Boring trousers

I wanted to make my son a pair of trousers, as he’s been feeling dissatisfied with his existing pairs (I previously described this as him having trouser issues which is a phrase that made Hubby wince and declare “never describe me as having trouser issues”). The Boy looks at his plain coloured trousers (blue denim, dark green cord, err black with loads of colourful pockets on) and he looks at his sisters leggings and tights with their riot of colour and patterns and it doesn’t seem fair. And it isn’t. There is no rhyme nor reason to it. I tried pointing out that the gender pay gap and glass ceilings for women weren’t fair either and he agreed wholeheartedly. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

He dubbed them his "mechanical leg" trousers

He dubbed them his “mechanical leg” trousers

So, nice bright trousers for the boy was my plan. Something to cheer him up. Then I went fabric shopping. Finding fabric suitable for clothing the legs of boisterous boys is not easy locally. Finding such fabrics in bright colours, nigh on impossible. I suppose I could have used some of the red and white stripey fabric I made an apron with but that is too much for my taste. So I came away with some, khaki-ish coloured mystery fabric, that feels like it has cotton in, looks almost like it’s double shot with a similar tone giving it a slight sheen, is thin but very dense, pins and needles leave marks in it and it feels almost like it’s some high performance/waterproof fabric. Wierd. Also, dull. But hey, at least it’s not black. Or blue. That’s a start, right?

Not having a boy’s trouser pattern for non-stretch wovens, I bought the Oliver and S Art Museum Trouser and Vest pattern. Hmm, that’s a cute picture you used to illustrate your pattern Oliver and S but the fabric you used for the trousers makes it impossible to see what’s going on! I bought the larger size for my 8 year old, which is billed as sizes “age 5-12”, but if you check the pattern envelope (I didn’t) it’s actually sizes 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12. Which was slightly annoying as I have a tall 8 year old so wanted an age 9 really.

Back pocket cog detail and topstitching

Back pocket cog detail and topstitching

After some measuring of the boy I decided to cut a straight size 10. I did change a few things around in construction. I started by adding the front pockets (as per the instructions) – wish I’d realised how near to the seamline the pocket edge was, they’re rather chino like (again, this is actually clear on the pattern diagram, I just failed to notice), I’d prefer something more scooped out and jeansey. If I make these again I think I’ll alter this. Then I “self drafted” patch back pockets (i.e. traced round pockets on his jeans and added seam allowance) rather than put welt one’s from the pattern in as I was going for a more casual look (I guess in America going to the museum is a more dress up occassion than it is for everyone I know?).

The thick, gold (but not metallic) thread that I used for topstitching was in some stash I inherited. It came on this cardboard bobbin that won't fit in my machine and I never knew what to do with. Until I realised it made the perfect trouser topstitching thread and sat ok on the bobbin winder spool on my machine. Hooray.

The thick, gold (but not metallic) thread that I used for topstitching was in some stash I inherited. It came on this cardboard bobbin that won’t fit in my machine and I never knew what to do with. Until I realised it made the perfect trouser topstitching thread and sat ok on the bobbin winder spool on my machine. Hooray.

Next, I flat felled the outer leg seams using the Coletterie tutorial. I think it’s more common to flat fell the inside seam (you can’t do both, because of trouser/sewing machine geometry), but hubby has a pair flat felled on the outer seam and I had A Plan.

Cog detail for the front right leg

Cog detail for the front right leg

The plan was to decorate the trousers and make them less plain. I had a complicated design idea of cogs (a bit steam punky) that was beyond my skills with a brush. Luckily I found some stuff rolled up in a stripey bag with my sewing things, it had no label but I thought it was freezer paper, so I tried and it seemed to be so. I’ve never used freezer paper before (the first time I came across it I wondered if they meant something akin to greaseproof paper, but it seams to be a craft product, so I’ve no idea why it has that name), which you can cut into a stencil, iron on and then peel off after painting. It was quite easy to use (even without instructions) but the stencil is obviously only as good as your cutting out skills! The advantage is that you can put bits inside others (e.g. you can cut the circle to go inside an O, unlike a solid stencil). After a bit of experimenting I decided to do a layer of black paint (it took a lot, the fabric seemed to resist the paint in a way I’ve not seen before, adding to my suspicions of slight waterproofness) then 2 layers of either silver or gold fabric paint, leaving it to dry and setting with the iron between layers. I used Dylon, which is the only fabric paint I’ve ever had and usually works fine.

