Happy Pant, Shorts

Happy Pant: Shorts (11″ Inseam, +1″ Ease)

The day before, I copied the fitted pattern down to the. “My Knee” mark.  Hmm the pattern has a knee line.  When I check my knee in the pant it’s about 2″ above that line and that’s where I drew the “My Knee” line and the length I traced the pattern.  Including a 1.25″ hem, it should finish with an 11″ inseam.  (I’m pretty short).

I thought of doing something special, like pockets or even a different waistband but decided right now the important thing was discovering the length I wanted my short shorts AND if the non-stretch pattern still fit me when made in a non-stretch fabric.  Due to the chemo and steroids and despite my efforts to control my eating. the hospital scales continue to increase .2 pounds every visit which is every week.  Trend wise, I’m gaining a pound a month. You may think me silly, but right now, I’m not trying to lose weight. I’m just trying to stop the scales at one place. Having worked with knit fabrics I need to take a pause and ensure my non-stretch pattern still fits what I know to be an ever expanding figure. (Sigh.)

I selected a cotton/poly seersucker fabric. I bought 3-4 cuts 2 years ago.  Didn’t make shorts last year because I was having such wild fitting issues.  It wasn’t that seersucker is a “precious” fabric, but more of I wanted to wear the resulting pants more than once. Hence the delay until this year when summer weather combined with a …er…. more stabilized figure and identifiable fitting issues made it possible to use one of my favorite summer fabrics, seersucker.

Love making shorts.  2 hours for laying out, cutting, serge finishing all edges and stitching together for the first fitting.  The Bank LIne photos, taken at first fitting, don’t look bad at all

The crotch did feel a little short.  When I looked at the front and back (in fitting pose)…

… I wasn’t sure there was anything really wrong.  Other than, the crotch depth felt short and the same time it looked like maybe I should pull the pant up at least in front.  It was the side view….

…. which convinced me that the additional .2# every week was having a bad effect.  I don’t expect my non-stretch pants to hug the shape of my thigh, tummy and butt as seen in the side view.  Not too much can be done at this point.  I thanked my lucky stars that I had decided to use this particular seersucker for the test pair because I have a very similar seersucker stripe still in the stash. If I am not able to wear this pair in a few weeks, well I’ve got another fabric I can use to replace them.

I let out the side seams as much as possible (1/4″) which added 1″ ease.

Maybe still not the best fitting shorts I’ve ever had.  They still feel a little short crotch depth wise but there are things about these I especially like.  For starters, that 2 hour sewing time. But I also like that the stripe is flowing vertically.  It should but doubted it would because  during the fitting of the pattern the gainline swung back and forth almost drunkenly.  I used the final grainline and am so relieved that it is right! I am also delighted that my hem is so even.  I think any difference is due to needing a little extra crotch depth although it may exclusively be that it actually needs more ease than the 1″ I was able to rescue from the side seams.

Anyway, these are going in the closet to be worn. I’ll see what I can fix,   on the next pair.


8268, Joggers

The Status of 8268

Well to put it shortly, they were binned, same as the Ponte’s of the previous post.

I’ve had these hanging in the UFO’s since my last post. I’m not overly fond of the fabric. So no loss there. I wanted the jogger style which 8268 really isn’t doing for me. To me a jogger has a wide almost yoga waistband, a back yoke (too keep it slim around the waist) and a straight leg with some kind of cuff.

  • So I can fix the cuff.  Just shorten the leg and add a cuff of some kind.
  • The straight leg is almost there as far as shape — I might even want a little more ease.  I mean joggers are supposed to be comfortable not sexy.
  • I’ve tried and tried to fix the front.  That above, the best it gets.

The back, also above, not getting much better than when I started (below).

I stopped to ask not just what I wanted from this pattern, but why it came nowhere near to fitting me despite some heroic and brave re-cutting using the Happy Pant crotch and inseam.  What I really want; really really want?  The waistband, a yoke in back, and the straight jogger leg with cuff. I”m getting pretty bold with my Happy Pant pattern.  So I’ve decided to let this go  but not without keeping a few things.

