Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pants Drafting Class with Annette Hickman

Although I do not plan to become regularly be-pantsed, it really would be nice to have a pair or two for those winter days when it is too cold to wear a skirt even with wool knickers.

But pants.  They are impossible.  Impossible, I tell you!

It was time to turn to the experts.  For the first time in my life(!!!!), I signed up for a sewing class.

G Street offers drafting classes, one for a bodice and one for pants.  I keep meaning to develop a bodice sloper.  I haven't out of sheer laziness but feel that I can do just fine for that on my own as I have made many reasonably well-fitting dresses.  But pants.  I need some professional help.

It is a big time commitment for me:  the class is 4 hours for 3 Saturdays in a row at the Rockville location, and with Metro broken every weekend it takes me 1 1/2 hours each way to get there.  I left my house at 8:30 on Saturday morning.  If you knew me, you would understand the depth of my commitment to these pants.  Ain't no 8:30 on a Saturday morning in my life.


We started the class by taking detailed measurements.  We did the measurements ourselves rather than pair up (there are 7 people in the class, but one is a man sewing for his wife so pairs would have worked out).  As Cidell pointed out, the benefit of this method is that you learn how to do them on yourself for the future.


Then we used this crazy complicated mathematical diagram to draft them.  I have seen this type of drafting instruction before in the blogosphere and it makes me tired just to look at it.  It turns out if you just take it step-by-step...who am I kidding, it is still crazy complicated and way beyond my ability to follow.

Luckily, our fearless and fabulous instructor, Annette Hickman, took us through each step with a demonstration.  Her patience and humor made this much less painful than it ought to be.

Pants Draft

This photo is not so great, but if you squint you can see what looks like a real life draft!  So exciting.  I felt very professional and all ready for Project Runway.

For our class this Saturday, our task is to (1) look at other people's butts, (2) read the materials in our course packet, and (3) trace our draft into muslin and mark two inch seam allowances.  We will partially construct the muslins and Annette will help us fine-tune the fit.

However, I could not resist throwing together a quick and dirty muslin.  I traced the draft onto tissue.  While tracing it I noticed the back waistline seemed oddly, freakishly narrow.  I measured it and compared it to my exhaustive measurement chart and lo and behold it was two inches too small.  I added them to the waist and blended that line into the crotch.  So any back crotch problems may be the result of that.

Without further ado, here it is:

Back Front

The waist, belly, hip, and upper butt fit are excellent.

The front crotch is pretty good.  4 out of 5 stars.  The crotch isn't totally perfect, with tiny wrinkles forming a sort of handlebar mustache right under it.  It feels like the problem is the crotch not snugging up high enough rather than a crotch shape problem, as the wrinkles are not always there (or at least visible in the mirror).  Crotch crotch crotch.  The joys of talking about pants.  My quote of the day in the first class was, "Can I ask you to come take a look at my front crotch?"

Muslin 2-Back
The back, well, not so great.  2.75 stars.  I've got the downward-pointing chevron of wrinkles below the crotch.  The good news is, the wrinkles do not seem to extend all the way down the leg  in a cascade of nested chevrons as seen in this Burda pant (this is version 2.0 of the Burda).  But that may just be a function of the sturdier fabric and relatively short length.  At any rate, it is about where I ended up with the Burda pattern after 4 painful muslins, so I am actually pretty satisfied to be starting where I gave up in frustration last time, rather than starting at the beginning.

I am super excited to have Annette fit these on Saturday!  It is almost worth getting up at 8:00 on a Saturday morning.  Almost.

All photos are here.


emadethis said...

It is funny the kinds of frank conversations that you have with people while working on pants. Removed from the context of sewing, there's some blushworthy talk for sure. Keep working--you've got a good start. I never thought I'd figure it out, but then at some point something just clicks. The awesome thing about pants is that you can use the same pattern a gazillion times and just change this and that, so you really get to know what you like and what you won't touch with a ten foot pole.

senaSews said...

Oh, i really have the same problem with pants. Even though i can hardly find well-fitting pants in RTW i don't like sewing pants - Because i simply can't. Wish i can find a opportunity and time to learn it sometime. Maybe you will wear pants more often ig you can sew yourself pants.

Anonymous said...

This class sounds like fun, I guess I need to move closer to you so that I can have access to a fabric store that's not Jo-Ann and classes that teach you how to draft things. ;-) I can't wait to see what you learn in this class, and how the finished pants turn out!

Trumbelina said...

I feel a lot of emotions reading this post: jealosy, happiness (for you), sadness at you having to wake up so early (or is that tiredness??)–I'm not sure as I only just woke up about 10 min ago. It is a dream of mine to have the opportunity to take a class that doesn't involve quilting or purse making, but instead butt-watching and crotch-saying. I can hardly wait to see how your pants turn out. I will be doing a post soon on some unfortunate pant-sewing I did a couple of weeks ago. What can I say? I like to make people laugh!

Mary said...

crotch crotch crotch...:-) Lucky you to have access to a fantastic resource like this class. I am looking forward to seeing your next muslin as version 1 looks good! As for my own pants sewing experiences, I have resigned myself to living with butt wrinkles.

LinB said...

I played a part in a high-school play in which I had to crouch. Imagine the giggles in the choir room one Sunday morning when my friend's mother demanded that I "show the choir director your crotch!" Obediently, I crouched. I never crotch-shot him.
Your fitting woes seem to me to be a matter of the thigh, more than the crotch. It looks as if you have beaucoups too much fabric at the back of the thigh, on the inseam side.

Nancy K said...

