Subject: Fixing Twisted Legs in Pattern Drafting

A beautiful fashion designer in a designing room placing pattern pieces on blue fabric

Fixing the Twisted Leg

Many of us struggle with drafting a pair of pants that fit or are even too intimated to try. I am beginning a series of newsletters that will address common struggles with drafting pants. Soon we will have tackled all those struggles and can easily draft pants that we will love to make over and over.

Today I want to share with you some common causes of the dreaded twisted leg when making a pair of pants. Some of the causes are obvious and we know what to avoid. But I have recently learned about some causes that are not so obvious.

One of the most challenging issues to troubleshoot is when your garment's leg twists uncomfortably when worn.

Nothing is more frustrating than spending time and effort on a sewing project, only to find that the fit isn't quite right. It can be an unexpected disappointment when you think you have the perfect pair of pants completed, but the leg is twisting when being worn. Here are some tips and fixes for preventing and correcting a twisted leg issue.

  1. Start with Accurate Measurements:  If it has been a while since you have measured yourself (or whomever you are sewing for) do it again before you start a new garment.  Make sure to use your larger thigh measurement for pattern drafting.  After you have drafted your pattern, check the measurements of your drafted pattern at crucial points before adding seam allowances to determine if the pattern will fit your body. Check your upper thigh area on the pattern to make sure there is enough room to fit your thigh. Make any adjustments at this time.

  2. Check Your Grainlines:  Grainlines play a crucial role in the stability and fit of your garment. Always draw your grainlines first and make sure they are parallel to the center front/back and perpendicular to the floor. This will help maintain the integrity of the fabric and prevent twisting. I know this is obvious to most of us, but I have had to check myself when I am sliding the pattern that I am drafting up and down over the master pattern to draw the full length of the pants. After sliding your draft, make sure you are back on grain and extend your grainline. Another time to become off grain is when shortening a pattern. Always draw an extended grainline when folding up a pattern piece for shortening, make sure the grainline is overlapping over itself, and make sure your fold is parallel with the hem and any other horizontal drafting lines.

  3. Check the Fit: When trying on your muslin mock-up, pay special attention to how the garment fits around your legs. Look for any signs of twisting or pulling. If you notice any issues, such as twisting or tightness, I'll teach you how to address those issues next.

  4. Consider the Fabric: The type of fabric you choose can also affect how your garment drapes and fits. Certain fabrics have more stretch or drape than others, which can impact the overall fit and stability. Be mindful of the fabric's characterizes and how they may influence the result. Occasionally, the fabric itself is off grain. There are ways to stretch it back to being on grain, but you might ask yourself if that fabric is reliable and worth the effort.

  5. And finally...One of the major causes of the twisted leg is an insidious issue that can be incredibly challenging to find and address. I have created a half scale drawing of the Pants Back Master Pattern to help demonstrate one of the causes and a few corrections of the twisted leg. The problem can occur when we are trying to fit our bodies into traditional pattern drafting curves or styles that don't match the shape of our bodies. The insidious culprit here is the inward curve after the crotch point on the pants back of some commercial pants patterns, or how we have drafted them. This inward curve can either create by itself a pulling/twisting relationship between the inseam and the outer seam of a pair of pants. Another problem could be that this inward curve is not leaving enough room to fit the inner thigh.

Here are two easy methods to correct this problem:

The first method is to simply straighten out the inward curve that is causing the twisting and/or to give you the room you need for your inner thigh. This will work if you are happy with your crotch curve and do not need any more length. You also may not need to address correction on the pants front pattern piece as the curve on the pants back was the problem.

If you flip the pattern piece of the back pants master pattern or another commercial pattern and lay it on top of a front pants pattern and line up the crotch points, you will often find that the front piece is straighter after the crotch curve than the back piece.

Another way of fixing this is using the seam adjustment method and will also provide just a little more room in the crotch curve, which can also help remedy the twisting. This correction will be made after you have added your seam allowance.

  1. The first thing you will do is make a snip at the crotch curve point the full width of the seam allowance.

  2. Cut along the seam allowance to the crotch point and down the inner thigh the distance that you want to add width.

  3. Make a snip into the crotch point seam allowance from the outer edge to the inner portion without snipping all the way through. This will allow your seam allowance to hinge as you slide it to the right.

  4. Make another snip at the base of where you stopped cutting along the seam allowance, but not all the way through, this creates a second hinge.

  5. Pull your seam allowance to the right as much as you want to make the correction.

  6. Baste the new legs together and determine if enough room has been created to remove the twisting issue with the leg.

Credit for the above method is to be given to Judith Rasband and her textbook

Fitting and Pattern Alteration 4th edition, 2024.

I hope this information is helpful and gives you another tool in your toolbox to consider when drafting pants. It is my goal to support you and help you to feel encouraged to draft a pair of pants that fit you or whomever you are sewing for.

Remember, garment making is a wonderful journey, and mastering the art of pattern drafting takes practice and patience. We are here to support you every step of the way.

Happy sewing!


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Here's to wishing you happy sewing adventures ahead!

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