Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Anita Ponti Pants...of broken hearts (and needles)

These are the pants that broke not only my heart and my sewjo, but TWO overlocker needles and one sewing machine needle.  Let's just say this was NOT a fun sewing weekend for yours truly!

I've heard Tessuit's Anita Ponti Pants being described as "secret tracksuit pants" by various sewing bloggers (you know who you are)! Naturally I wanted in on this. A nice, elastic-waisted slimline pant that are as comfy as tracksuit bottoms. That I can wear out to work. Or dinner. Or on the couch. YES YES YES!

These pants were only ever going to be a practice pair (stunt pants/toile/muslin - call it what you will) so I was prepared for them not to fit (they mostly don't fit though they look fine in the photos). What I was NOT prepared for was a battle with both my sewing machine AND my overlocker.

Things started off badly (with some crazy sort of bobbin tension issue that I have NFI how to fix) and reached epic tantrum stage (from me and the overlocker) when I tried to attach the elastic to the waistband using the overlocker. One needle simply broke in half and then another bent to nearly 90 degrees! When I tried to install a third needle that darn overlocker WOULD not stitch. I took me about TWO hours and 2,000 f-bombs (and some other choice words) to figure out the needle (that has no obvious front or back) was in backwards. It's sewing now, but the tension is bonkers (again, I have NFI how to fix this).

When it came to hemming the pants and stitching down the waistband using my twin needle my regular machine will all of a sudden only stitch one line of matter how many times I re-threaded the machine, glared at it, turn it off/on, spoke to it nicely and swore at it. Nadda.  So it's zigzag stitch for these babies, which to be honest I'm fine with as it's easier than twin-needling (and you can do it from the wrong side so yay to that).

Apart from ALL the heartbreak and dramas some of the sewing on these went quite well (mainly the straight stitching, top stitching and seam finishing)...though I'm still confused at how to sew the crotch seams together (put one leg inside the other and...WHAT)?

Like I said these pants looks OK in the photos but they don't really fit. The back rise is WAY too low for me (think the worst kind of plumbers crack too low) and I made the elastic waistband too tight. The crotch is too low and the legs are a tad firm.  These are one uncomfortable pair of pants.  There's a fine line between too tight and too loose that I'm yet to master.

So yes, I am going to make these pants again (as I have four lots of ponti stashed away for them).

Future changes: 
  • I will have a G+T beside me to calm the nerves before I embark on pair #2.
  • On this pair I sewed all the seams at 5/8" as recommenced and the legs are...firm. Next time I will sew the inside leg seams at 1/2" (that's SMALLER than 5/8", right)?  This ponti isn't particularly stretchy so I guess I adjust the seams based on the fabric...or something like that.
  • The crotch isn't sitting quite where it should...too low in a bad "I'm wearing an adult diaper" kind of way. Perhaps I can fix this by sewing the crotch seam a bit smaller (or actually wearing aforementioned adult diaper)...or something?
  • I'm going to heighten the rise at the CB and taper it off towards the side seams. I'm also going to lower the front rise at the CF as they are bit too high on my waist. Of course I have NFI how to do this so it's all just a pipe dream.
  • I might lengthen them hem and make my next pair an inch longer too, though I do like this length I might get cold ankles in winter...brrr.
  • I need to figure out what length I need to cut the elastic at to make these comfortable rather than torturous.
  • I'm changing my overlocker! Yes, really!  I've realised that this old machine is really only good for seam finishing. It's lacking the fourth spool/second needle that you really need to construct secure knit garments. My yellow + mustard Mandy Boat Tee is already falling apart at the seams and if I am going to continue to sew knits (which I want too) then Mr Singer, sadly, isn't going to cut it.

In the meantime I've totally lost ALL my sewjo after this traumatic experience...I'll be back...eventually! 


  1. I'm wondering what size needles you were using. And if the ones in the overlocker had ever been changed? Maybe that was a hint to change them. LOL

  2. How frustrating but hopefully the tips Toni gave you will help with the fit. Needles are another story so not sure what happened to you, as Alison said they may be been blunt or there was just too much fabric with elastic for your machine to handle. Fingers crossed for the next pair.

  3. Its a shame these are uncomfortable to wear cause they look really good in the pics! Keep at it you will get there. I dont know what everyone else does but i use straight stitch for ponte, including hems and i havent ad a blow out yet.

  4. So the pants look good in the photos, so it's definitely worth trying again with this pattern. Perhaps next time just sew the elastic rather than trying to overlock it. It sounds like it was a step too far for Mr Singer.

  5. Such a pity they don't fit, because in the photos they look great!! Good on you for even trying pants, some sewers never try them, they aren't super easy as there are many more fit issues. I would suggest that you are going to have quite a variance on fit depending on the stretchiness of your fabric, ponte varies a lot. Good luck :)

  6. Awww man, how trying! Sewing elastic bands is always trying, but it's a little easier for me to do it on my sewing machine instead of the serger. At least it's easier to seam rip if you F up a stitched seam rather than a serged one! As far as the fiddly bit about putting one pant leg inside the other, it helps to try to remember that the goal is to sew the legs together along that curve right sides together. I hope you get the issues sorted out because these really look cute on you!