Just because they’re relaxed doesn’t mean woven jogger pants have to look sloppy.
That was my mind-set as I made fit adjustments to my Seamwork Witt woven joggers. I wanted a refined fit that echoed the shape of my body but still had generous ease.
To achieve my goal, I turned to Our Lady of Intuitive Pattern Fitting, the late Nancy Zieman.
Keep reading to discover how to adjust a woven jogger sewing pattern with Zieman’s common sense pivot-and-slide method.
(P.S. This looooong article does get fairly technical, but I included lots of illustrations so you can marry the words on screen with sewing pattern visuals. You might want to save this to Pinterest for future pants-fitting reference!)
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Pivot-and-Slide Pattern Adjustments at a Glance
The pivot-and-slide technique for adjusting sewing patterns lets you fine tune the fit of a garment.
You compare your body’s measurements to the flat measurements of sewing pattern pieces. Then you home in on a pattern size you can enlarge to accommodate your glorious bod.
The technique calls for sewists to slide pattern pieces north and south to make length changes and swing — pivot — left and right from key points to make width/girth changes.
With this technique, which I learned from Zieman’s “Pattern Fitting with Confidence,” it’s easier to make a smaller size larger vs. a larger size smaller.
Zieman points out that enlarging a pattern keeps its elements — in the case of pants, the crotch and legs — proportional.
If you go from a big size to a small size with pants, there’s a good chance that the crotch will be too low and the legs will be too baggy — not a cute look.
Furthermore, ruminate on this benefit of the pivot-and-slide technique:
“By changing the pattern equally on both sides of the grain, the seam and the design lines are kept in proportion to the original pattern.”Nancy Zieman, “Pattern Fitting with Confidence”
RELATED: Flat Pattern Measuring for Fit Adjustments
Seamwork Witt Joggers at a Glance
Now, I did a full pattern review of the Witt joggers, so I’ll be brief here.
This pattern from Seamwork features a relaxed fit inspired by knit sweatpants. Witt has an elasticized waist with a drawstring. There are patch pockets on the front and back.
To see what was up with the fit, I sewed a straight size 8 muslin (pictured above in white). The 8 most closely matched my body measurements.
I found the seat and thighs to be too big in size 8, and I wanted the joggers to be full length (vs. cropped, per the original pattern design). To make these adjustments, I turned to the pivot-and-slide method.
RELATED: Is Seamwork Worth It?
What You Need to Adjust Jogger Pants
These are the sewing supplies I used to pivot and slide my joggers sewing pattern:
- Ruler: Accurate measurements are critical.
- Flexible tape measure: For measuring the body.
- Tracing paper: Transparent paper will make it easier to pivot and slide.
- Pencil: For marking measurement increases.
- Eraser: To erase mistakes!
- Calculator: There’s a fair amount of math when you pivot and slide. (Or, you could do the calculations IN a spreadsheet, if you get down like that.)
- Table or spreadsheet (see below): Ya gotta record your measurements and adjustments.
- Colored pencils, pens, or markers: To outline refinements.
- Sewing pattern: Cut out or trace off pattern pieces.
- Existing pair of pants whose fit you L-O-V-E: Optional, but helpful; keep reading for context.
- Scissors: To cut paper.
- Scotch tape: To stick together original and refined pattern pieces.
- Push pin: To create pivot.
Pro tip: The first time you practice the pivot-and-slide method, give yourself an hour or two to complete it. First you make all the calculations, then you do the physical pattern adjustments.
RELATED: Seamwork Witt Woven Joggers in Green Cotton Twill
How to Adjust Woven Joggers with the Pivot-and-Slide Method
This is how I took my saggy-baggy size 8 to a snappy-happy size Erin!
1.) Take body measurements.
My body measured at 28.5 inches for the waist and 39 inches for the hips. I didn’t take additional measurements (inseam, crotch depth, etc.) on my body because I was going to take those dimensions from an existing pair of pants.
2.) Take flat pattern measurements of a similar-style pair of pants.
This is a SEWING LIFE HACK, y’all. If you grab a similar garment whose fit (*cough* EASE *cough*) you know works for your bod, you don’t have to play that design ease guessing game of “Hmm, I wonder how much crotch ease I like to have in relaxed-fit pants?”
Don’t wonder! Measure pants you already love!
For me, it was a pair of H&M “mom” jeans that are high rise, fitted in the waist and high hip, and relaxed in the thighs and bum in the most perfect way. I wanted my Witt joggers to mimic this fit.
