Friday, 27 September 2013

Pants Block Part 4 - Flat Butt Adjustment and Wrinkle Free Leg

Dear Sewing Friends,

I have done a lot of muslin sewing!  In my last post I had a break through moment of realizing I had to do what is essentially a flat butt adjustment. I had pinned out the extra folds across the behind but turning a few pins into a workable interpretation on paper was something else, but after a week of trial and error I got there! I am starting this post with the final product.. I got there!

A non saggy back leg. A smooth front. A Customized you think that would be a good title for a book?

A note on my stenciling experiment. I had some good quality but meh cotton, aqua with brown squiggles, that I had fun stenciling with Setacolor paint (made for fabrics) and a stencil from Spotlight. You paint it on, then set it with a hot iron. My results are a bit slapdash abstract..

I was adding water as an afterthought. Next time I will dilute it by about a third, carefully first.

*Edited to add I have washed these pants twice and they did color bleed but in a pleasingly artistic way fading more in some parts than others. I perhaps should have done more heat setting. Also I have since found out you have to let them dry completely before ironing them to heat set. I wish all this was in the instructions on the packaging!

Anyway, back to the block. I have photographed the messy one that shows what I did. It is still not completely finished.. I will redraw it with a lowered waist because in the above photos my waistband is completely folded over and that's where it wants to sit.

Here's what I did and what worked on my body.

I pinned out a wedge from side to almost-crotch seam to take out butt bagginess. The fold does not go all the way through. I did try that but it did not work. I then put that same amount back further up the side just below the back dart level to even up the side length of the pant. Once again, the fold does not go all the way through, it is identical to the folded out wedge.

I had already lowered both the front and back waistlines as per my markings with elastic on previous muslins. I ended up putting a wedge of length back at the centre back only. Now I had the right waist shape that I can, as already mentioned, put lower. *Edited to add On me the ideal waist is 3.5cm below the belly button and can be snug as long as the crotch curve is adequate.

But this is the most important thing I did.  I corrected the grain of the leg, which had been thrown out when I tilted the back torso for my sway back.

See the purple arrow at the top of the picture? The purple arrow is the original grain line for the pants block and I thought the whole piece had to then follow this grain even when redrawn for a sway back. Not so. I had to go back and redraw the original crease line along the leg, then use this as my grain and the mid point for all alterations to the leg. This, dear friends was as big a 'Ah Ha!' moment as figuring out I need a flat butt adjustment.

The grain of the leg must fall from the centre of the butt or the leg will not hang right.  The crease lines  on the original frame (see Part 1) do matter as construction lines even if you never ever intend to iron in creases on your pants.

I had to take away some width from the inside of the leg and transfer it to the outside leg seam in order to redistribute width using the crease line. *Edited to add I later took off a tiny bit more (3mm) along the length of the inner leg line and curved inner thigh line a bit more.

I had, in effect, balanced the leg and then the back concertina knee wrinkles were gone. Relief!
I'd done it!

Should I tell you about the things that didn't work? They include:  
Taking out a wedge just under crotch point. Still had the leg issues.

Moving a portion of back crotch to front crotch. Nope. The under butt cats whiskers were back and the looser back leg didn't give the look I was after either.

I won't bore you with pictures of the other efforts  such as..
Widening the back leg, 
Narrowing the back leg  (all before I fixed the grain).  My epiphany came when I mistakenly put one of the baggier muslins on back to front and even though the torso was off the legs hung perfectly..

Once the leg was balanced I scooped out a bit of width at the inner thigh and finally came out with a decent fit.  I think I can now try working with different amounts of leg ease and different styles.

Here is my great wall of muslins.

The yellow dotty one will become pyjamas,  I am happy enough to wear the batik around the house. The plain calico will be recycled, maybe into bags. The floral sheets had already been used as drop sheets. 

I will do one more post about comparing the block to commercial patterns in my stash, and do the promised reference list.

Right now I need to do anything but sew pants! It's the weekend and the sun is shining.

Thanks for reading,



  1. I'm very impressed, I don't know if I have the patience, but you did the work and it pays off. This is a beautiful pant block and I'm pretty sure you'll use and abuse it. Good for you!

  2. You are amazing Val! Patience paid off in the end, not to mention your creative flair. The final pants are totally perfect. Love the Great Wall of Muslins!

  3. Bravo you are the envy of us all, thank you showing that it can be done and that we just need to work on it!

  4. Congrats, I just finished the pants journey so I know that how much work you have done.

  5. Very impressive! That´s a lot of work and effort you put into those muslins.

  6. Big pat on the back from me! They look great.

  7. FANTASTIC. Your end result is well worth your effort. You have certainly conquered you challenge. What a great job. Love the stenciling.

  8. You rock! what persistence and the final cut is great. I'm also impressed by all the fabrics you pulled out for your muslins :-) Now, hope you enjoy sewing something other than pants for a while...

  9. Thank you ladies. Making so many muslins certainly does help burn up the stash. Coco I have broken my stash fast and bought material for a pair of cargo pants!

  10. Gosh, that is a mountainous effort expended! Well worth it though - once you've got the basic formula it will hopefully be smooth sailing for pants in general. The nth muslin is looking great!

  11. Bravo for your wonderfully fitting pants and terrific perseverance. I've made a few muslins from one pattern but never as long a process as yours, not such perfection. Those under the butt wrinkles are a bear but you've tamed them!!

  12. Really like the pair with the burgundy and cream print. Perfect Sydney weekend wear.