That’s it folks. Right there. It’s the crux of most pant problem. That ding dang darn crotch. And what a word too. But let’s not go there, shall we? Instead, we’re going to have fun getting our crotch depth and length straight. Knowing the difference between these two things and how to fix them will give us better insight into what our pant problems really are. So let’s begin shall we. Drum roll please….cue trumpets, falling stars and the magic carpet:
Today we are going to focus on Crotch Depth. This is the length between the waistline and the crotch. It’s not something we’re going to measure, its just something we need to be aware of. Now for Burda #127, you need to be aware that these trousers are meant to fit 1-1 1/4 inches above the natural waistline. How do you find your natural waistline? It’s that girlish cinch in the middle of your torso, below your bust and above your hips. Don’t be afraid of it and please be aware, that for some of us youngsters it’s alot higher up than you might think. Grab yourself some 1/4″ elastic and tie it around your natural waistline. Wiggle around in it for a minute to allow the elastic to adjust to your natural waistline. Now pull on your trouser muslin and pin up the zipper opening. Where is the waistline falling? Where is the crotch falling? As you can see, on my first muslin here, the crotch is falling a little low and the waistline is a bit high. And while we’re calling a spade a spade you can see that these were rather large to begin with, but let’s focus on the crotch depth being on average just too long for me. Alot of what I’m showing you here too is based on how these pants feel too. When I try to walk, with the crotch being just a little too low, it’s well…rather difficult to walk. The pants pull on the thigh just below the crotch.
Now what if you have the opposite problem? What if the crotch depth is too short, then what are you going to see? Well, it’s going to be the opposite of what you see here. The trousers are going to ride really high in the crotch and you’ll definitely be able to feel that, especially if you try to sit down. And that will pull the waistline down to a point on your waist below where the pants should sit. You are also going to experience a little puffiness in the front crotch area with smiles that point toward your outseam.
What do you do about it? This is the biggest question right, because alot of us don’t know what to do about it. Let’s take it back to my muslin. As you see here, I’ve now pinned out the excess by bringing the waistline down and the crotch up in the middle of this area. Make sense? I did this all the way around. Then I walked around, sat down, and made sure taking out this much would be the way to go. Then I took the muslin off and marked with a sharpie where the pin went through and then took the pin out and measured how much I needed to adjust the crotch depth. It’s a good 1 inch. Now to my flat pattern. The adjustment on the muslin was made in the front leg, back leg and pocket so that’s where we’re going to adjust the flat pattern….well sort of.
Let’s do the back leg first, but let me warn you that you really need to read through this entire process before beginning to make any adjustments. Ok? Ok. In a normal pattern, you know with printed tissue and such, you would most likely have the adjustment lines already printed on the tissue. But we’re working with a Burda pattern so we’ll need to make our own. In approximately the middle of the crotch depth of the back leg, draw a perpendicular line to the grainline. I find those triangular rulers the best for this. After the line has been drawn, now you are either going to fold in the excess or slash and spread to give you more. Since this crotch depth is too long for me, I’m folding in 1 inch in this area. Taped it down and I’m ready to go.
Let’s move onto the front. Burda #127 is a trouser with classic slant pockets. (If you are working with a pattern that does not have slash pockets, you can make the same adjustment you did for the back for the front piece) This makes the front adjustment tricky. If I was to take out the full 1 inch in the same area I took out of the back, then the pocket would be seriously affected and I wouldn’t be able to get my hand in the pocket in the finished version. If it were the other way around, say the crotch depth was too short, then putting that full inch in the pocket wouldn’t be as big of a deal, still you’ll have one big pocket on each side. So I had to break it up. For those of you who have 1 – 3 inches excess or shortage in the crotch depth, you’ll have to do the same. For those of you who have less than 1 inch in excess or shortage, you only need to adjust the area below the pocket. As with the back, make a perpendicular line fron the grainline in the middle of the pocket area on both the pocket, pocket lining and front leg. Make a second line on the front leg below where the pocket ends. Now fold or slash and spread. You can take up to 3/4 inch out of the pocket area, the rest below the pocket. You’ll need to true the lines now. And believe me, you will need a french curve now if you ever did. When you are dealing with the below pocket front leg trueing, fiddle with the french curve until the right amount of curve is matching up the inseam and the area that you tucked in or slashed out.