3.) Take flat pattern measurements of sewing pattern pieces.
I measured the same body stuff on the sewing pattern pieces as I did on the mom jeans. I measured two sizes for the Witt joggers — 0 and 2 — to see where would be a better starting point for adjustments.
I adjusted the size 0, because it’s easier to make larger adjustments vs. smaller adjustments. IMO the smaller the measurement you have to mark off, the more difficult it is to be accurate. Think of this: Would you rather add a quarter inch or a half inch to a seam? I pick a half inch; it’s easier to see and sew.
4.) Calculate necessary size-increase adjustments.
If this were a math test, this is where I’d show my work.
I recorded measurements (in inches) — and did my math! — in a Google spreadsheet.
|Measurement||Witt Size 8||H&M Mom Jean||Witt Size 0||Difference Btwn Witt Size 0 & H&M Mom Jean||Erin||New Measurement w/ Adjustment||Adjustment to Each Seam|
|Front Waist (at top of leg pattern piece)||9.875||7.5||8.875||1.375|
|Front Hip (2” up from crotchline)||10.25||8.625||9.375||0.75|
|Front Crotch Length||11.25||10||10.375||0.375|
|Back Waist (at top of leg pattern piece)||9.875||8||8.875||0.875|
|Back Hip (2” up from crotchline)||10.875||10.75||10||-0.75|
|Back Crotch Length||13.375||13.875||12.25||-1.625|
|Total Waist Circumference (at top of leg pattern piece)||39.5||31||35.5||4.5||28.5||39.5||0.5|
|Total Hip Circumference (2” up from crotchline)||42.25||38.75||38.75||0||39||40.875||0.265625|
|Total Crotch Length (w/o waistband)||24.625||23.875||22.625||-1.25||23.875||0.625|
|Thigh (at crotchline – Front + Back)||27.125||22.75||25.375||2.625||22.75||-0.65625|
Let’s talk about how to read this table.
The first column (after the “Measurement” label) is flat pattern measurements from Witt size 8, which was my recommended size based on my waist and hip measurements.
The second column is measurements from my mom jeans. I measured along the seams; it was a little awkward, especially when it came to finding the grainline. To find the grainline, I folded the bottom hem in half and marked the vertical fold with pins.
The third column is flat pattern measurements from Witt size 0.
For your reference, here is how/where I measured the three jogger sizes:
The “Difference Between” column is where stuff gets interesting. I set up a formula for the column that subtracted the mom jeans measurements from the Witt size 0 measurements in the same row.
The column labeled “Erin” is my body measurements.
The “New Measurement w/ Adjustment” column shows what the refined (final) measurements of the Witt joggers pattern would be. A few notes about this:
- Total waist circumference is 39.5 inches, the same as Witt size 8. That’s because I need the waist circumference large enough to fit over my hips, and the size 8 works for this function.
- Total hip circumference is 40.875 inches. That’s my hip plus 1.875 inches ease, per the pattern instructions.
- Total crotch length, inseam, thigh (at crotch), and crotch depth match the measurements of the mom jeans. That’s because I wanted the joggers to have the same ease as mom jeans.
Finally, let’s talk about the most-right column: “Adjustment to Each Seam.”
With Zieman’s pattern adjustment method, you distribute small amounts of width or length EVENLY to smaller pattern pieces.
Here’s what that looks like in practice (again, referring to the table above):
- Total Waist Circumference (at top of leg pattern piece):
(New Measurement with Adjustment – Witt Size 0) / 8 Seams
(39.5 – 35.5) / 8 = 0.5 inches
I added 0.5 inches to eight seams to evenly distribute extra width.
Where does eight seams come from? Picture pattern pieces for a pair of pants.
At the waist, where this adjustment is made, you have seams for:
- Outseam Front Left Leg
- Center Front Left Leg
- Center Front Right Leg
- Outseam Front Right Leg
- Outseam Back Right Leg
- Center Back Right Leg
- Center Back Left Leg
- Outseam Back Left Leg
- Total Hip Circumference (2 inches up from crotchline)
(40.875 – 38.75) / 8 Seams = 0.265625 (About 0.25 inches — I like to keep numbers easy)
I added approximately 0.25 inches to eight seams to evenly distribute this extra width — the same eight seams as the waist circumference adjustments.
