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Tips & Techniques > How to Fit Pants as you sew

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Posted by: Gigi Louis

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Member since: 4/4/02
Reviews: 77 (tips: 16)
Skill level:Advanced
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Posted on: 11/11/02 12:24 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 5 people   Very Helpful by 35 people   
To fit as you sew your pants use the following order:

Stitch back crotch seam to within about 3" of the inseam. Insert your fly-front zipper (if pattern has a back zipper insert it) - again crotch seam should be stitched to within about 3" of the inseam.

Pin in darts, inseams, outseams - all with seam allowances to the outside to allow adjustment without removing pants.

Try on the pants with elastic around your waist to hold the pants up. I adjust the inseam first, then the outseam, check all darts (is location correct? is depth correct?).

Stitch the inseam, darts, remaining crotch seam, then outseam (I sometimes try them on again before sewing outseam). Then I would put them on again with the elastic around my waist and mark the waistline seam (my teenage DS is a big help here - anyone who can run a chalk wheel under a piece of elastic can help you in the back - but if you're alone that's still okay).

Trim the waistline seam evenly to whatever seam allowance you will use. Apply waistband. I usually cut an extra long waistband since I can cut off whatever I don't need. If you have a helper you can try on the waist band when you have your pants on and have your helper mark CB, dart locations, side seams, CF for you. I never just use the pattern piece given since I know I have to make adjustments.

If the pant is too large in the waist it should generally be taken in at the side seams. Remember that a deeper dart points to a bigger bump, a shallow dart points to a flatter bump. So unless your waist is small and your derriere is rounder than average you should not be deepening your darts to reduce the size of the waist. But I am all for pinning darts in (to the outside) to allow fine tuning before sewing since it's unlikely that you are shaped exactly like the pattern. To deepen darts just redraw the lines - darts can also be shaped to mirror your shape. If you pin-fit the darts on you, you can just chalk mark the new dart legs on the inside of the garment.

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ryansmumAria said... (4/28/10 12:21 PM) Reply
EXcellent and so well explained- thank you!
ryansmumAria said... (4/28/10 11:32 AM) Reply
EXcellent and so well explained- thank you!
carolyn1234 said... (6/26/06 7:23 PM) Reply
very helpful and easy to understand
lornakismet said... (5/1/06 0:15 AM) Reply
This is one of those tips that I copy and paste onto my ever-growing file of good tips. Thanks thanks thanks. -LornaKismet (Lorna A.)
thaiyal said... (11/11/05 9:51 AM) Reply
Gigi, never mind. That was a silly question from a beginner who has never sewn a pant, yet. I think you have to fit the pants first and then sew the inv. zipper.
thaiyal said... (11/11/05 9:41 AM) Reply
This is a great tip. Thanks gigi! I wonder how this can be done if an invisble zipper is placed on a side seam.
purpleseamstress said... (8/21/05 7:38 PM) Reply
Thank you so much. Very helpful. I'm going to try on my next pair of pants.
muffie11 said... (2/9/05 9:32 AM) Reply
really good ideas, hope to try this afternoon
Elisabetha said... (8/27/04 5:31 AM) Reply
Gigi thanks a lot; very helpful.
lhstitcher said... (2/26/04 11:31 AM) Reply
Gigi, just ran across this, I'll be using it for our 4H sewers, hopefully I can head off some of the printed pattern instructions that lead to disaster. Learn by my mistakes!
val said... (2/26/03 2:45 PM) Reply
great tip will use it a lot thanks a bunch
Gigi Louis said... (12/10/02 6:53 PM) Reply
Rebecca, I'm so glad it worked out for you!
Rebecca Wiltberger said... (12/10/02 3:39 PM) Reply
Gigi, I followed your instructions and the fitting went SO well! I really feel confident to jump into the world of fitted pants again. Thanks for the hint about sizing. I usually add 1"-1 1/2" SA for fitting purposes as well. This time I hardly had to make any adjustments, because I was using a Burda magazine pattern and they seem made for my type of figure. I also measured some pants I had that had a similar fit and that let me know I needed to widen the legs a little to cover my larger thighs. Thanks so much for sharing your insights.
Gigi Louis said... (12/3/02 9:50 PM) Reply
Rebecca, I usually buy a size smaller than what I'm "supposed" to wear too. I don't like to be overwhelmed with a lot of ease either. What I tell my students is that each size has enough ease to get to the next size up. For instance, my hip fluctuates between 38" and 39", which would technically put me into a 14 - which is WAY too big! The 12 has enough ease to fit up to a 38" hip and I always have my 1" in-case side seam allowances if I need a smidgen extra (which is rare). Another thing the pattern doesn't tell you... :-)
Rebecca Wiltberger said... (12/3/02 7:02 PM) Reply
I have shied away from pants because fitting was such a trial. I took the P/P pants fitting class a few years back, but I didn't like changing every pattern and then having to take out all the added ease because they are too big. (I realized later that the teacher liked her pants loose and I like closer fit.)This is the most direct and straight forward directions I have ever seen. I will try them on me new pants that I just cut out the other day!
Gigi Louis said... (11/12/02 6:43 PM) Reply
Skymom, if the pattern has slant pockets they are completed before the side seams are sewn. I don't like inseam pockets at all but if you want to use those you would have to fit and mark the side seams before the pockets are inserted.
Loreli said... (11/12/02 3:38 PM) Reply
This helped me alot. Thankyou Gigi. Loreli
Skymom said... (11/12/02 1:28 PM) Reply
Gigi, what do you do if your pattern has slant pockets--or any pockets that interfere with the side seams?
Anne S said... (11/11/02 3:31 PM) Reply
Good tip. I usually get too far into the sewing before I realize adjustment is needed. Can't wait to try this technique!
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