“If I learned anything from my shirtmaking years, it was that fitting is a huge challenge that can easily eat up all your available sewing time and block all further progress, if you let it.”
— David Page Coffin, “Making Trousers”
I got quite a lot of quality time in this weekend with my pants muslin, and I believe I’ve made some significant progress.
I’m not sure I can call this pattern Vogue 8940 any more; I’ve customized it so much that at this point it has become truly my own. And once I dial in the fit, I will have to draft new facings, front fly, and waistband pieces to match the customized pattern pieces I’ve created.
The changes that went into muslin D were:
- Add roughly 1/2 inch to the front and back side seams of Muslin B. For Muslin D, I walked and trued front and back seams, and added about a half inch to both for a total of two inches extra circumference at the hip.
Front pattern piece. Blue line is the old side seam line, pencil is the new seam line, red is the new cut line.
Walking and truing the front and back side seams.
- Remove some of the dip in the lower crotch curve to make it come closer to my body.
Blue is the old seam line, pencil is the new seam line, red is the new cut line.
- Transfer the darts I pinned out in Muslin C.
Blue and red are left and right side darts (can’t remember which is which). Pencil is the average of the two.
Here is Muslin D looks like without any alterations. Truthfully, it doesn’t look like a step forward.
Adjusting Muslin D
This time I made a lot of tweaks to Muslin D. For some reason, I felt more comfortable about making changes to this muslin, even though I spent considerable time experimenting with it.
I pinned out several of my proposed changes, and the ones I was satisfied with I stitched into the muslin with a basting stitch on the machine. This is a little more work, but I get a better read of the changes I’m making when I baste in the changes rather than pin them. I also get stuck by pins a whole lot less.
The side seams continue to vex. Widening them also added an unwanted curves at the hips. I pinned out the curves and then restitched the side seams with a basting stitch. The straighter hips look much nicer to me, but the extra ease I tried to add back in is now gone again. On the next muslin (E) I’ll draw in the straighter side seams, then widen out from the new seam line.
I’m continuing work on the darts to shape the pants from waistline to hip. I pinned out a single dart on left and right sides of the previous muslin. This time, I did a bakeoff of a single dart on the left side versus two smaller darts on the right hand side. I pinned them out, then machine-basted them to get a better idea what they looked like.
Rear Crotch Seam
Most of my fitting work went into fine-tuning the rear crotch seam.
In Round 3, reader Nola suggested to me the rear crotch needed some more scooping, and judging from the vertical lines in back I think she is right.
I experimented with the scooping the back crotch in various ways. To keep this article from exploding with photos, I’m just going to summarize the things I tried:
- Added a small amount to the crotch scoop in back (heavy light blue in photo).
- Adding some extra scoop higher up, right at the point the seat curves noticeably. (red dashes in photo)
- Drawing a curve similar to (2), but less exaggerated (blue pen line in photo).
- A curve that incorporates all of the above, but is simply a little less deep. (Rightmost basting line in photo.
I decided to go with curve (4) for now.
The horizontal balance lines still dip a bit in back, suggesting insufficient length in the rear crotch seam. I added 1/2 inch of ease to the rear inseam to try to extend the length of the rear crotch. I undid the inseams, drew a new stitch line into the rear seam allowance near the crotch point, and restitched both inseams. (I kept the same seam allowance on the front pattern piece).
Here’s what the muslin looks like after all these changes.
Front Crotch Seam
Up to this point, I haven’t done much with the front crotch seam – there’s still quite a lot of fabric bunching up in front.
I tried scooping out the front crotch curve between the zipper endpoint and the inseam, to take in the seam and get rid of some of the excess fabric. (The rightmost basting line shows the new curve).
This improved the situation considerably.
Here’s a repeat of the “before” front shot for comparison.
So Where Are We At Now?
The next Muslin, Muslin E, will have a lot of changes:
- Straighter side seams, and I’ll still try to widen them out by about 1/2 inch front and back to add a total of 2 inches ease at the hip.
- A slightly deeper back crotch curve.
- Let out the back crotch curve at the inseam by about 1/2 inch.
- Scoop in the front crotch to reduce the fabric crumpling in front.
- I like the look of the single large dart rather than two smaller darts, so I plan to stick with the single dart for the waist shaping.
Assuming that Muslin E reflects all these changes well, I’m almost ready to commit to an actual wearable garment.
But after all of this, there’s still one significant problem remaining. When I walk in the muslin, and especially if I climb stairs, I can feel some tightness running up and down through the seat area. I’m pretty sure this is still pointing to a problem with the rear crotch seam.
I am likely to purchase an evaluation/assessment from Sarah Veblen with Muslin E to get some professional advice about what to do next.
Even so, Muslin D with tweaks fits me better than any pair of ready-to-wear pants currently in my closet.