Fitting Figures

Figure A. My figure.

Take note of the pencil markings at the high natural waist (35″) and the low waist (40″). These are sketches are obviously not accurate. It’s just to help you get the idea because I can’t take pictures of myself with my cellphone until I get better at yoga.


Figure B. Pants Fitting

This is how most of my pants currently fit me. Due to ready to wear jeans being low waisted typically, and the amount of time I have spent chasing and picking up a toddler over the past two years, most of Seattle has seen my lower (low!) back (underpants!) According to my measurements and fitting books, I have a sway back. My chiropractor would agree. I have a curvy tail bone. So my pants barely cover my bum and tend to curve under my belly, riding along a c-section scar and reminding me I made a baby.


Figure C. How patterns fit

So this is the “natural ride” of many sewing shorts patterns (or pants or skirts.) Something ready to wear calls mid-waist and other various terms that just mean’s it’s not high waisted and it’s not low waisted. It’s useless. When I sew a pattern, based on my measurements (37″ at belly and 49″ at low hip) I get gigantic amounts of fabric pooling around my front crotch. Seriously. Handfuls of fabric. This always happen in ready to wear clothes too.


Figure D. Gravity Works

So I sew up the pattern and all seems well until about an hour into wearing them at which point gravity has fought the good fight (is gravity even on the good side? Is it more like Darth Vader Good-Bad-Good?) and the shorts slip down past my belly and lay at this low curve below my stomach but up high on my back. This is unattractive. Very unappealing. I can’t describe it very well, but it looks like I am hiding a gremlin in my shorts, or Yoda, if we are keeping with my Star Wars references. (Ha! Better than a Wookie!) (Ha! Laugh it up fuzzball!)


Figure E1. The Maybe Fix

So I could fight gravity and create (or ideally find!) a pattern to sew shorts that hits my real waist, which is 15″ smaller than my widest hip point. 15″ of booty. (Luke: Boy, it’s lucky you have these compartments. Han Solo: I use them for smuggling.) But then I am obligated to insert a zipper or closure to ensure the shorts will actually function and pass over my booty and also fit around my waist. I have lots of booty. Expect I am trying to make pull on elastic shorts/pants/skirts. Do you have a pattern that you like that is like this? Kinda vintage high waisted slim fitting shorts?


Figure E2. The Failed Fix

I could make a pattern that hits me at my mysterious “mid waist” above my belly button over my belly at a decent no-peek-a-boo height and learn to adjust/slim down the crotch curves. Except I have tried this a few times and can’t make it work. It creates unpleasant drag lines everywhere. I want to feel like Leia, not like Jabba.


Figure F. The future?

So this is my last idea, because I don’t have any technical sewing instruction. I could make a slim fitting short that has a super short front crotch length, with a decent high back crotch length to keep things PG. Then I would just ignore my belly hanging out (which it has done in ready to wear my entire life) or wear really long shirts (which is my fashion fix for everything. Long tank tops.) However, I fear it won’t sit right. I have tried something like this on my toddler and for myself when I was pregnant, and the fabric wouldn’t stay high enough in back, dragging down in front instead around my lower belly. This shifted the entire short backwards, hence creating draglines.



It’s so frustrating because I know how to sew but not what to sew. I want to make clothes that make me feel attractive and comfortable (do those exist in woven fabrics? All I wear are knits!) and that I can construct without having to use the Force. I think my very curvy body won’t change out of this shape, even as I work out and loose size. I have had a low belly and low wide hips as long as I can recall. My jeans always come apart at the base of the zipper first. It’s just how I am made. So I am asking for your help to fix this issue.  I just don’t know any fitting techniques or patterns that could help me make shorts that are flattering and smooth out my lumps and keep all my good bits covered and don’t fall down. If YOU have any ideas, please share it with me! It’s almost 2am and I have read my three fitting books into blurry images trying to figure this out.


I need a sewing mentor.


31 thoughts on “Fitting Figures

  1. oh, honey. i feel like my struggles are similar. although my belly curve goes all the way up to my rib cage. I don’t have a solution, but I hope we both find one.

  2. Ok, I have NO technical expertise… but I do have that same body type! Maybe it would hep for you to look at how things fit on me? (And by things, I mean Prefontaines and STyle Arc Elle pants, ’cause those are the only pants-like thinkgs I’ve made in wovens!)
    I”m going to send you an email, but for a start…
    -stretch wovens! That’s the answer for me!
    -snug extremely high waists! they look craycracy is someone seems them, but they never ever fall down.
    k, I’m off to email you now!

    • I am still learning to fit trousers. I don’t like what I am currently doing hence this post. I will eventually start from scratch but I need to know wag others are doing because this isn’t just a firing issue. I think this is a style issue as well, and fashion is my weak point. I like jeans and tshirts and have a conglomerate wardrobe of pieces I like no style. So I want to see how others address fitting their body issues to help fix my own.0

      • I found Fit for Real People to be a good fitting resource. It helped me a lot when I was fitting my first pair of trousers. I ended up with a pattern that, miraculously, still fit even after having a baby.

  3. I’ve just been getting into pants sewing myself, and started with a custom draft. I wonder if that would help? Kenneth King has a book on how to draft trousers to your measurements and that could well get you on the way to wovens that fit?

    FWIW I don’t have the desire to have a very short front c-seam, but I do have the big booty/relatively smaller waist thing, and I’m finding once I get used to them my high-waisted new shorts (made as a muslin of Jamie Jeans, saving fabric on the lower legs) are REALLY comfortable. As a matter of fact, these things are the most comfortable pants I’ve ever had on!

    Good luck!

