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.