I took my own challenge to see if Sandra Betzina’s “Today’s Fit” line fit offered advantages for my own aging body. The results were mixed, but I did learn a lot and got a new (if imperfect), comfortable pair of pants to wear.
First off, let’s reflect on the difficult process of fitting pants. I have read pattern reviews where the seamstress raves “it fit right out of the envelope.” That has never happened to me. The process is even more difficult when sewing stretchy knit pants, because all knits are different and it is hard to find appropriate fabric to make muslins (or rough drafts, as I like to call them) without a lot of waste.
Basically, these are pull on stretch pants with an elastic waist designed for double knits and ponte knits. They have a lot of fancy seaming on the front, but thankfully Betzina provides an unseamed version for test purposes. I made view A, the straight legged style. Vogue patterns were on sale at Joann’s, the only sewing store in my town. It is a great source for thread, notions, and patterns. The fabric supply—well let’s kindly say it’s mixed. For my first effort I found a stretchy athletic fabric on sale.
I read through all of the instructions before I cut. Betzina offers a tactic I hadn’t heard of before—add a full three inches to the top of the pattern on the front and back. I think that must be to accommodate the rising waist line many of us get as we age.
For my first draft, I cut the pants according to the size indicated by my measurements, which matched size D on the pattern—a 32 ½ waist and a 40 ½ hip. The only change I made, other than her tip to add fabric at the top, was to add half an inch to the front side leg starting at the crotch and tapering to the bottom to accommodate my wide thighs. And yikes! Even though my fabric had more stretch than required, the pants were so tight through the belly that I could barely breathe. What went wrong? I think that the fault was more mine than Betzina’s. I still have a waist, but I also have a pot belly beneath it (sigh), so the waist measurement alone isn’t a very accurate guide to fit. Also, these are designed to be tight fitting, and I don’t like tight clothes.
On to version two. This time I drove a little further and found some “jeggings” style fabric for four dollars a yard. It looks like denim on the outside but has a lot of stretch. I moved up to size E, a 35” waist and a 42 ½ inch hip. Again I added fabric to the inside front leg from the crotch down. What was the result? A really, really high waist with a what looks like extra room in the front, not enough in the back, and a lot of pooling fabric below the seat. (The very dark fabric didn’t photograph well.)
The large amount of fabric pooling below my rear bothers me the most. It’s there in all pants patterns I make. I had hoped that her sizing alterations for a flatter seat might have done something about it, but there it is. I know raising the back waist more will help a little. Other suggestions?
So what have I learned? There are no magic bullets. Even patterns designed for older figures can’t possibly fit every older figure without fiddling. Also, I discovered that it is time to start measuring the pattern before I cut into it. My waist measurement isn’t telling me much anymore. Watch for one more installment of the “Today’s Fit” saga.