Pants Fitting Fun

I started working with the Closet Case Patterns Sasha trouser last weekend and finally got to a good fitting stage today.  Unfortunately, I want to tear my hair out.  So instead, I thought it would be fun to compare the fit of those out of the envelope to two other pairs of slim fitting black pants I already own.  It’s not pretty.

Black photographing as terrible as it does, I have cranked up the exposure on all of the pictures, my apologies

First up to bat are a pair of Andrew Marc black ponte pants in size 6 that I got from Costco for less than $20 and zero trips to a fitting room. They are comfortable to wear, but over the course of the day the knees bag out, which isn’t so bad, but the growing waistline that creeps down my torso is. These pictures are fresh out of the dryer, so the tightest fit they have.  If I could have something like this in a stretch woven without the jeans-like styling of the back, I would be thrilled.

Next are the reason I wanted to try the Sasha pattern in the first place- Sloan trousers from Banana Republic in size 4. They looked good if a tad tight that day in the fitting room, so I got two pairs in the ankle length because they were perfection in length and made my butt look good. Tossed them in the wash without noticing the dry clean only care instruction and whelp, they’ve never been the same since. They are a touch too short now for me as I don’t love a cropped length and are tight. So stupid tight. Oh well. That’s why I figured I could just sew up a pattern that’s pretty much a duplicate for the Sloan trousers if you look at the Closet Case Patterns website.

These have the worst visible panty lines, how?!

As it stands now, these are a wreck. I cut a straight size 10 as those are dead on for my waist and hip measurements right now. And really the hip measurement seems to be working out. Too bad it’s the only part that is working out. Yeah, yeah, I know about making muslins. Find me cheap muslin fabric with 20% stretch across the grain, and I’ll work with it; otherwise, I’m stuck taking measurements and hoping it’s for the best. These are not slim fitting on me below mid thigh, which is disappointing. The waistband gapes pretty badly through the small of my back, so I’m going to have to dart it as I don’t have any extra fabric for cutting a new one. Live and learn, right? But that pales in comparison to the crotch and back curve. It does not fit the shape of my body in any way, shape, or form. Now, go back and look at the RTW pants. No threat of cameltoe at all, whereas the Sasha does have that issue. The back length feels too short, but measuring it, it should be enough. So why isn’t it? That’s where the fun starts.

Sloan (top) and Andrew Marc (bottom)

The Sloan’s flyshield did not want to cooperate for photography purposes, but I hope that you can see some vestige of the front curve.  More importantly, look at the back curve.  There is a good sized scoop down.  Heather calls it the low butt adjustment in the fitting guide blogposts at Closet Case, but I’m wondering if it’s just more of a standard draft in ready to wear.  My jeans don’t do this, but they have longer back lengths instead (1 inch longer than the Sasha for a size 4 Levi’s midrise and 2.5 inches longer in the size 6 CK skinny)


Indeed, my jeans have this exact back curve, but definitely more length, which makes sense for a jeans fit. So my first order of business for fixing the fit is to fix the order of construction for the inseam and crotch seams (they should look like the BR Sloans and not like a pair of jeans) and then start scooping out under the buttocks so that there is room for them. I think that there is technically enough length but because there is not nearly enough negative space for my body, the back length is getting pulled down to make that space. I don’t know that it will fix the back waistband, but I’m kind of hoping it does before I decide how much of a dart it needs. Now, onto the front crotch. Notice how straight the Sasha compared to the two RTW curves? I’m grateful that the front doesn’t look worse on me, honestly. Hopefully, I can have a happy post sometime this week with a great fitting set of pants, but in the meantime, I feel like I learned a lot about what I need to do to make these work.

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I Sewed for My Dog

I am not awesome at sewing for my kids and here I am having made something for my dog. I may be rolling my eyes at myself to be honest. However, it’s been a pretty cold winter so far and my whippet puppy trashed her sweater so she needed a replacement coat to get through this season as she is still growing.

Because one dog isn’t enough, and two is too low, it’s Three Dog!

