MBM - Style Arc Tessa pants and a Planfrew/Rentain

A pattern for a pair of elastic waist pants wouldn’t interest me much ordinarily, as it is a pretty simple draft to make your own pattern if you have a pant block, which I do. The blurb for Style Arc’s Tessa pant piqued my interest though with this pitch: "The pants have an elastic waist with little fullness to allow them to sit flat when on the body"
I’ve made a few self drafted elastic waist pants, and the puffiness around the waist is a bit of a thing, so I decided to see if the Tessa draft was an improvement.
I made two fit changes to the pattern. The main one is to add about 5cm to the back crotch hook.
This alteration is a standard one on pants for me. It is the key to getting a comfortable fit around the back, but the downside is that the inside back leg is always substantially longer than the inner front leg, and so requires careful easing. This can sometimes be a bit fraught, depending on the fabric I'm sewing with.
However, I was flipping through some old Australian Stitches magazines at Mum’s recently, and came across this tip for employing  “ease plus”. Some of you I am sure are familiar with it, but I describe it here, because I haven’t come across this technique anywhere else in my sewing reading, and it might be new to you too.
 Employing “ease plus” is simply a matter of placing the longer fabric piece (ie the piece to be eased) against the feeddogs. You sew your seam as normal, the difference being you place your left index finger against the back of the sewing foot, so that as you sew, the fabric pleats up under your finger. Do this for a short distance, then release the sewn fabric, and repeat all the way along till the end.
Well, what can I say? Employing this technique was a bit of a revelation. Both inner leg seams went together evenly without puckers, first go! Yoo hoo! Sewing with linen probably helped too.
Another fit alteration was to add 5cm to the length, which is my normal length alteration. I only used 3cm of it though, and probably could have used less. I'm 175cm (5'9").
OK so the Tessa is a pretty straight forward pattern to sew. I complicated it by starting to sew 1.5cm seam allowances until I remembered Style Arc customary 1cm seam allowance, so I had to do some ripping. Apart from that, plain sailing sewing.
So does it live up to the Style Arc promise?
Well here is lovely shot with my top tucked in so you can see the waistline. It isn’t entirely flat, but it is an improvement on my self drafted pattern. I’m wondering if the quality of the elastic has something to do with it? I had to stretch this elastic a lot to get the elastic effect, as it were. Would a beefier elastic, one that didn’t have to be stretched so much make a difference? And if so, where can I buy it, because Spotlight elastic doesn’t seem to cut it.
I’m fairly happy with these pants, but in the next iteration, I think I’ll take length out of the front crotch seam, and add it to the back. These pants have side seam pockets which are handy, but next time I think I will make them bigger.
I wore these pants to work yesterday as the temperature hit 39C (39C in October, I tell you!) and felt comfortable all day. This is definitely destined to be a workhorse garment this summer.

I’m wearing these with another recent make: I started out with the Plantain pattern. This pattern had passed me by in 2014 because I was pretty much manacled to the Renfrew. Love that pattern. Anyway, I thought a slightly different silhouette would suit this very soft knit better, so I thought to try out the Plantain. As I was contemplating the Plantain scoop neck, I realised it would just be easier to use the Renfrew scoop, which is the perfect depth for me. Why reinvent the wheel? While I was there copying the Renfrew neckline, I went the whole hog and copied the shoulder line and sleeves. The Plantain draft kicks in just above the waist. And so I have a Rentain. Or is it a Planfrew?  


  1. Your linen pants look fabulous and are perfect for the unusually hot weather we have been having so early in the season. I'm sure you will wear these a lot over summer. I love how you have combined the Plaintain and the Renfrew tops. I love the Renfrew and I have the Plaintain in my pattern stash but haven't made it up yet. Your Planfrew/Rentain has been a total success.

    1. Thanks Jean. Another thing I noticed about the Plantain pattern was that the shoulder line seemed a lot more sloped than the Renfrew. I have quite straight shoulders, so that was another reason not to go 100% with the Plantain pattern.

  2. Very smart linen pants and a very interesting technique.

    1. Thannks Sharon. The old Australian Stitches magazines seemed to have a lot more on sewing techniques than the ones over the last few years. "Ease plus" worked really well.

  3. WOW looks great i feel like this gonna give more comfort and flexibility in moves.


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