Pattern Alterations Class - Just Pants Me!

I attended the third session of this series on Saturday, March 10 -- this is the class I have needed and waited for since the beginning!

I've always had problems finding pants that fit well . . . I can usually find something that will fit okay in the hip, but then the waist is usually much too big and the legs are much too long, and the crotch ends up midway to my knees. Or if I find a petite size that fits proportionally in the waist and hip, then the legs are short and I end up wearing "high-waters". I made some shorts a number of years ago, but they were the kind that have an elastic or drawstring waist, not fitted. The few attempts I made at fitted pants failed miserably.

So I was really excited and anxious to get to class on Saturday. I actually found what I thought was a simple pants pattern -- only 2 pieces, a front and a back, no real waistband and a simple side zipper. The pattern included a skirt and jacket, and best of all, the package contained the full range of sizes for all my measurements, 10-18 (Simplicity pattern #3962, from the Threads magazine collection & American Sewing Guild).

So I was ready to make some pants!

We started out taking our measurements, just as we had done for the skirt and jacket classes, then compared our measurements to the patterns. The key measurement this time was the crotch length, and as it turned out, I needed to shorten the pattern by about 4 inches.

For some reason, I kept adding my fractions incorrectly; at one point I calculated a waist measurement of 37 inches . . . which was not even close! So instead of doing the math in my head, I needed to use the calculator function on my cell phone. Finally, I had the correct adjustments calculated and transferred to the pattern pieces, and proceeded to cut out the muslin pieces to begin sewing. Then I really messed up -- I did my stay-stitching and darts okay, but when I was supposed to sew the inseam of a front to a back, I sewed the two backs together and the two fronts together. I had written "back" on the two back pieces, otherwise I wouldn't have realized this until much later . . . and I had been so careful (I thought) to match the front to the back, and even the notches lined up perfectly! . . . oh well. I had to rip those seams out (with expert help from our instructor) then I finally stitched the correct pieces together. I sewed the next seam correctly, too -- joining the left and right sides together in the center -- so now I thought I was on a roll.

I turned the pants right side out to decide which was the left, to pretend I was putting in a zipper before sewing the side seams, which, again should have been sewn matching a front to a back. And again, somehow, I managed to sew the two front pieces to each other and had most of the backs sewn together when our instructor stopped me . . . I felt like such an idiot! I did it again! If I was at home, I would have walked away and taken a break for a few hours . . . but we were running out of class time and all these mistakes were costing me time for any further adjustments. I really do know how to sew seams together correctly, but you wouldn't have guessed it by my performance in class. So we ripped those seams apart and then carefully matched the seams properly . . . but instead of leaving the zipper opening on the left, I did it on the right. <sigh>

Finally, it was time to try on the finished muslin pants to see how well we adjusted the patterns . . . and, of course, I put them on backwards.

Once I got them turned around the right way, it turned out they needed no further alterations. All my work on adjusting the pattern was correct . . . even if my sewing was substandard for the day. So at least this story has a happy ending. And, when I tried them on at home a few days later, they still fit.

Now that I have a pattern that will fit me, I have to make a real pair of pants, right? While I was still at the fabric store, I bought some linen-look fabric and matching lining, in a nice chocolate brown -- or so I thought. When I got home and was reviewing my sales slip, it turns out the color is actually called "Potting Soil" . . . at first I thought there must have been some mistake . . . who on earth would label a garment fabric with that kind of name? From now on I'm referring to this project as my "dirt pants". Seems appropriate, after all the problems I had making the practice piece.

Anyway, I finally learned how to "fix" a pattern so that pants will actually fit me, which is what I really wanted to get out of this class. I also learned how to fix my "problem" stretch corduroy jeans -- I need to take them in at the waist by making some darts in the back. I think I also learned that I shouldn't try to take a class after 3pm . . . that's not the peak brain-power time of the day for me, especially without my mid-afternoon snack or a jolt of caffeine.

Or maybe it's just okay to make all the mistakes in class, so that everything goes perfectly fine at home.

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