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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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Friday, October 10, 2008

My test pair of pants from the duct tape pattern


Well having rushed through work to finish early today I was able to make my first test pair of pants, this pair from my duct tape pattern copy.

These are loose fitting pull-on elastic waist pants and I need a pattern for these, good for summer and schlepping and weekends. Now they are loose pants not really a test of fine fitting but I am super pleased with them for what they are. More precise fitting will be for future pants from different patterns and methods and I needed something wearable and comfortable at the beginning of this project.

A couple of notes:

  • I made a traced copy of the front waistband from my original pants in which the front waist band is its own piece and interfaced. I noticed that this front waistband is curved and fits the body quite well, I don't know if you can see that in the picture.
  • I inserted the elastic in the back and stitched through it once. In real pair I would probably do more stitching lines to distribute the gathers.
  • I learned something important about fitting my tummy. You will note there are no front darts in these pants - I don't need them. What is there to fit? You will also see, as I did right away. that as this is very drapey fabric that there are a couple of vertical folds running from my middle down the front. These are produced by my soft middle aged stomach and disappear if I pull in the side seams or pinch out a pleat down the top of each leg, however if I do this I really articulate my round stomach and this is not at all flattering in the side view. Basically what is happening is my stomach is just there and there is extra fabric where my stomach ends. I have decided that I will leave these as is rather than over fitting to remove this fabric and revealing my real stomach shape. I will probably be wearing pants like this with a shorter top out over the waistband so it should be OK, but you may have other opinions and advice. I like the way, in the all important side view, that my stomach and nice round rear disappear the way it is now.
  • The only issue I had with the ready-to-wear original was that it grabbed me at the back (for a good illustration of this see previous post of me standing out on my front step in my linen pants). This, for obvious reasons (see my body in my leo shots), has always been a problem. The awful thing if you have ever had it, with this problem is not just that you look like a dope, it is also really, really uncomfortable. I have for at least 20 years + being following the advice in all the books and articles and sewn a deeper seam to give more sitting room. If that had really worked I wouldn't be engaged in this experiment I guess. Anyway after reading at Stitchers' Guild about another and quite opposite approach, adding to the back crotch seam not subtracting from it, see previous post, I tried that. It worked! First of all by adding about 3/4" to the lower back crotch curve I acquired all the comfort room I needed and it looks smoother too, although not maybe in this picture but I am blaming the lighting.
  • I can't tell you how happy I am with the shorter front crotch. I am sitting here writing this in my test pants and I look down and see a nice flat (relatively) stomach and not the poufy extra fabric I usually see.
This is a good start. Tomorrow I am making these up for real in what my mother would call "the good fabric" and move on to my Pivot and Slide test (if I can summon the energy I am going to get up at 7:00 a.m. to watch Sewing with Nancy as a gesture of respect - you know you are marginal in your interests when your best shows are that early on a Saturday morning, but I am counting on the recession to change that). The general shape of these pants has taught me a lot and if I want too I am sure I could refine and add darts.

Now off to dinner cooked by my patient husband. Let me know what you think.

Duct tape pattern back crotch

Last post or two I showed you the front crotch shape of my duct-tape knock pants pattern. This is the back crotch. Interesting to me how each really is so much more extreme - the front short and quite straight, the back quite L shaped and definite - than any of the crotch shapes in the patterns I have used in the past. Since you have a good idea of how my great old body is shaped it is interesting to see how this is reflected in the pants.

Before I go there I want to add my observations on the tape method. 

It was really easy but as I have said before not super precise for details due to my inability to really smooth out all tape wrinkles. Taping across the top of the back with my husband the sport stretching the elastic for me was a bit of a challenge, both technically and maritally (the spouse is an engineering inspector and is often under the impression that his advice is good advice) but we did it.

The best thing I did I think was to apply vertical strips of tape down each piece which helped to hold it all together when it was time to peel the tape off the real pants.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Clearing the decks

Busy week so far and my duct tape pattern is looking at me waiting to be tested. 

I taught a night class last night after a full day of teaching, tore home to watch the U.S. presidential debate ( clear to me that we could all use someone calm and reasonable in tough times, these times), got up this morning and moved all my investments out of the market (don't even speak to me about all the fabric I could have, should have, bought with what I lost from my hard earned little savings over the weekend) and spent the rest of the day making up mid term exams, and trying to get my work caught up enough so I can stop work at noon on Friday and have a full long Thanksgiving weekend here just to sew and test my pants patterns.

I am really going to need some serious sewing this weekend after all that has been going on, in this post wedding house, at school and in the world.  I am also engaged in the pants sewing discussions at the Stitchers' Guild and have decided that I am going to use this first pair, assuming that my pattern works, to try and figure out the best way to deal with pants that "grab" not-flat-rears at the back.

The conventional method is to keep sewing deeper and deeper back crotch seams to make more room ( you know that advice about scooping out the back crotch seam by sewing 1/4"s into the back crotch seam until you have enough room) versus this advice, tip #3, which tells you to do just the opposite.

I have to get close to that sewing machine to figure all this out. There is just way too much sewing advice on pant fitting out there for this head, and it is definitely time I found something that just worked.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Duct tape knock-off pants pattern

Yesterday I started my attempt to make a paper pattern copy of my natural linen pants using Jean Haas' tape method.

The steps are described in detail a few posts ago.
This is how it went.

Step one outlining the seamlines with short bits of tape was easy. 

Nice relaxing TV compatible work. Being a fairly random person I much preferred this to careful measuring methods I have tried before. So far so good. I put one leg of the pants inside the other and worked from the wrong side so I could see the crotch shape easily.

The next step, to fill in the interior shape with wide horizontal strips of tape, was also easy. To prevent distortion from too many layers I pulled the pant leg out and laid the full pair of pants flat. Since I don't want to bother with the inseam pants it was simple to just lay the tape over


Then it got tricky, or I thought it might. The tape had to be pulled off, slowly. Here I was glad I opted for duct tape instead of the painter's masking tape Haas also recommends.

My duct tape "pattern" came off really easily in one sheet (I had run two strips of extra tape lengthwise to make sure and that might of helped). 

I then had to put this onto paper, brown wrapping paper I decided because I thought it wouldn't wrinkle. Haas suggested laying the tape pattern sticky side up on a table and rolling the paper over it, I tried that but got mega wrinkles, probably because I couldn't see what I was doing.

Since my pattern was something I could pick up and move, I then tried laying it sticky face down on the paper and that was much easier, although there really were more wrinkles than I could deal with, definitely the part of the process I will need to refine. I then traced around the tape pattern, added hem and seam allowances and was able to then remove the tape. I was interested to see how shallow the front crotch curve was, quite different than anything I have seen in a purchased pattern.

I have the pants back to finish now (going to have to enlist help stretching out the waistband) and I am done.

So what do I think about this method?

First off it's really easy, about a two and a half hour process and I felt that the tape was in fact more accurate than measuring in some ways as it was a direct copy of the garment shape. Also when working with the pant back, which is wider than you can see when the pant leg is laid flat, it was possible to stick on the tape and roll it around to the back to find the seam line that lay underneath (does this make sense). This method would be wonderful for rounded shapes like sleeves I think that you can't flatten to trace.

However until I sort out how to eliminate the wrinkles in the tape (maybe a more careful sewer can) it is not obviously 100% accurate. I feel I am generating a good basic shape, which is important in pants, but is it accurate to the 1/8" ? No, probably not, but I think I can work with this and get a reasonable facsimile, which is what I am aiming for right now.

The real test will be the translation to fabric. Evening project for the week.