Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pants Fitting: Working Smarter NOT Harder---Pants Fitting Series Part 2 of 3

A few people were curious to how I go about doing my pants fittings so I thought I'd oblige them. There's really nothing magical to what I do just a series of steps

Here's how I do my pants fitting.......

1. Make all the necessary pattern alterations. I compare flat pattern measurements with those of the pattern. As I mentioned before I also compare RTW pants measurement with those of the pattern. I outlined my pattern adjustments here. I also look at the pants leg widths and lengths to make sure they're ok. When I'm satisfied with the results I proceed to cut out the pattern. I have to admit that most of my pattern adjustments are done at the flat pattern stage.
(Pattern adjustments)

(Pattern being compared with RTW pants that fit well)

2. If I'm working with a new pants pattern I ALWAYS make a muslin. My muslin is either made out of the usual bleached muslin fabric or something or a similar fabric to what I plan to sew. If there are any side pockets then they're taped to the pants piece and they're cut out as a unit with the pants piece. So basically I'm just cutting out 2 front and back pieces. I don't tend to fiddle with other details (back pockets, etc) during the fitting.  I will cut out back yoke piece of course because it's important for fitting purpose. I don't even bother cutting out the waistband.

3. Here's how I assemble my pants for a fitting (and actually when I sew them if no fancy top stitching is involved)
-Sew front pant to back pattern at sides. Do the same with the other leg.
-Insert one set of pants legs into the other with right sides facing.
-I sew up the crotch below the fly to leave an opening so I can try on the pants (if there's no fly then I leave front upper pants open about 5" or so). Stop sewing about 1" away from the inseam on both pants front and pick back up sewing 1" after crossing over back pants inseam. I basically leave a gaping hole in where the inseams connect. By leaving this open it just makes it easier for me to do any inseam adjustments. Sometimes I may have to adjust the front or back inseam and with them left unsewn it's easier to do that.

4. I try on the pants with seams out. I pin the front crotch up at the appropriate seam allowance. With the pants inside-out and the seams visible it's easier for me to do the necessary tweaks.  This is especially helpful when making crotch adjustments.
(Fitting with seam allowance out for easier tweaking)

5. I place 1" elastic at the waist. At this point I make observations of the pants and begin to do my normal suite of adjustments. I move the pants up or down until I get the crotch depth right. I look to see if any length needs to be added in the back (which is where I sometimes come up short). If the length issue are resolved then I look at the circumference and take in or let out as necessary. I suggest you consult your preferred pants fitting book(s) for helpful advice on the adjustments you need to make for your body type.

6. Once I've noted the changes I go back and correct them on my tissue. I never usually make any drastic changes which is why I just transfer the changes to the tissue. If I made drastic changes I would probably just use my muslin as a pattern instead.

Ok, so there you have it! I told you my methods weren't complex. See, you didn't believe me (wink)! As I mentioned before I do most o of my pants corrections at the flat pattern stage. In my opinion it can be really difficult to tweak pants. For me to start with a pattern that's similar to my measurements and a RTW pants that I have and know fits helps me avoid most of the crazy, unnecessary fitting woes. It's been my experience that when I've got the crotch curve/length/depth in the right ball park all I have to do are minor tweaks--such as deepening back darts, fixing gaposis in the waistband or yoke, etc. Which is why I go to great lengths to make sure my pattern adjustments are done ahead of time & I've compared the pattern with RTW as a backup strategy.

Ok, I don't know if this was that helpful but I hope it helped put some of you people who have been working tirelessly. Trust me I understand the struggle. Everyone does things different so I'm sure you will find what works for you. If anyone has any other pointers they want to share feel free. Never underestimate how your experiences can be helpful to others!!!!  In the next post I'll summarize what I've learned about fitting pants (strategies/tips).....


  1. This is more or less what I try to do, with less effective results than yours, I must admit! I think I don't have enough tricks up my sleeve at the "adjusting the flat pattern" stage of the process.
    I am always better off trying to sew Burda pants than I am any of the big4 which for me seem hopeless. I haven't tried Octobre, but I suspect they might be good too.

  2. Karin I think you've been doing a great job with fitting. I saw those khaki colored pants on your blog and I loved the fit. But I can understand, I strive for perfection with fitting my pants too. It's taken alot of years of experimenting/fitting to know what works for me. I totally agree with you regarding Burda patterns. They are just drafted to fit my body type better and require a little less hassle in the fitting department. I tried a Simplicity "city short" pattern once and it did fit really good but I've never tried their pants. Some of the big 4 patterns I've heard are drafted a bit wider and requires a bit more work to customize the fit. I might give them a shot one day but to be honest I've seen all the styles I like with Burda and since they're all drafted from the same sloper they guaranteed to fit me about the same way.

  3. Hi Victoria, I've just been playing with a Butterick pattern and it certainly is a wider fit - not my shape at all. So I think part of pants fitting is using a pattern that suits your shape.

    1. EXACTLY SLSS! That's the message I'm preaching (smile)!!!! Things are easiest when you start with a good pattern for your figure type. Burda is definitely what works for me (which explains why the last 2 I made were Burda's) but I know others who can easily use some of the Big 4 types. We've definitely got to start making things easier on ourselves. Pants fitting shouldn't be such an overwhelming experience!!!!!


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


Related Posts with Thumbnails