Now I know what you are going to say next. But what if I need to take more than 3 inches out or put into the crotch depth. Well….after 3 inches it’s time to start fiddling with the waistband. I mean there is only so much you can give or take from the depth before it starts looking kind of weird. You can take out or put in a good chunk in the waistband. A good inch or inch and a half, I’d say. To do that, you’ll do the same thing here. Fold or slash and spread the excess in the middle of the waistband back or front.
OK, this post is getting way way way long. Before I bore you to tears and before you forget, go try on your muslin and see if this an adjustment you need. This is the longest adjustment to explain, so don’t worry if you think every post this week will take this long. It won’t. Tomorrow I’ll be going over the crotch length. These are the two most important aspects of pant adjusting, so don’t hesitate to jot down notes, try things out, you know, the usual fitting process. And I’m here if you need me. Promise. Don’t hesitate to dial in my email or leave a comment and I’ll answer it in the comments.
Tomorrow we’re onto Crotch Length.
I’ll admit to you right now that I’ve learned most of my info on pant fitting from Pants for Real People. With that in mind, I wanted to share this image from the book with all of you. This is a summary chart of the most common alterations for pants and it’s very informative. I’ll be referring to this again and again because it is very helpful as a visual for the things you’ll need to do for your pattern pieces. It might also start the wheels turning as you begin thinking about what types of alterations you’ll need for your pants.
Click on image for full size
from Pants for Real People, posted with permission from Pati Palmer
please visit www.palmerpletsch.com for more fitting and sewing aids
Over the next three days, I’ll be going in depth on 3 of the main alterations. They are the biggest problems, in my opinion and they take a bit to explain. Subsequently after that there will be a few more posts on some odd alterations that you may or may not need. And I wanted to let you all know that I plan to share some of the photos that you entered into the flickr pool (unless you absolutely forbid me not to) to give everyone an idea of the things they’ll need to do if they are having the same fitting issue. I promise, it will not be to humiliate you, it’s to help you and the rest of us to see the different types of problems that come with making pants.
Next week, I hope to start the construction process on the final pants. But I’ll wait to see where we are at before jumping right in and making you feel overwhelmed. Ok? Ok.
Tomorrow get ready to discuss crotch depth. It’s fun.
PS ~ Pati Palmer (a co-author of Pants for Real People) contacted me regarding the above image. I checked out her website at www.palmerpletsch.com and found even more of their products and fabulous information. Did you know there were DVDs? Hip Hip Hooray! Click over and have a peek and while you’re at it buy Pants for Real People!
I’ve had many questions and such about why I chose Burda #127 for the Trouser Sewalong. I’ll admit now, that it was a moment of madness and thank you very much, I’m paying for it. No, I didn’t realize at the time I chose it that it was a Tall pattern and no, I had no clue that there were different sizing charts for the Talls and no, I didn’t have the magazine and no, I had no idea that many of you who live in foreign countries have to download it from the German site and no, I didn’t know that for some very strange reason some people can’t view the image from the Burda Style site and no, I didn’t know that you didn’t have to add a hem allowance either. My long line of profanities of choice in this matter would offend too many of you, so I’ll just say, “Sheesh!” Will you please accept my sincerest apologies? Please? For those of you still hanging in there with Burda #127, you guys are real troopers and it is my opinion that you will be rewarded. For those of you who decided to go with a different pattern, you are very wise.
1920’s Lounge Pants Inspiration
Needless to say, I’ve been contemplating pants for awhile now. Actually since Self Stitched September. So I’ve been gathering ideas and inspiration. I was looking for a pair of trousers reminiscent of some 20’s lounge pants that had caught my eye awhile ago. And then I saw Burda #127 as I was lurking around Burda Style. It was the one. That was the pattern I had been looking for. It had everything I wanted. The waistband, the side zip, the slant pockets, the cuffed hem, the pleat in front….
