Some pants fitting basics
With the Clover pant pattern, we wanted to create a slim fitting pant that’s flattering on many women.
When you’re making your own pants, you want them to fit perfectly. Remember fitting room woes and the time it took to find the right pair of pants. Fitting pants will take time just like finding those ready-to-wear pants. Your pattern will be unique to you but will take time to get it just right. Just like fitting any pattern to your body, you have your own fitting issues.
Later on, we’ll do a sewalong that will include real fitting tutorials. In the meantime, I’ll talk about a few common adjustments for pants and where to find information on fitting. Remember that there are multiple ways to fit a garment just as there are multiple fitting adjustments for every figure.
Take accurate measurements of yourself with some help, if possible. Measure your waist, hip, inseam, and crotch length. Cut out the pattern and sew it in a muslin fabric similar to the fashion fabric you’ll use in the future. Sew the pattern and attach the waistband but don’t include the facing. You’re making a simple version for fitting.
Once you’ve put on the muslin, make sure you’re wearing it the way you would the final garment. The side seams should be in line with your legs and the waistband is sitting where you like. From there, you’ll need to determine your fitting adjustments.
Look for any of the problems listed below while standing in a natural, straight position. You’ll always have some wrinkling while moving, leaning, or shifting your weight, but your goal is to have a smooth look when standing straight and stationary. That’s why it’s good to have a friend help.
- Gaping waist: If the waistline is too large it will gape out from the body. For a gaping waist, pin the side seams to fit the waist. For gaping at the center back, check with the mirror or a friend to see if the waist is where it should lie against the body. It might be gaping because your back curves inward, requiring a sway back adjustment, or because of a full derriere.
- Tight waist, loose hips: If your waist is close to the size of your hips, you may need to remove the darts (and add the dart width to the waistband). This is best for a non-curvy figure, i.e. not a lot of protruding in the butt and lower tummy.
- Further reading: Among other things, this Threads article talks about waistline adjustments.
- Tight derriere: A full derriere can cause gaping at the center back and tightness across the width of the derriere. Check out this Threads article on seam method alteration.
- Loose derriere: Excess fabric will frame a small or flat derriere. For a small derriere, again take a look at the same Threads article.
- Fabric pooling near the lower back: Sway backs are very common amongst women. When fitting pants, you will see horizontal folds across the derriere and gaping across the waistband. This may require both adjusting the waistband and the sway back alteration. This article is full of different types of adjustments, including sway back adjustment for the back. This article shows you how to make the adjustment on both a shirt and skirt.
- “Smiling” crotch: Look for upward lines, or smiling, in the crotch. This signals that the crotch is too short and needs to be lowered.
- “Frowning” crotch: If the lines are frowning, the crotch is too long and needs to be raised. For a low crotch, check out Sugardale’s helpful post.
- Tight horizontal crotch lines:The side seams need to be let out if there are horizontal lines coming from the crotch.
- Further reading: This Threads article goes into several types of adjustments, including low and high crotch.
- Tight thighs: If the pants fit tightly in the thighs they will pull across the front and back beneath the crotch. The wrinkles will be pulling around the thigh. Add width to the pants along the inner thigh. Start at the crotch and taper down 7″. Or you can use a slash and spread method as illustrated in this article.
Remember, we’ll be sharing more fitting tips and demonstrating techniques later on, but this should give you a start on diagnosing common fitting problems. Stay tuned!
- This Threads article shows several ways to alter patterns for common fitting problems
- An indepth article on pants and fitting can be found here
- Pants for Real People: Fit and Sew for Any Body by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
- Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration by Elizabeth G. Leichty, Della Poterburg-Steineckert, Judith A. Rasband
- The Threads Archive is a great resource for all things sewing
- Fast Fit: Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure by Sandra Betzina