Thursday, November 30, 2006


The front crotch still has some poofiness issues (besides my poof). I'm hoping Beth works out hers before me so I can cheat. But … I wasn't really working on the front crotch, so I'll get back to the subject at hand ... those X wrinkles.

This is the New! and Improved! back view (standing with legs slightly apart):

And with legs together:

Remember, you can click these to see my butt even bigger. ;-)

The lighting is harsh and high contrast shadows aren't showing true detail. But this is the best I could do at night with a tripod.

And, here's the pattern:

The red lines are the wedges. The upper wedge is for high hip. (I added the high hip wedge lower on the front than I really wanted, but I was trying to keep the pocket area unchanged. Because the first sew of these pants resulted in a bit of poofiness at the front crotch, next time I will add this wedge higher and redraw the pocket.)

The lower wedge is to add length at the inseam.

After my first fitting in fabric, I also incorporated the alterations shown in yellow and blue.

The yellow lines reflect (1) removing hip width, (2) lowering crotch depth front/back, (3) lengthening the rear dart, and (4) returning the crotch points to the original pattern lines because I didn't need the extra I added. (Truing the grainline is also shown in yellow but I did this before cutting the fabric.)

The blue line at the back crotch curve shows where I deepened the curve.

The black lines are original pattern seam and grain lines. You can see that these alterations do not throw off the grainline very drastically.

This blurry photo is my first fitting. The red arrow is pointing to folds which were removed by that crotch scooping shown in blue on the pattern.

This shows that crotch scooping as sewn:

Below is my Spongebob pattern laid over the Simplicity 4068 pattern. They turned out very similar, which lets me know that I got grainlines, etc. right on the Spongebob pattern. The back crotch angles are actually more alike than they look here because Simplicity added a "just in case" seam allowance to the center back seam like what you see in men's slacks.

Oh, and lest you think that my pants look perfectly wrinkle-free all the time. Here's what they look like when I actually move. My usual one-hip-out stance, instead of the for-the-camera pose. Yeah, pants still wrinkle when you move. Imagine that. ;-)

Although I think I've got most of the rear fit issues worked out now, I don't really like this pattern. It's OK for slacks, but I'm a jeans girl and these are slacky-jeans, not jeans-jeans. I'll be looking through my Burda WOFs for a true jeans pattern I can morph with this one and I'll be testing out my new alterations to see how they transfer. Stay tuned, but don't hold your breath.

My review of this pattern on is here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Still plugging away on pants

Aren't these horrible pics? There's something about those wide-legged pants that just strikes me as odd on her. I really appreciate that Simplicity is actually using a model with some meat on her bones, but at least one of these views should show her with a top worn untucked, don't you think? Yes, I'm glad to see the waistline details but there's only two variations so we don't need five photos of tucked in tops. Whatever, and I'm probably being too critical. Apparently it didn't stop me from buying it or from making it my next project. ;-)

Yesterday I used my new altered pattern to adjust this one and was quite pleased with how few adjustments I needed to match things up between the two, and pleased again with how easy those adjustments were. A quick tissue fit told me I was on track and another quick fit of the pin-basted pants in real fabric was still good. So, I'm optimistic that maybe, just maybe, I've found a solution I can apply to any pattern. I'm hoping to finish sewing these today.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea …

SpongeBob SquarePants!

Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!
SpongeBob SquarePants!
If nautical nonsense be something you wish...
SpongeBob SquarePants!
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!
SpongeBob SquarePants!

My pants fitting muslin is now the bottom half of this lovely ensemble. It was nice to finish something, instead of adding to the pile of pants muslin carcasses, even if it was this silly PJ set. But they do make me smile, and they completely crack up my younger son, who is a major SpongeBob fan.

Today I'm going to investigate turning this new pants pattern into pants I can leave the house in. Don't know how far I'll get, but that's the plan.

By the way … Bloglines has been burping on my blog feed for over a week now. I don't know why. I'm only mentioning it because I've been writing more than you're probably seeing if you use Bloglines. Of course, you won't see this either so …

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today, I'm thankful for PANTS THAT FIT

Yes, I'm also thankful for the many other blessings in my family and will later enjoy our turkey dinner together. Even though our routine has been to almost always eat dinners at home, sitting around the table and sharing the events of the day, lately it's been rare for us all to be here at the same dinner time since 17 yo DS has both a part-time job and a full-time (true love!) girlfriend and14 yo DS has started up with wrestling team. I'm very thankful we had many years of sitting down together but I'm more thankful that my sons are healthy and active and growing up normal (term used loosely!), even if it takes them away from the family fold more often.

