You are currently viewing TWO LOOKS FROM A BASIC PANT PATTERN
Basic black on the left and a flared-bottom wild print pant on the right that I made to wear at Frocktails, which Helen Bartley, far right, and I attended in July.


McCall's Palmer/Pletsch Pattern 6901Using our McCall’s pattern M6901, I recently made two pairs of pants that look totally different from each other.

McCall’s 6901 is the Palmer/Pletsch pant pattern that we use in teaching Pant Fit and Sewing workshops. It has narrow legs. I’ve made it as a dressier trouser using a washable rayon, polyester, and spandex fabric called Downtown, from Telio. It molds and drapes beautifully. I wash the finished pants on gentle and lightly dry them, then hang to finish drying. They require no ironing.

I used Perfect Waistband interfacing to finish the waistline. It is a nonroll product. I put an invisible zipper in the back, but the pattern also has options for a fly front and trouser pockets. The fabric is available at Josephine’s Dry Goods in Portland.

I’ve been perfecting my pant pattern. Last fall I made pants in two fabrics that were very different from each other in weight and amount of stretch. Both had great drape and I fitted them snugly, but not tight. I marked the final stitching lines on the pattern for each. One fitted me perfectly, but the other fabric grew and had to be taken in to get a skimming fit and good drape. I made notes on my pattern based on the changes I made in fabrics. It’s a little sloppy, I realize, but it’s my reminder of the changes I made for different fabrics.



Remember those black pants I mentioned in my blog about my sewing space—the ones I should have sewn on a sunny day? Here’s what I did:

I used the same M6901 pattern with a stretch cotton twill. I want to make it tight like jeans because it will stretch during wear. Since I will wear these pants only with untucked tops, I am choosing an elastic waist, which is faster. I sewed the cotton pant all by machine including topstitched hems. I will hand-wash the finished pant to preserve the deep black color. (Machine-stitched but handwashed? Really?)


Remember, if you cut the fabric right sides together, your pant seams will be in a ready-to-sew position. Cut, then pin crotch seams and sew. I machine-basted the side and inseams for fitting.

I knew I’d have to stitch the seams deeper for this fabric, but how much? You have to start somewhere so I first sewed on the seamline 1” from the edges. (All P/P patterns for pants have 1” inseams, side seams and waist seam unless the waist has a yoke or contour band.)

machine stitch settingsMy machine has a 6mm basting stitch, which is looser than a regular 6mm stitch length. I know we tell you to pin wrong sides together, but when I don’t have anyone to pin-fit me, I find it easier, especially in a tighter pant, to machine baste RIGHT SIDES together. I try on, decide where and how much deeper I want the seams to be, then re-baste. I have gotten pretty good at that.

Try on and decide what changes you will want to make. I decided to take the back inseam in 2 ¼” and front inseam 1” beginning at the top.



using a French curveI have a little fluff in the upper inner thigh. I used the French curve to allow a little extra width in that area. This will be the sewing line for the front thigh.

I then narrowed the full length of the inseams again, taking in ¾” below the knee to the hem.

I took in the outside seams ½” at the top to ¾” from about 11” down to the hem. I marked the new stitching lines on left and right sides with chalk.


I basted on those lines and tried on the pants. Loved the fit! (Good guess!)

I then serged the seams together and pressed the side seams toward the back to lessen the thickness of the seam allowances a little. I pressed inseams, one toward the front and the other toward the back for less bulk, then I closed up the lower crotch seam. (Our guide sheets advise to sew the crotch seams leaving an opening of 1 ½-2” at the bottom. That way you can sew the inseams all the way up and press and finish them before you sew the lower crotch.)

To finish the waistline, try on the pants with 1” nonroll elastic with Velcro on each end, snugly around your waist. Pull pants up under the elastic until the crotch depth feels right, the side seams are straight, and there are no puddles or pulls near the top.

