About 6 months ago I purchased the Espresso Leggings pattern from http://www.sewingcake.com patterns. It sat for a while waiting for the flurry of brides to subside and this week I was able to open the huge worksheet and do all the measurements and tracing of my custom pattern. Now, you all know that I moan on and on about people who never measure themselves and their paper patterns and assume that it comes out of the envelope all ready to go…so did I.
What could go wrong? I measured, I traced, I used high quality Ponte knit from Marcy Tilton and here are the steps for those of you who are thinking about jumping into this project:
Looks great doesn’t it? So simple…nice crotch curves front and back, no side seam…only 2 seams and some elastic fold-over at the top…a breeze right? Let’s trace it with my favorite tracing material and lay it on the fabric: So far so good: I’m ready to baste! Here’s the first shock…the crotch is a full 2 inches too low and the pants legs will not allow me to pull them any higher…how did this happen? The side view is horrible…the hem is supposed to be a cropped style but because the pants won’t pull up higher, they sit on my ankles…what to do? Since there is no side seam…let’s create one…slash the full length from waist to ankle. Adding and pinning in 4 inch wide strips might help.
. OK, so the pant legs pull up and now there is a 4 inch fold-over at the top but happy days…the crotch is where it should be. The new pinned side panels don’t bother me and at least I can get them on and off.
So, after all this messing and adding, I wondered what exactly was the magic formula that was used to make this work sheet for this pattern.
I went back and measured ALL the dimensions and discovered: my waist measures 37, the pattern minus seam allowances measures just over 32 inches…so the pattern removes 5 inches from my waist for a knit…OK but how in God’s green earth will 32 inches with elastic waistband fit over my hips at 42 inches? The waist dimensions do not get larger for the hips, they go straight down to the crotch curve.
You are asked to measure your upper thigh…it measures 25 inches but the pattern measures 21.5 minus seam allowances….so almost 4 inches are removed from the actual body measurement for a knit. Nowhere is there anything for a hip measurement…is it not necessary to clear that region on the way up or down?
The next measurement we make is the knees…simple right? My knee circumference is 16 and the pattern measures 13.5 again for a knit. Now granted Ponte is mentioned as a fabric choice on the envelope and you all know how much it stretches and it should at least get up over my butt but it could not without a huge struggle.
Could I have used something else, sure but this is my fabric of choice and without the (4 inch) 3 1/2 inch minus the seam allowances strips, NO amount of swearing would get those pants to fit.
My leggings now have 7 inches added from top to bottom and the waist is 39 inches before elastic casing, (will slide over my hips) each thigh is 25 inches like mine and the knee is 17 inches. I have cut off 3 inches from the top fold-over so there is just 1 inch to fold and insert the elastic. Want to see the almost finished leggings?
To start with, I wanted the long new 4 inch wide strips to lay flat toward the pant legs, not flip towards the strip…do you know the secret? Whatever you want on the top to be seen has to have the right side of the serging. So that means serging/overlocking in opposite directions to get the right side of both edges…make sense? I know you all have been taught to sew in one direction your whole entire lives but if you have ever worked in a factory that is just a joke. All garments are sewn on a circle with the presser foot never without fabric under it, all seams are fed into the machine right after another with no breaks, so you have my permission to sew one side up and flip it and sew the other side down. See how nice my new seams will lay flat: Some more views of the almost finished leggings: and with the eventual shorter length after hemming: What have we learned from all this messing?
If your leggings pattern measures LESS than your measurements…BEWARE! Wrap your knit fabric of choice around your waist and drag it down over your hips to discover what circumference you need to get them on and off. Do the same for your thigh…wrap one and drag it up and down. Do the same for your knee. This will vary from knit to knit so no one pattern will work every time…SORRY! Using a very stretchy knit might work with “minus measurements” but only you can decide how tight you want to wear them. Making a muslin using cheap fabric will not always mimic the real fabric.
Adding 7 inches at the waist and hips makes my leggings wearable and sit-able. Adding 3 1/2 inches at the thigh and knees allows my legs to bend and recover without bagging or feeling like I have a tourniquet on.
One last thing…I promised a cool bustle so here is your moment of fantasy….this dress had a huge beaded focal point and I used 5 points to feature it and get the dress off the floor for some dancing: I use colored safety pins to mark bustle points and also include under the lining, a memento of the wedding date if the bride wants it. It is embroidered, and hand sewn so that it can be removed later if they want it to be framed or made into a pillow:
Happy sewing everyone!