Black Jean Shorts

I’m placing this posts here on my pants blog because the garment is a pair of shorts made with the jean pattern Butterick 5403; however this post might better be located on one of my other sewing blogs because it’s really about Cover Stitching. I did nothing new with the pattern.  My fabric is a heavy black denim and was a joy to work with. Yes, a joy because it didn’t ravel; it didn’t slip or slid around on either the cutting table or at the machines. I inserted a new jeans needle at the sewing machine but both the cover stitch and serger machines kept their same size 12, ELX705 needles as used for previous garments.  Oh and both machines stitched beautifully.  The final garment fits as expected.  It’s a little stiff because the fabric is a 100% cotton that is both heavy and stiff.  I did give the fabric the denim treatment i.e. twice through the laundry on hottest hot with a can of Coke in the wash cycle.  The fabric is softer and I think it has quit bleeding but it is still a heavy and stiff fabric.

So this post is really about the cover stitching and a little embroidery. Let’s start with the embroidery.  This embroidery design was downloaded years ago and probably was free.  I don’t know the site URL.  At the time I didn’t worry about being able to give credit to the digitizer for their work. Now I can’t because I don’t know. It is named 3984.pes which leads me to believe I downloaded from EmbroideryDK but I”m not sure. (ETA EmbroideryDK has a new-to-me search feature. I found the design here.)

Pic of Pocket embroidery.

It is a single color design, no outline and a flat, satin-stitch, fill. The way this design stitches out is one of the reasons I need Embird.  I opened the design in Embird and clearly saw 2 nasty jump stitches.

Embird has a  sew out feature which I watched and I’m glad I did.  The stitch-out sequence would cross the jump stitches and thereby embed them into the embroidery.  When I was first embroidering I didn’t worry about jump stitches and tried to clip them all when the embroidery was totally finished. I found that it’s not always possible to cleanly clip and remove jump stitches when subsequent stitches have embedded the jump stitch into the design.  If I’d used my Ruby, she would automatically clip the jump stitches for me (after I enter the codes through Embird.) But I don’t have a small hoop for the Ruby.  From experience I also like to use the hoop which is just large enough to contain the design.  Again, I know because of disaster, that my embroidery comes out better when I use the smallest hoop.  The larger the hoop, the harder it is to keep the fabric stable. More and heavier stabilizer is required. My largest hoop (The Royal) came with an additional set of perimeter clips.  So it’s not just me.  The industry has recognized the larger the hoop the more effort at stabilization is required.  So I used my Janome MC9500 which has a 126 x110 mm hoop and as you can see from the picture is just slightly larger than the design I intended to use.  Since the Janome doesn’t clip jump stitches, I used Embird to selectively change colors at the jumps.

Now my machine would stop at the color change and ring a little bell.  I would stop whatever else I was doing, clip the stitch and restart the machine.  I wanted the embroidery to be the same yellow-bronze-gold as my jean thread.  I didn’t change thread colors. All I did was clip the thread at the knot of the previous “color” and touch the “Start” button to continue stitching.  While in Embird I also mirrored the design for the other pocket.

Then it was time to begin stitching and cover stitching.  I wanted to use my CS for top stitching the jeans. I’ve mentioned this to others.  Sometimes I feel guilty or remorseful for having purchased a machine with such limited capability.  I really didn’t have the room or $$$ for it. In fact when replaced my serger, I bought a serger (HV S21) that could also convert to a cover stitch machine.  My S21 even has holes so that binders and other accessories can be attached. But when sewing, I switch between machines continually. That means  serge a seam maybe two, then change needle positions, flip the serge/CS switch, remove 1 looper stitch thread, thread the other through a different path and finally add the table.  Then I cover stitch a seam maybe two and reverse that process. I can’t simply serge everything then cover stitch everything.  The construction process dictates when each of those seams need to be made.  I rearranged the sewing room and found the $$$ for the CS about 2 months after buying the S21 because I really love the cover stitch but switching back and forth was driving me nuts.  I’m not using binders or other attachments – yet- so my CS gets minimal use and I feel guilt/remorse for having invested the space and $$$.  It occurred to me that being able to use the CS for top stitching especially on jeans could be a winning solution.  I avoid or at least minimize top stitching on jeans again because you have to change the thread  every one or two seams.  It gets really annoying.  How great could it be to have a second machine all set up and ready to go for the top stitching?

