Thread Theory

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Fitting the Lazo Trousers (and the 1st contest winner!)

Happy New Year!  I’m getting right in to the swing of things on the blog today now that the busy holiday season is over.  It’s finally time for the Lazo Fitting post!  Sorry for the delay on this one.  I just couldn’t fit it in before my Christmas break.

lazo-trousers-fit

I have included fit adjustments based on the feedback you gave me several blog posts ago.  If I missed a category or you didn’t have a chance to request a fit adjustment, shoot me a comment on this post so that I can try my best to provide you with some fitting help.

I have chosen the simplest solution for each fit problem so I hope this post won’t intimidate you!  Also, you will notice that a lot of my solutions use the Lazo’s unique style lines to help fit.  We will work with the waistband shape and also with the pleats to create a better fit when possible instead of performing more elaborate pattern manipulation.

Now, please, before we get started, please add a mock up (trial run) of the Lazo Trousers to your agenda!  All of these fitting suggestions are operating under the assumption that you have sewn a mock up using the size that best matches your hip circumference and a fabric that is fairly similar to the actual fabric you plan to use for your Lazos.  Once the mock up is sewn, you will be able to see how the Lazos fit you and you can pin them tighter where needed or cut them open where needed to get an idea of where you need to adjust the actual pattern pieces.  If you want to see this process in action, check out the photos that I took of Matt in his Fairfield Button-up mock up…he looked like Frankenstein but it was a great visual way to see where adjustments were needed!

Wide Hips

When choosing your Lazo Trousers size, I would recommend picking the size that matches your hip measurement most closely.  If your hips are proportionately wider than our fit model’s hip measurement, you will likely need to adjust the fit of your trousers at the waist.

Here is an example: Your hip circumference is 42 7/8″ so you choose to work with size 14.  Your waist measurement is only 29 7/8″ (which, is a size 10 for our Lazo Trousers).  Select the size 14 pattern and then adjust it to suit your other body measurements.

To bring the waist in to match your proportions, you can grade between sizes only on the waistband pieces.  The fullest part of the hip curve is positioned at the bottom edge of the waistband so you will need the bottom edge to remain the larger size to match your hips.  This makes it very easy to work with two sizes because you don’t need to worry about adjusting the pocket pieces!

Adjust-for-wide-hips---grade-between-sizes.jpg

 

Of course, your wide hips might sit higher or lower than the Lazo Trousers hip curve.  I would recommend making a mock up after grading between sizes.  Try on the mock up to see if there is any strain or bagging along the curve of the hips.  Adjust the shape of the curve accordingly.  Note that you will need to adjust the pocket facing and pocket to match your new curve.  I find it is easiest to do this by lining up the pieces how they will be sewn together (as I have done with the pocket facing in the image below), that way you can copy the hip curve on to the smaller pieces:

adjust-hip-placement

 

It is remarkably common to have two different shaped hips – you will notice that your mock up pulls on just one side of the body.  This is because we generally have a dominant leg that gets used more often – it develops more muscles and becomes bigger.  During the pant fitting class that I took a couple of summers ago, my classmates and I were surprised to find that the majority of us needed to adjust for a hip that was higher or larger than the other hip.  For most of us, it was our right hip.  To make the pants look symmetrical on an asymmetrical body, you can adjust one hip but not the other.  I don’t think I would do this unless the larger hip was very noticeably causing asymmetrical strain lines.

Crotch Depth is Too Long

As I mention within the instruction booklet, the Lazo Trousers feature a very closely fitted seat seam.  This creates a flattering, fitted appearance to balance out the roomy double pleats.  It is very likely that the crotch depth of our fit model will not match your crotch depth exactly.  Don’t ignore this because you may end up with uncomfortably tight trousers that try to give you a wedgie!

crotch-depth

Measure your crotch depth as I illustrate in the booklet and then slash across your pattern pieces and spread them apart.  Adding crotch depth will ‘drop’ the crotch – a little adjustment goes a long way!  I recommend adjusting slightly less than you think you need in order to maintain the very fitted appearance of this seam.

adjust-crotch-depth

It is important to adjust the crotch depth before adjusting for a full tummy, flat tummy, full bottom or flat bottom.  Changing the crotch depth will change all other pressure points because the pants will sit lower on the body (the crotch length is increased).  Make up a mock up before proceeding to the other fitting issues – you may find that they no longer exist!

Full Tummy

This is a very important adjustment for the Lazo Trousers because the contoured waistband fits snugly and the bottom of the waistband will likely sit against the fullest part of the tummy – you do not want this to be cutting in to you!  You want it to match the width and curve of your body.

