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Sewing schadenfreude… enjoy my Clover conundrum

October 15, 2011

Firstly, I know I promised to be absent in any photos this post around. But the draft I have all written & ready to go will simply have to wait its turn. I’m in a pants pickle. R’s out of town, so bear with the mirror shots. Isn’t he lucky to be avoiding my hair pulling!

I need your help, oh seamsters of the world. I have sewn three Clover muslins, adjusting each as accordingly as I thought necessary. Each version seems to be worse than the last. Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, I know that these are meant for a fabric with a bit of stretch, and therefore my muslin fabric should have a bit of stretch. Call me a rebel or call me a fool, but I’m using plain ol’ woven cotton muslin. I don’t have any cheap appropriate stretch fabric, can’t quite afford to run out & get some, and there’s that pesky little pact I made regarding the non-purchasing of new items this month.

Clover collage – image by Colette Patterns

This is a very simple pattern. But trousers are not simple. All those interconnecting parts that meet in the middle of your moving, 3D body have a lot of pressure placed on them to fit and flatter your front and rear.

Let’s talk things I know: I know I have wide hips. I am 99.99% certain I have a low butt. I may have a short torso, you tell me (I’m 5’6″ and my hip bone protrudes almost as high as my husband’s, who measures in at 6’3″).

Let’s talk things I don’t know: I am still on the fence about whether I have a swayback or not. My butt is big, but mostly wide vs. protruding. My spine curves in at the lower back, but maybe this is mostly an illusion of the pronounced outward curvature of my upper back. I may have large quads. I did enough Bulgarian split squats this summer for that to be in the running.

A few weeks ago, I picked up this little item – a handy dandy flexible ruler. Having been on my wish list for a few years, I knew the Clover sewalong would be the perfect excuse. We’ll see how well my gadget fares, shall we?

Let’s take a look at muslin 1, sewn as a straight size 10. We’re all friends here, right? Right. So please ignore my pink panties.

The waist was too loose, to be expected with my hip:waist ratio. There were slight frowning wrinkles in the crotch.  The Colette cheat sheet says I have a smaller waist, so I made this adjustment, 1″ total. Furthermore, knowing that I have a low butt and having had made an adjustment for this in the past (yeah, those unfinished jeans I’m always going on about), I lowered the back crotch curve. Even consulted the markings on the jeans tissue. On last quick adjustment I made was to pull the center front seam into the waistband 3/8″, then tapered out to the side seams. I did this just in case I do have a short torso, as I thought it would fix the, ahem, sad crotch.

Marked & readied to take in for the small waist adjustment
Overlapping 1/4″, meaning 1″ total (left & right, front & back…yay, math!)
Waistbands also get taken in 1/4″, for a total of 1″
Consulting curve of fav jeans, just in case it could offer insight.
Attempting to match curve from fav jeans & also consulting jeans pattern tissue, where I lowered the crotch curve.
I cut the piece the same in the crotch, but transferred my stitch line. Notice that the line is more than the standard 5/8″… I found this easier than marking a new cutting line.
You can see how I brought up the CF into the waist band 3/8″

Hence, muslin 2.

The waist sits much more snugly, so huzzah for that. Don’t worry about the slight pouf/Oompa Loompa thing going on at the side seams, from the waistband to the hip. That is a quick fix by grading. But check out my booty! I feel like I still have a wedgie, and then the fabric just pools & pools under my butt. And now these radiating diagonal lines are worse, as if my butt were just trying to break free. Consults cheat sheet: full butt adjustment? Or did I simply do something wrong with the initial adjustments? Also, lowering the crotch curve should have taken care of the pooling. But with all of the other changes, maybe I made that worse, too? Even the front is frowning more :(  Colette’s full butt adjustment looked all sorts of crazy involved to lazy me. Instead, I consulted over here, deepened the crotch curve a tad more (1/4″) and added some width to the front & back inseams (1″ at crotch, tapering down to pattern piece matching notches). While I never finished Sunni’s trouser sewalong, I have seen her sporting two different pants, including the Clover, and they fit like a dream. I also know the chart she used is from Pants for Real People. I just bought Fit for Real People, and my jeans pattern is a Palmer & Pletsch, so I trust this system all around. Don’t get me wrong – I know that the Colette cheat sheet and all of the related adjustment posts are so incredibly thorough. But to me, they are also confusing. Not in application, but in deciding what my fit issues truly are. I feel like I can stare and stare at the sheet, convincing myself of a myriad of possibilities. A trouser fitting choose your own adventure!