Back to the pants …

Below is what I've been trying to correct. See how the fabric is bunching and wrinkling into a quasi-X shape? Try to find *that* in yer fittin' books. I dare ya! Does it look like I have knock-knees? Maybe a tiny bit, but not really. Especially if you imagine those legs without the thigh fluff (which I do on a daily basis!). But that's the alteration I need. Not because that's what my body type is, but because that's how the made-up pattern fits me. Or, more correctly, doesn't fit me or my thighs. Because my thighs require more fabric (LOTS more) at the inseam than thinner legs, the fitting issue mimics knocked knees, or to be more PC, "inwardly rotated legs."

The pants below (pardon the upside down Spongebob boats) are the last in a series of muslins cut and sewed during yesterday's self-declared Pants Work Day. I'm pretty darned pleased with the results. There are absolutely no more diagonal wrinkles or false crotch smiles. There's a tiny bit of vertical fold under the cheek that the camera is picking up but which is not glaringly noticeable to my naked eye looking in the mirror. Besides, if I altered out those wrinkles, chances are I wouldn't be able to walk without the pants tugging my legs. One has to balance fit with function, and comfort.

Here's the front view. Again, I'm pleased. And again there are wrinkles that I choose to ignore. I like my pants snug at the tummy. I feel more "contained" that way, especially since I almost live in jeans and I'm used to their snug fit. What I'm most pleased about is that the crotch is high and snug (not too snug). Before this alteration session, I needed to compromise because if I pulled pants up to where I prefer wearing them in the front, then the back would diagonally wrinkle even more. Now I have the best of both worlds — snug at the crotch front and back and no fabric bunching under my butt. These pants feel like they were made for me. ;-)

I used to think a fisheye dart (FED) was the solution, but I've changed my mind. I'm female, so I'm entitled! While a FED did help a lot, it never quite got me all the way there. If you look closely at the results pic for that link, you should be able to see (very) subtle diagonal wrinkles wanting to point to my inner thighs. Yes, it's hard to tell because this is a still shot, but trust me, as soon as I took a step or pulled them up snugger in the crotch, they were easier to spot.

I also used to think that the fit problems were because fabric was getting hung up on extended calves and to some extent, it was. But that's only because it wasn't hanging correctly from up above. I.e., from just below the crotch to the knee.

So, if not the FED, then what? Below is the final pattern (still marked up from the experiments). I'm not sure what to call the changes I wound up with. An inseam wedge? An inseam cross-twistie?

The lines on the left are the wedge, which I found in Fast Fit. I slashed the pattern at the crotch line and rotated just the inseam side downward to add more length between crotch and knee. Those results were pretty darn good but I thought I needed just a little bit more inseam length and a little less outseam length so I tried a cross-twistie. That is, I slashed at the knee line and used the center point as my pivot point to add more length to the inseam and remove the same amount from the outseam.

If you think you might need this too, keep in mind that both the inseam wedge and the cross-twistie shift the angle of the leg. (BTW, both of these alterations mean you must redraw the grainline and other reference lines.) If you don't need that shift, you may also need to add a step of moving the leg back and truing up the seamlines. I think the Singer Sewing Pants that Fit book has a knock-kneed alteration that does just that. For me, the wedge just seemed to address what I needed. Your mileage may vary!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is it pants yet?

The answer is a resounding NO!

Pants are so frustrating, aren't they? My custom pattern block described in my last post was pretty close the last time I worked on them (last summer), but it still wasn't the ultime perfect that I'm after.

After more discussion with the Fitting Fairy God-dess-mother and book/article research, I decided I need to either lengthen the sideseam or lengthen the inseam. I plowed ahead and decided to start with a lengthened sideseam trial. I had to pick one, right? We were questioning whether the diagonal wrinkles were pointing to a need for more sideseam length which meant it was Trial and Error time (heavy on the Error, as I found out).

I traced and altered my pattern yet again. I cut out the test fabric with 1" seam allowances and basted the seams with a 1/2" allowance. Tried them on and ... no cigar. Too baggy in the legs to really tell a whole lot. But hey, at least the lying crotch smiles were gone. I called it a night and vegged in front of the TV watching Tivo'd shows with fitting books spread all around me.

Today is another day. The kids are home from school in anticipation of Turkey Day tomorrow and since there's nothing truly urgent to interrupt my time, I've decreed it a day off for me too and a Pants Work Day. I re-basted the seams with the full 1" seam allowance and ... those same blasted diagonal wrinkles were again looking back at me in the mirror. Sigh. Not the crotch smiles, though. I think I've banished them for good by using a pattern with the correct center back angle for my backside.

