Sunday, 22 June 2014

28 photos of my arse; or Made: Ottobre 02-2014-06 Shorts

My first attempt to make shorts this year was not well-fated, you might recall, as rather than pick an actual shorts pattern like a sane person, I chose a pattern described as culottes, and then was shocked! horrifed! when they turned out like a green linen parachute. However, I want to make a pair of shorts for my mini-wardrobe next month, and that meant trying again. Hey presto: new pattern, new shorts, 28 shots of my arse in shorts on my camera, no dignity, and in the end, shorts whose fit I am not entirely ashamed of!
Ottobre 02-2014-06 "Denim Look" shorts: magazine image and technical drawing
The pattern I chose this time was actually on the very next page after the culottes in the most recent Ottobre magazine (Spring/Summer 2014). Someone, I have no idea who I am sorry to say, gave me the excellent advice in a recent comment that a good first attempt at trousers was to make a pair of shorts without a fly or anything else that could add wrinkles that had nothing to do with fit. Thank you, that person! Given the extra wrinkles that appeared in my (non-fitted) skirts from the flies I tried, I can well believe this. Ergo this very basic and almost design-feature free pair of shorts seemed ideal, if not entirely the most interesting thing ever. You can read my proper, srs bsns pattern review on PR here.

My turquoise shorts, as modelled by... a hanger. And also the innards, which are again probably the best part
Once again, probably the most exciting thing about these from a finished garment perspective are the insides, where I kind of went to town again. My turquoise linen is a remnant from a year ago, when I made a jacket to wear to my friends' wedding. It's gorgeous fabric, I wish I had bought more in other colours. (It is from Fabrix in Lancaster, which stocks this linen as a regular range and which used to have a website that doesn't appear to work anymore. I hope they haven't gone out of business!)

The bias binding is actually left from the same project: Liberty cotton lawn that I made into MILES of bias tape for the inside of the (unlined) jacket. I had to make a bit more, actually, but continuous bias binding making is MAGIC, and just a tiny square of fabric produced a whole extra 4m. At any rate, I flat-felled most of my construction seams, which I think looks great, and then bound the zipper side seam (I found ONE tutorial on flat-felling zipper seams, but couldn't understand a word of it, so: binding). I also bound the edge of the waist facing and the leg opening hem, the latter more because it looks pretty than any other reason (though also, this linen was very shreddy). Is it weird how much I have come to love doing fancy seam finishing? I love how the insides of my last few garments have looked, I think I'm becoming addicted to fancy finishing techniques. That's not a bad thing, though, right?

Overall, I think these shorts cost around £9, including fabric and thread and whatnot, although I actually recycled the invisible zipper from something I made previously and got rid of earlier this summer.

However, you don't care about that, you want to know whether the indignity of taking 28 shots of my butt on a timer paid off. Let me just say before I start that one aspect of the pattern (mentioned in my review) is that they are SUPER HIGH WAISTED, like, right up to my natural waist, hence the ACRES of fabric above the crotch. I pulled my top up so you could see the fit, but, uh, in real life I'd wear my shirt pulled right down over them to mid-hip.

Turquoise shorts as modelled by yours truly
Is the fit perfect? Not it's not. But I'm super happy with how it looks for a FIRST EVER attempt at fitted shorts. If I am going to be picky, I think the biggest remaining problem is at the back, because it's a little too tight and clings rather closely at the crotch. But I also had them pulled up a tiny bit too high, so, eh. (And it's linen, which as we all know will bag out horribly. I imagine by the time I actually wear them for an hour the backside will be round my knees somewhere.) I think the wrinkle on the front shot is from the way I'm standing, because it doesn't do that in the mirror, but whatever, it's not a big deal.

My comedy plaid muslin. ALL of the spare room over my ass!
Of course, this turquoise pair wasn't the ACTUAL first attempt, which I did in a comically awful plaid muslin fabric. I look like some kind of hilarious tacky tourist. All I need is a camera slung around my neck and a little bag buckled around my waist, and I could be one of the hordes "Doing Yurop" this summer.

So, the front was never bad. What you can't tell is that when I moved around the front poofed out in an enormous bubble of fabric right at the curviest part of the crotch curve. I... actually don't have a description for how I fixed it, but basically, I sewed another curve 1.5cm deeper as per Pants For Real People, and hey presto, fixed.

