A Pants Pattern That Fits…Priceless

I’ve been lax in sharing a great class I took recently. I’ve now taken two classes from Palmer-Pletsch certified teacher Nancy Seifert. This time it was a four-day pant fitting class at Pacific Fabrics. (Nancy and I are working on my pattern tissue in the photo.) I got a great-fitting tissue pants pattern — priceless! — and made two pairs of pants. Okay, I still have to sew the hook and eye on one of the pairs. Pati Palmer herself joined us for the first day.

There were several women in the class, including one who wanted to make jeans. (Oh, my gosh I’ve never seen so much top-stitching in my life, but those jeans really fit her!)

In the P-P method, you cut out the intended size on the pattern lines, tape along the seam line, pin the pieces together right sides out, and mark the changes. We used a McCall’s pants “basic” supplied by Palmer-Pletsch.

The theory is: Why waste time cutting out nice fabric, or even muslin, when absolutely everyone needs to make modifications? Nancy then fitted us while the patterns were held on by 1″ elastic, taking out darts on some bodies, raising crotch seams on others, and adding tissue to side seams. The most important tip I learned is to pull up the tissue in the rear, above the elastic, if you have a flat rear. Others might need more tissue in the front or rear. Having made tissue modifications, most of us headed out to shop the lovely expansive Pacific Fabrics SODO (“South of Downtown”), which was about 30 steps away. I nabbed navy blue Italian wool suiting (so dark that no photos turned out, unfortunately). After cutting out, sewing in the zipper and stitching the crotch seams, we tried on again. (Before I forget, basting tape is less sticky and I discovered that I don’t have to hand-baste zippers anymore!)

Nancy made further modifications, checking the seam lines, etc. and some of us transferred these changes to the tissue pattern. However, some changes we chalked up to the specific fabric we made up. In other words, a linen will have a different drape than wool crepe. I learned the important difference between how fabrics “make up,” and not to over-fit in the tissue. One woman’s second pair of pants needed taking in, because the fabric had more drape than the first pair.

The class was so valuable to me, even though I realized I was coming down with a cold on the first evening. I managed to make it to bed early, but made silly mistakes and felt rather weary through about day three. Pacific Fabrics’ buyer Sharon joined us for lunch one day, and she shared that Pacific Fabrics used to have stores in local malls. She says home sewing has been in decline for decades. It seems impossible to me, since I am surrounded by the sewing dreams of myself and others, but it’s true. Sharon says hardly any suppliers remain who will sell to fabric stores. Yet I enjoyed learned hearing about trends, and that Pacific Fabrics buys from the trade in Los Angeles and overseas. I’ve since worn my new navy wool pants several times, including to a work meeting. A well-fitting pair of pants — and the possibility of more — is pretty near priceless for me.

Learn more about Palmer Pletsch — they now have classes in Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia and Kalamazoo (Michigan).

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