Tuesday, November 21, 2006


That was the entire last week going by. Where did it go? Did I do anything fun? Well, hmmm. I guess it depends on how you define fun.

I have been sewing, but not anything worth showing off. Or, apparently even finishing if the carcasses of unloved pants in my sewing room is anything to go by. Remember last week when I typed about the black KS 3277 pants, "The back has some crotch smiles so I still need more thunder-thighs room for the next pair. Not a big deal to fix."?

Famous. Last. Words.

I now have four, count 'em, FOUR more incarnations of this pattern, 3 of which are lacking waistbands and all of which are lacking hems. All except one pair are from replaceable fabric. The others are the brown bengaline. Sniff, sniff. But I do think they'll be wearable, as long as I don't look at my butt in a mirror. Something I try to avoid anyway, so that shouldn't be a big problem. I just wanted them closer to perfect than they are.

So, I cried out for help to my Sewing & Fitting Fairy God-dess-mother, and she answered, telling and showing me things I actually already knew but needed a big thump on the head to see what's been staring me in the face. She has a gift for making what is frustrating to understand, straightforward and almost simple. I'm not calling her by name in case she doesn't want to be inundated with pleas from the masses, but you know who you are and if you're OK with being "outed," I know you'll let me know.

So, what have I learned?

1. Crotch smiles can lie. This becomes glaringly obvious when one has added so much extra at the crotch points that one could also fit a small child inside her pants legs and yet, the smiles still remain. (On the pants, not on my face! Although the thought of a small child in my pants is kind of funny.)

2. Less is more . Sure, we've all heard how wonderful the Burda crotch curve is because it's got that great bias back angle. However, you can end up with too much of a good thing if you're not careful. Case in point:

The pattern on top is my nearly perfect "block." This is the pattern I spent countless hours and days perfecting and fisheye-darting, and it is 99% perfect. (Why did I leave it? I'm asking myself the very same thing today.) The pattern underneath it is the latest altered version of KS 3277. I'm sure you can see (as had to be thumped into my head) the significant difference between the crotch angles. The less severe angle of the top pattern fits me better. The other one just makes the fabric hang weird and bunch up at the crotch because I don't have enough outward butt curve to fill out that space. And that's (probably) what is causing those lying crotch smiles. I say probably because I haven't made it up to the sewing room today to actually test this —I'm supposed to be working— but I do have previous pants made from that pattern that fit 1,000% better than the KS pants and which do NOT give me lying smiles.

3. Don't deny yourself. Read fitting solutions for all body types. We tend to be blissfully unaware, or in denial, of some aspects of our bodies so we tend to skip information we think doesn't apply. I know I have large thighs so I always zero-in on that information. But, did you know that full inner thigh flesh can also mimic in fabric the results a knock-kneed figure would see? Yep, I didn't think so either. Until I realized that adding all the fabric in the world to my crotch points still wasn't getting rid of those blasted smiles and then started looking for other reasons/answers.

If you look at the patterns in the photo above again, you should also be able to see that the legs in the upper good pattern have a different "shift" to them. This fits me much better since it gives me more fabric along the inseams where I need it. I still need to work on and perfect this, but the reasons I get twisty wrinkles in addition to the lying smiles from the KS pattern is so much clearer when I see both patterns together like this.

4. Don't trust the experts. Well, not blindly. I have many, many fitting books and articles. Much of the information is brilliant as well as accurate. But some of it is not, at least not for all body types and/or all fitting dilemmas. Which leads me to …

5. Trust your instincts. If you see one expert's telltale sign that you need X alteration to fix the problem but yet it doesn't seem to work, don't assume it's you. Sometimes it's them. Or, sometimes it's that their particular method isn't correct for your particular shape. Move on. Find another method or make one up yourself. Pin. Slash. Spread. Study. And Experiment. It's only fabric and time.

6. Be patient. All of this experimentation and edumahcation ;-) takes time. Don't rush it. Make those muslins. Take notes. Transfer changes and markings to pattern and/or muslin now instead of trying to remember them later. Take many breaks to think things through and re-energize. You'll get there eventually. And when you do, you're going to know so much!

7. Resist pattern book temptation. (See below.)

I'm tossing that KS pattern, never to be made for this body again. Tonight, I'll start back in with my block. It's so close to perfection that I can almost taste it. Slap me the next time I try to deviate from it, will ya? I will spend far less time modifying this pattern into different styles than I would spend altering the pretty styles in other patterns to my body.


  1. I am not a "blogger" but I sure do like reading yours. (I've got it bookmarked now) Thanks for all your detail AND your hard work and perseverence. It does make a difference, not only in what 'you' sew but how 'we' understand and learn from you. A heartfelt thanks to you.

  2. Debbie, before you toss that pattern remember that the top is also included in that pattern!LOL!! You seems to be enjoying the process. Happy sewing.

  3. Modify your block pants pattern for different styles = simplify your life. There are so many truths in what you've written - including the value of an experienced friend in helping to clarify solutions.
    Thanks for recording and sharing your experience.

  4. #1 - FLW have been my undoing on more occasions than I care to recount.

    #2 - I keep reading 'crotch smiles' as 'crotch smells'. I have no idea what this says about me as a person :)

  5. Debbie, I love your blog and am always interested in the trials that other people have fitting pants.
    I have this KS pattern and was going to give it a try this weekend.



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