Monday, 10 August 2009

A Pair of Pants that Fit - I Hope!

Let's talk about pants. This immensely practical garment is a nightmare for me - buying, making, you name it. I have a large, low, wide butt and it is a body challenge I am still trying to embrace. I have been reduced to tears from jeans fittings and at the very least become incredibly sulky at the thought of trying to find a pair of pants that fits. Fortunately I have managed to find a couple of pairs that fit passably well and have worn them to death.

Just make them you say? Hah, that's even worse! While I can take on pretty complex fitting issues generally and I have made fantastic pairs of pants for other people, I just have not had any success on my own body.

The worst thing about pants is it targets all my attention on my number one body hangup - my rear end! Normally I go about my business, completely ignoring it but it becomes front and centre (not literally of course) when the topic of pants comes up.

Anyway, in the interests of becoming a well rounded person I have decided I need to make a pair of pants for myself. After reading the reviews on PR I decided that Simplicity 2700 would be my victim. I like the idea that at least some of the work would be done for me in the shape of separate pieces for 'curvy' people. Of course I knew there would be more to it than that, and that the distance around your derriere is only one part of the equation, but it's a start.

I took my measurements honestly and compared to the envelope. By my hip and waist I should be a 16, but my crotch length was off the charts even for the curvy shape (I knew this would be the case and wasn't surprised). I looked about at all my fitting references and felt that I would be best served by adding a wedge to the centre back seam (4cm) to lengthen the straight part of the seam above my actual butt. The reviews I read suggested the pattern runs quite large so I decided to go with a size 14 to start with.

I made a toille, had a little cider and tried it on. What did I see? A depressing mess that's what. A saggy front crotch, weird vertical folds in the front, the back 'crept into the body space' (as Simplicity so delicately puts it, but note that 'crept' is an understatement!), smile lines under the butt, and that 4cm I added - well I had to pinch all of that out again. About 5 seconds away from giving up in despair my fella walked into the room and said 'those pants make your legs look well long'. Given my stumpy pins are my number 2 body hangup I figured that was good enough motivation to persevere!

Back to the drawing board. This time I referred to Threads 122 and its discussion on body space. I left it alone for most of the week (as I started my new job and was exhausted) and then came back to it refreshed on the weekend. This time I took my flexible ruler and formed it around myself to get my actual curve shape, size and length. I laid this on the back pattern piece to compare. I am telling you I really had to let go of a lot of pride to go through this! I kept telling myself 'it doesn't matter what you have to do, if the pants fit great you'll look great in them - no one will know what you had to do'.
Here is the flexible curve laid on the back pattern piece, with a cutting line marked

I split both pattern pieces along the crotch line and slid the front crotch in by 1cm and the back crotch out by (you guessed it) 4cm. I also took a 3cm tuck out of the front crotch length, tapered the extra size created on the side of the back piece back into the pattern piece at around the knee and added and extra 1 inch to both side seams all the way down (turns out I probably should have started with the 16 but never mind!).
Here is the pattern ready to go for toille #2:
And the back piece on its own: Now the second toille. I only made this one to knee length as I was short on calico, had another cider and tried it on. What a difference! This was closer to what a first fitting should be, I only had to make minor tweaks - shorten the front crotch a little more, remove 2cm from the front crotch point (note - my front crotch is now almost straight, but it's working), scoop out the back seam a fair bit more and fine tune the side seams (ie. took off 1cm of the 1 inch I added so I only ended up adding 1.5cm to the side seams in the end - make sense? Sorry, I switch quite comfortably between metric and imperial!).

Here is my final (I hope) pattern - doesn't it look strange?
I know that the side seam will need further refining but I can easily do that in the fabric.
So where am I at now? Time to make the actual pants, wish me luck! I must say I am feeling quite enthused about it now, although I still cringe when I look at the back pattern piece! But if it works it will be well worth it.

Is it just me, or does everyone have to go through such massive alterations? I know many of you out there can make direct from the pattern and I am so jealous, but this process does highlight to me the wisdom of using TNT patterns.


Connie B said...

A lot of pain for a well fitting pair of pants isn't it? Worth it all in the end though hopefully. Your journey looks promising- good luck on the next mockup. As for fitting out of the envelope - bout the only thing that works for me is a bandaid!

Rachel said...

I have my fingers crossed for you that all your alterations to the pattern will yield you a perfect pair of trousers!

I haven't yet had the guts to try trousers, so I envy your bravery in doing so!!

McVal said...

I tend to steer clear of pants and slacks, but I'm anxious to try it. Maybe once the school/Christmas rush is over, I'll try it out.
So hard cider is the secret to getting going on a project like this? hmm? good idea...

katherine h said...

Your changes don't look massive to me. In spite of all the times I have measured myself, I couldn't believe that I would have to change a pattern by that much, so I didn't do what I needed. Luckily, I chanced upon a pattern that was my shape and I could see that massive changes were needed for my Vogue patterns.

Cennetta said...

Josie, You are not the only one. With each pant pattern I have to make at least four adjustments. Recently I used the Threads magazine tutorial to help me get a better fit. I've also used the Simplicity pants pattern that promises to give the perfect pants. Both experiences have made me smile. I have enough crotch space and the sway back issue resolved.

Good luck with finding the perfect fit.


Marianne said...

I am going through exactly the same myself at the moment or rather over the last month. I hope, I am nearing the end though, because I just by chance tried to replace a pocket in a pair of DH's trousers and made a pig's ear of it so when folding them up noticed the way the front and back crotch looked, very much the look I thought I was trying to achive in my alterations of my pattern. I too had been using various Thread articles to find out why and how. When I tried DH's trousers and they fitted me I was soooooo happy, so have now taken the pattern from them and tm will try to make a toile to see if it fits. I did compare the new pattern with the one I had been working from and that was very interesting. There are 2 photos on my blog if you are interested. Looking at your final crotch line it looks much more like the one I have now than the one my original pattern had. I started these alterations with looking at all my trouser patterns and they more or less all look the same. I'm convinced that most pattern companies use a certain butt form for trousers like they use a B-cup for tops and if one is more well endowed one has to make a FBA (full-butt-adjustment).
I wish you the very best of luck with the your next go and hope this was your last pattern alteration so you in future can grab pattern and sew. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.