Last year I attempted to make a pair of shorts with McCall’s 5391. I hadn’t made a pair of pants since college, and my body has changed quite a bit since then. I decided I would make a muslin first so that I didn’t ruin my good fabric.
The result was disastrous. I tried to take it in at the side seams and at the crotch, but no matter what I did, it looked horrible. I looked up information online, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix the problem. The muslin and the pattern got thrown at the bottom of my sewing box and I tried to forget my ‘fail’.
When I heard that the Rocky Mountain Sew Expo was coming in February, I decided to take two of their classes specifically for fitting pants. Kathy Ruddy is a wonderful teacher who was super hands on. In the class, ‘Four Steps to Perfect Pants’, she stripped down to a leotard to demonstrate the fit of different pants. She showed us how the European cut of pants fit better than most women’s pants patterns. She explained that if we had one basic pattern that fit, we could change the pockets and the legs to any style of pant we wanted. Kathy told us that if we wanted a pant to fit, we would first adjust the center seam and then the side seams. She is a little scatter-brained, and I am very methodical. I found it a little difficult to follow her at first but I really appreciated her visuals and common sense way of fitting.
Lorraine Henry taught the second class, called ‘Pants for the Not so Perfect Figure.’ She taught us how to add more length to the front and back to accommodate for a bigger belly or a bigger butt. We learned how to decrease the curve of the front crotch for a less prominent pubic bone. I realized this is the reason that many of our pants bunch in the front just above the crotch, especially when we sit down. She showed us how to use a flex curve ruler to copy the curvature of the crotch and compare it to a pattern to get just the right fit. She showed us the difference in fit between McCall’s, Simplicity, Vogue and Butterick patterns of the same and different cuts.
After taking these classes, I whipped out my shorts pattern again and made another muslin:
Again, not perfect, but so much better than the first muslin. You will see that I omitted the pockets because they made it harder for me to make adjustments. I lost my waistband pattern piece, but according to reviews on patternreview.com, the waistband was just a rectangle and didn’t fit people well. I made my own curved waistband, attached it to the muslin, and I think it looks pretty good!
I still have some adjusting to do to fix the crotch and the back of the seat. I’m going to take in the inner thigh seams and if that doesn’t work I’ll have to revisit the muslin and make a third one.
I’m also taking an online class on Craftsy.com called ‘Pants Fitting Techniques’ with Sandra Betzina. Sandra designs for Vogue and she is all about fitting today’s woman practically. She is a big fan of European cut pants. I will explain what that is later. I’m liking this class because I can listen to the videos any time I want and when I do make my pants muslin, I can upload it for Sandra to help with the fit. It’s very interactive.