Thursday, June 12, 2014

6 Tips for Well Fitting Pants

courtesy: White Pants by Clio from

How many pair of pants do you own that just don’t fit right?  If you are anything like me - lots! Every year I buy another set of pants in the same basic colors. Some fit pretty well but only a few fit the way I want them to. Sound familiar?  Pants are relatively easy to make, construction wise that is. But, its quite another story when it comes to fitting them.

Making a pair of pants requires patience and a willingness to work through perhaps several attempts before you get the fit just right. The key is getting the crotch or rise to fit properly so they are both comfortable to wear and hang straight off the body. Since pants are generally designed to fit snugly and should conform to our individual silhouettes, its easy to see that a commercial pattern simply can’t address everyone’s issues. So, many fittings and adjustments are typically in order, even on the most slender figure. But, once you get the fit right you have a template for many pair of pants that can be made into many different styles and lengths.  

The real work is done before the first pattern piece of the fashion fabric is cut. Measuring, adjusting patterns and trying on either muslin makeups or pinned patterns, sometimes several times, is all part of the process, but all worth it. I am in the middle of teaching a class on making pants. My students so far have done all the appropriate measuring and adjusting and have completed their muslins. If I have taught them well and they have done the prep work well, they will have a pair of pants made perfect for them. 

When it comes to making pants, here are 6 helpful tips to keep in mind that will steer you towards the a pair of well fitting pants:


1.  Start with a basic pattern. If this is the first time making a pair of pants for yourself, don’t go too fancy or intricate with the design. Use a basic styled pant like the Butterick one pictured. Once the rise and fit around the waist, hips and buttocks are right you have a pattern that can serve as a template for so many more pairs of pants, fancy or otherwise.
2. Take the right measurements. But more importantly, be sure to do the measurements correctly and accurately. Measurements can sometimes be an elusive endeavor. You never get the same measurement every time. Using the right tools and some simple aids can help. Tie a piece of string or narrow elastic around your waist. This ensures length measurements are consistent and always start from the same point. When identifying hip points or the high hip placement, pin the spot, once again to ensure consistent measurement.  Use a good measuring tape and don’t cheat! You are what you are. Also, when measuring crotch depth, sit on a flat surface such as a table and not a chair with cushions or curve at the seat. Then use an L-square ruler to measure the depth, which is much more accurate than a measuring tape. 

3. Measure the pattern. This determines where and how much needs to be added or subtracted to match your body measurements plus ease. This forms the basis by which the patterns will be adjusted.

4. Do tissue fittings for simple pants, like pj pants. A muslin, however, is best for fitted pants and can address all the fine points of your fitting issues.  Depending on your body challenges, you may have to prepare more than one, but the result is a pair of pants that fit you perfectly.

5. Study the fit of the muslin carefully and thoroughly. Be extra critical of the muslin fit. Every drag line or fold means something is not right and needs adjusting. Pinch and fold till the pants hang straight from the crotch and there is no pulling at the knees or thighs.

6. The muslin can be the final pattern.  Once the muslin fitting is finished, either use it as the pattern for the making the pants, or be sure to carefully transfer all the alterations to the original pattern. 


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