The Trouser. The Sequel.

Thanks for your input on my last trouser post – it was really fascinating hearing everyone’s thoughts and opinions. I don’t think I’ve had a pattern disaster quite this bad before! In the aftermath I’m left wondering if indeed my perception of fit has been overly influenced by a lifetime of badly fitting RTW clothing.

533b4695c81e5Jacques

Case in point – many of you mentioned that you could tell looking at this picture that the fit would be bad – mostly due to the way in which the side slant pockets stuck out and the pleat disappears. I’ll admit… that’s actually one of the things I like about this pattern, but I can’t explain why. I suspect it has something to do with spending the entirety of my teenage years wanting slighting bigger hips, and the optical illusion provided by those pants kinda delivers on that.

So, I turned to a variety of different resources to beef up my knowledge on pants fitting.

CRAFTSY
I logged in after what must have been two years to discover that at some point in the past I had bought the class ‘Pants Fitting Techniques’, by Sandra Betzina.

I watched the whole thing (for the first time) and it does have some excellent tips, if you don’t mind Sandra’s rather chaotic approach of explaining things, and that you already know what your areas for improvement are. There are some good descriptions of how to make changes based on your desired improvement, however what I really wanted was a before shot showing the issue, and then the correction. Visual learner here. Notwithstanding, for the small price point you pay, there’s some really useful information in this course that shows you how to adjust without delving into depth the reasons why you need to adjust (at least, beyond saying ‘because of protruding thighs).

KENNETH KING’S SMART FITTING DVD
Another recommendation left in the comments of my last post was this. I haven’t got it, but it’s something I’d maybe consider adding to my wishlist.

KENNETH KING’S TROUSER DRAFT DVD
This, I now have – and what a gem it is. I borrowed it from someone and ended up buying my own copy. He not only takes you through a very logical, easy to comprehend set of reasons why a particular adjustment is required, but shows the symptoms of the issue and the fix. I totally got his reasoning and I honestly think it’s going to change the way I look at fitting. Something about the way he describes ‘net loss and net gain’ just made my brain click all the missing puzzle pieces together – best US$25 I’ve ever spent. It also includes a detailed method and formula to draft your own pants block from scratch using the French Method. I did attempt to do this, but vowed to come back and revisit my numbers/calcs after a break because my pants draft looked really, really wrong. I must have an incorrect calculation in there somewhere, which just compounded the problem.

SO WHAT HAVE I BEEN UP TO SINCE?
I tried on Jacques again. And holy crap I must have been having a fat day of epic proportions previously, because they fit. I’ve got no explanation for that, especially as I tried them on multiple times previously.

I really, really want a pair of slim fitting trousers. Something a bit Brigitte Bardot-ish.

Brigitte Bardot

So with my new found knowledge of net loss and net gain all thanks to Kenneth, I spent several hours in front of the mirror, straining my neck and bending down to pin and back up again to check. His e-book does contain a lot of fitting information and solves, but nothing on the lower half of the legs.

Unaltered side view

Unadjusted side view

Adjusted side view

Adjusted side view

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I did initially attempt a ‘hyper extended calf adjustment’, as per what Cation Designs describes in her (really excellent) pants pattern alteration post, but preferred what I did above.

My legs aren’t straight – they curve outwards quite substantially at the knee. What I really wanted to see was how pinning out these pants to match my leg shape would translate into 2D. I was rather disturbed after unpicking everything, it looked… ugly. Not the lovely straight lines we’re accustomed to seeing from a sewing pattern! The yellow lines are the original pattern lines, the orange is where I’ve pinned out excess and the black is the final line where I’ve taken out the excess in a vertical dart.

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I then sewed my muslin back together again, this time along the new seam lines I’d marked, to see how it fit. I knew I’d still need to mark new side seam lines as they’re quite crooked in the photos above, but the moment of truth would be in how they looked now I’d been playing around with them a lot…

I’ve also sewn on the waist band here – it’s far too tight, I know. I may still grade up the waistband 2 additional sizes and see how the proportions sit then, but I think it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a finished version of these pants.

But I am really quite happy with the progress I’ve made on a slim leg!

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Waistband is too tight. Something… ?? …. is going on at the crotch. But the both legs looks good!

The side that has not been tampered with. I've noticed when I 'lock' my knees back, I get the drag lines going on.

The side that has not been tampered with. I’ve noticed when I ‘lock’ my knees back, I get the drag lines going on. These photos have made me realise that I actually quite like the leg of this pattern now. How fickle!

The tampered side.

The tampered side.

I have the waistband pinned where it's folded over because I quite like the proportions of that depth of waist band on me. It's still too tight between the waistband and pants though. Oh, and looks like I needed that hyperextended calf alteration after all.

I have the waistband pinned where it’s folded over because I quite like the proportions of that depth of waist band on me. It’s still too tight between the waistband and pants though. Oh, and looks like I needed a hyperextended calf alteration afterall.

What I’ve taken an incredibly long time and huge amount of futzing to figure out – is that I need a ‘knock-knee alteration’. I guess the benefit of taking the long way to find that out is I know exactly how knock-kneed I am. Cindy from Cation Designs has an amazingly informative post on this alteration and a stack of others (including the hyperextended calf alteration) – definitely recommended reading.

What I have veered away from is making a comfortable trouser suitable for the office environment. I can see myself wearing these (very close fitting) pants made up in a floral cotton pique on a warm spring day, but they really are too tight for the office. Time to get back on brief!

