sdBev's Pants!

The Basic Pant Drafts

Posted on: March 25, 2013

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.

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