The Pants Update – Revisiting the Katherine Hepburn Pant Tutorial

Hi Everyone,

In the next few weeks, as I sew from my list of fun new projects (including pants!), I am going to embark on a series of posts that will update two older posts from 2008 called “The Katherine Hepburn Inspired Trouser Pants”.

Those posts were my first attempt at a tutorial and I think you all will agree with me that the whole pants drafting tutorial NEEDS to be updated!  It’s time.  Sadly, most of the links in those posts don’t work (or tragically send you off to Auto Body shops!), and I think you all would find it interesting if I revisited this basic pant pattern and gave you some updated information…and give me an opportunity to make a few more video tutorials!  Sound like a fun time right?  I thought so!

So this is an announcement for anyone that might have that tutorial linked up or saved on their computer, at the end of these new updates I am going to take down that original post.  The new posts will be in a project series format similar to the other projects you see on the right.  If you want a print out of the old posts for posterity sake be sure to do that soon!

I sure am looking forward to this fun new series!  I hope you are too!




McCalls M5633 Cargo Pants-Entry 7-The Wedge

I think I told you yesterday that I just couldn’t sleep since I kept thinking about these alterations that I’ve been doing to the back pattern piece.

I decided to try one more thing and that was to slash open a wedge in the center back.

Here’s another video…

And I sound so weird!  Hee hee!  Sorry about the length…it’s about 10 minutes long and I think I cut off a little bit that you can’t see.  The sound kinda stinks too because I move a little bit away from the camera.  If you turn your sound wayyyyyyyy up you might be able to hear.  But I think you can see what I did.

I’ve now moved to the front so stay tuned.


McCalls M5633 Cargo Pants-Entry 6-The Bum Adjustment Refined

Friends, my theory tested with mixed results.

Just to recap, I had in my head that all I needed to do to correct the backside of my pants at the lower crotch level was to give myself an inch more of crotch room. All I really wanted to do was slide the crotch back about an inch and true-up the inside leg seam.  Here is a video of my alteration…

And then add on some fabric to my muslin

and re-sew up the muslin for a 2nd fitting.

After taking pictures, I’m a little bit mystified.  I thought for sure this alteration would work perfectly.  What could be going on here?

After some more thought I decided to take in about 1/2″ at the waist through the hips on the side seam.  For these photos, I only sewed the left side of these pants.

Surprisingly it was a little better.

And then after even further review I was beginning to wonder if I needed to change the angle of my crotch curve.  Could it be that my backside is sitting lower than my front side?

I cut out the excess fabric and tried on again for the third time now.

Was I getting somewhere?  I can see improvement but I now have some excess fabric that I’m just not so sure about.  I reach around and pinch in some folds.

Yes!  I think that’s it!  The left side looks a lot better than the right side.  There’s still room to tweak but I think I’m getting there.  Here’s a close up.  The inspiration cargos don’t have a lot of bagginess in the buttocks area so I think I might be there.

The fabric I’ve chosen has some stretch to it so I don’t want to have too much room on the backside.  Stretch fabrics tend to grow, you know?

I’m just slightly concerned that my muslin might be too light of fabric to give me a true sense of just how much excess fabric to remove.

I can only keep going though.  Next stop, the front.



McCalls M5633 Cargo Pant-Entry 5-The Bum Adjustment

The Bum Adjustment.  Butt Adjustment. Protruding Rear-End Adjustment. Junk in the Trunk Adjustment, whatever you want to call it adjustment.  That is my next step on these pants.

Although I’ve expanded the hip line to give me enough room around the hips I neglected to take into consideration the room I need in the body cavity area.  The area between the Center Front and the Center Back, or the negative space between these two pattern pieces.  So as a result, I have a rear crotch line that wants to slightly divide me into two distinct parcels on the back side which causes a pull at the waistline because there just isn’t enough room.

The fix should be easy enough, I just need to add a little bit of extra length at the crotch level.  In theory this should move outward the start of the rear crotch curve thus giving me a little bit more room under the buttocks.  Does that make sense?  It’s a theory so let’s get started and see if it works…

Well…now that the traveling is over it’s time for a Staycation and finishing some pants!

These were a pair of some really HUGE pants that showed up at work not too long ago as part of our uniform delivery service.

We all giggled a little and tried to imagine who the person was that wears these pants.

Trying to get a pair of pants that fit, no matter what your size, is something of a challenge don’t you think?

Well after a full two weeks of family visits and a travel excursion to Ft. Wayne to visit more family we are finally back home and I have an entire FULL week of personal vacation!  Whooo Hooo!!!

This is my first Stay-At-Home Vacation EVER!  No travel, no family, just me and whatever I want to do for 7 days.  Of course my first goal I want to do is get my cargo pants project finished.

I have a vision of wearing my cargo pants downtown this week and taking pictures with Einstein at various Chicago landmarks.  How fun would that be!  Oh..boy…I have work to do…


McCalls M5633 Cargo Pant-Entry 4-The Muslin

Well, here’s the muslin, finally!  I enjoyed our visitors this last week and remind me to tell you all about this fabulous restaurant we went to on Saturday night….delightfull!

First of all I want to apologize for these very grainy photos.  I was fiddling around with my point and shoot camera thinking I could take some photos without having to downsize them for the web but it just didn’t work.

I was torn between doing the photos over again with the big camera or just moving on.  The perfectionist in me wants to take the photos over again but the experienced mind is telling me to move ahead…so I’m moving along with this project, grainy photos and all…

So.  The front view, this time without Einstein trying to get in:

I can tell I’ll need to do about 3 things right away to improve the fit.  First of all I think I have a little bit more room than expected around the waist and that will need to get pinched in slightly.

