Simplicity 7393: bells with a yoke

The pattern: Simplicity 7393, MISSES UNLINED JACKET, VEST, PANTS AND SKIRT, copyright 1976 Simplicity Pattern Co. 

This cover art is such a delight. Look, look, the girls are fashion designers!!!! Behind Pink Girl is a bulletin board with sketches and fabric swatches! Green Girl has paper and a paint brush!

Anyway, I made the pants. 

The fabric:

Navy blue wool crepe. Nice. Neutral. Classic. Understated. Not bought by me. My husband bought this a while back for a project and then got distracted by something shiny and never got back to it and when I asked him if I could have it he was like, “Of course. Was that mine?” 

I’ve come to notice that all the fabric in the house that is nice, new, and in any sort of useful amount (for example, 3 yards) is stuff that he bought, with a purpose in mind. Such as this wool crepe. Everything else is the stuff I find and bring home for no reason: tiny crazy second hand scraps. It all becomes mine eventually though muhahhahaha…

Speaking of him getting distracted by other projects, this is the sort of thing that distracts him. (That link goes to an imgur gallery of an old black&white tv he rebuilt, and the channel he programmed for it, to play old cartoons and stuff for our little boy. It’s pretty sweet.) 

I machine washed and dried the fabric before cutting, so the fabric would go ahead and shrink, so the pants can be machine washed and dried later. The shrinking also makes the crepe gather in on itself and gives it a lofty, spongey, stretchy quality which is really nice to wear. These are the most comfortable pants, pretty much ever. 

I’m on the search for that One True Pants Pattern, you know, the one that fits perfectly with no fixes, straight out of the envelope. This one is close, but is not quite it. I had to reshape the center back crotch curve in the butt department, which I tell ya, is hard to do in a dark color on ones own body in reverse in the mirror. 

That was it with this pattern though, no fixes through the leg or waist. Oh, I lengthened the back darts too. But that’s it. Usually there’s all kinds of adding crotch depth and taking in the inseam and reshaping everything. Comparatively, this pattern comes pretty close to right. 


This pattern has one major weirdness! 

The instructions have you sew the front yokes onto the front pieces, press, topstitch, and then make a lapped zipper all the way up through the yoke seam, to the waist. The problem is that the yoke seam (two layers plus interfacing with topstitching already in place) is very thick, and there is only 5/8″ allowed for the lap, and this thick seam allowance takes up room and crowds the zipper, and it’s a total mess. 

I found this really frustrating and impossible. I think my fluffed up fabric was a problem, but even with chino, poplin, or denim (the top three suggested fabrics), zipping past the yoke would be a problem. I mean, if you only have 5/8ths inch, you’re barely left with 1/8ths inch, maybe 1/4 to stitch to the zipper tape. This doesn’t seem like enough to hide a zipper as is, without even adding the problem of the bulky yoke seam being folded into the zipper lap. 

Additional weirdness: as patterned there is no closure at the top of the zipper. I read the instructions like four times (which I never used to do, I used to think I knew better but now I’m like Why Reinvent The Wheel, if they wanna tell me how to do it I’ll listen) and never found any mention of a hook or button or anything At All to secure the waist. 

I thought about just closing the front altogether and doing an invisible side zip, but there would be the same problem with the thick yoke seam. So, I made a fly underlap (which there wasn’t one of in the original pattern, of course) and had the zipper stop at the yoke with two buttons through the yoke. It’s not an elegant solution, but it does keep the pants on. 

So yeah, other than having to totally solve the zipper, this is a great pattern! I love the wide leg shape. 

My little boy took the picture below, I especially like how it captures the pants flaring out from the knee with movement. So seventies. 

That’s him in the foreground, his shoulder, wearing the rice print shirt from his Halloween costume. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. But differently. It would be neat to convert these to a fall front, like have the yoke come around to the side fronts and then have the front be flat, no yoke, closed with buttons with an underlap. Maybe have the side front seam angle off into some pockets. Or get rid of the yoke in the front, have it just be in the back. Something, definitely, to avoid the yoke/zipper conflict. 