The two bigger dogs are wearing Chilly Dogs coats made in Canada that are amazing for sighthounds. Regular dog coats tend to fit wonky on them and are too drafty for dogs with minimal coats and minimal fat, and these are miles better. Unfortunately for the puppy, I’m not springing for one until she’s full grown aka next winter, and she needs something for today. I traced the outline of the red coat to get a general shape idea. The Chilly Dogs coat does not have a back seam, and uses darts to shape around the hindquarters so to get the same shape, I have a back seam instead.  The front end is totally different as I did not even try to duplicate the shape of the chest piece on the other coat in favor of a simple seam and clearance for her legs as she loves to run and I did not want to restrict her movement.

Human, stop with the pictures already, I want to go back inside already

As a quick and dirty project, I skipped any closure on the center chest as the neck opening is plenty large to slip over her head. I used a yard of fleece I had hanging in stash from when I made a crate liner for the first puppy. That liner lasted 48 hours. Let’s hope the coat endures longer. It’s from Jo-Ann so not the best quality fleece, but I only say that because the percentage of the store they dedicate to fleece annoys me irrationally. I decided to make it double layer for warmth and static (so much static by the way!), but didn’t want any seams open on her back. Flat felling was just not going to happen for this project; so once I had the two layers wrong side together, I decided to quilt them together, ineptly. I have never quilted anything before and I could not make anything make a mark on this fleece, so I was sewing blind when doing this. Note to self, now I get why people quilt the fabric first before garment construction. My original plan was to use bias binding on the fleece, but the fleece, the bias tape, bias binder foot, and my sewing machine all laughed at that. I quickly reassessed and ran a serged edge instead. Yeah, the gray thread does not match, but that was what was already threaded up and I just wanted to be done at that point.

Broke a needle on the Velcro- I knew better than to use a size 70 needle on this stuff, but did it anyway

The Velcro closure has the hook side on the left side of the coat and the loop side coming over from the right under her belly. I assume that the fabric is not covering all of her torso and I wanted the soft side on her skin. Not a lot to say about the project other than that. Other than I am never sewing for my dog again. Once is enough!

This is the closest thing to gratitude I’m likely to get

Vogue 9266 Dress

Earlier this year, I was feeling totally down on my sewing hobby. The pattern and fabric stash was (and still is) out of control, and nothing called to me to be made despite having gaps in my wardrobe. Then someone’s make of Vogue 9266 popped up in my Facebook feed, and I had to have it. So much so that I did not even wait for a pattern sale. Nope, I fished this one out of the pattern cabinet and paid the 40% off list price. Then despite the amount of fabric I already own, I could not find that perfect match. Enter the Black Friday sale at G Street Fabrics and this gorgeous wool crepe was perfect for my project.

This is one of the Very Easy Vogues, which really only means not a lot of pattern pieces. In this case, the dress is a front, back, and sleeve. The shaping is created through fisheye darts through the midriff and neck darts into the funnel neckline. This paralyzed me as the fit needed to be spot on before cutting. High necklines are an issue for me and frankly, I have not had a lot of luck with darts in the past few years. I figured I would whip up a muslin or two and be on my merry way.

Ha! Seven muslins are in that pile

This was the first time I have struggled with a full bust adjustment. I normally do the slash and spread as detailed in Fit for Real People, but it creates a horizontal bust dart that I did not want. I figured it would be a simple matter of rotating it into the fisheye dart, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t make it work. Out of desperation I decided to use the pivot and slide method from Pattern Fitting with Confidence by Nancy Zieman. I have never used that method before but my needed width additions would preserve the original proportions as I did not need extensions or adding a dart. The muslins were a pain to do but I got a lot of practice at doing darts. To check the neckline fit, I would baste 5/8” from the cutting line, turn under the seam allowance and topstitch 1/8” from the basting stitches, and trim off the excess. I picked up that bit from Catina on the formalwear forum at Pattern Review back when I made that ballgown two years ago. I was able to get the front fit squared away relatively quickly, but the back was a mess. I took out length here, added there, pinched out a swayback then had to add again for my derriere and nothing was working. I finally accepted that I have a high round back but was ending up with insane excess length below my shoulder blades. The pivot and slide was making the back too wide over my shoulder blades and so I was getting folds of fabric everywhere. I guess it’s a good problem to have, with things too big but I was having difficulties figuring out how to get rid of fabric without adversely affecting the fit of the front. So here is what I ended up doing alteration-wise:

  • Back- removed 1/2” length upper back, 1” swayback tuck, 1.5” wedge added above the hipline, 1” high round back rotating half of that into the neck dart, 3/8” narrow shoulder
  • Front- equivalent of 3/4” FBA, 1/2” wedge for length in abdomen, 1/4” hollow chest tuck, same narrow shoulder, 3/8” forward shoulder adjustment, and lowered the neckline 1”

Did I mention it was 30 degrees out when taking these pictures?

