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Custom Pants Pattern Workshops at Your Request

We all know pants can be a challenge to fit properly, particularly if you’re a solitary sewer or have no idea how to start altering a pants pattern. Finding the perfect pants pattern can be just as difficult. Many of us may avoid making pants altogether for these very reasons (I know I do.)

Tailoring expert and sometime Threads contributor Joyce Murphy recently combined her years of custom pants pattern-drafting experience with her years of teaching pants design into one intensive workshop. Murphy travels the country holding these Custom Pants Pattern & Design workshops on request for small, focused groups of three.

This places her exactly where there’s demand for her assistance, provides participants more individualized attention, and eliminates their lodging costs by locating the workshops within commuting distance. During the sessions, Murphy will draft a custom pants block in a classic style for each participant, teach them how to design an entire pants wardrobe, and guide them through constructing a pair of khakis that match their personalized pants block. The workshop fee of $650 includes the custom pants block, information on pants design and construction, and the materials to complete the pants project.

Murphy is taking requests for three-person workshops for her Fall 2011/Winter 2012 schedule until August 1. Visit her website for more information.

Do you have trouble adapting commercial pants patterns to your needs? Has anyone found this kind of fitting and pattern workshop helpful?


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  1. Bellecon2 | | #1

    I am in NE Iowa........anyone up here game?

  2. tedd1y | | #2

    I think this is a wonderful idea but the cost is staggering. With so many people unemployed or partially employed, the price of $650 is not possible for many people.

    I took a class in pant making many years ago and I am still using that pattern with small adjustments for style over the years.

  3. Kristina_Violette | | #3

    I have to aggree, the price is too high. (It is $650 per person, right?) Jeez, $650 can buy quite a few pairs of RTW pants (at least where I shop).

  4. copywriterMT | | #4

    I feel intimidated already.

  5. User avater
    MaddyGranma | | #5

    While I admire the talent that Joyce has and the undoubtedly countless hours of hard work spent aquiring that "talent", I have to agree that the price she needs to be able to put on her workshop is too much. But, in saying that I think that I would be remiss if I did not point out that she has plenty of company in the high-priced sewing/fitting/designing workshops that abound in the world of fashion. Peggy Sagers of Silhouettes Patterns charges $595 for a 4 day workshop plus she gives them in resort settings around the US which, including airfare/transportation and accomodations at the resorts will run quite a bit more. Palmer/Pletsch run about $795 for a 5-day workshop.Martha Pullen runs about $100/day. You can go on and on. So for her part Joyce is situated at about the middle on the Workshop Scale-o-Meter. Those people who take her classes probably feel that they are lucky to have had the opportunity. Boy what a profitable business sewing has become!

  6. beck259 | | #6

    I'm in central Iowa (Madrid) and would love to do this...I'm happy to visit NE Iowa or somewhere in between. Any more Iowans or near neighbors out there who would like to jump in?

    I've spent an awful lot of money over the years on pants that aren't quite right. People who can get RTW pants that fit perfectly are very lucky.

  7. User avater
    carsons23 | | #7

    In the early 80's I was lucky enough to attend a free workshop by Pati Palmer and Susan? Plesch at a local shopping mall. I bought their pant fitting book and the McCall's fitting pattern and made the best fitting pants that have stood the test of time. I invested in top quality fabric after making the gingham fitting garment. I never regretted the investement of time and money. Palmer and Plesch gave advice on how to make the pants truly professional in the detailing and construction. Seeing how the cost of this type of information has soared, I truly feel blessed with what Palmer and Plesch shared with me that day 25+ years ago. My 27 year old daughter is now wearing them, with many comments from admirers.
    I am still using the quick tips and construction tips I learned that day.

    If you are a good self learner, save your money and get the book and the pattern.

  8. WhiteBow | | #8

    I would love to take this workshop. I have struggled for decades to sew pants for myself, and I just cannot get the fit right. I have tried the Palmer/Pletsch approach, and it's helpful, but not perfect. (Their advice seems aimed mainly at overweight/out-of-shape older women, and if that's not you, their advice is not quite on the mark.)

    $650 is a very reasonable price! With only three participants, I'll be sure to get the instructor's attention--I won't have to wait my turn behind 15 or 20 other students, like I have to in the community college sewing classes I've taken.

    And the expert will draft the pattern for me instead of simply supervising me drafting my own. I've take that kind of class too, and the pattern did not fit me, but I couldn't get the teacher's steady attention to fix the fit. Then the class was over, and I was out both time and cost, still with no pants that fit.

