Thursday, January 14, 2010


 I am obsessed with pants fit.  Not just mine, but I look at womens rear ends to see if any of them actually wear pants that fit.  Not too many do.  I own a lot of fitting books and every article Threads has ever published on fitting and I still have had problems.  Until I read the latest article Kenneth King wrote for the current issue of Threads magazine.  There was another one  in September 2002, #102 also outlining his method.  But what really got me to make yet another muslin of my pants were the pictures that Mardel posted of Kenneth King fitting her pants on her   at the Sit and Sew she attended last fall.  I've learned a lot about fitting over the years and even came close to perfect fit.  Then I went and gained some weight and proceeded to totally screw up my former TNT pattern and even that one wasn't perfect!
Enter Kenneth King.  Not in person unfortunately, but in the form of his articles and his cd The Trouser Draft.  That was one of the patterns that I screwed up totally and I didn't feel like starting from scratch again, so I started with Hot Patterns Razer pant which fits me remarkably well except for the drag line in back and the front crotch.  I repeatedly have gotten what I refer to as the front pleat.  It's like have a skirt with a single front pleat, but only mine shows up on pants and starts around the crotch.

This is from  Kenneth Kings  The Trouser Draft

  I've gone to fitting classes and heard the sentence:  "The drag line points to the problem."  This was never followed up with an explanation that met with my satisfaction, and so it became  a quest for me--I came to believe that to understand what this sentence meant would explain the underlying principle of fitting."

Having read a lot of books and articles on fitting I can really relate to this!

KK:  " The object of the game here is to achieve the correct outline of the pattern, to fit the three-dimensional shape underneath.  At first it seemed logical to look to the edges of the pattern to achieve this.  A paradigm shift here for me was to look to the interior portion of the pattern, for the information I needed to adjust the outline correctly.

Over time, I came to understand that, when there was a drag line in a garment, it represented an incorrect relationships of square inches (in the interior of the pattern piece) to the figure it was draping.  Correcting the interior square inches of the pattern would automatically correct the outline of the pattern."

He goes on to discuss three types outcomes: Net loss, Net Gain, and no Net Change.
It really works!  I re-read his section on pants and the new article in Threads, which by the way is the first of a series, and made my muslin.  I pinned out those pesky pleats at the crotch.  I pinned out the wrinkles I always get below my stomach.  These were net losses.  I also had a net gain at the back drag line.  I have a high right hip.  This one I cheated on.  On my last pair of pants I measured down from my waist to where the drag line met my side seam.  Then I lowered opened the zipper and lowered the side until the drag line disappeared.  I needed about 1/2" more on that side.  I slit the side seam on my pattern at the correct place  front and back and added in that amount at the seamline.

You can see the oval sections that I marked from my pinning out the wrinkles and drag lines. This is the amount that I removed from the closest seamlines.

Here you can see how I transferred the markings to my pattern.  The horizontal lines are used to transfer the exact measurement of the pinned area to the seam lines.  You'll notice the quirky curve below my crotch.  It works.  I am in currently making these up and should have them ready to photograph in a few days.  I did have to lower the left side to remove the extra I needed for the right side.  In these pants, without pockets it doesn't matter, but I if I make a pair of jeans, which I am planning to, it will matter as the amount I lowered the left side is a very noticeable 3/4".  I think that I am going to transfer that amount  and lower  the pocket edge and see if that works for me.  I'd either have to do this after I cut the pants out or cut it separately and have different left and right pattern pieces.

It's also time to re trace my pattern.  I've made so many change that it becomes confusing after a while.  The other thing that I've learned over time is to make changes on copies and to date everything so that I can go backwards to an earlier version if I have to.
These  look nothing like the HP Razer pant I started with.   I added a contour waistband and eliminated the side front pockets. (They always gape on me no matter what I do and they add bulk that my hips don't need.)  I do like the back crotch on the Razer, which is why I used it as my base.  The other reason that I prefer a waistband is my uneven waist.  You'll notice that the amount I removed from the front waist gives me a very curvy seam line.  It is very evident if I make a faced pant and hidden if I use a waistband, either contour or straight.

If you have fitting issues, I really hope that you'll buy this issue of Threads, or if you have the new DVD take a look at the earlier article.  His method is simple and effective and you don't really need to know why your muslin has wrinkles to eliminate them and get a garment that looks like it was draped on you.

Hopefully I will remember this epiphany and use his method in the future.  It works better than anything I've done in the past.  You might also want to buy his cd, The Trouser Draft because the fitting section on pants details his method in great detail and the articles he did for Threads only covers jackets.  The only downside to this is you really need a fitting buddy if you have lot of changes to make in the back.  Upside is that the person only has to be able to pin out wrinkles, not be knowledgeable about sewing.
Happy sewing.



  1. KK's CD sounds like it would be great. I read the current Threads article, and have the other issue you mentioned, so I'll have to dig it out. Good luck with your pants. That is, I think, the most difficult garment to fit.

  2. Thanks for the mentioning of the 2002 article, I'm going to find that one, the new issue of Threads has not arrived here yet. One of the reasons of taking sewing lessons for me is that I will have someone to help me with fitting.
    Good luck finishing your pants and look forward to the pictures.

  3. PS: forgot to say that I thought I was the only one looking at how pants fit with others ;)

  4. I always look at rear end fit too. You are right. Very few women wear clothes that fit.
    KK's method eluded me when I read the article but seeing you put it into reality has really helped my understanding of it all. Anxious to see those pants.

  5. Thank you for this post. The last time i sewed my pant i had to fight with the nasty horizontal pleat under the crotch. I read that a little shallowing might help. I actually never tried again and now I'm going to start from scratch. I'll use this method, hope that the last Threads will arrive soon (I live in Netherlands) Many happy hours of sewing and success with your pants. love to read your blog, Phebe

  6. One of the best things about that class I took last summer was watching KK fit on real people. His brain just works in that way of "if I take some out here I have to add more here." Very wise man.

  7. THis is great, Nancy. I'm anxiously awaiting your next post. I've considered getting KKs CD, and now you've convinced me. I've taken a couple of his online classes and he's great. Thanks for posting this.

  8. Interesting Nancy. Looking forward to seeing your end result. And I must go and re read that article in Threads.

  9. well.... since YOU said it first.... it IS an obsession for you ;-p

  10. I took a class with Kenneth King and Susan Khalje last summer. I saw how he removed excess fabric from the pattern which he explains in an article in the new issue Threads magazine. I can't wait for the next installment.