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Three New Pairs of Pants…Tri-sers?

So over the course of a week, I made myself three pairs of skinny pants.

Way back in… APRIL!

(I am so far behind in blogging!)

Skinny-Pants

Three pairs of skinny pants. Same pattern, different fabrics.

I needed some more work pants for my part-time job at the fabric store and I decided I’d make some because 1) I hate pants shopping and 2) pants are easy to sew once you have a well-fitting pattern.

I’ve never really bothered to draft myself a custom pants sloper because I’ve always been able to find jeans that fit me if I search long enough in stores.

My biggest problem with ready-to-wear (RTW) trousers is the fit of the waistband. Most waistbands seem to be cut like funnels – hips and crotch curve might be perfect but the back waistband majorly gaps on me. (I have, however, found a couple of brands and specific style numbers in those brands that actually fit well, even in the waistband.)

So I pulled out Butterick pattern 5682, traced it in my size according to the size chart, and then compared it to two pairs (different brands) of store-bought skinny jeans that fit me really well.

Comparing-Ready-Made-with-Sewing-Pattern

I turned my RTW jeans inside-out and put one leg inside the other for easier comparison to the paper pattern.

I don’t remember all the exact changes I made, but the main differences between the RTW and paper pattern were the leg width, the height of the waistband (especially in the front), the back pocket size, and the crotch curve.

I needed to trim down the crotch curve – more noticeably at center back than front. If you can get the crotch curve right, that’s half the battle for fitting a pair of trousers!

Altered-Paper-Pattern

Pattern altered based on my store-bought jeans.

The pattern only included one pocket size, which meant that it was proportionally wrong for most of the sizes in the envelope. Proper pocket proportion and placement is important! (Afterall, you don’t want “gateway mom jeans” because of “dinosauric pockets”.)

So I reduced the pocket size to match my RTW skinnies and referred to the factory placement when making my own.

Pocket-Pattern-Alteration

New cutting and stitching lines drawn on pocket pattern piece.

With my pattern corrected well enough on paper, I pulled out some black metallic stretch denim I had. There was enough yardage to re-cut if I needed any major alterations, but I was fairly certain the fit would be close enough to the RTW jeans I like.

Black-Metallic-Stretch-Denim

This denim is super sparkly and is a solid silver on the back. I actually considered making them with the silver side for a while.

I decided to use some fun cotton fabric to line the front pockets. No one will ever see it but I know it’s there! =)

Pink-Panther-Pocket-Lining

The Pink Panther in my pockets! (I’ll be blogging another outfit with this fabric later.)

After a quick assembly and matching the details on my RTW pairs, I had a pretty good first pair.

Backview-in-Mirror

The initial look at the backside in the mirror revealed I needed to drop the waistband a little at center back, which I did after this photo was taken.

I ended up adding half an inch to the hem length on the pattern but the black pair is just long enough. I also curved the waistband a little more to prevent my next pairs from having the slight gap at center back that the black pair has.

Knowing that I never tuck my shirts in, especially when wearing skinny pants, I called the metallic black pair “good enough”…

Black-Skinny-Jeans

…and moved on to a second pair – this time in a floral print stretch jacquard:

Floral-Animal-Jacquard-Fabric

Floral print stretch jacquard fabric. I like the shiny yet subtle animal print weave of this jacquard, which is more noticeable on the back.

I carefully cut the fabric so the stripey-ness of the floral print would match across the legs and then broke up the print on my tush with intentionally unmatched pockets – something that will hardly ever be seen because of that untucked shirt thing, but still.

Back-Pockets

Intentionally unmatched back pockets.

Floral-Print-Skinny-Pants

Level print placement across both legs. And the surprise print matching on the inseam’s purple flower!

I still had one 3-inch metal fly zipper left, so I decided to make a third pair of skinny pants out of some textured stretch jacquard. (I love love love this fabric! You will be seeing it again because I bought it in 4 different colors.)

Stretch-Jacquard-Fabric

Teal stretch jacquard for skinny pants number three!

I didn’t do anything fun for the pockets on my floral print pants because the pants themselves where fun enough. I decided the teal pants needed interesting pockets though.

