A new pair of trousers

montana jacketBrown ones, at that.  Big colour surprise!!! I’ve had this wool crepe in my stash for years.  I originally purchased it as a complementary colour to the jacket in the picture above, which I sewed in…. um…. probably…. I’m guessing…. 1999?  You can tell by the shoulders, I’m sure.  I’ve a lovely pencil skirt to go with it, but I really wanted a pair of trousers to go with this jacket (which I’m not really loving anymore now that I see it, especially with the green sweater), and I haven’t gotten around to making them until this year.  And please excuse the headless photos – I was lazy today.

This is the same wool crepe as my latest brown skirt, and I have to say I’m happy I was able to get both out of the length of fabric.  The trousers are lined in the same not-pre-shrunk bemberg lining.

Trousers are funny, especially if you’re not particularly tall and have an hourglass (pear?) shape.  It’s only been since Jones New York came on the RTW scene that I’ve been able to purchase RTW dress pants that fit me properly, so I’ve usually sewn them myself.  But becoming a SAHM in 1998 changed my wardrobe requirements (no more dress codes), and I got out of the habit of sewing pants very much.  That said, I prefer a classic cut V1933 patternspant, or wide-legged pants that are dramatic and take a lot of fabric to the more shaped or skinny ones that are the trend.

I sifted through my pattern stash and decided on Vogue 1933, which is a Claude Montana design, and happens to be the same designer as the jacket, although from a different pattern.  I liked the technical drawing with the faux-pocket detail at the waist. To be honest, I wasn’t too sure about the front pleats, but the pattern cover seemed to be a straight-legged looking pair of pants on the model.  Mind you, the length of that jacket is covering the shaping/draping information that I really needed to know prior to cutting this out.

V1933 tech drawing

I did not read the description.  Bad.  Bad bad bad!!! “Tapered” equals a lot of extra fabric through the thighs à la 1980.  Not the look I was going for.  I didn’t bother getting photos to show you of my try-on session, but here’s the technical drawing of the pattern pieces.

V1933 pants

Pattern #24 is the back.  It’s been looooooong years since you’ve seen a trouser pattern looking so tapered, I bet!  I used to like wearing tapered trousers.  They were OK during the ’80’s, and you could still get away with them in the ’90’s (this pattern is copyrighted 1997), but I’m just not in love with that look anymore, for obvious reasons.  Haven’t been for a while!  I may change my mind in the 2020’s when the designers decide to have a go with reinventing the late 20th century styles, but for now I much prefer a “curvy” look, so I snooped through my traced Burda patterns and went for the version I made from Burda 01-2011-134.  Just for comparison, here’s the pattern pieces for that pair.

B 1-2011-134

The trouser back is piece #23, and you can see a big difference in the shape.  There’s a bit of flare to the Burda pair, too.

Of course, you realize, I didn’t make the Burda decision until after sewing up the lining, sewing up the fashion fabric, carefully pressing everything be-yew-tifully, trying on the original pants sans waistband and realizing there was no way that I would be wearing them in their original state.  BOTHER!!!  So I ripped all the seams apart except for the zipper, pressed everything as flat as possible, and recut them using Burda pattern pieces.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric in the original pants to do the flare at the bottom, so this is what I’m left with.  The shoes are totally wrong for these pants, as you can see.

V1933But I like the colour and the cut enough to keep them, or at least tweak them if I need to so they’ll be palatable for as much as I anticipate wearing them.  I have to say, the bottom of the waistband sits at my natural waist.  It’s a very different feel from the more up-to-date trousers with their low-rise cuts.  But I think this can work in my wardrobe. V1933 waist detailI took the time to practice my hand worked buttonholes on the pocket flap.  All that silk buttonhole thread that I ordered arrived, so I gave it a try.  Let me say there is absolutely no comparison working with silk buttonhole twist vs. cotton buttonhole thread.  The coverage per stitch with the silk is amazing, and makes the buttonhole go quite quickly.  This one’s not a perfect buttonhole, but with practice, I’ll master the technique. handworked buttonholeI finished the hem the way I like to whenever working with wool or other fabric that frays easily.  I cut a strip of the lining material on the bias and did a mock binding.  Then I used a catch stitch to enable movement, as there’s bound to be some on a trouser hemline.hem finishingYou can see how much the crepe frays from the seam allowances in the picture below. And, finally, I used a thread loop to keep the lining in place, as these are fully lined trousers….. because they’re wool!

thread stays

Pattern Review: Burda 01-2011-134

b01-2011-134 front

Well, I’m done the high-waisted pants in camel coloured wool crepe.  And this is what they look like on me!  You’ll have to excuse the creasing – I wore them most of the day prior to taking these pictures.

b01-2011-134 full front

What attracted me to these pants was the interesting centre seam running down the crease line in the fronts.

b01-2011-134 line drawing

It looks nice and long and lean in that drawing, doesn’t it?  I found it interesting that Burda photographed the pants from the side, like I’ve done in this picture, which is very flattering.

b01-2011-134 side front

The other thing to note about Burda’s pictures is the top they’ve paired with these pants. Here’s the line drawing of the top they’ve got going.  Notice how looooooong it is.  On the model the top falls below her crotch line.


