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At a recent neighbourhood group meeting of the Australian Sewing Guild we worked on fitting pants, assisted by I* and K*. I think this would have to be the most difficult garment to fit, you are trying to get flat fabric to go round the body at a part where one cylinder (the trunk or torso) splits into two cylinders (the legs), all the time allowing enough room for movement but in most cases still having a reasonably fitted profile. I know that I’ve tried in the past, and whilst I’ve had some successes I think they are outnumbered by the failures, to the point where I’d pretty much given up trying. Fortunately I’m usually able to buy pants that pretty much fit, so I’ve focused my sewing on less frustrating garments.

Since there was a pant fitting workshop on offer though, I decided to take up the challenge again. I needed to make a muslin to take to the workshop, so I dug into the stash for some fabric which I hoped would make a wearable muslin. I found a large piece of denim left over from making jeans for my daughter about 12 or 14 years ago, and decided to use that. It’s a fairly heavy weight denim with a white pinstripe woven in, which meant I didn’t need to mark grain lines on the muslin but could just work with the stripes on the fabric. In the end there wasn’t quite enough, I had to use scraps of other denim for the waistband, but that was OK.

I selected a Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit pattern, (number 7608), which I had made before without success. The result of that effort is still in my possession, but I don’t think I ever wore them, they were too baggy. I don’t remember where or when I bought the pattern, I don’t think it is in the current range, it’s reviewed here on sewing.patternreview.com

Having done another workshop earlier in the year with K* about accurate measuring I reviewed which size to cut, and ended up with a smaller size than I had done before. I haven’t lost weight, but I must have allowed too much ‘just in case’ fabric last time, which is probably why the pants were baggy. This time I cut according to my measurements, and basted the pants together ready for the workshop.

When I tried the pants on they weren’t too bad, but still baggy round my thighs, particularly at the back. I* advised me to undo the inside leg seam, and take in the seam allowance on the back of the pants between the crotch and knee. I took in about 1.5cms, and restitched, which was a great improvement. I had already shortened the pants by about 3cms at mid-thigh level, since they would be too long otherwise. If shortening pants you need to do it in the leg rather than just cutting off the bottoms, otherwise the width that is intended to fit round your upper thigh just ends up round the lower thigh, and is another cause of bagginess.

There was still room for improvement, but I was happier with the pants than I had been before, and since I had taken my machine with me I had started to turn them into a real garment rather than a muslin. I was still pondering the slight bagginess around the crotch on my drive home, and then there came a light bulb moment. I remembered reading, I think it was in Threads, an article about pant fitting which talked about body space. Basically you need enough space in the crotch curve to fit your body (obvious, right!), but if the crotch is too low/baggy, while it seems as if you have too much fabric, in fact you don’t have enough. More fabric, in the form of a longer inside leg seam and a higher crotch curve, means that the crotch seam fits more closely to your body. It’s the same principle as an armhole, in order to have a fitted armhole which comes closer to your body, you need to raise the bottom of the armhole, which means you need more fabric.

When I got home I went straight to the sewing machine, and restitched the crotch seam with only the minimum seam allowance, about 3/8″. Tried on again, and another improvement in the fit! Unless I take the pants apart again and add on some more fabric, then re-cut the seam line, this is the best I can do, but I’m happy enough. When I make the pattern again I will raise the crotch seam more and see what happens.

I’m so enthusiastic now about these pants that I have finished them, and they will definitely be a wearable muslin. I had to face the bottoms, since I had only the very minimum of fabric to make them and no hem allowance, plus the waistband is in a different denim, but since I don’t wear my tops tucked in that won’t matter. I’m even going to drag my previous effort out of the cupboard and see if they can be resuscitated.

Again, no photos for this post. At this time of year the only time I am home in daylight is at the weekend, and the last couple of weekends have been very overcast so no sunshine for taking photos even then. I am spoilt really, so much of the year is bright and sunny and so I just assume that I can take photos outdoors, but lately it hasn’t been happening. The forecast for this weekend is better, I must make time to go out with the camera and photograph a few projects that haven’t yet been recorded.