Chalk-mark the bottom of the elastic with a chalk wheel. The front is easy to mark. But I can’t mark the back by looking in the mirror because the mirror image causes me to turn the chalk the wrong way. So I do better by feel. My left side chalk mark is ½” lower than the right. But that’s just my body!


chalk line for waistband

I drew another chalk line above the waist, leaving a seam allowance to sew on a casing for the elastic. I trimmed away the excess.

trimming along chalk lines

I sewed the center back seam in the waistband, sewed the casing to the pant, and trimmed and graded the seam.

I left an opening to pull the elastic to fit.

waistband elastic

Then I cut off the excess and lapped and sewed the ends. Before closing the opening at the center back I slipped a piece of twill tape, folded in half, under the casing to mark the back of the pant, for easy identification when getting dressed.

twill tape



Be sure to tuck the elastic under the seam allowance so the front of the band is smooth.

Tuck elastic under waistband.




Adapting My Altered Basic Pant Pattern to a Rayon Jersey Pant with Flare

Judith Head joins me in front of the camera at Frocktails.
(Photos courtesy of Clutch Camera and Josephine’s Dry Goods)


I needed a colorful outfit for the 2019 Frocktails PDX event where sewists show off their skills and exchange Instagram handles. I combined the same colors that were popular in the late 1960s when I first moved to Portland.

I love the photos of me, above, with Judith Head, a long-time industry friend. I started in the sewing industry in 1968 about the same time Judith opened the original Josephine’s Dry Goods. Judith can be found working at the current JDG location on occasion. Note the 1970s retro gladiator style shoes on the duo!!

For more photos of the event, go to

I loved this rayon spandex jersey print, but didn’t like the print next to my face. However, it’s fun for a skirt or flared pant. Since I am the pant lady, I chose the latter!  These pants are made from M6901, hacked to add flare.

This is a very, very stretchy jersey. I wanted it to be easy-peasy to sew, so I did a cut-on elastic waist casing.

As I mentioned above, I have used the pattern before, so I didn’t bother tissue-fitting again. Besides, I knew the fabric would grow.

Before cutting, I used a chalk wheel and ruler to add 4” at the hem to the inside and outside seams, tapering to the original cut line just below the hip on the outside seam and to the upper thigh on the inseam. That adds 16” in width to the leg.


marking a wider leg


I first sewed the crotch seam, with a 2mm stitch length, to within 2” of the inseam edges so I would be able to sew the inseams before finishing the crotch. I machine-basted right sides together for a try-on to see where the seams would need to be and if the pant would grow in crotch depth.

I tried on the pants, pulling them up under my 1” elastic at the waist. The crotch did grow in depth, so pulling it up under the elastic was an easy fix. Amazingly, the pants fit almost perfectly. I pinned in the amount to take in each side in the hip area and marked the bottom of the elastic using a chalk wheel for where I wanted the waistline. I left 2” above the waist for the elastic casing. I decided to mark the hem too, leaving 6″ of hem to weigh down the lower edge since the jersey is lightweight. This was absolutely the quickest pant fabric-fit I’ve ever done!

Then I sewed with a regular stitch length just inside the basting except where I decided to take a little deeper seam. I then serged the seams to 3/8” and finished sewing the crotch seam, serging it to 3/8” except over the tummy where I wanted to press it open for a flatter finish.

My TV work was to remove the long basting threads, just to tidy up the inside. Because I had decided to leave the entire 6” hem allowance to weigh it down, that meant careful pinning so the knit was totally flat. Where it flared at the bottom I pinned in the inseams and side seams the amount I needed to sew the hem allowance deeper.

I sewed elastic to the top edge and turned it to the inside and anchored it by stitching in the well of the seams.


I stitched elastic to top raw edge then turned it under.

I stitched in the well of each seam to anchor the elastic. The hem is 6″ deep to weigh down the leg.


Check out the upcoming blog, “More Sewing for Frocktails,” to learn more about my jacket.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jan McMinn

    This was SO fascinating! LOVED the tips and techniques you shared. And you look gorgeous, of course!

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