Airlie, StyleArc

SA Airlie: The Muslin

Finding a suitable muslin was a challenge.  I first measured the fabric sent with the pattern, a Bengaline. I have had a couple cuts of American Bengaline. Still have one in the muslin stack. American Bengaline is nothing like the fabric in hand. For starters American Bengaline is 70%+ polyester where the Australian is Viscose. The American stuff is therefore nasty to wear. In the summer it is hot; winter cold. Slightest touch of water causes bubbling which cannot be pressed-out. The pant must be washed and then, dear heaven, it needs a little steam which once again bubbles the fabric. Nasty stuff. But this Aussie stuff is definitely a different animal. Crosswise stretch is, as advertise, 0%. The length wise stretch measured 60% but the fabric looked like the belly and thighs of the woman who had 6 kids in rapid succession i.e. shredded.  I backed off the stretch to 40% which returned the fabric to a pleasant appearance. While I prefer pants with a little stretch, I have little pant-approrpiate with 40% stretch. Only one in the muslin stack and it would not be suitable for this slim pant.  My personal experience dictates that my slimmer pants need a little body to them and much less drape to support shape. Finding nothing suitable in the muslin stack, I hunted in the rest of the stash for something that I’m pretty sure would work with the slimmer pant but I wouldn’t mind sacrificing. Nearly all the suitable pants were in the $20-40 per yard range and I just could not cut into them. I did at last select a ponte purchased from It is a printed fabric which reminded me of the prints I’ve been seeing on pants since about February.  Not a cheap fabric, but not likely to be used for the intended purpose due to color.  This is another case where I saw what I wanted instead of what was actually published on the page. The fabric was a cream and navy print,  mostly cream.  I took one look and said “Not on my hinny.”.  I try to keep my bottoms muted, dark. It’s an effort to visually balance my hips with my narrow shoulders and upper bodice.  Mostly it works. But like I said, I can lie to myself and end up with a fabric that won’t work well for a pant but can as a top.  I was considering another Idye experiment, but opted to use it as a muslin for Airlie.

One of the beauties of a muslin is you don’t have do everything carefully. I mean, no finishing of seams. No pockets,  cut away and ignore hems. I use water-soluble thread in the bobbin for easy ripping. I had the pieces (just using front, back and waistband), cut, basted together and in pics in less than an hour. Let’s take a look:

I think the front looks nice. There are small, nearly vertical folds under the waistband over my right  tummy (left looking into the pic) and some diagonal folds above the hem on both legs. I wouldn’t worry about these, except I am fitting. The waist is much larger than my own; a combination of the pull-on pant needing to be as big at the waist as the hip and my having added the wedge at center front as well as increasing the side seams by 1″. I’m not sure the wrinkle over the tummy portion is an issue. Is it the result of the excess circumference? The circumference distribution when I pulled the pant up? Again, if I wasn’t just starting fit, I wouldn’t worry. I’d be pleased to wear it.

I can’t say I’m upset about the side view either.  Both have near vertical folds in the same general area. This is not a legging. Airlie is a slim pull-on pant.  I added ‘fit insurance’. So I definitely increased the circumference over the intended draft. Again, not sure this is really  a fitting issue…

The back is; and I expected it.  I was pretty sure that back crotch upright was too long, but I hesitated to cut the excess until I could verify.  Let me take you back a second. The crotch length and it’s division between back and right/ upright and extension involved a string of calculations and lots of room for error.  I’ve learned the hard way, that I can make the work  smaller not larger at a  later time. So even though my calculation said “take away from crotch upright’, I waited until I could physically verify the calculation with my muslin.  I expect a lot of the wrinkles below the hip and over the legs to disappear when I shorten the back upright, 1”. In the muslin, that’s a simple action of removing the waistband and restitching it 1″ lower at CB.

Beyond the back crotch upright correction,  I think I’ve moved into the range of actions required to fit a garment to my bodily anomalies.  When I looked at the crotch (let me refresh your memory)…

… I realized that it was the typical straightening of the curve where the upright and the extension drafting-lines cross. Because I have the high-low anomaly…

(Look it up in Palmer Pletch “Pants for All People”. It’s only one short paragraph in the fitting section. Easy to miss.)

