Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Plain and Simpler: Avoid Baggy-Thighed-Pants

This is my method to avoid baggy-thighed-pants (acknowledgement goes to Miranda for that title)

I’ve had loads of requests to explain what I do to avoid wrinkles at the back thigh on trousers. Firstly, a big thank you to you all who contacted me via e-mail, Pattern Review, personal messaging, blog comments etc etc etc. and your inherent trust in my abilities. I started replying to each one and then I got overwhelmed so Instead of replying to each and every one, here’s a post about what I do. Absolute disclaimer: this is what I do for me – I have no idea if it’s right, acceptable, taught, recognised or standard fitting procedure – but it works for me so why not try it – it could work for you too.

I’m now acknowledging those brave sewers who have publicity shown the world what what baggy-thigh-pants look like:

Tasha, Stephanie, Jennifer – thank you from the bottom of my ****

Trousers are notoriously difficult to fit because there are so many points of contact with the body – waist, hip, thigh, knee, calf, length and worst of all crotch! My advice – make a skirt -LOL! Just kidding, but really take your time, trace your pattern alterations (I know it’s a pain but think of the long-term gains), do not intend to make a pair of trousers, take a weekend and work on the fitting. Please believe me, it is time well invested and you will have a perfectly fitting crotch pattern for only YOU and it didn’t cost you a Craftsy class.

I’m starting from a toile that has good fitting crotch curve. Sorry I’m leaving this bit to you but here are some resources that you might find useful – my crotch experiments, Colette’s pant fitting cheat sheet, crotch measuring.

You are now going to be subjected to many images of my backside: if you want to see the original post then click on my bum!


Back thigh adjustment on jean-style cords


Early days of development – Here I moved the crotch curve. See how it rides up and there are still wrinkles on the back thigh


Similar to pic 1. Reduced the depth of the back thigh only and pattern based on RTW Armani .


No adjustments made at all and wrinkles galore!


New trouser pattern with now almost automatic back thigh adjustment. Vogue 1204


Wide leg trousers show much less wrinkling, so this could be an alternative option for fitting.


Tapered trouser legs still need an shortening on the back thigh for me but not as much as fitted trousers maybe just an 1″ (2.5cm).

Here’s my method of removing those wrinkles that are so evident in RTW and many of my early hand made trousers. It happens at the cutting stage so I’m afraid if you have already cut and sewn – it’s too late! Do it next time.

First off, be brutally honest. Stand sideways in front of a mirror and measure or mark your front bit (know what I mean?) then mark or measure your back cheek crease.


In my case the difference between the front and back is roundabout 4″ (10cms). Gosh – see that sway back? That’s another post just on its own!

Right, back to the topic for today. Now, following conventional fitting methods  you will be instructed to do all sorts of things with the crotch curve – see my pin stripe jeans above – lengthening, shortening and changing the angle of curve but my method is simpler and easier. I half the measurement taken from real life and fold this out of the way on the back pattern piece, close to but not at the crotch line.


Take the back pattern piece and fold up half the difference of your measurements. In my case it’s 2″ (5cms). Make this fold below the crotch line that’s marked on the pattern piece. We are not altering the crotch curve but working below it.

At the side of the pattern there will be uneven edges – when cutting the fabric, gently curve this to join with your already perfected crotch. Please check your crotch point before doing this alteration see my crotch experiments above for how to do this.


Edited for clarification: All the notches and marks on the back pattern piece will not line up with the front now. Either reposition the back notches or as I do, ignore them. Lengthen the back piece at the hem by the same amount you folded out.

I’m just at the beginning of making New Look K6231 trousers in a woven cotton with no stretch. In my previous post I recommended using a fabric with a bit of Lyrca so stay tuned for an update on how I totally ignore my own advice and how it all turns out in the end.


OK, maybe I don’t heed my own advice all of the time – or is it just the nature of the fabric?


Ziggi Biker Jacket Tips

It’s been a good week.

You know one of those rare occasions where social, work, family and me-time all seem to work out. Well, I’m lucky enough to have had just one of those….now, why can’t every week be like this?

