Kitchen Sink Pants

New pants! Brace yourself; the following contains a lot of words but not necessarily a lot of information.

These are my kitchen sink pants (as in ‘everything but the’). Here’s a quick rundown of their features:

  1. A faced front with a center fly zipper.
  2. Elasticated back waistband.
  3. Back darts.
  4. Single-layer pockets with faced inseam openings.
  5. D-ring straps for cinching.
  6. Mild balloon legs.

Of that list, item 1, a jeans-style center fly opening-plus-faced front sans waistband, was the one that kept me up o’ nights. Ever since sewing a faced pair of paper bag pants I wondered how to actually get the zipper to go to the top and finish everything nicely. The answer: I don’t know. The result: somehow very, very tidy. ??!!?? Ordinarily when I have trouble describing a technique in words alone I whip up a technical illustration, but I felt my way through this process, and I understand neither what nor how anything I did. What a terrible start to a post, ha!

I sifted through a lot of internet to find this tutorial for a front fly/front facing. I read through it several times and then went ahead and sewed my zip the same way I always do, only to end up unpicking the top three or four inches of my topstitching (the center seam edgestitching and the straight vertical part of the ‘J’ around the fly extension) and redoing it after adding the facings. It’s not particularly obvious in this dark tone-and-tone thread, but follow the wise advice found at that link, because my way was bad. The universe graciously forebore and it all worked out, but there’s no particular reason why it should have.

The pattern is also uncertain – I smushed together my PA Morella trousers with my traced Madewell balloon jeans, but I didn’t use any specific lines from either. I laid them in a stack under some tracing paper and drew new lines based on my feelings, usually somewhere between the two. This is so contrary to the organized way I usually work, and I don’t plan on rebranding myself as an intuitive artiste, but I guess I’ve made enough pants for myself that navigating by feel was a reasonably effective process. Still, yikes.

The flat faced front/back waistband technique is all Morellas. I ended up cutting my front facings twice, because the center zip complicated the process. The first time I cut them without additional seam allowance at the center. When I went to attach them, it felt like a mistake, so I recut and reinterfaced with more SA, only to trim to the original size when sewing. Again, I’m expressing this poorly because I understand it poorly. I’d like to sew another pair of pants with this feature (it’s so SO so SO comfortable to wear) and maybe take pictures that time, to really get the practice cemented in my mind.

You might have seen the pin these were based on, by the way. It’s this one below – I couldn’t find any other images of the pants, but I tried to copy what I could see. I decided to add elastic to the back instead of relying entirely on the straps for cinching because I thought it would sit more evenly (I was throwing all my spaghetti at the wall anyway), so I didn’t get those pleats but otherwise – yeah?? 

In case you were wondering why darts + elastic (surely choose one), it’s because there’s darts in the picture! And that’s it!

The rectangle rings are leftover from my Raspberry Rucksack, by the way! I sewed the straps to match their measurements.

My single best innovation was adding a buttonhole in the fly shield so I could sew a button to the inside waistband and the layers would sit flat when worn. Game changer. I’m the Banksy of fly shields (no I’m not, but I am disproportionately excited about it).

Hopefully these interior shots will supplement my complete lack of explanation!

You can actually see the shape of the single-layer pocket bag there – that line of topstitching basically vanished completely.

I used 8 oz. denim (Kaufman per ush), which was light enough that all the hoopla at the waist didn’t get too thick, but perfectly suitable for pants. I almost bought 6 oz. but that would have been pushing it, I think. Anyway I’m very happy with the fabric. I used the selvedge on the edge of the fly shield and the edge of my pocket facings, which look like nothing on earth in a photograph, but function perfectly well!

Lest you think I think I am a pants savant, I forgot to reshape the hem allowance to angle outwards, so when I folded them up, the hems were slightly smaller than the diameter of the legs. I eased them together but the hems are *almost* gathered as a result. Tsk. I said tsk!

If you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding this fireplace: alas, this is not my apartment, but a very chic AirBnB (this one, well worth a look!!). These are the last of our vacation shots. Someday I’ll go on a vacation without needing a haircut. Someday!!

Anyway, I sort of expected these trouser-jeans to be clown pants but actually they ended up staid! But I really like them! I’m still nervous about *how* I made them (the word “mushy” comes to mind – mushy pattern, mushy understanding) but I’m finding them quite easy to wear.

And now I want to add hardware to everything. EVERYTHING.

Next up, July. Blergh. See you there!

Pattern: No pattern??

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??

Supplies: 2 yards of Indigo Washed 8 oz. denim, $25.20, Gather Here; 7″ zipper, 1.5″ non-roll elastic, $4.59, Gather Here; thread, rectangle rings from stash

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $29.75

Balloons Below

I don’t typically enjoy tracing/rubbing existing clothes, but I recently got access to a pair of Madewell balloon leg cropped jeans and I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. You know that bit in P&P where Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth how ardently he admires her? He was quoting me, talking to a pair of jeans. I actually considered buying a pair, but when it comes to pants I’d rather sew them every time (even if there’s no fit advantage to doing so! I love the process!) so I saddled up for a RTW dupe experiment.

Sneaky peeky (with inner waistband short end on the selvedge)…

And here’s the very candid photos of the ‘official’ pair, for reference.

