Obsession, Observation and Clovers

I’ve been wearing my less-than-perfectly fitted Clovers all weekend, thinking that if I forced myself to wear them, I’d have a Eureka moment about why I hate them so badly.  I don’t wear skinnies, it never occurred to me before.  I started working with Clovers in response to questions from Pants Block clients.  Of course I’d self-experiment to find the answers.

When we were out and about at a big huge shopping mall yesterday, the scales fell from my eyes.  All but 3 (I counted) women I saw between the ages of 15 and 45 wearing pants were wearing Clover-like garments on their lower halves.  Older women wore regular trousers.  Is that normal?  (I’m counting leggings-as-pants in the same category as “skinnies.”)

When did this happen?   I certainly have a tendency to dwell in la-la land, but how did I miss this?  A google search turned up plenty of articles with words like “wardrobe staple,” discussions about comfort and versatility, etc.  Sure.  Reading that, I felt just like I did in highschool when everyone I knew swore up and down that thongs were the most comfortable underwear ever invented and I kept thinking “You’re all a pack of dirty liars.”

At any rate, it doesn’t matter whether I like them or not.  It matters if I can fit them- it’s a puzzle to unlock.  Skinny-leg pants fit closely to the body down the entire length of the leg.  They pose a greater fitting challenge than anything else worn below the waist.

I spent some time today researching other Clovers and checking out how they fit everyone else in the blogosphere.  On the way, I found a super-incredible-awesome-beautiful series of tutorials from Sallieoh called “Fun with Clovers.”  Wow.  I mean, wow– she does gorgeous work.  You could use the tips on pretty much any pants.

While I was reading, I ran my hands along the side seam down my thigh.  I could see and feel that my Clovers had too much fabric in the back thigh still, and I noticed the seam allowance was twisting forward.  Eureka achieved!  I grabbed a piece of chalk and stood in front of a mirror to mark where the side seam should be- perpendicular to the floor, and through my thigh area nearly an inch towards the back. (The top of the side seam was perfectly fine.  Go figure.)

I mentioned before that it’s important to balance the seams on pants- if you take out from the inseam, you must take out roughly the same amount from the side seam.  I hoped to get away with not doing it because I’d rather not unpick a zipper if I can avoid it.  Nope, it was unavoidable.  I ripped the un-zippered side seam from mid-hip through the lower knee.

Then aligned the front seamline (which was really obvious after two days of wear) with the chalk line I drew.  Pinned, basted.  I tried them on, then stitched in place.

I still had some funny business going on, so remembering MrsC’s recommendation that I “hoik up the side seam,” I did just that.  I ripped out the waistband and “hoiked” it about 1/2″ at the side seams, tapering to nothing at the CB.

The left side is the one I fixed up, the right side has the zipper and I will get to it shortly.  I still have a little wrinkle under my backside, but I won’t worry about it.  I think everyone gets that– at least it seems like it from the other Clovers I’ve seen…  I have to wonder if it will go away once I sort out the other side, I can feel the difference in the two legs when I move.  The drag lines are gone from the back knee area, you can see the ghosts of them but irl and not on crappy nighttime photos, they’re gone.  You’ll see when I do the FO post..

The leg on the right has been fixed up.  It feels better.  The other leg feels weird.  Also, for the first time in my life I feel hippy.

Not fixed side seam.

Fixed side seam.

I tried to keep track of my alterations and “nudges” on the pattern piece as I sewed, but in the interests of science I’ll also take a tracing of my finished pants so I can reverse engineer the process of whittling a regular Pants Block down for stretch.  Which I’ll document, of course.  I also want to show my pattern work and compare it to the “fish eye dart” method.  Turns out they yield the same results.

Also, I have a new numbers project.  Can you help?  I have some crazy ratio ideas about waist and hip measurements, and I’m also working out a sizing chart for below-the-belt patterns.  If you don’t mind anonymously contributing your measurements to my project, click here.  Thank you!  I’ll write a post about my findings once I hit 300, I’d love to have as large a sample as possible.

What do you think?  You know what else, none of the slim cut pants I saw while I was out the other day had pocket flaps.  Did I do something super-weird by putting them on mine?  They’ll have buttons and be cute, I promise!