The back view and the side view however demonstrate just how bad the fit was originally from this pattern over my butt. The side seams swung ALL the way forward, I think this photo actually understates it, and there were HUGE DEEP wrinkles at the back, caused by EPIC amounts of excess space. I ended up pulling the waist up at the centre back by 3cm and then ALSO took up to 5cm out of each side of the crotch seam. That means I took TEN CENTIMETRES at one point of the curve. That's FOUR INCHES of extra fabric.

I knew I had a flat butt (because every RTW pair of pants I have ever owned tends to swing forward at the side seam and puddle below my butt cheeks) but WOW. To be fair, at this point I have no idea how far I can generalize from this one Ottobre pattern as to whether I am always going to do such a gargantuan adjustment. I mean, for all I know, Ottobre may draft for the exceedingly ample of posterior, which I am never going to be, and I won't have to make such an extreme alteration on like, Burda, or Vogue (not that I HAVE any Vogue trouser patterns). However, the fact that I always have the same problem in RTW makes me think that maybe my ass is UNUSUALLY FLAT. The things you learn about yourself when you sew!

Luckily, I didn't seem to have any other major problems, so although I did spend an entire evening sewing this muslin, adjusting it, and peering at my own butt in photos, it wasn't NEARLY as painful as the multi-week marathons of fitting I know a lot of people have had to do. But then, maybe I am also just not all that picky, and you are all secretly recoiling from my photos. (Actually, if you think there are huge glaring errors that I have missed, you should tell me. I know it's tight at the back, but other than that.)

At any rate, for the moment I feel pretty happy because it's pretty clear from these photos that even if my turquoise short aren't "perfect", they are a HUGE improvement on the muslin. ALSO, they are actually super comfortable to wear, walk, sit and otherwise move about in. Someone on the PR board just recently pointed out that standing still and sitting actually have very different demands as far as fit is concerned, so the fact that mine feel good and look OK in both positions is very pleasing to me.

In conclusion: SHORTS. I have MADE SOME. Go team me *\o/*


  1. Woooohooo!!! Congrats!!

    I'm glad you went for it! Love the color and I think they fit well!

    1. I am so pleased with them! :D I was expecting to spend forever trying to get ANY kind of fit from them, so I am glad to have figured it out this far without too much agony.

  2. Kudos to you for knocking out the shorts. I tried shorts one summer and failed.

    Thanks for the tip about reducing the 'pooch.' That was one of the problems with the shorts I tried to make. Maybe I'll try again.

    I had to laugh out loud about your muslin shorts and the tourist comment. Why do people still do that? I always try to blend in when I travel. Whilst in Australia, I had two different groups ask me for directions! Hah. Fortunately, I knew what they were talking about and could direct them accordingly.

    1. It's in the Pants For Real People book as a "rare" adjustment, but I have to say it's happened in a LOT of RTW shorts as well for me, the weird pooch on the front, so evidently either it's not as rare as they think or that is my body shape. Unfortunately, I have the Kindle edition of the book rather than a paper thing so I can't photograph the page with the suggested alteration for you :(

      I have no idea why people would go out of their way to look like tourists, but if you live in any major European city, you see them all the time walking around like an advertisement for embarrassing decisions. I'm like you, I try to dress as inconspicuously as possible, though obviously there are times when Western dress and the colour of my skin give me away as a dumb tourist.

  3. Hey, these look good and I like the plaid :-) Another reference I use when making pants is Making Pants that Fit (Singer series). In fact, you have inspired me to start thinking about pants for the fall. Right now it is 106F and fitted pants or shorts are not in my future.

    1. The funny thing was, I put the plaid shorts on and was like.... these are not actually that ugly! :D However, I cut them up at the end to use them as pattern pieces so they are alas no more. Also, although not the ugliest, the fabric itself was horribly plasticy, some kind of poly-cotton mix and HEAVY on the poly.

      Good heavens, I should think you spend most of your time in the floatiest skirts and dresses you can find in that kind of heat. D:

  4. Awesome first shorts!

    Things with crotches are my kryptonite, so anyone who can get them to fit are pretty much automatically my idol.

    I'm still a little scarred by the Thurlows that my ass tried to eat... :(

    1. I am proud of them! (And I wore them Monday and continued to be mainly pleased with the fit, although they are too high at the waist I think for me to LOVE them.) However, I have to say I've never REALLY struggled to get shorts or trousers to fit from shops, so I don't think I can be hard to fit in this respect.

      I am sorry to hear you were scarred by the Thurlow pattern D: D: D: