Browzwear: Tula Pants from Papercut Patterns

I recently made the Tula shorts and was pleasantly surprised by how well they fit and how well the pattern was designed. However, I am working with another sewer in the curve size range and realized the drafting is dramatically different. The two size ranges share overlapping sizes (6, 7, and 8). This post compares the size 8 narrow-leg version from the 1-8 size range and the 6-14 size range.

Papercut pattern describes the difference between the two size ranges, “If you fit into both the 1 – 8 and the 6 – 14 size ranges and you’re unsure which size to purchase, the biggest difference between the two is the 6 – 14 size range has been drafted for a larger bust cup and a curvier figure.”

Size Chart

Size 8
1-8 Size Range
Size 8
6-14 Size Range
Difference
between
Size Ranges
Bust46.546.50
Waist38.639.81.2
Hip48.849.60.8

There is a difference in waist and hip circumference between the two sizes, although it is less than an inch at the hip. The pants have an elastic waistband, which means the 1.2-inch difference at the waist should not be a major issue. Unfortunately, I cannot utilize the finished garment table as I do not have a method for measuring my avatar while seated to determine if the hips have adequate ease in the finished garment. However, I strongly suggest using the finished garment table as a guide when selecting your size.

Pattern Comparison

The 1-8 size range is in blue, and the 6-14 size range is in green. I’ve aligned the patterns in different ways to show similarities and differences between the two size ranges. Remember, these are both size 8 pants.

First, the ankle is the same width, and the legs look similar in length. The hem circumference is the same between the two pattern pieces. Both sizes will taper to roughly the same amount at the ankle.

Second, the 1-8 size range has a shorter crotch depth than the 6-14 size range. Crotch depth refers to the vertical measurement between the top of the garment’s waistband to the bottom of the crotch, where the legs meet.

I didn’t label the knee level but see, in the 6-14 size range, the center grainline does not bisect the knee level. The center grainline bisects the knee on the smaller size range (blue pattern) piece. The 6-14 size range pattern pieces are drafted with ~1 inch extra at the side seam.

Third, the major difference between the two patterns is the location of the center grainline. The 1-8 size range places the center grainline further away from the center seam, giving the pants a straighter fit from the crotch level down. The 6-14 size range places the center grainline nearer the center seam, giving the pants a curvier fit from the crotch level down.

Fourth, the front and back crotch lengths have been extended significantly, giving the wearer more room across the saddle area of the crotch. The added length in the larger size range would be helpful for someone with prominent front or back body parts that need extra space.

Fifth, I noticed that the waistline is nearly similar in width even though the 1-8 size range is lower than the 6-14 size range. The 1-8 size range is slightly smaller to better match the recommended body range but not significantly smaller.

Sixth, the front knee is wider in the 6-14 size range. This will give more room for the front thighs because the pants don’t taper as much at the knees.

Last, the back knee is the same width across the two size ranges.

Avatar Comparison

I adjusted the avatar subtly to match the recommended body measurements for each size. The avatar with the blue background is in the 1-8 size range, and the avatar with the green background is in the 6-14 size range. These colors match the colors of the pattern pieces shown above. Both avatars have a subtle knock-knee stance because I’m trying to unpack how pants drape when that occurs.

You can see the draglines in the 1-8 size range. These draglines are due to the shorter crotch length and poorly placed center grainline at the crotch level. There’s no way to completely distinguish between the two issues when looking at the draglines at the crotch.

But when I place a perfectly vertical line over the avatars to mimic the laser level I would use in real life, you can see that the center grainline (red line on the pants) doesn’t line up with the black line in the 1-8 size range, but does in the 6-14 size range. The center grainline in the 1-8 size range is too wide for the avatar and needs to be moved medially. The center grainline in the 6-14 size range would be the result if the alteration was made to the 1-8 size range.

