originally published 5/12/11
Yes I’m at it again. Pants are the backbone of my wardrobe. I wear few skirts or dresses. I live in pants, tops and a jacket/vest/wrap. These are the garaments I need 10,000 each. Late last year when I put my summer clothes away, I tossed every pair of short pants except for my perfect Burda Bermuda shorts. Summer is now rapidly approaching and I need to be sure I have shorts to slip on when those hot tempertaures arrive in force. I could, and probably should, make 5-10 pairs from the “perfect” pattern. But my curiosity and thirst for knowledge about pants fitting was piqued by last year’s experience. See it took 4 versions to arrive at the perfect pair. But none of the versions changed the shape of the crotch. I added ease. I added length. I added pleats. I did add to the length of the crotch, but it’s basic shape was unchanged. It would be so nice if I had a Burda Butt. That’s the phrase used to describe the person who exclusively uses Burda pants/trouser patterns because the pattern fits their crotch perfectly. I’d definitely love to be able to trace any Burda pants pattern and only a Burda pants pattern, but be able to make perfect fitting or at least good fitting pants every time. So instead of pulling out my 3 reliable patterns, or my already perfect bermuda pattern, I decide to take another stab at pants making by tracing Burda #143 from April 2010.
For my “perfect” pattern last year, I traced the size based upon my hip and the Burda size chart which said that a 42 regular was the one for me. OK petites would probably be a better choice since I’m 5’3″ and the regulars are designed for the 5’6″ average lady. But lets face it, most of the patterns in Burda Style are for the regular sized ladies. I long ago ditched the petites in the Big Four and simply petited the patterns myself. It’s a simple matter to remove 1″ above the waist. I don’t have to alter through the armscye. I’m short waisted and merely need to bring the waist and hip shaping up to the same level as my own waist and hip. With pants, I also remove 2″ from the length, 1 inch above the knee and 1 inch below the knee. Same deal, I’m moving the shaping up to correspond to my own shaping. Point is, making a regular into a petit is no big deal in my mind, so I chose a 42 regular. A 42 regular seems to work well for my tops/blouses. I’ve yet to make a dress with a Burda pattern so I’m not sure about dresses. But I’m positive about pants, a 42 regular absolutely does not have enough ease. Someone hinted that the Burda size chart was composed of finished measurements rather than designed for body measurement. That’s an important difference. If, as the Big 4 design, the chart is listing body measurements, ease has already been added to the garment, making wearing possible. If on the other hand, Burda is posting finished measurements, comfortable garments, wearable garments are not possible unless there is lots and lots of lycra involved. For the most part, even with many knits, you need room inside the garment to move, to breath, to bend, to sit to stretch…. well you get the point. Although it would be unusual for final measurement to be used, it would make sense then that the first pair of shorts, in size 42 regular were much much too small. As I recall I added a total of 3″ of ease to the circumference and 1″ to the length. With that in mind, I checked the charts and decided I needed a 46 regular
Well 46 regular is really plus in the Burda world and there are not too many garments of this size shown in Burda Style. But I did find a nice pair of pants shown in both capri and trouser length in the April 2010 issue. #143 as previously stated. I didn’t really want capri’s. That’s a bad length for me. Bermuda’s are excellent, as is knee length. Then the next attractive length for me is at the ankle. I do have 1 skirt that is worn at calve length. But it is a dark purple and is worn is black tights and boots. I have been seeing in the catalogs, knee and just below the knee length shorts. So I cheerfully traced the pattern to the capri length and then chopped off about 8 inches. I also decided upon a patch pocket. The first time fitting a pants pattern, I don’t want the issues that a some pocket styles can add. Patch pockets, front and back, would give me a little style, without affecting fit.
I must pause to tell you that I made several deviations from what the designer intended. Also to explain to people not familiar with Burda that you can’t just look at the pretty pictures when choosing a pattern. In fact the pictures in the magazine are usually the least and worst information about the pattern. The schematic in the center pages, is the first indication of the true style. But it is neccessary to read the pattern description and instructions to discover the garments actual style. For this pattern, although a front fly is shown, the pant closes on the side with an invisible zipper. Also fake is the double buttoned waistband. It’s just a strip of fabric stitched into place. I jettisoned that in a hurry. Also, I’m not making a faux fly. If I’m making a fly, it’s going to be functional. So I jettisoned the invisible zipper application as well. In fact my final pants look distinctly different from the pattern. I used a 1 piece waistband, front zippered fly, patch pockets (front and back) and knee length. Also skipped were the tabs at the hems. All I really wanted was a plain pair of knee length shorts, in my size. For fit insurance, I added 1″ to the side seams of the pattern.
I stitched the back dart in permanently. Stitched the pockets and made a permanent zipper application. I serged the inseams and crotch at 3/8″ and the side seams at 1/2″. I missed seeing the front dart and my waist is considerably smaller than Burda expected. This is also preplexing. These days, I’m thick waisted. The average woman’s waist is 9 inches smaller than her hips. Mine is about 7. Much thicker than expected and yet I the finished pant is gathered to my waistband. The first fitting told me that I needed to make the waistband yet a little smaller. There were other issues as well, but I knew as long as the waistband was too large I couldn’t reasonably fit anywhere else because everything was hanging too low or in the wrong place. The 2nd fitting thoroughly surprised me. The major change was making the finished waistband smaller yet again, which then gathered the top of the pants even more. But I swear I made no other changes. I posted these pictures out on Stitcher Guild and asked for input:
I wore the pants in 2nd fitting stage for about an hour. The crotch felt a little tight, although it looked OK. While I was wearing the pants and thinking about them I decided that I wanted to try the next larger size, the 48. I reasoned that I had added another 2 inches of ease and would be scooping out the crotch of the 46 which was getting awfully close to a 48. So I finished up the 46. I mean I scooped out as planned, finished the waist band, adding buttonhole and button and hemming the legs 2″. I was eager to move along.
One other thing, this first pair was constructed from a polyester twill probably 20 years old. Yeah 100% icky polyester. Back in the day when this fabric was new, it was a GodSend. Seriously. This wasn’t the really icky, wears like iron, double knit, polyester in chocolate brown. It’s a lighter weight, twill weave, deep caramel color. This was the fabric that you would let the world end, in order to get it out of the dryer 5 minutes before bone dry. If you did, you could shake the wrinkles out, hang on a hanger and be good to go. Wrinkles were minimal during wear. It didn’t bag out, but actually firm up tummies and rears, just a little. It was wonderful, except for the pills and runs. Most pants were only good for a year. It’s passe now and most people categorize it as icky polyester but I felt that it would be good for a first version. Wear it a time or two or more if needed. After all it’s been in my stash for over 20 years, it’s time to use it up.