The “Mobility Test”- Strawberry Alarm Clock Pants

I spent some time as an underling in the theatre department in college.  I was assistant to an assistant fitter.  A grunt, basically.  Early in the season, the actors traipsed through our workshop to the fitting rooms.  The assistant fitter and her assistant (me) tried all muslins on the actor, subjecting them to a series of physical tests.  If the play was a period piece, we laced the corsets and spared no underpinnings.  The poor actor was told to sit, squat, jump, faint, twist, bend, reach and any other movements called for in the script.  The assistant fitter was sharp- she demanded excellent fit under stress, as well as easy mobility and comfort for the actor.

I worked hard for that drape..

It became a habit to think of “fit” in those terms, and I apply it to most of the clothing I make for myself. (Fancy dresses excluded, though not always!)  It’s hard to show qualities of comfort and mobility in still photos- these are pants you can move around in while still looking stylish.

I enjoy wearing “K.Hep” styles for the freedom of motion they allow as well as the comfort, but it’s tough to portray those qualities while standing still for a photo.  Then I thought- why not do a yoga movement test?  I ran through a few poses while my husband took pictures.  Then we started goofing around and took some jumping shots.  I would *not* usually wear these for yoga- they’re nice (as opposed to grotty) casual pants.  I’m trying to illustrate a point about mobility.

They are made of lightweight linen- rather more like heavy shirting than pants weight.  I did not line them, flat felled the outseams and chose to bind the raw edges. I wanted to make the sturdiest, lightest garment possible for comfort in high humidity.  In bright strawberry red.

Lightweight linen pants wrinkle if you look sideways at them but in time I know the linen will soften beautifully and cease wrinkling.  The red co-ordinates with most of my wardrobe of blacks, whites, and jewel tones.

These are based off of the Wearing History Smooth Sailing pattern.  I adjusted for fit using my pants block, added patch pockets (from the Ice Cream Social Dress) and a contour waistband.  When I stitched on the belt loops, I confused the front and the back waistband pieces.  The finished pants have a loop in the center front.  I may unpick it, or I may leave it.  I’ll talk about the cream top tomorrow- it deserves its own post and you can’t see much because it blends into my skintone!

As we took photos, I decided to bring out my Not A T-Shirt for the yoga test.  I’m also experimenting more with monochromatic dressing and wanted to see what you all think.  I won’t lie, I love wearing this color from head to toe.  I believe I get away with it because the clothes themselves are simple and well-made and the color isn’t a terrible choice for my coloring.

I made a slideshow of today’s shots to show “mobility.”  I was perfectly comfortable in my nice clothes doing yoga, so I can be sure they’ll stand up to regular daily wear.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What do you do during your daily life, physically speaking? Run after trains, run after children, run after wombats?  Do your clothes keep you covered and comfy, or do you fight with them?  Where’s the trouble spots?


  1. I love monochromatic for myself. I was told it was slimming because the eye travels top to bottom with no stopping at the line created by a shirt. I’m not physical. I’m very sedentary actually. I have to do some lifting at work and when I’m the entertainment at one of our parties (I work in a nursing home) I make very dramatic/comical moves. My clothes work for that-even the corset I wear. When I am cutting fabric, I have to use my floor as I have no space big enough. That is when I’m down to a tank top and sweat pants. I get hot and I need to crawl around!

    • I’ve been reading up on monochromatic dressing and I keep running into that slimming thing… Dressing in one color head to toe also a really strong and confident message to send, apparently. I think I’ll post on this later this week, it’s interesting and I have some cool “inspiration” photos of powerful women dressing mono-chromatically and totally pulling it off…

  2. The main practical factors that affect my clothes are, first, that I tend to do a lot of walking—I need to be able to stride freely; I do bad things to pencil skirts—and second, that I live in Canada. My winter wardrobe (which is about half the year) has to be geared towards warmth—pants which are roomy enough to put long-johns underneath, but not so loose that wind whistles up the legs. Skirts are problematic.

