Friday, February 27, 2015

The Total Avoidance Pants Project...

 For about 18 months now I have avoided making a pair of more formal pants although I will churn out casual pants quite happily.  I guess casual pants have been used for learning how to make and fit pants, what my body shape is, and what sort of pants might suit it.

These pants were made using McCall's pattern 6711:

I have made this pant as a trial version and as a pants sloper with which to assess other trouser patterns.  I made these pants in exactly the same way as the trial pair, including adding extra to the back waistband in case alterations are needed around the middle - a very common problem area for some of us :)

You can find the post about the trial run pants, including crotch alteration, here.....

For those of you that just want the bare information, the pants are darted front and back, have pockets, and I added a front zip/false fly, and a waistband instead of a faced waist.  I cut size 8 legs and graded up to 14 waist.

The pants  were made in a (stashed) polyester viscose woven gabardine -- although there is a lot more drape to this gabardine than some.  The trousers in the picture on the pattern envelope also look as though they have quite a bit of drape to them.

Now the pictures - and I am wearing glasses, as it is more than likely that is what I would also be wearing with these pants :) .  I am also wearing flat shoes, because much as I like the sort of shoes the model is wearing, I like them on other people - my feet and back would not tolerate wearing these.  I'm a little flat shoe wearer.

The pants are nice to wear, with much needed ease around the upper leg.  This is quite needed as the lower leg from knee down is quite fitted.  In fact, if you are wearing knee length trouser stocking sock things, you need to put these on before putting the trousers on.  I didn't know that, so mine are just tucked up above the ankle in these shots - but you can't see that!  I kept the pants shortish - just like the pattern picture - as with very tapered pants you stay short - there is not enough fullness for a break.  And being petite, short tends to suit me.

So, I am now over avoiding making more formal pants.  Probably just as well, because there is no way you can find RTW pants that are 33.5  inch around the hip and 27.75 inch (give or take an inch) around the waist.  My me-made pants may not be perfect, but at least they are closer to my shape and size.

And with my straight figure type, I  can get away with many styles of trousers - so now I am able to start exploring these styles and making them up :)

Do have a lovely weekend, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Trial Trousers McCalls 6711.

 I've finally finished these trousers in between bouts of sinusitis and tax paperwork. The plan was to make a simple pant that was fairly straight up and down in order to get some idea of what fits me well.  I will then be able to use the resulting altered pattern as a sloper for other  pants.

I used the pants from McCalls 6711:

 These are a simple pant with front and back darts.  I have worked out that with my tummy curve a dart is needed.  There are front pockets - a plus. The pants are faced and have a back zip.  Back zips annoy me - too much fiddling around to get there, I'm an in and out in a hurry type of dresser.  I also like a waistband as it helps to hold things up on me - I have very small hips at 33 1/2 inches and faced garments just tend to fall down on me.

I cut size 8 outside leg,  size 6 inner leg and size 14 waist and trued the in between area.  The crotch curve was size 8.  The pockets were cut to the size 12 line.  The pattern did not have a pocket stay, just a pocket bag, so I drafted a stay.

As I also like to have a bit of give when I sit, I added strips of elastic at the back You will find pictures of this process below.

I also added a small extension in the back of the pant and the waistband (I split it so it had a CB seam)  in case I need to let them out - you will often  this arrangement in men's pants - again, pictures below.

I have previously made a calico (muslin) of the alterations which can be found here.

From these I discovered that I need to add extra at the back crotch curve, not scoop it out more as is so often recommended :

 The inside black line is the original cutting line. The red line is the alteration I made on the calico - that was the seam (yes, it was a very small seam allowance!)  The outside black line is the new cutting line - I added a seam allowance to the new stitching line.

After these alterations, a test pant was needed.  I used a cheap cotton poplin out of my stash.  It doesn't have any give, or flop, or drape of any sort, so that pants are a little stiff, but quite wearable as a casual garment.

I'll show you the inside details first:

The waistband alteration extension and the pants extension.  You can also see the elastic at the sides.

I stretched the elastic and stitched it in place with three rows of stitching.  The amount of elastic needed and the amount of tension needed is always a bit hit and miss with me - I often have to redo the elastic as the first round is often too tight or too loose!

 This is what it looks like on the outside:

And my zipper finish - I used a false fly for this - I don't need the bulk of fly shields - and with a nylon zip you don't need these.  This was before ironing!  ...   

