Friday, June 02, 2017

Oh Pants!

In my ongoing quest to fit the body I have (rather than the one the media tells me I should have) I've been trying to collect a suite of basic block patterns that can be used in several helpful ways:

  • To make basic tops, tunics, dresses and pants in both woven and knitted fabrics.
  • To adjust commercial patterns quickly for fit, especially in the shoulders and arms.
  • To hack into new designs that I know will fit without making a muslin first.

Unlike a sloper, these blocks include some wearing ease and 5/8" seam allowances. I currently have a front, back and sleeve for a set-in sleeve top for wovens, another for knits (which has a little less ease in the bust and sleeve), a shoulder princess for knits, knit pants and now woven pants. I'm still working on the raglan sleeve top for knits and don't yet have an armscye princess or a proper darted bodice. Notice I never mentioned a skirt? I'm right off skirts at the moment because I find them uncomfortable and shifty on me. I'd rather wear garments that hang from the shoulders or pants that can't ride up on my (lack of) waist.

The pants that are most comfortable for me are either stretchy or loose and have an elastic waist that comes at least above my hip bones or a bit higher. That puts them about at my belly button. If they don't come over my hips enough then they have nothing to hold them up! This is one of the reasons I am currently in hate with ready-to-wear which thinks that everyone has a 7" pant rise and I need 10" or even more depending on the stretch factor or lack thereof.

Which brings me to my latest makes. This is my Granola Vest/Top and Pants:

The fabric is (I think) a linen/cotton blend in a woven-in pattern of brown and white:

Weavers would recognise this as colour-and-weave, alternating light and dark threads in a way that mimics a twill but is actually mostly plain weave. It has a nice soft but rustic hand which is why I called it "granola"! Also wrinkles a lot but I love linen too much to care. Presses perfectly anyhow. The top is based on a shirt that I've made before but I got very cranky after I was nearly finished sewing it and discovered that the pattern didn't include enough of an overlap for the button plackets! Grrr... It's my own fault since I made it but it's a little tight in the bust even though I put the buttons and buttonholes as close to the centre as possible. However I could have spaced them a bit better with one button right at the bust - you can see it pulling a little. It's marginally improved without a t-shirt underneath. I didn't have very much fabric so the pockets are one-layer and top-stitched but you can't even see the stitching because I matched the thread to the fabric. The pants have similar pockets as well and I just managed to squeeze them in with a tiny gusset in the back crotch. Not bad for only 2 metres of fabric, huh?

So. The pants. This is my new woven pants block which was a mashup of an old pair of ready-to-wear that I love and an older Vogue pattern to help with the crotch curve. I still had to tweak it a bit on the pants themselves but it was pretty close for a first try. Here's some (brave) photos to show you what I mean. I apologise for the blurriness in a couple of them.

The above rear photo was taken before I did a wee bit of scooping on the back crotch. I hope you can see the difference in the after:

They definitely feel better. The insides don't look as neat as they did before (thank you, loose fraying weave) but they look good on the outside and that's what counts, right? And yes, I transferred everything back to the pattern. Including moving the waist up about 1/2" higher which I wasn't able to fix on the real thing. Good to go for next time though. That would, I think, eliminate the final remaining wrinkles below the back crotch.

This was the book that was invaluable in helping me get this fit:

The styles and photos therein are somewhat dated now but the information remains the absolute best. These people have fitted pants on every different body shape and it's lovely to see so many of them in here without apology or embarrassment. Yay! Highly recommended.

I still have 2 more tunic/pinafore/apron/jumper/tops to show you. Wish I had a good name for these overlayers that I wear all the time. Some are wearable as summer tops on their own but others need to have a t-shirt underneath - like the one in the final photo above that I've bunched up over my waist! Here's what it normally looks like:

Sorry that the t-shirt is almost the same making it hard to see. The fabric is a poly/lycra rib. The second top is in this really cool black wrinkled poly/lycra woven. I've lightened it up so you can see the texture and the cool selvedges that I used on the front seam.

This also illustrates the difference a little stretch makes - this is the same basic pattern as my Granola top above. And I did not notice the pattern error on the front where it was actually narrower than the back. Fixed it now! Sheesh.

What's next in the sewing queue? You'll have to wait and see. And there's a new sweater on the needles too.


Martha said...

Wow! You've been quite productive. And, yes, pants are the never-ending quest for me. I tend to like the fit you describe, sometimes even achieved in a fitted pant. I like your ensembles quite a lot. Thanks for sharing. I am a big fan of brown - wish I could see that fabric in real life.

Louisa said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Martha! You are the best at well-fitting woven pants! I mostly wear knit pants which seems to cooperate better with the midsection "squish". But sometimes loose is more comfortable especially when it (finally) gets warm.

Anonymous said...

Love your Granola Vest/Top and Pants – fabric, design, everything. Looks so cool for hot weather. And chic! Love the fabric of your fringed top.
Love also your idea for your wardrobe of pattern pieces – very smart. Pants – the ongoing conundrum. A friend just gave me some linen pants she no longer wore and they fit like a dream. I will make a pattern from them.
Vancouver Barbara

Sharon in Surrey said...

I do agree - the search for well fitting clothes is never-ending. I realized early that I'd have to roll or chop 3" off the waistband of every pair I would ever own unless I learned to make them myself. And Tops?? My great-granny gave me her bust instead of her diamonds dammit!!
Good for you for knowing what you like & investing in patterns that give it to you. I don't even want to think about all the money I spent before I realized I could do that.

Heather said...

You are such an inspiration to me! I love your outfits: funky, comfy, and fitting beautifully. I have found that, contrary to what I had expected, that over the last few years the weight of my hips and thighs seems to have moved up rather than down. Fitting is definitely a challenge but you give me the confidence that it can be done.

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

OH PANTS is right. Long gone are the days of whipping up a pair of Vogue pants with nothing to do but shorten them. You give me hope! You really did nail the fit in the booty and crotch areas.

I've been doing similar pockets. For me it's the flapping that's annoying. True, the top stitching doesn't work for every pattern, but I just did this technique on the Kalle shirt dress and I quite like it!

You say tomato...I say tunic, LOL. Yep...I call this silhouette a tunic style and I'm also becoming quite fond of this silhouette. It's forgiving.

I'm curious where you do most of your fabric shopping.

Louisa said...

Oh you darlings are all so encouraging! Thanks so much.

Sue, Dressew is hands-down my favourite fabric/notions/buttons store. I can actually walk there and you never know what treasures you'll find. But I'm not exclusive if I can find what I want at a reasonable price elsewhere. I love to stop in Portland too if we're going by on vacation. There are several great stores there. Though not so much right now until they get rid of you-know-who and the exchange rate perks up.

Heather, we obviously all wear our padding in different places! My booty has definitely slipped down under over the last while though. Hard to believe I weighed only 100 lb before I had kids! I have tiny bones under there somewhere.

Sharon, you need to give me the 3" you have to chop off! We can share. Heh! Just like I can share the 2" worth of sleeves I always need to shorten, right?

Barbara, by all means trace your good-fitting pair. It might not be perfect the first time around but it will get you so much closer than anything else.

pao said...

Such a brave lass showing off her bum. I like the uniform you've created for yourself. My kind of style. And pants! I just make them drop crotch and then there's no worries, they always "fit."