Friday, October 30, 2015

Save yourself from the clutches of alteration!

Do you ever look at vintage patterns just for the instructions? Perhaps this just shows how deep into sewing obscurities I can delve but my obsession with all things sewing related leads me to purchase completely unnecessary yet interesting vintage (or semi-vintage) patterns.

Some small detail or appealing illustration can be enough to draw me in. As long as the cost is minimal  - and most of these patterns are found at various sales among bins and bins of old patterns for any price ranging from pennies to a couple of dollars.

Which brings me to this pattern I found at a recent ASG stash sale. If you have the opportunity to paw through the stack or bins of old patterns it becomes apparent just how many pattern companies there have been, some still succeeding, some disappearing without a trace, others being absorbed into a bigger entity. Today's independent pattern companies are carrying on a long tradition of sewing patterns and often creating something to fill a particular niche.

This pattern caught my eye and when I got a chance to look through the instructions they did not disappoint! When you read criticism of literature, they often mention the writer's voice. There is no mistaking that the author of these pattern instructions had a very specific voice - which might seem a bit dated but is very entertaining and include some very apt admonitions as well.

Else of California pattern, copyright is 1968. On the back they manage to give the fabric requirements for all sizes for every one of the possible options. Who doesn't want a pair of Flare Bells in their wardrobe?

Else pants envelope

Now we get to the entertaining part, which is not really part of the sewing or fitting instructions, but what struck me as more like editorial comments sprinkled throughout.

"There's a whole new world of pants waiting for you in this pattern...What's matter what size you are, straight as a boy or beautifully bumpy, this pair of pants is going to fit"   

bumpy?  that's a new one.

Else pattern advice

This might be my FAVORITE one of the bunch, where she talks about taking your measurements and says
 "Don't try to conduct the ceremony yourself, call in a close-mouthed friend and swear her to secrecy, if necessary"

Else pants take your measurements

No, wait. This part is my favorite.


I like that idea - being saved from the clutches of alteration. Someone should use that if you are writing a sewing book. Most sewing books are so cheerful and upbeat in a way that is perhaps a teensy bit unrealistic (cue ironic smile here) After all, fitting/pattern adjustment is kind of tricky. And perhaps should be acknowledged as so a bit more often. Although I do have to give a shout-out to some of the Sandra Betzina sewing books, I have a few of her older ones, I think the Power Sewing series and she is so matter of fact about fit issues, what most everyone wants to highlight or obscure. A very rational point of view.
Anyhow, apparently Else of California can save us from the CLUTCHES OF ALTERATION!
I love that phrase! and now will try to use it in regular conversation, to confuse my friends.

Else pants choose your size

Here's the helpful diagram which shows how to get all those variations from this one pattern. Talk about a good value. Which again illustrates my frequent point that there are no new patterns - or very few new patterns/pattern ideas.  I do like how they have both a high waist with waistband or a lower cut pant option in the instructions and suppose you could modify with zipper placement, pockets etc to get all kinds of looks out of this pattern.

pants patterns options2

The fitting instructions are good, I would say they are like a condensed version of the entire Palmer and Pletsch Pants fitting book made to fit on one page which is clever. And sprinkled throughout are more crazy tidbits about hip pillows, baby darts and other fit adjustments that I have never heard of. (or never heard with those titles).

Pants vintage

Lastly we come to the most important pants fitting conundrum - the saggy seat. Which Else has helpfully illustrated with this poor women who despite appearing quite trim and shapely has the dreaded baggy bottom. But Else has a solution. I did get a few tips from her instructions so hey - most anything is worthwhile if you learn something new.

Pants vintage

The pattern pieces have been mostly cut down on the size 38 line (shame on you, non tracer of patterns) so not really useful for me, perhaps I will do a pattern giveaway on this one.  But I think I have learned enough from Else and added a new zingy phrase to my vocab (clutches of alteration-ration-ration, now I hear it in my head with that movie echo effect).

Plus I have made an actual wearable totally satisfactory pair of pants using Vogue 9092 and it was not  ALL THAT BAD! you have no idea how annoying I have found pants recently. Fitting pants sewing patterns, I mean. I have no trouble buying pants - they seem to fit perfectly fine if I buy them, but sewing fit has eluded me until now.  Will try to take some pics this weekend.

Lots of sewing to do this weekend, I am in the midst of another version of this fantastic Burda dress for my friend Heather and I want to make a silk blouse for myself because the fabric is burning the proverbial hole in my pocket. Does that analogy apply to newly purchased fabric? I think so.

Halloween on a Saturday night, clear warm weather. Talk about terrifying! Mine is a very trick-or-treat favorable neighborhood and it so much fun to see the cute little ones that start as soon as it gets dark, and then exhausting by about 8 pm when the ridiculous almost-teenagers are showing up. On the plus side, each year one of my neighbors holds a sort of cocktail party on their front lawn - so we all close up shop, dim those porch lights around 9 and head down the street for some much needed iquid refreshment.

Happy Halloween weekend sewing! 


  1. Please don't shame the no tracer original owner of the neat pants pattern. I assume you got the pattern for a cheap price and you got some good information so an even trade. Obviously I'm not a pattern tracer as I get my patterns at good prices so I feel no obligation when they are passed on. Guess I should point out that I freely give my pattern away at no charge.

    1. gosh, I was joking about pattern not being traced - I cut or trace patterns depending on my mood. Although if they are on quality paper I trace my size as it so much easier to fold up and store pieces of thin tracing paper.

  2. Terrific find! Personally, I love "Let's Understand the Ease Situation." I think I could through that into a conversation once in awhile. Cheers to a Happy Halloween!

  3. I'm now going to tell people I'm beautifully bumpy! :D

  4. I want some of that iquid refreshment! Great post--thanks!

  5. What a great find and to have this pattern to read the instructions would be very enjoyable. Now you have got me wondering if your got the Vogue pants to fit using Else's instructions.

  6. Interesting read - I had no idea there were indie patterns prior to the current craze!

  7. Fun and helpful. I'm going to look her up!

  8. Ok, based on your post I just ran over to ebay and bought this pattern! These instructions seem like a hoot!
    Enjoy Halloween; I only get about 30-35 trick or treaters but am thinking of dressing up for it. Love seeing all the little ones in their costumes.

  9. Thanks for sharing those interesting instructions. I just ordered two patterns from that line just because of this post.

  10. I did enjoy your post and so envy you that pattern. All those styles and sizes in one pattern and so much useful information too. What a treasure. I could really make use of the instructions on how to fix saggy seat :)

  11. I am so glad to see this! I own 3 Else of California patterns and her self-published book!

  12. This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing this gem.

  13. I have that pattern and a couple others of hers. Lots of useful info on fitting.