- Total Crotch Length (w/o waistband)
(23.875 – 22.625) / 2 Seams = 0.625 inches
Crotch length is the distance between legs, from the front waist to the back waist. To distribute the extra length evenly, I split the total 1.25 inches (0.625 x 2) between the front crotch and back crotch. This is a length adjustment vs. a width/circumference adjustment.
This is a length adjustment, purely making the legs longer by 2.875 inches.
- Thigh (at crotch)
Something odd happened with this pattern and my measurements at the thigh:
(22.75 – 25.375) / 4 Seams = -0.65625 inches
The negative number (about -0.625 inches) told me that Witt size 0 is LARGER in the thigh vs. my ideal mom jeans. (This is further evidence of generous ease in Witt’s bum and thighs, BTW.)
Most of the time, all adjustments with the pivot-and-slide method are INCREASES. A decrease like this would make the shape of the pattern piece strange. Basically it would have made a hip dip, but you don’t sew clothes with hip dips.
I ignored this adjustment and shaped the hip-to-thigh-to-leg as nicely as I could with my hip curve ruler.
Sometimes, you gotta respect the “true” shape of the pattern. Or, you end up with pattern pieces that go in and out (and we know that’s not how leg pattern pieces should look).
Regarding the division by 4 seams…
The thigh adjustment is made at the:
- Outseam Front Leg
- Inseam Front Leg
- Inseam Back Leg
- Outseam Back Leg
Next up was playing with pattern pieces.
5.) Trace sewing pattern pieces.
I traced off size 0 pattern pieces — front and back legs.
I drew in the seam allowance and extended the grainline the length of the pattern piece.
Then I drew the crotchline, which is perpendicular to the grain and intersects with the crotch and inseam seam allowances — NOT pattern piece edges.
Two inches above the crotchline, I drew the hipline, which also is perpendicular to the grain. (The 2-inch measurement is per Zieman’s book.)
For the kneeline, I folded up the bottom hem (pattern edge) to meet the crotchline and made a crease.
The kneeline is halfway between the crotch and hem; I made a line at the crease that was perpendicular to the grain.
AND — obviously — I traced all relevant pattern markings: notches, darts, etc.
6.) Make length adjustments to sewing pattern pieces.
The first adjustments were length adjustments.
I had two length adjustments: crotch length and inseam. Crotch length impacts the pattern above the crotch, and inseam length impacts the pattern below the crotch.
I grabbed a piece of paper that was longer (by the combined length adjustments plus 2-3 inches for funsies) than my leg pattern pieces.
Then I drew a straight line the entire length of the paper. This line matched the grainline, and I used it to slide my pattern piece up and down.
I placed a pattern piece (front or back) atop the paper, aligning grainlines. I kept it in place with a few pattern weights (but not too many because I needed to slide the pattern piece along the grainline guide).
I traced the bottom hem and up about one inch on the outseam and inseam.
Next I peeled up the pattern piece at the bottom hem about 5 inches. I made a mark on the grainline guideline 2.875 inches up; this was the amount of the inseam adjustment.
I laid the pattern piece back down, making sure its grainline aligned with the grainline guideline on the paper.
Then I slid the leg pattern piece up the grainline until the bottom hem hit the 2.875-inch mark.
The next step was to trace around the leg pattern, from about the hipline, down the outseam, connecting with the traced original bottom hem, up the inseam around the crotch, to the center seam hipline.
Crotch Length Adjustment
Next was adding length above the crotch.
I made a mark on the grainline guideline 0.625 inches up from the waist (top) of the pattern piece.
With grainlines aligned, I slid the pattern piece up the guideline to the 0.625 inch mark.
I finished tracing the pattern pieces adjustments. I traced up from the hipline, across the waist edge, and back down to the other hipline.
Final Touches for Length Adjustments
I slid the pattern piece down until its crotch matched the traced crotch. Here I could see the length added above the crotch (crotch length) and the length added below the crotch (inseam).
If any traced lines looked wonky, now was the time to true them (aka, smooth them out).
I taped the original pattern piece on top of the length-adjusted pattern piece. I cut out the lengthened leg pattern piece by cutting along the traced (and trued) lines.
(As previously mentioned, I did these length adjustments on both front and back leg pattern pieces. Also, the illustration is not to scale.)
7.) Make width adjustments to sewing pattern pieces.
Then it was time to lay out another large piece of paper for width pattern adjustments.
I took the length-adjusted front or back leg pattern piece (it doesn’t matter which you start with, because you’ll do both in the end) and placed it on the paper.