  1. I have yet to fall for the skinny pants. I tried on a pair once and I nearly ran screaming from the dressing room. I’m okay with close-fitting, but only if they’re cropped. Don’t know why. But I’m interested to see your final results! (I can’t say that I love g-strings either. ;) )

  2. I’ve had a pair of Clover pants on my sewing queue for some time, so I’m advidly following your fitting posts Steph. I’ve been a bit timid about getting started on them primarily due to fitting anxiety — thank you very much for tackling the fitting of these pants :D. I did recently sew up a couple pair of the Iris shorts and, much to my utter astonishment, they fit like a dream in spite of zero alterations. Dare I harbor such hopes for Clover? I’d love for the fit to be slimly skimming rather than snug, but am skeptical that I’ll pull that off.

    • Are Iris stretch? I’d be curious to lay the clover crotch seams over top of the Iris one and see what it looks like… I’m going to hazard a guess that they’re different but I haven’t played with them so I don’t know…

      Mine aren’t snug… In fact, most of the crotch work I did made them slightly less snug.. Which is cool…. We’ll see! I still have several posts in the queue for these pants…

  3. I don’t mind skinny so long as they aren’t too tight in the calf. I think it just makes my thighs look bigger if it’s really tight at the ankle. I wouldn’t bother with pocket additions because skinnies on me need a loose top (on me). I would not show that part of the pant intentionally so I wouldn’t worry about it.

    • I think the calf tightness is what I hate… And seriously, I never noticed how much wider my hips are than my knees… I’ve been more sedentary lately, sure, but… ;)

  4. Ooh, good to know! I took out about the same from my inner and outer seams when I used my block to adjust my pattern. The fit on mine is good, but they feel too big when I wear them. I think I see what I need to do – mostly just make them a little smaller from the hip through the leg, all the way around. The seams don’t twist or anything, so at least my pants are balanced. :) Mine won’t be nearly as slim fitting as yours, though, as my fabric is quite a bit thinner than cord!

  5. I’m not a skinny pants person because I already know my exaggerated hip:waist:leg ratio and really don’t feel the need to advertise it because everybody thinks it’s trendy. I’ve not seen super skinny pants in any of the haute couture shows, which is the style of dress I personally would love to emulate on a daily basis. Perhaps there’s a good reason for couture houses steering away from stretchy skinny pants? I’m not comfortable psychologically with skinny trousers on myself. That said, the changes on your clovers look really good so far. I’m following this thread and every little tweak with a lot of interest. Thanks, Steph!

  6. You see why I think you are so cool?! I have some thought that is not even articulable in proper english, but you clever and wonderful Steph, can explain it, demystify it and generally cause it to be valable to many. As for the fashion for fitting trousers, it will pass. I’m with you on preferring the Kath Hep look, although I wear both styles – fitting for jeans mostly. Although always with a super long top!

    • Aw shucks… ;)

      I dunno… Most website fashionistas seem to think the skinnies are here to stay forever and ever and ever… Surely dozens of web fashion bloggers can’t be wrong.. ;)

      I’ll look at sending you a sketch of what I’m calling in my head “antidote” trousers… I can’t decide whether to go for a circular cut found in one of my vintage drafting manuals or go for a Riviera cut, found on a 30’s beach pajama pattern in my possession.. I think you might approve of them…

  7. I’ve made three pairs of Clovers and each one was like starting from the beginning as I learned that the fabric determines the fit, not the pattern. I know you are “researching” the fitting issues but at what point do you stop, take stock and say it’s really not worth it? I only wear mine with long baggy shirts and tunics, so in actual fact they are only visible from mid thigh but still I do the crotch fitting and the back centre seam and everything you are working through now. The really important thing I’d like to know is what shoes are you wearing with yours?

    • Yes- that’s an important point. Fabric and its thickness and stretch factor does mean a slightly different fit each time… I’m aiming for a reliable way to whittle down the block for medium moderate stretch fabric… And the sewist will undoubtedly need to fine-tune it.

      Basically, I’m looking at a way to find the right neighborhood in a new city, it’s up to the individual sewist to find the right house.

      There were a couple of times where I thought “This isn’t worth it, just stop it” but I sort of put myself out there and besides, I want to be able to field questions about this cut easily and well… I’ll probably wear these with peplums or longer shirts, but then I wonder what’s the point? Little skirties with legs sticking out? How weird. (though I’d defend to the death anyone’s right to dress that way. Just not my cup of tea…) Reminds me of medieval menswear. Jerkins and Hose.

