Cling film patterns – trying for trousers

Last week I hosted another Cling Film Party in my basement flat. Powered by wine, chocolate, Nick’s lasagne and scintillating conversation Georgia and Jane made bodice patterns.  Ably abetted by Megan, I hope they produced good quality bodice blocks.

Saran wrap bodice
Megan and Jane create Georgia’s bodice block
We used a tried and tested technology for this – an approach we worked out with Pia last time around. Pia has a great deal of pattern making experience and she really helped us the first time around. As I said at the time – the fact that my own bodice fitted perfectly when I made up the toile was due to precision and commitment on the part of my fitting buddy Pia. 
Let’s just repeat Pia’s excellent general advice (slightly edited): 

I think a combination of normal kitchen wrap & narrow wrap pallet might be useful. On its own the narrow wrap can be less stable, and can be squashed as the layers are built up. A layer of clear sellotape/packing tape is worth more than many layers of wrap – but of course you don’t want to tape directly on your skin, so a layer or two of wrap first, then tape to stabilise the wrap, may make the process quicker, less uncomfortable, & more accurate. The purpose of the wrap would then be to protect your skin (like the plastic bag one use for duct-tape or paper-tape double).

 

Larger kitchen wrap cut into manageable size might get more area covered more quickly & be useful for the harder to wrap neck-shoulder-chest-area.

 

Another suggestion would be to mark all the guidelines before you start wrapping. You can then take your time to get this right without wrapee discomfort from sweating in the wrap. It also means you know where to wrap to at neckline & armscyes. This would mean that you can just trace the guidelines onto the wrap before cutting wrapee out.

Guidelines ideally shouldn’t move, so maybe you could use the narrow tape Sew2Pro brought along (Shoben tape), or masking tape with guidelines drawn on, or maybe even eyeliner? 🙂

Turning now to the issue of the bottom half of the body. We had previously discussed with Pia the idea of the skirt/pants/lower half wrap and she added the following excellent suggestions.

Consider wrapping top & bottom separately, even if you’re aiming for a dress length result. That’ll give you time to recover between each portion! Just make sure the boundaries stay the same – ie waistline, armscye (for separate sleeve wrapping).

 

I’m tempted to do pants/leg wraps. The tricky bit would be figuring out how to wrap between the legs & the crotch line! 😉

Pia wasn’t available on the night we chose, but Marianna and I decided to get on with producing trouser patterns.

The main issue with the trousers was clearly “figuring out how to wrap between the legs and the crotch line” as PIa so delicately put it.  The fit in the crotch area is the essential feature of trousers and the crucial area to perfect in getting a good fit. We realised this was a (ahem) sensitive area and Marianna wore running shorts, while I found a pair of leggings. Nevertheless this approach does require a willingness to wrap between the legs, so be sure you are comfortable with this.

Nappy wrap
Nappy wrap

How to create a good line at the CF and CB was on my mind the day of the wrap, and I focused on it when wrapping Marianna, creating what can only be described as a “nappy” section that we put between the legs right at the very start. We  draped the crotch piece separately first of all. I cut several strips long enough to cover the whole crotch line from to back,  brought it up to the waist line front and back, before securing with clear sellotape. Then I wrapped the hip area by going around the body. Finally I wrapped one leg section. Certainly for the leg wrap the narrow packing cling film was ideal. With the legs themselves I put long strips of packing tape in a downwards direction – waist to ankle – then wrapped the whole leg, going round and round.

As with the bodice we marked the plasticated garment carefully before taking it off – the CF, CB, side seams, inside leg, waist, hip, knee and ankle. The piece around the hips is partially discarded – the right side (say) is there to keep the wrap stable while you create the pattern on the (say) left leg.

When cutting the pattern off the body we cut the side seam, starting at the ankle. It is useful if the wrapee can lift her leg a little to facilitate this.

Marianna has not had time to make up her trouser toile yet so I cannot tell you what the crotch on her trousers came out like. But I have to admit mine was a failure.

