@Ithacamaven‘s Top, Down, Centre, Out seems to be the topic of conversation that’s attached to every self-sewn pair of pants on the internet!
Recently we got a question about TDCO on the M&B Patreon forum, so I did some additional research and dove in with my Glebe Pants pattern to make some new pants for my travel capsule to take with me to Wellington. The pink pants I shared recently were made from the pattern pieces after doing this TDCO fitting.
Size and fit details: Using Ruth’s recommendation for choosing sizes, basing the outer seam on your waist size and the inseam and crotch seams on your hip size. This is the TDCO approach to blending or grading between sizes, rather than blending sizes at the outer seam which changes the shape of the pants.
I picked a Size F at the outer seams and a Size M through the inseams and crotch seams. Size F is the size I’ve made my other Glebe Pants and I basically just chose Size M for the other parts because it had the most crotch extension. I did not add any width to the pattern pieces or height above the waist for the purpose of fitting because I was VERY confident that the pants would have too much rise and would not need any extra width added.
The fitting process
I omitted the slash pockets and cut out one half of the pattern- one front leg and one back leg, which I basted together. I sewed some elastic into a loop and popped it where I’d want my waistband to sit. Because there was no issue with the pants being too small anywhere, it simplified the fitting process a lot.
I concentrated on getting the front and back seams to sit in my centre, tucking them into the elastic, pulling them up until the crotch was hitting at the right spot (with enough ease). Then I basically arranged the rest of the fabric into the elastic waistband. I knew I was only going to have elastic in the back, so I concentrated on getting the sideseam to hit in the correct spot, and made myself a deep pleat at the front. I tugged at the top of the side seam of the pants, pulling it higher into the elastic waistband until wrinkles through the legs disappeared. And I ended up deciding that I needed to remove some fabric from the centre back.
Is this the exact order of things I was supposed to do? I’m not sure, but it felt right.
I transferred where the pants were interacting with the waistband over onto my paper pattern and cut out the other side of the pants and then I used my shears to lop off the fabric I had deemed unnecessary at the top of my first side of the pants (leaving a seam allowance of 1/2″). Then I did a check with both legs attached to each other still with the elastic loop as a waistband, tweaking and pinching fabric.
I ended up adding a 4″ pleat to the front and removing an amount from the centre back of the pattern. I effectively ended up removing 2″ from the rise all around the pattern pieces, with slightly more through the centre back as I was trying to remove some excess fabric pooling in the small of my back.
In truth, I haven’t exactly maintained the design intent of the Glebe Pants because I’ve seriously widened the legs of the pants and put a very deep pleat in which is twice as big as the original View B pleat.
I also could not be bothered to go back and add the slash pockets back in, so I attached this gusseted pocket which I had recently drafted for a wrap skirt (it’s now the November Patreon Bonus). The pocket hits at exactly the right spot for my hand and is surprisingly capacious.
But Jess, you don’t tell us your conclusion. Do you -like- this new version better? Do you think it really fits you better? I sort of suspect not so much, because the original glebes were basically drafted for your body, so they couldn’t have been so far off from a good fit for you. We can even see that in every previous pair of glebes you’ve made. So here you added a lot of fabric, and took a lot back out 😏 it’s kind of logical.
I should confess that I’m kind of annoyed at the whole thing. Not at the method itself, which is basically sound. But at the fact that it’s merely an uncredited and renamed lift from Palmer and Pletsch’s circa 1980 Pants For Real People. They’re not even dead yet and already.. But never mind that, I brought it up because of the timing, this method was developed at a time where almost ALL patterns available in the US were the Big 4, still 4 but united in the fact that they didn’t fit, and their pants didn’t fit horribly. And everything was way too big so you had to essentially take in everything to fit it to you. Now I was lucky because as a student of the old Sewing Workshop in SF I discovered Burda patterns, then still run by the founding dragon Annae, and they fit me perfectly right out of the spider web of tracings you had to do in the magazines. That was because their blocks were radically different from the American ones.
So it is entirely possible to get well-fitting clothes right off if the patterns are drafted for a body similar to yours, just as Muna&Broad has been demonstrating the past several years. The real question here would be – does this fitting method give you a better result than the original M&B if you start from a Vogue pattern?
You’re right- I really don’t mention here what I think about it, but I do go more in depth about it on the M&B Patreon.
I am actually quite pleased by the results! The actual Glebe Pants are not quite spot on for me, and as my body has changed recently the fitting issues on them have become a bit more pronounced. I am very pleased with the outcome here!
I also have the classic ‘old school’ fit books and think the approach is different in that you’re really not changing much on the pattern. for the most part you’re changing the position of the waistband to ease drag lines. I also think it’s a much better entry point into fitting, and great for the internet age where we’re mostly not using tissue anymore- those big books feel pretty overwhelming and I got good results on my own (I think)!
This allegation is entirely untrue. In fact, more like the opposite, TopDownCenterOut is the anti-Palmer and Pletsch method. This is not to disrespect the Palmer and Pletsch method and yes, Palmer and Pletsch are terrific but isn’t it great to have other options? It does not detract from previous work to come along with new ideas and insights which TopDownCenterOut offers. Check out the YouTube interview with the trade magazine Threads (where the approach was published in print) where the editor introduces the approach with the term “revolutionary”. If you want to fit a Vogue pattern then YES, you can use this approach to fit the Vogue pattern. The real question is – what design do you want to make? All patterns can be adjusted to fit all bodies.
I love how these hang, the wide leg and that deep pleat! I cringe a little at how much fabric I would need for my 45” waist and 5’11” frame!
I can’t imagine you would need more than 3 metres! I usually squeeze mine from 2.5