14 common jeans and pants fitting adjustments // Closet Case Patterns
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14 COMMON JEANS & PANTS FITTING ADJUSTMENTS

Oh pants. Does anything strike more terror into the heart of a sewist than these two tubes of fabric? Sometimes I’m not sure if people are talking about pants fitting or the apocalypse, for all the fear and anxiety tied up in it.

Can I be blunt? Chill out. While I think its commendable that a lot of people strive for fit greatness, I think far too many of us get so caught up by drag lines that we can’t see the forest for the trees (or the jeans for our knees!) Nobody else is paying that much attention to the back of your thighs and you’re still looking better than you do in RTW, so just take a big, deep, cleansing breath and be okay with it not being 100% perfect. If you need a reminder about why perfection and fear will ruin your sewing, read this post and stop talking yourself out of trying new things, or enjoying the things that you make.

Having said that, I did want to create a quick resource for common fit issues you may encounter with your Morgan Jeans. Technically these will apply to any pattern so hopefully you will find this helpful for pants-making in general. If you’ve made the Ginger Jeans before, adjustments may vary this time around since the draft is so different (they are not based on the same block, if you were wondering).

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My biggest piece of advice for non-stretch jeans is to actually wear your first pair for a full day before you come to any conclusions. Denim can relax a great deal and things you notice when you first try them on might become non-issues once you’ve stretched out your seams a bit. This is especially true with that back seat curve! I find it a smidge tight on my prodigious booty whenever I make a new pair, but its generally feels perfect after it loosens up after a few hours. Also keep in mind that Morgan does fit on the slim side (especially for the smaller sizes). I drafted them this way since non stretch jeans can go up a whole size with a little wear. If you like a loose boyfriend jean, size up. Keep in mind that you may want to size up only through the hip and leg so they still hit at the right spot on your waist.

I’ve covered many of these adjustments for my Ginger Jeans fitting post, but I figured I’d go over everything again with more helpful graphics. In the technical flats on the left side of each graphic, I have highlighted the drag line in grey. On the right side the fit adjustment is indicated with a pink dotted line. I’ve taken this advice from the books Pants for Real People, Fitting and Pattern Alteration and my own experience fitting dozens of women. Some of these alterations can be more involved than I show here, but these are quick and dirty tips to get the fit up to snuff without too much fuss.

SHORTEN CROTCH ADJUSTMENT

Shorten Crotch Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If you see lines radiating downwards from your front crotch, it is likely too long for you. Simply shave a little off your inseam on the front thigh. Work in 1/4″ increments – small adjustments make a huge difference here.

LENGTHEN CROTCH ADJUSTMENT

Lengthen Crotch Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If you need a little extra room in the crotch, you’ll have diagonal “smile lines” radiating from your crotch. Add a little to your front inseam to lengthen your crotch curve.

ROUND PUBIS ADJUSTMENT (AKA CAMEL TOE)

Round Pubis Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

Also known as a prominent pubic area, I fully admit that this is a weird name for a fit issue but it sounds better than “Oh camel toe” doesn’t it? If you find your pants cleaving to you in an unwelcome way (also manifested as vertical drag lines around the front crotch), simply scoop out that front crotch a little. It adds depth to the crotch curve, making more room for you. A 1/4″ or even 1/8″ can make a difference here.

FLAT PUBIS ADJUSTMENT

Flat Pubis Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If your pubic bones is set a little further in, you may get horizontal wrinkles across the front crotch. Fixing this just means drawing a shallower crotch curve in, again working in 1/8″ to 1/4″ increments.

FULL TUMMY ADJUSTMENT

Round Tummy Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If you have a full tummy, you may see diagonal drag lines radiating from your stomach. The side seams may also come forward around the stomach, along with a little tightness in the crotch. To correct, slash along the center front to the hip and spread to add length and width through the abdomen area. You may also find you need to add a little length to the crotch curve by letting out the inseam.

