Flo: Fabric 3

The third Fabric was purchased from Nancy’s Notions late last year (2015), the Denim Bare Knits Cotton Poly Interlock Knit .  Looked good in the pic but I was disappointed on arrival. This fabric distinctly reminds me of sweatshirt fabric without a fleece side. There are two knit sides. One is smooth the other a bit rougher.  It’s not a fabric that burned in my dreams and has sat forgotten until now when I looked for a very stretchy, pant-weight knit fabric I wouldn’t mind sacrificing in the interest of fitting a pattern.  This fabric easily has 40% stretch.  With a little effort I can make that 50% but again I wouldn’t want to wear something that tightly stretched. It recovers quickly but not 100% completely . More like 98% recovery, just enough I can tell the difference between stretched and unstretched.

Based on my experience with the 2nd fabric, I trimmed the 3/4″ length added at the top of the legs.  I was fairly certain I wouldn’t need to lengthen or shorten the crotch and that 3/4″ wouldn’t be needed.  I kept the 3/4″ side seam insurance. I’m really not sure that my ease requirements are the same as SA’s drafted ease. I want room to make it work.

I followed my own advice. Pressed the fabric. Laid out the pattern and cut the waistband first.  I stitched the side seams of the waistband at 3/8″. I could have used it as a hula hoop. So I kept increasing the side seams 3/8″ at a time until I could easily step into and pull up the waistband without having to tug  it over my hips.  Surprise, surprise, my stitching line was exactly on the line the drafter planned. Whoop. Whoop. Whoop. Fabric is the answer. Or stretch. The stretch of my Cotton Poly Interlock  is very close to what my Bengaline demonstrated. Still using water-soluble thread to baste everything together, I merrily stitched away until all the pieces were connected. One really nice thing about knits:  they don’t ravel. I realize a lot of work had been done for Fabrics 1 and 2, yet I was surprised to be taking the first fitting pics in about 45 minutes.

How does it fit? Well it’s still a little too body conscious for me to wear in public.  Very importantly,  a lot of the back of the thigh issues seemed solved.   Even though I shortened the legs above the knee by 2″, they were still far too long.  I’ve pinned the hems up at 3″ while the pattern calls for 1″. I think that may be a fabric issue rather than a pattern issue. This is a heavy fabric that stretches both ways. I feel  sure that the weight of the fabric is pulling the leg down but  if I were 16, I’d be in love with the body hugging crotch. If there’s too much weight for the legs making them longer, why isn’t the crotch droopy too?

For the 2nd Fitting  I re-basted at the side seams adding a scant 1/4″. Fit 2, was still not what I was looking for. From the envelope I thought this pant was designed to skim the body. I mean you can clearly see the pant fits closely at the waist to the hip and again at the calve. Below the hip and calve there is body space. The pant is not flush with the body in these places.

What I’m getting is very form revealing.  I’m fairly sure it’s not a fabric issue.  I think there isn’t enough ease at the hip  and even though the crotch is smooth, it might benefit from a little more ease.

For Fit 3 I released the side and in-seams another scant 1/4″.  Additionally, I can see those back drag lines over my thigh aren’t getting any better .

Fit 4, I offset the yoke and the back leg 1/2″.  Peggy Sagers says those wrinkles over the thigh initiate from the hip.  The yoke is a little higher than the hip dart would be placed, but if moving the excess length under the bottom of the yoke works, it would be a good fix.  Worth a try.

Two fittings later, after I had decreased the inseam allowance and created a 1/2″ hip curve along the side, I shrugged and said, “don’t think I can correct the rest of the problems in the fabric stage. ‘  Somethings need to be fixed at the tissue stage. Even knit fabrics can’t correct a draft that isn’t tweaked for your body.

I was glad to finish this pair.  Look, this fabric reminds me of sweat pants–just no fleece. While it would be comfortable at home during winter cold weather or even to sleep in, I’m not wearing it anywhere. I think a nice fitting pair of jeans (of which I have several) is a step up on the casual scale over sweatpants. Don’t mean to offend anyone. This is just my personal opinion.  So I serged off excess fabric at the seam allowances; added boning over the hip side seams to smooth out the dip at the leg joint and scooped the crotch 1/4”.  Only then did I hem the pants. BTW Flo has a nice U-shaped crotch.  I find I really do need the fish-hook type crotch so my scoop goes straight down along the back crotch then curves upward and meets the front at the inseam.

