Today’s Fit on My Body—Vogue 1411 Pants

I took my own challenge to see if Sandra Betzina’s “Today’s Fit” line fit offered advantages for my own aging body.  The results were mixed, but I did learn a lot and got a new (if imperfect), comfortable pair of pants to wear.

First off, let’s reflect on the difficult process of fitting pants.  I have read pattern reviews where the seamstress raves “it fit right out of the envelope.” That has never happened to me.  The process is even more difficult when sewing stretchy knit pants, because all knits are different and it is hard to find appropriate fabric to make muslins (or rough drafts, as I like to call them) without a lot of waste.

Basically, these are pull on stretch pants with an elastic waist designed for double knits and ponte knits.  They have a lot of fancy seaming on the front, but thankfully Betzina provides an unseamed version for test purposes. I made view A, the straight legged style. Vogue patterns were on sale at Joann’s, the only sewing store in my town. It is a great source for thread, notions, and patterns. The fabric supply—well let’s kindly say it’s mixed.  For my first effort I found a stretchy athletic fabric on sale.

I read through all of the instructions before I cut.  Betzina offers a tactic I hadn’t heard of before—add a full three inches to the top of the pattern on the front and back.  I think that must be to accommodate the rising waist line many of us get as we age.

For my first draft, I cut the pants according to the size indicated by my measurements, which matched size D on the pattern—a 32 ½ waist and a 40 ½ hip.  The only change I made, other than her tip to add fabric at the top, was to add half an inch to the front side leg starting at the crotch and tapering to the bottom to accommodate my wide thighs.  And yikes! Even though my fabric had more stretch than required, the pants were so tight through the belly that I could barely breathe.  What went wrong? I think that the fault was more mine than Betzina’s.  I still have a waist, but I also have a pot belly beneath it (sigh), so the waist measurement alone isn’t a very accurate guide to fit.  Also, these are designed to be tight fitting, and I don’t like tight clothes.

On to version two.  This time I drove a little further and found some “jeggings” style fabric for four dollars a yard.  It looks like denim on the outside but has a lot of stretch.  I moved up to size E, a 35” waist and a 42 ½ inch hip.  Again I added fabric to the inside front leg from the crotch down.  What was the result? A really, really high waist with a what looks like extra room in the front, not enough in the back, and a lot of pooling fabric below the seat. (The very dark fabric didn’t photograph well.)

The large amount of fabric pooling below my rear bothers me the most.  It’s there in all pants patterns I make. I had hoped that her sizing alterations for a flatter seat might have done something about it, but there it is.  I know raising the back waist more will help a little.  Other suggestions?

So what have I learned? There are no magic bullets. Even patterns designed for older figures can’t possibly fit every older figure without fiddling.  Also, I discovered that it is time to start measuring the pattern before I cut into it.  My waist measurement isn’t telling me much anymore.  Watch for one more installment of the “Today’s Fit” saga.

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9 Responses to Today’s Fit on My Body—Vogue 1411 Pants

  1. Katrina B says:

    I’m disappointed that this didn’t work out! It’s the eternal struggle. My best fitting pants have been from patterns I traced off RTW. But that only worked when I could get fabric with the precisely equivalent amount of stretch, otherwise they were a disaster. For knits I’ve been experimenting with Style Arc pants. The Flat Bottom Flo is supposed to be the savior for those of us with the flat saggy behinds, but when I made them I think my fabric wasn’t stretchy enough because my behind ended up looking even flatter and saggier. So far the best has been Style Arc Barb, from which I removed a sizeable wedge from the back crotch curve/inseam.

    The only adjustment I make for my prominent belly is in non-stretch woven pants. I just remove front darts (if any) and sometimes add a small horizontal wedge to lift the waistline. Fortunately I usually work with stretch wovens so these changes aren’t necessary.

    Going back to your Betzina pants rough drafts, if you don’t mind experimenting on them, you can try doing the fisheye dart on them and if it works, transfer it to the pattern.

  2. Lizzie says:

    I can’t help with the fit but I can sympathize with the fit issues.

  3. Laurie Myer says:

    I’ve had much better luck with Style Arc knit pants. They even have a flat behind pant pattern. That said, I have experienced that the knit fabric itself is key. Good quality ponte (good percentage of rayon rather than poly) is key. Otherwise, bagging and sagging after a few hours is almost a given. Good luck!

  4. Helen says:

    I’ve been a big fan of your blog for several years: so I’ll try to help: it’s very hard to tell because the photos are small and dark, but I looks like the wrinkles under your bum are stress wrinkles – too much pulling. This is not due to a flat bum, but rather because the back crotch is being pulled towards the front of your body between your legs. This is because you need more width for your legs on the inside of the leg as well, not just on the outside seam. Try this: add 3/4″ to the inseam of your back pattern piece, tapering down to the knee. You may need further adjustments, but I think this would be a good start. A good way to test this without cutting a new pair of pants is by letting your pants’ inseam out as much as possible and seeing how they look.

    • Lynn says:

      Thanks, I’ll try it! Unfortunately the new version of WordPress no longer has the “click to enlarge” feature, so the photos are small.

      • Susan says:

        I remember the old fitting maxim that “the wrinkles point to the problem,” although it’s not always easy to figure out which end of the wrinkle to look at! If it makes you feel any better, the pants on the model on the envelope (left in photo) are very tight over her thighs! Maybe it’s just not the pattern for you.

  5. I found my best fit is the one I drafted myself and I will often refer to the block. I had to work with my toile/muslin to figure a tiny deviation in the back inner thigh so once i had tweaked the muslin, I traced the muslin for the final block.

    The biggest impediment is having to fit pants yourself I find – as you cant be the mannequin and sew-er at the same time so I had to coerce my husband into the fitting and pinning.
    Recently I picked up a pair of mens 32 trousers in a charity shop as the fabric was gorgeous-I was suprised they nearly fitted (they are an italian cut and the back leg is much bigger). I did a small adjustment on the inner thigh/crotch at the back using my block and have worn them since.

    I have a front seamed 70s jeans pattern I am hoping to try soon as while I have some fit issues sorted, I am trying to achieve a flattering leg to my pear shape

  6. JS says:

    I’m no fit expert, especially in regard to pants, but Version B on the envelope doesn’t even look that good on the model: look at the wrinkles in the front.

    I hate fitting. It’s my habit to trace a pattern to Swedish Tracing Paper and then to pin fit it to get a rough idea of the fit before doing a muslin, but with a stretch fabric using an inexpensive stretch knit is probably better.

    Keep fighting the good fit fight.

  7. Hi Lynn,
    I am with Katrina B–my best pants are those I trace from RTW. I don’t know what it is about sewing patterns, but they seem to be drafted by 1935 home ec teachers. Another thing, remember that you can start with a well fitting skirt pattern and that will give you pants that have a good waist and hip shape.
    So, looking at the back photo, it does seem like the wrinkles are pointing at the lower crotch seam. I think that center back curve needs to be dropped and the back inseam probably given more room as Helen mentions. You can test it by removing stitching in those areas and see if the wrinkles relax. This is where awkward 1″ wide seam allowances on fitting garments come in handy.
    best, Jen

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