Monday, February 22, 2016

Old idea, new grey pants

There's a reason to keep old pattern magazines. I earmarked the pattern for these pants soon after I acquired the December, 2005 edition of Burda World of Fashion, as it was then known. And I finally made them, only a decade later.

The fabric might have been waiting almost as long. It's a soft wool in a nice heathery grey, probably acquired at the Fabric Flea Market. It too has long been earmarked for dress pants.

I traced size 38 at the waist and 40 at the hip, and made a quick and dirty muslin in the form of these truly delightful striped shorts. They revealed that while I had the right amount of fabric circumference, more or less, it was poorly distributed.

Specifically, the back. For some reason, pants drafts typically assume that one has a curvy backside. That CB seam therefore slopes away from the crotch at a bit of an angle. When you sew the backs together at that seam, it creates a big dart for your bum. If you have a flat derrière like The Sewing Lawyer, sad wrinkles form at or below the bum, the side seams swing to the front, and the backs of the pants legs get hung up on the backs of the legs of the wearer.

I have written about this before, I think. Ah yes. That is a very elaborate fix I performed. And it didn't work all that well either. This time I flew by the seat of my pants (hahaha) and I'm very pleased with the results.

Altered pattern - pants back
The basic components of the elaborate fix are:

  1. Straighten the CB seam (reduce the dart).
  2. Curve the side seam to keep the overall width the same.
  3. Scoop the back crotch.
So that's what I did. No slicing or folding was involved. I guesstimated I needed about 1cm less of an angle at the CB and I took a bit more than that off at the side seam as the pants were a bit too big at the waist. I also moved the back dart towards the CF by the same amount. 

You can see the results at right. The black lines trace the original pattern and the red ones reflect my changes. 

So these pants. They fit.

I used bemberg lining to underline them since the wool is very soft. The weight and slippery quality of the underlining pulls down on the curved pocket flaps, something I hadn't counted on. I totally need the buttons to hold them flat to the pants front. I didn't originally intend to put buttons on so the pockets are actually closed with a snap and the button is decorative.

Side zipper - pretty good!

Waistband eased into fusible tape
The curved waistband pieces can easily stretch out. I stabilized the upper edge of the interfaced waistband with fusible tape cut to the pattern upper edge measurement, easing the waistband into it. Pressing eliminates those ripples. 

The pants close with an invisible zipper at the side seam. Putting a zipper in the side seam always makes me a bit nervous because it means I can't fine tune the hip curve once the garment is assembled. I double checked the curve by trying them on after sewing the side seams and leaving the front open. It worked!

The sewcation continues and my stash beckons. I think my next project is a machine knitted cardigan in ... wait for it ... heathery grey wool. Or a jacket. Or both...


  1. Wow! You weren't kidding when you said those pants fit. That is the best fitting pair of pants I have ever seen (aside from my tailor's wife's pants). Congratulations! I am awed and inspired. DianeDrexel

  2. Does pants are perfection. What a fit... and are you ever so thin !!! Woaw !

  3. That was a great great fix. Lovely pants.

  4. Perfect changes, they look great!

  5. You are always an inspiration!

  6. Easy fix; great pair of pants! Will give this alteration a try myself!

  7. Superb look! The fabric you chose was well worth the effort!

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  9. I have exactly the same figure issues and as a whole wear pants about 3 days in a year. I am stoked to find these tips on making myself a decent pair of good fitting pants! Thank you so much Kay.

  10. Thank you so much Kay - your explanation of the back crotch curve as a 'dart' helped me to develop my best ever pants pattern. I have a related figure type - not a flat butt so much as a tucked-under pelvis, which means I have a prominent front pelvis (Palmer & Pleish describe this under the heading 'Crotch oddities', which I kind of like ;-) ). So I teamed your changes with P&P's suggestion, a scooped-out front crotch curve; keeping the crotch length the same means that this 'scooping' moves the inner seam of the front in, which ends up a 'slim inner thigh' adjustment. And voila! No wrinkles under the seat, and no folds down the centre front of the thighs. Thanks again for this post :-) maria in South Africa

  11. Thanks for the tip on getting trousers to fit properly. I have this copy of Burda also. I cannot bring myself to throw away old Burdas.