Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"My Pants Fitting Journey"---Pants Fitting Series Part I of 3

So I thought it would be kinda cool to do a few posts detailing my Pants fitting journey. I know fitting and sewing pants can be so cumbersome and I've seen so many people give up on it out of frustration. Trust me I know that frustration all too well---I've dealt with it for YEARS!!! It's enough to make you want to pull your hair out and cry. I'm hoping these posts will be of some help and at the very least encourage you to jump back in if you've given up the hope of ever making pants that fit---especially if you really desire to do so. Well, here's my story.......

My pants sewing journey REALLY began about 2 years ago. You may recall 2 of my trials with Jalie 2909 documented HERE and HERE. I'd taken a couple weeks off from sewing to study fitting pants and I believe that it paid off and was a good effort. I even used some RTW pants to help make me with adjustments to the pattern. But despite that I still had a few fit problems.....

1. I couldn't get rid of back leg wrinkles
2. Couldn't get comfortable fit in rear.
3. My front crotch was too tight. I'd shortened the crotch depth from the original pattern but didn't quite know how to add room in this area.

I made a little more progress in the the Fall of last year with this attempt, again using Jalie 2909. I came away with a better pants fitting strategy but still didn't nail the fit......

Although I didn't quite figure things out entirely I kept reading/watching everything I could on pants fitting. I was determined to get it eventually.....

Fast forward to the Fearless February Sew Along (FFSA), just a few months later, where I decided to have another go at it!!! Suprisingly this time I figured it out and improved my fitting abilities tremendously.

My FFSA Pants Fitting Strategy:
1. Change the pants pattern. I tried again to resume work with Jalie 2909 and got no where. I spent more than half of February fiddling with it before I switched to Burda 7192. I wanted to pick something fit for a slimmer woman's figure and was drafted well.
2. Looked to RTW again for answers. I had to see the difference between the pattern and what I was actually wearing that fit. I knew by comparing I'd find the answers.

I made up my Burda 7192 muslin and used the information I'd studied up on to make changes to the muslin. I still had some back leg wrinkles and the pattern gathered under my rear. I did a few adjustments to the pattern and everything except the crotch looked great. I also found some helpful tips in this other fit book but I still had some crotch issues and back leg wrinkles and I knew I wouldn't resolve it by just minor tweaking. And I DEFINITELY WASN'T going to make more than 2-3 muslins (although the possibility of 10 were mentioned by the book's author). So I had to get radical!!!!! I decided to deconstruct a pair of pants that were similar in style and fit well. I never wore them---they were from NY & CO. and were a mulberry color. Whatever compelled me to buy them I don't know but they were perfect for deconstruction and comparison with Burda 7192.

Well I took it apart and aligned it with Burda 7192 and instantly found my issues.....
(deconstructed NY & CO. pants on top of Burda 7192 pattern. As you can see the pattern were pretty much similar minus the crotch shape.

(red line show changes to front crotch. Lowered the front inseam)

 (back crotch curve lowered which helped to add to the crotch length and fully cover my rear)

(muslin after making changes! Butt & back crotch fit looked GREAT!!!)

And as a result I sucessfully made Burda 7192, my gray pants.

But keep in mind that the changes I made to get these pants to fit were specific to this style of pants. You can't just copy your crotch curve from one pair of pants and apply it to all styles. Case in point---try taking apart 3 different styles of pants (fitted, semi fitted, loose) and look at the front/back crotch shapes and lengths. I've done it--it's really cool!!! You'll notice they're all a bit different since they're drafted to fit your body differently. The fitted pair of pants is likely to have a shorter crotch curve whereas the loose pair may have a longer one since the pants will hang from the body more. I learned this when I immediately made my pair of denim capris following this pattern. I had to make slightly different changes to the crotch.

(Excuse my horrible bathroom photos. LOL! Muslin for Burda 7863---the denim capris pattern. This muslin was made out of a crosswise stretching knit. As you can see the crotch depth was too long. I had to go in and shorten it a bit.)

 (The back crotch was too tight. I had to add a little to the back inseam and lengthen the back crotch a smidge).

(The final result after all of the fittings---Burda 7863. The fit wasn't absolute perfect. Still had some minor crotch issues to work out  but I loved the end results!!!)

From those experience I gained some additional knowledge about how to fit my figure type. Here it is...

Pants Fitting Figure Analysis:
1. My Derriere is more full than high. It's dropped in the recent years due to age and inactivity (unfortunately not hitting the gym like I used to).
2. I have fuller inner thighs. In some cases I need to add to my inseam a bit and taper to nothing.
(example alteration from book "Fitting and Pattern Alteration" for my fuller rear. This usually takes of the fuller thigh issue.)

