Perse-phony

First, a plug: if you’re shopping for fabric or yarn, and you don’t have a local fabric store, may I recommend mine?

And now, a post! Pants!!

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What, pants AGAIN? So soon? Yes – not to be A Bummer, but my school is closed for obvious reasons, so I have some extra time. And, I find pants are substantial/engrossing enough that sewing them is a mental and emotional booster. So yeah – more pants!

Actually, while I’m proud of these pants, I feel a little weird about sharing them. Because here’s the thing: they don’t have side seams, but they’re not Persephones. Despite the fact that everybody looks like a vixen in that pattern, I don’t own it. Every time I thought about buying it, I hesitated, because I wanted to figure it out all by myself.

I also want to respect intellectual property and the hard work of a small business owner. I know an individual can’t ‘own’ a side seam (or lack thereof) but in my corner of the sewing world it’s impossible to separate this look from Anna Allen’s pattern. I decided once my experiment was done, if I found anything lacking in my draft that a simple tweak couldn’t fix, I would buy the pattern and learn from it. And if I was satisfied with my version I would obviously still credit her design! Introducing: my Perse-phonies!

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Thank you, Anna Allen, for an amazing design! I had a ton of fun trying to recreate it, and hopefully this will be accepted as a loving homage to a red-hot pants pattern. YMMV, but here’s how I got there.

My hypothesis: since seams are essentially darts, I could change the angles of the front and back crotch seams to have larger intakes, and remove the side seam entirely. I started out with two patterns I’ve sewn a number of times – the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, and the Peppermint Magazine wide-leg pants. I worked with my copies of the patterns, both of which had already been graded and adjusted for my shape. I used the Fern shorts from the crotch up, and the Peppermint wide-legs for the in- and outseams. Also, I removed the Fern pockets and all seam allowances for this experiment.

On the Fern short front, I removed the width of the front dart and the difference between the side seam and a straight line from the front crotch, changing the angle to meet the new center front. I did the same thing for the back piece, but I kept the dart. Then I butted the pieces together, and traced off the inseam and outseam from the Peppermint pants by overlaying the patterns at the crotch point. Finally I smoothed the waistline, added back the seam allowances, and I had a pattern piece! This lengthened the front crotch, but that’s fine, as it would hopefully have a similar effect as my usual full stomach adjustment (it’s not quite that dramatically slanted in real life, but I wanted the modification to be clear in a small diagram).

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I sewed a pair of shorts as a wearable muslin, and actually it went great! I just had to widen and lengthen the darts by ½” total, and scoop out the bum seam a little. Meanwhile, the front was surprisingly perfect! :O Or, well, with one exception – I used the button fly directions from my Morgan jeans pattern, but I was a bit cavalier about buttonhole placement and they are SO DEEP under the fly overlap, I have to mount a spelunking expedition to button myself in and out. I sewed the shorts from some leftover scraps of Cone Mills denim and you will definitely see them some sunny day (if I can find the buttonholes again).

Since I didn’t add pockets, these came together shockingly fast. I can see why people make multiple pairs. They’re like the chocolate chip cookies of pants.

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I didn’t necessarily need another pair of black pants right now, but it’s the fabric I had on hand at a time when that’s an even more valuable consideration than usual, and it was always destined to be pants someday! The fabric wasn’t perfect for this experiment because it has a small amount of stretch, but I interfaced both sides of the waistband and all the crotch facings/shields. It’s sturdy. It’s practically armor (what sublimated feelings?)! It’s no longer available at Threadbear Fabrics, but it’s a true black USA-made denim with scanty stretch and the magical ability to pick up all the white fluff in my house. And I think it worked!

They’re a little loose, but I might sew them again in a non-stretch denim or canvas and then reevaluate. Luckily this shape is easy to adjust – I’d just remove a skinny column from the center of my leg pattern piece (probably about 1/4”). The big surprise was how LONG these were! I must have used my adjusted Peppermint pants piece (the one where I added 4” inches to the length), because these pants have a 2 1/8” double-fold hem and they’re not that cropped! I described them to my sister as “just cropped enough that you wonder if it was on purpose” and I stand by that! I could have trimmed, but nice deep hems are luxurious.

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The fit around the front crotch is a-ok, but I did make the front button placket (do you call it a placket on a crotch?) ridiculously long. I can get in and out of these pants by undoing the waistband and three underlap buttons, even though I sewed four, and I have a vestigial fifth buttonhole way down deep. I thought about tacking the overlap down in a couple places, but since these have broken in a little the overlap doesn’t want to pop open as badly as it used to (this is popped with encouragement).

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Speaking of broken in, I’ve worn these like 4 times in the last 10 days. What, nobody’s gonna see!

If you have some bottomweight yardage, interfacing, and a handful of buttons, these are a great q sew (Prof. BF and I calling this time ‘the q’, which I know sounds flip but for some reason we find it comforting)! These are things I usually have on hand, as opposed to pocketing and zippers – I’m always out of zippers – and I’ll definitely repeat this project. Maybe even this q. >_> We’ll see. 

