My Quest for Perfectly-fitted Pants – 3

I took another look at the Vogue pattern and decided, instead of reworking it yet again, to go back to some pants I made this summer – a pattern without center front/center back seams.

The pattern this summer was for a simple pair of palazzo pants (New Look 6191):


I didn’t make the pants in the pattern, I slimmed down the legs quite a bit, I put in a fly front, I added pockets to the outside on the front. All I used from the pattern were the dimensions and shape of the front and back panels. As you can see below, the front falls nicely, sits on my upper body comfortably. They still had a bit too much fabric in the bum, though. IMG_4212

So I thought I’d rework this pattern, using what I’d learned from the previous two muslins – I shortened the back crotch at the inner leg seam, increased overall crotch depth just a wee bit, shortened the center back seam 3/4″ (to raise the bum fabric up a smidgen).

This time, I decided not to use muslin but to make the mockup using some navy twill I had in my stash and if the pants worked (more or less) I’d have an actual pair of pants I could wear. So I narrowed the legs even more (I wanted straight legs that weren’t tight in the thigh or calf but not too loose either). Unlike the previous muslins, I applied pockets to the front and to the back. I went back to the curved waistband on the Vogue pattern and adjusted it to fit my upper hip snugly. And in creating the pattern I incorporated the fly piece into the front panel (I still had to use the fly flap for the back of the fly opening). Just finished the pants this morning. The front falls nicely, no pulling.IMG_4218

The side is pretty good, too. You can see a slight dip below the bum where there is still a bit too much fabric but I think I’ll wait until April and Sandra Betzina’s class in San Francisco – I’ll take the pattern and the pants and I’ll get her to help me with this problem.


Hard to tell from this photo but the back is also pretty good. That fullness below the bum which shows in the side isn’t too obvious in the back.

What I ended up with is a sort of jeans-style pants with jeans style pockets on the front, jeans back pockets, and straight legs. I can definitely wear these pants (even though I managed to use the wrong side of the fabric on the front panels and put the fly in on the wrong side!).

All in all, not a waste of time. If I could just find some decent corduroy I’d actually make another pair from this adjusted pattern just to see how they’d turn out in a heavier fabric. I’ll go shopping next week to see if I can find something.

My Quest for Perfectly-fitted Pants – 2

Muslin #2

A made two major adjustments to muslin #1: I drafted the pattern using a size C/D waist, B hip – which took quite a bit off all of the seams, on the back & side back pattern pieces I removed 3/4″ from just under the bum (tapering to the side/inner leg seams). I kept the size B crotch dimensions as is for now.

As you can see, the front fits nicely without pulling (were I to shorten the pants another 3/8″ the front below the knee would fall without breaking).


But the side view show a bum that is still too full! The side seam is straight, pulling neither to the front or the back. But you can see the extra in the bum and the extra fullness in the back leg – so on muslin #3 I will take those back seams in a bit (as well as increase the amount I take out horizontally under the bum).


The back view looks not too bad – the back seams are straight – that’s a good thing, but I do need a bit more taken from the bum.

IMG_4209So it’s on to drafting pattern #3!

On this version I will go back to the original waistband from the pattern – I’ll use a size C/D but the hip edge will have to be fitted quite a bit which will mean I have to be careful to make sure it fits the top of the size C/D pants. I am also going to increase the length of the back about 1/2″ – when I sit down the back waistband pulls down – that may mean the crotch depth is too short! I’ll see what lengthening the back does.

What was successful with muslin #2 was the flat fly front! That worked out well.

So each step of the way I’m learning more about how pants are designed – it’s not simple taking flat pieces and trying to fit a curved 3D body!


Sandra Betzina’s Flat Fly Front

After watching the video of how Sandra Betzina does the flat fly front, I tried it on my muslin #2 (in search of the perfectly-fitted pair of pants). It was easy to do and it worked out perfectly.

I drew the top stitching line in pencil since this was a muslin and it didn’t matter – obviously I’d use chalk or some other erasable marker to draw in that line on a real pair of pants.


You see the centre line because I had to attach “fly” flaps to the centre seam in order to execute the technique but on my next muslin I will incorporate the fly flaps into the front pattern pieces as you can see on Sandra’s video,


Because my memory is not as good as it once was, I thought it would be a good idea to create a set of written instructions for doing this instead of having to watch the video each time I wanted to sew a fly front. So I took a series of screen captures from the video and created myself an instruction sheet.

Here is a link to the video:

Here is a link to the instruction sheet I set up for myself.

