902, template

Measuring TJ 902

originally published3/3/12


So now to put this new found information to work.  I have high hopes for TJ902 because TJ906 was such a roaring success.  Usually, designers and pattern cutters have a template that they use to create new designs. Or so I’ve been told.  I’ve been told that they draft once and alter forever.  If so, TJ902 should be very similar to TJ906.  Here’s the  differences I see just from the envelopes.  TJ906 is a designer jean and is distinctive from TJ902 (the new-to-me pattern) in several ways.  TJ902 is a classic trouser. TJ902 has a straight waistband and a slant side pocket.  It would appear to have more ease over all than the jean TJ906 and I would expect that. I mean don’t your good fitting jeans almost cling to your shape?  A trouser by definition has more built in ease.


I start comparing measurements not with TJ906 but with Burda 143.  143 is also a trouser pattern and as I noted in previous posts the measurements between all my favorite patterns are very close. I compare and subtract the differences front and back of those 10 length and circumference measurements.


Waistband:  TJ902  ends at the waist and uses a straight waistband.  Instead of tweaking a new waistband, I’m going to use the same straight waistband that I use for 143 and JSM pants.


Waist: I find that the back of TJ902 is 1″ narrower.  If I eliminate the dart the measurements work, so that’s what I’ll do.  The front is fine at the waist.


High Hip, Abdomen, Divot, and Hip:  There are various increases in ease in each of these areas which I’m not going to change.  As long as the measurements of 902 are larger than 143, I’m going to assume that additional ease has been added to achieve the design TJ wanted.   I will be basting these pants together and can subtract ease at the first try-on if I don’t feel it is flattering.


The Thigh has .75″ too much on front and is needs 1.25 inches on the back a net of .5″. I often note too much ease across the back thigh.  I’m going to leave this alone.  If needed I can steal some ease from the SA’s.


Knee is too small by 1″ in the front and .25″ in the back, net 1.25. I”ll need to add some ease here because it gets worse at the FatKnee


The FatKnee is  missing .75″ in front and 1″ in back net 1.75″.  At the knee I will 1/4″ to each side both front and back.  I’m adding a total of 2″ to the knee cylinder.  Yeah, what’s a knee cylinder?  The area from 1″ above to 2.5″ below my mid-knee. If I’ve added  too much, I can always slim the knee and pant down at the first try-on.


Ankle is OK. T this pattern seems to have added .5″ to the front and taken the same amount from the back. It’s something I want to be aware of, but won’t necessarily change this first time.


Crotch: Front crotch is right on but the back is .25″ longer.  I’m not going to change this for 2 reasons. 1) TJ902 is designed to sit at the waist and then have a straight waistband ending 1″ above the waist.  I may need that .25″.  If I don’t it’s a small amount that can easily be taken out at the first try on.  (2) The crotch curve is that beautiful deep Fish Hook shape that I think is best for me.  There is 3.5″ in the back extension which should be more than adequate.


Every time I see discussions or articles on ease, they’re always about circumference ease.  But I’m now looking at where the shaping hits me vertically and questioning the concept of lengthwise ease.  Is the shaping supposed to hit exactly on the lengthwise plane?  I mean consider these two shapes.


The straight line is like I measured downwards on the pattern to mark the various measurements (waist, high hip, etc). But the curve is more like my front looks like from the side.  I think that a tape measure curving over the center front of my body, like #2 would be longer than the straight line down the front of the pattern, like #1). Which has me asking: Is there such a thing as a lengthwise ease?  Am I measuring the circumferences on the pattern at the right distance from the waist?  It is most obvious at the :


Knee and Fat Knee because on the pattern the Knee is 27.25″ from the waist, Fat Knee is 29.25″ from the waist and I’ve noted on my body these landmarks occur at 21 and 23.5 inches respectively but that’s measuring straight down and not over the contours of my body.  For the time being, I’ve removed 2 inches in length from above the knee.  My reasoning is the trouser was designed for someone about 5’6″ . Since I’m 5’3″ and know from experience that 1 inch must be removed above the waist (for tops to fit), that means I still need to adapt for another 2″ in length.  Since the knee and fatknee are both well below (closer to 4″) the point they fall on my body, I’m going to assume that the length of my thigh bone is shorter than what designer use and that’s where I need to remove the remaining length.    We’ll know at the first fitting, because I will baste the line on the the pants.


