Grey Donna Karan leggings (Vogue 1378)

I don’t sew many “Big Four” patterns these days, but when I do, they’re invariably Vogues, and even then, they tend to be the designer patterns. The Big Four are really bad value in the UK, for starters, but then I also hate fighting with massive sheets of tissue paper, playing the “how much ease?” roulette, and dealing with outdated construction techniques. Give me a magazine maze to trace or pdf to tape together any day!

But I do love great and interesting seamlines, so when the Donna Karan coordinates pattern, Vogue 1378 was announced, I immediately wanted to make those leggings (the wrap top? Meh. I’ve seen a thousand like it).

Since there was a sale on Vogue patterns a few weeks before I was due to visit my parents last November, Stacy very kindly bought it for me at sale price (even without shipping, it was like a third of what I’d pay here) and it was waiting for me when I arrived! Thanks Stacy!

But for all the aforementioned reasons, I never quite got around to making it until now – the thought of unfolding all that tissue to trace the tons of pieces just made me choose other patterns instead. But eventually I realised that I really needed some basic, all-around trousers, so out they came! By my measurements, I should be a size 16, but I opted to throw all caution to the wind and make a size 14 instead, as I wanted them to be close fitting, like leggings. Having gone down a size, I now think the ease is just right – not stretched tight, but not baggy either.

(Photos shot whilst holidaying in the medieval Breton town of Dinan, in France! Paired with my Manequim birthday silk blouse)

The pattern envelope calls for stable jerseys, and I personally think ponte is absolutely perfect. I’d bought thisMinerva charcoal grey ponte on sale for a stupidly cheap £4.99/m with these leggings firmly in mind, and it’d been ear-marked for them ever since. I’m not sure why it’s so cheap, but it’s nice quality, and I couldn’t find any flaws… (yes, it’s still in stock – go get ‘em, ladies!)

Things I like about this pattern:

  • The seaming!
  • No side seams – it’s interesting to look at from all angles!
  • Nicely fitting (having gone down a size, anyway)
  • Did I mention the seaming? Seriously, I’ve not seen any other close-fitting knit trousers/leggings with anywhere near as much seaming as these!

Things I don’t:

  • The seam finishing – I tried this same seam finish when it was included in the Donna Karan red vixen dress (Vogue 1280) & I really don’t like the “topstitched & raw edge” look nor the sewing process. So here I just used regular overlocked seams instead (this was only a problem at the inset corner in Piece 7 at the lower leg, where I had to use my sewing machine instead of overlocker)
  • The pattern labelling – this could be easy enough to a beginner pattern if Vogue had labelled their pattern pieces like all the foreign pattern magazines do, like numbering seam intersections, or just doing like I did and writing “joins to 7…” on one edge, “joins to 11…” on another, etc. But no, instead you have to carefully align the pieces exactly like in the illustrations so you don’t accidentally attach things upside-down or to a similarly-looking edge.
  • Poor pattern marking – little circles and big circles all over the place, and most of them totally pointless. But showing you where a seam intersection meets another piece? Nope, no notch at all to help you line things up. Sigh.
  • The overlapped & split lower leg – it makes the silhouette look too bell-bottom-y and I prefer the narrow ankle. Plus their facing (on a knit!) and triple topstitching is just tedious. I turned and coverstitched here but it was easy to modify the pattern pieces to be a seam where Piece 9 overlaps onto Piece 7, which I’ve already done for my future pairs. As they are, you kinda have to wear heels with them, but a regular slim leg would be much more versatile IMHO.
  • The CB is gaping – I had to pinch out another good 2 inches back there. I’m glad I read the previous reviews, as everyone said this! Oh, and did I mention this was after I’d already made a full size smaller than my measurements suggested?
  • Their elastic waistband method is truly bonkers (double straight stitches on elastic?? I used my fail-safe tutorial method instead.
  • The tally above makes it look like I don’t like these – I do. With my modifications, I actually think I might love these. I definitely have some work to do on the crotch curves, too – the back in particular is very L-shaped here, and I already scooped that out a bunch but it could do with some more smoothing. I really just need to trace the crotch curves from my leggings sloper onto this!

    I’m certainly planning on making at least a few more pairs, especially since my well-worn pleated “not jeggings” are giving up the ghost… Let’s just say that my traced pattern pieces are all nicely annotated and marked, and I shall be using them to construct my next version and keeping the envelope pattern firmly in the drawer.

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