Saturday, 13 May 2017

Tackling My Biggest Sewing Challenge: Trousers

Of all the garments that I have made only 5% have been some form of trousers, pants or shorts. These leg covering garments include culottes, shorts, jumpsuit, elasticized, and my much-loved OOP Vogue 1325 raised-waist trousers and have been sewn for either myself or others. If I were to only count trousers I've made for myself that only account for 2% of my makes.

I would wear more trousers if I can break the fitting code on this type of project. And this is my next Me-Made-May journey, trousers.

I Graça, of Sew Essentially Sew, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2017.  I plan on being more mindful of the fabrics that I chose to wear, the environmental impact of my sewing decisions, and to pass along the clothes that don't fit and replace them with items that reflect my current life-style and values.  

I should confess that my wardrobe also has a pair of ill-fitting trousers that I haven't been able to part with (until now) because I made it and searched high and low for needed supplies. I'm looking at you, Vogue 1507. This is a perfect example of falling for a beautiful designer look that doesn't really do my petite pear shaped body any favours. It was an error in style choice, not any flaws on the pattern's design.

Vogue 1507 was not doing my pear shaped figure any favours.
The crotch sat a little low because it was loose around the waistline. Add to that my curvaceous hip and thigh area doesn't lend too well to a tapered leg or the opportunity to properly adjust that waist. It is all good because these pair of trousers have taught me a few things that I hope to use on this trouser making journey.

I have a small waist measurement compared to my hip measurement. Most of the time when I've tried on RTW trousers or tried to make my own, I have an issue with the waistband.  The waist will stick out and doesn't properly sit on my body. According to some research, contour waistbands should work with this issue. But I once made OOP Vogue 1309 which has a contour waistband and it didn't turn out quite how I hoped. I might consider another pattern instead of re-visiting Vogue 1309.

Vogue 7881, from Claire Shaeffer's Custom Couture Collection, has a contour yoke. This might be a possibility. And it's sized for Misses' petite, at just over five feet, I could use a petite sized pattern. And it has a European cut. To be honest I had to research what this meant. An European cut refers to a longer rise compared to a low rise typically found in North American trouser styles. And according to research, a person, like me, with a smaller to hip ratio would benefit from an European cut.

And I have thighs, fabulous full thighs that present a challenge when fitting trousers. I have a copy of Sandra Bettina's Fast Fit:  Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure and it had some wonderful advice on this fitting issue and it worked like a charm when I made those Vogue 1325 pants. But, now that I want to try another pattern. I'll just have to remember that this worked on this pattern.

I mentioned that I'm also petite and apparently, that means that I should avoid wide leg trousers. But to heck with that!  
Katherine Hepburn, trouser wearing style icon. 
I want to look like a 1940s trouser wearing starlet. Except, I'm petite and the style icons that I'm thinking about were much taller than I am.  

Doris Day, circa 1948.
I would love to recreate that 1940's vintage look, just minus any pleats.  

And I have OOP Vogue 8887 is sitting in my collection of trouser patterns with that 1940's vibe I'm looking for without scaring me off with pleats. But these trousers are wide-legged, cuffed and have side front pockets, all design elements that a petite curvy lady should avoid.  

So, this is the plan. Work on Claire Shaeffer's Vogue 7881 and learn the "inside secrets of luxurious couture construction details" and then take that knowledge and apply it to OOP Vogue 8887. And maybe, if all goes well, I'll have my dream pair of pants.  

Happy Sewing!  


  1. My biggest sewing challenge is also fitting pants. I've done well in certain instances in the past and ended up with pants that fit pretty good. But then I stay away from it for a while, and forget what I did to tweak for fit the last time. It's a never ending saga for me.

  2. Happy Mother's Day you are an inspiration!

  3. Good luck with this. I find Burda patterns to be more forgiving of a curvy figure than most. If necessary, an old sewing teacher indicated you could add additional darts to the waist area to help with a large hip to waist differential. Also, I always make the finished top of the waistband taper n about 1/4" from the edge of the pants in the back, which helps a lot with that gap that occurs for a lot of people with a more hourglass shaped body.


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