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Pant leg twists–why?

Jean_Jones | Posted in Fitting on

What makes pant legs twist? The center front is twisting toward the inside of my leg–worse on the right leg. There are also some light puckers starting at the knee and going down to the hem, with diagonal folds running from the seam down to CF. When I hemmed the pants, the seamed edges were an inch shorter than CF and CB. I made the pattern from a pair of RTW. I used an inexpensive fabric called “suiting” that’s supposed to take only cool iron, but I had to use fairly hot to set the creases and open the seams. I set the creases immediately after cutting, and when sewing I noticed the inseams of the right leg were no longer matching (the back inseam was cut ~1″ shorter, but now was slightly longer). Did the fabric stretch with the high heat? Did I mess up the pattern (I was very careful with grainlines and the creases are right on grain)? I sewed top down on the outside; ignored directional on inseam per Betzina–was that the problem?

Any help appreciated so I can get this right before beginning on expensive fabric. Thanks!


  1. Kathy_McKenzie | | #1

    The problem sounds like the fabric is no longer on grain. The heat of the iron may have caused the fabric to shrink a little bit. There's no good repair for this problem that I know of.

    1. Jean_Jones | | #2

      *So it's not that I stretched the back, but that I shrunk the front. That makes sense. Thanks!

      1. SewingSue | | #3

        Jean,  I get better results in sewing pants sewing from the bottom up.  The back inseam should be a little longer than the front and easied at the the upper thigh area.  The back inseam needs to be a little larger to allow for the greater curve in back.


  2. JanM21 | | #4

    Jean -

    I had many problems with pants legs for years, and have found that

    if I cut the pants on grain, with nap, whether there is nap or not,

    the pants will hang straight. As my old home ec teacher used to say,

    the fabric has "an up and a down." Hope this helps.

    1. SewingSue | | #5

      I agree.  I used to use the pattern tissue layouts and stopped doing that years ago.  Now I also, lay everything out as if there was a grain.  Much better results.  Sometimes there is a grain but very very slight and you can't tell until the pieces are sewn together.  And it seems to lay better with all pieces cut with the grain going one direction.  If I switch and layout on the crosswise grain, I still do the same.  Good point.

      Panties are generally cut slightly smaller than actual measurements so they will fit snug.  The fabric used creates the ease.


      1. JeanEsther | | #6

        Thanks, everyone. I did cut the pants with a nap layout and on grain. I think I discovered the main problem--I had added several inches to the crotch length, and put nearly all of it on the back crotch point. I'm guessing I should have split the pattern at the hip line and spread there instead. (I can't put any at the waist because of sway back adjustments.)

        1. SewingSue | | #7

          You could split it at the hip and spread the pattern but the effect would be the same.  It would add to the waist.  An alternative would be to drop the back crotch line.  Unfortunately as the years pass things tend to shift south.  You can drop the back crotch 1/2 to 3/4".  Be cautious about going mucher further.  When you lower the back crotch you will be decreasing the back inner leg length.  So, if you still need a little more space the width can be increased.  Actually the two adjustments are worked together.  The back seam should be slightly longer than the front.  (Hope you understand this.  Would be easier with a picture.)  Basically, there should be a small notch on the pants pattern in the upper inner thigh area.  If you lay the pattern tissues on top of each other the back will be slightly longer than the front.  This area needs to be eased together.  To lower the back crotch line, draw a new cutting line below the existing line and taper it back in at the curve.  Don't slash and spread.  The front and back side seams need to be the same.  Good luck.

          1. JeanEsther | | #8

            Wouldn't slashing and spreading at the hip line add length below the hip line?

            I need to add 3-3/8" to the crotch length of the Vogue sloper, but without getting baggy thighs or twisted legs!

            In my latest try, I started with a pattern for full trousers and did a slash-and-spread of 7/8" at the hip, then reshaped the curve so it angled downward from front to back, giving a bit more length. I think that's what you're suggesting, isn't it? Though I left the crotch points alone. The pants look good above the hip and at the thighs, and there's no twisting. But between the hips and thighs in the back they hang funny--too loose and "flat" looking. I'm still working on shaping the curve, though I'm not entirely sure it's possible to get a good shape on this pair.

            I think I'm closer in that the first pants (in which I added all the length to the crotch points) had baggy thighs and twisted legs, and sagged at the back waist. Now I've got decent legs, at least.

            Perhaps I should have added a little less to the hip, and a bit to crotch points? Pants are hard!!

