Pants fitting - the cycle of hate

4.10.2013

Hello blog readers, this is a post that I debated about writing. While I'm not an overall positive person, I do tend to be positive about my hobbies.  And to say something is hard often discourages others not to try it/increases their own doubts about trying it.  But I've decided this is an area where I just need to vent and maybe you'll just shake your head in agreement.  Ok here goes....

Pants fitting is hard!


So now let me give you some back story.  I haven't had a proper fitting pair of pants since I hit puberty and developed the family derriere.  The family derriere is large in proportion to the rest of the body and is very full at the bottom and ski slopes into the lower back. So that old adage of "take a pair of RTW pants that fit well," makes me want to grab said writer and smash their head into a wall repeatably.  (SHE HULK SMASH!)

What if every pair of pants you've every bought gaps wildly at the CB and yet does not give you enough butt coverage to confidently bend over?  (Other than maternity pants, which where the shizzel.) What if you've been living with a semi-wedge all your life that you're not even sure what a properly fitted pant is supposed to feel/look like?  What if the properly fitted pants you see in fitting books looks like something your grandma would put on with her Keds to go buy mass quantities of fabric at auctions? OK maybe your grandma plays bingo, but you get my drift.

I've been working diligently (in spurts) on pants fitting since 2011.  I've purchased several books, read blog posts, bought craftsy classes, talked to other sewcalists and still the cycle of pants fitting hate continues.  It goes like something like this...
1. See slim blogger with "flat white girl butt" rocking a newly made pair of pants.
2. Think that looks fantastic I must buy that pattern.
3. Full of enthusiasm the pattern is purchased with thoughts, "This time I'm gonna make some awesome pants and look fabulous too."
4. Pattern is traced and first muslin cut out. Dreams of fabulousness continue with planning shirts that will go with the awesome pants.
5. 1st muslin is tried on and I am once again confronted with "yes my ass is that big."  Still optimism remains, I have fitting books.... I can fix this.
6. Make 2nd muslin, try on. Think "I added 3 inches to the rise, how can this thing still be giving me a wedgie!  Also what's with all the wrinkling on the back of my thighs?"
7. Make 3rd muslin, try on... there is still not enough ass room.  I start scooping out the crotch but somehow it makes very little difference. My brain starts musing that the right measurement for the back crotch length must be some made up equation like (The airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow - the number of red shirts killed in original star trek episodes x a number that Nathan Fillian is thinking right now.)  Decide to add length to the front crotch too.
8. Make 4th muslin, try on... now the damn front is f'ed up and the back looks exactly the same.  A pox upon you pants!!!
9.  Remove front crotch alteration, scoop back crotch even lower, extend back crotch another inch.  Make muslin #5, try on and.......@#&%^*(@&#%%  the back looks exactly the same as it did in muslin #2.  Commence a 15 min rant about how pants are a dirty dirty b**ch to my confused husband who replies with, "I thought your hobby was supposed to be fun."
10. There's a 50/50 split on the final step in the cycle of pants hate.  A. I make the pants anyway figuring they are slightly better than RTW cause they don't gap at the back, or B. I light the pattern on fire while laughing maniacally and then go make knit tops.


This is my long ass way of saying I'm in the middle of pants fitting again and I see the cycle of pants hate repeating and it frustrates me.  I don't want to hate pants because I vastly prefer wearing them. (Probably because I fall down a lot and not giving strangers and accidental up skirt shot is a real concern.) I want to be able to figure this out and then rock some (non granny) pants even though I have a giant ass.  Is that really too much to ask for?  Well I'm still on step 6 of the cycle of pants fitting hate so maybe, maybe this time things will be different. Cross your fingers for me.

37 comments:

  1. Don't give up!! We can do this!!! I'm working on a pants fit post, too. It might be helpful - we'll see.
    Also, this is the funniest blog post I've ever read. I read it out loud to the hubby and he says he's stealing your crotch length equation to give in a Pulmonology lecture. You are awesome.

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    1. Thanks Katie and Hubby. The crotch length equation is esoterically geeky enough to work in any situation.

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  2. I agree with Katie and her hubs. I love the equation. I think we need to add it to Pants Club. *runs over to flickr* *runs back* Do I have permission to post your handy equation?

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    1. You know you do Leila. Now we need to tweet Nathan to get that number he's currently thinking of.

