Hey look, here I am again – with another pair of polka dotted trousers! Are you surprised? Would you be surprised to know that I have another pair of dotty trousers sitting on my sewing table as we
type speak? Do you think I have a problem? I’ve never considered myself a polka dot trouser kind of girl, but these sewing numbers don’t lie!
This polka dot cotton sateen is actually an old spoil from the Mood Fabrics flagship store in NYC, which I bought while I was there in March. I knew I wanted to make pants with it – what pattern specifically, I couldn’t tell you, but pants for sure! I love using cotton sateen for pants as it’s usually a good weight with a nice, heavy stretch, and the colors are always so lovely and saturated. Plus – polka dots! Yesss!!
The pattern I eventually ended up using is the Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over it. I actually tested this pattern ‘way back when earlier this year, to help get it ready for it’s print debut. I was on a pretty tight deadline during testing, which meant that I didn’t end up with a finished garment – just a muslin and a loooot of notes. This is actually pretty typical for me as a tester; I don’t always finish the pattern to the effect that it warrants a blog post! Once I got everything back to Lisa, I put the pattern on the backburner since the summer heat was starting to ramp up and I couldn’t handle the thought of wearing pants in this kind of humidity.
Anyway, we’ve got promises of cooler weather lurking on the horizon, which means it’s PANTSSS TIMEEEEE! Yay!
I did make a few changes to the pattern, both for fitting and general style. Let’s go over the fitting stuff first. Every time I make trousers, I end up doing the same adjustments across the board, especially if the pattern doesn’t include a front zip fly. I realize that trousers are kind of a scary subject for a lot of sewers, so I’m going to show y’all what I do in my fitting and hopefully that’ll shed some light on the whole matter (and even more hopefully – prove that they really aren’t so scary to fit!).
I don’t have muslin photos of this particular pattern, but I do have muslin photos from my archives (super unflattering muslin photos, I might add! Ha!) back when I made the Colette Clovers. Different patterns, but the concept is similar.
See all those horizontal wrinkles allll over my damn crotch? This is an indication that the crotch is way too long for me – so it’s wrinkling. The easiest way to fix this is to pinch out the excess into a long horizontal line, and transfer that to your pattern piece with slashing and taping. I’m petite, and while my torso is a pretty standard length, my crotch length is on the short side. So this is an adjustment that I have to make with *most* trouser/pant patterns. The amount can vary depending on the pattern – obviously the Clovers needed a lot taken out, and the Ultimate Trousers didn’t take much (and I just made a pattern the other day that I had to remove 2″ from!) But it’s a common adjustment for me, and this is what it looks like.
Same muslin, back view – see how tight the ass is? Like, not even flattering tight, just imma-bust-outta-here-like-a-jailbreak tight. This is fixed by adding a wedge to the back crotch depth pattern piece. How much you add will depend on how much room you need (the Ultimate Trousers didn’t need any, but the Clovers clearly needed a lot), but you can easily hack this alteration by just cutting a bigger size right there at the back crotch (this picture from Sunni’s Trouser Sewalong shows where to add length – right in that blue circle).
Here’s a pair of Clovers where I fixed the length issue, but now there’s some weird puffiness around, well, my crotch. Isn’t that flattering! You guys, this particular fit issue took me a LONG time to figure out because it seemed so weird – but it’s really not. Basically, my crotch requires a different shaped crotch curve than what is drafted for most patterns. I’m a J shape, and the majority of patterns I sew are an L shape. This is a stupid easy adjustment – you literally just redraw the curve, and once you’ve done it on one pattern, you can trace that curve to every pattern thereafter. For the first pattern, you’ll have to eyeball it (or find a pair of pants that fits and copy that crotch curve) and adjust until you get it right, which might take a couple tries. Once I figured that out – what it looked like, how to fix it – that really opened the floodgates of trouser making for me. Also, you should read this post on the Fashion Incubator.
Here is my front pattern piece with the adjusted crotch shape – I’ve already redrawn and cut my piece out, but I put it back on the table so you could see the difference in the curves. For whatever reason, I don’t need quite as aggressive a crotch curve when I’m making pants that have a front fly – it’s just trousers with a smooth front (especially if it’s sewn in a stretch woven).
You can also see where I tucked out the length horizontally. I didn’t take a photo of the back piece, but I sliced that length to hinge, and the side front has the same removal of length with it tapering to nothing at the center back/crotch, if that makes sense.
So yep, those are my pants adjustments! I know they might seem confusing, and to be honest – I learned all this when I was going through my Clover saga a few years ago (never got those pants to fit right, but I sure learned a lot in the process!). It was a LOT of trial and error, but hopefully my notes will help a least a few people go through less trial and error As you can see, there aren’t a whole lot of adjustments needed to get a good fit on pants – but they all work together, and each one affects the other (and they are all adjustments that need to be made BEFORE cutting your fabric, which is why a muslin is SO essential when making pants!). For more fitting help, I strongly recommend investing in a copy of Pants for Real People, which is basically a pants-fitting Bible. So much good information in there, I use that book often!
Ok, now that THAT’S out of the way – let’s go back to talking about this pattern, and the style adjustments I made!
This pattern is designed to be worn cropped (or as shorts), with a faced waistline. I have learned that I really don’t care for faced waistlines, so I decided to add a waistband to my pants. I didn’t draft a waistband – I just used the facing pieces and flipped them to the top as waistband pieces (and cut two, so I could face the waistband, as you do). I think, for me, these are a little more wearable with a proper waistband. For interfacing, I used tricot fusible, which I looove because it stabilizes the fabric but doesn’t compromise the stretch of the fabric (which is what makes the darn pants so comfy to begin with!).
I also kept the length on the longer side, which means I can wear them full-length in the winter (with cool socks!) or fold them up to make them cropped. This length is straight out of the pattern, by the way – I didn’t shorten anything, and I’m 5’2″. Just fyi!
The one major design change I made to this pattern was to sew it in a stretch woven, as opposed to the firm woven (non-stretch) that the pattern calls for. For one, my muslin was a firm woven and I plain just didn’t like the way they felt! They were too restrictive! I like wearing stretch woven pants, ok. Also, it’s hard to find a good pants-weight print that isn’t a stretch woven, so there’s that. I think these are fine in the stretch fabric, although I should probably go back and size them down a little because I think the legs look kind of loose. I was trying to avoid the stovepipe legs look, just to try something different, but I think these do need a little less ease. These are a size 8, by the way!
So that’s it! Thanks Lisa (and the Sew Over It team!) for letting me test this pattern, and being so patient with me taking months to make a finished wearable garment Londoners, if you’re still afraid to tackle the trousers, there is a whole class for making these (with tea and cakes, omg I wish I was in London) if you still wanna try them!
Those of y’all scared to try trousers – what are your thoughts? Do you think the process looks any easier? Are you going to throw caution to the wind and try anyway? Y’all – pants are fun!
* Oh yeah, and I cut my hair! I hope you like it! Well, I guess it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it – it’s not like I can stick it back on my head lololol