Monthly Archives: February 2013

Analyzing Otto 5/2007 Style 16

The surprising change in the fit of this pattern has me thinking hard. The first really successful pair was the 3rd version and constructed using a medium-wale, cotton corduroy.

The fabric has no discernible stretch. The pants have been worn and laundered at least once a week since their construction.  The fabric has continued to soften and remain comfortable despite my physical changes. The leg is slightly flared, but the flare is not evident in the photos or during wear. In the photo there is only a slight indicate of my knees, the ease in the back thigh (which cannot be felt) and the slight tightness across the stomach (again not felt during wear).  At the time and even now, I felt that the crotch as a whole was just a bit too long and the last change I did was to create a 1/8″ fold across the torso on both the front and back pieces. I felt I had the perfect jean pattern for non-stretch fabrics.

Then I made the Pin Stripe pants.

Frankly, the change in fit is astonishing.  Had this been the third version, I would have ditched the pattern. The fabric is a cotton/Lycra twill. Very light on the Lycra. The pants will only stretch from 4″ to 4.5″. Even with the Lycra, this is a firm fabric; definitely medium-weight; definitely pant weight.  I could wear these in the summer but not during the triple-digit temperatures. These pants are obviously too tight across the stomach and hips AND have EXCESS ease behind the thigh and throughout the leg. They look more like trousers than jeans.  To be honest I expected body heat to soften and stretch the fabric creating a more attractive look after a short period of wear.  To my surprise:

4 hours of wear creates a saggy, wrinkling mess!  The legs of these were narrowed just before finishing. So not at the pattern or during cutting but just before hemming was completed. Only 1/2″ was removed from the hem using the same darting technique as shown with the canvas pants.  Admittedly the pin stripe has less body than the corduroy. Still I didn’t expect the obvious drooping under the butt or horizontal pulling at the front thigh.  No ease was removed at the knee. The pant should not be pulling at the knee. No ease was removed from the back thigh. The pant should not be pulling at the front thigh.  I may chalk this mess up to the fabric and discard the pants . The pin stripe really isn’t that versatile in fact I  made a coordinating knit top so that I would be able to even wear these pants.

Then onto the cotton canvas pants, now officially a member of the Brown 6PAC for Spring 2013.  The pictures below have been lightened to the extreme. This brown is so dark and photos so poorly that  I wouldn’t bother with posting a pic had I not wanted to examine the fitting issues.

This is as light as I can get the pictures.

The hem was narrowed a total of 2″ and the knee was narrowed 1/2″ by altering the pattern. This canvas fabric is medium to heavy weight and full-bodied. It’s not stiff as a board but has a hefty hand. With the narrowed leg, the front pant leg from knee to hem looks very nice to me. I expect the break over the front of the shoe which also creates a fold in the leg just above. This is a result of how long I like to wear my pants. Some things are what they are. This is one. If I don’t want the break or the fold, I must either shorten the leg to above the ankle or peg the hem. I’m not anxious to peg hems either. So I accept this is a good-looking lower leg.

It is the X wrinkles on the back leg which annoy me the most.  How am I to remove the excess ease behind the thigh, if even 1/2″ causes the X wrinkles? And, LOL, while there is clearly excess ease behind the thigh, the front of the thigh appears too tight. I can’t really see what’s happening at the bu tt level on the back. The front crotch really seems to be pulling towards the rear. I assume that the back crotch is doing the same.  The stomach area is begging for more room, while the waistband is suddenly too large. I think what is happening is that the torso is trying to push upwards as if despite the handfuls of ease in the back thigh, there is insufficient ease higher up. I thought I saw VPL and then realized it was the back pocket edge.  I wear thigh highs. Lower wrinkles are lower wrinkling not VPL.  Looking at the side view, I’m beginning to think that the entire back should be one size larger than the front, except that would add even more excess ease over the back-thigh.

