Choosing “Muslin”

After defining tests for a good fit, evaluating the last muslin and making  a new/nearly new tissue, I turned my attention to choosing a test fabric, a muslin.

My muslin order still hadn’t arrived. What I’ve pulled out of the stash and placed into the muslin box is a combination of polyester double knits, quilting cottons and blouse weight knits. None is suitable for a pant muslin.   I decided it didn’t matter how good I thought the fabric was. If I was ever to create a pant pattern which fit,  I needed to sacrifice a pant-weight, light-colored fabric.

As I stood there staring at my stash, my eyes alighted upon a rose-pink, heavy, polyester twill. It occurred to me that rose-pink would not make a good choice for winter pants which is what this fabric might be suitable for.  Unless I never go outside. As soon as I go outside, the winter snow, sleet and rain will kick up black mud and tars which immediately ruin any of my pastel fabrics. I may as well put the fabric to a good use, making a muslin, as to a) donate to the Goodwill or b) stitch and wear pants one time.

I pulled the fabric off the shelf and thought “Ewe, what is this?”  It’s 4 yards (at 58″ wide) fabric that I would have happily worn to work 15-20 years ago. It’s a testament to how man-made fabrics have improved (and perhaps a warning against stashing fabrics). I wondered if I had picked up rain coating by mistake. Uh, no. Water absorbs readily. Like immediately. This would not be good in the rain.  It feels and rustles like a rain coat. I think I made a very good decision to use this now.  I had 4 yards. After cutting my muslin the remaining 2 yards were consigned to the muslin box.I transferred my grain and balance lines as well as possible with permanent ink.  It is hard to fit myself with just a mirror.  It is easier to see the issues by using a camera, but still not easy to tell exactly where changes need to be made.  The grain and balance lines help in that regard.  I interfaced the waistband, but not the hems or fly area. I serge finished all the seams and since all the markings were on one side, I stitched the darts


Evaluating the Last”Muslin”

Having defined what I want in pants, I looked at the last tissue, last muslin, the grey, pant-weight, wool gabardine:

Now understand, this muslin was the result of 3 tissues, 4 muslins and 33 fitting sessions with 33+ fitting changes. The waistband became perfect on the first muslin. The length and side seam position were changed slightly. I did note that the belt loops were not evenly supporting the pant-body. I asked SG members for suggestions and I will be trying differing number and placements of the belt loops. Nonetheless, the waistband is NEAR PERFECT and I kept it as drafted for the new pant tissue.

The front had achieved wearable status early on. There were various winkles indicating side and back issues but there appears to be sufficient ease excepting about 2″ down from the waist. Right over the tummy.  The front crotch is smooth if I ignore the “v” line underneath the zipper.  I’ve had various dimples in this area. Since I’m consistently working with 5/8″ seam allowances and monkeying with both inseam widths and crotch curves, I tend to feel the crotch will be completely smooth only when I can trim the SA to 1/4″.  There did seem to be some pulling along the front inseam which was alleviated by letting out the the front inseam to it’s maximum. I decided the front was good, maybe a little excess ease. Besides the tummy will be covered by my tops and it is so much better than first versions.  I retrieved the front tissue, carefully pressed the tissue to remove wrinkles and set it with the waistband.

Then I looked at the back. There just is nothing I can point out as being right. Even the length has become too short. The crotch extensions are monsterously long.There is too much ease across the back just below the waistline. While VPL indicates  insufficient hip ease. The crotch both bubbles indicating too long and pulls into the crotch indicating too short. I decide to start fresh on the back pattern piece.  From the master pattern for TJ902, I traced a new back, in the correct size.  I added the grain and balance lines. I shortened the seat-to-knee length. As on the front, the rise is shortened by  1/4″.

Since the appearance of  knock knees really does seem to be an issue of mine, I added 5/8″ width along the inseam to both front and back tissue pieces.

I made a change to the dart configuration. On the back I marked two  3/8  darts on either side of the grain line. I shorten one to 5″ the other is 4″ long.  In the past I’ve found I needed a second dart. So far, I’ve already increased the back dart to a depth of  3/4″ . I think a wide dart distorts the waistline.  I think a big honking dart, 1″ or more, distorts the entire piece. For the front, I marked five 1″ lines 1.5″ apart. I plan to make small tucks evenly spaced across the front to control the ease at the waistline. Both gathering and darts seem to create additional drag lines. It’s as if, yes the ease needs to be controlled, but not exactly where the darts and gathering are occurring.  I’m giving myself options. Choices of how to handle the ease.