At the moment I’m debating on a 4th muslin. Jalie Eleanor is very similar to the Style Arc pattern and I’ve already made all the needed corrections including the knock knee alteration I haven’t even addressed with Flo.  I prefer Eleanor’s back and front waistband pieces to Flo’s single piece cut twice. That’s because I’m shapely in back but have no waist in the front.    I need a front and a back adapted to my body. I also like that the pocket pieces and faux fly is already drafted by Jalie. OK these wouldn’t be hard to do for the Flo.  I see now that to fit this pattern, I’m going to make J. Sterns diagonal tuck on the pattern. Also, I still need to wrestle with the obvious knock-knee wrinkles. It is possible that the next muslin would be perfect or at least really lovely but which fabric should I risk? I don’t want to waste any of my pant fabrics.  I have so few with 40% stretch.

But for anyone wanting to buy this pattern. I’d give the go ahead. I thought it was well drafted. Minimal pieces make it a quick sew after fitting. If your only issue is a flat bottom, even fitting could be a snap. I only took 1/2″ off the leg.  When I do J. Sterns tuck it’s more like 3″.  In the end I don’t think the forward seams enhanced or detracted from my figure –that’s partly because by the time I get myself styled you usually can’t see my butt anyway.  I do like being able to purchase in multi-sizes. Also, I do like buying off Amazon.  It’s really convenient for me.   If I buy another (I’m thinking of the Talia), I would buy the next size range.  I’m sure I added enough ease to the 16 to make it at least an 18– that’s with a 50% stretch fabric!  Even though SA said the 14 would fit my 43″ behind, my personal ease preferences put me in a larger pant.  YMMV.

Back of Bank Line Bev

Bank Line Bev


Flo: Muslin

FABRIC #1:  (yes I’ve used more than 1) I had a cut of Bengaline  in my stash. Actually in the muslin pile because it shrank 1/4 yard in the  pre-wash.   I pressed carefully and spread the Bengaline on my cutting table. Having worked with a couple of pieces of Bengaline now, I’m not sure why the Aussies are so enthused. I don’t particularly care for how it looks on me or how it feels, but it’s OK.  I’d think of it more as a cheap fabric not even that good for muslins because of its stretch. Ah well, lets just say, I have other favorite fabrics. Because you fold it cut edge to cut edge to take advantage of maximum stretch, you get a lot more usable inches.  I was able to lay out my pattern pieces on the 1.75 yards I had. After folding selvedges together, I cut my pattern pieces.  Yes you read that. Knowing that cut edges needed to meet, by habit I put the selvedges together which meant I cut my fabric incorrectly. Once cut, there was not enough to recut.

FABRIC #2: So I had to move onto another fabric. I was able to test the stretch of Bengaline:  40%. Unless I stretched really hard and then I could get 50%.  But I looked at the fabric and said I didn’t want anything stretched that far wrapped around me. The guidance was ‘stretch wovens’.  I have nothing else in the muslin pile that qualifies. Had to look in the stash. The stash has a number of stretch wovens.  But not a lot of stretch wovens I’d use for pants and none had a stretch factor of 40%.  I’ve been testing stretch for a long time. I don’t get stretch wovens with 40% stretch. 20-25% is usual with an occasional 30%.  I thought of switching to a knit. Many of my knits have 30-40% and more. But my pants knits are all dark colors. Can’t see the drag lines on black. So I selected a stretch woven suiting  in gun metalgrey. Great color but the 20% stretch had me really concerned. Nonetheless, I laid out my pattern pieces and cut fabric.

I learned something really great. I basted the yoke to the back; then basted the leg pieces together. Then I basted my waistband pieces together. Suddenly I had a flash. ‘Hey if I can’t get the waistband up over my hips there is no way the pattern is going to fit.  So I tried and it was really tough.  So I let out the seams to the max. Yeah! I could pull the waistband up.  Little tight going over the hips, but at least doable.  I thought what a wonderful way to test the stretch in action.  Wish I’d done this before I cut the other pattern pieces.  Since it was tight, I let the seams out to the max. This time the waistband pulled up pretty easily. Still close around the hips but not struggling to bring the waistband all the way up.