Muslin 3. Totally not the charm.

These look more problematic than ever, no? More pooling under the cheeks, and check out that crazy crotch! Kors would have a field day with these! When I sit, you guessed it – pants tent!!! (Again, ignore the tapering I need to do from waist to hip at side seam.) At this point, I really wish I could get behind the whole jeggings look. But I will not be defeated!

I have half a mind to try something whackadoo…. What if I slashed & spread at the fullest part of my hip, either only in the rear, or rear & front? Would that relax the butt enough to diminish the diagonal wrinkles, and allow the hip to fall more naturally against my body, thus allowing the pooling fabric to hang? Am I off my rocker? Should I start fresh from the standard pattern?

Here’s proof that these jeans do exist, and only need a few tweaks to be wearable. How is it possible I’ve practically made jeans, but can’t fit a basic, four pattern piece trouser. Ugh. (I’ll admit, it was during a jeans class that I sewed these to the point they’re at now. But still.) Again, please excuse the dark mirror shots. I’m going to go drown my sorrows while I await your collective wisdom.

 

32 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2011 4:35 am

    I am definitely not an expert, but from the lines on your final muslin I’d say make the crotch lower (those look like stretch lines to me) and the thighs could go a bit tighter? :)

    • October 16, 2011 5:02 pm

      Thanks for the advice! How low can I go, limbo ;) I’ll definitely grade the thighs a bit once I’ve got the rest figured out.

  2. October 16, 2011 7:25 am

    Hum. I should tell you that I have really very little experience in fitting, especially pants, and I think it’s probably one of the trickiest things to sew. That said, I think if you lengthened the back crotch curve of muslin 2 a teeny bit and used fabric with some elastic content, you might be good to go. Possibly. :)

    • October 16, 2011 5:03 pm

      Possibly, maybe?! I sure do hope so! Thanks for the advice :)

  3. October 16, 2011 11:12 am

    I think pants are scarier to sew than bras, so I’m clearly not the “go-to” person for fitting advice and I admire your pants courage. I think you’ll need to see a few signs that your muslin is too tight because of the stretch in your final fabric. Not to the point of feeling like you have a wedgie, but I’d worry more about the baggie/pooling parts than the slightly too tight parts. How heavy is your final fabric? A heavier fabric might smooth out a little more than a light weight fabric.

    • October 16, 2011 4:49 pm

      Thanks – I’m also a bit more concerned with the bagginess I’ve created under the butt now. I feel like the crotch thing is slightly more manageable, but it’s all related. Which is what got me into this mess :) Bras sound nuts to me, but I still want to try them. The fabric is a mid-weight cotton twill with a little stretch to it.

  4. October 16, 2011 12:35 pm

    I’m no expert either but I think someone should work on a Full Butt Adjustment because, like you, I have a low, more-wide-than-protruding butt. I had muslined back in Jan or Feb a Burda pattern with “Princess seams” at the back only. Procrastination and Life have made a UFO of that project but I think about it all the time.

    The question is, how to add butt space to the needed area WITHOUT aggravating the back thigh pooling (from which I also suffer)? I don’t need a FBA so have zero experience add space to a pattern piece other than at the side seams.

    Because the FBA typically adds fabric that must be taken away in a dart or two. How to handle this?

