Pants Drafting: Step One – Measuring, Drawing and Cutting

For those who love to jump right in this part can take longer than you think.  If you are in a time of life where you typically endure a lot of interruptions during the day just taking measurements may take more than one sitting as might the actual drawing of the patterns.   And it isn’t simply time that might stand in your way.

What I Had to Contend With.

My cat Groucho. Most days he spends lounging on the bed. Apparently considering me some kind of squatter in his territory when I set up shop there for pattern drafting he felt forced to protest by plopping himself right down in the middle of things. I kept lifting either his tail end or head in order to make the next mark. I thought after so many offenses to his person he might abandon the scene, but in keeping with that notorious feline contrariness he seemed to enjoy the process.

Like every decent home-sewing manual this one instructs you to take a gazillion measurements.  I had no one to help me measure.  I could have asked my husband but when asked to attempt such things he gives me the “I am so out of my depth, please save me” look and I figured slightly wonky was going to be closer to my figure than any of the patterns I have ever bought.  

After taking my measurements I entered the chart into an excel spreadsheet so I could use the computer to help me calculate half and quarter measurements for each item.   Lazy I know but when you know a few simple formulas a drop-down in excel takes seconds what would take a half hour by hand.  Plus I lose paper but haven’t yet managed to misplace the computer terminal.

I enjoyed following the directions and drafting out the patterns.  Things that are sequential and methodical are soothing to me.  It also had some of the anticipation of a new adventure. 

Along with various rulers and markers, a yardstick would be nice. I lost mine. If you can't locate yours you can line up smaller rulers to make the longer lines.

The materials I used are: french curve, t-square, long straight ruler, calculator, sharpies, my measurement chart and paper.  I purchased two rolls of spare wallpaper from my local thrift store.  The first was terrific to work with because it was light gray with a one-inch grid drawn in white.  Its only flaw was that the glue was powdery on the paper back.  The second roll was better paper with clear glue that didn’t powder up the board.   It also had a white background and straight clear lines to work off of in lieu of a grid.

The Front Pants Draft.

I drafted the front pants piece first and all went well.   It resembled what I have used in store-bought patterns.

The Back Pants Draft. If you look at the lower hip area where most patterns arch out my custom pattern arches in. This gave me pause but I decided to go with it. After so many pants sewing failures under my belt I figured one more couldn't harm me.

Drafting the back gave me pause as the pattern become much thinner at the lower hip than any I have ever used from one of the Big4.  There appeared to be a typographical error at one step and I corrected my draft to look more like the figure illustration.  Things still didn’t look standard but then I remembered that what I was doing reflected my custom measurements. I checked my back end in a full length and confirmed that possibly I have been fooling myself all these years as to what it actually looks like.  My lower hip is smaller than my upper hip and my measurements reflect that.  I just haven’t ever possessed the temerity or the reflection to contradict every standard pattern.  That the Big4 place the greatest width at the lower hip has somehow convinced me that their way was the right way. 

Though I considered “correcting” the draft I resisted and sewed up the muslin using the wonkiest back pattern piece I have ever seen. 

Groucho checking my work. I used a spare wallpaper roll purchased at a thrift store. This particular paper had a one-inch grid as the design which was a huge help in drafting.

The results were quite a shock to the system!

 Next Post: Saturday, June 5, 2010; Pants Drafting: Step Two – The Muslins


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sister
    Jun 05, 2010 @ 07:58:34

    Now is this a book or a pants-fitting pattern? This is awesome – you are fearless! Love the cat too.


  2. Nagaraja
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 07:01:48

    very Nice


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