Pictutorial- Removing Back Thigh Fabric

I’m working on Colette’s Clover pants in a bottom-weight cotton-lycra no-wale cord stretch.  Previously, I altered the pattern using my basic block.  This fitting solution should work on other pants that have the problem of too much fabric through the back thigh area.

After quickly basting the muslin to check the basic fit, I ripped and then stitched the Clovers together except the inseam and hem.  This post will focus primarily on the back inseam.  I show my pattern work as I go; this is essentially the same process as fitting the Pinkie Pants but more methodically documented.

If your fashion fabric is ravelly, be sure to finish the raw edges.  All seams are basted until the fitting is complete.

This is the baseline.  The fit is fine on the front, and no major issues through the hips or the crotch seam.  It’s just that pesky back thigh fabric!

The rest of the photos show closer work, but I wanted to be clear that I’m working primarily with the back pattern piece, at the point where the inseam meets the crotch curve.

The red lines shows my first alteration.  I did this on the machine, and marked it on the pattern.  I deepened the back of the crotch curve by a scant 1/4″ (6mm) and blended the new line of stitching into the crotch curve.  Then I sewed the inseam, taking in more of the fabric at the top of the inseam.  This is how it translates to the pattern.

The second fit is slightly better.  I tend to adjust seams incrementally, to avoid over shooting the mark.   If a wrinkle points up to the crotch curve, I know I need to deepen.  If it’s horizontal or , I work on the inseam.

I ripped the basting through the middle of the inseam, stopping mid-thigh.

I deepened the back crotch just a little more, and shifted the back inseam slightly.

This is what it looks like after I sew it.  I try to leave the seam allowances until they get *really* wide, because I’m somewhat conservative about this type of fitting.  I want to leave myself a way out until I’m sure I’m right!

I can see I’m getting somewhere, very slowly.  The fit is comfortable, but I’m somewhat alarmed by the -ahem- division going on…

At this point, the back crotch curve had been edited several times, so I took out my block and matched up the straight part of the CB seams to check the curve was still curvy enough- it looked as though my editing had straightened it out too much.  I corrected it.  I’m using the same curved line as the original block because it is a “map” of my seamlines, but it’s dropped about 3/4″ (2cm) at the inseam point.  The green line shows the original curved line.

Much better.  Above the blasted thighs, everything is fine.

I took in more of the back inseam only, and while I was whittling away at the thigh bulk, I could see knee wrinkles forming and knew I should rip the inseam to below the knees and try again.

Much better, I took in more at the top of the inseam and took in fabric all the way down past the knee.  The diagonal wrinkle is still there- but only on one side for some reason.

Then I reached down and pinned the inseam while I was wearing the Clovers.  Most of the work up to now focused on making sure the back crotch was properly adjusted for the change in the inseam.  But now that area is fine and I need to focus on just the legs.  If I take fabric only off the back inseam, it causes the side seam to twist around my leg while I’m wearing them.  (Ask me how I know!)

I could have saved myself a few trips to the sewing machine by doing this on my 5th pass instead of my 6th.  Live and learn.  I didn’t mess anything up, just wasted a little time.

The fabric is not pulled taut.  It is just pinned, down to my knees where I tapered it off.

I slithered out, keeping the pins in place.

Rubbed chalk into the pinned seam and took out the pins.

This is the new back inseam stitching line.  I’m pointing to where my line of pins began.  I tapered that into the back crotch seam and smoothed out the chalk line.

This is the front inseam.  Not nearly as dramatic, but it is a similar shape to the back curve line.

Then I folded the pants and turned back the seam allowance so I could see to transfer the lines to the other leg.

That’s better, but still pretty wrinkly.  Remember, I haven’t trimmed my seam allowances yet.

This is after trimming. This is where I stopped, but I can keep going if y’all decree it.

I can live with this.  I might only rip the knee area of the inseam one more time to play around with it, but this is the point where I decided the pesky back thigh fabric was sufficiently reduced.  And I can still pursue my night job as a ninja.

Nothing crazy in the front, either.  I’m sorry about the quality of these photos, I usually take in-progress shots with the computer camera which picks everything up quite well in full daylight but I didn’t finish these until late afternoon.

I’m saving up for a *good* camera and a tripod.  It will happen soon.

I transferred my changes to the Clover pattern.  It will need a little more refinement, but this is my new stretch “block.”  I’ll think about the refinements while I quirk up these Clovers, and post about that and the “fisheye dart” technique next week.  In fact, while I was writing this post I had several ideas but they’ll keep for a few days.

If you’d like a crack at working with your own custom fitted pants block, let me know.  I’m on it.

AND- if you’re in Brisbane and you’d like to take my Perfectly Fitting Pants workshop, visit Piece Together for more information and to register.

Did you see Lee’s lovely version of the Sisters of Edwardia blouse on Sew Weekly?   really suits her, and it goes so well with the K.Hepburn style trousers she made!


