Tag Archives: clothing

Gingham Iris Shorts

Gingham Iris Shorts

I love these shorts! Another pair of Colette Iris shorts done, just in time for hot summer weather. They are made from Lecien’s yarn-dyed gingham check, which I underlined with a soft white cotton for more body.

A change I made to the pattern this time around was to increase the hem depth. The 5/8″ hem on the first pair just seemed skimpy compared to the other RTW shorts I have. The final hem depth here is 1″ and I’m pleased with that.


Iris Shorts: A First Step Towards Sewing Trousers

Iris Shorts

Check it out! Shorts!

I tried on 20 pairs of pants at a thrift store the other day. Well, some of them I only tried on with one leg up to my knee before rejecting, so this wasn’t as time-intensive as you might suspect. Thrift store shopping itself is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. It’s like a treasure hunt, so of course you know going in to it that you’re going to have to sift through a lot of duds to find that special item. But pants, ai yi yi!

Iris Shorts Side

Hmm. Sorry about the t-shirt shots. Not much of an effort there, huh?

Iris Shorts BackI usually bring a tape measure with me to measure the waist of the pants I’m going to try on, as sizes seem to be so arbitrary, but I’d forgotten it and had to resort to holding up items and hoping I was in the right size range. As it turns out, I’m not sure the tape measure would’ve been that much help. The difference in rises was so different from one pair of pants to the other that it would’ve been hard to read a waist measurement on most of them. The ‘waist’ could really be anywhere from high hip to low hip and most likely not anywhere near your actual waist at all. Then there were funny fabric contents, odd leg shapes, and pockets and embellishments in the most peculiar places. It would have been demeaning if I hadn’t had a sense of humor about it. The whole experience was comical.

Iris Shorts Facing

I used some quilting cotton I had on hand for the facing and pocket lining.

I have had no desire to sew pants for myself in the past, but I’m considering taking the plunge after trying on so many pairs and thinking the only way to a good fit is to make them myself. I am bummed I missed out on Steph’s pants block service that she used to offer. I was in the middle of losing weight when I discovered her business, and by the time I reached goal she had moved on to other ventures. I’m excited about Cake patterns, and hope there’s a pants pattern coming up the pike so we can learn from her pants fitting knowledge!

I bought Kenneth King’s Jeanius course through Craftsy, but now my favorite jeans that I thought I would copy are way too big. I want to trace a pair of well-fitting jeans that don’t have stretch in them so I can reproduce them in corduroy and other fabrics without stretch. I’ll have to dig through some more thrift store piles to find a pair of non-stretch denims. It seems like everything has stretch in it today. Wow, I sound like a cranky old lady: In my day… he he. I’ll keep you posted on that project.

Anyway, since I’m on a Colette roll, I thought I’d try the Iris shorts as a way of dipping my toe into the pants-making waters. It’s a cute and simple pattern. I made the first pair in a solid navy cotton twill. They are comfortable and flattering, even on someone who’s not 20 years old anymore. When I look at these photos, I see wrinkles that might mean something to someone with more pants-fitting expertise, but overall I’m pretty happy with the fit for a first attempt. It’s closer than anything I found in the store, that’s for sure!

I traced from my wider waist size to smaller hip size when tracing off the pattern. I ended up pinching out an inch at the waist and tapering it down to nothing to get a nice fit in the front.

Changes I made:

  • Extended the pocket pieces up to the waistband so they don’t flap around loosely but are anchored at the top.
  • Made the pocket openings 1″ wider.
  • Lengthened the back darts 1/2″
  • Lengthened the legs the tiniest bit: 1/2″

I’m working on a second pair in gingham with the buttons on the pockets. This has definitely boosted my confidence that sewing a pair of trousers that fit could be possible.

Another Piece of the Pattern Fitting Puzzle

Working out Pattern Fitting

High school Chemistry wasn't a waste!
Applying the Scientific Method one pattern at a time.

It has taken me a long time to submit to pattern fitting and alteration. I stopped sewing for myself a few years back because fitting seemed so daunting and so mysterious, and worse, so unattainable. I expected to sew an item from a pattern and have it fit, perfectly, right out of the envelope, at least as well as ready-to-wear. But I forgot that when I try RTW on, some of it doesn’t look right at all. Very frequently I have to move on, or try a size up or down, before settling on some slightly ill-fitting version of acceptable. Why should I expect a sewing pattern, designed for a certain proportioned body, to fit mine without any modifications? Those measurements on the envelope aren’t answers. They’re clues.

Pattern Fitting Checklist

Who knew you needed a thick skin to sew?
A well-fitting garment will look better despite my "flaws."

Little by little, over the past year, I’ve been cracking the code that is fitting my imperfect but one-of-a-kind body. I know I’m short —that’s an easy alteration. Short-waisted, too. I’ve accepted my shape is not the ideal hourglass but columnar—as Selfish Seamstress coined it so aptly, I need a FWA (Full Waist Adjustment). Not only that, I have a pot belly. At my thinnest I had it, and it hasn’t gone away with crunches and core work. So I learned, by dipping my toe in the water, how to make adjustments for those things.

With a little more scrutiny on my homemade clothing, it dawned on me that I have Some Sort Of Back Issue. I don’t know what it’s called. It might be sway back, or it might be erect back, or even a bit of both, but most importantly, I anticipate the need for attention to this area, and I’ve figured out how to make the pattern alteration. (I usually take a wedge out of center back, tapering to nothing at the side seams.)

I don’t have a dress form padded out to my measurements and I don’t see one in my budget in the near future, but while we’re dreaming let’s put this one on the list. Sigh. They even have one for a straight torso instead of a curvy one! Back to reality… All of my fitting is done by myself, by staring in the mirror and pinching and pinning and twisting around and trying something else. There are no sewing friends nearby to help. My high school teacher Mr. Sherrow would be happy to see I’ve finally made use of the scientific method—coming up with a hypothesis and putting it to the test to draw some sort of conclusion.

When I was making the Schoolhouse Tunic, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment that led to my current fitting experiment. It just dawned on me when I placed the bodice on my frame for the first time: I have Square Shoulders! This is totally nerdy sewing stuff, but I was excited to figure it out. Of course, being of a lazy mindset I completed the tunic as is, and knew I’d research and apply that alteration to the next shirt project.

I remember when I was pregnant I started seeing pregnant women everywhere. Now that I’ve identified the Square Shoulder issue, I see it in all my clothing, when I was completely oblivious to it before. All of my shirts have that droop right behind my neck. I suddenly remembered the back neck gaping on all my shift dresses I sewed last summer. I wondered about it, but couldn’t come up with a solution at the time.

I’m working on my second version of Butterick 5678 now and using my go-to fitting reference Fit For Real People as my guide for this new piece of my pattern fitting profile. The first version of B5678 I made earlier this year is a wearable muslin. It has two sleeves and opens up the front—I’m proud to say it reads as a shirt to the general public. A closer look, however, reveals some funny details. I sewed both of the breast pockets closed when I attached the pocket flaps. I didn’t expect to put anything in those pockets, anyway, so I just left that misstep as it was. I made some seriously hideous buttonholes. Fray Check I love you. I screwed up the bottom of the button band and had to invent a sort of patch to go over it. I cut a tiny hole in the sleeve near the cuff and added another patch there—both style elements to the naked eye, I assure you.

Anyway, this next version is going to be awesome! It will even have the Square Shoulder alteration and for that, I’m pretty stoked. Who knows what pattern fitting puzzle pieces I’ll discover next?