Archive for the ‘my choices’ category

Designer elastic-waist pants

June 8, 2013

Elastic waist pants make for good easy and speedy patterns.
My previous post was on pyjama pants and plain elastic waist pants.

What about designer versions of elastic waist pants with more interesting style elements ?
These can bring elastic waist styles up from loungewear to wearable on the best of occasions.

Whew, I wrote this post in 2013. Have just (June 2020) tested the links and there was only one which didn’t need to be changed ! I’ve added a few recent patterns, there are probably many more.

2020 – some people are concerned about the materials elastic is made from. If that worries you, replace the elastic with a drawstring. Here’s a tutorial from Christine Jonson patterns on making the change to a drawstring.

The patterns I picked out have :
waist darts
added hip pockets
vertical seam lines and other piecing interest
lantern legs
other lower leg features

I have’t included elastic waist pant patterns for knits or stretch wovens, or with very slim legs.
There are many from styleARC.
Or sweat/ yoga pants/ leggings, again multiple patterns from companies like Jalie and McCall’s.

There are also several patterns which combine an elastic-waist with a zip fly front. These can be especially good for people with large hips and small waist, but I haven’t included them as this takes us into another realm of sewing technique.
There are even styles with a fake fly, that look as if they have a fly opening but don’t actually open. People differ passionately on whether they think this is a good thing, I confess I’ve always found it a peculiar idea.

In-seam pockets

Christine Jonson patterns has a link to a .pdf tutorial on adding an in-seam pocket to pants with and without a side seam.

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Waist darts

With pants, you need extra ease for sitting down (I’m especially aware of this as my hips spread 4 inches/ 10 cm when I sit down – this isn’t true for everyone !) But you don’t need that extra ease at the waist for pulling pants on.

Loes Hinse’s speciality is to remove that extra bulk by adding waist darts.
Loes Hinse Basic Pleat Pant is now out of print.

These are similar but with slightly different legs :
Loes Hinse Oxford pant

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Tapered legs and featured Pockets

These are patterns with slant pockets as a visible style element.

Cutting Line One-seam pants have straight and tapered leg options.

Jalie pull on pants have similar pockets.

2020 – some similar patterns with slant pockets are Paper Theory Miller trousers, Sew Over It Carrie trousers.

Dana Marie has a couple of patterns with vertical welt pockets, which definitely requires an upgrade of sewing skills.

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Seam detail

Vertical seam detail is popular, as it has a slimming effect. and also makes fitting easier.

Chado Ralph Rucci Vogue 1347 with drawstring waist is now out of print (these have a fly opening, which I said I wouldn’t include – but there’s a lot of interest in this pattern, so I won’t delete it. Just leave out the fly 😀 )

Sewing Workshop Plaza pant is now out of print.

Dana Marie Asymmetry styles have angled seams.

Two ways the extra seams can be enhanced.
This could be a good place for adding seam embellishment.
Or use the seaming to add fabric interest.
Here are a couple of patterns specifically for this.

Design and Planning Concepts Patchwerky pants.
Not clear from the photo, but one style has patches down the side, one style is made entirely from 5 in. squares.

Pavelka Design Patchy Pants

2020 – there’s also Bridget Mann’s Patchy Bloomers.

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Vertical seams adding cargo pockets

Cutting Line Easy Ageless Cool

Marcy Tilton Vogue 8499

Sewing Workshop Trio pant is now out of print.

This pocket position is probably not an ideal style for those of us with large hips or thighs relative to the rest of our body 😀

2020 – for some recent patterns with these pockets, see Sew Liberated Arenite pants, Closet Case Patterns Pietra pants.

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Lantern legs with vertical back seam

Marcy Tilton Vogue 8712 is now out of print.

Cutting Line Discover Something Novel

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Other hem details

Sewing Workshop Hudson pants have hem darts.

Louise Cutting’s One-seam pants, see earlier, can have hem darts, or a hem tab.
And Dana Marie Asymmetry pants, see earlier, have a hem cuff option.
These are easy alterations to make to any pattern without other hem style elements.

Sewing Workshop Quincy pants, now out of print, had side seam pleats.

Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8499 pants, see earlier, have pleats at knee level in the front pattern piece.

Sewing Workshop Urban pants have vertical seams leading to front hem vent with button loop.

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Personally, with my large hips, I don’t wear pant styles with added design interest as that leads the eye downwards and adds visual weight to my lower body. But many people love them, particularly though not exclusively people who are upper body dominant, or with a straight silhouette.

