Silhouette Patterns #3218: Tissue Issues

Despite the fact I’ve only come near to fitting one of Silhouette Patterns pant patterns, I want to give 3218 a fair chance. I want it to work. I drool just thinking how wonderful it would be to have the pant pattern I’ve been jonesing for;  fitted and adding multiples to my closet. I want this pattern to work. So I’ve spent 2 days just futzing with the pattern. I was doing my best to give it and me a chance for success.

First challenge was choosing a pattern size. It’s the first challenge for everyone when sewing with Silhouette Patterns and I’ll bet that’s the #1 reason people fail at this challenge (I failed twice).  SP does not use standard sizing which is  one of the things I love about them.  But it was hard to adapt my thinking.   SP  uses finished measurements .  To effectively choose a size you have to know not the number the tape measure reveals when it is wrapped around your hinny, but the number it reveals when measure the pant you love to wear. To that end, SP has an entire Web Page  (look under Tips) with helpful links including a worksheet for you to fill out with “your numbers”.

My hip number is 45.5.  That’s not my hip circumference that’s how much fabric I want around my butt for skirts, slacks and trousers (prefer a little less with jeans).    So I look across the “sizes” on the back of the Camuto pattern envelope for 45.5″.  My eyes settle upon Size 18 with a 46″ finished hip. But I have this problem.  I often take ease from the front and add it to the back.  I’d really like to start with just a little more fabric so I can make that change (I did with Sally’s pant).  I kept looking until my eyes stopped  again at Size 22W with a 47″ hip. OK, now I have a second problem.  My last few weeks spent looking closely at crotch lengths on patterns hasn’t been done just out of idle curiosity.  I know that I must have enough length and enough depth for there for my pants to be comfortable. Heck forget comfortable–for my pants to even be wearable. I’ve been looking closely at the crotch measurements hoping  the golden key for choosing a pant pattern would be choosing crotch length and hip circumference.

Back to 3218 and it’s time to delve a little deeper.  18 and 22W are both close, which will be the better starting point?    I measure crotch lengths. Both 18 and 22W measure 11.25″ on the  front crotch — but 14/16″ respectively for their back crotches. Neither size has the crotch length for which  I am looking; 22W is closer. Next problem concerns the refining of my Aug Bowl this Oct (being called the Oct Bowl.)  When I did my Aug Bowl  I was also working through Suzzy Furrer’s Pants Drafting Class. At the time 13/16″ kept coming up (crotch was determined in a couple of steps and then I had My Bowl)  But when I refined my bowl in Oct Bowl the numbers changed. According to that bowl, I need  an 11″ front crotch and 15″ back crotch. I measure both 18 and 22W finding that the 22 crotch  is closer  to my own therefore will require smaller adjustments.

I traced the size 22W and spent the first day working on it. I dash lines indicating the seam allowances. Measure the crotch length without SAs ((11/15.5) and then decide to verify waist, tummy and hip measurements of the pattern. I paused to consider exactly where the waist was supposed to be and where the waistband should sit. None of the writing defined the pant as sitting at, above or below the waist. The schematic didn’t provide more information.  Sure it was a straight waistband pattern piece but there is a well know current personality who starts fitting jeans by ripping a straight piece of fabric. (It is subsequently shaped though the use of darts and finally a curved, personally-contoured waistband created.)  Thing is, where the waist is and where the waistband sit are related but not necessarily the same and it’s important to know. If the waistband sits below the waist, it’s width will be included in the crotch measurement. Which brings in the question, are the crotch lengths on the pattern (which I measured) supposed to include another 1.25″ (width of waistband)?  i.e. are the total crotch lengths of the 22W 11.25/16″ or are they 12.50/17.25″? Which is right? Fortunately,  Peggy uses a lot of standard drafting techniques. So while she doesn’t indicate some things on the pattern, they are easy to locate.  I penciled in the waist line directly below the waist seam allowance, then the high hip (tummy) 4″ below that; with the  low hip 4.5″ lower (or 8.5″ below waist). (The crotch level will always start  at the point where the inseam and crotch seam allowances meet, extending horizontally to the side seam.)  Since each of the lines fell on the pattern at standard distances, it is safe for me to assume  the top of the pant circles the natural waist and the straight waistband extends 1.25″ above. IOW the waistband should not be included in the crotch measures.  I recorded all the  measurements and then also the front and back  inseam.

