On patience, failure, and body-positivity

First Darlow pants muslin attempt.

I’m frustrated.

A few weeks ago, I got an email announcing the pattern release for the Darlow pants. Look at how much fun they are! I love the style, the use of the different panels to create the legs, the hint at a sort of early ’90s style reminiscent of a certain “rapper” we all adored, whether we admitted it or not. I was excited about this pattern, so I checked out the size chart and decided that, while I was at the top end of the chart, I could make these pants and rock the heck out of them in some cool linen when the temps in Phoenix skyrocket this summer. I bought the pattern and then immediately signed up to be part of the sew-along online.

Craft dungeon chaos, piecing together the PDF pattern.

I got started on my muslin, deciding to shorten the pants by 1″ (I’m 5’6″, the pattern was drafted for a person who is 5’7″). I also decided to grade the pants to a waistband size that was one size smaller than my hip measurement. I’ve never made fit adjustments to any pattern before. In fact, this was my first time sewing a “real” pair of pants for public consumption. Up to this point, the only pants I’ve ever sewn were pajama pants.

Who am I kidding… pajama pants are also for public consumption when I feel like it. I’ve actually had strangers make comments to me in the grocery store about wearing pajama pants because they’re apparently super uptight and are the pants police. Those are their issues, not mine. But I digress…

An interesting tip suggested by one of the other sewists participating in the sew-along was to use curtain lining for the muslin, rather than actual muslin fabric. It just so happened that I have a LOT of curtain lining left over from when I sewed bedroom curtains about a hundred years ago, so I decided this would be a good way to burn through some of that. I figured it might have a similar drape to my final fashion fabric because it’s a bit heavier than muslin fabric. Apparently it might also be less expensive than muslin, although I have yet to confirm that since I bought my curtain lining fabric somewhere in the ballpark of 12 years ago.

Lots of curves on the leg panels = lots of pins.

After I had the muslin completely constructed (minus the zipper and the hems), I was afraid to put it on. I could tell just by looking at it that it probably was going to be too small. I think I delayed a bit before putting them on, I don’t remember. I DO remember feeling intensely obligated to follow through and post the dreaded selfie to the sew-along Slack channel. To my surprise, I was able to get them on. There’s no way the hypothetical zipper would have closed, though.

I can’t post a photo. I just can’t. I did post that selfie in the sew-along, but I felt dreadful. Everyone else in the sew-along was smaller than me and, lucky them, their pants fit them. Which leads me to my planned digression on body-positivity:

I got my sew-jo back last fall when I started listening to all of the Love To Sew podcast episodes in order starting with episode 1. Episode 2 of the podcast, Curvy Sewing with Jenny Rushmore, really was so encouraging to me because my take away from that episode was that there’s nothing wrong with my body. The problem is with ready-to-wear clothing. I can sew garments that will fit my unique shape because I can make necessary adjustments to patterns that will give me my ideal fit. I can love my shape, too!

Only what if I’m beyond the size range of a pattern? I took my Darlow muslin and sent photos to my sister (the extraordinarily talented Teri at Fa Sew La, if you’ll forgive me my name-dropping), and she suggested a few adjustments. I took the muslin, un-picked the seams, and laid out one of the two leg pieces.

Flat leg piece, with a few lines drawn in for some adjustments.

I decided to do a full-bum adjustment, a full-thigh adjustment, and sew the waistband at the same size as my hip size. I was considering a full-belly adjustment, but the line was going straight through the fly and I really had no idea how to make that work. Cross that bridge if I ever get to it, you know? So the slashing, spreading, taping, tracing, and re-cutting muslin #2 commenced.

Round 2, ready to cut.

Y’all, muslin #2 fits better than muslin #1, and I’m pretty proud of the fact that it came together at all considering that I had to split one of the curvy panels into two pieces to get all my adjustments made. There was a HUGE margin for error.

Unfortunately, the size of my ass is huge-er. They still don’t fit. I’m disappointed, and I’ll be honest and lay it all out there for you: Sewing these pants was supposed to make me feel good, like now I’ve got pants that fit ME! What a confidence boost! But I’m disappointed in my size, my shape, and that I couldn’t even successfully make these pants.

But here’s where the patience part comes in: I’m not crying about it. I’m also not going to beat this dead horse and have it become an exercise in frustration. I learned a lot from this experience. I learned how to sew pants with a real fly, I learned how to do some fit adjustments, and I reminded myself that I can still sew a really nicely crafted pair of pants, even if they don’t fit me. I’m putting the Darlow pants on hold until I can finally get my workout mojo back and make some personal progress there (that’s a story for another post). I’m going to find a different pants pattern with more inclusive sizing and I’m going to try again. Yeah, I’m disappointed that I don’t have Darlow pants, but I will, eventually.

I’ve got a ways to go with the whole body-positivity thing, but this “failure” is really a success because I dusted off some old skills and learned some new ones. I’ll get there, and you’ll be the first to know. To be continued…

— Cat =^. .^=

2 thoughts on “On patience, failure, and body-positivity”

  1. Diouxde, I’m sorry that your Darlow pants didn’t work out… but it does sound like you really learned a huge amount in the process of trying to get them to fit. I wonder if you tried them in a stretch fabric if that would help at all— sometimes things fit me weirdly in muslin just because muslin (and probably curtain lining) don’t really have much give. But I bet if you find a different pattern with better sizing and without a zillion panels you’ll be able to get a great fit.


    1. Thanks, diouxde. I’m going to check out Style Arc like you suggested and try to find a different pattern. I probably did bite off a bit more than I could chew considering all the crazy panels in the Darlow pants, but THEY’RE SO CUTE.


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