Lots of options here. This is a speciality of independent designers, and there are so many independent pattern designers these days, I’m sure I haven’t found all the possibilities ! (Even more true in 2020, though most are plain and simple, and this post probably covers the main types of design idea.)

Did you know elastic-waist pants can have so much design interest 😀

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Originally written June 2013, links updated and some patterns added in June 2020

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Basic comfort styles

May 11, 2013

My previous post on Loungewear started on the topic of looking good while being lazy. There are two easy routes to go for slumping – exercise wear or sleep wear.

There used to be a designer loungewear section at Net-a-Porter which simply had sweatshirts and jogging pants in pretty colours. I’ve already posted on sweatshirt patterns. Silhouette 3400 is a quick yoga pants pattern with associated webcast.

Looking instead at sleepwear rather than exercise wear for guidance on comfort :
Most pyjama patterns are actually camp shirt/ sweat shirt/ tee with elastic waist pants, made in soft cosy fabrics.
And with bigger ease levels (more on that later).
Hence the vagueness of the dividing line between sleepwear and loungewear.

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Classic pyjama styles

There are many pyjama patterns which could make good general casuals (or casual top and bottom patterns that would make good pjs. . .)

Simplicity 2317 is one of many pj patterns with camp shirt, tank, tee and pants.


I look better in a collar which closes up to the neck.
And a style which can close up to the neck has the potential to look more formal, if you want a pattern which can be used for both sleepwear and daywear.
I’ve only found one pj pattern like this, Simplicity 2280.

In hospital last summer I had a good opportunity to survey pj styles. Most people wore a tee with shorts or capris. And most of those could equally well be worn pool-side or at the beach.

Or a sweatshirt and elastic waist pants. Such as Simplicity 3577.


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Added style interest

I prefer clothes with inherent style interest, rather than adding interest with accessories.

There are several non-traditional sleep/ loungewear patterns which could be casual ‘Key 3’ outfits.

Here’s McCall’s 6658 loungewear wardrobe pattern. Pullover layer, pants and shorts, knit top with 3 necklines, 3 sleeves.


Shorten the robe of McCall’s 6659 and you have basic shirt with darts, pants, and cardigan jacket.


New Look 6161 is a similar Project Runway pattern for jacket, more interesting sleeveless top, and pants.


Butterick 4406 has a mandarin jacket and tunic top.


And there’s a pretty yoked hoodie, McCall’s 6472.


Scrubs, like sleepwear, are designed for maximum ease of movement. There are some scrubs patterns which are worth considering for casual top and pants, such as Kwik Sew 3979.


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Jumpsuits are fashionable this season, so how about an adult onesie, such as Kwik Sew 2175.


I picked a style with waist casing, so it’s like a bomber jacket and slouch pants combined 😀 There are several patterns without waist casing, such as McCall’s 7586, if that’s more comfortable for you.

There are several companies here which sell RTW adult onesies, mainly in jokey style 😀
Very cosy to wear, but sadly cold for going to the bathroom.

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So pyjamas are basically camp shirts or tees with elastic waist pants.
The difference between more formal day wear and lounge or sleep wear lies in the comfortable looseness of the fit and the soft non-abrasive fabrics, rather than the style elements.

Make the same patterns in fun soft princess/ jokey/ wild/ sports fan fabrics for lounging, and plainer stiffer fabrics for work.
Pink flannel covered in frosted fairies – for slumping and sleeping.
Taupe silk noil – for being taken seriously.
It’s the style of the prints that identify sleepwear and beach holiday camp shirts so clearly, not the style of the garments.

Don’t go to the supermarket in purple frogs.
Well actually, why not, if that’s what you like, so long as they’re quality fabrics in good condition 😀

My favourite comfort fabrics are brushed cotton, flannels, cords, cuddle fleece. They do have to be good quality or they can look scruffy quite quickly. Neutral solid colours aren’t much fun, but they don’t attract attention in public ! I don’t like wearing stretch fabrics, but they can be ideal for comfort. And I don’t wear knit fabrics as they cling lovingly to my too small lumps above the waist and too large lumps below. But many people love knits for their ease of movement.

How about loungewear in this season (summer 2013) fabrics :
Monochrome/ graphic : top with white body, black collar and sleeves, pants in black with white polka dots. Or strong stripes. Or checkerboard.
Minimalism : beige, or pale greyed pastels.
Sports Luxe : performance fabrics, primary colours.
World Travel : mixed prints, especially ethnic (South American this season).
Lace, cut-outs.
Make your pjs in these and wear them to the supermarket with pride 😀

Last summer, pj styles in satin or men’s stripey flannel were a high fashion item. . .