I’d usually try to match an existing garment to a pattern, but with a pair right in front of me I wanted to try making a direct copy. Unfortunately, the process by which I copied them isn’t really applicable unless you get lucky in a similar way. Here was my recipe:

Step 1 – visit your sister + family for the first time in over a year and a half, thanks to a combination of vaccinations and negative rona tests

Step 2 – your sister is wearing really really excellent jeans

Step 3 – try on her jeans and discover, miraculously, you like the fit

Step 4 – borrow some leftover wrapping paper and a yardstick from your mother

Step 5 – grab a pencil, best-guess the grainlines, and spend the first afternoon where your immediate family has been within an ocean of each other doing math-y arts-and-crafts while muttering to yourself at the table where your four-year-old nephew would really rather be doing his dino puzzle

I didn’t have any tracing paper, and feeling the raised edges of the seams through wrapping paper wasn’t working for me. Taking and transferring measurements seemed like my best bet. The Madewell website has a few key measurements that let me check my process – I didn’t look at it until I was done, for independent verification.

The front leg went really well, and I got the finished 26” inseam right. The back leg was harder (possibly because I couldn’t lay it flat) and while I ended up with an outseam only ¼” longer than the front leg’s outseam (woo!), the inseam as I drew it was only 23”. I’d be fine with the back inseam being a little shorter, based on patterns I’ve sewn in the past, but 3”! Woof! My finished hem circumference was also 16”, as opposed to the ‘official’ 15”, but that was an easy adjustment. I chose to remove the whole inch of width from the inside back leg hem instead of dividing it among seam allowances. Then, I lengthened the back inseam as shown. I don’t know if this is technically sound, but it’s the way I could think of that added length without excess width.

It also changes the angle of the hips, but not necessarily for the worse. The width stays the same, because anything I lost on the inseam side I added back to the outseam side (about ¼”). It’s still ¾” shorter than the front inseam, but that’s consistent with my commercial patterns.

My traced yoke also ended up ¾” narrower on the horizontal than my measurement of the top of the back leg. I divided it on my (guessed) grainline and popped a little more wrapping paper in the gap.

I didn’t trace the fly shield, pocket bags/facings, waistband, or belt loops, but they were rectangles so I just whipped them up myself. The original waistband was straight so the only curved line I had to invent was the bottom of the pocket bag; I used Ginger’s.

Oh and of course, I added seam allowances. I cut a little cardboard shim 5/8” wide and moved it around the perimeter of my copied pieces, drawing an outline as I went, which I found easier than measuring over and over and connecting the dots.

The pattern pieces didn’t raise any alarm bells – they looked like pants, which was the idea. Since what makes these jeans special is the shape of the leg, I didn’t feel like a shorts muslin would be that valuable and I decided to jump right in with fashion fabric! Plus I had a coupon. I ordered this denim from Stylemaker Fabrics; Madewell doesn’t list the weight of their denim, but I (and my machine) like sewing 10 oz. denim, and the value was right (color is brighter, but I like it).

Final, possibly fatal decision – do I plan for success or budget for failure? I decided to plan for mitigated success, and part of that plan was staystitching everything except the back leg inseams. I sewed the front ‘officially’ the first time, with double lines of topstitching, but I basted the back yokes and back center seam, before basting the long leg seams. So even if I had totally nailed everything, I’d have to unpick and resew most of the pants anyhow!

Luckily (luckily?) the back needed adjustment. I scooped the back crotch curve ¼” and narrowed the center back 7/8”, blending to nothing at the crotch extension. That’s about what I added to the yoke pattern piece, by the way, so I guess it was my leg measurements that were off! I also narrowed the side seams ¼” just at the waist. I was happy with the yoke/back leg seam shaping, so that was my only “wasted” basting, which isn’t so bad. Then I stitched them up for real…and…well… 

I’m a happy bunny! They’re not identical to the Madewell pair (not even that close) but they’re not bad at all! I pitched my side seam curve a little low – the ‘belly’ of the curve should be higher on the leg – and the fabric is obviously newer/not artfully faded, and I added more rivets – but otherwise not bad! I would go as far as to say…GOOD!

As the denim relaxes I’m noticing some issues (namely, there’s some puddling in the yoke) but that’s highly adjustable if I make another pair, and overall I’m happy.

This ‘wedgie’ style isn’t the fit I usually go for, but it mirrors the original and truth be told I think it makes my rear view look like ten thousand American dollars.

So listen! The sensible thing to have done would have been to add a convex curve to the outseam of an existing pattern (or bought a new pattern, like this or that). But I enjoyed the time I spent on these. I learned more this way, often by investigating my owned patterns further, and taking a few measurements from those I wear regularly for comparison. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can find it here. These are also all patterns I’ve adjusted (usually for full stomach and full thighs, and grading across sizes too) so these measurements differ from the fresh-from-the-printer pattern pieces, but since they’re all adjusted for me, the relationships should be consistent.

Anyway, They Might Be Giants, this is where they make balloons!

Pattern: traced from Madewell balloon jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 29

Supplies: 1.75 yards of Soft Mid Weight Denim Bleached Blue – 10 oz, Stylemaker Fabrics, $25.00; zipper, Sewfisticated; thread, Michael’s, $3.79; rivets from stash

Total time: 10.75 hours

Total cost: $28.79

Darkest Dawns

I didn’t think I had too many pairs of jeans until I began regularly using the phrase “I’m not a denimhead, but”. I just love sewing jeans, and this pair was an easy comfort sew. Probably I should have taken it a little less easy, though, because the fit isn’t great!

Let’s rewind. These are Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans, the tapered view. I made one pretty bad muslin, and then adjusted the pattern and sewed one pretty good ‘real’ pair. This pair uses the pretty-good adjustments, plus a couple more, but with less success. These are shown on the 3rd (and final) day of wear, by the way (they are actually foxy and wrinkle-free right out of the dryer, but only for a few hours).