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How do you feel about recreating patterns? Obviously most people would agree it’s different when copying a corporation versus an individual, but what about design? Do you feel differently if it’s complex or simple? Specific or universal? What if the business serves an underserved or underrepresented community? And what if a pattern is only available as a PDF and your access to printing is limited by a global pandemic (for example)?

I don’t have clear feelings about these questions myself. Well, I do have one clear feeling – a wish for you, your families, and your communities to be safe and well.

Pattern: Uhh…?

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 10 at waist, 14 at hip (sizes synthesized from a mélange of patterns)

Supplies: 1.6 yards stretch denim in True Black, $24.40, Threadbare Fabrics; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $24.40

11 thoughts on “Perse-phony

  1. Wow, these are impressive! 🙌

    I don’t personally have qualms about borrowing ideas from existing patterns, since nothing is really new in fashion. It takes TIME to learn how to hack patterns and build what you like, so if you have the skills to do it – then it’s fair game? I think? Kind of like buying canned tomatoes. Could I grow and stew my own tomatoes? Technically, yes. Am I going to? Nah, I’ll choose pay somebody else to do it and take my sodiom with it.

    That said, it’s obviously good to support small pattern designers where we can. And there are times where I figure I can do something myself, but meh, I’ll spend ten dollars to both save the time and support an indie designer. But no guilt for having the expertise to DIY it!

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    1. That seems like a healthy way to think about it – I still feel faintly guilty but I think you’re right. I secretly feel fine about copying, like, a boxy crop top, because there’s a thousand of them, but pants feel more serious somehow. I like the tomato analogy though! Because it’s a good one, not just because I love tomatoes. 🙂

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    1. I’m glad that seems to be a shared point of view, I felt uneasily like a thief! Thank you – I finally threw them in the hamper but it took some doing to stop wearing them. ^^

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  2. Ouuh those are some excellent pants! So nice to see a post by you today 🙂 I’m usually more of a lurker than a commenter but just wanted to say, that reading this today made me really happy 🙂
    Also I get your feeling – I reaaally like the pockets on CCP’s pietra pants, but I would probably use the crotch curve of the one pattern that I’ve fitted really well instead (also one by CCP, so at least there is that…) and I really wouldn’t want it with the elasticised back, so I feel I really wouldn’t use much of the pattern anyway, whereas hacking one that fits me well to have the cool pockets shouldn’t be that hard (she said, hopefully). I feel like I can mostly justify it but I still do feel a little bit weird about it…
    So I think in the end I don’t know either I’m afraid….XD but your pants look great and you should definitely be proud of the skill it took to figure out how to make them!

    Also also, since I’m already here and might as well dump this all at your doorstep (apologies): I just wanted to say, you’re my number one pants authority! I always enjoy reading your posts and reviews and they’ve been really helpful to me. You totally pushed me to try out the Peppermint Wide Leg Pants, a style that I never thought I would particularly enjoy or look ‘good’ on me, but you just looked so cool in them and we have a somewhat similar shape and that really gave me the confidence – turns out I love wearing them! They’re my favourite pants right now and we’re already in the mulitiples 🙂 Thanks for everything! Hope you and yours are doing well – all the best!

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    1. Thank you so much! ❤ That is so generous of you – I'm hooked on pants, I admit it (I think because you can fit them solo, and bottomweight fabric is so nice to work with). I'm glad my so-far experience (still so much left to learn!) has been helpful!

      I think make your pants, with those pockets, and any patterns you have on hand! Whenever I can see the same element in more than one pattern it almost feels like fair game, and I've seen lovely overlapping pockets in a couple places. I hope that's not awful. But if you're just going to pop your adjusted pattern pieces on top of this other pattern anyway, save the printer paper! 😀

      I enjoyed reading your comment and anytime you want to talk pants (the wider the better? :D) just say hey! 🙂

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  3. Seems legit to me! I’d be concerned if you had bought the Persephone pattern, but then were mass-producing them and trying to sell them to Target as your own design, or something. So don’t do that.
    Glad to see this design works for you. I have similar measurements to you and have struggled with pants fitting so always appreciate your posts. More pants please.

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    1. If Target came knocking I’d sell my soul! ;D Just kidding (though I have been relying on them a bit more recently). I’m so glad to hear you say that! I have so many pants patterns on my wishlist, this is a good encouragement to buy some!

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  4. I just discovered your blog and really enjoy reading it. I also have pants envy- I haven’t tackled real pants yet… But I could use some to wear all my me made tops with…

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    1. Thank you! ❤ I say go for it! I think real pants are any pants that won't get you cited for public indecency – if you're not in the mood for zippers there's tons of stylish options right now with buttons or elastic. I just default to flies because I find them easiest. 😀

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