Adjusting trouser patterns

Today I’m going to explain how I altered the pattern pieces of the pair of trousers I’m making in my Clothes Making class.

First, I took (or remembered from pre-pregnancy days!) the following measurements:

– Waist: Smallest part around body (Diagram A)
– Hip: Widest part of lower body (Diagram A)
– Inside Leg. Top of inside of leg to floor (Diagram A)
– Outside Leg. Waist to floor
– Crotch Depth. Waist to flat surface while sitting (Diagram B)

Women Size Guide

Diagram A

Diagram B

With these measurements I was then able to determine which size of trouser pattern was the nearest match (remembering to allow for any ease included in the pattern), and make any fitting adjustments that were needed.

This is the front trouser pattern piece, after I have adjusted the crotch depth and length of trouser.

Rather than doing it how I did it, length of trouser then crotch depth, you should adjust the crotch depth first. This should be done of the back pattern piece.

On the pattern the crotch line is marked with a horizontal line (pink line). From this line, up to the top of the waistband is the crotch depth.

On this pattern, the waistband is a seperate pattern piece (not shown), and the top of the finished waistband sits 2.5cm below the waist.

This meant that I had to add 2.5cm, and the width of the waistband (minus seam allowance), to the crotch depth on the main pattern piece. After doing all of this, the crotch depth came to 1cm less than my actual measurement, which would mean a very snug fit and the possibility of not being able to sit down!

You should also add 1 – 2cm ease to the crotch depth. In order to make this adjustment, I cut a straight line through the pattern piece, between the top of the pattern piece and the crotch line.

I then spread the pattern open by 2cm (the additional 1cm needed for crotch depth to equal my own, and 1cm ease), and filled it with extra paper. This is the white line you can see in the photo above.

You should ensure that all lines on the pattern (e.g. grain line) still line up now the pattern pieces have been separated.

This alteration should then be done to the front pattern piece as well.

The next step was to alter the length. To do this I used my inside leg measurement, and compared it to the inside leg measurement on the front pattern piece. This is taken from the crotch line downwards, but stopping before the 2.5cm hem allowance.

It seems I am a little bit short, so I had to remove 2cm from the pattern. Most patterns have a horizontal black line indicating where adjustments should be made without altering the overall cut of the garment. Here I folded away 2cm of the pattern to make the trousers the correct length.

This was then repeated for the back pattern piece.

And those were the alterations I made! There are obviously many more that need to be made for a perfect fit, but that’s plenty for a beginners class I think!

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Trousers – aaahhhhhh!!!

I feel like I should start this post by apologising for not blogging very much these days.

Back at the start I was finding things to write about everyday, and was definitely making a lot more things. But as I said in my Mum’s Maternity Top post I am finding it increasingly difficult to do too much at home as much of the cutting out would have to be done on the floor, and I have a rather large bump getting in my way!

I’m sure you’re lives are all continuing much the same despite my lack of productivity and blogging, but I am finding it quite frustrating! After a two week break for Easter though, I am now back at college so will hopefully be able to share a bit more with you again.

Having made a simple skirt and two tops in my Clothes Making class, this term we are making trousers. Now, trousers seem to be notorious for being a bit tricky. I think this is more from a fitting perspective rather than a construction point of view. At least that’s what I found when making my one and only pair last year.

My tutor has kindly let me try a slightly more difficult pair so that I can learn as much as possible before the baby comes, so I went for the ones below (New Look 6873).


Line Drawing

While I’m not sure they fit with my usual taste, I chose them because they have a zip, buttons, pleats, belt loops and pockets. That should all keep me busy!! Apart from pockets and pleats I haven’t been shown how to do any of those things properly and am keen to learn.

Fitting the trousers is obviously a bit problematic right now – I measured yesterday and my waist is currently over 30cms bigger than normal! The best solution is to use my old measurements to alter the pattern, and then hope that I will return to that size asap. I won’t actually be able to check they fit properly until that happens, so am focusing more on the construction. A bit annoying, but not a lot I can do about it really!

