Having complained about my fitting issues in a previous post, I decided to try and solve them step by step in a post for #AllButtsWelcome, with the hope that the approach might help others. The wonderful Gabby agreed to be my remote fit guide.
Step 1: Choosing a pattern
We started by choosing a pattern from the stash. I had originally picked something way more elaborate than the Style Arc Christia, but as Gabby pointed out – you don’t want to be sewing a full fly when you are testing and trialling.
We settled on the Christia which has an invisible zip in the side seam, plus back darts and front pleats which give excellent adjusting possibilities.
Step 2: What size to cut?
On measurements, my waist size is often two sizes larger than my hip size, and I never know whether to match the waist and try to grade down in the hips, or start with the hips and grade up in the waist.
Gabby suggested I start by cutting the size that matched my hip measurement, given this pattern offers multiple ways to alter using the darts and pleats at the top. PLUS – the waistband on this pattern is straight cut (it’s just a big rectangle), so it’s easy to adjust.
Step 3: Up front adjustments
Adjustment 1: add 2″ to the length (pretty standard for me). This was reduced later to 1″ length.
Adjustment 2: cut the waistband a fair bit longer than indicated, to help with fitting.
Step 4 – 8: Three versions, with two rounds of incremental adjustments
First I made a muslin. I stopped prior to adding the waistband and sent pictures to Gabby. The pants felt a bit tight at the top (as expected towards the waist), so she suggested the first set of fit adjustments. I did these in place on the same muslin as follows:
Adjustment 3: Let pants out a bit by making the back pleat and front dart smaller. I took 1/4″ from each back dart and 3/8″ from each front pleat, giving me an extra 1/2″ total.
Adjustment 4: Add to the back rise at the top – making them 1/2″ longer on that seam at the centre back, tapering that out to 0 at the side seams.
At this point they felt so good I went ahead and added the waistband as you can see in the second picture – though it’s only pinned in place because I couldn’t be stuffed adding the invisible zip (more on that later).
As you can see from the back view pictures below, version one also gave me a seriously hungry bum. The first round of adjustments helped tremendously – they look so much better in the middle picture! I then did a second round of fit adjustments between pictures 2 and 3, based on how they looked and felt, as follows:
Adjustment 5: Take a small amount from the inner seam (1/4″), tapering away as you move down the leg. This is a quicky version of a flat seat adjustment – see here. [Sidebar: love that Closet Core Patterns have free pants fitting resources like this – super helpful!].
Adjustment 6: Smooth out the hip area around the bottom of the pockets.
Adjustment 7: Take 1″ back from the length I added in adjustment #1, as they looked a bit long.
Overall I am pretty happy with the result, with one caveat about the waistband. As noted previously, I didn’t really muslin the waistband when I added it to version 2 – I just whacked it on and then pinned the whole thing shut at the side seams. This was a mistake…the straight waistband was gapey at the top when I added it properly 🙁
I “fixed” this with Adjustment 8: add darts in the back of the waistband. I am a bit grumpy with myself because I could have fixed it properly between versions if I had spent the time on doing the waistband properly. However, I am not a person who wears stuff tucked in a lot, and can definitely wear these with a top that stops just over / on the waistband happily.
Step 9: Reflection – what did I learn?
In the picture above you will see the final product as worn rather than fit pictures! This was a good process for me to go through and Gabby’s help was invaluable. For a start, she didn’t do what I would have – which is to cut for the waist then try and grade the hips down. This often leads to me having increasingly smaller pocket openings, as I shave off the side seams!
I also wouldn’t have wanted to use the front pleats to gain some ease, because I thought it would dramatically change the overall look of the pants. The pleats are definitely less deep, but not enough to care about. I also wouldn’t have noticed how much the pants were dipping in the back on version 1 and added that extra rise length, which I think made a big difference.
I can see how so many people feel like they have to make a million tweaks to an original pattern to get something reasonably well fitting, and that I personally still don’t understand properly what the effect of various adjustments might be. There’s a sense of trying to balance adjustments – you might need to adjust for shape, but then make sure that you don’t change the overall volume (or vice versa). My brain doesn’t work that way!
My next steps are probably in two almost opposite directions. One is to read some of the in-depth fitting books I have and play around with making a block for myself. The other is to make a pattern like Flat Bottom Flo, where there is already an adjustment built in. This will hopefully let me satisfy my need for quick gratification, while also bringing me closer to actually understanding how to approach this across different patterns and fabric types.
So that’s what I learned from this process! I want to give mega thanks to Gabby for all her help because these pants would be very different without her!
How has your #AllButtsWelcome sewing helped you? Have you learned anything about how you might approach pant making for yourself? Let us know in the comments if you have a revelatory technique or adjustments that works for you!