The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

That pant thing again…..

I sorta stirred the pot with that last pant post, and thought I would stir it some more to get things really ginned up!!!!  Like Bugs Bunny says:  You ole troublemaker you!!!!

But here’s my point.

When I do a search online for women’s pants this is what I get most of the time:


Some of these can’t possibly be human (like the one on the far right – it’s been so morphed that it doesn’t reflect a true human body), some of the others are anorexic models, and then some are sort of normal (prepubescent size), but all of them have a tighter-than-skin fit.

This is not normal.

And it hasn’t always been this way.  The problem is that a lot of the consuming public doesn’t remember back when this wasn’t normal and therefore how can they know to even ask for it, if they don’t know it even exists to ask for?

Now here’s the real rub.  When I do a search for men’s pants…..this is what I come up with:


There’s nothing here abnormal in the shape of these models – they all seem perfectly proportioned.  The one on the far right is leaning on his left hip so he will naturally have wrinkles on the right inseam.  In addition, these models look like they can move in these pants without ripping a seam or stretching two sizes too small over the body

So why is it that men’s pants can be “made to fit” but that women’s can’t/won’t/aren’t/never will be?  It’s not like it can’t be done.  I do it everyday for myself in my own pants, and don’t expect anything less.

But here’s what happens when I teach a pants fitting class.  The first thing is that they don’t understand why the pants are so big.  Well, they aren’t big, they just aren’t skin tight – it’s a woven fabric.  They also don’t understand why the pants pattern doesn’t have more style.  I usually recommend Vogue 1003 which is not a styled pant – it was created specifically to use for pants muslins and for fitting purposes.  These are two different styles.

Additionally then we go through waistband or no waistband? ….hipster or wastster? …sitting/walking comfort, i. e. inseam height? ….crotch seam fitting?  But these are ALL areas that they have NEVER had a choice about all their lives.  To suddenly have these choices is like never having seen one side of the color wheel and then suddenly coming to class to find out there’s a whole other side of the color wheel and all these colors to assimilate, choose from and organize in their mind.  Often asking these questions is like a choice overload.  Oh yeah, and we haven’t even started about fitting and then the styling and shaping of the pants.

So, be warned when you start fitting your own pair of pants (and get a friend to help you – there’s no way you can do this by yourself, unless you are very, very patient and willing to do a lot of work), be aware that you are suddenly going to be faced with making choices about subjects you didn’t even know existed before. You may find out you don’t like waistbands, and guess what, since you’re making these pants, you don’t have to make a flaming waistband if you don’t like ’em!!!

You may discover that you like a lot of depth in your crotch and a shorter inseam.

You may discover you like a lot of ease in your fanny.

You can tailor these beauties to feel, act, look any way you dang well please, THEN after you’ve got a good muslin, you can start styling them and do  a gazillion variations and this is when the fun comes.

Because we all know it only takes a short time to make up a pair of pants.  After you have your pattern, then you can just simply shot those puppies up and be done with it.

But don’t be discouraged when things don’t work out instantly.  There is an awful lot of customization that is done in a pair of pants and these customizations can be so fantastic and make your pants so addictive – – well, there is no 12–step program for folks addicted to their own pants patterns!!!!!  It’s just incurable.  I’m here to tell you, I love my pants so much and would not even consider buying some – not even if you offered me money (well, maybe if it was ridiculously high like the national debt!).



  1. That’s my problem!! I have countless books and articles on fitting, I think I kind of know what to look for (wrinkles, pulls, etc.) and I try to follow their advice to the best of my ability, but in the end what it comes down to is I have no idea what the heck I’m doing. Books are all theory, it’s not necessarily going to address my exact issue. It doesn’t help that I always fit myself. The last pair of shorts I made fit perfectly at the waist but there was some wrinkling along the front. I made 4 muslins and then in the end just went back to the pattern straight from the package. I need to work with someone who really knows what they’re doing to make a perfect fitting muslin then use that for the rest of my life.

    • Nikki – I wrote this morning’s blog (Wed) just with this in mind. Nothing like some pictures. Normal folks when walking, sitting or standing on one hip or the other, will have “good wrinkles” in their pants. But when standing with weight evenly distributed between both legs, the pants should look good – more on that blog. The main thing to remember while you are fitting your pants, is that you are doing ALL the hard part in the fitting. Once you get them fitted and tweaked, then you can make up a gazillion pair with that pattern!

      Stay with the process. You wouldn’t believe how many of my students I see who are just a tad shy of a good fit. Mostly it’s because they don’t know they are that close because they don’t know what a good fit is. Once you understand that a good fit does not involve stretching fabric within it’s limits around your body, then you can begin to settle down and look more objectively at your pants. Another idea may be to take a picture of yourself, and cut off the top half and only look at the pants – or get a mirror that only looks at the pants so you are focuses on what you need to fit.

  2. Preach it, sister! I am right there with you. And I personally love the way pants fit when women discovered them in the 50s. Katharine Hepburn looked smashing in pants that came to her waist and had pleats in the front and pockets that you could actually fit something useful into. I can pick up a pair of pants for my husband or son and the size is the same from one store and brand to another. (And there is enough extra fabric in the waist that I can let them out if necessary later on) Why do women put up with it? I don’t know, but I love making my own pants.

  3. finally, someone addressed this topic!! thank you Claire!! just so glad i can make my own, even if they could stand more tweaking.


  4. “You may discover you like a lot of ease in your fanny.” I’m still chuckling at that, but then again I speak British English.

    I’ve enjoyed catching up on your trouser posts. However, I don’t understand what’s wrong with the trousers furthest to the left in the top photo? To me they’re tight (which I actually like) but they still fit well, there are no ‘smile’ or ‘whisker’ wrinkles radiating from the front seam like on some of the others, they just look nice.

    What I find more of an eye-sore are all the men wearing too long and baggy trousers that pool around the ankles!

    • Anna – A large part of what’s wrong with the model in the top photo most left is that it’s not practical. There are a number of things going on that we don’t see: 1.) there are massive clips or pins to take in the extra fabric, 2.) This fabric is massively stretched and you can not make a woven pant look like this and finally 3.) Some photo-shopping is going on.

      The problem here is that all three of these present not only an unreasonable model to try and achieve, but plainly a completely false one – so this sort of photo is lying to people. The truth is that this not even close to reality and I hate it that it’s presented as an option, when it’s not even close to an obtainable option.

      And finally, this person has an unrealistic body size/shape probably existing on rice cakes and cigarettes. That’s not a realistic or plausible option either.

      So there’s two big things I don’t like about this picture – the unrealistic size of the model and the unrealistic look/style/model of the pants.

      Thanks for asking, because I didn’t really make this clear in the blog. Designing for all different sizes and shapes I see this sort of thing all day long, and the word has gotten out with my clients that I don’t like hearing stuff like, “I’m on a diet and I’m going to loose these last 15 lbs……,” or “I’ve been working out with a trainer and I should be in shape in another 6 weeks,” or “I’m going to loose this last inch around my hips!” I don’t care. What I REALLY want to know is what is my client’s normal and average size/weight and how can I design something for her that will look excellent on her figure flaws, cause we all got ’em, and there’s always a way to hide the bad parts and bring out the good parts!

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