I can foresee some changes to this method of altering a new pants pattern. Since it is so much math,  I want to create a worksheet to record the numbers and automatically calculate the differences.  I’m hoping to slim those circumferences -not through diet and exercise- but by determining the minimums I can comfortably wear or what they call wearing ease.  I’ve realized that I’m essentially copying the designers by discovering the well kept secret of the measurements used for their slopers i.e. reverse engineering. But I’m going take it one step further by creating a personalized template useless to anyone but me.


A Pants Fitting Template

originally published3/2/12


Oh sorry, this isn’t going to help you exactly as written.  You’ll need to read my previous post and think your way through your own issues.


What I think will be happening for me is a a template/check list  of items to review to be sure pants will fit.  It will be in this format

  • Symptom
    • Cause
      • Correction
        • How_to


  • Either my pants hurt at the waist and limit physical movment; or they creep upwards making the crotch uncomfortable and giving the appearance and feeling that the crotch is too short.
    • My waistline is 2 or more inches larger than the pattern is designed for.
      • My pants waistline must finish at 34″
        • Create separate straight and curved waistbands  which finish at the center front stitching lines a full 34″
  • On some pants the side-seams  form a curve starting at the high hip and traversing towards the back,  ending at the waistline
    • The back is not wide enough at the waistline
      • Measure the back at the waistline to ensure it measures 9.75 ”
        • either eliminate darts or slash and spread the pattern adding the necessary width
        • Check the front.  It may need more darting, deeper tucks or slash and overlaping to compensate for the back correction BUT often fixing the the back makes the waistline of the pants work with the waistband and my larger than standard waistline.
  • Often I experience a  pulling down in the center back and an extra bubble of fabric in the front. Sometimes these symptoms occur together; sometimes seperately
    • I have a tilted waistline. It is visible in a side view of myself in balerina-tights and when making a crotch measurement or diagram wherein the “special place” is marked.
      • ensure that the front crotch should measure 11″  and back crotch should measure 15.75
        • slash and spread or slash and overlap the amounts needed
  • I often experience a “bu!thole vortex”
    • I am nearly as deep as I am wide and extra length is needed in the back extension  (Take this into consideration with the previous Symptom)
      • Ensure the back has at least a 3″ extension

        • slash and spreading is a good technique, also consider a crotch gusset

  • Horizontal wrinkles on both front and back of my leg. Diagonal wrinkles occuring from knee to bu!t-cheek which no alteration to date (flat-bu!t, dropped bu!t, knock-knee) has cured.
    • I am 3″ shorter than the than the “average” figure for which the pattern cutters design. Therefore shaping often occurs at the wrong spot and all garments are too long
      • Remove the 3″ difference in increments through the length of the garments to bring the shaping up where it should be
        • Remove 1″ above the waist – moves up waistline and hip shaping  for tops
        • Remove ___” from above knee
        • Remove ___” from below the knee
    • Additionally my Knee area is a long cylinder starting 1.5″ above and ending 2.5″ below Mid Knee (may be cause of diagonal wrinkles) approximately the size of a can of beans. The average the cutters design for seems to be about 1.5-2″ more like a can of tuna.
      • The place to remove length must be selected so that 16″ of width is available between 21 and 24 inches (the knee cylinder) from the waist–my waist.
  • Sometimes I look like a big ant-hill.
    • I’m short and plump. Even without the plumpness, I possess the classic Pear Shape. Proportions are very important.
      • Limit hem circumferences to (note fabric characteristics definitely modulate this rule)
        • Boot cut 20″
        • Straight cut 18″
        • Tapered cut 16″

I do wish to admit that the measures specified above are subject to change. In fact, I could modify the whole dang list.  I’d really like to be able to make 2 adjustments and have pants fit–just like I do with tops. For years I made at least 4 alterations to every blouse or top–somtimes it was 6 or 7. Until I discovered the Narrow Shoulder adjustment.  Now, I make 2 adjustments to top: the back-waist length and narrow-shoulder adjustments.  I’m hoping that by carefully measuring and delibertly selecting alterations to pants, I can end up with a much smaller number of alterations.   That’s quite a laundry list of alterations for pants.  I’m truly hoping that I will discover the magic alteration that will make pants easy to fit.  I promise to share when I find it.