GREAT, but has its issues too.  I didn’t have 3 matching spools of jean thread.  I’ve got 4 or 5 spools labeled jeans thread but the colors don’t match.  I opted to use my Bob N Serge:

Links to Nancy’s Notions.com

… and I decided to use the embroidery thread to fill 2 bobbins to be used for the needles.  I used black thread for the looper because my jeans are black.  I tried top stitching  on the pockets first. I changed the stitch length to 4 but made no other set up changes.  My CS stitched the straight lines beautifully. But I couldn’t do the corners to save my soul.  I had to load the embroidery thread on the SM to stitch back pockets, the zipper and the curved front pockets.

I was particularly bummed about the front pocket.  I knew the sharp angles of the pockets would be a challenge I might need more expertise to accomplish. But I thought the gentle curve of the front pocket would work.  Even with the clear foot, I could not stitch a short, even distance away from the curved edge.  Just couldn’t do it. I do have the stitch-in -the -ditch accessory, but that didn’t help here because it put one row on the pocket and the other off into the air. (Yes I had to try it out. It was a blond moment.) I haven’t seen but would like to find an edge guide for the CS machine. All the straight line, top stitching was divine.

There is enough of it to make my time winding bobbins worth while. I counted pocket and leg hems, yokes, side seams and belt loops.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with my belt loops but that was my fault.  I folded them 3 times and top stitched.  I like the effect well enough to look into the actual belt-loop making attachment.

It seemed only right to top stitch the zipper with two rows of stitching.

I thought about adding a quick fitting critique, but you can hardly see anything, so how about just a  front and back wearing photo?

Waiting for timer while watching NetFlix.

Fit wise, I’d still like shorts to be a little shorter and the hem looks angled (shorter on the inside).  It could be that this stiffer fabric requires a little more length in the crotch. Oh well, they feel comfortable and I’m not ripping out all that stitching.

My personal conclusion is that setting up the CS for top stitching was a good idea.  I used the double line here but I think that switching to chain-stitch and single line of top stitching could be ideal at other times. I also felt like I took another step towards mastering this machine.  I’m at the point that I can accurately place a straight line of cover stitching where ever I want it. I need to practice with curves. Even as I progressed I realized other spots on the foot I could use to help in keeping my stitches an even distance. The clear foot is a help, but I have problems seeing through it. I’d still love to have an edge stitching guide.  I’m hopeful that some of you will have suggestions for conquering the angles needed for pockets and sources of the belt-loop making thingy. Eventually I should feel confident enough to again work with my binders..


B5403 the Crotch Shape

Many times, I can tell immediately if there is any hope a pant pattern will fit, by looking at the crotch. In case you are like me, in that regard, I thought I’d share what the B5403 crotch looks like.

The pattern pieces have been cut to the size XL, laid crotch to crotch and overlapped 1/4″ at the crotch.  This layout is missing the back yoke which adds another 1.75 to the back crotch; the front pocket piece and waistband.  I think you get the picture of a nice wide crotch with sufficient length to the extensions/forks of the crotch.  To often, designers think the bias of the fabric will stretch and adapt for all body sizes.  This just isn’t true.  Even with lycra, some of us need sitting room.

I needed a few more adaptions for the pattern to fit to my satisfaction.  My completed pieces, including the yoke:


Surprisingly, I made more changes to the front than back.  I’m not showing a comparison of the backs, because mine is scooped just slightly at the curve and the outseam  between hip and knee has been slimmed by about 3/8″.  The front:

The patterns are aligned on the grain and hip lines. If you read my easy pockets post, you’ll recognize that I filled in the pocket opening on my personal pattern. I’ve also made the front crotch more upright, indicating that Connie designed the pattern for a more Rubenesque tummy. I also needed to shorten the crotch upright and add more ease for the front thigh by adding a wedge from crotch to just above the knee (sorry that doesn’t really show in the pic’s).