I’ve sewn three tops to go with the plum/lilac/lavender needle cord skirt for SWAP ’14 but have no photos to prove it so you’ll just have to believe me (photos soon) and I have now left SWAP behind for a while and ventured into new territority. For the first time ever in my life I’ve joined a sew-a-long. It’s over at Sew Maris and all about Style Arc’s Ziggi biker jacket.

I had to wait for fabric to come from England, and pattern from Australia and zips from America but at last everything arrived and I got stuck in at the weekend. While waiting for bits to arrive, in preparation I’ve been measuring the quilting on students’ biker jackets, inspecting their sleeve zips and scrutinising the lining and collars – they think I’m bonkers! Maybe I am. My problem is that I’m too impatient.

I completely understand that a sew-a-long has to consider those who sew once a week or are new to various techniques etc etc etc. and I’m glad for that as I was two weeks’ behind the start date due to having to wait for my stuff to arrive. I took the best part of the weekend to get caught up and then I couldn’t stop.

I’m adding my tuppence worth to the tutorials and advice on the interweb in the hope someone else will benefit from my sewing experience because I’ve certainly benefited from Shams and Maris.

First – Size! Australian women must be blessed either though genetics or evolution to have large breasts – personally  my heritage is northern European and hence am comparatively flat chested so the Aussie sizing thing doesn’t quite fit me.

Size 12 – Bust – 38″ (97cm): waist 31.5″ (  80cm) : hips 40.6″ (103cm)

Seam allowance is 1cm – wow that’s narrow and not much room for manoeuvring there.

I ordered a 12 (technically one size up) and cut out as is and decided to use 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance – I figured the two would cancel each other out and still give me space to let out, if needed and give a good fit. Check out the Style Arc size chart before ordering your pattern as the pattern comes in the size you order – not multi-size.

Next hurdle – cutting the pattern pieces from the Donna Karan sized sheet of paper. Move to the floor and just get on with it and don’t use your fabric scissors! Kitchen or household are perfectly acceptable at this stage.


Quilting the shoulder yokes and sleeve tops:  Do this before stitching anything.

Rough cut the pattern pieces – larger than required


Make a sandwich with shell fabric, padding and cotton.

Mark on the cotton 1″ squares (from a very reliable source  -thanks Eve!) at 45 degrees to the straight of grain.


Sew with a large stitch (3mm) along the marked lines.

Re-position pattern pieces on the quilted bits – keeping the straight of grain – and cut to size. Remember to reverse one of the pieces!


Now ALL the pattern pieces are cut and ready to go.

Biggest hassle: Front pocket zips

I really can’t improve on Shams’ or Maris’ advice (see links above) and tutorials on this stage of construction but I would like to add just a slightly different take on this very reliable technique.

I’m using faux-leather for my jacket and so I can’t pin except within the seam allowances and can’t tack (baste) – the holes created will be obvious on the finished garment.

Instead of using organza as a backing fabric for the zip windows – use fusible interfacing. When pressed, it holds the stitched edge in place and also acts as extra stabiliser for the zip. Stitch it in place as per Shams’ instructions but with sticky side up to right side of fabric. What you see below is the sleeve zip window – but the same works for the front pockets.


Clip to the corner and fold (manipulate) the interfacing to the inside. Press well to fuse the interfacing to the inside of the fabric making sure all the interfacing is on the inside and not seen from the right side. Take your time!

Insert the zip as normal.


Sleeve gussets.

I couldn’t resist this section. It’s not actually part of the pattern but Sham’s included it and it really adds to to the finished jacket. Once again, the tutorial that Shams put up is excellent and difficult to improve upon but with 1cm seam allowances – it’s hard. One of my sleeve zips is inserted using Shams’ version and the other is inserted using this..


Cut and make your gusset following Shams’ technique but instead of sewing it in after the zip insertion, include it in along with the zip. Pin the two together and sew.


I’m not saying this is any easier but it saves on sewing and trying to fit the gusset to just the zipper tape. Trim the gusset after sewing in place.

I’m just glad this jacket is lined – look at the state of that…

Anyway…. I was on a roll… I couldn’t stop once I’d got started and didn’t wait for sew-a-long instructions. I sewed the jacket seams, sleeves and added the collar. I put in the front zips and am now ready to attach the sleeves.