If you are unsure whether you require a full tummy adjustment, circle a measuring tape around your waist (the narrowest point).  If you have a full tummy you will find that the measuring tape naturally wants to ride up at centre front and sit lower at centre back.  This is okay, of course!  Let the measuring tape do this when you measure your waist…just know that you will need to add more length to the front of your trousers so they have room to curve over your tummy.

Here is my preferred way to add a combination of length and width to accommodate a rounded stomach.  You will need to adjust the Waistband Front and the trousers Front.

full-stomach-adjustment

Cut your pattern piece vertically down to the knee.  Turn your scissors 90 degrees and cut across the knee leaving a hinge at the side seam and the inseam.  Cut horizontally at the hip as well (at the bottom of the slash pocket).  Spread open to add as much width at the waist as needed.  Add the same amount of width to the waistband.

If you wish to avoid any fancy pattern manipulation, a very simple way to add some width to the Lazo Trousers front could be simply letting out one (or both) of the pleats!  You would need to add width to the waistband accordingly.  If you only sew one pleat on each pant leg, you would add 3/4″ to the waistband (for an extra 1 1/2″ overall).  If you do not sew any of the pleats you would need to add 1 1/2″ to the waistband (for an extra 3″ overall…a very large adjustment!).

sew-only-one-pleat

If you do not need the extra width at the top of the waistband because you have a narrow waist, you could add width in a wedge shape instead of spreading them apart evenly.  The wedge would tapers to less or nothing at the top of the waistband.

Flat Bottom

There are no darts on the Lazo Trousers since the shaping needed for the curve of your bottom is built in to the waistband seam.  If you have a flat bottom you will likely notice two fit issues when you sew a mock up:

  1. The waistband appears to be wrinkled and sagging because it provides too much room for your bottom.
  2. There are folds of fabric below your bottom at the back of your legs – this is because the back of the pants are too long since they do not have to curve over a round bottom.

These two issues mean that the trousers do not need as much width or length to curve across your bottom horizontally or vertically.

Try adjusting the curve of the waistband.  I show you how to adjust the curve in the instruction booklet to suit a full bottom in the last illustration within the “Fitting the Waistband” section.  The adjustment needed for a flat bottom is the opposite.

flat-bottom-adjustment

This is equivalent to making shallower darts.  You will likely need to decrease the width of the trousers slightly since your straightened waistband seam is shorter than the original curve.

Now that the Lazo seat has been made flatter to suit your bottom, you will probably still need to reduce the length of the seat seam only on the back pattern piece.  This will get rid of the fabric that pools just below your bottom.  This adjustment is quite easy!  Just cut in to the Back pattern piece somewhere near the middle of the seat seat seam and leave a little paper ‘hinge’ near the side seam.  Using the hinge, overlap the paper so that you remove the excess length.  You will likely only need to overlap 1/2″ or so.

flat-seat-adjustment

Full Tummy paired with Flat Bottom

Okay, this might seam a bit repetitive, but this combination of fit adjustments is very common so it is worth giving a category of its own so that you can recognise the problem and then head for the correct solution.

You will notice, if you sew a mock up of the Lazo Trousers, that there is excess fabric pooling around your bottom while there are diagonal wrinkle lines over your crotch…it may feel a bit intimidating to be faced with trousers that are too tight and too loose simultaneously!  To top it off, your side seams will not fall straight since they are being pulled towards the front.  Don’t worry, all of these issues stem from the fact that the crotch curve does not fit your body. – you need to add length to the front to accommodate your lower tummy and you need to remove length from the back since the trousers do not need to curve much over your bottom.  Perform the previous two adjustments!

Full Bottom

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to fit a figure with a fairly full bottom in relation to the waist measurement (an hourglass figure).  All the same, if you make a mock up and notice that there is strain across the widest point of your bottom (or, maybe you notice that fabric is pooling directly above the widest point of your bottom), you might like to give yourself a little more room.  If the strain is near the waistband seam, you can create more room by exaggerating the curve of the waistband (as I illustrate in the instruction booklet).  Exaggerating this curve will simultaneously add a little more width (the seam becomes longer) and more shaping.  You will likely need to add more width to the pants back as well so that they can be easily sewn to this longer waistband seam.

full-bottom-adjustment

If the widest part of your seat falls below the waistband seam or if a fairly large adjustment is needed, you will likely want to add more length to the seat seam by adding a wedge at centre back in addition to addition to the extra width.  Just as I described for the Flat Bottom adjustment, slash across the back pattern piece and leave a “hinge” at the side seam.  This time, spread the slash apart and redraw the seat seam curve smoothly.