902, template

Trudy Jansen 902: Begin with Measurements

originally published3/1/12


I bought Turdy Jansen patterns 902 and 905 after having such a wonderful experience with TJ906; and then I let them languish.  In all honesty, I was really really happy with the Joyce Simmons Miller trouser fit (JSM);  my Burda 143’s (also a trouser draft but a bit slimmer) and of course the jean draft from TJ906.  I felt like I pretty much had pants covered.


I let these pattern languish but they crossed my mind when I started puzzling about the Why?  Why do pants fit?  Notice that is a positive:  why do pants fit when they do fit.  What makes pants fit?    I realized I was repeating over and over “I understand that top’s don’t fit me as drafted because my shoulder is 1″ shorter than the standard shoulder all pattern cutters use. But I don’t understand why pants don’t fit”.  I was repeating this over and over.  I was whining.  I was making myself a victim of the all important “Standard Measurements“. Then it occurred to be that I could do something to increase my understanding and quit being a victim.


Not by drafting my own pattern but by comparing my body measurements with the pattern measurements. I don’t  want to draft patterns. I don’t even like tracing patterns. I realized, if I wanted to make preprinted pants patterns fit, I needed more than just waist, hip and inseam measurements.  I decided to take these circumference and length-from-waist measurements:

  • Waist
  • High Hip
  • Abdomen (my abdomen pokes out below the high hip)
  • Divot (I have an inny curve on my side)
  • Hip
  • Rear (where it juts out)
  • Crotch
  • Thigh
  • MidKnee
  • FatKnee
  • Ankle
  • From Waist to ankle, over the rear (which I believe to be longer than side seams).


I took separate measurements of the front and back of each of these places.  I’ve long realized that my measurements cannot evenly be divided by two (i.e. front and back) and create a garment which fits me.  I say I took the measures but truth is, a partner is needed for accuracy.  My DH was happy to help.


It took me about 2 hours to carefully measure two nicely fitting patterns (143 and 906) and then compare with my body’s measurements.  I added the yoke and contour waistband measurements but subtracted for seam allowances. Then I traced and measured a new, previously unfit pattern the TJ902.  BTW, each of these patterns is designed for woven, non-stretch fabrics.


From this I realized that the patterns which fit had very similar measurements.  No no, I always thought the difference was in the crotch shape or depth. But while there might be a quarter inch difference, usually it was a quarter inch too much on the front and quarter of an inch less on back.  The crotch curves were not identical, but all had a deep J with a substantial back extension.  It was interesting that my crotch measures a total of 24.75 inches but the patterns I like all measured 26.75 inches and all have longer back crotches. Apparently, I like 2″ of ease and yes I definitely need the longer back crotch extension ergo the longer back crotch because I am almost as deep as I am wide.


I’m really not surprised by the previous observations. They’re pretty much as I expected.  It was the Thigh, Mid-Knee, Fat-Knee and ankle measurements that offered new insights.  I must explain the Fat-Knee reference. My knees do not turn inward in the manner that you would see in someone who is truly, physically knock-kneed. But I have a little pouch of fat on the inner knee. This little pouch is 2″ below and has the same circumference as the mid-knee.  In effect my leg measurement is the same from the top of the knee, through the mid-knee and 2″ below the mid-knee.  What’s interesting is that all the patterns  are at least 1/2″ smaller where my Fat Knee would go.  It seems that the standard is to taper the lower leg beginning just above the knee which is too soon for my leg. That’s true for a boot leg cut too even though it is quickly increased for the hem.


Because I’m 3″ shorter than the average figure, I believe that I need to remove 3″ length over all.  I remove 1″ above the waist, for tops. I’ve been shortening my pants a standard 2″ by removing 1″ above the knee and 1″ below the knee. The math works, but what this also does is to raise a narrower part of the leg-pattern before my leg itself narrows.  I’m wondering if this is contributing to the back of thigh diagonal wrinkles.  Wrinkles which seem to start at the knee and point to the middle of my cheeks.