Post Script: My T-shirt is from the Theodore Payne Foundation, one of my favorite places. It’s a nursery in Sun Valley that specializes in California native plants, grasses, flowers, and trees. I think this place is great and want everyone to know about it. 


Simplicity 5247: pants, dot dot dot

The pattern is Simplicity 5247 from 1972. Unlined “shirt-jacket” and pants. 

Please zoom in on the photo and observe the finest example of pattern-art humor I have ever seen in my entire life: 

The girl all in white? Who looks like she’s going on safari? Check out her belt buckle. SP. Simplicity Patterns! Hahhahahaha! Isn’t that amazing?! 

I made the pants, which are double darted at both front and back, a natural-height waist and a straight waistband, with a shaped bell-bottom leg, out of this fabric:

Really big dots, really uneven. 

I couldn’t find a repeat in the dot pattern. Usually I squint at the fabric and the repeat will jump out, but this one, just, not jumping out. Each dot is irregular in shape, and irregularly spaced. I tried folding, flipping, all kinds of realignments, no repeat. 

This fabric is actually a set of curtains, and it finally occurred to me that they must’ve been printed from one big screen-print. Like, there is no repeat, the pattern of dots was created, in a large format, and that’s the entire print. Each dot its own, no yardage, no repeat. I guess the fabric was printed with a break between each curtain-sized dot-array, where the factory would cut and hem? More convenient for a large order this way? Kind of funny to think about. I’m so used to endless, continuously printed yardage, designed in scale for a human, not a window. 

So, I knew I wanted this big dot stuff to be pants, and that the center front seam had to match. Or else. No mirroring or butterfly or open-book effect at the center front. That would be embarrassing. Other than that, I had to give up on any of the other seams pattern-matching. And they sure don’t. I considered running a solid stripe down the side seam to make the chopped up dots less crashing-into-each other, but decided not to: that would only make a crazy pair of pants look crazier. 

I was able to get the front to match by using the second curtain, which is identical, and having the pattern continue across the front. Which is a little weird in that the pattern appears to continue across my legs too, but hey, at least no butterflies.

These pants took 9 hours to make, three or four of that was messing around with pattern placement and then flatlining the pieces for better weight and opacity. 

I really like this picture above, with my boy at edge of frame. I like how both of us are completely into our own projects. Also, I made everything he’s wearing. 

Part of the reason I made these pants is beacause I actually need pants. I got through the winter last year with three pairs of pants. Which got me thinking about how many is enough, what’s the optimal number. 

I recognize that I am fortunate, in that I could theoretically have as many pairs of pants as I want. But how many is that?

Three is not enough, because they end up being worn on such a constant rotation that they wear out at the same rate and suddenly I go from having three pants to zero. So what is ideal. Seven? Is one pair of pants for every day of the week excessive? In addition to skirts and dresses and gym leggings etc etc? 

Maybe five is more reasonable? But if one of them is a little crazy looking, like with giant dots, does that pair become more of a second-tier pant? Less of a basic? 

I think this is why people live in jeans: they’re such a neutral, they blend from one day to the next, no one’s ever going to notice if you wear one pair several days in a row, you’re free to not think or to enjoy the comfort of a broken-in pair. 

After thinking over this for a while I remembered how I have a friend who owns seven tuxedos —like not just suits, tuxedos— and how in light of that, seven pairs of pants seems totally reasonable.

This fabric, by the way, is from the most annoying yard sale I have ever been to. Nothing had a price tag, which is the worst, so I had to ask the lady of the house how much everything cost, and each time I asked she would launch into the entire story of the thing in question, including how much she paid for it when it was brand new and how rare it was and all other details she could recall. Then she would name the price, which was high. For this set of two curtain, from IKEA, “These are designer! They don’t make them anymore! We barely even used them!”, she wanted ten dollars, which is completely against my belief that nothing at a yardsale should be more than a dollar, since I consider yardsales to be the last stop before donating to the thrift shop. 

Later my husband and I came up with the perfect yard sale pricing scheme: X is twenty dollars, but if you listen to my entire story, it’s free. 

