My sewing friends out there, I’m about to get all fitting saga on you. And it’s about pants. I know. It’s a really really really long post about pants. You’ve been warned. I kind of wish this were about the British use of the term pants, it would probably be more fun.
Alternate post titles? How about “Fitting pants is a bitch”. Or maybe “A tale of misguided adjustments”. Or “I will get these pants right if it kills me”. Or “please please please I just want cigarette pants”. You can see where this one is going, I’m sure.
I’ve been in what feels like (but isn’t quite) an endless cycle of pants fitting. I’ve been trying to fix the wrinkles and bagginess behind the thighs of my Butterick B5895 trousers. Cute retro capris that I turned into cigarette pants of sorts here and here. I originally sewed them in a red stretch twill (a size 8 waist and legs, graded to 10 at hips), and then wanting to try them in a non-stretch fabric, did a series of four muslins to try and get the fit right and the bagginess behind the thighs gone (using as my starting point a size 10 waist and grading to 12 at hips). Behold, a reminder of said baggy fabric behind my thighs:
It was at this point that I was focusing on something I had read: the wrinkles and bagginess could be a result of needing a flat butt adjustment. Never mind the fact that one of my readers pointed out she didn’t think I actually had a flat butt, or the fact that as I progressed with all these muslins, I began to doubt I did, too. Look at your can and your side view enough times and you start to really know what you’re looking at. And mine really didn’t seem that flat, though it’s admittedly hard to say for sure since high waistlines do lend themselves to making your back side look a bit flat. But that’s the adjustment area I was focused on, probably because I read about it first, and thought surely this must be the ticket to success. Spoiler alert: it hasn’t been.
While I was on this possibly-misplaced flat butt adjustment hunt, in those muslins I tried a fish eye dart unsuccessfully (Ann Rowley shows how here). And I tried a Sandra Betzina technique from her Craftsy Pants Fitting Techniques class, where you essentially take a 1/2″ wedge out under the thigh from inseam tapering to nothing at the side seam, then stretch the back inseam to fit the front in the first several inches. Ultimately I decided the results of both were basically the same: no tangible difference.
However, I did get all the rest of the fit pretty good by muslin #4 so that’s the one I used to sew my navy gabardine pair and forest green corduroy pair (not re-photographed in this post since they’ve bagged way out and are in the laundry) both non-stretch fabrics. (Though after wearing tboth, I realized the waist still needed to be at least an inch smaller, but that’s a more minor fitting issue.) But the back thigh bagginess and wrinkles were still present. I was mostly okay with it in these versions as they’re not stretchy, so I need to be able to move and bend. (And I appear to have put on early holiday pounds so the gabardine ones are now my “honest pants”, pointing that fact out with their absolutely zero ease in the hips and butt now, but hey, those wrinkles are still there behind my thighs, whoopee.)
Pair #1 in red stretch twill (with back zip, and probably a bit bagged out and in need of washing admittedly) with 8 waist, 10 hip, next to Pair #3, in gabardine (with side zip), with 10 waist, 12 hip:
I really would like to nail down the fit for a stretch version, so I can lounge around, like a (probably more comfortable) 1950s film star. I’d also love to nail it down for non-stretch, but if I can figure it out for one hopefully I can for the other.
So recently, I thought I’d try some more tweaks to work that out as I’ve had a hankering for more of these pants. Let me say at this point I felt like about the only thing I hadn’t tried that I knew about was the technique in Pants for Real People. I love Palmer/Pletsch books, but usually more for the sewing than fitting advice. I don’t tissue fit, and sometimes it’s nearly impossible to do their suggestions without a) tissue fitting and/or b) another sewing-knowledgeable person to help. So their suggestion of pull up the waistband until the wrinkles go away (which incidentally, doesn’t always work for me to make them go away), then let out the crotch seam because now it’s going to be too tight, then take a vertical tuck out the entire length, add back at the waist if that’s now too small, etc, etc…. that isn’t going to happen.
Anyway, I did muslin #5 in an ugly pale green stretch twill that was a bit heavier in weight than the red of my first pair. It was kind of a franken-blended version of sizes. I spent hours doing what in hindsight looks like very little when I compare them to my #4 version pattern pieces. But I was thinking I should give myself a little more room for a stretch fabric than the smaller sized red pair, which is why I didn’t just use the 8 waist/10 hip pieces for my red pair. In the end, it feels like those ones have too deep of a crotch (especially in the front, which sorry I forgot to photograph), and I’m not sure if it’s due to the fabric type or the fact that I tried out a flat fell crotch seam for fun, which is a bit stiffer (since the crotch depth is basically the same as my non-stretch version). I also noticed a gap in the waistband at the back (more on that in a minute).
Gah, they’re like ugly wrinkled cigarette pants meet hospital scrubs. In fairness, I never wear light bottoms (even the red ones were a big step), so I know that’s part of why I kinda hate these. They just do me no favors whatsoever. But anyway, here they are:
Really not any better, and I think honetly worse due to my frankenblending.
For the next muslin, #6, in the leftovers of that same twill, I cut a straight size 10 (so a little smaller), and used a Kenneth King tip I’d recently found for getting rid of bunching under the butt, where you pinch out a wedge until the wrinkles disappear, then transfer the height of that to your pattern piece, fold it out, and then add the length back at the hem. Which I felt was questionable as to how that would actually help (although he said it’s kind of magic and changes the relationship of the back to the front, which does make sense). Guess what: it didn’t help.
I didn’t install the zipper, so you’ll have to make do with my awkwardly holding them closed and too high on one side. Sorry, I’d about had it trying these on for the thousandth time at this point.