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Ease levels

The other crucial factor for comfort – being able to move easily in the clothes, without any binding. If you use non-stretch fabrics you need :
– a neckline that isn’t tight to the neck.
– a deep armhole, or raglan or dropped shoulder.
– a deep wide crotch curve (fashion jeans have no ease to the crotch seam, not a route to comfort).
– generous extra fabric around bust and hips.
Very loose fitting – more than 10 in./ 25 cm larger than body measurement for lounging.
Compare with close fitting – 2 in./ 5 cm ease for formal daywear.

The ease level you find comfortable is also a matter of personal style. And many of us who are difficult to fit wear very loose fitting clothes to be comfortable, though we can wear more closely fitted styles if they fit properly.

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This approach to loungewear wouldn’t work for everyone of course. Depends on your personal style. Some people feel very uncomfortable/ unlike themselves in casual/ loose fitting clothes rather than tailored clothes, or pants rather than skirts and dresses, or soft rather than crisp fabrics. And if you like frilly/ lacey/ bias cut nightdresses, you probably don’t wear them in public !

YouLookFab has mixed feelings about ultra-casual high comfort trends. She doesn’t want to lose polish, luxury, style, flair. I don’t think that’s unavoidable, it just needs care. If you’re being casual about shape, you can’t be casual about quality – in fabric, finish, fit, cut. (Though this may just be my personal style. I have to be physically comfortable. But for me to be comfortable in spirit, I also have to be ‘stylish’.)

Does the idea of ignoring the dividing line between night and day styles horrify you – or would you find it worth exploring 😀

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Patterns and links available May 2013

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March 16, 2013

What are the people who go to the supermarket in pyjamas aiming for ? – extremes of lazy comfort. Is it possible to have that lazy comfort and still look stylish ?

I don’t think it’s the style elements that make you look slobby-sloppy-shoddy in pjs. I think it’s the state of the fabrics – unwashed, overwashed, stained, pilled, fraying. Basically pjs are classic casual styles.

Though sometimes overwashed, stained, fraying is a high fashion style statement, or even a political one – all style rules can be broken 😀

High quality of fabric and finish are essential if you want to look classy in casuals – quality always counteracts a casual effect ! My current favourite style words are “Relaxed Luxe”. Happily the days when stylists thought casual style meant you didn’t care about quality are long gone.

Love tailoring ? elegant chic ? always wear pretty dresses? Of course there are many people whose personal style means they never get near the point where casual becomes slovenly, but what about the rest of us ?

I’m inconsistent on this. I automatically hang up blue jeans. But I do like to be very comfortable and can easily slump into definitely-not-chic.

So what are these comfortable comforting but stylish clothes ? This all got a bit long, so I’ve made the section on pj patterns into a separate post.

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New casual shapes for the season

Lots of ‘bomber/ baseball/ varsity’ jackets in the high street here (summer 2013). Such as Simplicity 1940.


And ‘slouchy’ pants are loose at the hip but tapered at the ankle. Such as McCall’s 6514 view A.


Many patterns for ‘slouchy’ tops. Oversized tops in soft drapey fabrics, so they show the body shape rather than standing away from it. My favourite easy slouchy pattern is Butterick 5651, now oop – shows the idea has been around for a while !


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Cosy indoor ‘jackets’

Before Christmas I bought a ‘cardigown’ – a hip length dressing gown (US robe) made in light cuddly fleece.

Rocha John Rocha

Apart from a down vest, this has been my most worn garment this winter. A double breasted wrap hoodie. So what would be a good pattern for copying it ?

Saf-T Pockets Portlandia coat.


or Design and Planning Concepts Hooded Orknot coat.


Make thigh length in snuggly fleece for a cosy indoor version.

And for deep winter I have a Lands End robe (dressing gown) made with down. I’m planning to shorten it for next winter as I think jacket length will be more useful.

”ledown” Lands End

I confess these robe/ gown ‘jackets’ are so cosy and comfy it’s had a disastrous effect on my willingness to ‘get dressed properly’. Hence I’m planning a post on pjs and similar patterns. See also my posts on designer Sweatshirts and Fleeces and hoodies.

There are solutions to this problem of looking good while being very lazy. This isn’t just an over-reaction to the ultra-classic styles in my last post !

Ah, looking good in ultra-casuals involves all the usual themes. Make sure sleeping-slumping clothes co-ordinate and are in good condition. And are in flattering favourite colours, shapes, and styles 😀

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Links and patterns available March 2013

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My choices for a/w 2012 : new BMV patterns

September 15, 2012

This season I’ve just picked for myself, not patterns of general interest.
There are some marvellous new Vogue designer patterns for people who want to look both stunning and professional. But I’m past that stage of my life.

