A place for current and future students of trouser making, esp. those following the techniques and ideas of David Page Coffin, and the many examples in his multimedia workshop in a book/DVD package, Making Trousers, to gather for previews, announcements and discussion. Welcome!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Moveable Waist; Extras, Part 1

FINALLY, I got my author-copies of Threads Issue 144, August/Sept 2009! I've been itching to post some additional, supporting material for the article I wrote that appears in this issue, but I really wanted to have the article in hand before I did… Well, it's here now, so let's go!

The article's called A Moveable Waist, and it's an idea for rethinking the front pockets on a pant (or skirt) in order to get an adjustable waist without changing the look of the garment much at all. I thought everyone at Threads did a great job with my article, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. Thanks, guys!

What I'm going to do is post here any and all additional material I wish could have appeared in the story, along with bigger versions of some of the pictures, taking advantage of the unlimited space the Internet provides to let me do it. I'm not going to duplicate the entire article, just expand on it, so if you have no idea what this is about, pick up the mag, or wait for my Trouser book to come out (any day now, so I hear…) which covers the same ground with a different solution.

The idea for this trick came from a pair of RTW pants I bought a long time ago from Orvis; I've since seen it on other pants like these Men's Plain Front Comfort Waist Year'rounder Dress Pants from Lands' End. All the RTW examples I've seen work great, but they're very complex, so this article is about how to duplicate the basic idea (you create the adjustment with a doubled waistband at the side pockets) in a simpler way, with lots of variations to suit a variety of waistband options and closure methods.

In this first installment I want to clarify how you'd adapt your pant or skirt pattern's front-pocket pieces for this to work. The drawing below shows what's needed if your garment already has slant-front pockets. All you need to do is make the pocket facing a little bigger, as shown. (Double-click on the drawing to see it full size.)

If your pants have some other kind of pocket, you need to reshape the front piece at the pocket area to make it a slant-pocket type. The drawing below shows how to do that if your pattern has a separate waistband, as most do.

One thing you'll discover in my book is that I'm a big fan of waistbands that AREN'T separate pieces, but are CUT ON to the pants front and back, or sometimes just the front or the back, all of which is covered in detail in the book. Here, I'll just sketch out how it works; the next drawing shows the pocket adjustments on a cut-on waistband pant.

A cut-on-waist pants (or skirt) is nothing more than a garment front and/or back with an additional bit of length above the waist of the same width as a separate waistband would be. It's not a shaped or contoured band, just a straight rectangle pieced onto the existing pattern before cutting out, so there's no waist/band seam. Here's how you'd adjust the patterns; as you can see, I like to consider all the options.

On all these steps it's important of course to be very sure about your seam allowances and stitching lines as you make these changes. The drawings here all show no seam allowances, except along the pocket mouths in the middle two diagrams, which are shown with a 1/4-in. or 0.6cm allowance, which is my preferred allowance for most trouser seams; much more on this in the book, of course.

Please feel free to ask questions or make comments. If you're having trouble making a comment, just go to my Profile and send me an email; I'll post it back here with my reply.

More tomorrow… Be well!


  1. Enjoyed this post. Looking forward to the Book! - Nimue

  2. I just bought my Threads (144) so I will print ans add this information. Thank you.

  3. I have bought the book Making Trousers for Men and Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop...I'm really satisfied with the content.. Thank you for giving us such a complete reference :-)

  4. You're very welcome; thanks for your comment:)

  5. Thanks for very informative blog, its very useful for me.
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  6. I bought the book and was pleased with it. In it you say there are complete slopers for men's trousers that can be printed. I did not find that to be the case. There are patterns for pockets and other pieces but not for the front and back sloper. That is what I need.

  7. Hi Jim, glad you're enjoying the book, and sorry if it's confusing about what's included. As you see, there aren't any sloper patterns in it, just a few details that can be applied to any pattern or sloper. There are lots of places to get slopers, or rather directions for drafting a sloper based on specific measurements, if that's what you mean. Just like ready-made patterns, any draft will represent the draft-maker's idea of style and details (i.e., a draft from the '30s will be different in style and shape from a draft from the '90s, etc. even if the same measurements are used to follow the draft). My preferred process for coming up with a sloper is to copy some existing garment whose fit and style you like or is close to what you want to start with. My copying process is demo'ed here:

    To find free drafts online, you can of course google that, but also be sure to check the wonderful forum mentioned in the book at cutterandtailor.com. There are many downloadable scans there from books on drafting various garments. You can also search amazon for current texts on drafting and designing patterns for men and women, but they tend to be expensive, so I'd recommend ordering any that seem interesting through your library's Inter-Library loan service. Hope that helps and thanks for your comment!