I started from a 14 waist, 16 hips, with a 16 rise. Here’s my list of total adjustments, with the new ones for this pair in bold:

  • ¼” small waist adjustment
  • 3/8” wide hip adjustment
  • removed ¼” from center front at waist
  • removed ½” from center back at waist
  • scooped butt curve ¾” deeper
  • lengthened front crotch extension by ¼”
  • lengthened back crotch extension by ½”
  • lowered back pocket placement by 1”
  • enlarged back pockets by ½” per side
  • integrated front fly pieces into the front legs
  • used a straight waistband

Bigger bum pockets, A+. Integrated fly extensions (and Ginger zip installation method), A++. Straight waistband…eh? B+, A-? Hard to judge in this fabric. The most significant issues stem from the denim, which is thin and crispy. I think either a heavier denim or a softer denim would be more *discreet* about my fitting problems, instead of the extremely obvious and sharp wrinkles I have here. Also, the waistband crumples. But most importantly, because I sewed my pretty-good pair with much thicker fabric, I think by comparison this pair came up a little…big? I’m not used to that. A hot wash & dry helps a lot, but the crotch is still busily wrinkled.

I spent a while staring at my own reflection, confronted with new-to-me wrinkles. I tried pinching and binder clipping excess fabric at a few different points, and what I came up with was: I just don’t know.

The extra fabric under my butt goes away if I sit down or angle a leg forward, so I assume that’s necessary for wearing ease.

The extra fabric in the front crotch smoothes out if I stand up exaggeratedly straight, but that’s not really part of my daily life in the same way sitting and walking is. If I tug the front leg fabric back (jerry-rigged test to see if I should shorten the front crotch extension), there’s no improvement. If I tug the fabric up (to see if I should shorten the vertical rise), it’s distinctly worse. I guess it’s probable that the front crotch curve needs to be shallower – it would make the crotch shorter overall, but wouldn’t affect the extension where it fits my inner thigh, or the rise.

Or it might just be that if I want to wear this cut, on my excellent bod, I’m gonna get these wrinkles! I wish I had used this fabric for something else – specifically, how good would it have been as Clyde pants?! But as the wisdom says, It’s Only Fabric.

And in any case, the pants are really comfortable. Pandemic or not, I like high hard pants. There’s no give in the fabric so I definitely couldn’t do yoga in these, but I already don’t do yoga, so problem solved.

Favorite new trick: selvage is useful not only for the outside edge of the belt loops and the unfolded edge of the fly shield, but also for the short end of the waistband underlap. It makes a neat, low-bulk finish. Yay woven selvage!

I made a couple very mild style swings on this pair. I used a traditional button instead of a jeans rivet to keep a low profile (oooh) and left the hems raw (aaah). I put a line of stitching ¼” from the raw edge as a safeguard. Then, after a wash, I trimmed the fringe neatly, somewhat mitigating my supercool edginess.

I remember reading something, somewhere, about softening natural fibers by soaking them in a solution of a common household good (like baking soda, not necessarily baking soda though) – does that ring a bell for anybody? I think I’d like these better if they weren’t so crunchy, but fabric softener seems like a no-go (I searched “is fabric softener…” and Google auto-filled “…bad?”, and the results said “Yup!”).

These are worn with a cupro knit Stellan tee, which is one of my favorite Stellans. It’s got a cool hand and it’s very slithery, so much so in fact that it slithers right out of my stitching and has been mended in several places. I’ll continue to fix it, because I love it.

Honestly I’m really fine with the jeans, too. Like I said, I’MNOTADENIMHEADBUT here’s an excellent excuse to iterate further. As always, I end up back where I started: thinking about sewing jeans.

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans (Curve, tapered view)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist/16 hip & rise, with many changes

Supplies: 1 2/3 yards of Mid Weight Cotton Denim Black – 10 oz, Stylemaker Fabrics, $25.00; zipper, Gather Here, $1.60; thread, Michael’s, $3.70

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $30.30

Red Dawns Rising

“Fell deeds pants awake. Now for wrath fabric. Now for ruin fitting. And the red dawn[s]!”

Here we go again! My first ‘proper’ MN Dawns, the pattern only slightly mauled, in corduroy. Corduroy again! This is it for a while, though…probably.

I surprised myself with this fabric, as I’ve got kind of a self-mythology that I don’t like red; which is why I’m describing this color as “ruby chocolate” (Mood said “henna”, and it’s OOS). The fact that these pictures were taken on Valentine’s Day is PURE COINCIDENCE I ASSURE YOU. Anyway, this cord is definitely du roi. It’s seriously plushy. Like, the first time I washed and dried it, it overflowed the lint trap with ruby chocolate fluff and almost committed ruby chocolate arson. While sewing it shed tiny velvet fuzzies all over my ironing board, sewing machine plate, and legs. But I like it! It’s warm! It’s rich! The wales are deep and dramatic and luxurious! The small amount of stretch in the fiber makes next to no difference, though – I had hoped it would aid in recovery, but nah.

Oh, by the way, the yardage estimate for the Dawns is VASTLY overgenerous. It calls for 2.5ish yards and I had over a yard left over! I passed the remnant on, so you won’t be seeing it on the blog again, partly because this was straightforward to sew until I reached the belt loops, whereupon I broke no less than 5 needles, two on the same loop. Yikes. Enough was enough for me.

These Dawns are freshly washed, and they’ll bag over the course of the day, but right now I think the fit is – dare I say it – pretty good! I made further significant changes to the pattern, which I had already modified as described here, with the help of my personal Good Book, Singer’s Sewing Pants That Fit.

The below illustrations encompass ALL my changes, shorts and pants – i.e., starting from the straight leg view, unmodified 14 waist, 16 hip, with a 16 rise, here’s everything I did to get to these pants. First, I stacked and taped all the affected pattern pieces; pocket bag, facings, etc. on the front, leg + yoke on the back. Then it was time to slice-and-dice…shall we gif?

