Friday, 14 April 2017

Trousers Fitting Quest: Update and Please Help!


Please, for the love of god, help me. A combination of being woken up at least four times every night and my quest for nice fitting trousers is driving me insane. I'm hoping that some lovely blog readers could help me with the latter? (Or the former, if you're lactating and fancy looking after Frankie for the night?!) So, the story so far....


If you've read this blog for a while then you probably know that I've been going on and on about wanting to finally nail trouser fitting since 2015. So now that I'm no longer pregnant (YAY) and the shape and size of my body seemed to have more or less stabilised, I decided to pick up where I left off. 


I went back to Sew Over It's Ultimate Trousers pattern as it looks like a good, basic, no frills style with the slim legged look that I'm after. I traced off the pattern, blending between sizes as my measurements suggested I would need to, and made a toile (muslin). Generally, the fit looked pretty good, particularly from the front, but the back definitely needed some tweaking as there seemed to be too much fabric from the bum downwards. I tried bringing in the back inside leg seam at the top, which took away some of the excess fabric, but not all. I then tried taking in the same amount from the back inside leg seam the whole way down, not just at the top, and this seemed to work well. There were more waistline tweaks but I can't remember what they were and I don't think the are relevant to my main dramas. 


With these tweaks made to the pattern, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself so I made them up in some awesome blue stretch denim from Fabric Godmother. The resulting pair of trousers looked pretty good (IMO) and felt really comfy. So, although I know they weren't perfect, I was pleased that I'd made a wearable pair of trousers. But after some wears and washes, I realised that I was only happy with the fit when I wore them when they were tightest, straight out of the wash, rather than a wear or two later. 


So I went back to my pattern and skimmed 0.5cm off both side seams (removing 2cm in total) and tried making them again in some beyond-perfect black stretch denim, also from Fabric Godmother (sadly no longer available, *crying face*). I also shortened the length of the back darts because they looked crazy-long on the blue pair. 


The result of the black ones seemed pretty good: the slim fit I was hoping for in the nicest denim I have ever seen. And then Pat (Mr So Zo) took these pictures. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THEY LOOK SO SHITE FROM THE BACK?!?! The front view doesn't look great in these photos but I promise IRL they look ok. But the back? After some interrogation Pat confirmed that they really do look like this at the back. UGH! And now that I've got him to take pics of the blue ones too, I can see that they aren't all that either...


Correct me if I'm wrong (please please do!), but what I'm seeing here is a too-tight bum and a whole world of wrinkles under said bum. My mum, who is great help to talk with about fitting issues, came to visit and we tried to work out what to do about it whilst armed with Pants for Real People. However, that book didn't appear to address the issues my trousers seemed to be throwing up. And having thought about it since then, the style of trousers in that book aren't what I'm aiming for anyhow: slim legged styles don't seem to really be addressed at all, and I'm not sure if fitting/pattern tweaks for classic trousers would be the same as fitting/pattern tweaks for slim legged fits anyhow. 


Anyways, my mum suggested pinching out the under-bum wrinkles (kind of like this), but after some deliberation I'm not sure that that's the way forward. My hunch is that those under-bum wrinkles are the symptom of the problem, rather than the problem itself, if you know what I mean; that perhaps those wrinkles are a pooling of fabric caused by some other issue. Perhaps the shape and/or length of the rise on this pattern is wrong for my body? Memories of stuff I'd seen online and in Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting book lead me to develop...


Theory 1:

If I'm aiming for a slim, more jeans-like fit, then perhaps I need a more diagonal, straighter, jeans-like rise? Some participants in this extensive and rabbit-whole like thread would suggest so. Also, this blog post by Sew Chic Patterns says that this increasing of the angle of the back rise is advised for owners of a full butt. I'm wondering if that's my issue? It's a label that was applicable to me a number of years ago, but I thought that many many hours sat underneath feeding and sleeping infants had alleviated me of that 'problem', although maybe that extra junk just got redistributed a bit rather than disappearing. If this is my issue, then I'm assuming I can address it using this method

(image source: Sew Chic Pattern)


HOWEVER.... That Sew Chic Patterns post also suggests that a full bum requires some 'scooping out' of the rise (ouch) as pictured above. Surely scooping out means to remove fabric, so why would you remove fabric if you are trying to accommodate a full bum? And how are you meant to know how much slash-and-flaring to extend the back rise angle and/or 'scooping' out one needs to do? Or is it just trial and error?

