Thursday 10 August 2017

Jeggings Attempts #1 and #2

By making my versions of the Luna pants pattern, I successfully created some very wearable trousers whilst neatly side-stepping the trouser-fitting headaches I was having in the spring. So I thought I'd try to pull off the same trick (making wearable trousers whilst side-stepping my trouser fitting issues) by recreating my favourite secondhand RTW jeggings. Here's how that went....

Version #1

Pattern and construction:

Because my old jeggings (the washed-out black ones pictured below) were very much on their last legs, I decided to cut them up so I could lay the shapes out flat, rather than trying to take a pattern from them still as a 3D object. I omitted the back yoke, which didn't seem to be adding anything in terms of shaping, and made the back in one piece instead.

I kept the cut up pieces of dissected jegging so I could take some hints for construction. I decided, as per the originals, to make faux-flat felled seams on the outer legs by making closed seams then pressing and top-stitching down the seam allowances towards the back. The inside legs are regular closed seams. I made the pattern full length, as per the originals, but my #1 copy were cropped due to fabric restrictions.


I've had my eyes peeled for decent jeggings-appropriate stretch denim for a while but it's been pretty illusive. Stretch-denim in general seems to be fairly common, but I need the really stretchy, four-way stretch stuff that's going to behave more like leggings fabric and can deal with an elasticated waist design, rather than the type of denim that you'd buy for making regular jeans that happens to have a small amount of give in it. There's probably a way to describe what I'm talking about using percentages of stretch, but I don't know what that's about yet. Anyway, when I found a 95cm remnant of suitable fabric at a Ditto sale, I snapped it up, even though it wouldn't be quite long enough for the pattern I had copied.


Generally speaking, for a first attempt they weren't too bad, and I've worn them masses in the two months since I finished them. I even like the necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention cropped length, which has made them really useful for the summer. And I thought I could get winter use from them if worn with long socks and knee-high boots.

So, the bad stuff. The first thing that grabbed my attention was that the overlocking and my faux-flat felling of the outer leg seam felt very noticeable. I probably should have overlocked away at least 0.5cm of the seam allowance before the top-stitching. However, I don't know if it's the wearing and washing softening up the outer seams, or just sensory adaptation, but I realised the other day definitely don't notice it as much these days.

Also, I'd say that overall they are a little big, probably because the fabric of the originals didn't have quite as much stretch as the blue Ditto fabric so the pattern is a little bit too large for this particular fabric. And they are also way too high, particularly at the back. I like that I can bend over in a playground with absolutely no chance of scarring anyone for life, but I have to yank them up from time to time as I don't think it's helping the baggy-bumness.

Speaking of which, check out the horrendous-ness of all those under-bum wrinkles in the image above. I was sooo tempted not to share the back view of these, but then I really need your hive-mind opinions. After all the wears and washes these have had so far, I think the fabric has got a bit saggy, especially by the end of the day which is when I got Pat to take these photos. However, I fear those wrinkles may not be all down to saggy fabric and that some pattern adjustment may be required. Annoyingly, I didn't give the under-bum much notice when I first made these so I'm not sure what the fit in that area was like when the fabric was still very fresh and new. I'm really hoping that it IS the fabric rather than an issue with the pattern, because considering all the hassles I had/am having with the fit of the slim-legged, side-zipped, Ultimate trousers, any visible pooling of fabric/wrinkles under the bum is making me feel like this:


Version #2

Pattern and construction:

After the relative success of #1, which I view as a wearable toile, I was excited to crack on with another pair soon after. So I lowered the height of the waist by 2cm at the front and 3cm at the back (blending between the two at the sides). I decided to leave the overall size/width the same in case my next piece of fabric had a better recovery/wearability than the blue Ditto stuff. I was also excited to try out the full-length of my pattern, which I'd kept accurate to the originals in length and width round the ankles.

As for construction, I learnt my lesson and made proper flat felled seams on the outer legs to hopefully reduce/omit the discomfort in that area. I also chose a quicker and less faffy method of attaching the waistband/elastic channel than I did on #1 that I won't bore you with. I was also feeling pretty confident going into this version, so I decided to add some patch pockets for extra interest, seeing as I wasn't using contrast top-stitching this time round.