At this point, I started to think it was because I didn’t really have a “baggy seat”, the area is below my butt and behind my thighs, although this is confusing since some online discussions show pictures that look similar to mine with them being resolved with these flat butt adjustments. But this was somewhat of a lightbulb “hey guess what, my ass isn’t flat” moment, though. So I was possibly trying something that was meant to resolve an issue I wasn’t really having!
Now you might be screaming to tell me to try on a pair of RTW pants that fit similarly and compare, and to that I say: I don’t have one. All my RTW pants are less fitted, and the couple of exceptions exhibit the baggy back of thigh issue too. Except one pair that doesn’t, and it’s only because the legs are tight enough my thighs take up all the room, so there’s no fabric to be baggy. And I don’t want these pants that tight.
But joy, back to muslins. After 6 total muslins and 3 full pairs of pants working on the Butterick pattern, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Let’s try a different pattern, shall we! So I downloaded the Ultimate Trousers pattern from Sew Over It. I did a muslin and it was way too small to zip up, but the back of the thighs, though too tight, looked better, though still with some horizontal wrinkles (but much smaller/less), so initially I felt it was promising. However when I did muslin #2 in a size up, the back of the thighs looked exactly like all of my other Butterick tries. Gahhhh! With the added issues of it being too tight in the rear, and several other fitting issues I’d need to iron out. So I shelved them for another day to at least return to the pattern that had better fit in most other places, at least.
It was at this point I fully finished muslin #5 shown above in the ugly stretch twill, and in the process, I discovered that both the Butterick and Ultimate Trousers patterns were actually dipping down at the center back waist, which indicates a full tush! Hilariously, the complete opposite of the issue that I supposedly thought I had that led to all my unsuccessful adjustments. When I looked at my gabardine trousers, I could see that dip and gaping back waistband, too. Although I remember noticing the gaping on the gab pair early on, but just assumed it was because the waistband was too big for my waist size…which I’ve confirmed it is, and so is the ugly green one. But still, the dip:
Interestingly my original red stretch pair (the smaller version that’s the 8 waist, 10 hip) doesn’t do that, or if it does, it’s way less. I’m not sure if it’s because the waistband is smaller and faced with a non-stretch fabric (so there’s no give unlike my ugly twill version) and it’s holding everything in place, or because of the back zipper holding things up, since I used a side zip for all the later versions. But you can see below how it looks. I even left the button open to see if that was holding everything up and in place, but I don’t think it is. I can maybe juuuust see a slight dip I think in the side view, but it looks pretty straight in the back view. Could the zip be holding things up? It’s lapped, with the seam allowances interfaced with fusible knit tape per my usual method. I generally prefer side zips for ease of getting in/out, but I’m intrigued by this bit of a question mark since the zipper placement would be the only thing to lead me to why a technically smaller pair would dip down less in the back.
Tired of looking at my back side yet? Gawd, I am.
Anyway, at this point I was almost crying into my wine out of hilarity and irony over the fact that I may possibly need to adjust for a full butt instead of a flat one.
Oh pants, you stupid two pattern pieces of frustration!!
And here we are at the present moment, friends. Essentially eleven versions into trying to get a pair of damn cigarette trousers to not be baggy in the back. And in all that, I’m basically nowhere further along on fixing that main issue than I was at muslin #1. I almost threw the towel in entirely over the weekend, I was so angry about everything. But when I cooled down, I started searching for more information again.
What could I take away from everything I’ve done thus far?
I don’t have a flat butt. I think I may have a (slightly) full butt. I may have a low butt. I have a proportionally smaller waist. I may have thin thighs. My patience for pants muslins is wearing really thin although it hasn’t broken me quite yet.
So what am I going to try next? Well I still have to decide which size to use as a base point for stretchy fabrics, and I’m no more sure than I was earlier! The red stretch twill ones (8 waist, 10 hip) fit the best in the crotch and waist, but I think are possibly a bit too tight when fresh out of the wash. The ugly stretch twill (frankenblended but basically 10 waist, 12 hip) feel a little roomy, but it might be because it’s a thicker twill (which would still be an issue for future versions as I’d like to try stretch denims and corduroy or velveteen). I’m leaning towards the smaller size, because if the crotch depth seems better and I could nail down the behind the thigh wrinkles, I could always add a tad more room in future versions for hip wrinkles at the side seams. Right? Because right now those are honestly the least of my concerns.
How about future adjustments? I may need to do an adjustment to raise the center back for a full butt (although still fuzzy on why my red pair doesn’t have this issue). But my main things to try are:
- Scoop out the back crotch curve to make more of a J than shallow U
- Or if that doesn’t work, then I want to try and lower the curve altogether
- Take in the back inseam at the thighs
All of these things—now that I’m no longer focusing on flat butt adjustments—are items I’ve turned up several times in online discussions about these thigh wrinkles from hell. I think in part of my muslining process I’ve actually taken in the back inseam a bit and/or lowered the crotch curve due to sewing a different size combo, but goodness knows when and in conjunction with some kind of other adjustments that didn’t work, so I’m going to start fresh.
Now why am I telling you all this? Not to scare you, or frustrate you, or even get sympathy. (Okay yeah, I lied, I could totally use some sympathy.) But I just wanted to share my experiences and process with this, and maybe it’ll help someone else someday (especially if you, like me, ever suspect you may have fallen down the wrong rabbit hole with a fitting issue). And because I needed to vent and put it all in one place!
