Crease Line Placement at the Knee

Center grainline evenly bisects at knee level.

I’m researching how different pants are styled, and I realized I never officially explored how the center grainline placement at the knee level impacts fit and style. It has been almost a year since I talked about the center grainline or crease line placement at the hip level, so I guess it is time to do another tutorial. Remember that I’ve already talked about the center grainline placement at the crotch level too. This post will round up everything you need to know about the center grainline placement.

TL;DR. It is essential to fix grainline placement at the knee before addressing grainline placement at the hip.

Finding Center Grainline

The front and back pattern contains seam allowance.

Let’s quickly review the different horizontal levels from the bottom up:

  • Ankle, bottom of the pant
  • Knee, centered at your knee cap
  • Crotch, bottom of the crotch curve
  • Hip, top of the crotch curve
  • Waist, top of the pant

To place the center grainline or crease line, find the center at the ankle level and draw a line perpendicular to the ankle level. Again, review my post about crease line placement at the hip. This post will be about crease line placement at the knee level.

Method

Taking a pant pattern that I feel fits reasonably well, I made three versions for this “experiment”:

  1. Left the center grainline evenly bisecting at the front and back knee level.
  2. At the knee level, bisected off center towards the inseam by ½ inch for both the front and back pieces.
  3. At the knee level, bisected off center towards the side seam by ½ inch for both the front and back pieces.

I made sure to do the same for the front and back pattern pieces; otherwise, I would have caused the pant leg to twist.

Front

Original pattern in grey.

To move where the grainline bisects the knee, the ankle was moved ½ inch to the left or right. When the ankle level is moved towards the inseam, this reduces the inside width and increases the outside width. Inside and outside are in reference to the center grainline. When the ankle level is moved towards the side seam, this reduces the outside width and increases the inside.

The red tick mark at the knee indicates the center of the knee. The red tick mark at the hip indicates the original location of the center grainline. Where the grainline hits at the knee will impact grainline placement elsewhere.

Original pattern in grey.

It is easier to see how moving the grainline placement at the knee affects the width on the inside and outside when I align the ankle level to the original pattern.

From left to right: grainline moved towards inseam, grainline centered,
grainline moved towards the side seam.

On the left, the grainline is moved towards the inseam, creating less width on the inside and more width on the outside. The result is draglines along the center front, and the ankle swings slightly inwards. And obviously, my knee is not centered. The green tick marks show the center of my knee and ankle.

On the right, the grainline is moved towards the side seam, creating more width on the inside and less width on the outside. The result is noticeable draglines along the side seam, and the ankle swings slightly outwards. And obviously, my knee is not centered.

Back

Original pattern in grey.

I made the same adjustments to the back piece, so I didn’t cause the leg to twist. On the left, I moved the grainline 1/2 inch towards the inseam. On the right, I moved the grainline 1/2 inch towards the side seam. The red tick mark at the knee indicates the center of the knee. The red tick mark at the hip indicates the original location of the center grainline.

Original pattern in grey.

When I align the ankle level, it becomes clear that when the grainline is moved towards the inseam, this creates less width on the inside. Conversely, when the grainline is moved towards the side seam, this creates less width on the outside.

From left to right: grainline moved towards inseam, grainline centered,
grainline moved towards the side seam.

On the left, the grainline is moved towards the inseam, creating less width on the inside and more width on the outside. The result is fabric tight and pulling under my butt, and the ankle swings slightly inwards. And obviously, my knee is not centered. The green tick marks show the center of my knee and ankle.

On the right, the grainline is moved towards the side seam, creating more width on the inside and less width on the outside. The result is noticeable draglines along the side seam, excess fabric under my butt, and the ankle swings slightly outwards. And obviously, my knee is not centered.

I probably didn’t cut or sew my original pattern perfectly (i.e., center image), so the left leg (without drawn lines) looks terrible; however, the right leg (with lines) shows little to no draglines and falls straight from my body.

How not to fix the problem

Original pattern in grey.

It is tempting to want to just shift the torso back to its original placement. When the grainline is moved towards the inseam, fixing the torso gives you a bow leg style to your pant pattern.

Original pattern in grey.

When the grainline is shifted towards the side seam, fixing the torso gives you a knock-knee style to your pant pattern.

The order to follow when checking patterns:

  1. Draw center grainline.
  2. Check that the center grainline evenly bisects at the knee level, if it doesn’t, fix first.
  3. Check and adjust the center grainline at the hip level.

Conclusions

The center grainline placement at the knee is just as important as placement at the hip and crotch level. and now this completes everything you need to know about the center grainline placement. As always, stay safe!

2 thoughts on “Crease Line Placement at the Knee

Add yours

  1. Hi there! I’m a somewhat new sewist and trying my second go at pants fitting. This blog post is AWESOME and I think addresses exactly the problem I’m facing, which is that the grainline is falling off center on my body (specifically, the grainline seems to be moved shifted towards the sideseam – looks like the pictures on the right). Am I understanding that the solution would then be to shift the grainline over by 1/2″ to the inseam? Thanks in advance!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grainline is falling off-center, but do you know if it is because of grainline placement at the hip or knee levels? I need the grainline to be centered at the knee, but if you have actual knock-knees or bowlegs, this can alter how the legs swing. If you know the grainline is balanced at the ankle and knee, then a leg that swings outward means you don’t have enough room at the hip between the center front and the grainline. You would cut horizontally at this level and shift the top portion towards the center front to make more room. In an older post, I go over this: “crease line placement at the hips.” Hope this helps.

      Like

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