The finished pieces don’t look ‘ideal’, as in, they don’t look like a platonic/generic pants pattern, but they work for my body way WAY way WAY better. My other helpful change, not to the pattern pieces but while sewing, was to stretch the heck out of the waistband when attaching it to the pants. I wanted it to conform to my body, and on my shorts muslin the waistband stands up straight, partly because I forgot this step.

Just to commit a quick pants blasphemy for a second – I don’t think this pattern, with my changes, benefits from a curved waistband. The rise hits at like the one point of my body that isn’t curved, and I’ve already made every seam that meets the waistband less vertical, essentially widening dart intakes on the sides, front and back. The mild curve of the waistband is superfluous. Also, a folded rectangle is easier to cut AND there’s less bulk to sew through when adding belt loops. Ooh la la!      

My changes also made these pants less suitable for corduroy overall, mainly because topstitching the fly meant sewing a shallow diagonal across the wales (it reminds me of a story of a college classmate once told, of a boy who went in for a kiss she tried to avoid, and his teeth ended up scraping sideways clack-clack-clack across hers).

But that’s true of the original pattern as well. I’d like to try canvas or traditional denim next.

Begging the question, will there be a next? I think probably yes. I’ve achieved a fit state that Professor Boyfriend calls ‘Pareto optimal’ and I call ‘Whack-a-Mole’. The front is a little long, but if I pinch out the extra length, I get more wrinkles at the crotch. The waistband isn’t perfectly level but a shortened back rise would be worse. But the overall effect is comfortable and reasonable-looking.

There’s still tweaks to be made – I might want to enlarge the back pockets further, experiment with their placement (right now they’re about an inch lower than the pocket markings, by the way), try this zipper technique one more time (I’m still not wowed by it but I need to know if it’s my lack of experience), and swap in a straight waistband. And I’m tempted to give the tapered leg view a whirl. Basically, I can always find a reason to sew another pair of pants.

I hope you got to spend Valentine’s Day doing something you love, maybe with somebody you love…and I’ll leave you with these affectionate words!

Til next time!

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist, 16 hip, with ch-ch-changes

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Italian Burnt Henna Stretch Cotton Corduroy, $35.97, Mood; 1/2 yard Rifle Paper cotton in Strawberry Fields, $6.25, Gather Here; 9″ metal zip, Sewfisticated; thread, Michael’s, $3.19

Total time: 9.5 hours

Total cost: $45.41

Goldie Dawn

Nothing says ‘seasonal sewing’ like a nice, warm, heavy pair of corduroy…shorts! Okay okay, it’s a wearable muslin of the MN Dawns, not a perplexing sminter (wummer?) staple. I had some leftover cord from my recent jacket and no great faith that this pattern would fit right away, so it seemed like an economical choice. Actually I was righter than I knew. This first muslin isn’t great!

Before I sewed a stitch, I changed the pocket bags to be pocket stays. I traced the curve at the bottom of the pocket bag from the Ginger jeans, but left the pocket opening as-is. I hate it when a pocket bag follows my hand out of the opening during use, and anchoring it in the front seam keeps everything sitting pretty.

This necessarily changed the construction order slightly; I had to sew the pockets before the zipper, or I wouldn’t have been able to trap their center edges. I was full of virtuous intentions to follow the Dawn jeans directions to the letter, but oh well. My lord make me pure but not yet, etc.!  

I opted to use a zipper because I think I can get a better read on fit when there’s not also pulling from a button fly – even a successfully fit button fly pair of jeans is going to get lines if your stomach curves outwards as mine does. The final pre-sewing decision was sizing.

I chose a 14 waist graded to a 16 hip, with a 16 rise. I used the 16 rise because I knew I would need a full stomach adjustment and potentially a full rear adjustment, both of which add height to the vertical part of the crotch curves (the full rear adjustment can also add depth to the back crotch extension, a.k.a. the horizontal part, but I used the crotch extensions as drafted). Starting with a higher rise built in some wiggle room. I’m using the Curve range, which has 14 as its lowest size; I could have guessed at and graded to a 12 at the waist, but I was wary of curving the side seam too extremely from the get-go. I prefer to distribute that adjustment among the back and front center seams as well since I’m not a 2D object. I cut a 16 below the notches on the crotch curves, slanted to a 14 above.

Like I said, I was determined to follow the instructions, so I tried a new-to-me zipper installation technique. Honestly I’m not wowed by it, or maybe just not by my implementation of it. Somehow my zipper ended up only barely overlapped, and there’s more basting and ripping than in the Gingers method. I’d like to give it another try before I fully judge it; it’s similar to the button flies I’ve sewn, and I’m happy with those.

Otherwise the sewing went well. I used a ¼” seam allowance on the back pockets and lowered them 1.5”.

The notches matched and sewing heavy cotton (with topstitching, no less) is absolutely my idea of fun. The back outseam was 1” longer than the front, but that’s an easy fix. The fitting, however…

The front was so-so, not good but not irredeemable. I reduced the 5/8” inseam seam allowance to ¼”, but I still need a deeper front crotch extension. I also have gapping at center front, but that could be due to my mis-aligned front zip installation. Otherwise it’s alright.

But the back seam was a crime scene! As in, worse than this! I had an acme of fullness where the pointy yoke center met the back leg, and my hungry bum was as hungry as a hippo, a famously hungry hungry ungulate. The back crotch curve seems to be designed to accommodate a high, heart-shaped rear. My butt is my-butt-shaped and I needed to make CHANGES. I shaved off that ‘nipple’ of extra fabric where the yoke and leg meet, removed ¼” from the center back, and scooped the crotch ¾” deeper 2” below the back crotch notches. Taking out a chunk of fabric like that is like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, because it narrows the hips, where I also need space. I ended up sewing 1/4″ wider side seams at the waist, blending at 6″ down to 1/4″ TOTAL side seams (i.e., adding 3/8″ seam allowance below that point).  

