purple trousers revisited

I hadn’t been wearing these trousers lately, as I found them uncomfortable. But I recently started thinking that they might be salvageable.

The problem

After I wore them a few times, I knew they were uncomfortably snug through the thigh. I was recently reminded that you should measure the thigh while sitting, which I hadn’t done. I researched wearing ease, and then compared the recommendations for waist, hip, thigh (1″, 2-3″, 2-3″) to the ease present in these trousers (1″, 2″, ½”). Aha!

Reviewing my original post about these pants, I note that I recorded the thigh ease as 1½” at that time. While that’s still low, it’s more than what I have now. Why the difference? The only thing I can think of is that I walk more and climb more stairs than I did when I made them. I guess I wore them so rarely that I didn’t notice the change in my shape (none of my other pants fit this closely, so they weren’t giving me the message) and put it all down to having done a poor fitting job in the first place.

The attempted fix

I let the thighs out at the side seams to provide the recommended ease and they felt way better. However, they looked worse and the alteration seemed to create more wrinkling at the back crotch. OK, so something is going on there.

I let out the inseams at the crotch. I had to patch in a small piece on back right and left to make a longer back crotch extension (added about 1½” in length). This now gave me loads of room, so I brought the side seams back in.

The change to the back crotch negatively affected the front crotch (as predicted) by causing a ‘bubble’ below the zipper. I tried to fix this by straightening the seam below the zipper (as per Pants for Real People), which brought the front curve down a little. It still looks odd and I don’t think I can fix it given that the zipper is in already; perhaps if I make these corrections at the outset rather than as a later alteration, I’ll have more success. I hope.

before: definitely pulling at back crotch

How did I get here?

In the first iteration of these pants, I raised the CB for my full bottom. (I think I also added to the hip at the side seam, or took away from the waist at the side seam for much the same result.) I don’t recall adding much, if any, at the back inseam. But these wrinkles at back crotch look like what Pants for Real People calls “smiles”; they recommend letting out the inseam (making a longer crotch extension).

Having researched the “protruding buttocks adjustment” (how clinical that sounds) during this process, I discovered that it requires:

  • more height at CB
  • more width at side seam at hip level, and
  • longer back crotch extension

Why didn’t I just do the complete PBA in the first place? I thought my pattern was pretty close, since I had had help with it. I guess it wasn’t as close as I thought, and it needed more significant surgery than a tweak here and a tweak there. In future, I would probably benefit from doing another muslin or two (ugh), taking my existing pattern and applying the PBA. I’ve found a couple of methods, so in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I should reduce the variables (same pattern as a starting point, same fabric), and try every method to see which works best for me.

Current status

after: slightly less pulling? or is that wishful thinking?

after: looking a little odd in front because of the changes to crotch length

I think the patch job helped the wrinkles at the back, which encourages me to try a proper PBA. However, the patch was at the top of the inseam only (not right down to the knee), so they get weirdly snug at mid-thigh. Sigh. Not comfy to sit in, and not flattering. The best I can hope for is that this was a learning experience.

What I learned from this revision

  • the pattern that I had help with is still far from perfect
  • the PBA has 3 elements (CB, side hip, back crotch extension) and you have to do them all
  • what “smile” wrinkles look like in fabric (as opposed to in a drawing), what a too short back crotch looks like
  • when adding to the crotch extension, you need to let out the inseam to the knee (at least)
  • fit problems in homemade garments look different from fit problems in RTW – not because RTW is better, but because they make different ‘mistakes’ than I do
  • pants are difficult to fit, and even people who do lots of sewing are sometimes intimidated by sewing pants

Intellectually, I’m certain that I’ve made some progress with fitting. However, I’m still far from being confident in my ability not to mangle good fabric irretrievably. I’m going to need a project where the fitting is less miserable so I can have a tangible accomplishment and not be tempted to give up on sewing completely.


About Zena

I sew sometimes.
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7 Responses to purple trousers revisited

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for posting about this revision. It’s always interesting to learn about “not so perfect” projects. Educational, and makes me feel better about my own failed attempts. 🙂

    I have a failed project – pants that turned out just terrible. I hate them so much, that I threw them in the trash. Then I fished them out and put them in the laundry instead. After they’ve been washed, I’ll try to fix them. I’ve got nothing to lose. If they’re beyond fixing, I can just throw them out. But maybe I’ll learn something in the process.

  2. Chris says:

    Maybe the secret to trousers that fit well is to use a ‘bottom weight’ fabric with just a little stretch to it? Fits better because it’s more forgiving? Anyway, that’s what I plan on trying next.

    • Zena says:

      Stretchy fabric is certainly more forgiving. But I think these trousers needed a lot more forgiveness than stretch can provide 😉

  3. Big in Japan says:

    Good on you for actually taking time to document and share all of this. I had a miserable time with some VERY basic pants this fall. Even after muslining it was still a disaster and money thrown away. I think one of the (many) problems I have with fitting pants is that I wear jeans and cords almost exclusively, so when it comes time to fit grown-up pants, I’m not even quite sure what a proper fit is. Pants for Real People is undoubtedly a good resource, but the demonstration garments are, for the most part, hideous. Well-fitting but…

  4. Tanit-Isis says:

    PFRP definitely seems more focused on trouser-type fits (which are much looser). I’m a jeans (stretch denim) girl myself. There are some things that cross over, but other things don’t—you’re never going to get that ramrod-smooth fit around the crotch in close-fitting jeans.

    Zena, as to the stretch-bottom-weights as opposed to regular bottom weights, they’re not much different to handle. The patterns do need to be a little different, mostly in that the non-stretch needs more ease, but the actual sewing-up process is identical.

  5. Pingback: green stripey trousers | Blood, Sweatshop & Tears

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