I have my variety of leggings and popover tunics, I thought next it would be fun to make some almost real pants. By almost I mean not “real” jeans with a zip fly or structured pants, but what I’ll classify as woven pull-on pants. I had made pair of pants previously that fell into this category, and they received so much wear that I wanted to put up some similar patterns against them.
Those pants are Jalie 3461 Éléonore pants and I whipped up a quick pair to go with the tunic I made for the Tunic Bible book tour by Goodbye Valentino. I had heard such nice things about them, but I wasn’t necessarily sold on them from the listing details. I’m glad I took a chance because these pants have been a winter staple.
So then: what other patterns to put up against them? I asked in the Capsule Wardrobe Sew Along group on Facebook and got a lot of suggestions. I looked at all of them and tried to get down to pants that met similar criteria while still giving me slight variations. After all, I don’t really want four identical pairs of pants when this is all finished.
After looking at a multitude of patterns I arrived at Love Notions’ Sabrina Slims, Style Arc Cassie, and Laela Jeyne Scarlett Moto Skinnies. I recognize that I have a bit of a comparison within the overall comparison with two moto-style pants and two more streamlined pants. I thought this was a good compromise to give myself variety while still maintaining a balanced comparison.
This is another type of garment that I’ll need to do a muslin to work out any adjustments I need to fit my body, so there will be this post for the muslin stage, then four separate reviews for each pattern, and one final comparison post. Fabrics will also play a key role, as these have slightly different recommendations for fabrics. I paired fabrics with each pattern carefully to give the best head to head comparison.
My current relevant measurements are: 5’8″ tall. 36″ waist, 39″ high hip, 42″ full hip, 25″ thigh, 30″ inseam. I’m kind of between a rectangle and an hourglass, but I lean more towards a rectangle because I don’t have a defined waist, particularly from the front. I have a forward tipped pelvis and a bit of a swayback. I like my pants to sit at my hipbones in front and just above the top of my bum in the back – right where I’d rest my hands on my hips while standing. I have prominent quadriceps muscles and whatever the opposite of thigh gap is, that’s me.
I selected the size to sew based on the recommendation in the patterns, and made muslins for each to determine any fitting adjustments I needed to best fit my figure, which I’ll discuss below. I’m not going to get into details of the pattern and instructions here; I’ll do that in each patterns’ own review post.
I sourced all of my fabrics from Cali Fabrics. While not a sponsored post, they did extend a nice discount to me so I could get all the fabrics from a single source and generally made my life easier by listing fabric weight and stretch percentages. This is my first time ordering from Cali Fabrics, and it won’t be my last. I needed to get 3 yards of each fabric because I needed to muslin from the same fabric to get a true idea of the final fit. I made my muslins shorts length and my hope is that at least a couple of them will work as shorts, so I cut pockets where I could from in between larger pieces and constructed the waistbands as the final will be.
Again, this is the one pattern I had made previously. I went ahead and took photos of my first pair. I have worn these at least a couple times a week since I made them in October. On these, my muslin led me to slash and spread the back yoke about half an inch. After wearing them regularly for six months, I don’t think I needed that much extra, so I closed up the yoke to only about a quarter inch additional. This worked well, and I like the rise on my new muslin. I also used 1.5″ wide elastic instead of 1″ as I’ve found the elastic likes to flip over in the front while I’m wearing them. I think the additional width will help with this, and so far it seems to be doing the trick on the muslin pair.
Muslin: This right here folks, is why I needed to muslin with the same fabric as my final garment. The stretch on this twill is less than the denim I used on the first pair. The listing on Cali Fabrics has these at 25% stretch, and when I did my own test I could manage to pull a 4″ section to 5″, or 25% — but barely. I’ll size up one or two sizes to make these fit more comfortably. I am also remembering that I did sew a slightly narrower seam allowance through the thigh on my first pair, which is where the tightness is most noticeable.
Laela Jeyne Scarlett Moto Skinnies
Muslin: The Scarlett Moto Skinnies call for the least amount of stretch in the recommended fabrics – only 2-10%. This is waxed denim with slight stretch – maybe 5%? There’s a little bit of excess width at the hip, so I’ll narrow that some on the final pair. There’s also bunching below my butt which I think I can attribute to the excess fabric at the hip.
