JSM in a New Size

Even though sizing up the pattern was progressing nicely, I wanted the correct size for my body.  It arrived just as I was wearing the last “not bad” version. I compared the altered pattern on which I was working with the new pattern. There were visible but small differences.  I know from experience that 1/8″ can be significant when it comes to pants, so I traced the new pattern. The new size seemed to have more ease (and it should have since it was the next larger size), than my altered tissue. Other than shortening the legs 2-3/4″, I didn’t measure or alter the pattern. I was so confident that this new size would fit well that I choose a couture gabardine ordered from Fabricmart sometime last year.  I stitched together with a 3.5mm length straight stitch. That’s a bit longer than usual but I felt that tweaking the fit would be necessary and wanted  to easily pick out stitches when needed. I serged the edges  and pressed all seams open.  I fused the hems in place and basted the waist band with belt loops before the first try-on.

I was stunned. The pant was obviously too tight.  I let out all the seams. I know that added at least 1-3/4″ ease. I also stitched the waistband at 1/4″ instead of 1/2 to add length to the crotch. Nothing doing. The first version was a total flop.  I was so perplexed, I measured the pant. As near as I can tell the fabric shrank when ironed. I didn’t expect that to happen. The tag says cotton with 1% lycra.  It did say to dry clean. I had already run this fabric through the laundry. Stunned is all I can say.

My next fabric was 100% polyester. This is an old fabric but has about the same amount of stretch as the previous gabardine.  Definitely checks the mark for using up the ancient stash.  In its time, this high quality fabric was something looked for when buying RTW.  However my tastes and comfort levels have changed. As I pressed the fabric, I wondered why it wasn’t already in the muslin box.  I was leery about the pattern ease and I thought about it for a while. I really couldn’t believe the cotton had shrunk so much under the iron especially after having been preshrunk. What’s the point of “couture gabardine” if it can’t be crisply pressed?  Just to be safe I added 1″ ease to the front and back pieces.  I also added a 1/2″ wedge to the back crotch and used the “plus waist” which JSM provides.  The plus waist is about 1/8″ wider at the sides, 1/4″ angled in at the center front and maybe 1/8″ taller.  I didn’t bother with pockets or seam finishes.  I stitched the pieces together with a 4mm stitch length and 1/2″ seam allowance.  To my horror, it fell off my hips during the first try-on.  I took the sides seams in at  1/4″; then another 1/4″ and finally 1/8″ distances from the original 1/2″. The wad between my legs was uncomfortable but the pants finally sat at my waist and had some semblance of shape.  So yes, cotton had shrunk considerably.

I didn’t want to wear pant #2 because of the fabric.  I chose a 3rd fabric a cotton/poly blend. It has a little more stretch than the previous fabrics but has a good hand for pants. On pant #2 I added 1″ ease. I now removed half of that before cutting fabric #3.   I skipped pockets once again. I serged the side, inseams together; basted the crotch and waistband  with 3/8″ SA,  fused the  hems into place for the first trial.  Pant #3 is still too large, but I’m not sure if the pattern is too large or if the fabric has too much stretch.   I finished the pant by stitched all seams at 3/8″ and using a blind stitch for the hems. The result:

I took pictures after wearing these for about an hour. I think this is how the basic JSM  should fit. The hem circumferences are 20″. That’s the widest that I think looks good on me.  I think the fabric has softened and stretched by being worn.  There are not ugly drag lines emanating from either crotch. I see a slight indication of knock knees on the back.  if this was a nice soft wool crepe or drapey rayon or linen, the pattern is fine as is. I do plan to wear these, in fact the plan is to keep this version intact because I have a few fabric that would be perfect. What’s really nice is that I arrived at this point so quickly. Yes the garbardine was a spoiler. If I had started with a more stable fabric, I would not have wasted my time adding the inch of ease. However, the 1/2″ wedge added to the back crotch was critical to getting these pants to look good and feel comfortable.

For future style changes, I’ll copy the tissue before applying my ideas.  I’d like to shorten the front crotch. Wear has confirm my initial impression that the front crotch is a bit too long.  I’ll also remove another 1/4″ ease from both front and back.  I’m toying with the idea of making the knock knee adjustment.  With this much ease there is just a hint, and that’s after wear, that knock knees could be a problem.

