Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vintage Pants from a Modern Pattern... plus... A Rant!

Some time ago, Lucky Lucille did a post about pants and referenced a modern pattern - Vogue V8836 - suggesting it was nearly identical to pants from the late 1930s.  I had been looking at pants patterns, because I wanted to make some comfy wide leg pants, so it was almost like she had read my mind.  Vogue happened to have a sale, so I purchased the pattern online.  Here it is:

When deciding what size range to buy, I looked at the sizes on the website and chose the one with the size 16 as it had a 30" waist, and I have a 29" waist.... close enough I thought!

I also jumped on to and purchased some micro brushed twill fabric in navy and grey.  I hadn't heard of it before - it was also a suggestion from Lucky Lucille - but I find its quite denim like, but with a softer feeling surface which is probably due to the brushed bit.  But its quite heavy so good for winter pants.

So I had a spare afternoon last weekend, and I thought the perfect way to spend my time was on comfy, easy-to-sew pants.  I cut them out and did gathers and darts and pocket flaps etc.  All went well until I realised I didn't have a 7" zip in my stash.  Why is it I never have the right zipper???

Anyway this was as far as I got:

Two back pieces with darts and pocket flaps (no I haven't sewn that button on, and I've since bought a better button, so its a good thing I didn't...)

Two front pieces with pleats and pockets done

I happened to be driving past Spotlight on Monday, so popped in to get the zipper, and then when I finished work I went and put the zip in.

Never having put a fly in a pair of pants before, it probably took me a little longer than it should.  This could be because instructions for modern patterns don't seem to make much sense.  Does anyone else have this issue???

But it went in without a hassle, and looks like this:

 From the inside...
From the outside

I then sewed all the pieces together and made the pants minus the waistband.

They were looking pretty big, so I measured them...

Multiply that by two to get an all around measurement, and you get 33.5"

That's 33.5 inches from a pattern that is supposed to produce pants for someone with a 30 inch waist!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You probably heard me cursing from wherever it is in the world you live.  I was not happy!  With vintage patterns there is wearing ease of about an inch, but this, this is ridiculous!  I think anyone that sewed up pants that were this much to big for them would feel just the same!  Vintage patterns just seem so much more reliable in their instructions, and their sizing. 

Have patterns started doing the vanity sizing thing???  Is this some weird anomaly, or are all modern patterns like this???

So I now have to unpick the pleats on the front and re-do them to take in some excess, and take in the back seam, and maybe a little from the side seams (if I can do it without affecting the pockets).  What should have been a simple job of just putting on the waistband has turned into a massive pain in the behind.

Can you tell I'm not happy???

Has anyone else experienced similar issues with modern patterns?



  1. Yeh the first pattern I bought was a modern repro - one of those vogue ones. It was at *least* 4" too big and since I was only starting out at the time, it caused all sorts of headaches.
    Ever since then I've stuck to vintage.
    But if you can find on your pattern pieces where it tells you the finished garment measurements, you might be able to cut a better size next time you make these. IF you make them again! ;-)

  2. Yes and they've been getting worse over the last 20 years!
    By the measurements I'm a size 14-16. By the same pattern pieces, if I cut larger than a size 10, it's too big!
    I've taken to measuring at the natural waist, hip and bust line (which are all usually marked) and cut from that rather than relying on their sizing.

  3. Front fly and zipper was not a womens thing before the mid-fifties so you can skip that part and put a side zipper in.
    I have made simplicity pants - 3688 and 4044.

  4. With the first thing I decided to make this happened. I followed the instructions to the t. 4" to big. Very off putting for a first timer.

  5. The big 3 are very, very bad at this with any modern pattern. The measurement charts on the back are absolutely useless, as they add wearing ease AND designers ease. For a reliable fit, go with finished measurements listed on the pattern tissues themselves - with the exception of Kwik Sew. They lie on that, too.

  6. That is why I always make a muslim before. (and I hate that!)

  7. Something I usually do when trying a new pattern is to line up the pattern pieces with a pattern I know fits. If something looks way off, I know adjustments will be necessary. Sadly, pants usually need to be muslined for just the reasons you describe. Another possibility is to paper-fit. Pin the pleats and -- at least -- measure the waist and rise and see if they're anywhere near where they need to be.

  8. Yes, modern patterns tend to bee much more "bigger" than vintage patterns.
    And as Kurosakuranbo pointed out, usually in the 30s and 40s women's trousers had side closures. During WW2 many women didn't have zippers due to rationing, so they had side button closures, I even saw once a WW2 skirt with hand-stitched eye-letting at the side.

    If you are not happy with that pattern, there are some pretty good reproductions of pants, for example by "Wearing History", and it's available in several sizes. I can send you the link on your FB account. (I don't get any share in their profits, it was just an example...)

  9. So sorry you've had this problem after all that hard work.
    I must say that I ALWAYS look at the paper pattern pieces before I do any cutting. Find that circle with the cross inside it (like the sight on a gun - which might be appropriate given how you must be feeling right now). That cross-hair gives the finished garment measurements. I always use that as my guide to how I want the garment to fit on the body.

  10. This is exactly why I DETEST modern patterns. On the rare occasion that I sew with them, I typically make at least one size smaller. Sometimes TWO sizes depending on what happens when I measure the pattern pieces. It is SO annoying. Who needs FIVE inches of wearing ease? Blerg.

  11. I agree, and what really bugs me about modern patterns is that the armscye is usually too big and baggy, which makes too much room in the armpit and bust. The fit can be very sloppy. I'd rather stick with vintage patterns and use a fitting shell to resize them.

  12. I am currently working on pants from this pattern. I changed the waistband to a contour waistband which in essence took two inches in. My waist measurement did match what was on the envelope so yes there is a lot of extra ease!

  13. yes! why do they do this? so many modern patterns are just so off. what is with the four or so inches of ease? do they really think we need that? and like so many others I have talked with I usually make one or two sizes down from what they say on the back is my size. its so frustrating not being quite sure what size to make.

  14. Ah yes, fun with guessing how much ease will be included in a pattern design . . . There really is no way to tell until you unfold the tissue and measure. Vogue generally does not have masses of ease (or at least as much as McCall and Butterick), but looking at the illustration, I think they were going for a very loose and easy fitting pant which may be part of the problem.

    And I feel your pain on the zipper thing - I just purchased quite a few from Wawak so the next time I cannot find what I need I am going to feel really silly!

    I bet you will conquer this pattern - just take a step back from it for a few days.

  15. Up until about 25 years ago I used to make most of my own clothes, never had any trouble with sizing. Recently I've been 'trying' to make blouses - what a fiddle! I chose to do the size 16, which is exactly my size on the pattern envelope, and they are turning out HUGE! I feel really frustrated and angry that I've wasted money on patterns that don't fit.

  16. Usually the Big 3 modern patterns provide finished garment sizes right on the envelope... that's what I go by when making modern patterns. When they don't (and it looks like this one doesn't, it makes life oh-so-interesting (insert sarcasm).