Black Silk Pants


I’m starting to get organized for the San Francisco trip in April. I had a phone call last weekend from Elke (Sandra’s assistant) about the workshop, wondering what questions I might have. I told her I was determined to come home with a perfectly fitting pair of pants!

In the meantime, the Saturday night we’re having dinner at Sandra’s home and apparently it’s a “dress up” affair – not too dressy, but not jeans, either. I have that lovely silk embroidered shirt I made in July from the fabric my friend Mary Ann gave me. And I have a black silk crepe top. All I needed was a pair of black silk pants!

I’ve had 5 yards of black silk in my stash for 20+  years – my sister Donna brought it for me from Thailand – I’d just never used it. The silk was a light weight shantung so I thought the pants should be lined. It just so happened I had some hot pink silk lining fabric which I’d bought a couple of years ago in Florida to line my Faux Suede Appliqué jacket. However, I found a better lining fabric, used it on the jacket, and put this lining fabric away.

IMG_0840This seemed a good use for it – I had enough for the pants (with a bit left over for lining bags, I imagine). IMG_4522Nobody will ever see the lining, but I’ll know it’s there and having it makes the pants drape nicely.

I used the modified pattern from the palazzo pants (don’t ask my why I didn’t use the Eureka pattern – I just didn’t think of it – I think I was originally thinking of a wider leg than I actually made).

All in all I’d say these pants turned out rather well. That notwithstanding, I know I’m still going to learn a lot about fitting pants. And in all likelihood I might wear these pants 2-3 times beyond this one occasion. So I wasn’t worried about a lot of tailoring detail – just made sure I had deep pockets on the front so I can carry my phone!




Second Pair of Pants

Yesterday I completed the pants in Twill – I wanted to see how the pattern would turn out in a less giving fabric than the denim I used (which has a lot of give).

The front is great – no fullness on the sides below the bum, just a straight side seam.

The side view is also good. The pants are about 1/2″ too long – I may take them up after I’ve washed them – I hemmed them at a 27″ inseam (my usual inseam is 27 1/2″ – given the way these pants fit I’m guessing I should use a 26 1/2″ inseam for hemming – I know my legs aren’t shorter!)IMG_4304

And the back fits nicely as well. So I guess this pattern is a keeper as it is.IMG_4305

A useful addition to my wardrobe.

That’s it for pants for now. On to other stuff.


In a comment on my Muslin #3 – Pat mentioned another pants fitting system she’d tried successfully. I decided to give it a go – Fit for Art Patterns: Eureka! Pants That Fit. I went online, found the pattern – it arrived last week – I went to work.


First I read the booklet to get an idea about how this system works. They (Carrie Emerson, Rae Cumbie and Sarah Veblen ) start out by saying Sewing pants is easy.  I agree – getting a comfortable, flattering fit is the challenge! Their system is based on three prevalent body types – their template pattern includes one front and THREE different backs – one for people like me – no bum, a second for a reasonably rounded ass, third for  “full” bottoms. What they’ve done, in other words, is make some of the most common pants adjustments:

adjusting pants

In Back 1, they’ve lowered the back waistline, decreased the crotch depth, slightly deepened the crotch curve, taken in the upper legs – all the adjustments I’d have to make for a pattern to fit my body shape. The sizing chart suggests for my measurements I make a Back 2 (for regular bums) but I knew that would be a mistake, so I chose Back 1 (for no bums) and traced both the front and back onto tracing paper. I decided an XS would work for the back but I made a combination of XS/S for the front.

In the booklet they recommend leaving a back opening for fitting – no good for me – I can’t pin that myself when testing the muslin, and in the end I’m going to have a fly front, so I set up the pattern tracing with a fly front. The template also has a straight waistband – I used the curved waistband I had used to construct the earlier muslins which fit quite comfortably just below my bellybutton. Then I cut out a muslin.

I sewed in a zippered fly front (Sandra Betzina’s technique – I’ll never put in a fly front any other way – this is SO straightforward), stitched up the centre back seam, the side seams, then tried the muslin on. The centre front seam didn’t quite come together – that meant I had to widen the front side seam about 3/8″ on each side. The legs were still a bit full through the thigh – I tried taking them in on the side seam – that introduced some pulling into the back, I put the side seams back and took the leg in on the inner side seam – the muslin still didn’t hang quite right but I had a hunch if I just took a smidgeon from both inner and outer leg when I redrafted the pattern I’d be OK. I marked on the muslin where I wanted the top of the waist to land, subtracted the waistband width (2″), marked that, (then added back 5/8″ to get the cutting line for the top of the pants. I finished the muslin by adding a waistband just to see if I was right about the location of the waistband top edge – I was!

muslin #4


Once finished, I could tell the back seam needed to be made a wee bit fuller (~ 3/8′) and the crotch a wee bit deeper – both back and front (~ 3/8″).

So I now set about redrafting the pattern with adjustments – this time using Swedish tracing paper so I’d end up with a durable pattern. Working from my traced paper pattern, I added 3/8″ to the front at waist (gradually decreasing from the waist to the belly line – I only needed the extra at the waist), I took my “crotch curve” (this came from a package: The New Magic-Fit Master Pattern for Pants – a pants fitting system from 1984!) and dropped the crotch a bit and increased the fullness of the centre back seam 3/8″, I slightly reshaped the thighs on the side and inseam slimming them to the knee line, I straightened the leg from knee to hem.

Yesterday, I cut out the pattern in an 8 weight denim (light-medium weight) and  got to work. I finished the pants this afternoon.

I have to say, this is probably as close as I’m going to get to the fit I’m looking for. The front falls straight with no extra fabric in the thighs:


The side seam is straight down the middle and no dipping under the bum:

And the back falls straight.


The pants are comfortable, I can sit in them without having them pull in the back, the thighs are about the right width.

These pants are a smidgeon long – (I used my standard 27 1/2″ inseam but I think with the depth of the crotch I could use 27″); however, I know, with washing, the denim will shrink a bit in length even though I washed it before I used it. This way, the pants will end up the right length!

I added pockets to the outside of the front, and pockets to the back. So these pants are a cross between trousers and jeans. I incorporated a tab on the front of the waistband to accommodate an off centre button – (a centred button chews the front of my sweaters – off-centre I’m fine).

Now to try another pair in a twill.

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!


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.