The Trouser. The Sequel.

Thanks for your input on my last trouser post – it was really fascinating hearing everyone’s thoughts and opinions. I don’t think I’ve had a pattern disaster quite this bad before! In the aftermath I’m left wondering if indeed my perception of fit has been overly influenced by a lifetime of badly fitting RTW clothing.

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Case in point – many of you mentioned that you could tell looking at this picture that the fit would be bad – mostly due to the way in which the side slant pockets stuck out and the pleat disappears. I’ll admit… that’s actually one of the things I like about this pattern, but I can’t explain why. I suspect it has something to do with spending the entirety of my teenage years wanting slighting bigger hips, and the optical illusion provided by those pants kinda delivers on that.

So, I turned to a variety of different resources to beef up my knowledge on pants fitting.

CRAFTSY
I logged in after what must have been two years to discover that at some point in the past I had bought the class ‘Pants Fitting Techniques’, by Sandra Betzina.

I watched the whole thing (for the first time) and it does have some excellent tips, if you don’t mind Sandra’s rather chaotic approach of explaining things, and that you already know what your areas for improvement are. There are some good descriptions of how to make changes based on your desired improvement, however what I really wanted was a before shot showing the issue, and then the correction. Visual learner here. Notwithstanding, for the small price point you pay, there’s some really useful information in this course that shows you how to adjust without delving into depth the reasons why you need to adjust (at least, beyond saying ‘because of protruding thighs).

KENNETH KING’S SMART FITTING DVD
Another recommendation left in the comments of my last post was this. I haven’t got it, but it’s something I’d maybe consider adding to my wishlist.

KENNETH KING’S TROUSER DRAFT DVD
This, I now have – and what a gem it is. I borrowed it from someone and ended up buying my own copy. He not only takes you through a very logical, easy to comprehend set of reasons why a particular adjustment is required, but shows the symptoms of the issue and the fix. I totally got his reasoning and I honestly think it’s going to change the way I look at fitting. Something about the way he describes ‘net loss and net gain’ just made my brain click all the missing puzzle pieces together – best US$25 I’ve ever spent. It also includes a detailed method and formula to draft your own pants block from scratch using the French Method. I did attempt to do this, but vowed to come back and revisit my numbers/calcs after a break because my pants draft looked really, really wrong. I must have an incorrect calculation in there somewhere, which just compounded the problem.

SO WHAT HAVE I BEEN UP TO SINCE?
I tried on Jacques again. And holy crap I must have been having a fat day of epic proportions previously, because they fit. I’ve got no explanation for that, especially as I tried them on multiple times previously.

I really, really want a pair of slim fitting trousers. Something a bit Brigitte Bardot-ish.

Brigitte Bardot

So with my new found knowledge of net loss and net gain all thanks to Kenneth, I spent several hours in front of the mirror, straining my neck and bending down to pin and back up again to check. His e-book does contain a lot of fitting information and solves, but nothing on the lower half of the legs.

Unaltered side view

Unadjusted side view

Adjusted side view

Adjusted side view

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I did initially attempt a ‘hyper extended calf adjustment’, as per what Cation Designs describes in her (really excellent) pants pattern alteration post, but preferred what I did above.

My legs aren’t straight – they curve outwards quite substantially at the knee. What I really wanted to see was how pinning out these pants to match my leg shape would translate into 2D. I was rather disturbed after unpicking everything, it looked… ugly. Not the lovely straight lines we’re accustomed to seeing from a sewing pattern! The yellow lines are the original pattern lines, the orange is where I’ve pinned out excess and the black is the final line where I’ve taken out the excess in a vertical dart.

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I then sewed my muslin back together again, this time along the new seam lines I’d marked, to see how it fit. I knew I’d still need to mark new side seam lines as they’re quite crooked in the photos above, but the moment of truth would be in how they looked now I’d been playing around with them a lot…

I’ve also sewn on the waist band here – it’s far too tight, I know. I may still grade up the waistband 2 additional sizes and see how the proportions sit then, but I think it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a finished version of these pants.

But I am really quite happy with the progress I’ve made on a slim leg!

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Waistband is too tight. Something… ?? …. is going on at the crotch. But the both legs looks good!

