The Challenge Series II: fitting pants

My second foray into the Dreaded was pants. Because I need pants in a bad way, and I’m a totally different shape now than when I did this 12 years ago.

I started with a Burda magazine pattern that has princess seams and some red linen for a wearable muslin (hey, if you are jumping in, why not go big and assume you’ll be able to wear it?). The pattern does not go up to a large enough size, but what’s a few inches? I’m hacking the pattern to bits anyway. I added the extra to the side seams, gave myself generous seam allowances, and basted it all together. Then spent several nights with a seam ripper and a full length mirror…
red front cropped red profile red back red side
(my camera really did not like this red – I tried altering the colour and contrast to bring out the princess seams and back pockets, but no luck. The side view was the only one not played with, it actually showed something!)
OK, so fitting pants yourself, at least with my fitting issues (“athletic thighs” – HA! – in the front and prominent calves in the back) may lead to throwing things off grain. Which may not be so bad with fuller pant legs, but you know, the happy red summer fabric didn’t want to be that swishy for me. And I got overzealous with the pinching out at the back to try and get the back legs to stop wrinkling. In the end they are probably wearable in the not-any-worse-than-the-pants-I-buy-off-the-rack way (I only got two wearings in before the weather turned too cold!), but not in the yay-I-have-a-pattern-to-make-more-pants way. There may or may not have been 5 pounds between the finishing and the photoshoot that will have to go before next summer for these to come back!

So I started again.

This time I began with a worn-out pair of RTW pants that were a bit too tight, but not terrible fitting with the idea that in order to fit I’d have to make up a muslin anyway. And I conscripted my previously-sewist mom so I didn’t have to bend over while trying to fix the lower legs! This time I followed some of the techniques from Cation Designs great pants alteration posts (second one here), specifically the “extra chocolate storage” (aka tummy), hyper extended calf, and the diagonal back dart for flat backside. The athletic thighs, being forward instead of inner or outer, I based on an alteration I do with sleeves that are too tight around the bicep: slit down vertically and then cut a horizontal line at the underarm (or crotch), open up the vertical slit as necessary and allow the horizontal to overlap however much it needs to to keep the piece flat.

front pant alteration: thigh and tummy
Front pant piece showing full tummy and forward thigh.

20161113_192631Back piece showing the outline of the diagonal dart

20161113_193737Back piece altered to remove extra material in the seat, and showing just the top part of the hyperextended calf alteration.

Things were looking pretty good, so I braved a pinstripe wool. I debated the closure for a while – front fly will add more bulk to my middle, but the invisible zippers I have already broke the first time I tried on the red linen pants so it was find another kind of invisible zipper or toss the side zipper idea. Then I remembered someone describing putting the zipper inside the pocket. Not that I can remember who or where! But it could have been on Stitcher’s Guild. Reading over that thread, and knowing that my hip and waist measurements aren’t that far apart, I figured I could get away with keeping the pocket linings separate for just a few inches and not putting in a zipper at all.

button detail 1  button detail 2 button detail 3

It works a treat, and I only need to open one side!

Please ignore the heels in these pics – with the flat shoes I normally wear there’s enough of a break over the foot that it throws off the side seams, etc and makes them look a worse fit than they are.
brown wool front cropped brown wool back cropped brown wool side cropped brown wool profile cropped

I have to stop my habit of oversizing the waistband in fear of going too small, and during walking the back waist still pulls down too far which I’m reading as not quite enough room in the front thighs, but all in all not bad! I think I’ve got something to work with this time! Next up: trying it in a beefy ponte knit. I also have a lightweight wool that I want to do a high-waisted Burda design with, I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll try to alter their pattern or apply the design details to mine.


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