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Making and Fitting Hip-huggers

Threads #92, Dec/Jan 2000/2001

I have a thick waist and no behind. Can you help me alter a regular pants pattern into a low-rise, hip-hugger style (with or without a waistband) that will fit me?

—Monica Morretti,
Rochester, N.H.

When you need to make both fit and style changes, says pattern-drafting expert Karen Howland, the best strategy is usually to “fit first, design second.” When fitting pants, I like to narrow the task by fitting each section separately. Start with the leg, the part of the pattern from the crotch level down. To reshape the legs, measure across the thigh, knee, and ankle of a finished garment that fits the way you want, or one that you’ve pinned to fit, rather than taking body measurements. Compare these measurements to the pattern and make any alterations to the leg equally to the inseam and the outseam so that the combined width, front and back, equals the total needed. Whatever the total leg circumference, most commercial pants patterns (and ready-to-wear pants) aren’t divided equally in half by the side and inseams. They’re wider in back by 12 in. at both vertical seams, as shown at left below, for a better fit over the calves. Be sure to preserve this difference if your pattern is cut this way; it’s a sign that your pattern has been well designed! The grainline (also the crease line if the pants are to be creased) should be the midpoint of each leg piece. 

Let’s deal next with “no behind” and thick waist. I treat the upper section of the pants as if it were a skirt, disregarding the crotch curves for the time being, considering only the darts and seamlines above the curves. In fact, there is no difference in the fit of pants and skirt around…

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Fit and Sew Pants

Fit and Sew Pants

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