Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A lot of tweaking to get a pants pattern.

I’ve used Butterick 5391 as my trouser pattern for the past few years, but I’ve never been really happy with its fit around the waist and hips.  My hip measurement equates to about a size 14 for most patterns, and my waist is a generous size 18.  My bust is about a 16, so in shape terms I’m not an   hourglass, triangle or square- more of an ellipse.  But the distance between my waist and my hips is not great either.  So a straight waistband that fitted at the top is too wide at the bottom, and needs to be cinched in with a bit of elastic to be comfortable.  Mostly I sew a small bit of elastic to the waistband at the side seams, which doesn’t look wonderful, though it works.  I don't put darts in the front, because they would need to be ridiculously short to curve over my very rounded tum. I basically go in rather than out at the side seams to fit my hips, then flare out again at the legs. 

I want something that looks a little more fitted around my midsection. And I have actually lost some weight round there- when I first used the Butterick pattern, my waist was a 20.  So now, the pants made with that pattern in fabric with give tend to slide down my hips a bit.  The upside of this is that I don’t need to unzip them to put them on; the downside is that I spend a lot of time tugging the waist back into position.  It’s time for a change!

 I think a curved yoke might fit better than a waistband.  So I’m busy tweaking Vogue7881   - the Claire Schaeffer  custom couture straight legged pants with a contoured yoke.  I want the yoke to fit as closely as possible to my own shape.  And I want to narrow the leg.  The  straight legged pants look beautiful in themselves, but  I suspect they won’t look so beautiful on my short legs.  I think I look best in pants that verge on skinny legged, or are a restrained bootleg cut. 

So, with help from the wonderful Kim at   The Cloth shop  (here's a link to them) I embarked on altering the pattern.  First, we traced and cut a second yoke in size 16 so we could pin fit the paper pattern.  As we already knew, we needed to add considerably at the centre back to make fit my waist.  Then we needed to add a bit more at the centre front so there would be enough overlap. And because despite the round tum  I go in rather than out between waist and hips we altered the angles of the yoke at the ends.    You can see that below (and can also see slightly bodgy paper cutting I'm afraid)

   With the top of the yoke fitting my waist, we then worked on getting the bottom of the yoke to match my shape.  This meant making the curve at the bottom much shallower.  To do this, we folded a lot of tiny darts in the paper.   (Well actually, Kim folded the darts; I just stood there wearing a paper yoke!)

Tiny darts alter the curve of the yoke to fit my body.

 You can see below  that the new yoke piece is radically different in shape from the original.

Once the yoke looked about right, we could work on the top of the front and back pieces.  Both needed extra at the sides where they would join the yoke.  In addition, the back curve needed to be lengthened by about 3 cm.  This seems to be the case with a lot of pants patterns- the centre back seam is quite short and results in the back sitting well below the waist even if the style isn’t particularly low rise. 

All this took quite a while.  I hope it will result in a garment that looks like the pattern illustration at the waist and hips, but that fits my body nicely.  Changing the legs will make a different looking garment and it took all of five minutes, to position my Butterick pants pattern pieces on the Vogue pieces, and drastically reduce the length and width of the Vogue legs. 

So now I have my new pattern cut out of some inexpensive grey pinstriped polyester.  I hope the result will be wearable, but if it isn’t I won’t be too upset.  I aim to get the basic fit right and then to add pockets to the pants. I'm not using the couture technique yet. 

Has anyone had experience fitting  pants to little ellipses?  Or working with  V7881? 

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