I’m not the most anal-retentive sewist in the world. You know I’m not. I pick my moments, for sure. I could easily just call well enough good and make more of these pants and be happy and never talk about the blasted wrinkles at the back of my legs ever again. But I’m too far in now to quit! This pattern fits the bill in so many ways and I feel like if I could just resolve this, I could apply it not only to the Butterick pattern, but to the Ultimate Trousers, and any future trouser patterns I may try (which I bet would have the same issue on me).
That being said, if I try these latest adjustments and it gets me nowhere, I might just have to say I’m done fitting these, and call it a day! Eventually—and it’s going to be soon—I’m going to reach my limit and just have to say I’ve gotten the pattern as good as I can get it.
This isn’t even all of them!
I’ll report back on the next chapter of this saga. Hopefully next time, I’ll have better news. But if one day you see a crazy woman who looks like me spouting sewing obscenities on the street corner, you’ll know the pants bested me.
In the meantime, please brighten my day: is there a sewing fitting issue you’ve finally resolved, much to your eternal happiness? Do tell!
I admire your persistence. My one successful pair were something between pants and slacks, so I haven’t had to deal with butt wrinkles. The trick for me seems to be 2 darts each side of the centre back seam. The waistband was a bit big and now stretched out on mine, so I must make another pair!
I really want to make stretch denim capris but I am somewhat wary.
I can see why you’d be wary, lol!
I’m glad I wear relaxed fit pants. I mostly have to cut and hem since some inseams tend to be too long for my height. Great article and so enlightening!
I’m exhausted just reading all of this! I say, begin again and pretend you have never made ANY adjustments before! 🙂
Personally, I don’t think any trousers I have made suit me!
I know, it was pretty exhausting putting all my thoughts together on this! Trousers can be so difficult.
Wow, that’s a lot of muslins. It’s awesome that you’ve been able to stick with it this far. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out eventually, and hopefully we can all learn a little from your process!
I hope so! 😀
Casey Maura says
Ah. Pants fitting! I admit slim fit pants strike fear into my heart. Every year or so I give them another stab. Tried the Clover pants when they were new, that failed horribly. Tried a 50s cigarette pant pattern Lauren (lladybird) sent me; didn’t work. I think there is another in there I tried to custom draft for myself. I have a full butt, large upper thigh and muscular legs, which leads to similar problems you’ve encountered. I’m kinda hoping you figure this out, because I suspect I could base my adjutment off of yours! hehe. 😉
Currently I’m anticipating going down the slim fit pants rabbit hole again… This time using an 80s jeans pattern. I’m not hopeful. I may just stick with what I know works: wide leg slacks! lol
Wishing you the best of luck on this–I’m rooting for you! 😉
I can certainly see why they would strike fear into your heart after everything I’ve gone through, lol! I will certainly update everyone if and when I DO figure it out. Why oh why do I have to be in a mood to wear slim pants, when I could easily wear much more forgiving wide-legged trousers? 😉
Wow, I really admire your persistence! I’ve just turfed my black casual blazer project after two patterns and countless muslins. I know I need a rounded back adjustment, but this adds too much length and weird baggy lines to the rest of the back….eh. It’s a project for another day (and a better skill-set!).
I hope this doesn’t sound harsh – but I think I can see you need a full tush adjustment even in those red pants. There are definitely drag lines pointing from the sides to your fullest part at the CB seam. Not sure if it will resolve your thigh bagginess issues, but one problem at a time!
Not harsh at all! I appreciate the advice. And I agree! I was so focused on lower down that I was obviously missing part of the mark with my issues. Hopefully I’ll get it all sorted! 🙂
Jo B. says
The side back hip and leg are too long. Pin in some darts on your muslin and redraw the
Pattern. The crotch looks to be alright.
Can’t see the front but is the front side and hip ok ?
From your pictures, it looks to me like you stand with your hips thrust forward a little bit, and your calves back. I think this posture is hyper-extended calves, and I know it’s covered in Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (great book btw, every fitting challenge you could possibly imagine, but sometimes difficult to pick the one(s) that are going on with you).
It’s like the fabric on your body is being put into more of a ‘C’ shape than the pattern accounts for and so it’s wrinkling up on the back of your thighs – the inner curve of the ‘C’. Maybe one of your next iterations (if you’re not completely sick of everything fabric-related at this point) could include an adjustment for prominent calves.
There’s a post on Cation Designs that talks specifically about this (scroll down).
I hope you keep trying, I think cigarette pants would definitely suit you!
Thanks Rebecca, that’s a really interesting observation and I’m inclined to agree! I actually know that I tend to hyper-extend one knee in particular from a Feldenkrais session I had way back in high school. In all my pants fitting readings I had encountered that great Cation Designs post but never thought I either had large enough calves or hyper-extended my knees enough to cause that issue, but it’s entirely possible! I stood in the mirror last night in leggings altering my posture, and I think you’re spot on about how I stand. I’ll also look into that book! 🙂
I think Rebecca may be on the right track to a solution for you, Tasha. If you don’t mind sacrificing one of your samples in order to see if the pant legs are hanging up on your lower legs I suggest you cut one of the pant legs off well above the knee point and see if the wrinkles fall out and look better compared to the remaining original leg. Best of luck. You and your creations have pizzazz!