If it's possible to be in love with a piece of fabric, then that's what's happening here. This version is made from some super stretch denim from Fabric Godmother. I'd seen it at their studio space during our recent Portslade bloggers' meet-up, but I didn't buy any because I was on a budget (which obviously got blown anyway). But I kept thinking about it so emailed Josie to check she still had some in stock in advance of their July Open day, hoping she'd put some aside for me if it was running low. Because she is the more generous and thoughtful lady, she sent me a length for free instead! I'm not sure if she getting any more of this exact denim in stock (might be worth emailing her), but there are a lot of other fabulous similarly-stretchy denim on their site, including this blue that I also have some of.


Ok, first the good points. These feel really comfy and generally I think they look pretty good, therefore I've worn them heaps since I finished them. These are a more recent make, they haven't had as much wear or washing as #1, however I'm pretty sure that they will fair better over time. These pictures were taken when they were fresh out the wash, but you'll have to trust me that the black denim doesn't get so saggy by the end of the day. The real flat felled seams have worked a charm and I don't notice the the outer leg seams at all.

Now for the faults that I think I can improve on without inducing a headache. They still sit too high on my waist. It may not look like it, either in the flesh or in photos, but this is a personal comfort thing. When I wear them now, I tend to roll the waistband down to get it sitting where it feels most comfortable to me. When I can muster the patience, I will go back and unpick and re-do it for a lower waistband permanently.

Another simple flaw is that my patch pockets are sitting too low and too far to the outer leg seams. The height doesn't really notice too much as I always wear tops that cover at least the waist area of these jeggings (I've just got my top tucked in for these photos so you can see what's going on), but for future versions I need to make a note to position them a touch higher.

I also think the wrinkles around the knee are because the jeggings are too long in the leg, so hopefully I can make those disappear easily enough.

Right, time for the tricky stuff. It may not have escaped your attention that, although not as pronounced at the rear view of version #1 there's still some wrinkles under the bum on this pair as well. I think this could be for one of three reasons (or a combination of the three):

1) After an aha-moment whilst listening to the Melissa Fehr episode of the Crafty Planner podcast, I wondered if those wrinkles are a pooling of fabric caused by the fabric being pushed down because the fit is too tight across my bum (although they don't feel it). If that's the case then I do not have a Scooby-do (Cockney for clue) how to change my pattern to correct that.

2) Perhaps less visible in these photos, compared to the originals, like version #1, version #2 still feels too room-y around the pelvis and thigh area. The waist fits fine because I adjusted the elastic to be the correct length so they pull in sufficiently at the waist, but if I were to take in the side seams a smidge from the waist to the knee my theory is that there's less likely to be any wrinkles if the fabric is stretched more across my body. I guess this route would lead to a tighter, more sprayed-on effect like you see many of the 'youth' rocking these days. Annoyingly, I can't simply nip these in to test that theory because of the flat felled seams.

3) The issue could be the same one that my trouser-fitting saga is throwing up. I might need to do some 'scooping out' of the back rise, or lowering the back crotch curve, or taking in the in-seam (although the latter may have cause me problems when I did that to my black pair of Ultimate trousers) because of some kind of low-bum issue or something.

One word:


What is also clear, is that each different denim fabric would need its own unique sewing pattern to get the best version of jeggings possible. But without making a toile and the subsequent pair from the exact same fabric, I guess I'm going to have to forgo the real flat felled seams in favour of making a pair that can be adjusted at the seams to get a close-to-perfect fit for future versions.

Going forwards:

Having recently read through a lot of Tasha from By Gum By Golly's trouser-fitting trials and being inspired by her tenacity, I'm more determined than I felt for a long time to really get to the, umm, bottom of my trouser fitting endeavours. So now I've got two challenges: to perfect my jeggings pattern, and to perfect my Ultimate trousers pattern. Both these patterns require fabric with some stretch content, unlike Tasha who is aiming to get a great fit for wovens both with and without stretch. I don't feel comfortable in slim-legged trousers or jeans of any type made from fabric without the lycra/elastane/spandex/blah blah. So now when I find some nice woven-with-stretch fabric, I'll pick which of these patterns it'll probably be best suited to and push onwards...

As it stands, I feel the jeggings are closer, but I'm determined to nail both. Then Frankie will pack in breastfeeding and winter will come and I'll put loads of weight on and have to make a whole heap of new pattern changes! Oh, and one day I hope to find the 'proper jeans' sewing pattern that appeals and use that as a base to work on that type of garment too. Hopefully, by then, I'll have learnt so much about trouser fitting and my personal shape that I'll have a heap of knowledge I can transfer to that.

