Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pants Fitting with Sandra Betzina

Sewers know. It's the Holy Grail of fitting. That pair of pants that fits just right. Pants that look good while standing and feel good while sitting.

This time around I chose a pants pattern with princess seams in the front and back. It is designed for woven materials. There are no darts, just 4 vertical seams and a center back zip. No waistband.

Vogue 7179 - Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit OOP

This pattern had particular appeal to me for two reasons. First my increasingly flat behind is hard to fit. I cannot see it properly. And having a seam right over the problem area had some potential for a fix. The second reason is that I had the opportunity to be fitted by Sandra Betzina and so I wanted to use one of her patterns.

The workshop started with Sandra determining the best size for each of us based on the pattern block used for her patterns for Vogue. This was accomplished with basic measurements she took plus samples made up in each of the following patterns.

Vogue 1165 - top pattern for wovens

Vogue 1411 - pants pattern for knits
We tried on samples of each pattern until she identified the size to use. She also noted changes that would need to be made in the sizes indicated. For example, I need one size in the waist and another in the hips. The samples gave us all a good starting place.

After this initial fitting, I went back to the hotel, prepared Vogue 7179 above and cut it out in a medium weight denim. The next day I basted it together so that Sandra could tweak this specific pants pattern. After adjusting as she suggested, I was pretty close to a good fit.

At that point I decided to postpone completion of the first pair of Vogue 7179 until I could go back and adjust the pattern tissue. After returning home, I did that and started a second pair of pants. My thinking was that I probably screwed something up and so I wanted to keep the first pair easy to study until I was sure.

That second pair was too darned tight. I let out the side seams and they are ok. This second pair really is a muslin. The fabric is a very cheap, very firm, very light gray cotton canvas. They look a little institutional because of the color and they are really too firm to be comfortable. The lesson? select fabric that feels good! I now have a pair of pants that will be fun to dye, print, paint, screen and mess around in.

After this second pair though, I gained confidence in my pattern tissue and finished that first pair - the denim ones. They feel great!

And so I made a third pair. This time I used a purple (!) bottom weight Japanese cotton purchased from Louise Cutting at the recent Atlanta Expo. On the bolt it had a slightly slick appearance. After washing and drying, they have more of a soft denim feel and look.

They feel great too!

Now about that purple. I was a little worried about purple pants. I wondered if they would become closet orphans with no toppers. But today I started pulling out my spring clothes and, Voila!

Purple pants are my new neutral. I have more purple left in the stash!

By Sarah Veblen's definition, these pants are slacks as opposed to trousers (looser) or jeans (tighter). I like that right now, especially in a fabric that has very little drape. For drapey fabrics, I tend toward the trouser look. For that look, I like tapered one-seams from Cutting Line Designs or Sewing Workshop plaza pants:

Cutting Line Designs One-Seams

Sewing Workshop Plaza Pants
I did mock up a pair of those stretch pants of Sandra's, Vogue 1411, during the workshop too. I made a test pair in a teal ponte purchased in the shop where the workshop took place. Sandra also tweaked the fit on those. I have low expectations for that pattern though, as they are too close fitting. I might like them in black but this teal color will allow me to see if they are at all appropriate for my shape even with a tunic.

Because Sandra brought a lot of samples, I was also able to try on this pattern:

Vogue 1234

I was surprised at how much I liked it. I looked at it in the store mirror, but you know how mirrors lie. I sure wish I had ask someone to take a picture of me in it. 

If I make that Sandra pattern, I'll probably extend the cap sleeves into elbow length. It might have real possibilities with sufficient coverage.

In any event, I finished the Sandra Betzina workshop with much greater respect and admiration for her patterns and her styling. 


  1. I love the new purple pants! Sandra's patterns are very intriguing and I like the pants patterns you have featured here.

  2. Great tips on pants - I'm working up my courage to try pants .

  3. Yes ! What a great spring wardrobe you have. Your pants look great and purple for your coloring is what the black-raspberry/mulberry shades are to me.

  4. Your pants look great! And the purple wardrobe is so pretty. A workshop with Sandra Betzina sounds like so much fun.

  5. Lucky you working with Sandra! Great fitting pants too. I'd love to see the purple pants with a different neutral (grey, white, stone….) to make the pants the star.