Knee Spread Alteration, KnockKnees

Knee Spread Alteration: Fitting


The ‘Bank Line’ pics above tell me that DH has nothing to be ashamed of and neither do I.  I might want to think about lengthening my blouses if I’m going to continue wearing  slim pants without a 3rd layer. My vests or other 3rd layers will cover up the issues I object to.  Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised. I did think I might have to acknowledge this as a definite muslin and throw it pant away.

The 50% stretch of the fabric was a bigger issue than I expected. I removed 1/2″ ease from the front and stitched the back at 1/4″ instead of the 1cm SA’s planned. I thought I had already made this change to the tissue.  These days, it is typical for me to add 1/2″ ease to the back and remove the same amount from the front. Like my entire back side is 1 size bigger than my front or like I buy size 14 but my back is a 16 and my front is a 12, KWIM?   Not only did this fabric have 50% horizontal stretch, it has 25% vertical. I trimmed 3/4″ from the waistband and would have trimmed more except that the elastic interfered. Speaking of elastic, the 1″ initially removed was not enough. I removed an additional inch from both front and back to make the elastic a total of 4″ shorter than the previous elastic; AND I could have removed more. I scooped the back crotch three times.  The first time, my pattern alterations had created an odd, uneven crotch. I needed to scoop just to have a nice curve.  Later I scooped 1/4″ each time which greatly reduced the back-of-leg wrinkles but also shortened the leg length. I could scooped even more except for the pant length thing.  I’m seriously thinking I need to shorten that back leg.

I love to see the fitting progression and thought I’d share a few with you.

As we look into the pic, the unfitted pant is on the left, final version on the right. I removed 1/2″ ease from the front because the side seam evenly divided me 1/3 back to 2/3 front; and there were masses of diagonals in back.  Once I removed the ease  as shown in pic 3  (3rd from left, 2rd from right) I’m sure everyone will say “more tummy room”.  All those wrinkles are gone though by the last pic. Why? Because I know from experience the front diagonal lines that point to the side and were repeated on the back, mean that I’ve gotten my side seam too long.  I chopped 3/4″ off the top of each side seam. Suddenly, last pic on the right,  no tummy wrinkles.

Scoop, scoop, scoop:

Despite removing a hundred wrinkles, I am disappointed in the sheer number that remain. I think the Near Perfect Eleanor used a firmer fabric. The combination of softer RPL and 50/25 stretch did not help this version at all. I just did reach the point were it was counterproductive to continue scooping.  But I think  these are wearable. Certainly better than 99.9% of the RTW  I’ve tried on.

I was very concerned about the grain line adapted because of the alteration .  I carefully made notches and matched them because I know if the notches don’t match the pant absolutely will twist.

I think it was a valid concern.  I clearly see a drape towards the side seam of the leg, above the hem. Although it has lessened by the final pair (far pair on the right as we look at the pic).  The backs have a very similar drape.  Previous Eleanors clearly break at the front of the shoe

.. and their corresponding backs just hang to the floor.   I deliberately leave my pants a bit long.  At my house, all the clothing goes into the washer and dryer for cleaning.  Even  fabrics designed for this kind of maintenance will shrink over time–sometimes rapidly!

When I’m looking at the current Eleanors, I have to ask, was the grain line drawn incorrectly or is this just the result of softer fabric with 4 way stretch?

Unlike the Xmas Dress, I’m not in a place of not knowing what to do.  The pants are wearable but Im not sure the knee spread alteration was effective. The Bank Line pics look good, the fitting close ups show the drape below the knee.  I’m copying my Eleanor again because I want to record the fitting changes needed for a 50% stretch fabric. My copy will add 1/2″ ease to the back and remove the same from the front.  I will shorten the crotch length 1/2″ both back and front.  Scoop the back crotch 1/2″ and make the entire crotch curve smooth. I’ve not decided exactly how to shorten the back leg.  Will it be enough to shorten at the inseam or do I need to tuck then entire leg and then ease it to the front leg  Whichever I choose, I’ll mark this new pattern 50% stretch and carefully put it away.  The next time I work on pant fitting, I plan to use J Sterns Jeans pattern and fitting procedure.  As for the Eleanors, they are good enough most times and perfect from time to time.  When I just want to sew pants, I can choose from Eleanor, TJ906 or PP113.