… my crotch needs to dip below the crotch extension line at least 1/2″ and then rise to join the extension line. I knew that wasn’t my crotch.  I hesitated to cut into the tissue before making the muslin. I don’t know why. I will now before Fit #2.

A secondary note, this print does not look bad on me. I had assumed that it would add pounds to my appearance.  Is the look because this is a slim pant? Dark color? Have I become accustomed to seeing other women with horizontal striped pants?  Something else?

Fit#2 surprised me with its comfort. I wasn’t even aware the Fit#1 wasn’t comfortable until I slipped these on.  It was like the recent sandals I bought. The previous sandals felt find, until I slipped my foot into these, with their built-in arch support. I let out an immediate sigh of relief. Same thing with this pants. Suddenly, noticeably comfortable. But I still had some issues on the back side. Now, I clearly saw the upward diagonals pointing to the crotch. Crotch needs more length.


What to do? I’ve been here before, the experts recommend, add a gusset and trim to desired size.

My issue with gussets is that when I stitch the pant crotch it must form a smooth curve going through my legs; and that seems to remove as much as I added:

The Fit#3 pictures tell me this wasn’t a successful alteration.

But I knew that as soon as I tried it on. Comfortable fit: GONE.  Felt better in Fit1 than it does now.   CF nows rides high, while CB is pulled down. Otherwise, the front looks relatively the same. The back,  although there has been some lessening of the wrinkles, as a minimum remains unattractive if you don’t think the CB pulling down increases the ugly factor. The only good point is that starting with Fit2, the pant has not looked too tight across my rear yet I have not let out any seam to gain more circumference.

There must be a better way to add a gusset.  I use the patch method.  Please don’t suggest the diamond.  I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the math and sewing. At least, I can easily add a gusset by using the patch. The trouble here is the length required.  I added 1″ length to both back and front. But, as you saw above, I probably removed 3/4″ when I stitched the crotch with a  smooth curve.

Sadly, I must pause and place this muslin in the back of the sewing closet. Despite my favorable response to the stripes, I doubt that I will ever finish it but I may need to refer to what I’ve done so far.  I used to be able to fit Style Arc pants easily before my last age-related physical change.  You study all about the growth of children into adults but very little information is provided about the period from adulthood to the grave.  It seems to be something we each  have to grapple with on our own.  There are solutions. Most of them seem to be either terrible fit or shapeless. Please understand, I don’t actually feel harsh towards RTW or pattern cutters. At least not anymore. Truth is our body continues to change through our daily living habits as well as accidents and disease and that change continues through adulthood albeit unnoticeable until it is a problem.  Most of the change is  unique to the individual. I am problematic because I refuse to accept either shapelessness or terrible fit as solutions.  I do see  possible actions for me in working with this pant pattern.  I need to pause because  I need more 40% stretch fabric and I need it cheap. I anticipate another muslin or two.   I can’t fit long-legged pants with shorts. My combination of physical features create those back issues only with*1 long legged pants.  So I need to order fabric which can take 2 or more weeks.  Secondly, I need to do some research and testing on some ideas I’m having. That takes time. Finally I was so excited about the pattern that I dropped several project in progress. They await me.

But I do want to say, I’m liking this pattern so far.  That clever pocket, is sweet.  I can’t wait to use it. A 3-piece pant is quick to sew even when you do all the pockets, hemming and finishing I skipped for the muslin. This pattern, as all Style Arc patterns, was beautifully drafted. I had no issues with the pieces going together even with the several changes I did at the tissue stage. I’m convinced that’s because I started with a well drafted pattern. I will get back to it. Promise.



*1 Several years ago, I used a Burda pattern for long-legged pants to make shorts. All summer I made short after short by simply folding up the leg to my desired inseam. Thinking all the issues solved, except maybe length, I purchased nice fabric for an autumn pant. I was shocked. Horrified!  The back suddenly develop more wrinkles than seen above. On me, the leg length/inseam makes a tremendous difference in what I need to do to fit pants.