      Shoes… I’m kind of limited at the moment, my shoes are all giving up the ghost at the same time.. I’ll probably wear my Chucks from university days or some black and white flats. Or maybe low black kitten heels… That’s just about all I have! :)

  8. May I just say Holy Cow! I would have given up a while ago. I like the look of the skinny pants on everyone else. I no longer have the body to pull them off. In the past my skinny pants were a woven fabric and not quite so fitted. They were comfortable. But now I prefer a straight leg trouser style. If they are cut with a slim profile I feel they are more flattering for me. Bravo to you for working for this and sharing.

    • Thanks.. :) For the past few days I think I’ve been kind of a zombie, constantly fiddling with these and mumbling about ease preferences when someone tries to make conversation with me…

      I like straight legs, too… I *really* like big big big palazzo pants… The fit through the hips has to be *just so* and I like the flare to have a certain shape and hang, but those are my favorite to wear… ;)

  9. You know, after making a pair of Clovers (and I wish mine were as well fitted as yours) I’m definitely thinking I prefer non-skinny pants too. I like my Clovers, but I like non-skinny pants more. Thanks for sharing the revelations :)

    • Yeah no problem.

      What is it you don’t like? Did you suddenly discover latent hippi-ness like me? ;) Or is it that they’re kind of a bastard to fit? Or something else? I’m curious.

  10. I’ve always preferred a skinny straight leg, but I think they’re getting a little too skinny for me now. Why not just wear leggings if you want them that fitted? Maybe that’s just a sign that I’m getting old! I’m curious to see how this project goes and I’ve contribued my measurements to the hip/waist ratio survey.

    • I know, right?! But the fabric is thicker… That makes a difference, right? If you’re old, I am too… Sometimes I think I have the soul of a crochety 70-year old. Who wears big hats and gardens and perhaps keeps goats.

      Thank you for contributing! I woke up this morning to 78 contributions, and they’re rolling in regularly. Very very interesting. :)

  11. Wow, the changes you’ve made look really good. Isn’t it interesting, sometimes something looks fine until you fix it, and then you realse that ‘fine’ wasn’t anywhere near as good as you thought!

    Oh and I’m giggling at your comment about g-strings (sorry, can’t call them thongs, thongs go on your feet!).

    • Yes- exactly so. And wearing them for two days showed me I still had a mess of under-butt wrinkles to get rid of.

      Hehehe. I’m glad that comment made you laugh.. That was the intention. :)

  12. Thong underwear- only suitable for people built like Kylie Minogue. (and I doubt they’re comfortable for her)
    Most of the skinny pants I see on people around here look as if they’ve been spray-painted onto the wearer. Camel-toe and plumber’s cleavage are not attractive on anyone. I have no idea why these have become so popular.

  13. When it comes to slim pants the pocket flaps will be covered by a longer looser top look lumpy under a tight fitting longer top be perfect with a short top until you lift you arms up and bare your tummy. In my experience the flatter the pant top the better for more choice of top.

  14. I’d put my black skinnies under the sewing table as I was so frustrated with them. I’m feeling inspired to dig them out again and have another crack. I think they may be the next project I tackle.
    I’ve submitted my numbers. Soooooooo glad this is anonymous! ;-)

  15. I like my skinnies and my wider leg versions so wear each equally often, particularly in winter. I am straight up and down with very few curves anywhere so my hip:waist:leg ratio makes fitting RTW skinnies relatively easy thus far. Actually, thinking about it, my skinnies are my daily/casual wear and skirts/wide leggers are for everything else, less casual etc. Interesting.

    I am certainly following these posts and comments with great interest ….

  16. Pingback: Fisheye Dart = Changing Seamlines for Stretch Pants Fitting « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  17. Pingback: Finished Object: Teal Clovers « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  18. I love following your adventures in fitting. I have this pattern and when I do get to fitting them it will probably be one big science experiment. I think the issue for me is about fabric–I have a few different stretch wovens about the same weight but one stretches a lot vertically, one stretches like 20% more than the others… all these little things that I know will change the fit. Hmm, so maybe I just make a muslin out of the actual fabric I want them in! When really narrow/stretch skinny trousers were starting to become popular about 8 years ago, there was a cut that went somewhat straight from knee to ankle, so it slightly opened around the ankle. Most of the cuts now sandwich the knee to ankle, and I find that this doesn’t flatter me proportionally. I look like a sphere.

  19. I hope you don’t mind a belated and thoroughly dense question. MrsC’s suggestion that you “hoik up the side seam” – what did you hoik up? Sorry I have been staring at the the words and pics and can’t wrap my mind around it.

    Too much coffee probably.

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