The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Periscope on Pants

On Sunday I did a fun Periscope on Pants:

Just in case you didn’t get to see it, it’s here but here it is here too!!!

Honestly…just about the time I get things figured out tech-wise, they change.  The site that “caught” all the Periscope vids and kept them went defunct…!  So I transferred them to YouTube, which hopefully will keep them up for a while!


So here’s the deal:


I talked about:

The Difference Between WOVEN and KNIT

Why this matters is that there is stretch in knit and woven is stable or doesn’t stretch.  That means that you gotta have something else in there that’s going to give or you can’t move.

The early scandalous wearers of pants (Greta Garbo & Coco Chanel)…looked like this


And no one considered these pants baggy.

Now styles have changed, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have pants that are baggy.  Trying to make your woven pants fit like stretch paints doesn’t work.  Stretch pants are like apples and woven pants are like oranges – they are two different things, so the sewing techniques are two different balls of wax!

So if woven pants don’t have stretch -they need ease.  Ease is not bagginess – ease has to be there so that you can move in the pants.  But the pants do have to fit.


So here’s the four stages that I recommend (i you don’t like my way, you can go back to your way)

  1. Hang, Drape
  2. Anchor, where the pants rest or sit on your body
  3. Fitting: a.) Pinch in – Darts, b.) Crotch seam and c.) Apex
  4. Finishing


Here’s the thing – if you start out good, you have a good chance of getting a good muslin…..and that’s with the Hang and the Anchoring of the pant.


Hang is about if the pant hangs straight – you want it to hang straight from the widest part of your body, and not tilt front or back or be bowed (tilt inward) or splayed (tilt out).  Once you have your hang, pin it to you (I wear a body suit or stockings when I’m fitting muslins).

Anchoring is about where lands or sits on your body.  Stand, sit, stoop, walk, squat, and if you want even take them off and put them back on again.  If they rest in the same place again and again, you’ve got them anchored well. If they are off as much as an inch, then they aren’t anchored.  Now you can mark your waist and start fitting around the waist and above the hip, tummy and fanny apex points.

The Apex rule is one of my favs and something I’ve used for my clients that they don’t even know it.  All they know is that they feel great, they look great, they are fashionable and look flattering.


Here’s the best example of this.  I choose Christie cause he’s NOT svelt at all.  Look how his pants fall STRAIGHT to the hem from the largest part of him – his waist.


Politicians and leaders are two of my favs to look for well-fitted clothing – these two have to look responsible, leader-like, capable and can’t look trendy or be unflatteringly (not sure that’s a word – but it is now) dress.  And BOTH of them have their pants that fall straight to the hem from the widest part of their bodies -from their apex points to the hem is a straight line.  PM Merkel’s hem is crushed cause she has on flats which is OK by me – that’s a standard in men’s clothing.  Mrs. Clinton’s hem is straight no crush, but she has on heels which is exactly how this should be worn.  If these people – who have professionals helping them carry off the look they want – have their pants fitting them, my bet is that so can you.

I can’t know the shape of each of you but I do know that we are all shaped alike.  So even though you’re fitting the side seams and the inseams, don’t forget to fit the crotch seam too.

crotchdepthAll of these crotch seams have the same depth (see the up and down, vertical, line – they hit at the same depth).  But notice how much the horizontal line varies even though the crotch depth is the same.  This just shows you how this seam can vary.  You can have it so it’s high in front and low in back or the other way around;  so it’s curvy in front but not in back or curvy in back and flat in front, or flat in front and back – it all depends upon your shape.


This makes my point.  All the pants have the same shape on the outside (the outline on the very most left).  But look at how all the crotch seams are shaped differently.  And here’s the thing.  These all have the same depth.  Some are full in front, some are not, some are full in back some are not.  They are all shaped differently.  There are as many different crotch type shapes as there are sands on the beach.  What’s your right shape?  Start (and I mean start only) with the depth.  You can measure that by sitting in a chair and measuring from your waist to the point at which your bottom touches the seat – best to do this in a hard seat.  But remember that’s just the depth.  To determine the rest, the best way is by fitting – and that means a lot, and I mean a lot of trying on and altering, trying on and altering, etc., till you get the fit you want.  This also shows the terrific number of variations on this.  I could sit here and tell you that you need this here and that there, but that would limit you and that’s not what I want to do.  I want you to have the freedom to have what you want.

I like a high rise, and a low crotch.  I have a sway back so my pattern looks really funny.


See doesn’t that look weird?  But this is what I like – a low rise in front and a great big one in back.  My fanny also droops – way more in back than it does in front.  See how the crotch depth is NOT at the top of the inseam?…also see how much I pitch toward the back in my pelvis?  This has a lot to do with the fit of my crotch seam, and it looks really REALLY weird, but guess what – this is what fits me, makes me feel so fabulous and what I love about my pants pattern.