I had three good options in my cotton print stash – Tube map, tiny turtles, and bigger happy turtles. So I turned to Instagram/Twitter for a vote.

Turtle-Print-Pockets

Tiny turtles won the vote, so in my pockets they went!

My first try-on and I think I finally got the waistband curve exactly right! Third time’s a charm and all that. This pair of pants is definitely the most comfortable.

Mirror-Shot-of-Teal-Pants

Not-so-great mirror-selfie before I put a button on (the waistband is just pinned closed in this photo).

I did more topstitching detail on my teal pants than I did on the other two pairs. I also cut them out one layer of fabric at a time in order to keep the textured design evenly horizontal across each piece – typical making-things-overly-complicated-just-because-I-can mode of operation.

Topstitching-Detail

You can’t really see it because of the textured nature of the fabric, but I like how finished the topstitching makes them look. And see! horizontal texture matching across the inseam! No one will notice, but it makes me happy.

Here’s a back view of the finished teal pants. (After all the picture sorting and editing, I’m reeeally tired of looking at my butt!)

Back-of-Teal-Pants

This photo confirms what I suspected after wearing them a few times, I need to take a little out of the back yoke curve (see the weird wrinkle just under the waistband on the right?). Thankfully, that whole untucked shirt thing means no one will really see this, except in this photo.

Pair number four will be perfect – if I ever decide I need to make myself another! I went ahead and corrected the pattern just in case.

Teal-Jacquard-Skinny-Pants

Sneak peek of a button-up top I made soon after the pants.

I chose to mimic the look of the buttonholes on my RTW jeans. I made the loop by tracing around the shank of the jeans tack button and bringing it to a point. I used some embroidery/cross-stitch thread and just zig-zag stitched over it following the line I drew.

Faking-A-Jeans-Buttonhole

Faking a RTW jeans buttonhole without using a buttonhole setting on my machine.

I’ve been wearing all three pairs of skinny pants a lot for my retail job at the fabric store. The metallic black pair is a little too warm in the summer (all that metal retains body-heat and reflects it back) but it’s a nice basic without being boring because of the sparkle. The floral pair is just plain fun & trendy. And the teal pair is super comfortable and probably my favorite.

Skinny-Pants-without-Heels

While the skinny pants look great with heels, let’s face it, this is how I wear all of them most of the time. (Yes, yes, I do have 3 pairs of the same shoes in different colors.)

So anyway, I made some pants. Trousers. Whatever.

And it took me so long to blog them, that it seems everyone else in the online sewing community has now made and blogged their own in the meantime! Ahead, but behind all at the same time.

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Transferring Fitting Marks from Mockup to Pattern

I’ve had a couple requests for a tutorial of sorts about how to transfer the fitting marks from a mockup (aka muslin or toile) to the paper sewing pattern. So since I’m in the process of making my Easter dress for this year and the pattern needed a lot of tweaking to be what I want, it was the perfect time to take some photo examples. =)

I’m currently working at The Dallas Opera (helping to build fun 19th century costumes!), so I was able to have my coworker Traci help me fit my mockup during part of a lunch break. Really convenient since the pattern needed more work than I could easily fit on myself alone! Thanks, Traci!

Behold, the truly flattering (*sarcasm*) before & after fitting photos:

Before: Ick. Just a bad fit all around.
After: Lots of pins and Sharpie markings!

Mockups aren’t meant to look pretty. They are meant to be drawn all over and pinched and pinned and then cut up. This is why my fabric choice was a cheapy bedsheet – nothing pretty because I knew I would be throwing it away in the end. I never plan to save or use a mockup once it has served its purpose. If the pieces are big enough, I might cut it up and use the fabric for another mockup later (this fabric was actually left over from Camille’s wedding dress mockup).

2Marked-Up-Muslin-Mockup

Marked and pinned mockup after fitting.

There was a pinch taken out of the neckline to eliminate a gap. Tucks were taken out of the side front pieces for a better fit at the bust. Some of the flare was removed from the skirt. The princess seams were moved inward a bit and the neckline was widened slightly at the edges for a more pleasing shape (these adjustments were mainly made to match a photo of the dress I’m copying).

