Thursday, July 4, 2013

Math, I can handle


--it's pants that are hard.

I've been working on making a pair of shorts for myself. I started out with the Pleasant Pathways shorts, a free pattern designed by Anna Maria Horner. The operative word here is "free"--I've been tempted by a couple of shorts patterns that have come out recently (the Iris shorts by Colette Patterns and the Maritime shorts by Grainline look especially nice), but didn't want to invest in a pattern that might be cut totally wrong for me. Like just about every other woman on the planet, I have a hard time finding ready-to-wear pants that fit right.

(In particular, I'm short, very short waisted, and prefer to wear pants pretty low on my waist--so I like pants with what others would consider a ridiculously low rise. Both the Iris and Maritime shorts are described as "mid-rise," which I read as code for "waistband will surely hit at my ribcage if not higher.")

But I figured, free pattern + thrift-store muslin fabric = let's give it a whirl.

The first muslin turned out...unfortunate, to say the least. That's a photo up above. I'll spare you (or rather, spare myself) posting a picture of me actually wearing them.

I think they fit, but they didn't fit at all like I wanted them to. I wanted the rise to be about three inches lower, the inseam about three inches longer, and the leg opening about three inches wider.

I could have predicted this--in fact, I did. Here's a pair of ready-to-wear shorts that fits me fairly well laid on top of the pattern. Pretty different, right?

I know what you're thinking: girl, you need a different pattern. (And yeah, you might be right. But again, I'm not confident that there is one, or that I could preemptively identify one, that would be just right out of the envelope.)

Or, you might be thinking: why not just go up a size or two? That would enable me to wear the shorts lower on the waist, which will also make the hems longer, and probably give wider leg openings too.

Well, true, but that would also give me slouchy shorts. I didn't want to sacrifice the otherwise good fit, I wanted to change the cut.

So--adventures in pattern alterations.

First, I lopped two inches off the back rise, and three inches off the center front rise tapering to two inches at the side seam. Yup, just lopped it straight off, based on this advice. The fact that these shorts don't have a separate waistband greatly simplifies things here.

Then, I lengthened the shorts according to this method. It's interesting to see that this also widens the legs a bit.

Step three, add width to the legs according to this tutorial from Threads magazine.

Checking my work: the side seams match up.

And the crotch curve is still true.

Oops, the inseams aren't quite right. (I fixed this by cutting off the excess of the longer piece, tapering out to nothing at the side seam since that was already the right length.)

Then I compared to the original pattern sheet again. You can see that what I've arrived at isn't just a larger size, it is indeed a different cut. Hopefully the right one.


Muslin #2 is on the docket for tomorrow, and if that turns out well I'll draft new waistband and leg facings according to this tutorial from The Coletterie.

What do you think? Anyone out there have experience with altering pants or shorts patterns? Any predictions about what I've done wrong or right? Suggestions of good how-to's for making pattern alterations?

(And yes, I guess this is an odd post for July 4, but let's just say that I'm celebrating my freedom to get in over my head with fabric.)

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