In a 13-day span this month, I made 9 pairs of McCall’s 6173 leggings for two different people!
How much do I love these leggings? Including the pairs made for others, I’ve sewn this pattern twenty-one times since September 2013. I call that a TNT among TNTs! I cannot rave enough about how easy these leggings are, and how easy it is to get a perfect fit from them. And did I mention there’s only one pattern piece? I add a sewn-on, casing waistband to mine, but the pattern actually calls for a foldover waistband.
The tricks to churning out so many of these leggings have been fabric choice and batch sewing. I’ve learned that ITY is the best fabric for this garment — it’s super stretchy, very soft and drapey, machine washable, and comes in lots of fun colors and patterns. Stretch is, of course, central to all leggings, but it wasn’t until I watched Kathy Ruddy’s “One Pattern, Many Looks” pants course on Craftsy that I realized why its softness and drape were so important. She said that ‘mushy’ fabrics are best for stretch pants because they have the fluidity and flexibility to adapt to our unique bodies. Genius! I highly recommend her class if you want to learn helpful concepts for pants fitting.
I’ve probably talked to death about the fit on these leggings, but I discovered a cool hack in this most recent tango with it! View B and C use the same pattern piece, but have different cutting lines for the length of the leg. If you want to make this pattern for someone with a shorter inseam, regardless of whether you want the straight or crumpled look at the ankle, use View B’s hem length. If you’re sewing for a leggy lady, use View C’s hem length. My client and I had inseams that differed by about 5″, and for her I used View B leg length plus a double fold 5/8″ hem. Whereas my 6173 pattern uses View C and a 1/4″ double fold hem. Fun factoid: my client was a solid 1-2″ taller than me! Leg length is not the same thing as height. :)
When I want to sew a pair of 6173 leggings, I always batch sew multiple pairs. Why? Because they’re like Lays — you can’t have just one. (Also, I have to clear off my whole sewing table to cut the fabric…after all that work, you bet your bippy I’m coming away with more than one item!) Batch sewing is a little different from regular sewing, in that you know exactly how and in what order you’re going to construct each item, and you don’t vary from that one bit. You don’t make design decisions or alterations or changes during batch sewing! You pretty much do the same thing over and over until the batch is done. It sounds boring, but it’s actually awesome: the conformity to a single way and order of doing things removes a lot of the decisions that can stress out or delay the sewing process.
It dawned on me, while taking these photos, that perhaps I’ve mastered 6173. I’ve nailed the fit, the construction, and developed a batch sewing process that is as TNT as the pattern itself. For me, I need something more, I need to up the ante. But what about you? How do you relate to your TNTs? Are they something you batch sew, or do you sew one at a time? Has the process of sewing them gotten so simple you could make them in your sleep? Is that the point for you, or do you want a challenge in your sewing projects?