Summer Shorts

.High summer has arrived in SD. Complete with thunder storms, hail and high temperatures. Like triple digit temperatures. This is the type weather where I keep an unlined rain jacket handy to slip over my daily wear of either dresses or tops with shorts. Definitely not long pant weather.Not surprisingly, none of last year’s shorts were wearable. So flush with my success using Trudy Jansens Designer Jean (#906), I decided to use it making shorts. AND since I did want to be able to use the non-stretch fabrics languishing in my stash, I selected a corded cotton for the first pair.

After fitting the 906 jeans, I cut my pattern down 2 sizes along the side seams.  Despite the final back picture, that crotch was pretty good. Beyond trimming to a 3/8″ seam allowance  I didn’t touch the crotch.  As there had been like 6″ of left over waistband, I trimmed the waistband 3″ which still made a 1.5″ over/underlap.  To snug the WB to my body,  I also darted the upper edge of the WB 3/8.  Ready to go…

Or rather crash and burn (First Try-on)

It’s a good thing fat squishes and compresses because,I could barely pull these up. I let the side and inseams out the max and finally added a 2″ strip (net 3″circumference added) to the side seams. I was able to breath once again, but there were still obvious crotch issues and no more seam allowance

Honestly, I was kind of stunned. I didn’t think the 10% stretch of the denim would make quite this much difference.My mind was a whirl of “What happened?” “Was a stretch fabric going to be necessary or me to fit pants?” I opted to leave these as UFO’s and try another fabric, a 10% stretch sateen.  First fitting stunned me.

If the fabric’s tested the same amount of stretch, why were these so tight. I let out side side seams and eventually inseams to the max. Final change was a nice big back-crotch scoop.

BTW, I’ve lightened the pics enormously. The Sateen is a dark, rich Hershey’s brown color. Walking about, the drag lines aren’t noticeable. I know because I’ve already worn these in public.

Still I wasn’t satisfied with this pair and was especially perplexed about the tissue. I kept considering the question “If both fabrics (denim and brown sateen) had the same amount of stretch, why did the garments need such vastly different fitting adjustments?   Does the inherent stretch of the denim make that much difference?  Or did I not really fit the denim jeans?

My eyes alighted upon a Bengaline fabric that I’ve been avoiding for 3 or so years.  I’ve had 4 cuts of Bengaline. 3 purchased in SD USA, the other sorced all the way from Australia. I hate this fabric. Try to steam press and it bubbles. It feels like a nasty polyester. (Note I generally don’t have an aversion to poly. Bengaline is the exception. ) I grabbed it now thinking it’s 40% stretch  would at least be a good sacrificial fabric.

To my tissue I added back the previously trimmed-away 2 sizes plus an extra 1/2″ on both side and inseams. The waistband still would not snug to my waist.  Oh it would start out right, but by the end of the fitting, the WB was settling lower. So I made another 1/4” dart at the top of the WB before laying out and cutting the Bengaline.

So loose, it barely stayed on my body. Hmm, just like the denim jeans. Several fittings later ….

I made the side seams  1-3/4″ deep but let out the inseam 1/2″.  Also made a big scoop in the back crotch.  The WB required major surgery.  I didn’t have enough to cut another WB, in fact I hadn’t had enough fabric to cut WB and facing from the Bengaline.  I used a poly sheeting-like fabric for the facing and interfaced both with weft–I want to stop that stretching along the upper WB edge. To my shock the WB was way too short.  I had to piece both WB and facing. I had to stitch the back crotch along yoke and upper leg 3 times to tame the poofiness. What happened to the change I made to the pattern after the denim jeans?  I swear, I pinned yoke to leg and carefully cut a straight line.

I talked it over with my Sewing Angel. Decided that for now, I goal should be decent fitting garments appropriate for the season and occasion. The goal of  perfect fit as I have achieved in the past is just not practical with a body that changed rapidly due to cancer and is still changing (I hope) due to diet and exercise.

So I have 2 new pairs of shorts in the closet that aren’t too tight and don’t need a hair elastic at the waist holding them up. I am happy about that. That first shared nonstretch pair are still hanging in the closet as a UFO. Quite likely I will rip out the zipper and discard them.  I think 25%-PLUS stretch fabrics and the much too large pattern is the way to go for now. It means big changes at fitting, at least until I can work with various stretch fabrics and settle into a routine. Oh and a new goal of appropriate to season and event with decent-not-perfect fitting.  Hope that makes my pant sewing more bearable and successful more often.