The leg wrap was great – the shape and length of the legs is certainly good enough. There is a good fit at waist and hips. The issue is the crotch. Effectively because we did not get in close enough to the tricky area Marianna and I have created dropped crotch trousers. The crotch is least one inch too low for comfort.

Saran wrap trousers
Dropped crotch

Here are a few more pictures. Certainly, compared to the excellent fit I got from my bodice, these were a disappointment. However the process has proved itself again as a reliable and effective alternative to flat pattern drafting. I could make an alteration to my trouser pattern to ensure that the crotch is in the right place. However I am keen to try the process again in order to improve on the technique. Do I have a partner please?

24 Responses

  1. I have yet to try the cling wrap method of pattern making. I just may give t a go

  2. I’m in! Had too much fun the first time around to skip it.

    I’ll send updates of my bodice as soon as I get to toile it!

  3. Have you tried the bendable curved rulers that you mold to your crotch curve? Then measure your crotch depth the Margaret Islander method demonstrated in her pants video. Use a plumb line to figure out where to divide for front and back.

    • I’ve tried that, though still struggling to make head & tail of the info using the instructions in Fitting & Pattern Alteration book. 1st try (used to alter Burda pattern) wasn’t perfect. 2nd try (drafting from that & moulage/pencil skirt) looked too funny to toile yet.

      If you do try, you may need to get two bendy-rulers as the ones in the shop are not long enough, especially as the two ends are not really bendy for about an inch for so. I did see online a longer one advertised, but haven’t bought that yet.

      • Could you not simply use a cord, and then measure the cord?

        • You need a flexible ruler, that remembers the shape, so that you can copy it onto your pants draft.
          https://www.amazon.com/MLCS-9327-Woodworking-36-Inch-Flexible/dp/B001S2RAUW

          You then hang a plumb from the ruler to determine the division between front and back.

          • It’s the part where I move it and it unbends to go around me. It would make sense to do the back and the front as two separate actions.
            There’s just no getting around this: I need to do this with a pal. A spouse has not been sufficient to the task.

          • Flat artist wire seems to work reasonably well and a bit better than the flex ruler in my opinion because it holds the shape better. The wire is the type used to make bracelets, flat, narrow, 21 gauge. Rolled up and twisted foil, they type you use to cover food when cooking, also works. I marked the center just in the middle of a 3 ft section using a spot of nail polish or a rubber band and hung a washer on a line from there to get the center. I also put a dot/band about 4″ away from the center mark to designate the front. Molded the wire/foil to the body and simply bent the foil/wire at the waist point both back and front. This same device also works to measure bra wire size.

  4. I found making a toile from a trouser block and then having it fitted on to me (I had to instruct my partner on where to pin etc while I wore them) way worth it. I sewed the excess fabric into ‘darts’ – took apart the toile and retraced which gave a perfect line (in my case it was just below hip line on the back that needed a slight curve inward). Having said that, those cling wrap body forms sound such a great idea as I really only use a dress form for basic adjustments and to check the hang of garment

  5. Wish I could join you but living in Manila mean’s it’s just a bit far! will just have to watch your progress from afar and keep looking for an experienced wrapping buddy!

  6. I’m sorry it wasn’t a success. Having said that, as trousers go they don’t look bad from here and it’s a shame they’re not comfortable (is the fabric stretch and is there a side zip? If yes, I could also try make mine the same way but it would take me a while to learn how to do a fly). If I were to do this again, I’d use duct tape instead of sellotape to stabilise the crotch (you can reach your own ‘nappy area) as it’s wider and more visible. I’d also do the opposite leg too, to at least the hip to cover the crotch area completely.

    • Fabrickated

      Hi M – they are not that bad, apart from the crotch actually and they are comfortable. You did a good job and I am grateful.

