Cynthia Guffey Pants Fitting DVDs – Review


My local library, the Longmont Public Library, has a collection of 31 sewing and fitting DVDs from Cynthia Guffey (she’s the one in the purple jacket above), thanks to the Friends of the Longmont Library. Having pants on my mind, I checked out the two relevant titles: “Pants Fitting” and “Tweaking Pants Crotch Depth Crotch Length”. Try searching for “crotch” at your local library and see what you get. Besides the “Tweaking Pants” DVD, I got a medical guide for cyclists and “American Shaolin: … and the legend of the iron crotch”. Too funny. But I digress.

I don’t know much about Cynthia Guffey. I believe she has been around for a long time. The DVDs were purchased in 2011 for the library, but there is no copyright date that I could find on the DVDs. I believe she still teaches seminars and sells her own patterns and books. Recently, there are three videos of hers you can purchase and watch on dailycrafttv about fitting and sewing.

Pants Fitting The first DVD is primarily focused on taking measurements and transferring them to a basic pants pattern you may have. Her approach is quite methodical and logical. Let’s say you are wearing some leggings so we can see your curves. You place a ribbon at your waistline (where you would like your pants waistband to sit). Then you put a piece of tape down the center of your front side and the center of your backside. You also put a piece of tape on each hip, marking every 2″ from the waist. This is where the side seams are going to go.


Basically you take measurements from the red dots to the ground. You are supposed to be standing on a flat surface in your bare feet. The relative differences in these measurements can be used to determine how much the waist band should go up or down from your hips to your center front or center back. A line perpendicular to the grain line would have no change from hip to center front/back.

You also measure each quarter of your hip (center front or back to either hip) in 2″ increments from the waist down. These can be applied to your pattern piece to make sure that you have enough width in the pattern to match your hip shape. You can apply these measurements up to a point on the pattern before the fabric starts curving around the inside of your leg. Notice that we have not taken into account ease.


But before you apply those hip measurements, there are three things we can try adjusting first. First is crotch depth. This is easily measured by sitting on a flat surface and measuring from the waistband to the surface you are sitting on. That’s your crotch depth. You can adjust the crotch depth on your pattern at the shortening/lengthening line.


Now here’s something that I haven’t fully understood. If you have one of those flexible rulers, you need to mold the ruler to the shape of your backside (and your front side). For shaping purposes, imagine that there is no valley between your two butt cheeks. The resulting shape can be applied directly to your pants pattern as your new crotch shape. I’m not sure I fully understand this concept.


Cynthia has you measure your total crotch length (center waist front, between legs, to center waist back). Her rule of thumb is 45% of the measurement to the front and 55% to the back. She suggests adding 1″ – 1.5″ for ease. How this is applied is not completely clear to me. She has a more intuitive approach to getting your crotch fitting issues worked out in the next DVD.

Tweaking Pants This DVD discusses more intuitive approaches to dealing with crotch issues. After you make a muslin, you can determine if your crotch depth is correct by observing how the fabric folds when you take a step forward. You can also tweak the crotch length in front and in back by carefully tugging at the fabric from the front or the back to see if the fabric lies better.

Summary Both of these DVDs are really thought-provoking for me. Each is about 30 minutes in length. Cynthia is pleasant to listen to and the topics are presented in short chapters. She uses a model which is very helpful. In the 2nd DVD, the model is wearing an actual pair of pants so you can see the tweaking in action.

I like the quantitative approach to adjusting the pants pattern. Most everything makes sense. I’d like to see the crotch shaping business (with the flexible ruler) in action. And as for the tweaking, the approach also makes sense to me, but I need to try it with my own pants muslin. Will I be able to get rid of that smile on the backside of my jeans?

If these approaches to pants fitting seem reasonable to you, you might enjoy watching these two DVDs. I’ll be curious to compare Cynthia’s approach to Peggy Sager’s (Silhouette Patterns). Of course, there’s nothing better than actually doing a pants fitting. So until I try my fitting my own pants, I’ll reserve judgement. Do you have a favorite approach to pants fitting?


  1. My approach to fitting is to make a muslin, read a book, make another muslin read a book make a muslin etc.. I don’t recommend it, its rather frustrating.


  2. I was the one who had the library order that series. I took a couple classes with Cynthia Guffey at the Sew Expo and thought she was excellent. If you ever get a chance to take a live class, make sure you do. She has a lot of good tips. She wears her own clothes and they are impeccably sewn. I bought a couple of her patterns based on what she was wearing in the classes.


  3. Excellent review! I’m going to see if my library has those dvds or can get them for me. If you’re interested, the American Sewing Guild has two ongoing pant fitting classes (special interest group) that meet monthly and tackle these challenges. You can check out their facebook page for more info – These are offered to members but you can attend two group meetings and then decide if you’d like to continue.


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