Starting Over

Well not completely, but with a difference perspective.  I asked myself, what is it that I really demand of pants? Can pants be satisfactory without being perfect? Is near perfect, good enough? What is my test(s) for wearable pants?

  1. The waist treatment must hold the waistline in the desired place -Although I like pants that sit at the natural waist, I also like a mid-rise pant. I’m not adverse to elastic in my waistband unless the elastic causes the pant to travel upwards where it wasn’t intended to sit.  Wherever the waistline is designed to sit, that’s what it must do.
  2. The crotch fits smoothly from front waist to back waist. Girly parts should not be outlined and hair must remain uncountable. This also fixes another bugaboo
  3. The an!l orifice is invisible.  I’ve had pants that tightly skimmed the edges clearly reveling what lay beneath fabric. I’ve also had pants  pull or create circular ripples around that feature.  It is a necessary bodily part, but I don’t necessarily want everyone to see it.
  4. Conceal the lumpy bumpy aspect of my figure while still suggesting that I am womanly.  Different fabrics will require different amounts of ease to produce the look I prefer.  I visualize this as a lack of pull lines, folds and wrinkles creating a fairly smooth torso with just a suggestion of curve beneath the fabric.
  5. Comfortable when worn.
  6. End at one of my preferred lengths.
  7. Be one of my preferred colors.

7 tests for me to wear the pants. So where to from here? Well I started by looking at the last tissue, last muslin.


A Thinking Pause

Sorry for the sudden pause in my posts.  You see I have completed 3 tissues and 4 muslins for Trudy Jansen’s pattern #902 Basic Pants.  Each muslin seemed better than the previous. Each tissue was the accumulation of all the previous changes.  My goal was to have one tissue  summarizing all the changes. One tissue that would produce near perfect pants. With a near perfect pant pattern, I could easily compare a new pattern. I could confidently proclaim, the new pattern  needs… 1″ more at the waist. Or maybe the crotch needs to be 3/8″ shorter.  Whatever the differences, they could be quickly identified; assessed as styling change or needed fitting change. To my utter surprise, with the creation of each new tissue, the fitting process began all over again. Worse yet, every change seemed to again  add excess fabric under the bu!t. At the same time the crotch pulled indicating that more ease was required. When I finished this Muslin

I thought ‘d done it. Yes I can see that some fitting tweaks might still be needed. But this was a quilting cotton. It really didn’t hang as I would expect a pant weight fiber/fabric. I decided to create a 3rd tissue, accumulating all the changes and and cut a final muslin. Excepting, I couldn’t find a muslin fabric.  My fabric order, made specifically to add pant-weight, muslin fabrics, had not arrived.  I studied my shelves and thought: surely at this point (see photo above), surely I was close enough that wearable muslin was in order. Surely. I chose a pant-weight wool gabardine and began the cutting.

I was wrong. I spent 2 days trying to fit what should be a good pant fabric.  Every change I made added more wrinkles under the bu!t. It was de ja vu. I was back in 2005 having discovered the digital camera as a fitting aid and trying to fit pants. Everything that I thought I knew; everything that I knew should work; didn’t. In fact it made it worse. I promise you, I made change after change after change, and these were the best:

I realized, I was caught in this loop  of adding more fabric between my legs without improving the back view even one little bit. Everything I was doing– every scoop, lift, pinch trim– was wrong and needed rethinking. So I started over.

902, BasicDrafts

The Basic Pant Drafts

My comment at the end of yesterday’s post “what am I creating here?” really did stop me in my tracks.  I have several good books on fitting, altering and drafting pants. None included the specific information I was looking for: the comparison between the 3 basic drafts ( trouser, slacks, jeans). Pants for Real People (which I own and highly recommend) did have a list of 7 Pant Styles with information on standard waist, hip and crotch ease. (Page 12).  Included is a nice sketch of each finished garment, but not the schematic of the pattern showing the grain line and crotch curve. Personally I think that what they are calling styles are merely changes to the 3 drafts. Just because flare is added to the lower leg of the jean, doesn’t mean it’s not a jean anymore. A jean rise ending 3/4″ below the waist or 4″ below the waist, is still based on the jean draft. The change is a styling detail. I’m interested today not in styling details, but in what makes the fit different. When do I really need a different overall draft to complete the look I want to wear.  Since I couldn’t find what I wanted I decided to try to recreate the summary Sew4Fun shared. I can’t link back to her blog, because she removed it all.  I’m not using her illustrations or, to the best of my recollection,  her verbiage. If I duplicate anything she wrote it’s not because I “lifted” anything from her blog, but rather these are basic concepts which require similar terms to describe. But I’m not hesitant to credit her blog as the first place  I saw this summary. It was a light bulb and sewing change moment. Thank you Sew4-Fun.

