Clown Butt Alteration and Wazoodle Soup

originally published 8/20/11


I’d heard the phrase “clown butt” bandied about on several blogs. I never read a good explanation and all links to the original poster at Pattern Review, seemed to be invalid. This week, Barbara at Sewing on the Edge commented that she had once again used the Clown Butt alteration successfully.  She described it briefly as for those needing a longer back rise and shorter back inseam. “Not me”, I said.  The next day she expanded her description.  Apparently several people recognized their personal fitting challenge and asked for more details.  Babs (as her granddaughter lovingly calls her) followed up the first post with a pic of the actual alteration and a slightly different description.  She now advised this alteration is helpful for those of us with a prominent rear and:


“… if your butt is clown like and prominent you have two problems. First you need enough fabric to go over it. … all the fabric you add for your prominent clown butt has no where to go afterwards which IMO is why we get those most annoying folds at the back of our legs under the butt shelf.”


Oh MY. OH MY.  This should have been sent in a personal  email to me.  This is almost exactly the problem I struggle with.  Additionally I feel that

  • I am as deep as I am wide
  • I am short (5’2″ and shrinking)
  • I feel the need to dress appropriately for my age (I’ve celebrated 6 decades. I’m not dead, but I do have a few miles on the odometer).
  • I’ve long since quit being a skinny mini i.e I have plenty of fluff.


In short, I knew immediately that I needed, truly needed to  try the CLOWN BUTT ALTERATION.



  And the Wazoodle Soup?  Well think of Wazoodle Soup as synonymous with the term widget but applied to food.  Then place yourself in the situation of needing to feed a family of 4 on a limited budget.  Typically, you will always be looking for interesting recipes and from time to time your find one, such as “Wazoodle Soup”.   You read the ingredients.  It sounds interesting. A few things you’d need to pick up at the store, but essentially doable, within budget and all foods/spices your family seems to like.  So you make Wazoodle Soup.  It’s a hit.  Your family loves it.  You make it for church socials. Others ask for the recipe.  Wazoodle Soup becomes a TNT recipe used at least once each month.  Then one day you don’t have the exact ingredient called for.  Say, the recipe calls for baking powder.  You’re out, (How’d that happen?”), but you have baking soda.  That’s almost the same. Isn’t it?  So you substitute baking soda for baking powder.  The family doesn’t seem to notice, so from then on you use baking soda.  Then you run into another shortage.  The recipe calls for frozen peas and carrots.  Your freezer contains frozen peas.  You substitute. Same story. Family doesn’t seem to mind. Well next month you don’t even have frozen peas, but there is a can of peas in the cupboard and your substitute again.  This continues, not every single time you fix Wazoodle Soup, but over time you substitute ingredients or leave them out because you don’t have the specified item,sometimes they want an exact brand of cheese and you have the same type but it’s a different brand or it’s shredded instead of a round.

Then disaster happens. One day you serve Wazoodle Soup and your family says “What this?”  You cheerfully and confidently respond:  WAZOODLE SOUP.  Your family says ” who are you kidding.  This isn’t our Wazoodle Soup.  Maybe it’s Wazoodle Soup like your Aunt Edna makes but it is not OUR Wazoodle Soup”.   Usually, right about then, you’re thinking “Uh Oh. The family is tired of Wazoodle Soup.. I’ll have to find another recipe this good.”  And you can do that, OK. You can start searching for another recipe that your family will love, fits your budget and most importantly can be cooked in a hurry (like when you spent too much TIME at the fabric store.  BUT there is another alternative.  You can hunt through your recipes find the Original (that capital is intentional) recipe and once again purchase the exact ingredients as originally specified including brand names.  When/if you do that, your family will say “This is OUR Wazoodle Soup.”

And that’s important because?  Well because instead using the last version of my JSM pants with all it’s alterations ( like your Wazoodle soup with all it’s substitutions) or looking for a new pants pattern, I decided to go back to the original JSM pattern to use with the Clown Butt Alteration.  You must understand I was totally thrilled with this pattern. It was one of the few my Sewing Angel sent me which were wearable right out of the envelope.  It was not perfect, but d@mn close.