Final result: the waist is still too loose, the crotch still too shallow. Also, weirdly, despite my reducing the waist circumference, the waistband wasn’t too long. Alarming!

Anyway, these shorts aren’t actually a total distaster. I wore them all day after taking these pictures; they’re comfortable, and everything that’s wrong with them is information gained. I’m not going to keep this pair, but I’ve already done some serious arts-and-crafts on the pattern pieces and tried again. More on that soon! I can’t decide whether this pattern is an intriguing intellectual challenge or if it just made me grumpy. Maybe both. But grumpy does not mean done! See you next time!

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans

Pattern cost: $14.98

Size: 14 waist, 16 hips, with adjustments

Supplies: leftover Kaufman 14 wale corduroy in Gold; 9″ metal zip, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread from stash

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $16.38

Denim Again-im

New pants!! I may look like a scarecrow or some kind of gigantic boy who eats soup and says “Gee!”, but I feel like a time traveler from nineteen-seventycute.

I actually know exactly what caused me to make these pants: I got chilly. I love the look of cropped pants but sometimes I want continuous coverage! This past spring I modified some patterns to make my own version of the Anna Allen Persephone pants, which I call my Perse-phonies, but this is my first time making them full-length.

I’m happy with them, even though they’re less structured than I pictured. I used Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed; it’s non-stretch denim but I wouldn’t say rigid. It’s pretty soft and drapey. It was lovely to sew, and wide enough that I could fit both legs side-by-side, but now I’m a bit baffled about what to do with the leftovers. It’s probably too heavy for a shirt but I don’t really want more jean shorts and it’s not heavy enough for a bag. I anticipated having to place the legs vertically, so I have a healthy piece left over. Any suggestions?

Oh, another note about the fabric – it has a smell when it gets ironed. I’ve encountered it in denim before, and it’s hard to describe. It’s musty. Not nice. It’s not awful, either, but it does sort of…exist, more than I’d like. This is after a white-vinegar wash, by the way!

I guess it’s not really useful to talk about fit when we don’t have the common touchstone of a shared pattern but next time I should probably adjust for a protruding seat and protruding front thighs. If I was just prioritizing one, I’d fix the seat, because while I don’t mind wrinkles under my bum I could live without the horizontal wrinkles between the darts.

I cut the legs extra-long so I could make a deep hem.

2.75” finished, and I could stand to round up to 3”!

You can really see the tension on the buttons here, by the way. A zipper distributes that tension evenly across l’estomac but I like the vintage flavor of a button fly with this silhouette. I used five buttons, as usual, and I stitched horizontal lines between the buttonholes, a good tip from Fabrics-store. I also topstitched the inseam from the hems up, stopping about 1” from either side of the crotch seam. It’s barely possible I could have done this in a single pass of continuous stitching. I stand by the easy way, though; it works!

My black pair of these has no pockets which is NOT COOL, PAST LIA but I patch-pocketed this pair right up.

One on the rear, which is in slightly the wrong spot because I placed it with the jeans on, accidentally pinned through the denim to my underwear, and then took out the pins so I could escape and thought “I’ll remember where it goes” (I didn’t).

It’s also oddly narrow! Ask me how often I look at my own butt, though. Never, except in these photos. So it stays.

And these notched patch pockets in front!

The notch was part of my initial vision and I’m not sure why; I go back and forth over whether they’re worse than a regular pocket or kind of cool. Is the process totally self-evident? I made some diagrams anyway.

You might argue – too many diagrams???

I also have a secret pocket! I’m calling it a protest pocket – not to be accessed during normal wear, but just the right size for an ID, a little cash, and a hand-written list of phone numbers. Mine is underneath my patch pocket, but you could sew it to one layer of a pocket bag, too.   

Normally I’d make it deep rather than wide, but I really wanted to use that selvedge!

I mean, right?

Oh and, US voters, don’t forget to make your voting plan! Register, request a mail ballot, donate to The Movement Voter Project, etc. I’m voting Biden/Harris. Feeling unenthusiastic? Professor Boyfriend (and literal professor of Political Science) and a friend (and leader of the CCR) have made this website which I highly recommend, whether you’re feeling a bit blah, or an engaged voter looking to motivate others!

In other news: I got a haircut and my neck is FREEEE, and I recently learned I’ve been spelling selvedge wrong this whole time (‘selvage’). What can I say, I keep busy.

I think that’s it, except that I almost rehomed this shirt but now I’m glad I didn’t. Later, dears!

Pattern: Perse-phonies

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ?? 31” waist, 43” hip

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, $32.60, fabric.com; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $32.60

Gingers <3

I feel a little like the two-dimensional best friend in a romantic comedy (a love story between a garment sewist and a TNT). “When you find The One, don’t let go!”. For me, that’s this pattern.

If my math checks out, I’ve made 10 pairs of Gingers. I started sewing them before I started spreadsheeting, but I’ve given away at least 2 pairs (one pair got tight, I didn’t like the topstitching on another), completely unpicked and remade 1 pair (I didn’t like the topstitching on those either), cut 1 pair into shorts (no! The crotch seam started fleeing north, immediately and uncomfortably), tucked 1 into my giveaway bag (flares – I might get them on the blog before I re-home them), and I currently have a ‘denim drawer’ with 4 working pairs of Gingers and 4 pairs of Morgans. And now, these! We did it, team! Double-digit Gingers!

And as I’m wearing them in one-third of my blog posts it seemed like time to say something about them!

This pattern is terrible, don’t make it. (JOKING!)