The other photo they’ve got of these pants is with a knee-length jacket, so it covers the models hips.  Can you see why?  Even my DH noted that the curving of the seam on the pants fronts makes my hips look wider than they really are!

b1-2011-134 side front

Burda stylists are smart. Annoyed  I’ve a lot to learn in that department.  But I like these pants. 

Alterations to the pattern:  I left out the pockets, because I don’t really use pants pockets and I do not like to add bulk across my hips. And I added one inch to the CB seam to accommodate my sway back.  I wanted the waist to sit at my natural waistline all around, and not pull down at the CB like most pants do.  As you can see from the folds of fabric through the seat in the picture below, there’s a little bit of fitting finesse that I neglected to bother with for this pair.

b1-2011-134 back

But it’s a keeper pair.  When I make up this pair of pants again, I’m going to re-draw the two front pieces so that the seam above the knees is straighter like the line drawing:  take out approximately 2.5” from the front piece, and add it to the front seam on the side front piece.  Then the seam line should be flattering.

Conclusion:  I like these pants.  I intend to make them up again in a different colour, but probably a similar fabric.  I really like working with and wearing wool crepe, and it works very nicely with this pants pattern.

Trousers lining: Burda 1-2011-134

Well, how to line these darn things with the fly zipper….

Just a side note:  I am not using the facings as per Burda, but am following Making Trousers idea that petersham ribbon (or grosgrain ribbon) is a thin and excellently stable material for either interfacing or actually BEING the waistband facing on trousers.  It makes lovely and simple sense to me, so I’m going to be facing these trousers with petersham.

But that still leaves the “how to line trousers with a fly zipper and a zipper shield” question.  Well, here’s what I did.

NOTE:  I have not stitched up the centre back seam at this point.

Trim the fly facing from the LF lining, mark and staystitch the curved stitching line on the RF lining.  Staystitch and clip the RF lining, turning and pressing in the seam allowance on both RF and LF openings.

clipped RF lining

Turn the fly facings along the foldlines to the outside, right sides together and pin baste.  fly facings turned inStitch and trim the seam allowance, leaving about 5/8″ of the front extending under the facing.

fly facing stitched trimmed

Turn the facings right side out and press.

fly facings turned

Staystitch the waist.

staystitched waist

Try on pants for fitting through the waist, making any adjustments as needed and marking the centre back seam allowance.  Then stitch 1 or 1.5 inch wide petersham to the waist.  The top of the petersham will sit just under the staystitching.

petersham stitching petersham stitched

Stitch up the centre back seam.  Press it open.  Turn down the waist seam allowance over the petersham, press and baste into place.basted waist allowance

Sew up the lining.  I didn’t bother drafting my own seamless lining for the trouser fronts.  I used the same two-piece fronts as the fashion fabric.  And, because I hate bemberg strings everywhere, I serged the pants seams.finished lining seams

Staystitch and turn in the waist seam allowance on the lining.  Press. Pin baste to the top of the waistband (petersham ribbon).

pinned lining

Fell stitch into place.

fell stitched lining

Zip up the zipper, lay the pants flat inside out and pin the linings to the fly opening.

pinned fly lining

Fell stitch into place.  I left the fly shield loose and stitched the lining securely underneath it.  You can tack it into place at the bottom of the fly opening and fell the lining over the end of the fly shield if you wish.  I may do this next time, but this is what I did for this particular pair of trousers.  Here’s the fly zipper finished, exterior and interior shots.

finished fly finished lined fly

Last, but not least, I sewed through all layers – lining, petersham and fabric – at both back darts, side seams and side front seams to ensure the lining stays in place while being worn.

Well, that’s how I lined these pants!  Now I have to hem them, decide on a button or hook/eye closure and take some pictures of me wearing them so you can see the fit on someone that is not as tall as a Burda model.

There’s a lot of hand sewing putting the lining in like this.  If I didn’t care so much about not seeing seam allowances from the inside, I would have done this very differently…. maybe next time.  I’m happy with the finished interior look of these pants!

Trousers zipper: Burda 1-2011-134

So I made the decision to go with the interesting trousers from Burda’s January issue.  But the instructions are, well…. um…. I’ve had to read through them about six times for the zipper, so I thought I might as well post pics of how I did mine in case anyone else out there would like to make up these pants!

