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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The pants all five of them

Well here, finally are my pictures of the P&S pants. A light and dark grey pair, a black and grey mini houndstooth, a navy and black pair, all from the same pattern.
 I realize now that I have been at this a while, a few months at least since I started this and 40 years (!) if you count back to my first pair of awful pants. I am pretty happy with these, not perfect, but if you scroll down to the versions that got me here, much improved. I also feel that I learned enough about my body and this method that I could apply this to other pants patterns. A more casual pair in twill with narrower legs, maybe bootcut would be another one I would like to try, and also something more trendy. Katherine has made some good pattern suggestions and I think I will follow up on that, next Vogue pattern sale.

So what have I learned:

1. Let go of your assumptions about your body. I realize that my grandmother who was also tall, 5' 9" was very tall in her day, told me when I was a teenager that I had "a long pelvis" like she did. So since then I have dutifully added and added to my crotch seams just like I added to my skirt lengths and bodices, being 5'9" myself. One thing I have found out by measuring myself and comparing those measurement to the pattern that in fact I don't have anything at all like a long crotch length, and am shorter in the front crotch than even the standard draft. Glad I cleared that up. Wonder how much money I have wasted on wadders over my lifetime of sewing. Sometimes you live by your own family myths.
2. And speaking of money rather than spending a fortune, as I have, in search of the elusive "good pattern" it makes sense to just deal with a basic pattern and compare your own measurements to the flat pattern and learn where the differences are. The Simplicity pattern I used for this experiment was nothing fancy or really stylish but it was an uncomplicated place to start applying this method.
3. One step at a time. Pants fitting I have decided is a lot like learning to how the tension on your serger works. I have seen sewers who had tension issues and just gave each tension dial a little twist to see if that helped. It doesn't. Much better to make a fine tune to each dial at a time, because one adjustment affects another.
3. There may in fact be something to this buying a pattern two sizes smaller thing. These were fairly wide legged pants to start with but I added, mainly to the hips and waist and only slightly to the upper thigh to a size 12 pattern. If you look at the pictures and imagine if I worked from a size 16, and working from the pattern envelope measurements I would probably have cut out a multi-sized pattern somewhere between the 16 and 18 imagine how these same pants would look. I am looking forward to trying this method again on some really different pants to see how it goes.
4. Sometimes it pays to just focus. I haven't let myself work on anything but pants for at least two months now and I really have learned at lot. My previous approach would have been to make one terrible wadder, give up, then buy another pattern eight months later and repeat that same process. It feels great to finally have something that fits, I almost feel as if I have the basis for jumping into a SWAP.
5. I am pretty impressed with the old Pivot and Slide. I should have read this book when I first bought it 20 years ago.

Now time to settle down and plan my Christmas sewing.


katherine h said...

I'm certainly envious of that rear view. Congratulations on your great fitting pants.

Barbara said...

Well that isn't a compliment I hear much these days, much appreciated, lots of work but worth it, learned a lot,

Marji said...

You have 5 pair of nicely fitting pants. My goal is to get the same in the next couple of weeks.
Re the crotch length thing: I'm also 5'9" and used to consistently add to the crotch length on my pants. Then they stopped fitting, sometime a long time ago. I also used to have to consistently add sleeve length, etc. (I still have to add hem length). Anyway, I think that when they went to using CAD to grade patterns that they started increasing everything geometrically as they went, and all of a sudden my crotch length was fine, and by adding to it I was creating a mess for myself.

I hear you too on the personal style issue.

Great documentation of your whole pant experiment.

Barbara said...

Thanks Marji for the thoughtful comments. I am a great admirer of your sewing expertise and so it was very nice to hear from you. Interesting too that I am no longer adding as much as I used to either to my patterns, your explanation interested me, I will have to think about that.

Linda T said...

Fantastic fit from my view!

Anonymous said...

The pants are GREAT, and I'm so impressed that you sewed 5 pair. Five! Whole! Pair! I love that. My dream is six pair of pants that fit. I don't think I've ever had more than two my whole life. You are inspirational.

Re your alteration -- I'm a totally average 5'6" and have to add 2" to my crotch length - which only goes to show that one man's meat is another man's poison, as they say. How great you were able to figure this out.

Did you pivot and slide every pair, or did you make a paper version of the pivoted and slid pattern for multiple use, just out of curiousity?

Elizabeth (ejvc) at SG

Barbara said...

Thanks for the question Elizabeth. Once my trial pair started to look pretty good I went back and repeated the whole pivot and slide on heavy brown wrapping paper and then made that my pattern. I used the punch that came with my buttonhole cutter to cut round holes where I would have to make my marking on fabric and now I have one sturdy pattern. I can't tell you how in control of my wardrobe I feel now with these good pants hanging in there. Really I can go a week now and feel I have a good basis for getting outfits together, I feel obsessed to make more.