Eleanor, Knee Spread Alteration, KnockKnees

Knee Spread Alteration

One of the issues with knock knees is the greater length needed to go over the knee .  J Sterns and a few others recommend slashing and spreading just under the crotch as in this diagram from cationdesigns

I have a problem with this particular alteration because it looks too much like the plus-size, problem patterns I’ve had to deal with.  It’s as though when drafting for plus sizes, the drafter assumes that the frame, my bones, spread further apart as I get fatter. My legs do not get further apart. Those hip sockets are fixed. If anything, the thigh gap gets smaller and closer together.  Also when I look at my legs the leg from crotch to knee doesn’t seem to angle outwards. To me my thigh area angles and the calf portion angles outward. But I’ve seen alterations work really well and they didn’t seem logical to me, so I’m keeping this alteration in mind for future investigation.   What I’m working with now is an alteration I refer to as the knee-spread. As shown by SewStashSew 

I like this alteration for a couple of reasons.  I agree that the knock knee needs more length. Over the years, I’ve noticed that my inseam will slowly shrink until it’s at least 3/4″ shorter than the side seam. Doesn’t matter whether I made the pants or purchased RTW. The inseam and side seam start level. With each laundry, the inseam becomes a little shorter.  For years I blamed the pattern companies’ and RTW’s habit of making the inseam shorter between crotch and knee. (I’m rethinking that.  )

I also like this alteration because it makes the change where the change is needed.  When Gale Grigg Hazen  was traveling and giving lectures, she always emphasized that the change needs to be made where it corresponds to the body. For example, she was not in favor of shortening the hem at the side seam to adapt for a full bust. If you needed more length over the bust, she wanted you to put the length over the bust even if that meant changing the style lines.  She had a point and I’ve never forgotten her lecture. I do think the more weight I carry the more her theories fit my personal clothing construction alterations.  So when I see something like the knit spread that puts length at the knee where the length is needed, I’m more favorably impressed. More likely to make this alteration that seems logical, reasonable to me. The one thing that bothers me about this alteration is the change of the grain line.  Usually pant pattern are drafted with the grain line vertical to and bisecting the hem. That way the leg hangs straight.  Following these instructions, the grain line is shifted.  No longer perpendicular to the hem and no longer is the grain running straight down the leg.  I’ve learned the hard way to respect the grain. Yet I understand that we are adapting for a physical deviation, however minor’ and we need to do something different if I’m to get different results.

Finally, I like this alteration because it creates a pattern that follows my own structure:


You did not think I was going to post pictures of my naked leg, did you?  I took several pictures but I wanted to focus on the essence of my leg shape between crotch and ankle. So I selected the best pictures and made a composite.  My technical knowledge petered out so I used pen and vellum to trace my legs.  Then scanned the tracing.  From it (the tracing) I think we can see my leg shape well enough.  Note that the knee is touching in both front and back views. Even then I still have thigh gap. My thighs never meet. This is not typical for knock knees. In fact the definitions I’ve read specify that the thighs will be pressed together. Note, I’m not standing with one leg in front of the other. My lower legs  are naturally forced apart, just as described in the definition of knock knees.  My knock knees are less prominent the less I weigh. Right now I have goodly fat bulges on both knees and very obvious knock knees..  An interesting point you can not see in the tracing but is visible in the photos, my right leg twists just slightly between knee and ankle.  It’s most obvious from the back.  Normally I stand with one leg in front of the other and none of this is noticed.

I also traced the prominent skeletal lines:

As we look at the pic, that’s front on the left  and back on the right, just as in the pic above. I marked a horizontal from outside to outside of the body at the crotch line, knee and ankle.  Then I made a little tick mid way of each leg, knee and ankle.  When I joined the ticks with a vertical the lines and possibly my legs look fairly straight.  My bones look straight. It’s when flesh is apparent that I think ‘knock knee’.

I decided to try this knee spread alteration. I still have questions as to whether I am truly knock kneed.  I admit to having some features of the knock kneed and maybe that’s enough to require corresponding alterations.

I traced my Jalie pattern using the “Near Perfect” version.  It’s possible I might need a combination of alterations. But I didn’t think the Knee Slide helped in the least.  It didn’t the first time I used it.  It didn’t work last time. Why incorporate it now?  I made the knee spread alteration 5/8″ on both front and back pattern pieces.  I chose 5/8″ because most of my inseams shrink to be 3/4″ shorter than the side seam. But not always.  It depends entirely on the fabric.  I can never be sure how much a fabric will shrinkt two years down the road.  So I chose an in between number i.e. in between the least amount of shrinkage (1/2″) and the most common (3/4″). I will not be making the faux fly or messing with pockets.  This is a test which may end up a disaster. I am using the back yoke.  I have to use a different elastic for the waistband. Up to now, I’ve made all Eleanors with the same elastic. But it’s all gone. I’ll use my favorite which Louise Cutting sells at Cutting Line Designs. I’d rather not be dealing with the elastic variable, but it is what it is. LC’s elastic is 1.25″ wide instead of the 1″ called for but it will still fit inside the waistband.  This is elastic is also softer and stretches further.  For starters I have chosen to use 1″ less length than I did with the previous elastic.