I was initially terrified of sewing jeans (don’t be, I promise!) but I got wonderfully lucky with this pattern. My first version was the true skinnies and I graded between a 10 and 12 at the waist (a mythical size 11), and 14 at the hip. I used olive stretch twill and gold topstitching thread and when I first pulled them on I said “uh-oh” because I knew I couldn’t go back to RTW (this was also in 2014 or 2015, when mid-rise was high-rise and you could only find low-rise anyway). This is meant as a paean of gratitude, not a brag, but; things I did not need to do then, nor do I need to do now –

  • Any adjustments to the crotch curve
  • Any adjustments to the crotch extensions (I’m using the original version of the pattern, with slightly longer extensions that accommodate full thighs)
  • Any adjustments to the leg length
  • Any adjustments to the back rise
  • Any adjustments to the front rise

Is it surprising that I got hooked? I know I have wrinkles, but shoot, even though the olive twill pair grew too tight (RIP), I felt like a hot potato in my wedgie-free upper-mid-rise jeans! Plus, I only need 1.5 yards of denim or twill per pair, usually Cone Mills denim – a.k.a. The Good Stuff – which means a pair of jeans costs me on average $30 – 35. Actually, I can’t quit anytime I want, but also I don’t want.

The first pair of pants/trousers I made was actually the Colette Junipers, and I still wear them from time to time (mostly when I’m on my period, since the wide contoured waistband is very comfortable on a bloaty crampy period belly). Way back then I skipped the fly zipper, because fear is the mind killer, and used a side zip instead. So the first fly zip I sewed was actually on the Thread Theory Jeds. It went okay. But the first fly zip I loved to sew was on the Gingers!  

The directions are justifiably praised by many. I apply them to the majority of fly zips I sew and would recommend them, without hesitation, to a beginner. I also like that the fly is handled early in the sewing order, though I push it slightly later, and use it to divide my sewing into enjoyable chapters. First I sew short seams (pockets, back yoke), then the fly, and then long seams (inseams, outseams, waistband). Jeans are a satisfying, meaty sew, and I like having these natural stopping points as an option.

 You might notice there’s only one line of fly topstitching. I had two, but I enjoy an uncluttered crotch! Unpicking black thread on black denim is no joke, though. In more than one place, I snagged a denim thread instead of my topstitching thread, and once I accidentally caught and popped a thread right on the edge of the fly overlap. You can’t see any this (I hope) because I colored in any little white trouble spots with a black Sharpie. We’ll see what happens when I wash these.

I only use tonal topstitching thread now. I loved the thrill and challenge of high-contrast topstitching thread, and my heart yearns towards anyone’s gorgeous shot of on-point topstitching, especially in beautiful color combos (rust thread on blue! Grey on blush! Any color on grey! <3). But, I find that my jeans age better if I use tonal thread – it doesn’t show as much wear-and-tear and I get more years of satisfied use.  

I don’t interface the waistband, but I always use quilting cotton for the inner. It crumples with wear, but it’s comfortable to move in and stretches out less than self-fabric. I’ve been using this alternative waistband method for a while! I find I get neater results. Sometimes I remove the zipper teeth with pliers, as instructed (like a tiny fairy Marathon Man) and sometimes I just snip the zipper tape. Some of the jeans I’ve been wearing for years are pairs where I snipped the zipper tape. Tell no-one!

So somewhere, sometime, I got the impression that denim wrinkles are the enemy. That ‘true skinnies’ fit like a second skin. I haven’t attempted a really smooth fit, but I just made a belated but useful discovery: even when sewing skinny jeans, tighter does not necessarily mean fewer wrinkles. While wrinkles can indicate excess fabric, I think in my case they were indicating a lack of space (the way a pileup of fabric on your bum can indicate a swayback, or indicate that the fabric can’t fit comfortably over las pompas). On this pair, I added an extra ¼” to all outseams – leg, yoke, pocket pieces – and I think I have my smoothest fit over the hips yet. There’s extra space on my lower legs, but let’s just agree they’re stovepipes from the knee down! Viva la extra ¼“!

Hi, Gingers; I love you!   

—    

Pattern: Closet Case Ginger jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ‘11’ waist, 14 hip, with ¼” added to all outseams (so ‘13’ waist, 16 hip?)

Supplies: 1.5 yards of 11 oz. Cone Mills S-Gene Denim in Black, Threadbare Fabrics, $24.20; 1/2 yard of Ruby Star Society Anagram cotton, Gather Here, $6; zipper, Sewfisticated, $2.80; thread, Michael’s, $1.90; rivet from stash

Total time: 7.25 hours

Total cost: $34.90

Diagnosis: Trouser

These pants don’t fit!

IMG_8709IMG_8720IMG_8737

People, these pants don’t fit!

Obviously nobody is delighted when a project flops, but I’m actually excited to write this post, and it’s mostly down to my new acquisition – Singer’s Sewing Pants that Fit. This book was recommended on the Pattern Review forum when I asked a pants question, and its clear diagrams and jewel-toned eighties style madness do NOT disappoint. Also, there’s so much experience and generosity on the PR forum, it’s amazing!

My eventual goal is to sew a trouser-fit or carrot-leg pair of jeans. I couldn’t find an ideal pattern but I remembered Made by Meg’s jean-style Lazos, and decided THOSE, I want those! So I bought the Lazo trousers PDF and got to hackin’. Arguably too much hackin’ all at once. But now that I look back on my inspiration pair, also signally failin’ to add a yoke as Meg did. Oops.

My wearable muslin, which I’m talking about today, is not a success, but that means it’s time to read…those…wrinkles!! Eventually!

Anyway, this is going to be a long one.

Chapter 1 – What I Did

I started from a size 16. I’d recently removed the tucks from MN Flints as per the tutorial, as a learning exercise, so I thought I could apply that technique to remove the pleats from the Lazos. However, the tuck lines on the Lazos are parallel, not convergent. I decided to mark a line roughly at the knee and then treat them as though they would converge there, following the MN directions.

