Meet Frankie!

For summer I wanted to sew some cropped pants that would be comfy and modest for anything from pulling weeds to grocery shopping.

I loved the flat front of my Vogue 8929s, the pockets of TSW’s West End pants, the legs and fit of McCall’s 6082, the back yoke of Simplicity 3796, and the back pockets off any old pair o’ jeans! How’s that for a list? Naturally there was no precise pattern for this, so I decided to create a mash-up of some of my favorite patterns’ bits and pieces.  You know, Frankenstein-style.

Frankie Plan

I started by tracing my old McCall’s 6082 cropped pants, then applied the West End pockets to the front.  Next I cut off the back yoke and found a jeans pocket with pressing templates already cut out.  Using some of my Craftsy fabric, I set to work!

Front Frankie #1 Back

The only thing I didn’t work out for this pair was the flat front.  Now that a test has been conducted, I know which way to go from here!  ;-)

Dazed and confused

I feel as if I’ve been away in a foreign country, in one of those places where there’s no internet or cell service and nothing is familiar.  Like a crazy dream where you awake unsure of exactly what’s real and what isn’t.

muslin #5Yes,  I’ve been making pants muslins.  This one is number 5 of 6 at this point.

I must be out of my mind.

Of course I blame it on the expo.  I signed up for Cynthia Guffey’s class on pants fitting, and all was lost.

Cynthia said that pants patterns were drafted for pear shaped women with b*tts  and thighs.  Ohhhh!  That’s why my apple shape and stick legs are so difficult to fit.  There’s way too much fabric down where there’s not much of me.

Once home from expo, I started working through Cynthia’s Pants Fitting Workbook.  She has you measure everything up, down, and around.  I even made a flexible curve model of my lower body to apply to the pattern.  (In the end I didn’t use that, but I have it if I want it.)

After you get a good set of measurements, she shows you how to apply them to your pattern.  Slavishly following instructions, I had pretty good success with my first muslin.  Correcting the lengths and tilt of the waistline helped immensely.

Of course not every step worked perfectly for me.  The book had me add to the crotch length at the inseam end of the crotch curve, leaving me with a lot of fabric down there.  The last thing I needed was *more* crumpled fabric in that area.  Ugh.

The crotch model didn’t help me either, because I couldn’t get a good sense (from any of my sources) of how to use it.  There’s no good reference point to place on a pattern and trace ’round.  Anywhere I put it had me removing large, irregularly shaped chunks of the pattern tissue with no clue about the excess.

So I ditched the instructions for adding crotch length and using the flexible curve, and went off on my own.

Searching for another way to add crotch length led me to Professor Pincushion’s Pants Crotch Length Pattern Alteration video.

That worked with the pants original curve.

Worked Very Well.

It did seem counterintuitive.  It would seem that simply increasing the crotch depth would arrive at the same end point, but I found this method to be much better for me.  It kept all the carefully charted circumferences from the CG workbook where they belonged.

While I was working through that, I discovered that the shape of my legs affects the hang of the pants.  I’m, um, a trifle bow-legged it seems.  Fabric can’t hang down smoothly from the hips when it’s catching on the backs or sides of your legs.  In the photo, see how I’ve got one side pinned up to make the grain line straight?  That’s a problem.

I found help with that in an Oregon State extension service publication.  Page 9.  I’m doing the opposite–pinning up the too-long side–because that’s easier than slashing your muslin.  I also tried #2 on this page, which seems to simply widen the leg to accommodate curvature.  (Now it makes sense that trouser and culotte styles hang properly for me.)

One other thing made a huge–make that HUGE–difference: I straightened the center back seam. Peering into a mirror over my shoulder, I was amazed when I noticed the pants hanging straight when the back zipper was opened.  How to accomplish that on the flat pattern?  Measure how far it’s open and straighten the center back seam half that much!

Considering that the center back seam is simply a big dart that deposits fabric at the end where there isn’t much of me,  it makes perfect sense.

I’m plugging on.  I actually made a test pair of pants today from the only piece of sacrificial fabric in my stash.  They are wearable, but I still have a couple of tweaks to try.

I don’t believe I’ll ever get perfectly happy, and I don’t think I really care!

Another pair

Finished plaid
Remember that game we used to play on our blogs that went something like, “If I had to go to a deserted island and could only take 12 patterns” or some such thing?  Well, I don’t recall which patterns I chose back then, but Vogue 8929 would be on my list now!

I loved the first pair I made, and these are even better!

Taking the pattern down to a 10 made a nice difference in the fit.  I left the crotch the same and just changed the outside seams, since the inner seams had already been shaved down.  I could use the smallest size in the envelope and still have excess fabric on my legs.  Of course if I wanted leggings, I have another “take it to the deserted island” pattern for that.