I know the rule of thumb is that the wrinkles point to the problem. But which end is the pointing to the problem and which end is where the problem quits having an effect?  Do I need more for my rear (which sort of sticks out) or is it my knee? The measurements say there is plenty of ease over my rear even where it sticks out; and across my thighs. But the measurements say there isn’t enough ease across my fat-knee.  Typically, where there is a lack of ease, the garment tries to creep-up the body until there enough ease can be stolen.  Is that what’s happening here?  There’s not enough ease for my fat-knee and so the bottom of the leg is is creeping upward to provide more ease but also wrinkling across the back thigh because it can’t push further up?




Warning:  Many SO’s think taking measurements is your way of spicing up the relationship.  You may want to dress accordingly.


TJ 906 #3, for Winter Wear

originally published 2/14/12


I knew this denim was non-stretch.  I knew it was on the heavy side.  I mean, you can buy heavier and stiffer denim, but this dark wash denim is a terrific weight for winter wear.  It’s so dark a blue, it’s almost black.  I expect to wear it for quite some time.

I always like to see the pictures of how I would look in the grocery line.  These are OK.  But I want  you to see how really OK they are.  Here is the back, considerably lightened:


I’m always criticising my pants.  Here the pant looks the right length, but has too much ease in the back thigh.  I could remove some of that, especially since TJ906 has the center back seam. I may do that in future versions, but I wanted these to be very RTW and I top stitched nearly every seam.  I used a matching thread so maybe you can’t see it.  But I know all those d@mn stitches are there and I’m not taking them out.


I want you to see the really lightened front too.



I locked my knees, a bad habit of mine. But does it look like the center front is dipping down slightly?  I don’t normally see that.  I’m wondering if it’s the 5 Holiday pounds, constipation, or a glitch I hadn’t noticed before?


I wish I’d taken better pictures of the back pockets:

It is machine embroidery, but a slightly different style than I usually choose. This was designed for a pocket top and consists of a row of scallops connected to a satin stitch flower.  I’m also experiments with the placement of my pockets, but I keep returning to  aligned with the yoke or center back seam.


TJ906 #2

originally published 2/13/12


These are the jeans from that nasty fabric I talked about yesterday:

I’m beginning to wonder about something.  I’m 3″ shorter than the standard for which patterns are drafted. I need to take out 1″ above the waist. That helps blouses fit me correctly.  In pants, I need t remove 2″ in length. Total of 3 inches. The math works.  If the pants are straight leg trousers. I lop 2″ off at the hem. But if there’s any shape to the leg, like in jeans and slacks, I remove 1″ above the knee and 1 below.  I’m beginning to wonder if I should remove 1.5 or both inches from above the knee:


These are not the diagonal lines I usually complain about. If you analyze the photo you’ll see too much ease in the back leg and too much hem on the floor. These pants are too long. But wouldn’t  it make sense to take out the extra length where the wrinkles are forming? Above the knee?


However the real issue with these pants is 5 extra pounds from the Holidays + using a size too small cannot be compensated for with 8% Lycra:


It doesn’t help that these pictures were taken while being constipated for a week either.


I wonder, sometimes, do I have size 6 legs, size 14 but! and size 16 belly? That would make for interesting alterations.


The good news is that this is a summer weight fabric and these are summer colors. I meant to wear these jeans late spring, summer and early fall. It’s possible I may lose the 5 pounds before I want to wear them. I do have a few slimmers that might help… or not


The other good news is that this is cheap Walmart fabric.  Really should have been used as muslins instead of wearable garments.


I won’t be wearing this T-shirt. I don’t like the 2 colors together.  I might wear the vest. The vest is heavily interfaced, fully lined and the fashion fabric is hefty as well. I doubt I would wear this exact vest during the summer.


So how’d it fit?

originally published2/8/12


After all the discussions I’m sure what you really want to know is “How’d V7973 fit with the fish hook crotch?”


The answer is: Not that good.


I had expected the pant to be too big all over.  I compared this pattern with my JSM pant pattern before tracing.  I traced a size larger than normal because I wanted room to to tweak the fit.