If you have any insights to my fitting issues, please do share your thoughts via a comment. And, how about you? Do you ever wonder if you should just go to a shop and buy some trousers/jeans/jeggings instead?! Have you gone down the trouser/jeans/jeggings fitting rabbit hole and come out victorious? Please let me know! 


Unknown said...

Hey Zoe!
Last week I remembered your trousers saga and asked myself: "why do you try to fit a pattern to your body instead of making a trouser pattern block with your measurements?"
You know about pattern manipulation so you could start with a basic that's really made for you!
I have some training on it, if you send me your measurements I can send you a paper block and you try it out ;)

Keep it up*

Jane said...

Do you think the under-bum wrinkles would bother you if these were actual jeans? Because that's what that fit area looks like to me - kind of how I'd be pretty happy for a pair of skinny-ish jeans to fit. I guess if you've had store-bought ones that don't do this then you have a really particular fit in mind, however I think these look flattering and comfy!

Roni Arbel said...

First, I think both tries look great!
Regarding the wrinkles under the bum - I had the same problem with the ultimates. It may be due to not enough length in the back side seam compared with the crotch. I would suggest adding a bit of length at the side seam at the hip area, and ease it into the front lag piece. It helped me...
It will not change the fact each stretch fabric is different though. I thing basting jeggings before final stitching will also help.

Like you, I can't tolerate non-stretch pants. But the quality of stretch fabric I can find is so low, it annoys me to put the effort only to have something that won't last. I love the Alexandria peg trousers by Named for that reason - they are made with non-stretch wovens but have enough ease to be really comfortable. Also with non-stretch wovens you don't really need to make so many changes to each pair, and worry about recovery and baggines at the end of the day.

My fall goals are: 1. make skinny Gingers, as my RTW of the same shape are my favourite silhouette, althpugh I know the low-quality fabric I'll make them with will bother me (but what other choice do I have? I can't find anything else locally...). 2. Copy an rtw boyfriend jeans I have and make them from non-stretch woven. 3. Hack the Alexandria pattern to have proper waistband and zipper. 4. Try a Luna-Alexandria combo with stretch cotton. I already drafted it, keeping the Luna waistband and crotch curves with the Alexandria leg shape, but I can't bring myself to cut into the fabric, knowing it may fail.

Knitlass said...

Just a thought re: toiles & specific fabrics. Could you get away with making shorts rather than full length trousers when you toile?

Knitwitsowls said...

I was about to say making shorts might save you a lot of time? that way you can work out if its a fabric issue or a pattern issue?


Fabric Tragic said...

Thoughts..... definitely don't toile as shorts - I did this recently and missed terrible diagonal drag lines at my knees (apparently means a knock knee or full thigh adjustment). But enough about me.... I think the black ones are really very good. I'd be really pleased with them. From the side view of the blue ones I suspect you have a flat bottom (unlike me, who has a full one). It creates excess fabric under the bum and diagonal lines to the hips. There's a few different tutes around on a flat bottom adjustment. I've come to the conclusion that super stretchy fabrics have a mind of their own when it comes to thigh wrinkles.... it can really be a big unknown. Style Arc has a pattern called the Flat Bottom Flo which is drafted especially for ladies with a flatter bum, might be worth a look? I'm waiting for them to release the Big Bottom Betty.... xx

SewRuthie said...

Yes scoop the back crotch only just a bit, it lets the butt cheeks sit slightly lower in the pants which reduces under bum wrinkles.

Anonymous said...

The butt is a fascinating fitting problem, it's hard to tell but it looks like a depth problem, i.e. the wrinkles are diagonal rather than horizontal or vertical. This means that the pattern needs some adjustment in both a horizontal and vertical dimension i.e. a wedge of fabric needs to be either added or taken away. The question is does the wedge need to be added or taken away and at which seams? There is already the suggestion to adjust the side seams and this is perhaps a good place to start, rip up to the place where the diagonal creases originate at the side seam and adjust accordingly. I suspect that more body depth needs to be added to the crotch seam at the back. Do not give up, you are doing a great job, to perfect a fit many designers make 9+ toiles Another approach is simply pin out the wrinkles, opening up any seams as needed if the pining makes it too tight and then unpick and use the pieces for a new pattern. I pinch and pin my wrinkles, then sew them in place and have a look to see if the problem is fixed before I decide if that's a change that makes sense or not. Good luck!

Birgitte said...

Trousers are hard to fit! I see there are a couple of suggestions already that I generally agree with (Fabric Tragic and Anonymous), but I'll add a short note. I was given this advice on fitting once, and it has served me well - if you cut into the fabric in the problem area, what happens? Does the fabric want to overlap, and how? Does it spread, and in which direction?

