Vogue 8940 Pants Fitting, Round 4

“If I learned anything from my shirtmaking years, it was that fitting is a huge challenge that can easily eat up all your available sewing time and block all further progress, if you let it.”

— David Page Coffin, “Making Trousers”

I got quite a lot of quality time in this weekend with my pants muslin, and I believe I’ve made some significant progress.

Muslin D

I’m not sure I can call this pattern Vogue 8940 any more; I’ve customized it so much that at this point it has become truly my own.  And once I dial in the fit, I will have to draft new facings, front fly, and waistband pieces to match the customized pattern pieces I’ve created.

Pattern Alterations

The changes that went into muslin D were:

  • Add roughly 1/2 inch to the front and back side seams of Muslin B. For Muslin D, I walked and trued front and back seams, and added about a half inch to both for a total of two inches extra circumference at the hip.

Front pattern piece. Blue line is the old side seam line, pencil is the new seam line, red is the new cut line.

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Walking and truing the front and back side seams.

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  • Remove some of the dip in the lower crotch curve to make it come closer to my body.

Blue is the old seam line, pencil is the new seam line, red is the new cut line.

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  • Transfer the darts I pinned out in Muslin C.

Blue and red are left and right side darts (can’t remember which is which).  Pencil is the average of the two.

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First Tryout

Here is Muslin D looks like without any alterations. Truthfully, it doesn’t look like a step forward.

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Adjusting Muslin D

This time I made a lot of tweaks to Muslin D.  For some reason, I felt more comfortable about making changes to this muslin, even though I spent considerable time experimenting with it.

I pinned out several of my proposed changes, and the ones I was satisfied with I stitched into the muslin with a basting stitch on the machine. This is a little more work, but I get a better read of the changes I’m making when I baste in the changes rather than pin them.  I also get stuck by pins a whole lot less.

Side Seams

The side seams continue to vex. Widening them also added an unwanted curves at the hips.  I pinned out the curves and then restitched the side seams with a basting stitch.  The straighter hips look much nicer to me, but the extra ease I tried to add back in is now gone again.  On the next muslin (E) I’ll draw in the straighter side seams, then widen out from the new seam line.

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Darts

I’m continuing work on the darts to shape the pants from waistline to hip.  I pinned out a single dart on left and right sides of the previous muslin. This time, I did a bakeoff of a single dart on the left side versus two smaller darts on the right hand side.  I pinned them out, then machine-basted them to get a better idea what they looked like.

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Rear Crotch Seam

Most of my fitting work went into fine-tuning the rear crotch seam.

In Round 3, reader Nola suggested to me the rear crotch needed some more scooping, and judging from the vertical lines in back I think she is right.

I experimented with the scooping the back crotch in various ways.  To keep this article from exploding with photos, I’m just going to summarize the things I tried:

  1. Added a small amount to the crotch scoop in back (heavy light blue in photo).
  2. Adding some extra scoop higher up, right at the point the seat curves noticeably. (red dashes in photo)
  3. Drawing a curve similar to (2), but less exaggerated (blue pen line in photo).
  4. A curve that incorporates all of the above, but is simply a little less deep. (Rightmost basting line in photo.

I decided to go with curve (4) for now.

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The horizontal balance lines still dip a bit in back, suggesting insufficient length in the rear crotch seam. I added 1/2 inch of ease to the rear inseam to try to extend the length of the rear crotch.  I undid the inseams, drew a new stitch line into the rear seam allowance near the crotch point, and restitched both inseams.  (I kept the same seam allowance on the front pattern piece).

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Here’s what the muslin looks like after all these changes.

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Front Crotch Seam

Up to this point, I haven’t done much with the front crotch seam – there’s still quite a lot of fabric bunching up in front.

I tried scooping out the front crotch curve between the zipper endpoint and the inseam, to take in the seam and get rid of some of the excess fabric. (The rightmost basting line shows the new curve).

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This improved the situation considerably.

Here’s a repeat of the “before” front shot for comparison.

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So Where Are We At Now?

The next Muslin, Muslin E, will have a lot of changes:

  • Straighter side seams, and I’ll still try to widen them out by about 1/2 inch front and back to add a total of 2 inches ease at the hip.
  • A slightly deeper back crotch curve.
  • Let out the back crotch curve at the inseam by about 1/2 inch.
  • Scoop in the front crotch to reduce the fabric crumpling in front.
  • I like the look of the single large dart rather than two smaller darts, so I plan to stick with the single dart for the waist shaping.

Assuming that Muslin E reflects all these changes well, I’m almost ready to commit to an actual wearable garment.

But after all of this, there’s still one significant problem remaining. When I walk in the muslin, and especially if I climb stairs, I can feel some tightness running up and down through the seat area.  I’m pretty sure this is still pointing to a problem with the rear crotch seam.

