Saturday, September 24, 2011

fly pattern

Hi, Sorry for the delay in posting, I'm up to my ears getting a bunch of ballet doublets prepared for fittings

I'm just going to talk about the button fly, which would have been used for these trousers.

I start by tracing off the front of the trousers, from the waist down to the inseam.
You can then mark off the placement for the buttonholes.
At the waist, the closure options are either a trouser hook and bar, or an inside button on the fly or a visible button and hole.

We almost always would use a hook and bar at the waist but it is, of course, your preference. You may also want to make your fly piece with an angled tab for an inner button at the waist, to provide more support, like most modern trousers have.

Generally, there are 5 buttons on the fly and they need to be spaced approximately 4.5cm apart.
The first button needs to be set below the waistband interfacing, and I have placed this sample at 1", then spaced the buttons 4.5 cm apart. You also need to leave about 3/4 to 1 inch of space after the last buttonhole to find the fly notch. The notch will be in the curve of the front line.

You can play around with the length of the fly opening a bit, but beware of making the fly buttons too close or too far apart.
The width of the fly piece is usally around 2", tapering gracefully down to the inseam, and yes they were cut that long!

The button hole piece can be cut slightly shorter, but usually still continues below the notch, to reduce bulk in the fly, but the facing and extension pieces usually extend right to the inseam.

When cutting out, you will need these pieces:
A self facing for the left front (unless the fabric is really thick- then use silesia)
The button hole piece which is comprised of a layer of self fabric, a layer of silesia and some kind of interfacing for the buttonholes.
The right front extension which will be a layer of self fabric, and a layer of silesia, and again some kind of interfacing, to support the buttons being sewn there.

Cutting out the fly pieces can result in a lot of concerned moments holding up the pattern to your body to figure out what side of the pattern faces up and how to lay it on the fabric, so here's a hint.
If you always draft the pattern as we did here, flip it over and chalk that onto your fabric, this will give you the extension and the facing, cut right sides together, the extension being topmost.
Then take these and place them on the fabric again and cut one more piece one layer thick (the right side of the fabric is facing downwards). This is the button hole piece. Cut the pieces again on a double layer of silesia and then cut interfacing of your choice. The interfacing should be cut short- to just the level of the fly notch , again to reduce bulk in the fly area.
The fly stitching holds everything in place, and it needs to clear the button holes, and then tapers down ending below the fly notch, not at it like modern trousers do.

The more I talk about it the more I realize I need visuals, which will have to be later, since they are not on my computer. I'll see if I can locate them.

In the meantime, did you find the draft easy or difficult to follow?
Did you draft to the measurements given first before trying to draft to someone else's or your own measures?
Are you going to try them out in muslin?
Just curious!
Should we look at some other drafts?
Let me know.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This draft has a grown on waistband but you need a pattern for the interfacing or waistband canvas.
When I first started sewing for the theatre, I was often handed an oversize piece of waistband interfacing that didn't seem to make much sense to me. It was slightly curved and there was a process of sewing it in that was very time consuming and it seemed to waste a lot of materials.

I needed to know why it was that shape, and to streamline the process, so this is how I make my waistband interfacing pattern.
First, trace out the front waistband section onto a new piece of paper.

Lay the side seams together, as they would be sewn- remember there are seam allowances included in the pattern and you don't want to include seam allowances in your pattern for the interfacing, because it will be too big.
Trace over as far as the dart.

Move the pattern over, laying the dart seam to dart seam (closing the dart) and trace off the rest of the waist from the trouser pattern.
This is a good exercise to check the accuracy of your pattern.
Here you can see that the dart legs are not the same length and need to be corrected on the trouser pattern. This is something that should be done before you get to this point, so walk the seam lines of your patterns and make sure it is accurate.
I don't particularly like the shape I've drawn for the "fishtail" so I would probably draw something more pleasing rather than leave it the way it is.
I was trying to just follow the draft as written to see how it turned out, I would normally correct things as I go, and you should too. If it looks wrong or ugly it probably is. It does take time to develop an eye, but also confidence to act on it.

Draw in the waistline, curving it slightly as shown, connecting it to the front waistline.
Now, when you cut your waistband canvas (interfacing) you want to be able to catch it to the waist stitching, so you will need to add 1/4 inch to the bottom of the interfacing pattern. You will also add 2" to the CF of the pattern to allow for interfacing to go into the fly extension on the right hand side of the trousers.
The other thing to remember is that this pattern likely has 1/4" seam allowance on the top edge too, so that needs to be removed from your waistband pattern.

The waistband pattern will of course change if you have a smaller dart take up or two back darts, so the same shape doesn't work on all patterns. I make a separate pattern for every pair of trousers.

