05 December 2007

V8157B (First Successful Pair of Pants)

Brief History:
One reason behind my desire to learn how to sew is the poor selection of pants for someone of my height. I am 4'11" tall (5' on a good day) and have a hard time finding pants that fit and are the right length. Petite sizes used to be tolerable, but over time it appears as if the petites have grown in length. Frustrated with always having to fold the cuff, or weight extra height so that my hems don't drag the floor, I decided to learn to make pants for myself.

My very first pair of pants (made about 2.5 - 3 years ago) were quite discouraging. I sewed the pair straight out of the package according to my hip measurement. I had no idea about crotch length, crotch depth, or any other pants fitting related issues. I just knew that when I tried the on the pants, they were quite uncomfortable. I returned to making skirts and did not directly revisit pants making again until last summer when I took a pants drafting class.

This class, albeit informative, was too much for me at that time. I had not been successful with sewing in general and was now in a class learning how to draft a pants pattern from scratch. I am glad that I took the class as I learned much about my problem areas, wrinkles, and making muslins. I also have a pants sloper fitted to my measurements. The pants that I started as a part of the class have yet to be finished and are officially marked off line.

I saw a few reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review (PR) and was immediately intrigued. The pattern only has four pieces and one page of directions. Because I really wanted to make a pair of pants, I constantly referred to the book Fit for Real People, various magazine articles, and the reviews written by others on PR. This time I felt ready and motivated to begin.

Planning & Construction (Red):
Fabric: Red stretch cotton-mix woven

I traced (waist to mid thigh) a size 18 onto muslin fabric. I inserted the zipper and sewed the pants and waistband. As in the very first pair of pants I made, the back crotch length was too short to accommodate the junk in my trunk. So, I cut the muslin on a line drafted perpendicular to the grainline. I spread the muslin 2" and filled the gap with other muslin scraps. To save time, I fused the pieces together using fabric glue and pressed.

The newly adjusted muslin was perfect - in the back at least. It gave me enough room for sitting without having the dreaded plumber's butt effect. The front and sides seemed to fit well but appeared to be too big. Anticipating the extra give afforded by the stretch material, I decided to trace a paper pattern size 17 (between 16 and 18). Additionally, I shortened the length of the pattern 3" for my height.

To test the new pattern, I used a red stretch woven I had in my stash. The intention was for this to be another muslin to assess the fit. When I sewed it together and tried it on, it was entirely TOO big. I ended up taking 1 1/4" off the outseams and 1" off the inseams. The finished result is still a little big, but certainly not as much as before. The back and front crotch lengths feel good as well as the waistband.

When constructing the waistband, apparently I fused the interfacing to the incorrect pieces. The result is that the waistband is actually attached backwards. The larger flap is to the inside instead of the outside.
I don't particularly like the instructions for attaching the waistband. The instructions say to attach the interfaced pieces to the pants first, then attach the non-interfaced pieces to that. Doing it this way made it much more difficult for me to understitch and keep everything evenly fed. Maybe I did something wrong. I don't know.

In my second attempt at this pattern, I attached both sets of waistband peices together first, understitched, and then treated that unit as one and attached it to the pants. This worked out far better than before. In fact, it is this method that is used in attaching the waistband in KS2788. It just makes more sense to me. To finish the waistband, I added simple snaps as closures.

Planning & Construction (Brown):
Fabric: Dark brown stretch denim

For the second attempt, I made considerable changes. This time, I traced a paper pattern size 14 on the front and back pieces and a size 16 for the waistband. When I sewed them together, I used a seam allowance slightly larger than 5/8" for all four side seams, and a regular 5/8" allowance for the crotch curve and waistband. This time, a size 14 fit much better in the legs, but proved to be a bit too short in the crotch length - even with the intial 2" spread. When I make these pants the next time, I will cut a crotch length of 16 and 14 everywhere else. The pants are comfortable and wearable, but there is a noticeable difference between this pair and the first.
To give the pants a snazzy look, I used peach-coloured thread for topstitching. I attempted to topstitch the outer side seam but found that it is best to do that before stitching the inseams. Since I had already serged the inseams, I decided to forego the topstitching there and save that for the next pair.

I wore these pants to work on Monday and got many nice comments. I'm happy about the pants and will definitely make more.


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