It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The By Guess and By Golly Fitting Method (DK Skinny Pants)

I've been avoiding the dreaded "skinny pants" patterns for ages.   Besides my short stubby legs, there's this memory of my go-to casual attire in the dark ages of fashion, the long baggy sweater over leggings.   So comfortable, and so bad!  It's become clear that skinny pants are an actual gap in my wardrobe though, especially since all of my old RTW yoga-type pants are way past the shouldn't-be-worn-in-public phase.

The only skinny pant I'll wear though must have a bit of flare at the ankle - no peg legs for me, period.   Don't even try to argue the (questionable) merits!  So when I saw the fabulous seaming details on the new Donna Karan skinny pant (Vogue 1378), I couldn't get it in my cart fast enough!   No side seams!  Shaping details!  A cool slit at the bottom that gives them that bit of flare I want/need/love!   Yes!

Luckily, shams sewed these up and posted her review just before I was getting ready to make mine, and the tips in her post about fabric choice and the length of the pants (along with a phone call from me begging for advice!) were so invaluable that I'm going to repeat the info here, along with my own discoveries.

  • The suggested fabric is Rayon Spandex or Cotton Spandex.   What they don't say - anywhere! - (unless you pick up the concept by reading through the pattern instructions ahead of time) is that nearly all of the seaming has exposed raw edges and topstitching - and there is a LOT of seaming!  Unless you like the curly/rolled edges look, I suggest a much more substantial fabric, like a ponte/doubleknit.
  • See how tall and lean the envelope model is?   That's the body this pattern is designed for.   I am not tall and lean; in fact, my legs are not only short relative to my torso, but my thighs and knees have never, ever, been referred to as lean or skinny.   Ever.   If you are 5'6" or taller, and you have skinny legs, this pattern is designed for you.   Otherwise, be prepared to make adjustments. (More on this later)

My measurements put me in a size 14.   I'm so used to buying the smaller sizes in nearly everything, and that's what I automatically did with this pattern.   The smaller pattern grouping tops out at a 12, but instead of making a muslin (since I didn't have any ponte-type muslin fabric) I decided to go ahead and cut a 12 out of my good ponte.

oops.

  • The only way to figure out how well these pants will fit is to make them.   Start to finish.   When you're done - all finished - THEN you get to try them on and see if they fit!   (chant along with me "muslin, muslin, muslin...."
  • Wait.   There is an alternative.   You can sew a bit, baste a bit, unpick a bit, baste some more, unpick some more, sew some more, baste a bit, unpick some, then get to the point where you can actually baste a somewhat finished piece, say "Uh oh...", unpick a bunch, and THEN sew it up, all the while following the "By Guess and By Golly" method of fitting.   Hereinafter known as ByGABGyMOF.   This is what I did.
Luckily, It worked out in the end.

However, I don't recommend it.

Let's back up a bit.   I was prepared for the pattern being too long, so I laid out all of the pattern pieces and taped them together to get the lay of the land.   Let's call it my version of the muslin.  After taping the pieces together (and it's drafted beautifully, btw), and holding the paper next to my body, it looked like the legs were going to be about 5" too long.   Chopping the 5" off at the hemline would mean losing too much of the interesting detail of the opening slit at the bottom, so I really wanted to take off at least a portion of that in the leg.
That's an interesting assortment of seams, no?   Note the ruler just below the marked crotch line.   This was the only logical place I saw to shorten the pants.  I shortened by 2" at this spot, and figured I could cut 3" off at the bottom without losing too much detail

Here are the pattern pieces after folding out 2":

And after smoothing out the edges:

I knew I would risk my pieces not matching up so nicely (remember that most of these seams are overlapped and topstitched, with only one seam, plus the crotch seam, stitched normally), but this is where I started invoking the ByGABGyMOF.

You start sewing at the bottom, by piecing together the two pieces that form the slit at the ankle.  Sorry, it can be really hard to show black stitching on black fabric - it's way cool though, trust me!

And I love the way it flares while being worn -
it's really an unusual touch!


Onward to the ByGABGyMOF issues....   I continued with the piecing and lapping and topstitching, bearing in mind the distinct possibility that these pants were going to end up being way.  too.  tight, and wondering how in heck I was going to adjust for that, if necessary, since there are NO vertical seams in the legs - they ALL run at an angle!    When I was finally able to pin and baste an entire leg together it was clear - all too clear - that these pants, in a size 12, were NOT going to work on my thighs and knees!   (have I mentioned that my Mom had the beautiful shapely legs in the family, and my Dad had the short stubby muscular legs?   And which leg genes I inherited?)   This began the unpicking session.   The first of several.  

Luckily, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and I was able to do all of the reverse sewing on the sunny front porch :).

Overlapping the seams with a much smaller seam allowance ended up working quite well.   The pieces still fit together well enough, it just took a fair amount of ByGABGyMOF'ing to make it all work.

And then, to top it off, I had to take the seaming along the midriff IN by well over an inch to make it fit between my waist & crotch!   So I probably needed a size 10 here (or maybe even an 8), and a size 14 (or maybe 16) from thighs to calves.

Bottom line re: fit?   Methinks Donna Karan does not draft for my body type!

The good news:   After all is said and done, I actually REALLY LIKE THESE PANTS!!!!  I still need to figure out how to get a good fit from waist to crotch, but that's my issue, and is true with ALL pants on me.   I'm dying to take a class with Lynda Maynard, but the timing just hasn't worked out so far - it will happen!