The only other fit alterations I made were

  • Added two inches to the length to bring it down to the top of my shoes
  • Applied Peggy Sager’s dart alteration at the top of the leg to eliminate some fabric below the tush.  (She demonstrates this in several of her pants webinars.)  I’m not sure it’s right for everybody, but it helps my pants.

Contrast pocketThe fabric is a plaid from Hancock’s this season.  It’s very stretchy and certainly a synthetic blend.  It’s a beautiful fabric, though I’m not sure how it will hold up.  I thought it was gray when I purchased it, but in natural light it’s brown.  I had a remnant of the brown ponte from my recent skirt project and decided to use it in the pocket.

Despite being in the front, the pockets hold my phone quite handily.  This is the first pant I’ve ever had that would allow me to carry my phone in front and sit without removing it.  Somehow the pockets are low enough that the phone doesn’t interfere with my leg bending.

Who’d a thunk it?

I considered using the contrast for the entire inset, but decided that would be too much of a good thing.  Since the ponte had much less body than the plaid, I’m really glad I used a minimal amount.  I do like the bit that shows!

The plaid was not difficult to match, though I’m surprised it matches as well as it does.  With this subtle plaid I didn’t try very hard.

This goes into my wardrobe very nicely and matches several of my t-shirts.  At the beginning of the cooler weather, I bought several t-shirts to mix and match with my pants and skirts.  I’ve been wearing this combo all day with my eShrug-as-a-vest on top.

As I mentioned before, I don’t have any sort of qualms about wearing these pants with a top tucked in.  The elastic back is not very noticeable.

Back waistband

I might even put some pockets back there to hold my phone next time.

New pants!

Vogue 8929This could get serious.  These pants are some kind of perfect. Not perfectly perfect, but perfect enough for a first try.

Bluntly put, they are Vogue 8929’s pull-on old-lady pants. (I can say that.  I get the senior discount at Hancock’s now.)   My new pants are supremely comfortable and look great.  I love that they are pull-on but don’t have ruffly elastic to hide at the front.  In fact, I wore them with this tee tucked in.

This test pair was sewn from a stretch fabric that mimics denim, but I’m certain no cotton bolls were harmed in its production and I’ll never have to worry about fading. I did have to worry about iron temperature, and I suspect they’d be sweaty on a hot day.

Eh.

According to my measurements, I cut the size 12 not taking into account the stretch of the fabric.  I’m sure you could make this in a non-stretch woven if you sewed the size indicated by your measurements, especially if you checked for knee ease first. The hip of the size 12 is 40″ finished, giving me 2 1/2″ of ease.  For reference, when I draft my own pants, I only use 2″ of ease.

Got that?  They are big.

But I wasn’t surprised. I had read the finished measurements when I opened the envelope.   :rolleyes:

Before cutting fabric, I tissue-fit the pattern and made some small adjustments in the crotch fit, but didn’t do anything about the ease at that point.  When I sewed the pattern together and saw the jodhpurs created by the bulk of the pockets plus the excess circumference, I did a bit of editing.

Vogue 8929 view BHere’s the line drawing for view B so you can see what I’m talking about.  The insets and pockets are on the outer leg and were already sewn, serged, and top stitched by the time I decided that 40″ was too much of a good thing. Normally I would take excess along the outside seam, but I wanted to avoid narrowing the pockets, which are fabulous.  If you read the reviews, you’ll find that some have done that and came out ok.

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

Since the insets are the same for all the sizes, I ripped the inseams and crotch seam to recut the pants 1/4″ smaller along those interior seams.  That brought them down to the size you see in the photo.  Yes, the thighs are voluminous, but they are still nice to wear!

For next time (as soon as I publish this), I’ve recut the pattern on the size 10 line for a finished hip circumference of 38 1/2″.  That’s still an inch of ease and probably more than I need, but I’m gonna try it.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

Simplicity 1918, chapter 3

I just can’t keep my hands off this pattern!  This time, I narrowed the thigh area a bit and sewed with some stashed stretch corduroy.  I used the same front pockets as last time and left them very long to allow for shrinkage.  (I’ve tucked the hems under for today.)

I can assure you that my pants will shrink in length.

My laundry practices would make Susie Homemaker cry.

Stretch corduroy

When Craftsy had their $19.99 sale last weekend, I bought Angela Wolf’s Designer Jeans class and have been watching on my iPad while Mr H enjoys television.  The class is chock full of good ideas!  It inspired me to use two strands of thread and play around with my top stitching on my jeans-style back pockets.

Pocket

And on my belt loops!

Belt loop

My winter at-home uniform has become one of my McCall’s 6610 jeans or Simplicity 1918 pants with a tee topped with a vest or cardigan.  I’ve got wool socks and some farm and ranch boots to keep my feet warm.

It’s working!