And here’s how I transferred all those marks to my pattern:

First step was to cut right on the new line for the princess seams in the front, cut off the sleeve following drawn armseye, and rip the stitches out of the shoulder seam – all so the mockup could be opened up and traced onto the paper pattern.

3New-Seamline-Cut

Mockup cut on new seamlines. Notice that it was only necessary to mark one side with new lines because I am (for the most part) symmetrical.

The cut mockup was placed on the center front piece and aligned with the pattern’s top line of the bust dart, shoulder seam, and center front. The new lines were traced onto the paper following the mockup at the neck, armseye, and down to top of dart.

4Transferring-New-Seams-to-Pattern

Mockup lined up on pattern for tracing new lines.

Then the mockup was shifted down to line up with the bottom line of the dart on the pattern and the rest of the new seam was traced.

5Changing-Seams-on-Pattern

New seamline ready for tracing onto paper pattern.

To eliminate the gapping neck in the front, I measured from the top safety pin to the edge of dart.

6a-Measuring-Amount-Pinched-from-Neckline

Measuring pinched amount at neckline.

I forgot to take one photo at this point (but finished alteration is seen in next couple of pictures). To remove that fabric from the pattern without changing the straight center front line (because it’s cut on a fold), I drew a line perpendicular to the neckline and down to a random point on the side seam.

Then the newly drawn line is cut almost all the way down to the side seam – only a tiny point is left attached. And the paper is overlapped the measured amount at the neck (in a V-shape) and taped.

7Neckline-Gap-Adjusted

Altered pattern piece with all mockup markings transferred.

8Adding-Seam-Allowance

Seam allowances are added following the new seam lines.

9Altered-Pattern-Piece

Final corrected pattern piece including seam allowances.

To add the new seamlines on the side front pattern piece, I needed to extend the paper so scraps were taped down the length of pattern.

10Extending-Pattern-Piece

Side front pattern piece with paper added to edge.

The mockup was lined up with the paper pattern and pinned down to the table (eventually, I plan to make my cutting table’s surface pinnable too!) and the front edge was traced.

I traced the new side seam (new because of the tuck taken out of the center of the piece) using a tracing wheel, but you can also use a pin to poke a line of holes through the seam and into the paper.

12Dots-Punched-in-Pattern

Dotted line on pattern made from tracing the mockup’s side seam with the tracing wheel. Seam allowances were added out from dotted line.

13Matching-Side-Seams

New skirt seam line matched on side front piece using center front pattern piece (seam allowance already included).

There were only a couple tiny tweaks to the back pattern pieces. I will adjust the center back seam in a final fitting and then insert my zipper accordingly. (It will probably be a bigger seam allowance.)

14Altered-Paper-Pattern

Corrected pattern with alterations made. That is one strangely curving side front piece – but it hangs straight when it’s on my body!

Altered patterns always look a little weird because they are no longer “standard”. Learn to trust your mockup markings and ignore the unusual look of the corrected pattern on paper and your real garment will fit properly in the end. (And you can always make a second mockup just to be sure!)

I hope this photo walk-through is helpful! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments of this post. =)

Now that my pattern is altered, my real Easter dress fabric (and underlining fabric) is cut and ready to assemble! (See the finished dress in this post.)

Linen-Fabric-&Underlining-Cut

Self-dyed linen in a pale orange – sort of a melon color.

No Foolin’ – I Need Feedback!

No joke, it’s April Fool’s Day and I need your “humerus” – measurement that is.

I’m working on my mock-up of the vintage wrap pattern I wrote about Friday, and I need some feedback from my female readers to make sure I make the most universal adjustment to the pattern.

I would like to take a casual poll to gather data on upper arm length (since arms are never included in general sewing measurement charts).

So grab a ruler and help me out! =)

Measure your upper arm from the shoulder joint to your inner elbow where your arm bends, like in this photo:

Then leave me a comment on this post or on Custom Style’s Facebook page with your measurement.

Thanks!  I greatly appreciate your help!

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