You’ve recounted such a similar tale to my own attempts at pants fitting! In the end, I’ve reached the “these don’t look any worse than my RTW pants so they’ll do for now!” mindset. Recently, I found this video linked on another forum (I can’t remember where) and I think it’ll guide my next pants iteration: maybe it’ll help you too? It’s “jeans” fitting, so aiming for closer fit than pants or slacks. If you start at 10 mins in, that’s where she’s talking about full seat adjustments, then at about 16 mins she does a thigh adjustment to stop some bagging there. Fingers crossed this might help both of us!! http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/html/media/livestreamchannel/replay_06_20_2011.htm
Wow, thanks for the video link! I’m not sure if how she’s resolving the back of the thighs will help since it seems similar to what I’ve tried before, but it was really helpful seeing how she slashed and spread for the butt, which I’m now convinced I need to do.
Yes, I’m not quite convinced by that thigh adjustment either (especially as the camera angle cuts off the leg exactly where you’d want to see it!) but she seems to think it works and I figure it’s worth a shot. I’m not sure they’re quite the same leg wrinkles as you and I seem to both have, either. But I’m glad at least part of the video helped! Good luck!
Thanks again, it was brilliant watching her slash across the hips in the back. I’ve seen that alteration on paper, but so much better on a live model where I could really visualize why that helps. Sometimes translating from flat paper to 3D human is difficult. And: I tried it at home last night on one of my muslins and it did help!
Carol Varcoe says
These comments were posted in 2014 so I TRULY hope you have found your solution the meantime. I think perhaps you have too much length in the legs. Peggy Sagars (with Silhouette patterns) has addressed that problem in one of her webcasts. She also says to always start with length first when dealing with fitting problems. She refers to it as LCD ( length…circumference. .depth ) I have found that formula helpful in many fitting issues.
Wow! I totally am in awe at how devoted you are to these pants! This is going to sound weird, just a heads up in advance. So I don’t know much about fitting in the way that a lot of home sewing fitting books label things (like full butt, flat butt, crazy calf, and whatnot) so I don’t have a googleable term, but I do know about fitting from a patternmaking perspective. From here from what I can tell having only seen a photo of the sides and backs, it looks as though the crotch seam isn’t in the right place for you. It possibly should be scooped out lower, which could account for the waistband dip in the back, as well as the under butt fabric pooling which appears to be pulling up around the sides to where it wants to lay in accordance with the front of the pants. This is really awkward to type out, but it’s like everything on the back needs to be shifted up, then back down, kind of like the palmer book hinted but you may not need the vertical tuck part. Okay I could totally explain this on paper, I’m mega failing right now though on the eve of my vacation, maybe this makes some kind of sense?
I appreciate your help, Jen! Butts are so odd to work around. As are boobs, but at least those often come with darts and other things and, well, they’re on the front so easier for one to deduce themselves. lol Last night I tried a couple of new stitch lines for scooping out the back crotch on one of my muslins (when I did it, it didn’t make a difference in the CB waistband, though I resolved that a different way), but need to try a couple of more lines as I’m not sure it’s making a difference yet.
Wow, you are amazing. I can’t even imagine to make that many muslins. I would turn crazy! I really wish you more luck with your next alterations and hope that you will soon have the pants that you are longing for. Thanks for sharing your progress!
Yeah, I feel I’ve pretty much turned crazy in all this. 😉
Wow! You have shown determination with this. I’ve not made many trousers (I’m English) but when I have I’ve just sort of pinned them around me and it’s worked I suppose.
I made the Gertie capri’s and they were huge from using the sizes on the pattern envelope to my size so I pinned the side seams in a bit and it was OK.
Maybe getting so technical and mathematical is causing you so many headaches? Have I basically been draping the trousers around me to get what I want? Could this work for you too?
Good luck though because capri pants are really lovely and I think you’d wear them loads when you are finally happy.
Yes, I do kind of think you’ve been draping! Although I don’t know anything about it personally. That’s kind of what I’m doing with the inseam in the back right now on one of my muslins, to play around with it and see if I can smooth some things out. It hasn’t worked entirely, but it’s helped somewhat. And I agree, if I can get them where I’m happy I’d wear this style loads!
Yep, I’d lengthen the crotch, especially at the back. That should help some of the bagginess at the thigh too as the trousers should fall better (even though they are capris). Good luck!
Thanks, I’ll be trying that for sure!
Wow, I am in awe of your determination to best these pants! Two muslins is the max I’ve made for anything. I have not yet made trousers so I can offer no help but can definitely offer sympathy.
Thanks, Kerry! Yeah, this is by faaaaar the most muslins I’ve done, and it’s only because it’s such a basic style that I want to nail down. With, say, a blouse, hell, there’s always other styles! ;P
Rebekah Bristow says
How dissapointing I thought it was post was going to be about knickers!! What a huge amount of effort. Just buy some no VPL (visible pantyline) knickers/pants and wear a BIG smile.
Ha ha! No knickers here. Well, except for the ones you can clearly see as I didn’t bother to change into ones that don’t show lines for all of these photos of my read end. Ha ha!!
That might be a silly idea, but it seems to me that you got the fit around your waist and hips quite good with the red version. Therefore I wonder, would there be a lesser amount of fabric in the back thigh area if you tapered back to a size 8 for the legs?
I actually tried that in…I can’t remember which muslin at this point. Actually it’s possibly the light green ugly pair I showed in the post. But I was also trying other things too, so I think I just royally screwed it all up. I agree, the fit in the red ones (other than needing more room in my butt) is the best overall for stretch fabrics.
I was very curious about by this post, but when I realized that it was so long, I jumped a little phrases, yes, you have been warned.
But while not reading the whole post, I arrived at a conclusion, simply, the pattern is not right !!!!
I do not know if you’ve ever used the original pattern or if you have a book of vintage cut, you could implement the pattern on your measurements.
