Saturday, January 14, 2012

my jeans pattern

As requested, here is a picture of my pattern for the jeans I made for myself.

I have tried over the years to draft women's trouser patterns from a variety of sources, just out of curiousity, and none of them were satisfactory to me and they didn't get beyond the toile stage. I guess I just didn't want to fix the draft- too much work in most cases.
I also know that I have a tendency to abandon ship on projects for myself- especially if things aren't the way I want the first time. I don't want to talk about the leather jacket under my table or the riding jacket there either. Confession time: one has been sitting there for close to 20 years!
The drafts I used were from Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Armstrong, and Metric Pattern Cutting for Women by Aldrich and I think I even tried the trouser draft from Natalie Bray's book Dress Pattern Designing. I even tried copying trousers I bought. I used to have a great Burda trouser pattern but it was very 1980's. So this has been going on for many years in a half hearted way, and to be honest I didn't keep notes about what I didn't like.

Generally though, for jeans, the drafts were too loose fitting in the body, sat too low at the back waist, or the darting at the back wasn't enough. Sometimes I thought they were too closed in, in the legs, and I think jeans should have a more open leg cut. The CB seam was often too straight as well, and I think jeans should be more on the bias there.

This time, I just drafted them using my general draft for men's breeches/close fitting trousers. This is a draft I have put together over time, taking elements of drafts I like, proportions that seem to work, and just using my general experience and common sense. I had to alter the front fork/ CF curve because I drew it as I would the men's, and there was too much fabric there.

These are cut to fit closely at the thigh but not too tightly, sit below the natural waist, and I wanted them to cover my butt at the back, especially when bending down in fittings- something that I wish the commercial manufacturers would fix! I also didn't want the back waistband to gape- another thing I wish the commercial manufacturers would fix. I'm sure I could go on and on about how difficult it is to find trousers or jeans that fit, and I'm sure you could too.

Should there be a list of complaints? The sad thing is that I am kind of average in size- bigger than I used to be and a bit out of shape :( but a commercial size 6. How difficult it must be for plus sizes for instance. Women buy badly fitting jeans all the time- do they not see it or do they just give up?

I had a dart in the back, which I closed out to make the yoke. The little bit of the bottom of the dart that was left, I eased into the yoke seam. I think that it helps to shape over the seat.
I want to reposition the yoke seam on the next pair, but I will wear these for a while to see if anything else needs modifying. I don't want to rush into anything! I'm almost overwhelmed with myself for actually finishing them.


  1. Thank you for giving us the pattern. Interesting you have no (or a negative) hip curve for you back pattern. The CB is at least 5 cm higher than CF.

    I think the before mentioned women's drafts are maybe wrong because they all look like skirts in the upper part. If you cut a wide pants that will maybe okay but not with an ease about 0-2 cm at hip.

  2. Yes, I believe that is the basis of the problem. So the question is why don't the books, especially the Armstrong book, correct for the " jeans" fit and styling? It is a book used as a textbook in fashion design programs.

  3. No one knows why it is so hard for commercial manufacturers to cut that back piece a little higher, since darn near everybody, at every size, has the back-waist-gaping and/or too-short-at-CB problem. One of the world's great mysteries!

    I used a popular commercial home sewing pattern as the starting point for my women's jeans draft, and even there had to add close to an inch in seat length, draft my own waistband, and take two 3/8" darts out of the yoke to get a fit. And like you, I'm otherwise a standard size, and built fairly straight-up-and-down. For the truly curvy, with a large difference from waist-hip, this stuff must be a nightmare.

    1. I am one of those "truly curvy" folks you speak of, and I've only recently had some respite in the form of Levi's new "curve ID" line. Otherwise, I have to seriously alter most of my pants and am in fact going to start making my own soon.

  4. Hai Terri, your invention is a real wonder.I was searching for an intelligent pattern and landed up on yours! I would love to have a draft of it (cuts and stich) ,if you don't mind sharing it with me. I am not a professional tailor,it is for my personal use.
    my e-mail address :

  5. Hi, that draft is really mostly in my head, and not written out at this time. I may at some point write it out when I have time, and may publish it for sale. If I do I will let you know.

  6. I know this sounds heretical to a professional tailor/cutter, but have you thought of knocking off or tracing off the pattern of your favorite jeans? This is what I do when a client wants to manufacture their own line of jeans. I ask them for the brand and style that best represents what they want, and I trace off the pattern, tweak and alter where necessary, and onto the final sample, ready for grading. With your skills, a knock off would be a snap!

    1. I have taken trousers that I liked and made patterns from them. The pattern shapes make me wonder how they got there in the first place. It is interesting to analyse them. I honestly think it is easier for me to just draft from scratch, it takes me less time.
      The tricky thing with knocking off is to not perpetuate pattern mistakes inherent in the original, which is problematic......