I remained puzzled about which bowl (Aug or Oct) was accurate. Still without a definite answer, I tackle something else. I start looking at how much ease is this going to give me? Actually, I was more interested in knowing if I would have enough fabric to carve into the crotch the way I was doing to 5682.  Overlapping the seam allowances, I pinned the crotch points together and then put Oct Bowl on top

The pattern lines didn’t show up well in the pic, so I used my editing app to add crude lines along the perimeter of the pattern. The front crotch looks too short! While I think if I could stretch the back out a little straighter i.e. reduce the curve, the back might be just fine. That’s of course, if the Oct Bowl is the correct one to use. August Bowl could be right. I mean I had one pattern almost fit (V1411) using the 13/16 measures of the Aug Bowl. V1411 felt comfortable too. But then 5682B with the same crotch objective was a failure.  So, intending to go ahead and make one muslin with the 22W….

(BTW 22W is the same size I used for Sally’s Pant, the only SP pant pattern I have come close to fitting),

….I decided upon a last  check of total circumferences. I was trying to decide if I wanted to add 1″ or 2″ to the side seams for fit insurance.  Without adding another quarter-inch; not even a millimeter more of fabric, the 22W would give me 5″ excess ease at the waist; 4.5″ excess at the tummy and 4″ around the tush. I would be fitting a pillowcase. Even Peggy says it is better to start over; trace a size or two smaller and work with something closer to your body measurements.  I mean, it can be done. Pillowcases can be fit; fit nicely. But, it is a lot of freaking work.


Day 2. Yeah, I took a break. 4 hours of work and I felt like banging my head against the wall. I took a break. Overnight. The next day I traced the size 18 and started the whole process again

  • Dotted in Seam Allowances
  • Marked the Levels
    • Waist,
    • High Hip
    • Low Hip
    • Crotch
  • Gathered Net Measurements
    • i.e. without seam or hem allowances
    • including  inseam and hem circumferences
  • Extrapolated to full measurements
  • Calculated Ease

Oh this was a different story entirely

Now it looks like I have

  • Excess 2″ at waist
  • Short 1/2″ at tummy
  • Excess 5″ at hip
  • Using the Oct Bowl
    • Front Crotch is perfect
      • no need to increase or decrease
    • Back Crotch is short
      • needs 1.5″ more length
  • Inseam is 29″
    • Spot on!!
  • Hem Circumference 13.25″
    • only 1.25″ more than advertised
    • Still wish it had come in at 12″ as advertised but I am likely to increase it to 14 or 15″ anyway so it’s OK.

I take a look at a crotch/bowl comparison a little differently this time. Someone told me instead of overlapping and pinning the points, overlap the first 4-6″ of the inseam along the seam allowances.

Well this is amazing.  The crotch shape (without my bowl on top) looks reasonably like my own instead of the narrower “U” I was previously seeing everywhere.  I accept that the CB must lean away at the top like that because I know from my 5682B experiences following the curve on towards the body actually adds too much fabric at the waist.

Shown in this pic are the few tissue alterations made to size 18.   I have

  1. added 1″ more  ease along the side seams;
  2. a 1.5″ wedge to the back crotch
  3. a cut on front fly
    1. the pattern comes with jean-type fly pieces for your traditionalists.
    2. I learned how to make a faux jean-fly long ago and never looked back.

Finally, finally I am ready to consider fabric.




Just for fun, for idle curiosity’s sake, I measured the hem circumferences.  The pattern advertised a 12″ hem circumference. That number sets my heart beating. Ok, I don’t really want the leg opening that small but just the idea that a pant for my size body would have a 12″ circumference was exciting. Then I measured the 22W. It has a 16.5″ finished hem circumference. That’s without seam allowances and at the hem fold line. A diameter of 16.5″. Talk about disappointment.  I felt lied to or at least misled. Does the hem really have to be graded up 4.5″ so the hip can  fit around my own?  Why is that so common amongst home sewing patterns? What women were they measuring? Did they really have 100-year old tree-trunks for ankles? Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some healthy ankles, but most of the large women (and I know quite a few) have trim ankles.