I ripped out the inseam on one leg from just below the crotch to just above the hem and this time I saw perfection staring back at me. The only problem: I can't exactly walk around town with my inseams gaping wide open. I re-basted (again) the back inseam with a smaller seam allowance, keeping the front at 1" to see if it was a simple matter of needing more ease in the back. It wasn't. The diagonals were back.

Time for another scissors and tape session. I removed the added sideseam length from last night and traded it for increased inseam length. Between inner thigh fluff and underlying bone structure, my gut has been telling me I need a knock-knee alteration. I.e., adding more length to the inseam. I ignored said gut last night, but today I'm listening. I added more length between crotch and knee. I hope my gut is right. I'm just about to cut out another muslin and sew it up.

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.

Monday, November 13, 2006

KS 3277 First Make

Here's the pants, and here is the review on Pattern Review.

Monday This and That

Sorry, it's Monday and I'm all out of witty post titles. ;-) My brain is also a bit over-caffeinated so I'm wandering around in different directions in this post. Grab your compass!

First, on the Stitcher's Guild message board I saw a link to a fascinating Discovery Channel "How It's Made" video which shows the industrial methods & machines for making a pair of jeans, start to finish. I thought I'd share it here in case you don't read SG. It's worth the watch. Click here.

Next, I did actually finish my black yoga pants yesterday and I'll be wearing these a lot. Can you believe this is the only pair of black pants I own? The fit is pretty good — perfect from the front, so I'll only look at the front. ;-) The back has some crotch smiles so I still need more thunder-thighs room for the next pair. Not a big deal to fix. I need to clear away the project debris in the sewing room so I have a clear view to the mirror. Then I'll post a pic or two. Note to self: Remind DH to hang the dang mirror already.

This morning, I transferred my fit-as-you-go alterations to the pattern paper (yes, I actually cut a Kwik Sew pattern!) and started laying it out on the bengaline. It ain't gonna fit. At least not without some creativity. So I've stalled and will have to regroup. I'm thinking I could do a crotch gusset, since it's the mega back crotch point (thunder-thighs, remember?) that is making the pieces just a bit too wide to lay side by side. In case I didn't mention it, the stretch in stretch bengaline runs lengthwise, not widthwise as you'd expect. Otherwise, I'd have more than enough.

I'm about out of time to make good on my 2006 resolutions so this one will have to roll over for 2007, but a project I've wanted to do is a tailored, lined jacket. I don't have anywhere to actually wear such a jacket, but I still want to do this just to do it. Over the weekend, I ordered the Palmer/Pletsch "Jackets for Real People" DVD. I have the companion book on fitting, but I wanted the video so I could watch Marta Alto constructing jackets. The other P/P construction videos I have have all been well-made, so I expect to enjoy this latest DVD too.

This is one of the candidates. I've been reading the "couture" instructions and am morbidly fascinated. I say "morbidly" because I'm so NOT a hand-sewer. But, still, something is calling to me and I'm thinking I might just try it. If I do, it will likely be 2008 before I'm done because this isn't something I could work on exclusively until it's done.

I've also got tons of current and back issues of Burda WOF, each containing multiple jackets. As long as I have my other resources for construction steps and info, those are a possibility too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Change of day, change of mind

After a discussion with someone (Hi Belinda!) much more experienced with my Aussie stretch Bengaline than I and links to pics of how all the True Blue sheilas are wearing it, I've gone off in another direction for the next pants make. Although I'm still not sewing the Bengaline. Go figure.

I've now traced and cut KS 3277 (above), the plus version of KS 3115 (below).

I thought this would be my muslin for the Bengaline but the fabric I'm using doesn't have as much stretch so it will only be a quasi-muslin. But that's OK, I *need* a pair of black yoga-style pants ... not that I've suddenly taken up yoga or anything. But YKWIM. ;-) I'll evaluate the pattern for the Bengaline after these are finished.

I thought I'd get them done last night, but I happened to turn the tube on right at the start of a good chick flick ... The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Living in a house with only males, starting yet another load of their stinky workout laundry, and just getting back from the grocery store to stock up on the food they've depleted in what seemed like mere hours, I needed a chick flick night. TSOTTP isn't Oscar material by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a cute film — even if I did feel all of my 44 years while watching it. ;-)

I'll finish the black pair today and hopefully the verdict will be Good to Go on the brown stretch Bengaline. If not, I reserve the right to change my mind. Yet again.

Oh, and I'm now determined to try those Betzina pants just to torture myself. Don't ask. They may not ever make it past muslin, but like a trainwreck, some things I just have to see for myself.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

What to do, what to do??

