January 11, 2011

Discussing, at length, Crotch Length

Can I just say, I'll be getting so many spam comments from talking about crotch this and that. I'm really in for it. Really really in for it. Oh the things we talk about when we sew. ha ha ha....

Today we're going to talk about Crotch Length. This is the area that goes from your front waistline down through the crotch and up to your back waistline. The crotch length and the crotch depth interact with each other very closely. In fact, so much so that they create sort of a balancing act between the two. Both the crotch depth and the crotch length juggle being able to walk, sit, dance, breathe, you know live in a pair of pants. If one is of these areas are off, you'll feel and see it or maybe you have felt and seen it and you just didn't know what to do about it.

So what does a crotch length problem look like? Well let's take a look at the second muslin I made. This muslin has my crotch depth adjustment and I actually took it down one size because I was swimming just a little in my first muslin. But look what happened as a result of fixing the crotch depth: I now have some smiling in the ummmm...upper thigh. See that strange bunching action? What about the back? The break beneath the seat is the biggest indication that you need more width in the back inseam. There should not be a break beneath your seat like that, it should be straight all the way down in the back.

Any guesses as to what to do about it? Gosh it would be quite fun to be a real life teacher and actually have people raise their hands with enthusiasm and gusto. I can just feel you getting jittery about how to fix this problem, knowing that it will finally change your life and outlook on pants forever. Cue thunder clouds parting and ray of brilliant sunshine being let through:

Image from Pants for Real People with added highlight
posted with permission from Pati Palmer

If you guessed that we have to add a little width to the inseam, you were absolutely RIGHT! Yay! If you are not quite following me, here's what I mean. Remember what I said about the 5/8" seam allowance in the crotch and how we don't really touch that but we have to look and fix everything else? This is a a prime example. The crotch is being affected by the fact that there is not enough width in my inseam or the fact that I have some thick thighs. To fix this on the muslin, I must let out my inseam down from the crotch. I won't need too much, but boy am I glad I have those 1 inch seam allowances in the inseam. Aren't you? Now there is the distinct possibility that you will need more than just 1" to fiddle with. If that is the case, it's time for a 2nd muslin for you. I know its the pits, but you'll be so much happier if this is fixed and perfect. Promise.

Let's go to our flat pattern now. We have to make an adjustment to that as well. It's simply not enough that we are perfectionists. After you've fiddled with your inseam and you know how much you'll have to let out (and this you know exactly because you've threadmarked your muslin and just have to measure from your threadmark to your seam allowance) then you need to transfer how much you need and true up the seam allowance. Does this make sense?

Now, what if this was the other way around? I mean what if you needed to take in the crotch length? What does that problem look like? Well, let's go back to my first muslin and I'll show you. See the poofing in the upper thigh coming right out of the crotch? Yup that's it, right there. What about the big bagginess in the back coming right out of the crotch? This is something that you will feel too. These trousers are quite large on me, and I want to make clear that I'm not talking about the bagginess in the leg, this is in the crotch. Trousers should be comfortable but not as roomy as pajamas. In this case, you would do the opposite of what I just explained. Instead of letting out the inseam, your going to take it in. Clear as a mud?

OK, let's talk about the crotch length and the crotch depth together now. These two problems/alterations work together. So it is very possible that if you fiddled with the crotch depth you will have to fiddle with the crotch length and vice versa. Like I said before, this is a balancing act. Please keep in mind as well, that sometimes one side of your body, like the front looks great and the back is having a problem. In this case you're only going to meddle with the back inseam width. Make sense? It might take a few meddles here and there to get them where they both need to be to work together in a beautiful harmonious way.

OK, Ladies. Tomorrow we'll be talking about lengthening or shortening the pant leg. I know some of you have been itching for more info about that, so let's get that out of the way before I talk about some oddities that you might have. Also, just as a note, I am planning to use/help some of you who have published your muslin photos to the flickr pool as examples of how to fix certain problems. Hopefully its OK with everyone if I publish posts about that. It's just to help you and to help others see that there are different bodies than just mine out there. Hard to believe, I know.




  1. Thank you for doing this sewalong.. great instructions. While looking at a finished pair of the these trousers over at Burdastyle but Delfinelise, her pants seem a lot slimmer in the leg. She said she took them in 2 cm in the hip area. Why do you think they look so much slimmer in the area from the knee up? I hope to make these at a later date and appreciate all your effort. E

  2. It really seems like the two terms - crotch length and depth - should be reversed, doesn't it?

  3. Possibly. Maybe even different terms altogther. Different areas of the body come to mind whenever I think of these terms now and really you don't actually fix the crotch seam in either. The depth, I feel is your vertical adjustment whereas the length is the horizontal. Make sense? It would totally be better if we called these the "vertical crotch" and the "horizontal crotch." But the powers that be have named the terms. Sigh...

  4. While I'm not sewing along at the moment, I find your sewalong wonderfully informative. I'm sure to refer to it whenever I get around to sewing pants. Thank you for the work you're putting into this!

  5. I'm not doing the sew along - I just stumbled upon you through Gertie's blog. But the two posts you did on the crotch area make so much sense. I have a potbelly so I definatley need adjustments in this area to compensate and I understand them now so much better. Thank you!

  6. Oh wow--this is so helpful! I am definitely linking to it in this week's links roundup; I think it's super helpful for anyone making pants of any sort. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!
    ♥ Casey | blog

  7. Sunni, thank you for the great posts and yes the term is confusing but it is even set out that way in the Simplicity Pattern I am using and it is the actual Crotch Curve measurement that you pick your pattern size on. I am also happy for you to use any of my flicker photos.

  8. I finally took pictures of my muslin and added them to the flickr group. When I first tried on the muslin, I thought it was just about perfect and was mad about having taken the time to make it. Now that I've had it for a week (and worn it around the house for way too long) I keep finding more and more small problems. I'm certainly glad to be have done the muslin now, instead of trying to hack it all together in the final fabric!

  9. Absolutely fantastic posts on the crotch zone! This is totally the answer to all the problems with finding perfect pants. I am going away to scrutinise my muslin now.

  10. Great info thanks Sunni, think I'm slowly figuring this out. Was anyone else silly enough to try on the muslin with crotch adjustments pinned??? A once only experience.

  11. Wow! This certainly looks helpful, exactly why I never attempted sewing pants anymore! Full hips and upper thighs, no tummy and gaping waistband front and back...
    Thanks for posting, will certainly pin and refer to it for my next pants try (it will happen!)

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