ClownButt, template

Clown Butt Alteration: The First Pics

originally published 8/22/11


I’ve found that fitting a pants pattern takes a couple of alterations to get to the best fit and I’m really starting over with this pattern for this alteration.  I retraced the Joyce Millers Size D Basic Trouser Draft.  I made the Clown Butt alteration close, very close as described by Barbara at Sewing on the Edge  My difference was to lower 1″ and over lap 1″ where Babs lowered and overlapped 3/4″.  I made that choice because I’m always adding about 1″ to the back crotch length (and later removing 1″ from the front crotch length).  Normally I alter the back crotch through a combination of adding a reverse dart in the center back crotch and scooping out the bottom of the crotch.  These are the back of the pants made using that method plus 1/2″ is added at the tip of the back crotch

Compare that to the back of the pants made with only the Clown Butt Alteration:

I’m really puzzled. Both are actually comfortable, although the Clown Butt (CBA) does feel a little closer cut. Both appear to be loose in the leg. A wider leg is however a feature of the trouser draft. The wrinkles in the legs are different but similar and really accentuated on the CBA versuib.  I think the CBA still needs the 1/2″ added to the back crotch tip.  But I’m puzzled because the CBA pants look so tight across the entire torso:


BTW, These are 1/4″ SA. I can’t let the pants out any more.  I measured the pattern. I measured the CBA pants.  There is 46″ of fabric (not counting SA’s or Fly).  I measured myself with my clothes on.  There is 4″ of ease between what I’m wearing now and what the CBA pants measure.  The fabric is a light weight twill which has a softer drape than denim or normal bottom weight twill.  I know that with the larger trouser leg I prefer a fabric which hangs closer to the body.  I don’t know where and when I bought the fabric.  It could be WFO and many of the WFO did have issues of some type.  During testing my seams were perfect.  During serging my upper looper thread kept catching on something behind it causing rippling.  I thought I pressed it out.  But I can tell from these photos I wasn’t successful and I probably wouldn’t have worn the pants much anyway.  The final icing on the cake is when the zipper separated and the slider shot off into space.  (Yes you are permitted to laugh. That’s why I tell you these things.)  The zipper may have been faulty, but the stress seen above certainly didn’t help.  Reading my notes, I also see that I normally fold my fly 1-1/4 inches. For this version I folded it 1-1/2.  An extra 1/2″ ease in the front might have fixed the front, but would not help the back.


I’m not done with this. As I said it takes a couple of tries to get perfect pants.  I do like how the CBA lengthens the back crotch.  The method of adding a dart to the center back (the usual and highly recommended method by all the experts) tends to rotate the the back backwards so that I lose the original angle of the back crotch.  It would seem counter-intuitive.  I mean that increasing the angle of the back crotch would add more ease to fit the body.  I’m not at the moment ready to change the back crotch angle. I want to keep working, just a bit, with this CBA.


At this point I don’t notice the front crotch being too long.   I’m not quite sure what to do.  I really think those back drag lines are all saying “add fabric here”; and that I should add 1/2″ to the back crotch point. I do wonder when I add to the back crotch point will the front crotch now be too long? I rather doubt that because I think I’m seeing a hint of Camel Toe in the front crotch. But what should I do about the bu!! looking too tight?  Will adding the 1/2″ at the crotch take care of that?


I really really didn’t want to add any more fabric in the inner thigh (which will happen if I use the standard method of adding to the crotch point).  That’s always an issue for me and I was hoping that the CBA would help me avoid putting extra fabric in that area.  I could  scoop out the back of the crotch. But when I do that I need to add to the side. I can’t take away any ease. As a matter of fact, I’ve got to figure out how to add ease.


Back to the sewing room….

ClownButt, template

CBA#3 (Clown Butt Alteration)

originally published 8/22/1


Almost at the end of my post yesterday I wrote without thinking “Maybe I should just stick to knit and stretch fabrics after all, my shorts fit. ”


Today I started thinking: Yes that’s true. My summer shorts fit. Why do they fit, even with an additional 6 pounds and my faithful JSM trouser draft does not?  So I pulled out the shorts pattern and compared them to the last altered CBA.  I’m even more puzzled than before.  The difference in the crotch, both front and back, is negligible. An 1/8 inch here or there.  We’re talking 2 threads here or there, KWIM?   2 threads here or there would be critical for a closely fitted garment. Trousers are loose or semi-fitted, never close fitted. The ease or distance across the garment pieces in the torso area was also very very close.  CBA#2 is actually wider than my summer shorts pattern.  The leg of the CBA is wider and already incorporates Trudy Jansen’s fix for the larger sized person (which could be why I never struggled with X wrinkles with the JSM draft.)   When the center lines are superimposed over each other, there is a difference in how the width is distributed and how the pants are angled.


