08 June 2011
The Problem of Pants, Part One
This is going to be a bit of a long, two-part post, but it's something that's been stewing in my head for a while. I recently sewed a couple of pairs of pants, based off of home-sewing patterns from McCall's and VoguePatterns. The first pair were supposed to be extremely loose cargo pants, so I didn't mind that they looked pretty unflattering when I wore them. The second pair, however, seemed to fit well at least around the crotch area, and so I was surprised by how they looked when I put on the finished product. I don't know whether their ...unusual fit has to do with the fact that they are, as I mentioned in my last post, "wearable art". I do know that the only way they look in any way like "art" is if I stand in a permanent and faux-casual artistic slouch, with my pelvis and knees jutting about a quarter meter in front of my torso. Once I actually try walking in them, they bunch up and look generally hideous. (Yes I'm exaggerating, but not as much as you probably think).
As I've said before, when sewing clothes I tend to stick to shirts, and I'm usually pretty successful. Because of this, despite having heard about the terrors of pants-sewing, I wasn't really prepared for complete failure. I'm beginning to realize that pants introduce a whole new level of sewing and fitting. The crotch, the thighs, and the hips must be fitted carefully for good pants, but this is made difficult by the fact that these body parts are all in constant movement; every time the hips or thighs move, they change their shape and therefore their fit. The only comparable parts of a shirt are the armholes, since the arms also move, but most underarms and shoulders seem easy to fit—a stick attached to a bony corner? simple!—when compared to the complicated roundness of moving thighs and hips. (Because of that roundness, pants are also more interesting and exciting to fit, but I'll save the bony-vs-fat comparison for another day.)
Now I know that two failed pairs of pants, while unfortunate, aren't exactly enough to cause despair. That said, I am still interested in figuring out what exactly is up with these pants patterns. I'm sure it can't be entirely my lack of pants-sewing experience, though that must be part of the reason. To that end, I've come up with a list of differences I can spot between the pants that I own—fitted, store bought, ready-to-wear jeans—and my several home-sewing patterns for trousers. I'm planning to post that list of differences later today, as the second half of my "The Problem of Pants" entry.