(image source: Cation Design)

Theory 2: 

Further internet research lead me to reconsider the under-bum wrinkles issue. What if they are the problem, and their solution (the weird fish-eye dart extraction as generously and cleverly outlined in this Cation Design blog post) also results in the benefit of some 'scooping' out of the back rise/crotch curve (see below), as we discussed in Theory 1? Does this also extend the rise somewhat?

(image source: Cation Design)

In short: what the hell?! If any one can shed any light on these trouser fitting issues PUH-LEASE leave a comment below. I will of course need to do some more toiling and experimentation, but I really feel I need some more knowledge and advise before I know which path to go down. Many many thanks in advance...

28 comments:

Gillian said...

Oh the horror that is pants fitting! The good news is I bet not one non-sewist would look at your pants and see a problem. But since you've take close-ups and you can't un-see them, have you checked out Heather's Ginger Jean fit tips? They are meant for a skinny pant like yours, and I find her suggestions pretty easy to understand. I'm wondering in particular if you need the last one: the "EXCESS FABRIC UNDER THE SEAT & THIGH PULL LINES" adjustment. And a little back crotch scooping... you can add the width you've removed to the side seams if you are worried they'll be too tight. It does seem counterintuitive to take away fabric where it's tight, but I swear it works!
Good luck!

Linda T said...

Suggest you watch Peggy Sagers' free webcast on fitting pants. She has several but on this one she shows 4 different models that are REAL ladies--all different sizes. Good luck.

http://silhouettepatterns.com/html/media/livestreamchannel/replay_08_08_2016.htm

CAN I said...

http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/html/media/livestreamchannel/replay_04_29_2013.htm
Peggy Sagers demonstrates in this video how pants are drafted from a skirt and demonstrates how to combat that. The first 15 minutes or so are questions and answers, so you can fast forward about that much, to when she is working on the blue board. I tried her recommendations and got vast improvements. It is pinching out a dart across the middle of the bum to remove the excess fabric that hangs down, then there are some other tweaks that might be needed. Best wishes, and thanks for all you share. I have been peeking into your site for a long time

Fabric Tragic said...

Oh the angst of fitting trousers! So I had a crotch curve epiphany recently regarding full bums. I always thought that full bums meant more room was needed at the side seams, but it also means one needs extra room in the back crotch length to go over the fullness in that direction.... if you scoop out you do add a little length to the back crotch curve. I'm not sure about your other drag lines but I also felt that deer and doe did some good pants fitting posts when they launched the Safran trousers. And I also was similarly frustrated by Pants for Real People - it's no good if you want trousers with little or no ease, and no stretch fabric is accounted for.... I'll be sure to pop back in a few days and see what other pearls have been left behind for you xx

Unknown said...

I'm new to apparel sewing so take this for what it's worth. I recently saw another blog where the sewer decreased the inseam and lengthened the outer seam to fix the diagonal lines across the back of the thighs. I hope that gives you some insight. I know I filed that idea away for the future when I'm ready to tackle pants. :-)

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm also going to recommend the Closet Case Files blog. She has a blog post on common pants fitting issues (https://closetcasepatterns.com/14-common-jeans-pants-fitting-adjustments/) and from your pictures, the sort of drag lines I see look most like her "flat seat adjustment" illustration. It's worth checking out. And keep soldiering on, mama, through those night feedings. They are so hard!

Jessie said...

