January 12, 2011

the Knee & the Hem

Burda #127 is a Tall-sized pattern. If you are average, petite or just plain short, you know that by now. And you are probably just a little on the frustrated side with the length of the pant legs at this point. In fact I dare say that many of you just want to cut them off, if you haven't already. And I've had a few comments as to why I've left this alteration until now. I figured that since this was most likely to be an issue with most of us and since most of us would end up having to fix the crotch depth and that plays a part in the pant leg length, I would wait to alter this thereby only having to do the alteration once rather than twice, maybe even 3 times. And also because Burda doesn't give us the alteration lines like other commercial patterns do. Phew.....

Unfortunately, I also have to say that even though this alteration is fairly easy, it's not quite as easy as cutting off the bottom of the pant leg. That being said, when you are dealing with a straight legged pant, no contouring in the leg of any kind, then you can go ahead and chop off the bottom without any hesitation. Ok? Ok.

For Burda #127, though the bottom portion of the leg below the knee is straight, there is some contouring toward the knee from the hip. And if you are rather petite in the leg, having the knee in the middle of your calf might look strange. So let's fix it. Try on your trouser muslin and have your sweetie-pie or a very good friend mark where your knee hits.

Take off your muslin and let's figure out where the knee hits on the pattern. Have a look at the front leg. For Burda #127, finding where the knee hits is actually rather simple as they've put a slash or that tick of a mark they use for notches, right where the knee hits. If you are not using Burda #127, and you are using a commercial pattern, you should see two places on the leg where you can alter the pattern. There should also be a line or marking as to where the knee hits.  Now, take your front leg paper pattern and lay it on top of your muslin matching the hem of the paper with the hem of your muslin and take a marker and transfer the mark for the knee to the muslin. Mark your paper pattern with the mark of where your knee actually hits. Now take your paper pattern and measure the distance between the two marks. This is the amount we have to alter the pattern above the knee. Mine was 2 inches.

Go about altering your paper pattern now. In the middle of the hip and knee length is where you are going to do this alteration. And as for the other alterations we've done, we'll do the same here. Make a perpendicular line to the grainline across the middle of the thigh area.  You will either slash and spread to lengthen or fold the pattern to shorten. Then true up the side seams. Now you'll do the same for the back.

I also altered my muslin. Now if your pant leg is too short, then this won't work. You might have to make a new muslin. I folded the excess up (just like in the crotch depth) and stitched it in place all the way around my leg. Now I can get a better idea on the hem.

For the hem, this pattern calls for a cuff. If you don't want a cuff, try on your altered muslin, slip on the shoes you'll be wearing with your trousers and mark your hem. I like good 3 inch hems. They add weight to a garment and for this type of a garment that's good. If you are opting for cuffs, you need to determine how big you want your cuff and then you will need 3 inches beyond that. I want a 2 1/2 inch cuff and that means that I need 5 1/2 inches beyond my hem. Make sense? Put your altered muslin back on with the shoes that you'll be wearing with your trousers and mark your hem. Take off your muslin and mark the desired cuff (the cuff mark) and then the 3 inches beyond that mark and cut off the excess.

Hem your muslin. For a cuff, press under 1/2 inch at the hem. Now turn up the hem to the cuff mark and stitch in place. For a muslin, I did a quick and dirty basting stitch, but this will be different for your final trousers. Now turn up the cuff to your hem and press in place. Try on the muslin with your shoes and see if, indeed, it is the right length. You might need to fiddle with it a bit.

Alright, the big three alterations are out of the way. How are you all doing? There are still several more alterations to go. I'll be back tomorrow talking about width.




  1. Look forward to see your post on other alterations. I'm wrecking my head over potential bagginess in back leg (due to thin tights). I'm not even sure I need it, lol. Great posts so far, thank you so much!

  2. Great information, thank you so much.

  3. I've just added my 5th Muslin to the flicker group, getting there but still excess fabric in the back leg.

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