Overall, I think I finally have a good trouser pattern.

PS I’m not sure what to do with the couture gabardine.  I still have almost 3 yards of this stuff.  I don’t think I can even use it for muslins.


Re-Fitting JSM

That would be the JSM Tailoring block for pants. If you aren’t familiar with it, I highly recommend giving it careful consideration.  It’s called a basic pant pattern and I think is a good trouser draft vice slack or jean draft. It has an upright back crotch with nice large back extension — the better for those of us with behinds to sit upon. The front crotch is shorter than the back and it too is upright. It’s like a big U with most of the bottom curve attached to the back crotch.  The grain line nearly neatly divides the pieces in half. The pattern includes a modification for the full waist. Since the first use, it has fit me with minimal changes.  I always have to shorten legs. Like most patterns it is drafted for the 5’6″ beauty. I’m 3″ shorter. The legs would drag the ground if I hemmed this pattern as given.

I actually started to buy the next larger size. My hips have expanded beyond the range of the pattern I have on hand and almost to the size after that.  It was the debate between buying one or two sizes larger that had me checking the TJ902 against my current pattern. I was astonished to see that they were nearly alike. Tj902 was a little wider at the waist and the crotch is shaped a little differently. But much the same size.  I traced a new copy of my existing JSM.  I fit my patterns from a clean copy. As times goes along and my figure shifts I make changes to the copy.  Eventually, the copy has changed so much it barely resembles the original. I didn’t think simply reversing the changes would do. Hence new copy.  Since the biggest difference between the master copy of JSM and the fitted TJ902 seemed to be at the waist, I also used the full waist modification.  I wasn’t sure about the crotch length/depth.  According to my measurements the back crotch was more than 2″ too short while the front crotch was 1/8″ too long. Although the JSM crotch is more upright it is still cut on a bias.  Bias will stretch an amazing amount. I decided to shorten the leg 2-3/4″ (as my measurements indicated), add 1/2″ to the hip ease front and back but leave the rest to be detected via muslin.

My muslin is a polyester “suiting” from Fashion Fabrics Club.  I bought it specifically for this purpose, muslining, however I’m a bit reluctant as this “suiting” would be more suitable for blouses than for jacket, vests, skirts or pants.  I paid $2 a yard for it and really, I just want a quick check to see how far off the pattern is from my new shape. To my surprise it fits better than TJ902:

It definitely feels tight through the crotch and looks just a little large in front and a little long at the hem.  I no longer wear high heels. My highest is a 1.5″ wedge. Hem is easy to fix. Crotch concerns me. It looks to be pulling in the front as if, contrary to the measurements, it is too short in front. I’ve zipped this together using the serger and 1/4″ seams. Possibly increasing to a normal or just larger seam allowance will take care of the extra ease, but the crotch length will need a different adjustment. I’m not willing to do a lot to this cheap fabric. I didn’t every plan to wear this fabric. What I really want to know right now, is how much the crotch needs to be lengthened. So I change the seam allowance at the waist from 1/2″ to 1/4″ and take a new set of pictures:

Well, that opens a new can of worms. Suddenly there are wrinkles everywhere. But I’m intrigued. Not enough to rip out serging from cheap fabric, mind you.

I make a few minor changes to the pattern.  I add 1/4″ to the front crotch extension which is immediately smoothed back into the inseam.  Above the hip balance line, I add 1/2″ length across both front and back. I choose a new fabric. It’s a polyester but a polyester I used to love for work.  It has a lovely wear which is soft to the touch, almost velvet like but clearly a twill. The biggest problem with this particular fabric is that it snags.  We used to love it because it was ‘wash and wear”. Truly anytime at the ironing board was wasted. This fabric would look no better after being carefully pressed. But it also looked no worse for having been stuffed in a suitcase and flown 1500 miles. This fabric should serve as a warning against stashing fabric. While highly desired 10 years ago, today I’m wishing I’d used it sooner as I know that I’m using what was once expensive in a garment that at most will be worn once.  Oh one other feature. It drapes nicely. That would be nicely for a skirt. As pants it tends to cling to every curve. Every. Single. Curve.–that I’d like to keep concealed. Well it is what it is and the first try on was surprising:


How could a pattern which had too much ease -without changing the ease- now look too tight by revealing panty lines?

