Sorry for the blogging blackout. I’ve literally spent every spare moment poking myself with pins in an effort to figure out this &(#^&)@ trouser fitting! Must teach Mr. Bug how to drape. I have lots and LOTS of photos of my failed experiments for you, but I’ll just jump to the end. With the help of the wise ones on Pattern Review, I now have a reasonably well fitting pair of trousers. Of course, they are lacking in shape, but we’ll get to that later. Here they are in their completely unpressed glory, with me holding a temporary waistband on to see if I like the look…
Simplicity 3688 – the first muslin
OK, now lets back up to the beginning. When I last left off blogging about the trouser adventure, I had gotten through a muslin for Simplicity 4044, the pleated, high waisted, wide legged trouser. I realized during fitting that it might work better to start over with Simplicity 3688 – also high waisted and wide legged, but the shaping is from darts rather than pleats. Here’s the front/side/back view of 3688 (size 28) pretty much out of the envelope.
Pretty large! The most pressing issue was the extremely long crotch depth – a problem I have in all trousers – RTW or patterns. I appear to have a short crotch depth – especially in the front – and a long crotch length. As a reminder – here’s the difference.
I took out a fold where all the extra fabric was in the front, tapering to nothing at the side seams. I thought it made the drape, especially from the side, much better. The back is still giant, though!
You can’t really see it in the photos, but the trousers are pretty large. In my never-ending trouser-fitting research of the last week, I read or heard somewhere that the trouser structure should keep them up – not the waistband. So next I deepened the the darts in the front and lowered the dart points so they ended over the full part of my tummy. I also lengthened the darts on the back a bit. Here’s some messy photos! First, just a shot of the fold near the center so you can see how much I took out of the crotch depth.
Straighten out that side seam!
I tried them on again and realized the side seam was TOTALLY out of whack – not only a bad fit, but affecting that voluminous fabric in the back! Here’s a shot with the red line following the sideseam. I tightened up the front too much.
After I had determined the right balance between the front and back darts I distributed the extra width in the back amongst the back darts. This slightly improved the hang of the back of the trousers – compare the photo above with this one –
Trying to get rid of that baggy butt…
Then it was time to concentrate on the back. What a mess. First I just gathered up the side seam in my hand to see if taking in the sides would help. It helps a bit but is clearly not the right fix. I still have diagonal lines aiming towards the center back seam (the photo on the left.) I also tried tugging up on the side as well as pinning out some of the excess on the center back leg (right photo.) I wasn’t really happy with any of the fixes.
I spent a lot of time researching this weekend. Part of my problem is that I am aiming for a slightly more fitted look than what a lot of fitting resources are aimed towards. While I don’t want my trousers tight, I am not a huge fan of the hang-straight-from the rump look that seems to be the ideal trouser fit. When I have wide-legged trousers on that hang straight from my butt, there’s WAY too much fabric and I feel more like I’m wearing a split skirt. This is partially due to my shape – I have sort of a pointy butt with a lot of the width more in the center than towards the bottom.
In any case, I realized that what I really am looking for is more pattern drafting information – you know, what to do to the inseam and back crotch curve to affect fit. Of course, as you all know, pattern drafting texts are super expensive and not at the local Borders (or, I guess we should start saying Barnes and Noble, hmmm?) I relied heavily on this article on fashionstudentsonline.com. I also reviewed some of the stuff on fashion-incubator.com, which is geared more towards jeans, but helpful in understanding the drafting process. I also found this threads article on the correct way to widen/narrow trouser legs which I found very helpful. Finally, I kept coming back to the fisheye dart, which seems to be a favorite from Pattern Review folks, but there was something about that fix that seemed that it wasn’t quite right for my trouble.
Muslin #2 – adjusting the pattern
I had gotten some wool suiting for $2 a yard at Hancock to use as a muslin material for fine-tuning. I decided to switch to that fabric – the cotton muslin fabric was really thick for working with this amount of wrinkles! First, I made a few adjustments to the pattern pieces. Originally, I was going to do the same wedge-tuck in the front and leave the back crotch depth alone. After looking at photos of the muslin I decided that the depth in the back was long enough that I could just do folds at the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern piece in the front AND the back. I’ll show you the back changes first.
Next, based on some of the info regarding drafting, I decided to scoop out the back inseam and lengthen the back crotch point. Supposedly, this is closer to the drafting for jeans, which are closer to the body. It was my hope this would bring the back of the leg in a bit. I’m not sure how effective it was! The inseam scoop is on the left, the point extension is on the right.
Muslin #2 – the reveal
For this muslin, I tried to stick with pin-fitting, right sides out, although by the end I started to machine baste – it’s SO hard to pin fit by yourself! I look like I was attacked by a rabid cat from all the pokes and scratches! Here’s the front/back/side view of the muslin. Ick.
