Fixing My Pink Wrinkly Bottom

My #1 Consulting Dressmaker/ Pants Block Alterations request (once we sort out the woven issues) is for altering skinny stretch pants/trousers/jeans.

The pants block works fine for wovens, and I’m happy to work with Blockers on their stretch pants to smooth out the wrinkles.  I can read wrinkles and figure out what should be done.  This wovens-to-skinny-stretch phenomenon was unforeseen when I started making blocks for the internets, and I haven’t done much of it for myself.  It’s just not a style I usually wear.

But I’m game.  And intrigued by the puzzle of making a pattern “just so” for moderate stretch wovens, which is the commonest material for such a cut.  Since it’s chilly weather time and also because I’m fielding more and more of these requests, I’m making a series of skinny stretch pants for myself.  I want to *nail* those other pants on the far side of the planet that I’m helping with, as painlessly as possible.  Starting with the Pinky pants I’ll test my ideas to help me refine the fitting advice I give.  I never give advice I wouldn’t take myself, so that means I experiment quite a bit.  This is the first skinny-stretch experiment.

The photos are *horrible* photobooth snaps of my backside, but they work quite well for documenting the fitting process and showing me what needs to be done.   As I mentioned before, I’m working with a medium-heavy weight no-wale cotton corduroy with moderate stretch.  Normal stuff.

Picture #1.  It’s better to have too much fabric than too little.  I didn’t do anything to the wovens block, I just drafted the pants style and basted it all together.  Yuck.  And it’s backlit.  Yuck.

#2 Pin out the side seams as necessary for a smooth torso.

#3 Sewed about 1.5″ of ease out of the side seams- now at zero ease through the hips. Tempted to stop here, pants plenty comfortable and keep out the breeze.  Know the blog readers will never stand for that kind of wrinkly pink backside.  Decide to pin out ease through entire leg. (Thank you, you all push me to doing better work than I’d do left to my own devices!)

#4  Front of pants ok throughout process.  No problems.  Questionable pockets basted on for easy removal if necessary.  Decide to go to bed wearing my pants, in case I dream about them or have a middle-of-the-night epiphany.  (Sometimes I dream about pattern pieces, perfect ones falling from the sky around me like massive snowflakes.  Then I pluck a few out and they’re the right shapes for what I’m working on in the awake world.)

#5 Did not dream about pants or have an epiphany, in fact I slept like a dead person.  Pants extra wrinkled from being slept in (akin to all-day wear, I am a very active sleeper). Two cups of coffee and I’m ready to try again.

#6 Lowered back crotch further and reduced top of inseam considerably, blending through to mid-thigh.  Not good enough.

#7- Dug into the back crotch seam a little further.  Still looks like a wedgie, but feels comfortable.

#8- Ripped out most of the inseam through the thigh to the knee, stretched the back inseam slightly with steam and heat, and re-stitched reducing the top of the back inseam.  WHY CAN’T I GET RID OF THOSE LAST WRINKLES?

#9- I can live with this.  I ripped the entire inseam. (That’s the last seam I sew on pants, because it’s often the seam that needs monkeying with the most, men’s pants tailoring rules be damned.)  Then I got all kinds of “not cricket” and raised the back inseam 1/2″ at the hem.  I pinned it flat to the front inseam to about 8″ above the knee.  Then I wet the back inseam only and stretched the heck out of it and pressed it dry with the iron.  I sewed it and everything worked together happily.  When I put it back on, some of the ironed-in stretch sprang back into place and allowed these happy tiny wrinkles to show up.  I stopped.  There’s only so much you can play around with a garment that’s already been cut.

I’m pretty happy to wear these out in public now without fear that others may point and laugh.  I had a major brain breakthrough about how to cut and sew pants like this without going through several alterations.  As soon as I get back to Brisbane and my own sewing room I’ll try it on another length of this fabric I’ve been hanging onto.  It’s khaki colored, very useful.  I may even go ahead and play with the nap shading, too.

It’s important to note these are *not* tight.  Not in the slightest.  The pants go on easily, I don’t have to suck in or lay across the bed to zip them and the fly lies flat on the front.

Coming soon- the big reveal.  And also, I have *not* forgotten April’s Hack.  You’ll be seeing her very soon, including the mess I made by using inappropriate jersey.   My English buddy Enid christened it the “Saggy Fanny” top and it’s too funny not to share.


  1. Tenacity paid off – looking good from the back and honestly, a few wrinkles just shows that you’re not 2D – don’t worry about it. I think to remove the wrinkles completely needs a recut of the backs, pinching out the 2 or 3 cms at the butt and adding them back in at the hems.

    • That’s what I figure. :)

      I’m running some other tests on the “reverse ease” idea and will be sure to report back with something interesting.

  2. I dream about my crafting too, it’s like I have a conversation with myself on how to approach a garment. Love the pink cords, very you! X

  3. Lovely Steph, thanks so much for the photos. I’m in the process of pinning my pants and am blindly determined to get them right.

  4. Wow! I’m so impressed with your tenacity. You got there in the end and you have a great result.

    • Thanks Carol. …lots of seam ripping, which was kind of fun because the fabric is tough enough that I can literally rip out the basting in the entire inseam by pulling it apart once I unpick a few stitches…

  5. I wish I dreamed sewing solutions. I dream about vampire alien fairies that live underwater, or construction vehicles that are also zombies and are taking over the world.

    You said theyre not tight, is that just because theyre slightly stretchy? Or would they be skni-skimming regardless of the fabric?

    Also, I’m having a great deal of trouble not laughing hysterically over ‘saggy fanny’.

