2010-06-115, 2010-06-144

I’m making progress.

originally published 6/1/2010

I made the proposed changes to my pattern. I’m pretty methodical about this.  I use 9×12 envelopes to store my patterns in.  On the outside I write things I want to remember.  Like “use 5/8″ SA” .  That’s different from my usual SA.  It may be months or years before I use a pattern again.  I want something that will jog my memory that something is different. I also list on the right hand side any pattern alterations.  My tops are pretty stand “remove 1′ from BW length; make 1″ narrow shoulder adj”.  So it’s typical that I have 4-5 comments on the envelope fronts.  But pants.  My gosh, with pants I fill out the right hand colum flip the envelope over and start writing on the back.  No I haven’t ever filled up the back yet.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t filled up the front for these particular pants. But  I did list the changes I wanted to make on the envelope and tick them off as the pattern was adjusted.


This is the 3rd pair from this pattern.  I suspect I will wear the first 2 pairs several times and then discard them.  The problem with perfecting a pattern with multiple versions is that eventually I don’t want to wear the first versions.  Nonetheless, I’m making small design changes to each pair.  To the untrained eye, which is about 99% of America, it will look like I’m working a different pattern.  This time I’ve traced off a pocket from a pair of RTW shorts.  You know how black doesn’t photo well?  Dark brown doesn’t either.  So the photo I had, doesn’t tell a story and I didn’t bother to upload it.  Oh how to describe it. It resembles a jean front pocket except that the opening is larger and the pocket is appliqued to the garment. It is a patch pocket.  Typically, I fully line this type pocket with something very light and then turn it inside out so that I get nice smooth curves.  My brown shorts pocket, has a facing at the hand edge.  I thought this was very interesting.  So I traced off the pocket, constructed a facing and stitched the two together.  I topstitched with a gold colored thread (but not real jeans gold).  It looks fabulous. Except now I’m looking at the other side wondering how am I going to get a nice smooth curve on that side.  I had forgotten that I lined this type of pocket just because that was the easiest way for me to get a perfect curve.  Oh let’s face it,  that was the only way I get a perfect curve.  — In case this is a little vague, I stitch the pocket and lining right sides together along both curves leaving the top and side open.  Press. Turn and press some more.  — So now I’m looking at the pocket wondering how I’m going to get the other side to look good. 


Unfortunately, I’ve had disruptions to my sewing.  First I took the day to go to Lake Charles Francis.  Lovely day, relaxing, mind clearing.  I was under shade the entire time and have 2nd degree burns on the tops of my feet, front arms and directly under my chin.  We think the lake must have reflected the light and burned those areas.  I didn’t feel it and DH didn’t see me burning.  End result is I’ve spent the last 3 days hidden in the house.  Even going outisde makes my skin burn.  Last night I was no longer lobster red, just red, and I started itching.  So I’m healing.  You’d think that would give me more sewing time. Well no.  We had a hail storm that broke all windows on 2 sides of the house, beat the siding unmercifully and created 4 bad leaks in the basement.  One of the leaks is in my sewing room.  I spent one day just cleaning up the debrie and tried to use the carpet shampooer to suck up the rain water.  The shampooer didn’t suck very much, but the carpets are still horribly wet in those areas.  I’m reluctant to sew at my electronic, computerized sewing machine while sitting with my feet on a puddle of water.  Also, our house was a rental at onetime, converted to apartments for a while and now once again a single-family-dwelling OURS.  We were told by the former owner that pets were not allowed. Period.  People couldn’t have pets and live in this house.  Yet we are both clearly smelling cat urine.  It is unmistakable.  Even if the insurance company doesn’t pay, we will be replacing those carpets.  We are burning incense.  You’d think we were a couple of hippies from the sixties.  But no, we just trying to cover up the cat urine. 