When I compare the original with my personal tissue, I think I really didn’t do much to get this fitting me.  I’m happy about that and would be happy to consider using more of Connie Crawford’s pants patterns.



Black Twill

This 100% cotton black twill will fill a void in my wardrobe:


I used the same B5403 pattern with 2 changes. 1) I added 1″ to the hem as mentioned during critiquing the previous pair.2) I added a gusset, which I will share tomorrow.  Not really a pattern alteration but it does make a difference in how the pant hangs, I used the pocket design from the grey shorts. I basted sides and waistband before taking these pictures.  Even lightened 100%…


… it is hard to see the details and make a reasonable criticism.I’m going to have to depend upon feel and what I can see in the mirror. But I see that the back of the leg still has some excess ease and there is something making the sides look lumpy in the picture.The leg may be too long, it’s buckling at the knee.  Nonetheless, I’m not changing the leg length. This is 100% cotton. Cotton is inclined to shrink.  I decided against removing the excess ease in the back of the thigh. These feel close-fitting when I stand. When I sit, I seem to fill out all available space.  Since I sit as much or more than I stand, I think I want that ease. I can tell that the waist is tiling upwards. Since this has been consistent the last 3 pairs of pants, I will alter the pattern and remove 1/4″ from front and back at the waistline. My experience in the past is that those little feather marks above the bu_t are due to back crotch height being too high. I do think that removing 1/4″ from the height of the front crotch will also smooth out the draping lines seen on the front thigh. Again, it’s an experience thing. I know that’s the alteration which works for my body and those wrinkles.

I’ll be putting this pattern away now, but just for a while. Even though this really is the typical “Mom Jeans” pattern I will be using it in the future. It fits relatively well. Especially when I realize that I’ve been using non-stretch fabrics to produce an acceptable fit.  I have several things I want to do, sewing-wise.  Now that I know I can fit a pattern without the X wrinkles in the back, I’m eager to pull out my TJ906 and fix it. I also want to adapt the MSS for my figure, something I wasn’t able to do using the designer’s instructions.  I think the MSS is the pattern for when you need pants now. And of course, I do want to fit Jalie 2908 and adapt Tj906 and this pattern for stretch fabrics. Finally I still want to play with the idea of changing the 3 leg-piece TJ906 into a back-darted two-piece pattern. Immediately, though, I’m going to be sharing my process for creating an inner leg gusset  and the excellent front pocket used in this version B5403.



Written in all caps and with some pride, I present my MOM JEANS:

Granted it’s difficult to see any fitting issues. Part of the beauty of dark denim is that it hides figure flaws, fitting issues and makes the body look a little thinner.  These actually might escape the “Mom” derision because they are constructed from a dark soft denim.  Purchased at Hancocks Sioux Falls SD just 2 weeks ago and already made up as jeans on my body, they are comfortable. Just exactly what I love in jeans. If I remember correctly the fabric was described as 6 oz, 100% cotton.

To really examine the fit and hang of the jeans, I lighted the photos as much as possible:

I’ve added green arrows but most people wouldn’t even see these as issues.  There is a little too much ease on the back thigh.  The vertical wrinkles start below the widest point of my butt and extend maybe 9 inches–well short of my knee.  The side view shows the same excess ease on the back leg.  The front vertical wrinkles could be either too much ease or the fact that the front crotch is too long for this fabric. That’s an important distinction because looking at the  cotton/linen pair completed less than a week ago, those front vertical lines don’t exist and the waistband is horizontal to the floor. I also note there are still bubbles beneath the waistband, but only on the back. There is  pincheable ease along the side seams so I don’t think it’s the other possibility that of  insufficient ease causing the back crotch to creep upward.

