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Conversational Threads

proper pant fit for shortie

user-97015 | Posted in Fitting on

I am short (5’1″) and have an “S” shape –belly out in front, but out in back. I have found that if I hold the tape measure around my hips out far enough in front to incorporate the belly pooch–it’s about 49″.  I have made elastic waist pants with this method and the results are pretty good. However, I do love the look of the 1940’s pants with large front pleats.  First of all, will this look be unflattering to a short, wide person? And second of all, I wonder if my method will work, cutting the hips larger?



  1. suesew | | #1

    Personally I don't think this style would look good on you. Pleats add fabric and you already need 49" plus ease which will translate into quite large legs. Pleats will just make them bigger. I think you would benefit from looking at "Fit for Real People" by Palmer and Alto and "Sewing for Plus sizes" by Deckert.

    1. user-97015 | | #3

      Thanks for your input. Do you know where I can find those references you mentioned?

      1. suesew | | #5

        I've seen those books advertized in the back pages of
        Threads. I also see them at fabric and sewing machine stores and they are probably available on line. Often people ask where to find specific notions and books. I think every sewer should have copies of the various sewing catalogs available, Nancy's Notions, Clotilde, Home Sew, Keepsake Quilting, Atlantic Thread and Supply. All of these can probably be googled for an address or 800 number. I try to buy locally just to keep the rapidly disappearing stores in business, but if I can't find it here one of these catalogs usually has what I need.

      2. User avater
        artfulenterprises | | #6

        Check Amazon.com for books. They often have used/out of print books at seriously reduced prices. I've scored some great additions to my library there!

  2. mem | | #2

    I agree with Sue sew. You need pants that have a facing waist and probably fall straight down from the hip Also with dart to fit them in the back and maybe a side zipper. I would use a stretch woven  and think about having pants and top in the same or very similar colours to elongate your silouette. What you could do is wear a shirt or jacket in a different colour or print, open with the same T shirt and pant colour so that you have a long slash of colour down the front. You know who does this all the time and actually often looks very nice apart from the hair and that is Marie in "Everbody loves Raymond" . She seems to have the body shape which you describe. You will need to treat the front and back pant pattern pieces separtaely and add in only to the front as otherwise you will look like you have a paper bag on.The fit book that Sue Sews describes is VERY good .

    1. user-97015 | | #4

      Thank you for your input--glad I didn't cut the pattern out yesterday

  3. gracec | | #7

    Dear Sharon,


     I suggest you consider "Pants Can Fit" by Kathleen Spike (KS Designs, P.O. Box 69264 Portland, OR 97201 503-282-7498).  She advocates pants with a "skirted front" that, properly drafted, flatter your shape.


    Hope this helps!



  4. User avater
    clairezbo | | #8

    the Jan issue of Threads has a wonderful way to fit pants. It would be wonderful for you as it discuses just your problem. I would have to agree, the pleated pants would properly not be flattering on you. Pleats are very hard to wear on the best of figures,(and not many of us have them).

    1. SewNancy | | #9

      Yes, the 2 recent articles in Threads are right on and would definitely deal with any one who has a short rise. I made a series of muslins using this method and it really works. I have been having trouble for several years trying to figure out how to fit my figure and this method is simple and really effective.

  5. user-109453 | | #10

    The shape you are describing sounds a lot like mine.  I find that most patterns which will accomodate my large waist will produce legs which are much too large because I do not have hips.  Add to the difficulty that I have a short waist to hip measurement (only 4") and I find that the best solution for pants that fit is to turn the pattern around and use the back as the front and the front as the back.  Although this sounds odd it does seem to work.  If the center back seam drags down, try making a pair with two sets of backs.

    Concerning your desire for pleated pants, depending on the fabric, I find that front pleated pants can be extremely flattering so long as you remember that those pleats replace the darts.  Also, make sure that they fall in the correct position in relation to your legs.  I find that the most flattering location for me is for the outside of the pleats to fall slightly further than halfway between the Center Front and Side seam.  This favors the impression that you have a waist, whether or not you actually do.

    By the way, my rise is a normal length (about 9") it is just that I am short.


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