V7973 has  a  camel toe issue:


is obviously too tight:

See the pantie line?

and hints of the dreaded diagonal wrinkles

No Uni-butt here.




But was a valuable sewing lesson.


First I paid no attention to the waist.  I compared with the JSM and assumed that this pattern would be similar. V7973 contained 4 extra darts and was designed for a waist 4″ smaller than I am.  I wasn’t thinking too well.  I know that I need to fit the waistline first before I attempt any other adjustments.   After the head-slapping moment, I realized I have the beginnings of a check list.



  • must finish to 34″ or the desired position on my body.

Length:  remove 2 inches from length

  • remove 1 inch  above the knee
  • remove 1 inch below the knee


  • 29.5 total inches 13 in front 16.5 in the back.
  • back needs to be lower than front i.e. fish hook configuration.


  • no wider that 20″
  • no narrower than__


This template is in it’s infancy IOW I expect to make a lot of changes/additions to the list.  Wish pants could be as easy to fit as tops, but that’s not to be.


Note: when I’m ready to make this style of pants, I actually plan to trace the upper portion onto my TNT pattern.  That’s a much faster and surer method of developing a nice fitting pant for me.  My purpose in working through this muslin was to see if the fish hook crotch was the magic fix. Nope. Not at all.  The drafting of pants need several other characteristics to even come close to fitting.


Vogue 7973: Testing a pants fitting theory

originally published2/7/12


I simply had to know how effective the fish hook crotch is for my body.


I chose to test it on Vogue 7973,



you know the pattern with the funny shallow back crotch curve.


I like this pattern for several reasons It has the same styling as a favored pair of work pants, when I worked.  Mine were constructed of cotton with just 1 or 2% Lycra. Just enough for comforts sake but also that small amount of Lycra has a wonderful effect on wrinkles providing that the pants fit well to start with. To help with the fitting, the pants have 8 darts: 4 in the front 4 in the back. The waist ends just below my natural waist. The sides appear slightly curved.  On my favored pants the pattern facing was replaced by a 2″ wide elastic band. Both this pattern and my pants are/were designed with a back zipper, slim legs and no pockets. I wore my pants week after week, month after month until they were embarassingly shabby.  I looked and looked but until now did not find another exact RTW pair or this close of a pattern match.  I’m pleased to have found this pattern. These were flattering as well as comfortable pants and I will be glad to have more in my closet.


For this muslin, I moved the zipper to the front. After all, I can usually fit the pants front easily. It is the back which eludes me. I cut one size larger than usual and removed 2 inches from the length of the leg: 1 inch above the knee and 1 inch below the knee. As I do not have full thighs or calves,  I trued the cutting line towards the narrower side.   I added the fish hook crotch by aligning the fish hook with the pattern waist and crotch. I think it is important to note that the back crotch was already an inch longer than the front crotch.


Someone has finally realized that the average woman needs more in the rear than the front. Another consider I have but didn’t make any adjustments for,  is the longer front crotch extension on the pattern. My front crotches are usually rather short maybe an inch or so. This looks to be about 3 inches long. I notice that adding the fish hook crotch loses me some width across the back and some volume where the fish hook trims into the crotch extension but it definitely elongates the entire back crotch which seemed to be drafted 1″ longer than the front.



The Green line is fish hook; Black the original crotch; Red a mistake.

I am using an older polyester fabric. In its day it was valuable for professional garments. This particular piece while in a nice light color, has flaws which I didn’t bother to cut around. I did check for grain alignment and I also kept directional alignment i.e. the waist was always at the top of the fabric.  This requires more fabric meaning I have a largish useless piece left over. I was not worried about nap.  I plan to wear these no more than twice,,, at home.  But I kept the directional alignment because I’ve seen odd results other than changes in color due to nap.  I’ve had pants legs that twisted, even though they were cut on grain; ruching like ripples along side seams and other odd drag lines.  These things were solved by recutting honoring directional alignment.  I don’t wish to even have to consider such issues.  Really, I don’t want any other results than: does copying the fish hook crotch solve my under-butt/back leg wrinkles while providing sufficient depth and width on the back crotch?  I may in the future muslin these pants without the fish hook crotch just to see what happens if I use that odd shallow back crotch curve.


