How many sewers have difficulty with the fit of pants? The sewing is relatively straightforward; only two fronts, two backs and a waistband or facing. The truth is that pants ARE hard to fit. You’re asking flat fabric to attractively cover a very bumpy section of the body. Jackets have multiple seams and attached sleeves which allow for many more fitting opportunities. One of my favorite resources is Cutter and Tailor.com which offers truly expert advice. It is written for professionals and much of the information is geared to the expert sewer but I thought some of the ironwork techniques weren’t that complicated.
I had made a pair of pants using Style Arc’s Claudia pant. The pant is designed for stretch woven fabric but I used a non-stretch wool and added a little extra to the seams to compensate. I eliminated the seam at center front leg. The pants fit OK but I wanted to see if they could be improved. I had purchased the fabric from B & J’s in NYC and it was not something I was willing to trash. I tend to use better fabrics and am willing to take apart and redo if necessary. Quality materials and natural fibers just behave better and I’m happier with the end result.
Some pattern instructions direct you to stretch the back inner leg seam while joining it to the front and also point out the need to stretch the back crotch seam but the degree of iron shaping necessary for better fit isn’t clear.
There is an extensive article in Cutter and Tailor about shaping the pant sections with the iron and very detailed, clear photos describing exactly how this should be done. Search for “ironwork.” If you Google “pressing” you will get directions on how to press ready-made pants. The author points out:
The correct fit of trousers cannot be achieved by cutting alone, for this must be achieved for the most part through ironwork. Many more errors in trousers have their origins in inadequate ironwork than in the cut. The most important factor in trousers is their width. Different widths demand a different method of working up with the iron, although difference in posture and body habitus also influence this. Even the most perfectly calculated cut could never create well fitting trousers without the proper ironwork.
I eliminated most of the lower leg shaping and concentrated on the hip and seat area. My fabric wasn’t the most pliable but eventually succumbed to stretching, heat and steam. I worked with both back sections placed right sides together at the same time. That way the stretching was equal on both right and left sides.
The pants have a half lining of soft cotton/silk voile and hand under-stitching along the waist facing.
I’m much happier with the fit and will definitely incorporate this technique in future pant construction. My next pair will be from a softer wool which will be easier to shape but even the fit of this tightly woven plaid improved with some extra iron work.
All my resident photographers were unavailable so I resorted to some cell phone mirror shots. The dark fabric doesn’t show too well but it’s pouring rain so no chance of outdoor shots.
While responding to comments I found this info which may be helpful if you are having trouble with basic fitting. Note how many drafts were needed before the pants were even attempted in fabric! Also see how small some changes were and how other fit issues could result from a change.