Again, it's really hard to see the details on black pants, but here are a few shots.   Skinny Pants!   AND animal print!   On me???   Really?   So not my usual style, but you know what?  I will wear this out in public!

I seriously think these pants give the illusion that I have long legs!   Well, normal size legs, at least...

Of course, a shoe with a bit of a heel really helps.....



You can maybe see some of the seam detailing on the upper legs here:

The positives in this design make it almost worth trying again, and now that I have a good idea of what I need to do, I think that with a little patience I could end up with a great fitting pair of skinny pants!

My bottom line advice for others who want to make these?

  • Have skinny legs
  • Be tall
But if you don't fit in the above category,
  • Use sturdy, doubleknit, non-fray fabric
  • Make a muslin
  • And always.....have fun!

31 comments:

  1. Those pants look just wonderful on you, I would not call your legs anything but superbly shapely in them and congratulate you on your bravery... it was worth it!!

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    1. It's all illusion darlin', trust me lol! But it was worth it - they're really comfy to wear!

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  2. Love the pattern working shots!!!! You really fly by the seat of your pants, Girl....no muslin, just tape and a prayer....ha ha! Your legs look pretty close to perfect to me at 5'4 and coming from sheepherder stock genes. So now that you have uncovered the secrets to making all those pieces work in harmony, are you thinking about mixing it up a bit and doing some wild color blocking??? Nothing to clash with your animal prints top, just a little something to get you noticed in a crosswalk?

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    1. An animal print top & skinny pants is about as noticed as I want...don't push it! :D

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  3. All said and done, these look fabulous on you! I bought this pattern because I love the design lines in these pants. But I know in my heart I probably will never make them up for myself. I have the short leg/long torso syndrome, combined with heavy leg and the dreaded "cankle" thing. Skinny pants are rarely, if ever, my friend. Solive vicariously through those of you who seem to be able to wear them well. Yours are beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Marcy! I am seriously surprised at how good I feel in these pants - really, I encourage you to give them a go!

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  4. Sturdy European peasant chiming in - YOU and Sharon both look GREAT in these pants. But after reading both posts - this pattern is not for me. Dang. And I like interesting seaming, and it is so wonderful that Vogue has a pattern that is not just crotch and side seam. Double dang. My legs are even shorter and fuller than yours - you've got lovely gams, m'dear - so thanks for the heads up. Look forward to seeing them in person some day. Heather

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    1. Loving the compliments on my legs...we'll see what happens when I wear these out in public lol! Thanks Heather :)

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  5. Your legs look long to me and I think the pants look fabulous on you.

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  6. I just ordered this pattern. I do not have skinny legs but they are long. My body is short. It should be interesting. Thanks for all the details and reviews. I will make a muslin. I hope I have fun

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  7. Yay! Thanks for the details. I have my pattern cut and hope to get mine sewn by this weekend. No muslin. Shapely, shapely legs that aren't too short (5'5" with 32" inseam on pants)

    Should be fun! LOL!

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    1. I'm betting you'll rock them! (for comparison, I'm 5'4" with a 28-29" inseam)

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  8. These are perfection on you. I love them and think the total ensemble is very chic.

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    1. Thanks Mary! I do remember you telling me (more than once, I believe) that I should make some skinny pants.

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  9. Those are awesome on you! They do make your legs look tall and skinny. I'm too short too...5'4, but you like them...I'm going to go-for-it. You are so funny and you make doing what seems impossible, seem possible for others. (If that sentence makes sense.)

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    1. Judi, you always make perfect sense to me! (scary, isn't it?)

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  10. "Most seams ever on a pair of pants". These pants---and with that tunic---prove that with the proper corrections, right fabric, and a willingness to make it work, plus your sewing spunk, even we short people can look good in styles like this. Good going!

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    1. lol on the quote!!! Thanks Gloria, I am always hopeful :) Sometimes it works, sometimes.....not so much ;-)

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  11. I can relate to your hesitance to go for a skinny pant, but what a flattering silhouette these turned out to be for you! They look great! Good for you, for sticking with the project even though it was a tough one.

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    1. Thanks Dixie! Yup, I definitely have the "make it work" attitude when it comes to sewing projects! Hugs to you :)

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  12. So attractive on you! I too have the short legs/long torso thing going on and I've only recently discovered that particular pant shape works miracles on lengthening the leg line. However I chickened out on trying this pattern because I couldn't figure out how to make the fit changes I need. You did a fabulous job!

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  13. They look beautiful! All those seams terrify me - brava for more than making it work!

    And it sounds like we have the same long torso/not-at-all leggy physique. My “dress/skirt only” policy is my favorite way of ignoring my short and very sturdy legs – and, of course, adding a pair of heels always helps balance things out! But perhaps I have been missing out on the right pair of skinny pants . . .

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  14. Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed post! Your advice of having skinny legs and being tall officially rules me out for this one. =)

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  15. You do look like you have long skinny legs! Wahoo! Great job on this and your patience and persistance are impressive.

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  16. Jilly, you look fabulous in your new outfit! Your legs look lean and long, and you wear the animal print well. Your patience and perseverance paid off!

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  17. These pants look great on you!! It was neat to see the pants done up by you and Shams so close together. Your posts prove that it's a versatile pattern that looks great on lots of different people!

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  18. What a fun post to read! Good job on finding a way to make this work for you. I think these skinny pants look so great on you -- they do make your legs look long and lean!

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  19. You look fabulous in your skinny pants and top. What short legs?

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