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I am a mother, a 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 book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Saturday, October 4, 2008

RTW pants to be copied

Obviously I am losing my mind. Look at the crazy and very unflattering pictures I am putting up. But I am trusting other sewers to know that decades, yes decades, of trying to find a reliable pants pattern will drive anyone over the edge.

I am about to start my duct tape RTW copy. This is the pair I am going to be working from. It would have been appropriate for me to have ironed the back of them more thoroughly before these photos, will do before I start with the tape, but I am on roll here and no time for more pictures.

Why are these my best RTW pants? For a start they are comfortable, you can see that. And they have a flat front which is good when your own isn't. And the legs are full (see what a difference that makes for smoothing out thighs and a large rear end) but not too baggy. These are good, save for the somewhat wedgy back that I will have to amend, but more or less OK. They also have a feature that most patterns I have tried lack - no baggy extra fabric in the front crotch. And easy to sew. This pair has inseam pockets but I will eliminate those when I make my own pair assuming the tape/pattern thing works. Which I hope it does.

BTW if any honest person thinks these look so terrible on me that this is not worth the effort, please tell me now.

The bod

Before I started the pants pattern project I thought it only fair and objective, and in the interests of science, to let you share my fitting issues.

This is something you have to see. So breaking all rules about not posting things on the internet you wouldn't want anyone else to see, here are pictures of my 55 year old bod, taken on my front doorstep for the complete amusement of my very nice and tolerant neighbours.

My challenges are obvious but not unlike many that other women and sewers share.

Feel free to make any comments or give any advice you want. Obviously my interest in sewing is larger than my ego or I wouldn't be doing this.

The best part of these pictures are the dogs in the background who, as usual, have no idea what is going on in this house and are only sure in this experiment that they are on the wrong side of the door.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Before I start what do I want?

It's been a busy week post wedding. Put my son on the plane to London last night with my stepdaughter and her boyfriend who also live in the UK. They were stopping over for a day in Iceland and going to go to the hot springs there. We had a fantastic week, an "epic" family week my son said, and are now getting back to normal.

My weekend will be about doing marking that backed up on me while I was wedding-centered and of course pants.

The idea of copying a pair of good ready-to-wear pants seemed brilliant except I have come to realize that I don't actually own a pair of r-t-w that are worth immortalizing as a favourite pattern. I thought I did (see previous baggy leg pants) but really when I try them on there is always something major that I would change. Most of my fitting problems are stomach related, I have a 32" waist, 39" hips and if you measure across the fullest part around my navel you are looking at 38". The fitting challenge is obvious. This is undoubtedly age-related (only three weeks until the 55 year old senior's discount at Fabricville!) my friend calls it the "menopad" and three babies one C-section related, plus my mom's body shape.

My sense is that clothing designers aren't taking all this into account. So even the OK ready-to-wear pants if they are fitted through the hips and thighs are tight across the stomach, and even worse if they have all the detail action (wide waistbands, buttons, flaps I don't need) where I don't need it.

This has also got me to thinking about what kind of pants patterns I would like, in the best of all possible worlds, once this whole experiment is done. 

This is my wouldn't it be wonderful list:
  • Nice basic woven pants that can be anchor pieces for my work wardrobe. Simple tailored and reliable. Wool crepe and lined for the winter, linen for the summer. Something I can whip up (I don't have enough in the "whip up" department) over a weekend when I decide I need wardrobe expanding. Fuller legs.
  • Elastic back, plain front pull on pants that don't look too dopey. For tops in the summer and domestic wear year round.
  • Capri or cropped pants based on the above.
  • Slimmer leg casual pants to round out my elaborate wardrobe requirements of something to wear to the store or out to the craft place with my daughter or for weekend family dinners etc. The great pants I don't think I have ever actually owned pants like these, but they would be fantastic. I am thinking chino type fabric.
  • Pull on stretch pants with a bootcut (is that still fashionable? Someone tell me) leg.
After all of this the ready-to-wear pair I will be copying this weekend are natural linen Coldwater Creek summer pants with an elastic back and a waistband front. Pretty wide leg but comfortable.

Also a note on fabric, I have done some sewing with stretch wovens (my jeans are made of that and comfortable) but not happy with it after some wearing. Is there anyone out there as old as me who can remember babysitters who used to come over with stretch stirrup pants who used to sit with there legs straight out so they wouldn't stretch out the knees? I am finding that the stretch fabrics can lose their integrity and shape and it's good to have something that can be reliably ironed.

Up tomorrow is a) a photo of my body so you can see what I am up against fittingwise. b)  a photo of my to-be-copied pants and process photos of taping up the pants to make a pattern as that project progresses.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Making a pattern from ready-to-wear

OK that pants photo I just posted is hilarious, and possibly more of an expression of my optimism than anything else. You will have to leave the finding a decent pair to copy with me.

My first method up for testing is the one Jean Haas described in Threads issue number 120

The steps are:

1. Find a pair of pants to copy and turn them inside out.
2. Using masking or duct tape cut into 1 - 1 1/2" pieces stick the tape up close and along the seam allowances of the pattern piece (the copy will be without seam allowances which will be added, along with waistbands and hems). Jean calls this "outlining the seams."
3. Fill in the body of the pattern piece with horizontal pieces of tape.
4. Pull an elastic waistband open to cover if necessary, she suggests stretching it over an ironing board.
5. Slowly pull the tape shape off the garment.
6. To trace a dart, put on the pants, stick the shape to your body or a dress form and draw a line along the dart stitching line (the shape will curve over your body). When you slash along this line and lay the pattern flat the dart will spread. I will see how this works out, I can anticipate getting my taped shape all stuck together, this is one step that requires serious testing.
7. Tape the taped shape, sticky side up to a table.
8. Carefully roll paper over the taped shape.
9. Add hem, seam allowances and waistband facts to the resultant paper pattern.
10. Add grainlines and notches.

I will probably not get time to actually do this for a couple of days, but there is the theory. What do you think?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pants project about to launch in the next few days

I am still in recovery mode from a fabulous, wonderful wedding (pictures to follow) but have started the first step of my duct tape copy of a ready-to-wear pair of pants, and that would be finding a pair to copy. I have is a quick photo of one pair I am considering, and just looking at this picture has brought a few things to my attention:

1. I actually don't own a pair of pants that really as a fabulous fit. I am thicker in the middle than I used to be, pretty straight up and down and don't have such big legs. This means that pants that fit my mid section can be loose lower down. I may end up doing a capri pair instead.
2. Pictures of black pants are hopeless. Glad my test fabric is grey.
3. Part of my pant fitting problems may be what is inside the pants. For various reasons this is going to have to be the winter I give fitness the attention it deserves (thank goodness for sewing podcasts).
4. Working out a way to have a decent, reliable pants pattern is a worthwhile project.