And these are what the pants look like on me - for reasons of modesty you are only getting the bottom half of my body is these photos :)

As you can probably tell, I am a very fine build - you can't see any ribs at all!  I have very very slim legs, and if I fit the pants more than this, they will not flatter me - I prefer semi-fitted pants. I do not have those lovely curvy thighs and bottom  that fill out trousers and look very feminine - I have  long bambi limbs, straight down from the hips.  Pants will always big a little loose over the front crotch area as well because of my below hips slimness.  I'd prefer to keep things this way :)

And it seems to be they way things are with slim, boyish figures:

One more photo to close, and then it's time here to do some ironing and get some dinner:

Do have a lovely weekend wherever you are,

Sarah Liz :)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Missing in Sewing Angst

The last few days have seen me missing in sewing  (angst) action.  I decided I had better get busy and sew the garments I needed before the semester starts.  I also decided I better sew DH's birthday present.  His birthday isn't until May, but I don't want a sewing deadline ahead of me during semester time.  So I did some fast and furious industrial attitude sewing and have run up two flannelette nightshirts.

Since I took these photos last night, I have done the hems and turned up the cuffs.  All the loose ends are darned in and I am ready to mark the buttonholes.  I'll have to do these on my industrial zig zag, which means the old fashioned operator skill approach.  I just think that the big machine will sew the thicker fabric with more ease than the domestic machines.  Any imperfections will get lost in the fluff in any case.

The nightshirts were not without some angst.  I found that my overlocker did not like the curved edge of the facing and ran off, even though I was pinching it so it was a straight edge. The overlocking loops were hanging well over the edge and were going to snag easily.  So I had to bind the top end of the facing to eliminate a bit of the snag factor:

  Unbelievably, when I overlocked the facings and added the binding for the first nightshirt I carefully made two right facings.  So then I decided that the remaining pieces had better be two left facings.  So , you guessed it, I very carefully and automatically  made one left and one right facing.  So now I had three right facings and one left facing and no fabric left over.

So I had to undo the overlocking and binding on one of the facings and make a second left facing.   I could have been lazy and had the wrong side of the overlocking showing on the facing, but these nightshirts are a gift and I like them to look nice and have all the stitching matching inside.

Now I have finished the hems - a double hem on flannelette takes some effort to stitch, but my big machine will power through anything. 

The buttons also created a bit of angst.  I thought I had purchase buttons for this job, but no.  So I had to go to Spotlight today just to buy buttons.  What a waste of time.  I found some perfect ones, and luckily they had three cards, which is just enough.

I'm glad I did make the nightshirts this week, even though it was an effort, because on Friday, the first of the subject outlines was put up on the interactive site for my University.  The second should go up soon.  While I will enjoy the subjects, unlike the two I did last semester, my instinct that a sewing deadline was not needed during semester was correct.  Essays, presentations, exams, readings -lots to do.  I do keep sewing, but as relaxation  with the  demands during term times.

I've also made up a pair of pants that are a trial run garment:

For those of you new to my blog, the above photo is taken in my sewing passage.  Yes, I sew in an old passage.  It was a bit of an unused space and has good light near the sewing machine.  It is quite long and wide.  It is a bit messy and cluttered, but I made the decision years ago that it was not worth moving just so I could have a large, airy, sewing studio about the size of a small house!  It also did not make sense to spend lots on buying and selling, and on stamp duties and all sorts of exorbitant costs, especially as we are not planning to stay here forever. One day I took a look at the passage and thought that would make a fine sewing area. DH's old files were moved out to a hot old room, and I moved in to the passage :). 

A table sits outside the entrance to the passage and that is were I do my pattern work or cutting.

Inside I have two ends to the passage.  This is the first end:

Up on one  end of the passage I keep all sorts of sewing paraphernalia, including stash, in a bookcase.  I have a cupboard with stash in it (and stuff on top) and a rack with washed fabrics such as corduroy hanging ready for use.  I also hang garments there that are either being made or are finished and waiting for blogging.

In the middle of the passage is a  table on which  I keep an overlocker and an electronic machine that does some sewing jobs. Works in progress are also housed on this table in plastic containers.  I also have a small shelving unit that houses patterns, templates and my drawing materials for patterns.

And down on the other end of the passage I have my machine and another bookcase filled with sewing bits and pieces.  And a small chest of drawers that holds all my zips, bindings, needles, scissors, elastics and so on.

It really is amazing what you can do with a passage and the right attitude.  I have had to move a lot in my life, and have learnt to make the most of wherever I am.  And I have always made room for sewing :).

