Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Those of you who read my blog may have noted the vow I made at the start of the year to stop buying premade clothes. I was clear back then that there may be some exceptions, but my starting point was home made is best. I have been taking photos of what I wear and trying to pay attention to the garments I wear, how flattering I think they are, how comfortable, what they cost, how well they last. I wanted some data to back up my feeling that buying clothes is not better, and to help me decide if, what and where I'd be buying any clothes I didn't make.

I've been finding this vow an easy one to keep. In fact once I made the decision and stopped paying attention to store made clothes I felt entirely liberated about six different ways. But then I got a yearning. I read this post and I suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to buy me some jeans. Some designer jeans, made especially for plus sizes and heavily discounted. I had just made myself some jeans and they weren't bad but they weren't perfect either and in a rash of consumer lust I just wanted a pair of perfectly fitting wear every day jeans.

Now I wear jeans a lot. If I'm not at work and the weather isn't too too hot odds are on that I'm wearing jeans of some kind. I love them and for me they are pretty close to the perfect garment in terms of practicality and comfort. I'd started sewing my own last year because at my size I have pretty much been confined to cheap chain store plus size versions and for many years I bought pretty much any pairs I could find that fit me because, well they weren't too easy to come by. At around $50 a pair I've probably bought and worn out (or thrown out) a pair or two a year and while I've continued to buy and wear I don't have many super fabulous my favourite jeans memories.

On top of all this I've lost a little weight in the last year. Not a heap mind you, but just enough to make the jeans that were a wee bit big before too be quite big now. I've kept on wearing them but my consciousness is growing that they are probably looking worse now than they ever did. I think I tend to sit between two sizes and err on the side of caution, buy them slightly too big, wear and stretch them and end up with baggy bum syndrome.

So when I seriously considered buying some new fancy pants jeans and started touring the Embody site it didn't take long for me to start lusting in earnest for some proper fitting jeans. And when I found the model I liked the most had a discontinued colour that I could get for less than a quarter of their original price it was a done deal. I bought them, dyed them to darken the colour and shortened them. They were a much tighter fit than I would normally buy and at first I was hesitant. I wore them for a day and found them quite comfortable, but they gave me a bit of a 'muffin top' (a look I detest) so I decided I needed to do some comparing.

I started out just wanting to compare them to the jeans I had most recently made, but the exercise quickly extended to every pair of pants I own.

My conclusions?

Most of my pants need altering!

Pants that look OK from the front can look pretty awful from behind. I think this is because my belly is the most 'oversized' part of me shapewise and because I can see it I tend to buy or make clothes that look right from the front. The lower part of my butt is relatively small and all my hip shaping is at the back instead of the sides. So while I need to measurement of the hips to be big, it needs to be in front and back, not side to side, and I don't need a correspondingly large measurement across the lower bottom.

I think this means I need to work harder on making the same pattern until I get a better fit around the butt. There are a few things I already know to do on patterns - drop the side seams a little, curve a shaped waistband to have the curves further towards the centre back and front rather than the sides, slightly raise the centre back and take in the centre back seam. But I need to mess with those crotch angles to do something about those flappy bits above the tops of the back of my thighs if I ever want to wear wide legs again!

I also need to pay a lot of attention to fabric plus pattern plus fit. Rows 11, 12, 13 and 14 are all made with the same pattern but different fabrics. One has already been altered and another needs altering, but the other 2 are fine. There are other examples here of the same pattern used twice, though in different sizes, and both times whatever was wrong the first time wasn't fixed by changing the size, because shape is just as important as size.

So weigh in - which ones do you like and why? What ones look awful, what alterations do you think need to be made to what? Can you guess which ones were bought or home made, which ones were expensive (in either fabric or bought garment) and which ones were cheap??

edited to add -
I've done my first refit! The last row pants now look like this - befores on the left, after on the right.

As though I were making the pants new I took in each seam - it would have been good to pull them apart before I did this but I didn't know when I started that I'd have to go this far! I took off the waist facing and started with the side seams. Next I took in the back and crotch seam and then the inleg seam. Before attaching a new waist facing I lowered the waistline, most on the sides, then the front and least on the back. Lastly I attached a new waist facing. They aren't perfect by any means - the back of the leg still sits lower under the butt making creases on the bias from front to back. Not sure how to fix this! Anyone else know?

Also - I am fascinated by your opinions - thank you!


Paisley said...

OK, I'll dive in.
Of the jeans: Rows 3, 6 and 7 have the best front fit and Row 3 has the best back fit - not too gapey.
The Row 8 jeans (which I think are homemade?) have that nice wide leg thing happening at the front but are a little too big at the back.
Row 12 (the light bluey-grey? ones) - these don't look very flattering. I think it's the lighter colour with the snugger fit that doesn't look quite right.
Row 15 - I like the fit of these both front and back.
Row 18 - I love these wide legged pants - they're a teensy bit big at the back, but the overall look is great.
You mentioned comfort. I think this ties in with confidence. Things that fit properly and sit where I want them to gives me an extra little bit of "swagger" in my step. (I say this today wearing a pair of pants whose waistband sits too high on my short-ish torso, thus requiring constant re-adjustment and gnashing of teeth and swearing never to wear this unflattering ill-thought-out purchase again!)
Great post by the way - you've got me feeling inspired to do an inventory of my pants this weekend!

Cecilia said...

Timely post - I had my second baby three weeks ago and am currently going through that "what fits my 'new' body" stage...and have been thinking about doing the work to actually get a pattern to fit me, rather than settling for OK. (when the time comes that I'm near a sewing machine again.
As for your pants - I think the last ones and rows three and 18 are the best.

Knit - R - Done said...

The wide legged trousers look the best to me. What's fascinating is that we are almost exactly the same shape. I don't have answers for you, but I will be watching to see what works for you. Thanks for doing this.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Just found your blog. Had to comment because I have the same body shape as you and the same problems fitting pants. I need room up front, but not in back. This weekend I'm trying something different; I am starting with a maternity pants pattern. I had to cut off a lot of the upper part on the front, but so far it's looking pretty good! Yesterday was a pair of shorts, today I will start with that pattern and add length for long pants. I'm hoping this will be the end to droopy butt syndrome.