Tuesday, February 9, 2021

I'm back ... but I didn't really go anywhere (like the rest of the world)

Yikes, what a year 2020 was.

My last few posts almost 12 months ago were written in a state of denial; recalling what had been normal. I reread how I expected to be working from home for a few weeks or months "at most" and chuckled ruefully. That silk shirt? Worn (maybe) once. Those wool trousers? More often, but fewer than 10 times (they are very comfortable). In the fall, I went through the formality of moving my winter clothes out of the storage closet for ready access, but most of my jackets and dresses languish unworn. Even that nice wool knit dress I made a year ago isn't getting much love, although I do love it. I'm now living in jeans and comfy stretchy clothes like everyone else, and wonder if I will be OK going back to my structured professional wardrobe. 

I previously mentioned how my work exploded with COVID. It calmed down (somewhat) but I'm still working from my sewing room so the space is tainted by too much time spent there not sewing.  Too much inactivity (still standing at my ironing board standing desk, though it is now augmented with a gas lift table top for better ergonomics). Too many screens. Too little time.

But I've been a bit more creative lately and was feeling bad about my neglected blog.

So here is a project I completed recently. I have a pair of MEC pants (lightweight nylon, 0 stretch, many pockets) and for a few years have been musing to myself that I should clone them. They are very comfortable (see above re comfy clothes). I found an article in (I think) Threads Magazine on how to make a pattern from an existing garment. Now that I'm looking for it again of course I can't find it. But here's the gist. 

EDITED - I still can't find it but there is a YouTube video by David Page Coffin that more or less illustrates the method.

Use foam mats as a base (I have some that I use for blocking knits), cover with paper. Use pins to pierce the paper along the seam lines of the garment. Obviously you have to keep it as flat as possible. Once you have put enough holes in the paper to see the lines, use a pencil and ruler/curve to mark the seam lines. Repeat for all pieces. Check dimensions. Guesstimate grain lines. Sew a trial muslin to see if it worked.

It was ridiculously easy and surprisingly I got a quite accurate pattern on my first attempt. 

Here are my finished pants. The fabric is a woven cotton with no stretch, but it has more give than the original nylon. The pants are very much the shape of the original. I have already modified the front to be higher at the waist for my next version. 

(Notice The Sewing Lawyer's longer hair "style"...)

The most interesting features of these pants are impossible to see in these photos. 

They have a gigantic crotch gusset. It's completely invisible when the pants are being worn, however it is so deep that it's practically the entire lower part of the crotch curve. To the right is a photo showing the resulting shape. It reminds me of the talk about square crotch curves a few years ago and how they fit a flatter bottomed person very well. 

The pants also have lots of pockets. The two hip pockets are standard construction, but very deep and anchored in the fly front. 

The back pocket has a zipper that's inserted in a separate strip of fabric separating the lower pants back from the yoke. 

A zippered side leg pocket is similarly inserted into a strip of fabric sewn in between the front and back side seams. 

I go back and forth on whether to copy all these features in my next version (winter outdoor pants) but on balance think I will take the trouble, just because. 

Back zipper pocket, left.

The waistband, very fortuitously, matches vertically at the front very well. It's curved as you can see. 

The zipper tape fills in the width of the strip of fabric (approximately 1/2"). I just used cheap skirt zippers from Fabricland. 

Here's an inside shot. I made the pocket bags from an athletic knit. Obviously, the colour is all wrong but it does make the detail easier to see in these photos. 

The original pants had mesh knit pockets. 

I've been doing some machine knitting too, so stay tuned. 


  1. Your pants look really nice. Have you found the article that told you how to copy ready made pants?

  2. Great pants. Thanks for the tip on copying ready to wear.

  3. That crotch gusset! It was an eye opener for me. Trying it on my next pair, my shape having changed so under keto.

  4. Love the pants and happy to see you back. But don’t add pressure to your life feeling you need to blog. I think we are all going slow motion these days!

  5. Love the pants and happy to see you back. But don’t add pressure to your life feeling you need to blog. I think we are all going slow motion these days!

  6. Hoooo I love black watch pants. Those are so hot. You did an amazing job copying the pattern.

  7. Beautiful pants, Kay! Surprisingly, I of all people, having all of 3 issues of Threads magazine, may have the one you were looking for. There is an article in January 2001, Number 92, p. 48, on copying complex garments (in this case, a vintage jacket).

  8. That beautiful, long, squarish crotch curve matches real human anatomy. I’ve never really seen a pants pattern in which the crotch seam tilts *up* from the actual bum, as it does in humans, and which reflects real body depth front to back: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482258/figure/article-26855.image.f5/