Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Those Elusive Four-Leaf Clovers


If this were a fashion blogger's outfit post, it'd be considered pretty boring: neutral-colored slim-fit trousers, countered with a more intense color near the face and a lace collar for interest. But I'm not a fashion blogger, and this standard work outfit is exciting because it's entirely me-made! Okay, I didn't crochet the lace collar, but still, it's exciting to have made some very sensible basics.

I need to make some new underthings that don't leave lines under my clothes!

Despite having made successful slim-fit pants before, it's been long enough that I've re-built up all my previous anxiety about fitting my bottom half. My orange trousers were wide-legged enough that I wasn't super concerned, and besides, there was no fly-front. Somehow, the combination of an unmodifiable center front seam and my weirdly shaped legs makes me lose all confidence. Oh, and let's throw in an untested pattern for good measure! Better yet, let's make it a pattern that's notorious for funky fit and requiring multiple muslins, the Colette Clovers. And the icing on the cake, of course, is messing with the pattern by throwing in a fly front.

Not that you can really tell it's a fly front, even close-up -- I did that good a job on thread-matching for the topstitching.

I've only ever made one Colette pattern before, and that was the free Sorbetto tank; that simple top required so many changes that I pretty much gave up on Colette patterns as being drafted for an entirely different body type, hence my refusal to buy the Laurel (plus I already had a shift dress pattern in the stash). Still, I figured pants might not be as bad, plus the pattern was free (generously gifted to me by Ms. McCall of Brown Paper Pattern)! In the end, I ended up not making as many changes as I was afraid I would need to. These pants aren't perfect, but they're not bad for a wearable muslin. Here's my list of alterations:

  • I made them fly-front instead of side zipper pants, using pattern pieces and directions from McCall's 6610.
  • Knowing how bubbly the darts would be in this unpressable mystery fabric, I omitted them and took out the difference from the center back seam instead. I think it worked pretty well, and I'm now pretty convinced that I don't ever need darts again. 
  • I majorly smoothed out the hip curve, as they were slightly ridiculous. It was like bloomers or jodhpurs or something similar. 
  • I also took out a bunch of width from the inseams, up to 1.5 inches on both the front and the back, tapering to nothing at the knee. 
  • I took in the back side seams by about 1.5 inches at the mid thigh, tapering to nothing at the knees. Essentially, my back side seam is just a straight line down from the waist to the knee. 
  • The curve of the waistband just didn't look right to me, plus it was made for the side zipper, so I subbed in the Sewaholic Thurlow trouser waistband. I felt slightly wrong, mixing my indie pattern company pieces, but the Thurlow waistband worked just beautifully. I faced it with a little bit of this nautical print Japanese cotton that I got in Birmingham on my UK trip a couple years ago, because it matched the seam binding so nicely. 
Pretty insides! 


I still think the back fit needs work, since there are all these wrinkles (fish-eye dart adjustment, maybe?), and the grainline is off on the front because of all my adjustments. The front under-crotch is slightly baggy too, but all in all it's not worse than any of my RTW pants. Hah! now there's a dubious compliment if there ever was one! I thought the whole point of sewing was to get better than RTW fit. Oh well. I guess the trick is to psych myself up for another pair before too much time goes by, that way I can really work on the fit while things are fresh in my mind.

Sometimes the back looks okay, depending on how I'm standing...
...and sometimes it's drag line city. Yikes. 
At least the back waistband actually fits! No plumber's crack or gaping when I bend over.  

As for the top, it's made from sweater knit rescued from my first failed Drape Drape top, simply re-cut into a cap-sleeve fitted top using my knit tee block. Since the sweater knit was so sproingy and unpressable, I decided against my standard knit neckband and instead finished it with some leftover rayon bias tape. It was looking pretty boring, though, so I added the lace collar at Mr. Cation's recommendation. I'm finally getting with the trend of collared everything!

I just now realized while looking at this picture that the cutouts on the collar are little stars!
Rayon bias tape made from the remnants of this dress' fabric, cotton crochet lace collar whipstitched on by hand. 

