Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Threads Project Guides

Fit and Sew Pants

Guide Home

Sign in or become an insider to access this story

Sign In

A New Way to Fit Trousers

Threads magazine - 168 - Aug./Sept. 2013

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…

Start your 14-day FREE trial to access this story.

Start your FREE trial today and get instant access to this article plus access to all Threads Insider content.

Start Your Free Trial
Previous: Vertical Seams for Ideal Pants Fitting Next: To Fit Pants, Start at the Waist


  1. after8 | | #1

    I was disappointed in this article. As a short, curvy person (lovely euphemism) I found little in this article of help, or perhaps I took one look at the tall, willowy model and thought: "Not for me then".

    The article would have been better if the technique was demonstrated on a range of figure types. We all know how critical, and difficult, fitting trousers can be.

  2. Barbilee | | #2

    I agree with After8, I am also extra curvy in many areas not put into a regular flat pattern. I didn't find this very helpful.

  3. twobees | | #3

    I agree, I'm one of the short & curvy figure types. Also due to a medical condition I suffer from bloating that can alter my waist & abdominal measurements by inches in a few hours so have to wear elastic-waisted clothing.

  4. user-981967 | | #4

    I've been on a quest to sew a pair of pants that fit. Can't wait to try this technique. I am not a tall, willowy figure, so there will be plenty of adjustments!

Log in or become a member to post a comment.

Fit and Sew Pants

Fit and Sew Pants

Making your own pants is a great way to get a perfect fit, every time. 

View Project Guide

View All Project Guides »

Become a member and get unlimited site access, including the Fit and Sew Pants Project Guide.

Start Free Trial

Fitting Secrets
Pockets and Closures
Waistbands, Linings, and Hems
Pants Pattern Reviews