Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Drafting Cigarette Pants, Part 2
What I was fitting and re-fitting last week wasn't a pattern--it was a block, without seam allowance, hem allowance, pockets, etc. Now, I do have a trouser block in my repertoire already. But it's designed for wide-legged pants, and slimming down the leg is such a major alteration (requiring lots of changes to the hip, crotch, and inseam area) that there's a risk it wouldn't work out immediately. So I thought it was much safer to work out a new block for slim fit pants, get the fit just right, and then use that block to trace off a pattern for cigarette pants. That way I'll have the block handy if I ever make another version of these pants in the future--say, with a different pocket style, or a back yoke, or pleats instead of darts. It's much easier to make changes to a pattern before the seam allowances have been added on (trust me, I know from experience).
I perforate the block, old school style, at any point that needs to be transferred onto the pattern (and ultimately to the fabric)--dart points, grain lines, and horizontal balance lines. I've also perforated here along the back crotch seam because I added a 3/4" back extension, a common feature in men's tailoring that allows for alterations in case of weight gain (basically just a tuck of extra fabric along the back seam). With pants this tight, I definitely want to have the option of letting them out a little in future.
In the pattern stage, I also add any fancy details that affect the shape of the pants, as well as allowances for sewing. For these pants, I want a nearly-horizontal trouser pocket (like the pocket on a pair of jeans), so I've cut away a bit of the front upper hip and made pocket bag and pocket facing patterns to fit. Then I connect the dots to transfer all the lines to the pattern, trace a 1/2" seam allowance in marker, and cut it out! The perforations are handy for checking grain lines and marking dart points right onto the fabric with chalk or tailor's tacks.
Then it's finally (FINALLY) time to cut the fabric. I have juuuuust enough of this herringbone wool flannel to fit the pattern pieces on grain, thank goodness. I made a jumper dress out of it two years ago that has worn like iron and goes with everything, so I wanted to get an equally useful garment out of what was left. It's excellent fabric--not the kind of thing you experiment on.
The other reason I spent so much time fitting the muslin is that I'm planning to flat-line the pants--that is, sew the outer fabric and underlining wrong sides together around the edge of each pattern piece, resulting in an interior seam that looks a little like a Hong Kong finish. There's a great tutorial here on Cashmerette, and I'll post a few pictures next time to show what it looks like on a heavier fabric. It's a good clean finish, but you have to be sure of your fit before you start because it's not easy to make alterations once the underlining is attached.
With a complicated project like this, I'm careful not to rush it--drafting, cutting, sewing, and hand-finishing all happen on separate days and usually take more than one sitting to complete. If I go too fast I'm sure to cut something wrong (and I almost did today--forgot to allow for hem allowance on the back leg--but I caught the mistake just as I was putting scissors to cloth and just freehanded it). Better to slow down and enjoy the ride.