Or you should change the existing pattern and not the muslin !!!!
If You have other capri pants, you should take measures reference pants and bring them back on the pattern, then to try your in muslin !!
I’ve actually tried at least one vintage pattern but unfortunately the fit is way different– much more relaxed, so quite similar to my gabardine trousers but even more relaxed around the hips, which doesn’t look very good. And yes, completely agree, I need to go back to the beginning! I’m slashing and re-stitching a muslin that I did with no alterations from the pattern (except one minor one), so it’s giving me a better point to start making some of these suggested changes. 🙂
Pam Speak says
Wow, I’m pretty sure I would have given up after two failed attempts. You have some mad staying power.
I would also agree you definitely don’t have a flat bum.
As I’m relatively new to sewing clothes I think I’ll wait until I have more experience before attempting trousers.
Yeah, why in the hell was I thinking I had a flat bum?! I know it’s because I initially read “baggy thigh is from a flat seat” and then it just stuck and wouldn’t let go. In fact I did a full butt adjustment (just a slashing and spreading on one of my previous muslins) and it resolved the dipping down waistband. 🙂
Don’t let my trials and tribulations scare you away from trousers! The lovely thing about them is they’re quite easy to sew. But maybe don’t start with a relatively fitted style like this. 😉
Pam Speak says
I have been eyeing up sailor trousers, nice wide legs. Though being 5ft1 these could end up looking like clown pants if I’m not careful. 😀
This post is making me think my hesitation in making a pair of similar pants might not be totally unfounded. So far, I’ve only somewhat successfully made a pair of wide leg trousers, which I think are much more forgiving.
Totally. I had no complains about fit with the wide-legged ones I’ve made. The only problem is that I haven’t been in the mood to wear that style, so I’m stuck with working this issue out. ;P
You are a much more patient person than I am.
All I can say for my own sewing abilities — thank goodness for skirts and dresses…lol.
I think maybe the pattern just isn’t the best one for you.
Yeah, this project is making skirts and dresses feel dreamy in comparison! 😉
I have to admire your persistence and patients I may have given up long ago! I’ve also come to the conclusion that trouser fitting is thee worst! 3 attempts it took me at a pair of shorts that were self drafted to my measurements and that was over the course of the year so massive respect to you right now.
Fitting wise, you may want to look at a sway back adjustment which should remedy the center back dipping down although it’s strange why it doesn’t do it on the red pair. I’m also wondering about the prominent calf adjustment too.
I really hope you get to the root of those wrinkle problems. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed for you.
Thanks Sarah! I’m going to test out the calves thing soon to see if that gets me anywhere. I slash and spread a previous muslin at the hips for a full butt adjustment, which resolved the dipping waistband (hard to say if it got rid of the wrinkles at the hip sides, but that’s the least of my concern at this point lol). I honestly think on the red pair it’s just that the zipper and the interfacing around the zipper is holding that CB up.
Pants that fit – the stuff of dreams. Who invented these things anyway?
I know!!! 😉
Well done on your determination. This post was really interesting so worth posting about. I have fallen down the muslin rabbit hole before, making muslin after failed muslin and following the wrong track! I feel your pain!!
I think you will get there, especially with the great advice in the comments. Good luck!
I’m glad my rabbit hole story was at least interesting to someone! lol Thanks Jo, I’ll keep everyone posted on the progress, if I make it.
You’ve reminded me why I stopped bothering myself with trousers. I can’t. All the fixing, shortening, tighting them up.. all the drama.. I can’t. 🙂
So – I wear skirts.
I do admire you for being so persistent. Two thumbs up.
You’re so right Marija– all the drama, indeed. Thanks!
Isaboe Renoir says
Dear Tasha, you’re so close, don’t give up! I want so badly to rip out that inseam and smooth the back pattern piece towards the inner thigh – that’s all it needs. Yes, that takes a second person – do you have a sewing buddy? I skimmed over your post and looking at the photos, I agree with other posters about the less developed hamstring/ sway front. I would also say you have a long lower torso and that’s what’s causing the pull at the back waistline (if your pattern has a lengthen/shorten line at the hip, add about an inch; if not make your own and add it.) And yes you have a sway front, whether that causes the “less developed” hamstring or you just have a slimmer upper back thigh, you only need to smooth out the extra width in the back piece. And yes I also think you have a prominent derriere with possibly a wide lower hip, either way it’s pulling across the bottom of the derriere and needs to be let out a bit (because of your sway front your derriere is less noticeable.) You will also likely need to take a dart at the top center back seam if your pattern doesn’t have darts (you can do that at a center back zipper or just add them as well.) You have a proportionally smaller waist than hips and need to take out that extra – just cut the waist band shorter to match the new waist circumference. (For those who may not know, when we say someone has a smaller waist or wider hip, it’s in comparison to the pattern they’re using, not an absolute value placed on the person. Sorry to digress but I was told on another blog not to tell people “mean things” like they had wide hips….)
I also use the book mentioned above – Fit and Pattern Alteration, a Multi-Method Approach. Yes, it’s a textbook, yes it has a textbook price (I saved up my credit card points to buy it, you may have similar options. Or ask for bookstore gift cards as holiday gifts.) But it’s a really good book and gives you a much better idea of where to start I think than many of the blogs and tutorials out there (I haven’t tried any other book, so I can’t say but I’ve heard Real Fit for Real People is good as well.)