But I totally bought the curtains. They provide a lot of yardage. And I felt a little sorry for her and maybe recognized myself in her, her belief in the worth of her possessions was a little heartbreaking, and apparently no one’s ever told her about eBay or Craigslist. Which is where you sell old things when you want real money for them. 


This pattern is a Sew It

Vogue Patterns 9690: trousers wowsers

The pattern is Vogue 9690, MISSES PANTS, undated but clearly 1970’s, described as straight-legged with some pocket and pleat options. 

I would usually stay far, far away from both pleated and high-waisted (technically these are not high-waisted though, they sit at the natural waist, but appear high to my I-was-a-teenager-in-the-90’s sensibilities), but I recently saw Annie Hall for the first time (as part of my Continued Pop-Cultural Education. I turned to my husband and said, “I see style references to Annie Hall all the time. I should probably understand them.”) and so we watched it and I loved it and was struck by one clothing moment where we see Annie singing in a club and I really couldn’t tell at first if she was wearing very full-legged pants, or a long skirt with a belted waist, and I was like Ohhhhhhhh, THAT is what pleated high-waisted pants are supposed to do! 

So then I busted out Vogue 9690. 

I love this pattern art. The women look not just stylish —a quality surprising often absent from pattern art— they look sexy. Which, like, is a vibe I pretty much never get from pattern art. And I like it. More sexy pattern art, please. 

I particularly like View A lady, with her open buttons. Reminds me of a line I can’t remember from All The King’s Men, (the book [Robert Penn Warren, 1946] not the movie, although I should probably put that movie on my Continued Education list too) that went something like, “She walked in, wearing a very mannish suit with some very un-mannish business going on underneath.” 

Which, there: that’s probably the most superficial thing anyone’s ever paraphrased from All The King’s Men. But it’s a neat reminder, that using menswear styling to highlight ones female attributes is a trick that’s been around for a long time. 

I made View C, the pompadour lady in the middle there, which is the only version with pockets. 

The tiny flap pocket in View A is fake! It’s just a flap! There’s no pocket under there! It’s a lie!

So drapey. Ooh lala. 

This copy of the pattern is a size smaller than I needed, the picture below shows how I graded up. Which was super easy. I drew a line on the pattern and wrote right on there how much to slide the pattern over or down, and the result was an added two inches total at the waist and two inches total in the crotch length. 

The pattern turned out to have about an inch of ease from the tops of the pants into the waistband in addition to the shaping provided by the pleats and the back darts. This is too much for me: makes the waist nip in uncomfortably tight. I think Vogue patterns might be proportioned (no matter what the size) for a small bust, even smaller waist, and medium hip. But not exactly a pear shape, more of a fashion body. 

I had these pants completely done before I figured this out though, and didn’t feel like recutting the waistband. So, if you care to notice, you can see that the belt loops are not symmetrical: I took the waistband off and used the front tab overlap to let out the waist another inch. 

Why does it have both an underlap tab and an overlap tab anyway? That’s just silly. So now mine only has the underlap. 

I used some grey silk for the pocket. It rolls out a little, but it feels so nice. 

I’ve never really understood the purpose of back welt pockets on trousers —I mean, I’m not going to put my keys back there, that would be all lumpy and terrible looking— but here below I can see it! Welt pockets are there to explain the horizontal pull that naturally happens! Aha! 

See? Those aren’t welts, but it would look a whole lot cooler if they were.

These pants took about 12 hours to complete including taking the waistband off and letting out the ease and putting it back on, but they felt like they took foreverrrrrrr. Like at least twice that. I looked back at my notes and saw that I’d broken this project up into 11 different sewing sessions. So, no wonder it felt like forever: I kept putting it down and picking it up again. Tedious! 

The fabric is from a yard sale, I think the lady selling had a home business. Lots of terrible 80’s men’s vest patterns! 

My only complaint with Vogue 9690 is the pockets. They are shallow. All I’m ever going to put in my pants pockets is my hands, and they don’t fit. Boooooo to that. 

Otherwise it’s a Sew It. These pants are great. Who knew pleated and belted was a thing I could be into. Not me for sure. 

