Initial Fitting of the Pants Block

Fitting the pants block isn't as difficult as it may seem.  A good fit through the waist, hip, and crotch is critical, but it really isn't that hard to achieve.

commercial pattern for full-leg pants

Like many people, I had a hard time finding the pant fitting pattern in my size at the sewing center.  I could have ordered it from Amazon, but I know that many people don't have that option, so I decided to find an alternative and demonstrate the fit process on a different pant.

The Vogue fitting pattern is still my recommendation for a good pant block, but if you can't find it, it IS possible to create a block from a simple, pull-on pant pattern (NO styling details!!!)

The first step is to cut the pant in muslin.

A fitting pattern has a large seam allowance (usually 1" to 1 1/2").  This pant has the US standard 5/8" seam allowance.

But, since the pant is so oversized and I know that I will be taking it in rather than letting it out, I will cut it with no extra seam allowance.

Then, mark the vertical and horizontal grainlines.  Mark the seam allowance (you'll be stitching along this line), and any other marks that will assist in stitching the pants.

The small mark on the front crotch seam was not on the pattern.  I added this mark to indicate where to stop stitching the crotch curve.  Once the pant has been fitted, you'll need an opening (above the mark) to get it on and off.

using the commercial pattern to cut the muslin pant sample

marking the seam allowances on the muslin sample

There is a video demonstrating the fitting of this pant, at the bottom of this page.  PLEASE read the steps, below, and look at the photos before viewing the video.  The written instructions and photos explain things the video does not, and vice versa.  The photos and video work well together.  Thanks!

muslin pant sample on body form; pant is much too large

Stitch the pant, then try it on. Pin the center front opening closed.

I've put it on a dress form to make the demonstration easier, but it's best to fit the pant on yourself, since you are the one who will be wearing any pants made from the block.

If you use a dress form (without legs), see the video for how to put the pants onto the form.

As you can see, these pants are WAY too large! But the grainlines are straight, and the crotch shape looks good (as good as it can look on a dress form) - the excess fabric is easy to deal with.

Cut a length of 1/4" elastic and tie it around the waist to hold the pants in place.  Make sure the front, back, and side seams are lines up properly on the body.

Then pinch out and pin the excess fabric at the sides.  Pull the fabric fairly smooth and taught across the seat and hips, and place the pin as close as possible to the body.

Also, make sure the you are pinching the same amount of fabric on the front and back of the seam (the seam should be right on the edge of the fold of excess fabric).

initial pinning of the muslin pant sample for fitting.

pinning the pant close to the body form, and a second pin to add ease at the hip.

We don't really want to eliminate all the ease in the pant.  The first pin simply tells you how much excess fabric there is at the hip.

Now, place a second pin about 1/2" away from the first pin (1/2" farther from the body).  Remove the first pin - this adds about 2" total ease all around the seat/hip area. It's not a lot of ease, but it's enough for a fitting block. 

Pin the side seam, using the pin at the hip as a guide. 

For example, I pinned this pant in about 1 1/2" at the hip.  I continued the 1 1/2" pinch all the way down the leg to the hem.

NOTE: if you're taking in the outseam at the hem, you'll have to take in the inseam the same amount - AT THE HEM ONLY!  The inseam would then taper to 0" at the thigh or crotch seam.  Don't take it in through the crotch, as it will make the crotch too tight.

From the hip to the waist, CURVE the pin line to follow the shape of the hip. You will be shaping the side seam toward the body (in the photo - I should have pinned a bit MORE curve near the waist for better fit).

pinning the curve of the hip on the muslin sample

pinning the waist on the muslin pant sample

Pin the excess fabric at the side seam towards the back so it doesn't become a distraction when you look at the pant.

Now, go to the back seam. 

Because this is a pull-on pant with excess fabric at the waist, there isn't much shape at the center back crotch seam.  Pinch out the excess fabric at the waist, to the fullest part of the buttocks (like a dart - it will probably be about 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" pinched at the waist). You won't actually stitch a dart; in this case, you'll re-shape the back seam (more on that later).

pinning the center back seam on the muslin pant sample.

Once you have the center back seam pinned, there will still be a little extra fabric at the back waist.

Pinch out darts on each side of the center back seam, to the fullest part of the buttocks (the darts should be about 6" long).

You should, at this point, have a pant that fits nicely across the back waist and the seat/hip area.

You'll still have a little excess fabric at the front waist, too.

Do NOT pinch out fabric at the center front, as you did in the back.  The center front seam should be OK as is.

But you will pinch out darts on each side of the center front seam, as you did in the back.  These darts should not be as deep or as long as those in the back (the darts in the photo are actually a bit long - aim for about 4").

Then mark ALL of your pins before removing them. You are marking your new stitch lines, so it's important to mark the side seams (front and back side of the seam), as well as the center back seam and all darts.

marking all of the pinned corrections on the muslin pant sample

Once you've marked all of your pins, you can remove the pins and re-stitch the pants following your marked lines.  Cut off most of the excess seam allowance, and you'll be ready for a second/final fitting.

What's the Next Step?

Step-by-Step: Making and Fitting Your Block

Need More Help with Fitting Issues?

The examples on this site reflect MY fitting issues and how I resolved them.  Your body is likely very different. 

But, since this is a site about the mechanics of making patterns and not specifically about fitting, I'm not going to address other fit issues here. And believe me, there are others who can address this issue better than me.

Any of the books listed below will help you achieve good fit. You can use the techniques on any pattern; but why make the same corrections over an over again?  Apply the principles to your block, and the fit corrections YOU need will be automatically built in to every pattern you make!

I can recommend any of the following books and an online course to help you achieve good fit, no matter what your size or shape.  I own or have used almost all of the books on this list, and have been pleased with how they address fit problems.

Click on the TEXT links below to go to the item in Amazon.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This helps to keep this site free for your use. You are free to search Amazon for these or other similar items without using the affiliate links on this page. 

- Sewing Pattern Alterations: Fixing Fit Issues - This online course from Udemy is essential for creating clothing with a good fit. There's nothing worse than spending time and money on making a garment, only to find it doesn't fit well! Learn how to fix the pattern BEFORE you cut into your fabric! The course covers necklines, sleeves, skirts and pants.

• Pattern Fitting With Confidence - A very useful book written by the late Nancy Zieman, host of the TV series "Sewing with Nancy". She provides a straightforward, down-to-earth approach to sewing and fitting. Very user-friendly.

• The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting - I love this book!!! So wonderfully illustrated with photos, using commercial patterns to demonstrate the pattern alterations. It addresses almost any fit problem you might have. So easy to understand and follow!

Sewing for Plus Sizes - Creating Clothes that Fit and Flatter  - A great book for Plus sizes!  As a woman gets larger, it's not just the measurements that change - our overall proportions shift, too.  This book addresses the different body types and proportions you commonly see in larger women. Truly helpful for larger women.

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