A Discussion on Pants with Cal Patch

I was reading in Design It Yourself Clothes the other night. Just before going to bed. I’ve been having a little fun coercing my patternmaking skills into submission. I was flipping through the book and just thinking about things I could draft, blah, blah, blah. And then I flipped to the section on pants. It’s the last section of drafting in the book with “extras” behind it which in and of itself I thought interesting and noteworthy for our adventure with trouser making this January. Ms. Patch gave a rather nice preface to the pants section and one which prompted a few questions I wanted to put to her. So I messaged the woman right up and you know what? She was so nice! She graciously answered my queries and was so quick in responding. I find it only appropriate that we now hear her input on those bottoms that seem to bewilder the most advanced seamstress.

A Fashionable Stitch ~ Tell me a little about yourself and how it is that sewing and designing came to be part of your life.

Cal Patch ~ Well, I would really have liked to major in art in college. But despite being creative, I am also very practical, and I knew even at a young age that an art major would leave me without many job prospects. So SOMEHOW I figured out that if I went into Fashion Design (even though i hate the “F” word!) i would be more likely to be gainfully employed. My main rationale was that “everyone wears clothes!”

I didn’t learn to sew properly until I was in college. I still lament the way we were taught to sew; it was very outdated and laborious. I think we should have made a garment per week, but it was more like a garment every three months. To this day I’m very slow at sewing (and everything else I do!) and wish I could go faster.

Basic Pant pattern from Cal’s book Design it Yourself Clothes

A Fashionable Stitch ~ Right into the burning question of today, what is it exactly about pants that makes them hard to draft and hard to fit?

Cal Patch ~ I think the main reason is that pants have to cover an area that is an intersection of 3 cylinders (your torso and two legs) AND it’s probably the section of the body with the most movement. Think about it: you’ve got your waist, hips and knees, and they can all bend and twist so many ways. So we expect our pants to give us a complete range of motion while fitting very closely, which really sounds pretty impossible for a woven fabric! Then there is also the fact that every person has a unique set of measurements, shape and proportion…

Annie Trousers from Cal’s Book

A Fashionable Stitch ~ Have you made a pair of pants for yourself and if so, what kinds of problems did you run into?

Cal Patch ~ Honestly, I’ve made very few pants! The only pants I really wear are jeans, and I kind of think that they are best left to manufacturers like Levi’s because we can’t do all of the hardware and heavy-duty stitching on home sewing machines. But I have made a pair of corduroys from one of the Built by You patterns; they came out great except they don’t fit well! I should have made a muslin but I didn’t. And then I made all of the pants for my book, which I made to my own measurements so they fit me (and didn’t fit the models very well)…

Carla Palazzo pants from Cal’s Book

A Fashionable Stitch ~ Any tips to keep in mind? Things to look for as we sew pants/trousers?

Cal Patch ~ I think the best tip I can give is that pants definitely require a muslin first, so the fit can be checked and adjusted before many hours are wasted. Unlike a top or dress, a lot of pant issues won’t be fixed by adjusting side seams. If the crotch is too low, it can’t be raised because the fabric has already been cut away! The rise seam is often the trickiest bit to get right. Good luck everyone! I’ll check in on your progress and remember, I’m here if you need me ;n)

Thanks Cal! This little question and answer prompted a few questions I would like to put to you now. Have you tried sewing pants? If it ended badly, what was the main problem? Where did the pants pull, bunch or not fit at all well in general?

Don’t forget to check out Cal’s sweet little book on patternmaking! It’s really great for beginners just learning the ropes of how to draft patterns for yourself! Drop by her blog too and Etsy shop!

Next up: shopping list for our trouser sewalong. Oh what fun!

  • Threadsquare.wordpress.com - I sewed a pair of knickers a few years ago, but never wear them. My fabric choice was just not right for the garment, and I didn’t know about adjusting the crotch curve at the time, so was never happy with how low it came. I then took a jeans class, which was so informative. But then I moved right after the class ended and never sewed on the waistband & hemmed…tsk, tsk. I should just know that off my list so I can say I made jeans :)
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