Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Making Clothes That Fit: 2. Pattern Adjustment - pants

So after Part 1 we are now armed with a full set of measurements of the person we are sewing for - woohoo.  Now time to choose a size and adjust the pattern if necessary.  Lydia from Little Kiwis Closet has been kind enough to allow me to use her patterns as examples in this wee blog series (and I can thoroughly recommend purchasing any or all of them).  For this post I am using the Skinny Legs Leggings pattern which I have blogged about previously here. :-)

1. Choosing the size
So I am wanting to make some leggings for Miss M.  Although leggings seem simple I have actually found them to be difficult to fit Miss M well.  First it is important to check that we have ALL the measurements in the size chart.  From my standard list I already have waist measurement but this pattern also asks for top of thigh, ankle and inseam measurements.  Our measurements are:
Waist = 52cm
Top of thigh = 32cm
Ankle = 15.5cm
Inseam = 38.5cm
So going to the size chart and highlighting the sizes I get the following:
So even though DD is 4 and of average height I will be looking at making a size 3 with size 2 leg length (she does have a long body and short legs).

2. Pattern adjustment - the leg
Now it's time to go to your pattern.
In general a leggings/pants pattern that is multisize is presented so that the crotch level is the same for all sizes and they are nested from there.  This makes life pretty easy.  If you have a colour printer then it's even easier but I don't so I sometimes find it easier to work out which line to follow if I trace over it with a coloured marker first.
So first locate the size you want at the two crotch points, then mark the pattern at each point you took a body measurement for on the pattern so I mark a size 3 for the thigh and ankle.  I am only doing a size 2 leg length however so at the size 2 length I place a small line to connect the line out to the size 3 leg line.
The size 2 hem is extended out to size 3 leg line
The dashed red line shows a straight size 3 with no adjustment for comparison.
Now you can mark around the legs part of the pattern.

3. Pattern adjustment - the body
One simple error to make when changing the sizings of pants or leggings is the length of the rise of the trousers/leggings or they wont give nice coverage.  As a rule of thumb I always cut the rise length to the larger of the sizes I am doing.  So if I am cutting a size 3 width with 2 leg length I will do size 3 height for the rise.  However Mr A is a size 4 width with 6 length of leg and I would cut him a 6 length in rise or they will be too low.  Some patterns help out here by giving you a rise length in the pattern but usually they don't.
So with that in mind I trace my size 3 line around the body section of the pants pattern.  If you need to lengthen the rise to a larger size (as I do with Mr A) then extend the width line of the size you are making up to the size required (in a similar way to what I show above for the leg length alteration).
And there you have it, a leggings pattern adjusted to fit.

4. Some more considerations
There are still a couple of things to consider.  Firstly what if you aren't making leggings but trousers with more details?
So the key here is to adjust in the same manner as above, think about where they will attach to the main pieces of the trousers. so:
Waistbands - cut the length to the same size you used for the width of the trousers.
Pockets - cut to the size you used for width (if you are being fussy you can increase or decrease the length according to the length size you used but I find this isn't usually necessary)
Cuffs - cut to the same size as the width of the fabric
Side panels (stripes) - cut to the size you used for length

5. Adjusting the ease
One final comment I will make is on the built in ease of a pattern.  In my experience pdf patterns and european sized patterns are usually pretty good but I have had several issues with commercial paper patterns in the past, where I have found a lot of extra ease built into the pattern.  This can give things a large boxy look that isn't flattering and doesn't give a nice finish.  If you are at all worried about this then after you have traced the pattern or marked you size then measure the PATTERN PIECES.  Take off the seam allowances and work out how large the finished garment will be.  I find it helpful to then grab the intended recipient and use a tape measure to see if the amount of ease will be about right.  For example you probably don't want about 6" or ease in the hip area of a pair of elastic waist trousers as they will balloon around the bum.  If you are in any doubt that a pattern piece look large (or small for that matter) then remeasure, remembering that for stretch fabrics the patterns are sometimes made with negative ease (pattern pieces slightly smaller than body measurements).
So what if the pattern seems huge?  Work out roughly how much ease you want and go back to the pattern piece, measure which size that falls on and adjust accordingly.

That's all there is to it.  Following these steps should give you a  pair of trousers or leggings that fit as the pattern has intended.

Happy Sewing and Part 3 (tops) will be up later this week.

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