Saturday, 19 November 2011

Let's Talk about Clover

OK, where do I start?

Honesty I think. First of all, I am not a brilliant fashion designer; I cannot draft my own patterns; I have mediocre sewing skills; I am useless at styling; I do not possess a perfect body shape, not even in proportion to itself; but I have NEVER made so many alterations for one pattern in my life!

I had to wait so long for my Colette Clover Pants patterns to arrive from the States that I missed the SewAlong completely and so I am fully aware that this post is actually out of date by now. I don't know whether to blame the American postal system or the British - whatever - the long anticipated pattern finally arrived on Thursday. I had my fabric, thread and zip at the ready. The sewing table was cleared from the last project - everything was ready. However, Thursday evenings are parish choir practice nights, and while I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, teenage son does and I have been roped into being robes-mistress. So off to church for button sewing, surplice mending and robe hemming.

While I was awaiting the pattern's arrival I reckon I have read every blog, review and tutorial about these trousers (pants) and reckoned I knew what watch out for: the pitfalls, the fitting issues and what the finished item was supposed to look like. Probably the guts of 20 internet hours. Everyone, it seems, who has made these pants and posted a blog made a toile (muslin). Now, in all honesty, I hardly ever make a toile (muslin). It's just that I don't really know what to do with them after I've made all the alterations. I prefer to cut large on the shell fabric and sew in from there. As this is my first Colette pattern and sizing can be different from one company to another, I checked my measurements (again) with my maybe not so reliable tape and did indeed cut a toile (muslin) in 14 from poly-cotton. And, like every body else - the toile (muslin) was a disaster! Way too big. So, like everybody else, I pinned it up and realised how much extra fabric there really was - and this wasn't even stretch fabric.

Then I got bored. So went straight for the real thing. The chosen fabric is a super soft dark grey cotton moleskin with 3% lycra. On the reverse it looks just like black denim and I had thought of using it the wrong way out. Fabric came from

I knew I had to reduce the size, so this time I cut a 12 - first time in years!

Followed the beautifully presented instructions and tried on. Well, would you believe it? Way too big! I don't know if you can see in this photo but the seam allowance (sewn at least twice) is 4cm (nearly 2") and I did this on all seams, sides, front and back. I raised the crotch line too. I'm not going to bore you with actual measurements or tutorial on pants fitting - suffice to say I may as well have started with four rectangles and worked my way in.

 Let me share some other bloggers' experiences:

msstitch made three muslins and bought two books to get her Clovers right.

Sewcult is admitting to making two muslins, but it may be more and cut two sizes down from normal.

Lladybird made three muslins and gives an in-depth account of the 1/4 and 3/8 and 1/2 inch alterations she had to make

Meladori gave up and drafted her own version. I agree with her - a modern pattern should kinda fit, even if it's made with a stretch fabric.

It's not all bad,  Fresa Handmade was delighted with her Clovers and needed very few alterations.

I must admit that Pricklypearcactuscandy went straight for her first pair and they turned out just fine and they do look great on her.

But really, dear readers, three muslins and still the fit is wrong! Life's too short.

I've made trousers (pants) before, lots of times. I'm a Vogue Pattern girl and in every case I take the tissue pattern from the envelope, cut the 14, sew in a bit at the waist and I get a perfect fit every time - no messing about with gusset lengths or flat belly adjustments etc etc etc. OK, most trousers I make are wide legged and high waisted - no low-rise skinny jeans for me. On those rare occasions when I thought I was 22 again and I would suit this style, those jeans ended up in my denim patchwork coat.

See, no crotch issues here.
No gaping at the waist.
No frown lines. Just wrinkles from not folding correctly!

However, I have made jeans too. Figure hugging and tight. Not a crease in sight.

So why all the problems with Clover?

This is what I had to cut off and re-sew the seams with 2cm allowance.

Is it because they're fitted?

Is it because they're made from stretch fabric?

Is it because I've got curves?

Is it because Colette got their sizing wrong?

Anyway. Got the things finished and would you believe it - I love them, just like everyone else who has made them. Even wore them with the green sweater that was originally made to coordinate.

What's even better, the zip went in first time! First time in my life, I believe.
I made the inside pockets out of red lining - they look like devil's eyes here.

And the $60,000 question - will I make them again?



  1. Of course you love them! You are rocking those pants. Now that you have your alterations, the next few pairs will go together in a me, I know - I've made five. lol

  2. I love this post-and you look great in those trousers (pants). Colette sizing is way different than other pattern companies, and even RTW. My Sencha blouse was quite...roomy. Should I try the Clovers? I guess yes.

  3. Fantastic post! I bought this pattern last week so your post is very timely. So glad you liked the pants in the end because after your first paragraph I was thinking I'd made a mistake buying this pattern. :)

  4. This is why I started blogging to receive encouragement like this when you feel like giving up. Thank you ladies you are all an inspiration to me.

  5. Ok, that's it. I wasn't sure what to sew next, but you've convinced me. Yours look great!

  6. They look fabulous, Ruth! I've been hesitant to get the pattern (a bit pricey for me) because I'm a little larger than the pattern is graded to. As I recall, it is only graded to an 18. I'm a woman's 18 in ready to wear (probably vanity sized and in reality a 20). But with most patterns I'm closer to a 22.

    Sigh. Why isn't this darn diet working!!!!!!

  7. Alaska, from my experience with this pattern you could cut the 18 and still have room to grow. Use a stretch fabric.

  8. I love your Clovers on you! They look great! I've finished my second pair, and have material for my third. They were a huge pain in the butt (haha) to fit but now that I fit them (my first pair of pants) I'm making way more pairs, since they actually fit me and ready to wear pants do not fit me ever.

  9. You can add me to the positive Clover experiences - a size 12 fit me PERFECTLY straight off the pattern sheet. The only alteration I did was to make the legs two inches longer!

  10. Ruth, you look super foxy,& they fit like a glove! You've inspired me to get my act into gear, and finally make up the real pair!