More crotch-gazing: The baggy saggy crotch of MC Hammer and how to get it for yourself: Part One
Topic: Sewing FAQ's
How to draft a pattern for African-style baggy crotch pants (similar to MC Hammer)
Hammer pants, Tripp pants, Yoruba trousers, zouave, sarouelles, harem pants...there are many words that describe loose fitting pants with baggy crotches. These pants have their origins in the near and middle east and Northern Africa. They moved throughout Africa and across to India, Pakistan and South East Asia. Most are variations of two different pattern cutting methods. The original cut for these pants have fronts and backs that are the same. That makes these pants surprisingly easy to cut and -when interpreted in modern fabrics -easy to make up. The first pattern draft is for traditional yoruba/african trousers. These are very wide and bulky in the waist and between the legs. They are the one most associated with MC Hammer.
Traditional Yoruba pants are still made today and made the sme way as they have been throughout history. They are made of narrow strips of fabric woven on a small strap loom. This fabric is known as aso oke and is available on line in many wonderful color combinations. The strips are woven and sewn together to make a larger piece of cloth. Alternately and more commonly done today: the strips are butted together and sewn selvedge to selvedge, again to make a wider piece of cloth. African trousers would be sewn with the side seams left open above the hip line and the top edge would be tied around the waist. This gave the pants their characteristic stripe pattern and interesting drape and it makes them less bulky at the waist than the modern elasticated waist of the Hammer pants. In order to make authentic Yoruba trousers one would use the paper pattern as a template to cut the strips to the correct lengths and to sew them together. This way there's as little waste as possible to these exquisite hand woven strips of fabric.
This cut of trouser was used in other parts of Africa, without the extra step of sewing together woven strips. The pants were often gathered and sewn to a closer fitting cuff at the ankle to keep some of the volume under control. This was essential when riding animals as the voluminous pant legs could get tangled in the ropes and harnesses. Traditionally large tunics were always worn over these pants throughout africa and the east. The upper tunic varied widely from location to location, looser in central and western Africa, closer fitting in the East.
The pattern here is exactly as it was worked in pattern class. In many pattern books and pattern classes there's a part at the end with a few drafting instructions, small diagrams and generic instructions for traditional and ethnic type clothes. they are listed as "pattern or a jerkin" "pattern for poncho" "pattern for baby's layette" The patterns are usually one size and there's no construction details: no waist bands, facings pockets or anything else. After drafting you have an outline and that's it.
For these pants the lack of detail isn't really an problem. The pants are in one size fits most, and they can be worn by both men and women. Because the crotch drapes over the body rather than fits close to the body there shouldn't be any complex fitting issues with the crotch line -meaning no camel toes, no 'frowns" "smiles" or wedgies. They will feel different as there is more fabric between the legs than we modern jean wearers are accustomed to.
For drafting you will need: large piece of paper. For those who don't have access to pattern paper you can use rolls of gift wrap. You can find large rolls at dollar stores that are quite cheap. You don't need fancy metallic print paper, just the cheapest stuff you can find that's plain on one side. You will need a long yardstick, a tape measure, a T-square, pencils and a sharpie marker to make permanent lines when the drafting is finished. You can use whatever you have for making patterns, a long board of wood can serve as a long yardstick, use in conjunction with a tape measure and you can make long straight lines with ease. The one thing that you can't do without, however, is a good T-square. Patterns require perfectly squared perpendicular and parallel lines, without them the finished garment will be poorly fitting, skewed, and it will look terrible.
Here's the basic draft on graph paper:
You will need a large sheet of paper about 40 inches wide by 50 inches long.
At the top left corner mark a large dot. this is starting point 0, or as I use the zero with the line through it: Ø Draw a straight line down the left side, from the Ø to point A is 46 inches. This is your side seam. It runs parallel to the straight grain.
A to B=10 inches. This is the Hem
Ø to C= 30 inches for waist line. This line must be square with the side seam, the side seam and waist will form a 90° angle. The line may curve slightly closer to the crotch curve to fit the curves of the human body. This waist line will be large enough for almost everyone: the finished waist is 4x30 inches, that's 120 inches.
Square a line down from C 14 inches and mark a dot. Square across from this dot to point D.
join C and D with a slightly curved line-as shown in the diagram. This is the crotch seam
Join D and B with a light dashed line. Find the halfway point between D and B and mark E. Square up from E along the dashed line4 inches and mark with an X
For the inseam join B, X and D with a curved line. You don't need a french curve, free-hand the line as best you can.
Draw a solid line over the Side seam, waist line, crotch seam and inseam with your sharpie.
You basic pattern is complete but you will need to add one more thing to make a complete pattern for Hammer pants: You will need to add a waist casing extension. Simply add an inch and half to the upper edge of the pattern. This will give you enough for a 1 inch wide elastic and some extra to fold under and stitch down. One inch from the center front and half and inch down from the waist mark a point for a small buttonhole. This will be used to thread a drawstring through the casing.
The elastic, needless to say, is not part of the traditional pants, however the draw string is. These pants can also be left open on the sides, strings attached to the side at the waist and then tied around the waist. There will be some front/back overlap and in striped fabrics, or traditional sewn strips, this gives the pants visual interest.
These pants can also be made even W--I--D--E--R by slashing and adding strips of paper to the pattern.
Here's an illustration of where to cut the pattern. After slashing add strips of paper and glue or tape the pattern to the strips. The strips can be as wide or narrow as you wish. Be aware that the pants will be very bulky between the legs and at the waist. You can pleat the excess into a waist band, this will give you less bulk at the waist and look less bubbly.
This illustration also shows how you can turn strips of fabric into a pant piece for yoruba inspired trousers. Instead of cutting, take a strip of fabric as sew it together. The strips should run up and down parallel to the side seam.
For the modern MC Hammer pants: use a light weight drapable fabric that will not be bulky when gathers. That's why parachute cloth works so well, it's lightweight and not bulky. Use an elastic and a draw string at the waist.
- Monday: Modern cut African and Middle East Inspired pants
- Tuesday: Traditional cut Pants of Turkey, India and Asia
- Wednesday: Modern cut Women's harem-style pants
Finally, Here's the full instruction sheet with the pattern in scale as a PDF:
Baggy African Style Pants
And that's all for today.
Posted by lincatz
at 11:39 AM EDT