    I'm somewhat ashamed to see the derogatory comments on here, saying that $650 is "staggering" and so on. If Jean is an expert in her field, she OUGHT to be well paid. Don't you want to be well paid for your expertise? I suppose when you need surgery, you shop for the cheapest surgeon? I don't. When I need a job done well, I expect to pay well. And when I do a job well, I expect to be paid well. I'm glad that Jean can make a living from her skills.

    I have spent far more than $650 over the years on pants that did not fit me, both storebought and sewn. If I could pay $650 for a custom pattern that truly fit me, it would be a savings. I would love to feel confident in pants that don't sag, pull, wrinkle, and bunch. I'd pay $650 to solve this years-long problem.

    If you can buy off the rack, lucky you. But don't begrudge a skilled sewing professional reasonable pay for her expertise. Jean, sign me up. SOON.

  9. WhiteBow | | #9

    Oh, dang, I meant JOYCE not "Jean." I'm sorry!

    Just sign me,

    Ms. Baggy Pants

  10. Merryll | | #10

    I hate to see the discussion of making wonderful fitting pants hijacked by focusing on the price of a seminar. Most fine-quality, well-fitting pants cost about this price. I realize that $650 is out of the reach of many, especially now, when sensitivity to cost is heightened. Yet a $650 investment divided by the number of pants that can be made from a perfect-fitting sloper means that a wonderful pair of pants can be affordable for everyone. Like someone else said, not having pants bunch, "smile," sag or wrinkle in all the wrong spots requires the expert eye of an experienced fitter and teacher. It'd definitely a two-person process!

    I also appreciate the comment about standing in long lines at classes/seminars to get the individual attention of the instructor. My experience has been that so many students request extra fitting attention that by the time it's mny turn, I'm embarrassed to ask anything more than the bare minimum.

    I've purchased or made so many pants that don't quite fit, I'd appreciate a sloper I could rely on. And for me, it's a special treat to hang out for a day with other sewers. Anyone from Central Virginia interested??

  11. Dusky | | #11

    The cost may seem high but she has to cover traveling and accomadation costs to be able to put the workshop on in locations to suit the clients. I agree with others the amount time and money I have wasted trying to fit or buy RTW trousers make this seem like a good investment. I hope one comes up near me.

  12. rkr4cds1 | | #12

    I would pay ANYTHING to be rid of the wrinkles that form in every pair of pants I sew, which form from mid-derrière, run diagonally down and around under the crotch toward the front of my thighs and crotch and end in the front section of every pair, no matter how slim or loose the pants/slacks are—and they all hang from the waistband, too!

    No book, class or sewing teacher has ever been able to correct this, give it a name or even explain why they form or give fitting/drafting/cutting instructions on how to eliminate these in the drafting process.

    I HATE them as they absolutely ruin the look of some slacks, depending on the fabric content.
    Any takers in Metro Chicago/North-Eastern Illinois?

  13. kmayne | | #13

    I'll participate in Wichita, KS or northern OK (Ponca City or Enid or Oklahoma City)

  14. Bhow5747 | | #14

    @ Krisitna....yes you can buy several pairs of ill fitting pants. It's not the quantity, but the quality fit.

  15. Puterdame | | #15

    Some time ago, I bought software from a company whose name escapes me (Ginger something) to make tailor fitted pants for ANY size. All you do is take some measurements, plug them into the application, and tell it the style pants you want, and voila---it prints out your pattern. Best money I ever spent, and it really wasn't that expensive! I figure after about 3 pairs of perfectly made slacks, that the software had paid for itself. If I'm not mistaken, I believe I saw it in Threads Magazine, too. I've been a subscriber since 1988, and absolutely LOVE this magazine! I have all but about 10 copies since day one!

  16. Puterdame | | #16

    BTW, the software only cost me about $30 maybe 10 years ago, so if you even triple that cost over the past decade, that's still only around $100 for perfectly fitting pants. I'm sorry, but $650 for a sewing seminar is a bit much. My advice would be to find someone in your local area that teaches sewing. I'm in Halifax, MA, and I've been trying to develop interest in sewing classes for several months.

  17. Sewandsews | | #17

    Is no one considering how much it will cost for her get to your location, and her accommodations while there? What about the extra baggage fees for the supplies she may be bringing? Not to mention the taxes she will have to pay on this income as well, average 30%. This lady is trying to make a living at teaching sewing, something we all obviously love to do.

    I own a small fabric boutique and teach sewing classes. We have offered just such a class over the past year, and hardly have any takers, and we only charge $100. That's just what I pay the instructor for an 8 hour course. Yet the information and her expertise is priceless! Our classroom only holds five students, but we only let four sign up for these detailed tailoring classes so everyone gets one-on-one attention. Yet people would rather go the community college and be in the herd of twenty for $25 two hours with one instructor.