I cut the fabric, marked darts and notches and then serged all the edges.  I’m really not sure how much handling this muslin will receive. But I do know how difficult it can be to work with a shredding seam. Immediate serging, even on a muslin, takes 5 minutes and eliminates potential headaches. I stitched all the pieces with my HV Ruby’s basting stitch.  I love how this long stitch just zooms through the process actually greatly reducing the time needed; and when necessary is easily removed. But those seams looks pretty ugly. I can see wide gaps, at least 3/8″ between one stitch and the next.  You know, basting might have an interesting decorative application.


I made one big change in my stitching process. Usually I stitch the inseam from hem to knee on a one to one basis. Then I ease the inseam from the knee to about 1/2″ below the crotch points.  I’ve had problems in the past with some fabrics which refused to ease between the given notches but easily fit between knee and crotch point.  I’ve begun to wonder if my laziness here contributes to the wrinkling which occurs on the inseam beginning at the knee and extending upwards.


Could this wrinkling result from incorrectly easing?

I do want that all to ease together i.e. I don’t want to snip off even 1/8″ from either front or back inseam. So I did some pretesting and settled upon easing between the crotch point and 6″ down.  Each fabric may need the same pretesting. But look we’re not talking about a huge amount of time.  Just a few pinch and pulls after pinning from hem to 4″ above the knee.


During pressing, I notice that the sides are quite curvy.  I had to put the pressing hem under the side seams to press properly.  So I think that what I’m seeing as a slight curve in the pattern side is much more.  This is a concern because, I’m pretty straight on my side and then suddenly dip in at the top of the hip bone. Darts are my friend. I often increase the depth of the darts and add a second or third short dart to control volume at the waist.  I made no changes, but I do wonder how this effects the fit.  I remember that my TJ906 has straight sides, but the center back leg seams are very curvy. TJ906 situated the curve where my curve is.  I believe that the curve which TJ906 has in the center back leg has been moved/referred to the side seam in Vogue 7973 because it simply isn’t possible to put the curve in the middle of the one piece back but a curve is definitely needed for most, including my own, backsides.


Contemplating Pants Fitting: The Questions

originally published 2/6/12


So here are my questions

Are all my pant-fitting problems solved because of the fish hook curve? If so why? I need a narrow should alteratons because the Industry drafts a 5 inch shoulder when I have only 4 inches up there. It’s infallible. Outside of a string, I need to narrow the shoulder. What is the specific cause that I need the fish hook curve?


Does the 2 piece pant back provide fitting assistance?


Is there something else included in the draft which I’m not seeing, but also contributes to the terrific fit I get from TJ906?


Is it the combination of my two alterations (crotch length and extension length) creating the problems with the common J crotch.


What can I do to understand what is happening with both my alterations and the fish hook crotch curve?



I’ve already done a lot of experimenting.


And I did find at least one cause and effect: pants are drafted for the 5’6″ person.  I’m 3″ shorter.  I take 1 inch out above my waist.  That’s enough for blouses and tops. For fuller pants I take 2″ out of the leg just about anywhere.  But if the pant is more fitted, I take 1″ out above the knee and 1″ out below the knee.  This makes the legs the right length.  But maybe I need to remove more above the knee??


I do find that scooping the crotch differently changes the fit. In some patterns I scooped the bottom of the crotch, the shallow curve. If the pant was already constructed, the scooped also traversed into the front crotch. I’ve found that I can scoop the back of the crotch which eliminates the need to slash and spread the bottom of the crotch curve, but it does mean I need to add additional width at the sides.


I worked a little bit with SewRusty’s “Clown Butt Alteration” it has promise which I didn’t follow up on at the time. Maybe I need to return to the idea of dropping the crotch down an inch instead of adding a slash which then affects the side shaping, the crotch slope and adds more volume to the pant.


