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How to Fix a Bulging Lap on Pants

Threads #84, Aug/Sept 1999

Whether I’m sitting or standing, there seems to be a bulge from excess length in all my pants in the zipper area, particularly with my jeans. How can I remove or reduce this?

—Debbie Anderson,
Lake Nebagamon, Wis.

A bulging lap on pants and jeans does result from excess front-crotch length, says expert patternmaker Karen Howland, but width issues can also be involved in the solution, as I recently proved to myself. My purchased jeans do the same thing on me, but the trousers I make for myself don’t have this problem. What’s the difference? To start with, the fabric and construction of jeans are definitely part of the problem. Denim is stiff, and with a fly-front zipper on jeans, you have four layers of denim combined with a heavy zipper—not a flexible, fluid combination. Having the correct front crotch length and shape is more critical with jeans than it might be for other fabrics and different styles. The good news is that you can often correct this on ready-to-wear pants because you probably won’t need to add fabric.

The problem is not limited to jeans, either. And in almost any style, excess length in the front of the pants is going to be even more obvious when the wearer sits. I recently purchased a pair of trouser-style chinos with this same problem. My husband, who doesn’t usually notice the fit of my clothes, even commented on it, “Those pants look like they have a kangaroo pouch in front.”

In each case, the bulge is caused by too much fabric in the front, which can mean excess width as well as length. For example, my chinos were 1 in. too big in the waist, causing the pants to drop from my waist onto my…

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