As for fitting successes, I’ve had many since I’ve started to learn to sew for myself! I’ve learned to make as many darts as I need, take out or add extra even when there’s no lengthen/shorten line, make my sleeve as big as I need while making the armscye as small as I need – move the skirt vents, add slits, take them out, add vents to my capris (which were pants by the way!) to accommodate my calves as a style option. I haven’t found a fitting buddy yet, but I do have a dress form which is my exact shape and size (and I’m flexible enough to fit my own pants right now, will get a pants form in the future…) and I think that’s the best way to go – a buddy or a form that becomes your buddy. But please don’t give up – you’re so close!
Isaboe, thank you for all that! I promise I won’t give up. 🙂 And even if I eventually have to stop trying to fix fitting issues on these, I will still sew them up, because for all my trials and tribulations, they are still far better than many RTW things. I’m going to look into that book.
Last night I actually started doing similar to what you said about smoothing the back piece out at the inner thigh. I unpicked the inseam on one leg and repositioned it so that there was a deeper seam allowance on the back only (basically like you said, smoothing out the back leg at the thigh), and this helped a lot. Not perfect by any means, but some of the wrinkles were gone. (This was after slashing and spreading the hip horizontally to give my butt more room, which fixed the waistband dipping.)
I still seem to be having some straight lines of extra fabric directly under my butt, the top of which seems to come down from the side seam towards the bottom of my butt (which Jen pointed out in a comment above). Hopefully I’ll eventually figure that out. I think I need to work on the back crotch curve more but that’s a tricky one.
Isaboe Renoir says
If you’re still getting some extra fullness directly under the derriere, try taking a dart out of your pattern in just that spot; not too much, you don’t want it tight, but that might do the trick for the wrinkles in that area. Also, if the wrinkles are still going across the entire derriere at an upward diagonal, I might try the high waist/ long lower torso adjustment, just for grins and giggles – if there’s no lengthen-shorten line on your pattern, just cut straight across the low hip area (perpendicular to the grainline.)
I know a lot of people bemoan the muslin process, but once you figure out what your figure needs, you can go straight to those adjustments from jump and it’s much easier to fit new patterns. Good luck and we’re eager for the photos!
Oh it’s posts like this that make me run screaming in the opposite direction of my sewing machine! I have yet to develop the patience that you have regarding making muslins and working out fit issues, so alas, I cannot regale you with tales of sewing woes with a happy ending. I can just say though that you continue to be a source of inspiration and sometimes when I am sewing and have an issue I think “What would Tasha do?” though sometimes it still ends in tears.
I wish you all the luck in the world on your pants endeavors!
You have received many good fitting suggestions and so I will give you none. What i will say though is that not all patterns are created equal when it comes to pants and sometimes it is the pattern and not you. I also have a full bottom and have found that Burda patterns are drafted far better for this body type. Perhaps you could try a similar style and see if there is any difference. Anyway, whatever you choose, good luck and have fun. They are only pants.
simplicity makes a whole line of patterns called Amazing Fit. I do not know if you have ever seen them. . . They do not necessarily give off a vintage vibe. 🙂
They have pants in the series that come with three different shapes already accounted for: slim, average and curvy. They also have detailed instructions for measuring, adjustments, cutting and fitting during construction. They are very nice patterns. I have made pants from two different patterns and liked them both. Maybe starting from a better starting point, for instance for a curvy rear, and working through the steps would help you understand the kinds of changes you need for your figure.
Remember, you only have to solve your fitting problem once to have it licked for good.
I struggled with a halter dress once in what seemed like an eternity of fitting issues. Finally finished it then managed, in my haste to chop at least 2″ too short off the hem! Whatever! Now it’s a top! Ha! My pants bag out at the thighs in both me made and RTW so next pants make I’m going to try vintage instruction from my old sewing books, see if that works. Good luck to you!
I see that someone already referred you to Peggy Sagers jeans fitting webcast. You might also want to see her pants fitting webcast:
Here she explains how pants patterns are drafted so you understand how and why to make the correct changes for your pattern.
Peggy is amazing! Even though I have been sewing for 45 years, I have learned so much from her webcasts and love her patterns.
Best wishes on your pants fitting adventure. You will get there.
I second the reocmmendation from Desedera for Silhouette Patterns’ website. Peggy is great!
I have the same kinds of problems (long waist, full rear, thin thighs, and slightly weird posture all combining to equal thigh wrinkles from hell) and I can report that getting that “J” shape in the crotch curve really, really helped. The “L” shape seems to work for the lower, flatter rears, but not so much for those of us with a little rear-ward projection. 🙂
Just don’t over-fit, or your starlet lounging will be severely curtailed, especially in slimmer pants, by the lack of sitting ease at your back thighs. (guess how I know!) 🙂
I too have had problems fitting pants. I feel that The Complete PhotoGuide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen, look at p 198, helped me get a better perspective than the Fit & Pattern alteration a Multi-method approach, which I also own. Good Luck!
Hi, you might have solved this by now, but just in case: you definitely don’t have flat butt, but you do have low but, that is why the waist at the back pulls down. You need to scoop the crotch at the back. Look at this post, she explains it well and shows a trick with tin foil: http://mellysews.com/2014/03/sew-jeans-for-yourself.html
You also have forward hip and hyperextend calves as someone mentioned. To get rid of the fabric at the back tights you should try Kenneth King’s method http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/17051/a-fix-for-a-baggy-seat
I have similar figure but I have thick thighs to I need to add to the inseam (a lot). I have not perfected my pants yet, but getting there. Good luck!
