Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sewing Project: Thurlow Shorts part 1--muslin

If you've read even one previous review of mine, then you know that I'm not a fan of muslins (practice garments). I prefer using a cheaper fabric and practicing by making something I can wear. But it only took sewing one pair of sweatpants for me to know that muslins are pretty much required if you want your pants to fit right (and you do, right?).

I've had the Thurlow Trouser pattern for a few months, and two different versions planned since February. First up is a pair of shorts in this lovely coral stretch denim (from Hart's Fabrics, but I can't find it anymore so they must have sold out!):

And for the lining, I planned to use a crazy looking cotton batiste from Mood:

I promise it didn't look that bright and tropical on my computer screen! Also, I can't find it anymore so I guess they sold out as well.

But before my scissors got anywhere near that fabric, I made a simpler pair of shorts, Simplicity 1879. Thankfully, those shorts fit right out of the box, which helped me choose a size for my Thurlows. Not surprisingly to me, size 0 fit my measurements the closest. I have no curves.

But not so fast! I compared the finished garment measurements of the Thurlows to the Simplicity pattern, and I noticed that in the hip, there was a difference of 1 1/2". Sad face. I know from experience that nothing makes my skinny bow legs look worse than a baggy pair of shorts. Not to mention that my fabric choice, the coral denim, has Lycra for stretch, so I can get away with even less ease if I want (which I do). So as much as it pained me, I forged ahead with a muslin. I don't know why I was being such a baby about it, it only took me about a day to cut out and assemble. Oh, and for my muslin, I used some cotton fabric that my mom gave me. She said she wasn't sure what she originally bought it for...I have 5 yards of it, so there's plenty more if I find a use for it!

For a muslin of the shorts, I used pattern pieces 4, 5, 6, and 9. I did not cut out the waistband pieces. I was confused by Lauren at Lladybird's post about her muslin (and if you're going to make Thurlows, you NEED the tutorials from her Sew-Along). She said to cut out the waistband, but then in the photos I didn't see one. Having finished my shorts...yeah, I wish I would have cut out waistband pieces! Check back Thursday for more details...

Right off the bat, my most obvious issue with the muslin was my pockets. Gape city. The instructions say it's okay for your pocket bag to not lie flat...but this was too much. Note to self #1: make sure pocket bags lie flat.

Second, the shorts were obviously too big, as I feared. I knew I'd be okay in the waist area due to the center back extension built into the pattern, which allows for a precise waist fit. The problem was in the hips and thigh. The crotch fit great (there's a phrase you don't use everyday), which was a relief since I didn't want to attempt corrections there.

An earlier version of me would have simply pinned out excess from the side seams and been done with it, but somehow I knew this wasn't the "right" way to fix this problem. I sped off to the library and picked up some books on fitting and on pants specifically, but I ended up finding the most help from the blog A Fashionable Stitch (with images from the book Pants for Real People).

The muslin went on again, inside out, and I pinned out from the sides as shown in the link above. I always pin with safety pins when I'm wearing a garment, and then once I take it off I can even things out with regular pins.

Yes, I was basting with chartreuse thread.

I measured the extra fabric and it actually varied from 1/4" at the hip to 1/2" around the leg opening. I decided to split the difference and remove 3/8". But rather than shaving off the extra on the side seam of the pattern piece, I marked through the inside of it as suggested. If these photos are hard to see, clicking should help you enlarge them. Here are the two front pattern pieces:

The red marks show where I removed excess. I simply cut along the lines and then taped the pattern pieces back together.

For the back, I did take the extra from the side. I didn't want to interfere with the center back extension or the welt pocket. I kept it easy on myself and removed 3/8" from the side seam.

You'll notice that I also changed the placement of the welt pocket ever so slightly. I moved it about an 1/8" down and 1/2" towards the side seam. There was no rhyme or reason to that decision, except that I tried on my muslin, with the welt placement marked, and visually decided I'd like them moved. I also double-checked the darts to make sure they looked okay. I decided to leave them as-is.

How flattering!

Anytime you alter one pattern piece, it's sort of a domino effect for all the others. I also needed to change the waistband pieces. The book Easy Guide to Sewing Pants had a graphic showing how to alter waistbands at the side seams, so that's what I did. I wasn't sure exactly where the side seam was in these pants (the waistband itself does not contain a side seam, only the center back seam) so I laid the waistband pattern pieces on top of the pant leg pieces to see where the side seam would be, roughly. Here are my alterations to these pieces, again marked in red:

Instead of removing 3/8" four times (two front pieces, two back pieces), I removed 3/4" twice (two waistband pieces). The total removed stays the same. Skip ahead two weeks and somehow the right waistband was too short (the left was perfect). How?? IDK man. It didn't even up mattering because of the back extension, but still...mysteries. Again, check back Thursday for a complete post of all my woes with this project. For now, I'm trying to concentrate on pattern alterations only!

I likely could have altered the pocket bag piece as well, but I opted to try it as-is. When I mimicked the effect in the paper pattern, it didn't look too bad:

So there you have it, my muslin fitting and my beginning steps for my Thurlows. I was a little nervous about starting on my REAL fabric, since it is a heavier weight and has more body than my muslin fabric, but (spoiler alert!) most of these adjustments worked out well in terms of fit. Stay tuned for more Thurlow posts as I recap this three-week project!

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