On the whole I am happy with the fit, but I did not properly account for how much looser it would feel with the wool crepe vice the cotton muslin. I was actively trying to preserve the proportions of the fitted dress per the ease chart, and in the bust, it is. However, through the waist in particular, it’s big (close to 4 inches of ease above my actual measurement). The muslins were not like this at all, so I think it’s just how my fashion fabric behaves. It also means that my super curvy back seam no long looks super curvy, ha ha!

I got a level hem and the side seam mostly perpendicular to the ground

The side seam wanders a little bit under the arm, which the dressform picture shows better as I have too much room in the front for once, and too little in the back under the arm. The forward shoulder really helps with letting the sleeve hang properly after I messed with the sleeve cap like this person did.

The only real design change I made was to change the back vent from a slit to a kick pleat. I can do an unlined one like a champ, but I have completely forgotten how I made them in the past and couldn’t find the pattern envelope and directions to recreate it. The interwebs are amazing and I followed this tutorial to get what I wanted. There is a little bit too much fabric right at the stitching line across the top of the vent, but otherwise, it’s spot on. I wish the pattern out of the envelope had had this detail, but at least it’s easy enough to do on my own.

All told, I’m very pleased with how my dress came out. These are some of the better darts I’ve made in ages, and this project helped point me in new fitting directions that I hadn’t really considered before. I love higher necklines but was convinced that I just couldn’t wear them, so I was thrilled to learn just how easy it is to change for me. I will say, I think I will skip the narrow shoulder next time as I keep mistaking the armscye seam for a falling off bra strap and I think I brought it more aggressively in than I needed. Other than that, my dress is comfortable, warm and exactly what I wanted for winter. Now time to make that matching jacket!

Poor hound started shivering during this

M7092 – Palmer/Pletsch Knit Dress

I was supposed to be doing buttons and hemming for my husband, so instead I made a dress for myself. Yes, that’s as selfish as it sounded. Anyway, I made McCall 7092, another Palmer/Pletsch knit pattern. This one has options from tunic to maxi dress length, and varying sleeve lengths making it pretty versatile.

I bought two yards of this rayon jersey print back in March. I probably won’t remember this lesson, but 1) I dislike using rayon jersey for dresses and 2) prints are pretty on the bolt, but not really my preference for clothing. When I am window shopping for clothes, I am not drawn to prints, so why buy something that is suboptimal, preference-wise? Also, I should have known better, but this fabric is ill-suited to use as a dress.

To start with, I made View C, which calls for 2 yards of fabric plus another yard for the two contrast panels. I chose to make the contrast panels from the same fabric as the rest of the dress, but it added a layer of cutting difficulty as I was already tight on material. Then I realized I needed to have the pattern vaguely matching going down my body and the right and left bodice pieces mirroring each other. I didn’t even try to make the sleeves match the body of the dress, just each other, and I just barely managed to make it work. This is why I hate non-random prints.

Once everything was cut out, I had to play guessing games on how the pattern would look once on a person. I don’t really put tons of effort into avoiding a bullseye effect on bodices, but I did with this one because once I got to assembly stage I was so suspicious of pitfalls that I even took pictures to double-check the print placement, and I’m glad I did as one of the layouts was really bad.  It’s probably lost in the busyness of the print, but the front top is a vee that goes to an underbust seam with overlapping panels behind it for modesty.

That leads to seven layers of fabric sewn together through the pleats as both the bodice and panel pieces are folded in half eliminating the need for neck edge finishing in the front. Not so the back, which I disliked as I thought it was messy though the shoulder seam.

The above picture is that same bodice seam once neatly serged together. Makes quite the difference. With the pleats and the panels, I basted everything first for the bodice, which ruined the whole speed through a knit project to get a wearable garment in three hours feel. However, it truly helped speed everything along once I got the serger because I was not worried about pieces slipping out of alignment when wrangling that many layers. I think I got most of the basting thread out but there was a lot by the end.