These trousers should sit well up into the hollow of the back, and when sewing up the CB, I would sew only up about as far as 1/2 inch past the waist line allowing the waistband to splay above that point. If in a fitting you want to or can close it then go ahead but I would guess it needs to splay.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

drafting the trouser back

Here we are, ready to start drafting the back of the trousers.
I have cut out the front pattern, laid it on a new piece of paper, and traced around it.
I have then drawn in the horizontal and vertical construction lines, and the points from the fronts that are needed to draft the backs.


Pivoting from 14, sweep from 9 to 16, 2 1/2 inches.

17 from 14 and 18 from 12 are each 1 inch (for seams).
The back of the trouser leg is made wider than the front. The fronts were measured at 1/4 total knee and hem but they have 1/4 inch seam allowance included in that. The backs are made an inch bigger, but they also have seam allowance included. Am I making any sense or just making something simple confusing??

Lets move on.

19 is 1/2 of 0 to 9
20 from 0 equals 1/3 scale plus 1 inch.
This is to establish the CB seat angle, so go ahead and draw a line from 19 to 20 and extend it above the top line by a few inches in preparation.

The next instructions help to find the width of the hip. Measure from 6 to 3 on the fronts, take that number, and starting at 20, measure over to the hip line 1/2 seat plus 2 inches for seam allowance and ease.
22 is 2 1/2 inches up from the top line. I am thinking it is along the straight line from 19-20.
Hollow 3/8 inch at 23. The centre back line has shaping.
Now to measure the waist you are going to start by measuring the front waist, and apply that number at 23, measure over half the total waist measurement plus 2 inches to find 24. Measure over 1/4 inch and square up to 25. The width of the waistband here is 2 inches the same as it is on the front.
The next instructions have a "typo".
It should read 26 from 22 equals 1 1/2 inches, shape up 1 1/2 inches to 27 and complete top.

Measure over 3 1/2 inches from 25 to find 28 which is the dart.
The dart should be squared to the waistline in this draft.

Now the dart can make people confused. The dart has seam allowances. The width of the dart is given as 1/2 inch but it has 1/4 inch seam allowances so it adds up to 1 inch in total.
The dart length is given as 4 1/2 inches and cut out, but it is much longer when sewn with the seam allowances. I have drawn the allowances in so you can see it.

Now you have all the points needed so you can draw in your seam lines.
The inseam is pretty straight from hem to knee, then hollows out to come to point 16.
the outseam is again pretty straight from hem to knee, then ever so slightly hollows inwards from knee to hip and curves outwards over the hip through point 21 up to point 24.

When you shape the top line, make sure the dart legs (there's another terminology word) are the same length. If you just draw it as I have done for an example, one side ends up being slightly longer and you don't want that.
Dart Legs: the seam lines of a dart.

Draw in the seat seam as shown. I like to put the inseams together: point 9 of the fronts to point 16 of the backs and draw a nice line from one to the other. Follow up to 20 which will be a bit of a bump in the line as you hollow out to get to 23 and flare back out to 22.

Curve the hem downwards 1/2" as shown.
Cut out your pattern.

The photos were taken on different days - one sunny and one overcast so I apologize for the strange colours going on.

Next I'll just show you how to make a pattern for the fly and the waistband interfacing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

drafting trouser front continued

This is what I have drawn. The side seam from the hip to the waist needs to be a gentle covex curve, and in drawing it, hitting point 6 didn't seem to make a good line, so my line is outside point 6 by almost 1/4". It looks right to my eye.
I drew the centre front curve in a couple of times and erased it, must have been nervous!
I tried to use a curved ruler to draw it but the shape didn't seem right to me, so I did it again.
I realize that there is no guide line in the draft for developing that curve, so I bisected the angle at 0 and measured it at 1 5/8 inches, if that helps you. Now that I am thinking about it, there is 1/4 inch seam allowance on the centre front, and I normally draft my own patterns nett, so have I scooped a tidge too much out? Hmmm.
It's probably ok, but the fact is, you have to try it in fabric to make a full decision. I wouldn't go any closer than what I have drawn, but if your line is at 1 3/4 inches that's ok too.

For the outseam, your line should be a nice convex shape over the hip, hollow very slightly inward(concave from crotch line to knee, and than continue more or less straigh to the hem.
The inseam should curve inwards from 9 as you drawn the line towards the knee, joining into a straight line drawn from the dress point to the knee, then continuing straight on to the hem.

The front hem in the diagram is a convex curve, whereas I always have drawn a concave line from 12, hollowing up to Ax, and curving back down to 13.

Once you are happy with the shapes, cut out the front pattern , cutting away your pencil lines.

