crafts · finished objects · Sewing

McCall’s 6404: the pants of meh

Pattern: McCall’s 6404

Fabric: Black ponte knit (rayon/poly/lycra blend)


This is the final unblogged project from my fall sewing.  Let me start by saying that I don’t make pants.  Although it might be annoying to shop until I find RTW pants that fit, it’s not as annoying as making a pair that doesn’t fit me correctly!  I have been wearing pants more this winter, in particular a pair of Michael Kors black skinny ponte pants.  I thought it seemed simple enough, so I decided to try making a pair of knit pants.  I chose McCalls 6404 because I thought the seaming on the legs was interesting.

And it is interesting.  Unfortunately, it also contributes to the problems I have with this pattern.  First off, the envelope describes these as leggings.  These are not leggings!  They are pants, and they aren’t particularly fitted pants.  I had read some reviews stating as much, so I cut each leg 2″ smaller in width to start.  This didn’t help with the problem.  The problem is that these pants are not shaped like human legs.  Are your legs shaped like triangles (skinny at the ankle, gradually widening as they go up with no knees?)  Then this is your pattern.  Seriously, they are shaped like stirrup pants (bad memories there!)

Beyond the issue of the shape of the legs (which might be fine on normal pants, but not on something pretending to be leggings) there is the seaming.  The seaming is interesting, but the problem is that it affects the grain of the fabric, causing the pants to hang (for lack of a better word) wonky.  Again, not a problem if they were actually leggings, but they are not.   Because we are all friends here, I will give you a look at the rear view:

Between this and the closeup I think you can see the issue – the fabric will want to hang in different directions, and is interrupted by those seams.  I don’t think the shape would be so bad without them.  I’m not upset that they aren’t flattering from behind, because I wasn’t planning on ever wearing them with shorter tops (leggings are not pants!) but these are a bit much.  Also, observe how much extra fabric there is behind the knees.  My legs are not bent in the photo, that’s just how much extra is back there!

Other issues: They were long.  I don’t have long legs, so I was fine with that (hemmed them 2.5″ shorter.)  The elastic casing is exactly the same size as the elastic.  I recommend adding just a little bit to it, because threading that elastic was such a pain that I ended up bribing my husband to do it!    In the end, realizing that I was not ever wearing these with the waist exposed, I zigzagged over the back waistband seam to both close the seam (slip stitching does not hold on knits, so I don’t like that instruction) and to keep the elastic in place.

I think these are going to be loungewear only for me.  I’m wearing them today, because I wanted photos and it’s a snow day, but other than that?  Only at 2 am on a friday, when I’m hanging out with my husband playing video games.  Seriously.  I am not encouraged by the pants making.  I cut another pattern at the same time as these, and now I’m a little afraid to make it up!   I know that I could dedicate myself to making muslins and perfecting a pants pattern, but I don’t think I have it in me – I just don’t enjoy sewing basics at all.  I think I will leave the pants to rtw and concentrate on making the rest of my wardrobe fabulous!

17 thoughts on “McCall’s 6404: the pants of meh

  1. Wow, those are some interestingly cut leggings! It is too bad, the seams are really neat. I feel the same way you do, it takes me less time to find RTW pants that fit than to make a pair that fit.

  2. Aww, I’m sorry these didn’t work out for you, it’s so irritating when you slave over something only for it to not turn out the way you hoped. I’m sure you’ve already made up your mind with these trousers but I’ll be honest, I think they look nice just how they are! Obviously they’re not doing their job as leggings, but they look cute as slim-fit trousers, I’d totally wear them! Don’t get discouraged!

  3. I can relate. Very frustrating to make up something that doesn’t fit, no matter how simple it is (or isn’t). Don’t give up completely, just give it a few months rest and then try it again. 🙂

  4. Yikes. I have this pattern and bought the fabric to make that version. Maybe I need to rethink it. Do you think your material choice played a part? Maybe fabric with more lycra?

  5. I’m totally with you on not liking to sew basics. I much prefer to sew things I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. As for pants with seams that cut across my thighs — yikes!

  6. I have never made pants. I have found some rtw styles that fit and just don’t bother with all the effort for a pair of black pants. Save your time for stuff that is fabulous- like your dresses.

  7. Thanks for posting your “meh” results along with (the many, many) fab ones. It’s really helpful for those of us who are learning to work with patterns.

  8. I was just saying to some sewing friends today that for now I’m content to buy RTW pants. I might change my mind but I so sympathize with your disappointment on the pattern. I to o would like a legging pattern to have on hand but it’ so tedious to work on pants and keep tweaking them.

  9. Jessica you are really bumming me out here! I am currently struggling through the boredom of making plain navy trousers because I can’t find any RTW that fit right … And this isn’t very encouraging! 🙂

  10. Hello,
    A student of mine has asked me to look at your trousers and delima with fitting them.
    I teach custom sized pattern making. Just a brief answer here. I have not had time to read everything on your page (sorry) The problem lies intially with the fact that the pattern is not made to your size. Bought patterns are made to standard size. Very few people are standard size. Trousers are the most difficult to get to fit correctly from a bought pattern. We ALL have tummies, buttocks and thighs that dont conform to standard size. Your trousers look like they do becusse the fabrid must cling to the body to be leggings. Your thighs, your calves etc must be measured and these measurement must be applied to the pattern

  11. Hi Eilleen here again, did not finish my comment. if it possible to send you an image on a pdf document please tell me and I will send you a page showing how to correctly measure yourself down the legs, over the thighs etc etc. Also, if you want leggings -which you need in winter – you must use lycra fabric. The stretch factor in the fabric must be used as the wearing ease, which means that the wearing ease must be removed from the pattern. You need to know how much wearing ease has been added to the paper pattern. Unfortunately this is usually known only when you make the pattern yourself using your own individual measurements. Regards Eilleen

  12. There’s a case of the actual pattern does NOT match the picture on the pattern envelope. That makes me crazy. I have this pattern, and I’ve held off on sewing it. I’m really glad I didn’t waste good fabric on it. Thanks for the very helpful review!

  13. Depending on how much stretch this fabric has, these could make awesome bike pants. The diagonal seam across the thighs is quite a nice touch actually, breaks things up and makes them visually narrower (not that you need it).

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