But I’m not going to do anything other than plan to wear when the winter snows melt. Why?  Well first off, my weight has been creeping upwards. I’ve added one more change to my lifestyle which should cut about 1000 calories per week from my diet.  There are days, when I’d be happy just to stop gaining weight. But the true goal is to make enough changes that the weight decreases into the “normal for age and physical characteristics” range.   I have another change coming up–that of adding a group exercise program–which won’t happen until  the snows melt. (I don’t get out in the snow or mud unless absolutely necessary. Exercise can be done at home, inside the house.) And the long-awaited tapered pants from CLD should be in the mail.  Now that I know what to do, I plan to follow step by step, starting by remeasuring.  If the new pattern fits perfectly but pulls across my ta ilbone (as did the 1seampant on me), I’ll scoop the back crotch. I’ve come to the conclusion that my body has special fitting needs. So experts be damned, I’ll do what it needs.


Finally Pants for the Brown 6PAC


Hard to see I know, but these were constructed using Otto 5/2007 #16, by now a TNT and favorite jean pattern.  I’m using a fabulous fabric. It’s cotton canvas in  deep cocoa brown just like what came out of the Hershey’s can when mom baked from scratch. One side of this fabric is rough like canvas, as expected. The other however has a velvety finish.  I used the velvet finish as the public side.

The fabric falls into the medium to heavy weight class.  I doubt that I will be tempted to wear these pants on into summer, but they will be perfect for spring and more than welcome when the first cold snap occurs next Sept/Oct.

I narrowed the leg and reduced some of the back thigh ease by darting out the ease on two sides of the pattern. I’ve indicated where I placed the darts with the green shading in the diagram below.

Darts were placed on both front and back leg pieces. Darts were 1/4″ wide at the hem. The inseam dart ended about 1″ below the knee. The dart on the side seam narrowed to 1/8″ at the knee and then ceased about at crotch level.  When sewn, each dart remove 1/2″ at hem level for a total of 2″ from each leg hem and 1/4″ from each knee.  Looking at the back leg of the PinStripe pants:

Feb 2013 Pin Stripe


I felt that 2″ was and acceptable reduction.  I folded the darts and taped with repositionable tape. I didn’t want to remove the width permanently because I remember how good the corduroy pants  legs look and feel. If ever I use a beefier fabric, I would remove the darts and use the pattern as originally drafted.

Dec 2012 Corduroy Pant


The finished slimmer leg in cotton duck ..

Brown 6 PAC


even though hard to see in the pic, has the same look and feel as the corduroy pant– even though it is a full 2″ narrower.   Unfortunately the slimmer leg created my dreaded X wrinkles


There are other fitting issues, which I want to discuss in a subsequent post. In this post I wanted to document the fabric used and the pattern alteration. To me it proves that the simplistic answer (demonstrated above) for narrowing legs does not work for my figure.

A Top for Yesterday’s Pants


I’m not really wild about these pants:

..but I’ve finished them and I may as well wear them. Except I don’t like any of my tops when paired with these pants.  The only combination of fabric and color that I liked was a plain white. I don’t wear white. Well I do when I want the doctor to believe that I’m sick but otherwise, I steer clear of clear, bright white.  I wear a cream color or off white. Anything but color draining white next to my face.

I dislike white for another reason: I can’t keep it clean. No kidding, most white garments are in and out of the closet within two wearings. My last mostly white top   turned grey in the first laundry. I tried removing the grey a couple of ways and finally said “hope this fabric wasn’t expensive” and cycled it to the rag bag. I’m switching to tan underwear for the same reason. Within a few cycles my white undies are a disgusting grey.  Generally though I can’t keep white clean. I’m a messy eater. At home I use hand towels for napkins.  I avoid eating in the car. There just is nothing I want to eat in the car which can’t drip something somehow onto my clothing.  Then there are the stains I don’t know how I accumulated. Yeeeeeeeeeesh

Verdict-stay clear of white. In my stash I have only 2 cuts of pure white. One is a crinkled polyester that I plan to use as a summer blouse and the other is the white, cotton double-knit in today’s knit top (which I have no idea why I purchased).

