Who Wears the Pants...?

Monday, June 24, 2013
Well, I do.

Actually, so does David. I'm not sure I've ever seen him in a skirt or a dress or anything. But you guys - I MADE PANTS!

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Finally, after many years of sewing, I tackled my sewing nemesis. 

Sure, they aren't fitted pants or anything - I wanted big, wide, swing-y 40's styled pants. But I made them. And they fit. And there isn't any - ahem - wrinkling where there shouldn't be.

While it did take me 3 muslin attempts, I finally managed to wrangle this 40's pants pattern into submission. But it wasn't easy.

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Oh dear, this pattern...

The cover image makes them look so sleek and Katherine Hepburn-esque. Even the pattern outlines on the back promise this exact outcome. But in actuality, the paper pattern tapers, majorly, towards the bottom of the pant leg. Leaving you with ballooning hips and skinny ankles. Not a good look people. It's a little Fresh Prince-Harem-Pant gone wrong (was that ever right?). Oh, and they taper on both the back and front pant pieces, in both the inner and outer leg.

And the annoying thing was that I could see this when I was cutting out my first muslin, but I ignorantly thought that it would be fine! The front cover image doesn't taper, so maybe by some miraculous happening, this paper pattern won't taper either (yeah. No magical-un-tapering-ness happened here. Surprise surprise...).

That first muslin made me really question my friendship with this pattern and making pants and so we took a break. We both needed some time apart. I needed to make patterns that weren't completely different to the front and back cover images. And the pants pattern needed some time alone to think about what it had done.

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After a few weeks, we sat down together, sort of made up, and muslin 2 came into being. I made a completely new muslin, straightened out the outer leg taper on both front and back pieces (at this point, I hadn't connected the dots to realise that the inner leg tapered as well, because it didn't taper quite as much as the outer). I also added some extra hip and waist room. I tried them on, and to my surprise, we were nearly there.

Onto muslin 3 and I unpicked the inner legs, basted on some extra muslin and straightened out the slight taper there. Now the legs were pretty much perfect. Looking much more Katherine Hepburn than Fresh Prince.

I wanted a fancy button up side fastening, so I drafted 2 extra button plackets (which, less face it, were just 2 rectangles of interfaced fabric), sewed one each onto the front and back side, ironed them down and joined them at the botton on the inside. Then I added my button holes, sewed on my buttons and et voila! PANTS!

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Oh, these pants I'm wearing? Yeah, I made them.

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Did I tell you that I made these pants????

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I'm so glad I kept going with these. They have just the right amount of swing in the leg, but not so much that it's annoying. They fall nice and straight, and the green wool I used is just such a lovely shade of sage green. I really like the slight contrast stitching I used and the deep green buttons, which are also glittery in the sunlight (I bought them for my green version of the Afternoon Blouse).

I am now going to make them up in a black pinwhale cord. Cord is obviously much stiffer than my swingy green wool, and it has some stretch in it as well, so I'll need to play around with the fitting of the waist and hips, but I'm hoping they'll turn out just as lovely as these ones are.

Do you guys have any sewing nemeses? Have you tackled them? Did you have any success?

34 comments on "Who Wears the Pants...?"
  1. Oh my, you are a rockstar!!! I am terrified of sewing pants (or shirts or coats or anything "truly" tailored). I love the shape and that fabric? Swoon...

  2. These look awesome - that colour is great. And bravo for confronting the nemesis. I thought I might start with grainline's shorts to break me into trouser making gently, but maybe a looser pair of trousers is a better idea. The to-sew list gets longer.....

  3. Did you make these pants?


    They look fantastic. I love that shade of green!

  4. Fabulous pants! Really Hepburn! Very lovely outfit and these buttons are so cute.

  5. Those pants look very nice, and the button election was perfect. I'm glad you finally got them done.

    I've recently made the Thurlow Trousers from Sewaholic. I took me 2 muslins and I almost cried when inserting the zipper, but at the end I can say they are my favorite pants. Just after the zipper I swore to myself that I was never going to make pants again, but when I got them finished, I loved them so much that I'm already planning on making more in corduroy or wool.

  6. Jen, you did a wonderful job! Good on you for persevering through the M.C. Hammer look...I would have thrown in the towel!
    How odd though that they taper down to the ankles when they clearly don't on the picture!

  7. Wonderful! Did you guess what happened to the pattern? Or is it just plainly poorly made?

  8. They are fantastic! I'm Green with envy and such a lovely green too

  9. They look fantastic! Congratulations! I find making pants to be so empowering.

  10. Gorgeous! Well done missy, these are amazing!

  11. These are a thing of beauty! Truly! I'm teetering on the verge of pants making, but I'm terrified I won't be successful.