My fabric chose me. All the sorting and stacking I did last week produced not a single stretch fabric for pants. But I have somehow manged to get 2 cuts of exactly the same turquoise RPL.  It has 50% stretch . I think the Near Perfect Jalies had 40% stretch.  If so, I will need to tweak the fit.

One of the things I do love about the Eleanor is how quickly it sews together.  I serged yokes to backs and then serged inseams. Also nailed the elastic into place with a triple zig-zag. But I BASTED together everything else . Expecting at least some fitting adjustments , I used water-soluble thread with a 3mm stitch length.


Fitting Pics tomorrow.


Eleanor, KnockKnees

JalieEleanor with Knock Knee Alteration

I’ve decided, I really do have knock knees. I’ve always seen knock knees described as the knee turning inward or the leg rotating inward. My knee is pretty straight on. As far as rotating, that’s what the earth does, right? Neither leg nor knee look like they are rotating to me. So for years I’ve said I’m NOT knock kneed.  There is a distinctive pad of fat on my inner knee.  I thought that might cause the same fitting issues as a knock knee but continued to deny I was actually knock kneed. Here recently I took pictures of my bare leg between hip and ankle. No, I’m no posting those pics. In those pics I see my  thigh bone curves/bows outward creating thigh gap no matter how much I weight (or don’t weigh) but at the same time my legs angle towards the knees.  Like an inverted triangle with the tip at my knees.  My lower legs cannot come together unless I shift a leg forward (or back) and they splay outward from knee to ankle but straight, no bowing.

Interestingly I seem to have bowed, knock knees after all.  I think it may not always be obvious because I generally stand with one leg in front of the other rather than spread apart shoulder-width or side by side.

That’s really food for future thought and maybe alterations because I’d already decided I wanted to try a knock knee alteration.  Nearly every pant I make has some hint of drag lines around the knee like these (from the Near Perfect Eleanor)

So I copied the last pattern and added a 1″ Knock Knee Alteration to both back and front. 1″ is pretty substantial. Jennifer Sterns Knock Knee Alteration recommends making the alteration 1/4″ at a time.   But I’ve been this route before.  At the time, I stopped at a 3/4″ alteration because that was the recommended maximum.  I decided there was no point in repeating in quarter-inch increments since my previous attempts had no effect upon these drag lines. I decided to go for 1″ and adjust from there.

I made a wadder. Actually it was a beautiful pair of Eleanors sewn from a cotton/lycra twill.  Gorgeous fabric but without the required 20% stretch.  I could not pull them up over my hips.  Had no idea about the effect of the knock knee alteration.  How could I have possibly made such a goof?  Well I didn’t measure the stretch of the fabric. I pulled. It stretched.  I felt kind of dumb when I couldn’t pull the pants up.

So I selected another fabric and this time I measured the stretch.  A good yank on this poly knit fabric creates a 50% stretch.  Boy can you tell it.  Stretch measured to just before the fabric is obviously stretched is 30%.   Eleanor requires 20% stretch so I should be good to go.  I also used Louise’s elastic this time because I was out of the elastic used previously. I do prefer Louise’s elastic. It is softer and a little more stretchy but I wanted to be consistent.  I cut both pieces of elastic 1″ shorter.  My pattern has 5/8 side seam-allowances so I can adapt ease for the various fabrics.  I know from experience that the same fabric from different bolts will behave slightly differently. I want the option to add a bit of ease.  I serged this together with 1/4″ seam allowances pretty much without stopping. I figured if there was too much ease, I would make a seam on the sewing machine 5/8″ or whatever needed to reduce ease.  In retrospect, I need to mark this version as needing 50% stretch.  The result is just a little tighter than I like.