      The fabric is stretchy but I think I could have used calico and got them on just fine. I generally use a CB zip when fitting trousers as it gives the best view across the front and sides. I would create a fly front at a later stage. And yes good ideas on the duct tape and doing it across the whole body.

  7. I wonder if the shorts / leggings you wore interfered with the crotch.

    I wasn’t so modest when I roped MR in to wrapping me yesterday. I insisted that he capture my anemic bum cheeks & cleavage! But now I’m scratching my head trying to flatten the wrap. Probably should have aimed for a close fit trousers shape rather than tights/legging shape. Too greedy!

    Did you add ease before making up the toile? Where did you add?

    Your toile does look pretty good! Fingers crossed you’ll be able to fix the crotch just with minor alterations. Depend on when you hold the next wrap up I might be able to come. I might need another trouset wrap by then if I mess up the one in the next few days!

    • Fabrickated

      I don’t think the leggings are to blame – I think it was squeamishness. I had the same wrap flattening problem. I created waist darts which are ugly but do the job. For the legs I cut up from hem on the princess line and this more or less flattened them and created a hem of about 13″ which I found acceptable. I did not include ease specifically but I did straighten out the side and inside leg seams. I could alter but I prefer to redo so that I learn the best technique. It would be good to see if you trouser toile works out, and I would love to do another wrap with you if you can find the time.

  8. My tip for pants is always Pants for Real People – the best sewing book I have ever purchased.
    The crotch seam is so tricky and they have pages dedicated to fitting it to your specific shape.

    • Oh yes – that is a great book Naomi. I agree that P&P are great at fitting and I have most of their books. My figure is pretty easy to fit to be honest and I have a good pants block. I just wanted to try to create a pattern this way as an experiment so I might be able to recommend it to blog readers.

  9. I know what you mean about the crotch curve! I have now got several different trouser blocks and it takes a lot of conversation to get my mind off what’s going on when being fitted… We used the pinning method and it seems to have worked well, but I would quite like to try being wrapped. Another fascinating post, thank you!

  10. I have to say that I don’t relish the idea of being wrapped in cling film or tape…but I did get caught up in the idea of Nick’s lasagne when I read that. Lucky ladies!

    I keep on thinking that with all of the tech we have these days – I went to an exhibition in which the Navy was demonstrating 3d printed parts they can use to repair old ships for which the original makers no longer produce small parts- there is an opportunity for someone to scan seamstresses and print out patterns. It’s not rocket science after all. 🙂

    • I agree Steph that we will get a perfect fit one day, using technology that already exists. But we change our shape frequently, don’t we? And fashions change too – in lots of subtle ways. The lasagne were great. Our friend Georgia, from Italy, said it is traditionally eaten before Lent to use up all the eggs/milk/cream/cheese. More fun than a pancake.

  11. Looks like you’re on the right lines, the next wrap should be better as you know where you need to be closer to the body and you only need to go down as far as the thigh. If I were tackling this I’d wrap the torso from waist to hip and around one leg from crotch to thigh and mark the cf and cb then do the same with the other leg, would that work do you think?

    Stephanie is thinking on her feet, I love the idea of body scanning for bespoke patterns.

  12. Isn’t there already a pattern company that produces personalised patterns from photos? And I remember years ago that you could get scanned for perfect fitting jeans, though I didn’t do that as they were London and expensive (so I don’t know how well that worked)

  13. Doesn’t look too bad. It would be interesting to see it made up out of non-stretch fabric. Stretch fabric can produce some weird fitting problems

    Can you just take few milimetres horizontal tuck all round to see if that gives a better fit?

    • Hi Jane – I threw them out. I have good trouser patterns, I just wanted to get the wrapping technique right for trousers so I can perfect the technique as I think it is potentially very promising. Did you manage to check out your bodice – I am keen to know what the fit was like.

  14. An interesting experiment. Did you compare the resulting pattern with one that fits you well already? It would have been interesting to see the differences. I wish I lived closer so I could join in!

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