Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Butterick 6142 - The Pants

I need new pants. It's getting colder here on the East Coast and the pants I presently own are too big. I also want a skinnier leg pant than I've presently been wearing.  The worse thing a "fat girl" can do is wear too big clothing and 80% of my wardrobe is too big now.

So during my hiatus from the blog, I decided to try and alter a new pants pattern. I chose Butterick 6142 as the pants pattern for two reasons. One for the elastic waist and the slimmer legs of the pants and two because it will work in a ponte.

Extensive alterations to the pants pattern to make it fit my new measurements means I did a lot of pattern work. However, the pattern did have an interesting alteration line on the pants pattern front ~ a crotch alteration line.  Is this a new thing?  I haven't used a new pants pattern in quite some time and was pleasantly thrilled at finding the line on the pattern piece.  Even though it was there I didn't use it to make my changes, though I may in the future.

Instead I used the lengthen/shorten line in the abdomen area of the pants front and back to adjust the crotch line to match the one on my TNT pants.  I figured that and the actual pants length of each leg are the only things that still work for me.

Here are my alterations ~
My daughter and I took new measurements at the beginnning of the year since along with the weight loss there have been some inches lost too. I used those as the basis for the flat pattern measurements.

Because I didn't know where to actually start, I did make the alterations so that they would fit the waistline and butt measurement of my current pants pattern. Hey I needed to start somewhere and I did end up with a wearable muslin pair of pants. I know don't say it...

So the alterations first ~

1. The first and easiest was to add length to the front and back pattern pieces. I added it at the shorten/lengthen line that appears farther down the pants leg.

2. The second alteration was to use the crotch curve from my TNT pants pattern front & back pieces.

3.  Then I had to determine how wide to make the back and front pieces. Honestly I got a little confused here. See I know what my new measurements are - I wrote them down and posted them to my bulletin board.  But something in my brain would just not let me make a pattern piece that small. In my twisted mind, I kept thinking at least I could cut/serge away whatever fabric was too big...IF it was too big! You know I had to serge some additional fabric off the front and back, right! *LOL*

4.  The front and back pattern pieces were altered to reflect that change. I also took a wedge out of the pants front curve. Ummm, yeah if you don't have extra fat there, the crotch curve droops.  See all that extra fabric there...fine for a wearable muslin pair but not for my "real" pants.

5.  Final alteration was to add an inch to the center back merging into nothing into the side seam. The pants dipped a little low in the center back when I stood and sat.

I'm glad I made a wearable muslin because after wearing them I've determined that I have a few more changes to make to my pattern.
  • When I made the original pants pattern alterations, I didn't take into consideration that the waistband had a large foldover for the elastic insertion or that I used up a good 2" with my pulled elastic application. So the pants fit best when I turned the waistband down once and wore them that way. I've since made that change to my pattern piece.
  • I also had an extra amount of fabric in the front equal to the wedge that I removed from the pattern - so my next pair should work & fit better.
  • I was going to cut off some of the length that I added to the pattern legs but the length is perfect. They work well with my sneakers which I wear to walk to work and my wedges or a heeled shoe.

Sewing Observations ~
It's been awhile (at least a decade) since I used anything other than my TNT pants pattern to make a pair of pants.  So I have my own construction order that I use, as well as, my own elastic application.  Hey what ain't broke didn't need fixing especially since my goal was to get clothes to wear - not try out a lot of techniques.

So the way this pattern has you attach the elastic was totally new to me. First there's a pattern piece to tell you how much elastic to cut. As an aside after I made the pants, I've decided that guide is gold! It's so awesome! 

I cut my 1" elastic using the guide and followed the pattern instructions to sew it into a circle.

Then I pinned it to the edge of the pants waistline at the four points.  You had to stretch the elastic to sew it to the edge.  

Finally, you fold it over and use the same stretch technique to encase the elastic.  Here's a pic of the finished waistline.

I'm sure that this is not a new technique. However, I was thrilled with the outcome because you know that I was bugging since Dritz discontinued the elastic I'd used for the last decade in my pants. This technique is just so friggin' cool!

The seams were primarily sewn using my serger ONLY after I stitched the pants together using my sewing machine and checked the fit on my body.

Some more pictures ~ 

This is how I wore the pants last January...

Pants with turtleneck and the artsy vest.

Back view

My next version of these pants were made in a woven here.  There will be more of these pants sewn especially since I pulled the wearable muslin pants out and wore them today. The look of them fit really well in my new reality. Now to go through the fabric collection and pick some more ponte out to make a well-fitted pair of pants. They will go so well with my new Butterick 5678 tunic! always more later!