I make several adjustments, 12 to be exact.  I want to see exactly what  caused the issues above.  I know that fabric is a factor, but I’m having problems with the idea that a better fabric is solely responsible for a worse fit.  Along the way I discover that I’ve (a) stitched the 2-piece waistband with the wrong seam allowance making it too short; and (b) tightened my belt too tightly.  The simple act of letting out the belt a notch and then stitching the center back at the correct width, solves many issues.

I also work with the idea that the side seam is too long.  IOW I should have added the 1/2″ length only along the crotch by using a wedge instead of the even 1/2″ that I added.

Eventually I realize, I’m making no more improvement regardless of the fitting tweaks I try. I’m back to dancing around the issue. Raise the front; the back looks bad.  Raise the side, more wrinkles develop further down; and nothing will cover the lumps the fabric insists upon clinging to.

I decide to change fabric and change the length alteration from an even amount to the wedge. I also decide, I need to wear a pair of these.  That’s the only way I know how the fabric and pattern are really going to work. So far I’ve been using a bull-dog clip and belt to hold the pants together and in place at the natural waist. There’s a limit to how accurate that can be.

My next fabric is beloved although no longer popular for RTW.  It is a cotton crinkle. Sometimes it contains rayon. I don’t see the shine of rayon fibers but I don’t indulge in a burn test either. This fabric is heavy but still wonderful to wear in the summer. It derives some stretch from the crinkles which can expand as needed.  Over the years I’ve bought both RTW and fabric in various weights.  I like this particular weight with a medium width leg, which the JSM is. It finished with a 18″ hem circumference.  I added belt loops. They’re kind of big, because with this weight they don’t fold down neat and small but remain substantial.  Most of the time I wouldn’t care but the basic JSM is drafted with a waistband that finishes 1″ wide. The 1″ wide waistband and 1/2″ belt loops are incongruous. They don’t really work together. Fortunately, both will usually be covered by my tops.

One further note on fitting this pattern.  I’m using 2 darts in the back 0 ZERO in front. This is typical for me but maybe not  for someone else.

This was stitched together with 3/8″ seam allowances and the edges serge finished. The waistband, closure and hems are fully finished. Sure it could be altered, but who want’s to rip through all of that, especially when the fit is good, almost great.  The wonderful thing about using this really good fabric is that I can tell immediately what is causing all the issues and I do mean all. The front crotch is too long. Yes I even think that causes the wrinkles at the knee (both front and back). The pant is dropping in the front.  I may fix this. I may not. I haven’t worn them for a full day yet and want to know if there are other factors for me to worry about. Personally, I like these even if there is room for improvement.



TJ902 As Good As It Gets

I continued trying to fit TJ902 Rain Coat Edition. Funny enough, adding ease around the waist only added more wrinkles. Taking in the inseam to reduce the fabric on the inner leg, caused the pant to fit uncomfortably through the crotch and didn’t necessarily help with those wrinkles. Adding ease for the back hip area resulted in V lines above the back crotch and the crotch began sinking between my cheeks. Since giving more ease didn’t help, how about removing some? In addition to making the pant uncomfortable across the torso, it truly looked like I was hiding a watermelon in front. While in the back, the light reflection from the prominent point of my rear end,  was blinding. It could be that this rain coat-esque fabric simply cannot  be used in a slacks pattern. As I recall, I had a blue pair of similar fabric. There were deep front pleats and a gathered waistline. Of course, this was 30 years ago and I was definitely much lighter. So the other option could be adding much more ease. Like 6-8 inches and changing to a true trouser pattern. I may yet create a true trouser with that much ease, just not today.