add-room-for-full-seat

Straight Figure

Someone with a straight figure will likely find that, when they choose their size based on their hip measurement, the waistband is too small for them.  This is because they do not have a tapered waist.  You can make small adjustments to the way the waist tapers by adjusting the side seams within the 5/8″ seam allowances so that they are much more straight.

straight-figure-shaped-waistband

You might like to change the style of the waistband to better suit your figure.  I would recommend reducing the height of the waistband by at least 1″ or possibly even 2″ so that the pants are mid-rise instead of high rise.  If you prefer not to highlight your waist, you will find this rise much more flattering!

Lower-the-waistband-height.jpg

Full Thighs

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to have very roomy thighs (due to the double pleats) so I don’t anticipate you will feel any strain across the thighs when you sew a mock up.  There were a few requests for this adjustment though, so here it is in case you need it!  If the pant legs are too tight at the thigh you will notice horizontal or diaganol wrinkles across the legs just below the crotch.  You will also notice strain at the bottom of the slash pocket.  Add more room only on the pants Front pattern piece since a large thigh is caused by a very developed muscle on the front of the leg.

adjust-for-thigh-muscle

Add the room by extending the crotch at the inseam.  If your adjustment is fairly large it might be necessary to lower the center front waist to remove the length that unfortunately has to be added to the crotch while you are adding width.  You probably won’t need to do this though – wait until you’ve sewn another mock up to see if the front crotch seam has become pouchy and too long.  Here is a PDF from Sew News magazine that includes a very succinct description of this whole adjustment…in case you need a second opinion! 😛

Full Calves

Since the Lazo Trousers feature tapered legs and since the cropped variation includes wide cuffs, you will need to ensure there is enough room for your calves.  You can compare the pattern pieces (minus 5/8″ seam allowances) with a comfortable pair of pants that have no stretch and a bit of roominess across the calves.  Or you can sew a mock-up of the pattern as is (while working on other fit adjustments) and note if the knees or calves feel restricted when you bend your leg or flex your muscles.  To add width, simply redraw the side seams and inseams from just above the knee downwards.  Decrease the amount of tapering.

add-width-to-calves

Adjusting the side seams by hand allows you to shape the trousers how you feel they will be most flattering. Make sure to add an even amount of width to the front and back, inseam and side seam so that you don’t end up with wonky twisted legs!  You can avoid having to draw new seamlines by hand slashing the pattern and pivoting.  This is more complicated but can be a great way to ensure your side seams remain even and straight.  You can view an excellent interpretation of this adjustment (along with loads of other useful pants fitting tricks in this post on the Closet Case Files blog).

Oh, and if you are sewing the cropped variation, don’t forget that you will need to add width to the Cuff piece as well!


Whew!  Did I miss anything?  Keep in mind that these suggestions are simply my preferred approach to fitting and that there are MANY ways of going about fitting!  Google your fit problem using this wording: _______ _______ Adjustment (i.e. Full Hip Adjustment, Flat Seat Adjustment).  You will find all manner of excellent tutorials!

lazo-contest

Let’s close for tonight by drawing the first Lazo Hack contest winner!

contest-winner

I’m pleased to announce that Robynne (@adelajoy) is the winner of a $50 (US) gift card to Stylemaker Fabrics!  Congratulations and thanks for playing along!  Here is her lovely sketch of a nautical pair of shorts inspired by the Lazo Trousers pattern.

adelajoy-lazo-hack-entry

She posted this entry on Instagram using #lazotrousers.

We still have three weeks of prizes to draw.  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca, or use #lazotrousers on Instragram or Facebook to enter the contest.  Simply share your plans for working on the Lazos or your finished Lazo masterpiece.

The next draw will be on Friday, January 13th.  Enter as many times as you want for a chance to win your choice of any 3 Thread Theory PDF patterns.  Which patterns are on your wishlist?

 

 


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How to Create a Custom Fit Men’s Shirt

Today we are discussing how to fit our mock-ups of the Fairfield Button-up Shirt.

Before we delve into this, I have a quick announcement about the agenda: This post ended up becoming very long so I am posting the some of the fit adjustments today and the rest will be posted after the long weekend (Tuesday, May 24th).  I will catch up with the rest of the sew-along by posting both on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fairfield sew-along

Now, let’s talk about fitting!