Chart 1

Okay, done.

Meg reduced the width of her waistband by half and kept the lower half. I wanted to reduce it by half but keep the top. So, ideally, the upper edge of the waistband would stay on my waist, while I would increase the rise of the pants. I did this after removing the pleats!

Chart 2

I blended the lower half of the waistband into the pants legs. On the front I needed to increase the fly extension to match; happily I prefer a wide extension. Instead of extending the pocket bag pattern pieces, I scooted them up and maintained the same opening and angle, as shown above. Apart from merging it with the lower half of the waistband, I didn’t make any other changes to the back legs. Yet!

Chapter 2 – What Went Wrong

Immediately and obviously, the back didn’t fit (SURPRISE!). According to Morgan at Thread Theory, the back darts are integrated into the center back seam of the Lazo trousers. It’s also designed for flat bottoms, I think. Since I raised the waist by 2 1/8” on my draft, and have lotsa bottom, I could have stored a bushel of acorns in the gape.

I’d already stitched on the pockets so I unprofessionally bunged a couple of darts back there, terminating under the edge of the patch pocket. The pocket openings would no longer sit flat, but at this point I already knew these wouldn’t be wearable. I still wanted to get them a) close and b) done so I could read the fit more accurately for next time.

Standing, these pants are reasonably cute and comfortable.

IMG_8708

Sitting, they’re punishing.

IMG_8747IMG_8765

The front waistband digs into my gut (not an issue with other high rise jeans) and the back waistband dips far too low, hence the bodysuit for these photos.

IMG_8843

When standing up, my side seams are vertical and my waistband is level. That says to me – the crotch length is probably okay, except at center back. The crotch depth is #!!@*%!!ed.

Chapter 3 – What Next?

First, when I talk about ‘fit problems’ I am NOT saying my body is the problem! The problem lies in the interaction of my body and the garment, and adjustments are always undertaken on the garment, not on my fine self. When using my book’s terms like ‘large hips’, it’s just a way of defining where the pattern diverges from my body, and not a judgment on whether hips are good or bad.

Okay, from front to back:

IMG_8815

I’m seeing some space between the waistband and me: small waist. Also, the pocket bags are popping open: large hips. And that little triangular pucker between my upper thighs: protruding front thighs!

IMG_8874IMG_8875IMG_8877

So far none of these changes affect the crotch curve, except the poppin’ front thigh adjustment, which adds a little depth. But so far so good! Now let’s mosey on around to the back.

IMG_8825IMG_8826

Look at those wrinkles, then at this guide:

IMG_8876

Protruding seat, as clear as day! It’s me!! This will add depth AND height, right where I need it.

Here’s an image that combines adjustments for many, though not all, of my issues, plus one I don’t have:

IMG_8879

I’ll definitely reference this during my redraft-a-rama!

I’d like a yoke instead of darts, as mentioned earlier, but that’s more of a style tweak than a fitting one. This particular pair of trousers might not work on me, but I feel like my brain is learning to touch its toes. There’s a clear and achievable path to another draft and I’m feeling energized to walk it!

And that’s the end of this meaty post! Speaking of, we first tried pictures of my bum straight-on when attempting to photograph the dreaded back dip. Professor Boyfriend showed me some and I said ‘Oh no! It just looks like a blimp! It needs context!’. He took more, but it turns out it wasn’t really the photos’ angle that was responsible, so I present to you this voyage of the Heinie-burg.

IMG_8754

Or maybe the Hinden-butt?

The end!!

 

Pattern: Thread Theory Lazo trousers

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 16 with extensive edits

Supplies: 2 yards of denim, $8.00, Sewfisticated; zipper, $1.38, Sewfisticated

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $9.38

Black Hemlock

That sounds a bit witchy, don’t you agree? Very appropriate, since I made this woven version of Grainline’s free Hemlock tee from the scraps of my Halloween costume.

IMG_3408IMG_3462

Actually the costume was a bit of a goof, but I enjoyed experimenting with this low-cost linen/rayon blend. Normally I prefer high quality fabrics (hot take, Lia) but low stakes are nice too, for a change! I took a swing at this inspiration shirt by Elizabeth Suzann, using the Hemlock tee as a base.Insp

Hemlock is a one-size-fits-many pattern. In addition to sewing it in a woven, I cropped it and widened the sleeve (further details below).

IMG_3420IMG_3422

Oh, and surprise! This shirt is two shirts! Originally I planned this post as a comparison between the two sleeve styles I tried, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in photos without an effort of will that most people don’t apply to the sleeves of strangers. So here’s my official ruling: whether you stitch a folded cuff to the armscye or use the sleeve pattern piece, it’s good stuff.

IMG_3509

This is the hemmed and rolled sleeve. It’s about 8” long (because that’s the width of computer paper. I mean because of important…and serious…calculations…that I considered carefully) and I made it wider at the base than the supplied pattern piece, with a right angle at the bottom for hemming. Like so:

Sleeve diagram

Black lines original, red lines mine.

IMG_3604

And this is the cuff treatment, above. My notes say this shirt took  a smidgeon longer to sew than the other. I cut the cuff on the 60° bias and as wide as my scraps allowed – 4 inches or so, finished width 1.5”. I thought using the bias might prevent it “winging out” but it wings, it wings good and wingy. Well, nevermind!

Since the pattern was intended for knits, I extended the seam allowance of the armscye so I could french-seam the sleeve/topstitch the cuff easily. I could paint you a word picture but actually, here’s a picture picture.

Armscye diagram

Red mine, black original! And the total package:

IMG_3412IMG_3500

Oh and my necklace! A Christmas gift from my boyfriend last year! We call it my Egyptian space witch necklace and I am 1000% cooler while wearing it.