A PANTS FITTING CLASS
Then, Oanh invited me to join her in a pants fitting class she was taking. It wasn’t quite what we thought it was (which was a trouser drafting course), but after a few short hours, I had a rather well fitting, high waisted wide leg trouser outline.

The Front

The Front. One leg has been tapered a little. Ok, maybe a lot. Also, the rise is higher than my natural waist.

The Back

The Back. Nothing like a horrid muslin photograph to accentuate my lack of hip curve. le sigh.

The Side

The Side

They’re comfortable. Really comfortable! The kind of comfortable that I could spend anywhere between 8 and 12 hours straight sitting in – which means they pass the office-suitable test. They look good in the mirror. The fit even looks perfect on camera!!!

So why do I feel so ridiculously dowdy in them?

That’s something I think I’m just going to have to get over – because those muslin photo aren’t lying.

So I’m going to sew up a wearable muslin from a fabric I don’t mind sacrificing to this cause (which will be a wool crepe), which means I can effectively test drive how the style would work for me. I would like your opinions on a waistband treatment though:

1. A really wide waistband so I can work in the slanted pockets still (this is not a pair of pants I’d feel comfortable tucking my shirt into, so it would be covered. That way I’d still get the ‘look’ of hip height pants, but with the comfort of waist height.)

2. A facing and no front pockets?

3. A picked zip at the side seam, or a centre back invisible zip?

I await your advice!

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The Trouser.

Say that with the accent and delivery style of May – one of the judges from the Great British Sewing Bee – ok?

So at the beginning of July my working situation changed a little bit (this is a good thing!). Even though it’s immaterial to this little sewing space, that change was enough to get me (re)thinking about the clothes I drag out of my closet on weekdays. Ever heard the expression ‘dress for the position you want, not the position you’re in’? Yep. So I’m turning my sewing sights on trying to perk up my work wardrobe a little.

I’m almost recovered from my last pants sewing effort to attempt them again – as my legs and arms must be covered in the work place regardless (it’s a construction/operations site safety thing). I’ve always preferred skirts in the office, but it’s a general rule that no matter how fabulous your skirt, it will always look terrible with steel cap boots.

On the 9th of June, I ordered these – the Jacques Pantalons, from Republique du Chiffon:

I received them on the 1st of July – which seemed synchronous, that being the first day I started my new role. I even had a little impromptu postage race with Puu’s Door of Time who also bought this pattern… although even with a 1 day handicap start, I lost by 4 days. Not bad really, when you live in a city Jerry Seinfeld once described as the ‘anus of the world’. Personally I think that honour should belong to Hobart, but hey.

This pattern has been made up by three lovely and leggy French ladies – Jolies Bobines, Les Trucs de Tatihou, and my personal favourite pair by Cosy Little World. So how would they look on a definitely-not-leggy, non-French lady that tends a little closer to stocky than lanky?

This is them in their muslined glory, unaltered in any way. It was my second muslin. (You’ll have to pardon the blurry-ness):

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Capri pants and I were never meant to be friends in the length department. Ignoring of course that I’ve pinned them up unevenly… these pants are too small. The pleat detail is completely lost, I can’t get the two front seams to meet, and the side pockets are straining open due to the lack of ease.

The ease issue starts pretty much at the crotch, and gets exponentially worse the closer to the waistband seam you get.

You can see I’ve drawn the grainline of each of the four leg pieces – I can’t confirm if this is actually the case, but I would think that a properly fitted pair of pants would see the grainline perpendicular to the floor all the way along. I’ve ordered a few books on pants fitting as I really feel the need to beef my knowledge up in this area.

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I like this photo because it makes it seem like I actually have a bum.

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Aaaand I finally got the focus right, fourth time lucky.

Firstly – lets talk size. My Waist and Hips exactly matched the measurements for the size 42 – so that’s what I cut. You can see in the pictures above I can’t actually get the front seams to meet to do them up.

I double checked the instructions to see if I did the right thing – it says quite clearly (albiet in French) to measure yourself nekkid and then compare it to the table. Which is what I did. So I double checked my measurements, nekkid. Nope, still the same. Lastly, I double checked to see if the pattern pieces I traced off were the correct size. They were.

Pretty simply, that’s a big f*** up, Republic du Chiffon.

 

 

Once I had the chance to blow off that little bit of steam, I returned to thinking logically and reasonably. There is one explanation for why this didn’t work out for me – the rate of change between my hip and waist measurement is vastly different to that used by RdC’s design fit. A diagram shows it best:

Me (left) vs RdC (right)

Me (left) vs RdC (right)

I know I’m long in the body – both above and below the waist. I also know that one of the main reason’s I sew is to have clothes that actually fit me. Once again I’m reminded of the fact that patterns are just a starting point along the way – I can’t expect them to fit me out of the packet any more than I would expect a RTW piece of clothing to fit me off the rack. Knowing all of this doesn’t stop me from throwing a tanty when it doesn’t go right, but.

So let’s talk about my second Jacques-related tanty. Let me make it clear to those not in the know, that this pattern DOES NOT have seam allowances. I found this out about 5 seconds after I finished cutting my first (and now discarded) muslin out.

” Les marges de couture ne sont pas incluses sur le patron”.

I didn’t even need to type that into Google translate before that sinking feeling set in… Entirely my fault though.

Other disappointments? The back dart is very definitely not in the centre of the welt pocket location. I’m usually one to like a bit of imperfecion though, so I’ll leave it be.

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I tried out a new thing with welt pockets though – the faux piping at the bottom – and I’m liking it a lot!

So now… do I bother trying to make them fit, or dump them and try something else?