I really nailed the seams into place and topstitched (with matching thread) so I won’t be adjusting these jeans.  I’m not too sure I should change the pattern. After all the previous pair and both shorts were G_R_E_A_T even perfect. It’s a fabric issue that I might have been able to fix had I basted side seams and waistband. Oh well live and learn.

There is one other criticism I doubt you even notice. Finishing just below the ankle, these jeans are the perfect length. I prewashed the fabric on the sanitary setting and added a dash of Retayne along with a can of coke. Then the fabric was baked on MAX for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The Retayne should keep them from fading. The coke should soften the fabric to the max and along with the hottest water and hottest dry heat, have shrunk the fabric as much as possible.  But I know from experience that denim will continue shrinking. That’s what denim does. So in 6 months to a year, these will be above the ankle and then too short for my preference.

Make no mistake, I’m wearing these jeans P R O U D L Y for as long as they are wearable. You can’t beat comfortable jeans for most of life’s activities. The question is do I want to adapt this pattern a little more, or keep it like it is?


Real Shorts


I titled these as ‘real” shorts because of the chosen fabric.  This is a remnant from a nice, very nice and expensive denim. It is heavy, soft and a deep rich navy blue as well as containing the flexibility of good quality denim. IOW it’s the right fabric for jean shorts.  I took the time to put a nice 2-color embroidery on the back of each pocket and, even though I’m not showing it, I topstitched the zipper fly and front pocket edges with a yellow-orange thread. (Similar in color to what jeans normally use for topstitching).  Unlike traditional jeans, my hems as 1.25″ deep and topstitched with a matching blue thread.

I used the same alterations as for the previous B5403 shorts. I did scoop another 1/8″ out of the back crotch.

I’ve lightened the photo so you can check out the fit. I definitely like how the pant fits between waist and crotch; and this is the right length for shorts on my frame..  I think the back leg may have a little more ease than I personally care for but there is an advantage.  In summer shorts, the extra ease allows for more cooling air circulation. I have no doubt that I’ll wear these all summer long and probably for years to come.




B5403: Changing the Curved Yoke

I think that within every post I’ve written about this pattern, Butterick B5403, I’ve indicated that I don’t like the curved yoke.   The way it falls on me, my first reaction is that  something wrong is happening. Closer examination proves that there’s nothing wrong at that particular point. It’s just the yoke curving. So once the fit of B5403 was near perfect, I decided to change the yoke.  I copied both the pant leg and yoke so that if I do anything terrible, I can always refer back to the tissue that did fit.  Next I drew an angled but straight line across the top of the leg and the bottom of the yoke. I folded the tissue towards the interior of each piece along that line.  When finished the yoke and top of pant leg looks like this (but without the text):

Normally I would be adding seam allowances.  My feeling was that the pattern already contained the seam allowances along these edges. My trims were very small, at maximum a 1/4″ curve here and there. I decided to risk it and make a pair of shorts with this as the new yoke.

Did you catch the reference to “shorts” instead of pants?  We had a few sweltering days of heat last week which made me remember that I had donated all my shorts when they came out of storage.  At that time (about 6 weeks back) I had laundered, pressed and hung all the summer clothes on hangers in my closet. Except for the shorts.  I didn’t even want to place these in the closet since I had so much time to replace them before they were needed.  Well that “so much time” has disappeared and I was sweating in my long pants.  With a pant pattern that fit, I decided to adapt it for shorts.  This is a very easy process.  I drew in the horizontal line at the knee and folded up into the interior of the leg (both front and back) anything below that line. I needed to fold the leg down so that it wasn’t obscuring any of the crotch or hip shaping. Then I secured the folded up portions with a straight pin.

