Today I will show you how to make a pattern for pants using your favourite shorts. I know it’s middle of October, fricking cold (at least in Warsaw) and no one is thinking about shorts for sure. But using this instruction you can copy shape of sweat pants with long legs as well. I am using shorts for two reasons:
For those of you who come here for the first time a little explanation: I just finished writing A Sewing Book, which will be released soon – you can read more about it HERE. It will be full of hints for begginers, unfortunatelly it will be available only in polish. But in future, I plan to develope a basic section on this blog, so you won’t miss it :)
Today I post pattern making instruction, next week I will post a debut tutorial of my assistant Monika, about sewing shorts, and in two weeks I’m going to show you how to sew long pants – all instructions are made on ladies pants, but all the rules and steps are exactly the same with mens pants, so gentlemens you can finally make something for yourself. let’s get started!
This way of making pattern is suitable for elastic fabrics, because we skip tucks and shape nuances which are necessary to make good woven pants. I am using a boyfriend fit shorts, so there will be no tucks, and hip line is straight. The belt will be adjusted with a rubber band. If you use knitted fabric to sew those shorts they can be fitted.
Press the shorts. Fold them so that front part of the leg is on top. Make sure that the rise (crotch seam) and inseam are on the edge. Draw the outline at bottom, inseam and rise, mark height of the cuff and the point where the waist strap is sewn.
Front leg width is smaller than the back leg width, that is why the outseam won’t be placed on the side edge. Copy all the seams that are not on the edge, by spiking with a pin, to make holes in the paper. If you put some fabric under the paper, the holes will be bigger and more visible. Copy shape of the outseam, pocket opening and the seam between the leg and the waist belt.
Connect the dots to draw the missing lines. Shape of front leg is ready.
Now fold the shorts so, that the back leg is on top. Draw the bottom line. Check the place marked with three arrows: the outseam is wrapped inwardly, because the back leg is wider than the front leg. Lift one layer to measure how far from edge is the seam. Draw the outseam in equal distance from the side edge.
Draw the shape of the back rise (crotch seam), make sure that the shorts are not wrinkled and the rise has correct shape – it should be straight at waist, and at bottom part it should definitely bend. Lift one leg and check the distance from the edge to the wrapped inseam. Draw the shape of the inseam in same distance from the edge. Keep the shape and direction of the rise when adding the line.
Check if the outseam of the front and back leg are of the same length. Also the inseam should be equal in both legs. If they aren’t, correct it.
If you have to change the length of the outseam, make it on top of it – at the waist. And if you have to even the inseam, change the shape of the rise. It is important to keep the bottom line as a horisontal straight line.
The basic pattern for shorts is ready. Now let’s get to the pocket.
Basic pocket is made of three elements, I draw them on photos above. Check the pocket in your shorts, look at it closely for better understanding of those three parts: 1 and 2 are layers of lining to make a pocket bag, 3 is the facing of main fabric, used to cover lining at the pocket opening:
Draw all the elements separately on a new paper sheet. Notice that in the front leg the pocket opening is cut out. Add cuffs – rectangles at the bottom line of the legs.
And for the finale waist belt, it will be adjusted by rubber band. This will be simple rectangle equal to the sum of front and back waist of the shorts. Its height is 2 x width of the rubber band + 0,5 cm. This is pattern for half of the belt – add mirror image at the edge where the black arrows are.
The patterns are ready! Add 1 cm seam allowance all around each piece. On photos below I explain how to appoint straight grain – a line which indicates how to place pattern on the fabric. Straight grain on pattern should overlap with straight grain in fabric, or simpler said: it should be parallel to fabrics vertical edge (vertical edge is not the one cut by the vendor). In pants it is very important to keep the straight grain when cuting the fabric. If one part of the leg will be cut with even a little bias, the leg will be rotating during wearing.
To change the shorts into long pants first step will be appointing the straight grain. Redraw the back leg on a new paper sheet.
Fold paper so that the very edges of the bottom of the leg overlap. In my shorts it was easy, because they are straight. If you are copying shape of trousers with long legs pay attention to the edges of the leg below the knee line – there the edges should overlap when folding paper. The folding line it the straight grain line.
Keep in mind that straight grain in top part of the back leg should be closer to the rise, than to the middle of the waist.
Check how much do you want to lengthen the shorts and measure it on the straight grain. Shape of the leg from the middle of the thigh to the bottom should be symmetrical, the straight grain should be centre line of the leg in this area. At the bottom draw the bottom width at the right angle (90 degree) to the straight grain, so that straight grain remains in the middle of it. Back leg should be wider than the front by 2-4 cm. I usually make 2 cm wider back legs. Check with measuring tape the circumference of the bottom of the leg that you desire, and divide it so as to keep the difference between front and back around 2 cm.
Connect the width of the bottom with the edges of the shorts. If you wish to make legs much more tight, make it so, that straight grain will still be in the centre – cut the leg from both sides. You can adjust inseam similar to the pink line on the photos below. At the top part the back pattern is not symmetrical so you can cut more from the hip.
Do exactly the same with the front leg. Notice that in the top of the front pattern the straight grain will be placed closer to the middle of the waist! Add same amount of cm to lengthen front pattern, but remember that bottom width should be smaller than in the back pattern.
The pattern for front leg is ready! I marked (with the dots) the missing piece, which will be sewn back together with the pocket. If you want to change the shape of the leg remember to keep straight grain as the centre line from the thigh down. As a final touch check if lengths of the inseam and the outseam in front and back legs are the same.
And as the last picture I want to show more vividly the difference betwen top part of the front and the back. As I said before from thigh down the legs are symmetrical with straight grain as a centre line. In top part of front the straight grain should be placed somwhere close to the middle of the waist, it may be a little moved towards front rise. The back part is a little bent / reflexed to the hip side, so the straight grain should be placed somewhere near 1/4 of the waist – in my pattern it is dangerously close to the rise. Also back rise is much longer than the front rise. Keep it in mind when copying the shape. Good luck and see you next week.
This instruction was prepared by Janek: