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mature pant fit

NansiM | Posted in Fitting on

Help!  I need a refresher on pant fitting.  Usually I”m OK with almost any shape I’ve tried to cover so far, but now I have a new challenge.  I’m trying to perfect a pair of slacks on a mature figure where the waist is still narrow, yet the hip curve begins IMMEDIATELY- like a heart.  There is also a very pronounced tummy and extra long overall crotch length measurement.  I have added to crotch shelf and also to the lengthen/shorten line so that the pattern measurement equals that of the figure.  When initially worn, the slacks looked great, but the issue later was that when sitting, there is too much fabric pushing up toward the waist.  I’m thinking that I need to change the shape of the front crotch curve because of the tummy protrusion.  Any thoughts or advice? Thanks!


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    I have never seen this alteration in a fitting book, but it works for my own, mature tummy:  instead of lengthing the crotch so much, angle the center front seam outward as it rises to the waist.  This looks almost as if you're making a fly front extension, only it's a smooth line. 

    Also, make the front side seams continue straight up, rather than curving in at the waist, as the back side seams do.  This will give you an extra inch or more across the front center.  As much as I hate to admit it, my mature figure is an awful lot like my mid-pregnancy figure, so the alterations for maternity pants work very well!

    1. woggy | | #25

      When I read your post about shifting the center front seam outwards, I thought I had seen this alteration before - so I poured through my fitting books and found it in "Slacks for Perfect Fit" by Ruth Oblander, page 47.  She is famous for the pivot and slide alterations method.

      This alteration works because you are adding space for the tummy - the old rule about the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Well, by curving the center front, one is adding space for the tummy bulge.  If you cut and slash the pattern as many books recommend, you still have the straight line for the center front seam.

      I have not tried this alteration but am going to this weekend.  I have done many other alterations and this might be the last one I need.

      Thanks for posting it.


  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    Sandra Betzina's pant video shows that after cutting out the pants back,  you steam/press the piece in a certain way before you start sewing, to prevent stretching while wearing.  You hold that pointed end  that fits under the crotch and while pulling gently you steam it.  After working with it for a while you place the pattern back on it and you will see that excess fabric has appeared.  You cut what extends beyond the pattern.  Sometimes it's only 1/8" and sometimes almost a half inch at one point. 

  3. NovaSkills | | #3

    I've got that figure, at least to some degree....alas, but true.

    Your problem with excess fabric appearing at waist is from using the add/delete line to uniformly add rise length (total crotch length.) A prominent tummy only needs added length at center front, not all the way around. Here's what I do, even to ready to wear pants.

    Starting with pants or pants pattern that has sufficient ease in the widest hip area, or after you've fixed that girth measurement, do these changes. First, gain crotch length/rise depth by revising the SHAPE of the crotch seam. Starting a couple inches forward of the crotch/inseam joint, at the point a zipper would end, square off the "U" shape of the seam into a gently-rounded "L" shape on both sides of the inseam joint. If you invert one pant leg into the other so the crotch seam is facing you, you will see this U shape (slightly lopsided, of course.) What you are doing is creating a flatter crotch seam bottom and more total length in a way that does not add any fabric anywhere else--it even takes up the excess that fallen fannies tend to have in the seat. This can buy you quite alot of room in just the right areas for comfort. And, unlike extended the crotch shelf point, you don't have to worry that you added too much into the upper thigh to get the curve to blend back into the inseam.

    If more room is needed, you will have to "un-level" the waistline. Pants & patterns are typically designed with either a level to the floor waistline (no contour) or--worse yet--a downward in the front tilt that actually subtracts room for a full tummy (contoured waist, esp. jeans). However, a figure with full tummy has a waistline that RISES in the front; and some even have a slight side-ways tilt where one high hip has more prominence. Center front lengths of skirts, dresses and the front half of crotch seams need to be lengthened to preserve grainline and hang without riding up.