As I was reading this, I started thinking 'hmm, length of back crotch seam?' because of the way the wrinkles point from your hip down toward the inner thigh--as if the fabric at hip level is being artificially pulled down to the thigh. I had a similar problem on a pants draft I made a few years ago, and I got some great advice in the comments at We Sew Retro:

http://wesewretro.com/2014/09/drafting-cigarette-pants/

Lengthening the back crotch seam fixed the problem for me. I cut a line horizontally from the fullest part of the hip to the approximate center of the back crotch seam (just above where the crotch curve begins), and hinged it out to add about an inch of length to the crotch seam. This will raise your center back, which is necessary to vertically accommodate your butt (for lack of a better term). That way, all the vertical fabric over the fullest part of each butt cheek (ha ha) has somewhere to go, instead of getting shoved down to the thigh area.

I'm on my phone at the moment, but I can come back later with visuals if you need them!

Susan Wiggins said...

I have given up on pants fitting so many times I've lost count. I did however, recently take a pattern drafting class and we made a jeans sloper. I'm eager to see how this works out for you as I'm nervous to start this process myself.

My vote is to lengthen the back crotch seam by scooping it out. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but it will lengthen that line and hopefully stop the pulling that's making the wrinkles. You might also think about slightly lowering the crotch point in front and back (maybe 1cm? maybe .5?). It looks like it's being pulled up too high.

Meg said...

Agree with those above. Lower the back crotch seam. I have this same issue :)

Kate McIvor said...

Hahahaha! I love the tone of this post! I'm constantly having customers request a pants fitting class, and I always have a feeling of terror before I say, not going to happen! I have taken Pati Palmer's pant-fitting class twice, and I still don't feel confident. Since your issues are similar to my issues, I advise lengthening the back crotch (Pati advises always using the lowest back-crotch curve on the pattern, regardless of the size you cut out). And, I think you should straighten the back-crotch curve (reduce the diagonal). Also, before you put the waist band on, you should tie an elastic around your waist and pull up the fabric until everything looks nice and smooth, then mark the bottom of the waistband with chalk --- even though you're not making trousers.

Magpie said...

Hi there! @themagpiegate on instagram here. Turns out you and I share pants fitting issues! Two things should help a lot:

1. Scoop out the back crotch curve. Yes, it takes a little width out, but you're not losing more that 1/2" total, and you can always add at the side seams if you want a little extra with in case. It'll take care of the diagonal pull lines along your hips.

2. The wrinkles along the inner thighs can likely be fixed by either a knock-knee or full inner thigh adjustment (maybe both). Heather's got a great guide here:
https://closetcasepatterns.com/14-common-jeans-pants-fitting-adjustments/

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I would suggest getting one of those bendable rulers, a long one, and take the actual shape of your front and back rise to see how it compares to the pattern. It will give you a lot of information. Put a button or ribbon mid-ruler and place that in the centre of your crotch. Bend the ruler to your shape, front and back, and then step out of it without changing the shape. Lay it on your pattern pieces to see how they compare. Then adjust to fit your shape.
Looking at the fit, it seems to me that the side seams need letting out a little bit and the legs seem too long so the hem of the pants can't sit where it should.
I'll be very interested to read how you solve these problems.
Pants – gotta love 'em gotta hate 'em. Easy to sew. Hard to fit.
Corraggio. Avanti.
Vancouver Barbara

Claire Cooper said...

I'm having the same issues at the moment. 3 trouser toiles and I'm not convinced they're any good. I even drafted my own. Maybe we can help each other. Www.ragbagsandgladrags.bligspot.co.uk

Kristen said...

It looks to my in-expert eye like the shape of the bum of the pants doesn't match your body's shape. IMO it's *almost* like the pants are trying to accommodate fullness at the lower bum, like a teardrop, but your fullness is distributed more evenly and/or higher up, like a sphere. Hence a little tightness at the top and pooling fabric below. Maybe? I have no idea how to fix it, but a flexible ruler as mentioned above would be my first step.

I started a pants-sloper class on Craftsy but haven't gotten very far into it. I'm hoping that gives me more insight into what measurements matter where. Please keep updating as you figure things out! Pants fitting has been so tricky for me, especially trying to fit my own body by myself, and it's encouraging to see what someone else is doing!

Katrina said...

I might say something contradictory to other posters, but what is the difference between your waist measurement and your hip measurement? You might need to add extra width and length over your bum, or maybe just increase your waist measurement.

