I drafted this post a few weeks ago but I still wanted to share it! I focused on fitting for the Sew Fancy Pants challenge. I will admit that I’m not a fitting expert. Not even close. But I am committed to learning more about the adjustments that are necessary for my body. I think focusing on the fit issues that are most helpful to you can take some of the guesswork out of fitting pants.
Before we talk a bit more about fitting, I think it’s important to take a step back and talk about some tips for successful pants sewing in general. The first thing I do before diving into a new pattern is measure myself. My body fluctuates so it’s important to take a few minutes to measure myself. I may stand in front of a mirror to make sure my measuring tape is parallel to the ground and I take at least two measurements – waist and hip. Most of my pants are mid to high rise, so I take my waist measurement at my narrowest point. I took a cue from Cashmerette and lean to the side to see where my body naturally folds. That’s my waist measurement. If it’s a fitted pattern I may also take a measurement a few inches below that first measurement. I use my full hip as my marker for the second measurement. I look at the widest part of my hip and measure around my belly, hip, and butt.
Another important thing to think about is measuring your waist in a seated position. You want to make sure you can comfortably sit in your pants. This is especially important in a fitted or woven pattern. This was an excellent tip I picked up from a blog post from Cashmerette and it’s really stuck with me. My waist measurement will increase when I sit down. I want to make sure my pants can accommodate that.
I will take additional measurements depending on the pants pattern I’m looking to use. If they are fitted from the waist to the ankle, I will measure the circumference of my upper thigh, knee, calf, and ankle. This allows me to make adjustments to the pattern to ensure I get the best fit possible. I also measure the rise I’d like to have. If the pattern lists a 7 inch rise, I measure from my crotch up 7 inches to see if that’s comfortable for me. I usually have to add length to my pants patterns, so I do like to compare my inseam length with the pattern’s inseam length.
It’s also important to learn a little more about the pattern you are panning to make. You want to know what block the pattern company designs from. Essentially you are asking what are the measurements and proportions of the base size. The Fold Line has an excellent blog post with resources about pattern sizes and measuring yourself.
I really enjoy reading the pattern description because it gives me an idea about the intended fit and style of the garment. A pattern described as a looser fitting garment with a dropped crotch is completely different from a semi fitted ankle length trouser. That description may also mention suggested fabric. A pattern that recommends a fabric with a lot of drape may not be suited for a very stiff fabric. The drag lines and fit issues you encounter could actually be due to fabric choice.
Initial Fitting Tips
- Take your measurements – sitting and standing
- Learn about the pattern’s block – height, proportion, shape
- Read the pattern description – fit, rise, hem length, style, ease
- Look at suggested fabric – weight, drape, stretch
There have been some excellent posts in the sewing community on fitting and I wanted to link to a few of them. Nicole has a great round up of fitting tips and tricks. Michele has a highlight on Instagram talking about pants fitting. Rachael also has an Instagram highlight with details about a panniculus adjustment. There are a lot of other resources available online and in person!
All of these tips help set you up for success in your quest to sew fancy pants. Are these things that you typically do before you dive into a pants pattern? Do you have standard adjustments that you make for every pants pattern?