I have chosen a navy wool / polyester mix fabric as it will have a nicer drape than cotton, and went for the poly mix rather than the wool crepe I could have chosen because the former doesn’t need hand washing. I don’t imagine I will be wanting to do much hand washing in the near future!

If you go on the amount of pattern pieces required, these will probably be the most complicated thing I have attempted so far!

Ten pieces – the most I have worked with so far has been five I reckon!

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Finished Project: Mum’s maternity top

I think I may be nearing the end of being able to make clothes at home for a while :-(. I have to cut the fabric out on the floor and it’s getting a little tricky to bend down without squashing the baby!

I will hopefully be able to enlist some (Dave) help to make at least one more thing I’d been planning, but for now I have just finished the 1980s maternity top using my mum’s pattern from when she was pregnant with me.

I made the middle top, with elements of each of the other dresses.

I was really pleased with everything I’d learnt and how well I’d been able to do it – from rouleau loops (see the tutorial I did here), to my first collar, to making the front buttony bit (not sure what that’s called!) neat on the outside and inside – you can’t see any seams or anything from inside!

Then I went to shorten the sleeves and realised I’d been a bit over zealous with the overlocker and got a bit of the left (right in the top photo) sleeve itself trapped in the seam, hence the horrible crease you can see in the photo! Thankfully it’s not as noticeable when on I don’t think, especially if I turn that arm away from the camera…!

The style is obviously not meant to be figure hugging, but even so I took quite a bit of fabric out at the back seam to make it slightly more flattering – it is part baby and part fabric making it stick out that far!

While it’s not a top I would necessarily choose if I wasn’t pregnant, I learnt lots in its construction, and it’s nice to have used one of my mum’s patterns!

My 1930s dress toile

You may or may not remember long long ago in January when I told you about the 20s and 30s inspired pattern making course I have been doing this term.

I started by gathering inspiration, and then came up with the one on the left as my final dress design.

With the sleeves to be beaded something like this.

Rather than design and make a dress that would rarely get worn, my intention was to make a slightly more practical dress. However, a practical dress meant that I wouldn’t learn as much, so practicality went out the window! I lengthened the skirt to floor length, cut it on the bias (at a 45 degree angle to the normal grainline), and added a more shaped dropped waistline. A whole new dress really!

I made the pattern to my pre-bump size so am not actually able to fit it at the moment. This means I have only made it to the toile (rough) stage. And this was it before my lesson this morning…

It is very rough, and the cheap and nasty polyester that I got to do the toile either doesn’t press or melts under the iron, so it was a tough job getting all the seams looking anywhere near good!

By making this toile I was able to see what needed altering on my pattern to make it work better. For example, I had sewn the bust darts too long, so altered my paper pattern by shortening them by 2cm.

You can also see from the photo that the sleeve is a bit flat and isn’t scalloped yet like my initial design.

To remedy this I first marked three points on the sleeve and slashed up towards the shoulder.

I then added more fabric under the existing sleeve to add extra width.

The next step was to measure how much fabric I had added, and transfer this to the paper pattern. In the case of the middle slash, I needed to add 4cm.

By doing this for all three slashes, and then taping pattern paper into the gaps, I had created a fuller sleeve.

I then added the scalloped shaping and toiled the new sleeve. Much better!

I found this bracelet that I made, and am wondering if something like this would be nice on the sleeve edging (you need to use your imagination a bit for this – I only pinned it on!).

In a similar way to altering the sleeve, I also dropped the neck a bit but will have to make my final decision when I can get in to the toile to see exactly where I would like it to sit.

I also learnt about cutting and sewing on the bias, ways of finishing vintage dresses rather than lining them, and some other stuff, but I think I might save all that for other blog posts so that I don’t bombard / bore you with them all today!

Have a good weekend everyone!

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How to make rouleau loops (and what they are)

By the end of my Clothes Making class on Monday, I was feeling pree-tty pleased with myself. Why? Because I not only learnt what a rouleau loop is, but I also learnt how to make one.

So what is a rouleau loop?

It does not, as I spent much of my lesson hoping, have anything to do with a roulade except for the fact both words are to do with rolling in French.

Num, num, num...

Sadly, a rouleau loop is in no way edible.