    Good thing I'm not a quitter. Joyce Murphy is welcome at my shop anytime!

  18. User avater
    thetailor | | #18

    Boy what lucky ladies you all are. Your body weight has never changed and you have sewing instructors willing to travel US to teach a tiny class size for $10/day.

    Never mind the experience of working with probably 1000s of women with every imaginable issue, or the fact that she comes to you so there aren't any hotel, conference fees, etc.

    I guess she should do this free, oh some of you would still bicker about it.

    My guess is she isn't getting rich. I think of all the money and time you've wasted altering RTW, or maybe you are one of the lucky ones that one or two changes in a pattern and it works. There are plenty of figure types that the ginger software even today doesn't work for. I just made custom pants patterns for two clients that looked so strange that I thought I must have made a mistake, but the pants fit and they couldn't thank me enough. It takes alot of experience and patience to learn this and to teach it. I'd say that has some value. How much do you make an hour? And why isn't a sewing expert worth the same as a good lawyer, or a excellent college professor, or a golf pro?

  19. Sewandsews | | #19

    @ theTailor~ points well made. Amen & Amen!

  20. User avater
    Joyce_Simons_Murphy | | #20

    I've read your comments with interest and understand where you are coming from when you say the cost for my workshops is high. If I could lower the price and still make it pay, I would.

    I appreciate the comments in defense of the price. And in defense of instructors (who charge as I do), I have one more comment to add.

    It takes time to research and develop the ideas that are the basis for the curriculum we teach, the books and articles we write, and the products and services we offer. Answers often appear after mistakes are made and wrong paths are followed. This is the nature of invention. Remember Edison and the light bulb?

    One way to support inventiveness (which in turn will grow our industry) is to be willing to pay the price for quality education.

    Thanks to all who posted for your willingness to talk openly about the hot topic of pricing. It is a tough issue for many of us.

    Joyce Murphy
    JSM Tailoring Tools

  21. User avater
    Joyce_Simons_Murphy | | #21

    Thanks to all of you, the word is getting out!

    I'm continuing to gather workshop requests so if you mentioned a location in a comment here, please also put in a request for a workshop in your area at http://www.jsmtailoringtools.com. This makes it easy for me to compile your requests.

    A fall trip to Maryland and Virginia is in the works.

    Joyce Murphy
    JSM Tailoring Tools

  22. MabelMade | | #22

    There is confusion between value and cost here. I have long legs and have a horrendous time finding RTW women's pants that don't stop just at the ankle. I have to wear what I can find,(often men's pants) not what I want. Specialized RTW pants? $150 minimum. While I cannot currently afford the cost of the workshop, I can see the value in the education with basically a one-on-one tutorial. If you can buy RTW, fabulous! A less expensive fitting/alteration course is likely just the ticket.

    Oh yes. Take a look at the marketing seminars offered by the feel-good gurus and marketing professionals. Two hundred people in the room at $800 per person. No personal interaction and you have to buy "the book" at the end.

    And since when did education become a non-profit enterprise?
    Joyce is a professional who should be making money.

  23. User avater
    Joyce_Simons_Murphy | | #23

    Message to Merryll and all: Virginia is a possibility this fall. Please submit your location request at http://www.jsmtailoringtools.com if interested in attending a workshop near your town in Virginia.

  24. User avater
    KewpieDoll | | #24

    I would be interested in the workshop if there was one in the Boston area. I live in Quincy, just south of Boston.

  25. User avater
    Joyce_Simons_Murphy | | #25

    There is room for one more person in the CUSTOM PANTS Pattern Workshop to be held at the Comfort Suites Inn at Ridgewood Farm in Salem, Virginia. Dates are September 20 - 23, 2011. Please e-mail [email protected] if you would like to attend.

    To KewpieDoll: There is some interest in the Boston area so there is a chance that I will travel there in 2012. Request location at http://www.jsmtailoringtools.com if you want this to happen.

    Three happy participants just finished the Chicago CUSTOM PANTS Pattern Workshop held over the weekend. All three are delighted with their new patterns and excited about sewing more pants.

  26. Lori_ | | #26

    I am in eastern Iowa - Anamosa. I'd love this

  27. DAJLein | | #27

    How did this workshop / seminar concept work out for you? Will you be giving this again in the 2012/2013 timeframe?

  28. user-1145709 | | #28

    Jan. 2, 1015 Ms. Murphy are you still teaching these clases. There are two of us in AL who would love to take your class.

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