This will be a difficult post to write; so many thoughts are swirling in my head. I think most of us who are still blogging about our makes, usually write about our successes. We have the idea, buy the fabric, pour all the skill we can muster into a garment, and arrive victorious at the end. Typically, I snap some photos in the backyard, pat myself on the back and it’s a wrap. I’m off to the next project feeling quite chuffed with the latest addition to my me-made wardrobe.
Not so with this pair of trousers.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s back up.
The road from theory to reality has been anything but a straight line in my trouser journey. It started with an online Zoom class offered by The Tailoring Academy in Macclesfield, UK. It was an amazing experience, a long sought after dream really; and I was eager to put what I had learned into practice.
Because I’m a solo act, measuring myself accurately proved to be less than ideal; but I knew this going in. I did the best I could, viewing myself in a mirror and taking measurements from a pair of trousers that I thought fit me well. I ordered in two rolls of Swedish Tracing Paper and set about following the class worksheets, step by step.
I had such high hopes! I made up the muslin complete with a zipper and waistband. All the time I was working on it, I envisioned that moment when I put them on and bask in the perfection of the fit. Trousers made to my unique measurements. How could they not be perfect?
Oh, silly man!…..This was the result.
Talk about the agony of defeat. Way too much fabric in the rear. A side seam that appears too far forward. Excess fabric at the hip…jodphurs? saddle bags? How could it have gone so horribly wrong?
If there’s one thing that becomes evident when you’re on the “pants journey” it’s that you’re not alone. At any given time there are sewists around the world that are going through exactly what you’re experiencing. The struggle is real. We scoop out crotches, put in darts (or in my case, take them out), let out seams here or reduce them there. We confront our bodies as they are, and then try to unravel the mystery of “what has to happen here”.
I tried the Horizontal Balance Method to no avail (other than a wedgie!) I quickly abandoned ship with this process.
I consulted Threads magazine articles and several blogs, all the while making a tweak here and there, hoping for the best. Eventually, after two muslins, I came to the conclusion that what I had was unworkable, and that a new set of measurements was in order. So I went back to the drawing board, literally.
This time around I tied 1/4″ elastic around my waist, widest hip, knees and ankles. I then ran my tape measure, (taped to the sole of my shoe), under the elastic bands to my waist and recorded my measurements while standing next to a full length mirror.
The most revealing measurement was that my fullest hip proved to be higher than the point calculated in the draft. This greatly improved the fit through the hips, and the jodhpur effect was eliminated. Yay! I eliminated one of the darts at the back to accommodate my flat buttock, and scooped the crotch curve slightly. With each adjustment I did a “sitting and stair climbing test”. As an Instagram follower advised, for those of us with straight hips and a flat seat, it’s possible to fit to the point where one has “cocktail party pants”. You look great standing up, but can never sit down!
In retrospect I should have stopped here. BUT…. I convinced myself that the front crease was running off to the sides, and that I needed a knock-knee adjustment. Believe me, there IS such a thing! I pulled out my Cabrera tailoring text and went down that rabbit hole. It was totally unnecessary (maybe a figment of my imagination), and I’ll have to undo it in the next iteration, but this is how the journey goes. Sometimes the improvement we seek fixes one issue, but may come with some unintentional and unwanted consequences. All part of the process.
Unable to face yet another muslin, I found some pin stripe cotton suiting in the attic that I had completely forgotten about. I purchased it online years ago and it was a big disappointment: so off to the attic it went. It finally found its purpose as “wearable muslin” #4.
I ended up putting much more work into this “muslin” than I ever intended. But it seemed necessary to accurately evaluate the draft. Plus there was the possibility that maybe I’d “nailed it”! Oh, we sewists on the trouser journey……always hopeful!
French fly, jetted pockets, waistband curtain, cuffs …… the whole enchilada! And where did it all lead?
Here. The good and the bad. Changes that worked, others that didn’t. A mix of success and disappointment. An unreached destination. A way station on the journey.
I take some comfort in knowing that somewhere in the world, there’s a sewist standing in my shoes. Someone who’s looking at their photos and thinking. Just thinking. Thinking about so many “What ifs”. It’s like a background hum. Some will jump back into the process. I need to take a break and regroup.
When I look at the bigger picture I have to realize that I started with little more than a set of numbers. Those numbers turned into a pair of wearable trousers. The trousers that I dreamed of? … No. That pair is still out there. But for now I’m just going to wear these with all their flaws…and continue to think.
If there’s a bright side to this story, they actually go well with some of the shirts I’ve made. So I’ll take that win!
As always, happy sewing to all. Enjoy your journey, wherever it takes you.