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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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Sunday, March 21, 2010

On not making it harder than it is

I have been thinking of simplicity a lot lately.

In two and a half weeks I am off to visit Florida a bit with my mother, sister and niece and then Rascal and I are going back to Tennessee with DH for two weeks to chill out while he works. This will be my first time ever of being a stay-at-homish wife when I wasn't doing it with kids.

So I have decided to pack along some sewing projects. Of course the first round of this involved about 40 backlog projects which I realized would just be turning my holiday into work and I finally narrowed it down to two patterns for blouses/shirts to perfect and some fabric to work that through on, and my son's fabric and pattern for a shirt.

I am committed to working through a full slate of TNT this summer.

Since I am a fabric sewer I would get so much more done, with less stress if my TNT collection was fully developed.

Which brings me to pants. 

About a year and a half ago I made a series of pants that fit, finally (see really old posts). Well I decided that that pattern has run its course. With pants styles slimming down these pants just seem too wide for me, lots of fabric flapping around the leg, particularly around my thighs. So last weekend, realizing that with all I have to do at work before I go that my time was very limited, I went shopping.

What a downer that was, and a good reminder of why I sew. Like a lot of women of my age, or any age for that matter, my middle is no longer my best feature. It is an area I want to minimize not accessorize.

Well the trouble with pants I decided is that they are designed for men, even if they are made for women. Do I need a fly? No? Do I need back pockets with flaps to carry my wallet in? No. Do I need angled pockets at the front to keep my change in? No. Do I need elaborate closures with big heavy hooks right at my navel in the waistband? No. Why would I wear this and why would I spend precious sewing hours fussing away at making these little bulk addition details?

I must have tried on a hundred pairs of pants and even the ones that had the slimmer legs I was looking for completely deteriorated by the time they hit the waistline, which in most cases was still too low at stomach bisecting level.

In desperation I finally went to a work wear chain I never shop in and tried on these pants, which are made of a stretch woven and have a "revolutionary comfort waistband" - read a contoured waistband with the stretch cut cross wise of course,  not interfaced, with narrow elastic stitched into the top waist seam like a stay. What was different was that the waistband seams were at centre front and centre back which kept the side seams particularly smooth. The pair I tried on were made in a nasty harsh fabric, pull on pants without the fly and they fit perfectly.

With my decreasing waist to hip ratio they pulled on and fit smoothly just fine - the stretch in the fabric was just enough. These pants were also on sale and at $22.00 I bought them and took them home. I ripped them up before wear could stretch anything out of shape and traced off a pattern. 

Remarkable to see how much more shape in the back than the front and how simple they were in construction.

This weekend when I should have been doing other things I made up a pair and they too fit absolutely perfectly. I will post pictures this week when I can get my daughter to take them. Rascal and Birdie aren't much with the camera.

Imagine that a perfect pants pattern finally just as long as I use stretch wovens. And no more sewing time that I would spend to make a pair of pjs.

This has me thinking now of how often in my life do I make things harder than they are. If the fabric stretches I don't need a zipper. With pants I can buy and rip apart I don't need 37 different pants patterns to buy and try. With some reliable TNT patterns I don't need to fret about fitting something new every time I sew.

Of course now I still need to buy some more fabric ....