I’m using the basic Otto T shirt pattern published in 2/2006 Style #1.  I did want to attempt coordinating with the brown pin stripe and chose to embroider the neckline. When I cut the fabric, I cut straight across from shoulder to shoulder and marked the neckline with purple disappearing pen. (You’ll see purple dots all over the top as it hasn’t been laundered.)  I also wanted to work on that beautiful neckline finish of the Waterfall top (Otto 2/2009).  It’s such a simple, elegant finish and I can’t understand why I can’t duplicate the effect on other patterns.

Click for larger view


The embroidery required only two colors, chocolate brown (matching the pin stripe pants) and a gold matching the vest for the Brown 6PAC  When Ruby (sewing machine) finished my embroidery, I cut a facing to match the top portion and then stitched about 1/4″ away from the embroidery; trimmed, pressed and turned to form a beautiful shaped neckline.

I then concentrated on the back neckline. Carefully following the instructions, I added the back facing  to the neck and then stitched the shoulders.  The first time, my neckline didn’t finish smoothly at the shoulders.  I think I know what when wrong and more importantly a small thing I can do so that I can always finish the neckline perfectly. The only change is don’t under-stitch before the shoulders are finished. That’s it. If the facing is under stitched, it’s a bear to rip out and correct the sewing of the neckline. The back neckline must be adjusted to be exactly equal to the front neckline–even if that means stitching the neckline 1-2mm wider. Almost doesn’t work.


Something I particularly like about this finish is that by top stitching the back facing, especially at the cover stitch machine, I can create the look of different back yokes.  I was surprised when my hem fluted. It didn’t flute along the back facing; didn’t flute along the sleeve hems, but did at the hem.  I adjusted the differential feed as soon as I realized the fluting was happening and I’m hoping that the first laundry will make everything OK. But if not, ripping out a cover stitch hem is no biggie.  What perplexes me is how to foretell this will happen. The fluting didn’t occur over 8″(sleeve hems)  or over 14 ” (neckline facing) but did over 20″ (half the bottom hem).  I never make samples that big. Just never. Presently, I’ve left the differential cranked up half a notch.

Pants for the Brown 6PAC

Chocolate on white pinstripe pants

My fabric is rather new. Not more than 18 months. I’m sure I bought it specifically thinking of summer yet here I am using it in the middle of winter for spring wear. I wanted to fill out the basics in my brown capsule.  I was thinking: “I already have a solid dark brown pant. The dark brown strip matches exactly the existing pant. So why not use this one. ”  Also in mind was the sheer boredom just days ago of having worked with the solid black fabrics. There are several troubling aspects to this fabric choice but I’ll write more on that later. I’m not sure where I purchased it either. I have been “keeping an eye out” for pant weight fabrics with just a touch of stretch.   This is a twill weave of mostly cotton with just a bit of Lycra.  It has what Peggy Saggers would call a “slight stretch”.  a 4″ swatch stretches only to 4.5″. I think that’s perfect for woven fabrics. Usually I don’t notice any difference in sewing but during wear the garments are more comfortable and resist wrinkling.

No belt= funny wrinkles

I decided the fabric needed to be made with a pattern designed for non-stretch fabrics and I had jeans on my mind.  (I really want a new pair of jeans.) So I decided upon using Ottobre 5/2007 #16.   It was more difficult to fit the Otto pant to my own figure. But once fit, this pattern has become a favorite.

But as I was sewing I came to believe that I’d made several mistakes. I think this fabric would have been better utilized in a trouser style.  Undoubtedly, some of those wrinkles are from the pant being too long.  Generally I do make my pants a bit long.  I find that they tend to continue to shrink lengthwise.  In a year’s time, most of my pants would be too short, for my personal taste, if they had originally been hemmed at exactly the right length. So some of the folds can be chalked up to length, but others are the result of fabric characteristics and lack of a belt. Compare today’s (above) cotton twill with the corduroy pair  made December 2012

Corduroy, Dec 2012 Same pattern

OK the belt definitely helps and the turned up hem on one leg certainly detracted  but the point is this cotton twill hangs differently from the cotton corduroy.