    I have nothing against the same colour head-to-toe, but I generally can’t be bothered to match my tops and bottoms that precisely. I probably wouldn’t do it myself, except for perhaps black…

    • I bought the linen and the batik at the same time, they’re not exactly the same color but they’re the same kind of true-blue-red… I love that color, so I tend to snap it up when I see it….

      I think when I wear black head to toe I scare people a little bit. ;)

  3. Love the pants. Red is a good colour for you.

    I spend a lot of time sitting. My job is at a computer, so maybe I’ll go up a flight or two of stairs now and again, give a presentation, but it’s generally sitting in my cubicle. At home, it’s standing to cook, sitting for television/reading, sewing, going for walks. For a hike or snow shoeing, I’ll change into something that works better with the weather and foot wear required.

    I’d say probably the most demanding time to dress for is my 5 pin bowling league. It’s not so athletic that I need clothing specifically for it, I’d like to look nice because we are a social adult league, it’s like hanging out with friends. Jeans are visually appropriate, but not always good for the stretching involved. I generally wear short sleeve t’s. Even 3/4 sleeve and I get too hot but tank tops feel silly when I’m leaving the house in February. My bowling shoes are also super flat, most of my jeans are hemmed longer than my foot because I usually wear shoes with a heel and at my height I will take every 1/2″ I can get. So a stretch denim that I like for bowling is often too long for the shoes or they become pants I can only wear to bowling or in the summer with flat sandals. Sigh.

    • Thanks. :)

      Could you cuff them? Or just do 7/8 length on purpose? I’m not terribly fashionable, I don’t know if those things are “permissible” at the moment…

      • I have oh… 3 pairs of pants I wear to bowling. Out of a whole closet, that’s not much. And two pairs are stretchy and snug, I don’t like how they make my belly look so shirts have to be longer. But not too long or I can’t do that warrior pose type action while sliding.

        I don’t like how 7/8ths cut me off. Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t look intentional on me, like they just shrunk in the wash. Not so bad with bare freet/strappy sandals, but not so flattering with winter boots and my white retro bowling shoes.

        My capri yoga pants work well in September when it’s still warm out and freakishly hot in the bowling alley, but once winter hits they won’t work getting to and from home. Some men change into shorts when they get to the alley, I’m not that hot once it’s actually cold outside.

        I just find it’s more demanding than you’d expect for a “sport” that has a liquor license. I’m far more functionally fussy about what to wear to bowling than anywhere else.

        Mind you, it’s not like anyone at the bowling alley is a real, ah.. fashion plate…

      • I get that about 7/8 looking “shrunken” with shoes… I kind of like it… But then, you’re talking to the person who has big black rimmed “Miss Lemon” glasses.. :) They make me look absolutely hideous but again, I kind of like that. It’s like a thumb to the nose at the societal mandate that women should look pretty all the time. Whatevs. No one looks like a “fashion plate” all the time, and it’s fun to control the times I look dorky.

        Or maybe I look dorky all the time. Still haven’t decided. ;)

        I haven’t been bowling in… forever.. I think I may have to drag some of my friends to an alley soon. It’s such fun!

  4. I walk to and from work everyday, so whatever I’m wearing has to be comfortable, durable and layer-able. I also train in jiu jitsu and arnis (Filipino stick and knife) after work (but we have uniforms for that.) :)

    It’s hardest for me to dress during the winter though, because I’m always walking around/taking the subway/etc. I just resort to a lot of cigarette pants, blouses, and cardigans.

    • I’m always walking around, too. Except in mid-summer. Then I become extremely sedentary.

