Leggings Draft 1.5: Gusset & Basque waist/yoke


I had two concerns with adding a gusset:  (1) adding to the difficulty of sewing them up and (2) visibility! To test the latter, I used contrasting thread, making the gusset more obvious than it would be in actual leggings. I used the dimensions of my hand to draft the gusset:  6 inches long by 3 inches wide, with the longer portion of the diamond in front.

The gusset is basically invisible and doesn’t noticeably change the feel of things.  I can sit cross-legged on the floor just as easily without the gusset as with. Curiosity satisfied. I don’t suppose I’ll include a gusset in the final leggings.

Crotch gusset

However, all this thinking about how the crotch & surrounding areas feel, makes me realize that the inside front of my thighs are a bit snug. The photo doesn’t have enough focus to show the fabric is stretched out, but it is, so I guess I’ll modify my template to add an inch or so. Now instead of being basically a straight line, the front crotch curve of my pattern will have a little curve.

Basque waist yoke

I googled “fat leggings” and one of the images that popped up intrigues me, a pair with a basque yoke:

Basque waist leggings

Does this just create an arrow pointing at my impressive overhang, or does it divide my belly into less prominent portions?


Actually, slapdash cutting and sewing has a pay-off here: as my leggings twist, one side of the yoke sits lower on my belly than the other, and I prefer that side. But even if the yoke were just right, would it be better than no yoke, just a simple seam up the middle?

And the back:


It is very hard to see the yoke in this picture, but once again, the skew gives me options:  I prefer the seam when it’s a little higher on my high hip, so I’ve modified my yokes to accommodate my preferences. The sticking point is that my yokes are no longer matching lengths at the side seam. Urgh! Well, who says the front yoke has to have a straight line from point to hip?

I think I’m ready to move on to my 2nd muslin, in a heavier fabric: a poly/lycra double knit with, ironically the same 60% stretch as this thin cotton/lyra. Unfortunately my final fabric only has about 40% stretch.

Knock-Off Knit Dress

Marsala knock-off dress

So I got this dusty marsala cotton-lycra jersey from Girl Charlee to make a Cashmerette Appleton dress out of, but then this dress from ModCloth caught my imagination. I’m not crazy about the high neck, but I love the long ties and the side slits and the half sleeves. Hey, this is just a tee-shirt with side ties. I have a tee-shirt pattern, a rub-off of an Old Navy scoop-neck tee that I like. Just extend it down, add waist ties and Voila!


Destination Wishlist Knit Dress from ModCloth

Well, mostly. There were uncertainties, like how long exactly to extend the tee-shirt pattern & where to have the slits start/end?(1) How to reinforce the slits?(2) Or where exactly to place the waist ties?(3) Should I reinforce the back of the dress?(4) These not-particularly-difficult questions had me procrastinate cutting out for a week or so.

(1)  How long to extend the shirt?  I have an old, casual, drawstring-waist dress from Lands End that hits just the right spot below my knee. I don’t wear it anymore, ’cause it’s stained & badly pilling, but I haven’t made a rub-off replacement yet, so it lingers in my sewing cabinet. From shoulder seam to hem, it’s 47 inches.

Marsala Knit Dress

     Where to have the slits start end?  Well, wearing the aforementioned drawstring-waist dress, I marked a spot on the side seam about mid-thigh and then sat down to see how high it rode up. I don’t want to worry about flashing my underwear at the hip, but besides that, I want the slit as high & sexy as possible. So, measuring up from the hem, the slits start/end at 10 inches.

(2)  How to reinforce the slits?  A strip of Sewkeys fusible knit tape stabilized the jersey just enough. A little facing strip would be nice, but the thought of sewing it was too much for me to deal with if a little fusible interfacing would do fine.

Marsala knit dress side

(3) Where exactly to place the waist ties? I guessed where they should go and basted  up the dress. It was too low, but that’s what basting’s for, right? A little unpicking, a half inch adjustment up and sew it up.

(4) Should I reinforce the back of the dress? Ultimately, I decided that I should, in part because I thought the waist ties might pull, but also I was concerned that without the back might look like a casket dress. I cut a rectangle slightly narrower than the dress’ back width to be my back-waist piece and agonized over how to hem it (really, in retrospect, why was that such a hard decision?). Then I sewed it all up and Aaargh! it was too loose. Why didn’t I test it when I was testing the location of the ties?! So I unpicked, shortened the piece by another inch more (I think it would’ve been better if I’d taken two, but it was already narrower than the back) and sewed it up again.

Marsala knit dress back view

…and it’s barely visible at all. It didn’t show at all in the first set of blog pics I took, so I scrunched it up to try to make it stand out.

