A New Way to Fit Trousers
The typical approach to fitting pants is to start by adjusting the flat pattern based on the body’s measurements, then sew the garment. My way is an adaptation of techniques I practiced daily as an alterations tailor. It was through altering clothing that I realized how I wanted to fit pants. Once the pants are on the body, you can clearly see how to make them fit properly. I’ve been perfecting my methods to create custom-fit pants for years.
The process I invented uses sample pants, complete with waistband, the zipper, and hems, as a fitting tool. Sew them with little or no adjustment from a purchased pattern in any tailored style or my JSM Pants Block. Fit the sample pants from the waist down and from the center seams outward. Then, use the changes to create a new custom pattern.
This method considers how pants look and feel on the body versus body measurements or preconceived notions of fit. Overall body shape and posture are considered. Unlike a muslin, the sample pants are never ripped apart and resewn but remain intact throughout the fitting and are saved for repeated use.
You flat-measure the original pattern, then use either custom-grading or slash-and-spread methods to apply the changes from the sample pants fitting. In one patternmaking session, you create a custom pattern. The custom pattern is used to make more pants of similar design or variations.
To demonstrate the process, I sewed sample pants for Threads Senior Editor Sarah McFarland. We adjusted the fit via video conferencing, then I applied the fitting refinements to create a custom pattern.
I sewed a pair of custom fit pants in wool crepe and you can see the results here. I’ll go through the process, but be aware that Sarah’s fit issues may…