Not fitting me perfectly, I of course started tweaking the fit.  As of the last iteration, I had

  1. shorten the legs 1″ above the knee
  2. shorten the leges 1″ below the knee (total 2″ shorter”
  3. shortened the front crotch 1″
  4. lengthened the back crotch 1/2″
  5. scooped the back of the back crotch 1/2″
  6. scooped the bottom of the back crotch 1/2″‘
  7. added 1/2″ to the width of the back crotch
  8. Added 1/2″ ease to the back hip
  9. Increase the darts, front and back to 3/4″ width
  10. Decreased the front fly depth by 1/4″
  11. Narrowed the legs.
  12. Arrived at a stable Waistband width and length
  13. Created a cut-on waistband version
  14. Created  a facing instead of waistband version
  15. Created a pull-on version
  16. Made multiple changes to pockets.
  17. Altered for knit pants

These are all the alterations I can remember right now but the point is, how far have I deviated from the original recipe?  Would Joyce Simmons Murphy recognize my trousers as her draft?  Would she look at my pants and say “Nice fit. What pattern did you use?”  Is this Wazoodle Soup or something Aunt Edna made?

So I traced the original pattern and pockets. I didn’t use pockets this time.  I don’t like to use pockets the first time I make a pants pattern because I’ve had the experience that my errors sewing the pockets to the pants can create fitting errors or drag lines.  So no pockets first try.  I also didn’t use all the fly front pieces.  I use a cut-on fly, both sides.  I suppose there are good reasons to cut the fronts without a fly and then sew/attach the approrpriate pieces. But I find it easy to fold the cut-on-fly into place. I also don’t need the the fly facing.  I wear pant!es everyday thereby protecting tender skin and pub!c hair from accidental contact with unforgiving zipper teeth.  Plus, I don’t like the bulk that sewing those pieces will add to my center front.  I’ve always had a little belly.  These day’s it’s not little, it’s close to beach ball size.  I don’t want additional lines of thread stitching crossng up, over or across.  I much prefer to divert attention to some other part of my anatomy.  So point is, this first attempt at the Clown Butt Alteration, was also not to be accompanied by any other detracting sewing or design detail.

I started thinking about the fabric almost as soon as I started thinking about actually trying this alteration.  My first choice was a tan pin-stripe that would have worked with my brown Autumn 6PAC.  It was a little lighter in color than what I wanted. However during the tracing and alteration phases — which I’m not detailing because they are exactly as Babs describes — my fabric choice kept bothering me.  Into my mind was finally flashed:

In retrospect, I think my left brain was trying desperately to alert me to the fact that my fabric choice had way too much body.  Had I made even the muslin from the first choice of fabric, the pants would have added pounds and pounds to my already too fluffy personage. I would not have been happy. Pants whose hems have a large circumference should be made from a drapey fabric. When I finally realized what the left brain was trying to tell me I selected a much better fabric. The twill selected is cotton maybe a bit of poly but I doubt it.  The cotton is smooth. This is more of a spring or early autumn fabric and drapes or folds closely to the body.  It is a good choice for this muslin.

Yes MUSLIN.  Because I made size D with no other alterations than the Clown Butt.  I made a 1″ shift/overlap because that is what I usually add (in total) to the back crotch length and subtract from the front crotch length.  I intended to shorten the leg length, but couldn’t decide where/how to align the legs. At the hem? Knee? Thigh? Rise? I decided for the first try it would be better to mark the appropraite places and then line them up.  I did edge stitch the front at the center grain line.  I love my HV Ruby.  Maybe it’s the advanced engineering of the feet.  I need only fold the pants front on the center line and press. One shot of steam. It’s not neccessary to stand there and beat the front to death. KWIM?  I attach the J Foot (Vikings Edge Stitching Foot) to my Ruby then lightly butt the fold against the metal guide on the J Foot as I stitch at a moderate but smooth pace.  Ruby pulls the fabic in and stitches almost on the edge.  End result is this wonderful, incredible edge stitch whereever I want.  Today, it was at the center front of each leg. I stitched the back darts.  I inserted the zipper and finished all edges by the serger.  I would have preferred to serge later, but the cut edges were already noticeably raveling.  Now was the time.  I ran into an unusual problem.  My upper serger looper kept hanging up.  This results in a higher tension and some ripling along the serged edge.  I smoothed and pressed as well as possible.  I do think this had a result on the final appearance.  After serge finishing all edges, I inserted the front fly zipper and stiched all seams with a 3.5 long stitch. The 3.5 is secure. Not as secure as the 2.5.  It’s much better for ripping out, but still not as easy as a basting stitch. 3.5 will survive most daily wear — excepting small children. However it will eventually give.  It is a good choice for today.

I inserted the zipper and stitched the seams. Then applied the waistband with the 3.5 stitch length and…

Do you need a potty break?  Good. Take a break. Get more refreshments and let’s talk again …..