Now onto my humble and possibly inaccurate efforts:

The first draft I think of, although it is not my favorite, is the jeans draft.  I’m convinced that jeans can fit every body.  I mean that. I don’t care if you are 9 pounds or 300. I do think that styling choices can make jeans more or less flattering. Jeans in denim have zero ease.  If they are stretch denim, they may have negative ease. Whatever the fiber content, jeans need a specific cut to fit nicely and feel comfortable. My first schematic does not show the typical waistband yoke and leg construction. Rather the draft is shown as if these pieces are all sewn together as one without the back pockets.

BTW these would be “Mom Jeans”  with the waistband ending at the natural waistline. Note 2 things from the schematic 1) the back torso is distinctly tilted forward. The tilt places the back crotch at nearly 90 degrees to the grain. Check that grain line. It starts almost at the top of the back crotch, crosses the torso at an apparent angle and then divides the back leg fairly evenly. This is so that the back crotch can take maximum advantage of the bias to wrap around the body. The back inseam is usually stretched to match the length of the front inseam. There is some bias is the way the inseams are cut. So there is some inherent stretch which the jean draft uses to cup the back over the hinnie to give you a nice flush.  I’ve not indicated the back yoke which is essential to the fit of the jean. It’s not there just for good looks. It is an ingenious way to eliminate darts while achieving the close fit over the upper back.

The front  grain line   pretty much divides the front pattern piece in 2 even amounts. There are also pockets on the front, which I’ve not indicated on my schematic. The big pocket is handy for carrying a few essentials. The change pocket usually on the front is useless IMO. The big front pocket visually breaks up space making the tummy look smaller. More importantly the front dart needed by the other two drafts, can be shifted and eliminated in the pocket area.

The rise usually ends below the natural waistline. If the rise ends below the waistline, the difference in circumferences (waistline and hip) is much less. With the lowered waistline, darts are not as necessary. The waist can be cut with zero ease, stretched at the factory and again on the body. Other than “Mom Jeans”, a contoured waistband is de rigueur. But it too has a fitting use. It will stretch at the factory and on the body. Think how often you struggle to get jeans on but they are comfortable in a short period of time. It is the denim softening and stretching due to body heat and then flexing to fit the body it covers.  Jeans made in denim are a natural match. Denim has just the right amount of  inherent stretch.    Jeans in stretch denim are divine.  But the closer fit does mean that more fitting effort needs to be made and the draft is critical. Jeans without the above features, (slanted back crotch, grain line placement, and yoke), IMO  are trousers with jean styling.

I love jeans, but my favorite , my real favorite is slacks. Slacks are slim having 2-3″ of ease and I think universally flattering.  PFRP calls slacks “plain fitted pants”. The basic pant pattern is wonderfully adaptive. It can be quickly sewn or extra time devoted to additional details.

There are two main difference between jeans and slacks. First is ease. Slacks have 2-3″ of ease; jeans have none or less. The slacks back-crotch is more upright but still slanted. The back grain line starts closer to the center of the pant. At least 1 dart on each front and back  assist in controlling the ease between hip and waist. The torso area is usually smooth from waist down to the hip. That contributes to the slimming effect of the slacks draft.  Most often, the slack has a straight waistband, but that can be changed for styling or to suit personal preferences. It does require some fitting. But not as much as is needed for the jean draft. Many more fabrics are suitable for use in slacks than are usable for jeans. The jean draft must have fabric which will stretch and  flex when worn. The slack doesn’t really have to have the same amount of flex, but you may want to adapt the amount of drafted-ease. IOW I’ve worn double-knit slacks with 1″ ease, but a 100% cotton really needs all 3″ of ease if I’m  to move around or sit.

The 3rd draft, as I’m listing them, is the trouser. The trouser has much more ease, anywhere between 4 and 8″.  The ease can be reduced to as little as 3″ or increased to 15 or more inches. It’s still a trouser draft. Yes you could have a trouser with about the same amount of ease as slacks. The difference is in the draft.