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  3. True that! This is *exactly* the problem I'm having too. The geometry of it all just makes no sense to me, and what seem like drastic changes don't seem to make any difference! Grrrrr!!!!!

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    1. Yes Gillian Yes! I feel like there is some important instruction that has not been relayed. The missing link.

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  4. Absolutely one of the most AWESOME posts I've read in a long time, from the slim blogger to Nathan Fillian! I have been through that same cycle way too many times. I hope it clicks for you very soon.

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    1. Thanks Renae, I'm glad it amused you. Couldn't resist working Fillian in there cause we all know he's awesome. :)

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  5. I love this post! Thank you for deciding to share it with us. I, too, have had the same issues (1-5 for sure, then it's about the rear and the thighs... argh!). Your formula had me laughing out loud; I may print it and post it in my sewing room above the pants pattern that is next in line for trial and error. I believe that properly fitted pants can be done, though. (Just like I believe that the Cubs will win the World Series again... ha!) Anyway, as some geeks once said in a geeky movie, "Never give up. Never surrender!"

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    1. Haa haa, the thought of the pants formula posted in your sewing room tickles me to no end. I promise not to give up...at least not yet.

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  6. I have my fingers crossed for you - when I'm not sewing.

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    1. LOL Velo, I wouldn't want you to mess up your sewing so good plan.

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  7. Have you thought about drafting the pants from your measurements? It might be much easier to fit.

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    1. Admittedly my last work with drafting blocks was in college in (cough cough) 97-00 and was for size 6 people but I found them to still need a lot of fitting adjustment. Probably the bigger problem is that I have to take all my own measurement which we all know is not ideal.

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  8. I always admire these all young enthusiasts who sew the trouses ... I agree it is not so difficult to sew it - however to sew really properly fitted trousers is a master class. I have made few trouses - which are more like try outs then really good fitting ones. I am still working on it. I have nice patterns, I have food book where all fitting aspects are discussed and presented... so no excuses anymore...
    I am really curious your results. I am sure you will find the way there :-)

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    1. I definitely think a pant fitting class is what I need. Sadly they are way out of my budget at the current time so I'll have to keep plugging away using books and 'the internets.'

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  9. Terrific post - and I also love the formula and the Nathan reference! The best pant fitting system by far is from Joyce Simons Murphy, taught as a week-long program and used by many custom sewing professionals. She has just started marketing a book for the system at JSMTailoringTools - I was one of the first to purchase it last fall. I'm working on my own pants now, and would recommend this for you, if you can find someone nearby to work on it with you. If we could, I'd love to fit you as a way to practice for my clients -

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    1. Thanks Janee for the info about JSM. I checked out their website and it looks interesting but sadly out of my price range. (We are dirt poor at the moment.) Too bad I'm too far away from you for a fitting.

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  10. Heather, have you watched the fitting videos at Silhouette Patterns? She does amazing things. This one might be helpful for you: http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/html/media/livestreamchannel/replay_06_20_2011.htm

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    1. I have not Laura, have to check that link out.

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  11. Thank you. I am of the mind that if the pants feel comfortable I don't much care about some wrinkling in the back where I can't see it. With that in mind, I'm mentally preparing for my own pants-making-session in the near future. I also have a larger (I like to call it muscular) bum that seems to be best fit with a Burda pattern. I don't know what it is about their sloper, but it fits in the back better. You may want to try starting with one of theirs.

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    1. Actually I'm fitting Burda 7447 at the moment though I did not find the back to fit any better for me.

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  12. I'm reading this on my phone while riding a bus and a) shaking my head wildly in recognition of having been on all steps of the cycle, b) laughing out loud at how delightfully funny this post is. I think my fellow bus riders may think I've lost it... If only they knew the many failed pant muslins I have under my belt they would understand. Thanks for the rant - it makes me feel I'm not alone on this.

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    1. Haa haa! Oh no I've made you look like the crazy person on the bus. So sorry. It does feel good not to be alone. :)

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  13. ace post! i have a lot of the same fitting issues as you so i hope you manage to solve them (and i will pattern stalk you and steal your alterations!). i think i am going to give up on juniper for now and go for a flat fronted burda pattern that will hopefully allow me to work out the fitting issues without the fly getting in the way. couple of suggestions - sunni's trouser (i can't say pants - sorry!) fitting sewalong is excellent. also i think that stephC has a trouser fitting service - no idea on the costs, but it would be cheaper than a class!

