Adding a gusset to pants pt.1

Today I got to do some alterations. Yeah me. I’m not fond of alterations. Based on past discussions, apparently many of you aren’t either (comments are hilarious). Eric got some pants that we had to have, that had a too short crotch. The only solution to fix a camel toe -after the fact- is to install some gussets. More yeahs for me. The very least I should get out of this annoyance deal is a post for my blog. Done well, I should be able to parlay the suspense into two entries. Heh.

Before I get to that, there was something that bugged me about the whole affair that you should think about in mostly two respects. One is customer feedback and the second is whether you should even sell your seconds.

Selling your seconds
We bought these pants from Sierra Trading who sells seconds and overstocks. For the most part, I like this vendor, you can get some good deals or at least I have up until now. In this case, these pants were way too small. Forget the camel toe for now, the first issue was a matter of size. Eric definitely takes a medium (defined as a 34″ waist in this brand) but we had to return the mediums for larges (36″-38″ waist). Even with the size large, the crotch was entirely too short (below).

My impression on this brand sold by Sierra Trading is lessened making me wonder if it’s advisable for a brand to sell problematic styles or if it’s better to destroy them. It’s a tough choice, recoup a certain loss on defective styles in the short term by selling them as seconds or diminish the reputation of your products over the long term. For what it’s worth, the women’s pants in the same style didn’t have this problem causing me to speculate how this drafting defect happened.

Customer Feedback
One thing that was very useful on Sierra Trading albeit after the fact, was customer feedback. There were quite a few comments from customers who mentioned these pants ran small only we didn’t notice that feature was available until we went back to process the return. I think soliciting feedback from customers -even if it is negative- is very useful. We still would have bought the items but we would have saved ourselves the cost of shipping a return. Mike wrote a post about the power of a good (or bad) review so that’s something you might consider offering if your site sells consumer direct online.

Guessing a gusset
Preamble dispensed with, the first trick to making a repair is trying to figure out how too small something is and that’s practically impossible to do with anything approaching engineering rigor. You can only correctly alter something that is too big. If it’s too small, how can you tell by how too small it is? Nonetheless, I had to try.

My first attempt was with a visual, trying to get an idea of that crotch shaping; the seams were flat felled so it’s not as though they were going to cooperate and reveal all. Here is a photo of the crotch shaping spread apart.

Perhaps you have no point of comparison -c’mon, go drag out a pair of men’s slacks- but what I’ve shown is a very dramatic disparity between the crotch length and thigh width. Brrrrr, makes me shiver all over just thinking about having to wear something like that. Pity. That’s what it is. My alteration was motivated by pity. Boo for me.

I started by opening up that crotch seam. Then I had Mr. Fashion-Incubator put the pants back on. Then I attempted to fold the raw edges together to arrive at a crude approximation of the disparity. I don’t know if you can tell from the scale below but the gap wasn’t very much, the length of the first digit of my index finger or about 1″.

Now I don’t know about you but a difference of only 1″ makes me nervous. Having the effect it had, there had to be more to it than that so 1″ wasn’t going to suffice for me. So, relying on my highly attenuated super-duper pattern making wizard skills, I guessed I should double it.

More on what I did next is tomorrow. In truth, I’m not holding out on you; I could have stuck it here. Problem is, Eric is at home and I need a photo of him wearing the pants to see if the gusset I installed solved the problems. I mean, it wouldn’t do for me to show you everything I did if it doesn’t work, neh?

Related: Jeans and pants fitting tutorials
Jeans fit so lousy these days
Jeans fit so lousy these days pt. 2
Yet another pet peeve: Waistbands
Anatomy of a Camel Toe pt.1
Anatomy of a Camel Toe pt.2
How to fix a camel toe
Adding a gusset to pants pt.1
Adding a gusset to pants pt.2

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  1. Eric H says:

    Nothing quite so disconcerting as having your wife sit with a camera inches from your nether regions while mumbling, “… that’s it?! … I can’t believe it … just an inch? … that’s all? …”

    Oh, well, I tell myself, that’s her problem, not mine.

  2. cjjones17 says:

    What a super trooper. My husband would have locked me outside with no key if I used his pictures. Thanks Eric for going that extra mile. I have seen pants for active outdoor wear that have a gusset in them and they look very comfortable to those who wear them. I can’t wait to see the outcome of the fixed camel toe.

  3. xath says:

    yeah, i’ve tried installing crotch gussets before. it didn’t work too well because i was eyeballing everything and don’t have a sewing machine. but i think this guide will help. i don’t have a camel toe or anything, i just need to have more slack between my legs. i wear my jeans lower than some consider acceptable, because they’re extremely uncomfortable otherwise, and if i try to step fully or crouch or play frisbee i run the risk of footlong rips down my crotch. thanks!

  4. jmjmis says:

    From the pictures the back seam is too shallow (not curved enough) and too short. I would first try deepening the crotch. Mark a new seam and sew down 3/4 to 1 inch. If one has a rounded tush and the pant is made for an asian tush the pants will look just like this. A gusset would help if the leg at crotch level was snug but it doesn’t look that way.

  5. Lessles says:

    OMG I am so glad I read this. We travel to Asia quite a bit and keep bleating about how fat travelling makes me. I’m a 10/12 Aus. in pants and yet nothing I try on ever fits. As for the shirts… I’m a 12 DD bust and when I go a size bigger the design just gets wider and really disproportionate. I recall my then 8yo daughter consoling me in a ladies change room, “its not you Mum, its just the clothes aren’t made right”!!!
    Thank you fashion-incubator, I love your posts, even if they make me scratch my head – its worth it!

  6. Janet.peach says:

    I’m cracking up (no pun intended) laughing! Mr. Fashion-Incubator is a sport, for sure. I was searching for some tips on installing a gusset–I’m sewing for a local theatre, and one of our young men ripped out the crotch on his second pair of pants on stage with his awesome dancing. Not good. I had to do a quick eyeball guestimation of how much extra room he needed (not appropriate for me to have my hands anywhere near his crotch!). I figured about an inch. What I did was open up the leg seams 9 inches on either side of the center, then inserted a strip of fabric from the first pair of ripped pants. I cut the strip 2 inches wide by 18 inches long. I sewed the back portion first, right sides together, then opened the strip right side up and pressed the seam to the back. I top stitched on the outside over the seam allowance to reinforce that edge and give it a professional finish. For the front, I placed the gusset edge under the pants edge (which still had it’s fold) so gusset was right side against pants front wrong side, and sewed this edge on top. Then I also top-stitched again to reinforce the seam and so it matched the original stitching. My gusset added 1 1/4 to the crotch. Today the young man wore them and made it through the show, so I hope it continues to hold. I do wish that I had put a little wider gusset in, the pants are still a little snug for my comfort (every costume lady watches the show biting her nails, hoping the costumes make it through without incident), although our young man seemed happy with them.

  7. Janet.peach says:

    Oops–I forgot to mention that I narrowed my gusset down as it met the point at which the opening ended.

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