pants mysteries

Happy New Year!

I have been working at perfecting a pants pattern, even though I have one that magically fit with very few alterations. But I’ve been using that one pattern for over 10 years and wanted the educational experience of working through the fitting of a new one.

My old nearly perfect pants pattern was from a very old Burda Plus issue. In order to be able to compare, I chose another Burda pattern for my experiments. The new one is from the first issue of Burda Classics, and it is indeed a classic. Single pleat, with medium legs – not skinny, not too wide.

I got out my issue of Threads #195, the one with Sarah Veblen’s in depth article on fitting pants, and resolved to work through the process. I’ve always appreciated this article because she actually spells out how to use the grain line and balance lines to determine whether extra fabric or scooping is needed.

So, three muslins later, I thought I had done a pretty good job in fitting and the rear hung  pretty darn straight, like trousers should, and it was time to make a real pair. Some cotton/poly twill was waiting and ready.

When the pants were done, I was pleased with the fit. I was even more pleased that I had gone through all the fitting and thought I finally understood something about the mysteries of fitting pants!

The only quibble I had was with the front thigh binding just a bit when I walked. That is something I’ve experienced before, but only with certain patterns, and didn’t seem to have anything to do with leg circumference or full front thighs or anything like that. Googling for answers, I kept reading references to “the fork”, but nowhere could I find a definition of what this fork was that I could understand.

So, the question was posted on PatternReview and several helpful members responded. Kayl suggested taking a tuck across the front to see if that helped, and what do you know, it did. But taking the tuck messed up my nice fit in the back.

Finally I got the bright idea to compare my new fitted pattern to the old TNT and here are the results. New pattern is on the bottom, old is on the top.

pants draft

What the hey? All that length I kept adding to make my horizontal balance lines actually horizontal…the humongous crotch extension I added…all so much more extreme than in my TNT.  Maybe I didn’t do such a good job with all the fitting after all. The comparison did make me try taking a tuck all around , about 3 inches above the crotch level. Even removing all that length, that I thought I needed, the pants seem to hang nicely.

The one encouraging thing is that the fitting yielded a crotch curve nearly identical to the TNT. The angle of the center back seam is the same, the scoop of the curve is the same, there is just more crotch extension. There is more difference in the front, where it looks like a little scoop is in order.

My twills are absolutely wearable, but now instead of cutting into the good fabric which is all ready to go, I need to go find some more test fabric.

Mystery…still not solved…

12 thoughts on “pants mysteries

  1. Thank you for your analysis; it is so interesting to see how others wrestle with pants fitting. I’ll follow along as you ferret out solving this mystery.

    The grain lines of the back seem to be markedly different; on the front maybe a little bit different.

    • I should have more fabric for another test pair coming in the mail today. The grainlines on both of the pieces are parallel to those on the TNT. I once read comments from someone who felt like it made a difference whether the grainline was placed close to the outseam. I never understood that, do you?

  2. This is very helpful to me, thank you! I too have struggled with getting pants to fit properly, and added too much above the back crotch curve. Your TNT looks very much like my (still in progress) TNT. I’ll be watching your journey for tips for my own. Good luck, for both of us!

  3. Pants are the ultimate fitting challenge, I think. I keep tweaking and keep coming back to elastic waist pants that are always that little-old-lady look in the seat. You’ve inspired me to keep at it. My best attempt so far is with the Fit for Art Eureka pants. I’ll stay tuned to your journey.

    • I can’t imagine you in little-old-lady anything! I’ve thought about the Eureka pants many times, and just never taken the plunge. Do they have a Euro-style curve, with a short front extension and most of the curve in the back?

  4. Since elastic waist pants and zippered trousers are the main stay of my wardrobe, I have sought for years for the most workable pattern, best drafting techniques, and clear and concise fitting tips. I finally settled on a line of patterns that were designed with the ‘mature’ figure in mind and tweaked it a little until it became ‘good enough’ for my semi-apple shape (comfortable, looks like rtw–fits like custom). Each pair I make from this pattern has its own quirks, depending on fabric choice, sewist’s mood, level of focus, body and style changes. If they’re pinching–tweaking is necessary. The thing I dread about tweaking is it can become a irksome chapter in a sewist’s journey that never ends–you fix one hiccup, it causes another hiccup. I see Martha commented that her best fit came through Fit for Art Eureka Pants. Veblen worked on this project. Now I’m curious. I follow your blog so I will keep reading about your journey. You’re almost there!

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