The Quilt Challenge 1

Each year Craftsy offers a BOM (Block of the Month) quilt. I got an email letting me know the 2015 quilt was now available so I took a look at it.

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Can’t say I was particularly taken by the dark background but the block elements were interesting and I’m sure would present a challenge. In any case, I did register (it’s for free) and downloaded the January block but didn’t think I’d do anything with this – until yesterday.

Yesterday, I was at Sew With Vision, doing an afternoon session about my trip to Bali with a surprisingly large group of women (to share a lunch of Balinese chicken curry on rice and to show off the fabrics I brought home). When I arrived Nancy, one of the gals who works at the shop asked me if I’d seen the 2015 BOM quilt – she had decided to try it, not using the quilt kit offered by Craftsy, but using her own chosen fabrics. She was picking fabric bolts from the shelves and I found myself involved in the selection process. When Nancy began cutting 1/2 m pieces I thought, what the hell, I’ll have a go at this, too, so I asked her to cut me a set of the same fabrics, which she did.

Today I went to Atlantic Fabrics to see if I could come up with a solid fabric (or something with a minimal pattern) to use as background. I started at the Kona cotton collection of solids, pulled out an egg-yolk yellow, then a dark blue/teal, then a slightly lighter blue/teal, then some turquoise. I took all 6 bolts to a cutting table, laid them in an array, then auditioned my batik fabrics on the selections.


Wasn’t difficult to see that the darkest of the colours I’d chosen would work best with the batiks.

IMG_4198So now to watch the videos on the January block and get something under construction.

That’s the challenge – it’s a personal challenge between Nancy and me to create a quilt based on this 2015 BOM design. Right off the bat, I know I’m not going to make the 90″ x 90″ (queen size) quilt that’s intended. I’ll probably make something smaller like maybe a 60″ x 60″ lap quilt. That will mean adjusting all of the blocks down 1/3 in size. Or I might do a more conventional lap quilt size – 48″ x 64″ which will mean changing the layout of the quilt blocks as well. Not a big deal – I need to get out a pencil, ruler, graph paper (and calculator) and get to work. Once I’ve decided what kind of quilt I want to make, I’ll start drafting the January block and see how it turns out.


My Quest for Perfectly-fitted Pants -1

I’ve been on a quest for a well-fitting pair of pants for about 10 years – really. I can’t buy pants, haven’t been able to for a long time – why? Because I am a size 8 in the bum, but a size 14 in the waist! The best I can manage is to buy size 8 pants, then slash the sides and insert elastic gussets. I got the idea for this kluge from Kathy Ruddy and while she’s putting in the elastic as she constructs the pants from scratch, I usually put the elastic inserts into ready made wear. So a new pair of pants already looks well used before I even get to wear them.

Instead I decided to make pants for myself. Started by having a body scan done by Unique Patterns – that wasn’t successful. For some reason I can’t fathom, the scan didn’t accurately capture my flat ass and skinny legs and so while I can turn out a pair of pants that fit nicely in the front, the back has never quite been right.

Recently, I signed up for Sandra Betzina’s Craftsy class: Pants Fitting Techniques. I’ve been watching the videos and working my way through the pattern adjustments on the pants pattern that comes with the course:


You start by taking your measurements: waist, high hip, hip, crotch rise, side length…. Did all of that. Next I took the pattern pieces and found the size corresponding to my waist measurement: size E, and my hip measurement: size C, marked out my pattern with marker smoothing the transition from the waist to hip, traced the pattern onto tracing paper, cut it out, cut out a muslin and sewed it together. (I should mention that the waistband in the pattern was way to shaped for my waist – so I took a piece of medium-weight interfacing and cut a rectangle the length of my hip measurement (with enough overlap for a fly front), then took in several small darts in the side back and side front until the top fit my waist – that is the waistband I used for the muslin.)

Guess what – way too large! I have no idea how much ease is in the pattern but more than I needed. I took in all the seams until I got a comfortable waist and a relatively close fit through the hips. Oh, I changed one thing in the pattern – I converted a side zipper to a fly front. When the muslin was adjusted, the front fit quite well, but the back still had a baggy bum (ugh) and I tried various fixes: opening the crotch and reducing the back crotch (still somewhat baggy), taking in a horizontal dart below the bum to remove some of the bagginess (still baggy and now there’s a bit of a pull from the side!).


Muslin #1

As you can see I next measured all the dimensions between seams and marked the measurements on the muslin so I could made a second draft of the pattern taking into account the adjustments I made on Muslin #1.

