In Sewing

pants making – take two

All I want is a cute pair of  vintage style pants like Audrey Hepburn. You’d think that wouldn’t be too much to ask but I’m back with another pair of pants that will make your computer screen want to spontaneously combust from the horror. Actually if I’ve learned anything so far from this experience, after asking Google numerous times “Why do pants hate me?!”, it’s: no matter what pants pattern you start with, your first draft is probably going to be pretty awful. It seems like every good pants fitting reference out there suggests you get your pants pattern down to a basic pattern block, and then re-work them from the ground up into something that won’t make new born babies burst into tears when you wear them in public.


Let me back up a second here and say this is not the notorious sausage pants pattern from my last post. Before I rework those I wanted to try a second pattern to see if that particular pattern was just weird, or if *I* am in fact weird. After cross referencing some fitting issues between these two patterns, and also a few RTW pants I have, I’m realizing I’m not shaped like whatever “standard body” exists out there that people draft patterns from. I’m weird. Whatever, my “weirdness” must be pretty common if people write books about how to fit pants. I’ll get to that in a second…


So this pattern here is Simplicity 1371, which I promptly went out and bought after seeing a spectacular outfit on Dixie DIY. I knew I wanted to sew my final pair in a stretch woven fabric so I made up a muslin in some cheap stretch cotton sateen from J0-Anns. I cut a straight size 4 and basted everything together to test the initial shape, but I left the waistband off since I want my final pair to have a facing instead of a separate waistband piece. I used rayon Hug Snug seam binding to stabilize the waist so it wouldn’t stretch as I tried on the pants.

Things I like about them:
Uhhhh… well definitely not the fit I can tell you that much! But I do think they have potential, and hey, at least I can actually feel my legs this time. I do really like the high rise and the side zipper for a more overall vintage-y look. I also like the length (even though they’re not hemmed in these photos) and the width of the legs is more like what I was hoping for with the last pattern.


What I don’t like:
Well from the back view I’d prefer to NOT look like a toddler who desperately needs a changin’. I have a “load” of fabric (see what I did there?) pooling under my bum that needs some massive adjustments before I ever wear these out of the house. The back waist band pulls down every time I take a step or bend slightly, but the front crotch line kinda feels awkward too. The hips are also too baggy and I’ve got “sad crotch lines” in the front. …not my term haha!


Changes I have to make:
I have a small bum, but it’s pear shaped. So that means I have fullness at the bottom instead of the middle of the seat of my pants, but I also have a lot of pooling and droopy fabric happening at the back that needs to go away. I want to change the front pleat to a dart for a smoother look and take in the hips a bit. I have a game plan for exact pattern changes I have to make, which I’ll elaborate on next time when I can actually test them out.

Fitting references I’ve found so far:
Pants fitting cheat sheet by Colette
How to fit jeans by Silhouette Patterns (originally found through Zilredloh)
Everyone can have jeans that fit via
One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants (I’m currently working through this class now and while I wish there were actual fitting procedures shown on models, the class has been really helpful in understanding how to take fitting issues from muslin BACK to the flat pattern.)


So the moral of this story is: your first attempt at any kind of fitted pants is probably going to be hellacious. Any one who gives you the impression otherwise is either really lucky, or isn’t showing you the seven muslin fittings they did previously (though I will say I had pretty good luck with Butterick 5895 by Gertie, and any super wide leg pant styles I’ve tried, right off the bat.)

What I hoped to achieve by sewing all these different pants patterns is to find one that’s as close to a pattern block for me as possible. This way I can build it out with the fewest number of alterations. Now that I have a few patterns to compare and contrast, my next step will be making actual pattern changes and really trying to get a good fit!


Do you have any go-to references for pants fitting? I know several of you mentioned the book Pants For Real People so I added that to my Amazon wishlist! And apparently I need to try the new Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It because the general consensus seems to be it’s awesome and fits great!**


**Erin, remind me to pick this one up too in California 😉 😉