Rouleau on it’s own is a decorative technique that involves creating patterns with piping, cording or bias tape.

A rouleau loop uses the same cord or piping, but as a way of fastening buttons. I guess we’re most familiar with them being used down the back of bridal gowns. No prizes for guessing whose dress came up most when I did a quick search!

As you may have seen from a previous post, I am currently making a top using a maternity pattern my mum had when she was pregnant with me.

I am making the middle top, but with short sleeves and two buttons down the front. It is these two buttons that require the rouleau loops, so here goes on how I did it!

(Apologies for poor photos, I forgot my camera so had to use my phone)

By drawing round a set square, cut a piece of paper with a right angle and 45 degree angle.

Next, draw a line 2.5cm (or as required) in from the 45 degree angle.

Pin this triangle on to your fabric, using the straight sides to line up with the selvedge. The 45 degree line gives you your bias.

Cut along the inside line drawn at 2.5cm parallel to the 45 degree line, this will create a strip of fabric cut on the bias.

Fold the strip in half lengthways and pin together.

Sew a straight line a few millimeters from the folded edge.

Taking a strong needle and thread, attach the thread to one end of the fabric, next to the opening of the channel you have created. Now for the tricky bit!

Start threading the needle through the channel, but with the blunt end first to make it easier. Keep going until the needle and thread come out the other end.

The fabric now needs to be turned inside out, with all the excess fabric being captured within the roll. This took me a lot of wriggling and trial and error, but essentially you should be able to pull the thread, which will in turn pull the fabric through from the other end where you have already attached it firmly.

Keep going!

Eventually it will all come through, and it then needs a quick steam from the iron by pinning each end to the ironing board.

I then used this cord to create the rouleau loops for my buttons, checking the size of the loops against the buttons themselves.

The final rouleau loops on the front of my top!

If none of this makes sense, I found this guide here which may be useful!

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Sarah’s Very Sunny Sorbetto

Say hello to Sorbetto No. 3!

I made this Sorbetto earlier in the year for my friend Sarah’s 30th. As she has pointed out it has become my most travelled make yet – she lives in New Zealand so I posted it to her there, and she has taken some photos of her wearing it in Fiji (look away now if you don’t want to see beautiful sandy beaches, palm trees, general sunny lovliness…)

Doesn’t Fiji look awful? I’m sure she must have had a terrible time. Despite the dull scenery though, I think Sarah and the Sorbetto look great 🙂

You may recognise the fabric from my Butterick B5217. I bought it to make the Sorbetto and had lots left over for me! I used some pink silky binding to finish off the edges, and while I didn’t quite catch it all as neatly as I would have liked, I think I did a good job considering it’s the thinnest stuff I’ve worked with so far!

I’m also really pleased that it fits. It’s quite hard to check when your customer lives on the other side of the world, but thankfully it seems to be just right!

Some early 80s Style

After completing my polka dot top in my clothes making class earlier this week, I needed another top to make for the remainder of the term. I must’ve spent a good hour on the internet wondering what to buy, before I remembered that my mum had given me some maternity patterns she had used when she was pregnant with me. Although possibly a little bit weird, I thought it would be nice to give one a try – enter Style 2381, and some amazing haircuts.

As the stamp on the front of the envelope shows, my mum bought this in Edinburgh which is where I was born. It is quite in keeping with the period – Diana was the trend setter for maternity wear when my mum was pregnant with me.

Oh Lordy. I’m hoping I won’t end up looking quite so tent-like by only making the top rather than the dress, and giving it short sleeves rather than the long ones! Having never done a collar before hopefully I will learn something new along the way as well.

This is the first ‘old’ pattern that I’ve worked with, and I think the markings are much clearer than current ones.

You even get a handy sewing machine foot to show you where to sew!

I’m going to make this top out of a black and white gingham, but to avoid it looking too much like a school dress the check is only a few millimeters big (it is small enough to make you feel like you’re going to fall over if you look at it for too long). It’s from Saheed’s Fabrics on Walthamstow High Street and was £2 a metre.

I think I may be gradually turning in to my mum 🙂

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