Beige Pants

Same pattern, cut out with the same modifications I used with the pink pants, and these came out larger – had to take in the sides 3/8″ at the top and from mid hip to hemline. Obviously the difference is the fabric in spite of the fact there’s no spandex in this fabric either….

The front has turned out fine, happy with that, but below the bum is a wee bit baggy. Not much I can do about that at this point – the pants may tighten up a bit with washing, although I prewashed the fabric. Sitting in them may also round out the backside some.

The pants are certainly wearable. 

This morning I dug out some navy cotton twill (no spandex) that I will wash tomorrow, as well as some prewashed beige cotton twill – both will get made into pants when I get back from Toronto (going to my niece’s wedding coming weekend). I also found a prewashed length of French navy blue light weight cotton/linen blend to use for a loose shirt. Once those garments are done, the pants with the stretched out spandex will go.

Tomorrow, I intend to interface the silk dupion I’ve had waiting to be made into a quilt. I’ll get that project started next.

Pink Pants

These pants were cut based on the modifications I made to my basic pattern in San Francisco – a small addition to the centre front crotch area, a 3/4″ drop in the front waist, and 1/4″ addition to the side seams because the fabric had no spandex.

This is a jeans pattern but I thought this wool/polyester fabric was a bit too “dressy” to turn into jeans so I left out all the top stitching, omitted the back pockets, and used a single seam for a neat hem.

Have to say they turned out pretty well – although everything that could go wrong did! I started by putting the zipper on the wrong side of the fly front, had to redo it, pockets went in fine as did the side seams, but I screwed up threading the embroidery machine and I had to take out a stitched (not yet cut, fortunately) buttonhole not once but twice. After rethreading the machine and doing a practice buttonhole (which I should have done in the first place) the third try was fine. Only then did I cut it open.

I’ve just finished cutting pants out of a beige fabric which I will sew tomorrow. The beige fabric I used for pants in San Francisco turned out to be dreadful – it’s a stretch twill and it now has a permanent stretch across the front where the spandex has failed – very visible. So once these new beige pants (with almost no stretch) are done, the SF pants will get tossed. 

That’s the same fabric I used for the light and dark blue pants I made earlier in the spring – they’re starting to show the same permanent stress marks across the front so they’ll have to be replaced. This time, I’ll use a cotton twill with no spandex in it. The original fabric wasn’t a cheap fabric, either. 

So lesson learned – stay away from fabrics with any amount of spandex – they may be intended to provide a comfortable fit with some give but the quality and durability is variable and pants take a good 5-6 hours of work. Too much time for such a limited result!

San Francisco 6

The sewing retreat ended around noon today. People who live closer to the west coast have already departed the city. I couldn’t make connections all the way to the Canadian east coast work so I don’t leave till 8:10 tomorrow morning. 

Had lunch with another gal who has to spend the night here, then we went fabric shopping. Linda wanted to purchase some, I was happy to tag along. 


Britex does have some lovely if expensive fabric. A week ago I saw this silk panel that reminded me of the paintings of Gustav Klimpt – the colors and detail are simply gorgeous. Each 60″x60″ panel was priced at $125. I thought it stunning but couldn’t think what I’d make with it – my present life style is more LandsEnd than Tiffany. So I walked away. I was hoping when I returned today it might have sold – nope, it was still there. Again, I looked at it but in the end I walked away – I had no idea what I would want to add to my wardrobe.

I stopped on the third floor to look at the petersham (a softer, more pliable version of grosgrain). I was expecting a few colours – I thought I’d pick up a yard of a couple – forget that! The adjacent shelves held rows of shades from white through grey and beige to black. With no specific project in mind it was impossible to choose any.  I left Britex empty handed this time which is just as well since there is no room in my suitcase for one more item.

I love this window display. It caught my attention two years ago. It’s still there. It’s a clothing store next door to Britex. There are garments in a window further along but three of the windows are filled floor to ceiling with these antique machines. Wonder where they’ve found so many.

I can’t imagine walking in anything like these shoes;

Or these.