  • I kept the waistband pattern.  Pretty sure it can be adapted to my Happy Pant.
  • Measured the leg at the knee and the  hem.  Pretty sure I can modify the Happy pant leg to this shape.
  • Kept the conviction that I can’t fit Big pattern.
  • Kept my hopes.  Can’t do anything if I let them go.
4-WayStretch, Happy Pant, Stretch

A Bit of a Failure

Pics lighted 100%

Entirely my fault these ponte pants were such a failure.  I was moving along making minor changes and had decided that I wanted to use my Happy Pants pattern with stretch fabrics.  I recalled there were easy  instructions from Fit Nice.  I pulled out Kessinger’s design book and re-read.  Should be easy.  Just adjusting the side and in seams a bit for 2 way stretch fabrics plus for 4-way stretch fabrics,  adjusting the crotch a bit. I tried and think it worked well with my first fabric a rayon/lycra with 20% horizontal stretch.   Encouraged, I pulled out the ponte (used in the pants above) and measured stretch 40% horizontal, 20% vertical. Ah ha! The important 4 way stretch.  I had already copied the fitted pattern (with all the changes) and had trimmed 1/4″ from side seams.  I didn’t alter the pattern further but laid out my fabric and new-to-me stretch pattern. Loaded the serger and sewing machine and started stitching.  I stitched the inseams and crotch 1/4″ deeper. 4-way stretch, right? Need all the changes, right? Problem with the crotch is that changes are apparent until the crotch seams are trimmed or clipped. Overly confident, I trimmed.  When I looked at the pics of the first fitting, I was shocked. What happened to all my careful fitting. The front has funny pooching above the crotch,  like the tummy area has suddenly bifurcated; the front leg has developed long folds that pool into the lower leg. While the back is obvious too tight (we could light up the night and find your cell with illumination bouncing off my butt). The back legs are poofy over the thigh; descending into drapes and pooling at the ankle.  How could this be so different?

I should admit this is not a good ponte.  It is the ponte you buy from Fabric.com which is clearly stated for use in athletic uniforms as used by schools. IOW for high school students to wear once a week for 3-5 months and then discarded. I thought it would make a good test.  Perhaps it did. But that isn’t the real issue.

The real issue was the error I made at the beginning:  Measuring the stretch of the fabric.

Want to see a really good demo on how to measure the stretch in fabric for actual use?  Try this recent J Sterns Video


J Sterns Demo


In it she shows what I did. I overstretched.  Jen stops and carefully looks at the fabric – which I should have done- she asks the question, is this how you want your garment to look on your body?   Well if I  had done that, I’m sure I would have revised the stretch factors.

I tossed this pair.  Cheap fabric, bad construction decision.  I considered what it would take to fix.  The crotch can’t really be restored to original dimension/shape, but I could add gussets along the inseams and side seam if needed. Then it dawned on me, it would take longer to get this pair wearable than the 2.5 hours I’m clocking making new pairs.


Note to self:  Don’t just yank the fabric to determine stretch factor.  How does the stretched fabric look?  How does it feel?  Is this what I want to wear?

Happy Pant, Knee Dart

2.5 Hour Pants

OK what’s not true about these pants?  A 2.5 hour completion time doesn’t take into account the fabric prep, tissue prep and layout; and machine set up which I did the day before while cleaning up the sewing area.  The 2.5 hours starts when I walked downstairs and made the first cut.  It ends when the pics were taken.  So, of course, I haven’t included anytime for blogging.

I knew I wanted to make these pants as soon as the brown pair were done.  On the brown pair I had tested a suggested from J Sterns Designs to correct the belling of the leg.  I needed to transfer the change to the tissue and cut new fabric to be sure the alteration works as expected.  The alteration is simple, a 1/2″ dart placed along the inseam just below knee level. But I was tremendously surprised at how that changed the grainline.  I kept the grain line centered in the lower leg (below knee) and extended the line all the way up.  The upper torso and leg obviously shifted course.

This radical change stopped me in my tracks.  I was thinking “its time for darts and a fitting waistband with zipper” or “make pockets”. I’ve sewn the same pant over and over and I’m just a little tired. But the important thing with this pair is checking the alteration.  I was afraid that if I changed construction or details it might contribute to a new emergent problem or even be the cause.

Hence the polyester, crepe fabric (30% stretch widthwise 20% vertical) which was cut same as the wide-leg  non-stretch Happy Pant. i.e. stretch is not a fitting factor for this pant. Finished hem circumference is 26″. This isn’t a palazzo either–no added ease across seat or tummy.

And I”m happy!

..but I may have over corrected.  I may have made the dart too deep. Now it seems to be belling towards the inner leg instead of the outer.  Well that’s an easy fix.  I actually made a dart in the  leg.  I didn’t cut and overlap because I was still concerned at the placement and depth.  It will be easy to reduce the depth of the dart and try this again.