    Fix this by redrafting the waistline so that from a point just an inch back from side seams, the waist gradually rises to a peak at CF, then retapers to other side seam. Added height of CF may be no more than 1/2" (1.2cm), if you've also done the crotch shape fix. Sometimes, just un-contouring the existing waistline back to straight is enough to fix this, and you don't have to actually backward tilt the waist. Some RTW pieces have enough fabric in the front waistband seam allowance for this cheat, if it didn't get trimmed off. Better makers' pants without fly fronts can sometimes be altered this way. Jeans, alas, cannot--they've trimmed it all off to do the closures.

    The Sandra Betzina trick does work if the figure actually needs saddlebag room at top of thigh, because a crotch shelf extension is mandatory then. You are essentially removing the stretch beforehand. It is also possible to fuse thin knitted interfacing in the area for the same effect (Patti Palmer trick.)

    The high hip fullness often comes with this kind of figure, so the straightening of sideseams to minimal waist taper is appropriate. Also, curved darts instead of straight will pinch in waist without removing too much tummy area, or will take out small of the back hollows common with fallen fanny.

    Well, lots of words, but it's a battle I've fought often!

    1. fabricholic | | #4

      Hi. I have a prominent tummy. Would you be willing to draw the crotch curve or make the u into an L so that I might see this on paper? Also, changing the waistline; is that like taking off in the back waistline for a swayback, except you would be adding in the middle, instead of taking off? I am trying to picture all of this, but it takes me a while, because I comprehend visual, so much better. Thanks.Marcy

      1. NovaSkills | | #5

        It's exactly like the swayback alteration, except in the reverse direction and on the front side--you got it.

        I don't have time to figure out how to make a file with an illustration, but take some paper and trace off both the front and the back crotch curves, mate them at the inseam joint, and look at it. It'll be a U, somewhat splayed out at the top, and slightly lopsided. Square off the bottom rounded area for the L shape, starting about half-way down the U on the pants back, and very close to the bottom on the pants front. Best I can do without Visio.

        1. fabricholic | | #9

          That's a great help. Thank you.Marcy

    2. NansiM | | #7

      Thanks for your detailed response!  I knew this couldn't be the only one.  I had added somewhat to the center front seam (like the fly front method) and also to the top of that seam, tapering to nothing at the sides.  I will try that flexible curve next to see what happens.  Is there a favorite tool for this?  I am happy with the point where the front and back meet--we used the string with a floating weight trick to determine that, and the trial pair looks right on.  That's why I'm thinking changing the shape of the curve has to be the key.

      Another question: if you straighten out the side seam above the hip curve, are you using extra darts to cinch the waist back in? I was already using the curved dart technique and that definitely helped.  This person likes a snug fitting waistband, preferably without elastic.  My thinking is that we may have to compromise and elasticize the back or a section of each side back.  I had used a more pronounced upper side seam curve as well as those curved darts in the trial pair.

      Isn't fit fun?  It definitely is worth it when you finally get it right!

      1. NovaSkills | | #8

        I always use pairs of back darts, to regain contour at waistline. I'm narrower in back half of my waist than in front, like most people--but unlike patterns, which split the girth evenly.

        Personally, I hate partial elastic waistlines. They don't pull at one's body evenly and are more uncomfortable. I use elastic as the interfacing/stabilizer inside my waistbands, cutting the piece just an inch or so shorter than the waistband length so that when the garment is on the hanger, it barely puckers, but when worn, it's smooth yet comfortable and accommodating.

        People who say they don't like elastic waists are usually reacting to the gathered "dirndl" effect produced from totally uncontoured waistlines in inexpensive pull-on pants that were the first type readily available in knits, years ago. Those "Vera" and other lines selling those have tainted the waters for everyone, since. Friends who have seen my garments or borrowed them couldn't believe it when I said it was elasticized. I saw the trick in Threads years ago--Donna Karan or some designer label was being highlighted.

        Bet that if you put it in and never told her, your client would rave.

        1. SewNancy | | #10

          Sandra Betzina has had this waistband finish in her books for years. It gives you a bit of stretch for those bloated days and its a really good stabilizer that keeps the waistband form folding over

          1. NansiM | | #11

            I have tried that technique and liked it, might use in this case, too.