      Your style is so cute, I love that it’s super practical for your lifestyle, too. :)

  5. high steph – i´m back on the net and i´m very impressed of your “growing”. that red outfit looks great on you and you looking so relaxed and happy. not to mention your sewing skills – it grows so fast.
    about moving in clothes: i hate clothes that don´t follow my moves, this is one reason why i wear most of the time things sewed by me.
    greatings from the icy (-5°) german mountains :-)

      • the move was stressful – as this always is. the most problems was the telefon/net-thing, because the house is in the woods and was 8 years empty. but now! all fine :-)
        today i paintet the last wall in my sewingroom – juhu!

  6. I spend 90% of my time on the floor hemming bridal gowns, making bustles and hemming pants so all the clothes have to stretch and recover and not reveal all my problem areas. Stretch cropped pants and tunic tops fit the bill. I tell my clients that if they expected “glamor”, it just is not happening for me on the floor. If they were expecting a seamstress with a little black dress, tape measure around her neck, that just isn’t possible.

    • aw- I like wearing mid-calf length full skirts for that reason… And when I get down on the floor I don’t have to think about “Are my legs together, do I look awkward, are my panties showing, etc?” because the answer is no… A full skirt puddles on the floor in a delicious kind of way…

      But it’s best to be 10000% comfortable with what you wear. If that’s what you like to wear, then you’ll feel great while you’re working and that’s the most important thing.

  7. I’m the caretaker of 3 grumpy octopi (westling/feeding/training/cleaning their habitat) so it’s mostly jeans and t-shirts. Sometimes comfy (self made) yoga pants, or shapeless knit skirts and t-shirts, if no one is looking. I’ve recently been delving into actual shaped, styled tops, not t’s… and also woven tops, but can’t seem to get out of jeans or comfy knit bottoms.

    (I do own one pair of pineapple linen trousers that make me deliriously happy and cost me a kidney, but I usually only bust them out at special occasions, like an aquarium gala.)

    • Heheh heh hh… I had to read the first few words several times before it sank in. I love it.

      Cost you a kidney? Hehe… Well– linen, even the nice stuff, doesn’t cost a kidney… If you like your pineapple ones, you might love them in another color for work.. I wonder if octopi can see color? Which one is their favorite?

      I’m not kidding about the way linen softens and withstands all kinds of abuse… In fact, I have a black pair of K.Heps from three years ago… They’re insanely soft, so fluid and they just don’t wrinkle anymore. They have a little wear on the inner thigh, but I can’t bear to part with them just yet so they’re my “house pants.” I hope they never quite die…

      So yeah.. You may find that linen helps you break the “jeans and sweatpants” cycle. If you’re into that. :)

      • Yes, I confess the kidney was a voluntary donation, required by the store I purchased them from, rather than the real cost of the pants themselves… however…

        You have convinced me linen is the way to go – the octopi would go for prints, but I think I’d better stick with solids – maybe pin stripes? I’ve been hunting patterns. Do you happen to know a consulting dressmaker who can help with fit? ;)

  8. The trousers look great – love the drape and fit. Colour is lovely – not sure for me about the monochromatic thing but it works great for the outfit you have in the pics. I am like Tanit-isis in that I can’t seem to coordinate colours for both tops and bottoms and get it right. I even avoid all black unless the blacks are alike enough.

    My life is garden, sewing, cooking, chasing/following/wrangling the girls and kitten, picking up after everyone. I walk a bit when we head to the park or its fine enough and we’re organised enough to walk to / from school, though otherwise I’m in and our of the car and pottering about at home. So, I life in denim bottoms or shorts and mostly knit tops. I do love to layer in winter because then you can remove / add as required. I do need more skirts in my life, per your last post. I think.

    • Thanks! :) I’m pretty happy with them.

      I used to be careful with blacks until I went to Paris as a student… Everyone and their dog seems to wear black from head to toe, in all shades, and it works. I mean, they’re Parisians… So I don’t worry too much about matching blacks any more. Sometimes I mix in some navy.

