Philippa pants: fitting and adding a ‘tummy stay’

After a few sewing fails in a row (some Lander pants in a frankly hideous fabric choice, a vintage jumpsuit that looked 80s in the wrong way, some patchwork jeans that looked straight-up weird) I was so happy to finish these trousers and be 100% in love with them. They are Anna Allen Philippa pants in a stretch corduroy from Minerva, which I received as part of being in their blogger network. My main blog post about the pants will be going up over there later, but I thought I’d go into a bit more detail on the fitting and construction process over here.

I don’t often toile patterns but I did in this case as I wasn’t at all sure what size to cut and thought I may need some adjustments to cover the size difference between my waist and hips on such a close fitting design. The pattern comes with a complete separate booklet of useful fitting tips and I also sought some very helpful advice on Instagram.

The main consensus pointed to a full stomach adjustment, reducing the crotch depth, and giving more space in the thigh.

Thanks in particular to Evelyn @slowintention who sent me these diagrams showing how she did the full thigh and full stomach adjustments.

Toile 3 – which repurposed the aforementioned horrible-fabric Landers by the way. What was I thinking. Pinching out the crotch wrinkles with pins.

Over the course of three toiles I made the following adjustments:
– 1” full stomach adjustment (I added space both horizontally and vertically as you can see in the main slashed areas above)
– Graded up a size at the inner front thigh, tapering in again towards the knee
– Took 1” off the rise all around, and wedged a further 3/4” out of the crotch curve at the lengthen/shorten line
– Scooped out the back crotch a bit at the seat (low butt adjustment)
– Omitted the back darts completely (?!)
– Sewed the outer leg seams at a 3/4” seam allowance, mainly to compensate for the stretch in my fabric
– Shortened the leg length by 1″
– Converted the waistband from straight to curved (a tutorial is included in the pattern for this; I only needed it because I lowered the rise to where my body curves in). I sewed cotton tape into the top seam of the waistband to prevent stretching over time.

The fit is still not perfect! There are some diagonal drag lines on the back leg and there is excess fabric bunching around my knees – I was focusing on the waist/hip area and only toiled down to the mid thigh. The grainline seems a bit twisted too which I wonder is down to maintaining the straight side seams. But I don’t really mind! They’re crazy comfortable and I think they’re the kind of trouser that will need minor adjustment each time it’s sewn due to fabric variances.

I pretty much went my own way with the construction. I cut-on the fly facing pieces to the main front leg and used my preferred Sandra Betzina method to do a zip fly instead of the button fly as in the pattern. I’m proud of this fly front, it’s super flat and I interfaced the surrounding area inside to keep it sturdy. The cool matte black button came as a spare with a RTW pair of jeans!

I also decided to add a sort of tummy-tuck stay piece into the front for a bit of firmness in this area – similar to a pocket stay/holster but as these have no front pockets it’s just a layer of self fabric. I used the front pieces to draft them off and anchored into the fly and side seams as they were sewn. I stretched the pieces a little as I sewed them in and I think this really helps in smoothing out the front area.

Next time I sew this pattern I will try using a non-stretch fabric as recommended, but this pair is so comfortable and I’m pleased with the fit I ended up with.

18 thoughts on “Philippa pants: fitting and adding a ‘tummy stay’

  1. AvatarNatasha

    Those pants are so cute! The fabric choice is perfect. Thanks for sharing your fitting journey with us. It helps me learn.

  2. AvatarMichelle

    These look so good! Love that fabric and colour. Will definitely try this pattern when I have the time pay proper attention to fitting. I often get those diagonal drag lines over the back thigh as well and was going to try a slight knock knee adjustment next time. Do you think that would fix it?

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      I have been looking at the knock knee adjustment too as the drag lines seem to match. I would give it a go!

  3. AvatarSteelySeamstress

    Lovely fit around the waist and hip area – I think you nailed it! Seems a bit strange with the grainline, particularly on the front of the trousers, does it follow the outside leg on the pattern? I’ve been very converted to the curved waistband these days and fit that each time I do trousers – it prevents back gaping. Your fly zipper looks really tidy – I should check out that Sandra Betzina video.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yes they’re cut on grain and the outer leg is designed completely straight – I think I may have caused some distortion by doing so many alterations.

  4. AvatarMichele Luter

    You’ve made a great job – but don’t you think it’s bonkers quite how much pattern adjustment we ALL need to make to get hand sewn garments to fit properly.

    Is there anyone who out there who just cuts one size straight from the pattern?

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yes! I guess patterns are the same as ready to wear, they need to pick some standard to base their sizing off and it definitely won’t work for everyone. At least with sewing you can fix it though!

  5. AvatarMichelle

    They look fab! Thanks so much for sharing such detailed fitting notes; they really help as I often have similar issues. I also get those diagonal drag lines on the back thigh and my latest theory is that a slight knock knee adjustment is needed. Have you ever tried that?

    1. AvatarMichelle

      Oops, sorry! When I first left the comment I had an error message so naturally returned several days later to leave the same one :P

  6. AvatarYasmine

    Hello! I am in the process of making the Phillipa pants and was about to give up, but then I saw some instagram posts and that you had done a few adjustments. When I made a straight size 0, things seem to fit overall well, except in the crotch there is weird bubbling (the only way I can describe it), I guess it would be horizontal lines, if anything, but seems kind of like yours. So I just had a question about reducing the crotch depth and ” wedging out a further 3/4” out of the crotch curve at the lengthen/shorten line.” Basically what do you mean by this? Sorry, I am a fairly new sewist and just getting into pants. Or perhaps you have a resource to point to on this.

    Thank you so much!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Hi – I used the same technique as Anna describes in the fitting PDF that came with the pattern (page 6). Hope that helps.

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