Secondly, the front waist came up too high.  And in the back the center back dipped a little.

I believe that is from not having enough room in the bum.  I’ll need to do a slash and spread in the back in order to get that perfected.

Here’s the back view:  You can see that it just dips slightly in the middle and there looks to be several pull wrinkles in the bum area.

My belief here is that I just need to slash and spread at the crotch to add length and a little bit more fullness.  Other than that the back looks just great.  I’ll need to figure out some back pocket placements but I can do that later, after these adjustments.

The front pocket is going to have to be redrawn as you can see from the side view:

You can see that if I were to leave the pockets so close to the side seam that my arm has to reach back in a very unnatural and downright uncomfortable position.

To fix that I’ll have to locate my hip bone on the front and move the pocket over.  I’ll break that down for you when I get’s an easy fix so not worries there.

When I do get to this point of re-drafting the pocket I know I’ll need to add a little bit more depth.  That is just a pet peeve of mine about women’s clothes.  The pockets never are deep enough!  I’m always losing things when I sit down…

But I digress.

Till the next post…


McCalls M5633 Cargo Pant-Entry 2-The Waist Alteration

I’m just going to get right into the alterations. 

I used THIS FORM from the New Mexico University Extension Office and then measured the pattern.

Upon review I fortunately only have to do 2 adjustments.  The length is within my measurements but the waist and hips need to be larger.  I need to add a total of 5 inches in the waist (ouch…I can’t believe it either!) and 3-1/2″ in the hips (girl got booty! hee hee :-)).

If I needed to add or subtract length I would do that first and then go into the width dimension but since all appears well with the length I’m going to start first with the waist circumference.  As I said earlier, I need to add a total of 5 inches.

I divide by 4 to get 1-1/4″.  I mark this in the upper corner of the pattern like in the photo above and below.

The next thing I do is pin the pocket extension piece to the front, being careful to match the squares and dots exactly.  This is important because I’ll need it later to draw the new side and waist seam.

Then, using a marking pencil or pen (I’m using a sharpie) I extend the lengthwise grainline all the way up to the waist.  On this pattern I’m using the grainline and the lengthen/shorten line as my references points.  I cut down through the grainline and over to the side along the lengthen/shorten line and separate it from the pants.

Next, on a piece of tissue, I draw two lines perpendicular to each other (90 degree angle) and then another line parallel exactly 1-1/4″ away.  These two lines represent those same reference lines, the grainline and the lengthen/shorten line.  The width of the parallel line represents the amount of room I’m adding to the waist.

I then re-position the pieces back together, aligning the front to the parallel line and the cut out piece along the other line.  Once in place I tape these down.

The waist alteration is now finished for now.  I still need to true up the side seams but I’ll wait to do that after I finish the next alteration, which is the hips.

I do the exact same alteration to the BACK pattern piece.  Same everything except I don’t have a pocket extension, obviously.

Tomorrow I’ll post the hip alteration…

Till then…


Next Up…The Fall ‘Not So Skinny’ Cargo Pant

Next up on my sewing wish list is to make the ‘HOT LOOK for FALL 2010’ which is the skinny cargo pant in a military green color.

Here is an inspiration photo taken from the September Vogue which features Veronica Swanson Beard in these Moschino Cheap and Chic Pants ($465).  Now I know if #1) I was skinny I would just go and buy a pair…not necessarily one this expensive but a pair I could wear none-the-less or #2) even if I could afford to drop $500 on a pair of pants I would just do it…regardless of my size.  So there you go, too cheap and too fat, my two favorite reasons to sew fashion (ha ha ha!).

The cargo pant has been a fashion item for several years now, going from military style, to those really big Raver Pants, now down to the ‘Skinny’ style.  I know, I know, I know…the 2011 Spring collections all hinted at the skinny style is so not happening but I’m interested in making a pair, just for the cargo style aspect.  They look really comfortable and to me a possible great alternative to jeans.

But what about the skinny pant not looking good on a plus size figure?  I’m going to take this into account and not do one too close to the body.  Every plus size sewer knows there needs to be a little bit of roominess built in.  Fortunately here, this inspiration style in the photo shows more of a straight leg then some of the styles we’ve seen out there that are really form fitting.

So on Saturday, in a bout of inspiration inspired shopping, I was at Hancock Fabrics just to look for some fabric when I realized they were having a super blow-out .89 cent McCall’s pattern sale.  Are you kidding me?  When have we ever seen an .89 cent pattern sale ON ANYTHING!?!  I picked up this classic, McCalls M5633:

The pants need some back pockets and the side pockets need to go up the thigh above the knee (like in the photo) but I thought these might be a good foundation to work up a style that will fit me.  And for .89 cents?  You bet I brought this to the register! 

As for fabric, I still need to find that military green.  I think I might have something in the stash so I hope to get started on these soon.  We just hit FALL and the leaves are starting to change…so it’s time!


Estate Sale Finds – c1970


Went to Estate Sale this morning and came across a few interesting things. This one is a Pants Pattern Fitter. Things just don’t change.



This is The Perfect Fit Kit. This kit contains everything you’ll need to make your perfect fit patterns. I never studied this technique, only read about it. You use 1/8 scale templates and draw the lines based on pre-determined markers on the templates and the length of the lines are from your personal measurements. How can you go wrong???


This knitting needle collection was collecting some dust behind a dresser. Look how she’s used a ‘Turkey Baster’ packaging and some corrugated cardboard to store her collection. Also from the Estate Sale.