Pants… I think know nothing about pant fitting and it scares the hell out of me. Dresses, skirts, coats, lingerie, I am good with those, but pants terrify me. The fabric needs to hang just right and have just enough ease to look good. To top it off, the fabric is pulled, bent and stretched in directions that fabric in a dress or a skirt would rarely be. In all of my sewing time I’ve made a handful of pants, and I’ve recently spent some time working on my pant muslin. I am not done, but from what I’ve learnt is that reducing the length of front inseam is an adjustment I need to make on virtually every pant pattern. So why not share?
This may be a very straight forward tutorial for most people, but for someone new to pant sewing what I’ve learned may be very insightful. I apologize ahead of time for my photos and if they are not super clear. I tried to take most tasteful pant front pictures that hopefully wouldn’t end up somewhere in the abyss of internets in places I don’t want the pictures of my front crotch to be. Also, I’ve used my blue Virginia Leggings I made over the weekend as an example for this adjustment. I understand that it is not the best item to show the issue on since the fabric is stretchy and pattern is already drafted with negative ease. Normally the wrinkles would be more prominent and there will be more fabric pooling, but I am hoping it will still get the idea across. So let’s begin!
So to start off, how would one know that the adjustment to the front inseam length is necessary? Here is my before picture. I have quite a few lose horizontal wrinkles right in the front and they are on both sides and in the middle. They come from excess fabric at the front crotch that you can actually grab and pull away. The other pointer is plain comfort. My pants don’t feel very comfortable because the front inseam keeps, or even seems like it is coming up too high on my waist and the fabric pools in that area.
Why not just shorten the whole inseam by folding the pattern? Well, that would change the length of your side seam and the front side seam will not match the side seam of the back pattern. Unless of course you also need to shorten the back inseam, then go ahead and takeout the extra length all across. But if the length of the back inseam is good, then you need to keep your side length on the pant front intact.
Another idea would be to just take off the extra length off the top of the front inseam and re-draw the top waistband seam to the side seam. But that would change the curve and the length of the waistband seam and you would need to make adjustments to the waistband pattern. So here is how you do it without making adjustments to other seams.
First thing to do, is to put on your pant muslin and pin out the excess fabric at the front horizontally, pinning it out to nothing at the side seam, just like a dart.
If you find that you need to pin out at the side seam, then there is a different adjustment that needs to be made and this one likely won’t help much. I am not extremely familiar with the other adjustment yet, so I won’t even try to explain it.
Now that you have the excess pinned out and you like the fit, here is what it should look like. Note that the horizontal wrinkles are gone! The next thing to do it to measure how much you pinned out in the widest part and divide that number by 2. I pinned out a total of ½” so my number was ¼”. Now you need to transfer that adjustment to the paper pattern. Here I have a tiny paper pattern of Virginia leggings. It is very small for the ease of photographing the steps. Also, this particular pattern has front and back leg together in one pattern piece, but this adjustment works for any pant pattern.
Unless you have a seamed front leg, then I would think that the two front patterns would need to be merged into one for this adjustment and then separated again.
Take out your front leg pattern, or in my case THE leg pattern, and draw a horizontal line, the one in red in the picture, perpendicular to the grain line at the vertical part of the front inseam. You want to leave the curve part of the inseam alone and not make any changes to it, especially if it fits.
From there mark up and down half of the pinned out amount. Mine was ¼”. In the picture the marks are in green, but they actually look black… They are the horizontal dashes above and below the red line.
Draw a straight line from the back inseam to the top mark, and to the bottom mark. The lines are in green in the picture. You will have a triangular shape, which looks like a dart, which it is!
Now cut you pattern piece along the top line to, but not through the back inseam line and cut the paper on the other side of the pattern to but not through the back inseam. You will have a hinge and will be able to move the top of the pattern up and down without separating it.
Take the top part of the pattern and overlap the top green line to the bottom green line. My piece looks so weird because it is small and my½” adjustment is not to scale. In real life you will not have such a drastic angle.
The last step is to true the front inseam back into the straight line. I did that in red below. I’ve also straightened my grainline since it bent a little with all my pattern manipulation.
Voila! The pattern piece was adjusted and you’ve successfully gotten rid of that excess fabric at the front without altering your side seam (or back inseam in my case) or waistband seam. I should also mention that if you are on the other side of this issue and need to add length to the front inseam without adjusting the other two seams, you can do the exact opposite and instead of overlapping the pattern, spread it and add the required amount.
If anyone is struggling with the same issue as me, I hope this helped and clarified the steps. In the meantime I will continue to learn the magic of fitting pants and sharing what I’ve learnt. There is still a long way to go, but it’s starting to get more fascinating and less stressful.
P.S. If you are struggling with pant fitting like me, I will leave you with this picture. No, I am not drunk in it. It is me after I finished fitting my numerous pant muslins. Yes, I am on the floor, with a fresh glass of wine and crazy hair. Up until the moments prior to S snapping picture I was comfort cuddling my cat. I am pretty sure I was complaining to my friend about struggles of pant fitting too… So if you are struggling, you are not alone 🙂