I wish there were a way to get a 3D printed body form for the lower body. I’m convinced that pants are always going to require massive alterations to fit a person. After my blog post about the differences between my pattern and the True Bias Hudson pant pattern, I wanted to see how Ryan’s pattern compared to the men’s version of True Bias’ Hudson pants. We share a lot of similarities in alterations needed.
Ryan’s measurements are as follows: waist is 37 inches and hips are 42 inches. That puts him somewhere between a size 36 and size 38. For this comparison, we’ll use a size 36 since the waistband should be forgiving.
Here’s what I’d have to alter, I think, if I didn’t draft this from Ryan’s duct tape sloper. Mind you, I just drafted this pattern from Ryan’s duct tape sloper. I find that a lot easier than trying to do a zillion alterations. I’ve never been fantastic at reading the wrinkles to determine fit issues, and chasing after them is like Bill Murray in Caddyshack trying to seal up the gopher holes. You fix one fit issue and 2 or 3 new issues pop up.
- Knock-knee alteration for the front and back. See below for discussion about this.
- Lengthen the inseam. Ryan is 6 foot 5 inches.
- Lower the rise, more so at center back and at the side seams.
- Add width to the inner front thigh.
- Scoop out the front crotch curve and reduce some of the bulk along center front.
- Scoop out the back crotch curve.
- Reduce some of the bulk from the back inner thigh (i.e., thin thigh adjustment).
- Reduce width overall from the back leg.
Here’s a visualization of a circle (in purple at the back) and various ovals. All shapes have the same circumference. As you extend the long axis length, the overall shape gets wider and wider, while the short axis will get narrower. Ryan and I both are broad in the sense that we have a long long-axis but a rather short short-axis (i.e., blue oval). This is a guess, but I think this is why our hip points are wider than standard patterns and require that we both do “knock-knee” alterations. If patterns are made assuming your shape is like the orange oval, your hip points are going to be much further apart than the pattern if you are shaped like the blue oval. That’s us. Conversely, if you are shaped like the green oval, your hip points are narrower than the pattern, and you’ll need to make a bow leg adjustment. That’s my theory at least. This is why I think it would be beneficial if patterns included not just circumference measurements but also some other measurement of length across the hip.
WIDE HIPS VS KNOCK KNEES
There are two ways to do what’s called a knock-knee alteration, but I would argue that we need to separate these two alterations and give them different names. Some say to make the alteration just below the crotch line and then others say to make the alteration at the knee, but these are entirely two different alterations even though they are technically the same alteration to make for knock-knees. One major difference is the grainline. On the wider hip adjustment the grainline does not change for the leg portion. You’ll redraw the grainline for the torso portion. For the knock knee alteration the grainline for the whole leg is changed and needs to be redrawn.
In the diagram above, can you see how wider hips and knock knees change the angle of your upper leg in the same way? Both will result in lengthening the inseam and shortening the outer side seam. However with true knock knees, you’ll also have a deflection from the knee to the ankle that you won’t see in someone with just wider hips. In both cases you’ll want to lengthen the inseam and shorten the side seam. For the wider hips example you’ll want to make those alterations up near the hip where the changes are needed. For true knock knees, you’ll want to make the alteration exactly at the knees where you need to add length on the inside and remove length on the outside. It wouldn’t make sense to make changes at the hip when you have true knock knees.
I have always made my “knock-knee” alteration near the hip and that adjustment worked for me. The issue that I was having was fabric pooling / folded over itself on my outside lower hamstring just above my knee (see below). Because my issues involved the whole length of my upper leg, it made sense to make my alteration as high up as possible. If we go along with my theory that both Ryan and I have a flatten oval shape with wider set hips, then it would make sense to do this alteration up near the hip.
Here’s a more extreme example that shows how the whole upper leg area is effected and not just around the knee. The fabric pooling got really bad when I tried to make wider legged pants. I got pooling across the whole back of my leg. The fabric would form these long “u” shaped creases and the pants would ride up into my inner thighs and bunch something fierce. If you can tell, I had a lot of excess space on the outer part of my thigh and then conversely the fabric would be clinging to my inner thighs. This is definitely an extreme example. I know this may look like I need to do a thin thigh adjustment or a flat derrière adjustment and I’ve tried all of that and it still doesn’t fix the gapping, pooling fabric on the outside of my leg.
I’ve confirmed that Ryan nor I actually have knock knees. No doctor has said as such. Making our adjustment at the knee doesn’t make sense since the fabric issues go well beyond the knee area. They extend from the crotch down to the knee, the entire length of the thigh / hamstring. On that note, has anyone read anywhere about how to address these types of issues in sewing? Specifically, addressing fit for differences in the distribution of size across the circumference? Looking at tutorials, they’ll talk about: long/short legs, long/short lower torso, inward/outward rotation of the knee, hyperextension of the calves, high/low buttock contour, sway back, sway front, high/low hip curve, etc. But the only thing I’ve ever read, was having a more flattened oval-shaped lower torso will simply just leave excess pooling of fabric on the inner thighs and a thin thigh adjustment may be needed? From experience, I know there’s more than just that fitting issue with a flattened oval-shaped lower torso.
Anyways, hopefully this super long post helps shed some light on fit issues. I really do wish there was a magic ball that could easily decode all of these alterations. I should add the disclaimer that I may be entire wrong about all of these things since I’m literally learning as I go along. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you may have. Thanks.
Fascinating! No tips here, my pants fitting is all me specific but i find this really interesting, especially the part about circumference
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The circumference discussion is very interesting because when sewers talk about adjusting for wider hips they’re referring to hip points that are normal with excess fat deposits to widen the hips which is different then having a wider pelvis. I have checked out some books from my university library to see if they shed some light on this circumference discussion for clothing alterations.
Oh wow!! This is exactly my problem too. I’ve despaired because like you, I tried every ‘read your wrinkles’ alteration under the sun and nothing fixed those back-thigh drag lines. I’d started to think I must have bizarre alien legs. But I just took some photos and compared angles… and you’re right. I have very elliptical hips. If it’s too much to say you’ve changed my life, you’ve certainly just changed my wardrobe.
Incidentally, re the 3D model. I’ve been looking into that! It struck me that now smartphones come with LiDAR, you could 3D scan someone to digitally sculpt and draw custom patterns straight onto their model. It seemed similar to how artists make clothing in video games– you could start with a basic human form, build shapes and colour on top, then ‘unwrap’ that surface into a 2D image.
It might need dedicated software, since in conventional 3D packages the 2D images you get from unwrapping models can show warped surface geometry. But imagine it. No more trial and error with your crotch curve? Software simulating the stretch and drape of your fabric? It’s not sci-fi any more, we’ve got the tech for that…
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I would also check out The Crooked Hem
(@thecrookedhem) blog, youtube channel, etc. She’s documenting a great way to work with pant patterns as well. I still like getting my grainline placement set correctly, but then the Top Down Center Out method it a really interesting way to approach fine-tuning a pattern.