I keep saying this, but I wear big shirts and vests – a look that does appear on the runway and in many stores – though the fashion journalists rarely mention it and the wardrobe planners never do. Happily the pattern companies cater well for my tastes, even if the fashion writers don’t !

Here’s some of the new possibilities.

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Big shirts

I love a yoked shirt – works well for my personal style and my body shape.
The yoke gives a bit of definition to my skimpy shoulders.
And the gathers below allow a trim slim look over the shoulders combined with extra fabric to cover my hips.

I also prefer a style that closes up to the neck, rather then a V-neck. I feel the cold, it suits my face shape better, and it gives a bit of dimension to the front of a garment – needed as I have a small bust.

Here’s a couple of very different styles.

A big loose shirt with choice of 3 necklines, 2 sleeves and 2 hems (similar big yoke at back), McCall’s 6605.


Best to wear leggings or slim pants with such a big top, if you don’t want to look like a balloon !

By contrast, here’s a neat slim fit, Butterick 5826.


Possible to wear a much wider range of pant leg widths with a closer fitting style like this.

I also like an inset yoke and a smock style, but patterns for those are mainly from Simplicity/ New Look.

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Big tops

For wovens – the front of this drape style (left) is cut on the bias, McCall’s 6604.


Butterick 5816 has multiple options.


If you like the comfort of big loose tops, here are wide poncho-like styles for indoor wear, 3 necklines including a hoodie, 4 sleeves, 2 hems, McCall’s 6603.


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Vests and sleeveless tops

An easy-wear extra layer of warmth without encumbering the arms.

Here’s a fairly conventional vest pattern – ah, no, it has actually got both bust and back neck darts ! Looks spectacular made in fur (and fur gilets are high fashion). Large enough to layer over a fitted jacket, Vogue 8838.


(Safari and trench styled vests are also current. And closely fitted tailored versions.)

Or a deep cowl sleeveless layering knit tunic with 3 hems by Nancy Zieman, McCall’s 6607.


Leave off the cowl, add a scarf instead, change neckline/ add collar if you’re adventurous – many easy style changes.

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Piecing and Jackets

Many crafters like the challenge of pieced jackets. Modern ones are made with areas of different tones of similar solid fabrics, rather than myriad small pieces of patterned patchwork fabrics.

(P.S. though see the Givenchy Resort 2013 collection for some fantastic piecing and fabric combining.)

There’s a multi-fabric option for the jacket with the fur vest, Vogue 8838. The skill involved in making that back will only be appreciated by other sewers !


There’s also a new jacket from Marcy Tilton, Vogue 8839. For knits including fleece. It has a short cascade collar, more flattering for my small busted top. And interesting options for combining fabrics. A bit straight up and down for my shape, I might add some flare.


Somewhat similar – the new style multi-fabric shirt has each pattern piece in a different solid fabric (collar, placket, yoke, etc.). Not the main pattern sections (front, back, sleeves) pieced from multiple fabrics. (Or use large rather than small areas of fabric for your ‘piecing’.)

Use your favourite classic shirt pattern, or there’s a new version of the Palmer-Pletsch unisex shirt, McCall’s 6613.

(These examples aren’t the Palmer-Pletsch pattern, they’re from Modcloth.)

And there are multi-fabric options for the Butterick 5816 top.

Not pieced (though it could be) : a new pattern for my usual shape of jacket – Connie Crawford Butterick 5828.


Or exaggerate the size – says oversized coats are a big fashion idea for this a/w.

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I’m a fan of Marcy Tilton bags, this one is Vogue 8843. But what’s with the big green leaf ? I confess I didn’t notice the bag at first, and thought the pattern was for a leaf shaped bag. Not something to take on the bus in the rush hour !


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Finally a skirt

There are many attractive new pants patterns this season, from very slim to wide. But I only wear one style of pants, simple classics – slightly tapered or slightly more tapered. I haven’t got the right shape legs for leggings, but I do need to look for a slim pair of pants, to have the current proportions with those big tops. Hmmm. . . Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6440 is not new but recent.

There is a pattern which might entice me back to skirt wearing – a long skirt with matching jacket, Vogue 8841. I could wear this round here without looking odd. Slightly shorter jacket is like the proportions of skirts and jackets in the early 20th century, my favourite historic period for style.


Aren’t we lucky to be free to choose from such a wide range of styles these days 😀

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Patterns and links available September 2012

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