Back to the shorts. In addition to the patch pockets, I’m going to ease the front to the waistband instead of using the 2 tucks.  I’m using a light blue rayon.  Last fall I sorted fabrics again and this time I pulled out lengths that were under 2 yards and placed them in 1 of 3 stacks 1) under 1 yard 2) 1 yard 3) 1.5 yards

Since then I’ve really been working these small amounts.  Now that I know where they are, if I need a small amount I look in one of these 3 stacks first.  Shorts take between 1 and 1.25 yards.  I went throught 1.5 stack and found a light blue rayon that has a linen look to it.  I haven’t done the burn test, but the drape and what I remember from the first garment I made tells me it’s rayon not linen and not cotton and defintely not polyester.  I probably would have made a blouse out of this, but because I need shorts and need material that I won’t regret using, this fabric is becoming my next version.  I suspect it will again look a little dressy. So I’m also changing the hem.  I will  turn up the hem only once, which will make the shorts just a little longer. At first I planned to straight stitch with matching thread.  But now I’m thinking I should use the blind stitch.  I am doing some contrast top stitching.  Right now I think I will topstitch only the pockets and belt carriers.  I want to be able to easily adjust the front waistband seam and the inseam.  Too much topstitching and I’ll give up on alterations/adjustments.  Especially since I like to use the straight-triple stitch for topstitching. 


Well, I hope I can report more progress tomorrow.  First I’ve got to see if the carpet has dried out .

2010-06-115, 2010-06-144

The Trouble with Long Posts.

originally published 5/29/2010

is that you don’t read them. You try.  But your mind gets bored.  Starts thinking of something else or skipping words.  Please, I’m not mad, critical or even negative. Truth is, I’m assuming that what I would do at your Blog is what you are doing at mine. i.e. I’m equally guilty.  I welcome all your comments.  I love getting all your comments. Even if you don’t have any recommendations, I love that you are taking the time to give me pats on the back or offer moral support in the form of comments.  In fact whether I post or not, I check everyday for your comments.  But the truth is, my Blog is more for me than it is for you.  I blogged at first to record and share my first SWAP experience.  But I found that I truly loved blogging just for the record I’m creating of my sewing projects and the chance to write essays that are meaningful to me.  I love your comments, but I knew when I posted that humongous essay with pictures and links that it wouldn’t be thoroughly read.  So I hopped over to SG , posted a few pictures and asked for help there. BetsyV stopped me in my tracks when she wrote:


    “Well, I just want to reach halfway (or more) across the country and hike that waistband straight up.”



Ummm, in my blog which Betsy didn’t read I said that I had reluctantly added 1/2″ width to the back and the back waistband before cutting out the Microfiber Shorts. Added reluctantly because the waistband felt close but not tight and never uncomfortable. The microfiber shorts, intended to be a wearable muslin, felt fine at the waist. So I didn’t correct the waistband. But I wore and photoed them while wearing a belt. The cotton poly shorts (last pair), I wore and photoed without wearing the belt. The next step seemed obvious to me, check the cotton poly shorts while wearing a belt. That’s what I have for you today, along with my new evaluation of the shorts and changes I’ll be making.


#1 The Side Seam Drift:



With the shorts pulled up to position at the waist,  the side seam nearly straightens. I’m might not know it is still drifting, except I was looking for it up close. It is still a leaning a little forward starting at the high hip and ending at the hem. Since the style of this pant is a straight side seam, I will add an even 1/2″ width to the side and work the excess into the already present waist line tucks.  What is also evident is that I have a prominent tummy and that the front crotch is pulling down.  I’m not sure if I need to add more above the crotch or at the crotch extension.  So I’ll do both.  It is easy to remove a little from one place or the other  rather than trying to add. Miraculously, the hem no longer hangs at an angle.  I felt like I was pulling the pants up in front, but obviouly the back moved further up, because the hem is now hanging perfectly level.


The front, the piece that most concerned me; the piece I felt was getting worse with every change:




I’m thinking the same alterations for the side will fix the front. It’s readily apparent to me that the wrinkles point from my crotch to my tummy.  The front waistband clearly dips, but in RL, my waistline does too.  Adding extra just for that dip may not be the answer. I could find that the extra I add crawls up over my waist or creates a bubble just above the crotch (those are my 2 most common complaints with every pair of pants).  Wrinkles also start at the crotch and point downwards towards the hem; which would seam to indicate that the crotch extension is still a little short.  But I will add both above the crotch and to the front crotch extension. 