It's not cold here by any stretch of the imagination (it's still upper 80s) but I would like to get started on some new pants for autumn/winter. The capris I've lived in all summer long are going to look really silly in January, and it will *be* January before I know it.

I ordered some Vogue patterns while they were on sale at the Vogue website and they arrived today. One of them is #2913, Sandra Betzina pants. I just looked to see if there were any reviews for it on Pattern Review and these results are mixed. Two nay and one yay. But ... one of the nays is definitely not my body type and the other has called herself a beginning sewer and there's no photo so it's hard for me to guess my results based on hers. (If you're that reviewer and reading this, in no way do I mean that as an insult. Just that I'm unsure whether it was fitting skills or the pattern or ? that led to your results. I hope that came out right. I do still appreciate the review and your time for writing it.) The only yay seems to be my body type but there's no photo.

Also in today's mail were the Christine Jonson patterns I ordered from a coop (and yes, some fabric was in the box too), which included another pair of pants ... these:

There are also three reviews for these pants. Again two with photos, and the one closest to my body type without. But, all three of these reviews were positive.

So readers, which one would you pick??

Sigh. I guess it's time for the tape measure and another muslin dance.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Mindless Internet Fun

I saw this on Beth's blog and tried it out. It seems to be accurate for me, for while I've never lived in the actual "Midland" of the US (as they list them), I have lived all over the eastern side of the country (born in NY, lived in NY, RI, VA, CT, LA, TX, MD, SC, FL). I've moved more than that list represents as sometimes we moved back to a state I'd already lived in.

I've lived in FL for the last 17 years. Once we'd been here 7 years, it became the longest I'd lived anywhere. So I guess after 17 years it's now home and I'm almost a native. But with so many moves in my "formative years," I picked up a lot of accents (age 14-15 was the worst -- a really thick Long Island, NY accent!) but they were subsequently blurred by the accent from a move into another new area. IOW, at some point I stopped having an accent. Well, not to Americans. I'm sure I still sound strange to Brits and Aussies. ;-)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Monday, November 6, 2006

Two Birds With One Photo

I look like I have somewhere to go, don't I? Nope. Just another SAHM day, emphasis on the SAH part. But it's nice to swish around the house even if no one's here to see.

This is the finished top from yesterday, along with the skirt I made and blogged about here and here. The review for the top is on PatternReview here.

Next up is something with this brown stretch bengaline. Pants. But I'm not sure which pattern yet.

But first, a bit of housework and other drudgery.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Sewing Goddesses Knew ...

... that I was in no mood for a wadder. ;-)

I LOVE THIS TOP! It's done and I'll take pics & review it soon, but I just have to shout from the rooftops. Plus the Colts are beating the Patriots and I have to get back to the game to watch them finish the job.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pics showing some of the reasons I love this top. The gathering at center front is a great dart alternative, I'm always a sucker for empire lines, and the tie makes a great vertical line for my fluffy self. (You can click on the pics for bigger versions.)

As you can see, the tie actually comes up behind the neckline binding, and the gathering is adjustable so you can decide how low you want to go.

Living Dangerously

I'm a bit burned out from doing muslins and fittings so a forgiving knit was on the cutting table today. That's it above. I like how it picks up on the undertones in this skirt, (which you would think is a regular denim blue ... until you put it next to anything other than white).

The chosen pattern for this top is from Burda WOF 06/2005 (#111). It's a pattern for a woven but since when does that ever stop me? ;-)

I traced the Burda pattern last night and a quick pin fit told me it was going to be more alteration work than I wanted to do. (See above re being burned out.) So I opened up my pattern software and started doodling.

This is the line drawing for the Burda pattern pieces.

This is what I came up with after some dart rotation on my standard empire bodice pattern (the program creates that for me) and a couple of manual changes to the hemline and cuff. I printed it out and taped it together.
This morning, I tried on the upper bodice pattern before committing it to the fabric and decided that I needed to dart out some of the spread at the neckline or else it would probably fall off my shoulders. So I reverted to low-tech. I squooshed a dart in the paper, cut it apart and taped it into a 3D cone/dart. Then I cut a slash roughly where you see that line in the upper bodice piece above and spread the paper until the pattern laid flat again. I reshaped the front gathering area and called it done.

I'm not making a muslin. If the top works, I'll be thrilled. If it doesn't, I'll be sad to see this Textiles Studios fabric wasted … but I'll get over it. Today is going to be a relaxing sewing day.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Over and out ... of the sewing room

It's done. Success!

The review is done too, and you can read it here, although if you've been following along on my blog, you've read just about everything already.