Lay the cut out fronts on another piece of paper, and carefully trace around the fronts. Use your needle punch tracing wheel if you can and mark though the horizontal and vertical construction lines as well. If you can't use the tracing wheel, punch a small hole at the important points on the pattern in order to transfer them

Remove the front pattern, and remark all lines so you can work from them in preparation to draft the undersides (backs).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drafting the trouser front

Ok, Sorry for the delay, but one of my job prospects has come through and I had to stop everything and make a toile for a fitting on Tuesday.

So when you are drafting, the paper is on the table in front of you and the tops of the trousers will be to your left and the hems will be to your right.
I am going to follow the instructions and rewrite them to suit my explanations.

One more bit of terminology:
Square a line, square out: this means to draw a perpendicular line to another line at a specific point on the draft. Be accurate, a 90 degree angle is required.

First step.
The first instruction is 1 from 0 equals the body rise, 13 inches. Stop.

Obviously you have to have a line to start from, not just an arbitrary point hovering in space. Point 0 is on the crotch line, so your first step is to draw a line that will be the crotch line. This line is perpendicular to the table edge.

Now pick a point on the line to be point 0. Label it.

Now square a line perpendicular to the first line, from point o extending the new line to your left.

Measure up from point 0, the rise, 13 inches, and mark point 1. This is the top of the waistband.
Measure down 2 inches from 1 to find point 2. This is your waistline.
Measure up from point 0, 1/6 scale to find point 3. This is your hip or seat line level.
Measure up from point 0, 5 1/4" to find A. That is a guide point for drawing the centre front curve.
Now, you will need to square out from point 1, point 2, and point 3. You should do that now.

Next step.

measure from 0 along crotch line, 1/6 scale to find point 4. This is the mid point of the leg.

measure from 0, along crotch line, 1/4 total hip measurement to find point 5.
measure from 3 along the hip line, 1/4 total hip meaurement minus 1/4" to find point 6.
measure from 2 on the waist line, 1/4 of the total waist plus 1/2" to find point 7.
measure from point 1 along the top line, the distance 2-7 plus 1/4" to find point 8.
measure from point 0 along the crotch line (towards yourself) 1/6 scale to find point 9.

You will need to square a line down from point 4.

Measure from point 4, along this new line, the inseam plus a seam. (a seam allowance here is 1/4inch), so 31 1/4 inches total, to find point 10. This is the hem line.
Find the halfway point on line 4-10 and make a mark, then measure up 2 inches to find point 11. This is the knee line.
Just to clarify, the measurement from 4 to 11 will be 2 inches less than the measurement from 11 to 10.

Stop and square out in both directions from point 10 to make your hemline and from point 11 at the knee line.

At the hem line, measure 1/4 of the bottom (hem width) from point 10 in both directions to find points 12 and 13.
At the knee line, measure out 1/4 of the knee measurement from point 11 in both directions to locate points 14 and 15.

Measure up from point 10, 3/4 inch and mark point Ax.
Measure from 9 on the crotch line 1/2 inch to locate point D for the dress.

Okay, now you are going to join the points to make the pattern.
I think in this case, you could join the points with a ruler for guidelines. Do this lightly in pencil.

You can then draw in your pattern lines with this thought in mind:

Generally speaking, there are very few areas of a draft of any kind that have straight lines. so my advice over and over will be to draw nice lines. Even if you are using curved rulers, it is a good exercise to draw your lines by eye and train the eye hand connection.
Draw beautiful lines. period.

I'll continue tomorrow with drawing in the lines and working toward the back

Thursday, September 8, 2011

trouser drafting terminology

Before you start drafting, it is a good idea to make sure you understand some terminology.

Lets begin at the beginning.

Waist: the waist measurement given - in this case 32 inches

Seat: (hip) is the hip measurement given - 38 inches

Sideseam: also known as the outseam -44 inches

Leg: also known as the inseam- 31 inches

Knee: which is the measurement of the desired trouser size at the knee- not the persons actual knee, is given as 20 inches.

Bottom: which is the desired hem circumference, not the person's bottom!
is given as 16 1/2 inches.

Scale: one half of the seat measure, so that is 19 inches.
You use scale, or half of a particular measure in drafting for a few reasons.
One: the pattern generally represents half of the body.
Two: many systems of drafting use proportions of a measurement in
determining other areas of the pattern
*you may also see scale written as "on the square"*

Scale, or "on the square" refers to the tailor's square, which is used in drafting. The divisions marked on the tailors square are divisions based on one half of a body measurement.
So for a hip of 40 inches, you would use 20 inches in the draft. If you need to find 1/3 of the scale, you would find the thirds divisions and then look for the number 20 within that area. From the corner of the square to that mark measures 1/3 of 20 inches, or 6 2/3 inches.

The square is a calculator which is especially helpful if you draft in imperial. If you don't have a tailor's square I recommend drafting in metric, using a calculator.