OK there’s one last touchy area to alter that can be confusing.  That’s the bottom of the crotch seam.  It’s not the same as the top (which is either center front or center back).  What does that mean?  Well – if you want to add more in the hips, you have to leave the crotch depth the same (the bottom of the crotch seam), but you have to release the top of the crotch seam (center front or center back).  This can get confusing cause it looks like if you release the whole seam you will have more room.  Actually the bottom of the crotch seam will have less room if you release the seam.  Yep, you heard me right.  It’s the opposite of the top of the crotch seam.  I know, it’s confusing.  That’s why I mention it.

Here – this is what I mean:


The blue lines are the original pattern.  The green lines are the new wider pattern.  Notice how the bottom of the crotch seam is the same?  That’s what I mean when you’re altering in the crotch area – which is the hip, upper thigh area.  If you released that whole seam, you’re going to raise the crotch depth and therefore make a smaller space in the crotch.  So don’t do it!  Just FYI here.


OK – hopefully you’re off to your sewing space to make your own muslin.  Here’s some words of encouragement from your Sage of Stylish Sewing Stimulater…..

  • Don’t give up – there IS a solution
  • This takes a while.  You’re making a pattern for life, not for next week.  Give yourself the time to do this.
  • There’s going to be lots of trying on, sewing a little seam, trying on again, ripping it out, trying on again.
  • Ease is not bagginess.  You will have to make a truce between baginess and ease, but these are woven pants so they don’t stretch and therefore shouldn’t fit next to your skin.
  • Take a look again at some political and country leaders who wear pants and you’ll see how many varying shapes there are and yet all of them have pants that fit!

It can be done!!!  If you have questions, leave them here in the comments and I’ll answer – but most of all, I want you to know that all the time you spend on your pants is worth it.  Well fitting, flattering, fashionable pants are a treasure.  Now, here’s going to be the big problem:  Your friends are all going to remark, “Oh well, it’s easy for you cause you’re a perfect size (fill in the blank)!!!!” Just say yes, and laugh about your own brilliance!!!





  1. Thanks for this tutorial. One question: what does “release” mean in “release the seam”?

    • Harriet – good question. Release is let out or sew in the seam allowance that will normally make the seam allowance smaller but the garment larger. IOW, this releases the seam so that you have more room in the garment. Hope that helps!

  2. This is such a great post – it makes a lot of sense to me, even though I don’t grasp it all yet, but I intend to study it more closely after some sleep and coffee! Ha. Thanks so much for sharing this info – it’s very timely for me, as I just pulled out a Vogue pants pattern by Issey Miyake from my stash tonight, and thought, as I was looking at the pieces, “boy, that looks like a low rise!” Hopefully I can understand your post enough to work out a good fit for myself.

    • Don’t make this harder than it needs to be! Just follow the steps- one at a time…you have to get it positioned correctly where it hangs straight and comfy at the crotch. That may mean that you pin it to position it temporarily, then sit, stand stoop, etc., to see if it’s a comfy crotch height, and then you have a good place to start – then you can anchor it!

      I would make a pants muslin first. This gives you so much information so that you can use it in fitting your Miyake pattern if you want, or make your own version of he Miyake pattern. It’s important too, to remember that not all styles of pants look good on everyone. That’s why there are so many styles. There’s nothing wrong with making the style that looks best on you over and over. Believe me people don’t notice. But what they do notice is that you look good in pants – time and again, so obviously (for those looking at you) you have no problem in fitting your pants – HA!!!! Only we sewists know for sure!!!!!

      • Thanks for the tips and encouragement – very good points. I am definitely starting with a muslin. Although I’m very short-waisted and generally have slimmer hips than waist so that normally lower-rise pants work better for me than high-rise, these are too low I believe, to start with. I’m going to try to adapt them, but am prepared for failure! I love the long, lean line of the pant on the pattern, (not too lean, as I don’t care for skinny jeans on myself) and the way they fit on reviewers on Pattern Review. Some nice makes on there. I did compare the pattern pieces with a favorite pair of RTW, and there’s not a huge difference so I’m crossing my fingers!

  3. Claire, I just started following you on Periscope and went looking for your website right away! Low and behold, I already had this page pinned months ago on Pinterest! Pants have been so hard for me. I’ve made 3 muslins already and the crotch (of course) is the BIG PROBLEM. You have addressed it better than anyone, even Ms Betzina in a Craftsy class I purchased. Thanks so much! I look forward to more of your awesome Periscopes!