Jessica Biel in Easy Virtue
Watching Easy Virtue a few weeks ago cinched the deal. This Noel Coward play turned film, is set in the 20s. A time for dropped waist dresses. Until Jessica Biel’s character waltzes on the scene in trousers fit for….a man. Her day outfits consist of these fabulous wide legged, flowing trousers, all put together with fabulous frocky tops and jackets and low-heeled mary-jane pumps. It’s an unbelievably fabulous look. And to be real honest with you, her trousers were the biggest drive in using Burda #127 for the sewalong. It’s like they took this trouser pattern straight out of this film. Not to mention, now that those of us using this pattern have had so much trouble with it, I’ve received a few emails with helpful suggestions from those who have the magazine and those who have tried these trousers. Can we all give it up to Cassandra, Stephanie and Mae! I’m seriously glad that I’m not alone on these pants (thanks Ashley for your comment about that). Anyhow, Stephanie sent me a scan of the actual photo of the trousers in the mag with the verbage that appears on the opposing page. It reads: “Very reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich! These wide trousers/pants with broad hip yoke, front creases and turn-ups create a very elegant effect. The cut is very suitable for tall women – and fills college men with inspiration…” Marlene Dietrich! I should have known. That now puts another spin on these beauties.
Jessica Biel in Easy Virtue
Come now, tell me you don’t want a pair of these in every color, for all seasons to go with all those beautiful silky tops and short cinched in jackets. Not to mention the lovely leggy look. Yeah, Jessica and Marlene have great legs, that we never see, but whose illusion is wonderfully accentuated by those trousers.
Marlene Dietrich in trousers
Oh and by the way, Mr. S gave me a Rod Stewart CD for Christmas and I’ve now got a theme song for our Trouser Sewalong. You absolutely have to lend an ear toHot Legs while drooling over these images. The tune is from 1977 and for some reason, I thought that Mr. Stewart’s vocal chords had been blown out in his early years having only heard his later tunes. That is not correct. He was in the thick of it in the 70’s, one of his earliest decades and as you can hear he has that same smoky blown out voice. I do love it so. He’s such a pimp. The perfect pimp for our Trouser Sewalong.
Jessica Biel in Easy Virtue
Anyhow, back to the trousers, I do believe the navy ones (top photo collage) on Jessica are my favorite. Delicious. I will be a leggy seductress after this trouser sewalong, just you wait. And teenage and college boys will most definitely be inspired by these. Sigh…..
I hope this has given you some serious inspiration for this week’s Finale. We are now on the verge of fitting madness, which is coming just as soon as Monday hits. And for those of you who might have been on the fence about this, come now, really, don’t you need a pair? Let’s get with the times. It’s pants or BUST!
This is my quick and dirty way of turning a straight grain waistband into a bias waistband. Totally easy, peasy. Well it will be for Burda #127 at any rate. So with pattern pieces 4 and 5 respectively, 1″ seam allowances except for in those areas that you cut on the fold here we go. Take your fabric, in this case muslin. I used just some scraps that had sort of a square pattern running through it, just so that I could see how I liked it and to give you a better idea of where to place that selvedge edge. Now fabric in hand, you’re going to fold the fabric in sort of a triangle. Open up your fabric so there’s only a single layer of fabric. Fold your selvedge edge along the fabric crease in the middle of the fabric. I’m dealing with a fat quarter here for my waistband, so where the middle of my fabric crease mark is, the other side has been chopped off otherwise you would see the other half of my fabric piece. Does that make sense?
The new fold that is created is going to be where we place the waistband pieces. Now you want those pieces to create a chevron pattern at the seamline on the right and left side. To be quite frank, this messes with my brain a little and so the best way I know to do this is to make sure that as I place my pattern pieces to be cut on the fabric, both of them have to be right side up on the same fold line. And if you are trying to keep that seamline in the back waistband, just don’t cut that back waistband piece on the fold but make sure you have the seam allowance necessary for the back seam. Yes, I realize the photo above only shows one piece, but both pieces should be on this same fold. This means that you be cutting either the waistband front or back with the pattern markings and writing facing up. I know this is a little trippy. But trust me, it works. Now go ahead and cut your waistband pieces out.
After you’ve cut your waistband pieces, give them a good press and stretch them along the bias as you press. Hang them up overnight allowing the bias to stretch as much as possible. In the morning, when you are ready to hit your trouser muslin again, give them one more press and stretch and fold them back to the cutting position, reposition the waistband pattern pieces on top and cut the excess stretch off the sides.
