Review of the Top-Down Center-Out Method

I’m writing this blog post because I want to feature a fellow maker doing some incredible work, and I don’t want their efforts to get lost in any ol’ blog post. I obviously have my own method and approach to fitting pants, and how I think about drape. The one aspect of pant fitting I haven’t spent much time describing or talking about is from the waist down to the hip level. This is where the Top-Down Center-Out method has been extremely helpful. Stacey from @thecrookedhem has put together a great YouTube series about the method.

Choosing a Size

One particularly helpful video is about choosing a size. I typically fall perfectly within a size range for patterns. My bust, waist, and hips are within the “standard” proportions. However, I should always go up a size based on the Top-Down Center-Out method because I need extra cross-body depth. I have multiple body areas (anterior pelvic tilt and thighs for hiking up mountains) that protrude more than expected, resulting in the need for more room. I always need to add more length to my crotch hook to accommodate my posture, and if I go up a size on patterns, this will happen automatically. Yay for fewer alterations!

Fitting the Waistband

This may be my favorite part of the Top-Down Center-Out method. I am super-duper picky about my waistband, where it sits on my body, and how tight it is. I love that this step is all about the waistband; forget the rest of the trousers, just fit the waistband. Brilliant. I have used this several times now and love it. When you know you have a waistband that fits and sits on your body where you want, the rest of the fitting process is ever so slightly easier. I cannot recommend this step enough!

Determining Overall Crotch Length

The additional fabric added to the pattern piece is helpful when making your toile. I would definitely recommend doing this step. I still like to mark the center grainline on my pants, as well as the horizontal knee, crotch, and hip levels. These guides help me understand the drape and if the pant legs are off-center from left to right, front to back, or twisted.

The extra fabric added to the toile allows me to play around with how high or low the trousers should sit on my body. I love that the waistband fit and location are set, and the trousers are adjusted separately. I have a very short torso length, and most of the time have to significantly lower the waistline location on patterns. This method streamlines the process of determining how much to lower my waistline. I’m all for efficiency.

The other aspect of fitting that I appreciate is determining the circumference of the top of the pants. Again, the waistband location and fit are already determined. Fitting the toile now only involves making the top of the trousers the same circumference as the waistband. You will immediately realize if you need to add or remove darts, as was the case recently with pants I made for Ryan.


I have found the Top-Down Center-Out method useful in helping me choose a better size when I make a pattern, getting my waistband to fit how I like, and determining the drape of pants between the waistline and hip level. If you don’t already, check out Stacey’s blog: You can also find her @thecrookedhem on YouTube and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Review of the Top-Down Center-Out Method

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  1. Hi! Thanks so much for sharing all of your pants fitting techniques! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog.

    I’m curious on your thoughts on the tdco method and crotch width issues. It seems like potential problems with the crotch hook are never addressed with this method? You kind of have to believe that by choosing the correct hip size, the drafting will be correct for the crotch?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tested enough pants recently to have a pretty good hunch that, yes, if you choose the correct size, you shouldn’t have to adjust the crotch length. Selecting the correct size goes beyond just hip circumference since other factors will contribute. If you have a forward-tilting pelvis, larger upper thighs, and protruding stomach, or you just need more room in general, you should go up at least one size. By default, the larger the size, the more room there will be through the crotch hook, so instead of having to do guesswork in a pattern and lengthen the crotch hook, it’s easier to just select a larger size. With the last four pairs of pants I’ve made (Worker Trousers from The Modern Sewing Co, May Jeans from Make by TFS, Shop Pant from Open Studio Patterns, and Mirri Jumpsuit from Papercut Patterns), simply going up one size has worked. I’ve had to make absolutely no adjustments to the crotch hook length on any of these patterns, and in the past, I absolutely would have to make an adjustment since I have I forward-tilting pelvis and large upper thighs. The May Jeans were the real winner because the front crotch hook looked WAY too short, and the back looked WAY too long, but the pants still worked for me! Also, in my May Jeans post, I’ve included some tips and diagrams about how to better measure your hip to include some of these extra body features. Stacey (The Crooked Hem) over on YouTube talks about updating your size based on body features too. Thanks for the question.


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