60-Minute Pant Pretest
Before you make that next pair of pants, spending just an hour on a pretest will save you twice that much time ripping out seams later and will result in a pair of pants that is not only comfortable, but also flattering.
Start out with a pattern you are really excited about. I love Vogue 7940 from Today’s Fit. This flat front pant with a well proportioned narrow leg features a built in pant front stay to flatten the tummy, angular side pockets and a faced waist. While all of these features are included in the pattern, to speed up the pretest process, pull out the pattern pieces for view B which is the plain view without design details. Once we have perfected the fit, alterations will apply to both views.
For pretest purposes, you can make a full length pant or simple shorts by folding up the pattern piece at the knee.
(1) Take your waist and hip measurements. If you have a large tummy, slide the tape measure down low at crotch level, and take another measurement so that you can get a pattern to fit both your tummy and low hip and legs without getting legs which are too full. Using those measurements, outline your sizes on the multi-size lines with a felt tip pen, making smooth transitions between sizes. If you have a large tummy and high hip measurement, don’t worry if the multi sizing lines aren’t big enough, we will spread the pant at the top to allow for the fullness. On the side seam only, with a contrasting color felt tip pen, add an additional 1 inch for fit insurance.
(2) Cut out the pant. Using tracing paper, mark the darts and the original multi-size seam line which is 1-5/8 inch from the cutting line (remember we allowed an extra inch on each side seam for ‘fit insurance’). This will be the initial side seam sewing line. Marking this line will enable us to know how much we let out at a glance. Sew darts, run an easeline around the waist and stabilize the easeline by sewing on a narrow piece of twill tape or selvage.
(3) Using contrasting thread, machine baste inner leg seam, crotch seam leaving a 7 inch opening at center front, and side seams. Try on the pants. Can you close the opening? If not and the gap is less than 2 inches, let out the side seams. If the gap is more than 2 inches on the front pretest pant, slit the pant front in a mirrored ‘L’ shape to the knee and let the front pieces spread to accommodate the tummy.
(4) Slide scrap fabric behind the openings and pin to fit. Then take off and over to the machine to zigzag in place.
(5) Try on pants again. Is the waist riding where you want it in front and back? If not slit the pretest horizontally from center to sides or center back to sides and lift the top of the pant until it sits at the waist. The amount of the spread is the amount of the alteration. Again, slide scrap fabric behind openings and pin to fit. Then take off and over to the machine to zigzag in place. If you find the waist too high in either front or back, or the back crotch seems too long resulting in a baggy sea, do the opposite. Fold out at center front and center back, letting the fold taper to zero by the side seam.
(6) If the pants are pulling over the front thigh, add to front inner leg. If the back crotch is riding too close, giving a ‘graphic’ fit, add to the back inner leg.
Once you are happy with the results, transfer all alterations to your pattern and cut out your pants from your fashion fabric with confidence. My bet is that you will be happy with the results.
For more pointers on pant alterations take advantage of the following resouces available by Power Sewing:
- Watch the “Pant Front Stay” Online Class 70
- Refer to the Pants Front Stay section in the Power Sewing Toolbox Volume 1
- View the Pants Fitting Pointers DVD #2