In my first versions of Jalie 2908 (the wonderful stretch jean), I did not get all the notches correctly marked.  This resulted in adding about 3/8″ to the side seam.  I corrected this in later versions, but get this, those first versions had a little extra butt room because that 3/8″ was eased into the side seam. I in fact added a horizontal dart right about cheek level, just where those of us who have butts need a little more ease. Oddly, I did not have to increase the crotch length in those first versions, but in later versions added about 1/4″ (Lycra can perform miracles).  I think my experience jives with SewRusty in that those of us with bigger buts need more length down those cheeks.


I add to my 2012 Goals drafting a pant pattern from scratch. I was hoping that would help me understand how the measurements and proportions work. But the drafting instructions I have, I’m pretty sure will give me a basic J shaped crotch that still needs to be altered. I’m not sure making the same old alterations to a newly drawn classic pant helps at all.



So I’m beginning the Pants Fitting Quest in 2012. I’m examining what I’ve experienced and trying to turn it into cause and effect relations. Something concrete so I can look at any pattern and say that will work if I… Like I do with blouses. This blouse will work if I shorten the back waist length and narrow the shoulder to equal my own. I will be concentrating on non-stretch fabrics. Stretch is a whole different wrinkle.


Contemplating Pants Fitting: Crotch Shapes

originally published 2/4/12


I also need to review and contemplate the various crotch curves used in the pattern making industry. My reviews may not do anything for you other than expose how little I know. But I need to do these reviews. I need to think back over the past 4 years as to what I’ve done; what I’ve read; what I’ve learned.  The Fashion Incubator has a number of informative posts on the draft of pants and how that affects the fit. I should go and re-read them because mostly I remember about the problems of Camel Toe and how it is being created.  Camel Toe is not one of my problems. Once I realized I needed to shorten the length of the front crotch, my front pattern issues were solved.  My issues are with the back.  I need to understand the various back crotch curves and what my alterations do to each.


I think the most common crotch is the J (or mirrored J depending on which side you are looking at). Typically the back crotch has a wider extension that the front but put the two together and the complete crotch looks like a U. The point is there is a fairly upright crotch which ends in a shallow curve.  This curve fits and works for a number of bodies. A few more need either to add to the length of the center back or they need to extend the shallow curve a little bit longer.  I need to do both with substantial amounts.  I’ve had patterns where I extended the shallow curve 3 FULL INCHES.  I have nearly as much depth as I do width. I am a classic pear. Burda does a nice version of the J curve.  Not all, but several of the Burda pant patterns fit me perfectly.


The next one I hear much about is the L crotch.  The center back is pretty upright and the extension is very straight. There is a little curve where the two straight lines meet but I think that’s just to make it easier to cut. This crotch sent thrills through the sewing world as a large group of women realized it was exactly what they needed.  The L crotch did seem to be more successful in stretch fabrics.  It was not adopted by the Big 4 but used mostly in independent pattern lines.   I’ve never tried it. Meant too but just never bought a pattern with this particular crotch:

I’ve got a patten now that I want to make but hesitate.  The Vogue 8757 back crotch is quite similar to a shallow C.  Let me show it and then continue my thoughts:

I can’t imagine this fitting me.   I need a crotch extension big enough for me to sit on and I am, as written earlier, nearly as deep as I am wide.  A little curve like this would have to struggle to accommodate the depth of my figure.


The crotch that fits me the best, I’m calling a Fish Hook:


This is from Trudy Jansen’s Designer Jean pattern 906.  It has 2 pieces to the back leg. This piece is the center back to inseam pattern.  The crotch is fairly upright, like the others, but it dips down and underneath the top of the inseam, then rises back up to meet the inseam point which would then be joined to the front.  Look at it carefully.  This is a deep curve where the J is shallow and the L practically non-existent. I’ve never had a failure with this pattern. I’ve used denim, stretch-denim, cotton twill, cotton/Lycra twill and plain weave, corduroy, stretch corduroy.  I’ve made shorts, slim legs and nearly bell but at least boot cut jeans. I’ve used this pattern in 2 sizes for 3 years. It never fails me.  OK with a few pairs I have scooped out the bottom a little more.  I looked carefully at my well used pattern and realized that I did add a 1/4″ back wedge.  And just saying, that while pants are often tilted (direction of the grain is modified) depending upon the cut (trouser, slack, jean), this pattern is cut straight on grain like you see it here.