Next the hem. I can’t simply cut the hem areas as is, unless I plan to bind the edge, leave it to frey or other treatment that doesn’t require folding  up the cut fabric in a hem. I could just wing it and leave a little more width at the hem during cutting. But I think I to be able to use this pattern for shorts again and again.  My solution is to cut a strip of paper longer than the pants are wide at the designated hem and twice the depth of my planned hem. My planned hem is 1.25″ and the width of my pants where I folded up the leg was about 12″. So I cut a strip of tissue 2.5″ wide by 14″ long. I designed one of the long sides “the bottom” and aligned it with the bottom of the leg. I made sure the tissue was hanging out on both sides of the leg, and then taped the upper edge to the interior of the pant.  When I want shorts, this flap of tissue will be folded down. When I want long legs, I fold the flap up and the tissue inward along the inseam and side seam (so that I don’t inadvertently trim it off).  OK to many words. Here’s what the pattern alteration looks like:

So then it was onto making a test pair which would test both the change to the yoke and the leg length.  I can tell you immediately and without showing any pictures, that the leg was too long. The leg tick marks on B5403 fall 2″ below my knee.  I considered leaving it at that length because I sometimes wear a knee support and would like to cover it. But I decided that during summer, comfort was my primary objective and so I repeated the above process, 3″ higher on the pattern.  The end result is a short that is comfortable for me wear.  Keep in mind that I have passed the 6 decades mark and am seriously though not morbidly over weight:

I’m in the range where my doc says “just don’t gain any more”. All the other numbers doc’s like to look at, are within tolerable ranges. Even my cholesterol. Since it is a family hereditary condition to be way over, that’s a surprisingly good number. But back to shorts.  I chose a test fabric that I’ve used to tweak the fit of the JSM. While the JSM version fit, the fabric was terribly uncomfortable to wear and those pants are already in the trash. The fabric is a stiff cotton/nylon combination. It doesn’t have a bad hand when looking at the flat fabric or even on the bolt. But during wear it has absolutely no give. None. Zilch. Double Zero. This particular fabric really constrains movement and as you can see above my approx 20 pounds of excess flesh appear more like 40 or 60. I did the minimum I  could do during construction. So there isn’t much top stitching. The pockets are bound along the edge with purchased bias tape. The pocket does not have a facing. The pocket back is serged finished, aligned behind the leg (with its finished bound pocket edge) and then stitched into place. This is a V8 moment.  I serge finished and then stitched into place with two lines of stitching instead of using my cover stitch machine.  If I had used the cover stitch, that would have been a one pass job.  I like this finish and will remember to use it in the future with the cover stitch machine.

You can really see how loose this pant is. It makes a fine short. I get all that air circulation goin’ on which helps when we have sustained high temperatures.

I was concerned that the back crotch would be too short because I didn’t add  a seam allowance which I changed from curved to angled back yoke. In actuality I think the back crotch length may be a bit long.  There are bubbles on the back beneath the waistband. Usually that indicates that the yoke is trying to cover even higher and can’t because the waist band is stopping the yoke and the decision would be add length to the waist band thereby placing it higher on the body, or shortening the back crotch length. The waistband is in the right place and is the correct length for me and where I want the waistband to sit. That would make me say the back crotch is too long.  However, I’m not too sure.  The back crotch still feels tight as it crosses the curve of my behind. That could be either a crotch length issue or an ease issue.  It is a crotch issue. The crotch felt this tight when there was 2″ of extra ease. The tightness is not a ease issue, it an issue of where the curve starts and stops.  It’s also a fabric issue because the last pair made from a cotton/linen blend were perfectly comfortable.   I’m not sure if I will be wearing these or not.  They felt fine during fitting. They look OK/good in the pics.  My question is during actual wear, will that fabric be too constricting for shorts as it was for trousers?  Don’t know yet. But these are finished and ready for the next day of hot weather.


B5403 That’s The Way I Like It

I knew I was close with Version 2. I copied my changes back to the tissue. That’s not always easy or straight forward especially as it seemed I was taking an uneven crescent out shape from both waistline and hip curves; AND I was greatly reshaping the back crotch. But I felt somewhat assured and even a little confident.  At the tissue, I trimmed most of my seams to 3/8″ leaving only the side seams with a net 3/4″ allowance.