I am likely to purchase an evaluation/assessment from Sarah Veblen with Muslin E to get some professional advice about what to do next.

Even so, Muslin D with tweaks fits me better than any pair of ready-to-wear pants currently in my closet.

Japanese Pattern Book Winner, and New Patterns!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Japanese Pattern Book contest.  I really appreciated hearing what you think of the blog, as well as the suggestions for projects for me to work on.

One surprise was the votes of support for non-garment projects such as the recent Duffel Bag project. It was gratifying to hear there’s a segment of my readership that really likes those types of projects, and I definitely have more planned for the future.

There were a total of 14 entrants to the contest.  The Internet Random Number Generator picked the winner.

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The lucky winner was reader “Auschick in VA”, 12th in the list of entrants:

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She writes:

Oh this book looks fabulous! I’d love to make clothes for my husband. He is so bad with his lounge pants – they are constantly getting ripped across the knees, so I’m thinking something handmade might hold up better.

The book is now on its way to Auschick – I hope her husband enjoys the new lounge pants! I really like the lounge/leisure pants featured in the book, so I might make a pair at some point too.

New Patterns

Yesterday was the Bay Area Sewists Meetup in Berkeley, CA. The theme of this meetup was a Pattern Swap, followed by a presentation and discussion about Japanese sewing pattern books.

I had a small collection of women’s patterns that I got from buying Craftsy classes; they’re the patterns you’re supposed to work with in each course.

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I wanted them to find more appreciative homes, because it is extremely unlikely I’ll ever make them.

There were several tables at the swap, sorting the patterns into categories – skirts, dresses, tops and so on.  I forgot to take a photo of the “menswear” table, but it doesn’t matter much since I grabbed nearly everything on it.  It was the only table I cared about!

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I hung around the Menswear table while all the women milled about.  Each time the horn sounded for the next round of selections, I grabbed my next most favorite item from the table. When “Free selection” began, I just grabbed what was left on the table and kept it for myself!

There were several ’70s mens patterns. These two from Simplicity were near the top of my “want” list. Bell-bottom knit pants?  Sign me up!  Simplicity 5048 is a shirt/vest/pant pattern combo I could see myself making.

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McCall’s 3443 is a blazer/slacks combo, again intended for knit fabrics.  Butterick 4710 is a jacket/pants/shorts combo.  The jacket in particular could be made up in modern way, if you narrow the collar.

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I also got an oversized, shapeless, styleless “Fast&Easy” fleece jacket pattern, along with a Vogue shirt pattern with styles I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.  I chose to take the “Fast&Easy” pattern rather than toss it in the trash.

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There was this ’60s Simplicity robe pattern:

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And the creme de la creme of the menswear selections, this ’60s vintage Simplicity sport shirt pattern.  It’s a size Small, so I will have to grade it up to make something out of it:

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Together with my birthday grab bag, I now have a credible vintage menswear pattern collection.

One Last Note

I typically don’t update the blog so often, so don’t miss yesterday’s update on Vogue Pants Fitting. And I’ll have even more to say on that subject soon.

Vogue 8940 Pants Fitting, Round 3

I’ll announce the winner of the Japanese Pattern Book Giveaway tomorrow.  In the meantime, let’s get back to fitting pants.

Previously, on Vogue 8940 Pants Fitting

I had three goals for the next muslin, which we’ll call Muslin C:

  1. 1/2″ tuck in front and back, to raise the crotch point closer to my body.
  2. More scoop to the back crotch in the back, to create more front-back space for my seat.
  3. Add width along the back side seam to compensate for the circumference taken out by the crotch scoop.

Here’s the pattern alterations I did.

Half-inch tuck

The half-inch tuck was a pretty simple alteration to front and back.  Consulting with Sarah Veblen in the class forum, I decided to avoid the lengthen-shorten line provided by Vogue, because theirs goes right through the crotch curve.  However, taking the tuck higher up means I’ll need to draft new front pocket facings for sure.

Front Tuck

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Back Tuck

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Back Crotch Adjustment

In the photo below, the pencil line is the crotch seam line I used in Muslin B.  The red line is the new crotch seam line I drew in to try out for Muslin C, which has an even deeper scoop than Muslin B.  It roughly follows some dashed marks, that I traced off the pinning work I did to the muslin.

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Note that the red line dips at the lowest point, as it approaches the inseam. The pencil seam line from Muslin B didn’t do that.  We’ll discuss that shortly.

Adding Width at the Side Seam

The crotch scoop removes width from the pants back, and gives it over to the front-back space occupied by the torso and seat.  To keep the desired circumference at the hips, the back pattern piece must be widened by a corresponding amount at the outseam.

The necessary amount of widening in my case is rather large – about 3/4 inch – and it’s hard to widen at the hips and still gracefully blend the new hipline back to the waist, and down towards the knee.