I decided immediately this particular fabric was going to need more ease. I let out the side seams; basted some elastic into the waistband and then basted the waistband onto the pants before trying them on.  I wasn’t impressed.  I could feel the waistband dipping in back.  Fell the crotch pulling and thought from the mirror side view that it looked a little tight.  My biggest disappointment: I was so sure that the Flo would have compensated for all the excess ease over my back thigh. I could see just masses of wrinkles back there.

Since the crotch felt tight, I let out the inseam and then tried on the pants again. I am NOT pleased!

I don’t think I can blame SA..  Well I can criticize them for not saying the pattern required 40% stretch. Jalie did. On the Eleanor, Jalie said “don’t call asking if you can use something else. If your fabric doesn’t have 25% stretch, your Eleanors won’t fit.”  I did realize that there is a lot of difference between 20 and 40% stretch. I was hoping that the added 3″ of ease would compensate for the stretch. I mean SA said the size 14 would fit me  and the 16 be too big.  I measured the pattern in several places. I thought it had zero ease and that with my 3/4″ added to the seam allowance there would be more than enough ease. I was wrong.  It’s not a matter of scooping either. That’s not going to add more ease across the hips.  I really should have told myself, the first fabric had to have closer to 40% stretch. Hopefully, I’ll remember this in the future.

So onto FABRIC 3:  Well lets look at the third fabric tomorrow.


Flo, StyleArc

Style Arc Flat Bottom Flo

I’ve been interested in this pattern since it was issued.  That may not make sense because I’ve repeatedly said I have a thick, tilted waist; protruding butt; and mildly knock knees. Oh and I’m short.  But I repeatedly found that I add ease where my butt fits into the pattern and then spend endless iterations trying to remove the excess ease over my back thigh.  The alterations I use are very similar to a flat bottom alteration. I wondered if Style Arc might have already offset the issue for me. I didn’t buy.  There is the whole international order process which is expensive.  There is also the fact I was unable to fit my only previous version of a Style Arc pant pattern.  So what has changed?  Well I took J Sterns Craftsy course and found a procedure for fitting which worked perfectly with Jalie’s Eleanor pant.  Then there is the new listings on Amazon which means I buy locally or at least within US avoiding all the International stuff while still receiving a paper pattern.  The frosting on the cake, so to speak, was the 25% coupon off Style Arc issued for March.  With the stars aligned, I purchased.

Despite my grousing about fit, I decided not to rush but to give this pattern a real chance.  The first thing I hunted for was recommended fabrics.  Which are bengaline or stretch woven.  I miss that SA did not specify a stretch factor. Bengaline is not a common US fabric and stretch wovens can vary greatly. I turned my attention to sizing.  I’m larger than a 14 but significantly smaller than 16.  I do know that the European Cut which SA seems to employ is much more body conscious.  Also I follow a couple of Aussie sewing bloggers.  They all complain about the US companies’ excess ease.  Because I prefer  semi to loose-fitting, I chose to copy the size laeger, i.e. the 16

When the pattern arrived, I eagerly folded out the pages to evaluate the pattern. Flo is similar to Jalie’s Eleanor in that it has a front, and back with yoke.  Eleanor uses a two piece waistband comprised of 2 pattern pieces.  Flo has a single pattern piece which you cut twice.  There is a slight difference in how the elastic is applied. One piece, instead of two, elastic is cut and stitched to the waistband with one row of 3-step zig zag.  Flo has no pocket options where as Eleanor with all the pockets is very jean-like. The back of the Flo wraps around to the front. From the illustration, it would appear there is some kind of front pocket. Not having finished the garment, I don’t know if will the final appearance.  I’m rather curious too about that wrap around effect. I’ve heard designers love it because it makes you look slender from the front view. Is the reverse true?  I mean is my butt going to look even bigger?

As planned, I traced the size 16.  I measured waist, hip, thigh, crotch, basically I followed J Sterns fitting procedure. I made one fitting change.  I removed 2″ length above the knee. Otherwise I though I was seeing ZERO but not negative ease–but only because I chose the size larger. Had I chosen the recommended size, I would have needed to alter the pattern for ZERO ease.   I decided to ‘stack the fitting deck’ in my favor by adding 3/4″ at the side and inseams also to the top of the pant front and top of the leg of the pant back.

At that, I went upstairs for the evening.  I had some kind of  bronchitis last week that has taken the wind from my sails  The hour’s work left me perspiring and shaky.  Definitely needed a sit down.