Sunday, 12 February 2017

Trouser/pant making - plans, body analysis

Since I took up sewing 4 years ago now (how time flies!) I have wanted to make trousers as I find it virtually impossible to buy ready to wear trousers. Even I was a teen,  my mother got my trousers made. These weren't very successful! I certainly wasn’t very fashionable. I've tried to make trousers a few times. I've failed each of those times.

My attempts
  1. I tried on my own just making up a commercial pattern. No.
  2. I tried on my own with a fitting pattern.  No.
  3. I tried in a monthly class to make a pair from a commercial pattern. This pattern was a fitting type pattern but you can't do that on your own,  particularly at the start of your sewing career, and the class was too busy and too infrequent. No.
  4. I tried to make from a Sure Fit Designs kit. That was pretty good but then as now I was losing weight, so having to change things every time I tried them on and other things took over. Those I could have worn,  though. The best so far. They only got as far as muslin/toile stage. I had a brief dalliance with the kit more recently but wasn't paying enough attention and it went wrong. I find that if I've done something before I can be overconfident and under vigilant when I next make it. Another, proper,  attempt is on the cards
  5. I went to a jeans making techniques class. This was good but I ended up making jeans for David. We tried to fit me in a pattern but there is only so much time in these classes and I moved onto David's jeans. I feel reasonably confident about the techniques,  though I haven't practised them sufficiently.
  6. In my pattern-making class we covered trousers but the code we used was atrocious for me. I got somewhere using my own codes but not far enough. Again no time. Abandoned.

I've analysed my body and looked at how trousers (pants) look on me. I have concluded:

  • Okay, I'm tall and have a long inside leg but this really isn't much of a problem. What is more difficult is that my crotch depth is longer than average at my size. Even trousers sold in multiple leg lengths have the same crotch depth. Long Tall Sally does have a longer crotch depth, but there are other issues with these.
  • I'm at least 2 stones overweight.
  • I have high hips (and asymmetrical to boot) which means that trousers and skirts can be too tight there
  • Smaller waist,  higher bigger hips mean that my actual waist distance is quite short - I can't wear a wide belt,  much preferring a narrow one and a narrow waistband.
  • Despite being overweight at present, with much of the weight around my waist and abdomen, my waist is still significantly smaller than my hips. In RTW, my waistbands are too big, with gaping at the back and tightness at the high hip.
  • I have a marked lumbar curve (swayback?) which emphasises the above. This curve and a large booty mean that sometimes garments ride up. This can lead to the wrinkling described in sway back.  However,  the place to shorten for me is definitely the back bodice and not the back of the skirt or whatever. So maybe this is a ‘faux sway back’
  • My posture/body shape also emphasises this - my hips tilt forwards leading to a natural waist that is forward sloping. This means that my front in trousers is shorter than average and my back longer. (Bodices are opposite - very long front, short back)
  • Partly due to height and partly due to weight, my crotch length is significantly longer than average with much more of the length lying in the back rather than the front.
  • My thighs are around about the same width as my hips when you look at me - maybe larger on one side. My front thighs, however,  are prominent. This leads to creasing and wrinkling in the groin area. I have been reading about this and see what changes might be required.
  • I may have slightly knocked knees.  Crease lines don't run vertical. However, I see that prominent hips can cause this too.
  • I no longer feel my derriere is a major issue. It's major but not an issue!
  • Currently my abdomen is an issue but weight loss should help that.

Don't worry!  I'm not over concerned about what I've written.  If this helps me get a better fitting pair of trousers,  skirt,  whatever,  I have no problems with it.

So what's the plan?

Rory is going to develop a trouser block for me. I had to cancel the first session as I was visiting my mother but I have a session booked next week.

She is taking a multidimensional approach.
She's intending to drape but is going to start with the fabric from the failed class at 3 under attempts. This is too big in every direction but therefore gives plenty of fabric.
She's going to re look at my last draft from the pattern cutting course at 6 as she felt at the time it wasn't too far away.

I'll update at the end of the process

I also missed the first of two pattern hacking classes last week while I was helping my mother. I'm intending to go to the second.

I had several possible items for this class. I excluded the incomplete dress from a previous class as this is more to do with fitting than hacking. One was a top,  one was jeans,  another was trousers that fit reasonably well at present and the last was a pair of trousers that I cut up with a view to hacking but didn't get around to it. These trousers were damaged. They fitted well-ish at the time but I don't know about now! I had intended then to lengthen the back/ crotch and shorten the front and had marked them appropriately.

So yesterday, I used the trousers that I'd already taken apart to draw up a basic pattern with seam allowances added. I drew this from the trousers,  ignoring previous info about potential alterations. I marked in pocket and zipped welt position,  zip position etc. I found Rory's advice invaluable particularly as regards the fly area. I gather the way the pocket is done is quite tricky so I will be hanging in to the pieces.

I plan to toile the basic pattern for fit . The next session of the class is on Saturday.

Again, I will update when I have something to show for this. I have posted separately about this, even though I don't actually have anything to show as yet!

Commercial gaucho pattern

I also plan to make up a commercial gaucho pattern (Vogue) that I've liked for a long time. Culottes were another possibility.

Again,  I'll post when I have something to show for this.

Hopefully,  though, I'll end up with a block that I can use to make numerous pairs of trousers, a pair of trousers from the hacked ones and gauchos. I'm not worried about techniques. It's entirely fit that had been holding me back.


  1. Could it be that due to protruding front thighs you need a larger size for the front legs than for the back to get the side seams right in a commercial pattern? I hope you'll soon have your pants block. I'm still struggling to find mine and I'm so looking forward to concentrate on sewing instead of solving fitting issues!

    1. Thanks. Oh to concentrate on sewing rather than fitting!! I can't wait.
      I will ask advice re commercial patterns. Hopefully once I have a block that's the way to go.

  2. I hear you Anne! RTW trousers never worked on me. I have flat derriere, higher back hip on one side, protruding abdomen, short waist, right angled crotch angles, thin back thigh, etc. It literally took me 10 years to sew pants that actually fit me (through all weight gains/loss and after 2 kids). I have uneven hips as well. You may want to try making pants with a bit of lycra stretch (no more than 5% stretch). I find that because of my fluctuating weight and for comfort reasons, the stretch really help mask the fact that some of my pants don't fit perfectly.

    1. Thank you. I have fabric with a bit of stretch I can use. I hope I can get somewhere this year! I'm glad you got there.

  3. Did you ever try Lekala?? They really are a good starting point for most patterns, that's if you don't mind using PDFs. x

    1. I've thought about it but have never tried, no. I think it's not too difficult now - it seemed quite hard at first. So, yes, thanks for the suggestion , I'll have a go. I need to use the extended measurements. I'll have to research. I can cope with PDFs, though I do prefer ready printed. All that taping even before I have to start altering!


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Please leave a comment. I welcome each and every one. I value criticism (constructive of course! ), love hints and tips and would appreciate suggestions for future direction.

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...