While it is not pretty, it is functional, and it does work for me...

Next week I hope to show you the new pair of trousers....

Until then, take care everyone, wherever you are,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Trouser fitting and Finding my Trouser Style.

It's my goal to find a style of pant that suits me.  I need to make a pair of formal pants and I also need some casual corduroy pants to go with some nice hand knit jumpers.  

I have made lots of casual pants over the last year or so, but  they are still not quite right.  They look okay-ish and no worse than RTW but there is just an uncomfortable feeling around the crotch.  I have this problem with RTW as well, and all in all, my me-mades are more wearable.

Also, many trousers now have the waistband slightly below the waist.  While a slightly below waist band may work on curvier shapes as they have bigger bottoms to hold the pant up, this principle does not work so well if you have a tummy that is quite large compared to the hips.

I am also very slim in the leg, so most pants are just baggy and unflattering on me.  I did think I might try Burda 7017:

This looked like an okay sort of pant for a relaxed corduroy pant.  The waist was high, which I like, and the legs slim.  I was worried that they might be a bit baggy around the hips for me, so I made a muslin:

I cut these as size 6-8 through the hips and 12 at the waist.  Look how curved these are around the hip.  They look like jodphurs on me.  Some of you might say that it is simple to take the sides in, but if I do, what is going to happen to the back:

Do you see how wrinkled these are?  This pattern is cut for a curvy or pear shaped  bottom and fuller thighs. Taking in the sides will just make the wrinkles worse.  A great chunk needs to be folded out higher up, quite a few diagonal folds have to be made, and it is likely that I won't get anything I like afterwards.  And it will take hours.

And in any case, the side view is totally offputting:

I mean, I think I could fit a nappy on under these.  Nappy pants are not really a very flattering look.

So, I have decided that this pattern is not worth making up for me.  It might work in a soft fabric, but really, I don't want soft, floppy, relaxed, nappy pants. Now, or ever.  I wanted nice corduroy pants that were comfortable to wear.  So I have put the pattern to one side for taking to the Op Shop.


I then decided that maybe I would shelve the corduroy pants project and make the smarter pants that I have been avoiding for nearly two years.

I liked the look of Vogue 9032, view C, the slim leg pant:


Now, I had some misgivings about this, as the waistband is contoured and designed to sit just below the waist.  I have a very high rise, and also a little pot belly.  These two features do not work well with this sort of pant, but I had to try to find out for myself that this pattern will not work in the current form.

I'm not too worried about the gap at the front, as  I cut these out as size 12 at the waist/tummy area and size 8 hips.  I had forgotten that Vogue is smaller in the waist than Burda -and I had forgotten to add the smidge more that I usually add at the front. 

The back looked like this:

Really not a very flattering rear view.  The contoured band does not suit me, and the princess seams don't really look that great on me.  The crotch shape was not right either and was uncomfortable.

I also had the feeling I had was that these were going to fall down.  I felt I needed a firm waistband, or a high waisted version of this pant.

And as for the side view:

Yes, this is the flattering look that a lower, contoured waistband give me.  Pot Belly, and that nice fitted princess back just emphasises my lack of curvy bottom.

I really do need darts to fit my tummy curve, I have decided.  

So I am going to pass on this pant for now.  I might revisit and mix that princess back with a different and more flattering front - with appropriate alterations to the crotch area.

But first I need to discover what these alterations are. So I decided to find a plain, simple pant with darts, that was as straightly tapered in the leg as possible to suit my straight leg shape.  This pattern looks like it will make an ideal pants sloper to gauge shape and possible alterations needed.

I had McCalls 6711 in my pattern stash:

 This looks like it will work nicely for what I want.  Front and back darts, and it even has pockets.  The trousers are faced with a back zip.  I want a waistband and a front zip, but these are simple changes.

Here is my muslin:

I cut size 14 waist and high hip and then size 8 through the hip and leg.  Inner leg is size 8.   Given that this is an old sheet, I think the pants look quite good.  Better than the first two patterns I showed you.

The side view  is much more flatttering:

 I lifted the front rise slightly, and the back rise as well.  I do have a slanted waistline, and that is fine with me.  I also have a small centre back, and I need pants to fit in here or they slide down.  So the rise is quite high at the back.

But it doesn't look high when viewed from the back:

These look a lot better than the first two pants.  I think these might work.  They are still a bit full in the back, but in some pictures this is not noticeable.  And as these pants are going to be made in a woven, ease is needed so you can sit down.  Nice, simple, pants.  I think this is the style for me.

