Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Perfect Pants (Trouser Try-On Reveal!)

Comfy Pants Perfection

Yes, by "perfect" I'm talking about my daughter's RTW toddler pants above--the perfectly adjustable kind with the magical internal buttonhole elastic which holds them up over perfectly adorable toddler rear ends.

"Perfect" also describes my Imaginary Happy Pants, which:

  1. Hit at the natural waist or nearly so, leaving no ridiculous stretch-mark revealing gap between shirt and pants
  2. Have a comfortable, yet firm contour waistband with an invisible hint of elastic in the back
  3. Never fall down (but don't require a belt or belt loops--metal belt buckles give me a rash)
  4. Don't sag below my flat rear
  5. Make my flat rear look bigger/rounder
  6. Hold in, yet don't bind the tummy (I will admit to being forever spoiled by the perfect magic of stretchy comfy tummy paneled maternity pants).
  7. Give me the sudden and mysterious desire to sing out loud with joy and dance on rooftops.

Unfortunately, "perfect" does not yet describe my ACTUAL pants, which I basted together and tried on in the dark navy corduroy fashion fabric for the first time last night:


By the time I realized I should have also attached the waistband and pressed in the pleats and carefully pinned up the cuffs if I wanted to actually learn anything about fit from this exercise, it was long past time for bed. Remember, here's the intention:

Stripes + Wales trouser outfit sketch

I do realize that these loose-fitting trousers are definitely not going to accomplish Imaginary Happy Pants Goal #5 above--when asked for his assessment, my husband cautiously answered that, if anything, they make things look even flatter back there. But at this point I'm not going to mess with adding back pockets for padding. Maybe next version (if there is a next version).

Oh, and if you're wondering why these pants still aren't done well enough already, well, let me give you a brief window into a typical sewing session for me... The Sew Weekly this ain't!:

9:15 p.m.Enter MIKHAELA, our dashing Polka Dot protagonist, tiptoeing carefully from nursery and closing door.

TODDLER Z: (barely audible from nursery whispering quietly and sleepily to dolls in crib--her stuffed purple doggie and the glowworm she has arbitrarily named "Nu-Nu") Doggie! Nu-Nu! Doggie... Nu-Nu...

MIKHAELA rushes frantically around apartment setting up various sewing equipment--opening sewing cabinet in bedroom, setting up iron in living room and cutting/work area on dining table, getting out assorted rulers, rotary cutters, cutting mats, patterns, fabric, notions, tools... kitchen sinks... etc. TODDLER Z is now silent, presumably sleeping.

Finally, an exhausted MIKHAELA sits down at work (dining) table, stares at pattern pieces, sighs dramatically, realizes she has no idea how to assemble a fly front, pulls out five reference manuals, discovers fly front on her pattern appears to be backwards, begins to read/weep with frustration and...

9:30 p.m. TODDLER Z: (loudly, from nursery) MOMMY! MOMMY! Hi! Hi! Mommy! Hi!

Yeah. Helpful tips for time-pressed sewers don't even begin to cover it! It took me TWO nights to cut them out (and I still haven't cut out the waistband facing, because I haven't decided how to finish it) and THREE nights just to insert the fly zipper. Really, I've discovered the most helpful tip of all is just lowered expectations. I just have to accept the fact that at this point in my life I'm not going to sew a garment a week, or tailor an amazing wool coat, or make a boned couture-inspired ballgown... er...

Goals do help, though. So I'm setting myself a quite-reasonable goal of one me-made garment for myself and one me-made garment for the toddler per month, for a total of 24 for the year--a reasonable portion of which I hope to become TNT patterns. And I'm looking ahead to events that might require fancy dressing (weddings, parties, etc.) and thinking about what I might sew for those to give myself plenty of lead time. So I'll maybe do up a planning post soonish...

I also think I might cut back on the muslins, since they take so long and I don't need to work around a preggo belly anymore. I need to attack my stash anyway--I might try more pin-fitting and fashion-fabric tweaking and testing items in wearable but not precious fabric, which is what I've always done with knits anyway with mostly happy results.

I mean, seriously--I've actually never made a test garment that didn't fit better than most ready-to-wear, so what do I have to lose? For example, what's the point of muslining my upcoming Franken-Colette dress in non-stretchy muslin when I'm making the real thing from stretch cotton? I should just use a less precious stretch cotton, no?

But I digreess. The pants end is near... and I'm getting excited to actually wear these things to work in the forseeable future. Fingers crossed!


  1. I totally agree about the magic of buttonhole elastic in kids' pants! (I was much less enthused by it when I first encountered it, however, in my maternity pants...)

    I think it's very hard to sew around small children (I certainly didn't do much, and usually only if I had a separate room where I could keep the machine set up). Nowadays, during the week I often aim to sew one seam a day... This makes for slow but measurable progress, but is a lot trickier when you can't keep everything set up.

    Good luck with the jeans! I agree that pockets are the saving grace for those of us challenged in the rear department (although my recent pants-fitting experiment has revealed that my butt is not flat... Just narrow. /sigh :P

  2. familiar. Sounds a lot like my life. Is there any way you leave stuff out on a small (high) table or something? (I understand about the tiny apartment---we have one too.) I find that not having to get stuff out and put it away makes it so much easier to sneak in a little sewing when I have the time.

    Although I also average about a seam every 1-2 days.

    I'm also transitioning from dedicated muslin-making to fitting on the fly. Sometimes saves me from over-fitting too. I'm still hoping to get in one or two big, carefully muslined projects this year but I think knit tops are going to be my favorite projects for a while.

    Good luck with your pants. They will be awesome.

  3. Sandra Betzina has a great video on zipper fly fronts. It makes it way easier for me, at least. If your pattern doesn't have a cut-on fly, you can attach the fly piece and then proceed with her instructions:
    Good luck!

  4. Oh, I got so hopeful for you when I saw the title of the post. Maybe small, measurable steps is the way to go? Good luck!

  5. 24 garments for a working mother of a toddler = insane productivity. I think, even if you manage half that, you'll be keeping up your skills till your time becomes a bit more your own. Not that I'm suggesting you won't get to 24 pieces. Just suggesting that all creative work during new parenting and day jobbing is very impressive.

    And I think the pants look nice - even if it's hard to tell what's going on without a waistband :-)

  6. OMG, I feel your pain with this post!! I feel like the slowest sewer in the world!!! I wish I could whip out garments left and right, but my life (with two little ones) does not allow that. Like you, I have also come to accept that.

  7. Yeah, my sewing stuff is set up in a corner of my dining room (although I unplug everything when I leave it unattended) so that I can get a TINY bit of sewing done while Joe plays at my feet. Even so, I have many evenings that look like what you outlined here. I also agree that one grown-up and one toddler item per month is actually pretty ambitious! Hang in there, I hear it gets easier? Not that I know about this.

  8. I like to tell my husband I need him to take the kids out for a bit so I can make dinner, then I order delivery and put it on pretty plates. Carefully hide the evidence and that usually leaves me a full 20 minutes of quality sewing time.


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