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Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on a series of leggings patterns for girls and women (you can find them in the Cucicucicoo Patterns shop!). An interesting thing about pattern testing clothing is seeing how differently a pattern can fit different body shapes. The same pattern might be tight for one lady in the same point where it is loose for another. Luckily, there are lots of ways to modify a pattern for a perfect fit, but today we’ll cover how to adjust the crotch in pants in the four most important and useful methods.
- A pants/trousers pattern (Here I am using the Simple Leggings for girls and the Evening Primrose Pajama Pants for women patterns, both available at the Cucicucicoo Patterns shop. I’ve printed them out on green paper simply so that they show up better in the photos.)
- Quilting ruler* (recommended, but if you don’t have one, a regular ruler will work, too)
- Pencil and scissors
- Invisible tape*
- Paper for expanding pattern (I use this medical paper for pattern drafting*.)
Lower/raise the front and back rise
This was an image showing the original low and high waist options for my Simple Leggings for Women pattern. Except it was definitely too high for both options, so I lowered it all around for the final pattern.
In this case we have to lower the rise of the pattern on both the front and back. The rise is the length of the curve between the crotch point and the top waist of the pattern. When the rise is too high, it pulls up too high on the waist and/or the fabric slips down both in the front crotch and the bum in the back, making unsightly sags.
You can make this adjustment on either a one-piece pants pattern, like my Simple Leggings, or a two-piece pants pattern, such as my Evening Primrose PJ pants. If you are making this adjustment on a two-piece pattern, make sure you modify both pieces in the same way or else the sides won’t align.
Then cut straight across along the line.
You can pinch the fabric of your sewn pants while wearing them to see about how much you need to remove from the pattern. Then mark that amount below the cut on the lower pattern piece. For my example, I’m removing 1 cm, so I made a couple of marks 1 cm below the cut.
Then slide the top piece down so that the bottom edge hits the marks you’ve just made. Make sure that the grainline arrow or other markings in the center of the pattern are lined up, then tape the pattern in place.
There will be bits of the pattern edges sticking out, so just smooth out the curves by trimming it with your scissors (not shown).
Let’s say we have the opposite problem: the rise is too low in the front and the back. If this is the case, the garment’s waist will not reach all the way up to your body’s waist, so we need to add to the pattern.
I will continue to use the example of 1 cm. Start by cutting across the pattern as shown above. Then take the pattern-drafting paper and draw two parallel lines 1 cm apart (or the amount you need to raise the rise). Next, draw a perpendicular line going through both. (top image)
Match up the top line to the bottom edge of the top piece, matching the vertical line with the pattern’s grainline (or other perfectly vertical) marking, as shown by the arrow above, and tape it in place. Then match up the top edge of the bottom piece with the bottom line, again matching the vertical lines, and tape that in place.
Lower/raise the front OR the back rise
Now, let’s imagine that the back of your pants fits perfectly, but the front rise is too high. This was the case with my Birkin Flares. As you can see above, the jeans covered my bum and arrived perfectly to my waist in the back. On the front, however, the fabric sagged down terribly at the crotch. When I pulled them up higher, the fabric straightened out. This meant that the rise was too high ONLY in the front.
It is also possible for the rise to be too high or low only in the back, too. The adjustments to be made are the same.
To adjust the rise ONLY in the front or the back, you must have a pants pattern in two pieces. So here I am using my Evening Primrose PJ pants.
Lowering the rise
Draw a line across the front (or back) pattern piece as shown before. Remember to line up the ruler with the grainline arrow (shown by the arrow in the top picture). This is even more important with two-piece pants patterns because neither side is perfectly vertical.
Cut along this line, leaving only a tiny bit intact at the side so that the two parts can separate with the side as a hinge. Then mark the amount that needs to be removed (again, I’m doing 1 cm) below the cut along the crotch curve (shown by the arrow in the bottom picture).
Trim off the pattern to smooth the curve out (shown by the arrow in the bottom picture).
Raising the rise
Start in the same way as lowering the back or front rise. Draw a line across the back (or front) pattern piece as before. Remember to line up the ruler with the grainline arrow (shown by the arrow in the top picture).
Cut along this line, leaving only a tiny bit intact at the side so that the two parts can separate with the side as a hinge (shown by the arrow in the bottom picture).
Put a piece of pattern drafting paper under the pattern and tape the edge of the bottom part to it. Then make a mark 1 cm (or the amount you need to raise it by) above the open side of this piece (shown by the arrow in the top picture).
Pull the top piece down so that the tip hits the mark (shown by the arrow in the bottom picture), and tape in place.