Saturday, September 27, 2014

Some Actual Sewing, If You Can Believe It

Today, I abandoned all plans. I'm actually sewing without a plan. Like, that's the plan.

I also decided that I couldn't be motivated - under any circumstances - to pre-fit whatever I sewed. So I sewed a) without a plan and b) according to some abstract shape that might or might not be mine. (And really, what's the likelihood that it would be mine.)

All in all, it worked out amazingly well:

Yeah, I made sweatpants - but they're CHIC sweatpants...

I didn't follow any of the directions and I went off-road with the pattern. And you would be correct, that waistband stitching sucks...
For starters, I almost didn't show you photos of these completed True Bias Hudson Pant because they are rather crappily top stitched. Part of the reason for this is that I was making things up as I went along. I don't want a string-tie to highlight the thickest part of me. I don't need pockets (same deal). So it messed with the waistband and hence the sewing-flow. But whatevs. Look on, if you will. I'm keeping it real.

A note about what I changed at the waist: I actually opted to stitch the elastic into the waistband before I put the waistband on the pants. Next time, I may stitch down only on the wrong side (leave the band open as I ease the elastic into the inside of the waistband) then fold over the top (which won't move) and then sew that unit into the pants. It will give the waist a more finished look and I won't have to care quite as much about how straight the stitching is. Also, I really hate zigzag stitch. It always looks rookie. Keep in mind, if you choose to try this - you'll need to keep the length of your pants waist fairly close to that of the elastic and the waistband fabric. A bit of easing is fine, but the 3 plus inches (to shirr the waistband) would not fly.

A note about what I did re: pockets: Remember (as I did not) that if you don't sew the pockets, you'll need to add paper onto the front outer hip (to give it the regular curve pants have at the hip). I ended up having to create a fake piece and stitched it on cuz I'd already cut my fabric when I realized my mistake. I actually like the look. If you do this - ensure that you include a seam allowance on the part that attaches to the pant front. You could do this wedge in a contrast fabric but I don't like that look because it seems like the inside fabric of your pocket is pulling out. These faux pockets actually look pretty real when you're wearing them. Contrast thread would probably give them a bit more pop.

Of course, I ended up fitting in numerous (though remarkably small) ways:
  • I cut the 10 because my fabric only had 50% stretch. Note: The pattern explains how to determine the appropriate stretch, which it calls "40%". In actually fact, you want a 4 inch swatch to stretch to 7 inches - which is 75% stretch. I know there's been some debate about this but I don't buy it. I think the instructions are erroneous (although the explanation is excellent so it doesn't cause any problems). I should have cut the size 8. No one's talked about whether these pants fit big or small - I think they fit generously, even if you use a fabric with less stretch than is called for.
  • Now, the reason I think they fit generously - and the reason I could make a totally wearable muslin of these with nary a change to the original pattern (though I did change it as I went) - is because it's drafted for a slim-legged frame with proportional hips and derriere. If pants fitting is your nightmare because your hips and legs are proportionately large, these are probably not the pants for you.
  • They are supposed to fit a 5'5" frame. I'm 5'3" and the legs were way too short. I've added an inch for the next go, but I might decide to add 2. I like slouch above the ankle cuff. Admittedly, my legs are long for my frame, but I think that most peeps are going to have to add.
  • My other changes were made by cutting the pattern back down to a size 8 (incrementally). I went to a 6 in the front crotch depth and waist. So these pants are cut for someone pretty straight.
  • The waistband elastic and corresponding waistband are too large (my fault - I overestimated how much room I'd need). Of course, this makes them ideal for sleeping in. Anyway you slice it, there's way too much ease in the waistband piece, IMO. A bit of shirring can be nice in a waistband. But I think the amount the pattern calls for would add a lot of bulk and make it very tricky to ease. Keep in mind, I did my own thing so you may disagree if you followed the original pattern.
What I Like:
  • Well they're cut for someone with my body type...
  • The crotch depth and curve are quite well-drafted - especially the back piece which has more of an L cut than a J cut. This works better for those with some fullness in the mid-derriere.
  • The instructions would be good, I sense. They're clearly written. I just didn't follow them because a) I know how to put together pants and b) I went rogue with the waist.
  • These pants are remarkably on-trend. You can spend 100 bucks at Roots, J Crew etc. to buy them. Why not make them for 10 bucks and call it a day!
  • My fussy teen is totally impressed. She wants me to make a pair for her next.
So, there you go. I will most definitely be making these again - and probably soon because the kid will bug me till I do. I just need to restock the fabrics and elastic.

Whatcha think of this pattern? If you've made it, what do you think of the sizing? I sure wished I could find someone who'd written about that before I cut these (not that it's the end of the world, by any means).


  1. Ahhhh sewing. Now you're talking my kind of language. Like your couture sweat pants.

  2. i just ordered fabric to make these pants! i have longer than average legs and comfy lounge pants just don't come long enough... unless things are different now, i haven't looked in a very long time! anyways, i've been curious about the fit and have searched out a few reviews, and you're right: not much commentary out there. i suspect i'll need to add several inches for length, and possibly add some to the rise. hopefully i can get the pattern to work for me, because they're so cute!

    1. Where did you order from? You will need to add a lot of length.

  3. Dear god I love those pants -- I've had them on my wish list. I actually own a version of these from Lululemon that I love them. I can't wait to make them and thanks for the blogpost -- I've really enjoyed them.

    1. You must buy the pattern. And I can see a universe in which I wear these way too often.

    2. Yep, I'm caving -- after reading all your posts -- buying today (even though SoCal is in a heatwave-ish type of weather pattern). . .

  4. I like your modifications! Can you tell the difference between the hudson and the papercut version? I would like to sew modern sweatpants for hiking but im afraid i'll look frumpy. I thought of hacking my (woven) slacks pattern for this purpose because I know it has much less ease at the waist.

    1. I haven't got any experience of the Papercut pattern. In fact, I'm going to look it up right now!

  5. The pocket error was serendipitous. I like the way they look. These are very chic. Sadly this is one of those patterns that I love on everyone else but would look shocking on me.

    1. I know! I have a RTW pair in this style with pockets and I do like them. But that fabric has the sort of drape that the fabric we home sewists can find does not tend to have.

  6. Holycrap, you're amazing! These look just like T by A Wang! But better because they're homemade! Well done and three cheers!