    Your pants are amazing. I love the shape, the color, the buttons... everything!

  12. Wow, these are fabulous! They really do have the perfect amount of swing! I'm so glad you stuck with this pattern despite the challenges-- awesome results! Pants are my nemesis, too. I had a month-long shorts debacle last summer that's soured me on bottoms, but I need to give them a try again.

  13. Wow your trousers are lovely! I love this wide legged style. Weird about the pattern but great that you managed to work around it!

  14. I love everything about these! They are retro yet so wearable, and the fabric and color are divine...worth all of your hard work!

  15. These are lovely!! Pants were my sewing nemesis, too. I just made my first pair in May (http://rosiewednesday.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-tale-of-two-patterns-butterick-5895.html), and I kind of love them. It turned out to be easier than I expected, and I'm already on to my second pair now! Here's to pants!

  16. Those look beautiful! I love the color and the button placket. Congrats for tackling the project!!

    I think whatever long-term project I'm working on feels like a nemesis, until it's done. I'm on muslin 3 for Gertie's starlet jacket and the shoulders still aren't right, so it's a contender :)

  17. Fabulous Pants! I need to get back to working on mine.

  18. wow, very lovely pants. The green color is gorgeous. Way to go!! My goals are pants with a front fly and a jacket; I'm in no hurry though. Oh, and a swimsuit! But I'm hoping to tackle that one real soon. :)

  19. Pants, pants, pants, pants!!!! You did it! They look so effortless and elegant on you - all those muslins were worth it! Woohoo!!!!

  20. Gorgeous pants! And that lovely green color? Total swoon. Glad to hear you took on a challenge & stuck with it when it got difficult! That's so weird about the pattern tapering because there's really no hint of it at all. A month ago I made my first pair of Thurlow shorts & love them. So much I have plans for another pair and am seriously considering the winter shorts & tights look that I've never been interested in trying before. I bet your pattern would make some cute summery shorts as well. Looking forward to your next versions!

  21. Congratulations! They are gorgeous! Pants and knits are my nemeses - so I'm currently forcing my hand with knit tops first, then my pants and I will have another chat.... My perfect pair do look remarkably like yours - the faint brown plaid merino keeps looking at me accusingly - haven't you tried to muslin for me again yet...

  22. Yay! I'm glad you kept going with these because they look awesome. I need to make myself a few more pairs of pants. I have a sailor pair but I want a simple black high waisted pair I could wear to work.

  23. The shade of green, the buttons, the everything! Can you tell I love these? Good on you for doing a couple of muslins cause these are stunning.

  24. Very nice job! I love this shade of green, it's especially nice on redheads :) Which makes me wonder why I don't have more green! Seriously impressed with your perseverance. I tried to sew a pair of Clovers last year and they ruined pants for me. I'm going to try again...at some point. When I have much more patience. And not with stretch material!

  25. Wow, they turned out great despite all of the challenges! I've never even attempted making pants- I'm pretty hippy so I anticipate lots of terrible fitting issues. Congratulations on powering through them!


    PS: I'm your newest follower!

  26. Wow, nice work, they look so stylish yet comfy at the same time! The fabric you used is absolutely gorgeous and I loooove the buttons you added at the side. I've wanted to do this kind of closure on a few dresses but never been bothered to figure it out... but now I know! Thanks :)

  27. These pants are all kinds of awesome!

  28. So pretty!!! and i love the color =)

  29. They're a real triumph and you look wonderful in them, I LOVE the colour! Definitely worth persevering with the pattern. My sewing nemesis is underwear....I had a go at making some recently and it was a total disaster! x

  30. Fantastic, I love them! They're wonderful on you. And the color is just perfect. I bought the same pattern at a vintage fair several months ago and the size is too big for me, so whenever I do get to them I'll know to un-Fresh-Prince-ify them in the process! :)

  31. Congratulations! It's great that you overcame your fear of pants. :) I have yet to try any (it was in my plans for this year but my pregnancy has delayed it). As for sewing nemeses, I've been afraid of knits for a long time and have decided it had to change, so I'm currently working on a t-shirt. I hope it will be a success and will open the door to more kinds of sewing projects.

  32. I missed this post! After I had so been looking forward to it, too. For all the trouble they were, they look amazing! You've got some seriously great pattern fixing skills.

  33. Marvellous trousers! Very well done!


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