Sunday, 25 March 2012

Denim Tips 2 - Fitting

There's just no avoiding it - it makes or breaks a pair of jeans.

 Trousers (pants) and jeans are 90% easy to make; it's the 10% between the legs that causes the most trouble, so deep breath and tackle it once and for all.

Usually, I don't make a toile (muslin) unless it is a fitted jacket or a particularly complicated design -  I go straight to fabric, cut large, sew or tack (baste), try on, pin out the extra, re-sew and cut off the excess. Done! This means however, that every time I make something I have to go through the whole rigamarole again. I am resigned to the fact that when I make trousers (pants) this is my tried and tested procedure for perfect fit.

The fit of the boyfriend jeans was so far out that I thought it was time to act like a grown-up and do it right. Take it from one who has learned from her own mistakes......If you intend to make a lot of jeans or trousers, whether it's this pattern or not, this is time well spent. Gosh I sound like a proper adult! Now listen children.......

As usual, I cut a 14 in the intended fabric, a pin stripe denim. Made up as per the instructions - which I will tell you to change in a future post - tried on and pinned out all the extra fabric, cut off and sewed again, only this time I collected all the cut off bits and placed them on top of the original paper pattern pieces.

I shaded in the difference. Just look at what I cut off the back - how uneven it is, especially at the point of the crotch. The front is not too bad, more of an even 'taking in' but again the point of the crotch is waaay too deep for my shape.

 I also had to remove about 2" from the yoke and waistband at centre back to avoid gaping when sitting and to adjust for my big bum (sway back I believe is the euphemism).

The boyfriend jean style has front and back legs cut with a straight edge on the outside seams - which makes for easy positioning on the fabric as you don't have to measure straight of grains, just place the seam allowance on the selvedge. This straight edge creates the relaxed look of the jeans as opposed to girly jeans that are all curvy to fit bum, hips and thighs. (I had to research this BTW, you'd think I knew what I was talking about here).  I kept this straight line as my basis for fitting, so all alterations were made in the centre back seam and the crotch line.

 I traced the new front and back leaving out the shaded bit from the pattern pieces above keeping the outside edge intact.

I had a piece of black cotton in the stash and as I don't wear black, I could make use of it for this fitting exercise and not feel guilty about keeping it in the fabric box without a use.

OK OK stashes have their purposes.
I tried my best to lighten these pics so that you can see the different fits.

Tight fit 

 Relaxed fit

Loose bum fit

New front and back pattern pieces - perfect bum fit. 

You don't have to go all the way making full length trousers at this point - shorts will do. Just as long as you get below the crotch. With this new bum pattern I am now free to change the leg style too - I can add curves for thighs and boot-cut style if I want. If you can read the above writing, to get a looser fit I just cut wider on the outside straight edge, anything from 0.5cm and I have tested up to 2cm (1").

Does anyone who knows about these things see a problem here?
Can it really be that easy that I just cut a little wider at the edges for a looser fit?

My intention from now on is to place my perfect bum pattern on top of the actual pattern piece and grade into the leg so that I can have different leg lengths and styles using this home-made method.

My first bum pattern is actually quite fitted, which I thought I'd keep for future use, so I figured out a new jeans style called - Loose Bum Style! This, I think, is the Boyfriend look. See the picture - to get a looser fit, lose some fabric. It's counterintuitive (I've been waiting ages to get that word in a post), but it works. Cut away more fabric for a bigger size.

So the black cotton stash is now used up. I have one new jeans front pattern piece and two new jeans backs and from these two pieces I can make at least three different fits with endless leg variations. 
 If you do this method of self-fitting remember to alter the yoke, front pockets (as they are caught into the side seams) and waistband to fit.

Next time.....
Cutting out the pockets for the Hot Patterns pattern

Hope this helps. Thanks for reading. Ruth


  1. OMG... the tight fit looks AMAZING on you! Looks like you have perfectly figured out the fit for your body. The only issue I can see that might come up is the bagginess under the butt. I think that generally relates to the length of the crotch extension, (which actually relates to the size of your thighs. You could play around with that to be sure it gives you the best fit, but it looks like you did well with these.
    Have fun with the rest!

  2. I agree the tight fit looks best. I bought the Palmer Pletsch jean fitting DVD, and there was a lot of fitting, adjusting, fitting and the use of a 2nd person to do the pinning (this is where I see my big problem with my own future attempt of fitting my jeans, in that I don't have anyone that know what they are doing on the pinning.

    However so far so good they look great.

    1. It just requires some very unlady-like poses in front of a mirror and the risk of stabbing your inner thighs!

  3. Just love all the photo's you included at the start of the blog...and the perfect bum pattern, how funny is that!!! Enjoyed reading your progress with these pants...

  4. Amazing, how much effort you out in it! In German I'd say: Ich ziehe den Hut!

  5. Ruth, I spent the last few nights trying to analyze the wrinkles in my jean- a Jalie pair and a Vogue pair. Had you posted the review of the finished jeans earlier this week, you would have saved me some time! (kidding!) Hope you don't mind that I am pintresting this so I can find it again!
    Just got introduced to your blog- I won't stay a stranger!

    1. Welcome Connie. I've just visited your world - that's some amazing stuff you do.