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Thread: How To Measure Trousers?

  1. #1

    Default How To Measure Trousers?

    How do you determine the appropriate size of trousers? When I see an ad for trousers indicating a waist size of 38" and an inseam of 32", are the diminesions cited modern dimensions, or does the waist size actually indicate a measurement at the navel ? Thanks

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Jim Rackham
    How do you determine the appropriate size of trousers? When I see an ad for trousers indicating a waist size of 38" and an inseam of 32", are the diminesions cited modern dimensions, or does the waist size actually indicate a measurement at the navel ? Thanks
    The Jarnigan web site has a great chart in terms of measurements. Your waist is considered to be around your mid-section, at the navel.

    Chris
    Chris
    PVT 6 NHVI-E

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Jim Rackham
    How do you determine the appropriate size of trousers? When I see an ad for trousers indicating a waist size of 38" and an inseam of 32", are the diminesions cited modern dimensions, or does the waist size actually indicate a measurement at the navel ? Thanks
    The pants should be worn at the navel which is where your measurement would come from. If your a 38 at the navel then that's the size you want to go with. The bigger guy next to you with his 38's peeling down off his arse crack is wearing his in the modern fashion but the dimensions of his pants are still just like yours. The point being that there isnt two scales of pants sizes. Buy em big enough to fit where you want em too.


    Wm Shifflett
    I think I confused him more mess
    William L. Shifflett
    Valley Light Horse

    http://www.valhallastablesvirginia.com/calvary

    "We are still expecting the enemy. Why don't he come?" -JEB Stuart

    In Memory of 3 Sox, 4th Va Cavalry horse, my mount, my friend. Killed in action January 9th, 2005.

  4. #4

    Exclamation

    Hallo!

    In brief and to over-generalize...

    It can depend upon one's body "type" (body morphology). Meaning if one is shaped like a "ruler," things may be different than if one is shaped like a pear, etc., etc.

    IMHO, as shared, the concept of "waist" seems to have changed. CW Period "high" waisted trousers worn at, above, or around the "navel" line are different than modern "hip huggers" worn down below the hips. (IMHO, for things "Confederate," higher waisted trousers make it possible to wear "shell jackets" without a draft....

    However, some vendors offer trousers that are cut more along the lines of modern jeans and some lads wear them skin tight down below the hips in the Butt Crack Gusset Zone.

    So, IMHO, measure around the "naval."

    However, not all makers seem to use the same "sizing." For me personally I can wear one vendor's Size 34 (Size 2) but have to go to a Size 36 (Size 3) from another vendor. Or, another vendor's Size 3 fits snug, while another's Size 3 is loose.
    However, when looking at original trousers, there are the Quartermaster specs, and then there are variations in the actual dimensions.

    Again, being brief and over-generalizing...

    Curt-Heinrich Schmidt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  5. #5

    Default Thank you

    I appreciate the advice from each of you. Thank you.

  6. #6
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    One other comment to make to those made by everyone else - authentic trousers are also made to wear at the navel. On some pants, wearing them too low, as at the waist where modern trousers at worn, can actually cause the trousers to tear in the back and in the seams where the trouser legs join the waist portion. (I speak from personal experience as well as seeing the results of improperly worn trousers worn by some individuals in my former unit.)
    Thomas H. Pritchett
    Moderator, Military & Other Business Conferences
    www.campgeiger.org

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Patterns

    This is not related to pre-made trousers, but rather for those guys who want to sew their own.

    Some vendors of proper patterns use modern sizing as a basis for their pattern size. For instance, one vendor sells a pattern for trousers that is sized as a 38, but measures over 40 inches in actual girth, like modern jeans do. Depsite this issue in sizing, the patterns offered by this vendor do make good proper garments.

    Another well known vendor sells his patterns listed by the size of the waste measurment, thus a size 39 is for a person with a 39 inch or so waste.

    I usually ask before I buy a pattern from a new supplier.
    Chris Hubbard
    146th New York
    www.acwsa.org

  8. #8
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    May 2006
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    I will add more to what has been written about the two different sizing methods from what I learned from experience.

    Sutlers who manufacture civil war military trousers using one sizing method is about 2 sizes (4") larger than a sutler who uses the other method. A perfect example is The Quartemaster Shop compared to C&D Jarnigan. The QM Shop size 34 will fit a size 38 snugly and a 34 waist at C&D Jarnigan will fit a 40 waist snugly.

