A Perspective Ephiphany

originally published4/28/12


I had an epiphany while I was purging patterns and moving my blog.  I realized that I’ve gotten hung up on THE DESIGNER telling me not to change their crotch shape.  If I was fitting a blouse; and if I had a big hunchback; do you supposed the designer would say “don’t change the back. It’s drafted to fit everybody. ” ?  I’m 3″ shorter than the standard that garments are designed for.  Is there a designer out there that will say “don’t change the length of my <nnn>. It’s drafted perfectly for everybody. If it drags the ground it’s because you tampered with my pattern.”?  I have a tilted waist.  Most designer patterns come with instructions for how to adjust the pant pattern for this physical difference.  The same alteration is in nearly all pants fitting books. One more question for those of you with one hip higher than the other: does the designer ever say “don’t adjust my hip curve.  It fits everybody exactly as drawn.” ?

If there is  a clear difference between your anatomy and the standard for which patterns are drafted, the designers expect you to know what it is and what to do.  I used to know a woman with a substantial dowagers hump.  We attended Bernina Club together.  The designers would look at her and say “…and you know what you have to do. Don’t you?”  They expected her to already know what she needed in order to fit their design to her back and there was never a question that she would do it or a suggestion that she shouldn’t.

That’s the same with every physical anomaly, except for the pants crotch. It seems to me that designers and fitting experts all insist that the crotch shape as they’ve drafted should never be changed. Their crotch shape, whatever it is, will fit every body.   I’ve heard that whether the crotch shape was a deep U or  a simple split in the fabric (Oh yes. See Pattern Free Fashions by Mary Lee Trees Cole). Considering the range of physical shapes and the differences in how people want their clothes to fit, any such advice is nonsense.

It becomes a problem for me because I keep believing them.  I stop fitting pants because THE DESIGNER says “don’t touch the crotch”.   I really want to believe them.  I really want to believe that I can eliminate all the wrinkles by adapting the waistband and crotch depth (either front, back, or both).  I want to believe pants fitting can be so simple.  And so I stop and am not satisfied with the pants.  I seldom get the wonderful fit that others are so ecstatic about. When I have achieved perfect fit, it’s because someone on the side lines has been encouraging me to make a few simple adjustments to the crotch shape.

My epiphany was realizing  they can’t see that my butt is shaped differently. Heck I can hardly tell it.  I think, other than being generously sized, my butt’s not much different than anybody else’s. Yet I know the only pants patterns that have fit me perfectly and were comfortable to wear, were from the patterns on which I added 1/4″ to the back crotch extension and scooped out 1/4″ from the deepest part of the curve.

So what am I going to do with my epiphany? For the most part my JSM pattern is perfect for trousers and TJ906 excellent for my jeans.  My plan for pants is to use either of these 2 patterns in a sandwich draft to adapt new patterns to my shape.

Oh I BTW I broke my tailbone over 10 years ago.  I slipped on the stairs and fell on that bone instead of my head. So it could have been worse.  Do you know what they do for a broke tailbone?  Well then they took a picture, confirmed it was broke and charge me $85 for a 75 cent inflatable donut.  I was to sit on the donut until my tail bone didn’t hurt. Maybe I have a hunchback on the other end.


Scooping the Crotch

originally published4/17/12


I want to make this post because we often discuss the problems of fitting pants.  OK, I OFTEN discuss this problem.  I admit, I’m difficult to fit made even more difficult because I’m not willing to accept “good and enough”.  But I also want to make this post because despite the many excellent volumes published out there,  there are 2 pants fitting solutions which are often ignored and at times severely denigrated.


I do believe that you should investigate all the other fitting suggestions first.  The generic advice is that vertical wrinkles indicate too much ease and horizontal wrinkles not enough. While that guidance will solve most issues, eventually, with time and age, you’re likely to be confronted with at least one of the two issues:


First is a flat butt.  Sometimes I think our rears are like pneumatic tires and we sit on them so much that they eventually go flat.  In the grocery line, you clearly see this on the very elderly: bunches of saggy wrinkles almost like a shallow U on the backside under the rear. There is clearly too much ease, but nothing you do seems to remove it all. You need a Flat Seat Alteration.  I’m not going to show that here, because AnnR has already posted an excellent explanation. Go see Ann’s Pearls of Wisdom at Stitchers Guild or go directly to her Flickr Pics.


This is not the solution for me.  When I tried this FSA, I didn’t have enough ease across my rear and still had the wrinkles. For me the solution is called Scooping.  It’s a hushed word said amongst the common folks and despised by the experts.  I first heard of it from my sewing angel and I’ve seen only 1 expert explain why and support using this simple technique. All the others will tell you never, ever scoop or alter the crotch shape.  First here’s what happens to me with nearly every pair of pants either purchased or sewn:



Many times it’s worse on me but this is a pretty clear example. See the diagonal lines forming from knee to hip?  You can grab all kinds of excess fabric and you’d think, remove  the ease. But if ease is removed, the pant will  be too small. A FSA centered of the thigh just produces more wrinkles.


The one expert I referred to earlier is Shirley Adams of the now defunct Sewing Connection series.  I have all the books from her series. Book #7 gives clear, succinct pants fitting advice. She says diagonal wrinkles are “set” issues. IOW, the curve/shape of the seam is not matching the body’s natural curves. If you ever get a chance to read the booklet,  it’s pages 18 through 22 with the diagonal wrinkles on page 21. The solution is seldom buying another pattern. I’ve bought many patterns and only 2 fit consistently well .  The correction is not drafting your own pattern.  I’ve done that too.  The problem is that my seat, while still being perky, is set lower on my body.  The solution is scooping the crotch.  Think of scooping ice cream out of it’s container. You’re kind of taking a little scoop starting with a sliver and deepening into the center of the container and then taking less and less until you end with just a sliver.  I want to credit Ms Adams with the solution and explanation without violating any copyrights.  I’ve drawn my sketch which admittedly is not as clear as the book:


You’ll have to read and then look back at the pic.  The black lines would be the default pattern. This particular crotch was pretty shallow, deliberately so that I can better illustrate scooping. There are 3 shallow arcs in purple on the inside of the pant by the crotch.  The first time you scoop, you want to trim out about 1/4″ in depth.  You can’t just stitch the line as drawn and produce the desired effect.  *You must actually stitch and then trim out the scoop.  Try on the pants.*  Repeat *.* With each scoop you’ll see that the diagonal lines start disappearing and the crotch creep goes away too.  Generally I find that I need to scoop out about 3/8″ and add a little to the length of the crotch.  But I’m really happy with the results:



The crotch follows my backside suggesting two cheeks without either outlining them or the any other part of my anatomy.  The back of the legs still has a bit of ease. These are trousers not jeans. They should have a little ease.


And that’s my version of scooping.  I reserve the right to change these directions anytime I think I can make them better. I will keep the Scooping tag available.