Sunday, August 28, 2016

Getting A Little Crotch-ety With Pants Fitting

Remember these shorts that I loved sooooooo much this summer from Alina Design Co. and I made like a hundred pair?  And then I made a hundred skirts to match?

Well, she finally made my dreams come true and added pants as an option.  I say made my dreams come true, but even my wildest dreams did not include actually getting to test the pants pattern for her.  Or working through what you might describe as a pants fitting nightmare.

I believe I can speak for most women on the planet when I say finding pants that fit is next to impossible.  Every so often, you fall upon the PERFECT pair.  It fits just the way you want from the waist down.  It's a color that you love.  And people mention how great they look on you.

For most of us, this is almost a once in a lifetime experience.  Most of us are not built the way ready to wear (RTW) pants are meant to fit, so our bodies push and pull the fabric until they fit reasonably enough that we wear them and look presentable.  Have you ever noticed that a pair of pants you love manages to stick with you through slight weight gain and loss without looking too tight or too loose?  Fabric has a memory and you can make pants yours after a lot of wearing.  And chinos are made of cotton which can be a giving fabric.  To a point.

These Chitown Chinos shorts were the first shorts I'd ever made.  I had never done anything with an actual waistband or fly zip.  I've made pajama pants, leggings and some questionable linen pants with an elastic waist, so I've made things with legs, but never anything that fits like chino shorts or pants.

The instructions for the shorts were so great, I made some skirts with it and loved them just as much.

I thought full length pants in this same style would be amazing.  I already new what the waist would look like and how it would sit.  I already knew how to put in the zip fly.  And I thought I had some perfect fabric for capris just dying to be made.

I knew there was more to pants than just taking your favorite shorts and drawing the legs straight down and calling it a day.

But oh, I had no idea.

I'll share this pattern testing experience with you because until you've done it, you don't know what you're getting into.

First, we had to join a secret group on facebook.  Since I have a business page for On Aunt Mildred's Porch, I couldn't join this private group with that account, so I created an account just for sewing related things.   Shocking that I would have a personal account, I know.

Once we joined, we were able to download the expansion pack for the pattern.  I already had the PDF for the shorts and skirt, so I just had to get the pantlegs and SURPRISE, the welt pockets pieces.  This was a total shock to me.

Welt pockets are something we just take for granted in chinos/khakis and it never occurred to me that we would use them in this pattern.

I'll be back another day to rave about the welt pocket, but I will say here that it might be my new favorite part of the pattern.  It truly is a magic trick, so come back later and I'll tell you all about it.

I went into this thinking it was going to be a breeze.  I thought I'd print it, make sure there were not grammatical or spelling errors in the text and make sure all of the pieces lined up and then be on my merry way to making 100 of these before school starts.

My friends, making pants with other people in a group, albeit online and not in the same room, is not for the feint of heart.  Once people made their muslins (remember, that's the test pair where you make all of your adjustments before cutting in to the real fabric), they started posting pictures to the group.

People mostly post from the waist down so I have no faces to associate with all of the butts  I saw.   

We saw mostly unfinished products at first, with lots of pins hold things together or people actually holding their waists closed.  The purpose is to start seeing how people follow the directions and what happens in all different sizes.

These pictures are not about beauty.  I was surprised at first and then realized how useful all of these pictures were for seeing what needs to be changed for good fit.

We saw all manner of butts and crotches.  Crotches too low, crotches too loose, center seams that dragged crotches into places I didn't think they could go.

I think almost every post had the word crotch in it.

We saw fabric pulling, puckering, sagging, bagging.

We saw the craziest fabrics.  Sometimes two completely ridiculous fabrics together just because this was the test pair and never to be worn for real.

And people started throwing out all sorts of jargon like "Thin Thigh Adjustments" and "Dropping the Back Crotch" and "Scooping Out the Crotch Curve" and "Full Tummy Adjustments" and "Flat Butt Adjustments".

They used special acronyms:  SA (seam allowance), FBA(flat butt adjustment but it will always be full butt in my head which is completely the opposite), RTW(ready to wear).

I suddenly realized I needed some Cliff's Notes and STAT because I didn't know any of this stuff.

How did my favorite shorts that I thought looked so fantastic on me translate to"too much fabric under booties"???

Where I cut the fabric to make the shorts hit where I like on my thigh is just about the place that all hell can break loose when making pants.  This was becoming a project I hadn't expected.

And then there are the knees.  You have to have enough room in the knees to be able to sit and bend but not so much that they bag.  But how much is too much?  I'm still not sure I have the answer to that question.

I learned how the slightest adjustments in the crotch can make a huge difference in the amount of tight or loose fabric all over the legs.   I saw people post pictures and other people would coach them on what to do to solve a problem and it was amazing to see what simple changes can do.

And how much people know or don't know. 

I also learned that I have a habit of mixing up all of the jargon and posting questions that no one is sure how to answer because I've mashed it together.

I made my muslin on a weekend and didn't have time during the week for the next pair, so during the week, I watched what everyone did and read all of the suggestions.  Most of them blurred together in my head because they were not suggestions for my actual pants on my actual body.

By the time I started my next pair, it was very close to the deadline and I didn't think I'd need too many changes because the muslin pair were not all that bad.  There were some suggestions on the pictures I put up that I planned to use.

I went down a size with different fabric and made my attempt at a thin thigh adjustment and dropping the crotch in the back.  And then I had a total nightmare because the legs kept twisting at the knees and looked awful.  Someone made a suggestion and I tried it and it mostly fixed the problem.  

In the end, I managed to get a pair of pants I will actually wear.  I probably would not have persisted at trying to get the fit right on my own, so being in the test group was great for me.  I have the patience of a flea and ripping out seams and trying on pants for the 100th time are not things I enjoy doing. Working on the final pair was a real challenge because I had to take out several large seams several times.

If I had been able to work on them during the week, I would have gotten some super one on one suggestions from people and now I know for the future what a timeline for pattern testing is like.  The community feel is really neat and the comments and suggestions were all very on point.  No one said mean things, no one got off topic and everyone truly worked to solve the pants fitting dilemmas that we all had.

And  though the final pants are tapered and far shorter than I usually wear pants, apparently I will be among the high fashion crowd when I wear them this fall.

Tune in later for an actual picture of the pants in daylight since it was late night when I finished my final test pair and dim light will do nothing for them.

The final part of the testing is for everyone to post their final presentable pictures in nice fabrics, wearing shoes, in daylight.  They look great and so many people took the suggestions to heart and really made them fit their bodies.  I can't wait for you to be able to see some pictures when the pattern releases.

Now Alina takes all of the comments, suggestions and common issues and whittles it down into a pattern that will go out to the masses.  I'm excited because she will make some adjustments that I am still not clear how to make, so when the new pattern is ready, I will make another pair and see how they fit.

And then I can make my 100s.

I would love to test a pattern again but I think I might not volunteer so quickly for pants since I know so little about all of the fitting possibilities!  I'm thinking loose fitting kaftans might be the way to go.

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