    • October 16, 2011 4:51 pm

      Exactly! It’s that dang pooling that is making me nuts over here! Glad to know I’m in good company with my wide, low bottom… now to make it look good. Ha! PS… I’ve missed your posts :)

  5. AnaJan permalink
    October 16, 2011 3:03 pm

    I’m not an expert either, but I think you were on a good track with the muslin #2, but it needs some further adjustments. Maybe this post will help you: http://clairekennedydesign.typepad.com/the_atelier_of_claire_ken/2009/08/pants-fitting.html
    Also, have on mind: flat bottom calls for an L-shaped crotch, while protruding one has a curved crotch. The same thing stands for the front part, so try altering the front panel too. You can use your new gadget (flex design ruler) to help you – put it between your legs and form a shape of your crotch curve, than copy it to the pattern.
    I would also fix those diagonal gathers from the side seam, I think the two problems are related.

    • October 16, 2011 4:56 pm

      I don’t know, Ana… your trousers always look expert to me! Thanks for the advice & link. I noticed that the adjustments I made to the jeans years ago were more L-shaped, so I tried to do the same here. What I didn’t realize was the reason behind this… thank you! So the front should be more of an L, too? I sort of did what you suggested with the ruler, but will try that again, making certain it doesn’t change shape from body to pattern.

  6. elise permalink
    October 16, 2011 3:54 pm

    I agree that muslin #2 looks closest. I find pants fitting maddening, it almost always puts me in a royal snit. I don’t have any wonderful advice, but for what it’s worth I would stop with the muslining, use your adjustments to #2 as your pattern and cut 1″ seam allowances in your fabric. You will then be working with your actual stretch fabric which is going to give you a much better idea of what it wants then non stretch muslin. I also suspect that some of the crotch issues with #2 may not be an issue in a stretch fabric.

    Ok! good luck, I can’t wait to see ‘em finished I’m about to tackle this pattern myself!

    • October 16, 2011 4:58 pm

      Muslin 2 it is, then. I’m happy to read your suggestion of starting in on the fashion fabric. In mulling this over before bed, I thought I might just give it a go, with huge SAs, maybe 1.5″. That may be drastic, but a safe bet. You’ll probably have them whipped up in an hour, ready to hit the town!!!

  7. Tracey permalink
    October 16, 2011 11:58 pm

    Lavender- you are so cute and so thorough with your pants… I have been sewing mine (clover) today-I did start with a muslin, but I felt like without the stretch it wasn’t reading correctly….I just kind of feel like I have a very odd shape…. which any of us should be able to sew a pair of pants that fit like a dream, and look nice as well… right? Ugh… I am feeling your frustrations!! i love reading your blog, by the way!!!!

    • October 17, 2011 9:35 am

      Tracey!!! Obviously excited over here :) It should be so easy, right? But now I must remember all the piles of pants I try on to find that one perfect pair that actually makes my butt look okay. I know we can do this!

  8. October 17, 2011 9:26 am

    Pants are always a pretty big issue! I’ve always made my own pattern from pants of mine. Once I tried a Burda pattern… too high waist, to big for my bottom… not flattering at all! So I returned to my initial method: copy the pants you’ve already have and love! Those days, I’m finishing a trousers actually and I’m satisfied by this method again, no bad surprise. It’s the only advice I can give you, sorry :(

    • October 17, 2011 9:37 am

      Oooh, believe me…there have been many occasions where I pick up the seam ripper, ready to tear apart my most beloved jeans. I should just trace them instead! This is great advice :)

  9. October 17, 2011 10:43 am

    Again, I’m no expert but I actually thought muslin #1 was the best fit. It had the minimum of diagonal creases at the front crotch and minimal pooling in the back. Also on #2 I notice that the waist seems to be about an inch lower than it was before. Do you know why that is?

    I agree with AnaJane, you should use your actual crotch curve with the ruler on the original muslin, do the hip grading needed and that might be all you have to do. The grading might even fix the waist problem. Really, #1 looked great to me except for the poofing at the sides which you can fix. Remember Sarai said not to over fit. I wish you luck.

