Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pant Epiphany

A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger van Oech is all about being more creative by thinking differently. Among the many things he suggests doing are asking what if, looking for the second right answer, and viewing the situation from a backward perspective. Often times while reading, I'd wonder how can I apply this to sewing? and the answer was rarely obvious and yet all of those questions were part of my recent pant epiphany.

I've talked about the importance of our vertical measurements and how the placement of the curves on the pattern need to match the placement of the curves on our body. I have a high underarm point, a short center back and center front length, and a shallow hip depth. It varies pattern to pattern but typically I've been raising the underarm by an inch and shortening the CB and CF lengths by 7/8" but I hadn't given as much thought to my hip depth. I think I've been working my way down the body.

Sometimes - when I come to a better answer - I wonder if I should go back and erase some of the postings about my fitting journey and yet perhaps my round about path will help someone else to get there as well. In the past with pants, I've lowered center front for a tipped waist and I've lengthened the back crotch length for a dropped derriere and I've squared the front and back crotch curves to match my shape and of all of those adjustments only one was correct - squaring.

BUT... what I find... and what's so wonderful... is that when I pay attention to the vertical measurements and how they interact with the horizontal ones, I eventually get to the right answer. Yesterday, I sewed the best pair of pants I have ever worn in my entire life... unless my ruffly little baby pantaloons fit better... but I doubt it.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I needed to remove more front crotch length from center front all the way across to the side seam without tapering. At first, I thought it was an inch and then I tried two inches and then I decided that the top of the waistband should be at my waist as opposed to the bottom and that meant removing three inches on most patterns.

Along with the front crotch length, I removed an inch from the back crotch length for the waistband but after that, I was tapering to the side seam meaning that while the front crotch length was shortened by three inches - two for the hip depth and one for the waistband - the back crotch length was only shortened by one inch for the waistband.

I started to get puckers at waistband over the hips which looked like too much fabric and at the same time, I kept pulling up on the back crotch to eliminate the wrinkles and thinking that meant the crotch curve had to go lower. I'd lower it and the wrinkles wouldn't disappear so it wasn't working even though it seemed the answer.

That led me to wonder, what if I went the other way, what if I shortened the back crotch length? I pinned a tuck - tapered to the side seam because the front had already been lowered - and it worked ! ! ! ! !

One of my favourite pant patterns is Burda 8157. It already had an inch taken out so I removed another two inches and shaped the crotch curve accordingly and then I sewed it as is with no fitting and...

... it's the best pair of pants ever... even with those wrinkles... that I've been pouring over Pants For Real People to diagnose. Before when I've sewn this pattern there has been enough hip ease however, with raising the crotch depth so much, the hip is now quite tight. That may be the cause of those wrinkles in the back or it may be because of high back hips requiring a "bump up" along the waist. I absolutely have to figure it out. I'm just programmed that way. It'll tickle at me until I do. This morning should help. I'm wearing the pants to journal and since the fabric is a very light denim, they will stretch out providing more ease. What happens with the wrinkles then will be a clue.

And then, of course, I wanted to fix all of my pants only I didn't want to take the waistband off every pair and not every pair needed the same identical fix however, most needed the back crotch depth shortened somewhere in the range of 1 3/4" - 2 1/2". With a few pairs, I made a fish eye dart that was widest at center back tapering out to midway to the side seam. On the...

... right side it is barely visible and I won't be wearing a shirt tucked in with any of these pants so it's all good. This morning I am cutting out some patterns to take along to the Design Outside the Lines Retreat and tomorrow I'll be backing up the sewing room so it'll be a few weeks before I can experiment with this learning some more but I know I'm onto a good solution. YES YES. My best pants ever.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - progressive learning, simpler solutions


  1. Too funny!! This is *exactly* where I have ended up. 3" in the front, square up front and back, and the fish eye in the back.

    Although I was thinking that I needed to do the fish eye at mid butt level, the pivot point. It didn't occur to me that I could make that adjustment up by the waistband. (Not wanting to remove waistbands on rtw pants.)

    I have been patiently waiting for you to explore this scenario, just dying to see where you ended up. If you were going to end up where I did, or if there was something I was missing that you were going to enlighten me on! I am so enjoying watching your journey on this one.

    I only recently decided that armholes are too big for me, and have learned a whole bunch watching you explore that scenario. So fun to have someone to learn from who actually knows what they're doing!

    1. LOL - glad I could confirm things for you. I need to tweak this a bit more when I get back from my holidays - possibly between Ashland and Europe but most likely afterward. Armholes and crotches have a lot in common.

  2. Love seeing this post! I so want to build up the courage to make pants again. Just out of curiosity, if you pin a little more length out of the back of the pant will that eliminate the wrinkles? You would taper to nothing at the hip.

    1. Pinning out a little more crotch length actually increases the wrinkles. Pulling down at the mid point starts to eliminate them. I think the answer may be in the high hip adjustment or adding a little length to the back hip but I won't have time to explore that until I get back.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.