Win some, lose some

I keep saying I’m going to make a dress, and I seem to keep finding other projects. Yesterday I was positive I was going to muslin Vogue 8997, but after finding everything to start making that happen, I realized I didn’t want to deal with fitting, I just wanted to operate a sewing machine. Fortunately, I happened to have a pair of shorts hanging around now for two years that I was able to finish up.


These are Simplicity 1879, a Lisette pattern now out of print, which I have made once before. That pair, which is stretching the definition of wearable muslin, cannot leave the house. They are scandalously short; and since I used some junky stretch cotton sateen on them, they telegraph every lump, bump, and underwear line I have. Not a good thing. However, at the time, I clearly liked the pattern enough to alter it and try again with black linen. So when I rescued them yesterday from unfinished object purgatory, everything was basted together to test for fit, but no interfacing had been cut, and so I took the shorts back down to the individual pattern pieces. Sewing the seams and then serging the seam allowances went well, and soon I was just about back to where I started, but this time with interfaced yoke pieces and a regular zipper in hand. Oh yeah, for some reason, I got a bee in my bonnet around the time I started this that I would no longer use invisible zippers for side seams of shorts/skirts, and I was going to master the lapped zipper.


I referenced my 1970s copies of both the Vogue Sewing Book and Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing, and both of their application methods stunk. The Internet was almost a bust, but to the rescue came Kathleen Fasanella’s tutorial. Seriously, people, she is AWESOME. I would have saved myself some effort if I had done a better job the first time of reading through and topstitching the facings down, but once I did that and lopped off the excess facing for the side that laps over, finishing the zipper went really well. It was immensely satisfying to beat the top corners with the rubber mallet and I think everything is lying better as a result. My topstitching even came out okay, and I’m not great at that. I’m really proud of this zipper; I think it’s the best (non-invisible) one that I’ve ever put in.


From there, it was just a matter of finishing the waistband and the hems, and I was done. I was initially going to skip cuffing these shorts, but I didn’t like that look, so cuffed they are. For catching the facing, I prefer to stitch in the ditch, which was a nerve wracking experience with this project. The Singer 401A still has the original foot controller, and I’m used to the subtlety of an electronic controller and I can’t manage that with the Singer. Every seam starts at warp speed until I can slow it down while keeping just enough pressure so that the sewing machine doesn’t stop. Oh, and I don’t have a stitch in the ditch foot for the Singer, which increased the difficulty to just this side of too much. I have three walking feet, multiple rufflers, but no edging foot or quarter-inch foot. I still think it turned out okay.


Alas, one of my better construction efforts and I find it just okay once donned. Those cute pleats? Yeah, my thighs take care of that. I didn’t think about how they would look when confronted with my forward and full thigh. I knew there was a reason I’ve disliked pleated pants since I was a teenager, but apparently I needed reminding again. Even worse, I don’t know what is with all of the wrinkling in the front. After all, a girl wants every line on her shorts pointing at her crotch, right?

Sad panda

I can make the wrinkles stop, I just have to not stand like my normal self.

I would stand like this if I were saving the world, I think

Crazily enough, the back, which is usually the bane of my pants fitting existence, turned out pretty nice in my opinion. I remember adding to the back thigh and the back rise, but I don’t remember any of the other alterations I made to the pattern and I can’t find anything other than the yoke pieces.

Standing straight, not a strong suit for me.  Both of legs on the shorts are the same length, I swear

If I do find the rest of the pieces, they are going in the trash. I might try the top included in the pattern, but I do not need any more of these shorts hanging around. There are too many other good looking patterns out there to try instead.


2 thoughts on “Win some, lose some

  1. Hey I know this is an old post, but I’m making the same pattern and I have Palmer and Pletsch’s Pants for Real People. If you have drag lines pointing to somewhere it’s usually a sign that you have to let that area out. So here, I’d say the inseam needs more fabric because when your legs are together you’re pulling the darts out of shape. From the model on the cover, these are supposed to be quite flared, too, so I can see where narrower leg holes might be the issue here. I hope you try this pattern again, it looks pretty cute on you.

  2. No worries on the responding to old posts! I appreciate the point about drag lines, but true confessions time, I have lost enough weight where I went through a stretch when these shorts fit amazingly, and now I can get them over my hips without having to unzip them. I should remake them as they are super fun to wear now that I’m smaller, but I’ve been less productive with a sewing machine recently than I want to admit.

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