.
Apparently, I did not need to add the full 1.5″ height at the side seam which caused the side bubbles. I ripped open seams. Having used WST was a simple matter of spritzing a little water, grabbing the bobbin thread and giving it a yank. I trimmed 3/4″ from the top of the back leg at the side seam and redrew that line for a second time. I needed to scoop the back crotch just a bit and in so doing smoothed the entire curve which skimmed just a little from the front crotch as well. I serged the whole kit and caboodle together. Serged. Done. OK I lied. I stitched the waistband to the pant at the sewing machine because I wanted to offset the waistband. Front, back and sides just felt a little ‘tall’ above the crotch. I suspect this is a fabric issue because I didn’t have this impression with the first try-on or any of the other versions. And now what everyone really wants to know,,,,,,, ta ta ta dah!!!!!! The FINAL FIT:
Keep in mind, this is still a close fitting garment. I’m aiming for the same amount of ease as in my beloved DG2’s. Initially, I experienced a little camel toe in the front. Not sure, but there still could be a hint. I experienced the same issue with the Ascona (which I did not finish fitting). I have rolls; rolls of flesh and fat. My slim tom-boy shape has been eroded by the years, the kid, the computer…. I’m pleased with this pic because only one roll is really evident and even it, like the others, are smoothed over.
If I could, this is the only view anyone would ever see and I say that despite the speck that my camera seems to have picked up. The pant looks low in the front but is entirely comfortable. If it were higher, I would feel my lower lungs being constricted and I would be picking at it (pulling down, folding over, pull and release etc etc). I’ve come to accept that my waist is tilted or more accurately, roller coaster shaped. The side seam is pretty straight, just leaning like the Tower of Pisa. I could but may not bother working at fixing the tilted side seam. For now, I’m just going to admire the smooth flow of fabric from waist, dropping until it breaks – like it should – at the front of the foot. Very shapely. Nice. Especially for a woman of my age, weight and personal shape.
And the picture you really wanted to see, My Butt:
Sorry. I just couldn’t resist 5th grade humour. Must be because I’ve been so long at the computer writing, editing this post…..
The leg wrinkles change with how I stand or as in the pic at the far left (wb too low) or far right (wb too high) , exactly where the waistband sits on my body. I may have cut the elastic too long. The most obvious constant to me is the wrinkles at the knee. This is the first area I will tweak in the future. I could do a knock knee adjustment. But I think shortening the back inseam with an 1/8 or 1/4″ dart (at the inseam, zero at the side seam) should be first. I really don’t know of jean draft that doesn’t make the back inseam shorter than the front. The theory is a shorter back inseam causes the fabric to tuck under your seat giving you a trimmer appearance. Well I could certainly use that. I’m also aware that the butt isn’t exactly what I want. I scooped this time but did not transfer that to the tissue. My crotch is oddly peaked due to the Diagonal Overlap. Instead of correcting the shape after stitching, I really want to smooth that out so that when I the crotch is smoothly shaped. I think I’m looking at two little tweaks, but dang every version I’ve said “I just need to do this one little thing.”
Despite all that I’ve written and shared, I really don’t consider the first 4 versions significant when evaluating the pattern. I feel the final fit resulted not from the draft but from using Jen’s fitting instructions. I expect some strong push back on that statement. Numerous people have used this pattern and posted glowing reviews. But I was on the verge of tossing the pattern at Pant #4. Four fabrics, four bad fits. How many bad fitting muslins do you make before deciding the draft doesn’t work?
Summary Tissue Changes:
- two sizes larger than recommended
- +3/4″ to side seam from hip to waist
- +3/4″ to entire back inseam
- +1/2″ to back crotch
- slash and spread at hip line
- +1/4″ smooth divot at side seam total 1″ added to side seam hip still 3/4″ at waist
- -2″ above knee back and front
- -1/1″ (1/4″ tuck) above knee on back only
- 1.5″ Diagonal Overlap
- causing +3.4″ side seam height back only
- Smoothing side seam, inseam and crotch curve
- Smooth crotch curve
- pin front to back along inseam and side seam then smooth the curve
- 1/4″ dart at back inseam (zero at side seam) above knee
- Knock Knee alteration
- Possible front crotch scoop for camel toe
- Possible back crotch scoop