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Pattern Making: Pant Rise


Other than measuring sleeve and armholes, pants were the most difficult garments to measure when I worked in tech design. Getting the rise to lie flat so that I could measure its length was not an easy job and because rise is a crucial POM (point of measure), I couldn’t slack off. The difference between a back rise of 14 1/4″ and 14 1/2″ was the difference between a wedgie and no wedgie. No Anthropologie customer wants her pair of silk, tweed, or wool trousers riding up her hoo-hah!

Halfway through my stint in tech design, a new manager was hired for our department. With experience from retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Anna Sui, and American Eagle, she knew her stuff. A POM she asked me to measure on all pants and shorts, a POM that wasn’t in the system (we recorded measurements in the computer), was the width of the rise. According to her, the width must be between 6-7″ at 2″ above the bottom of the rise for a good fit (see diagram). Because I sewed mostly dresses at the time, I tossed her tip to the backburner. But as I’m working on the pattern for the jumper (it’s coming along), her tip has come back to me. She had a lot of insider information so this could be another hidden secret of the tech world. But I ask you, have any of you heard this? Does this rule apply to all sizes (the pants and shorts I measured in tech were always size 6 RTW).

UPDATE: Thinking about this more, I might have figured out why a rise must be a certain width at 2″ above theΒ “bottom of the seat.” I remember that many of the pants and shorts received from the factories had a rise that resembled more of a “V” than a “U” shape. So, making sure that the rise is a certain width at a point close to the bottom, you are ensuring that the rise is a nice, smooth, and rounded curve. Does anyone else agree with my reasoning?



  1. Reply


    I’ve personally never heard of this, but hey, I’m no pants sewer yet. But I’d be curious as to whether this is straight across the board for all sizes…If so=genius tip!

  2. Reply


    I’m curious too. Hopefully a commenter can help me out.

  3. Reply

    Stephanie Anderton

    Looking at the 2nd picture it makes sense. I’m in the middle of sewing pants for my Mum, and I’ve had to change the shape of the crotch from the typical J shape to more of an L shape; so the width is now more like 7 1/2 inches wide at the 2 inch mark (this is a Burda size 44.) The original width was 7″. If it were any narrower, the grain would be off and you’d have a big wodge of fabric right at the crotch and wrinkles pulling at the back. Which is what we had before I widened the gap to the L shape. I would think the 6 to 7 inches is for a standard size, but would need to be a little bit wider the higher up you go in size to accommodate the lower abdomen/buttock area.

  4. Reply


    I’ve never heard of this – but it’s certainly intriguing, and seems to make sense. I’d imagine this would vary depending on personal shape, no? But starting from a RTW standard fit is always a great place to start!

  5. Reply


    Hm, interesting. I’m deep in the middle of pants-making right now, and will keep this in mind. I’m determined to get a good fit!

  6. Reply


    I did not know this tip, I am scared of pants pattern making though, I always use a good fitting block to start. Can’t wait to see your jumper!

  7. Reply

    Grace Jones

    I don’t know much about pants, but I work in jackets and my technical manager insists that armholes for jackets should be a specific width above the curve. Also, the shape of the armhole curve in relation to the sleeve is very important. The armhole and the rise both have similar fitting concerns so I think what you’re getting at makes perfect sense.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Reply


    I’ve never heard of this before- but it makes sense. There needs to be a minimum amount of space for the wearer’s body. I would guess like Stephanie that the measurement would go up a bit as the wearer got larger. I just looked at my best fitting jeans, and they both have more of a V shape curve rather than a U I would find in a commercial pattern, just like you said. The top of the crotch seam also curves toward the side seam- which I would imagine is what makes them fit my sway back/small waist better than any other pants. I’ll have to pull a pattern from them and check on the crotch width!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Actually, jeans are a unique entity. When I worked in tech design, there was a technician just for jeans! We got into rises one day, comparing the rises of PJ pants and jeans and they looked WAY different! Because of the stretch in jeans, the rise was narrower and shorter.

  9. Reply

    L Hutch

    Pants crotch depends on 3 variables, length, depth (rise), and body depth front to back. Simole geometry. If any two measuremetns are correct, the third has to be correct, also. Therefore if you have the correct total lenth and the correct vertical rise, the body depth will be correct without any further action on your part. Take a tape measure and play with the three variables and you will see it.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Interesting. I will play around with your idea and give it a try. Thank you.

  10. Reply

    Shelley Pleger

    Very interesting. I suspected this has something to do with body depth/space too, which is very individual, but having a minimum number is not a bad thing. It will help identify out any patterns that might be problematic later. I wish I knew how this might differ when dealing with plus sizes vs. ‘regular’ sizing as well. I think Steph is probably on the cusp of that discovery. I’ve never measured my own yet, but will to see if there’s any correlation.
    I also recall something in a much earlier post about draping a pant rise. I’d still like to understand what was meant by that too.. Think it was in a post about dress forms. Thanks for sharing these things, it’s not something we’ll find in books.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      That’s exactly what my manager was doing – identifying patterns that might be problematic later.

      What were you confused about on draping pants? Please shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.


  11. Reply


    Interesting! I’d be curious if/how the crotch fork (extension) gets wider or narrower in other sizes. Don’t kill me for using that term–I got it from a patternmaker! πŸ™‚ I do find that a lot of commercial patterns are too curvy in the front making that space too wide, and I generally flatten out the curve. Might just be my body, but I never have this problem in store pants.

