Monday, November 4, 2013

The Quest for Perfect Pants: Achievement Unlocked!


As you may know, I've been taking classes at Canada College's fashion department this semester, including Pants Drafting with Lynda Maynard. I also had a short one-month Pants Construction class with her, and both of those classes finished up last week. I figured that by learning to draft a pants pattern to perfectly fit me, and then learning the techniques to make those pants, I would finally be able to make a pair of skinny trousers or jeans to my satisfaction. Well, the final project for both classes was supposed to be a pair of pants, which would make sense, but here's the catch: if I were just in the Pants Drafting class, my final garment would need to be perfectly fitted, but not made perfectly; if I were just in the Pants Construction class, my final garment would need to be made perfectly, but not perfectly fitted. Aaaaannnd of course I'm in both, so my final garment needed to be both perfectly fitted and perfectly constructed. Challenge accepted!



I wanted to make a pair of basic black skinny pants that would be nice enough to wear to work. I already have one secondhand pair that I wear every laundry rotation, so I figured I could use another, me-made pair. I made up a skinny pants draft, sewed it up in regular cotton muslin, and was pretty excited...until I sewed it up in a fabric with spandex in it. They were huge!!! As one lady in class said (of her own attempts to sew stretch fabric), it was like a tent meeting the saggy baggy elephant. Lesson learned: sew up your muslin in a comparable fabric. As Lynda later told us in class, "If you're going to make a paper garment, then go ahead and fit it in paper. But if you're planning to make a fabric garment, fit it in fabric!" Thankfully, the fabric I had used was a cheap poly that I had thrifted last year for the express purpose of making a (hopefully) wearable muslin, so it wasn't a huge loss, even if it was a nice emerald color. I pinned and marked it up, transferred my changes to the paper pattern, then went out and bought a different stretch denim for my final project. I may go back and fix the emerald pants at some point, but honestly, it's a pretty nasty poly. 

By the time I buckled down for the actual pants-sewing, it was already 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon; the last class was Monday evening, but I had work all day Monday. Because of that, I opted not to do a yoke, back pockets, or flat-felling on the inseam...in fact, if it weren't required, I probably wouldn't have done front pockets or a fly front either! Cutting all the pieces went fairly quickly, but for some reason the fly front gave me lots of trouble. Lynda had had us do fly front samples earlier in the class, but they all opened to the left, and I like mine to open from the right, so when I referred back to my samples I kept stitching things on backward or to the wrong side. I probably wasted an hour at least in fiddling with the fly front. I think I'm going to go back and redo a set of samples that open to the right, just so that this doesn't happen again. I never want to have to pick bar tacks out again!

Thankfully, the multiple re-dos don't show on the finished pants. Also, a better look at the flocked brocade pattern.
Pretty insides!

After the fly front fiasco, though, everything else went smoothly. It's amazing how fast sewing pants can go when you don't have to stop and fit with every seam you sew. I did have to stop when I was almost done so that I could draft a contour waistband, and by the time I sewed that on it was past 1 a.m. and I was pretty sure that if I kept going, I would've ended up seam ripping a gash in the pants or some other such nonsense. I went to sleep, woke up early and hemmed the pants before work, then hurriedly sewed on the hooks and eyes in between leaving work and getting to class. It was worth the effort, though, as Lynda pronounced them gorgeous. Even my mom, who's got really high standards for fit and construction because of her seamstress background, conceded that they were impressive when I showed them to her. While I'm usually pretty critical of my own makes, this time I'm inclined to agree with them both!

I cannot emphasize enough how difficult it is to photograph black flocked fabric. All the wrinkles from sitting show, none of the details of the brocade do. I promise you they look a lot better in real life!

Doesn't help that it was also broad daylight...but that was the only time Mr. Cation was available to take photos.

It looks like I somehow photoshopped the brocade out, but it just doesn't want to be photographed!

Slightly better look: the brocade pattern reminds me of BBC Sherlock's wallpaper in 221B.


I was getting all hung up on the wrinkles in the back, but Lynda wisely pointed out that wrinkles under the butt meant sitting ease, and wouldn't you like to be able to sit down? Also, apparently they photoshop out normal wrinkles in ads, making us think that our clothes should all fit with no wrinkles whatsoever. 