What makes it a trouser draft, in addition to the ease, is the grain line. Boom right down from the center of the waistline  terminating at the center of the hem with the front or back  neatly divided into two nearly equal parts. Trousers usually have the deepest crotch and a big back -crotch extension. They are built for comfort and concealment. The waistline is nearly horizontal whereas the slack exhibited some slant and the jeans waist was definitely oblique. If your figure demands it, the trouser waistline can be dipped.  Trousers are the easiest pant to fit, but they are also the pant most likely to visually add pounds to the frame. The excessive ease is best with a draping, light weight fabric like a polyester crepe or even chiffon. You’ve got to think, 15″ of ease is putting a lot fabric around the hips. A fabric which falls from waist to the ground adds less. Fabrics which stick out, make it look like hips are sticking out. Generally denim, corduroy, canvas and the like are not chosen when constructing true trousers. This schematic shows 1 back dart and 2 front tucks. Any combination is possible. You could gather the top of the pant and stuff it into the waistband. You could have more darts or use darts instead of tucks in the front. The opposite is also true. The object of the game is to get all the excess ease attached to the waistband.

The trouser is my least favorite draft. The wrong fabric choice makes me look humongous. I”m not a model and never want to be that thin. I also don’t want to look like a brick sh!t house walking down the road. I also don’t care for very wide legs, which often occur when using the trouser draft. Same issue for me. The wide leg makes me look like a pyramid i.e. big, wide flat at the earth and tiny pin-point head.  While I”m not model-esque, I am happy with my appearance as long as it is visually balanced. I’m happy as long as my shoulder appear to equal my hips and I appear proportional. I do not meet the Golden Rule of proportions. Trousers can take me even further from my goal. Typically I adopt trouser details to my slacks. I add a bit more ease, change darts to tucks or ease or  eliminate both tucks and darts and ease the pant to my waistband. I’m also guilty of adapting jeans details to my slacks. I’ll add the yoke, front and back pockets and be happy.  I do not like bunches of fabric under the bu!t and above the knee. Nor do I tolerate crotches that reveal my girly parts. I’ve learned that fitting the waist and keeping the pant at the waist is key to solving many of my pants fitting issues.

I do like trousers and that’s how I thought Tj902 was drafted. I’m realizing now that TJ902 most closely resembles the slacks draft. To me that means I need to do more to control the fullness at the waist and when sewing I need to choose fabrics suitable for the slacks draft. As I said this type pant is wonderfully adaptive.  I could leave the ease as is, or add more and use an elastic waistband. Maybe a pull on pant. It’s a good draft, I just wish I had realized what it was to start with.


TJ902: Muslin2, Fitting Changes.

I went right for the problem at the crotch.  Being this is a muslin, I opened the back crotch seam about 3″ just before the inseam crosses.  I slashed the fabric at the flattest part of the curve towards the knee for about 2 inches.  I used scraps and made no effort to align grain before basting the scraps in place adding  1/2″   to the crotch extension. Then I took pics. Before you look let me tell you a few things. First, the pant feels comfortable at the waistline and through out except that the fabric keeps wanting to creep in between my cheeks. That is definitely uncomfortable and I pulled sharply at the back  and then smoothed the fabric into place:

To my shock both front and back crotch problems are virtually gone.  A close examination of the back crotch shows kind of a flat spot, which is puzzling. The front shows a dimple underneath the zipper stitching.  The back I’m attributing to the fabric and pulling it as I did. As for the front, I’m beginning to believe that interfacing is a requirement for this area.  Even though comfortable, I do think that the crotch extension still needs to be extended. Maybe 1/4″ more.

I suppose I could finesse the legs’ appearance by letting out the side and inseams below the crotch. Since I know the issue is the combination of a too long seat-knee length with an excessive knock-knee alteration AND it’s on a muslin, I’ve decided just to take note to make adjustments before I start working with  a wearable fabric or the next muslin.

I was more concerned about the folds and wrinkles above the hip balance line:

These wrinkles start around the waist, travel in various directions and terminate in different places. But they all point to the waist and end above the hip-balance line.  It’s possible I have  the darts in the wrong position. That’s a likely candidate since most of the wrinkles start  either around the 4 front tucks or 4 back darts.  Since this was trousers I decided to quickly test my theory by taking out the 2 extra back-darts and all 4 front tucks.  I ran a quick gathering line, matched sides and center back and then pulled on the gathering-line ends to ease the pant to the waistband.

I know not everyone would be pleased with the photo above. I’m pretty sure I could more carefully spread out the gathering and have  a look that I like. Most likely I’d simply cover it up because I hem my tops at the hip or lower.  I believe gathering the pant waistline confirms that my darts are in the wrong place ….


