• Singer Perfect Plus

    Sew a Mix-and-Match Wardrobe for Plus and Petite-Plus Sizes


    Kathleen Cheetham presents 4 enclosed patterns, step-by-step construction, and fitting instruction. Readers can create a wardrobe of versatile and stylish garments--which can be adapted for office wear, casual wear, or evening wear, just by varying the colors, fabrics, and finishing details. Never have to say you have nothing to wear again!

  • The Pocket Stylist

    Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Unique Look

    Professional fashion advice for all body shapes and sizes!

  • Pants for Real People: Fitting Techniques

    Any sewer will benefit from the fitting techniques featured in this informative DVD, a companion to Pants for Real People: Sewing Techniques . 

    Sewers will learn how to buy the right-size pattern, fine-tune it before cutting, and then tissue-fit it. 

  • Pants for Real People: Sewing Techniques

    This informative guide illustrates how to sew great pants that flatter any fit. 

    The tips and techniques within this useful reference include how to prepare and cut fabric, mark darts, sew zippers, pin-fit the fabric, press seams, and attach different styles of waistbands. 

    This DVD is a must-have to follow up the fitting DVD.

  • Big List of Sewing Blogs

    Big list of Sewing blogs - I'm in, are you?

Building a New Wardrobe for Petite Plus Size Women – Constructing the "practice" fly front pants

(Note: Left and Right of the pants/zipper are as if you are wearing the pants)

When fitting this practice pair of pants, getting the crotch right was definitely a challenge. Trial and error seems to be the only way to do this if you don’t have a sewing buddy to help. It’s difficult to reach down, between your legs and re-pin the crotch while also standing straight so you can see where it needs to be pinned and how it’s hanging! Maybe if you have long arms like an orangutan . . .

After the crotch seemed to be fitting OK, I noticed diagonal folds down the lower back legs. This can happen if you have extended (big) calves (like I do) and requires that the side and inseam be pinned to allow more fabric down the back of the leg than the front (from the knee to hem only). After re-pinning this way, one leg hung smoothly but the other still had the diagonal folds (less prominently). I had no more seam allowance to work with so I decided to sew it up and see what happened.

I totally sewed these pants in the wrong order. I sewed part way down the back center crotch seam first so I could fit them without pins in the crotch. As I fitted the crotch, I sewed the rest of the back crotch almost to where the crotch line and the inseams meet, stopping about two inches below the zipper extensions and leaving a hole where the front and back crotch met.

I inserted the side seam pockets and interfaced along the hem allowance and the zipper extensions. I also stitched the darts.

Next, I re-fitted the lower legs as described above then I sewed the inner and outer leg seams. After sewing the inseams, I was able to sew the front and back together at the crotch, closing the hole I’d left.

Then I began on the zipper insertion. I found a dark pink zipper in my stash that was the right length. Since it won’t show anyway, I decided to use it for these pants.

Inserted zipper in pink pants

Inserted zipper in pink pants

I finished sewing the crotch up to the bottom of the zipper extensions then basted the center front from the waistline edge down to where I’d left off sewing the crotch. I pressed both zipper extensions back along this basting. Then, as I was reading the instructions for zipper insertion, I realized I needed to finish the edge of the extensions.

I turned to my serger machine to neatly finish the two long edges. Next, I removed the basting and re-pressed the left extension so it underlapped the right by 1 cm, as instructed.

I took the fly front stitching guide from the pattern, glued it to corrugated cardboard and cut it out accurately with my rotary cutter. I used this guide to mark the stitching line on the outside of the right fly front(with it folded in place) with a water soluble fabric marker.

Fly front stitching guide mounted on cardboard

Fly front stitching guide mounted on cardboard

Then I used 1/8″ basting tape along the outside edge of the left side of the zipper tape and stuck it to the inside of the folded left zipper extension so the teeth followed the fold very neatly. I’ve never used basting tape before but it’s what Nancy from Sewing With Nancy recommends. I love it!

The basting tape held the zipper perfectly in place. I used a zipper foot to machine sew along the edge of the teeth (with the basting tape at the outer zipper tape edge, I avoided gumming up my needle). Everything stayed perfectly straight, including my stitching line. After stitching, I pulled off the basting tape. It sticks firmly enough to be a bit difficult to remove. It doesn’t come off as easily as Nancy shows on TV. But it sure held everything nicely during the sewing.

Next, I used the basting tape again to position the right side of the zipper down the right side extension. To do this, I applied the basting tape to the zipper and peeled off the backing. Then I laid the right side flat on top, keeping everything lined up properly. When I lifted the pants up, the zipper was stuck where it needed to be. I tweaked it a bit and before sewing it, I unfolded the extension so the stitches only went through the zipper tape and the single layer of fabric of the extension. Again, the basting tape worked wonderfully.

I folded the right extension back  to the inside of the pants and top stitched along the marked stitching line. Then I misted water to remove the pen marks and pressed to dry and flatten everything.

Finished fly front on the pink pants

Finished fly front on the pink pants

I kept the zipper closed during the entire insertion process except when the pull-tab got in the way. When that happened, leaving the needle down in the fabric, I lifted the presser foot, and slid the zipper tab forward or back to get it out of the way and keep my stitching straight. After sliding the zipper tab, I lowered the presser foot again and kept right on stitching.

This was, by far, the neatest job I’ve ever done of inserting a zipper. Everything worked the way it was supposed to. Even the top stitching on the right front actually went through the extension the way it’s supposed to. The stitching usually goes off the edge of the extension. I’m guessing this is because, on this pattern, I adjusted to straighten the center front before cutting. Or maybe it’s just the pattern. I’m not sure.

After the zipper was in, I trimmed the seam allowance in the hem area of the seam lines to 1/4″ (to remove bulk) then pressed the hem. I serged the edge of the hem allowance and folded it up. I used one of the fancy stitches on my machine to topstitch the hem in place. It turned out very nicely.

Hemline stitching on pink pants

Hemline stitching on pink pants

I tried on the pants at this point. They seem to fit a bit bigger than before. I might take them in a bit before going any further with construction.

All that’s left is the waistband but I have to decide whether I’m going to line these pants first. I’d decided to line them since the fabric is so thin and I chose a slippery, pink fabric from my stash. When I washed and dried this lining fabric, it came out TERRIBLY wrinkled. I’d thought it was polyester but now I’m not sure. The wrinkles didn’t press out very well with ironing. If I had to iron these pants every time I washed them, I’d never wear them! I will have to find something else.

This linen-like fabric definitely drapes better with some supporting fabric underneath and, since I live in a cold climate, I’d get more wear from something warmer. But if I can’t find a lining fabric that will suit, I’ll have a pair of nice summer pants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *