Fitting trousers is different from other garments mainly because of the crotch area – there’s just a lot going on there: four seams intersecting, one cilinder becoming two, a back that needs more room than a front. All kinds of fit issues are possible: different butt shapes, different thigh circumferences, a long or short rise, even different pubis bone shapes. All these involved areas make it quite likely that you’ll need one or more adjustments when making pants. Fortunately, with the Amber Trousers and Ruby Joggers the only two areas you need to pay attention to are the fit of the yokes and the crotch. In this post I’ll give you some tips on how to go about fitting these patterns and I’ll list some good resources too.
If you want to muslin the Amber Trousers or Ruby Joggers, the most important part to try are the yokes. They are the only part that are close fitting so it’s important to get a good fit. Cut your size according to the waist measurement on the size chart. Sew one side seam. You don’t have to sew the facing, but staystitch the top of the yokes so they don’t stretch out with fitting. They should rest comfortably on your hips, the front coming up just below your belly button. Make adjustments to the side seams first. If you need a sway back adjustment too, take a wedge out of the back yoke and re-shape the waistline.
Most sources say to choose the pant size based on your hip size. This is true for Amber and Ruby too, but if your waist is in a different size column, making a muslin of the yoke is all the more important.
If you want to muslin the crotch too, cut the legs like making shorts, with the inseam at least 4″ (10 cm) long. Sew them as per the instructions, with and pockets and pleats in case of the Amber.
Both patterns have a 5/8″ (1.5 cm) seam allowance included, so you should have enough room for most adjustments. Fitting is a skill that requires practice, but here are some clues to assess if you have fit issues:
- Drag lines: if you are standing straight with your legs parallel, the trouser legs should hang straight without any wrinkles coming from the seams. The Amber pleats should hang relaxed and not be pulled to either side.
- Movement: if you move or sit down, you should be able to do so without certain areas or seams feeling too tight.
To assess which areas need adjusting if you experience drag lines or tightness, look at where the lines are pointing towards. The crotch adjustments can be a little confusing when transferring them to the pattern piece. Think of it in this way: does the seam you’re adjusting need more or less fabric? If it needs more fabric (the seam feels too tight), then sew with a smaller seam allowance. If it needs less fabric (fabric pooling next to the seam), sew with a bigger seam allowance. Take in or let out the seams in small increments (max. 1/4″ or 0.5 cm) and then see if this helped. If it didn’t, return them to their original state and try something else. Otherwise you’re piling adjustment onto adjustment, and it will be hard to determine what the issue actually was.
If it seems daunting, just see it as a puzzle that can be solved. You can always ask for help from your fellow sewists on social media, or just send me some photo’s and we’ll solve it together. It’s a way to learn something new about your body shape and you’ll get better at it with every pair you make. For instance, through making trousers I’ve discovered I have a sway back, a low bum, a wide thigh gap, a J-shaped pubis and a longer than average crotch. I had no idea! This has also made me understand I should sew my own underwear if I ever want it to fit correctly.
Here are some great resources to learn about fitting pants and to determine which adjustments you might need.
- 14 Common Jeans & Pants Fitting Adjustments by Closet Case Files – Specific fit issues with helpful drag line illustrations
- Pants Fitting Basics by Colette Patterns – How to go about fitting pants
- The Colette Patterns Pants Fitting Cheatsheet – Specific fit issues and solutions
- Everyone Can Have Jeans That Fit by Threads Magazine – from taking measurements to pattern alterations
- A pants sew along including fit techniques by Sunni
If you’d like to learn more through video courses, check out these on Craftsy:
- Fitting Solo: From Measurements to Muslin by Linda Lee
- Pant Fitting techniques by Sandra Betzina
- Plus Size Pant Fitting by Kathleen Cheetham
If you want a resource on hand at all times, I have this book and love it:
- Pants for Real People by Palmer Pletsch
It describes all the fit issues you can think of and what their solutions are, plus it has many examples of real women so you can learn how to recognise the fit issues.
I hope this post will make your fitting process a bit easier. If you have any questions leave a comment, and if you have a specific problem you want to solve drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love puzzling out fit issues!