3. My crotch depth & length is shorter than it is in the back (my waist is at an angle---higher in the back then the front).
4. Due to my rear I have gaposis in the back and rely on darts for contouring. If it's pants with a waistband I likely take out the extra there or if it's jeans with a yoke I can take out darts in the yoke (one on each side) and then take out the excess in the center back seam of the waistband.

Remember it's out of experience with fitting/sewing pants that you give yourself more knowledge to build off of for the next try.....

Lastly, I wouldn't have been able to get this far without great resources. I collect and read EVERYTHING I can get my hands on usually. Here my fave's.....

My Favorite Resources: 
I pretty much listed them in my 2010 posts (links above in 2nd paragraph) but here's the 3 most beneficial books to me. I LOVE these books!!!! The Singer is awesome due to the color photos and explanation of crotch shapes, how posture affect pants pattern, etc. The FP&A book is fantastic due to it's wide range of pattern alterations presented. BTW, this is the OLD version---I'm aiming to get the 2009 version. Of course there's PFRP---who doesn't love Palmer/Pletsch books. Such a good combo of photos and drawings. I also listened to Peggy Sager's of Silhouette Patterns, webcasts on fitting pants. I blogged about them HERE.

Anyhow that's all for now. Within the next week I hope to do 2 more pants journey posts focusing on "how I fit pants"---how I make/fit my muslins and how I sew the final pants. I kinda have my own process. And another post as a synopsis of "all I've learned so far about pants fitting"--personal insights, strategies, etc. Again not alot of people post this type of info so I thought I'd share. Hope it's helpful:).......Ok, my eyes are getting heavy so I'm off to bed.......


  1. Victoria. Great wrap up post and you've achieved a great fit too.

  2. It is super helpful! Thanks for.sharing!

  3. Wow! I am so impressed with how much work you've done. It shows in all the pants you've been making. I share some of the same fitting issues, so I really appreciate you taking the time to share all these details.

  4. Hi Victoria,

    I rather think you have been down the path I am currently treading (fiddling, fumbling and frustration, go back and check a book, more fiddling etc). I've just worked out today that the crotch curve in RTW is significantly different from that of a Butterick pattern. I shall read your detailed posts about pants over the next few days. It seems a lot of people have the same sort of problems, albeit all different body shapes and types. I'v just discovered for instance that I have a long rise even though I'm just 5'4". And very small back. So as you comment, its the distrubition of shape that is also very important (I worked out today that flat pattern making works on a 2D grid system - great for drawing patterns, but bodies are spherical - so any straight line up and down also has another dimension, if you see what I mean. I think you have done a tremendous job, great analysis of all the problems. I'll be back for your next post.

  5. Whew!! Your hard work and effort has paid off. No better reward than a great fitting pair of pants.

  6. Thanks for sharing the information! I made only one pair of pants in my life and I was very lucky to have chosen a good pattern (Burda 7447)for my shape, so I had very little to adjust, but like you said, depending on the style of pants I may need different pattern alterations to get a perfect fit. Your post helps a lot! Thank you again!

  7. thanks for taking the time to write this post Victoria, I know how time consuming detail oriented post can be and I appreciate it.

  8. I am working on pants as well, they are absolutely confounding. Good luck with this endeavor, you are getting very close to perfection.

  9. I am making pants for the February Challenge. I have two done - one doesn't fit exactly right but it is better than previous times. With the second I employed what I learned with the first and they are better. My third should be done this weekend and since I already cut the fabric, it may also sport some fitting errors. Having saidf that, I've overcome my fear of sewing pants which was the goal of this challenge. I'll post pics this weekend to the flicker acct.

  10. Wonderful post Victoria. I am traveling this winter and have noted this post to study further when I return home. You have not only made some great looking pants but are able to articulate your process===priceless.

  11. Victoria, I had the same challenge last year with a vintage pattern. Luckily for me, I had a great lady help me online to get the right fit and she turned my on to Nancy Zieman's bolk "Pattern Fitting with Confidence." I used this book to fit the skirt I just made. I can't wait to try it on another pair of pants. Plus I'll have your awesome instructions!

  12. I have a problem fitting pants now that I have this belly, I love the way you used ready to wear to make your pattern adjustments. I dont have any pants to deconstruct and was wondering if shorts would work? thanks for making our job of fitting pants a little bit easier. I learn by observing so your pictures are very helpful. Loved the ff event it really got me going. Can't wait to see what you come up with next. lol

  13. Victoria, I love that you ate sharing your experience with us. I never, ever would have thought to deconstruct a RTW pair of pants. It's really not such a terrible sacrifice when you think of end result in making better fitting pants. Great post.


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for following me on my 10,000 Hour Sewing Challenge:)


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