Pic 2: One foot in front of the other i.e Typical Bank Line Pose

Fortunately, my blouses/tops will cover those wazy hips. They won’t cover the back of leg and knee wrinkles which get worse depending upon how I stand:

Pic 3: Feet shoulder-width apart

The good news is that these are a deep, dark brown, I guess they would be black-brown or brown-black.  In the bank line you see:

which is no wrinkles at all. Don’t forget, I’ll probably be standing with one leg in front of the other (as in Pic2) which decreases the leg wrinkles.

Back to the Knock Knee Alteration….. I ‘m not sure it improved the drag lines at the knee.  Comparing side-by-side  with the ‘Almost Perfect Eleanor”

I think there are more back-of-leg and knee wrinkles on this version. Is that because there is less stretch?  Percentage of stretch is definitely a factor.  Compare with the first Eleanor which has negative ease butd did not have J. Sterns diagonal overlap:


When it comes to the knee drag lines, I”m just not sure how much of an improvement we’re looking at.

The 2-1/4 yards of fabric felt hefty when I pulled it off the shelf and did my stretch test. However I began to doubt its winter-cold weather applicability whilst serging. The finished garment tells me it’s a spring/summer/fall garment instead of the winter garment I desired.  I love the Jalie Eleanor and will continue to work at reducing the wrinkles. I’ve kept this garment but wonder if I’ll ever wear it because I’ll probably improve the fit before weather permits its wear.

As for the alterations, I need to think some more.


Knee Slide

I have two pants patterns that fit really well. My jean pattern TJ906 and my trouser pattern PP113.  I’ve been trying to slim the leg of PP113. It’s fine for a trouser. I don’t want a jegging. I just want a little less fabric floating over my back thigh and a narrower hem (16″ instead of 20″). When I try to slim the leg, I start getting the X wrinkles.  I’ve had several pants patterns that fit nicely as long as I was content with a 20-24″ hem circumference. So while I was hoping for success with PP113, I wasn’t surprised when the last pair that was slimmed by a mere 1/4″ starting showing the X wrinkles.

Recently there was discussion on SG about Jill Stearns Knock Knee Alteration. So I clicked the link (which I’ve now lost) and read with interest.  She uses the typical Knock Knee Alteration of slicing horizontally at the knee, moving the lower portion of the pattern towards the inseam and then truing  the seams. When truing, some fabric is added between crotch and knee along the inseams and the same amount is removed from the side seam. Sort of like this:

I’ve done this before. Lena at IconicPatterns has an excellent tutorial which I followed. I moved the leg 1/2″ as recommended.   It did nothing. If anything, the X wrinkles looked worse.  I discard the alteration as not the solution for me. Until Jill Stearns blog post discussed needing to more the leg a full 1.5″ for a particular customer. I thought, maybe I needed to slide the knee more than 1/2″.  So I did. I thought about making the move incrementally 1/2″ at a time but decided I wanted to see the full effect immediately.

I’m using a stretch twill. It has 40% stretch. It takes 30% before I can even see the twill moving.  I removed a 1/8″ tuck from the front and back when I made the black pants (stretch denim) shown above. . Oh and I’m making shorts. Shorts won’t show the full effect of the alteration, but there should be some indication.

I was just stunned when this fabric with more stretch than the previous, looked so much tighter across my bum. But I’m seeing a reduced amount of ease over the back thigh (yeah).


My side view shows the same tightness and angles toward the back  at my hip-joint but the reduced fullness over the thigh itself looks close to what I’m wanting.

It is the front view which blew my mind

As well as being too tight, there are wads of fabric between my legs. Uncomfortable wads.

I made three more alterations changing the side seams to the minimum possible (1/4″)  While offsetting the front and back inseam trying to remove the excess fabric between my front legs without effecting the back.

The nice thing about shorts, I’m usually working with remnants. After 3 alterations I could not add enough ease to erase the VPL and had only slightly reduced the frontal wads. I tossed it in the garbage. I’m not sure if I’m onto something because the back did look nicer or “barking up the wrong tree” because the front was so hideous. Also, I can’t ignore the fact that this fabric with more ease was tighter on my body than the previous. The lack of ease is itself causing issues.

Now here’s my problem, my knees don’t actually rotate inward or at least noticeably.  No one ever looks at me and says “you’re knock kneed”.  What I have is a pad of fat on the inner knee mostly situated towards the back.  It (the fat) does give an appearance of the thigh angling towards center front especially since my thighs never touch. Yes I have thigh gap at my weight. Thigh gap is not an indication of thinness. I keep trying different alterations because nowhere have I seen my exact issue.  I see something close and then attempt the correction that was made for them… and I document them all on this blog.  Just like today’s mistake.