            Edited 5/27/2002 5:27:37 PM ET by JEANEJONES

          2. SewingSue | | #9

            Jean,  I bought a new computer after Christmas and never got the scanner hooked up again.  DH says he will take a look at this tomorrow.  This would be so much easier with a couple of pictures.

            It sounds like you sorta got the idea but not quite.  First, to respond to your question.  If you slash the pattern at the hip line and spread the pattern a few things happen.  More fabric will be added both below and above the slash and the angle will change also.  Try taking a simple rectangle, a sheet of typing paper will suffice.  Draw a line across the page and cut across the line leaving a small hinge at one end.  Now spread the sheet of paper.  What happens?  On the side which is spread the top will be higher than the side which is hinged and also the bottom will be lower; also the spread side will bulge.  The same things happens with the pattern tissue.

            I have a simple saying for alterations.  "You need to get the fabric where it is needed."  The hard part figuring out where it is needed.  If you think of the front and back crotch as the letter "U" you can see that the derriere can't be lower than the crotch line at the thigh point.  The body isn't built that way.  The "U" is a fair approximation.  Now if you add a belly bulge at the right side, then fabric has to be added to accomodate the belly bulge.  Yes, you can add fabric and change the angle of the crotch line.  Now if the back slopes in at the left, you can angle the crotch line the other direction and take some fabric away.  If you are making pull on slacks with elastic be sure that the waist measurement is equal to your hips plus at least an inch preferably a little more.  If your belly is large than your hips, than the measurement needs to be compared to your belly measurement instead of your hips.

            Do you own a pair of slacks that are reasonably comfortable?  If so, measure everything about them and make comparisions.  Noting where you want them larger or smaller.

            Two tips, DO NOT, do not do this with knit fabrics.  You need to be working with a firm woven fabric.  Knits will stretch and give to accomodate your shape.  Not what you want at this point.  You want to assess what changes you need to make.  You can only figure this out with a good woven fabric.  Second, when you get it right you can feel it.  Also, the closer you get to getting it right you can feel it.  You will be able to feel if you need more fabric in front and less in back or where ever you need changes.  Good luck.  Keep me posted.  If DH gets my scanner hooked up, I will send a couple of line drawings.

          3. JeanEsther | | #10

            Thanks, Sue. Belly isn't an issue, though full, low derriere is, along with cylindrical torso (side to side is average, but front to back is long).

            In trying to visualize your paper picture, I think I see that spreading at the hipline may have moved the point where the curve comes back in too low--thus the extra fullness that's kind of hanging loose between hip and crotch line in CB. Hopefully I can pull in some of that and get the curve back in!

          4. SewingSue | | #11

            Jean, you are very welcome.  Sorry but the scanner is not compatible to the new computer so I will be without for awhile.  I would have liked to send a couple of line drawings.  Singer has a good pants fitting book.  Nancy Zieman's Fitting Finese is also pretty good.  Some times it can be difficult to determine where the folds are pointing to inorder to make an adjustment but if you try to feel where the tension is you should be able to figure it out.  WalMart's can be a good source of inexpensive fabric for experimenting.  When I am trying to improve the fit of an area I make what I call "jammies".  I'll use a cotton or cotton/blend woven fabric and experiment until I am satisfied.  I can where my "jammies" around the house or in the yard and feel like I haven't wasted my time or money in the process.  I also feel more free to experiment with embellishing techniques since I know it doesn't need to be perfect the first time.  Keep me posted on your progress.

          5. JeanEsther | | #12

            The jammie idea is great!

          6. SewingSue | | #13

            I'm glad you find it helpful.  You get the same learning experience without the stress of working on "good fabric" and feeling pressured to get it perfect because the fabric cost so much.  I probably made a dozen pairs before I really got the feel of what I was doing.  I also learned that the pattern companies aren't always helping us very much.  Some of those patterns out there are drafted very poorly.  I won't name brands since I have gotten good and bad ones from all of them.  I really like the article in the July issue of Threads, Making sense of pattern grading.  I had just more or less come up with this concept on my own and found the validation helpful.  It has good alteration implications.  According to this article most companies use a size 12 as their base size.  Possibly if you are a size 12 you are more likely to get consistently sized patterns.  But I have found when you go to work with a new pattern you need to check all the pattern pieces to see if they will fit together.  I have found blouse patterns where the facing is 1/2' shorter then the front panel and wondered what did i do wrong, when it was a poorly drafted pattern.  On the whole, I have gotten many more good patterns then bad.  But you need to look at the patterns closely.


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