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Some Thoughts on Pants

Posted by Betsy on

I’ve made a lot of pants patterns over the years.  Truth be told, pants patterns are no fun. I mean, I don’t have to tell you this. Afterall, I read about the horrors/fears of sewing pants around the blogosphere and it seems to be a consensus that either it is a project that is loathed or feared.

Currently I am in the loathing category. I am making a brand new fit for my pattern line and keep chasing around problems that arise in each muslin (currently I am up to #5). I admit my standards are very high. Where some may look the other way and choose not to notice the draglines on the back thigh or the whiskers that show up at the front crotch point, not me. I obsess. I refuse to sell a pattern that is subpar to a pattern I would do for mass production that will be cut for 10,000 pieces. At this point I’m only one muslin away from the fit I want. However, for the rest who struggle with pants you are not alone. It’s not an easy task and even in a mass production environment the same problems with pants fittings happen. Here are just a couple of random thoughts to keep in mind:

1) Blocks: Many sewers have their faithful patterns that they swear by. This is the go to for shape and fit. In the apparel industry this is also true. As a general rule the initial pant is developed through numerous fittings and once it is finalized, additional pant styles will be based on this. You should not be discouraged if pants do not work out for you the first try. Keep adjusting until you are happy. The time is worth it. Trust me.

2) Types: I like to categorize pants in three categories: Trousers, Jeans (tight fitting pants) & Shorts (short shorts). Each one has a fit that is very specific and the pattern shapes will be very different. You can’t just take a trouser pant and turn it into Daisy Dukes. It’s like calling a zebra a horse. They don’t like it.

3) Drafting; Following a formulaic procedure that looks like the equivalent of the stuff you hated in geometry class will not always yield 100% accurate results. It’s a good start, but if you are looking to tailor to your body shape you will have to treat this as just a draft and revise as needed once you fit going through as many fittings as needed.

4) Fixing crotch problems: If you have the correct size pattern and there still are some issues do not go too crazy with adding or subtracting to fix the problems in the crotch area. 1/8″ is going to make a huge difference. Anything more than 1/4″ down here freaks me out and can throw things out of whack.

5) Fit: Tightness does not make the problems go away- it only stretches them out and leaves you with a muffin top. Spandex in fabrics has led to the total downfall of proper fit (but this is a whole separate post and rant from me). Don’t get me wrong, I love stretchy fabrics, but you can hide a lot of pattern flaws with it.

6) Pattern Shapes: The front rise (front crotch) should not be easily confused with the back rise. The front rise is considerably shallower in length and depth. If the pattern looks questionable in this area do not even attempt it.

I wish I had the magic answer to all of your pants problems, but the best advice I can give is perseverance.  Eventually you will get it. Don’t be intimidated.


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