Having been through my own pant fitting odyssey I recommend making full length muslins,because seeing the way the side seam and inseam hit at the ankle is part of figuring out your fitting problems. Be ready to make several muslins before you get it right, and when you do copy your pattern in something indestructible. If you make further changes when fine tuning, don't touch that original pattern!!! Make changes on copies so that you can go back if they don't work. Ask me how I know this!
I also recommend Sarah Veblen's new photo guide to fitting. I just finished fitting my muslins for my leather jacket and I learned a lot as well as getting it right for once. I have had issues with sleeve and armhole fit and her book helped me solve it.
Even if you don't use muslin use light colored fabric, though I do recommend muslin because it's so cheap.
It's a great start and definitely doable. If I with my super flat ass can go it so can you. Having seen you in person I would look to your posture for part of the problem. You stand with your hips forward, which points to a tilted pelvis.
Good luck and don't give up.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

I have spent the last 6 months on a pants quest myself, so I feel your pain - great that you are doing this class and will have a workable pattern when finished. Just think - no more trying on pants - you will make them, yippee! And pants are super quick to make, I have found.

Clio said...

I took a class like this a few years ago. I was too new to sewing to be able to make the leap from sloper to garments in styles I would like/wear. And then I lost weight. Oh well. But I've been thinking about doing something like this again. Perfect pants are the holy grail. Good luck! I can'[t wait to see how yours come out!

Adelaide B said...

Ooooooo, this looks fun. Have a good time!

McVal said...

I've really been wanting to make pants! Our ASG group is having a pants fitting class in January. Come on over!

T. Sedai said...

Ooooh, fun! I have been thinking it might be fun to take a class sometime (though in my area it seems like either you are learning to make a pillow or you are someone enrolled in fashion school...), though I don't really have the time right now.

I think your pants look great for a first draft! I am sure that by the end of your class you will have some perfect trousers for winter.

Ms. McCall said...

Ohhh, so exciting! It's hard to see lines you're describing with the muslin fabric, but from what I can tell they are a huge improvement from the burda pants. Well done and good luck with tweaking the fit - it will be so worth the effort to have a good looking pant sloper!

Karin said...

Well, I am just pain jealous. Even with an early, messy trip on a Saturday to the class. A pair of pants with a good fit is the holy grail for me. I'll be waiting with bated breath for any insights you gain. Pants are tough for women with relatively small waists and curvy hips/thighs.

Harriet said...

It's interesting that the back issues are so consistent with your previous attempt. Not that I really know anything, but you will probably need to do something related to shifting the angle of the pant legs in or out -- there was a long discussion about it on PR not too long ago. Wish I could remember the details, but I'm brain dead right now.

Anonymous said...

I love the word be-pantsed & I may have to steal it! I sympathize with that commute- I've had some similarly heinous ones in the past. Kudos on deciding to tackle something as tricky as pants.

velosewer said...

Glad to see you're working on pants and have a class to get a better fit. It took me 8 months last year to get a couple of pants to work and now it's a breeze to make them up and tweak them based on the fabric. I so love making jeans now.

Ripple Dandelion said...

Hope this class makes all your crotch- and thigh- and hip-related dreams come true! We will love seeing how you make out with your pants, and then we will enjoy the different versions as they come along. I wish I thought I might be able to use some of your insights to aid my pants efforts, but I think my pelvis tilts back rather than forward--the opposite of your posture. Oh well, I'll just be inspired!

meli88a said...

Oh, it will be so satisfying to have the perfect pants sloper! Good luck and I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the class.

Mrs. Micawber said...

Gosh, when I think that back in high school and college I cranked out all kinds of pants and they almost always fit well. As I got older and bulgier, it got harder, and now I don't even try, although I keep a carefully preserved copy of an old Threads article on pants fitting just in case.

Good luck, and I do hope you nail them! Looking forward to seeing what happens next. :)

WeLoveSewing said...

please, please post the fixes to your problems. The back of my pants look similar to yours, and I want to know how to fix it and have no one else to ask here in Manila!

kbenco said...

I was wildly envious of your class, intil I read about the commute, how horrid! Then I was wildly jealous again. I spent 2 years on trousers fitting and am about 3.5 happy with them, but am not in a second stage fitting place at the moment.
It was clever of you to make a pre muslin - now you can make the most of the class without having to sort out the waist measurement. Good luck, and I expect my jealousy to increase as you display even better fit.

Venus de Hilo said...

I'm sure the class will be well worth the commute! Look forward to future installments on your be-pantsing.

It astonishes me when Project Runway contestants make PANTS(!) in such a rushed, short time frame.

Audrey said...

I have taken both the pant and bodice drafting class with Annette and she is one of the best instructors I have had. The best thing about the classes was the time and effort she spends fitting your sloper on you. By the end of class mine it will be perfect.

Jane M said...

Bravo to you for your persistence. Pants are a challenge and one of those clothing items where the slightest shift in posture means we start seeing new wrinkles. And then you still have to wear them to know how they feel on your body. Your class sounds ideal.

M-C said...

Now I understand that absolutely perfect fit can be a challenge. Especially as it requires you to define what you mean by that, for instance I spend a lot of time sitting and so I need to compromise slightly on standing fit so I'm comfortable during my whole work day.

But, you know, we see pictures of you all the time :-). The evidence is not that you are so far off the norm that you should need a month-long class in order to achieve anything resembling fit. Perhaps letting go of the overthinking bit may be the best result to be hoped for here :-)? I assure you that any Burda pattern remotely in your size should yield results far superior to rtw.. The key word being Burda, or say Vogue Sandra Betzina, or Jalie, ie patterns that do fit sizes as advertised, and don't practice that attractive square, low-slug crotch line that helps you spot Americans the world over.

Anonymous said...

Good luck on your pants. Thank you for mentioning the class. I always wondered if their classes were worth it and was too cheap to risk spending my dough to find out. Now with your review of the instructor and the current LivingSocial deal, I'm going to register. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Oh and thanks for letting folks post as anonymous.