      • It’s from Named, and it’s got a fairly low rise, I should warn you. I adapted it significantly based on my trouser block draft–added volume to the bum and length to the rise in both front and back. Because the waist hits at about my belly button, it stays up well. 🙂

  4. Wanting to have a different body, or/or camouflage it, AND wanting to dress more glamorously – to somehow know how to do it AND feel comfortable doing it when obviously we are comfortable in what we dress or we’d be buying different RTW! Well this is a tall order – and one even an excellent fitting book can’t fix. I have seen this with many women who sew and it seriously stunts their efforts when clearly they have the technical ability and you’d think they could succeed.

    I do have suggestions though. I have solved the body image issue and the style issue but not through learning sewing fitting technique. I’ve thought about writing an article about it in fact! If you want to know more email me… too long for me to type out here.

    I wish you luck – AND, I love your drawings!

    • Thank you kelly! I will email you soon. I had a few hiccups with even posting this with my lovely lady lumps all exposed in sketches I whipped up last night. So silly in hindsight, but not to be ignored.

  5. Shorts are so hard to get the fit just right! I’ve given up on shorts because ready to wear never fit right and I’m trying to drum up the courage to make some. I just read some comments in another blog post here ( and someone mentioned that you might have to combine a different front and back size to get the right fit. I’d never thought of that before but it makes sense to take that into consideration. The author of that blog post did end up with a pair of perfectly fitting shorts (after making 4 muslins!). I’ve also seen good reviews from curvier figures for the Katy & Laney tap shorts (higher waisted shorts) here Good luck!

  6. The drawings, Star Wars quotes, and general musings you made make me smile – I’m glad you seem to have a good objective view about yourself and are able to find some humor in your frustration.

    Sewing is easy, it’s the fitting that’s hard. And fitting yourself without a helper is even harder! I wish I could come visit and help you! (Where’s my transporter??)

    Pants are always a bit tricky no matter what your body type. I’ve had my best success by comparing patterns to my rtw pants. I’ve worn the rtw enough to know what I want to fix and what I want to keep the same. If you can find the correct crotch curve for your body, that’s half the battle.

    As mentioned by others above, stretch wovens will definitely help ease you into sewing woven fabric (especially when it comes to pants).

    Cindy of Cation Designs took a pants pattern drafting/fitting class and shared a lot of info about it on her blog. Check out this post on pattern alterations.

    Sewing is easy, it’s the fitting that’s hard. And fitting yourself without a helper is even harder! I wish I could come visit and help you in person! (Where’s my transporter??)

      • It was so important you had to say it twice! 😉

        Thank you! I will look into her post too. Honestly that is what started all this. I was wearing simple cotton shorts when I made my prefontaine shorts. I collared the two crotch curves. So very different! I got confused about which alterations to make based on my findings. Either shorten the depth or shorten the total length or both. Ha! Once I get a good measurement (beam me up Scotty!) I can start fresh this weekend on getting a perfect fit. Thank you for always being a good blog buddy!

  7. I have belly fitting issues too and made a very satisfactory and supremely comfortable pair of stretch denim shorts using Style Arc Barb. They were so good I then made capri length ones and then full length “jeans”. not on blog yet but should be soon. Good luck!

    • I don’t but I have heard it’s amazing. I have a few fitting books that teach how to make these changes. I am more looking for ideas on fashion and how to dress my figure and potential patterns that eliminate my problem of saggy waistline.

  8. I just went through a whole pants-design saga, myself. I recommend wearing whatever feels comfortable in the pants area and setting off your high waist with cute fitted tops that fall over the waistband. Problem hidden, problem solved.

    My own personal solution was lots of flowy Kimono robes in summer sheers and sheens, tied at the high waist. I made more out of heavier fabrics for winter, now I’m addicted.

  9. I think another fix would be to go with a smaller size and do a protruding belly adjustment. That would, hopefully, help with the pooling/crotch issues. I am definitely no expert, though!

  10. I’m sorry I don’t have any pants fitting advice because I mainly avoid wearing RTW pants as well as sewing pants! However, this shorts pattern might just be what you’re looking for: Paunnet has a blog post about them. She has a pear shape and sings high praises on these shorts. She ended up lengthening them and they seem to stay in place in all the right ways.
    Good luck and thanks for sharing your woes. We’ve all been there.

  11. “Power Sewing” by Sandra Betzina has a page with a “protruding tummy fix.” Basically you’re going to increase the rise on the center front of the pant tapering to nothing at the side seams. If you can’t borrow this book, the tips alone make it worthwhile. (I’ve been sewing for years and find myself thinking, “OMG! Why hasn’t anyone told me that before now?”)

    She also shows how to alter a pants pattern to add a high waistband, zipper in a pocket and on and on.

    Books and patterns notwithstanding it sounds like you might need to widen the crotch and increase the front rise to accommodate your tummy.

    Seconding the Barb Pant by Stylearc.

    Good luck and keep asking questions.

  12. Hi – you may want to try the Simplicity Amazing Fit range – they have 3 trousers pattens – 2342 (my favourite), 1918, 1696. 2342 worked for me in the curvy variation with no alterations! (Sway back, big booty, big hips). You may also want to look at Sewaholic’s Thurlows pattern – I’ve had to alter that as I hate low waist and it was too big in the waist for me.

    My tip is to use a slightly longer zip than normal – a 6″ fly zip gives at best 12″ of extra opening space, so if hips more than 11″ bigger than waist, use a longer zip.
    HTH best wishes Sarah @ Sew Drastic!

    • Oh the longer zip is a fantastic idea! Thank you! I have seen the amazing fit patterns and purchased the pencil skirt. I will absolutely look at the pants patterns too! Thanks for the suggestion.

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