My fabric is a cotton/linen blend.  I found this particular fabric at Hancocks in Sioux Falls.  I bought this odd brown/rust/chocolate because it was the only color available.  Fortunately, it rather appeals to me and will work with my brown/pink Summer 6PAC.  I particularly like this blend as it is more comfortable than linen alone. It resists some wrinkling and doesn’t shrink as much.  Cotton/linen is softer to wear from the get-go.  The rumor is that linen softens over time. I never reach that end point as linen shrinks with every laundry cycle.  My 100% linen garments have always become too small before they became comfortably soft.

I’m going to jump straight to the finished fit.  I made 4 fitting tweaks to this Version #3. The first 3 changes targeted the torso length between waist and high hip. That’s like the 4″ just below th waistband.  The 4th and final tweak, trimmed away those Mickey Mouse ears I complained about with Ver 2. The result is

Darn near perfect! I will transfer these last changes to the tissue. My next major fix will be changing that curved yoke to a straight classic yoke.  Here in South Dakota, we’re rapidly entering summer weather and temperatures. I plan to fold the pattern at the knee and use it to make a few pairs of shorts. Future plans include morphing the flare leg onto this tissue.  (This should be easy. The pattern contains both the straight leg above and the flared leg.)  A minor alteration which delivers real fabric savings is the inner leg/crotch gusset.  I’ll be working on that too.

Oh I do see that I need to tweak the fit just a bit more.  There appears to be a little more ease than I care for on the back thigh.  I’m also seeing just a bit of pulling on the front legs which indicates that the front crotch extension is a mite short and I do believe that a twitch of ease could be removed beneath the tummy of the front only.

Now that this pattern fits well, I’m really pleased and even a little excited. I now have a template for fitting other jean drafts. That means I can pull out the Jalie pattern and adapt it for me.  I can fetch the TJ906 pattern that almost fit and make it perfect.  I can do so much because of this basic template.  I take back my earlier less than enthusiastic comments. Truthfully it took only 2 versions to reach a good fit. The first version was my terrible personal error caused by my not checking the fabric recommendations. I’m even more impressed with this pattern since I was able to take a pattern drafted for stretch fabrics and use it with non-stretch fabrics.  I’m tickled. Just tickled pink at how well this has ended for me.


B5403 Ver 2 Finished

First and last, I always think: how do I look in the bank line:
 photo GEDC0109_zpscc44eaf8.jpg

Truthfully these are good.Most of us, me included prefer a tighter jean. But my fabric has no stretch. To  be able to sit and move I must have additional ease– in all the right places.

 photo GEDC0108_zps3af9f3fe.jpg

Now for the rest of the story, I’m not over whelming in my applause for the pattern. I truly dislike the curved yoke.  More accurately, I wanted a traditional jean shape but for non-stretch denim, twill, corduroy and similar fabrics. I’m coming close to having a well fitted pattern but only because I’ve worked hard and YES this pattern taught me something new.

If you will recall, the first version was entirely too tight.  I could not let the seams out far enough. I was intrigued by the initial fit and continued to work with the pattern by adding 1″ to the side seams.  This made for a hideously large pant:
 photo First_zpsf5cab269.jpg
Hideously large everywhere except the back crotch which absolutely cute in-between my cheeks almost revealing the woman parts. I began by taking in both sides seams an additional 1/2″. The pant fit at the waistline but was odd otherwise.  I pulled out my last version of Tj906.  I still have problems around the knees with TJ906 and have not been able to figure out why. Nonetheless the TJ906 crotch is comfortable and looks the way I like a crotch to look. (Note: I prefer the unib utt over two-puppies-playing-under-the-blanket look.) I traced the crotch of Tj906 onto the fabric. There is a huge difference between the two crotches. Almost 2″ in width and 1″ in depth. For that reason, I decided to scoop the crotch in increments.

