Emerson Pants: Adventures in fitting a petite pear

I’m late to the Emerson pants game, but you know what’s always relevant? Trying to fit pants on a petite pear body. Can petite pears wear cropped culottes? Yes.

I’m late to the Emerson pants game, but you know what’s always relevant? Trying to fit pants on a petite pear body. Come with me on this journey.

Culottes are dope. I love them. As a short, petite pear, I don’t think I’m supposed to love them. While the style pros advise boot cut or wide-leg pants for pears, the excess fabric can risk overwhelming a petite person. (Think JNCO jeans.)

Three young men, in various poses, show off comically wide-legged JNCO jeans. These jeans were popular in the late 90s-early aughts.
I’m not going for this look.

The heart wants what it wants though, and it wanted chartreuse culottes.

Pattern information

The Emerson Pants is a pattern by True Bias released in 2018. It’s a cropped culotte with front pleats and an elasticized back waistband.

Line art of the Emerson Pants by True Bias, which is a pleated cropped culotte.

Views A and B are mid-rise, and Views C and D is a high-waisted pant. There are line markings in both views to turn this into shorts if you’d like. I went with View C to cover my lower ab “shelf” and other assets.

Update Sept. 20, 2021: The pattern goes up to a 46.5″ hip, which isn’t the worst, but other pattern companies have gone higher.

Fabric information

I picked up tencel twill from Blackbird Fabrics in Olive Oil back when it was much warmer. I would not consider myself a Blackbird stan or anything. They have a lot of fabrics that suit my warm autumn color palette.

A product photo of chartreuse tencel twill fabric, slightly rumpled to showcase the drape.

I think I picked up about 3 meters, and used most of it, including recutting some waistband pieces. I have enough left over to use for some color-block pieces in the future, or maybe even a matching mask.

Tencel twill is much easier to work with than rayon voile or poplin, but you’re still better off cutting with a rotary cutter as it can still slip a little under the scissors. True that fabric grain and double-check the pattern grainline with your fabric grain using an L square ruler. Double-check your cut fabric against your pattern pieces. It’s not going to shift as wildly as rayon, but I did have to adjust my markings a few times.

Update Sept. 20, 2021: I highly recommend using a stiffer waistband elastic, such as Ban-roll, for these pants. Since the pattern requires lightweight fabrics for drape, the front waistband has a habit of folding over. I also recommend using a stiffer elastic in the back for a more sturdy fit. I used a soft knit elastic in the original post and I don’t think I’d do that again. I like my pants to fit like a capital P PANTS.

Adjustment notes

Everything. I adjusted everything. I’m a petite pear, so it’s my body shape’s destiny to make pattern adjustments as difficult as possible. I started with a size 8, which was the bare minimum ease required.

Adjustments:

  • Shortened the crotch length by a half-inch.
  • Reshaped the crotch curve, wildly. The back crotch adjustment added a good two inches to the thigh. Thighzilla was grateful.
  • Added to the side seams because cheeseburger booty power.
  • Chopped off two inches from the length. The “cropped” Emerson is a full-length pant for me.
  • Added another half-inch to the back leg inseam, because those sumo deadlifts are really working.

I likely would’ve made these adjustments in any other pants pattern.

Using a combination of the seam method and tissue-fitting, I was able to deduce that I was a size 10 waist, size 12 hip and thigh, and a size 8 leg. I would never have figured this out from the pattern measurements alone. If I had stuck with a size 10 waist and graded out to a size 12 for the rest, the fabric would’ve overwhelmed me from the knees down. I feel like this is especially a unique problem for petite pears. This fitting experiment helped me figure out how I would need to grade between sizes in the future.

As usual, you can run the risk of over-fitting with pants, so remember: Ease is your friend. I sat down, squatted, and lunged in my basted pants first before I sewed everything up. I looked at the placement of the pleats to make sure it wasn’t calling attention to the widest parts of my hips, or highlighting my lower ab “shelf.”

Update Sept. 20, 2021: These adjustments may look like a lot, but that was because when I first made these pants, I used the tissue-fitting method. When I went according to the chart measurement the second time around, I just needed to shorten the crotch depth, do a full thigh adjustment, and do a front tummy adjustment.

Construction notes

This is what some would call an “easy sew”. I realize that phrase gives zero context, because an easy sew for one person may not be easy for others.

Here’s why it was easy for me:

  • There weren’t any techniques mentioned that I wasn’t already familiar with. (Understitching, edge stitching, pleats, stitch-in-the-ditch, elastic insertion.)
  • The order of construction is obvious.
  • Most of the instructions were clear.

Most of my fiddling around, basting, and seam ripping had to do with getting the fit right, which had nothing to do with the pattern instructions itself, but rather the territory that comes with pants fitting.

I was pleasantly surprised by the instructions for attaching the crotch. I’ve seen different methods of crotch attachment in various patterns and this one was like “oh, that actually makes a lot of sense!”

I was also unusually happy that bar tacks were part of the instructions for reducing wear-and-tear on the slash pockets. It was also an excuse for me to try out the bar tack stitch on my machine.

Near the end, the waistband instructions were a little confusing because it referred to several steps in ONE diagram.

Finish stitching the front section of the waistband to the shorts/pants, leaving in the pins that are holding the elastic in place. On the front of the waistband, stitch in the ditch through all the layers where the back and front waistbands meet, catching the elastic inside of the stitching so that it’s secure.

A line drawing of the Emerson pant waistband, with an arrow pointing to horizontal stitching below the waistband.
What I thought the instructions were referring to.
A line drawing of the Emerson pants waistband, with two arrows pointing to vertical stitching where the front flat waistband meets the elasticated back waistband pieces.
What the instructions were actually referring to.

I ended up doing this anyway and didn’t realize it, but it would’ve been better if the optional edge stitching and the required stitching to hold down the elastic were broken up into two diagrams instead of one.

Pattern Grade: A

Points were deducted for the lack of clarity near the end. I should probably come up with a real points system.

Would I make this again? Absolutely! I love culottes, and I like the way I was able to fit these to give me the ease I desired without overwhelming my frame. I’m sure a black and chambray pair are in the future.

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