Hi Iris! Actually everything you’ve mentioned I later discovered and documented in this post: https://tashacouldmakethat.com/2014/12/pants-update-i-kind-of-maybe-have-a-winning-combo/
It was definitely helpful realizing my butt was just low, not flat. Big difference! 😉 However Kenneth King’s baggy seat trick didn’t work for me personally. Scooping out the back crotch did help somewhat. Overall I’m way happier with the fit I subsequently got after this post! Thanks for the Melly Sews link, in my extensive looking around for posts on the topic, that was one I hadn’t yet encountered!
I came across this page quite by accident—and much too late perhaps. But just in case you (or other readers) have yet to solve the pant fitting challenge: I highly recommend Sarah Veblen’s on line class! It is available for $19.99 through patternreview.com.
I am an “advanced” seamstress, with a background in flat pattern design. Still, I had not achieved perfect pants. With Sarah’s class, I now have a Perfect Pattern! It took 4 muslins to do it, but I learned that the alterations must be done in order (as Pati Palmer says too). I had already studied Pati’s books/videos, and taken Sandra Betzina’s Craftsy class with no improvement. The difference with Sarah is following a fitting grid constructed with lenghtwise grain and perpendicular “horizontal balance lines.” Well worth the effort!
Thanks Carmen, I’ll definitely have to look into that class sometime! Probably can’t ever learn too much about pants fitting!
Oh my gosh. I think you and I are living parallel lives! My pants look exactly the way that yours do and I have been on the hunt for the solution for years. I have made so many muslins, I can’t even count them. I AM going to win this battle. I’ve been a bit fanatical about this problem over the last few months. Over the years I’ve bought computer pattern drafting programs, pulled out my Lutterlough pattern system that I bought 35 years ago, purchased the Sure-Fit pants system, learned to draft a pants pattern from scratch and own probably every book on the market that pertains to pants fitting. I even have a “replica” of my crotch (curve!) that I obtained in a pants fitting class I took a couple of years ago! I’ve gone so far as to fly from NY state to Dallas to take a 4-day pattern fitting class with Peggy Sagers – which was wonderful and very educational, but alas, I still can’t figure out how to get a pair of body hugging pants to fit me. By the time I left Peggy’s class I was able to perfect a trouser fit and thought I was finally cured of my obsession . . . but when I tried to use my new knowledge toward a tighter-fitting pant – – – I found myself right back at square one. I’m going to try a suggestion that I found through the Sure-Fit website. Basically, you put a seam down the center back of the leg which can then be shaped to fit closer under the butt area. I’m not sure about the design effect, but that ‘s going to be my next attempt. I’ll let you know how that turns out. I’m so glad I came across this blog. It’s made me realize that I’m not alone in my obsessive compulsion to figure out how to make a pair of flattering pants – – – There are two of us!
Jill collins says
Rather late for a comment, but here goes. I went to a fitting class (I have the same fitting problem) and the instructor struggled before she came up with the following solution. She cut the back leg pattern up through the middle of the pattern. She stopped cutting at the crotch line. Next she overlapped this cut seam about 1 inch for me and then trued the sides. Only thing that has ever worked. I hope this helps.
Maria D of SF says
EUREKA girlfriends! I found the solution! I, too, have wrinkled back thighs on my pants. I found this show Fit to Stitch on PBS and she solves the problem at minute 14:30!!! Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7DVueYP33Q
Yes – Maria has the answer and I’m still working at doing it on myself…thanks for being SO persistent!!
I went to a 4-day Peggy Sagers (the host of Fit to Stitch) fitting course. I made a muslin of one of her pants patterns and she “fit” me. I immediately cut out a new pair from the newly pinned/fitted muslin and sewed them up. They were considerably better, but once I got home and really looked at them, they still weren’t perfect. I had previously taken another pants fitting class from a woman, Lorraine Henry, at a sewing conference, but since it was more of a lecture than hands-on, I just kind of stored the info in my brain. I had bought a book that she had suggested, though, and after my Peggy Sagers (who really does know her stuff) seminar I pulled out the book and read it cover to cover. It’s called Fitting & Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach by Liechty, Rasband and Pottberg-Steineckert. ISBN-13: 978-1563677830. It taught the method of pants fitting that Lorraine Henry had taught and after following the directions my pants problem is solved. It involves reproducing your crotch shape/length/etc with a Flex curve – a flexible wired ruler type thing. After that, you compare your curve with the paper pattern. It’s time consuming and a bit tricky. I’m a fairly thin woman, but the problem seemed to be . . . my buttocks droop lower than the crotch level of the pattern. Not something I’m thrilled to share, but I’ll blame it on genetics and age! The solution is clearly instructed by many diagrams in the book, but I’m sorry to say that there’s no way to explain it in words. The other drawback is that the book is a bit pricey, but the information in its 470 pages is immense. If you have some extra time and cash, I highly suggest giving the book a try.
Joan I'Anson says
I can empathise with you. I have exactly the same problem and have been on the quest for the perfect pant pattern for 4 years now. Made probably 60+ toiles, searched the net for solutions, bought several books, been to Sewing / pattern fitting classes etc. You name it, I’ve tried it, including buying several different patterns, one being the Vogue fitting shell. What next! Keep in on trying. At the moment I’m on lowering the back and front crotch by 5/8ths and compensating by lowering the cb by the same but graduating to side seam. Wish me luck!
I have the same problem. I find pinching the fabric in the thigh area and pulling it up several inches before sitting down will prevent the pants from stretching out and will prevent wrinkles from showing up
After 3 muslims and 3 pair of pants, I think I’ve licked the problem of bagginess under a full bottom by cutting the pants back in half and sewing in darts going across. I saw this in a Youtube video and really like the idea because it makes an easy way to have a slit in the back and because I can leave that seam open while sewing the decorative double needle stitching down the inside and outside seams.