I started noticing camel-toe syndrome developing. WTF?  That has not been apparent any in previous fitting with this pattern. Was this a result of scooping the back crotch?  I noticed from the beginning that the sides were very outward curved. The hip curvature is obvious even on the tissue.  I had assume this extra curvature was needed because of the slimmer legs and fuller body of the plus sized woman, i.e. ME!  I had expected that scooping the crotch would require some ease from the sides and those flaps would decrease. Not so. I really did have Micky Mouse ears but at thigh level.

 photo SideSeamLift_zpsca73c507.jpg

I did a little experimenting in the mirror and discovered that I could lift the side seams and remove the camel toe.  It took two bastings to remove enough (1″) and at that point the Mickey Mouse ears were also just under hip level.  My final alteration was to  pin, measure and remove the extra curve from the side seam.  I removed an equal amount of ease from both front and back. I suspect I should have removed more from the front because my pan ty line is starting to become visible.
 photo Final_zpsf9466290.jpg

My alterations were really at the point of being gross, large, excessively large at this point. So I finished the pant, including closure and took final photos.   I know I was not really careful with the final seaming which seems to have reintroduced some of the camel-toe and back diagonal wrinkles.  But The bank-line photos
 photo GEDC0108_zps3af9f3fe.jpg photo GEDC0109_zpscc44eaf8.jpg

tell me that it’s OK to wear this pair of pants in public, just be sure to wear a long top.

I’ve transferred the changes back to the tissue.  I know that means making one more pair B5403 before working on anything else.  But I am exceptionally pleased with myself. I learned two things:

  1. I need to copy the crotch from TJ906 to all pant patterns and
  2. when the front starts developing folds around the v-j-j lift the sides

When I finish B5403, I’m going to work with Tj906.  I stopped because I couldn’t figure out what was happening around the knees. Now I know it’s a matter of lifting the side seams. Now, that’s not everybody’s solution. In fact the experts are going to tell you I’m ridiculous.  Here’s the thing: I’m fitting my body. Not thousands of people just little ol’ me and little ol’ me requires some tweaks that others don’t. I think what has happened is that my sides are flatter/straighter than is expected on a pear-shaped figure. My curvature seems to be in front over my tummy and in back over my tush. My sides are pretty straight.  I don’t have a flat rear end. It is high and large. The normal crotch curve begins too late.  By scooping towards the back and bottom, the curve becomes long enough and wide enough in the right places to slide up and over my tush. Which then pulls that mess of wrinkles behind my leg up and into the correct alignment.

Finally the $64K questions: Would I make this again and do I recommend it to others?  Well yes I will make it at least once more to finish the fitting. However I prefer a more classic jean pattern.  As far as anyone else, I can say it is well drafted. The pieces all fit together perfectly–just mark and match the notches. It has a shallow U-shaped crotch but very importantly, Connie Crawford has included instructions for adapting the crotch. Finally, it’s much more reasonable for the womanly shaped to use this pattern than to choose something drafted for “standard” sizes or “youthful” figures. I certainly got a lot further in my jeans fitting quest through using this pattern.  I guess that’s a “Yes”.




I am persistent. Besides there was something about the first pair which bugged me. I had taken pictures along the way. Now I stopped and stared at the first set. The set before I started letting out seams.  My initial thought kept coming back. These would fit, if I had used a stretch fabric. I viewed the pictures several times more and .

I could see that not only was the waist and hip too tight, but the back crotch wasn’t quite right. It dips at the waist.
 photo zDip_zps86698c94.jpg
But letting out at the waistband or yoke only adds wrinkles below the dip
 photo ZDipStill_zps33ff6f48.jpg

And the wrinkles under the b utt
 photo zBackleg_zps9baf9fe5.jpg
..don’t improve no matter what seams I let out.

I’ve decided I’m tripping over semantics, over the way the back leg problem is described.  All the books and experts seem to agree that the back of the leg wrinkles is a result of a flat-b utt.  Mine is definitely not flat, but something about my shape pulls the crotch down in the center back and creates a mass of wrinkles on the back leg.  This pattern as a nice long back crotch extension but it’s shaped like a big U.  I find the pants which fit me best are more like a fish hook. The same long extension but it is formed by dipping low in back and then angling upward to meet the front hook.

With these thoughts swirling around, I decided to make B5403 again with another non-stretch fabric. My fabric is a cotton canvas. Canvas can be stiff, but this particular type is almost fluid and readily imitates denim in the way it drapes and feels on the body.

