Vogue 8940 Pants Fitting, Round 2

I’m inviting you to watch as I attempt, once again, to fit the pattern for Vogue 8940 mens trousers.  You can see my previous article in this series here; I’m picking up where that article leaves off.

I will try to iterate through the process of making muslins until I get one that has good fit.  My expectations are set that this could require several iterations. Unlike my disappointing experience with the Thread Theory Jedediah Pants pattern, I actually think I can get a working pattern out of Vogue 8940.

My Resource

Most of my guidance for this round of fitting has come from Sarah Veblen’s course on PatternReview, Fun with Fitting: Pants. I’ve also purchased Veblen’s fitting book, which has a chapter on pants fitting and supplements the course material.

The nice thing about the PatternReview course is that you can ask Ms. Veblen questions directly via the class forum. She doesn’t answer fitting questions specific to your situation, but she will answer general questions and anything about the class content.

I’m not going to repeat her course here, because I don’t want to give away other people’s content. But I will try to demonstrate how I attempt to use Veblen’s fitting methodology in my particular situation.

Before We Get Started

I debated whether to include this note, but I guess it needs to be said. I’m putting myself out here by posting these photos of myself in some very unflattering settings.  Unfortunately, some past articles in this series have garnered some very unkind comments about my body shape.

I’m doing this in the spirit of sharing my learning process in the hopes others find it useful. I’m open and welcome to constructive criticism from readers about my approach to the fitting process. But if you feel the urge to tell me my body is ugly, I’d really ask that you withhold your comments. They benefit no one.

Pattern Prep

I started from the beginning, with a fresh trace of Vogue 8940 off the original pattern tissue.  And this time, I did some things differently from prior muslins.

Pocket Facings

I drafted the pocket facings right onto the front pants pattern piece.  The seamlines will be altered by the fitting process to the point I will have to redraft the pockets anyway. And as David Coffin points out in his books/courses, front pockets are a style decision that you can draft from scratch no matter what pattern you’re using.

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Seam Lines

I traced in seam lines along the pattern, 5/8 inch from the edge as per the pattern’s seam allownaces. The seam lines, rather than cutting lines, are the point where you make pattern alterations, and having them drawn on the pattern is worth the upfront effort.

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Eliminating the Back Yoke

I eliminated the yoke from the back piece. I did this for two reasons.  One was that I actually want to “dress up” these pants a bit.  The back yoke is a more casual thing you find on a pair of jeans. I’m aiming for something a little more business formal.

The other reason is that Sarah Veblen’s fitting class contains quite a bit of instruction around fitting darts to this area.  While you can do the same thing with the yoke (it’s essentially the pants equivalent of a princess seam) it’s easier for me to follow along with the class to have darts in this area.

So I merged the yoke onto the pants back, and converted the yoke seam into a dart.  There’s a tutorial at the Thread Theory website for this; what I did was to join the yoke piece to the back along the seam lines as if I were sewing them together, but instead I joined them with tape.  At this point, the pattern no longer lays flat – it has a curve, just as if you had sewn the garment itself. Using my prior muslin, I found the point along the waistband that corresponds with the peak curvature in my seat.  I slashed the yoke at that point to create a dart, making the pattern lie flat once again.

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Cut-on Waistband

I also added a cut-on waistband to the pattern.  I want a realistic idea of where the waist falls on my body, and it’s essential to get the waist level established properly in order to fit accurately.  I got tired of cutting out a separate waistband and stitching it to the pants every time I made a muslin.  This meant taping an extra bit of paper to the top, drawing a new waistline and extending the side seams to match up with it.  I just extended the dart legs in parallel to the top of the new pattern.

I will stick with a separate waistband for the final pattern; for now the cut-on waistband makes it easier to cut and sew a muslin, since I will now have just two fronts and two back pieces to deal with.

For the fittings, I cinch the waist area with some elastic just so the pants stay in place.

Muslin B

I want to bring in the first round of pattern changes, based upon what I learned from the previous fitting (which I’ll call Muslin A). The two things I wanted to do in Muslin B were:

  • “Scoop out” the crotch – by letting out the crotch seam, it creates more front-back room to create volume for the seat.  It also increases the crotch length.
  • Raise the crotch point – by taking up the pants 1/2 inch all around, between waist and crotch, it raises the crotch point (the intersection of the crotch and inseam) and gets it closer to my body.  I found on the first muslin this made the pants feel more comfortable to walk in.