  1. Nancy Z. shows this method of elastic in her knits book (and in some shows, I think), but I've yet to try it --looks interesting. And I think I mentioned before - you can still get that elastic at Goldstartools. The problem is - they don't show a photo of the elastic, so you don't know what brand it is until after you order. I've ordered two different sizes, and they all come in that white box, with some rainbow stripes, labeled "Soft & Easy Stretch." Just ordered a different size at the beginning of the summer, and it was the same type.

    1. You may have to share the SKU number with me because I can't locate it on the site. I think I went the last time you recommended and couldn't find it either...though I have to admit that I like this new elastic waistline a lot. It wears well all day. Thanks for letting me know that Nancy Z. uses this waistline treatment too...then I know I'm headed in the right direction!

  2. That waistline treatment was the way I was taught way back in the '80's. Well done on getting a new TNT pants pattern! And l love that vest :)

  3. The first muslin of any pants pattern always fits. And then I nibble it to death. The plan this October is to merge my Favorite Pants with the Almost Reasonable New Pattern for Pants, and hopefully lightning will strike twice. Favorite Pants were a lucky make, and they are wearing out.

    I don't mess with the crotch curve; I have trouble with reverse thinking (wait, it goes in and that means it bulges out?. No, let me think about that again) and I always screw it up. And that little wedge on the center back top of the seam: it's a TNT alteration for me.

    You will prevail!

  4. I love the artsy vest! Is there a pattern for that too?

    1. Raven - that vest was a piece of fabric that I purchased from Fabric Mart last year. You basically cut out the armholes and finished the edges of the vest. There are tutorials on how to "draft" your own which you can probably find by googling it.

  5. I use this way of putting elastic on all the time. I've just made 4 pairs of shorts and sleep boxers for my son using this method. It's allows the elastic to stay flat, but it doesn't allow to change the elastic if it goes bad but it's quick and anyway there's lots of fabric out there. I like the vest on you too.

  6. These look great! Fantastic job getting them to fit well.

  7. Nothing like a pair of great fitting pants and a flat elastic waist! You look stunning!

  8. I have lately been inspired to try sewing pants again, with some pretty good "wearable" results. Sandra Betzina has a pattern (it may be through Craftsy, not sure), Vogue 2948 that is supposed to have detailed instructions on fitting. I hope to try it out this fall in my quest for even better fitting. And yes, that method of inserting elastic is the best!

  9. I love the vest. I have not tried to make pants since a couple of wadders last year. Good luck on getting the fit even better.

  10. Your outfit is attractive and flattering. I appreciate your including photos of your pattern alterations.

  11. For various types of elastic and just about anything else you need for sewing, check out I usually order 2" wide knit elastic, then cut it to any width. As for pants elastic, I serge it on, then turn and topstitch at the serged edge, then 1/4" topstitch at the turned edge.

  12. Try the Peggy Sagers videos on pants fit. She uses a crotch line. You pinch out excess on the line and taper to nothing at the side seams. It really improves the fit of the pants. She has an alterations order- LCD, length, circumference, depth. it really works with pants. I don't always agree with everything she suggests and some of her patterns don't work for me. but her pants fit fantastic. I use her alterations order and suggestions on all patterns now. Take out where you need and taper to nothing where you don't. It's a dart in paper. and it works.

    1. Pat - I will check it out because that's what I was thinking of doing! Glad to know I'm on the right track.

  13. This is a very timely post Carolyn thank you. I have just finished a skirt which needed a wedge in the back to cover my ample behind and had a brainwave that something similiar will work with pants. Now armed with this and your info I'm ready to try pants.

  14. These look really good! They also look comfortable. I prefer elastic waisted pants for the comfort factor, but they often don't look chic. These do!

  15. These look so comfortable! I love the artsy vest with them. That elastic technique is one of my favs! We use it at work sometimes, by serging the elastic on then using the coverstitch to fold it over and finish it.

  16. I like the pattern and they look comfortable. We used to use this method of elastic applications in the late 1970's in the ever so popular Stretch & Sew classes. Yes I lived through the 70's and let's not forget the fab 60's. They look great on you!

  17. That is a VERY cute look, Carolyn! I love how you are mixing it up. :D

  18. You should take new measurements, since I think you lost more weight since the beginning of the year? The crotch length really does change and gets shorter. The depth gets shorter too, in which case you'd need to lengthen the legs to compensate. Pants can be the devil, can't they? I have a new tnt pants, the Eureka pants that Sarah Veblen helped design. I also took her pants fitting class on Pattern Review and she's very good. I like her fitting method; it worked for me to finally fix some issues that have troubled me for awhile. You look great and It looks like you've been successful finding your more casual work look.


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