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


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