I have not made the summer shorts as long pants, even though they were originally drafted as long pants.  I just folded up the pattern to the length that I wanted.  When I first made that pattern into shorts, they felt OK during the fit session.  This was the year when summer refused to arrive, so it was almost 2 months later before I started wearing the new summer shorts.  They were fine when first donned, but as the day worn on, they became more and more uncomfortable.  I was surprised and yet not surprised.  I pulled out the Perfect Bermuda shorts (Burda 2010-06-115) and compared. I expected to find nothing than more ease between the two patterns. To my surprise, the Perfect Bermudas had a significantly different crotch (both front and back) than the summer shorts.  Once I traced the crotch from the Perfect Bermudas to the Summer Shorts all fit issues were solved.  I used the same pattern for woven fabrics (corduroy, denim, twill) as I did for knits, but with minor alterations. For knits I folded out 1/2″ across the crotch (front and back) and 1″ horizontally to decrease ease (both front and back pattern pieces.)


OK so back to the CBA. I’m using JSM’s crotch curve which is only slightly different (JSM is dipped about 1/8″ deeper in the bottom curve) from the Summer Shorts. Ease aka width is about the same with the CBA actually having more ease than the Summer Shorts.

  • Does the angle of the pant really matter that much?
  • Is the fabric I’m using, which BTW is the fabric I like to sew  and wear, causing all the problems?
  • Is the CBA the right alteration for me?

Now the last takes thought to answer.  You see I do like the elegance of the CBA.  Without altering or affecting the angle or length of any other line, it effectively increases the length of the back crotch and the adds length to the crotch tip.  As I used the CBA in ver 2, I also added width to back pattern piece.  I’ve often have to do this as a separate alteration (other pants patterns other times). However, as elegant as it is, CBA#2 does not fit nicely.  I questioned whether I had moved the CBA down and over far enough. But the measurements are the same (i.e. CBA#2 and great fitting Summer Shorts are equal) just distributed a little different. To improve the fit of CBA#2, I contemplated my next change.

  • Should I move the CBA 1″ down AND 1″ over?
  • Should I attempt duplicating the Trudy Jansen’s fix for Pulling Inseam  Alteration? (Remember I noted above that it seemed to already be incorporated in JSM’s draft. Besides I hate how wide these trouser legs are already.)
  • Should I start slimming the trouser leg?
  • Should I make the Summer Shorts as long leg pants?


I asked myself: What do I really want to do? Surprisingly, self answered promptly. Self said, I want to sew summer clothes but I promised to finish the 6PAC sewing first so that when Autumn weather arrived, I would be prepared.



The CBA project is currently set aside. Literally.  I folded the JSM pants pattern with CBA#2 and sat it on the end of my fabric cutting board.   Which also contains printouts of Burda Summer tops that I wanted to make and fabric swatches with which to explore oil paints and pastels. It is, after all, only a matter of time before I’ll want another pair of pants.  I’m taking the time to think my options over and maybe even come up with a new idea.  This project is

to be continued.

ClownButt, template

CBA Ver 2 (Clown Butt Alteration)

originally published 8/22/11


In a way, I’m annoyed with myself for taking this on.  Why not just add a little ease to the patterns which fit me well, since I know the problem is that I’ve added a few pounds. I also suspect that my form is changing some as I age. But no I am pursuing this new-to-me alteration with enthusiasm.  In fact as I look back at the numerous pant patterns that I’ve fitting in the last two years, I’d say it’s an obsession.  Today:


I searched my stash for more fabric similar to the one used in the first CBA i.e. no stretch, nice drape. I found numerous pieces that will fill the bill. But I have no muslin type fabric that will work – they’re all stretch fabrics.


