Monday, October 10, 2011

This is Pants

This post is a rant.

It doesn't come with photos. It's not happy. It likely will not predispose you to take up sewing.

Nonetheless, when you have the kind of creative day that pushes up challenge after challenge - who are we kidding, they're legitimate problems once you have 10 of them, and each is predicated on the last - putting on a sweet face isn't really authentic.

I finished the Clover trousers and, right now, I'm not loving them. For a simple pair of pants (fitting was more or less done with this muslin), they sure did take me fucking forever. Like 16 hours.

Let's outline the issues:
  • I either read the pockets instructions wrong (I can't bear to look at that pattern again for a while, so I can't confirm it right now), or they're unusually inserted, leaving an (interior facing) exposed raw edge. I managed to finish and invert them to get a clean finish, but only after having to chop half of them off. (Note: I don't need the pockets so it's not a fitting problem. In fact, I don't like front facing pockets right at my stomach, even if they are discreet, so I'm likely never going to make them in these pants again.) Furthermore, don't use Bemberg lining. It frays like a bitch and the fibres stick to everything. That pissed me off all day.
  • I like inserting invisible zippers. Well, I like inserting them better than any other kind of closures, which means they're tolerable. But side zippers are much more finicky, apparently (this being my first ever) than back zippers. The hip curve makes them tricky to align, not to mention that they take wear differently. Given that I had to be utterly certain to get the sides to line up, it took a LONG time. 90 minutes later, I had a lovely finished product that proceeded to fall apart (at the part where the waistband unit meets the pants top) as I pulled it up. The zipper is sticky there, given the fabric bulk and join. Mercifully, the follow up zipper only took 20 minutes to insert. As I'd serged the outer seam leg of the pants (remember my last experience of that?), I had no room for error. I just decided to stop over-thinking and it went in pretty well. Also, I used tape to hold the zipper down. Why don't I do that all the time?? Basting an invisible zipper is ridiculous.
  • I forgot to serge the ankle hems before assembly. I don't think the pattern instructs it, and I followed the pattern exactly, to the best of my ability, which meant I had a miserable time trying to do it once everything was put together. It's pretty nasty looking.
  • But the piece de resistance of stupidity was when I inserted the zip on the left side (the opposite of the one stipulated in the pattern). That meant I had to invert all the instructions and rip apart already finished (according to pattern instructions) waist facing and waistband units. Note to self: Don't finish things till you've checked to see if you've mixed up left and right (a semi-regular occurrence). I was lulled into a false sense of security because the instructions are so clear and well presented. I know, I'm blaming clear instructions for my errors. How rude is that?
  • I don't like facing. There, I've said it. If you're even vaguely off, the facing unit and the waistband unit don't align perfectly at the already inserted zip, which makes the finishing process very challenging.
  • Furthermore, I think the waist finishing - while really clever and, I'm sure, beautiful if you are working with an amenable fabric, machine and a comfort level with zipper feet / aren't sewing (somewhat blind) and dangerously close to zippers that have already fucked up once - is difficult to pull off. I know the next time I try this pattern - and there will be a next time after the sew along ends (once I've had some time and a chance to see how Sarai tackles the waistband) - it will be easier as I will have seen everything twice before.
  • This pattern is very well conceived, explained, and is not conceptually difficult. It does take rather a lot of dexterity for a beginner pattern. But pls., peeps. I'm dextrous and I'm not a beginner!
OK, the reason I can even imagine trying this again, at this sensitive juncture, is that I am very impressed by many of its features which I've mentioned here and elsewhere. But, more to the point, I have to say I am blown away by how relatively easy it is to fit. OK, I have done a lot of pants fitting so I have some pre-existing measurements and experience at my access. But these pants are so simple, at their core, that they don't derail you from fit with other details. The fact that they're made with stretch, is fit-forgiving. They grade beautifully. And, bonus from my perspective - but potentially challenging for longer-waisted and taller women (isn't that 70% of the world's population?) - they are not long from the base of the crotch to the waist.

Sarai, in one of her posts, advises participants not to overfit. I think that's really smart advice. The pants don't need it. (Quite honestly, I think that an overfitted garment is as bad as one that hasn't been adjusted at all. And the danger of making a muslin or two, much like that of using Botox, is that sometimes we don't know when to stop.)

The other reason for trying again is that, despite everything, I have a really gorgeous finished product. The pants are totally flattering. If not slimming, and I suspect they are, they totally make the most of one's assets with their streamlined design.

Over and out.


  1. Wow, it sounds like the pants are great!

    Not to downplay all of the miseries you suffered. Not at all. It's just obvious you learned a hell of a lot and will very likely make perfect pants next time.

    I know what you mean about facing and having unfinished waistband needing to align perfectly with the pieces containing the already inserted zipper. This happened to me when I joined the lined bodice of Miss R's dress to the skirt with zipper already installed. Lots of hand sewing to fix glitches in alignment.

  2. Whew! You trooper. It's awesome that you ended up with a wearable project, though!

    I think a break is definitely well-deserved! (I will continue to hope for pictures, though)

  3. Sounds like a doozy of a project. But, on the bright side, you seem to be willing to try these again, so there is that. I am however, dying to see these on you, and hope you'll oblige us. :-)

  4. Well, I'm glad you ended up with a pair of pants that you like, despite all the frustrations!

    You didn't say what kind of tape you used, but I thought I'd mention Wash-a-Way Wonder Tape. I can't put in an invisible zipper without it. You might want to try that with a future zipper, if you haven't already. I think it works better than basting, and I'm very pro-basting.

  5. Your Clover doesn't sound too bad (?), just annoying at some parts.

    I must be one of the longer-waisted women, since I have to adapt Clover severely to fit me. I was too lazy to do that and ended up drafting my own pants, but I definitely want to fix Clover at some point.

  6. it sounds like you have something very worthwhile for all your issues with it. The problem is that the learning process is so much of a bitch but I think you will eventually learn what works and what doesn't and will find your way. In the meantime, stepping aside for a while sounds like an excellent plan.

    Rant all you want. I know you will eventually plow ahead.

  7. It's actually fun to read rants sometimes--like getting something off the collective chest, ha. I had almost the exact same experiences sewing the Smooth Sailing trousers this summer. They looked great and I loved the fit in the end but everything went awry at least twice. Those side zippers are definitely annoying--and I will think twice about doing them again. Sometimes that back hip curve is slightly longer/eased into the front and that makes for all kinds of zipper weirdness.

  8. Will you show us photos? I assume your reference to not loving the pants right now has to do with the sewing process and not with the gorgeous finished project. I’m working on a muslin for my first ever hand made pair of pants and must confess that so far I have not enjoyed the process. Here’s hoping I also end up with a gorgeous finished project.