The side that has not been tampered with. I've noticed when I 'lock' my knees back, I get the drag lines going on.

The side that has not been tampered with. I’ve noticed when I ‘lock’ my knees back, I get the drag lines going on. These photos have made me realise that I actually quite like the leg of this pattern now. How fickle!

The tampered side.

The tampered side.

I have the waistband pinned where it's folded over because I quite like the proportions of that depth of waist band on me. It's still too tight between the waistband and pants though. Oh, and looks like I needed that hyperextended calf alteration after all.

I have the waistband pinned where it’s folded over because I quite like the proportions of that depth of waist band on me. It’s still too tight between the waistband and pants though. Oh, and looks like I needed a hyperextended calf alteration afterall.

What I’ve taken an incredibly long time and huge amount of futzing to figure out – is that I need a ‘knock-knee alteration’. I guess the benefit of taking the long way to find that out is I know exactly how knock-kneed I am. Cindy from Cation Designs has an amazingly informative post on this alteration and a stack of others (including the hyperextended calf alteration) – definitely recommended reading.

What I have veered away from is making a comfortable trouser suitable for the office environment. I can see myself wearing these (very close fitting) pants made up in a floral cotton pique on a warm spring day, but they really are too tight for the office. Time to get back on brief!

A PANTS FITTING CLASS
Then, Oanh invited me to join her in a pants fitting class she was taking. It wasn’t quite what we thought it was (which was a trouser drafting course), but after a few short hours, I had a rather well fitting, high waisted wide leg trouser outline.

The Front

The Front. One leg has been tapered a little. Ok, maybe a lot. Also, the rise is higher than my natural waist.

The Back

The Back. Nothing like a horrid muslin photograph to accentuate my lack of hip curve. le sigh.

The Side

The Side

They’re comfortable. Really comfortable! The kind of comfortable that I could spend anywhere between 8 and 12 hours straight sitting in – which means they pass the office-suitable test. They look good in the mirror. The fit even looks perfect on camera!!!

So why do I feel so ridiculously dowdy in them?

That’s something I think I’m just going to have to get over – because those muslin photo aren’t lying.

So I’m going to sew up a wearable muslin from a fabric I don’t mind sacrificing to this cause (which will be a wool crepe), which means I can effectively test drive how the style would work for me. I would like your opinions on a waistband treatment though:

1. A really wide waistband so I can work in the slanted pockets still (this is not a pair of pants I’d feel comfortable tucking my shirt into, so it would be covered. That way I’d still get the ‘look’ of hip height pants, but with the comfort of waist height.)

2. A facing and no front pockets?

3. A picked zip at the side seam, or a centre back invisible zip?

I await your advice!

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Boldly going where we’ve gone before

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It’s déjà vu in blue, dear readers.

I’ve been loving my Tigerlily Mk II shorts so much, that it made sense to try and squeeze another out of the leftover fabric… I made these inbetween starting and finishing my Blue Belladone robe, so you may recognise that dastardly rogue silk chiffon trim?

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Keeping in line with my stash and scrap busting, I managed to squeeze some more pocket bags out of my leftover white cotton voile – awesome.

I did do a few things differently this time though… I whacked some white grosgrain ribbon into the waistband to provide a bit more stability, I sewed the button holes BEFORE sewing the waistband onto the shorts (great because the lack of bulk made for beautiful buttonholes), and I eliminated the ties at the leg for a band for a more streamlined look.  I also changed the orientation of the waistband a bit… but that wasn’t actually planned, I just wasn’t thinking when I started sewing. That’s always a bad sign. I think I prefer the waistband on the original pair.

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You can read all about my first pair of Tigerlily shorts here. It’s a text light post today so I can maximise my time in the sewing room… so many ideas, so little time. So – if you’ll excuse me!