I’ve also added the faux laser level (black line) on the back view. Again the center grainline is too wide in the 1-8 size range, whereas the center grainline is perfect in the 6-14 size range. The draglines around the butt in the smaller size range are due to the center grainline misalignment. The draglines around the butt in the larger size range are due to the center grainline not bisecting at the knee level and possibly too much length along the center back seam.

If I remove one leg, you can see that the floor of the crotch is next to the body in the 1-8 size range but hangs several inches away from the body in the 6-14 size range. The waistband is in the exact location on both avatars, so this is due to the difference in overall crotch depth. If you follow my method for fitting pants, the first step is to adjust the overall rise of the pants, thus adjusting the crotch depth. Pant rise and crotch depth are used interchangeably here. Pant rise can also refer to the pant style: high-rise or low-rise.

I didn’t have to adjust the rise on my Tula pants, but if I used the larger size range, I likely would have to remove the length from the crotch depth. The bottom of the crotch curve is intended to sit near the body at the natural crotch level. These pants aren’t designed with a dropped crotch. A dropped crotch style would have the distinctive saggy, slouchy appearance around the crotch area and these don’t.

The same fit occurs on the back piece. The bottom of the crotch is next to the body in the smaller size range and hangs away from the body in the larger size range. The warbling along the center back seam is due to the extra crotch depth length that is not needed.

Conclusions

I must always provide my PSA: don’t chase draglines when fitting pants. It’s much more helpful to understand how garments drape from your body and to use methods like my laser level to get a better fit. I’m only highlighting the draglines to show possible issues when the center grainline is off at the crotch level, or the pants aren’t centered at the knee. While I may point out draglines as a potential issue, I don’t use them as the sole factor in diagnosing fitting problems. There are no quick and easy heuristics to deciphering draglines. The decision or process of solving fit problems takes time and a thorough analysis of how the pants drape on your body. Heuristics are harmful to your pant-fitting journey because they introduce biases and inaccuracies and often are detrimental to our body image. For example, early in my pant-fitting journey, I thought my pant-fitting problems were because I needed to make a “big butt adjustment” and a “low butt adjustment”. Those are heuristics with a horribly negative body description. But I have to ask you, what constitutes a “big butt” or even a “low butt”? These vague labels tap into our own body insecurities, and because there’s no empirical method for measuring these descriptions, we allow our distorted body image to skew our decision process. Hopefully, you can see how these fitting shortcuts will not guarantee an optimal solution. Instead, this blog post highlights the differences in the fit and drafting between the same size Tula pants in the two different size ranges available. By sharing this analysis, I hope to provide valuable insights for sewists navigating the different size ranges since both include sizes 6, 7, and 8. Ultimately, pant-fitting success will come down to selecting the size that best fits your body based on body measurements and final garment measurements, adjusting the rise to fit your body, and using information like the center grainline to guide additional alterations.