Summary:
Fabric: The remaining 1.5 yards of this stretchy gray-brown plaid I had left after making my Mad Men dress. They work beautifully for these pants since they've got excellent stretch and recovery, while still being quite stable. I used As a result, these pants are uber comfortable. The sweater knit is probably acrylic, about a yard.
Notions: 3.5" metal jeans zipper, hooks and eyes and a metal snap for the fly front closure, lots of seam binding. The lace collar is from Wholeport.com. They don't seem to have this style anymore, but there are some other cute ones!
Hours: The top took about an hour, the pants were more like 10+. I lose track when things take more than a few days to make.
Will you make it again? I theoretically want to, in order to fix the fit! There's so much potential here, but after a certain point you can't change the wearable muslin anymore because you've run out of seam allowance and/or patience. And the knit tee block I've already used a gazillion times, so that's a for sure.
Total cost: The whole outfit was less than ten dollars ($2 for the collar, $2 for the sweater knit, $5 for the pants, and miscellaneous other notions)
Final thoughts: I can't think of anything else to say that I haven't already, but generally I like it? These are the kind of separates that are so basic that it's hard to drum up too much excitement. I'm pretty pleased to use up more stash fabric, though...the pants are even stretchy, so while they may not be knit, per se, they're still kind of in the vein of the month's challenge??

I have to remind myself that most people don't look at me and think about the crotch curve adjustments I should have made. Nope, that's just me, sneakily staring at people's nether regions while trying to figure out how their pants fit. 

I think it's funny that these pants are called Clovers, since three-leafed versions abound (pretty good fit, definitely acceptable), but the four-leafed version (looks absolutely amazing and as drag-line free as the the modeled photos on the site) is pretty rare. Okay, that's a pretty belabored and cheesy metaphor. The question now is, do I keep working on this pattern, or try tracing my own from pants that already fit me? When I compared the crotch curve on the Clovers to my favorite RTW pants, they were pretty drastically different. The Clovers look more like the "official" crotch curve pictures in all the sewing books I own (less pronounced J in front, almost an L in the back), but I like the less-curved crotch curve fit of my RTW pants. Maybe I just don't know how pants should fit? Anyway, I bought myself the Craftsy Jeanius course to copy my favorite jeans since it was on sale last weekend, but I know myself and I don't think I have the patience/stamina/meticulousness required for Kenneth King's couturier directions. I think I'll give the haphazard pinpricking method a try first...

36 comments:

  1. Very cute!

    It looks as if you've taken out too much from the back inseam. You might want to review Kathleen Fasanella's pants-fitting series: there are a bunch of links at the bottom of the post below.

    http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/anatomy_of_a_camel_toe_pt1/

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    1. Thanks for the link! I'll definitely check it out.

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  2. Lovely outfit. I just love the top. The lace addition is perfect.

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    1. Every once in a while, Mr. Cation makes an absolutely inspired suggestion.

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  3. I love your top! The collar is sweet and makes a plain top special. =)

    I'm the same way with pants, only I usually just live with the store bought ones because I'm lazy. I agree with Alison, looks like you took a little too much out of the back crotch length - that's what's causing all the drag lines. Here's a photo from one of my books about how body measurements correspond to pants pattern pieces.

    ~ Brooke

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    1. Hmmm, I'm going to have to do some measuring and comparing now!

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  4. I don't think they turned out too bad! I agree with Alison though, definitely check out that link. :-) I love the little collar, too cute! :-)

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    1. Thanks! I think they're okay, just not quite as spectacular as I was hoping for...I'll definitely be doing more research on pants fitting!

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  5. I love your pants! Really good attention to details. I would sew them again, just use the scientific method: trial and error!

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    1. Hahaha yes, that's totally what I'm all about :)

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  6. The pants look pretty good! I think that when trying to develop and fit a pants pattern doing as good as RTW is a big step. Like, I wish I could get to that step. I'm about to start on my third pair of pants (Burda, I'm also afraid of Colette's sizing), and I'm hoping I can get it right this time! Anyway, your top is perfect, I just love the navy and lace.

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    1. On second thought, I would say these pants are a step above RTW because the waistband doesn't gap in the back. But you're right, indistinguishable from RTW is nothing to sneeze at!

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  7. Well done! They look miles better than any of my 3 or 4 muslins, I'm so glad that pattern was useful! I have had the most luck with RTW copy trousers, so I say use the crotch curve that you know you like. Fiddling with crotches is just as uncomfortable as it sounds, if you ask me!

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    1. Hahaha, Sandra! See, this is wear the clover pattern went to!

