Pants, Pants, and more Pants

21 Feb

I don’t wear pants very often.

It’s not a rule, per se, or a thing that I do, intentionally, wearing only skirts (although I’m a great fan and admirer of the No Pants! blog.)

I just figured out a while ago that in all photos of me taken anywhere, I prefer the way I look in skirts and dresses to pants, and since then, I’ve tried out various theories, in the following progression of thought:
1) Pants are particularly difficult to fit on MY body, and I just need to find the right styles and stick to those.

(and I drew this little sketch to illustrate it.)
2) I’m actually not really sure how to fit pants, and many of the ones I buy simply don’t fit very well, and I just squeeze myself into them, not knowing the difference, having quite likely spent my entire life thus far in ill-fitting pants.

3) Pants are by nature difficult to fit because there are so many measurements, and manufacturers can’t really fit a style closely to any individual body, therefore if I want to wear pants I should enlist the professional help of a good tailor.

4) If I sewed my own pants, I could eliminate some of these variables, but then I would still have to learn about all these different measurements and variables, myself, and I really don’t know where to start.

5) Then I discovered some pants I’d once made, some time ago, and decided that actually, my shape isn’t so difficult to fit after all (since once, at least, I’d been able to simply followed a straight commercial pattern, and end up with pants) and the real problem must be that the fit of pants is the first thing to change when one’s weight fluctuates, as mine (like so many other women’s) so often does. After all, these pants look fine, right now, but since there’s no waistband (just a side zip and waist facings, front and back) if I lose 5 pounds, they become too loose and ride down on the hips, becoming saggy in the crotch, and if I gain 5 pounds, the belly looks bad and…other unflattering things.

There’s quite likely some truth in all these ideas. I don’t really know how to fit pants, and most retailer’s pant’s aren’t a great fit on my body, and there are a lot of variables in measurements that improve a fit on a pair of pants, and I probably am really in over my head, on this one. But the fact that I once made this one pair of pants that’s not entirely awful indicates that maybe, just maybe I could try it again, and puzzle this thing out bit by bit.

I think I’m ready to try. My next pair, I’ll add some belt loops, so at least they might have some longevity and span at least a little bit of body-size fluctuation variation. Pockets would be a nice addition, as well. And a fabric heavier than suiting would be better, these are pretty lightweight, in my opinion.

But I’m still not quite sure where to start. Even if I made the same pattern over again, should I make some fit adjustments?ย  Those are from Butterick 6833, here:

The style seems to fit my preferred shape for pant acceptability, so close that I wonder if I was wearing my home-sewn green pants when I drew that picture…BUT: Fit for Real People warns me that wrinkles point to fit problems. I look at the picture of the model on the pattern, and I see wrinkles, pointing to her crotch as well as over her right hip, where her leg extends farther. Do these pants even fitย her?

How do I know? What does a pair of right-fitting pants even look like?

And most importantly: Do mine fit me? Pants wrinkle all the time, with every step. Which posture is the one that’s supposed to reveal the true fit?ย  Which wrinkles are meaningful, and which ones are inevitable, as fabric flows around a three-dimensional form moving through space? And is there a formula?

One way or another, I’m going to figure out pants.

9 Responses to “Pants, Pants, and more Pants”

  1. Jessie February 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Oh, man, pants. I’ve had such a hard time with them. I’m pretty happy with my current pattern, but it’s been through quite a few difficult adjustments. I drafted it up from “Pattern Drafting For Dressmaking” by Pamela Stringer, which has an excellent, easy-to-follow pattern drafting system for beginners, and if you’re at all interested in pattern drafting, I think pants are one of those things where it’s better just to start from scratch than to adjust a commercial pattern. They’re just so particular to your individual body.

    • handmadejulie February 22, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      I’m not sure I have the patience for pattern drafting. I’m more of a “draper” than a “drafter”, and measuring is its own special exercise. Somehow if I measure something twice, I always come up with two different measurements. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. mrsmole February 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Try Butterick 5222 by Coni Crawford. She eliminates the baggy seat and wrinkles under the butt. The side seam hang straight and you can make them without the waistband and just add an inside facing so they sit on the hips. Easy front fly directions or use an invisible zipper like I do with my clients…they love not having a bulky seam/fly front. Front darts snug in the waist along with the back darts. Pants make you look taller as the eye is drawn to the floor with no breaks along the leg.

    • handmadejulie February 22, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      Thank you for this! Their patterns are on sale for only $1.99, too–so I’ve ordered it and I’ll try it out.

  3. roobeedoo February 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    I would definitely agree on your recipe for a good fit – the straighter and simpler the cut, the less there is to go wrong! And definitely no pleats or gathers. I would recommend New Look 6190. It might be out of print now.

    • handmadejulie February 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      Those are really cute! I see a waistband and belt loops in there, and yet it’s not high-waisted. In fact, I think the last pair of grey pants I used to wear before I gave up pants looked a lot like those, in style.

      Thank you for the recommendation.

  4. Evelynne February 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Those green pants look really great on you! The front looks completely flat when you stand straight — I don’t know that wrinkles when moving should count. ๐Ÿ˜› And the back shows off your butt rather than just hanging off the spot where it starts to curve under.

    A couple years ago, I remember seeing pictures people posted of Halle Berry wearing pants at some celebrity function that had those wrinkles in the front. I remember thinking if Halle couldn’t get her pants properly fitted, what hope was there for the rest of us?

    I do love me some FUN PANTS! though so I’ll be watching your pants posts with great interest. Honestly, I can’t quite see making a pair of pants fit me personally (with narrow hips, big butt, long rise, short legs) without pretty much starting from scratch. I like math, so I think I should try the pattern drafting, and my stepMIL actually gave me a little kit that helps you do that. I was specifically impressed that they took into account how much of the hip measurement goes out the BACK versus the front, which is a critical component of fit for me. If you ever change your mind about drafting and want to borrow it let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • handmadejulie February 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      I think I could find myself going for FUN PANTS, if I have a pattern that I know fits well and is comfortable. I mean, how many great fabrics are out there that would make great non-black pants?

      This could be the start of something wonderful.

  5. Smash Knits February 23, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    I’m scared to try sewing pants – I have such an awful time finding a fit in RTW clothing, but I just think I’d have even an awfuller time making my own. You’re much braver than I! ๐Ÿ™‚

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