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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…

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

Discuss

  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!

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Fit and Sew Pants

Fit and Sew Pants

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

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