 It’s also possible I added too much ease when I altered the front and back tissue after tracing and when comparing measurements.  I was thinking this was a trouser pattern. I expect more ease in a trouser pattern than I do with slacks or jeans. I expect jeans to have the least ease and the closest fit. These are not jeans.  But is this a pattern for slacks?  I miss the Sew4Fun site. She had a wonderful, easy-to-understand but detailed explanation of the difference between the 3 drafts. Each covers your bottom and a portion or all of your legs, but the grain lines, ease and crotch shapes are very different.  All along I’ve been assuming I need a certain amount of fullness (ease)  across the torso. If this is a slacks pattern, I do not need the same amount of ease.  If this is a trousers pattern, I may need more circumference ease around the legs!  This gives me pause, what am I creating here? It makes a huge difference as to what alterations and fitting changes I should be making.


I deliberately did not show the photos of the entire muslin at this final stage. After adding a whiff of starch and careful pressing, I slipped the muslin on and pulled into place. It felt fine. Then I belted it. I always wear a belt. I always fit with my belt in place.  As I was taking photos I kept thinking about how my waistline dimension changes from day-to-day sometimes hour-to-hour. That’s the most common factor for pants (on me)  to feel comfortable in the morning but too tight or too loose later on.  So I’m watching Netflix with one-eye, posing, taking pics, and wondering if I should add the 1/2″ length I removed from the waistband. Until I sat down at the computer. Immediately, I realized I had belted on the 3rd hole instead of the 2nd. When I tighten my belt too tightly my pants hoist themselves above the natural waistline. All the measured balance lines are out-of-place. The crotch is far too short. All other issues are clearly exacerbated by this one error: my belt being on the hole too far. I considered taking new pictures. But my focus on the last fitting as how the ease of the waistline was distributed along the waistband. I was eager to see that and decide the direction to take. Ergo, you get to see only the waistline pics. Believe, me you don’t want to see the others.


TJ902: Muslin 2

Having made all the alterations I was sure needed I wanted to make, I set about selecting a sacrificial fabric.  Today I have two main criteria for muslin fabric. It must be woven non-stretch and it must be light-colored. Oh, make that 3, it has to be something I can stand to sew and throw away.   To select a fabric I unfolded and tried out 3 fabrics recently pulled from the HomeDec fabrics and placed in the muslin box. The determining factor was enough width and length on which to place my pattern . The winner was a quilting cotton in golden brown tones with blue-reds and greens. It’s not a flattering combination for my skin nor colors I use in decorating.  I’m actually glad to be able to use it now, as a muslin, instead of giving it away.

But a quilting cotton doesn’t have a lot of body. It is not the best fabric to use when planning pants. It is good enough to see how off the fit might be. After all those alterations the new muslin:

No these aren’t wonderful. I’m glad I made a second muslin. But my first thought was ” this is a great improvement”. I managed to get all the balance lines to line up. Also the hip balance line is over my widest hip.  I’m thinking I misread the instructions for the seat balance line.  I have it perpendicular to the vertical/grain line. The hip balance line is at the same angle as the waist and matches perfectly across the side.   The seat balance line angles down from the side seam. It does match (at side and center back) but I expect it to be more evenly horizontal across the side and back.  Other than where they cross folds of fabrics, the other balance lines look about the way I expect.  I’m not demanding perfectly straight lines. I know when I put pencil to paper,  curve lines will not be straight across.  That’s what I’m expecting,  curves.

Then, I noted  the under bu!t wrinkles:

Muslin 1 — Muslin 2

Muslin 2 shows the fewest wrinkles I’ve ever had on a first try-on (excepting baggy Charlie Chaplin-type pants. There are some other issues that may be affecting this. Both the front and back of the Muslin2 look  tight in the crotch area. (I’m not zeroing in on that area. I get enough spam .)I did wonder if my math was right when I made the alterations. There were so many. Some of the calculations were cumulative i.e. calculated off the calculations when I traced the tissue. Confused? I was. Off hand I’d say I shouldn’t have removed that 1/2″ from the back crotch extension.  Fortunately, I still have 5/8″ seam allowances and it will be possible to add a little ease in the area. Then again it’s a muslin. I’m never going to wear these pants again. That was the point of choosing this fabric. I could just slash and add where fabric is needed.

