Drafting Hobbit trousers

· sewing ·

When I last wrote about drafting patterns, I had made a muslin of my first draft and adapted the pattern to take into account my oddly-shaped legs, but had run out of muslin to test whether the modifications had worked1. In the intervening period, I’ve made a second muslin, drafted a long shorts pattern from the resulting sloper, and made the shorts. It all went swimmingly.

Amazingly, my intuitive modifications to the initial muslin worked really well, and the legs of the trousers no longer bunched up awkwardly on the outside of my knee. In fact, they fit amazingly well, which I have to believe was partially beginners luck. I transferred the changes I had made to the pattern to finalise my sloper, and cut it out of card so that it could serve as a durable template. I’ve got lots of styles of trousers planned, but my first priority was to make a pair of long shorts, particularly as the weather had warmed up considerably by this time.

I’m not quite sure how to classify the shorts I drafted. They are not really capri pants or cropped trousers, as I wanted them to finish just below the knee. Having made them now, I can’t help thinking of them as Hobbit trousers. If I wore them with a waistcoat and velvet frock coat, accessorised with my own — naturally Hobbity — bare feet, I suspect I would soon be accosted by passing wizards trying to persuade me to chuck some jewellery into a volcano. Which is fine by me.

I followed Suzy Furrer’s very clear instructions on making final patterns from the sloper, and mashed together a faced waistline with darts that sits at the natural waist with a looser line through the leg below the low hip, and then cut it off just below the knee. I wanted it to have quite a simple silhouette, so I included a side zip rather than a fly front. Finally, I wanted to add a touch of decoration to the hems, so I drafted a notch at the side seam with a hem facing to provide a neat finish. To make a looser leg, you have to extend out the crotch point a bit, then decide what hem width you want to use. Then you join the new crotch point to the extended hem with a smooth line, and extend out the side seam from the low hip point down to the hem.

I’m really pleased with the way that they turned out. The only minor issue I had when sewing them up was caused by my own laziness. Suzy makes the point several times that you need to true up the pattern again each time you modify it. Truing the crotch point is particularly important, otherwise you end up with a peak at the crotch, rather than a nice smooth curve. I had trued it up after finalising the sloper, and lazily decided that I didn’t need to do it again for the shorts pattern I drafted. Luckily, it wasn’t too difficult to fix while sewing, and I’ve learned my lesson: listen to Suzy! She knows what she’s talking about. The Hobbit trousers fit wonderfully, and they are much more flattering than you might imagine because of the snug and streamlined shape around the ‘foundation’, as it is known in trouser making circles. The waist is beautifully comfortable (snug enough not to slip down or ride up, but loose enough to allow me to eat a big meal without having to loosen anything), and the rest of the leg has just the right amount of ease to feel cool and comfortable in the heat (I made them in a smoky blue linen fabric), without being baggy. My only regret in retrospect is that I didn’t draft pockets for them, but I will next time.

So I did it! I drafted a pattern for a pair of trousers from my own measurements, from scratch. I’m amazed and giddy with excitement about the possibilities this opens up. I’m also starting to work on drafting a bodice sloper, which — together with Suzy Furrer’s classes on necklines, collars and sleeves — should allow me to make any type of shirt, blouse, dress, jacket or coat. Or indeed, a waistcoat and a velvet frock coat to go with my Hobbit trousers…

  1. Have you all been in suspense since then? What a cliff hanger, eh? ↩︎