Thursday, 2 August 2018

Finally, a pair of pants that fit me!

I started sewing when I was around 19 which means that I have been sewing for more than half my life (explains the size of my stash right?). I have made lots of pants (trousers) in the last 21 years but I have never really achieved a very good fit thanks to my very pronounced pear shape and lumps and bumps around the bottom half of my body. In recent years I've tried pants patterns by nearly every pattern company, including the Sewaholic Thurlows that everyone lauds as the answer to pear shape pants, attended a few pants fitting classes and tried lots of adjustments without quite getting the fit I wanted.

When I was younger, as long as I could get on the pants and do the zipper and button up I was happy enough with the fit.  But now, what I really want are some pants that fall straight at the back of the legs without loads of wrinkles and no whiskers at the front. These latest pants are pretty good:

wide leg linen pants

wide leg linen pants

The pattern is Burda 10/2016 #113:

burda pants pattern

I've made these once before (here) that turned out reasonably ok so I knew it was a good starting point for making further adjustments. I left off the pockets, reduced the length by 15cm so I could wear these with flat shoes and reduced the width of the legs by 2cm because these really are wide leg pants. Look at how wide these legs are still after being narrowed:

wide leg linen pants

I also made significant fitting changes to the crotch curve which is what has improved the way the back legs fall.

Crotch depth and length
I have been watching hours of the very excellent Sarah Veblen Fun With Fitting Pants online class and making multiple muslins of the Eureka! Pants that Fit pattern and have finally realised that due to my wide and ample but low sitting derriere that pants patterns don't have enough length and aren't scooped low enough to fit my shape. All these years I had just been adding extra width to the side seams to accoutn for my saddle bag thighs but it turns out that I needed to add to the inner back leg seam to extend the crotch lenght and scoop the crotch shape so that it is no longer a "J" shape but more of an elongated reversed "L" shape.

The Eureka! Pants That Fit pattern is very useful in terms of fitting - it has all the horizontal balance lines marked and it has three options for the back pattern piece depending on your size. However once you've got the fit right you then need to make fashion adjustments to the pattern - lowering the waist line, adding a waist band or facing and adjusting the leg width depending on what you want. I decided to just transfer the fitting changes to the Burda pattern since the Burda pattern had the look I wanted instead of making further adjustments to the Eureka pattern.

I can highly recommend Sarah's online class, but this tutorial by Maria Denmark and this blog post over at 5 Out Of 4 Patterns are also extremely useful in figuring out the type of crotch curve needed for your particular body shape. I used a flexible ruler and four muslins to get that crotch curve close to what I needed. I didn't take a photo of the Burda pattern, but here are the adjustments I'm currently making to a pair of Style Arc pants (the crotch curve of Burda and Style Arc are very similar by the way) - the red pencil show how much I've added to the inner leg seam and the much lowered curve:



Forward tilting pelvis
Another fitting issue I always have with pants and skirts is that I find the front sits too high on my waist but the back dips too low below my waist when standing, and is even worse when sitting. I always thought that was due to my big butt, but now I think it may be because my pelvis is titled forward (hence my swayback). I now use the cut and hinge method to lower the front and heighten the back which seems to work especially well for pencil skirts too:



Again, the amount needed came from experimentation but I find that 2cm works for me to make the waist parallel. These pants are rather high waisted which is part of the look of this pattern, but this adjustment works well for lower slung pants and skirts too.

wide leg linen pants in rust colour

You can see in the photo above there are still some wrinkles - that's the hollow below my high hip and the top of my saddle bags but I think to get rid of that I would need to make these much looser fitting which I didn't want to do in linen since the fabric would relax after wearing them for a while anyway.

These are the fitting changes I needed to make these wide leg pants fit better, and I suspect that part of the good fit is because there's enough space to drape over my other problem areas! I'm finding it's a whole different story trying to make narrow leg pants - my extended calves and prominent front thighs tend to catch the fabric and cause all sorts of drag lines that I'm still working on reducing in a narrower leg.

wide leg linen pants

This fabric is a heavy weight linen from The Fabric Store in paprika and is one of those fabrics I bought just last week so that's 2 out of 3 now sewn - yay for me! I used the Sandra Betzina method of preparing linen - a hot iron, a hot wash and then a hot tumble dry - in the hope of minimising the amount of wrinkling. It is linen so it will always end up wrinkling after wearing - the photos below were taken after a normal day at the office and do show lots of wrinkles from sitting around but I don't think it looks too messy or sloppy:

wide leg linen pants

black and white top with wide leg linen pants

The top I'm wearing is made from OOP Vogue 2659 pattern that I've had in my stash for years. The fabric is a lovely ribbed knit that I bought in Japan that is so soft. I made this top back in May at the sewing retreat I went to with the sewing guild and it was a very quick sew. I've made this once before in a ponte knit (also black and white stripe!) but this version sits differently because the knit is a bit thinner - it's a bit lower around the back neck than I would like but I usually wear a jacket or a scarf so it's fine.

black and white stripe top


black and white stripe top


So my next challenge now is to make a pair of decently fitting narrow leg pants because while I like the wide leg look I don't want a whole wardrobe full of them! Fingers crossed it's not another 21 years before I achieve that....