      Cindy, personally, I think reaching equality with RTW is a big step for trying to fit pants!!

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    2. Thanks for letting me have your copy, Sandra! I think I'll be trying the copying method next, so hopefully that goes more smoothly!

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  8. Love it, love everything about it. I'd love to do some pants someday- I've got no waist, large thighs, and skinny calves, (also, no butt) so RTW pants are SO hard to find. I'm not quite up to the task yet, but yours are great!

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    1. You can do it! It's not necessarily difficult, just time-consuming to fit.

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  9. I agree with above, it's not the case of taking out fabric but adding it back in. You need to add it back in at the point the drag lines originate from. I wish I had my copy of Sewing Pants That Fit at work, I'd look up the solution for you. I can't remember but I know it's not a fish-eye dart situation. Otherwise, any non-sewer wouldn't know the difference!

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    1. After taking a look at lots of pants fitting articles/sites, I think I might actually need a knock-knee alteration, and definitely not a fish-eye dart. Thanks for the advice!

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  10. I think you look great. The trousers don't look too bad at all. Better than what I could do. The problem with trousers are all the adjustments required so that they fit perfectly. You've done a fine job.

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    1. Thanks for your reassuring words :) I think my problem is that I change multiple things at once, so I don't know what adjustment specifically causes what change...

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  11. Love the whole outfit. I reckon it's cake with icing on the top!

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    1. Nice analogy! Lace is definitely icing!

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  12. Very cute pants - and such a great length.

    If your pants are bunching up under your butt, you may wish to take our some fabric from the centre back of each back pant piece, rather than the side seams. I recently took a class (The Palmer/Pletch Fit for Real People), and the difference is amazing! If you have the back pattern piece lying flat, fold a pleat from waist to hem (maybe follow the grainline to keep it straight) to take out the excess.

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    1. Thanks for your advice! I'm going to have to play around with some muslin and try out all these changes and see what effect they have for sure.

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  13. Love the outfit it looks hella comfy, I'd love to have that complete outfit - you know I love collars!!!

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    1. Collars are definitely something I wouldn't have given a second thought to last year, but your collared dresses are so cute!

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  14. The inside finish of the Clovers and the top is so lovely! Fancy!

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    1. Thanks! Although I guess if I cared enough, I would've stopped to change thread colors to match the seam binding...

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  15. I think these look fab. I too am scared of the Clover because they seem so difficult to fit (and I don't have "standard fit" legs :)), and I've never made trousers/pants before at all - so they don't seem like a good place to start. But they are a style I like to wear... so... I'll probably put them off for a while longer.

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    1. Yeah, I was scared of Clovers too, and I actually wouldn't recommend them as a starting point, even though these turned out okay.

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  16. they look great! love the collar. I attached one to cardi that my great grandma had made....and i lost the cardigan....to this day im devastated!
    The pants lok great and i love the contrast on the inside!

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    1. Oh no! That's so sad! I need to try a lace collar on a cardigan now...I still have one more set somewhere!

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  17. This is a lovely and elegant outfit. I'm amazed by anyone who makes pants, I haven't gone there yet (although I will, one day)and these look perfectly acceptable! Now to the next version...

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  18. Trousers are tricky, and yours are, as you say, nicely 3 leaf and make a terrific work outfit - in RTW terms they are a good fit!. There is so much excellent fitting advice here, but I wonder if some of the issues are to do with the stretchiness of the fabric. Stretch wovens are notoriously difficult to fit in trousers because you have to make them too small in the direction of stretch when you first put them on, as they increase in size with wear. Any fitting changes you make for this pair, in this fabric, may not apply to the next pair in a different stretch woven fabric - particularly in the backside and the back of the thigh, where they are stretched by sitting. Stabilising the seams with selvage or cotton tape can help a little bit, but basically, unless the stretch factor is tiny, you will have excess width of fabric at the back after wear regardless of the fitting excellence - and you can see this in any RTW pair with more than 3%lycra. You are very hard on yourself! (The length adjustments are less changeable, which I think is why it is generally recommended to alter length first when you are fitting)

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  19. "I have to remind myself that most people don't look at me and think about the crotch curve adjustments I should have made. Nope, that's just me, sneakily staring at people's nether regions while trying to figure out how their pants fit."

    Me, too. : )

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.