    • October 17, 2011 11:43 am

      Thanks for the tips :) The waist is hitting higher in muslin 1 because I’ve pinned in the seam allowance to approximate where I had expected the trousers to fit. In muslin 2, they’re pinned right on the seam allowance, after taking it in a total of 1″. According to Colette’s site, these should hit a little below the natural waist (or wherever the wearer is comfortable, imo).

  10. Tracey permalink
    October 17, 2011 8:49 pm

    Can’t wait to see your finished product…. I have been fussing with a vey silky fabric today- a burdastyle pattern- it has a cowl neck and no sleeves. Do you have any tips for finishing a hem on a blouse made of a silky fabric. Do you use a special sewing foot? By the way we have really great friends that live Somerville!!!!

  11. Candace permalink
    October 17, 2011 9:51 pm

    Your problem of the “low butt” issue is something that should be remedied by lowering your hipline, if that makes any sense. You need to add length between the waist line and hip line so that you don’t add more fullness than you need to the sides but you get the crotch seam lower. If this was a pattern the “add length here” line would sit just between the waist and hip line! I hope that helps :)

    Not to get too much up in your business but judging by your pics you are short waisted with added length between the waist and hip line, leading to your “low butt” concept. Your booty isn’t low hon, you just have extra long hips :)

    • October 18, 2011 11:33 am

      These adjustments make sense, and exactly what the grading will do (something I always encounter). Low butt v. long hips… interesting, as I think this is potato/potato (I’ve only heard of it called a low butt, but hey, that’s me).

    • October 23, 2011 11:58 am

      This is exactly how my daughter is built – very long between waist and hips. She and I are the same height, but her measurement from her waist to her hips is almost 2″ longer than mine (finally figured out that’s why she hates high-waisted pants – because they feel like they are cutting her in half).

      For what it’s worth, I always have to slash and spread the pattern between waist and hip for any “bottoms” I make for her, so that the hip on the pattern actually falls at her natural hip line.

  12. G.Petunia permalink
    October 19, 2011 8:10 am

    I agree that the first muslin fit the best. What you need to do is sew a second muslin with no other alterations but the fit at waistband and upper hip, then re-evaluate. Otherwise you risk trying to fix things that ain’t broke.

  13. October 20, 2011 2:54 pm

    Oh lordie, I cracked up when I read this the other day! You’re especially brave to show the world how your butt looks in ill-fitting pants (and slightly see-thru!) I don’t think I have the confidence to share my tailoring mistakes! Most of the time, everything is too small = muffin tops and “back-rack.” I pretend I am as solid as my dress form. Loving your blog. Just found it a couple of weeks ago. Its great to know that a fellow Somervillian loves to sew as much as I do!

    • October 20, 2011 7:44 pm

      Honestly, this is the first time I dared show the not-so-pretty progress before the final reveal :) I can’t believe you’re in Somerville! Any time you want to sew, fabric shop, you name it, hit me up!!!

  14. November 8, 2011 6:47 pm

    Oh man, now that I’ve attempted these I feel your pain. I tried to examine/trace the crotch length, etc of a favorite pair of pants, but it’s not really working out. Hmmm. Figuring out exactly what those diagonal wrinkles mean really is the hardest part!

    I agree that you’re second muslin is the closest. From there I would probs pinch out a bit horizontally from the center front and do the dreaded full butt adjustment. SOMEDAY, Lavender, we are going to have amazing, self-made pants.

    Re: surrin – I’ve sewn my finger [with a machine] sober, so I definitely don’t mix alcohol and not-so-heavy machinery. With that said, I’ve spent many a Saturday morning ripping out all of the knitting I did the night before while drinking beer and watching (probably foreign) movies. That’s a terrible combination.

    • November 10, 2011 4:05 pm

      You’d think that would be a fail safe, huh… tracing out a fav pair. But it hasn’t been a perfect solution for me yet. I think once you get a good fitting pair, the key is to make them over & over again. Sending good trouser vibes your way, darling!!!

