Fitting Thurlows: The Post-Alteration Muslin

This is the post where I’m going to be emotional about pants.

Like a lot of women, my body started changing when I was a teenager, with the biggest change in my lower half – bum and hips. And I hated it – it seemed out of proportion with the smaller top half of my body and it definitely didn’t suit the ballet exams I was trying to pass. I continued to hate it for years, although a few holes were poked in that hatred – a boyfriend (now husband) who thought I had a good bum, a (female) workmate who complimented it out of no where, even the fuss over Beyonce’s butt helped a bit. I’m only just now, in my thirties, coming to terms with my shape.

But no matter how happy I was with my shape, I still detested shopping for pants – it was just impossible to find pants that fit. Fitting waist and hips simultaneously never happened. I always had ‘gap’ and bum crack issues. And they always seemed to bag in places you don’t necessarily want bagging.

The Fall/Spring Essentials Sew Along kicked me into action to sew my first pair of pants and I made a pair of Thurlow shorts. To be brutally honest, even with Sewaholic’s reputation for pear shapes, I was skeptical that the pattern would work for me. I made a 100% straight size pair of pants for wearing around the house and somehow came up with the best fitting shorts I’d ever worn. But they weren’t perfect.

So, with a deadline in mind (I told my husband I’d work on them this week while he’s away) I sat down to work out the alterations I needed. I decided not to go overboard with alterations, but go with three basic ones, using the Colette Pants Fitting Cheatsheet as a guide. My goal at this point wasn’t a ‘perfect fit’ – I just want a pair of shorts I can wear in public and I’ll keep working towards the perfect fit. (Oh, I also played with length and narrowing them in a little)

For the front, I learned that although I have post-baby-pudge a little higher, I actually have a very flat belly right down low (my lower body is a ‘unique’ collection of curves . . . ). So there was a heap of excess fabric in the front where I really didn’t need it – and once I saw it on the Thurlows, I realised that it was the same on all my RTW pants (well, all four pairs which currently fit . . . )

I did a flat-belly alteration here, following the guides from the Coletterie sewalong. I guess some people are really mathematical about these alterations, but I admit that I kind of just guessed at how much to cross the pattern over.

When I made the shorts up (a muslin with an old bedsheet) I could feel the improvement already. It’s held together at the fly with pins, so the extra bulk there might change it and I’m sure I can tweak it a little more, but the folds are gone and it’s an immediate improvement.

Thurlow muslin 2 Thurlow muslin adjustments1

For the back, I did adjustments for my full, low bum – though more on the full side than the low side. It’s not a great photo, since I’m twisting to get it in the mirror, but there’s definitely less ‘shorts up the bum’ as well as less fabric pooling. And, although I think I’ll still tighten the waistband a little (and that extender at the back is a thing of BEAUTY, Sewaholic) I was able to sit down and the waistband didn’t droop to unacceptable levels!

Thurlow muslin 3 Thurlow muslin adjustments2

This will sound a bit silly, but after trying on the muslin, I just about dissolved into tears. After so many years of having to accept pants that didn’t go near fitting well, I’ve managed to make a few adjustments to a pattern and make a bedsheet muslin which looks better than anything I’ve ever worn. The thought of being able to wear flattering shorts was almost overwhelming – I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to make them, since I’ve never been able to buy them.

There’s plenty of things to discuss and talk about and be critical of in the sewing blog community, but this is an example of the time that people should be proud of what they put out there, because it can make people feel this good. Without the Fall/Spring Sew-along, I might not have been pushed into action. Without a pattern designed for women with shapes similar to me, I might not have had somewhere to start from – and I might have become discouraged and given up. And without the Thurlow sew-along from Lladybird, I wouldn’t have had the resources to be able to make the pattern and be able to work out where I could improve – using the skills shared by other bloggers.  Plus, there was lots of encouragement.

If you sew and haven’t tackled pants or shorts yet, I encourage you to give them a try. Find a base pattern to work from, use the resources on the internet, take photos and be brave. Now I’m off to choose some amazing fabric for some new shorts.


5 thoughts on “Fitting Thurlows: The Post-Alteration Muslin

  1. Just loved this post. Apart from the sewing & fitting triumph I loved & respected your body image story. The term ‘unique collection of curves’ is a beautiful & empowering one.
    I always dreamt of being tall & curvy – and still wish for both… but like you, in my 30s I came to accept & respect my body. I’ve given birth to two rather enormous babies, my husband loves me just as I am. I’m all I need to be, whatever shape I am.
    The fact your shorts fit so well & that made you emotional – that made me well up too.
    Beautiful post.

  2. Pingback: Wearable Thurlow Shorts | Subversive Reader Makes Stuff

  3. Sewing really is very good for your feelings about your body, isn’t it? I find it makes a great difference to me, as well.

    I’ve been eyeing off this pattern for so long, like you, not really convinced that it’s actually much different than any other trouser pattern. But the ease with which you made them fit so well, is really telling. I can usually get a new pattern to fit my hourglass (ie pear-shaped from the waist down!) figure ok, with plenty of tweaking, but two main tweaks? That’s really amazing!

    (I came here via the whole spring/fall essentials sewalong. I’ve been doing sewing to to prepare myself for the ‘build-up’ (to the wet season in Darwin). I guess it’s a change of season kinda thing 🙂

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