Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pants Drafting & Fitting. Or... Why I Always Wear Skirts & Dresses


About three years ago I took a bodice drafting class at G Street Fabrics with Annette Hickman in Rockville, Maryland.  This is the only sewing class I've taken to date.  I was planning to take every single drafting class I could but that same week I started getting nasty all-day-long-morning sickness (as I was two months pregnant!) and couldn't stand up without being dizzy let alone drive an hour each way via the Beltway (the Washington DC expressway... yuck!) and then sit through classes.  I somehow absorbed a boat load of info during those two sessions with Annette despite the constant desire to barf all over my sloper.  After that I stopped sewing for about two years... then I picked it back up with a vengeance in 2012!  Now I am digging into my memory, pulling out all the goodies I know and attempting to challenge myself... with pants.



Pants.  They are oh so easy to construct (and even draft) but fitting them is a horror story.  I drafted my own pattern yesterday with the help of the book I acquired in the bodice drafting class and another book, Design It Yourself Clothes.  Between the two I made quite a handsome pattern!  I sewed up a muslin with some ugly green fabric I've been saving for such an occasion.  I was freakishly surprised at how they actually fit... better then most pants I try on at the store to be honest.  But these pants I made... they still are horrible.  Like many other seamstresses I have the same fitting issues.  I can't get the back lower butt and thigh area to work!  Aaaaaggggh!  I took some photos as I've been going along.  I am fairly pleased with the front/side view on the muslin (see the top photo.) But the back is horrid.  (Ugly butt shots to follow, I warn you now!!)





Here they are with the pants straight from my pattern. Yikes! Yes, I know there is VPL (visual panty line) but that's not the point here.



Then I tried an improvised fisheye darts to see what they could do.  Some improvement.  But not close to a good fit.


I ripped them out and tried more of a wedge dart. It's only on the left butt.  I left the right side alone for comparison sake when I tried them on.



Still... no so good.  I took them up into my living room in the light of day, maybe the awful basement lighting was lying to me and I might have gorgeous, perfect pants.  Uhhh... no.  I had diaper butt.  But I do see some improvements... the back thigh fabric is a little straighter.


Even on my Thurlow Trousers (my best fitting pants to date) I have butt creases... unless I stand with my knees slightly bent constantly.  Anyone have any suggestions?  I know 2/3 of you have had this problem, too.  What have you done to fix the problem?  Any particularly good books to reference?  I've been just googling 'pants fitting and sewing' and seeing what other folks have been doing.

This is why I usually only wear skirts and dresses. Hummmpppfffff!    

17 comments:

  1. I agreed with you, and I hadn't even finished reading the title of this post! I've made a few pairs of shorts, but nobody sees them when I'm sitting in the kayak...

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    1. Skirts/dresses hide so many issues... I love it!

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  2. Ughhh, pants. And the dreaded diaper butt! I'm struggling with some pants fitting myself. Have you tried adjusting the back crotch depth? I'm not an expert at all, but increasing my back crotch depth helped my fit a bit. I put my pants up on the pattern review fitting woes message board and got tons of advice (maybe too much, now I'm kinda confused).

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    1. Crotch depth! I will be working on that. I bet it might help me, too.

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    2. I was going to suggest that also, it looks like the back crotch length is too short also, it pulling the pants through to the front. I would also add some width to the sides, they seem to be a bit too tight.

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  3. Full bum adjustment. It's in some of the fitting books, but I saw someone post about it over on Liz's (zilredloh.com) blog.
    You might also like to try one of the vintage reproduction patterns, Simplicity has two that I know of. They are designed with a much deeper crotch anyway and so that helps! I know of a number of hippy ladies who love them!

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    1. I found the link for you:
      http://zilredloh.com/2012/08/08/thurlow-trousers-part-2/

      In the comments I saw these:

      the photo of the problem:
      http://greenhillsinapril.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/photo.jpg

      and the photo of the adjustment:
      http://greenhillsinapril.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/photo1.jpg

      and the book it is from:
      "It’s a delightfully cheezy one, in that it’s from the ’80s. Singer: The Perfect Fit. You can get it for super cheap, too!

      http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=0865732140&sts=t

      It doesn’t have everything, but I find it’s pretty useful."

      Hope this helps!

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    2. Oh my gosh! Thank you for the info! I am going to check these out tonight after my little guy goes to sleep!

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  4. Hi Kathy!!!! Thanks for the nice comment you just left on my denim capris post. I just wanted to let you know that I just got a handle on fitting myself---this month. So trust me I understand your struggle---it's been mine for the last 8 years or so. I found that studying RTW pants that fit me good helped me discover which changes I needed to make to pants patterns. I plan to do a detailed blog post on my discoveries in a few days. But I had some of the same issues you had and realized that I had to lengthen my back crotch point in some cases and add a little addt'l width to the back inseam--to account for my full rear/thighs. I also had to make sure that the shape of the crotch fit my body. The circumference and overall leg shape of the pants looks good. The crotch IMO was the hardest part to fit. Again, I relied on looking/copying the shapes of RTW pants and great info from books like Singer's Sewing Pants that Fit. I wish you the best!!!!

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    1. Thanks! I can't wait to see your post about your fittings. I've never found a pair of decent RTW pants in my life. I wear a pair of target jeans a lot but they aren't really a good fit. I'll be working on my pants again with these ideas in mind. I know the crotch depth needs extending and the back thigh needs more room.

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  5. You guys are awesome! I was hoping for such fantastic constructive criticism. All day long I've been deconstructing my pattern in my head and thinking about what to do. I have some ideas much like what you've shared. The crotch depth needs fixing for sure and maybe some additional room in the back legs.
    I've made pattern pants before (without success) but really am glad to start from scratch with my own drafted pattern to seriously get down and dirty to help understand my fitting needs... then eventually transfer this info onto other ready-made patterns and make fit properly! I'd like to have a pants block in time for this.

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  6. Hi Kathy. I've been working on pants fitting too - but I am a beginner sewer and haven't yet got them as good as yours. But I am learning heaps - I am following an online course with Craftsy - Pants Fitting Techniques - you can find more about it here in my post - http://so-sew-easy.com/pant-fitting-techniques-part-3/
    I am sure an experienced sewer like you would get a lot out of it - including some fabulous pants at the end!

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    1. I heard about that course and I was wondering about it. I am going to go and look at it! Thanks for the idea!

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  7. Hi Kathy, I have the same sort of problems as you - except I have a small bottom, tiny hips and very slim legs. So the problem is more than just hip and butt width. Have a look at my trouser learning experiences on my blog sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com - it seems we all have the same sort of problems. I'm going to follow your journey :)

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  8. Oh Kathy I wish I could give you some magic advise, but I'm not skilled enough in this area. I think you are really getting somewhere though so hang in there! Trousers, as you say, are so damn difficult as there's so many plain and dimensions to take into account. You'll get there!

    xxx

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  9. Donald H. McCunn - How to Make Sewing Patterns --> try to find this book. it its old but great!i made my fist ever pattern from this!i have sewn many pants, and sometimes they are perfect fit sometimes not!i dont know, will see now how will this new-specially-for-me-cut-out pattern will work!in this book u can find how to fix this kind of problems!!!

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  10. I think I just needs eyes in the back of my head. I am really sure I would be able to fit pants properly if I could look directly at and exactly for the problems... it's the twisting and turning about in front of the mirror that kill me. And thanks for the book recommendation! I was wondering about his book and have never actually seen a copy in person.

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