Threadmark the pieces, baste stitch up the right side, press seam allowance open and the top edge seam allowance down. Pin and baste stitch to top trouser edge, easing in if necessary. Press seam allowances upward and give your trousers a good try on. And there you have it! For those of you who choose to do this, this is the method I’ll be using to cut the final trouser as I’m working with plaid and pinstripes. Hopefully this is a helpful alternative for those of you who want to use stripes and plaids and not have to bother with the hassle of trying to wrap your brain matching the design in this area.
OK, gear up for next week’s intensive fitting sessions. Let me know how you are doing and if by chance I’m going too fast or too slow.
It’s time we started putting our muslin together for our trousers. I’ve made complete instructions here for Burda #127. This because I’ve been highly disappointed with all the bumps and hiccups with this pattern that I thought would it would be easier if I just fashioned my own instructions. These are quick and just for the muslin. We’ll be doing things a bit different for the final construction. Now if you are following along using a different pattern, please follow the pattern directions for your particular pattern, otherwise off we go with Burda #127.
Darts and Pleats
Baste stitch darts on back trouser leg (piece 3). Press towards center back. Baste stitch pleats on front trouser leg (piece 1). Press pleats toward center front. Baste along top edge of trouser front to secure pleat.
The trouser leg front (piece 1) adjoins with the pocket lining (piece 2a). Now remember, the pocket lining (2a) was extracted from pattern piece 2. With right sides together pin trouser leg front (1) along slanted pocket opening to the pocket lining (2a). Baste stitch. Press pocket lining to inside of garment.
Now its time to add the pocket. The pocket (piece 2) adjoins to the pocket lining (2a). It also fills out the hip for the front trouser leg. Pin pocket (2) to the right side of pocket lining (2a) matching seamlines. Baste stitch along lower edge of pocket lining. Baste pocket extension (2) to trouser leg front (1) along waistline. Baste pocket (2) to trouser leg front (1) at outseam.
Inseam, Outseam and Crotch Seam
Pin right trouser leg front (1) to right trouser leg back (3), right sides together along the outseam (the seam that runs along the outside of the leg). Baste stitch. Press seam open. Do the same for the left leg, however leave the opening for the zipper unstitched. Pin right trouser leg front to right trouser leg back at inseam (the seam that runs along the inside of the leg). Baste Stitch. Press seam open. Do the same for the left leg. To stitch crotch seam, turn one leg inside out and have one leg right side out. Put the right side out leg inside the inside out leg and pin crotch seam making sure fronts and backs are actually, front and back. Baste stitch crotch seam with 5/8″ seam allowance.
For those of you using the two piece waistband back, baste stitch a 5/8″ seam allowance along the back seam, right sides together. Pin back waistband to front waistband, right sides together along right side. Baste stitch. Press all seams open. Press waistband top down along seam allowance. Pin waistband to trousers along trouser top edge, right sides together, matching seam lines along side and back. Baste stitch. Press seam allowance upwards.
Now I’m quite sure there is nothing I could say or do to not make you try these on. So go and try on your trousers. Pin up the opening where the zipper will be inserted and roll up the pant leg and pin in place until you can walk in them. Have a few looks in the mirror. Dance, sit, walk. Do your worst. Take them off. Jot down some notes on the problems you readily see, how they feel, what you could or could not do in them, etc. Then try them on again. I’m not going to address fit issues until next week, but I want you to be well aquainted with yours before we start delving into that area. It’s OK, if you don’t know how to fix them. That’s the biggest part with pants isn’t it? I mean getting them to fit right. I’ll be giving you a pretty large run down fitting problems and how you go about fixing them. Fitting has as much to do with how something feels as how it looks. So try to get a feel for how your trousers feel. And don’t forget to take a few photos and put them in the flickr pool.
For now, just roll up the trousers so you can walk in them, I realize that for most of us these are going to be extra long. Next week I’ll be addressing the hem and the alteration that you might need for this.
Tomorrow I’ll be showing you how to make a bias waistband if you are going to be working with striped or plaid fabric. Cheerio! Need I mention that it is not a good idea to leave the house in your muslins as muslin is rather see through….