Sunday, 12 February 2017

Hacking Trousers/Pants

I made my first attempt at hacking trousers for me - one of my 3 new tries to get a pair of trousers to fit me.

I successfully hacked a pair of bagged lined shorts with side zip in inset pocket for Joanne, which have been very successful.

I successfully hacked a dress for Helen with unusual pockets and construction.

I hoped that despite me missing the first of two classes where I would do this, I could catch up and successfully make trousers from the pair I hacked.

For my first hacking attempt, I went the simple route and took a pair of trousers that I had already dismantled, because they had a problem with wear/tear, with a view to recreating them - I had never got around to it. I had originally marked the trousers with a lowered front waistline and added a piece of cloth to the back to show how much I wanted that raised. I remember them otherwise as fitting well and I was sad when they died. However, I had no idea how well, or badly, they fitted now.

Rory suggested this pair as my attempt (rather than the others I took with me) and I drew out the pattern in her sewing bee. She said not to do the changes, simply to transfer the pieces to paper.

Pricking out pattern

This went very well.  The seams of the main front of the trousers/pants were fairly easy to prick through to the paper; I was using a polystyrene board underneath this so pins and wheel had some softness and wouldn’t damage the table.

My front had a zippered pocket - I marked the position. I also marked the position of the pocket, the fly and the main zipper. Rory pointed out that the fly is constructed here with folded over fabric to reduce bulk. She said I could very easily construct the zipper guard so there was no point in tracing.

The main issue with the front, other than the features, was that the knees were very baggy. I marked the knee area. I wonder whether I should line the knees in the final version?

The back was pretty easy - except there was some stretching close to the crotch point down the leg. I wondered if the fabric had stretched due to wear. Rory said that pants can often be eased in this area to improve fit. I traced as I could and marked the area that might need eased.

I added a large seam allowance of 1.5 cms - Rory usually likes to work with a 1 cm seam allowance and thought this amount was more than enough. I hope I haven’t put on a lot of weight since I last wore these!!

I then checked the front and the back against each other.  Rory also checked the actual trouser against my tracing. It became clear that there was an extremely short and shallow front extension to the crotch and Rory advised that I extend that, as it can be altered later.

At home, I made up a toile of these trousers. Just the front and the back but marked the pockets, zipper etc. I tried them on and found they weren't too bad, though the back was too low, as I remembered, and the front too high.

Pattern Hacking Class

In the pattern hacking class, Dan kind of went to town! She and Rory felt that the legs were twisted and instead of the centre seam running down the centre of the leg, there was much more fabric at one side than the other. I'm not sure if this is due to knock knees - I do have a bit but not that much! Full calves? It may be to do with my height and the extra I need in the crotch.

There was hardly any ease in the high hip area - something I often find in RTW. However, by releasing the back centre crotch seam - additional fabric needs added in here - I actually had excess fabric at the sides and had to pin in a bulge of fabric back and front at the thigh area, which I don't need.

Dan unpicked the leg seams and tried to get the seams to lie straight. there wasn't enough fabric, however, and she had to measure the gap but couldn't be sure how much had to go onto the front and how much the back.

I'm afraid I don't even know everything that was done, or why. I got Dan to take a couple of photos of the process, but it's difficult to take them yourself in the middle of the event.

Rory draped the trousers and she and Dan wedged out some extra fabric in the hip back area. Dan and I looked at it and worked out how best to deal with this extra fabric. The end result was that the dart at the top was much bigger and will have to be divided into two. From the dart to the side became very angled outwards and this added extra fabric to the crotch area.

I spent the rest of the class trying to transfer the changes to the pattern ready to make up a toile. Rory said that as we were so far on with this one (I hope and pray we are, but it doesn't seem that way to me!) that she would get me to use that for the trouser block creation. I'm meeting her on Tuesday for this.

Pattern modifications and new toile

So at home, I finished the pattern changes. As discussed, I added extra length to the front and back crotch hooks. I watched a Crafsty class (Barbra Deckert) re plus sized pant fitting and found that interesting though a little basic. However, between that and the fabulous Singer book, and the Palmer Pletsch book, I realised that I really needed to increase the crotch depth. I did this. I had to add 1". I added extra to the back tapering to the side and felt that I now had enough to have the back go up to the waist. The front is still too long, in my opinion but I know that in the past Rory has said I should wear further up at the front so we'll see.

So today I made a toile of the new pattern. Awful!! Much worse than the original toile. I realised when I was making the pattern that something was seriously wrong with the legs but didn't know what. However, I was unable to put a centre crease in one half of the trousers and although the pattern was trued, there was a significant difference in length between the two sides. Trying the trousers on , the seams are very significantly twisted. This is very noticeable - much more so than in the original pants. I'm puzzled as I followed the instructions I was given. I guess I got it wrong - it's obviously not so easy

No photos of the new toile - too awful!

I'll take them to Rory on Tuesday and see what she has to say.

I gave up and started making a top.


  1. I am so sorry that your efforts, so far, are disheartening, but I look forward to the magic that will happen when you get back together with Rory. I have been Bing-watching Peggy Sagers YouTube videos on fit...she is Silhouette Patterns, and has hosted several TV shows on sewing and fit. Small changes can make a big difference when you know what you are doing. (I certainly do nit but will be starting to respond)

    1. Thank you. I will hope for magic! I think that's what puzzled me, among other things, that I had read small changes could make a big difference and some of these changes were far from small! The pants I wear are not perfect but I can wear them. This new version I must certainly couldn't.

  2. Ooh-- pants are my nemesis so I feel your frustration.

  3. Pants can be such a nightmare! Did you make a picture of you wearing the original pants? It would be interesting to see how that compares to the first toile, which should be a close copy. I copied my favourite jeans but wasn't happy with my toile. Then I discovered my favourite jeans weren't fitting as well as I thought and I had copied all flaws!

    1. Thanks, Marianne. No, I didn't but had marked required waist position alterations on it before dismantling. The first toile was virtually identical to the pieces. Yes, I'm sure I copied all flaws! I also hacked the trousers that I am wearing at this moment thinking they were a reasonable fit; the toile was not good, less give as calico, but then I realised that actually these trousers don't fit that well! That's why I started on this journey, just didn't realise it souls be such a marathon! Roll on Tuesday!

  4. I feel your pain. Hang in there! Can you show us a comparison of the traced pattern vs the altered pattern? How are you reestablishimg the grainline after the alterations? I wonder if grainline placement also affect the fit of the altered pattern.

    1. Thanks you. I can't at the moment, I'm afraid. The grainline was re-established by folding the legs in half up to the crotch area. I think the placement does affect the fit. I think I have lost length on one piece to a marked degree, somehow, as it appears to be the smae length as the other side. Confused!! The grainline wasn't much changed on front but was dramatically changed on the back. I think that's one of the (many) issues - too big a change. I keep reading that little incremental changes are what's necessary and the change that was pinned out was huge (and I didn't think the originals fitted that badly, either!). My session didn't happen today, unfortunately, so I'll have to wait.


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