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wise advice needed for a sewing newbie

luckyluke | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello all. I thought I would draw upon your collective experience and wisdom to help me make a decision regarding my future foray into sewing.

Basically, I want to make my own pants. I’ve got quite long legs and a slim waist and most retailers do not carry pants that fit very well.

I would like your advice on a machine that would be ideal for this task plus fit my budget of $200-400. I have looked at Janome, Kenmore and Huskystar (or whatever it is called) but cannot really judge what i would need for this type of job.

I would greatly appreciate any advice you all might have. And if anyone can recommend a good book or source of information, I’d be very pleased


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  1. Beth | | #1

    Making pants that fit well is one of my goals too. I use a Click and Sew computer program and for me, this works well. Threads magazine has run many short articles about pants fitting. I don't know of a book that covers everything. For assembly instructions I use a variety of sources, an old Singer sewing book, articles from back issues of Threads, and any other source I can find. To lenghten pants, follow the basic instructions on the pattern. It is important to maintain the grain of the fabric when you lengthen legs.

    My sewing machine is an old Viking which I know how to us and, adjust. Most important of all, when it doesn't work right, it is for a simple reason (operator error)  I "fix" it.

    Pants that fit are a joy to wear. Best wishes with your search for a decent pattern and a good machine.

  2. anneelsberry | | #2

    As for your machine, consider buying a good used machine from a dealer in your area that offers classes and service, rather than buying a cheap new machine.  If your primary interest is garment sewing, you really only need a basic machine with a straight stitch, zigzag and buttonholes.  An older Bernina, Viking or even Singer Featherweight (no zigzag, though) would do what you need, plus be durable and basic enough to not give you problems.

    As for fitting, consider taking a class.  Sometimes it helps to have someone else to look at your body to figure things out.  Took me almost twenty years to figure out that the crotch depth I had been using was the problem with all the pants I had been making.

    1. FitnessNut | | #3

      Good advice from Pomona. Another thing to keep in mind regarding fitting is that adjustments take a lot of trial and error to get perfect. Don't expect to get great fitting pants the first time out and don't get discouraged. Pants are one of the most difficult garments to fit correctly. Consider making them up in cheap cotton or muslin to test the fit.....you'll also get sewing practice at the same time! (So, yes, put in that zipper!)


      1. luckyluke | | #4

        hi everyone. thanks so much for the great advice so far!

        i've kept a pair of pants that fit me really well and since they are on their last leg as it were, i was thinking of taking them apart and making a pattern out of them on muslin or something. hopefully this way the measurements will be pretty good though i expect one's sewing talent also will play a role.

        and hey, i can always wear the first attempts around the house when it is dark :)

        i'm still looking at machines but am tending to the older, sturdy used ones rather than new and cheap. i would assume that most stores that sell used machines have some sort of warranty or guarantee.

        1. nmog | | #5

          I agree with what's been said so far.  In terms of the machine ( and I know this sounds crazy), try to buy it in a 'not-too-busy' time of year for you.  A lot of the machines come with a 7 or 14 day return policy, and this only worked for me because I made time to try out my new machine in the alotted time period.  The last machine I bought sat in its box for a few weeks (I had just started a new job), and it turned out to be a lemon.  Good luck with your shopping!


        2. SewNancy | | #7

          You can copy a pair of pants without taking them apart, but remember that they will have stretched a bit, so it will still be a bit of trial and error on fit.  I have been trying for the last year and a half, since I lost 75 lbs to make really well fitting pants and am finally getting closer!  It is a lot of trial and error and if you can take a fitting class i definitely advise it.  A friend who sews is helpful, and a 3 way mirror or a good hand held mirror as you need to see the back without twisting around.


  3. SewNancy | | #6

    Try Pants for Real People by Patti Palmer and Marta Alto.  Amazon.com has it for a good price.  The best I've seen and I have a lot of fitting booKs!  They have another book that is Fit for Real People also a good investment for you.  These don't assume that you know anything and they have great pictures so that it is easier to see what your fitting problems are.  As to sewing machines, I have sewn on a Viking for over 20 years and just bought a new one.  Again, I will say the dealer is the key.  You can get a lot of support from them and they should have classes to teach you how to use your machine.  My dealer also runs beginning classes for new sewers.


  4. tedd1y | | #8


    I have had very good luck taking things apart and using them as a pattern.  When I have a favorite item that has seen better days, I carefully take it apart.  Be sure to note the seam allowance and make your new seams the same width.  Also, "grain" is very important so hold your old item up to the light to see the grain line and mark it so the new item will hang correctly.

    Hope this helps!


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