I moved the CBA down 1″ and out 1/2″ (not using the standard method which would be to cut downward about 1″ from the end of the crotch; creating hinge and swing the crotch tip outward the desired distance.) My change affected the crotch curve, and so I used my french curve to blend both the back crotch and the back inseam. This is a much cleaner method of adding length to the back crotch and as I moved to the side the 1/2″ I also added a little more much needed ease:



I removed 3″ in leg length above the knee. The  CBA Ver 1was hemmed 4.5 inches, but I didn’t want to short myself on hem length.  Since there was so much to remove and all above the knee, I drew 3 lines across the pant leg about 2″ apart and then folded 1″ out at each line.  That did leave a jagged edge so I used the french curve to smooth the seams.   The side seam of the back has an unusual curve outwards which is normally very smooth.  I’m not going to do anything about that right now because I really think I need the extra room at the hip and I really prefer the narrower trouser leg.  So as long as it doesn’t look odd on me, I’m leaving the back pattern like this:


I checked my notes again. It’s odd at how much I’ve forgotten.  The waist SA is 1/2″ but I’ve always sewn that at 3/8″.  It adds only 1/8″ length to the back and front crotch, but I thought I should disclose this fact just so it will be easier to find.  The other SA’s are 5/8″ but I’ve been sewing the crotch at 3/8″ this adds 1/2″ ease on the front and again at the back and probably takes away from the depth of the crotch. Although it feels comfortable, I wonder if I shouldn’t add some more the the crotch lengths. I mean if I’m going to continue sewing at the 3/8″ seam line, should I adjust for the loss of the crotch depth?


CBA Ver 2 uses a polyester twill, definitely a WFO fabric.  It’s been the standard pant fabric for years which everyone loves to hate.  At this time of the year, it is far too hot to wear for more than fitting sessions. We love it because however uncomfortable and despite the pills and snags, this is the fabric that wears like iron and has you looking as good at 5PM as you did at 8AM. I thought it was poly, then I thought maybe it was wool.  The right side is a fine twill and it has the hand of wool. It also pressed like a dream.  I did have the same issue with tunneling during serging which results in little puckers which steaming almost removed.  I’m not sure why 2 garments in a row had that problem.  I changed needles 3 times. Changed the tensions several times. Kept checking to see if something was keeping the serger threads from flowing smoothly. Nada. The only help was much more time at the ironing board, with clouds of steam.  In the end, there is still some puckering.  I did give it the burn test, just because I thought it might have some wool content. But no, the oily black thread of smoke along with the shrinking melting swatch told me my first guess was the right one.



OK how about fit.  Well lets take a look at the front first:


The waistband is basted on and pined into place for fitting.  The legs are trouser legs, no surprise there; and there appears to be more than enough ease throughout the front until you get to my high hip bone.  No camel toe, but it’s not quite hanging as smoothly as I would like.


I don’t have side views so lets go straight to the back

CBA 1 versus CBA 2

Back Fit 02Photobucket


There is almost enough ease across my backside. Almost. Although I don’t have the bu!!vortex, there are still numerous drag lines pointing in that direction.  I do not however see the infamous X wrinkles that have plagued me forever. In fact normally dressed, I’m satisfied with this “walking away” view:

I think I need a larger size pattern but I don’t want to buy it because already I’m losing weight. I’m down 2 pounds in 2 weeks. This is very good. I’m tremendously pleased and it gives me impetus to continue dieting. But I can never be sure how the dieting will go and I believe in sewing for and fitting the body and lifestyle you have now. (Exception if you’re trying for a promotion, you really should dress like the level above you.)  I also realize that everything I learn about fitting can be used to refit when I’m a smaller size.

The question for me is what’s the next step?  What to do for the next version?  I have Trudy Jansen’s Pant Fitting Book.

I bought it just after I’d lucked into the JSM and TJ906 patterns which fit almost out of the envelope.  In it she describes how to draft a pants pattern and then how to fit and alter for the different drafts.  I didn’t follow through because I had 3 patterns that fit terrific.  Oh and once you draft the basic pattern, guess what?  You still have to trouble shoot the fit. She does have a specific solution to the drag lines on my back. It involves adding 4 cm (about 3/4 inch) to the the back crotch and  inseam all the way to the hem. Then you subtract an equal amount from the side seam.  OK not a good explanation and frankly I don’t have permission to reprint her instructions.  If you’re interested you really do need to buy the book.  Question for me is should I add the extra fabric to the inseam and subtract it from side seam or have I gotten as much imporvement as I can with what I’ve already done?

In the past, I’ve added 2 or more inches to the crotch tip (other patterns other times) in order to get rid of the bu!! vortex.  I only moved this over 1/2″.  Should I move it over a full inch?

I still have the issue of not enough ease.  Would it be best to add more to the seam allowances? Split the pants vertically and add an even amount both front and back? Would that help the pulling at the inseam? Maybe I should just stick to knit and stretch fabrics after all, my shorts fit.

I need to think this through before I attempt another version.