FULL SEAT ADJUSTMENT

Full Seat Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If you have a fuller bottom, you may notice drag lines all pointing to that back crotch seam and your back waistline may be tugged down. Essentially you need to add length and width to the backseat curve. The proper way to do this is by slashing and spreading in various spots to add length to the lower crotch extension and the center back, but you can also just add a little to  the inseam and top seam as I am showing here (#quickanddirty). You may also find that you need a deeper seat curve – if you scoop out that curve more, please note you will have to add a little to the hip since you are removing width across the hip with this adjustment.

FLAT SEAT ADJUSTMENT

Flat Butt Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

A flatter seat is indicated by bagginess under the bum and diagonal drag lines pointing to the hip. To correct it, try removing width from your inseam. You can also try shortening the overall length of the  back rise by taking a wedge off the top (the proper way to do this is by slashing and spreading so that the top edge stays the same length).

LOW BUTT ADJUSTMENT

Low Butt Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If the curve of your heiny sits a little lower than the pant has been drafted for, you’ll find horizontal drag lines under your seat. Simply scoop out that seat curve a little bit to make room for your bum.

SWAY BACK ADJUSTMENT

Pants-fitting-adjustments-sway-back-adjustment

If you have a sway back, your pelvis tilts forward, forcing your bum out and creating a shorter distance between waist and top of the bum. This generally manifests in  pooling or folds of fabric at the lower back. Fitting & Pattern Alteration has a complicated adjustment for this involving numerous slash and spread adjustments, but I think you can do a #quickanddirty adjustment by taking a wedge of the top pant (or folding out the amount from your pattern piece and redrawing your seams). I’ve also found that you can take a quick wedge off the CB (including the yoke) to prevent gaping if that is also an issue. This will change the pitch of the pants so keep that in mind!

FULL THIGH ADJUSTMENT

Full Thigh Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If you need more room in the thigh, your pants will tell you with diagonal drag lines or wrinkles pointing towards your crotch inseam. Extend your back crotch at the inner thigh to give yourself more room.

THIN THIGH ADJUSTMENT

Thin Thigh Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If your thighs need less room, you should see vertical drag lines along the back of your thigh. Taking width off the back inseam will help; you may also need to remove a little from the front inseam as well.

FULL CALF ADJUSTMENT

Full Calf Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

If you’re spotting horizontal drag lines above the back of your knees, you will need more room in the calf. Cut your pattern as indicated and swing seams along your lower leg out to create more width along the back of your calf.

KNOCK KNEED ADJUSTMENT

Pants-fitting-adjustments-knock-kneed-adjustment

If you’re a little knock kneed (possibly the cutest sounding fit issue) you may find that the fabric is tight along your inseam and looser at your side seam. You’ll notice diagonal drag lines radiating from along the side seam above and below the knee. With this adjustment you need a little more length at the inseam and a little less at the side seam. To achieve this, slash to a center point in the center of the thigh on either side and rotate the entire upper pant so that you are reducing the length along the side seam while slightly adding to the inseam.

BOW LEGGED ADJUSTMENT

Bow Legged Adjustment // 12 common jeans and pants adjustments // Closet Case Files

Morgan is cut quite straight in the leg so if your knees bow out, you’ll notice drag lines radiating out from the side seam around your knee and calf. This is the exact opposite adjustment we made for the knock kneed; you need more length on the side seam and less on the inseam. To achieve this, slash to a center point in the center of the thigh on either side and rotate the entire upper pant so that you are adding to the length of the side seam while reducing the length of the inseam.

Phew! Hope you find this helpful. Anything crucial I missed or helpful suggestions you can add?

 

  • lisa g

    Thanks for such a comprehensive post on pants fitting! I’ve fumbled through a few of these with my own trial and error – this would have saved me a lot of trouble once upon a time!

  • Great post, Heather! Someone was just asking me about jeans fitting and I am going to send them right here.