      You and I have very similar daily activities! Comfort and mobility is sooo important when chasing around after everyone…

  9. Oh, that color is wonderful! I need mobility. I stand, walk, run, chase, squat, and sit in teeny tiny kindergarten chairs all day long. I mostly wear corduroys or khakis that fit like a pair of boyfriend jeans (which is what I’m trying to reproduce). And I need pants that I can throw in the wash and not have to worry too much about ironing.

    Love your yoga pose pics! I just started some yoga classes a few weeks ago.

    • I hand these types of pants on the line from the hems and smooth them with my hands and they dry more or less smoothly. When I take them off, I fold them neatly and lay them over the top of my dresser. I even hang them up sometimes! Not usually..

      Thanks! I’ve been trying to get back into it, I really enjoy focusing on synching my body with my mind and disciplining my body.. Really, really need to get back into it on a regular basis…

  10. I love the red trousers! They look amazing, and I love that you can move around so much in them. It’s a good thing to aspire to.

    My work is a lot of sitting, and also a lot of movement in a warm and humid environment, and where I live it also rains a lot in the winter. There are also a lot of hiking/walking trails near where I work, and I like to walk home if things aren’t too muddy – it can be 2k to 10k on the trails, depending on which way I go!

    Because of these things, I tend to wear either stretchy pencil skirts, or somewhat full skirts. Just to the knee, because I don’t want to grind dirt into my skirt when I kneel down to do stuff at work, or fall on the trail. I generally wear trousers or jeans once a week.

  11. I love your red pants. My must have for any clothing is pockets. Skirts, dresses or pants must have pockets. I have recenlty bought some linen to make pants – hope they look as good as yours.

    I am new to your blog but am really enjoying reading it.

    Take care

  12. After 7 days in the law, I’ve decided I need to make more ‘roomy’ skirts. I can’t run around the city/courthouse/bus wearing pencil skirts. Oh I wish I could wear comfy pants like that at work!!!!!

    • You can wear comfy pants like this at work… Just make them in a crisp, impeccable lightweight wool (maybe with a whiff of lycra), line them, and sew them beautifully… Surely K. Heps can work for corporate wear?

    • I almost took photos of this with that graphic shirttail black and white t-shirt I have… I think it looks great with it…

      And I’ll be pairing these pants with the next hack I do later this month… Ooooh boy I will… It’s a stripey, too.

  13. I love, love this red hue and it is definitely one of your colors. Very classy with the white–just brings out your beautiful porcelain skin.

    To me, monochrome also means different shades of the same hue… like last summer I was really into cooler-toned coral and red together and wore them a lot. Right now I’ve got this fixation on blush-almost-nude with sort of burnt umber and after wearing this combo the last couple months I’ve realized that, again, they’re basically the same hue. It’s a fun way of wearing the same color but having just a bit of contrast. (Mmmm, I get color obsessed, can you tell? Paint-mixing is addictive.)

    I’ve found that my definition of mobility and comfort has changed a lot. Eight months of the hot year, tho, it’s really about what makes me feel cool and uncluttered. The less the clothing touches my body the better. Linen pants are just about perfect in that way.

  14. Now I need a pair of strawberry trousers! These are really lovely and seem to go well with so many tops in your wardrobe. Hmmm…is red a neutral? I don’t think I’ve ever gone monochromatic – I think it would take more planning than I usually give my outfits. However, your red top has that little bit of print which makes it monochromatic and yet not completely.

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  22. I love head to toe solid colour. Especially red. I make the trek from Melbourne to Paris every year ( generally in the European winter … Brrr… ) but have never noticed Parisian women wearing head to toe black. In fact the only thing I think I have noticed is that they are S L E N D E R whereas Australian women tend to be ‘sturdy’… Oh and no French person would dare do any kind of yoga type of activity on the grass … Some angry gendarme would leap out from behind a ( very skinny) pole and yell at them very loudly until the got the idea and moved their tiny toosh elsewhere.

    Keep up the red … I have red patent leather boots … Kind of ‘puss in boots’ like in appearance … I love them

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