Alrighty then today’s pictures have several issues. The pants are hemmed at the longest length; one hem caught and turned up; I’m not wearing a belt and the waistband is not finished. After these pictures, I took in the side seams from just below the crotch to the hem 1/8 to 1/4″ I made like a big dart with the pointy end at the hip. So I slimmed the hems by a total of 1/2″. I also finished the waistband, top stitching it and  nailing the facing into place before adding a hook and eye closure. The finished pant with belt looks slightly nicer.

But I still think these pants are an error. Noting that they would be better as trousers than jeans, I threw away the pockets and skipped most of the top stitching. I top stitched the edge of the waistband because I find that’s my best method for keeping the waistband crisply turned and  the facing on the inside.

This fabric doesn’t “read” as brown. No from 10 feett away the pants look  “white” and as such don’t round out my brown 6PAC.

I also ran into issues when selecting fabrics for the tops. I didn’t like anything other than plain white in combination with this fabrics. I had wanted to use yellow as my “pop” of color. I didn’t like the looks of the pin stripe against the yellows. I tried the pinks, peaches, other browns. I think my distaste is wacko. But there it is, I liked only a plain white top with this fabric. That means I won’t wear these pants with any of my other tops; ergo they aren’t a good basic and they aren’t a good  for my Brown 6PAC. Ugh.  Pants done, but 6PAC is out of kilter.

2/2009 #5 for the Spring 6PAC

This is my 2nd top and 5th garment in the black spring 6PAC.

Finally a welcome relief of color.  The fabric is an ITY knit from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I’ve sewn with ITY numerous times. It’s not my favorite fabric but has qualities I do like really well including that it is printed on the most beautiful colors and designs. Oh and it’s way more durable than a Rayon knit.

My garment feels comfortable. Looking it mirror it appears a close fit, but still fine, attractive even for a 60+ year old, pear-shaped, over-weight woman. To my surprise the camera shows that I’m about to burst the seams.

You can even see the moles on my back! Ack! Fortunately I”m most likely to wear it as in the first picture i.e. under a vest.

I chose to use a TNT patterbm the Waterfall blouse from Ottobre 2/2009 Style #5. Not only do I crave color but the project is beginning to wear me down. I do think my ennui comes from sewing garment after garment in basic styles and in basic black. My interest is in design lines, color and embellishment. To be truthful, I started this 6PAC with the attitude of “get it over with”.

I used the 3/4 sleeve because I like a 3/4 sleeve. I find this length of sleeve stays out of the dish water, out from underneath the bathroom faucet when washing hands and out of equipment such as knitting machines and er printers.  At the same time it is surprisingly attractive. Somehow the 3/4 length seems to help visually balance the top and bottom halves of my torso.

I also chose to use this pattern because I’ve tried twice to emulate the same neckline finish. I’m still not sure what I’m doing wrong. The directions are easy to follow and finish perfectly. Why couldn’t I do this with the PJ’s??

To make this version a little bit different from the previous, I rounded the hem. This garment was completely sewn at the serger and coverstitch. I did spend a little time at the ironing board; and I did use SAS to hold the hems in place until they were cover stitched.  If wouldn’t show this next photo except I want to show the beautiful fabric.


I need to review my “CheckPoints” and be sure I start checking the stretch of each and every knit fabric. Honestly, I could have gone up 2 sizes.

For My 2013 Spring Black 6PAC

I have both bottoms completed for this 6PAC and  am beginning the tops. I’m crazy for Ottobre patterns (at least right now) and so I spent time thumbing through my Otto magazines looking at the tops I’ve made and the ones I want to make. But in the end I decided that to create a really successful 6PAC in black, I need basic garments. Garments that will work with everything else. I decided to use Otto’s basic Turtle Neck pattern from issue 5/2011 Style 8

I’ve used this pattern successfully already. This time I wanted long un-cuffed sleeves. I could have measured and  extended the sleeve side seams. Being lazy I decide to “borrow” the long sleeve pattern from Otto’s Basic T-shirt in Issue 2/2006 Style #1

Next I selected my fabric. My stock of black is small but varied. Keeping with the “basic— basic— basic” idea, I selected a rayon rib-knit.These are narrow ribs, *tres elegante. I was a bit concerned though when I laid out the fabric for a quick ironing.  The fabric is light weight, which I wanted for the warming, spring weather but I began to think it might be a bit transparent. My fail-safe proof is to lay the fabric single layer on the cutting table.  My cutting boards are dark green with fluorescent yellow-green lines. If the lines don’t show through –I’m safe. If I can see lines–back to the drawing board. I breathed a sigh of relief  when no lines were visible.