Deflating the bubble in the front crotch curve
I focused on the front first. The folds right around the crotch area looked the most like a ‘bubble’ (from Pants for Real People) to me. This means the front crotch curve needs to be deepened. In the photo below the green line shows my original stitch line and the pink shows my new stitch line. Note the brown stitch line too! I had stitched the seam allowances on the muslin, and when I sewed the crotch curve, I deepened mine right away before even trying on. The crotch is to the right, waist to the left in this photo.
Still not perfect, though. I went to sleep and the next morning when I got up I realized that I had deepened the crotch so much that the seam allowance was messing with the drape. I clipped the seam allowance in the widest spot. Much better!
Why do I need so much crotch curve?
Alright. What’s next? Ah yes, a very unflattering photo. And absolutely not to scale. But for anyone closer to my size, I was starting to feel odd about how deep my front crotch curve was. I mean, I’m THAT off from the pattern as drafted?
Well, yes. As I worked through the changes and got more accustomed to fitting this part of my body and the counter-intuitive nature of having to deepen a seam to loosen the fit (how odd!) I started to see how the crotch curves work with the body. Here’s a line drawing to illustrate –
So, Here we are. There’s me (and Lucy, with a super fast-motion tail!), in a side view wearing leggings so you can see my shape, which I’ve outline in yellow to accentuate. Yum. My tummy has a lot of width towards the bottom. I’ve sort of lined up outlines of pattern pieces as they wrap around our bodies. The front crotch curve is generally drafted much more shallow and less curved than the back pieces – which makes sense, as our butts are usually bigger than our tummies! On me, though, there’s actually not that much of a difference from front to back. My tummy is rounded and low, so my front crotch curve will probably be closer to my back curve than the pattern pieces allow!
The fix for the baggies from Pants for Real People
Back to tinkering with fit. I will spare you the literally hundreds of photos of my rear view with me trying a variety of methods of tugging, pinning and contorting to get rid of those darn slanted wrinkles. It seemed the back leg was WAY too full, but I couldn’t’ figure out where to take out the width. I finally gave in and tried the cure for the baggies from Pants for Real People. This cure involves tugging UP the pants until the wrinkles are gone, then redrafting the crotch curve for comfort. I really didn’t want to try this method, as I was happy with the front, sides, dart placement and the general fit of the butt and it seemed like tugging would put everything out of whack. I was right, but it seemed the only way. First, here’s two photos. The left is the trousers as they were fitting, the right is where I had yanked them up. It did a lot to smooth wrinkles and I thought perhaps a deeper crotch curve in the back would help with the last of it.
So now for the scoop. I did a GIANT scoop in the back, making the crotch curve more like the very-L-shaped curve of those Hot Patterns trouser patterns. Blue and pink are the first and second scoops. Green is the new one.
Rescue from Pattern Review and re-centering the back leg
I posted some photos on patternreview in the fitting forum (the thread is here.) Ultimately, I went with the suggestion from Sew 4 Fun. Basically I went back to the last crotch scoop, then I tugged down the trousers on the back on the sides until the wrinkles looked better. Then I let out JUST the back inseam the whole length on the inside and took in the back side seam the same amount – shifting the leg pieces like so (while using the original stitching lines.
For the photos…on the left, the trousers after I let that back crotch curve back out getting rid of the giant L-shaped scoop. On the right I’ve tugged down the trousers on the back/sides to get the wrinkles looking better. Note that I added an elastic waistband to help everything stay in place.
The fit, so far.
Results! Much, much better. There’s still a fold or two and some wrinkling in the back that I don’t like. Of course, for these last photos I turned the seams to the inside without pressing, so it’s not lying perfectly. As I said earlier, I’m not in love with how roomy they are in the back, but I figure I have to get the fit to work before trying to fine-tune it! I’d really like to see some butt-shape there! At least I have a base with which to work. Also, see how these are almost tapered looking on me? I hate that about wide-legged trousers and wide hips – they always lend up looking slightly tapered!
To face or not to face?
Testing the waistband. What’re your thoughts on waistbands? I love ‘em on skirts, but I don’t love the horizontal line on trousers quite as much. I’m thinking a faced waistband might be more flattering? I do sort of like how this looks – the band is a bit wider than the one that came with the pattern, though.
Whew! I’m exhausted, aren’t you? I debated splitting this up into two (or more) posts, but really just want to get it out there and move on! I’ll continue to tinker with the fit on these to get rid of those final wrinkles. Then I may try to get them more fitted to ease off the pac-man ghost look. I’ve been trying to find photos of the fit I want, but there’s an amazing dearth of G-rated, fashion/fitting-oriented photos of girls’ butts online. Although my searches are certainly yielding interesting results!
Also, I have one friend who has my measurements, but is shaped very differently (she’s got a flat tummy and more shapely hips, I’ve got more narrow hips and a rounded tummy) and she’s agreed to be a guinea pig and let me make trousers for her. I thought the fitting process might make more sense if I do it on someone else! I have another friend that I hope will also agree. I will figure out this trouser fitting!