Mary, a receptionist in the company I was working, was looking very stressed. As a committee member of a local WI (Women's Institute), Mary had to find a speaker/entertainer for the branch monthly meetings. With only a few days to go, she had nobody booked for November's meeting. My suggestion that they hire a coach and go to a male-stripper show in Cardiff only brought an angry response – "Get serious, will you?!"
After a semi-serious discussion about the kind of activities members are usually interested in, baking, knitting, children, local history – I made the mistake of asking "sewing". Mary woke up from her depression, remembering that I used to teach garment pattern making at the local technical college. "YOU COULD GIVE A TALK ON PATTERN MAKING!" she screamed at me, followed by, "I'll be your friend for life..." As Mary was a rather attractive lady, I was hooked.
Six days later I arrived at the WI meeting room, armed with a roll of wallpaper, scissors, brass-ended tape measures, a bundle of pencils, ten sheets of A4 paper and a straight piece of wood about five feet long. I had decided that rather than just talk, I would show the ladies how to make a trouser pattern to fit themselves. That seemed like a great idea until the ladies arrived. I suppose I expected them all to look like Mary. Too late to turn back now. I was pleased that I decided to bring the piece of wood.
After a brief introduction, about twelve volunteered to be my pattern-makers – but as there were only eight tables, I selected the eight which I thought would provide the best entertainment (and enable me to show how technical and complex was my craft). The first thing to understand is that it is not sufficient to know how big the waist and seat are – YOU NEED TO KNOW WHERE THEY ARE. This was very apparent when I arranged my models in a line, sideways on. My point was clearly appreciated by the remaining ladies who could see the variety of shapes from their vantage point.
So back to your tables ladies, we are going to make a pattern. First, fold your paper in half lengthwise, crease and open flat again. This is your trouser centre or crease line. Now, using your A4 sheets of paper, draw a line at 90 degrees and on both sides of the crease line, about an inch from the right-hand end of the paper. This is the only line which is common to all you ladies. It's THE FLOOR.
Now, work in pairs, and while turned sideways, ask your friend to hold the piece of wood vertically to the floor – and make a mark on the wood:
where you want the bottom of your trouser to be;
the knee position;
the most prominent point of your seat;
your waist or height that you want your trouser to be. (Ethel shouted, "I haven't seen my waist for 35 years!")
Now draw lines on your paper to represent these positions.
There remains one more important level to determine if you want your trousers to fit – THE HEIGHT TO THE TOP OF THE INSIDE LEG FROM THE FLOOR. As we can't do this with the piece of wood, we need a different method. So I invited Mary to the front for my demonstration. Why not? She got me into this! Now Mary, face the group, stand straight with your legs together, now open your stance about 15 inches. I now produced my tape measure and held it to emphasise the brass end. The group went quiet and Mary looked a little strained, difficult to tell if she was apprehensive or trying to hide a smile.
However, at the last moment I discarded the tape measure, sat Mary on a chair and demonstrated the polite method for a gentleman to measure a lady's inside leg, i.e. I measured from the chair seat to the chosen height of her trousers – then drew a line on her pattern that distance from her waistline.
Well, we have established all the important levels of the trousers FROM THE FLOOR.
I will end my blog at this point 'cos it's not very entertaining from here on – and anyway you don't have to be expert pattern-makers – MC2-Platform could provide you with patterns for a wide range of garments, available to fit YOU.