It does trouble me that I could be seeing knock knee issues (still) on both front and back. On the back, the lines point upward past the knees to the crotch.  The two diagonal lines coming down never reach the knees. But the legs are hugging the outside of my legs and the inseams touching as if I’m standing with legs together. I’m not. My pose is the same 6″ apart that I always use. That’s part of the reason for the yellow tape on the floor. Where to stand and, black marks for how far apart to place my feet. Similarly on the front, I’m not standing with my feet together either but the pants inner legs are touching each other.  This perplexes me. Offhand, I’d say I over did the knock knee adjustment. I’ve made a 1/2″ and 3/4″ knock knee adjustment on previous patterns and did not solve the knock knee problem nor create this picture of the inner legs touching.  Is it just this pattern? Is it that this time I removed 2-3/4″ from the seat-to-knee measurement? The fabric?  Some combination of all or a completely different issue?  But lets’s return to the good news, I’m not seeing the exact symptom for knock knees. This is an improvement, even if I’ve created the opposite problem.

The front crotch (again no zeroing in on the issue) has a dimple beneath the zipper.  I was careful to stitch that seam exactly where it needed to be and smoothly following the crotch-curve from front  to back. I’d be really annoyed except I wonder if the dimple is related to the fact that the front crotch is still too long. I removed 1/8″ from the front crotch. On the first muslin, I removed 1/4″ and it was too much. The default was too long. 1/8 is not enough and 1/4 is too much??? Now I”m just plain puzzled. This should have worked. Is it related to the too short back crotch extension? Is it the change in fabric. The Homespun was softer and had a stretch factor similar to denim. This quilting cotton not only doesn’t drape, it has less give over all. It’s not as firm as the hard-twill used in the last version of TJ906, but it is firmer than denim.

I elected to put darts in the back and pleats in the front. This is the way I like to wear trousers. The waistband fits perfectly. Its alterations were exactly right. Both front and back required double the waist control i.e. the back has 2 dart on each back piece.  I needed 2 darts to fit the back at the waist. Same with the front, the pattern shows 1 dart/tuck for each front piece. I needed 2. I may revisit the dart situation after I figure out the crotch. In my mind waistband must fit, then crotch must fit before other areas can accurately be changed. I have been paying attention to balance lines but they are not the sole determinator of my alterations.

I’ll close with my beginning perception. No this muslin is not perfect. But it is better than the previous.


Drafting VS Alterations

It occurred to me to again question whether I should draft patterns or alter patterns. To this pattern (and so far) I’ve made the following alterations


Front and back:

remove 2″ from seat to knee length

remove 3/4″ from hem length


add 1.5″ to crotch extension

add side wedge 1″ at waist  1/2″ at 6 and 6.5 marks; 0 at seat balance


add Six 1/4″ wedges  from waist to seat balance


draft from waist measurements

move side seam 1″ towards center back

Set 2

Front and Back

Remove 3/4″ from seat to knee length

Add 3/4″ to hem length

Knock Knee Adjustment 1″

Dart placement, width and depth

Change crotch seam allowance to 3/8″


Remove 1/2″ from crotch extension

Remove 1/4″ from crotch height


Horizontal wedge 1/8″ at CF 1/4″ at side seam

Add 1/2″ to inseam starting 2″ down from crotch all the way to the hem

That’s 16 alterations. At the end of each set I needed to true the balance lines and walk the seams. AND I’m not sure that’s the end of my alterations.  I may need more tweaking to get the fit I want. I did not define the excess ease across the back and may still need to do something permanent about it. I always feel that adding to the extension creates excess ease in the thigh which I  would want to to do something about.  Also the general ease across the torso (excepting the bu!t)  is good for non-stretch woven fabrics. But for fabrics with any give (denim) or the tiniest bit of stretch, I probably want a completely new pattern with different ease allowances.

Back to my self-question, should I really give drafting a second chance? My answer is still “no”. Here are the issues:

Drafting assumes that the knee is the mid-point of the leg. I’m shortening the upper leg 2-3/4″. That’s more than a smidge. Unless the leg were really straight i.e. billowy, I will always need to make this adjustment. I can tell by all the excess fabric that hangs up under my bu!t and above my knee.

Once the upper leg is shortened, I need more length for my leg.  I will always need to adapt the lower leg hem.

Drafting assumes the widest point of the hip will be between 7 and 9 inches below your natural waist. Mine is 6.5″.  I will always need to be sure there is enough ease at the  6 and 6.5″  levels.

If I have to add ease at the 6.5 level, then there will be too much ease below and I will need to remove ease between the patterns hip and seat balance lines.