Changes for fitting:

  • Brown Sateen 10% stretch
    • side and inseam SA 1/4″
    • shorten side seams 3/8″ more
    • straighten CB seam.
    • Big crotch scoop
  • Bengaline 40% stretch
    • Side SA 1.75″
    • Inseam SA 1″
    • Big crotch scoop



Pants Fitting the Chemo Body

I can still wear some of my jeans if I make a buttonhole extension using a hair elastic which lets the waist spread to a comfortable circumference. But the jeans and pants I can wear (with that little cheat) are winter or at best 3 season wear.  The season they can’t be worn in is now, Summer.  I am jean-less for hot weather. I purposely shopped for lighter weight denim purchasing 2 cuts of 8.5 and 9 oz denim several weeks ago.  After sewing angel started talking , I had to have summer weight jeans now.

I haven’t made jeans since I discovered Diane Gilman at HSN. None of my DG2 jeans are wearable during this heat wave. Much too hot. Somy  Trudy Jansen Designer jean pattern comes out of the box.

I’ve loved this jean pattern  from the very first pair I made. Over the years I have made many variations. I think the secret is a unique crotch shape combined with a center back leg seam. That CB seam lets me really fit under and over my seat. This jean has always been easy for me to fit.

I started the current pair by checking my hip and waist measurement.  My hip puts me in a 20 (yes I have gain that much) but my waist is not on the chart! My solution was to measure the waist band which led me to believe that the largest size  would work for my  waist.  I traced the largest size then  pressed the wrinkles out of the 9oz cotton/lycra denim (10% stretch) and laid both fabric and pattern out on the cutting board.  For now the pockets are traced but set aside.  I probably won’t add the front pockets to this pair.  I can lie to myself about fit when using front pockets–so no pockets at least during fitting. While I’ve gotten much bigger around, I am not any taller.  I knew without a doubt the 35″ inseam was a mistake. So the only change I made was to reduce leg length 2″.

After stitching the zipper in the front, I installed water-soluble thread in the bobbin; contrasting thread in the needle and started basting the rest of the pieces together.  So glad I was using WST because I forgot to stitch the yoke to the back leg. Duh!  I’d say a blonde moment but right now I have very little fuzz on top and it is all a brilliant white. Anyway, ripped out seams as needed;  added the yoke, waistband and WB facing.  Held my breath and went for the first fitting.

Son of a gun, they nearly fell to the floor!

I had to hold them up for pics. — BTW the pics are much lightened so we can see the wrinkles. My fabric is a medium-dark blue.  Doesn’t photo well for sharing purposes but looks good IRL.– You can’t imagine my joy at needing a smaller size. In fact, TWO sizes smaller.

For the second fitting,I pinched at the WB side seam and then in the leg just to see how much excess circumference I might be looking at. Removed the WB past the side seams and stitched the side seams another 1/2″ deeper before replacing WB and taking 3rd set of pics.

I’m not having to hold them up but they did feel a little loose at the waist. Nearly every time I refit this pattern, I need to scoop the seat just a bit (takes care of most of the crotch issue) and stitch  the center-back leg seam just a little deeper below the seat. At this fitting the leg is  too long and when I look at the sides….

… I think the sides are too long as well which is another one of my common issues. Still that butt looks nice. I always say I don’t have a flat seat, think this proves it.

For  third fitting, for which I am not sharing pics, I shortened the side length  1.5″.  There is a trick to doing this when dealing with a yoke.  The yoke has to be unstitched and offset to the upper leg.  Since the crotch doesn’t need to be adjusted the offset only goes half way across the side-leg piece. A little tricky but does the job nicely. At the same time I restitched the side seams I wanted to snug the waist. So I made the side seams  1/4″ deeper at the top of the leg . Replaced the WB but angled across the front and front SA to line up the top of the back SA. It’s an alteration that is easier to do than to describe. . When I took pics of the last fitting I pinned up the hems to determine how much still needed to be removed from leg length.

To finish, I  serged along all the basting lines trimming away all the excess. OK, I did have to open the seams where seams crossed such as the yoke and side seam. To tweak the waistband, I added elastic between WB and its facing.  I skipped the pockets and the belt loops. I’m not really a belt wearer. The finished jean:

That’s the worst the back looked through all the fittings.  Looking at it now I realize I was taking in the side seams at the top of the leg to adjust the waist fit. With this waistband, little darts have to be placed in the WB to adjust the fit at the waist. The places to make the darts are even indicated on the pattern. Taking in the side seam at the top of the leg, adjusted 2″ below the waist. Hence, the waist is still a little too big and the back droops a little.  The side seams may still be too long and there may still be too much circumference. Because I used a stretch fabric, I could have achieved a closer fit i.e. removed more circumference. However, I have several jean-type fabrics that are non-stretch.  I want my TJ906 jean pattern usable with them.


The very BEST thing about this pattern: instead of working for days and weeks before giving up, in only TWO DAYS I have a pair of jeans I am happy to wear. Love this pattern.

Love it. Love it. Love it.



Summary of Changes

  • Shorten leg 3″
  • Shorten side seam length 1.5″
  • Trim 1/2″ from side (reduces circumference 2″)

Needed change

Add 1/4″ darts on WB