My second attempt at Simplicity 3688 is a success.
This is a distinct improvement over my first go at the pattern. Nearly two years ago, I tried (with a few tragically cut corners) a fitting technique that didn’t work out for me. I decided to go back to my favorite way to fit a pattern: Make a muslin and figure out what I need to change from there.
For those who aren’t familiar, here is the rather famous Simplicity 3688.
It’s a reproduction of a 1940s pattern that is well-known among people who like to sew vintage styles. I’ve made the skirt twice.
For the pants, I cut the pattern a size smaller in the hips than in the waist, but that’s the only change I made before the muslin.
From the muslin, I determined that it was an inch too long in the crotch and that if I took that inch out through all the darts, they would end in much better spots. I also needed to add two inches to the length. That’s it.
I made the pants from a dark denim (that turned out to be stretch) with white top-stitching thread and a white vintage button at the waist. Here are some closeups of the details.
Top-stitching on the waistband.
Adorable vintage button closure.
Note that the buttonhole isn’t stitched with the usual satin stitch. The buttonhole was a new-to-me technique on my sewing machine. The Fancy Damn Sewing Machine has an automatic buttonhole function and fancy foot. You tell the machine how big your button is, set the wheel on the foot so it starts at the beginning of a buttonhole-sewing cycle, and press the foot pedal until your buttonhole is complete. Works like a charm (except on silk).
But I had told the machine I was sewing on heavy denim, so it changed the buttonhole stitch style from a satin stitch to Xs, and it wouldn’t let me go full automatic. I used a regular buttonhole foot. I had to hit the reverse button when the first side was long enough, then the machine made a bar tack and started sewing the other side of the buttonhole. When I pressed the reverse button again, it finished with a bar tack. Amazing.
The pants are very comfortable, and the fit is close, but there are some things I already know I want to tweak for the next time around:
- I thought at first that the crotch was still too low, but then I realized that my waist is lower in the front than in the back, and if I fixed the pants to match, the crotch would fall where it should and the pants would hang better. I have already adjusted the pattern at the waistline to accommodate this.
- The waist may need to be taken in. Since my hips have always been a size smaller than my waist, I am used to wearing pants very tight in the waist so they aren’t crazy loose in the butt. These pants have zero ease in the waist, but I may want a half-inch to an inch of negative ease. I’m going to wait on that decision until I’ve worn them a few times.
- Somehow I made the pattern too long. I don’t think I’ll bother to change that, better to err on the side of too much length than too little.
- I’d like to add single-welt pockets to the back. I’ve never made them before and am dying to try the technique. I actually could still add them to these pants.
- The top-stitching length gets shorter the more layers I went over. I think I’ll need to lengthen the stitch in thicker areas so it all looks the same. I also think I should use a longer top-stitch length overall.
And here are the pants on me, with the blouse I most recently finished (and a new pair of shoes).
The finished pants.
I don’t normally wear blouses tucked in, so here’s how I wore the pants on my recent visit to the Legion of Honor Museum.
Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846.
The blouse is in a quilting cotton whose print I couldn’t resist, so it doesn’t drape well, but next up is the same blouse in an adorable bicycle-print blouse-weight fabric.
And here are the pants on me a few days later, with a knit top, cardigan, and loafers. So comfortable! I’ll probably wear them like this most of the time.
A different way to wear the pants.
I really like the silhouette and comfort of these pants. I’m definitely going to make at least two more pairs in denim and dial in the fit before I eventually make a lined pair from the really nice navy wool crepe in my stash.