There are two options for the waistband for the Scarlett Moto Skinnies. I muslined the side zip option, but I’m not 100% sold on it. It’s pretty and I like the seamless result, but the invisible zipper is not winning the fight against this heavier and slightly stiff denim. It’s difficult to zip, and does this then qualify as a “pull-on pant”? The other option is a knit waistband, but I’m leaning towards a compromise of a sturdier zipper instead.
Here’s how I slimmed the hip with a basting stitch on this muslin to be sure it addresses the issue. If that doesn’t fix it all I can also make the rear crotch curve a little deeper. Remember, these should be small, incremental changes so you don’t go too far the other direction.
Here’s the adjusted muslin. I could NOT get the zip to close past the waistband – I tried so hard I bruised my fingers and was in serious jeopardy of breaking off the pull. It’s a subtle difference, but I think this is pretty darn good. Remember this is is 10 oz. waxed denim so I’m attributing some of the wrinkling in the back leg to that stiffness.
Love Notions Sabrina Slims
Muslin: I made the version with seaming on the front and back leg. There’s also a plain version. I’ve got some diagonal lines at the front crotch which is telling me the front crotch curve is not deep enough for me.
The legs are tight through the thighs, so I’m going to add a little width there – focusing on the front thigh since my bulging quadriceps (Isn’t that a lovely term? We decided in Capsule Wardrobe Sew Along that we’re changing that to “sporty quads” – much better!) are the majority of the issue. I can tell this because of the way the side seam pulls to the front through the upper thigh. This is happening in all of my pants, but I can see it the most clearly on this pair. Making a size larger in the front pieces through the thighs will likely become a standard adjustment for me going forward.
These have a distinct upward slope in the center back for a very tall rear rise. You can see in the side view above that the fabric wants to push down and make a bump below the waistband. I’m going to take out at least an inch in the rear rise to address this. I have to say, this is probably the first pair of pants I’ve made with too tall a rise for me. I’d certainly rather have too much than too little!
Those horizontal lines could be from the thighs being too tight, or it could be that the rear crotch curve needs to be deeper.
Making the adjustments that were subtractions from my muslin (meaning I didn’t open the vertical seams to make more room in the thighs), I pinched out and basted 1.5″ at the back waist below the waistband. I also used a French curve and deepened the curve on the front crotch.
Much improved! I’ll be able to get the rest of those wrinkles out when I make the final pair – there’s a little bit of extra in the front that I can take out when I don’t already have the waistband attached. I’ll also make room for my sporty quads. This fabric is a midweight stretch twill.
Style Arc Cassie
Muslin: It’s difficult to see the details with this black fabric so I’ve overexposed these photos to make them more clear. There’s excess fabric at the front crotch that I thought at first was the same thing I saw with the Sabrina Slims. I put each muslin on while I was writing the section and examining the photos and I came to the conclusion that the issue with these is the front rise is a little too tall for me. There’s also some horizontal folds in the back that I think will smooth out with a slight adjustment to the depth at the bottom of the rear crotch curve. This fabric has a bit more stretch than the rest per the pattern recommendations and they’re very comfy.
I did the same fold over in the center front to remove about half an inch from the front rise, blending to nothing towards the side seams. I tried them on and decided I did need to adjust the back crotch curve to be deeper at the bottom, which you can see in the yellow pencil.
Again, overexposed to try to see the details. I think this is loads better so I’ll transfer this adjustment to my final pair.
So here’s the thing: There’s nothing wrong with any of these patterns, and there’s nothing wrong with my body. There’s just a mismatch between the two that was more noticeable in some than the others. Apparently Jalie’s block is closer to my shape than Love Notions’ or Style Arc’s. I have a feeling that those ladies with a sassy booty will find themselves a really nice fit with little adjustment from those two, and if you’re more of a pear I think Laela Jeyne is your gal.
You cannot sew a pair of pants that are meant to hug your body and expect them to fit well without making a muslin. Needing to make adjustments does not mean a pattern is wrong or “bad”. Designers draft from a set of measurements which are based on averages – the likelihood of someone having exactly the same measurements at precisely the same height are next to zero. Even though my measurements put me in a single size for most of these patterns, the way those proportions show up on my body are not exactly the same as the pattern.
In my next posts I’ll be talking about each pattern individually. While each designer has their own block, or overall shape they design for, there are some standard guidelines in drafting for the depth of the crotch curve and the ratio between front and back rise. I’ve calculated the total crotch length for each of these patterns and I think I’ll trace off the curves in Illustrator to show them all together.