Choosing a Size and Grading for our Mitchell Trousers

If you’re excited to make our Mitchell Trousers, you may have some questions about choosing a size, grading between sizes, and trouser fitting, so let’s try to answer any burning questions you may have!

Understanding the Fit of the Mitchell Trousers

Mitchell has a high rise (starting at or around your natural waist) and generous ease through the hip due to the pleat. Because they are drafted to float over the hips and into the legs, and because there is no waistband (they are stabilized by an inner facing) they are definitely on the easier end of the pants-fitting spectrum.

Let’s take a look at the features and intended fit of these trousers:

The most likely adjustments I see people making are shortening or lengthening the rose or adjusting the back seat curve. We have covered pants fitting extensively in this post; I suggest heading there if you have some drag lines you are trying to diagnose.

WEARING EASE AND CHOOSING A SIZE

In terms of wearing ease, these trousers have 1-1.5″ of ease through the waist depending on your size. This will give you a fairly close fit through the waist while also giving you room to breathe. At the hip, they have 5-6″ of wearing ease due to the deep pleat. I know some of you will look at the finished garment measurements and assume that with that much ease you don’t need to grade between sizes, but please, please do not skip grading if you need to! When you are wearing the correct size and standing normally, the pleat should lay flat against your midsection and not break or split. If you see it breaking, it’s likely you need more ease through the hips. I learned this the hard way – I was in denial about how much my sizing has changed this year and made a straight 14 instead of grading to a 16 as my current hip measurement requires. All the Mitchells I have made for myself are just slightly too tight across the hips – don’t make the same mistake! Make sure you grade between your waist and hip as needed.

These pants may be a bit confusing to grade due to the waist and pleat construction, so let’s walk through how to do it!

Grading Between Sizes With a Bigger Hip

If you have to grade to a larger size through the hip (ie. if you’re more pear-shaped like me with a 14 waist and a 16 hip), use the hip size as your base size. The hip size is the one you will use as the main reference for your pocket, pleat, crotch curve, dart, and legs. Using the larger size as your base size ensures you don’t need to do a lot of complicated grading with all the pleat markings, and ensures you have enough length through the rise. It also means adjusting a minimum amount of pattern pieces.

In the illustrations below, the black line is the base size (your hip size) and the blue lines are the smaller size (your waist size). The red line is the grading line.

With that in mind, align your bottom pocket lining (Piece I) along the front leg (Piece A) for the larger/hip size, matching the hip notch. With a piece of tracing paper, trace the pocket lining shape at the hip curve/side seam as a reference point. Now align the pocket lining along the smaller/waist size. The difference in width at the top corner of the pocket lining (which indicates the side seam) is the amount you need to remove from the pocket lining. Measure that amount, and remove a wedge with a gently curved line to grade between your new side seam and the hip. The only piece that will really be affected here is the bottom pocket lining. See the red line below.

Alternatively, if this feels too complicated and/or annoying, you can simply figure out how much you need to remove from the side seam at the waist and use a french curve to draw it yourself without having to trace the pattern pieces. For example, if you are a 44″ hip with a 31″ waist, you should grade from a size 16 hip to a size 12 waist. Instead of grading, simply subtract your 31″ waist measurement from the 35″ waist measurement of the size 16. That means the waist needs to be 4″ smaller, and must be removed from front and back side seams. Since you will cut two fronts and two backs, you only need to remove 1″ total from the waist along the side seam of both front and back. Draw a nice smooth line like shown in red below, and you’re all set.

One the pocket lining is adjusted, copy the same adjustment to the bottom pocket facing (Piece K). The back leg (Piece B) also needs to be adjusted. This is simpler since it’s all one piece – simply remove the necessary wedge to the back leg. You will be using the larger hip size for the dart and welt pocket location.

Since we’re not using a waistband, trace the same wedge adjustment to the back and side facings so everything matches up once it’s sewn together. In the illustration below, we’ve used red to indicate what adjustments are made and what master size you should be using for details like darts and notches.

Grading Between Sizes With a Smaller Hip

If you have to grade to a smaller size through the hip (ie. if you’re more straight through the waist and hip), use the hip size as your base size. The hip size is the one you will use as the main reference for your pocket, pleat, crotch curve, dart, and legs.

In the illustrations below, the black line is the base size (your hip size) and the blue lines are the larger size (your waist size). The red line is the grading line.

In this case, we are going to layer the pocket lining just like we did above to find out how much we need to add to the waist at the side seam of the pocket lining. You can also do the math to see how much room you need to add as described in the section above and add it to the pocket lining with a French curve rather than layering pieces and grading.

Here is what your pattern pieces will look like once you’re done. Once the pocket lining is adjusted, copy the same adjustment to the bottom pocket facing (Piece K). The back leg (Piece B) also needs to be adjusted. This is simpler since it’s all one piece – simply add the necessary wedge to the back leg. You will be using the smaller hip size for the dart and welt pocket location.

Since we’re not using a waistband, trace the same wedge adjustment to the back and side facings so everything matches up once it’s sewn together. In the illustration below, we’ve used red to indicate what adjustments are made and what master size you should be using for details like darts and notches.

Hopefully, this clarifies how to grade this pattern! If you have any questions about the fit of Mitchell, please let us know in the comments!

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Hi! I'm Heather Lou, a pattern designer and sewing educator for the modern maker. At Closet Core Patterns, we transform your imagination into step-by-step implementation that helps you create a wardrobe you love - not one you're limited to buying off the rack.

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