I went back to the original pattern, using a different colour marker I drafted a new pattern a size C/D waist and a size B hip, traced it, then cut a second muslin. That’s as far as I’ve got – I’ll report on my progress in a day or so when I’ve got the second muslin sewn together.

Also this time I’m going to use Sandra Betzina’s Easy Fly Front Instructions for inserting a fly front zipper. I haven’t  done this before but it definitely looks a lot less fussy than the 3-piece fly front I’ve been using.

Making a Flat Knot in a Scarf


My friend Kathleen was wearing a colourful scarf at lunch today. She just had it wrapped around her neck but it was a perfect scarf for tying a new knot that I learned recently. So I showed her how to do it.

Here’s how:

1. Make a loop in the middle of the scarf

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2. Put the loop over your head

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3. Make a second small loop at the front

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4. Pull one of the long ends through from behind the loop

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5. Push the second end down from the front of the loop

Photo on 2015-01-12 at 5.08 PM #2  6. There you have it – a nice flat knot that stays in place!

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Kaffe Fassett/Philip Jacobs Quilt – Finished

Just finished the Kaffe Fassett/Philip Jacobs quilt this afternoon. Got the in-hoop quilting done yesterday, along with the border. Today I added binding and a label.

I’m pleased with how the quilt turned out. No name on it yet. For now it will live in the collection.

The back of the quilt includes a strip pieced from scraps – again to make the backing fabric wide enough so a single length would be enough. And I like the added detail on the backs – makes the quilts more interesting!

Purple/Turquoise Socks

Because I like a longish leg on my socks, I generally knit 80-85 rows after the cuff. When I’m using 100 gm. balls there’s no problem having enough patterned yarn for the foot. But, with a 50 gm. ball it’s a different story. A pair of socks takes 100 gm. of yarn (often with enough left over for a pair of legs). A 50 gm. ball, plus another 50 gm. ball of a contrasting solid gives me a pair of socks, but it takes some fiddling to extend the pattern yarn well into the foot.

First of all, I unwind the ball, find the centre, cut, then roll up 2 smaller balls. That way I know precisely how much I have to play with for one sock. With this pair I didn’t get as far into the instep as I wanted so I extended the pattern yarn by alternating rows with the contrasting solid. I had no patterned yarn left when these socks were done!

I still prefer working with 50 gm. balls of patterned yarn when I can get them ( they’re getting harder and harder to come by) because a finished pair costs considerably less than the larger balls (even counting the second set of legs I get from them).

New Socks

Finished last evening. They’re for someone who wears a size 10 woman’s shoe so they’re longer in the foot than my usual socks.

I liked working with this Opal yarn – the pattern held my interest even through the second sock so the work seemed to go quickly. There’s enough yarn left (6 repeats) to do two sock legs so I have to come up with an idea for using a complementary yarn.

Tipsy Squares

Finally done. I’ve been working on this quilt for a couple of weeks now. It started out as an unequal 4-patch based on an idea for a charm pack (5 X 5 squares). I used the fabrics I bought at the Kaffe Fassett lecture in the spring.

I cut and sewed the 4-patch blocks but they were too small for a 5 x 7 quilt – I needed to add fabric so I added another layer on the edge. BUT I cut the strips too narrow – the blocks were still too small for the final dimensions I was after. So I decided, rather than just add sashing, to add triangles around each block which resulted in a “tilted” block. Seventeen blocks tilt in one direction, eighteen tilt in the other. So I had to lay out the blocks in the order I wanted them and add the correct triangles to each so that the layout I was after would be in the finished quilt top. Finally I added a 3″ border around the outside. The finished lap quilt will be 48″ x 65″.

IMG_4158I worked out the triangles by trial and error – I wanted the tilted block to end up 8.5″ wide – in the end that meant I needed a triangle cut on the diagonal of a 2 1/4″ x 9 3/5″ rectangle. Applying the triangles is tricky – can’t chain the sewing – each block has to be done individually – the first strip is partially sewn on, then the other three sides are added, and then the first side is stitched to the end – that’s necessary to get all the triangles sewn in place equally. In the end, it wasn’t applying the triangles that was difficult, it was sewing the blocks together – I didn’t quite manage to get all the points to align perfectly. But once the top is stitched in the ditch and quilted that isn’t going to show – only a very experienced quilter is going to notice that detail!

These are the blocks before triangles (just the block in the upper left has triangles added).