Drafting assumes the circumference measurements (note that was plural) will be divided evenly between back and front. Not true for my body and results in alterations to the waist, hip,  thigh and crotch. I’ve known about the crotch issue since I was a teen. I need a shorter front crotch and I also need a longer back extension.  Whether self drafted or purchased the pattern will always require changing to fit my shape. Remember those 3 bottles of shampoo above

 That wasn’t a mistake. I did a quick search for 8oz of shampoo. Each of those bottles holds 8 oz of product. Each of the bottles is remarkably different. I think drafting and alterations are a similar situation. Drafting creates a generic bottle to fit my volume. But if I want the bottle to fit my form, then I need alterations. The drafted pattern or the purchased pattern may fit generic measurements i.e. hold 8 oz of shampoo. It is the altered pattern which produces a shape which flatters my form. Granted the shapes above are for eye appeal rather than needing to contain a definite form. The analogy works for me hope you were able to follow along because, I still feel altering a purchased pattern helps eliminates some labor needed to create a nicely fitting garment on my body.


TJ902: Homespun

From the first moment I buckled my belt, I loved the feel of these trousers. I had rolled up the hems so the leg would hang free and not affect they way the pant hung. Peeking in the mirror didn’t tell me much, so I took photos and prayed that the pattern alterations had indeed solved my fitting issues.

I’ve worn pants that looked like these on the front and sides.  The front crotch felt just a little too long, but it was the backside which convinced me I needed to proceed with fitting.

For having a pant that looked pretty good to start with, I made a lot of fitting changes.  I was evaluating what needed to change and  making small changes, one at a time.  Previous experience has shown me that several changes at once,  disguises the true issue and I spend more time undoing the changes than I would have, had I made one change at a time. Still it gets frustrating to make one small change, take pics, evaluate and make the next small change. But that is what I did.

When I drafted the waistband, I moved the side seam towards the back 1″.  On the first fitting, I moved the side seam towards the center front 3/8″.  I also shortened the waistband by 1/2″.  I left it there until finished. I’ve noticed that changes made further down can affect whether the side seam looks like it is in the right place (on the waistband).  So once the waistband felt comfortable, I left it alone.

The front crotch really did feel too long, even for trousers. I mean, I really am expecting this pattern to feel and look differently than  TJ906 just completed. I’m expecting a looser, more flowing look from top to bottom.  I need the waist to fit closely so the pants will stay up. I like the upper hip to fit close, but not tight. Just close enough to minimize bulk beneath my tops. From there down, loose is good, except I do not like the crotch rubbing against my inner thigh. I like the crotch to be a little bit close. So after fitting the waistband, I pulled the pant up 1/2″. That was too much (nope not sharing those pics).  1/4″ seemed good. The crotch felt good, even the back leg looked better. Let me restate that:  the back leg looked better without scooping, just by pulling up at the waist  thereby shortening the back crotch length.

It was a light bulb moment.  I remember measuring the pattern back and comparing with my measurements.  There was 3.25″ too much between waist and knee.  I removed 2″ above the knee, but waffled at removing any more.

1) I’d never taken 2″ above the knee ever before

2) 3.25″ was a cumulative of 3 areas the waist to hip, hip to seat, and seat to knee.

3) I wasn’t really sure of the change I’d made to the crotch length. I had added to the extension the entire 1-7/8″ my measurements were indicating.

I wasn’t sure. I just wasn’t sure where that 3.25″ needed to come from; the seat to knee-length or distributed some how in all 3 areas. Now I know. At this juncture I knew that 1/4″ needs to be removed above the hip balance-line across both front and back. Which means I need to remove 1/4″ from the back crotch extension and a total of  2.75″ from seat to knee-length.

The crotch is such an critical component of the pants, I considered trashing the muslin right there. Part of me thought there was still more to be learned from this muslin. That part won. Initially I had created tucks at the waistline to ease the pant to the waistband. From the tucks, darts automatically formed. I stitched front and back  darts. Usually for trousers, I leave the front darts as tucks. (It works for my figure.)  I could see there was too much ease across the back and front. I took the sides in and also the back crotch.  The darts will be transferred to the pattern. Attempts at removing ease from the torso area will not. For one thing, these are trousers and I prefer the looser fit, except for the center back. I’m rather appalled that the center back continues to snuggle into my cr@ck at the same time there is obviously too much ease across the back of the pant.

I finally got rid of  those front thigh wrinkles by adding 3/8″ to the front inseam starting 2″ down from the crotch and continuing to the hem.

But then I returned to the same see-saw, dance-around-the-issue routine. If I tried to fix the back, the side and the front developed issues. If I fixed the side, the front crotch was obviously too short.