    I’m still grooving on those floral pants you modeled last week–they looked so great on you. Very Maddie πŸ™‚

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Oh please, don’t apologize about using the word crotch fork extension. It sounds like we’re in construction and knocking down a building but hey, we can pretend that we do that too πŸ˜‰

      I don’t use commercial patterns but it would be interesting if they (commercial pattern companies) made the rises too wide while RTW made them to narrow.

      I was digging those floral pants too. I stopped myself from buying them. Too much gluttony – I have nice clothes as it is.

  12. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    Agree with the update. That one POM can assure certain curve without having to take multiple measurements. This tip is going in my permanent toolbox. Thats what I surf the web for nuggets that ressonate.

  13. Reply

    Deanna Pryce

    Oh Gosh Maddie: I wish I would have thought of this (the gap between front and back at rise, 2 inches above the crotch line). I fiddled and farted with a pair of pant this summer, re-cutting them smaller and smaller four times! the only reason I was even able to salvage them is because the legs were huge too (according to the body measurements on the back of store obught patterns I’m a size 12 – in reality I vary between 2 and fours – and if it’s a cheap brand a size 5. I can actually picture just how very large this gap was now! huge! and it made for really puffy bum and front! Well my frustration getting them to fit lead me to the decision of ‘no more store bought patterns – which lead me to you so thank you! Now I’m going to check that gap or width on all of my better fitting pants and see how narrow or wide it is in order to get that great fit – keeping in mind whether the fabric has stretch or not.

    Thanks so much

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Please let me know how it works out! Signe, the commenter above you, suggested that this was for mass manufactured garments. It would be interested to compare his statement to your results.

  14. Reply

    Signe Eriksen

    I think the fixed measurement is because it’s a tip for industrial made pants. If you sew for yourself, you should measure the depth of your body (tricky thing to do), and compare that to the pattern. The point is to have room enough for the body inside the pants. If the “room” is too small or too large, the fabric will drape around the body in a not so desired way. So the measurement will change according to size and the shape of the rise will change acording to how the body is shaped.

  15. Reply


    Thank you for the diagrams. Is it at all possible to allow us to see the 2nd diagram larger than it is? I see no highlighted yellow arrows, or rather, my old eyes do not see this well enough. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I’m sorry but I posted this graphic almost a year ago and I don’t have the graphic anymore. To make the image more understandable, the horizontal and vertical lines below the numbers “6-7” are the arrows that are highlighted in yellow. Does that make sense?

      • Reply


        It does; thank you very much.

  16. Reply

    Lemony Bits

    Great place… was looking for info on making a pattern for a nice
    rolled shirt collar. Your write up about the neck seam showing has given me some good mental images for starts. I saw some really sharp looking men’s casual shirts… now how to do it…

    I wouldn’t mind inputting to this discussion on pants and crotch curves. I started writing and it’s more than a page long. Some good stuff tho. From Louise Bame’s Pants Fit For Your Figure – super book. 1979. I don’t see a 2nd diagram.

    Thanks for a fun evening.
    Cheers, Lemony Bits

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Feel free to email me with what you wrote. I’d love to read it. My email is on my contact page.

  17. Reply

    Lemony Bits

    oops. didn’t see ‘forest thru the trees’.

  18. Reply

    Susan M

    I work in tech design at a large retailer and we do give this measurement, calling it “saddle width” or “crotch width.” I have worked other places where this measurement wasn’t given, but the general call out was made that rises (and armholes) needed to have a nice “U” shape.
    Thank you for keeping this blog. I came upon it today while looking for the answer to a raglan fit issue. I’ll definitely be adding it to my list of blogs to check regularly πŸ™‚

  19. Reply


    Thanks for sharing this maddie. I am a fashion student, in my final year, and to me it sounds Ike your teacher was onto something. A lot of the comments suggest knowing your own measurements, but I do think that this is an important principal to follow when drafting pants patterns. It is obviously a rule where the U shaping and those measurements are flattering on most body types. Do you think this rule also applies for menswear?

    Again, thank you for sharing this πŸ™‚


    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I don’t have experience in menswear, so I can’t speak to it. But it would be interesting to find out!

  20. Reply


    Thank You so much for this info…I have so much trouble making pants with a fitting crotch. This should help me be more successful. I have been sewing many of my own clothes since the 7th grade…and that is a really lonnnng time. I am virtually self taught, with much Mommy help. I do the store bought pattern thing…lol I am short waisted which has always been a problem in buying pants/slacks/jeans. I do have a couple successful pairs of pants…that said…I copied the pattern from well fitting purchased ones. However ,those 5 pair of pants that I bought had to be re made to fit my waist, cutting off 4″ of the height in the waistband. They came up halfway to my breasts. The legs, the length, the butt, the belly…were perfect fit. LOL Now they all fit. Thank goodness I can sew. Thank you again Madalynne this is great info.

  21. Reply


    A little late to the party here… But yes, I usually always checked the saddle width when working on any bottoms (spent 7 years as a TD in sleep/intimates/active/seamless)

    If it’s too narrow it is no bueno πŸ™‚

  22. Reply


    Yes, it makes sense and explains why some pants appear “camel toed” and others fit well and look nice. I dissembled some bad-fitting pants to identify the problem, and concluded the “V” crotch = camel toe. I found that often fabric content and less secure construction techniques enable some clothing to sell to a broader range of body sizes and shapes. I had some pants that even while pregnant seemed to skim over my belly give me a flat abs appearance (vs the stretchy styles of today that accentuate the bulges in arms, backs, bellies, butts and hips). My pants fit well, and fit my size 8 and my friend’s size 10, while some stretchy styles “fit” a greater range of sizes, but don’t flatter any.( My friend “lost” those pants and we drifted apart but I wish I had them back…I’d take them apart and study them, too!)

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