Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting Fit(ted)

Yesterday was sewing-central in the Kristin household. It started with a telephone call with Myrna, to talk about my Claudia pants muslin, and we had a terrific chat which clarified some things for me  - not least of which is the concept of scooping.

Not to belabour this, but I had truly NO idea of the true meaning of the term "scooping", when it comes to pants fitting, though I've happily thrown it around whenever the mood strikes.

Just to clarify for all of us (and sorry to tell you something you may already know): Scooping - a mid-sewing fabric fix, not a flat pattern alteration - is not specifically about getting rid of fabric at the back crotch curve (for example) in order to add more room for the derriere via the addition of negative space. Scooping is about lengthening the crotch curve by creating an L wedge at the relevant place so that you effectively achieve the additional space you need. Then, you cut extra fabric away (strategically, not just willy nilly) to true up the line.

I hope that Myrna doesn't mind - let me know, M! - that I'm posting a photo she sent to me yesterday that beautifully illustrates the point:

Photo by Myrna Giesbrecht
The line that's closest to the raw edge of the curve is the original stitch line (indicated by the pattern). The scooped line (which was achieved in phases illustrated by the stitching rings you see), is the most L shaped one, farthest from the raw edge. That L shaped stitch line has produced an extension of the original crotch length, giving extra space where it's needed. The diagonal line you see from the angle of the L to the raw edge is a snip, I believe, inserted to allow for truing of the fabric on the fly. Note that the L shape angle, illustrated here, is very likely distinct from the scoop angle you need to make because it suits a particular shape of derriere. For example, it would not suit my shape (as I have a butt that sticks out somewhat).

Scooping is the fabric fix - often a life-saver in fitting - which is similarly achieved, if differently, by this flat pattern alteration:

Look at the back piece (the one on the right in the photo above). This is how I've altered the paper to fix the tightness of the back crotch I discovered in my last muslin. The outcome is similar to scooping shown in the top photo though pls note that scooping is not a wedge alteration. See that wedge below the darts? The part at the crotch curve is lengthened by 1.5 inches, effectively providing the derriere with more space - same as that scooping alteration from Myrna's pic above.

Now, I wouldn't have had that tightness if I hadn't shortened the original pattern equally at the hip and crotch, one muslin ago. I need a wedge alteration on the back crotch (to make things longer) AND on the front crotch (left of pic, harder to see cuz of the way the pattern is upside down) (to make things shorter). Despite our unique shapes and sizes, many sewists find the same general alteration is required.

Since I have tapered the wedge, in both instances, at the side seam, crotch length alteration has no impact on the length or proportion of the outer legs.

Hilariously, I need to make both of these crotch alterations to still a greater extent than currently I have - shortening the front by an extra 0.5" and lengthening the back by the same amount. But this next muslin will most definitely be wearable. I'm just getting picky. Oh, and I've got to remove 0.5" at the hips again. Note: When you make the correct crotch alteration, you often don't need to add fabric in all kinds of other places. Away that extra paper on the hip will go - for the third time.

Now, this wasn't even the half of my day as I spent the aft and evening with Sara and Andrea - and S. my fitting friend - working on fitting of Sara's Albion muslin. Such fun! S has been schooled by hardcore English fitters and Andrea in the Palmer Pletsch system and they had distinct takes on how Sara's alterations should go. Mind you, they both got to the same place in the end which made for an awesome improvement of fit and Sara's tremendous happiness.

It was truly exciting to watch things unfold. (But not exciting to make the flat pattern alterations.)

I am more than ever convinced that my fitting style is hideously non-academic non-traditional. A and S were throwing around concepts and numbers like savants. It was palpable how they were able to communicate in a way that was so enjoyable for them. I do get to the same end point, but at a pace that is more that of paint drying than computers computing. For better or worse, my brain comes at fitting from a totally different vantage point. Sometimes I'm convinced that I'm slip shod, but really, I suspect (given that I do make clothing that fits) my method is best referred to as intuitive.

In few instances, more cooks can make for a better dinner, and I believe this is one of them. I'm so happy that S will have more helpers, at future sessions, to facilitate her fitting solutions and that we'll each have a chance to improve home-sewist fitting, one future garment at a time.


  1. i don't adhere to any particular method, fitting-wise, but reading a little here and there has turned me onto identifying a few usual fixes. i used to do the "intuitive" method and... well i spent a lot of time not getting a great fit. and that is quite the L-curve/scoop on those pants!

    1. Oh, I think you can be intuitive with all the bells and whistles! Otherwise, I agree, it's a recipe for disaster.

  2. LOL - that clip is to free up the corner so I can actually try the pants on otherwise all that "excess" would be bunching up in the crotch curve and I wouldn't be able to see the fit.

    And yes... you can use the picture.

  3. I think you're a natural draper rather than fitter. You attack your fitting issues from a pinch here and a tweak there - very organic, like draping until you are happy rather than technical. What I admire is your persistence, my pile of UFO's has grown because I lose steam about half way through.

    I do love those pants and I think it's mostly because of the fabric. It's really quite lovely.

    1. Interesting prespective. Too bad that dress form I own is so not my shape or I could make some use of it! And thank you! You can still get that fabric if you want it...

  4. Oh I love a good pants fitting post. I have recently found the scoop and hadn't equated it to the wedge - useful insight indeed. Thank you Kristin. I shall skip ahead shortly to see how you got on ...