Book review: Pants for real people by Palmer and Alto

August 15, 2017 15 Comments

Book review: Pants for real people by Palmer and Alto

August 15, 2017 15 Comments

Every time I try sewing up a new pants pattern it’s a scary process. Sewing trousers is hard. Period. That said understanding the fit process is a good step in the right direction. And once you figured out a few key stuff, such as the crotch shape and length, the waist and getting a good fit around the hips and thighs, you’ll end up with trousers that will fit way better than store bought ones, even though they might not be “perfect”.

Anyways trouser fitting is an ongoing process for me. I am at the point right now that my me-made trousers fits so much better than any trousers I’ve ever bought in stores.

There are loads of great resources online for fitting trousers. But I wanted to have all the info in one place and since I love the Fit for Real people book so much, I figured that getting their companion pants fitting book Pants for real people would be a good idea. I have used the book for two projects so far and here comes my review:

Pants for real people

Two Step Trouser Fitting

The book uses two steps for fitting trousers.

Step One

First you do a tissue fit (this could also be done using muslin fabric or non-woven) adjusting all the key points, such as crotch, hips, waist and thighs. I love how they really talk a lot about different crotch alterations, since that seem to be one of the biggest issue to get right when making trousers.

Step Two

The second step is fitting the pants as you sew, since every fabric has it’s own specific properties so reling on just muslin fabric and pattern tissue will often not be enough. This statement I wholeheartedly agree with and for my Burdastyle straight legged trousers I did a lot of fitting on the actual trousers (in hindsight though, I should have fixed a few more issues on the muslin before I cut the fabric.

My straight leg trousers before I applied the Fit as you sew methods and afterwards. A big difference I would say, even though I should have done more prep work for an even better fit and I also over-fitted the inseams a bit I think, hence the diagonal lines.

For my cigarette trousers I did a more through tissue fitting job using the guidelines in the book.  I also added a fish eye dart to remove excess fabric underneath the bum, which is not part of the book. I do wish they had added that method in the book, since I wasn’t successful removing the excess fabric just using the suggestions in the book. Here is the muslin and I was very happy with the fit.

And these are the finished trousers. I’ve done an extensive blog post on how I fitted the trousers with loads of tips.

The second part of the book is devoted to instructions on how to sew trousers. This section is A+++++. Seriously, even if you don’t care about trouser fitting or already have nailed the fit, this section alone makes this book a worthwhile purchase. For my Burdastyle straight leg trousers I used the zipper with shield and classic trouser pocket tutorials. And they turned out really well. For my cigarette trousers I also used the book for several steps and ended up with a good result.

So is Pants for real people (affiliate link) worth purchasing? I say yes. The fitting section could have been even more thorough and there might not be a simple magic bullet found in there , but there are plenty of great solid fitting advice to still make it a worthwhile purchase. And since the sewing instructions are so great, that I think those are a good enough reason to buy this book Plus for me the proof is in the trousers – the ones that I’ve made this year are by far the best fitting trousers I’ve eve sewn.

Have you tried any other pants fitting books that you can recommend?

Johanna Lundström

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  • Anthonia August 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks Johanna for the review. I took the plunge after reading your other trouser posts and ordered trouser fabric yesterday. I hope to be able to make a pair that is wearable following your tips.

    I remember seeing the book without giving it a second glance as I never thought I would get into sewing trousers. I’ll go give it another look now.

    A great post as always.
    Best wishes.

    • Johanna August 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Happy to hear you are on the trouser making train! I really recommend the book, especially since it also shows great instructions for most details on trousers, including how to make them look more high end.

  • Jan Brown August 15, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Johanna, I also have the Pants for Real People which is a real Pants Bible. I agree with all your comments however, having made lots of trousers and jeans I am now quite confident but am only just discovering the pleasure of lining trousers. See my blog post for more details. Try it, especially with any wool fabrics you’ll be amazed st how lovely it feels.

    • Johanna August 16, 2017 at 9:40 am

      I’ve heard several rave about lined trousers and I do sometimes make them in wool, so this is something I should explore. Yours look gorgeous, these are the kind of finishing that always inspire me to try out new technique.s

  • justine August 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I was lucky enough to find this book in a giveaway pile at the library, and have to agree that it is a really helpful book. Especially if you sew for others sometimes as it has so many types of figures to fit.

    • Johanna August 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Yep, what the book shows so well is that we have unique bodies, so there is no one way only to fit trousers. Each body needs it own special mix of techniques.

  • Annemarie August 15, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    The number one best resource I know for pants fitting is the cation post on pants fitting, she did a course a local college I think and shares her visual notes. So good!
    Also: the tip on how to “draft” a perfect waistband. That is all I do now, super fast and works a charm!

    There are also a couple of posts on fibres, these are awesome too. Especially the man-made fibres, like polyester.

    • Anthonia August 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Thanks Annemarie for sharing! This is excellent, I’ve just had a quick look at Cation’s post and I must say it looks like something out of a book. I’ll be reading her post in full as soon as I get home.
      Best wishes

    • Johanna August 16, 2017 at 9:43 am

      What a great resource. I love bloggers who make meaty posts like this. I have bookmarked it now for future reference, this is like a proper course in pants making. Thank yo for the tip!

  • LinB August 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I am a great fan of David Page Coffin’s “Making Trousers for Men and Women.”

    It’s pretty technical, but he writes beautifully understandable explanations and instructions. Marvelous photographs.

    I’ve yet to attempt some of the more difficult techniques, but his advice is spot-on for construction of a traditional trouser.

    • Johanna August 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

      I’ve thought about getting that book too, I have his shirt book which is also very good, but a bit text rich/illustration poor for my liking, but the pant book is perhaps more visual?

      • LinB August 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

        It is much the same as the shirt book — perhaps even more photos. Still, I’d read anything that man writes — even if it were a manual for electricians for how to install a three-way switch.

        But then, I learn about as well from a written explanation as from illustrations.

        • Johanna August 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm

          That is like the best comment you could ever give a writer! Wonderful! Since I’m more of a visual person, I’ve had a bit harder getting into the book. But I know that it is universally loved so I really should give it a proper chance!

  • Faye Lewis August 17, 2017 at 2:37 am

    I own this book already, but if I didn’t I would buy it based on your review.

    • Johanna August 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Hope you found it useful too 🙂

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