Many months ago when I asked for your input while I was designing the Fairfield pattern, many of you gave me some insight into fitting issues you struggle with.  The main ones that you mentioned were:

  • A slim build (most patterns include too much fabric around the waist and in the sleeves for your figure)
  • A long body (most shirts are too short to tuck in comfortably)
  • An unusual neck size (thinner or thicker than most shirt patterns)
  • A rounded belly
  • Uncommon shoulder dimensions or shape (narrow, wide or rounded)

We will be addressing all of these today.  If you have a particular fitting puzzle that I haven’t gone over in the post below, please comment and I will try to help you out!

 

Let’s get started:

Choose a shirt size-3

Put the mock up on your wearer.  Pin the mock up closed at center front all the way up the the collar stand.  Make sure the pins are pointed away from the wearer’s chin…ouch!

Choose a shirt size-6

Stand back and carefully examine the wearer and mock-up while they stand in a relaxed but fairly upright posture.

Most fitting reference books suggest that you address fit issues in this order

  1. Length issues (from neck to hips and then sleeves)
  2. Width issues (from chest down to the hips) and lastly
  3. Specialized alterations (such as a rounded back or belly).

I have also been taught in various fitting classes to address fit issues from largest/most obvious to smallest (while very generally sticking to the top to bottom rule but bending it if necessary).

Both approaches have worked for me in the past.  I find I change tactics depending on the garment type and the specific fit issues involved.  For example, I will use the first approach if there are very few unusual fit issues involved.  As another example, if a rounded back fit problem is quite severe, I will use the second approach because often adjusting for the rounded back will allow the strained fabric to relax and solve any length issues.

In an attempt to make this post very visual, I’ve pretended that Matt has a few of the following fit issues by pinning the shirt to make it smaller, larger, shorter or longer than it actually is.  I hope these photos help!

First we will look at the fit issue as it appears on Matt.  I like to ‘solve’ the fit issue on the muslin by cutting or pinning to visually get a grasp on how the change will look on the paper pattern.  Then it is just a matter of making the same cuts and adjustments to the paper pattern pieces.

How to fit a button up shirt (20)

When I cut the mock up apart I like to use medical tape or masking tape to hold the various pieces together.  This allows me to measure the open areas once I take the mock up off of Matt so that I can use these exact measurements when changing the paper pattern.

After each fitting explanation I’ve included resources.  These resources are blog posts that focus on one fit issue exclusively.  They go into greater detail then I have here since I am covering many fit issues at once.  Aren’t we lucky to have the internet filled with such amazing, instantly accessible resources?!

Before working with your paper pattern, make sure to draw in all seam lines!  Changes will be made from the seamline and not from the edge of the paper.

Length:


Torso

How to fit a button up shirt (1)

The hem should not become untucked when the arms are raised.  The hem shouldn’t extend beyond the bottom of the pant fly.

How to fit a button up shirt (2)

Solution:  Add or remove length to the shirt fronts, back and the placket interfacing.  Cut along the “Lengthen or Shorten Here” lines.  Overlap the pattern pieces to shorten and tape the pattern pieces to a new sheet of paper to lengthen.

Resources: Check out my tutorial on lengthening and shortening a pattern for all of the details!

 

Shoulder

How to fit a button up shirt (3)

The shoulder seam should meet the armhole at the end of the shoulder bone (before the shoulder begins to curve towards the arm). It is too long if it extends onto the arm.  It is too short if it causes the sleeve to pull and sits before the end of the shoulder bone.  I’ve pinned the shoulder seam so that it appears too short for Matt in the photo below:

How to fit a button up shirt (4)

Solution: You will need to adjust the shirt front, yoke, and shirt back.

Adjust the Shirt Front:  On the shirt front, cut into the pattern from the middle of the shoulder seam to the armhole seamline (3/8″ from the edge of the paper).  Cut into your armhole seam allowance slightly and leave a “hinge” of paper between the two cuts.

Here is how it looks on the mock-up:

How to fit a button up shirt (5)

And here is how it looks on the pattern:

Shoulder-length---front

  • To create a longer shoulder seam, spread the large cut open and allow the small seam allowance cut to overlap.  Tape the pattern piece to a sheet of paper to fill in the empty wedge and trim.
  • To create a shorter shoulder seam, overlap the large cut and allow the small seam allowance cut to spread open.  Tape the overlapped cut closed, straighten out the shoulder seam by drawing a new line with a pencil and trimming along this line.  Fill in the empty wedge in the armhole seam allowance by taping the pattern to a piece of paper and trimming.

Adjust the Yoke/Shirt Back: You have two choices here.

