Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pants Fit - Part II

For me, by far the most perplexing garment to fit are pants.  They must fit up and down and around as all other garments but they must also have the correct crotch curve shape and length and fit around 3 "cylinders" (the torso and 2 legs).  The fit adjustments are oftentimes counterintuitive.

Over the years, I have taken online classes and attended every pant fitting class offered in the sewing expos I have attended.  Each class offered new insights as to why pants fit and don't fit.  The most beneficial class I have taken was a 3 day workshop offered by the NJ Chapter of the ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) taught by Karen Bengtson (member of the Colorado chapter).  You can read more about the process in my previous post.

The pants pattern was based on the methods and techniques developed by Joyce Murphy who also wrote an article in the December/January 2006 Issue 122 of Threads magazine entitled, "Adjusting Pants from Waist to Seat."  It was a fascinating article where she explained the concept of body spaces and how they relate to the crotch length and more importantly, how there are an infinite number of shapes of body spaces.  She also explained why the commonly recommended adjustments often don't work.

I am very happy with the result but I want to understand why they fit.  Below is my analysis.

Here are the Joyce Murphy pants, front view:


And most importantly for me, the back view.  There is a little bit of a wrinkling below my derriere on the left side due to my left hip being lower but it doesn't bother me:


Below are photos of a muslin based on a standard Big 4 pant pattern:
Big 4 pant pattern muslin - Front
I don't like how the front crotch fits.  There is too much fabric there and the fabric seems to hang from the bottom of the zipper opening.  I do need to take in the sides but most of the bagginess you see on the sides is actually coming from the back:

Big 4 pant pattern muslin - Back
I have a flat derriere and thin thighs.  It looks like I need less fabric around the thighs so you would think what I need is to take in some fabric along the inseams.  One instructor suggested I take in the inseams and scoop out the crotch but that didn't work.  I still had bagginess.  Here's the counterintuitive part:  I needed more fabric there!

In the photo below, I placed the Big 4 pant pattern back (the tissue) on top of the Joyce Murphy pant pattern (white paper) and you can see how the Joyce Murphy pant pattern has a longer back crotch length!



In the photo below,  the Joyce Murphy front crotch is 3/4 inch shorter than the Big 4 pant pattern front.  This smaller measurement takes away the excess fabric at the front:


Another very important factor is the crotch curve.  At the risk of over sharing, here is mine.  I obtained it using a flexible ruler.  I placed a red rubber band where my  inseam is located.  Given that I have a flat derriere, I was absolutely astonished that my shape was so round, almost a perfect circle - ha!  I did this repeatedly to make sure I got the shape right, because I just couldn't believe it, but I kept coming up with this.  The space inside the flexible ruler is what Joyce Murphy calls "body space." Everyone has their own unique body space:


So when I took the above photo and drew in "legs", the flat derriere (as well as tummy - boohoo) becomes evident.  Funny how the eye can distort reality (or is it wishful thinking)!


When I abut the front and back Joyce Murphy pattern pieces together and place the flexible ruler along the crotch, the shape matches the flexible ruler quite nicely:


Another factor at play here is the angle of the center back seam.  The more angled the seam, the more it can accommodate a curvier derriere and the opposite is true for a flat derriere.  You don't need much of an angle for a flat derriere.  Why?

A DART!!!!
In the above photo, I traced the pattern so that I have both the left and right sides of the back pattern and had them meet at the back notch since this is what you would do when you sew.  And what do you see - A DART!  If you think about men's shirts, there are no bust darts because they are flat.  Women's fitted and semi-fitted blouses have darts, because they are needed for shaping over the bust. As those of us who must make full bust adjustments know, the bigger the bust, the larger the dart.  Those who are small in this area must make a small bust adjustment, a smaller dart.

Same goes for pants!  The curvier the derriere, the larger the "dart" needs to be so a greater angle would help.  Someone with a flat derriere, like myself, needs a smaller "dart" or an angle that is at less of an angle.  I first heard of this center back "dart" in a Lorraine Henry class at an expo.

So for me, in order to get pants that fit nicely, I needed to add to the back crotch length, reduce the front crotch length, make sure the crotch curve mirrored mine and reduce the angle of the center back seam.  Whew!

There is a wealth of information out there on fitting pants and many different methods.  Finding the method that works for you requires much experimentation but most of all perseverance and patience.

Now I want to use this pant block to create pants with different leg shapes and in different fabrics.  I am sure these changes will present their own challenges, especially different types of fabric.  Hmmmm...



Happy sewing!