And, something else happened. This fabric, which was questionable to start with, became very worn looking and stretch-out.  Like I’d lived in it for days rather than starching and pressing it every 30-45 minutes after a 10 second photo shoot.  I was always a bit concerned that the balance lines didn’t match across the side.  The side seams and inseams were the correct lengths. The balance lines were calculated, not marked by the pattern. So I could have made an error in my calculations. My alterations affected the balance lines and again could have affected the location and angle.  I could have incorrectly transferred the notches.  I’ve not been working with these lines long enough to just “know” if they are right are wrong. While fitting I evaluated the balance lines mostly by how vertical the grain lines were and how the horizontal lines balanced across the two same pieces (i.e front to front and back to back. Yet it always nagged at the back of my mind: the balance lines don’t meet on the sides.  So at this point I decided to stop working with the homespun.  I’m going to wash it and see if it can be reclaimed. It’s a nice neutral color and would be fine for very casual activities (fishing anyone?). I also like the way it feels when being worn. But I think it’s time to evaluate what I’ve learned and start fresh.

The final pic is fitting # 5

if the back were better, this is something I would wear. While I don’t know exactly what to do, I’m  excited to have learned this much.



TJ902: Fabric and Prep

My muslin fabric was rescued from the HomeDec portion of my stash. It’s a 100% cotton but comprised of thick and thin warp and weft. This creates an interesting homespun look. I have 3.5 yards, 36″ wide and never touched by my scissors. When I preshrunk it picked up a pink shade.  I don’t have a lot of red in my house or wardrobe. I wash all reds separately. I have no idea why it would pick up a pink shade, but that’s life.

Still pursuing the idea of matching fabric to pattern, I wrap my fabric around Mimie, and add a belt to hold the fabric in place and try to visualize this fabric as pants.

This is not a stiff fabric. But it’s not exactly clinging either. These trousers should have 1.5″ ease and a hem circumference of 17.5″.  They should be skimming my body, not clinging. OK designs not clinging, fabric not clinging. That’s good. Right? I do like the way the fabric is kind of curving around my dressform especially as seen around the bottom edge.

I prefer fabrics that resist wrinkles, shed wrinkles or disguise them. This fabric does none of the above. It wrinkles and hold wrinkles. That’s easily see in the photo. But this fabric is going to be a muslin. I’m not planning to wear it. I’m planning to pin, slash, pinch etc etc. On the odd chance that my measuring and pattern alterations turn out a wearable, well the beach during summer sounds like an appropriate venue for wrinkled clothes.

I’m never really sure about fabrics until I wear them. But for now, I”m think this fits the bill. It is light colored so that wrinkles are easy to see. It is non-stretch so the fabric won’t add ease thus disguising fit issues; and it is FREE!.  It’s been in my stash for so many years I’ve forgotten when it was purchased. I think it is a Walmart fabric, but that may be wrong.

Normally you bring the two selvedges together and fold lengthwise. Folded in that manner, it won’t be wide enough for my back pattern piece. I bring the two cut edges together and fold crosswise.  This is a muslin. I’m not concerned about a nap.  I’m concerned about getting all 3 pattern pieces cut from this single piece of fabric. Crosswise works. I do align the grain line before cutting the fabric. I cut the waistband on the fold with the lengthwise grain running down the length of the waistband.

I notched my pattern before hand so now I can mark my fabric within the notches with a purple pen. Once the pattern pieces are removed, I draw the full grain and balance lines and mark the positions for the darts and zipper flap. I also place tape on the wrong side of each piece. It’s not really necessary for this muslin, but it is habitual for me. One too many times, I’ve sewn right side to wrong side because when I sat at the sewing machine, I couldn’t tell the difference.

In my mind, I’m not done with the prep yet. First I trim the crotch to 3/8″.  I never need the crotch to be wider. I nearly always need to scoop the crotch. However it’s difficult to tell what the crotch needs as long as the excess seam allowance is constraining the pant. I trim it off now and then serge finish all edges of every piece. I also stitch with contrasting thread the balance and grain lines. I don’t know why others complain of permanent purple pen marks. I’m lucky if the marks will last for the day or so that I need during fitting. I use the purple pen to mark embroidery placement lines.  During the summer,the lines will disappear before I can align the fabric in the hoop. Perhaps it is the source of my pen. Maybe it’s the humidity? The heat? (In SD in the winter, don’t think so.) Whatev’ I want to see the balance lines when I take pictures and so I baste right on top of them.

My last bit of prep is to interface the waistband and hems. I don’t interface the zipper flap. I’ve seen several references and I may try that in the future. But for now, I want to see how this pant fits. Prep is done. Time to fire up the sewing machine.


BTW, Prep? Another 2 hours.  This fitting stuff is not fast.