Summary:
Fabric: I have to say, Joann's has really beefed up their trendy stretch denims section...this was made from 2 yards of black flocked fabric, 70% cotton, 28% polyester, and 2% Spandex. The pockets were lined with the same stretch fuchsia satin fabric as my pirate coat for a little bit of extra luxury.

I love that there's this secret pop of color!

Notions: Two hooks and bars, a dark gray 7" zipper (I didn't have black and didn't want to drive out to find one), and lots of seam binding. 
Hours: Nine...not bad, right? Of course, that's not counting the innumerable hours of drafting, muslining, fitting, and redrafting over the course of the semester. And if you're looking at my account of Sunday, I took an hour off in there to eat dinner and such.
Will you make it again? Yes! I finally have the perfect pattern for my body, because it was actually drafted and fitted to me! I want to make a pair of bootcut dark wash denim trousers next. 
Total cost: $18. The fabric was 50% off with a coupon, and the hooks and bars and seam binding were pennies because I bought in bulk, and the zipper was probably $0.50. 
Final thoughts: I'm so excited by how real these pants look! I know I was pretty excited about my previous pairs of pants, but there were still issues with each of them. These actually look like something I would buy at say, Banana Republic or Anthropologie. AND OH HEY would you look at these flocked Charlie trousers at Anthropologie?! I just saved $100 yo...as long as you ignore the cost of my time and the class. 

Hahaha I couldn't resist trying to turn this into a fake catalog cover. I mean, it's got all the requirements for an Anthro shoot: random pallet, some succulents, quirky neighborhood with a vaguely rustic feel...

Once again,  I attempt the disinterested model face.

Although I'm too cool (hah!) to show it, I actually seriously love these pants.

53 comments:

  1. They look amazing! I'm now craving that fabric...

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  2. Brava, lady! They're absolutely fabulous.

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  3. These are incredible! I love the flocked fabric you chose and the fit looks awesome, too. A+

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  4. Great fit! I love your fabric choice.

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  5. Those are gorgeous! And how funny is it that we both recently made something from a black flocked brocade??? Mine was a knit though!

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  6. These are lovely! Man, they really look great! How cool!

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  7. These are the best fitting pair of pants that I have seen for a long time - you've done such a great job both on fit and on construction! Ah, to have a pants block - I need to move towards that holy grail as well!

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  8. Yay! What a great final project for your pants classes. These pants look great. Bravo on a job well done! Now here's to hoping we see lots of perfect pants on the blog in the future!

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  9. I need to go to Jo-Ann's and get some of this fabric ASAP!! These pants are gorgeous!! Great job on finally figuring out the fit. And I'm glad to know that they do actually photoshop those wrinkles out, because I'd always wondered how that worked on a real live human...

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  10. Those pants are gorgeous... You should be proud of yourself - they fit is right on!!!!

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  11. Those pants look amazing. The fit is spot on and I love the fabric.

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  12. These are beautiful! And how great to have a go to trouser pattern with great fit!

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  13. Well done, I'm so jealous, this is one of my big sewing goals. I tried to make my first pair on the weekend and I'm very discouraged. Perhaps I need to find a class!

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  14. Ooh I may have squealed when I saw they were from a brocade. LOVE them! Great job on mastering this most intimidating and tricky bit of sewing. You look fabulous, model face or not. :)

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  15. Exceptional in every way! You have many reasons to be proud ! Wear in good health!

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  16. They look awesome! The brocade print is very classy.
    One thing though... did you check if the fabric retains its stretch? Joann's stretch fabric doesn't have very good recovery, but I don't know about your particular fabric with a different fiber content than one I tried out.

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  17. Oh, I LOVE them. They're perfect. Looks to me like both courses were well worth it. Also, we have a similar flocked denim at Fabricland, you are making me want to break down and get some. >_<

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  18. These are GREAT pants - the fit is amazing, the brocade is stunning - I love texture on black! So chic! And yes, you could totally rock an Anthro catalog cover :)

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  19. love these! the fit is spectacular. great job!

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  20. Fabulous fit and fabric. Straight off the Anthropologie page. Well done!