  15. Julie permalink
    December 31, 2011 3:22 pm

    Hi Lavender, I hope you don’t mind me intruding on your blog, but I have just been working on my own muslin from scratch – I mean, made from my own measurements, no pattern at all. I had a hard time with such small changes that needed to be made. I am going to drop some pointers that I learned and I hope they help.

    #1 I found that using darts to reduce the size from the hip line to the waist line gave a nice, fitted look. Taking in the side seams is causing the fabric to pull diagonally across your buttocks. Place the dart at the center of each piece (left back, right back, left front, right front) about 1/2 inch above the hip line. Measure your hips then your waist. Subtract waist from hips. Divide the answer by four. That is how wide the distance is between your darts seams at waist tapering to nothing at the hip line.
    #2 I am going to guess that if you were measured around your hips, then across your back hips and across your font hips separately, you would find that your front hips are less than half of your total hip measurement, so the thigh to hip section of the front piece needs to be made a little smaller. Take the width off evenly from the side and the center front. Therefore, the thigh to hip area of the back needs to be made a little wider. Add the width evenly to side and center back of the back. You want to be sure that your side seams go straight down the center side of your body when you are done.
    #3 Your front crotch curve looks like it may be too severe for your body shape causing the extra fabric problem. I would try a more gentler curve (less curve?).
    #4 You may have given your back crotch enough scoop, but it may be that you need to let the center back seam out just a little along the sharpest part of the curve.
    #5 If pooling below your buttocks remains a problem after all of the tweaking you have done, then the thigh area may be too large in the pattern. Not sure of the fix for it. I had to shorten my back crotch point just a bit, but I had to do it because the front and back didn’t meet in the right place. When I shortened the back crotch point, it fixed my pooling problem.
    #6 (I just viewed your pictures again.) Your center front seam looks too long. You may need to take a wedge shaped section out of your center front seam. Put the pants on wrong side out and pinch the fabric horizontally right at the bulkiest place to shorten the center front seam. Does this seem like it is the problem? If you shorten the center front curve using the wedge method, it will also affect your grain line, hip area, and waist area. I had to do it on my draft pattern. Every pair of pants I buy is way too long in the center front. The store jeans I wore earlier could easily loose 2 inches there!

    I am really interested to know how your trousers came out and if any of my suggestions help. I did successfully create a self-made muslin for me. I am anxious to make my first pair of pants, but we are enjoying an ice storm right now, so no fabric-buying excursions for me today!

    Julie from Maine

    • January 2, 2012 3:17 pm

      Wow! All I can say is thank you for taking the time to write all of this up. Very thorough and thoughtful! It all makes sense to me, and I definitely agree with #6, but I admit I can’t quite visualize the adjustment you described making in #5 (shortening back crotch point). Darts def make sense for me, as all skirts and trousers that fit me best have darts, and #2 also sounds spot on. I am tackling this again soon, and thank you :)

  16. Carolyn permalink
    May 29, 2012 1:24 pm

    Hello. In the June/July ’12 issue of Sew News magazine, a quick fix for excess fabric below the butt (*sigh* my issue, too) is offered, thusly: Make a horizontal slash from crotch to just shy of the hip side seam. Basically, you’ll start the slash about 1.5 inches up from the crotch hook and cut a straight horizontal line through the pattern. Your pivot point is straight across on the hip side seam. Overlap in the crotch area by estimated amount of reduction needed, then tape closed and test.
    I haven’t tried this technique yet, but it seems like it should work…..

  17. July 15, 2012 2:53 pm

    Hi. Thanks for posting these. Hope you’ve had some luck since these fittings. I’m currently working through fitting the clover trousers as well, so I feel your pain!

    • July 18, 2012 10:46 am

      My post titled Purple Reign Clovers is the final (as of yet) version :) Good luck! I’m still tweaking my pants pattern as I type.

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