Unfortunately, after making all the changes that made the back hang the way I liked, the back leg seam is slanting and the front has smile wrinkles . I am optimistic about fixing those to little problems.
Thank you very much for posting this.
I know this is an old post, but ot came up in my Google image search of ‘pants fit issues’ and I’m having exactly the same problem you did. It does make me feel a bit better to know that pants are just IMPOSSIBLE and it’s not just me and my lumpy body. I’ll keep looking through your archive in case you’ve found the solution in the last 2.5 years.
M Lynn Cannon says
Have the same problem -bags+wrinkles under the butt.
Joanne Bill says
I posted a long comment about this problem, a couple of years ago. I’ve made it my life’s duty to find an answer to this situation. My husband was out-of-town for 4 days this past summer and I vowed that I’d do nothing other than make muslin, after muslin until I found a solution. No joke . . . I made 16 before I finally came up with my perfect fitting pants. The most annoying thing about the whole process was that I’ve had the solution in my arsenal for many years, but never actually used it. I bought the SureFit designs pants pattern/fitting kit many years ago and finally decided to give it a try. The solution involves putting a seam down the back length of the pant leg. This gives you the freedom to “mold” the pants to your shape, very easily, and the outcome is beautiful! There’s an online video that demonstrates this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqs0w_nqdhk
Nancy Nickle says
I’m just reading this webpage now, a few days after making yet another pair of pants.
May I suggest that you consider repositioning the pants legs as Jan Minott recommends for “diamond hip” types.
See pages 69-70 in “Pants and Skirts Fit for Your Shape”.
I found your blogpost and saw immediately, you have the same problem I have. I have been working on getting good fitting pants forever–pulling my hair out over it. I agree with those who say “you don’t have a flat but.” what you have is that you naturally stand forward, basically your front is forward and your legs bending backwards below the derriere creating excess fabric there. The thing that worked for me was to drop the whole rear crotch curve down and to bring down center back waist the same amount to lift up the whole back. You can test this by grabbing your center back waist and pulling up a lot and you will see that lots of those wrinkles come out and you’ll get an idea how much to adjust. I kept taking fabric out across the rear to flatten it like you did and that never fixed it. The second thing that helped me a lot was to find a soft wire or some thing that bends enough for you to go around your crotch area and get the actual shape of your pubis bone and derriere, then adjusting the pattern’s lower rear curve to match. I ended up needing much more curve in the derriere. My last pattern doesn’t look much like a commercial pattern shape, but now, I finally have something that looks quite good. Also, it might help to draft the pants first using instructions in a pattern drafting book. This eliminates all the style adjustments patterns might have and gives you a kind of blank slate to work with. After you do all that, if you still have some excess fabric, you might be able to get rid of it by splitting the back am making a center back seam that you can take in under the derriere. That will give you some pretty form fitting pants.
Thank you, Tish! I have also been on this quest for years…long enough for my shape to have aged into another shape. But you reminded me of several adjustments with which I’ve had moderate success. I have not yet done the seams-down-the-backs but you have inspired me to get back at it… Thank you again!
Hi Tasha,” pants wrinkles”. Several years on, and I am reading your article because I have exactly the same problem, even though I am making an elasticated waist pant version. I too have done flat butt (which I am pretty sure I do have) & droopy butt changes – the J – crotch adjustment. And, just like you I am no further forward and just going around in circles. So with bated breath I got to the end and …. still no final answer except thinking that’s what I was going to try next. Thinner thighs. So I have to ask, did you ever resolve this problem? I really, really would like to know. Thx
Joanne Bill says
I’ve posted a couple of times on this forum and have finally found the weirdest solution for me. I’ve been the costumer for a local high school for many years. About 3 years ago I was making shorts for a couple of teenage boys to wear as the children in the Sound of Music. I tried them on as I was making them to get a feel for the length needed and noticed that the backs of them didn’t sag. This put me on a search into my husband’s closet. We’re pretty similar in size, so I tried on a pair of his jeans and I was shocked to find that they fit me perfectly – hugging my butt in a flattering way! I flew to the clothing stores to further my research and found the same results. Various brands fit differently – too long of a rise, leg widths not always right, etc . . . but the seat was always better than any women’s pants. My waist is 29″, hips 41″ so I’m not super curvy, but I’ve found that most men’s 30″ waist pants fit really well. My summer wardrobe consists of a number of pairs of men’s Izod shorts – which come in many colors (I have white, mint, sky blue and even light pink!) and nobody would ever think that I’m wearing men’s clothing! NOW, here’s the disclaimer. I’ve been meaning to try this theory out with a men’s sewing pattern, but haven’t taken the time, because I’ve been happy with my pants collection. I’m generally not a dress pants wearer. Jeans, leggings, shorts or a dress – so with my new found options, the burning desire to find the perfect pattern has left me. I vow to give a men’s pattern a try, someday, though. You may want to give it a go. Head to the store and try on some men’s pants to figure out your size (or order a bunch and try them at home, since dressing rooms are off limits during this pandemic. . . ) I’d love to hear the results! I took some photos, but I don’t see a way to post them.
David Maunder says
You could try…
Crutch level to knee level: stretch seams of backs and full on fronts
Below knee: full on backs over calves and stretch fronts
Then your front/ back seams should match and you allow room for thighs (on front) and calves (on back) which might be causing these ripples on back thigh