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.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Style Arc - Linda Stretch Pants (at LAST!)

Did you see the movie "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?  It was a story of four girls, with four completely different body shapes, and one pair of magical pants that fit each girl perfectly.  With all of the reviews of these pants coming from women with utterly diverse body types, and pretty much unanimous rave reviews about the fit, I can't help but wonder if there's something magical going on...

So of course, in continuation of my Style Arc binge, I simply HAD to include this pattern, in the hopes that it would fit me as well as it does everyone else.

The suggested fabric (and enclosed fabric sample) is for a stretch bengaline, which is a woven fabric with just a small amount of 2-way (not 4-way) stretch.  It is apparently easily available in Australia, but not so much in the U.S. (at least in good quality), so us poor non-Aussies have to make do....  I had a mystery fabric that was a nearly perfect match for the sample, albeit a bit thinner & with more drape.   Sadly, my (nearly nonexistent) fabric cataloguing methods left me totally clueless about what this fabric was :::eyeroll:::  Especially since it really is a great fabric for these pants!

I swear I'm going to change my ways.   Definitely.  With my next fabric purchase.   For sure.

The first thing I did was compare the pattern (size 10, in my case) against my best-fitting pair of RTW stretch pants.  The most notable difference was that the Linda pants had a much wider back piece, and a longer crotch curve in the back.   Was this the magical fit secret?  The overall sizing appeared to be good for me, so I carried on, & cut them out exactly per the pattern, except for the length...

Note on the length:  I'm 5'4" (almost) & my legs are proportionately short, so I chopped off almost 3" from the length.  (they allow for a 2" hem)  I did not allow for how much fabric would be taken up by my *ahem* thighs, so I ended up with less than an inch for hemming - I'll leave more next time!  (Yes, there will be a next time)   I would say the length allows for a 5'5"-5'6" person; if you're taller, or have long legs, definitely add more!

There are 3 pattern pieces:  Front, back, & a folded waistband that is the same for front & back.  There's a nice little tip about the recommended stitching sequence in order to "improve the crotch shape".   (Sew the inside legs together, then the crotch seam - back to front, then the outside leg seams)  I'll believe their method, because something sure seems to work!

They do say to use a "stretch thread" - I'm pretty sure what this means is a "stretch stitch".   I used the zig-zag lightning stitch on all of the leg seams, and a long stitch, followed by serging, on the waistband.

The waistband calls for adding 2" wide elastic (optional).   Given the stretch of the fabric, you could possibly get away without using any elastic - I considered this, but ended up using 1-1/4" elastic.   Partly because I didn't really want elastic THAT wide; partly because that's what I know how it is....

I stitched it into the top fold of the waistband, like so:
1.25" elastic & folded waistband

elastic placed near the fold

elastic stretched & pinned in place 

Stitched along the top fold
I then basted the waistband in place, to check the fit - pretty darn good already!  The waist sat a little high on me, but then my waist to crotch ratio is on the short side as well.   So I trimmed 1/2" off the back of the pants, tapering to 1/4" in front.

These pants could easily be a quick evening project, start to finish, but of course, if you follow my sewing progress, you know by now that I'm going to find something to do to make it a little more challenging....

In this case, the RTW pants I was comparing these to had a little hidden zippered pocket at the waistband, and I decided that would be a fun addition.   Which is why, instead of finishing these in one evening, they took 3.    The fuzzy brain that goes along with late night sewing was a contributing factor in taking so long to figure out the logistics, but I did end up with a workable pocket.  Finally!

If anyone wants to tackle it, (or improve on it - please do let me know if you find a better way of making a pocket like this work) here's what I did (apologies for the fuzzy photos):

  • I used a C&C invisible zipper (it's what was available on short notice - next time I'll find a sport zip w/ lighter, smaller hardware; this was too bulky!
  • I cut a length about 4.5" - too short by the time I secured the end & had it sewn in.  5.5" minimum next time!
  • Sew the waistband on with a long stitch (to be serged later) & leave an opening for the zip.
  • Sew one side of the zip to the waistband, the other to the pants top

  • Cut one piece of fabric for your pocket - I serged the edges
  • Sew the top of the pocket to the waistband seam and the zipper tape, so that your seam is made with the following layers:  the 2 raw edges of the waistband, the zipper tape, and the pocket top

Pocket laid in place

Pocket flipped up
  • Serge the waistband to the pants, making sure you don't catch the lower zipper tape in the stitching.   It got tricky around the zipper pull (note the blank, unserged area), but I figured this would all be nice & secure when I topstitched the SA in place.
  • Note:  I really should have used a wider serge stitch -  it wouldn't have helped my issues of getting around the zipper pull, but it would have helped with the topstitching!
  • Clearly, I need to learn more zipper techniques to avoid this issue in the future!