And I have noticed that models, who have very slim, fine, limbs also tend to have trousers that look like this down the back leg.  I just don't have a thigh girth to help fill the fabric out.  But if you start taking in, you just get even more distortions.  So I think this is a pant that works for me pretty much as is.

I did have to add to the back crotch quite a bit. I'll assess whether that is enough in the test garment.  The crotch now feels comfortable. 

I'm going to make it up in a better fabric now as a test garment.  I hope to post that next week...

And if it is a success, this will be my smart pant and my corduroy pants pattern as well as a basic sloper pattern to work with.

Fingers crossed X...

And, a note on trouser style - it really is important to know your body shape and what styles suit it.  And if you are not sure if a trouser style suits you, make a quick muslin. If the style does not work for you, if you do not feel good in it, if it is not comfortable or flattering, and you know you won't wear it, move on.  I know patterns can be expensive, but it is more expensive to make something up that you do not like and will not wear.  

Sarah Liz.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Review


Everyone sews at a different pace depending on energy levels and other life demands.  This month I was able to make three simple tops and one pair of pants.  Which was an okay effort for a blah feeling sort of month.  

So, the round up:

The first top is not really me -the colour is - but I think it will be cute to wear on a hot day.  

The second two tops are more me.

And the pants are very me.

In total, I managed to sew 7 metres of fabric from my stash.  Unfortunately, I stashed a few metres more:

This is only a small part of the stash accrual during January; there was more.  I'm not sure how much, but I do know that I am now turning to me stash first in order to sew, rather than stashing more fabric in lieu of sewing.  And all purchase were made because they go with other fabrics or are in colours or patterns  I need to consider wearing more.

Progress indeed.

And of course, there was BeaJay's lovely silk satin seersucker:

So overall, it has been quite a good month for the stash!

BUT - my days of stashing have been curtailed.  I am going to boycott my local Spotlight.  They are very prone to short measuring fabrics.  This has happened once too often.  My requested 1.55 metres of a fabric the other day barely measure 1.5 on one side and 1.45 on the other when I checked it at home. This is not good enough - and it happens regularly.  I deserve better than this as a customer.  I'm fairly tolerant, but when I say no more, I mean it. I will still purchase patterns on sale, and threads, interfacings and so on from Spotlight, but fabrics, no.

Do you have similar problems when you purchase fabric?  


As for pattern buying, I have been quite restrained. This was because I had pinned all my patterns on   Pinterest.

AND:  found that I had  496 patterns. 
I say rather sheepishly and guiltily, over many years.  And usually on sale. That is quite enough for anyone.  So I decided I really needed to work through these and find out what works, and what doesn't.  And that I didn't really need much more.

Then I saw a cowl neck top which has been on my list for years - I've never been able to find it:

I think this will be such a smart top that will have many uses.  And as Butterick patterns were 3 for $10 I needed two more.

So I chose another top (for stable knits) - I think this will be really useful as well:

And a little suit - which I would not have purchased, but you have to have three patterns for the $10 deal.  Otherwise $20.99 each.  This is a mathematically easy decision to make.  So I added this pattern as the third:

Butterick 6111.  Connie Crawford
The last pattern looks as though it would work better as separated - as a little suit it looks a bit on the dowdy side.  I think the proportions are not quite right.   I think the jacket would  look nice as a cardigan jacket, and maybe the skirt in a lightweight denim with a nice jumper.

So now I had 499 patterns.  I'm sure half are duds - meaning they won't suit me or are a poor design, so I must start trying them and weed them out.

Somehow a BurdaStyle managed to sneak into my shopping bag when I was in the Newsagent.  I paid for it of course:). 

 I finally got around to viewing the Craftsy course I enrolled in over twelve months ago - Gail Yellen's class, 40 Techniques every Sewer Should Know.   I found out that I knew most of the techniques. I suppose the class reassured me that I was an okay sewer and just need to keep on practicing.

So, that was my sewing January.  Fairly low key as my mojo was a little low and the first two garments I had to fight the blahs.  I think I needed a rest after all the tribulations of 2014.  Anyway, I have now de-blahhed.

On to February....I won't be able to sew many things in February as I  have a backlog of paperwork to attend to in the office - and my own personal paperwork - before I get back to study at the end of February.  I think I'll start with working out a trouser shape that suits me and work from there.

Wishing you a wonderful sewing February as well.

Sarah Liz