The Breakfast Club Wardrobe, Part 7: Pant Fitting Continues

Hello everyone!

As we are now well into the back half of July, and I’m still at the muslin stage of my pants project, I’ve decided to abandon the idea of competing in the Pattern Review Mini-Wardrobe contest.

Ideally, all the muslin work would have been completed before July 1, leaving me to focus just on creating the final garments.  To get the pants pattern to a point where I’m happy with it, I have to do more muslins.  It would be sad to investment enormous time and effort into something that doesn’t fit, just to meet an arbitrary deadline.

And this month has been bad for me in terms of free time, with a big deadline to meet at work. I already have enough stress from job-related deadlines, I don’t need self-imposed deadlines for sewing projects as well.

So out the contest goes.

The Project Expands

That doesn’t mean the project is over. In fact, freed from the contest rule limitations it’s expanding to three pairs of pants and three shirts. Fabric Outlet, as expected, began their 40% off sale and I picked up a cut of the brown twill I had passed over for the platinum grey.  It goes great with the shirt fabrics, and as a side benefit will take this summer wardrobe into the fall months. (September and most of October are traditionally the best “summer” months in San Francisco, because they have less fog and more sun).


I have to give the contest credit for inspiration. I make a lot of one-off projects that look nice by themselves, but don’t necessarily work with with anything else in my wardrobe. This is the first time I’ve actually planned a set of garments intended to be worn with each other, and I’m really excited to see the results.  The project is way more important to me than the contest.

Muslin Fitting #2

Last time I stepped down a size, and graded from 34 at the waist to 32 at the hips. I picked apart the first muslin and used it to cut out the second.  I cut new pocketing, yoke and facings because the new pattern pieces didn’t fit inside the old.


Right away, I ran into some construction problems with the new facings and yokes.  The inside pocket facing (the one on the underside of the pocket opening) no longer matched with the pocketing.


The yokes are also about 1/4 inch too high.  I think that’s because I needed to cut the size 34 version of the yoke at top and bottom, rather than the 32.


Construction glitches aside, the new muslin turned out much more successful than the first.  There’s a lot less fullness in the hips and thigh.





Here’s the list of issues coming out of this muslin:

  • The facing and yoke pieces aren’t quite the right shape, as I noted earlier.
  • The zipper went in really funny; the zipper teeth are barely covered by the lefthand (upper layer) of the fly.  I think this happened because I wasn’t paying proper attention to the notch markings along the waistline that direct you where to fold the zipper shield. One is for the left side, the other for the right.  I think I mistakenly used the same notch on both sides.  I would advise anyone making this pattern to follow the pattern directions over Thread Theory’s tutorial video for constructing the fly; I think I was led astray.
  • As the Thread Theory site warned, the front pockets seem to gape a little more.  I have decided this isn’t a major issue for now, rather I’d like to see a sample done in actual fashion fabric (cotton twill) rather than this polyester.
  • Somewhere around 3 inches need to come off the hems.
  • The crotch height is a little bit too tall. I can feel the inner seam between my legs when I walk around in these pants. As far as I can tell, the crotch seam needs to be raised an inch.

Another Muslin

So, it’s time for another round of pattern modifications, and another muslin. This time though, it will be a wearable muslin with all the appropriate finishing and details, including belt loops and pockets.

I did some test layouts on my dark gray twill.  This fabric is actually 68 inches from selvage to selvage. The extra space makes it possible for me to lay out both a pair of shorts and a pair of pants on the same cut of fabric.


Shorts layout


Pants Layout

Fixing the Facings

It was easy enough to trim the facing and yoke pieces to match up properly with the rest of the pattern.

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Raising the Crotch Point

I followed the instructions in  Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting With Confidence, starting with the front piece.

On tracing paper, mark one-half the distance you need to raise, upwards from the crotch point.  Here, I drew a pink line.


Slide the pattern upwards to the mark, retrace the inseam portion that changed, then slide the pattern back down.  The merged outlines of both inseams are the new pattern pieces you cut.  What I did was trace out a whole new pattern piece, blending the new inseam line into the traced inseam.  I chose to retain the original fly extension (in light blue) rather than the raised version, so that the zipper didn’t get shortened.  I hope this just raises the inseam.