I cut all the pieces and then was called to dinner. (DH is the Chief Cook & Bottle Washer at our house. Ignoring his call means missing a good meal.)  But the interruption was a good thing.  Overnight, I realized that a turtleneck garment, even a light-weight garment probably wasn’t the best choice for a spring garment. Springs here (SD USA) are not the same as the spring weather of my youth.  Yes the temperatures are rising, but they are rising from lows of -7 F ( without wind chill factor and many winters reach much lower).  Temperatures seem to rise in a wave-like motion. I mean they rise every day by a degree or two and then the cold returns and pushes the temps back down. Like a wave of ocean water which advances upon the beach and then retreats. But in spring the cold is never pushed as far back one week as it was the previous week and the highs are higher each succeeding week.  Nonetheless, in my little corner of the world, it will be the end of May before we reach the upper 70’s.  (BTW I feel cold until the temperature reaches 70F.) My point is, a turtleneck will be comfortable now, end of winter, when the daytime temp is 17F. When the daytime temp is 65F, I’ll be sweating.  With that in mind, I made the on-the-fly decision to chuck the turtle neck and cut a deep front scoop neckline which I bound at the cover-stitch with self-fabric. Oy vey! I could have used just the basic Otto T-shirt.

But what’s done is done. I proceeded to stitch this together. My only issue was at the cover stitch machine. For the first time I had problems.  Ever since I brought it home, I’ve used this machine like a trusted pick-up truck. Every time possible, the cover-stitch was put into motion.  Never had a moment’s trouble regardless of thread or material. Suddenly with this fabric, my hems are fluting. It’s  like I’m straight-stitching knits at the sewing machine with a fabric selection of light woven. What’s up with that?  I honestly thought the issue was  too much pressure on the pressor foot. What’s more interesting is the issue didn’t seem to occur on the sleeve hems only on the longer bottom hem. I adjusted the pressor foot several times and finished the long hem. But it was yucky. Not only was it fluting but my stitching line was waving and not attractive at all. Nice thing about a cover stitch, once you get it to start unraveling, it comes undone quick. (‘Course that is a disadvantage at times.) But I was convinced that the pressure was not the problem or solution and decided to try adjusting the differential feed.  Since the issue didn’t show up on the short test piece, or the sleeve hems, I had no choice but to test on a long section, the bottom hem.  I ripped out the hem twice more. Each time about 18″ sections, but then “third times the charm” I got it perfect.

I’m wondering, for those of you who can only machine stitch hems at a sewing machine, what happens if you use your even-feed foot??? With single needle? With twin needle?   Love to have you give it a go and provide feedback.

This would have been a very quick garment and now that I know better, it will be a very quick fix in the future.  So onto the pictures, which can’t show very much

I didn’t see the point of modeling these myself. The pattern fits well. You can see that in my multiple, previous posts.  The white portion, is the cover on Mimie, my dressform.

I probably could have lightened the pictures, but again what’s the point? This is the essential long-sleeve, scoop-neck, T-shirt in basic black with one exception. Most T-shirts are slightly dropped sleeve and blocky. The Otto pattern shoulder ends right at my out-most shoulder point and is slightly shaped to flatter my figure. (OK your figure is flatter too.)  I mean, this pattern could be the basis for the $500 (or more) T-shirt. A beautifully fitting top, plus elegant fabric is worth the $$$ or in my case the time and effort.

2013 Spring BLACK 6PAC Status:

Pants #1 DONE 

Pants #2 DONE

Top1 (Matching)  DONE

Top 2 (Print or contrasting) NEEDED

Top 3 Vest NEEDED



I’m happy.


*I don’t know how to add those accent marks.