I’ve been doing a humongous amount of reading up on pants, their construction techniques and fit.
A particular comment on the Pattern Review Jeans Competition thread really struck me – asking about whether or not there is an official definition of ‘good fit’, as this is one of the criteria the contest will be judged on. Also, that she was worried people would vote based on the type of jeans that the younger generation prefer, rather than what was appropriate for the person wearing them.
When it comes to dresses and tops, I think we’d all be able to agree on what a good fit consists of, regardless of the style. But when it comes to pants (and especially jeans), I think it’s very easy to get ‘style’ and ‘fit’ mixed up.
Pants fitting is such a personal issue in the first place – we’re dealing with a pretty busy part of the body – the legs, hips, abdomen, and in some cases, the waist as well. Some of these body parts can be sensitive topics for some. I’m fairly blasé about this area on me – but only because other areas take higher priority for worrying about :)
Not to mention that pants need to allow us to actually move about comfortably and normally. Compared to a dress or a top, there’s a lot of functionality going on there!
True to my generation, I prefer my jeans to be snug, have some stretch, be straight-legged and they absolutely must be ‘drop-waisted’. This is what I’ve grown up with, so you could say I’ve been conditioned into thinking this is the style for me. I remember when I first started wearing jeans at the hips in my early teens – my mum would say I’d end up with kidney problems later in life because my lower back was exposed to the cold when sitting down! And true to her generation, my mum feels most comfortable in jeans that sit at the waist.
So I’ve been hunting the www (as I’ve yet to obtain any definitive books on the subject), and the best ‘definition’ of a good fit for pants I found comes from the New Mexico State University, which you can read here. In summary? Pants should:
“… fall smoothly over the hips and thighs…”
I take this to mean no ripples, wrinkles, ‘smiley-faces’, bagginess or bunched excess fabric hanging about. And:
“…the lengthwise grain is perpendicular to the floor…”
This statement about grainline was what helped me out when modifying the paper pattern to take into account the darts. In the past I’ve been confused about what to do when darts change the straight line indicating grainline. Problem solved – the grainline stays straight (and perpendicular to the floor) down the leg.
So why is it that more of us aren’t making our own pants? I saw a chart on Patty the Snug Bug‘s blog at the beginning of the year that caught my eye:
Do we make less pants because it’s easier to get excited about dresses and skirts? I’ll admit, since starting to sew, I’ve been wearing HEAPS more dresses and skirts. In fact, Until about 2 or 3 years before sewing, I’d never even owned a dress. Sewing has definitely brought me back to a more ‘feminine’ form of dressing.
The recently released ‘Best Patterns of 2011’ on Pattern Review are to me an eye opener as to what the majority of pattern reviewers like to sew best – mostly simple, flowing dresses and tops:
For DIY pants, I think there are two (very) major stumbling blocks. Firstly, you really do need another person to help you fit them – whilst you’re wearing your test version. Secondly, the adjustment minefield is large and uncharted. Trying to imagine how four bits of pattern tissue in 2D convert into something as 3D and as complex as pants is mind-boggling!
The Coletterie blog did a fabulous series of posts on pants fitting for their Clover sewalong, as well as a great resource on some pants-fitting-basics. As handy as these resources are, in a way the sheer volume of options and modifications just compounds the thought pattern that pants are difficult!
Have you sewn a pair of pants? If so, how would you describe your experience compared to other garments you’ve sewn?