McCall’s M6707: some kind of cummerbunded, tuxedo-striped capris 

The Pattern:
McCall’s M6707, MISSES’ PANTS, copyright 2013 The McCall Pattern Co.
This pattern is inspired by NBC’s Fashion Star. Whatever that is. 

The Fabric: 
The main fabric is black canvas, the contrast stripe and waist band are a very dark irredescent green. Like a beetle. Which is cool in real life, but does not photograph at all. 
Seriously, after trying a bunch of different photo-adjusting, black and white is the only option that showed the seamlines. And I think the seamlines are the entire reason for these pants? Because other than a stripe/yoke combo they’re just kinda regular pants with an awkward, tapered, loose fit and a dorky length? 
Why did I even buy this pattern? 
I always think capris are going to be great and then, there it is. 
Actually, I know why I bought this pattern. It was on sale, back before I had the JoAnn’s app, when the pattern sale was this phenomenon that not even store employees could predict. For reals, I asked a lady once if the pattern sale was on some kind of seasonal schedule and she was like, “oh no, we never know when it’s going to be.” So whenever I stumbled into it, I would just buy all kinds of crazy mess. 

Grainy black&whites! Wheeeee!

Here below is the point of this whole pattern: my butt. No wait I mean the tuxedo stripe and back yoke, which are cut in one piece and have a corner you have to reinforce and clip, and which is just not cool enough looking for all the trouble involved. 

And here below is the part that I find most interesting. Changes!
Rather than describe all the changes, I took a photo of the pattern piece diagram and drew in red the changes I made. 

Ok a little description. The main changes are that I made a fly,
—this is the second modern McCall’s pants pattern I’ve done up that had no fly. It has a fly facing cut in one with the front, but no separate fly. Why no fly, McCall’s, why no fly???—
I made the waistband higher and more like a cummerbund, which is more comfortable for me than the mid-low rise of this pattern,
And I reshaped the crotch seam. Which I had a fun time thinking about, how when you let the seam out at the center back, as per the top blue arrow, you give more room for your body, but as the seam continues under, letting out means you are actually going higher into the crotch and giving your body less room, so instead you have to drop down as if you are taking in but you’re really letting out, as per the lower blue arrow. So crazy!
And I made the crotch shape more of a rounded square than a U. 
And some other things. Slits at the ankles. Took in the back inseam more than the front. Would’ve taken the whole thing in even more but this fabric has no give and I need to bend my knees sometimes. 


13 and a half hours. Mostly checking fit, reshaping, checking fit, changing, checking fit. The pattern calls itself easy, and it really is if you just do it as is: the zipper is the biggest construction challenge on pants, and these pattern instructions are nice and succinct. 
My only beef with the zipper, other than the no fly weirdness, is that the zipper and waistband close right-over-left. Technically correct as these are women’s pants and women’s closures are supposed to go right-over-left, but a front zip is traditionally a menswear detail, and I wish the pattern had just bowed to tradition on that one. You know, like how womens jeans open the man way, because jeans were menswear long before women started wearing them. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Throw it. 
This pattern was not made for my body. All those changes, just, lord. I mean good practice, but lord.  I think I could achieve this sort of cummerbund tuxedo stripe look better if I started with a heavy stretch fabric and a high waisted leggings pattern and cut them as is from the knee up and straight and stove-pipey from the knee down. 

Simplicity 4760: pants, now with more crocodile 

See how puffy this envelope is? That’s because it contains ALL THE SIZES OF MAN.

the pattern:
Simplicity 4760 BOYS’ AND MENS’ PANTS AND SHIRT, copyright 2004 Simplicity Pattern Co, Inc.
Yes, this old thing again .
But this time in corduroy, and with animals!

front, with mama and baby crocodile and mama and baby kangaroo awwwwww
back, with solo echidna
the fabric:
The brown corduroy is leftover from a pair of pants I made for my husband a while back. It’s light weight, has some stretch, and has narrow wales.
Pin wales?
Speaking of wales, I was watching Venture Brothers the other day and there was a villain named Wide Wale and he was wearing a corduroy suit and it made that raspy corduroy-stride sound, at max volume, every time he moved, and it totally cracked me up.
The animal fabric is a printed cotton that flew all the way from Australia, from Australian Grandma, who is vigilant in keeping her grandson stocked in kangaroos and wombats and etc.
I used stitch-witchery to make patches and then fused them onto the pants and zig-zagged the edges. The plan is that they’ll serve as knee-patches to keep that wimpy corduroy from wearing through.