            Iwas just reading something of particular interest to this issue in another thread about a new website:  http://www.besewstylish.com

            Guess what's featured on the first page?!  A tool called the Flexible Curve designed to conform to any individual body curve so you can lay it directly on your pattern piece and trace accordingly!

            Guess a quick trip to Joann's is in order!

            Has anyone used this and how were the results?

          2. SewNancy | | #12

            don't do it so quickly. I have flexible curves and have tried this. It only sort of works. I arrived at my wonderful fit without it but with the starting point of Hot Pattern's Razer Pant. The unique thing about this pattern is the L shaped rear crotch. I dropped the back corner to accomadate my gravity struck rear end, and added to cb to shorten the back crotch to handle my very flat rear end. I used Joyce Murphy's set of articles and they worked for almost every one of my fitting problems. I fine tuned with the help of Nancy Neiman's Fast Fit's wrinkle diagram and how to fix them. I use this as my TNT pattern now and just made a pair of (well not finished yet) pants that fall straight from the tusch.

          3. Cherrypops | | #13

            Hi Nancy,

            I have just read the 'blog' about the flexi curve on BeSewStylish. I was wondering if it worked. I have a flat curved tool from the Sure Fit Designs Set (similar to Lutterloh), given to me by my mother-in-law. I have not tried this process yet. Nor have I used the flexi curve. I may stick a tape measure onto a piece of flexi plastic type material sold in hardware stores, give this a try first. I'm off to raid my husbands tool box and garage.

          4. SewNancy | | #14

            I'll be interested to see if it works for you. I didn't find that it solved my fit problems.

          5. DeeOh | | #15

            I am very interested in the thread on mature pant fit. I have been struggling with this problem and thought I had read almost every book on the subject. I am not familiar with Joyce Murphy. Who is she and where can I read her articles. DeeOh

          6. SewNancy | | #16

            Threads published 2 articles by her on pants fitting and after struggling for several years to get great fit, I am quite obsessive about fit, this started me on the right track. Look in the Threads index for her articles. Her theory makes sense, but it was not the only thing that helped. I used the Hot Patterns Razer pant after not having a good outcome with a Kenneth King pant draft, and had the closest succes with the least amount of angst. The rear crotch draft is L shaped and this lends itself to Joyce's method quite easily. I had to drop the back corner to accomodate a low seat. I will say that if you have a friend who can pin your back for you, you will have an easier time of it. Her method does not cover all my problems, but I have learned to read the wrinkles rather well in this odyssey and that is what you have to do to get great fit. If you don't have back copies of Threads either try your library or see if they are available from Threads.

          7. DeeOh | | #17

            Thank you. I have all the back issues of Threads, so I will look her up.
            Seems strange, but I wear ready made clothes that are poor fits and it doesn't bother me half as much as wearing clothes that I have made that do not fit right. I'll keep trying. Thanks again. DeeOh

          8. SewNancy | | #18

            LOL I feel the same way. But, lately as I get better fit in my sewing I don't want to buy, at inflated prices, badly fitting clothes. Latele my purchases are mostly sweater and t shirts.

          9. woggy | | #19

            Dear SewNancy,Hope you don't mind me asking this but I am wondering about your shape size? I am broad hipped with a low slung fanny and a small pot belly. I have read a few reviews about this pattern on patternreview.com. The few women who have sewn these pants like them for the same reason you posted about the crotch.However, I don't really see a pattern I like on this site. The Hepburn pattern's legs are too wide and I don't care for the waist or skinny legs on the patterns except for the basic one.So I am just curious as to your shape before I purchase yet another pattern to solve my pant problems.Thanks for your response.