Contemplating Fitting Pants: My Alterations

originally published 2/3/12


It’s the once and forever quest, except this year I promised myself to try and understand why pants fit the way they do.  I need to start with some review.


Forever and ever it seems as though I had 2 complaints about pants.

  1. Some, but not all, did not come all the way up in the center back.
  2. Some, but not all, had this extra bubble in front.

I know I was not alone in these problems.  Well meaning individuals even told me “that’s the way some pants fit”.  I didn’t understand why some had to fit that way and some did not.  RTW got better, for me at least.  I seem to be part of a large demographic which suffered both those issues because as years went by I had less problems with RTW being too long in the front crotch and too short in the back crotch. RTW fixed itself. Pattern companies did not.  So for many years I folded out 1″ across the front crotch and added it to the back crotch. I never have problems with the front crotch beyond being sure that it is the correct length, so I will not make many references to the front pant pattern.  The back pant pattern is my greatest concern. (Schematic shows knee to waist)


So for many years I lengthened the back of my pattern piece using the standard recommended method of slashing across the pattern piece, starting on the center back about 2 inches above the crotch hook/extension and almost all the way to the other side.  I would then spread the slash apart, usually about 1″.  The resulting piece looked similar to this:

This one alteration made me happy with the fit and feel of my pants until a few years ago when I started taking pictures of my sewing creations and posting them on the Internet.  To my horror, I discovered that  every one of my pants had what I called a butt vortex.  I can’t find a picture on me but just imagine my pants being sucked into my an_l or_fice in kind of a swirling fashion.


Not attractive on a woman’s par of jeans.  Even the best of my pants, including all the RTW, at least dipped sharply into this area. This did not separate the booties and create a curvy rear end. Nope, I had a uni_but! with a vortex. This too has a standard recommended fix. Slash the pattern vertically about an inch from the tip of the crotch extension and spread the slash the needed amount:


This does fix any discomfort, but often causes another problem, that of diagonal wrinkles from knee to butt:


This last issues keeps me trying new patterns and new ideas for fitting pants. It simply goes away with certain patterns and most fabrics.  The question to me is why? Why does it occur at all? I want to say right now, that I am not knock-kneed.  That is a physical condition in which the knees turn inwards.  My knees are straight but I do accumulate a little fat around the inner knee that could be creating the same effect. Except, it doesn’t happen all the time.  Clearly the wrinkles are here in this medium weight, cotton/Lycra twill. Same pattern but a slightly lighter (still medium weight) and not twill but plain weave in chocolate brown does not have these wrinkles. Why?


Certainly, the fabric is a big factor and some fabric may simply not be good for use in the pant styles I want to wear. But I’m examining pattern pieces now. I’m looking to see why and which pattern pieces cause the issues. I’ll also say that the pant side seams are never eased. The inseams are eased from about the knee to the crotch. More or less easing could certainly have an effect. Back to the my standard alterations, I note that the pattern piece is distorted.  I never really realized, I should have but I didn’t,  that when adding edges I’m also adding to the interior volume. In this picture the original pant shape is placed on top and the colored area behind shows the volume added.


Let me try again with the altered pattern piece alone, but with the volumes added in a different color:

Do look between the two pics.  Note that the angle of the back crotch and the back extension has changed.  This new pattern piece has much more of a ski-slope shape for the center back.  The crotch extension originally possessed a mirrored J shape now it’s more of a downward slope. Also the side seam which was slightly curved inward has now juted to the outside effectively removing the dart that was at the side seam. However, the dart should now be included in the ski-slope center back. The width of the pant at the waist has not increased.


I  wonder but cannot at this time prove, is the volume being added settling beneath the rear as a result of gravity; stopping and being held above the close fitting knee. I do note that fuller pants and shorts rarely indicate these knee-to-thigh wrinkles. Even tighter pants will sometimes have a complete X, with the X centered over the knee. But again NOT ALL pants patterns will do this and sometimes these wrinkles only happen with certain fabrics. I mean I can take the same pattern, cut two pairs of pants from two different fabrics. One pair of pants will be perfect.  The other will have the wrinkles.  Obviously the fabric is having an effect.