In which I finally talk about the word…..


That’s it folks. Right there. It’s the crux of most pant problem. That ding dang darn crotch. And what a word too. But let’s not go there, shall we? Instead, we’re going to have fun getting our crotch depth and length straight. Knowing the difference between these two things and how to fix them will give us better insight into what our pant problems really are. So let’s begin shall we. Drum roll please….cue trumpets, falling stars and the magic carpet:

Today we are going to focus on Crotch Depth. This is the length between the waistline and the crotch. It’s not something we’re going to measure, its just something we need to be aware of.  Now for Burda #127, you need to be aware that these trousers are meant to fit 1-1 1/4 inches above the natural waistline. How do you find your natural waistline? It’s that girlish cinch in the middle of your torso, below your bust and above your hips. Don’t be afraid of it and please be aware, that for some of us youngsters it’s alot higher up than you might think. Grab yourself some 1/4″ elastic and tie it around your natural waistline. Wiggle around in it for a minute to allow the elastic to adjust to your natural waistline. Now pull on your trouser muslin and pin up the zipper opening. Where is the waistline falling? Where is the crotch falling? As you can see, on my first muslin here, the crotch is falling a little low and the waistline is a bit high. And while we’re calling a spade a spade you can see that these were rather large to begin with, but let’s focus on the crotch depth being on average just too long for me. Alot of what I’m showing you here too is based on how these pants feel too. When I try to walk, with the crotch being just a little too low, it’s well…rather difficult to walk. The pants pull on the thigh just below the crotch.

Now what if you have the opposite problem? What if the crotch depth is too short, then what are you going to see? Well, it’s going to be the opposite of what you see here. The trousers are going to ride really high in the crotch and you’ll definitely be able to feel that, especially if you try to sit down. And that will pull the waistline down to a point on your waist below where the pants should sit. You are also going to experience a little puffiness in the front crotch area with smiles that point toward your outseam.

What do you do about it? This is the biggest question right, because alot of us don’t know what to do about it. Let’s take it back to my muslin. As you see here, I’ve now pinned out the excess by bringing the waistline down and the crotch up in the middle of this area. Make sense?  I did this all the way around. Then I walked around, sat down, and made sure taking out this much would be the way to go. Then I took the muslin off and marked with a sharpie where the pin went through and then took the pin out and measured how much I needed to adjust the crotch depth. It’s a good 1 inch. Now to my flat pattern. The adjustment on the muslin was made in the front leg, back leg and pocket so that’s where we’re going to adjust the flat pattern….well sort of.

Let’s do the back leg first, but let me warn you that you really need to read through this entire process before beginning to make any adjustments. Ok? Ok. In a normal pattern, you know with printed tissue and such, you would most likely have the adjustment lines already printed on the tissue. But we’re working with a Burda pattern so we’ll need to make our own. In approximately the middle of the crotch depth of the back leg, draw a perpendicular line to the grainline. I find those triangular rulers the best for this. After the line has been drawn, now you are either going to fold in the excess or slash and spread to give you more. Since this crotch depth is too long for me, I’m folding in 1 inch in this area. Taped it down and I’m ready to go.

Let’s move onto the front. Burda #127 is a trouser with classic slant pockets. (If you are working with a pattern that does not have slash pockets, you can make the same adjustment you did for the back for the front piece) This makes the front adjustment tricky. If I was to take out the full 1 inch in the same area I took out of the back, then the pocket would be seriously affected and I wouldn’t be able to get my hand in the pocket in the finished version. If it were the other way around, say the crotch depth was too short, then putting that full inch in the pocket wouldn’t be as big of a deal, still you’ll have one big pocket on each side. So I had to break it up. For those of you who have 1 – 3 inches excess or shortage in the crotch depth, you’ll have to do the same. For those of you who have less than 1 inch in excess or shortage, you only need to adjust the area below the pocket. As with the back, make a perpendicular line fron the grainline in the middle of the pocket area on both the pocket, pocket lining and front leg. Make a second line on the front leg below where the pocket ends. Now fold or slash and spread. You can take up to 3/4 inch out of the pocket area, the rest below the pocket. You’ll need to true the lines now. And believe me, you will need a french curve now if you ever did. When you are dealing with the below pocket front leg trueing, fiddle with the french curve until the right amount of curve is matching up the inseam and the area that you tucked in or slashed out.