  • Amanda Johnston

    Holy Hanna banana, thank you thank you thank you for this awesome post! I want to put on my rtw jeans and do an assessment. Also, this gives me the confidence to tackle pants!

  • clara

    this is impressive! I will definitely bookmark that. totally makes sewing jeans seem doable!

  • Naia

    Wow, fantastic tutorial. I love the drawings and visuals. I agree that much of the sewing community seems to overfit; however, I think tutorials like these help boost confidence before one starts the project.

    • I think its a lot of external pressure. You know how it is; a few bloggers obsess about fit and then everyone else feels like they should too, when i feel like most people are like me in their heart of hearts, which is to say “Meh, good enough!” and then feel like that instinct is wrong or something.

  • MW

    Hahaha love the chill out! So true. I don’t understand the angst some people have over sewing certain things.Great resource you are providing here thank you!

    • People are just scared to fail. But failure’s good! It teaches you so much!

  • Terri Olson

    So much of this applies to trouser fitting too. Wonderful point form resource 🙂 My copy of pants for real people is on it’s way — everyone who sews should have at least one great pattern fitting book in their library. I have 4 now 🙂 Thank for the help Heather

    • I love that book but its not organized very well. You really have to root around to find what you’re looking for – still a great resource though!

  • Alison Billing

    Bookmarked this page for when I eventually have the time and courage to try jeans making! The number of ways I can mess it up with fitting and stitching (not to mention rivets) is still giving me the fear. But I’ll be using your patterns and guidance when I do 🙂

    • You’re probably overestimating how bad you can mess it up – I encourage you to give it a try! Even getting it halfway right feels amazing.

  • Sarah

    Incredible resource and so generous so publish it for free when you must have put so much work into it. Thank you

  • FLAT PUBIS ADJUSTMENT. The tincture for my needs, and I didn’t even know it. Thanks, Heather! This is incredible as always!

    • Hahahaa, happy to be your crotch holistic dispensary 😉

  • Amazing, thanks for doing this! The pictures are so clear.

  • Jennie

    Oh you make it sound so easy, I’ve not worn jeans since I had my four daughters and I now have a rather awful tummy area but I am feeling more and more like I could wear jeans again and you have shown fixes for some of the areas I used to have troubles with in rtw jeans, I sew now so I won’t be wearing rtw, just need to work up the courage to purchase the pattern and fabric now x

    • You can do it Jennie! I had a class last week and had a student with similar fit issues to you; it was a few quick fixes and she looked spectacular when we got the fit right. You can do it!

  • Janet

    Are you kidding? This is amazing. Thanks! I never knew about the low butt adjustment!

  • You are a hero for writing such a lovely detailed post. May it direct endless traffic to you for years to come! 😉

  • Jacey Grusnick

    Thank you for this! This may just give me the confidence to give sewing jeans a shot some day!

  • Cherie Czaplicki

    Oops, under knock knee adjustment, you said “With this adjustment you need a little more length at the inseam and a little less at the side seam.” It should be the opposite, as the pic shows and as you say in the next sentence “rotate the entire upper pant so that you create a little more length and reduce the inseam.”

    Great post with terrific details and graphics!

    • I think the alteration images for knock kneed and bow legged need to be switched…… and the alteration description is correct for knock kneed but should be the opposite for bow legged. Bow legged needs LESS at the inseam and MORE to the side seam. I think?

      Great post with easy to follow adjustments. It’s nice to have them all in one spot as a quick reference.

      • Fixed, thanks Amy!

      • Meg

        I LOVE having the easy to read visuals that go along with alterations. Thank you!

        As some commenters have pointed out, I think the illustration for the adjustment is still reversed for the knock kneed/bow legged adjustment. For knock kneed, it reads that you should spread at the inseam, but the illustration shows it being spread at the side seam.

  • Colleen P

    This is fantastic, thank you! I’ve got a few of the problems, most of which can apparently be solved by adding a bit to the front crotch and center front, and scooping out a seam a wee squibbit-I do believe it’s time to bust out the pants patterns again and give it another go!