The Apple Store is wide open to the street on this sunny afternoon. The Apple people in their green jerseys are just waiting there to help you. I had no questions or concerns today so we walked on by. I wonder whether there are any other Apple stores so easily accessible.

I have had a great week, the women were all experienced sewers, all were deeply involved in learning more about fitting and sewing technique. Sandra Betzina is a whiz at fitting. I followed her most of the morning just watching as she spotted adjustments that people could make to their garment muslins then grab a pen and make the corresponding changes to the paper patterns – 3/8″ here, 1/2″ there, opening it out, taking it in. Several modifications to each pattern. At this point in the week those muslins were fitting pretty well.

An early night tonight. I have to be ready for the Airport Shuttle which is picking me up at 5:45 in the morning. I haven’t looked at Halifax weather all week. Hope it’s not snowing when I get back!

Pants #4

I spent all weekend working on Pants #3 and #4 using what I’d learned from the two failures from last week. Same two fabrics – a 20% stretch cotton/polyester denim/twill in a mid-blue and a navy.

This time I constructed the pants front first and made sure I put the front waistband on when I’d finished the fly and pockets! So the side seams lined up as they should have.

Pants #4 – Front

I made the pockets smaller (shorter) and positioned them higher – closer to the yoke seam. I didn’t bother decorating the pockets, just topstitched the top hem. They’re now a better size for my bum and sitting  better.

Pants #4 – Back

The side seams (and inseams) are straight.

Pants #4 – Side

This fabric is actually quite difficult to work with. Because of the amount of stretch I needed the pants to be close fitting – so there is no escaping some wrinkles. However, I’ve had them on since early this morning and they are snug but very comfortable – the back waist stays in place when I sit (a huge plus – my renovated jeans all pull down in back) so the back crotch must be long enough and whatever curvature I left on the side seams at the top of the back seems to hold the pants up over my hips.

I’d prewashed the fabric in warm water (which is what I use for all my washing) and it “shrunk”a bit when I steam pressed it. However, it loosens as I’m wearing the pants. Pants #3 needed washing after two days – I’m hoping they’ll tighten up after they’re laundered. Also, I have no idea whether the fabric will shrink in length (no stretch along the length) so although the pants look a wee bit long I made them my standard 27 1/2” inseam.

That’s it for pants right now. I have pant lengths of khaki and white fabric which are in my take to San Francisco pile – I’ll make up both pairs during the sewing retreat there consulting with Sandra Betzina about refinements with fitting. What these two pair (#3 and #4) have accomplished is a reshaping of the crotch and legs by removing excess fabric from the side and inseams rather than using the mid-back dart and they’ve turned out reasonably well.

And as I’ve said, they’re comfortable.

Pants #3 – Back

Pants #3 – Front

Pants #3 – Side

Jeans #2

Back #1

Back #2

OK. Not impossible. I took a deep breath and unstitched the waistband (which I’d put on upside down). Turned it around, stitched it back on. Added the waistband facing and stitched it down.

I did it, not to salvage the pants – there are problems with how the back of the legs is hanging (because of the fact that the side seams are out by 2″, right?). It’s the bum I was interested in and I can see it’s not bad (click on the images to see the fit more clearly). Had I done the construction correctly, the back would be fine – except for the pockets which are too low – for me, the pockets have to be almost on the yoke seam and not 2″ below which they are (which means I have to attach the yoke before putting the pockets on the back). If raised, the point of the pocket would be in a better location.

There’s also a problem in the front –

Pants Front

the front waistline has to be dropped half an inch – with it that bit too long, the front crotch has “smiles” – which is something I definitely don’t want. (Part of the “smiles” is because I’ve been sitting in them while writing this – but I will shorten the front rise that 1/2″ in the next pair).

Also I’m rethinking adding 1/4″ to each side seam – having had the pants on for 15 minutes I think the legs may actually be fine as they are (given the 20% stretch in the fabric).

Other than that, the pants aren’t too bad. They have served well for a muslin. Nevertheless, they’re still going into the “send to Value Village” pile – but the NEXT pair will be PERFECT! Really.