    Be advised: Civilian and military trousers of the 19th century did not fit tightly around the waist and relied on suspenders to hold them up, not a waist belt. If they fit correctly, you should be able to slip your hand easily between your belly (without sucking it up) and the waist band without a belt. If you want to wear a belt instead of suspenders (braces) you will have to sew on belt loops with some extra material you get from hemming the cuffs. If you want to make belt loops of the same material, I suggest that you order the trousers unhemmed with at least 2" longer inseam than what you need. I sewed on 2 utility belt loops on the bottom of my Columbus Depot 2 shell jacket made from the extra material from my trouser cuffs. Confederate soldiers removed the shoulder straps from their Richmond Depot shell jackets and made utility belt loops (not trouser belt loops) from them but Coulmbus Depot 1, 2 and 3 jackets did not have shoulder straps.

    Before I called The QM Shop and asked why a pair of trouser I orderd for my actual measurment ftom one sutler was 2 sizes too large, I thought that they were made that way to allow for shrinkage but that is not so. The cotton waist band will shrink at a different rate than wool trousers. That is the reason why many trousers come un-lined. You should purchase a pair of period correct cotton muslin long-john underwear or wear pajama bottoms if you are sensitive to wool, especially in hot weather. Remember, you cannot wash wool even if someone discharges a musket near your ear!

    Send an e-mail to The Quartermaster Shop ( www.quartermastershop.com ) with an inquiry on this subject and their shop manager be glad to explain in detail which method they use. The two methods of trouser sizing have different names and he will gladly tell you what they are. Then you will be knowlegable enough on the subject to ask your favorite sutler which method he uses and if he cannot tell you, find another sutler who knows what he is doing.
    Jerry Coffee
    4th Texas Infantry
    Hood's Texas Brigade
    Dallas, Texas

    "The troops of other states have their reputation to gain; the sons of the Alamo have theirs to maintain!"
    President Jefferson Davis - 1861

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stTexas
    Be advised: Civilian and military trousers of the 19th century did not fit tightly around the waist and relied on suspenders to hold them up, not a waist belt. If they fit correctly, you should be able to slip your hand easily between your belly (without sucking it up) and the waist band without a belt.
    I've read other researchers say, and it's borne out by period images, that period trousers may be cut to stay up without belt or suspenders. When worn with an overshirt tucked in, for example, suspenders aren't practical without modification to the overshirt, and not all images of men wearing overshirts show a belt.

    For what it's worth, by tightening the buckle in the back, I've worn period pants without a belt or suspenders, and they will stay up, but of course that doesn't mean they're fitted properly in a period way.

    Anyone more knowledgeable about period tailoring wish to comment?

    If you want to wear a belt instead of suspenders (braces) you will have to sew on belt loops with some extra material you get from hemming the cuffs.
    Unless you mean you "have to" because everyone in the 1860s chose to, there's no reason to add belt loops. I've worn period trousers many times with a belt and no belt loops, including trousers that are way too big (because I'd lost weight and hadn't altered them), and the belt worked just fine.

    Belt loops aren't necessary, and in fact, seem to be particularly rare in the period. Firemen, baseball players, and boxers are the only times I've seen belt loops in period images, and they're on pants designed to be worn with overshirts (see the problem above) or with no shirt, in the case of boxers.

    Is there evidence that most men added homemade belt loops?

    Remember, you cannot wash wool even if someone discharges a musket near your ear!
    Wool can be hand-washed today, same as in the period. Period laundry instructions describe how. Period drawers are of course comfortable and practical, but before drawers came in fashion, longer shirttails served the purpose of keeping the inside of trousers cleaner.

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@voyager.net

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Wear belts without belt loops if you dare but I ain't.... especailly if the trousers are sized for suspenders like they were in the 19th century. I think people dislike suapenders today because they keep popping buttons off so they "modernize" their attire by wearing belts. Just purchase elasticized suspenders and the buttons will not pop off.

    If you don't need belt loops to hold your belt in place why wear a belt in the first place?

    "Overshirts" are just that...they are worn "over" everything else and were not tucked in the trousers. Overshirts were sometimes worn in place of a sack coat (or overcoat). Plain cotton shirts (not overshirts) were tucked in the trousers with suspenders over the shirts and then a overshirt may have been worn over that kinda like a windbreaker is worn today.

    C & D Jarnagin ( www.jarnaginco.com ) offers good overshirt with a good description of their use.
    Jerry Coffee
    4th Texas Infantry
    Hood's Texas Brigade
    Dallas, Texas

    "The troops of other states have their reputation to gain; the sons of the Alamo have theirs to maintain!"
    President Jefferson Davis - 1861

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