January 22, 2013

On Pants/Trousers

After my Season Opener Pants post, I received several comments and lots of emails on pants. I posed a question on my Facebook page and asked you all what is the scariest/dreaded awful part about making pants for yourself was and several of you answered. So, I thought I would put my knowledge here in a post, that is due to be added to every now and then as I become aware of more and more awesome stuff about pants. Part of the pant conundrum with sewers/sewists (whichever you prefer) is knowing. Dontcha think? I mean, I remember when I made my very first pair of pants. This was after I had made a jacket, a well-fitting pencil skirt, dresses, even blouses. I was fresh out of college at the time and I made a pair of Vogue wide leg trousers right out of the envelope. They were awful! Yet, I still wore them because it was the principle of the thing, you know. Then it was time to get educated on how to fit pants and what's more, how to construct them. So here is an encyclopedic post on where to find the best info on pants. Here we go!

Nothing strikes more fear into us than fitting a pair of pants! Am I right or am I right? Here's some resources for you.

Pants for Real People - I love this book! If nothing else, it teaches you about the relationship between each of your three tubes (torso and legs) and teaches you how they interact. I've also heard really great things about their DVD's too.
● Here's another book to look at too. I don't actually own this book, but I've heard amazing things about it - Easy Guide to Sewing Pants. Apparently its chucked full of great fitting information and goes through the process of how to only fit one pair of pants but make several different design changes for a whole wardrobe of different pants from one pattern.
● I hosted a Trouser Sewalong a few years back and here is the link to all the posts (several fitting posts included) for it. If you're new to pants, check it out. Lots of great info there.
● Colette Patterns also hosted a sewalong for their Clover pants. You can find all of those posts here - many are insightful fitting posts too.
● Kenneth King offers a CD Book on how to draft (and fit) your own trousers. Though I myself haven't yet purchased it, I'm a huge fan of anything Mr. King does - his Threads articles are simply marvelous. Check it out! Additionally, there was a recent article - that applies to many of us - on this particular pattern alteration, how to fix a baggy seat.
● Sandra Betzina has a Craftsy class on how to fit pants. Tell me, what could be better than being able to see someone, who knows a bundle about sewing and fitting, actually teach you how to fit pants? Nothing.

Sometimes even though we've tried every trick in the book, we still can't seem to get the fit we want. Here's another idea for you.

● Try a rub-off of a favorite pair of pants. A rub-off is the process of creating a sewing pattern from an existing garment. Rubbing off a pattern from a favorite RTW garment is not terribly hard to do (in fact pretty easy!) and its something that I think should be utilized more. Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit is a great and affordable book on the subject. This book doesn't actually walk you through the process of rubbing off a pair of pants, but she shows just about everything else. You'll get the idea and learn how to to do more types of garments than what is shown in the book. Also, Kenneth King's Craftsy course Jean-ius! is another way of doing this - he'll walk you through all the ins and outs on an actual pair of pants.

A lot of people dread the fly front. Many have questions on how to line a pair of pants and how to make welt pockets. Here's some construction resources, especially for pants, just for you.

● My absolute favorite fly front zipper tutorial (Debbie you are a genius!) - please note that I interface my entire fly front area. I firmly, firmly believe that all zipper openings should be stabilized - my own personal opinion - and fly fronts are no different. Here's a link to another video tutorial by Sandra Betzina - she stabilizes her fly fronts too. Both tutorials are EXCELLENT and make the task of putting in a fly zip actually kind of fun.
● I think Connie Long's book on Easy Guide to Sewing Linings is the best kept secret in the sewing universe. (By the way, the link here is to the very affordable e-book - buy it right up!) In this book, she takes you through every type of lining situation including how to line a pair of pants with a fly front - it is awesome, it is marvelous, miraculous and stupendous. If you like lined garments, this book is a MUST have!
●Welt pockets are not hard. Just time consuming and they take a good amount of prep work. These two tutorials from Fashion Incubator are excellent - single welt pockets & double welt pockets! I also found this tutorial for single welt pockets pretty great too - especially if you're concerned about how to stitch the pocket bag.
● Sandra Betzina (this woman knows her pants, eh?) also has a Craftsy course on pants construction. So in addition to the fitting series, there is the construction series.

Starting with a good sewing pattern is really almost half the battle, right? Personally, I feel now, that you should go for a pants pattern that has all the elements you want. From there you can change design elements on the pants to make different styles. Here's a few of my recommendations.

● I've had pretty good luck with Burda patterns. Their pants block (the block from which all the patterns are drafted) is excellent for my shape. This may not be true for everyone else. My recent BurdaStyle 7447's (here & here) are great examples.
Sewaholic's Thurlow Trouser is another one to try. I've not actually tried them myself yet - will soon though - but I've had a couple of students use this pattern in my Pant Fitting class. Its impeccably drafted and I'm fan of some of the different elements that Tasia has included. Also, you don't have to be pear shaped to use this pattern - I'm not and I've used several of her patterns all with success.
Simplicity's Amazing Fit patterns are actually pretty amazing. I've had a few students bring these to my pants fitting class and I'm actually quite impressed with how well these have fit a variety of shapes right out of the envelope. They usually include the fit for 3 different body shape types and if you look at their dresses and tops, they include different bust sizes - AWESOME! Be aware that you do need to read the instructions for these patterns - they have a different way of measuring for finding out whether you are curvy, average or slender and they include 1 inch seam allowances in certain strategic places.
● Connie Crawford has a line of Butterick patterns for plus sizes. I've used them in a few different Pant Fitting classes and they seem to work quite well.
● If you're up to it, you can draft your own. I'm a big fan of Building Patterns, which is a great book on how to draft all manner of women's clothing. Fairly affordable too, especially as compared to many other drafting books.

Well friends, I do hope this gives you some idea as to where to look for ideas and help on pants. For those of you who are already pant masters, what are some of your resources/recommendations? Care to share?
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