I made some jeans a while ago in a different style, but the problem down the back of the leg looked the same as yours and was a result of changes made above the hipline.

Don't scoop the seam until you can be sure that you don't need extra space...

LynneSews said...

I have similar issues. I scooped out the crotch at the bottom of the 'J' (quite a lot, I guess I have a droopy mummy bum now), then pulled up the CB till the wrinkles disappeared, kind of like giving yourself a wedgie, LOL) and trim off the excess crotch length from the top, tapering to the side seams, and then I added a bit more width at the side seams to relieve the bum pulling. After a few toiles I got reasonably good fit. Much later, I bought the Stylearc barb pants, and lo and behold their crotch shape is almost the same. This may not help you, and everyone's body is different, but that's my 2c worth. Lynne

Anonymous said...

Yes the pant is too tight in the rear. The inseam is too long and the fabric poodles under your seat because the fabric can not come up. (see slanted folds).
You have to make the crotch lower about maybe about 1 - 1.5 cm. You have to add at back crotch tip about 1 - 1.5 cm. You have to add at side seam maybe 0.5 cm. If you have sewed it you decide if you have to have scooping out (not when you have not enough seam allowance). I don't think so - your back looks about average - a bit on the narrow side (more wide than round) so maybe when having enough room for your body inside the pants you can alter the back crotch slant a bit to a straighter angle.
lg posaune

Mother of Reinvention said...

Aaargh! I have the same issue with all my RTW trousers. I think that changing the crotch curve would work well and maybe still taking in the side seams anther 0.25-inch. I am dying to give trousers a go but they just seem like they are too difficult to fit on your own. Good luck with the fitting. Xx

Tanit-Isis said...

I won't comment on pattern changes as I think you have some good suggestions above and I'm no expert on it, but in terms of the current pairs I'd probably take the legs in a bit more, starting in the side seams below the hip. I think part of the problem with the black ones is hey are quite snug through the butt but then looser through the leg. This is what I alwAys do with stretch skinnies until I'm happy with them, anyway. 😉

Tasha said...

Yeah the less fabric/more room thing is a total mind bender when you're trying to visualize these things!
Just from looking at the pictures, I agree the bum seems tight, and I think some of the wrinkles on the back thighs may be pulling around diagonally due to the adjustments that you made to the inner seams before. I'd suggest adding a bit to the side seams at the bum level (especially if you decide to scoop out the back curve), and readjusting the amount you want to take out of the back legs so that some is coming out of the side seam and some out of the inseam, so it's more balanced.
My best advice for testing this stuff out is to make another pair in a similar fabric to what you want for the final ones, give yourself really wide seam allowances to work with, and be patient. Just make one change at a time if you can stand it, and then try them on again, and decide what to change next. It's not a quick or easy process, but having trousers that actually fit your body is totally worth it! Good luck!!

Barbara said...

I have almost no experience in pants, but plan to change that, and already did some research on patterns I like (soon to be blogged ;-)) and I came across Closet Case Patterns, where you can find a pdf booklet about sewing jeans and how to make the perfect fit. I didn't buy it myself (yet) but it seemed really in-dept and good. Maybe you could have a look there as well :-) Good luck!

Anne said...

I struggled for a long time with pants fitting. I hope I've got a reasonable toile now ready to go but I got help to do it. Lots of help from a professional, who also struggled with me (made me feel better!).
On the scooping issue, it helped me to visualise the side cross section of the body. I have a large and low bum and it's easy to see that the curve needs to accommodate that. It's also easier to understand that if you have to do a lot of scooping there wouldn't be enough fabric to go from back seam to side seam so need to add at side seam. Not much use, sorry, without diagrams but most fitting books have this.
Good luck! And please wish me luck too!

Debra said...

I don't think these look too bad at all. In terms of improving the fit, I would deal with the obvious problem first - the tightness across the rear high and low hip - before changing the shape of the crotch curve. My fitting book makes the same suggestion that many have mentioned here, lengthening the back crotch length between inseam and hipline by adding length at the back crotch point. I would do this before any 'scooping' as the shape may not be wrong, just too small.