I traced the Xlarge pattern adding 1″ to the side seams. That would make a total of 4″ ease added to the torso and 2″ around each leg.  Oddly, I do feel that I want a little more ease around my leg, just not 2″. However for simplicity sake, I’ve added the even amount along the entire side and I’m planning to remove some during fitting. I’m also hoping that 4″ ease around the torso is too much.  We’ll see.  I also changed the seam allowance along the crotch. I can never make a 5/8″ SA lay flat along the crotch. I despise clipping. It makes for a messy, “grandma fixed this” finish. Whereas 1/4 or 3/8″ seam will bend.  I prefer to serge the crotch seam together. Since I’m still in the gross fitting stage, I decided to serge finish and sew the seam with a 2.5 length stitch. I also trimmed the 2″ fly down to 1.5″. I always manage to catch the 2″ fly in some of my seaming and end up ripping where ripping should not occur. I marked these changes on my tissue.  I’m not loving the curved back yoke, but for now I’m not doing anything about it either.

OK I’m ready to give this pattern another chance.


B5403 Jeans

I desperately want a jeans pattern that fits me.  I live in trousers, slacks and jeans but find jeans to be my favorites.  I purchased Butterick B5403 ( the Connie Crawford jeans pattern) after reading the rave reviews from Mrs Mole.  Granted Mrs Mole raves about the trouser patterns and I’m using the jeans, but I find that Indy designers tend to use the same block and drafting decisions with every pattern they create. Within a particular  independent designer’s (Indy)  line, the garments retain their fit from garment to garment. Did that make sense? What I mean is that it is very likely the jean pattern will probably be as good as the trouser design which gets such rave reviews because the same designer makes the same decisions during her/his drafting process. Mrs Mole not only speaks well of the pattern but also speaks my language when it comes to fitting.  So with a hopeful attitude, I purchased the pattern.

When the pattern arrived I said “uh oh”.  If ever there were a pattern for Mom Jeans, this would be it.  It has a straight waistband, curved front pocket and traditional back pocket.  It does have a unique curved yoke and the choice of straight or flared legs. Still, close examination of the line drawings indicate the despised “mom jean shape”. But then I thought “time out”. I probably have the typical “mom” shape. Childbirth changes the female shape a lot.  Fashion may drool over the 12-year old’s figure, but real men obvious prefer something more shapely. It also occurred to me that my “mom shape” was rather like lines upon my face.  I earned every one of those. They indicate character; solid, dependable, consistent character.  Maybe like my mom face, my mom b@tt should be loved.

So  I chose  size based upon my hip.  The Xlarge should fit the 43 to 46″ hip. At 44.5″, I’m pretty much in the mid-range.  I rough cut the tissue apart and then compared my JSM with B5403. Now, I don’t expect a match.  Jeans should fit closely, trousers loosely. All I really compared was crotch length (front and back) and over all length.  I was surprised to see that these lengths were perfect.

I cut my fabric and began stitching.  I expect to make fitting changes. Pants seldom fit without alterations. So even though I’m encouraged by my initial comparison with the JSM I baste all seams except the zipper and front pocket.  I skip the back pockets.  Yes, jeans look better with back pockets, but I don’t want to spend any time on them.  I cut the separate right and left waistband. I hate that. I did it because I do try to follow a pattern as much as possible on the first attempt. I like to add my belt loops to the waistband. Of course I added them to the wrong side and ended up swapping sides.  But the real surprise was the first try on.  I was surprised I could zip these up.  I thought they might be OK if I’d used a stretch fabric instead of the cotton twill I’d selected.  It was such a persistent thought that I checked the envelope for fabric recommendations.  I need to slap myself, because the recommended fabrics are “stretch denim, stretch….” etc.  My mistake.  I spend an hour ripping every seam and then restitching at 1/4″.

Final analysis: I can’t let these seams out far enough to even begin to check the fit. Oh well. Try again tomorrow.