Weekend Failures

Two Failed Sewing Projects

I’ve been working at trying to get pants to fit me for a long time. I made my last pair last winter (I’m actually wearing them at the moment). Since then my waist has expanded a bit, my bum is still many sizes smaller, my inseam hasn’t changed… So instead of adapting my old pattern I decided to try a new Jeans pattern. I chose the Jalie 2908 – Women’s Stretch Jeans (I’d read good reviews).

I laid out the pattern pieces, saw I needed a size Z at the waist, a size U at the hips and a size R for the inseam. So I traced the pattern, making the adjustments between sizes using my trusty French curve, cut out the pattern pieces, cut out the light blue fabric (which I’d bought on sale and was treating as muslin) and put the pants together.

For me, the trouble with pants is I can’t baste them together and have any idea whether they fit – I have to put in the fly zipper, the pockets, add the waistband, even hem them (because the legs don’t hang correctly even pinned at the correct length) – in other words make the pants – before I know whether the pattern works or not.

I was using a stretch denim twill (20% stretch called for in the pattern) and the resulting pants were just ill-fitting! I didn’t bother with buttonholes in the waistband (all that was left to do) – I put the pants in the “off to Value Village” pile. (I will try the pattern again but probably not before the summer.)

That was Saturday.

Sunday, I went back to my Sandra Betzina Jeans pattern (V7608), redrafted the back panel yet again – last version had a long dart down the centre back of the leg from just under the bum to the top of the knee. I wanted to remove that excess fabric, instead, from the side seam and the inseam. Once I had the pattern retraced (with adjustments) I cut out my darker blue stretch denim/twill and constructed the pants.

I was doing a great job – put the decorative stitching on the pockets, attached them to the back panels, added the back yoke/waist. Attached front pockets and fly – both without a hitch. Time to join front and back – and here’s where I went disastrously wrong. I forgot to attach the front waistband before doing anything else!

I had stitched the front crotch so putting in the zipper was easier; I now stitched the back crotch (you get a slightly better fit if you sew the inseams first, then the crotch seam but in my head I was working on a second muslin and decided ease of inserting zipper trumped finessing the fit). I sewed the inseams, and the side seams – without the front waistband in place. Even though the front side seam was 2″ shorter than the back side seam (I trimmed away the excess on the back) then I stupidly serged both side seams – without questioning why the length difference. It was only when I reached to attach the waistband that I saw my mistake.

I stopped sewing. I made a quick trip to the fabric store to pick up more of both blue stretch denim/twills since I still had valid sale coupons and the fabrics were themselves still on sale. Planning on starting over – paying careful attention to what I am doing!

Today, I tried removing the “waistband” portion of the back yoke on the darker blue pants, tried adding a full waistband – only to see that I’d attached the waistband upside down! Not meant to be.

The pants would have fit quite well had I assembled them correctly. What I did learn is that although the legs fit not badly, I probably should add 1/4″ to side seam from the hip to the knee – in other words, take a bit less off the sides (I can always take them in – can’t let them out). These legs fit rather snugly.

So taking a deep breath, I’ve washed and pressed the new fabric and am ready to start over. Planning to assemble the parts in the right order this time.

Small Zippered Bags – Again

Three Different Fabrics

I made 40 small zippered bags before Christmas. During the holiday season I gave most of them away. Two days ago I went to my bag stash to pick out one to give a friend and realized I was down to just four bags. Time to make more!

Yesterday, I bought three half-meter pieces of bright fabric, raided my quilting fabric for a length I didn’t like any more to use as lining, cut batting from a large piece left over from a recent quilt, cut lengths of zipper tape, and 2 1/2″ pieces of grosgrain ribbon for a small tab on the side. An hour later I was set to go into business.

This morning I went into production – three hours later I had eighteen 6″ x 8″ bright zippered bags. 

I’m getting organized at this mass production thing – I resisted the temptation to do all the steps on individual bags; I completed each production step on all eighteen bags before moving on to the next. The whole job went quickly.

However most of my sewing/quilting is focused on unique constructions so what I’ve learned from bag production line isn’t much help for the other sewing I do.