The back, formerly nearly picture perfect:


has now developed areas of concern.  I think that I will only add to the length of the crotch for the next pair, but I will also remove  the 1/2″ added to the waist band and add an additional dart to the back.  Curiously, after I pulled the pants up, the bubble directly under the waistband, center-back disappeared.  I’ve see that bubble on several other pairs and always assumed that the crotch should be shortened right there.  I’m wondering now if shortening the waistband length would also have been the fix for those. 


So plan of attack next pair of Burda 2010-06-115 shorts:


   Add 1/2″ width

   Add 1/2″ length above crotch

   Add 1/2″ length to crotch extension


   Add 1/2″ length to crotch

   Add 2nd dart at waistline

Back WaistBand

  Remove 1/2″

Front Waistband

  Distribute the extra pant ease at the waist into the 2 existing front tucks.


Sounds like a plan….


2010-06-115, 2010-06-144

I may have a…..

originally posted 5/27/2010

Burda Butt.


But not a Burda Front. Let me digress. I left you on my last post headed downstairs with the intention of drafting my own pattern. I had the drafting instruction from Trudy Jansen who’s pants I loved so well I thought she must know something special and important about pants drafting. Alas, as I read her instructions in detail, having spent over an hour taking many more measurements than she required, I realized that I would be drafting the same basic draft and then altering according to what I thought were my physical deviations. Oh to be sure, it would start with my measurements, but I would still need to make a muslin and then make further alterations to achieve fit. Isn’t that what I’m already doing with pants patterns?







A flash of inspiration (or was it insanity?) called me to pull out one of my favorite KS patterns. One that I thought fit before I took pictures of my back end, KS3393



I spent at least an hour carefuly comparing my measurements to the pattern measurements.– I digress again. — When I took my measurements I made little tick marks down my side about an inch apart and then I measured and recorded the measurement at each tick. I had detailed, very detailed information to compare. Allowing 1-1.5 inches of ease, the pattern should have fit right out of the envelope. But I was sure I had a pair of shorts cut from this pattern hanging in my closet right now.  They have smile lines in the front and are too tight across my rear (I mean panty-line visible, tight). I was stunned.




Fortunately (??This remains to be proved??), at that moment DH walked in the door with my June issue of Burda Style. We had a short discussion of the magazine including my revlation that I had not traced a single pattern and felt if I didn’t do so soon I shouldn’t renew the subscription. I am very thrifty. OK, I’m cheap. The magazine was worth the cost to me, if I used even a quarter or tenth of the patterns. But to simply use it as a fashion magazine was in my mind a ghastly waste of m-o-n-e-y. Which prompted me to look through the magazine and see if there was an acceptable pair of pants to work with.




 I had heard that Kwik Sew used the same block as Burda. I was told this by a very reliable source. I was so confident of my source, that I’ve even passed the information along. But when I traced Burda 2010-06-115 (left)



and compared it to my KS, the difference at the crotch seam was astonishing!!! Both back and front crotch curves were remarkly different. I did have a Vogue pattern on hand, V8090 and compared just the crotch. The Vogue is very close but there are significant differences. I have not compared any further than that, but yes I intend to dig out my beloved J. Stearns, JSM and Trudy Jansen patterns and compare them as well.




I chose the size 42. My hip is 40″. The Burda charts say this will fit 40.25. Should fit, right? But I know that my hip is smaller than my abdomen. I hesitate, but decide to make a throw away muslin. One that I can cut slash and discard, learning much and investing little because I don’t remember how much I paid for this fabric. It was a quilting cotton that I bought too much of when finishing a quilt. I don’t make nice quilts. All my quilts are scrappy creations born from the guilt of throwing away scraps and thereby “perfectly good money”. Since this fabric was intended to complete a scrappy quilt, it wouldn’t have cost very much. At the most $2 per yard; and I had just under a yard. Perfect.