    • I think people get frustrated when they have a few problems at the same time since changing one can affect the other. I always try to get front crotch fixed first before tackling anything else..

      • Mary

        good point

  • Manju

    This is a great post heather. Bravo!

  • Marjorie Trundle

    Fabulous post thank-you Heather and one that I have saved as I know I will refer to it again and again. My pattern for your Morgan jeans is in the post and I am keen to get started.

  • Mel

    I’m still a little confused by both the knock knee adjustment and the bow leg adjustment.

    The knock knee says: With this adjustment you need a little more length at the inseam and a little less at the side seam.

    And the bow leg adjustment says: This is the exact opposite adjustment we made for the knock kneed; you need more length on the inseam and less on the side seam.

    Thank you Heather for all the helpful information though 🙂

    • Sorry I’ve fixed it for real this time!

  • Mel

    Also, please, where can I buy the paper pattern in Australia?

  • Lisa Poblenz

    Thanks! I think I needed both the pep talk and the fitting tips. Fear of fitting is what held me back from the Ginger Jeans for so long, but I started them on Wednesday, and it has gone great! I had fewer fitting issues than I feared, and your directions helped me where I needed it. I’m really hoping to finish them today.

  • Great summary!!! I will print this off and keep it in front of me for pant making reference. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  • Rosseroo

    Bloody hell! Best set of fitting explanations/solutions ever!! Thanks so much!

  • Megan

    Thank you for this amazing resource! I am in the muslim stages of my Ginger Jeans and I am excited to finally have great fitting jeans. All RTW jeans – from designer to Old Navy- have the same problem for me. Despite fitting well in the hips, crotch, and waist when standing still, any movement causes them to fall down my waist to my high hip and sag at the crotch. Also, all my jeans wear out at the back crotch point. What is my problem? Low butt? Full thigh? Full front thigh? Thank you for any insight!

  • stevie

    Heather, I love you so much for this. I have one pair of clovers that I keep putting on and have no clue how to fix them. Now I can do that and actually attempt gingers. Flat line drawings are the best. Thank you so much for posting this!

  • Mary

    Thank you for posting all these adjustments. It never occurred to me there might be a way to alter a pattern for knock knees.

    FYI, to young ladies out there with the knock knee issue. I have it too, and my surgeon prescribed a thigh-master (Yup, the one pushed by Suzanne Sommers 🙂 to strengthen the inner leg muscles. This prevents the outer leg muscles from taking over and popping your knee cap out of place. I was also told never to wear heels, again because of what this forces the muscles to do. He also said to always use a knee brace when participating in sports.
    (I’m hoping my comment inspires a few people to take action before their condition results in the need for surgery. Strengthen those inner leg muscles people, they matter!)

  • krystal

    Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! Having attempted a pair of pants and gone through 4 muslins and still had major drag lines this is amazing. !!! Amazing! I have done 3 of the adjustments, but didn’t know how to resolve some of the other problems. (I’ve taken a diagonal dart at the bum hidden under back pockets to try to correct drag lines i could not make disappear back there!). Yay! No more odd bulky darts….

  • Jessica

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve only made pants a couple times – a pair of jeans and two pairs of Hudsons – and each time suffered from various fit issues that resulted in never really wearing any of these FO’s … they’re all gone to the thrift shop. Couldn’t quite figure out what I needed to modify and how to do it! (although fumbled through various attempts). Anyhow, I think I could now make another attempt and potentially even come out with a reasonable pair of pants! Thanks!