    • Don’t give up on your pattern – it will take a while, but it will be worth it. Also be prepared that it may need a little tweaking after you finish your first pair or two. I tink mine took about 3 or 4 months before I really got what I wanted and it was just minor little things, but I have a pattern now that sings!!!

  4. Very nice article on pants. I also watched the video and have a similar question about where the inseam should be placed. For yourself, you mentioned you prefer an inseam point that very close to your front because it prevents the center back from pulling down when you sit. Would this also apply to a plus size that has a belly that sticks out more than the buttocks? Like Gov. Christie. 😉
    I’ve never been sure how to determine where my inseam point should be due to my crotch seam shape.

    • This is a PURELY individual preference. If you would like a place to start, you can make it either 1.) at the lowest point of your crotch curve or 2.) half way between top center front and top center back – they are not always the same. They might be, but aren’t always. That I like mine pitched forward a little is only my personal preference. I mention in that this is a choice you can make. What I was really trying to get across here is how you can completely individualize your fitting experience with your pants, whereas there is no way that RTW can ever do this. I’m so spoiled now that buying a pair of pants would be impossible. And in Gov. Christie’s situation, he’s probably got just as much behind as he does in front – maybe a tad more in front, but the truth is only his tailor knows for sure cause I don’t know what his exact dimensions or preferences are.

      What is important is that the inseam be plumb. That means that if you hang a string from wherever the inseam hits the crotch it should fall perpendicular to the horizon – straight up and down. The same is true of the side seam. And BTW, the side seam may hit a little forward (if there’s a lot of fanny) or a little backward (if there’s a lot of stomach), and should also be plumb.

      A lot try and make these pants hard. The truth is that you will not hit a perfect pair of pants straight out of the fitting process – you might and if you do, you’re lucky. After you do your first pair of pants with your new muslin, it will very likely need some tweaking. Remember pants at the very most basic sense are a bargain between baggy and comfort, and that bargain adjustment comes with wearing a few that you make up. Now ONCE YOU GET THAT FIT, you’re home free – and pants become a beloved part of your wardrobe again cause it takes no time and very little skill to sew up a pair of pants!

      • I was given some pants and they are baggy in the upper thigh area, how do I make adjustments to correct that?

        • Hey Debra – these were probably an older style. What you need to do is “boot leg” them so that they have a more modern update. Basically that entails narrowing slightly from the largest part of your hip (and top of the inseam on the inside) to just above the knee and then from that point on down, the pant seams (both side & inseam) should fall parallel to the straight of grain. This is a more appealing and normal look for pants today and what we are more used to. Make sure that when you taper into the area just above the knee that you sit in the pant to make sure when it rides up on the leg (and they should ride up), that it’s not too tight around the upper knee/lower thigh area.

  5. Oh my goodness, THANK YOU for this post! I have a very difficult time finding pants that fit, because I’m swaybacked, short-legged, & thick-calved. But the swayback is the biggest fit challenge for me. I am so thrilled to see a sewing post like this from someone who has the same challenge & has overcome it! Thank you so much! I’m so glad I found you, and look forward to following!

    • You bet Vicky. Pants can be difficult, but stay with the process and don’t forget that woven IS different from knit!!! I think that’s the biggest misconception, that people think woven pants should fit like knit ones!

  6. Hi, Claire, just wanted to drop a note to let you know I completed my pants that I spoke of above (Vogue 1204 Issey Miyake in a stretch denim) keeping in mind your principles as far as I could and they turned out pretty good, as far as my skills will allow anyway! I told my granddaughter that they were the most comfortable jeans I have. I was so intimidated by the thought of making denim jeans/pants but now I’m eager to make more! Thanks so much for your info and encouragement! I just recommended your blog to a friend in Norman, OK, a nurse who’s looking forward to getting back to making her own clothes when she retires. She was a fashion design major who changed to nursing as a more practical careeR years ago.

  7. I’m so glad. Pants can be intimidateing cause it’s like doing a bunch of things at the same time – like learning to drive for the first time when you have to steer the car correctly, watch the road, make sure you’re at the right speed and lift up or press down just right on the gas pedal and brake, but watch the road and concentrate on what’s head, but look in the rear view, but watch your speed, and don’t forget to watch the road ahead – well you get the idea!!!! You have to do the same with pants.

    But stay tuned cause I have an update coming – I’m going to do something with Pericrafters, who periscope their work and have been wanting to do a tutorial on this.

    • Sounds intriguing! And, I love your analogy for making pants/driving, thanks so much for your comment. I found your video showing how the crotch seam can morph and swing back and forth to accomodate different builds of tummys/rear ends, and the concept of the pants and side seams “hanging” from the right point so helpful. Haven’t completely absorbed, of course, but lit a bulb in my sewing brain!

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