This might not always be feasible, but looking at your pictures and preforming this as a thought experiment I am leaning towards extra fabric needing to be pinched out right under the bum, as it looks like the fabric would want to overlap if it were cut apart.

I hope all of us rooting for you is encouragement! :)

Zoe said...

Thank you all so much for the encouragement and ideas! I'm definitely going to try another version in a month or so and will report back of course...

@Ana, you are the sweetest! Thanks so much for your kind offer, however I couldn't allow you to waste your time drafting me a trouser block when I'm sure you have heaps of your own sewing projects to be getting on with. I think I'm close to being happy with these, I don't think I need to start with a whole new pattern at this point, fingers crossed! Thanks again lovely lady xxx

vintagerockchick said...

I devoured this post with much interest Zoe, as I have the same problem with under-bum wrinklage - in fact, if you ever perfect it, sell it as a pattern - I'll be first in the queue. And in the past (years ago) I did a pattern cutting course and made my own trouser block and still wasn't over the moon with the results. I know I have a low slung, flat bum, so I'm not sure whether to persevere in my pant-fitting quest, or just to save up to have my buttocks surgically Kardashianed. Gill x

Mother of Reinvention said...

I have exactly the same problem in trousers. I always got the under-bum wrinkles. I think it is because I have a flat bum compared to the rest of me. I am peeing myself laughing at Vintagerockchick's comment above. "Kardashianed". :) Xx

Leigh said...

I've been in trouser fitting hell for the past few weeks so I definitely feel your pain. I've just done a Craftsy jeans fitting class that made the "scooping" out the back crotch curve make sense to me. It seems counter intuitive and like you're taking fabric away when you should be adding it but what you're really doing is making space. You're adding room for your bum in the trousers and because the adjustment is downwards rather than sideways it shouldn't mean you need to add anything onto the side seams. It helps the wrinkles underneath your bum because you've taken away some of that excess fabric to give your bum more room.

Becky Jo said...

Zoƫ...I'm pretty much just lurking the comments... :D. I never did get my Clover pants to fit fact blew out the butt seam in a store picking up a case of water. Ha! I got my Junipers to fit by quasi-cheating. I cut the crotch an inch lower on all pieces, and cut the rear legs a size up from the front, then just took in the seams until I got them where I wanted them. I love them now! I've got my Ginger pattern and $200 in denim sitting because I'm honestly not feeling confident in my "Mickey Mousing it" method- American slang for questionable methods. :D

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TracyKM said...

I've recently been through this same process! I was shocked when I saw the rear view on my first run of a copy cat pair of pants!
I made a second pair and I don't think I changed anything except the fabric since I wasn't really aware when I started, how the blue ones looked yet.
I played with pinning the side seams smaller and while that did reduce the under bum wrinkles, I could tell I wouldn't be able to bend. I also thought I needed to raise the front crotch and scoop the back, but I don't think I did that for the next pair. What I have learned through trial and error is that a very small adjustment can make a huge impact. I used to scoff at the idea of taking in just a 1/4". But multiplied by the four edges, that's a whole inch!
For my third pair, I did take in the sides I should really do a photo shoot with all three pairs plus the originals. I never thought I had droopy bum with the originals, though that fabric was a crisper feel, though same weight. I think I did add a wedge, or took out a wedge...I should compare to my original pants pieces.
I also think we get too critical when looking at our pictures. How often are we standing straight, nice and still, for more than a few seconds? I think if the fit feels really good, then perhaps that should be enough. But then I look at the pictures and think...if I just zipped off a little here and added a little there...

Anonymous said...

There was a so called „workshop“ on a german sewing forum in 2013.

I found it just four months ago - and for the first time in my 20-years-sewing career I have now a pants-pattern that suits my body.

I know it’s in german and for normal pants, not leggins, but perhaps it can help someone in the future and there are photos.

in sum:

It’s not so important to draw your own pattern but you have to mark the grainline and the orthogonal horizontal lines for crotch and mid-bum area on your muslin.

This lines should stay straight.

For example: If the mid-bum-lines forms a v-shape, then crotch-depth is to short - wenn the grainline isn’t vertical, but tend to the middle in the back, then you have to add there material, even if then the waist is to lose. the excess fabric you can take away on the sides or by darts …
you have just to keep these lines more or less vertical / horizontal …

But you have to take care not to produce some pants just for standing around …

kind regards

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