Let’s talk about fitting. I mean, that’s the selling point to the Palmer/Pletsch patterns, right? For me, the book Fit for Real People was life changing in my sewing. I knew that I didn’t exactly match the drafted body for patterns, but it was the book that started me down the path to personalizing patterns so they fit me. I’ve given a copy to my mom, and recommended it to friends. I even like that the fitting lines are printed right on the pattern sheets, and the extra page of instructions is really well done. But I do not get the knit patterns to work out as well as I would like and I don’t know why. I mean, I have made plenty of knits and yet, these just don’t end up as successful as I would like.

I don’t know if it’s my expectations or what.  Honestly, tissue fitting and knits just don’t really go together.  So much is going to depend on the fabric used and wearing preferences. For example, I like no ease through the bodice and one to two inches of ease below my ribcage. I did the size 10 with no full bust adjustment swinging out to a 14 through the waist and hips. The finished measurements should have given me no ease in the bust. I ended up taking in half an inch on each side and there is still wearing ease to be found here.

The back is too wide for my frame and the armscye seam is past the tip of my shoulder, but I failed in doing the narrow shoulder adjustment, so it’s to be expected. I took half an inch in length out of the upper bodice and sleeves, did the indicated swayback tuck. I don’t always alter for a swayback, but I do generally have the problem of too much back length in patterns in the back waist, and I should remember to do it more often.  The diagonal wrinkle coming from the right hip is new to me, and I’m a bit perplexed as there is plenty of room in that part of the dress for my body.

Is this truly close-fitting? I look like a cylinder.

The bodice seam I think is meant to be a straight line and it is not on me. But I don’t really need more length through there, if anything less, as the center of the seam is where it is supposed to be, but it just droops off to the side. At the same time, the hemline is more or less even with the floor, so maybe that’s how it’s supposed to look but I don’t love it. I did finally try to accommodate my forward shoulders and pivoted the seam forward by 3/8″. I didn’t change where the top of the sleeve was against the advice of the instructions, but I don’t have issues with sleeves, just seam placement. I can’t see a difference in this dress, but it wasn’t hard to do, so I’ll mess with it again in the future and see if it’s worthwhile to add to my repertoire of usual alterations.

Too much ease in those sleeves for my taste

All that said, I’m not in love with the finished product. It’s well constructed and it fits alright, but the skirt is too thin for a long sleeve dress, and a more robust fabric would be too thick though the bust with all of the layers. Rayon jersey gets really heavy in a dress application, and I wonder if I wouldn’t like this more chopped to a tunic length. I’m going to see if it gets any wear with the weather getting colder and decide then.

M7009 Child’s Knit Top

Wow, two posts in two days.  So this is what having sewing enthusiasm again feels like! Knit tops are helpful like that.  Also, I never dislike quick and easy projects, which McCall 7009 definitely qualifies as.

My daughter has decided to keep growing and all of last year’s long sleeve tops are now three quarter sleeves.  Alas, the selection of long sleeve tops in colors or prints that she likes are slim pickings at least at the price point I shop at.  I asked her if she would like me to make tops for her, and after looking through my pattern library she agreed on a test run.  I got this striped interlock of mystery fabric off the cheap table at G Street Fabrics when they closed their location at Seven Corners and well, if it didn’t work out, I wasn’t going to be upset.

After much consideration with the recipient of the top, I decided to cut a straight size 10 and see how it would work out.  As expected it’s too big in the torso, and the sleeves are way long.  On her request, I added an extra inch of length in the torso as she likes her tops on the longer side, and looking at it, I’m glad.  I feel like Big4 kid’s top run a smidge short compared to their width causing a bit of a boxy look.

I forgot how much not fun it can be matching stripes, but the end result is worth it.  The sleeves and body are matched at the notches.  To make sure that the serger would not pull the stripes out of alignment, all seams except the collar center back seam were basted first on the sewing machine before a final pass through the serger.  The sleeves were sewn in flat and then the arm and body were sewn in one pass.  The sleeve cap ease was not out of control on this one, though the give of the interlock may have accounted for the ease in sewing.  I did not stabilize the shoulder seams, which in retrospect, I should have.  In fairness, I don’t expect this shirt to still be in my house this time next year, so I don’t think it will matter much.  The hems are coverstitched with in brown.  I found a tip online somewhere to iron the hems first to make it easier to stitch down, and I wish I could remember where I found that because it made such a difference and I want to credit the site.