    • construction vehicles that are actually zombies taking over the world? I love that. So do they turn us into a race of zombie slaves, and then the steamroller takes over as supreme leader?

      Well- I think between my waist and my knees, it’s technically zero ease if I were to measure the pattern pieces. The stretch is what allows me to move, but in a woven I’d need extra cms or inches of ease so I could climb fences and talk and laugh.

      But if a stretch fabric is cut with zero or even negative ease but the contours of the pattern match the body of the wearer. That’s the idea, anyway. You can fudge a good fit with some stretchy fabrics, but not so much with stretchy wovens… Make sense?

      • I think that makes sense.. the skin skimmingness is dependant on stretch, because without it, they’d fit but you wouldn’t be able to move, just stand around wowing people with your awesome pants?

        As for the zombies, I don’t know. I woke up in a cold sweat as they were hearding people onto a bridge that somehow looped back on itself and therefor had no escape, then started giggling because once awake, the whole idea was hillarious.

  6. I cannot believe that we are both working on the same challenge at the moment. I am making a pair of black trousers in stretch wool and cannot tell you how many times I’ve wiggled those seams! I’m not brave enough to share my wrinkly bottom with the world but I think I’m nearly there. I’m hoping to finish this week and share. But too spooky!

  7. I’m with Ruth, your back length from waist to knees is too long. You need a friend who will pin out the excess (aka fish eye dart) from inseam to outer seam and then transfer that to paper. Quit trying to remove it by taking in the vertical seams, it is a horizontal problem. The good thing is you have real cheeks, if you had a flat butt things would look very wrinkly! Love the photos and you persistance!

    • Ooh thanks. ;) Nothing wrong with having a little cheekiness….

      I might try that if my next idea (that I have to do on the pattern) doesn’t pan out. I did a fair amount of the same shaping (but coming from another direction)… Interesting! Thank you.

      • Kenneth King does the same alteration in his Pants DVD. It is like knowing what your crotch depth is front and back…once you know it works, you use it on most pants.

      • I think a “woven” crotch depth is higher than a “stretch.” I think it’s probably a consistent difference, but I don’t think crotch depth is necessarily a fixed measurement…

  8. Well done, am very interested in this as although I´m a big girl I have a flat derriere and have often wondered if I dared try and sort out my wrinkly bottom!

  9. That comment above about it being a horizontal problem- not vertical- is veeeerrrry interesting. When I was working on my stretch pants from hell I kept adjusting the side seams, never getting rid of wrinkles. I’m excited to see what you come up with. Also, hopefully your blog title doesn’t sent too many pervs your way ;)

  10. This is a lot like my last close fitting jeans fitting experience, except I was way too lazy to take photos. You know what I am starting to think? Some of the fit problems have to do with where and how your legs extend from the pelvis. For example, I have wide hips and average legs so the center of my leg should be farther from the center back than a regular pattern might allow for. And I don’t know how to get rid of those back of the leg wrinkles if you have a rounded rear. Just think, we wouldn’t expect the section of a shirt under a full bust to be skin tight unless there were darts there.

    Anyway, I ‘m waiting to hear what you did to the inseam!

    • Ah well, I can turn on my webcam and it just takes them, and it means I can tell if an alteration is working for me or not…

      Interesting you mention a full bust… You can get smoothness (again with almost no wrinkles) from cutting a tee tight and with the right shaped side seam… But I know what you mean…

      I steamed the seam longer. I might write a post just on that, I had an epiphany as I was staring at version #10 of my pants… But I don’t want to put it out there just yet, I want to test…

    • (I believe you are correct. shh. All it does for me is make a dart. It doesn’t change the length of my seams because my seams are fine. This is a case of managing expectations/manipulating the fabric soundly.. I believe.)

    • I basted them on… Sometimes when I make a “new” design or I’m working with a new technique or fabric I wear the garment nearly non-stop for a few days so it can “settle in” and I have the chance to notice what I do and do not like about it… I’m still deciding about the pockets… If I like them, I’ll stitch them down… If I don’t, I’ll pull the basting out.

  11. I’m excited to see where you go with this! The fabric I’m using is ridiculously stretchy, and I chose to “split the difference” between my trouser block and the pants pattern. I need to take them in more, though, so I need to undo the side seams and take out all the difference! They’re looking decent, but not spectacular. I definitely didn’t think through the front yoke/pockets. It hits at a very unflattering spot. Oh, and they’re too short! Oops.

    • I’ve done that with pockets. Heh, I think I did that this time with pockets… ;)

      Splitting the difference usually works ok, but if you want me to run my eyeballs over your wrinkles, I’m more than happy to…. You’d be helping me sort out the best way to explain this issue, really. Doing *me* a favor… ;)

  12. I think you were wearable by #8, but by the end you have them looking really good! I’m fascinated by your stretching-and-steaming of the rear inseam. I have always assumed a certain amount of under-butt wrinklage was necessary for the whole sitting thing to work, not to mention being a bit perplexed about how to “fix” it. Not that those few little wrinkles are bothersome anyway.

  13. Holy cow, you are far FAR more patient than I when it comes to tweaking the fit. You know this just scares me from pants even more. (Scares the pants off me?) I like skirts this summer! Maybe in the fall I’ll try pants again. And refer to you for help, because Woah Mama you can work out a good fit!

  14. Wow, you got so close if not all the way. What a cool weekend project! If I’m totally obsessing on one pattern, I dream shapes, too–and they also float in the sky, like spatial logic. Can’t wait to hear your inseam thoughts!

  15. Pingback: Finished Object: Pinkie Pants; Or- “Crack Is Whack” « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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