Still hangs beautifully from the sides.  I ignore the stuff right under the gathered waistband.

I took these pics, the hitched up the back just a fraction.  They felt like they were sitting just a little low at the waist.  I think the leg wrinklers would practically disappear if I had pulled them up that fraction while taking pics.  It’s the thing I dislike about gathered/elastic waistbands.  They are comfortable and adjust to you during the day.  Big pluses, in my mind. But they can also migrate. My favorite WB is  straight, fitted and stays in place.


4-WayStretch, Happy Pant, Stetch 20%

Happy Pant: Phenomenal 2 (TWO) DAY Pants

Pics have been lightened 100%

Yeah, I’m super chuffed! !!! !!!!! It’s been years, like 25 or 30 since I’ve been able to cut, stitch, fit and finish a pair of pants in just two days. What’s the secret of my success?

  • Well for starters, I’ve been working with the Happy Pant and it’s designer J. Sterns at J. Sterns Designs for weeks and we’re not quite done. Bored, no it’s been a super learning experience. I’ve learned a lot, I tell you, a whole big bunch about the current shape of my lower half. We think I’m close to having this pattern fit perfectly. A fit that is repeatable, time after time. One that adapts to style changes and fabrics. That’s a damn-fine pattern, especially for pants.
  • 2nd contributing factor is the fabric.  It is a 100% polyester described as “Drapey Suiting” by the seller fabricmartfabrics.com (Dont think there is any left of my espresso brown but there was a green and black here when I wrote this post). When tested, the fabric measured a 25% widthwise stretch and 30% lengthwise stretch. I found that surprising but even more so since I had to pull pretty firmly to get the widthwise stretch, but it stretch vertically if I just breathed.  Very possibly the fabric could have been cut cross grain. I continued with the standard grain cutting so that I would be consistent in my experiments with the pant pattern.

I cut using the full leg version of my Happy Pant (HPFL). Not shared I have been experimenting with changing the width of the lower leg and using with stretch fabrics.  I’ve been successful, so why did I choose to use the HPFL with a stretch fabric.  Blame it on Linda at Sewing Workshop and her video from about a week ago as of now.   (That’s Face Book link. To view, you must be a member of Facebook and part of the Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection group.)  During the video she talks about the pant fabrics she likes to use. She does mention twills and firmer fabrics and which patterns work really well for them, but mostly she talks about drapey fabrics and their effect on her fuller-leg pants. And they do, work well I mean.  I look at the samples and don’t even think about the pant  having a full leg. I see the overall fit, the silhouette, the elegance and I drool.  So while I was planning to use my fabric for a slimmer leg, the video convinced me that I had in my hands the perfect fabric for the fuller leg. The stretch was a not factor in either style selection (full leg) or in fit. These are cut exactly as the linen muslin, except using the full leg length.

Actual sewing was a breeze.  I’ve now sewn these so many times I’ve lost track.  I used Gutterman all-purpose thread to stitch legs and crotch together, after serge finishing the ravely legs. Also stitched the waistband with permanent thread but when attaching the WB to the pant leg, I used my beloved Water Soluble thread. After try on and pics, I offset the waistband 3/8″ from the waist of the pants and I hemmed the pants 1/4″ deeper.  I’m not sure the leg needed to be deeper but shortening the entire torso area, I think called the crotch depth, really was needed.  It was just enough to snug the pant to my body at the crotch and eliminate the side-drapes I get.  One significant change with the waistband, even though the band and the elastic were the same length as all the others I’ve made, I attached it so that 1″ more length goes across the front, my tummy.   It’s a 1 piece band, that’s stitched in a circle and quarter marked. But the side quarters are marked 1/2″ closer to the CB seam.  That’s a personal fitting adjustment most people will never need to make. I do it because my back at the waist is slim (I actually have a waist in back), but my tummy is rotund.  I have real issues with the elastic WB wanting to creep up over the tummy and find some place smaller (under my boobs) to rest. Giving it, my tummy/front, just 1″ more is an excellent solution but does take a few extra moments of planning.

Are there still possible fit improvements?  Jen (J Sterns) thinks the leg could hang better and lose it’s bell shape with a little altering.  I also see a little poofyness at CB under the waistband and a little extra drape in back over the thigh.  With a full leg, I’m not so sure that the ease of the thigh should be considered an issue.

Lovin’ it!