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Pants Fitting Article Confusion

abcameo | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

I started a conversation re the “Perfectly Fit Pants” article in the new July issue in another sewing forum and it’s led to many comments and questions which I thought I’d share.

I’ve so far only sewn simple pants and have never tried to alter any to this point, but I was quite interested in the instructions given. I’m a beg-interm/inter-interm sewer, who does best when someone actually shows me what to do rather than me trying to read and interpret. The technical info provided in Threads’ articles is often very tantalizing but also quite difficult for me to follow–even with photos.

This time, I thought I was getting it until the very end when the article finished off by simply instruction the reader to, “adjust your pattern accordingly.” How?? I asked this in the other forum, “sewingworld.com,” under the “Patterns, fitting and alterations” section, and it spurred lots of comments (in case you want to jump over and check out the discussion).

Apparently, several members, much more advanced that I am, found the article to be confusing, and they also didn’t know how to transfer the altered markings over to the original pattern. I feel like I got ditched at the most crucial point–after you’ve tweaked the sample pants, how do you then go about marking the changes on your original pattern?

Do you originally baste your sample pant and then take it apart and lay it out flat on your pattern paper? I don’t think so since the last sentence says, “And be sure to store your test pants in a safe place; if you ever lose or gain weight, it will be ready to fit again.”

Maybe you lay the sample pants down and just draw a revised outline (like shorten the original layout)? But then, what do you do about revising dart placement?

I think the idea of altering from the waist down makes sense, but I feel like simply telling us to just adjust our pattern equals leaving many of us less advanced sewers in the lurch.

Forum members from Sewingworld suggested I jump to this forum, get some answers and report back to them. I’m glad they asked me to post this comment since I now found out about and joined this group. 🙂


  1. mem1 | | #1

    Exacltly and i have been sewing a long time . Nancy answered my querie  and if you look up "altering pants from the waist down"in the discussion of a few days ago you will see her answers to me .I really feel that that artcle was only part one and needsd to be expanded upon.

  2. GinnaS | | #2

    Amy -

    Search for "fitting from the waist".  The discussion refers to Threads issue 102, the Kenneth King moulage cd/dvd (can't remember which), and offers some suggestions for transferring your fitting changes too.




    1. abcameo | | #3

      Thank you both. I'll check out the leads you gave me.

  3. Cowgirl | | #4


    I agree that part II is missing.  We tried this is our local sewing guild and got the test pair looking good but we had a wide variety of opinions about how to adjust the pattern--particularly the widened front crotch seam.  Most at the meeting are experienced seamstresses who have altered patterns but that CF alteration is still a mystery.


    1. abcameo | | #5

      Thanks for your comment, Cowgirl. I know I'm less experienced than most, but it's embarrassing when you've got step-by-step photos and still don't get it... I usually have a hard time deciphering instructions--I think I try too hard. If someone sat next to me and showed me, I'd definitely pick techniques up right away. I have to say, I was surprised when after I posted my comment, lots of others chimed saying they were lost at points.

      1. Cowgirl | | #6


        Did you get any good ideas about how to alter the pattern so that the pants really fit?  That is what we are hoping for.


        1. abcameo | | #7

          I'm sorry--no, I haven't tried this. I think some others who replied may have. For pants (and other classes) you might check out http://www.patternreview.com for ongoing online classes, instructional cd roms and e-books. They have "On Making Pants" listed now by David Coffin. Here's some info on that--hope it helps:David Page Coffin recently abandoned his 18-year post as Senior Editor at Threads Magazine to "pursue other interests..." These include, in no particular order, developing multimedia products for the sewing and other creative industries, making art, walking on the beach, and playing music. He's the author of the classic (i.e., only) book on making custom-quality shirts of all kinds for men and women, called Shirtmaking, published, along with a companion video, by The Taunton Press. His latest project is a CD-ROM Virtual Workshop entitled On Making Pants.On Making Pants; Tailoring Techniques for Timeless Details on Women’s and Men’s Trousers is a detailed construction guide to getting great results with every aspect of tailored trousers.
          Included in the guide are:
          # belt-loops and pocket flaps
          # zippers and buttonholes
          # lots of pocket and waistband variations
          # making button-flies
          # an extensive inside tour of over a dozen interesting men’s and women’s pantsOn Making Pants is not merely a virtual book, with full-screen, full-color pages, text, pictures, and diagrams.It also contains:
          # real-time narrated and annotated slideshows
          # colorful animated construction diagrams
          # full video demonstrations
          # one-click links to relevant websites
          # printable collection of full-sized pattern pieces
          all completely controllable by you.
          Download a 5 Page PDF Preview
          See a movie from the book (9MB, might take a while to download)
          This video preview simulates the experience of watching the audio slideshows on the CD, but it is greatly reduced in size and clarity for display online. The CD version is full-screen, and the photos can be zoomed in on to reveal even more clarity.You will need the latest versions of Adobe Reader and QuickTime.
          Bonus! Join David in a guided Sew Along on The boards. The Topic is only for On Making Pants Owners. Click here to enter

          1. Elisabeth | | #8

            The On Making Pants CD is on my wish list. In the sample pages Coffin tells the readers that the book is about pants construction details and is not a fitting book. The best overall pants fitting book I have seen is Pants for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto. It is easy to understand with lots of photos and examples. Another excellent book is the Singer Sewing Reference Library book Sewing Pants that Fit which is harder to find unfortunately. Many libraries have book from the Singer series so you might have some luck there.I thought the method the Threads article offered was good. I'll have to agree with you that there was a bit of the wand waving type of presentation. Poof, suddenly you have pants that fit. That is so frustrating. I think it is the talented teacher/writer that will answer all our questions before or as we ask them. Oh that there were more articles by those seemingly rare talents.

          2. SewNancy | | #10

            I have been on a quest to make the perfect fitting pants since I lost weight a few years ago. I am still not there, but I am close. I bought Kenneth Kings pants sloper cd and drafted a pair of pants and as he reccomended, I made about 4 muslins and had a friend fit the rear end. I also set up my tripod and took digital pictures of my rear end. I found that he has a very good method for adjusting the muslin and then translating the changes to the pattern. I have several pants now that are better than any I have made before and certainly better fitting than almost any I can buy. It is much easier if you wnat a loose fitting pant, but my quest for fitted pants is much harder to accomplish. The bottom line is that it is not easy and there are no books out there that address everyones fitting problems ( I know, I have them all!), or at least it seems that way. My goal is not only to make great pants, but to make them without hours of adjustment time and ripping. I have gorgeous black lambskin waiting to be made into pants, but I obviously need to be able to make a pair of pants without endless adjustment!

          3. lpip | | #11

            I'm also interested in David Page Coffin's pants making video.  I'd love to hear from anyone who has used it.  But I do wish he would just put it in book form.  As far as I am concerned, that's much more convenient.

            Any information on sewing (not fitting) trousers and tailored pants would be appreciated.  I can make pull-on pants in my sleep, I think.  Any fitting problems I have are minor now that I have lost some weight and some of my tummy. 




          4. Cowgirl | | #9

            Thanks for the additional information.  I am sure it will help.



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