The Stats:
00:00  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
01:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing etc)
05:35  Sewing
07:15  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.2m 
Stash total now = 95.0m (Goal = 50m)

red shorts avatar

Tigerlily Shorts

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Summer has hit with a vengeance. I took these photos on Saturday morning – and I don’t think the temp dipped below mid 30’s (90 F) at my house all friday night. Hot Hot Hot! So it’s definitely time for some more summer sewing. I’ve had a pair of Tigerlily shorts on summer wardrobe rotation for the last 5 years – I loved them that much. And if I recall correctly, I originally bought them on eBay for $5 – quite possibly the best wear value for money a garment’s ever had in my wardrobe. Problem is, when I bought them I was about 16, maybe 17 kilo’s (that’s 37 pounds for the American’s here) heavier than I am now (long story), and I’d been getting around in them ever since with a safety pin cinching in the waistband. 

Sheepish? Just a tad.

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So I was beyond stoked when at the Melbourne Sewists Meetup back in August, I came across a fabric almost identical to that from which the Tigerlily shorts were made – a gorgeously thick, textured and thickly woven white cotton. I would show you a picture of the originals, but something exploded in my suitcase when visiting the fam up north and my beloved shorts took the fallout. (That something was a delicious curry made from scratch by me, so there was never any hope. As a result, they are not deemed fit for public visual consumption. I have no idea what posessed me to put curry in my carryon, of all things.)

I took to the originals with my seam ripper, traced out the pieces to make a toile and ‘re-fitted’ them, adjusted my newly traced pattern then got to work sewing these up! About a third of the way through sewing them, I realised that fabric I bought was actually a stretch woven. I’m a little embarassed it took me that long to realise! It caused some headaches, as well as the stretched out look on the waistband due to having to pull the bulk through my machine. Sigh.

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I recycled the buttons and zipper from the original pair (both untouched by curry), and used some leftover fabric from my Technicolour Dream Skirt to make bias binding for the trim (on the originals the trim was blue and yellow) and found some white cotton voile from the scrap stash for the pocket bags. I’m still gutted I didn’t buy more of that digitally printed cotton… But I’m pleased this is yet another creation that only required a thread purchase to make – a win for the fabric stash!

With all the gathers at the pockets and the cutouts at the sides, the front pattern piece did look a little awkward when flattened out, but the pocket bags were ungathered and so acted as the template for how much gathering was required. 

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Interestingly, the waistband was cut on the straight (a low-wastage commercial cutting ‘strategy’) then shaped with a dart at the centreback, made to look as though it was a part of the flat felled centreback seam. There was two fake single welt pockets at the back which I copied also – I decided to keep the fake factor as A) I never used those pockets anyway and B) they’ll never sag this way. I also loved how the pocket bags stretch across and connect at the fly – this stops the pocket bag from peeping out.

Speaking of fly’s, I’m getting more confident with them now – this was the first time I didn’t sew the whole thing together by accident at least once – woohoo!

Looks like I’m set for the next 5 summers. Now I have a hankering for curry…

The Stats:
02:25  Pattern Preparation (seam-ripping/tracing)
05:40  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
01:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing etc)
05:35  Sewing
15:20  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.2m 
Stash total now = 81.4m (Goal = 50m)

skirt

SD1002: The Simplest Skirt a Seamstress could Sew

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A gathered rectangular skirt with a grosgrain waist ribbon – about the simplest thing a seamstress could make for herself! Non?

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I made this skirt in a single sitting – a world record for me. No toile, no seam ripping, no swearing, just instant satisfaction. I bought this grey and white striped taffeta (about the first wholly synthetic fabric I’ve ever bought…) from Tessuti, and used a black grosgrain ribbon for the waistband (23mm wide) from my usual ribbon supplier – Ribbons Galore.

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Taffeta is puuurfect for this kind of skirt – it holds its shape and remains poofed nicely. The fabric is so light it won’t sag under its own weight! 

It’s also great for when you’re planning to eat a feast – the waistband keeps you looking slim whilst your stomach is allowed to expand to the required size… without giving away that you’ve eaten more than you should!

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You can whip one of these up just as easily as I did – and all you’ll need is your waist measurement:

1. Multiply your waist measurement by 1.9 (or 2 if you feel like rounding up), and you’ll have the length of fabric you’ll need to buy.

The fabric selvedge will be the part that goes around your waist – so choose how long you’d like your skirt to be from here (plus your hem allowance), then cut the offending remainder off.

2. Finish the two raw edges of your fabric with your preferred seam finish and apply your invisible zip (I used a 25cm one) – follow my post on how to get a lovely result on this here.

