Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

Subscribe to Barbara Emodi's monthly Newsletter

Subscribe to Barbara Emodi's monthly Newsletter

* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )



Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pants and ease

I once knew a woman, still do in fact, who has been working on a pants muslin for 30 years.

This is a fairly long time to be frustrated by that same pouch at the front crotch and the drag lines along the inner thighs.

She has far more stamina than I have.

My own on and off again pant fitting issues in the past have taught me two things:

1. Different designers/companies have different pants drafts, particularly in the all important and hard to fit crotch area. May I suggest that rather than breaking your head on 54 tweaky adjustments you explore the possibility that somewhere out there is a pants block that is shaped like you?

For me it is Stylearc. 

I pretty much can make any Stylearc pants pattern as is, maybe these days with a waist addition, but adding for the waist in my view is sort of a standard practice thing not really in the category of pattern alteration if you can follow that logic, and I am not sure if even I can.

Some folks fit Burda patterns, some Vogue, and some another Indie.

It might be worth exploring to find out if your match is out there.

2. Ease is different depending on who you are and where you have what you have. I think this is a fact that is often overlooked, particularly minimum wearing ease in closer fit garments like pants.

This is what I mean.

Remember the cut-her-out-flat and make her round argument? Well this is true, but you need to add in one more thing that makes garment sewing so different from other design activities.

The subject moves and as she moves the shapes change.

Straight up this means that thin, little fat people don't need as much wearing ease as the rest of us.

How you assess what you personally need to have for wearing ease in pants or straight skirts involves this:

  • Take your hip measurement (or your waist, belly whatever) standing up.
  • Holding the tape measurement around the same place sit down and as you do it let the measuring tape expand as it wants to.
Here is my example:

My hips are 40"

When I sit down they are 43"

So a standard straight skirt or pants with 1 - 1.5 inches of wearing ease is going to feel way too tight, or even split when I sit.

So when I assess a pattern I want to make 43" my absolute minimum and am more happy with say 44" ease.

Does this add up to you?

Works for me and I would be interested in your thoughts.


theresa said...

Yup, my thoughts exactly, Barb. Due to your successful make of the "boyfriend" jeans I bought the pattern and printed it out. I then compared it to my favorite RTW Wranglers (eased fit) and tweaked it accordingly, measuring tape in hand. One and a half muslins later (I recut the front with more tummy room) I cut out and sewed up a pair of jeans very much like my Wranglers. The pattern needs some minor tweaks but the second pair is getting cut out today. It helps to make multiples when the fitting tweaks are fresh in your mind, even if you do make good notes. And basting and trying on is your friend.
Theresa in Tucson

Sewing by Shirley said...

I never considered checking the measurement sitting down. That is so simple and makes sense.

Coco said...

Cute post :-) first of all, my widest hip point is NOT 9" below my waist (where the big 4 patterns have it fall). Recognizing that, instead of feeling miserable about a couple fails, made a big difference! For the record, my widest point is 12" below the love handles fell some time ago! even though I am slim with a lean bod.

A fairly simple adjustment...

Pam from South Australia said...

I have been taking my waist & below measurements sitting down since it was recommended by the fabulous Carolyn some time ago. What a eureka moment that was. Makes so much sense.......when you know. And it was the gorgeous Ann who had a post about the different shapes of crotches (the J etc) that also made a big difference in understanding the fit of pants. May I just say.............I LOVE BLOGS!

Lynn said...

Yes! I see so many makes on blogs that are aiming for a skin tight , unwrinkled fit standing straight and all sucked in. Who WANTS to have pants that unforgiving!? I think the whole concept of wearing ease is lost on many home sewers.

Judith Newman said...

Well, I haven't been working on the same Muslim for that long although I've certainly been trying to get a pair of pants I'm happy with for nearly that long! I get a half decent result most of the time but a fit that conforms to my flat bum and skinny thighs has been elusive. My best fit so far has been a pair of jeans I bought at the thrift shop recently for $4.75 - they fit at the waist and high hip but the rest needed modification (except for the lower leg - I have full calves). I opened the inner leg seam from knee to knee through the crotch. Took quite a bit off from the back thigh and especially across the back crotch seam. Resewed the inseam, shortened the length, replaced the front grommet with a button (the grommets cut holes on the fronts of my sweaters), increased the depth of the right front pocket so my iPhone doesn't slip out, and they're great. Best makeover yet. Now to draft a pattern from the jeans so I can make some in twill.

annie said...

What a great post!

me said...

Great Post. I, also like Style Arc. I'd used them a few years back then went to something else. I've since revisited - made a pair of Linda's and Barb's - beautiful fit on both. Got the new Talia pattern today - have it traced and fabric on the cutting table hoping to sew up tomorrow. Like the fit of your jeans. I use the old OOP Calvin Klein and also Sagers. Have good luck with both so will probably not try the bootstrap pattern.
Happy Sewing

TinaLou said...

Thanks so much for this wise post. Re #1 - this advise holds true for all things, not just pants. I have been working on getting a bra pattern to fit, when with the same amount of time and effort I could (and am about to) - move on to the next pattern maker's offerings.

Leigh in Portland (we are not burning down) said...

I was just at Sew Expo (Puyallup, WA) and took a fitting class from Lorraine Henry. She said to do that exact thing: Measure your hip, sit down and see what the ease needs to be.

Also she said that the widest part of your HIP was mostly always over the widest part of your buttock. You could still have a wider part that is lower and around the high thigh area. That area requires a different adjustment than the hips. Which we didn't get to in class.

We talked mostly about shoulders and getting sleeves right which was really interesting.