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How Pants Work

Ever wondered how, exactly, pants work*?  What kind of crazy pattern-making sorcery goes into drafting a pant?  If you’ve ever looked at a “from scratch” pant draft, they’re ridiculously intense.  And if you’ve tried one, you’ve probably found out that they’re ridiculously prone to failure. I’ve tried a number of them, mostly with sad results. (Really, if you’ve ever gone shopping for jeans, you were probably aware of this.)

Pant drafts make a lot of assumptions.  I don’t know about you, but my backside really hates assumptions.  It likes to prove them wrong.

So, I say pant drafts are silly.  I never want to draft a pair of pants from scratch.  I also don’t like draping pants.  Even on a headless, armless pant form, it just feels very invasive.  I apologize to the stand the whole time – extra awkward when I’m supposed to be demoing this for a class!

So what’s the solution to this whole hateful mess?

If you’ve already done up Ye Olde Mathless Draft and turned it into a skirt block (or produced a skirt sloper by some other means), you’re half way home.  The only real difference between a pant and a skirt is that skirts go over the hips and down.  Pants go over the hips and around the crotch.  (Think of a pant as a pair of leg skirts.)

So…  Ready to turn a skirt block into a pant block?

This is going to be a very graphics-based demo, rather than a photo-based model.  I’m pulling this out of a handout that I developed for my Flat Pattern II class, because I absolutely hate the way our book does pant patterns.  I have no opinions…  ;)

You’re going to need a couple of measurements:

1) Waist to Ankle 2) Waist to Knee.
1) Waist to Ankle
2) Waist to Knee.
3) Crotch Length, from Front Waist to Back Waist between legs. (sometimes also called Half Girth).
3) Crotch Length, from Front Waist to Back Waist between legs. (sometimes also called Half Girth).
4) Crotch Depth.
The easiest way to take this is with a square. Make sure you read the measurement from the inside of the square!

A lot of books I’ve seen advise taking the crotch depth measurement while sitting very straight on a hard surface like a table, and then measuring from the waist to the table.  I don’t think this method gives as true a measurement on bodies carrying more than 15 extra pounds.

*Credit for the nifty title actually belongs to one of my students, Monika, who got very excited during a demo of this material and exclaimed, “Now I know how pants work!”  I swear, I teach for those moments.  :)


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  1. Anna-Carin Betzén
    Anna-Carin Betzén June 2, 2016

    Great instructions! Good point on how to measure the crotch depth, that will help when fitting commercial patterns too.

    BTW, there may be a problem with the scaling of some of the pics – on my computer, the silhouette pics are displayed 2335 px tall…

    • missa
      missa June 2, 2016

      Thanks, Anna-Carin! I’ll figure out what’s up with the images – I’m out of practice…

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