I drew in the seam allowance and lines for the waist, hip, crotch, and knee.
Next I traced around the pattern piece, making an outline. You don’t need to mark a grainline on the width adjustment paper.
The first adjustment was enlarging the waist 0.5 inches, per the calculations in the table above. To do this, I made a mark 0.5 inches from the edge of the pattern piece at waist level. I did this at the outseam and crotch seam.
Then I made a mark at hip level (outseam and crotch seam) about 0.25 inches (per the calculations) from the edge of the pattern piece.
The next width adjustment was the thigh, but because I calculated a negative number (vs. a positive number that would increase the width) and didn’t want wonky-looking pattern pieces, I didn’t make this adjustment.
Then I started pivoting! This, to me, is the fun and clever part of this pattern-fitting method.
I made sure the pattern piece was centered between the enlarging marks (sitting nicely within its traced outline).
I took a pin and stuck it at the intersection of the outseam and knee. This is the pivot point.
I pivoted until the pattern piece edge touched the hip mark at the outseam.
Then I locked the pattern piece in this location and traced the edge of the pattern piece from the knee to the hip.
Next I placed the pin at the intersection of the outseam and hipline.
I pivoted the pattern piece from the pin, swinging it until its edge hit the waist adjustment mark.
I locked the pattern piece in this location and traced its edge from the hip to the waist/top of the pattern piece.
I took out the pin and put the pattern piece back in its original outline. Here I could see my outseam width adjustments, and I made them without changing the length of the pattern piece edge!
Adjustments to the crotch/inseam side of the pattern piece followed the same process:
- Place pin at intersection of knee and inseam.
- Pivot the pattern piece to the hip mark near the crotch/center seam.
- Trace the pattern piece from the knee to the hip mark.
- Place the pin at the intersection of the hipline and crotch/center seam.
- Pivot the pattern to the waist adjustment mark near the crotch/center seam.
- Trace the pattern piece from the hip to the waist/top of the pattern.
- Put the pattern piece back in its outline. I think it’s nice to tape it down so you can have it for reference.
(As before, I went through this width-adjustment process for the other pattern piece — front or back, whichever one didn’t go first. And again, the illustration below is not to scale.)
OH YES — add all relevant pattern markings: notches, darts, etc.
8.) True seams, walk seams, and cut out pattern pieces.
I took a hard look at the new outline and tidied up any lines that weren’t smooth. All the transitions between pivots and whatnot should be seamless.
Hip curve and French curve rulers are nice for trueing patterns. Functional, and they make ya feel fancy, too.
Next I walked the seams of the front AND back legs, making sure they were the same length. If they weren’t the same length, now would have been the time to make corrections, before the pattern pieces were cut out.
Once I was happy with the pattern pieces, I cut them out.
9.) Sew a muslin.
I made a lot of adjustments, so OF COURSE I was going to sew another muslin to see that everything worked out to my liking.
10.) Make final adjustments.
For my Witt joggers, before I sewed my fashion fabric, I should have increased the width at the bottom hem. The leg opening of my adjustment muslin was too tight.
I should have expected that the hem circumference of a size 0 was going to be significantly smaller than a size 8.
Well, I didn’t, and I made a note on my length-and-width-adjusted Witt pattern pieces to add some width to the bottom hem. I’ll probably end up tracing off new pattern pieces with these adjustments next time I sew this pattern.
Final Thoughts on Fitting Woven Joggers
I sewed a straight size 8 (the pictured muslin in this article) for illustrative purposes. I wanted to show how different the pants looked after the adjustments.
If I weren’t planning to sew for blog content, I would have used the above directions and skipped sewing a straight size.
The No. 1 thing for you to know when it comes to fitting woven joggers (and other garments) is that it’s much, much, much easier to size up than it is to size down. You can see how smoothly the pivot-and-slide method works for adding length and width.
So, don’t get too intimidated by fitting pants. A little math and a few adjustments using your own body measurements (or measurements from another pair of pants you love) will get you SO MUCH CLOSER to well-fitting pants than picking “your” size and trying to make a combo of fixes.
Start small and make everything bigger. Ta, and might I add, dah.
Over to you: Have you tried the pivot-and-slide method from Nancy Zieman? Does it feel intuitive to you? What other questions do you have about fitting or pants (or anything, really)? (I’m an oldest child who LOVES to give advice (not the greatest quality, I know, but I’m working on it).)