My first muslin was a surprise. I did not interface anything. I taped the pocket pattern to the front pattern so that I would not even make pockets. I did install a bright orange zipper because I knew I’d have to get in and out at least once. I staystitched the top of the waistband. That is nearly all bias and I didn’t want it to stretch, but I didn’t apply the facing or the button closures. In fact, I even skipped the pleats. I stitched the first muslin together with 1/4″ seams, tried it on, held the top together and took pictures. This was a day of astonishments. The pic below is a composite so you can see back front and side all together.





This is really not all that bad. I do have something weird going-on in the front at the waistband. However, I don’t like to sew clothes with only a 1/4″ seam allowance. I know that RTW comes that way. But I prefer a 3/8″ SA. I’ve found the 1/4 difficult to sew and almost guaranteed to shred at the most embarassing of times. So I re-stitch the muslin together with 3/8″ SA and attached the waistband facing AND stiched the once-folded up hem. Oh yeah, I put the pleats in too.



Again, not real bad. I mean RTW looks worse than that. But I want to look better than RTW. So I note that additional ease is needed across the rear; the crotch while pulling in and having front smiles feels too short and the side seam is just slightly on the back half of the body but it is straight up and down. I’m actually so pleased with this pic, that I stare at it for a long time. I go do housework and come back to stare at it again.



Finally I decide to make it in nearly-good fabric. Something I could wear if my evaluation is right but wouldn’t be too sad to part with if things go wrong. I add 1/4″ in length above the crotch on both front and back; add 1/2″ to the back width by slashing vertically and spreading all the way. That of course will make the waist band the wrong size. Reluctantly, I alter the back waist band the same amount. I’m reluctant because the WB doesn’t feel tight, just close. I stitch my microfiber version together, using my serger this time; use a cute but quick hemming technique, but use only 1 pleat in the front. I love it without even seeing the pictures. This is actually way, way comfortable. Maybe it’s just the microfiber because the photos (considerbly lightened) show me this:


The fabric is actually a dark grey/brown. My thread “Beige Taupe” matches exactly. To see the detail I had to lighten the pictures. The back is looking much better. I didn’t get a side shot. The front however is developing some bad smile lines. I also am not thrilled that the waistband is as wide as it is. But when fully dressed I look like this:

No, not my best. My best is when pants fit me. But this is better than RTW and, I’ve got to tell you, better than I see at the grocery store or the beach. (South Dakota has wonderful beaches on the River and at the lakes). I regret that I did not take a back view. I wore the shorts all day. Despite the drag lines, the shorts were wonderfully comfortable. Which has me internally debating. Is it the crotch? Front crotch? Back Crotch? Ease? Well for ease I can pinch 3/4 at the side hip. Should I have more? My personal experience is that I need a back crotch extension of nearly 2″ with every KS, New Look, or Simplicity pant pattern. I add 1 ” to the JSM’s and 1/2″ to the Jalie 2908’s. But I always need more seating room. Just to test the crotch, I do the quickie fix and take a 1/4″ scoop out of the back curving up to the front meeting exactly with the zipper stitching. That was both too much and not enough. Not enough, because the back improved (you are seeing the improved back above), but the front crotch is now too low and is rubbing on my inner thighs. I plan to wear these the rest of this summer. Oh I may change my mind if I develop the perfect pair. But for now these look better than anything in my closet, but they need some more tweaking.



And then the analytical part of my mind kicks in and says “You know that you used a pattern too small. Yes you did. You knew that 40″ was not going to fit a 42″ stomach” (Hope that’s not TMI. I have no shame and no secrets from my sewing friends). Well that has me hemming and hawing—not the sewing kind; the unable to make up my mind kind. I hunt through the Burda magazines until I find a pants pattern that goes above 42. Most of the pants patterns don’t exceed the size 42. There are a few 44’s and even fewer plus sizes 46 through 52. But I find one. It reminds me of the famous Merkesh pants that Gigi raved about but these are Burda 2010-06-144