Now I know what you are going to say next. But what if I need to take more than 3 inches out or put into the crotch depth. Well….after 3 inches it’s time to start fiddling with the waistband. I mean there is only so much you can give or take from the depth before it starts looking kind of weird. You can take out or put in a good chunk in the waistband. A good inch or inch and a half, I’d say. To do that, you’ll do the same thing here. Fold or slash and spread the excess in the middle of the waistband back or front.

OK, this post is getting way way way long. Before I bore you to tears and before you forget, go try on your muslin and see if this an adjustment you need. This is the longest adjustment to explain, so don’t worry if you think every post this week will take this long. It won’t. Tomorrow I’ll be going over the crotch length. These are the two most important aspects of pant adjusting, so don’t hesitate to jot down notes, try things out, you know, the usual fitting process. And I’m here if you need me. Promise. Don’t hesitate to dial in my email or leave a comment and I’ll answer it in the comments.

Tomorrow we’re onto Crotch Length.


13 thoughts on “In which I finally talk about the word…..

  1. Another way to adjust crotch depth is to adjust the pattern before making the muslin. This can be done by sitting on a flat hard surface and measuring from waist to the sitting surface in a straight line (not around the curve of the hip; not right up against the skin, but as a straight drop). This is the measurement for the length from the waistline to the bottom of the crotch. Compare to the pattern and then fold or slash as necessary on both the front and back.
    Of course, you may still need to adjust the muslin; although using this method I don’t recall needing to do so.
    I don’t remember where I learned this, but it must be “old school”.

  2. Thanks for the helpful info! I think this might be what’s going on with my muslin. It looks frumpy and dowdy compared to the sleek shape of the picture on my pattern (I’m using V1051). I’ll just have to play with the crotch fit, then work on the rest from there.

  3. This is great information. I wanted to participate in the sew along but I have too much going on right now. I’m definitely going to refer back to this when I get ready to make my trousers.

  4. Aha! This info is so great! I’m not following the sew along but I have been really struggling with fitting pants. My goal for the new year is to make a pair of well fitting pants.
    I know crotch depth and length is a huge part of my fitting problem, and I even have Pants for Everybody and Fit for Real People, but still haven’t been able to figure it out. Seeing your pictures and diagrams is hugely helpful and gives me some hope I can figure this out!

  5. Aha!! Now I know that is why I have issues with my ski pants:) BTW, although I’m on travel – I’ve cut my pattern and musling and am sewing (by hand)) tonight. . . I will eventually (hopefully) catch up. . .

  6. OK, I’m glad you use the word! Salespeople get a funny look when I say “hmmmm, they’re a bit tight in the crotch” in response to their query “how do the pants fit?”. It’s not a dirty word, right?!

  7. When I look at your photos I don’t see that those pants are too high on the waist. You say they should 11/4″ above the waist and they are certainly not that. If anything, they look 2″ below! Are you sure the crotch length wouldn’t be right if the waits was in the right place? I agree with Mrs Gibberish-name (scary things happen if you click on her name – be warned!) above about checking the crotch length with the flat pattern. It always works for me too.

  8. Hi Hatty,
    I do agree with you. I was more or less trying to illustrate a point with the photos and that’s how to go about fixing this problem if you have it. My biggest problem here is that even when the trousers are pulled up to the proper waistline, there is still tugging at the crotch when I walk. And unfortunately as these were so large, especially in the hip, they kept falling down. When I made up my second muslin though, a size smaller with the crotch depth being shorter too, the pants again do not go that high. I am still debating whether or not to have it be so high because I found the pants more flattering with the waistline a little below my waist rather than above.
    My biggest thing with pants is that not only do you have to go by look and measurements, you have to go by feel. Even more so than other garments, in my opinion. The second muslin, with the shorter crotch length definitely felt better in this area, but a little worse in others. Fixing, fixing. The age old story with pants.

  9. I’m very glad it’s helpful! Even when I read sewing books sometimes it doesn’t really sink in until I go to actually make something. And even then sometimes, I have to sit and brood for a little while before I get the hang of it or figure out what the problem is.
    Well fitting pants are also a goal for me this year. I will have them!

  10. It couldn’t be! I mean all pants patterns have that word in them. I can definitely think of many more inappropriate words to use too. Though I don’t love the sound of the word, it’s definitely better than any of the alternatives.

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