I’ve become nervous about making too many changes in each muslin, and also about going off the rails in the fitting process. So I decided not to raise the crotch point in this next muslin.  I started simply by scooping out the crotch, following the curve I had found in Muslin A that worked pretty well.

In this photo, the blue line is Vogue’s original crotch seam line.  Based on reader feedback, the green seamline seemed to be the winning curve out of the ones I tried (the other trials are visible in yellow).

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Altering the crotch curve meant blending the new line into the old center back seam line, which caused the center back seam to become a bit more vertical and on-grainI traced out new cut lines, and trimmed the pattern.

Here’s what the muslin made from that pattern fits like.

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There is some bagginess in the crotch area at front, which means that some front crotch curve adjustment might be necessary. But I want to get the back taken care of first.  I’m also not worrying about fitting the darts along the waistband at this stage.

In back, I want to call your attention to the horizontal and vertical balance lines.  The vertical lines are bowing out in the hip area, meaning that the crotch curve likely still isn’t providing enough front-back space and needs to be scooped some more.  The horizontal lines are making a slight downward “V” shape, indicating some more crotch length is needed.

Furthermore, there is some drag in the crotch area when I walk.  So maybe raising the crotch point really is a good idea.

Altering Muslin B

On Muslin B, I raised the crotch point 1/2 inch by pinning up a tuck all the way around.  It doesn’t work in the fly area, because a zipper is in the way.  But otherwise, it seems to work well and even seems like it may help a bit with the fabric bunching in front.

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The next thing I did was “scoop out” the crotch even more in back. I stood in a mirror, pinched out enough fabric along the center seam to get the vertical balance lines (traced along the grain) to hang straight, and pinned the new curve in place.  I took off the muslin, and from the pin marks traced and stitched a new curve.

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Here’s where that change got me.

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There’s some bunching along the upper center back seam, but that is because the center back doesn’t blend nicely to the new crotch curve I stitched.  It should be taken care of in the next muslin.

There are some diagonal pulls along the seat, but I believe that is because scooping the center back seam reduces the circumference along the hip area.  Each crotch scoop has taken about 3/4 inch out of the crotch seam. It’s now at the point where I can feel the tightness around the hip region, and also the pant legs feel a little binding when I walk. So I need to add width to the back side seam to compensate for the width taken out at center back.

Moving on to Muslin C

It’s time for me to make another muslin.  In my next post, I’ll make Muslin C with these changes:

  1. 1/2″ tuck in front and back.
  2. More scoop to the back crotch in the back.
  3. Add width along the back side seam to compensate for that taken out by the crotch scoop.

And we’ll see what it looks like.  My goal is to get the crotch curve in back more or less taken care of, so I can move on to the front crotch curve, side seams and darts.

18 thoughts on “Vogue 8940 Pants Fitting, Round 2

  1. Gina Comer

    You continue to impress me greatly with your skills and how you convey such technical information in such an understandable way. Thank you for continuing to post. Someday, my friend, someday, I too will venture into drafting the perfect fit. Blessings abundant.

    Reply
  2. pascale

    This is fabulous, love the scientific approach you are taking, it will be really awesome to see the pattern changes laid on top of the original pattern for comparison. It is very impressive how small changes translate to improved fit.

    Reply
  3. Corey

    Good luck with this one, did you ever look at Pati Palmer’s book on pants for real people? Even though it is focused on women, she still covers many issues that folks encounter in pant fitting.

    It is too bad you could not get someone who is an expert in San Francisco to help you. You have put a lot of work into this, i guess it is past the point of no return. I would have still just deconstructed a pair of pants that fit you well from rtw and created a pattern, easier and you could have used this pattern to fit any other commercial pattern to your body.

    Reply
    1. mportuesisf Post author

      Corey,

      Lynda Maynard is a fit expert who is local and teaches classes locally. She is offering pants fitting classes this spring in the SF Bay Area.

      I may consider it, but I feel as if I’m making headway with Sarah Veblen’s course/methodology. I don’t want to mix in other people’s approaches at this point because I feel like too many chefs will spoil the broth.

      I am strongly considering purchasing a private online assessment and/or consultation with Sarah Veblen as I go through this process.

      I wrote about Pati Palmer’s Pants fitting book before on this blog; I’m not a fan of it at all. I don’t believe their tissue fitting approach can capture all the nuances involved in fitting pants with actual fabric. Their book is also overwhelmingly concerned with fitting plus-sized women.