I traced only the pattern back size 44, next size up. Wow. Not any difference between the crotch of the size 42. Next I traced the size 46 back. Some but not much difference. So I traced the 48. Now I’m getting somewhere. There is considerable difference in the crotches of 2010-06-115 size 42  and 2010-06-144 size 48. So I trace the whole pattern. Start looking for fabric when DH (the resident cook) calls me for dinner. Actually he stomps 3 times on the ceiling of my sewing room. Like that song “knock 3 times on the ceiling  if you love me, twice on the pipe if you’re not going to show……..” except this is the call to dinner. Ah who needs intercoms or cell phones. Couples find ways to communicate. I drop everything, turn everything off and head up stairs. I’m one of the original chow hounds. I’m not missing dinner for D@!%! Pattern.





Dinner gives time and space for that annoying, aggravating, little voice of reason to say “You are so close. Why runoff to another pattern? Why not see this thing through? If you can make the size 42 work, nearly every Burda pant pattern is available to you. If you go up to a 46 or 48 you’ll be ordering the Burda Plus magazine – more money down the tube- or ordering Burda paper pattern – even more $$$”.


Little voice won out. When I returned to my pattern I added ¾” to the back crotch extension and ¼” to the front. Because I didn’t like the width of the waist band I trimmed it by 3/8” and added the same length to the back and front pattern pieces. I choose a cotton poly twill from my stash. It’s an interesting black/white only more of a dark dark teal. The twill blends all the colors together. Standing alone and with many other colors it looks black/white. Interesting fabric. I’ve purchased nearly the same fabric many times because it sews well, coordinates with many colors;  and makes great jackets and pants. I have a little over a yard left. I cut from my newly altered pattern and this time I add a patch pocket. The patch pocket gives me a little problem with the pleats. I wish I had converted them to darts, but I’m not sure I want to rip out all that serging. But now I Have



OMGosh! The back is looking wonderful. I have a BURDA BUTT.


But what the heck is going on with the side seam and front?


The muslin (on the left) shows that the side seam is nearly vertical but on the back half of the body. The cotton/poly side shows a side seam that begin centered on the body down to about high hip level, then angles forward down to the top of the hem where it is once again vertical. Oh and while it seems to be pulled forwards, there are vertical lines developing on the back under the butt.  That sounds familiar.  Like my major complaint with most pants patterns.  Anybody have any experience with such a thing?


Evolution of the Front


The front has steadily gotten worse! Huh??? Seriously the first muslin, on the left, was better than the microfiber wearable muslin in the center, which is better than the ctn/poly front on the right. How can fixing the back make more smile lines in the front? It’s not a bulge in the fabric, like what happens when the front crotch is too long. Nor is the front crotch rubbing my inner thighs, like it would if it were too long. When I feel down there (is that TMI? Get over it I need your help.) The center crotch feels like it is in the right place. The crotch does not feel too tight. Right now I’m thinking I should correct the obvious and instead of a straight side seam, add a curve. One other thing that I see from the side view, the hem is angled up from center back up to the center front. Is that significant?



AN APOLOGY.  This is a long post with a lot of pictures.  I had and lost many of the links.  I like to give credit to the people who inspire me like Gigi, Jill Stearns, JSM and all the others I mentioned above.  Alas, as Blogger is wont to do, after about an hours worth of writing, linking, uploading; Blogger went BONKERS.  My pics started rearranging themselves.  When my text started appearing anywhere it wanted, I exited Blogger and typed my text in MsWord.  This has to be the only time in my life that I’ve wished something was like an MS product. I finished quickly in Word.  Uploaded and arranged the last of pics and then easily copied my text from my Word document into Bloggers editor.  I probably should make more of an effort to understand and write HTML.  I used to be pretty good, but not having done any in several years I know that I have a learning curve.  I’ve been taking the lazy way out and using Bloggers tools.  When they work well, they are nice.  Today, well today I did some hair-pull accompanied by bad words you won’t let your children say.  BOTTOM LINE:  I apologize for the lost links.  I do wish to honor those of you who contributed to my journey