Repeat this procedure with the back piece.


I had to use the curve on my styling design ruler to match the raised line up with the center back seam at the hip line (not shown in this photo, alas).


Here’s the fully traced back piece, ready for cutting.  The advantage of this method is that I make a new pattern piece, so I can go back to my printed pattern piece if something goes wrong with the alterations.


Next Time

The shorts have been cut.  Next time, we’ll see how they fit.

The Breakfast Club Wardrobe, Part 6: Modifying the Pants Pattern

The days grow fewer, but the work to be done on this project seems to grow and grow!

This past week I focused on modifying the pants pattern. Some of the grunt work I did sitting in the living room while watching the drama of the Tour de France unfold on TV.


Thread Theory’s instructions for the Jedediah Pants pattern have the following (abridged) table for body measurements:

Feature 32 34 36
Waist 32″ 34″ 36″
Hip (Seat) 39″ 41″ 43″

My waist measures closer to 36, so that’s why I went with the 36 pattern for my first muslin.

On that muslin, I pinned out two inches of waistline and discovered it fits perfectly as a 34.  I measure 39″ at the hips, so my new plan is to start with the size 34 pattern at the waist, then grade to size 32 at the hips all the way down.

Based on my thigh and knee measurements, I could even consider grading down from 32 to 30 beneath the crotch area, but I want to see how this single change from 36 down to 34/32 works before doing more alterations.


Thread Theory has a tutorial for doing pattern grading of this sort on their blog. It looks straightforward, but there are some caveats to that method described in that article:

  1. The front pockets could gape a little too much
  2. The seat seam might not fit as well as it will the way the pattern was originally drafted
  3. The thigh area might become too baggy or too tight

I thought some of these problems could be overcome if you used the original pattern pieces as a guide to grade the curves, and also if you take the time to grade the smaller pattern pieces such as the facings and pockets so they also match the graded seamline for the larger pieces.

I can easily trim my 36 pattern pieces down to 34, then use them as a tracing guide against a new copy of the pattern, either traced or printed. Basically, I’m using Nancy Zieman’s pivot-and-slide method to trace an altered copy of the pattern.

Prepping the pattern pieces

I decided to print and tape myself a second copy of the pattern for a simple reason: the facing pieces are all printed in a staggered manner, so once you cut out a single size (say 36) you don’t have the complete set of outlines for a smaller size (say 34 or 32) any more. Here’s an example to illustrate what I mean:


So by printing out the pattern a second time, I got a new set of facing pieces plus a second set of large pieces to trace the alterations onto. Please don’t tell the people at Thread Theory about this: they’re an environmentally conscious sort, being Canadian and all, and might be upset by my profligate use of paper and tape.

I started by trimming the new facing and pocketing pieces down as much as possible while still keeping both the 34 and 32 outlines. Here’s an example:


I also trimmed the large pieces (front and back pant legs) down to 34 for both copies of the pattern.

Drawing the hip line

I wanted to grade from 34 at the waist to 32 at the hip. But the hip line isn’t marked on the pattern.

Following the instructions in Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting with Confidence, I drew the hip line this way:

  1. Mark the crotch line.  This is found by taking the intersection of the crotch seam and the inseam, then drawing a line across the pattern. The stitching lines are used, rather than the cutting lines.  I added stitching lines by measuring 5/8″ in from the edge.
  2. Draw the hip line 2 inches above the crotch line.

Here’s the results on both the front and back pants pieces:

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Transferring the hip line to the facing pieces

To make sure the facing pieces match the pattern, they have to be graded the same way too: from the waist point down to the hip line. So the facing pieces need a hip line as well.

To do this, I matched the facing and pocket pieces against the front piece, then extended the hip line onto the facing pieces.


Drawing the hip line onto the inside pocket facing


Facing piece with hip and crotch lines added. (Only the hip line was necessary)


Drawing the hip line onto the outside pocket facing. Here, I matched it up the facing as if it were assembled into a completed pants front


Hip lines on the facings. As it turned out, I didn’t need to alter the zipper shield.