      Reply
      1. Corey

        Well, you are working hard with it and with your persistence, I am sure you will finally make it work. Just make sure to trace your final result onto heavy duty paper and keep your pants block so that you can work with other commercial patterns to achieve the correct fit. Also going forward you probably won’t even need a commercial pattern, based on david’s book and crafty’s course you should be able to adapt your pattern block for any style of trousers.

        Reply
        1. mportuesisf Post author

          Thanks, I appreciate the support. I think you might have put your finger on something. Deconstructing/cloning a pair of pants would no doubt be the fastest way towards producing another pair of pants. Although the approach I’m taking is much slower, I’m learning a whole lot. And the reward will be a pants block that will pay off on future projects.

          Reply
          1. Corey

            Kenneth D King has a crafty course that teaches you how to take a rtw garment and reproduce/develop a pattern for it. I have taken a pair of well fitting trousers, taken them apart and made up the pattern pretty quickly. Believe me it saves mucho time. I have tired so many patterns (was sewing for my mom) I finally came across a burda pattern that was well fitting without having to spend the entire time fitting and making alterations. I was able to use the pattern to fit all other commercial patterns. Again, you are learning a lot by going thru this exercise.

          2. Stoting Stitch

            Making a rub-off pattern from a pair of trousers that fits well is a certainly a viable method, but consider:

            1) In the process, you may get picky about the fit and see flaws that previously you ignored;

            2) Your body may have subtly stretched out the material in the original and you need to know how to fix that;

            3) Previous fitting and pattern making experience is very helpful. Copying a pair of trousers is not as easy as copying a simple T-shirt.

  4. Peter

    I’m interested primarily in sewing machines but I’m finally learning to actually use them. Your blog is an excellent resource for a beginner like myself because it gives me direction (i.e., the Veblen book) and spares me trial-and-error. And if you ever find yourself wondering if anyone benefits from your thorough documentation of your progress with pictures and text, please know that you have an audience! I especially like seeing your progression of muslins and your persistence in drafting patterns for clothes that will fit you in a way that RTW never will. As a tall, slender guy, that is what I also seek.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Stoting Stitch

      “Your blog is an excellent resource for a beginner like myself because it gives me direction … and spares me trial-and-error. ”

      Blog posts like this are very helpful, but don’t kid yourself, there is ALWAYS a degree of trial and error, even if you work with someone experienced.

      Reply
  5. Stoting Stitch

    I think you’re going about it in the right way. Keep working, and then get help from an experienced person for tweaking. If you need more than tweaking, they’ll tell you.

    Good luck.

    Reply
  6. Wil

    If there is such a thing as a Sewing Engineer, you are one. Drawing the lines on the muslin and seeing how they bend with fabric adjustments is educational.

    Reply
  7. Corey

    I apologize for previous comments and i think this blog post means i need to bow out at this time. i DEEPLY AM sorry for any previous posts .. and i think after this .. its time to let blogs and posts behind and .. just think and do my own thing .. good luck with your projects and blogs .. again i apologize ..keep on doing your best

    Reply
    1. Gina Comer

      Dear Cory, I think the nature of the internet and this kind of communication can lead to easy misunderstanding. When I read your posts, I thought you might be a new reader to this blog, Michael has taken on some amazing projects – who sews a custom, lined, pocketed duffle bag?! Michael! In the knitting world we refer to process knitters and product knitters. One can be both. The height of skill for me is knitted lace and for instance, knitting an intricate heirloom shawl, would involve trial, error, research, starting over, adding “life lines,’ etc. To master Japanese embroidery one must go through years of specific exercises in order. Michael is on a special journey of process and product, I love being along for the ride. If you are still reading, and I hope you are, please don’t retreat. Sometimes in community we get ouchy but community is still worth investing in. :-)

      Reply
  8. Patrick

    Thank you so much for all the work and also sharing it with us by all the detailed writing out and pictures that you’re taking. You are spending a lot of time, but I know the reward will be great when you have that master pattern to make future pants from without all the frustration of starting from scratch each time and wondering how it will come out. Keep up the good work. Personalizing your fit to you and being proud of what you make/wear is HUGE!

    Reply
  9. Michael Theisen

    Your blog is great. And I estimate you are close to an ideal fit with the most recent muslin. I’m amazed that you are taking the time and intellectual energy to work through this process, so bravo. I’m still trying to get shirt collars to look right.
    Mt

    Reply

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