2 thoughts on “Browzwear: Tula Pants from Papercut Patterns

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  1. Hi, I have been following your blog for quite sometime but recently registered to receive your new posts via email. The information on the Tula Pants is priceless.  However, how did you determine the larger size was not bisecting the knee on the pattern?  Can you explain how you find the knee on a pattern?  I do not believe folding the leg pattern up to the crotch line works for me.  My inseam is 27 inches and I have never been able to adjust any leg pattern properly.  My side seam measures 23 inches from the waistband sewing line to my ankle.  My ankle to my knee measures 15 inches.  I have an anterior tilt that causes my front to be much shorter than my backside.   I have always felt that the placement of the knee line on a pattern was not correct for me.  This issue causes my pants to pull when I walk no matter what alteration I do to correct it. I have been working with the Top Down Center Out process but once I read your post on how you achieved such a terrific fit with a laser, I bought one.  It is magical to see the lines match on the pattern versus the laser line. I realized after my last TDCO pattern, that the grain line was still off on me so that is when I bought the laser. I truly believe the proper placement of the knee line is significant in get pants to work on my shape.  I have a short pelvis but I my pelvis is curvy.  My waist sits right on top of my hip bones.  My pants always want to pull down, including RTW pants which are impossible to buy for my 72 year old shape now (the Amanda style Gloria Vanderbilt jeans are the only jeans I can wear).  I have scoliosis and my right side is 3/4 lower.  I make four pattern pieces when I make pants. Any advice you can give me regarding finding the knee placement on a pattern would be greatly appreciated.  Last year, I lost 25 pounds after my husband past away so my buttocks is even flatter now.  I am slowly gaining some of the weight back and working on firming up my buttocks.  I thought it would be easier to fit pants once I lost my pot belly but the legs still pull.  It is maddening!  I have been trying to get a pair of pants to fit me since my mid 50’s. I know this email probably has too much information in if for you but I thought if I gave you a bit of information about my shape then you could help me with the placement of the knee line on a pattern. Thank you so much for sharing your sewing journey with the sewing world.  I read and re-read many of your posts.  I love to sew but I am at a point right now that I am ready to give up!   And, thank you for your response. Kind regards, Polly Abandond

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and for reaching out to me. I’m glad to hear that you find the information on the Tula Pants valuable. I understand your frustrations, especially given your unique body shape and the challenges you’ve faced in finding well-fitting pants.

      To determine the knee placement, there are two key pieces of information. Firstly, you need to identify the location of the horizontal knee level on your pattern, which is where the center of your knee is located. To find this, slightly bend your knee while keeping your foot flat on the ground. This will help you locate the prominent bony structure of your knee, known as the patella or kneecap. It is usually slightly below the center of your knee joint. You just need to estimate the approximate center of your knee and mark that location on your pattern.

      To do this, the waist of the pants must be fitted to your body, so the waistband doesn’t move. If you adjust your pants higher or lower, later on, the knee level won’t be in the correct location. Once you are satisfied with the waistband placement, the horizontal knee level is where the center of your knee hits the pant legs. Draw a horizontal line from the inseam to the side seam going through the center of your knee. On my avatar, there’s a mark indicating the knee level, which made the digital process easier.

      The second piece of information is where the center grainline intersects the knee level. The center grainline is determined by finding the midpoint of the hem and drawing a vertical line from there up to the waistline. If the center grainline bisects the knee level, it divides the horizontal knee level into two equal halves.

      For the 1-8 size range, the front center grainline bisects the horizontal knee level. It measures 4.9 inches from the side seam to the center grainline and 4.9 inches from the center grainline to the inseam. However, for the 6-14 size range, the front center grainline does not bisect the knee level. In this case, it measures 6.5 inches from the side seam to the center grainline and 4.6 inches from the center grainline to the inseam.

      Considering your specific body shape and the challenges you’ve mentioned, the sensation of pulling could also be caused by other factors. Firstly, it’s possible that you may not be providing enough room on the front pattern piece to accommodate your posture and body shape. If you have a forward-tilting pelvis or prominent thighs, you need additional space in the crotch area. Going up a size automatically provides more length across the crotch.

      Secondly, it is crucial to focus on fitting the waistband to your body and spend time adjusting the pant leg to the waistband. It’s an art to find the neutral crotch level on your body and ensure that when you pin the center front, back, and side seams to the waistband, everything is balanced. You don’t want the pant leg to swing forward, backward, or to the side.

      Thirdly, if the center grainline at the crotch level is not adjusted for your body, the front of the pants may fall down. Excess fabric from the center grainline to the center front at the crotch level can cause the center front to sag due to the weight of the fabric.

      Fitting pants can be a complex process, often involving trial and error to achieve the desired fit. Please don’t lose hope. If you have further questions or need additional assistance, feel free to ask. You can also email me directly using the contact information provided under the “contact” tab above. I admire your determination and passion for sewing, and I’m confident that with some adjustments and perseverance, you’ll be able to create pants that fit you beautifully.

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