  • MariaDenmark

    What a great post! I so totally agree with the “chill out a bit” on the fitting (even though a make a good portion of my living teaching fitting classes :-)). Yes, doing a bit of fitting is a good thing – and will make the garment look better, but so many sewists get overwhelmed and sometimes stuck with small fitting issues, that really doesn’t matter. Much better get the garment finishes and worn (and it’s probably still better fitting than the RTW) and then try to tweak it a bit in your next version. A “perfect fit” like most fitting books and classes advertise is a very big (unrealistic, even?) goal to promise from a book or class.And that’s okay.
    Only one thing – did you switch the illustrations for knock knee and the bow knee alterations around? I usually add more length to the inseam with knock (inward turning) knees, and hat’s also what your text says. But the illustration shows how to add more length to the side seam

    • Yarg, these graphics have been such a pain! I updated them a while back but WordPress didn’t recognize it so I reinserted the correct illustrations – thanks for pointing it out Maria!

  • With the knock kneed adjustment, how does the grainline need to be trued up? Should it be redrawn following the original grain line on the bottom half of the adjustment (the thigh/leg) or should it be redrawn following the original grain line on the top half of the adjustment (upper pant). Thanks!

    • It should be drawn according to the leg – so it would continue up to the top of the part of the pant you rotated.

  • Athina Hassioti

    Great information! Thank you very much!!!

  • Rich Cast Thomatos

    I disagree with the Camel toe correction. The proper way is to scoop curve as you showed then scoop down and extend crotch point as needed. Scooping out as you mentioned will only will take away fabric and making it worst . You need a lower saddle shape and longer from crotch hook . Front rise will get longer so you might want to drop front rise the same amount as per corrections at waist seam to 0″ at outseam to maintain the balance if the waist was hitting on a good spot before corrections .the same correction and amount given has to be done to the back rise to maintain patterns Balance. After you align front and back rises to see saddle shape and make sure there is no peak at crotch intersection point.finally the issue Is in the saddle depth and width plus saddle shape that’s causing the issue . Camel toe can also be due to stitch tension too tight at front rise seam FYI. Hope this helps
    Let me know what do you think ??

  • Andrea

    Hello,
    Thank you for all that adjustments, do you have any idea what is wrong when the ginger walks down in the back when i am just walking and even more if i am sitting. When I am Standing i have the feeling it pulls down in the back. Do you have any idea for this?
    Thank you from Germany
    Andrea

  • Charlotte Wensley

    Hi Heather, this is so brilliant. I think I need to use about six of these! I haven’t attempted jeans since my first pair of gingers which were good but not great fit wise. This is going to sound really strange, but when you make these with your students do you work straight on the denim rather than making a muslin first and if so how do you accommodate some of the adjustments? I ask as the issue I had with my Gingers is that despite using a stretch fabric of similar weight, the fit was pretty different to the muslin, so I’m wondering if I should just go straight to denim for the Morgan’s I’m about to embark on as any muslin fabric I use is unlikely to fit the same way as the glorious denim from the kits! Thanks so much in advance and I hope this makes some kind of sense. Charlie x

    • I always fit straight on the denim. With Ginger its easy since most of the common fit adjustments can happen right on them ie. crotch adjustments. I always ask them to bring extra denim in case we need to do a swayback on teh yoke or waistband. for Morgan I would do a muslin first since non-stretch denim isn’t as variable as stretch denim (at least if you’re nervous about cutting into it first)

      • Charlotte Wensley

        this is so helpful, thanks!

  • D.U.

    very well done tutorial – you really covered many fit problems with great explanations and illustrations. Thank you

  • DebP

    The fitting information is excellent. The photo links appear to be broken?

  • You are a life-saver! I was looking for a post like this about a year ago! This is so useful for all of us pants-fitting dunces! Thanks so much! 🙂 Lisa

  • Milesa

    I know I’m abit late but thanks for this article, find it really helpful as I’m learning to do alterations.
    Wanted to know, with the knocked kneed and bow legged alterations, does this mean all of the trousers being altered in this way will have a stitch going horizontally across the thigh or would there be another way of doing it?

    Keep the posts coming!!!

    • There’s no stitch line there. You are just rotating the upper portion to adjust inseam length, not actually cutting your fabric that way.