Rise: this is the difference between the inseam and outseam.

This distance can be a measurement or a proportional calculation. The number is greater for trousers designed to be worn at the natural waist and lesser for trousers designed to be worn just above the hip bones.

Dress: an allowance of extra room in the crotch on the pattern for, how shall I put it, the male anatomy. Usually from the era when boxers were the usual underwear, before the advent of briefs and underwear that holds everything closer to the body.
One side of the trouser pattern is larger and that seam line must be shrunk or eased in to match the other, shorter seam line creating a kind of pouched effect. There is varying debate on the amount of "dress" that should be cut in, but modern trouser patterns have generally eliminated it.

Other terms that may be encountered:

Fork: that is the area on the pattern that extends between the legs. In making up trousers, you may see reference to a "fork stay" which is a folded piece of silesia laid in place in the curved area of the crotch.
Fish: another word for a dart- sometimes a double ended dart. In older texts you may read, "take out a fish" in the back.
P.T.U.: permanent turn ups, also known as Cuffs
Nett: means without seam allowance, in other words, on the line. Think of your "gross" pay and your "net" pay- net has had the deductions made.
Spring: a flaring out of a line
Grown-on: part of the pattern as a whole- not sewn on.
Disproportion: measurements that are not the "ideal". Usually, it is the difference between the ideal measurements and the ones you have to work with.
Undersides: back of the trouser pattern
Topsides: front of the trouser pattern
Sweep: to take your measuring tape, fix one end at a certain point, measure to another point and then use that distance like the radius of a circle to sweep or draw an arc.

Whew, I got carried away! I'm sure there are more I haven't thought of.
Not all these words are used in this draft but if you are using old drafting methods you will run across them, guaranteed!

Read through the drafting instructions before you start and figure out if there are things you aren't sure of.

Drafting Tools and trouser draft

The materials and tools you will need to draft a pair of trousers are:
Paper: brown or white kraft paper about 2.5- 3m in length
Pencils: mechanical or regular (nice and sharp)
Yardstick or metre stick

Tailor's square (also known as designer L square) they come in imperial and metric
if you don't have one, you will need a calculator and either a t-square or something that you can draw a right angle with

C-Thru quilters ruler is useful

I personally don't use the curved rulers I am going to list below.
I freehand the curves by eye with a piece of graphite chalk which seems to be unavailable nowadays, so you will either have to use the rulers or freehand draw with a pencil, which isn't easy. You can view the rulers here. Fairgate seems to make the most popular ones so you can search for Fairgate pattern drafting rulers for a selection of websites. Ace is just the one that I randomly chose.
Hip curve ruler/ also known as a vary form ruler (F12-124)
French curve/vary form ruler (F12-112R)

Paper scissors
Needle point tracing wheel
Measuring tape
Magic tape
I think that's it........

Last but not least, a trouser draft.
I decided on this one. It is mid 20th century, flat fronted, high waisted, with grown-on waistband, fish tail back, and plain bottoms. It is from The Pocket CPG (Cutter's Practical Guide) by F.R. Morris.
Thanks to the Cutter and Tailor forum for the source material.
I am just going to draft as directed, and this is not a draft I have used before either, so have a look and then we'll get started.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trouser pattern shapes

As I mentioned in my last post, I though it might be interesting to walk you through the process of drafting a pair of men's trousers from a published draft.

In preparation for this, and in my previous teaching, I like to point out that trouser pattern shapes have changed quite a lot over the years, as I hope you can see from this selection of patterns I have scanned. All of them will produce a pair of trousers but with different silhouettes.
One of the things I have done with the apprentices I have trained is draft these old patterns and make them up so you can really see the differences in the final shape. We won't be doing that here, but in order to recreate the silhouette of the period, you need to understand how the patterns work.
For most theatrical tailors, once you understand the mechanics, you put them to use by developing your own drafts rather than trying to use the 1980's Metric Pattern Cutting draft to make mid Victorian trousers.

These are c.1850 from The Cut of Men's Clothes by Norah Waugh

This is c. 1920 from The Climax System for cutting gentlemen's garments.

The Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier c.1940
The Modern Mitchell System c.1950's
Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear by Winnifred Aldrich 4th ed c.1997 but I think the draft is the same as it was in the 1980 version.

So, if you are deciding which draft to use keep in mind what you want the finished product to look like. Don't use a 1940's draft if you want low-rise modern fitting trousers. You will just make youself frustrated.

Next, I'll give you a list of tools needed to draft a pattern and the draft I have chosen to use. Feel free to draft along and ask questions. I've done it so often that it is easy to forget that others have not, so I hope this will make sense.

I'll probably draft in both full and 1/4 scale because it is easier to scan a page than take good pictures of a fullsize pattern.