I did one other alteration not shown in the previous pages.  I let out all the changes and stitched the inseam at it’s original stitching line. At tissue fitting time, I added 5/8″ to the inseams. So that would mean that the original stitching line was 1.25″ from the edge.  I was concerned not only with the crotch fit, but how the legs seem to lean inwards. In each pic I’m standing with my feet 6.5″ apart -a normal stance for me. The inner leg always meets. Every pic, front and back, the inseams snuggle up to each other.  Thinking back, I had altered the front for a knock knee adjustment by moving the lower half of the leg towards center, then truing the seam lines.  I did not apply the same adjustment to the back. To the back, I added the 5/8″ as indicated at the beginning of this paragraph. I’ve most likely over compensated for knock knees. I would have thought that stitching at the 1.25″ line would have negated, erased, gotten rid of the last knock knee adjustment applied. No, that didn’t happen. What’s worse is that even though the pant overall felt comfortable, the front crotch seemed to be too low, the back crotch developed those pesky V lines and the diagonal lines indicating knock knees are about the same as always.

This pattern is not perfect. But it meets 5 of my wearable tests:

  1. *The waist treatment must hold the waistline in the desired place
  2. *The crotch fits smoothly from front waist to back waist
  3. *The an!l orifice is invisible.
  4. Conceal the lumpy bumpy aspect of my figure while still suggesting that I am womanly.  .
  5. *Comfortable when worn.
  6. *End at one of my preferred lengths.
  7. Be one of my preferred colors.

#7 Be one of my preferred colors. The rose-pink is one of my preferred colors but for tops, not for pants.  I will wear rose-pink as shorts, or in a light weight fabric as summer trousers. Also this is a muslin. I can choose a more desirable color when I make  “good”  pants.  Really #7 is a push.

#4  Conceal the lumpy bumpy aspect of my figure while still suggesting that I am womanly  . Is an almost. My tummy is still prominent (which I will cover with my tops) and there is still excess fabric under the bum and around the knees. Oddly, adding ease for knock knees and shifting the pattern inward 1″ did nothing to improve the wrinkles eminating from the knees. My old stand by of scoop the bottom of the crotch while lifting the back, had absolutely no effect. None. I know that other fabrics may be a little more cooperative; a little less revealing, but this is essentially as good as it gets on my body:

I’ve decided to accept it and move on.


The RC Muslin: Front Rise Alteration

I noted with shock, that the front wanted to lift above the belt. Since the back looks so good, I shortened the entire pant by offsetting the waistband 3/8″ down from the top.

Front Rise Adjustment

OK so my tummy seems a bit pronounced and the legs could be straighter.  But at the bank line, I wouldn’t mind wearing trousers like these:

In the bank line?



The Rain Coat(ing) Muslin: Back Rise

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 and front tucks to the outside. Most of this was sewn with a 4mm length stitch, even the zipper. Then I tried t on.

First Try On

There is no doubt in my mind that this rain coat muslin pant is far from perfect.  The waistband, as expected, fit perfectly.   This muslin I’m evaluating 6 belt-loops. Placed 2 about 1.5″ on either side of center front, 2 on the side seam about 3/4″ towards the center back; and 2 about 1.5″ on either side of the center back. This is an immediate improvement just in not having to stitch though all those layers at the center back. But more than that the back seems to be evenly supported. I think the front loops are too close to the center front. I’ve previously placed the front belt loops at the grain line of each front. That leaves the center front unsupported and prone to drooping. The current position is better than center of leg, but not exactly in the right place either. Next time I will keep the side and back belt loops in the same position, but I will move the front belt loops about 2″ from the center front. Essentially, the waistband is good and 6 belt-loops appear to be good support. I just need to tweak the position of the belt loops.

To my surprise, just by tracing and using  the crotch from the master pattern, the back crotch looked good. The front wasn’t too bad either.

My only crotch issue was the little bubble below the back waistband. My first alteration was shortening the back crotch rise. I tried pinching out a horizontal wedge. Which worked but was awkward and left much to be desired on either side. I removed the wedge and set the waistband lower in center back but even at the side seams.

Back Rise adjustment

This worked well, creating a smooth upper hip. Surprisingly, I saw a reduction in wrinkles, in the legs, under the bu!t, on the sides and front!!!