These pants have a fly zipper with a shield.

I referred heavily to Claire Shaeffer’s instructions for Vogue 7881, and, since I love to put zippers in by hand because it works perfectly every time, followed her instructions for that.  Now, before any of you readers get frightened away by the words “by hand”, let me tell you it took all of 15 minutes to stitch a 7″ zipper into these pants.  I usually spend at least that much time pinning, stitching, ripping, re-pinning, re-stitching and re-ripping ad nauseum trying to get a front fly zipper into a pair of pants perfectly anyways, so I thought I might as well put it in perfectly the first time  – by hand!

Yes, I have much more faith in my ability to control a zipper via hand stitching than machine stitching!!!

I also referred to David Coffin’s Making Trousers book, specifically his instructions on “Cut-on Waist Zipper with Cut-on Fly Shield”, since these pants have an extended high waist that is faced.  There’s no separate waistband to be attached – it’s all one piece with the fronts and backs.

I apologize in advance for the variation in photo colour/quality!  OK, here we go…

Interface the fly facings on both fronts using a good quality fusible. (I have no idea what this interfacing is called, but it’s the best fusible I’ve ever used:  it’s wool.  Sorry I cheaped out and pieced mine together, but I honestly don’t think it will matter much!)

interfaced zip fly

Stitch the front crotch seam from the bottom of the zipper opening about 2 inches towards the leg seams as seen in the very bottom of the picture above.

crotch seam below fly opening

Press the flys into place:  the right fly along the centre front, and the left fly 3/16″ outside the centre front.

Mark the top-stitching line on the outside and topstitch the curve, from the bottom of the zip opening to about 3″ from the waistband.  I like doing the topstitching without having a zipper underneath to negotiate.  The topstitching is perfect this way!topstitched fly

Stitch the fly shield piece ends, turn and press it.  If you’re not lining the pants, finish the edges the long edge of the fly shield.stitched fly shield

Pin the zipper in place, pressed LF (left front) edge close to the zipper teeth.  Baste.pinned fly RF fly shield

Pin the fly shield under the zipper, matching the edge of the fly shield to the edge of the zipper tape underneath.  Stab stitch into place.  stitched LF with shield

On the inside, fell stitch the tape and edge of the fly shield to the fly facing.  Here’s a closeup of the inside of the LF (left front).P2070001

Lay RF (right front) over zipper, as though the zipper is closed.  Pin and baste.basted RF

From the wrong side, use a short running stitch to fasten the zipper to the fly facing.  Be careful not to stitch ONLY through the facing layer.  You only want to catch the interfaced facing.  Fell stitch the edge of the zipper to the facing, only catching the facing in the stiches – not the front of the pants!

RF zipper handwork

It’s done!  Here’s the outside, zipped and unzipped, and the interior.

zip outside open fly zip interior of fly zip

How painless was that?  I love a fuss-free-perfectly-topstitched fly zipper on pants!  In my next post I’ll show you how I added a lining to this pattern.

Thoughts on trousers

….or pants, as I usually call them.

I’ve been reading David Page Coffin’s Making Trousers for Men and Women since it was the only thing I took on vacation that was sewing related.

It’s given me a lot of food for thought about the construction of pants. If you don’t own this book, you should get yourself a copy, or at least borrow it from your local library for a read.  He’s got a fascinating look at the construction of pants from YSL couture to vintage 1932 to L.L. Bean.  The variety of construction techniques, pockets and zippers is amazing.  And I had never heard of a “hem stay” until reading this book.  Have you ever heard of a hem stay?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of pants with them in my life.  The one thing that I disagree with him on is lining.  I always prefer my pants to be fully lined regardless of how nice the fabric feels next to my skin.  The least I’ll do is line them to the knee.  And I always prefer to have my linings hang free instead of being sewn into the seam allowances.  Even if I’m purchasing pants that aren’t either khakis, corduroys or jeans, I always look for a fully lined pair of pants.  I guess I feel like I get my money’s worth that way! He he he….

Now I just need to make my choice regarding the pattern I’m going to make up.  What do you think?  Here’s a pic of the wool…

wool crepe

Very basic caramel coloured wool crepe from FabricMartFabrics.com. And here’s my pattern choices so far – both BurdaStyle.

b 1-2011-134 B 10-2010-104

I’m personally leaning towards the ones on the left (Burda 1-2011-134) for a couple of reasons: the shaped high waist and the shaping in the legs (just a bit of boot cut); and the interesting seam down the centre of the front.  The inseam pockets are a nice feature, too.  I’m always up for something a little different…