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  21. They pants are spectacular. The fabric is great.
    You do need sitting ease in pants. I'm so glad Lynda said that.
    Anthro is you.

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  22. What a great job!!! I am jealous of you getting to take that class. I wish that there were something like that around here. I really enjoy your blog.

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  23. The fit of these is really fantastic. Super impressed over here. I also really like the secret pop of color in the pockets!

    (Love your blog, by the way. Long time reader, first time commenter. :) )

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  24. I LOVE your pants! The brocade makes sometime basic so interesting and wonderful! (I confess that I thought it was a snake-skin print at first glance of the first photo. Crazy brocade messing with the camera!)

    You will definitely get your money's worth with that pattern! And the "magazine cover" photo is such a wonderful shot!

    And yes, real clothes always have wrinkles. Your pants are the greatest! =)

    ~ Brooke

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  25. These are totally awesome. And you are rocking them. And now you can whip yourself up a pair of perfectly fitting pants whenever you want - great reward for your work.

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  26. Oh wow, they're wonderful, exactly like Anthropologie trousers! the fit is perfect and I especially like the secret pop of colour in the pockets. You should definitely get an A for this work! X

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  27. These. Are. Awesome.
    What an amazing achievement!!! And they look FIERCE!

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  28. congratulations! they look wonderful!

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  29. Two thumbs up. THEY LOOK GREAT!1!!!

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  30. Beautiful trousers - they really do fit you perfectly!!!

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  31. These look amazing! I am going to make you my Pants Inspiration Fairy as I eventually get around to making my jeans muslin...

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  32. These are totally spot on!! The fit is perfect!! Love all the little interior details too!

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  33. These are stunning!! I love the fabric, and the style - so SOOOOO chic!! :) Anthropologie would be lucky to have these in their catalog!! Perfect fit - well done, you!! :)

    I'm glad you brought up the topic of wrinkles not necessarily being an indicator of improper fit; I always thought pants with no wrinkles was weird... as you say, how do you sit otherwise?? LOL

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  34. Love this pair. What a gorgeous piece of brocade! I've been all hung up about wrinkles under the butt, too, but, yes, one does need sitting ease! You've got a smashing pair of trousers here!

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  35. Major kudos - the hard work definitely paid off!

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  36. Sits perfect :). The pattern of the fabric also comes through - everyone who has seen fabric like this before has a feeling how it looks. Even without professional pictures.

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  37. Wow, you really nailed the fit! And I would have never thought to do brocade on pants, but I like how yours came out.

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  38. Gorgeous fitting pants. Love the fabric too!

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  39. Oh My Goodness! So flattering on you, great fabric and so nicely sewn inside and out! You really hit it out of the part with this trousers, my dear.

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  40. Brocade pants!! Droooooooooools!!!!
    Love the red pocket as well!!!!
    Great fit. Love them!

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  41. Perfect in every way - brilliant work!

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  42. They look amazing! Great fit, and I love the fabric. :) So cool!

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  43. Smokin'! Congrats. They look perfect.

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  44. Oh my gosh, those look amazing on you! Reading your pants drafting/fitting saga kind of makes me want to draft and fit my own pants too because I can never get those damned skinny jeans over my big fat calves.

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  45. Those look superb! Congrats! I've been thinking about skinny pants for ages, too scared of all the fitting challenges to tackle it, but your posts have given me a lot of info and really deconstructed the process - I may (eventually) give it a go! Taking a class or two through CC is a great idea - I'm kicking myself, I used to live close to Canada and never thought to investigate their classes, now I'm in Portland (though I'm sure there's something up here I could take). I'll bet these are going to make your RTW pair jealous ;-).

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  46. Gah, unbelievably awesome! I'd love to take a sewing class or two, but the time is just not available right now. Maybe someday I can, and have pants that fit me as well as those fit you!

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  47. Incredible pants!! Love the fabric and the fit. Hooray on your achievement!!

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  48. Stunning pants. Fabulous fit and construction!! I have serious pants fitting/construction envy. Oh to have access to your Canada resources.
    Kathleen

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  49. Wow. These fit absolutely perfectly and they look immaculately constructed. And your your exquisite taste shows up in the fabric. Just beautiful.

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