          10. SewNancy | | #20

            I am 56 years old with a full high hip and defined waist and a rear end that is flat and low. I am 44" in the high hip, about 43 and a bit in the hip. I have made these pants 6 or 7 times now, changing the leg, adding a contour waist etc. I have never made the pockets, though I am about to do that on the next pair. This will not solve all your problems, but I have the best fit in the rear with the least amount of work. Using Joyce murphy's articles, I added to cb to give me a shallow rear crotch and added it back in at the side seams. I straightened the cf to be parrallel to the grain line and I added a dart both front and back. As I mentioned I lowered the back crotch by about 1" maybe more, don't remember and I'd have to put my copy against the original to tell.
            I also slashed across from the side seam to the cb and cf to give me more room in the side seams, for the high rounded hip that I have. I also cut a 1" sas at the waist so that I can add another 1/2" in height on my high side. The front crotch, probably due to my slightly full stomach, has given me problems with an inverted pleat forming that I could not figure out how to fix until recently. I pinned out the pleat and then removed half the amount of the pleat from the cf crotch. Transferred this to pattern and voila, it fit. This has taken me years and many futile hours of work when I could have been sewing skirts, tops and jackets that I had figured out how to fit well, but I am obsessed with good fit in my pants. Now I feel quite liberated. After all, most of the work on pants is in the fit. They are quite easy to sew. Good luck.

          11. NansiM | | #21

            Boy, I guess I really started a good one here!

            Nancy, Thank you SO much for all your very detailed responses.  They are truly a great help!

            As to the friend that I'm trying to help, her shape has the curves in the same places a s yours, except that she also has a full curved seat, definitely NOT flat.

            When you mention the "inverted pleat" that forms in front, is that when  you were standing, or just when you sat down?  That's the only time she has that happen.

            She's going to bring new "trial" fabric for me to try thesuggestions I've learned here and from going back thru some of my favorite fit books and articles.

            And the big disappointment this weekend was going to Joann's (armed with coupons) and finding that they did NOT stock the Flexible curve rulers!  I'll try online.

            P.S.  I like you post name here.  I have SEWNANSI as the beginning of my email addy for the last seven or eight years.  You know what they say about great minds...

            Edited 2/19/2007 9:04 am ET by NansiM

          12. SewNancy | | #22

            My pleat formed when I was standing. There of course, was extra fabric when I sat too. I knew that the shape of the front crotch was wrong, but figuring out how to fix it gave me fits. I am however, rather obsessive about fit and it has payed off. Not only in getting good fit for myself, but in being able to recognize where the wrinkle is really pointing and how to deal with it. Every instruction says read the wrinkles, but that is easier said than done. Another suggestion is take your Joann's 50 off coupon and buy a bolt of muslin. It is the cheapest best way to go as far as I am concerned. Use a sharpie and mark grain lines and hip and high hip so that you can see where the pants are hanging wrong. It will help. Baste it all together including putting in a zipper as quick and dirty as you can and put on a waistband for fitting.Oh, and if you can't find a flexible curve, someone suggested using tinfoil formed into a long roll and use that.

            Edited 2/19/2007 11:01 am ET by SewNancy

          13. woggy | | #23

            Wow, your alterations are amazing not to mention your patience!Followed all your directions until this part:"I pinned out the pleat and then removed half the amount of the pleat from the cf crotch."I am picturing the CF crotch - did you slash and overlap your crotch curve? Why just half the amount?Thanks.Woggy

          14. SewNancy | | #24

            No. YOu can do this on a muslin or a real pant. It is easier without a cf zipper. Here is what I do. Nancy Zieman's method is probably easier though I pin out the pleat. On me it ran from above the crotch point (if you run a line across perp to grain line) to below it. On muslin draw the fisheye dart that appears, Transfer this to pattern, you can place pattern over the muslin, Actually thinking about it, I don't do half, but the whole amount, any way. I then draw lines perpendicular to grainline that intersect the cf seamlins about 1/2" apart. Then I measure and transfer each amount as a dot that is in from the seamline the same amount. Then I connect the dots. and I have a new seam line that I add sas to. Cut off excess. Zieman has you take apart either the muslin or pant(she has you baste it all together without the zipper for fine tuning the fit) and laying it over the pattern she has you draw in the new cutting lines and then you use the pattern to cut new cutting line on the pant after unpinning. I strongly advise basting all seams before sewing. So much easier to rip!

  4. sewpro | | #6

    Because each body is unique, I suggest using a flexible curve and molding it to the body at the entire crotch. Then lay it on your pattern and you will see where you need to add fabric.

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