The Dreaded Monobutt vs the 70s, or, Amanda tries to draft a pair of pants that flatter her butt

Today I am on a mission. I lost my sailor pants pattern (oh, the downsides of being a hoarder) which I had perfectly tweaked via trial and error to avoid the camel toe problem. I like tight-ish pants, but cannot, cannot, cannot stand when they appear to bifurcate my front crotch. Do. Not. Want. It occurred to me while fangirling over David Bowie and how he always manages to have this epic boldy-move-through-the-world-with-his-crotch posture in his rock star jeans (see exhibit A below) that men’s jeans must not have this issue, since they have to deal with a bunch o’ stuff in the front.

I’m sorry, Bowie, but the line between objectification and inspiration is a very thin one.

I *also* very much dislike the contemporary cut of jeans that Kathleen Fasanella terms the “monobutt” and discusses at length on her blog at So much food for thought there. I’ve been studying pattern envelopes from the disco era, ’cause god knows if you were gonna gyrate at the disco with all the fervor cocaine could induce, you could not have your crotch and butt being all bound up by the cut of our your super tight super fine pants. Exhibit B: This fantastic 70s pattern, which incidentally features princess lines on a men’s shirt!!

simplicity8255 mens jeans shirt front


This is available on etsy (here) at the moment. What I find fascinating is the cut of the back piece vs the cut of the front piece. For most pairs of women’s pants I’ve sewn from patterns, the curve is pretty equally divided between front and back pieces. This keeps most of the curve on the back piece, which makes sense, because the front needs to be flatter to accomodate the goods. So if you’re a woman who doesn’t want the camel toe look, my thinking is that you could learn a lot from the line here.

What also interests me is the slight pitch of the back piece. That is not a typical up and down straight pants piece. There is curvature to round the glorious muscles of the gluteus maximus. That pattern piece does not squish it into one indiscriminate jammed up mass (that my butt has actually ripped apart at the seams) but rather allows enough fabric to encase it.

If emulating these curves doesn’t work for me, I’m turning to Elvis costumes next. Have you EVER seen an Elvis jumpsuit that gave him a monobutt? NO. Also potential study fodder–karate pants. I did karate as a teen and those drawstring uber-comfortable pants saved me during my pregnancy. I wore them almost daily. They are designed for movement, with a large gusset in the crotch, and aren’t exactly the look I’m going for at present but I could learn a lot from their construction in my quest to design a pair of superpants. Said quest got a little boost from this cover illustration from Modes et Travaux, which should be arriving in my mailbox any day now. Yay hoarding! Yay Maggy Rouff!


Sewing Projects: The Caftan Experiment.

I bought a few yards of black chiffon recently, and wanted to try something relatively simple and low stakes to get a feel for sewing with it. I’m also on the prowl for some kind of fancy-handmade-yet-generic-enough-to-make-en-masse gift for the adult women-folk of the family. A see through caftan might be a bit risque, but it sure beats a generic vanilla bath set. Let’s call it a beachy cover-up, if we must be so prudish.

So this weekend was the trial run.

To sew a caftan, theoretically, you really only need a few measurements: the width (measurement from end of arm to end of opposite arm where you want the garment to end), the length (where you want the garment to end), the desired size of your neck opening, where to put the side seams, and where you want to gather or belt in the garment. My highly sophisticated blueprint:


When I did this I sewed it in one piece of fabric folded into quarters and a head hole cut from the center, which was, I think, a mistake, because it’s so tricky to hem in this way, and I didn’t want to add a facing to chiffon. Next time I’ll do it in two pieces to make the neckline finish neater, and easier to manage if I try a v-neck. I measured it to end just above the knee but forgot to account for the mathematics of boobies and so it hit a few inches higher on the thigh than I had intended.

Sewing it up was simple enough. I started with hems on the bottom of both sides, sort of out of necessity, because chiffon is a messy beast. It’s also incredibly slidey and I found it tricky to maneuver without seam lines getting all drunk like. Not a big deal on the hems and the neckline but a huge issue when I topstitched down the sides. My moment of genius solution to this was to use tissue paper to draw a stitching pattern and then to pin it to the top of the fabric as a guide and a stabilizer. Then when it’s finished, you just tear it away. Magic!

What I wanted to end up with:

laurelCanyon-020113-bc-005_t650(image credit)

 What I really felt like:

Petrie_original_colors(image credit)

I think the long sleeves and excess fabric below them made it feel more flappy than I wanted. More experimentation to come!