Didn’t have a big enough piece of the corduroy, so the legs are seamed in back.
All nap going downward.
The direction of the nap is an interesting thing: nap going up generally gives a deeper, more intense color, but it feels gross to me. I always make the nap go downward, unless someone makes me cut it the other way. I’ve heard this refered to as “pet the cat,” as in, you make the nap go from top to bottom in the same way you’d pet a cat. Pet the cat the wrong way and you get Bit.
Skipped the zip in the center front, but did put a fly facing inside to reinforce the fabric so I could topstitch to give the totally more grown-up appearance of a zipper while keeping them as pull-on pants.
I used the waist facing to make two channels for elastic.
I had just enough corduroy to make a back pocket, which the pattern doesn’t include, but which I think helps take these pull-on-pants out of dangerous are-those-pajamas-or-are-they-real-pants territory.

I’m adding a new category! I forgot to say!
Time! Because I want to get better at estimating how much time a project will take, in my head, immediately, before starting the project.
So, time on this one: 4.25 hours.
To emphasize: I’m not trying to get faster or to brag about times or create any kind of time-pressure for myself (or you), I’m just trying become better at estimating time by keeping track of hours and making note of them here.

pants, framed by the award winning Administration Building
pants, in the Shoin Building adjoining the teahouse
pants, on the way to the viewing pavilion overlooking the actual water treatment part of the plant. It’s so pretty!

Above, the pants out in the world.
And not just anywhere in the world, this is The Japanese Garden & Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, which is an incredible place and definitely the most beautiful water reclamation plant I have ever visited.
It’s mission, to quote the little coloring book that came with our admission stickers, is, “to show how reclaimed water can be used in a delicate and positive manner.”
It’s beautiful. Seriously. I could see having a wedding here. Just, maybe, on a day with a breeze. Sometimes it, well, smells exactly like a water treatment plant. But it’s so gorgeous I feel like everyone should just Be Adult and ignore that factor.

Sew It or Throw It:
This is the third time I’ve used this pattern, and it’s Sew status remains intact.

McCall’s 3724, a 3-part adventure including that time I dyed


the pattern
McCall’s 3724, copyright 2002 The McCall Pattern Company
I don’t remember why or where I bought this pattern, but I do remember that McCall’s Face on pattern after pattern. Cheers to you, nameless illustrator of The McCall’s Face. Whoever your model was, I hope she loved you back.


Part 1 of the Three Part Adventure:
I made the pants. View A, no belt loops, no slit, no cuff.
what I changed from the original pattern:
– Pieced the lower legs in back, because my fabric wasn’t long enough.
– Made a fly. Why doesn’t this pattern come with a fly? Was the fly forgotten or is it really supposed to be a flyless zip? Why would anyone want a flyless zip?
Very Mysterious.
Other than the missing fly, great pants.
Here is a picture.


So then, Part 2:
The pants got bleached. Let’s not say who put them in the wrong load of laundry, let’s just say he apologized about a million times. I didn’t take any photos of the pants all bleached out, because it made both of us too sad.
Part 3:
I finally dyed. The pants.
RIT in dark brown.
Kind of funny that RIT Dye is what you use, no matter if you’re in the dye room or at home in your kitchen. RIT all the way.
I hate dyeing though. It’s so variable. Will it be right or will it be a mess? You’ll never know until the project is all finished hahhahahahaaa too bad for you sucker!!!!!!
That dye had been sitting around for months by the time I finally made myself get out the biggest pot and put it on the stove and heat the water and stir in the dye and disolve the salt and all that, with a steady monologue of, “Is this pot even big enough? This is going to be a travesty. A horrible tie-dye-looking travesty.” But it turned out ok!


sew it or throw it
Sew it. Big pants 4-ever.