that wraps around to the back

that wraps around to the back

A bit of time later and The Girl helped me reveal a cog on one of the back pockets and 3 interlocking cogs (go me) on one front leg that slightly wrap around the outer seam to the back. Some of the black is showing, but I’m happy with that, it helps the cogs stand out and just makes them look a bit dirty 😉

Botched fly

Botched fly

Next, more construction time. I used Oliver and S’s Zipper Fly Tutorial to make the fly functional. It was all fairly straight forward except step 10, where I got confused, and instead of sewing just the zipper tape to the faux fly (fly facing) I topstitched it from the outside. I blame the photo, which looks like that stitching line is pinned from the outside, so I assumed it was stitched from the outside (actually, I kept getting confused as to what photo’s went with which step, otherwise it was well explained. I prefer a good diagram to a photo myself, but I suppose for a free tutorial one can’t complain. Except they recommend adding a functional fly to age 5+ trousers, which is the whole upper pattern size, but they don’t add instrucitons as they’d be “too long”, so maybe a diagram isn’t too much to wish for seeing as the insructions with the patterns are diagrams). Anyway, I didn’t want to unpick it as this fabric keeps holes (and creases don’t iron out either), so I left it. It didn’t look so bad until I sewed an approximation of the topstitching line I should be sewing. The two lines together look wierd. But I’m hoping people will be distracted by the shiny cogs.

Angled belt loops

Angled belt loops at basting stage

Back belt loop variation

Completed crossover back belt loop variation

After the fly, it was fairly straight forward construction. Sew inside leg seam. Hem trousers (confession time, my first row of topstitching was too low down, so I had to do a double row). After that the boy helped me measure and cut out the belt loops. The pieces makes enough for 6 loops but you only need 5. He wanted to use all of them, so I suggested we do a cross loop at the back, as I’ve seen on Ready To Wear trousers. I basted those two belt loops at a 45 degree angle facing outwards at the two notches either side of the back seam, the other four I placed as instructed.

attaching elastic to waistband facing

attaching elastic to waistband facing

Then there just the waistband to do. I used some lining fabric for the inside waistband but I changed the construction order so I wouldn’t have raw edges on the inside. I sewed the lining edge down first, then I sewed the ends together (as you can’t have a continuos loop waistband with a fly) around the zip. Next I added a piece of elastic in the back of the waistband, attatched to the lining at either end and at the backseam. The amount to use was trial and error and got ripped out and replaced. It’s still a bit baggy, but hey, he’ll wear a belt with them. To finish the waistband I folded the outside edge down, tucked the seam allowance under and topstitched it into place all around the edges of the waistband (i.e. I sewed a rectangle when topstitching_. I realised at this point that all this stitching meant that the two lots of understitching I did when joining the waistband pieces and also when I’d attached the waistband to the trousers were probably redundant. Oh well.

Waistband part attatched (Zip from a bundled I got cheap from)

Waistband part attatched (Zip from a bundle I got cheap from Make do and Mend Pre-Loved Craft stuff Facebook page)

I used a short stitch length zig zag to attatch the top of the belt loops, like I’d done at the top of the patch pockets on the back (another idea from some RTW trousers). Last but not least, I well and truly messed up the buttonhole in what seems to be an unfortunate trend and ended up finishing it by hand. I used the sample button from Hubby’s wasitcoat.

Location - models choice

Location – models choice

And voila, one pair of trousers, not too hard to make, the complicated steps were the ones I added myself really, plus the functional fly. Another time I might try following the Grainline fly tutorial as I remember that went well on my Moss mini’s. Also I did skip the welt pockets, but I know the Oliver and S welt pocket tutorial is ace from my recent waistcoat make. The trousers fit, with a belt and a bit of rolling up at the bottoms, so maybe I could’ve got away with an age 8, but I didn’t want to make them and then him to grow out of them a month later. They have met with approval, so we’ll have to see how they fare in rotation with the pack of brightly coloured ready made trousers his cousin sourced and sent down.

12 thoughts on “Boring trousers

  1. These. are. amazing! I love the cogs! I love the trousers! I bet they go into regular rotation.

  2. I think these are fantastically creative and all round amazing. I agree boys and men’s clothing is pretty boring in comparison with girls and women’s clothing…I think you’ve solved the ‘boring’ problem very effectively!

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  5. They look fabulous – I love the design it looks really good fun. Zips on jeans is not something I have ever tackled!

    • Apart from the mistake of sewing through the top layer when I shouldn’t have for that one line of stitching it went well and has held up to being worn a couple of times. I just knew that “proper” trousers would get more wear from my 8 year old.

  6. Wow! You are very talented! One day I would love to be able to make one of my boys something like this!

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