IMG_3549

The jeans are my third high-rise Morgans (changes detailed here, second pair seen here). The denim is from Gather Here and I think it’s Wrangler overstock. It has a bronze-gold cross thread instead of white. That color on the cuffs! I mean!!! I love this outfit – sure, it’s jeans and a t-shirt, but I feel like kind of a boss in it. Plus I’m excited to continue using the Hemlock tee as a scrapbuster. Odds and ends of linen, bring it on!

 

Pattern: Hemlock tee

Pattern cost: $0.00 (free download)

Size: one-size pattern

Supplies: Halloween costume leftovers, $0.00; thread, Michael’s, $1.50

Total time: 4.5 hours for two tees

Total cost: $1.50 for two tees

 

Pattern: Morgan jeans

Pattern cost: $0.00 (multiple uses)

Size: 12 waist, 14 hip

Supplies: 2 yards Indigo AA/BB Washed Classic denim, Wrangler, 12 oz., Gather Here, $20.72; $2, zipper, Threadbare Fabrics; $5.50, 1/2 yard Rifle Paper cotton, Gather Here; $3, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $31.22

Look around you.

IMG_2657

Look around you!

IMG_2652

Have you worked out what you’re looking for yet?

IT’S QUILTING. No, I promise. It’s 10 hours of machine quilting that are FUNCTIONALLY INVISIBLE.

IMG_2513

This is M7549, an open, cropped, quilted jacket. I bought the pattern after being completely wowed by Allie J’s amazing take. I didn’t have the egg chutes to jump right into leather, but my initial plan was to sew it in metallic black linen for a similar girl-gang look (not so much inspired by as copied from), and then hopefully work up to a brown leather or suede version. I took myself to Gather Here for the first-try fabric and bought this Rifle Paper screen printed Cotton and Steel canvas instead! So a bit of a different direction!

IMG_2567

I’m really into it, though! Even though the cotton canvas ate my stitches (normally a feature I love) and the flannel I used for batting was too thin and my tonal thread was subtle to the point of irrelevant, it turns out I love the process of quilting garments! I marked my initial quilting lines on the right side of my main fabric with masking tape, after pin basting, so that I could center them on the shell pieces. I then marked the remaining quilting lines on the back of the flannel in pencil. I found the quilting process very Zen! For a first quilted project, the invisibility kept the pressure very looow, but my fabric still got stronger and warmer. V. satisfying. I quilted horizontal lines and diamonds, following the pattern.

McCall’s asks you to quilt great tracts of fabric and then cut your jacket pieces from those, but nuh-uh. I bought 2 yards total of this swish fabric (I’m not a railroad baron) and it was enough, enough even to avoid doubling in any obvious places.

IMG_2537

I had as much as was necessary to cut the inner yokes out of my main fabric, too, though I didn’t quilt those. I can’t imagine sewing lining fabric to lining fabric more than necessary, even though this is lined in my fancy vintage French Bemberg from my sister’s mother-in-law’s late mother’s Parisian attic.  I generally hate lining fabric but while still a little slippery and shapeless (every cut piece is happy to collapse into the shape of a blob and start fraying, oh joy) it’s a little sturdier than the contemporary lining I’ve tried. Plus it was free, as was my flannel batting; leftovers from another project.

IMG_2496IMG_2503

The structure is my favorite part. This jacket isn’t going to stand up on its own, but it’s got a little architectural something-something, I think! The silhouette + fabric choice feels a little matronly, but there are worse things than being a matron. The ideas I associate most strongly with that word are “high society” or “in charge of a lot of nurses”. Good stuff either way.

Construction zipped by quickly after all that quilting – so quickly, in fact, that I forget to make any changes, like adding a hanging loop and either inseam or welt pockets. I like the idea of pockets between the front jacket and front jacket bottom band. Also, if I make this again, I want to change the construction order, or maybe cut the facings as one wider piece. There’s a lot of fabric crammed into the corners of the front facing bands and I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to understitch the body to the lining. So I just said ah heck and topstitched the hem, facings and neck; it’s all quilted + imperceptible anyway.

If you, like me, have noodle arms, but again like me they are thick-cut noodles, take heart: the sleeve isn’t too narrow. I was worried about the three layers plus my upper arms, but they all live in harmony!

Sadly it’s a little snug across my upper back, but that only matters when giving a hug/walking like a zombie/flexing my traps (yes I had to look up which muscles are shoulder muscles).

IMG_2634

I’m wearing the jacket here with my second pair of Morgan mom jeans; I cut them with a little more SA than last time, but otherwise made all the same changes listed in my first post HERE.

IMG_2760

Look ma, no butt dimple!

Rifle Paper above and Rifle Paper below – my pockets coordinate with my jacket, sort of!

IMG_2521

Don’t worry, I’m wearing a Nettie. I can shuck several layers and remain fully dressed.

In conclusion: I like the jacket, I love the jeans, I send Anna Bond all my money, and my traps are stacked. Is that a thing?

IMG_2630

Buh-bye!

Pattern: M7549 cropped jacket

Pattern cost: $2.50

Size: 14

Supplies: 2 yards Cotton and Steel canvas, Amalfi; Gather Here, $34; leftover flannel for quilting layer, from stash; lining from stash; $3.58, thread, Michael’s (two spools!)

Total time: 14 hours

Total cost: $40.08

– – – – –

Pattern: Morgan jeans

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 12 waist, 14 hip

Supplies: 2 yards of Cone Mills denim, 9 oz., olive green, Imagine Gnats, $32.20; 1/2 yard Cotton and Steel quilting cotton, Gather Here, $6.00; hardware kit, Threadbare Fabrics, $5.65

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $43.85