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3. Sew two rows of gathering stitch (about 3.5 – 4 stitch width, the smaller the stitch, the tighter the gather), one each side of the proposed seam line. So here I’ve got a row at 1cm from the edge and 2cm from the edge – my seam line will be the standard 1.5cm. Make sure you leave yourself a nice healthy tail when you cut your thread, you’ll need this to pull! 

4. Grab two threads and do just that, pushing your fabric away from you at the same time:

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Keep gathering until you’ve got the gathered edge of your fabric down to your skirt’s finished waist measurement – this is your waist measurement, plus 3cm of ease, plus an additional 4cm for the tab to attach a hook and bar (this includes a seam allowance). So for example, my waist is 75cm + 3cm + 4cm = 82cm.

5. For the grosgrain ribbon, take this measurement and double it – 82 x 2 = 1.64m. This is the length you’ll need. Sew the ends together with a 1.5cm seam allowance – then trim back to 0.5cm and iron flat. 

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Stick a pin in the half way mark – then iron that folded too. You’ll have a circle of grosgrain ribbon with a seam at one half point and an ironed fold at the other.

6. Take the folded half way mark and slot one end of the fabric in it – pin to secure. The little plastic nub should sit just underneath the ribbon:

Then take the end with the seam in it, and place the other end of your fabric 2.5cm away from the ribbon edge/seam – pin to secure:

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Then start pinning your gathered fabric to the ribbon that will be on the inside, spreading out the gathers so they’re fairly even. Yeah, you probably could get technical and mark the half way and quarter points on your fabric and match them up on your ribbon, but I’m just eyeballing it.

Then sew along to secure your skirt to the ribbon.

7. Pin the tops of your two ribbon edges together, then top stitch around each edge of your ribbon so the seam allowance is completely encased and the ribbon is closed off.

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8. Sew on your bar and tack (making sure you get them aligned!):

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Pull out the gathering stitch you can see, then hem and you’re away!

SD1001: Pattern Review Jeans Competition

Like most people, I wear my favourite jeans until the last possible moment. When the pair you see chopped up above died, I went about trying to find a jeans pattern to attempt to make my own. Nothing really appealed at the time, so I figured, why not try to make my own pattern from a garment I know fits half decently well? Since then I’ve bought the jeans pattern Vogue 8774 which was released recently, but I’m still waiting for it to arrive…

Then I noticed just the other day that Pattern Review are having a jeans sewing contest (details here) – could the timing be more perfect? I’m not in it to win, but rather use it as a motivator to get them done in a quick time frame, and see what others are doing as well. The contest starts on January 15, last submissions by February 16. The rules say that toiles can be done before the contest starts (phew!) but the fabric for the end garment can’t be cut until the competition starts. So out came the scissors and I chopped up my retired jeans. 

The direction of the grain line is super important so after tracing the pieces I copied this across (which is thankfully super easy to spot on denim!), and added a rather large seam allowance as an insurance policy.

I’ve got my fabric – a mid-blue 100% cotton ‘Depp Denim’ from Tessuti which I’ve washed and hung about 3 times to pre-shrink (on the left). I’ve also got some turquoise coloured denim from Gorgeous Fabrics which I personally think looked a LOT nicer (ie darker) on their website than in real life, to the extent that it will now be relegated to hitting the right fit. 

I’m also thinking embellishment – nearly all of my jeans use denim fabric layering as the visual point of interest, so I’m going to unashamedly copy this:

I’m off to start trawling the web for jeans sewalongs any other tidbits of information that could be useful during construction. Pattern Review has this fabulous page on jeans tips and tricks, with heaps of pointers and further information on DIY jeans. I can sense I may get lost in a sea of links here… Does anyone have any favourited or recommended sites/blogs/info sources for making jeans? I’m especially at a loss as to attaching the button at the front…

At the beginning of the week I made the mistake of thinking I could wander into Tessuti during my lunchbreak to pick out a simple striped cotton to use as waistband facing and pocket lining for these jeans. I got the cotton and also came out with this:

Some AMAZING fabrics in wonderful palate cleansing colours. I do love greys, pastels, creams and whites. Did I mention they were on sale?