Shoulder-length---yoke

  1. Cut through the yoke pattern piece and spread it wider or overlap it (just like lengthening or shortening a pattern…but this time the cut is vertical rather than horizontal).  This adjustment is easy but it means you will also need to add or remove width to the shirt back which will change how the shirt body fits.  If you notice the muslin is too baggy or too tight, slashing along the entire shirt back will solve two fit problems at once.
  2. If you are happy with the fit of the shirt body and only want to adjust the shoulder length slash towards the armhole in the same manner as we did for the Shirt Front.  Here is how this looks on the mock-up:

How to fit a button up shirt (7)

And here is how this looks on the pattern:

Shoulder-length---yoke-2

Resources:

Note that both these tutorials use a second cut and hinge to raise the shoulder seam upwards.  This cut may seam a little fancy or confusing (which is why I don’t use it in the method above) but it will make it easier to draw a new shoulder seam because both halves of the cut shoulder seam will still match up fairly well.

Colette Patterns Albion Sew-Along: Adjusting shoulder length with a yoke

Curvy Sewing Collective: Narrow Shoulder Adjustment

Sleeve

How to fit a button up shirt (2)

The bottom of the cuff should sit where the palm meets the wrist (about 1″ below the protruding wrist bone).  Keep in mind that adjusting the fit of the shoulder can change the sleeve length so it is a good idea to fix any shoulder fit problems before finalizing the sleeve length.

Solution: Add or remove length to the shirt sleeve.  Cut along the “Lengthen or Shroten Here” line and adjust as mentioned for the torso.

Resources: Check out my tutorial on lengthening and shortening a pattern for all of the details!

Width:


Back and Chest

As I mention in the instruction booklet, choose your pattern size primarily based on the Chest circumference.  If you try the mock-up on only to find there is not enough arm movement due to strain across the back or that the fabric is pulling across the chest, the simplest solution is to pick larger pattern size.  You can then adjust the more detailed areas of the pattern (the neck size, the shoulder length, the hip width, the sleeve length) to suit the wearer.

Sleeve

We have drafted the Fairfield Sleeve to be fairly slim.  If you notice that the sleeve is too restricting when rolled up to the elbow, you might like to add width to the sleeve.  In the photo below I’ve pinned the sleeve along the seam so that it is about 1.5″ narrower than the actual Fairfield sleeve to show you how a sleeve width fit issue would appear:

How to fit a button up shirt (8)

 

Solution: Add up to an inch of ease by cutting horizontally across your sleeve pattern at the underarm and cutting vertically the entire length of the sleeve.  Leave a “hinge” at all four seam lines.  Clip into your seam allowances to make it possible to spread the sleeve open.  Spread the vertical cut line open the amount necessary to create some room in the sleeve.  This will cause the horizontal cut line to overlap which will shorten the sleeve cap very slightly.  Add the height back to the sleeve cap by drawing a slightly taller cap.

Here is how the vertical cut appears on the actual mock up:

How to fit a button up shirt (10)

And here are the cutting lines you would need to make on the pattern to add this extra width:

Add-room-in-sleeve

Resources:

I haven’t photographed/illustrated this adjustment thoroughly because the Curvy Sewing Collective has done a bang up job of doing so!  Their tutorials are awesome 🙂

Waist and Hips

The Fairfield waist curves inwards slightly to suit an ‘athletic’ or slim figure.  I have pinned the mock-up at center back in the photo below so that the shirt appears tight at the hips for Matt – this way you can see what the mock-up would look like if you needed to add width:

How to fit a button up shirt (12)

If the wearer has a fuller figure you have three choices:

Side-seam-adjustment

  1. Adjust the side seam shape so that it is straight or less curved.  This small adjustment will give the wearer a little bit more room but won’t solve any serious fit problems.
  2. Grade up to the next size at the waist and hips.  This is a great choice for figures who do not have a rounded stomach but who are stocky instead of lanky.  Their mass is distributed fairly evenly around their torso.
  3. Use our “Larger Figures” pattern. It is tricky to adjust a pattern to suit men with larger figures because men tend to carry the extra weight distributed mostly towards centre front.  This means it is necessary to angle the centre front in addition to adjusting the side seam shaping.  A button up shirt includes lots of detail at centre front so we made this adjustment for you!

Resources:

Check out our tutorial on grading between sizes – it is very easy!


Now that we have some of the basics figured out, we will move on to special fit issues on Tuesday.  These include, adjusting the neck size, adjusting for sloped or square shoulders, and adjusting for a rounded upper back.