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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jeans Sewing: Demystifying Jeans Drafting (Fit)

A classmate gave me permission to share
this photo of her first muslin being fitted
Notice that a piece of elastic has been pinned along
the waistline she stitched on her muslin. Part
of our fit job, was to make sure that line ended up
at her natural waistline. Do you see the pins at the
side seams? We added fabric beneath those zones.
We can tell the pants are fitting better in this zone now,
because the red lines of stitching that our classmate
basted at the high and low hip, are now
parallel to the floor.
In a recent posting I wrote about the class I'm taking in pants drafting. There, I'll be creating a pattern for jeans that will flatter my figure. (There are commercial jeans patterns that include extra instructions for fitting jeans patterns. )

The drafting process is pretty much new to me. I'd drafted two simple garments from books, but nothing anything along the lines of a pair of pants. Here's what I've learned so far.

First we created a pants block, taking personal measurements and making calculations as directed in the class textbook (*). Both the front and back block are contained within the same drawing, there are just different lines to follow. I found that somewhat heavy banner paper from an office supply store worked best for this. This block pattern does not include seam allowances.

Second I traced the pants block and created two tissue pattern pieces. Now I had separate front and back pieces. Before I cut out the pattern pieces I added 1 inch seam allowances. I measured out from my stitching/fit lines on the block with a clear ruler to add the straight seam allowances, and drew dotted lines where there were curves. I tried a Clover duel-wheel tool to do this - it looks like one of those carbon paper type wheels you might typically transfer pattern markings with - but I couldn't manage to get it to make two dark enough lines.

Third I pinned and cut out muslin pieces. I used a regular single tracing wheel and brightly colored tracing paper to mark every single measurement we'd used to create or draw on the block. These included: straight of grain, waist, high hip, low hip, crotch, thigh and calf. I also marked darts, the side seam, and bottom stitching lines. I used a 200 thread count muslin, which seems to be somewhat tighter than a typical muslin, it cost more too. I read somewhere that you cannot assume that higher thread count means it's better. You have to develop a feel for the good stuff.

I basted every single one of the stitching lines I'd marked with a stitch length of 5. I did use a locking stitch at the beginning and end of my stitching. I staystitched the waist line and bottom of the pants with a stitch length of 2.5. The staystitching keeps the muslin from stretching too much during fitting.

Fourth I sewed the muslin test garment, one leg at a time, then the crotch seam (putting one leg inside the other) for a smooth crotch seam. I left the center front seam open to the bottom of where the fly front zipper would be sewn - so I could put the test garment on !

Fifth I took my muslin test garment to class and worked with my fitting group to begin fitting the garment. This is the point where you look for all the things you often see in books about fit, things like folds in the wrong places, smiles and wrinkles. 

The most important thing I learned at this stage, was to keep the lines basted on the garment either parallel or perpendicular to the floor. Often the signal for a fit problem was that a fit line veered away from the straight.

• Where garments were too tight, we snipped along different basted lines and inserted pieces of fabric. You can see some of that in the illustration above.  
 Where garments were too loose we made tucks and folds.
• We adjusted the rise of some parts of our garment. Typical of this type of adjustment was snipping along the high hip mark, moving the waistline up, and pinning a piece of muslin underneath. Often these adjustments were curved.

Sixth Next, I'll be altering my tissue pieces to create a second pattern draft using the alterations on my muslin test garment, then it will be time to create a second muslin test garment.

Yes, it's a time consuming task. And it's exciting to learn more about how to create garments that truly fit.

Learning about pants drafting definitely helps keep me
Enchanted by Sewing!
~ ~ ~ 
We're using the book Building Patterns, The Architecture of Women's Clothing by Suzy Furrer.