The back yoke is a special case, since it doesn’t extend down to the hip line; I’ll cover that in a moment.

Drawing alterations on the main pieces

Finally, it was time to alter the front and back pattern pieces.  Following Nancy Zieman’s pivot and slide technique, I stacked the two copies, then pivoted the 34 top piece until it matched up with the 32 line at the hip on the bottom piece. Then I traced the line to blend from 34 to 32.

I think to be true to the pivot and slide process, the pivot points should be at the intersections of the stitching lines. Otherwise, you’re altering the the seam allowances as well. But the amount of alteration here is pretty small so I don’t think it matters much here. I just used the corner of the pattern as the pivot point.  We’ll see how well this all works when I stitch it out.

Pants Front


Grading center front from 34 at waist to 32 at hip.


The result.


Tracing line to grade front piece at side seam. (Oops, the camera auto-focused on my hand)


Side seam after grading. From 34 at the waist to 32 at the hip.

Pants Back

Earlier I mentioned the back yoke piece is a special case. That’s because it must join with the pants back in order to get the full curve up to the waistline.  So I traced the stitching line on the yoke and back piece, and pinned them as if they were sewn together. Then I did pivot and trace to alter both pieces as one unit.


Joining the yoke and back piece. The yoke has a curve, so here we join them at the side seam.  We will re-pin them when we alter the center seam.


Both top and bottom must have joined yokes to pivot and trace.


Finished result. (The center seam was altered off-camera).

Grading the facing pieces

The facing pieces are graded the same way as the pants fronts and backs.  Pivot from the corner to the 32-inch size at the hip line, and trace a new line.


Graded pocket facing on bottom.


Graded pocketing

For the facing and yoke piece, I cut the size 34 line at top, and the size 32 line at bottom.  I don’t know if that’s the correct thing to do; we’ll see how it sews up.

Finally, I didn’t alter the zipper shield, since the pattern piece is virtually identical between the two sizes.

Next Time

I’m about to go cut and sew a new muslin. I’ll show you how it looks.

The Breakfast Club Wardrobe, Part 5: Hammer Time

My goal was to get out of muslin-land by the time this 4th of July weekend was through. I almost made that goal; while I got a shirt and a pants muslin made, I think there’s at least one more to do.

The Shirt Muslin: Print It

I’m pleased with the alterations to the shirt pattern.

First, I like the look better with the shoulder seam relocated farther back.  Now that I look at the photo, I notice some pull lines across the collarbone area, especially on the left, but wonder if that’s due to the use of pins rather than actual buttons.



The alterations to remove the pooling fabric behind the collar were also successful.



I’m happy with the shirt pattern as-is; it’s ready for production.

I want to give a shout-out to Kenneth D. King’s “Smart Fitting” method, which really worked well for me. There’s a fancy video course that you can buy on DVD from Threads Magazine for a lot of money, but I got the basics from their special magazine issue on fitting, which you can find in hardcopy or digital download for just $7.

The Pants Muslin: Hammer Time

I spent most of Sunday hammering out the pants muslin, made from my ugly polyester that doesn’t take creases well. I skipped the patch pockets, belt loops, and zipper insertion.  I also skipped all the fancy seam finishing, though I did finish the seams with an overcast stitch on the machine. The fabric was fraying quickly and I hate dealing with fraying fabric.

I chose the size 36 pattern based on my waist.  The waist ended up a bit loose, maybe about an inch too large.  And I need to shorten the legs by 3 1/2 inches or so.

But it’s clear everything else is way, way too big. They look like Hammer Pants on me.

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I plan to deal with the problem tomorrow.  The general plan is:

  • Reduce the waist by about an inch.
  • Shorten the legs by about 3 1/2 to 4 inches.
  • Grade the pattern from a 36-ish waist to one of the smaller sizes at the hips and legs.
  • Hopefully this will also address issues with the crotch, which is a bit too deep.

As with the shirt, I plan to pick apart this muslin (also sewn with a basting stitch), recut and resew the muslin to check fit.

Do any of you have fitting/alteration suggestions? If so, please let me know in the comments.

Next Time

I hope to have the muslins behind me, and ready to cut fabric for the actual garments.  See you then.