I chose to take the original pattern, with its original outseam line, and do a pivot/slide approach to trace a new outseam line starting at the knee and going up to the waist. But as you can see in the photo below comparing the old and new cutlines, the new back outseam line gets a rather pronounced curve right at the widest part of the hip.

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Widening the hip in this manner introduced its own set of issues, which we’ll get to shortly.

Muslin C

With these pattern alterations, I cut fabric and stitched Muslin C.

First Try-out

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Here are my notes on this muslin:

The crotch curve is getting into shape, The vertical plumb lines in back are much more straight, and there’s less crumpling of fabric underneath the seat.  That means the crotch has been scooped enough to accommodate the right amount of space front-to-back for the torso.

There’s still two more issues with the back crotch curve.

  1. The horizontal balance lines still dip a bit at the center back seam, rather than keeping level. This is an indication that the crotch length in back is still a little too short.  One way that this can be addressed is to open the inseam, and let out the crotch a bit at the back.
  2. I feel some tension across my front thighs when I walk. This may mean I have to widen the thigh in front, but it’s more likely be due to the curve of the back crotch as it approaches the inseam, because it now feels a bit low as compared to my body.  Ideally, the crotch should graze the body.  On this muslin, I drafted a new crotch curve that dipped a bit before it met the inseam. It was just the way I drew things with the pattern drafting ruler, but I’m thinking that may not have been necessary.

I plan to remove this dip from the rear crotch curve in the next muslin.  I won’t play with the crotch length, because I only want to change one thing at a time.  Instead I will try the next muslin on and see how much I need to to adjust crotch length once I get the curve better matched to my body.

Turning to the side seams, you can see they now have some funny “bubbling” in them that results from the alteration I made to the back side seam.  Often, when you alter a pattern piece, you need to “walk” the pattern with its matching pieces and “true” them to ensure they match up properly and the seams remain the same length. I made a mistake by not changing the front piece, so now they don’t match up properly.

On the PatternReview class forum, I asked Sarah Veblen the following question:

I haven’t altered the curve of the front side seam, so it seems like I may need to walk/true the front and back pattern pieces. Do you walk and true the pattern between every muslin, or do you use some judgement as to when you need to walk the pattern again and get the pieces trued up?

I won’t quote her response here, since I didn’t get permission.  But to paraphrase, she always walks and trues adjoining seams if she makes changes to a pattern.  She says that doing so helps you get a better sense of the pattern, and can also let you know if you are creating problems with a pattern change.

With Darts and Side Seams

With the funky side seams I drafted, I don’t want to use them as a guide for the next round of pattern changes, because they aren’t trued.

For the next muslin, I plan to widen both the front and back piece, rather than add all the width to the back.  This should help somewhat with the exaggerated curves I’m getting.  And I won’t use the pivot/slide technique, but instead draft my own lines with the pattern ruler.

With my current muslin, I simply got some pins out and did a quick and dirty job of pinning out excess fabric along  the side seam.  Also for the first time, I pinned out some darts at the waist to start shaping the area from the waist down to the hip.

Let’s see how that looks.

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This definitely looks better – I like the straighter sides – but now there’s some new issues. The side pinning and darts have taken up all the circumference in the hip area. The pants are now too tight and you can see the horizontal strain lines, especially in front.  I’ll address this with the next muslin.

Unresolved Issues

There are some problems with my fitting muslins that have been there all along, but I haven’t addressed up to this point.  I’ve been trying to work through the other fitting issues first before dealing with them.

  • There is a hollow in my buttocks right between the waist and hip.  You can see the fabric settle in that area in most of the muslin photos.  That’s because my not-so-perfect body has some nice fleshy mounds right at the waist level. Adding a dart on each side of center seam starts addressing that issue by causing the pants to curve over the buttock.  On the next muslin, I’ll try adding a second dart between the first and the side seam, to see if I can better shape the fabric over that hollow area.
  • The front photos show some excess fabric collecting at the front crotch. And if you look further at the front photos, the vertical plumb lines bow outward right at the crotch. I think the front crotch curve may need to be taken in slightly near the inseam to rein in that excess fabric.

Next Muslin

My next muslin, Muslin D, will incorporate the following changes:

  • Add more width on front and rear side seam, to add circumference taken away by the scooped crotch as well as the darts in the waist.
  • Remove the drop in the back crotch curve.
  • Trace the darts from the muslin back to the pattern.  I’ll transfer the dart to the muslin on the left side, and use the right side of the muslin to experiment with two darts to get a better fit over the hollow in the buttocks.

And I’ll model it once again and see how it looks.  I’m pretty certain there will be a Muslin E, because I’m not done with tuning the crotch curve and Muslin D won’t address everything.  Same story with the side seam.  But I may try purchasing an evaluation session with Sarah Veblen after producing Muslin D.