The quilting at the sleeve tops has created bulk and stiffness and I’m not too sure that there will be any room to ease them into the arm scythe, so I might just wait after all – here’s one pinned in place…..tune in next time to find out….Did she wait or did she jump?


I must say that I’m enjoying this sewing make a lot – I mean, it’s exciting, new and very challenging – and I have to think about things and techniques. I’m loving it! I’ve even ordered more fabric for the next one and this one’s nowhere near finished!


Denim Tips 2 – Fitting

There’s just no avoiding it – it makes or breaks a pair of jeans.

 Trousers (pants) and jeans are 90% easy to make; it’s the 10% between the legs that causes the most trouble, so deep breath and tackle it once and for all.

Usually, I don’t make a toile (muslin) unless it is a fitted jacket or a particularly complicated design –  I go straight to fabric, cut large, sew or tack (baste), try on, pin out the extra, re-sew and cut off the excess. Done! This means however, that every time I make something I have to go through the whole rigamarole again. I am resigned to the fact that when I make trousers (pants) this is my tried and tested procedure for perfect fit.

The fit of the boyfriend jeans was so far out that I thought it was time to act like a grown-up and do it right. Take it from one who has learned from her own mistakes……If you intend to make a lot of jeans or trousers, whether it’s this pattern or not, this is time well spent. Gosh I sound like a proper adult! Now listen children…….

As usual, I cut a 14 in the intended fabric, a pin stripe denim. Made up as per the instructions – which I will tell you to change in a future post – tried on and pinned out all the extra fabric, cut off and sewed again, only this time I collected all the cut off bits and placed them on top of the original paper pattern pieces.

I shaded in the difference. Just look at what I cut off the back – how uneven it is, especially at the point of the crotch. The front is not too bad, more of an even ‘taking in’ but again the point of the crotch is waaay too deep for my shape.

 I also had to remove about 2″ from the yoke and waistband at centre back to avoid gaping when sitting and to adjust for my big bum (sway back I believe is the euphemism).

The boyfriend jean style has front and back legs cut with a straight edge on the outside seams – which makes for easy positioning on the fabric as you don’t have to measure straight of grains, just place the seam allowance on the selvedge. This straight edge creates the relaxed look of the jeans as opposed to girly jeans that are all curvy to fit bum, hips and thighs. (I had to research this BTW, you’d think I knew what I was talking about here).  I kept this straight line as my basis for fitting, so all alterations were made in the centre back seam and the crotch line.

 I traced the new front and back leaving out the shaded bit from the pattern pieces above keeping the outside edge intact.

I had a piece of black cotton in the stash and as I don’t wear black, I could make use of it for this fitting exercise and not feel guilty about keeping it in the fabric box without a use.

OK OK stashes have their purposes.
I tried my best to lighten these pics so that you can see the different fits.

Tight fit 

 Relaxed fit

Loose bum fit

New front and back pattern pieces – perfect bum fit. 
You don’t have to go all the way making full length trousers at this point – shorts will do. Just as long as you get below the crotch. With this new bum pattern I am now free to change the leg style too – I can add curves for thighs and boot-cut style if I want. If you can read the above writing, to get a looser fit I just cut wider on the outside straight edge, anything from 0.5cm and I have tested up to 2cm (1″).

Does anyone who knows about these things see a problem here?
Can it really be that easy that I just cut a little wider at the edges for a looser fit?
My intention from now on is to place my perfect bum pattern on top of the actual pattern piece and grade into the leg so that I can have different leg lengths and styles using this home-made method.

My first bum pattern is actually quite fitted, which I thought I’d keep for future use, so I figured out a new jeans style called – Loose Bum Style! This, I think, is the Boyfriend look. See the picture – to get a looser fit, lose some fabric. It’s counterintuitive (I’ve been waiting ages to get that word in a post), but it works. Cut away more fabric for a bigger size.
So the black cotton stash is now used up. I have one new jeans front pattern piece and two new jeans backs and from these two pieces I can make at least three different fits with endless leg variations. 

 If you do this method of self-fitting remember to alter the yoke, front pockets (as they are caught into the side seams) and waistband to fit.

Next time…..
Cutting out the pockets for the Hot Patterns pattern

Hope this helps. Thanks for reading. Ruth