Finished Zipper, open....

And Closed.
Next, I just sewed the pocket in place around the edges - you can see the stitching on the outside, but it's pretty subtle with a good thread match.  There is a bump where the zipper pull hardware is; I want to check out some other zipper brands, since I think this whole technique could work well once I get it figured out.   I would also place it a little more towards the center, so that the zip pull doesn't sit right  above my hip bone.

The 3-finger pocket.
I don't think any pickpockets are going to pull a fast one on me with these pants!  ;D
I would definitely want to add an inch in width, but still, the pocket is big enough for a key & a credit card, or even a cell phone :)
And....ta Dah!   The finished product:

This is not how I would normally wear pants like this, (shirt tucked into stretch pants = not such a great look) but I wanted to show the fit details, and it's not like anyone but my closest web friends will ever see this picture, right?

Bottom Line?  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Linda Pants has been carried on!  I'm very happy with the fit overall.   (My tummy is a different matter, & it isn't even Thanksgiving yet....rats....But that's what stretch pants are for, right?)  I'm not really sure how I can improve on this fit - if anyone sees any solution to the existing wrinkles, do let me know, but overall, they're super comfy & I WILL be making more!  I'll definitely cut them a bit longer, & will try them in a slightly heavier fabric.    And I won't bother with the pocket in all of them, although I do like my pockets.....

I think it may be time for a bit of Style Arc break for awhile.

That is, unless my Jilly Jeans arrive tomorrow.   I mean, JILLY Jeans?   What choice do I have, really? I know they weren't really named after me, unlike the shaza pants, which really WERE named after our very own shams.

Which makes me wonder, has anything ever been named after you?   Any interesting stories out there about your namesakes?


Sew-4-Fun said...

I agree, magical pants! These look wonderful and straight out of the envelope too. Doesn't get any better does it? I actually just finished whipping up a new pair of Linda pants myself. One hour, start to finish including cutting. Fabulous pattern!

kbenco said...

They are terrific trousers on you, the fit looks great. I love your secret pocket addition. I have not tried these yet, the Style Arc patterns being rather unlike my measurements, but it is becoming difficult to resist them!

Sew-4-Fun said...

Jilly, I forgot to say. If you would like to get rid of those tiny diagonal wrinkles in the back (and they are tiny), I'd suggest reading my review of this pattern and the alteration I did to the back leg, point c. I had exactly the same wrinkles and this fixed them.

shams said...

These look fabulous on you, JillyBe! So glad they worked out! What is even weirder is that I make the same size! I don't use their waistband, but I otherwise make it out of the envelope!!!

I got email from Chloe at Style Arc, that they are mailing me the Shaza pant. I am tickled to get a free copy. ;)

vtmartha said...

These look terrific on you, JillyBe. And even weirder is that I too wear the same size. They are truly magical and I'm convinced that in my case it has to do with that longer back crotchline. Thanks so much for the pocket tutorial as I definitely need to incorporate a pocket into my next pair.

Trinity said...

Gorgeous! These pants look absolutely fantastic on you. I think I'm going to have to get me one of these "magic pants" patterns, since I still haven't found one that I'm completely happy with. Thanks for the detailed "review".

Mary said...

Great pants JillyBe...I am trying very, very hard to resist buying more patterns. I may fail in that after reading your Style Arc posts.

Andrea said...

Wow - these look great, hard to believe no big alterations! I have got to get this pattern. And no, you've got no choice but to make the Jilly Jeans. ;)

Margy said...

The pants look great, Jilly! I don't think I've heard of anyone who doesn't
love them. They'll be on my next order, for sure!

Aroura said...

I'm amazed that stretch pants can look so stylish! Awesome job on adding the little zipper pocket. These look great on you! Magic pants indeed.

Jilly Be said...

Thank you everyone! I've been wearing them all morning, and they're so comfy it's almost like nothing on at all. LOVING these pants!

Dixie said...

Glad the Linda pants traveled well to you! They look great on you. The zippered pocket is a great idea. I can tell this pattern is well on its way to becoming a TNT for you.

gwensews said...

Those are terrific pants. You could make a whole wardrobe of them without hesitation.

Moushka said...

Love the pocket; thank you for the neat instructions. Those pants look fabulous. Chloe really knows what she's doing.

Anonymous said...

The pants fit you nicely. Thanks for taking time to write a detailed review.

House of Pinheiro said...

Fab as always xx