27 comments

  1. I’m so relieved to learn that I’m doing something ‘right’ in the sewing room. It’s a really great technique for getting rid of wrinkles. You’re right, though…it needs to be done in tiny increments or you can really go too far. Great tutorial…and Lee’s blouse is gorgeous.

  2. Fascinating watching the progress! Now may I chuck in my ha’penny of thought? The diagonal wrinkles, my instincts want to hoik the sides seams up a little. Which makes me wonder if part of the contributing factor is the outer side seam shape too? Just a little. You have some gorgeous curvature in the silhouette and perhaps that side seam isn’t quite keeping up with it, hence the sense of it being off kilter. I admire your resilience int eh face of pants, Steph! They do my head in !!

    • I always like to hear what you think! :) When I pinned out the fisheye dart and played with it on the pattern, it did result in a lower side seam.. And I think I ever-so-slightly overdid it with dropping the back crotch… I’ll get in there and mess with the seams a little before the final post. :)

      No resilience, really… It took about half an afternoon…

  3. It may explain something about my problems with fitting pants that I can’t actually see much difference between the starting photos and the finished ones. I’ll be studying them more over the weekend. Don’t feel creeped out knowing a strange woman is staring at your backside, okay?

    • Sigh… I cringe every time I do posts like this, all those photos of my backside… But it’s for a good cause…

      Hehehe. Wouldn’t be creeped out. Heheheh.

      Well- I wouldn’t wear the pants in the first photograph out in public, but I would wear the ones in the last photo. Though I must say, I don’t really see the appeal of the cut, though I know everyone is wearing pants like that… Give me some K.Hepburn pants anytime!

  4. Great post – thanks a million. I love seeing how the changes relate back to the wearable end product! I just went through trying to fit clovers too (albiet I did it for non-stretch) and it was troublesome. Pants have a bad rep for a really good reason! hehe

    • Well, it’s a process but I’m not feeling defeated or anything… More pleased that I have a workable “stretch” block than anything else. :)

  5. Thank you for all the methodical documentation. I love your simple finger-count-labelling of the photos! smart, you! (this is the kind of process that leaves me sewing in my underwear every time.)

    • Hehehe…. I use a computer to take those shots and usually take multiples of everything… I can’t tell you how many times I sat down to write a tutuorial and the pictures were unusable.. I use my point and shoot for the pattern shots, so i learned a long time ago to do my best to keep track of the order… ;)

      I was totally sewing in my underwear.

  6. These are the exact areas I’m having trouble with right now on some 1950s capris I’m attempting to make. It’s driving me nuts, because even “Pants for Real People” is making me want to toss the whole thing! I am going to have to give it another go at fitting though, after reading this. Eventually I want to take advantage of your custom pants block–I’ve been making more and more pants lately for myself, and figure it’s about time I invest in something like that. :)

    • Well– I’m working on the refinements to this post, it’s a bit much to process at one time so I thought I’d do the basics and then refine it…. I’m wearing these Clovers all weekend so I understand them better, but I’m fairly certain where this is going… :) I’d love to work with you on a block, just let me know.

  7. Perfect timing. Again! And I’m happy to be heading in more or less the right direction with baggy ‘under-butt’ area fixing. Then again I haven’t yet looked at anything close fitting, so that will really be pudding proof, as they say.

    About the pocket flaps, they look really good with the waistband added :o)

  8. I’m so pleased to see you crack the clovers Steph- I haven’t made any progress since we last emailed. It looks like you have very similar fit problems to the ones I had so will come back and look at this when I have finished sewing my tessuti New York Cape which is my new love :)

    • I’m doing my best, and thank you again for the pattern. Give me another week or so, and we can go back to yours and clean them up, no problem.

  9. Pingback: Obsession, Observation and Clovers « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  10. Funny. This is the same adjustment I make in my husband’s pants–they are always so baggy in the thighs. Thanks for taking time to document it for us.

  11. I just wonder whether you can sit down without the back waistband diving down! I always assume some of that “excess” back thigh fabric is for range of motion. Though skinny pants are an exception to the rule I suppose.

    • Yes. It does dive down a little, but not so badly. I attribute that more to the fact that the waistband sits 2″ below my waist more than the fit. It’s not tight. I’ll be sure to climb something or do some awesome airkicks when I show the final garment post. :) If the crotch seam fits properly and is shaped well, it will allow you a good range of motion. The extra through the thighs helps if you’re doing something like riding horses (think jodhpurs..) but I don’t know that it makes much difference in normal wear… That’s my thoughts anyway.

  12. Just bookmarked your post as this is a problem I am having with pants, too. Seeing your process in pictures helped understanding what happens at each step a lot. I should start taking pictures when I alter pants, too, me thinks.

  13. Pingback: Fisheye Dart = Changing Seamlines for Stretch Pants Fitting « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  14. Pingback: Finished Object: Teal Clovers « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  15. This is incredible to watch. I’m not sure if I’m patient or stubborn enough to perfect pants, although I do still want to try. Posts like this help a lot to see what you do when certain things happen (and I’m always baffled by line drawings in books).


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