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    1. Great idea going for a pant without a fly for fitting. Wish I'd thought of that before selecting yet another fly front pant to fit.

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  14. I just read your post, and don't we all know the joys of fitting :P

    I got some pretty good tools, when I studied tailoring, and I have made a really crude drawing of how I would adjust the pattern for a bigger bum..

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bemygoth/8642167211/in/photostream

    It's only one of the adjustments I would make, but perhaps the most important, I don't know...

    I just saw that the picture you pun in, you just lengthen the whole thing... And I think that's why there'll always be a gap...

    Anyway - hope it's ok that I shared my thoughts on this. :)

    Cheers!

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    1. Thanks for the drawing Paruuna. I do something similar but have never slashed down through the back of the pant leg. Makes sense and I'll try that after sewing up the muslin that just got cut out.

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  15. Leave the crotch alone. Do a swayback alteration, plus a prominent rear alteration. Ignore all swayback alterations done by fellow bloggers. As far as I can work out they are all doing a vertical dart alteration on the pattern or the fabric itself(that's really a waist alteration) but swayback is a length alteration - it involves adjusting your pattern piece by cutting a dart horizontally across it about 3" below the waist). You may then want to give yourself an abdomen adjustment. But the two primary alterations you need are swayback and full rear. That's not that unusual, by the way. It is very common for black women and women of Irish descent (apparently the Moors cam up from Spain in the twelfth century and intermarried with us - or something). I am exactly the same shape as you. And once you've got it, it's really quick and easy to make these twp alterations and your pants look perfect. But leave the crotch depth, curve etc well alone. That's just a red herring in your pants. You can find free pdfs documenting how to do these alterations here https://agrilifebookstore.org/publications_browse2.cfm?keywordid=62.

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    1. Ooh, sounds like an interesting solution - I've got lots of the same fitting issues as Heather, and no amount of crotch scooping has helped so far! I think i understand how to do the sway back adjustment, but what does a full rear adjustment look like?
      THanks!

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    2. Thanks for all the fitting advice Ruth, I'll give that a shot. :)

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    3. Awesome post. I love your equation. I have a trouser resistant figure too, and use the Bodacious backside adjustment that I think is similar to what Ruth describes above. An alternate and more complicated adjustment is 3 part change like a full bust adjustment.
      I have tried this here
      http://kbenco.blogspot.com.au/2008/09/bwof-8-2008-pants-105.html
      and it does work quite nicely, but is definitely more complicated than just adding at the centre back seam and tapering out to nothing at the side seams as above, which is what I mostly use currently.
      Unfortunately with trousers, I think you have to try lots of different fixes before you work out which are most suitable for your shape.

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    4. Thanks for showing me your pants fitting alteration. Will all these options I'm hoping to get some well fitting pants soon.

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  16. Mary Gene Caldwell BehelerOctober 30, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    Maybe this will help? http://sewchicpatterns.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2013-02-16T22:58:00-08:00&max-results=7

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  17. Yes pants fitting is hard! Like you I don't have a pair of rtw pants that fits well, which is why I stopped doing my craftsy jeans fitting class, and like you my best fitting pants ever were maternity pants. There was one pair I kept wearing post maternity till the butt fabric wore out, and unfortunately the others had that thick stretch band that's a maternity pants giveaway :(.

    Have you tried a few brands of pants patterns to find the best fit for you? I'm currently fitting some vogue pants but thinking to try burda soon. Good luck!

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  18. Oh man this hits close to home! Last year I made some Juniper pants and they are amazing! I tried them on and I was so excited because they fit GREAT! Barely ANY wedgie! But the more I wear them the more I realise there is an unacceptable amount of wedge, still. How much wedge was I living with that I thought this was ok?? (None: I had given up on pants altogether and was only wearing dresses and skirts and leggings).

    I have yet to manage to find the balance of deep enough crotch without unbalancing everything else. I did find a self-drafted sloper I made six years and three dress sizes ago, on the weekend. Maybe it holds a clue.

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  19. I tried re-making the Juniper pants with some adjustments. I think I nailed the crotch curve! But the rest of the pants were mysteriously too tight in weird places and... well. It might be time for a self drafter sloper (AGAIN. Stupid weight fluctuations...)

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