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Adjusting the Eureka Pants Pattern Length

Lately we have had a few questions about adjusting the length of the Eureka! Pants that Fit pattern and the location of the “knee line”.  So today’s post is more technical than pretty in an effort to address these questions from customers at the beginning of the pant fitting process.

If you have worked with the Eureka! Pants that Fit pattern, you know that we use an unusual method for fitting pants.  We start from a mock-up with a fitting grid of grainlines and horizontal balance lines drawn on the outside and anchored at the waistline with an elastic tie.  From there, we walk through the process of fitting the mock-up to the wearer working first on the crotch length, then hips and side seams, then adding darts to match her body’s curves, and finally deciding where she want the waistline to sit.   If you have not worked with Eureka Pants pattern, you can read more about our philosophy and method in posts from our blog archive such as Why Eureka?

How to Check the Pants Pattern Length

For successful fitting, the initial mock-up must reach above the natural waistline and to the floor and have enough ease to allow pinning and adjusting in all seams and to add darts.  The pattern’s measurement chart focuses on hip and abdomen circumference but doesn’t address height or length.   Over many years of fitting the Eureka Pants pattern, we’ve found that the given pattern length works just fine for the majority of users at the mock-up stage; most height related adjustments can be made during the fitting process if needed.  

If you are quite tall or short, however, you may want to make an adjustment to the pattern before cutting out your mock-up to make the fitting process easier.  In the instruction book that accompanies the pattern, we suggest you cut out the front and back patterns in your size and hold them up against your body with the pattern’s crotch at your crotch.  Look in a mirror to observe whether the pattern reaches above your natural waistline and to the floor.  Don’t be concerned about where the Horizontal Balance Line that is drawn mid-leg falls relative to your knee; this HBL is not a Knee Line!  

  • Does the top of the pattern reach your natural waistline? If it falls short due to a long rise, we recommend adding height into the abdominal area by inserting paper between the upper and middle Horizontal Balance Lines.
  • Does the bottom of the pattern reach your ankle? If long legs aren’t covered, consider inserting paper at the mid-leg Horizontal Balance Line to lengthen.
  • If the bottom of the pattern is significantly too long, i.e. at least 4” longer than the wearer, consider shortening at the mid-leg Horizontal Balance Line.

Continue this post to learn how to make pattern changes for these specific situations. Read more about our general recommendations for successful pattern work in the blog post Sew Successful Pattern Work and about the importance of maintaining the grainline in Grainlines on Pants are So Important.

How to Lengthen the Pants Pattern

Whether lengthening at the torso or leg, the pattern work is done the same way: 

  1. Cut the pattern piece apart across the appropriate HBL and tape the lower portion to a piece of tissue paper.
  2. Draw an extension of the grainline onto the tissue paper.
  3. Measure the amount by which the pattern needs to be lengthened and draw a new line on the tissue parallel to the lower portion.
  4. Carefully tape the upper portion along this line, aligning the grainline.
  5. Use a curved ruler to draw in the extended side seam and inseam or center front or back seam.
  6. Cut excess tissue away
  7. The same adjustment must be made to both the front and back pattern pieces.

How to Shorten the Pants Pattern

If shortening the leg more than a of couple inches, we recommend this pattern adjustment rather than just cutting the pattern off at the hem:

  1. I find it helpful to draw lines above and below the HBL, each half the amount by which the pattern needs to be shortened. For example, if shortening by 3,” draw a line 1½” above and below the HBL.
  2. Fold the pattern along the mid-leg HBL and bring the drarwn lines together, creating a “flap.”
  3. Fold the flap down toward the hem and carefully tape in place, aligning the grainline.
  4. Tape a long piece of tissue on each side of the leg extending several inches above and below the fold.
  5. Use a slightly curved ruler to redraw the side seam and inseam, merging the upper and lower portions.
  6. Cut excess tissue away.
  7. The same adjustment must be made to both the front and back pattern pieces.

Err on the side of caution when deciding how much to shorten and how to redraw the side seam and inseam; you can always take off more later!  You need to leave yourself enough length for a hem and enough ease to fit knees that turn in or out and calves that are muscular, full or extend back. 

Lengthened vs. Shortened at the mid-leg HBL

What About the Knee Line?

As noted above, the Horizontal Balance Line found mid-leg is not intended to be a knee line, although it may end up at knee level for some wearers. Consistent with the Eureka! Pants fitting process, the lowest HBL is intended to assist in maintaining the fitting grid and as a guide for transferring fitting adjustments from the mock-up to the pattern.  For example, we frequently refer to that horizontal balance line to indicate side seam or inseam adjustments, whether it be reducing the inseam or side seam by x/8” at the HBL or easing changes back to the original cut line x” above or below that HBL.

You might, however, want a knee line on your established pattern for design purposes.  In the design section of the Eureka Pants instruction book, for example, we refer to the knee line to create a different leg shape such as a flared or boot cut leg, narrow taped leg, or a shortened leg, such as a capri pant.  After you have finished fitting your mock-up, use it to determine where your knee sits in the leg, draw a knee line onto your mock-up, then add the knee line to your front and back patterns.

Search our blog archive for posts about changing the shape of the leg such as Narrow Eureka Pants, Wide Leg Pants for Summer, and Eureka! Capris for Summer. Be sure to read Tracing an Adjusted Eureka Pants Pattern before you start reshaping your pattern!

Happy Pattern Working!  Carrie

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