So, all in all, I’m underwhelmed. I’ll do better next time, and there will be a next time. I still like the idea of the dress, but a few issues irk me:

  • In general, I think the body of the dress is a bit too tight.
  • Wrinkles/looseness over the bust going towards the armpit. Would a different shape armscye fix this? And why have I never noticed this with my tee-shirts? Minor, but annoying.
  • The original tee-shirt has short sleeves that I straight extended into half sleeves which look loose at the hems. I’ll narrow them next time.
  • Plain jersey rolls! My waist ties don’t hang flat. No wonder Modcloth made this dress out of a rib knit. I don’t know how amateur it actually looks, but it bothers me  a lot.
  • The back-waist piece is nearly invisible. Maybe the texture of a rib knit will help it show up better too, but next time it’s going in pleated/gathered, not flat. The waist ties are going in pleated or gathered too.

My 1st PDF pattern: Cake Espresso Leggings

The first I’ve sewn, mind you, not the 1st I’ve purchased. The first purchased PDF pattern was the Dandelion top/dress, from the now defunct (bummer) Disparate Disciplines, but still available for purchase at PatternReview:  Seamster Dandelion. I’m still planning on making it up. I’ve got fabric in my stash for a couple of them, actually. The 2nd purchased was the Ames jeans from Cashmerette:  Cashmerette Ames. I’ve got a couple pieces of stretch denim in my stash for them too.

I’ve got lots of sewing plans (daydreams about the person I’d be if I dressed differently) and less sewing follow-thru (and time). I’ve got a stash of fabric and patterns that make me worry about where the line between collecting and hoarding is. Sex is what pushed the Espresso leggings to the top of my queue. I bought a pair of wet-look, polyurethane-coated leggings on the cheap from Amazon, and while the fit is poor enough to put me off wearing them, I like the look and the reaction they got makes me want shiny pants (that fit).

Many thanks to Leimomi, the Dreamstress, for pointing out that pages 1-5 should be printed in portrait/vertical and pages 6-29 should be printed in landscape/horizontal orientation. Her review was what really put leggings on my radar, and after a dormant period, her review (plus the price point) is what made me decide to try Espresso leggings rather than Belmont or Avery leggings.

And now with my breath held, as if pictures are as challenging as a plunge into cold water:

Cake Espresso 1st draft Back view

Very thin cotton/lycra from my stash, not pulled particularly tight, but still sheer enough to see the ribbon I used to distinguish the back from the front. I think it looks fine in the pic, but my first thought when I tried them on was, “I think I need to add an inch or two to the rise in back.”

Cake Espresso 1st draft Front view 2

I need to subtract an inch or two from the front rise. Actually, I’m kind of pleased. My number one fit concern was with getting enough coverage over my belly; I took a loose measurement & then rounded up.

Cake Espresso pattern

Here’s what my pattern looked like.  The front is nearly flat, the back has a teensy bit of curve. When I was measuring my knees & ankles, I measured the fullest part of my calves too. The pattern doesn’t call for it, but I’ve got kind of beefy calves.

I’m curious about adding a crotch gusset. I’m perfectly happy with the feel of these, but the Avery leggings have a gusset for mobility.  Maybe I’ll try unpicking the crotch and giving a gusset a whirl.

So this is just a first draft.  For the second draft,

  • I’m planning on using a thicker fabric with a bit of 4-way stretch, hopefully closer to the final fabric.
  • I’ll cut on the straight of grain, so my seams don’t twist.
  • I’ll smooth out that curve a bit for my calves.
  • I’ll subtract at least an inch from the front rise and
  • I’ll add a couple of inches to the hems.
  • Maybe I’ll add a gusset
  • I’ll use the recommended 3/4-inch wide elastic instead of the 1-inch wide elastic I had on hand (which was also a bit too short, though it’s surprisingly comfortable, considering).

All in all, this was a really quick project. Sloppy cutting & sewing helped, but taping the PDF, taking measurements and a certain amount of dithering still didn’t push this into a multi-evening ordeal. I’m surprised by how comfortable wearing these have been, especially considering the waist elastic is a bit tight.

Vogue 1250 Muslin


V1250’s a few years past its prime, but I finally got around to it. Once I resolved it was next in the queue, it still took me a couple of weeks to muster the gumption the trace the pattern. I don’t have a table that’s big enough (even if my table wasn’t dominated by stuff) and thinking about crawling around on the floor makes my joints ache (although whether they actually will or not depends).

I’m thankful to fitting posts from bloggers who’ve previously altered this pattern.  Sharon Sews post on doing an FBA and Kay, The Sewing Lawyer on raising the low armhole and increasing the fold of the cowl were super. I also read through Debbie’s Stitches and Seams post on altering the pattern several times, although I didn’t exactly follow her process, she gave me a lot to think about. I have a memory of Lazy Sewing blog having a good V1250 FBA tutorial, but alas, her blog is gone.

My measurements, 48-42-48 with a G cup, put me a few of sizes outside the pattern, so I was grading up as well as doing a full bust adjustment. I’m 5’6″ & I think the length is about right.