This shirt does suffer from one flaw consisting of two parts.  The collar as drafted is too close to the size of the neck opening.  In pinning, it seemed to match exactly and I prefer a 90-95% of the opening circumference to keep it from gaping later.  With this collar, it’s less of a concern, but worth mentioning.  Also, sewing the collar to the neck opening has a lettuce effect going on and that’s unacceptable.  I don’t know if it was the presser foot pressure on the serger or what (though messing with the differential feed helped some, but not completely), but I hate when fabrics do this.  Every interlock I have ever sewn wants to do this at some point, and I hate it.  I like the idea of the heavier double knit for winter tops, but as much heartache as jersey can be, it does not do this to me.  However, it’s not obvious from the right side when worn, so all’s well that ends well.

M6841 Palmer/Pletsch Knit Top

Long time, no blogging.  Yeah, that blue dress ended up destroying my mojo all summer long.  I just wish I had thrown in the towel sooner so I could have moved on to projects that I enjoy.  The quickest way I could think of for that is to whip up a knit top.

Indoor pictures are going to be a nightmare in this house…

I had 2.5 yards of this poly/lycra jersey acquired from my closest Joann last spring.  I love the colors in this but couldn’t see me wearing a dress in it.  The idea of the drapey, fluid front appealed though and I found the pattern stashed in a moving box that I had not yet opened (after only 11.5 months, pfft).  The sizing is XS-S-M for the envelope I had, so I went with small in the shoulder and sleeves and tapering out to a medium below the sleeve.  As big as it ended up being, I did not need to do that, but it doesn’t bother me.  I should have done the forward shoulder adjustment as the seam line falls way back on me, but I did not.  Note the laziness that went into the project.  The pattern warns the sleeve is narrow and that is no joke.  I lengthened by 1.5 inches trying to get the long sleeve and then I still end up pushing it up.  The front seam stopped very low on me, so I sewed it closed by another 2.5 inches, but that’s kind of an individual judgment call.  I got what I envisioned, but oh how I am not a fan of the dolman sleeve.  It looks just like the pattern photo and design lines, but it feels weird to me wearing it, so no I won’t be making another one of these, but I’m glad I made this one.

And some minor Halloween sewing may have happened this year.  The halberd and cape were made by me super fast on October 30, and the longest part was appliqueing the cross motif on the halberd.  I did not use a stabilizer as I don’t own any, but it would have been a good choice so if I ever do something like this again, I hope I remember to use some.

B5333 Dress – A conundrum

I got the bright idea to cut a dress earlier this week based on the fact that the fabric is seven years aged in stash as is the pattern, and I wanted a new dress for summer. However, I didn’t really think through my plan, and so I have this unfinished project.
Mistake number one, not checking what alterations were needed for success.  I always have to shorten the bodice, but the bust point matched mine, so I just went ahead with the size 10 through the shoulders out to a 12 under the bust.  That’s it.  Umm, I know better, I swear, but look at this wreck.  The bust dart comes up and over my bust point.  How on Earth is that supposed to work for anyone?

Oh, in case it isn’t obvious, this is just basted together for all of the vertical seams to check the fit.  I knew that the bodice was wonky, so I figured if I assembled enough I could decide if this is worth salvaging.  I have enough fabric to recut a front bodice, but nothing else.

The marked waistline is at my waist here and you can see the extra length present in both the front and back bodice pieces.  The front is slightly less terrible as I did not do a full bust adjustment, though a slight one would have helped if nothing else than dropping that bust point as right now there is too much fabric above the waist but instead of the mass of horizontal wrinkles, the fabric has enough body to just lift away from my shoulders.

Ignoring the not great zipper basting job here, look at all of the wrinkles in the small of my back.  The back bodice ended up being huge and I really do need a narrow shoulder adjustment going forward.  If this were finished properly, my bra straps would definitely be visible.  The back neckline gapes by a ton, and the back dart is going too far into my shoulder blade.  This would be a total wadder if not for the fact that the color looks fantastic in the pictures.  I just don’t know how motivated I am to fix this, though on the plus side, it is another 2.5 yards of material out of stash.