I don't think you need a full rear adjustment or low buttock adjustment. If you get your muslin so that there is enough room for everything and you still have pooling under the buttocks then you might need to change the crotch curve shape by scooping.

I think Tasha's tips about making one change at a time is good and I would add to that, start at the centre with the crotch length and shape and work out to the edges. Take lots of notes and mark changes in different colour pens and number them, 'as though you are about to suffer a serious bout of amnesia', to quote Kenneth D. King.

One other thing I've learned about pant fitting is that the fabric changes the fit more dramatically than with tops, so the wide seam allowance tip is a good one that I always use with a new fabric.

I do wonder if stretch fabrics have made us expect a bit too much from close fitting pants in wovens or low-stretch fabric. There will be some wrinkles, unless we plan on not sitting down at all :).

Louise Perry said...

Argh I feel your pain. I am no expert at all, but have you compared the back crotch curve on these to a pair of RTW that fit?

Alison said...

Honestly they really don't look bad at all! I think it's so easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole of seeing every wrinkle & imperfection. I'm currently obsessing over my front crotch curve & excess fabric behind my knees! There's loads of great advice above and I'm a total beginner in fitting trousers... but I reckon that skinny jeans / jeggings etc have skewed our perception of fit. I went to a pattern drafting class and most of us were struggling with our trouser blocks for this exact reason. Also the excess fabric under your bum - I have this (I'm all bum) and to some extent you probably will always need a little here to enable you to sit down. Finally, for trousers that you've already cut out (i.e. past the point of flat pattern adjustment) you could always unpick the seams up to your hip, put them on inside out (legs will be flapping about) and just pin to fit, trying to keep the grainline true and the seams straight and perpendicular to the ground. Quick and dirty fix but may rescue some beautiful fabric.

Tasha said...

I feel your pain. I sooooo feel your pain. Like 11+ muslins later feel your pain! I went through this a few years ago with a different trouser pattern and have two long drawn-out saga posts on my blog with lots of suggestions from folks and things I tried. And I can't say that I've completely sorted it out, honestly, even with years of trying. Less fitted pants are worse than tighter ones. In my case, it's a full butt but also a low butt, so my rear end is pushing down fabric below the crotch (if I literally stick my hands down the back of my pants and pull my cheeks up, it looks a lot better *grumble*. I've lengthened, scooped, tried fish eye darts and pretty much everything I could find. I think I got the biggest improvement on slashing a muslin mid-hip over my butt to give that more room, but when you've made 100 tweaks it's really hard to tell. :/ I fear I'll be in this endless cycle again soon as I'd like to try some less fitted trousers for summer pedal pushers. But worth mentioning 2 things: 1) we're our own worst critics. I have to remind myself nearly no one who doesn't sew trousers a lot has given this much (or any) thought to back of leg wrinkles, and your trousers both look great and I bet fit a hell of a lot better than RTW anyway! :) 2) If you do have the low/full butt thing like me, you may find you actually *need* some of that ease to be comfortable. Through pinching fabric in and trying various adjustments I determined some of that ease is actually needed for movement and so I can sit comfortably. If I pinch out a lot of ease, they become uncomfortable even if it doesn't look like I've given myself a wedgie. So I'd rather a bit of ease (that I thankfully can't see except in blog photos, ha ha) and comfy trousers. I've honestly had to learn to let some of my fitting anxiety go. Cheering you on from the sidelines!

Roni Arbel said...

I had a similar issue with this pattern. I found a helpful advise somewhere to add length to the outer back leg seam (rather than to the rise), between a bit below the waist and the lowest point of the rise (but on the outer seam). Than you will need to ease the back side seam to the front side seam as they are no longer the same length.

Laura said...

Wow! I'm sorry you're struggling but how great that you posted this! Thank you! The number of comments saying they are having the same problem makes me feel so much better! I've never made a pair of pants that really worked (except for pleated trousers back in the 70s). The fit is so complicated! All these modifications make my brain hurt! I have enough trouble fitting dresses... but I'll stay tuned. Maybe you'll be the one to solve it all for us!

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