I started by cutting the pattern in half just below the waist at the lenthen/shorten line. At the bottom of the hip dart, I measured across the front of the pattern and found that my measurements are 5″ wider than the pattern. Ok, that’s easy, added a 2.5″ strip down the middle of the pattern. If this were going to be in something other than a stretch knit, I’d worry about ease. My back hip measurements are only an inch wider than the pattern’s so I did a pivot & slide adjustment, adding .5″ to the high hip tapering to nothing at the pivot point at the hem.

Next, I did a similar pivot & slide adjustment to the upper back pattern piece, pivoting from the shoulder so that the seam lengths will match when it comes time to sew the back to the skirt. I also added a triangle to the pattern’s armhole, just eyeballing the dimensions of it.

Last, I took on the upper bodice.

Sharon comments about doing an FBA on V1250, “But there’s no dart on the dress!” However, there is a shoulder pleat, which is what Debbie uses in her FBA.  The thing is, I don’t want a gigantic honking pleat or two adding more volume above my bust, but I do want more room for my girls.  I wanted to follow Sharon’s example, but as I was actually working on the pattern, Debbie’s method just made more sense for the inches I think I need. I settled on a 3″ increase by comparing the pattern packet chart of body measurements of 42″ for a size 20 with my 48 inches. I guess I need to add at least 6/2 inches. However, since I’d only added 2.5″ to the skirt, I didn’t want to add 3 inches all the way down the bodice.I estimated a bust point by holding the pattern up to myself and then slashed & spread 2.5″ worth of width at the waist and pivoted from the underarm & slid another .5″ into the pleat.  IMG_20171009_191951242

I’m pretty happy with the full bust adjustment and the sort of pigeon-breasted drape below my girls. However, there’s as much excess in the small of the back as there is on the model on the pattern envelope (which befuddles me–isn’t shouldn’t the envelope model be excellently fit?). I suppose I’ll just undo my pivot & slide adjustments.  Also flatten out the hip dart–I have no low hip to speak of. Oh and, my little armhole amendment is a smidge tall, I’ll make it about .5″ shorter.



Blog Origin Story

Around the age of seven, I disliked skirts because they interfered with tree climbing.  However, I liked playing with Barbie (which mostly consisted of changing her clothes) and I wanted to play with makeup.  Both were thwarted by my hippie, feminist, age-appropriate, conscientious mom.  I could play with Barbie at friends’ houses, but I couldn’t have one of my own and I could have grape-flavored chapstick, but real makeup was for adults.  (In retrospect, I feel fortunate for the Barbie prohibition. I think it was one of the seeds of skepticism about body-image that protected me from the worst of our cultural comparison/idealization/homogenization that erode self-esteem and body-comfort; or maybe it just created an openness to the possibility that there’s a wide, natural spectrum of sizes/shapes for bodies.  Thanks, Mom.)

In my teens, I remember feeling terribly uncool, but I think that was normal, adolescent awkwardness rather than actual sartorial lack.  I took Home-Ec and sewed a few things that looked amateur.

In my early 20s, my fashion philosophy was rejectionist:  fashion was frivolous, wasteful, and deceptive.  In a perfect world, we’d all go nude (climate permitting), but a virtuous compromise until then would be for everyone to wear gray or brown jumpsuits.  I was a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal.  I carried a backpack if my pockets weren’t big enough because purses were too girly.  I didn’t wear makeup.  Then I fell in love with a metrosexual man.  He was both deep and superficial, and my presentation was inadequate; my lack of effort was an affront.  He’s long gone, but I couldn’t unsee myself reflected in his eyes.  I became interested in what might’ve pleased him, what pleases me, and what pleases the eye in general.

My mother was a bit of a clothes horse, but I hadn’t learned how to dress becomingly from her.  I checked ‘What Not to Wear’ and other style advice books out of the library; how to dress rich, how to dress slim, fashion personality, color analysis, figure analysis, the language of clothes, et cetera. I got a subscription to Harper’s Bazaar and paged through the ads, looking at the clothes on gangly youths and wondered, “If I could afford these clothes, if they came in my size, would they suit me?” I traced a photo of myself and tried drawing clothes on my proportions. That helped develop my eye, but not my wardrobe.  I wanted to sew for myself, but was overwhelmed.  I bought a used sewing machine and read a few sewing books, but mostly just hemmed a few pants.

Almost 10 years ago, I stumbled across Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing, and from her blogroll, other sewing blogs. I’ve been reading sewing blogs obsessively ever since.  I don’t know how this blog will turn out, but I feel as if something inside me is ready to actually sew. I’m willing to experience the frustrations of making:  of not having enough skill to sew what’s in my head, or enough time/energy to move a project along as I’d like. (I love getting older. Maturity/perspective/lowered expectations is wonderful.)

Non-sequitur, but on my mind:  my first exposure to blogs was the discontinued blog of a friend who stopped because he never found the right voice.  I read a fashion textbook that used the phrase “apparel-body-construct” a lot. I think the phrase is laborious, but love the articulation of clothing’s artiface, that body + clothes = construct.  Despite a questionable tone, I’m sticking my blog with that moniker.

-drafted October 2015