ETA see last paragrah
In my last post I admitted that I needed to get smarter, more analytical about pants. It’s not enough to simply trust the sizing charts, even when I’ve previously had success with a chosen size. The fabric has to be factored in the equation. Stretch can be calculated. The effect (of stretch) should be able to be calculated. But I don’t want to draft a pattern. I don’t want to decide on the hundreds of details which make up a pattern, I just want to buy a commercial pattern and tweak it to fit me to my satisfaction. But how to get smart enough to make those tweaks.
Someone at SG made a comment about the The Sewing Space a blog by an enthusiastic dressmaker who sews both for herself and for others, owned by Lena. I surfed to her blog and found this intriguing ebook “How to Adjust Trouser Patterns to Personal Measurements”. She gives just a few hints as to the contents but that few hints was enough for me to want to download and read the rest. After reading I decided to try out her ideas.
I pulled out the last tracing of Burda 12/2012 #148 and began measuring and adding the balance lines Lena uses. Lena says to use the seat line because it’s always drawn. Well, not on Burda Master Pattern Sheets. There is a mark on the side seam that might be around the hip line but I think it is the zipper placement line. Fortunately, Lena includes instruction for how to manually calculate these lines with the caution they might be off since we don’t really know where the pattern cutter placed their seat line. As expected, the Burda pattern met Lena’s standards with one exception. The grain line of the back piece does not bisect the leg hem. It’s about 2″ off. I feel if I took the time to register for a class and attend (i.e. download the book, read and try out the instruction) then I really should follow through and continue to use teacher’s instructions. When the class is over, I can always decide to return to my former ways. So for now, I drew the grain line where Lena wants it which parallels the Burda grain line but is separated by about 2″. One thing that really concerned me is how angled the top of the back pant pattern piece is. I can clearly see that it juts out and almost lays over on its side. Very unlike any jean, trouser or slack pattern I’ve ever used. This makes me feel uneasy about the fashion design itself but I continue.
I continue by measuring all the places Lena suggests and a few more. I add to the list of measurements my abdomen and it’s distance from the seat line. I also measure from center front to side seam across the abdomen and center back to side seam across my prominent rear. Since knees always are an issue, I measured my knees. Knowing that my waist is tilted, I measure the front of the crotch separately from the back and then added the two figures together for the total crotch curve.
Lena provides a formula to check the amount of pattern ease. I started checking and realized I had traced the wrong size pattern! I weigh the same today as I did on November 1. I gained 3 pounds over the holidays and spent the last 2 months shedding the same 3 pounds. My weight is the same, but my measurements have drastically changed. I’m need a pattern 1.5 sizes larger.
I chose to retrace the pattern using the size larger than my measurements. I redrew all the balance lines and checked all the pattern measurements. Finally I calculated the pattern ease and started comparing the pattern measurements with my measurements. I found that even though the pattern is a half-size larger than I should use, most of the circumferences were correct when the pattern ease was added to my own measurements. The waist is too large. I opted not to adjust the waist at this time.
I did measure the crotch. The total length is fine but when I compare front crotch to front and back crotch to back, the front crotch is 1″ too long and the back 1″ too short. Lena only address the total length. I know if I do not fix this now, there is no way the pants will be comfortable to wear. They will ride up in front, pull down in back and the back will be cutting into my crotch i.e. the bu tt vortex. I contemplate what action to take. I’m unwilling to discard years of experience even for this new teacher. It’s quite obvious from my side view that my waist is tilted. It is seldom that I do not need to adapt for my tilted waist. So with heavy heart, I changed the crotch adding 1″ to the back by adding a wedge up where the crotch line is straight and removing a 1″ wedge from the front crotch also where the crotch line straightens. I know the instructions usually show drawing the wedges lower down, but then you must true the crotch curve. My making the adjustment where the crotch curve is straight creates little or no need to true the crotch.
One other observation on the crotch. For some time now, I’ve traced the back inseam one size larger. When do Lena’s measuring and comparing, I realized that tracing the larger back inseam almost made the back crotch long enough. It might still be 1/4″ too short, which I then correct at the first fitting by scooping the back crotch. It was interesting to see and really understand what I was creating/doing instead of just doing something because it works.
I compared leg measurements and was surprised to find that the seat to knee measurement was fine but the knee to hem line was 2″ too long. Because of all the wrinkling under the butt, I’ve thought for ages that my pant legs need to be reduced on both sides of the knee. Since the measures corresponded, I made the entire change below the knee and trued the lines.
At this point I added a front fly flap (the pattern is designed for a side zip. I want a front zip). I added the hem and seam allowances.
I followed Lena’s lead and drafted my waistband with zero ease. I like an under/over lap and so I added 2″ to the end of waistband. Then I clearly marked the waistband pattern with center back, side seams, center front and where I planned belt loop placement.
I have some reservations about this process. Lena is providing a basic process that doesn’t address such things as knock knees, tilted waists and prominent booties. I’m sure there are other physical anomalies that should be on the list. (See the ETA below) The ebook will provide a draft that is the basically long and wide enough over all. I have slim hopes that this first version will make me proud. Nonetheless, I like what she’s written in the ebook. It is the beginning of a good pattern-measurement check list. I love the fact that I’m completing this analysis before even laying out the fabric. I’ve had patterns that were doomed to be wadders before I pulled them out of the envelope. I love the fact that I’m making sure this pattern has a ghost of a chance to be come a wearable garment. So even knowing my pattern probably still has issues, I whole heartedly recommend this little ebook ” How to Adjust Trouser Patterns to Personal Measurements” and commend Lena for her effort to create a logical, understandable process for altering trouser patterns to fit. Thank you Lena.
ETA: I’ve returned to Lena’s Blog site TheSewingSpace. She addresses my fitting issues of tilted waist and knock knees in blog posts. Also her ebook “All About Body Measurements” covers the tilted waist. Lena uses the term “Balance” to describe the tilted waist. I would have had an even more favorable review of the Trousers ebook had I purchased and used the AABM ebook first. Lena seems to have the attitude that she need not mention those things in the Trousers ebook because she’s already written about it in the AABM. I bought the AABM. I think both books are essential. Interestingly she was inspired to develop these books and her method because she was frustrated at not being able to quickly and accurately fit commercial patterns. Sound like anyone you know?? Her site is a wealth of information and does have a tutorials index tab. Perhaps I should have explored her site in full before attempting to use the Trousers ebook.
Next up is sewing and first fitting.