(Content note: Lots of pictures of my butt.)
Last summer I decided that I was going to finally have trousers that fit. I hope that if you come along with me as I recap the journey, you might learn something about fitting pants to your unique body (if it happens to be shaped a bit like mine), or at least get a laugh and a sigh of commiseration at the end.
There are a lot of reasons ready-to-wear trousers don’t fit me right. I have a protruding tummy, a swayback, and a big high round butt, which means a very short rise in the front and a very long rise in the back. RTW trousers invariably either threaten to show crack, or gouge me in the tummy, or sometimes somehow manage to do both at once. I’m also often plagued by either a camel toe or a wad of extra fabric in the crotch.
I got up the courage to try to get trousers to fit properly after reading a series of articles by Kathleen Fasanella about how and why RTW trousers tend to fit poorly on a lot of women of all sizes.
Seriously, if you are remotely interested in trousers fitting, go read those articles. (And then read everything else she ever wrote because she knows so much about fitting and construction and the garment industry plus she’s a great writer.)
According to Fasanella, it’s easier (and cheaper) to design trousers to fit wide (as opposed to thick/deep) bodies, because the pattern will be a shape that can be packed more tightly on the fabric. It so happens that I carry most of my weight in my tummy and butt, so besides being wide from side to side, I’m deep from front to back – exactly the shape that commercial trousers aren’t going to fit well at all.
I decided to use a HotPatterns pant to do my learning on, because they go up to my hip size (54″) (though my waist, 46″ last summer, is off the chart), and because I’d heard really good things about their L-shaped crotch curve.
I started with HotPatterns 1190, because it’s super-simple, plus I loved the idea of lounging about in the summer heat, looking elegantly rumpled in flowing linen palazzos.
Before I even did a muslin, I did a bit of tweaking to the HP pants just according to my measurements:
- shortened the front rise
- lengthened the back rise
- added room just at the front for my tummy
Here’s what happened with my first muslin:
I seem to have solved the issues with the front and back rise with my pre-emptive alterations, but the fit is still far from ideal. Looking at the wrinkles, you can see:
- a (small) camel toe in front
- my inner thighs are stealing fabric from the outer thighs, creating those diagonal wrinkles hanging from mid-thigh to knee
- fabric is getting sucked into my butt crack and into my crotch
What’s going on here is, the pants are the correct circumference, and they would fit me perfectly if I were only wide from side to side, but I’m three-dimensional, and also quite deep from front to back. This pants pattern has a reasonable depth through the crotch for most people, but my shape is thicker/deeper than these trousers are meant for. So the front and back are in a fight for fabric, and the battleground is my crotch and inner thighs.
Over a few iterations, I added a bit more length to the horizontal part of the rear crotch curve, and scooped out the front of the crotch curve, like Fasanella describes in the articles I linked to. This makes the pants deeper back to front, and has the bonus effect of making the inner thighs a little wider too.
Here’s how my second pair of palazzos fit:
I’m really happy with the front, but look at those wrinkles pulling towards my left butt cheek – and I thought I was standing square! This is how I found out my pelvis is crooked, with my left hip higher and a bit further back than my right.
If I was really ambitious, I might have worked more on adding to only the left side of the trousers and getting it really perfect, but instead I went on to explore other trouser styles since I had the basic shape relatively ok.
These corduroys are a frankenpattern with the legs of Hotpatterns 1112, the pockets from Hotpatterns 1036, and a yoke and cuffs that I drew myself. I’m really pleased with the fit on these. You can see a bit of a hollow over the right butt-cheek because of my asymmetrical hips, but other than that everything is hanging pretty smoothly.
Then I took my frankenpattern and drew several other styles to try: darts instead of a yoke; patch pockets; wider and narrower legs…
And then? The happy ending of this story would be, then I lived happily ever after in my assortment of well-fitting trousers.
What actually happened was, I recently developed some serious health problems and my doctor told me I had to lose weight or perish. I still have my beautiful pants patterns, but I don’t have the body I made the patterns for – and the body I’ve got will continue to change as I try to get to a weight that is healthier for me. But at least when my weight stabilizes, I’ll have some good ideas how to make a new pants block that fits me right!